The Coming-Out of Maggie
Every Saturday night the Clover Leaf Social Club gave a hop in the hall of the Give and Take Athletic Association on the East Side. In order to attend one of these dances you must be a member of the Give and Takeor, if you belong to the division that starts off with the right foot in waltzing, you must work in Rhinegolds paper-box factory. Still, any Clover Leaf was privileged to escort or be escorted by an outsider to a single dance. But mostly each Give and Take brought the paper-box girl that he affected; and few strangers could boast of having shaken a foot at the regular hops.
Maggie Toole, on account of her dull eyes, broad mouth and left-handed style of footwork in the two- step, went to the dances with Anna McCarty and her fellow. Anna and Maggie worked side by side in the factory, and were the greatest chums ever. So Anna always made Jimmy Burns take her by Maggies house every Saturday night so that her friend could go to the dance with them.
The Give and Take Athletic Association lived up to its name. The hall of the association in Orchard Street was fitted out with muscle-making inventions. With the fibres thus builded up the members were wont to engage the police and rival social and athletic organizations in joyous combat. Between these more serious occupations the Saturday night hops with the paper-box factory girls came as a refining influence and as an efficient screen. For sometimes the tip went round, and if you were among the elect that tiptoed up the dark back stairway you might see as neat and satisfying a little welter-weight affair to a finish as ever happened inside the ropes.
On Saturdays Rhinegolds paper-box factory closed at 3 p.m. On one such afternoon Anna and Maggie walked homeward together. At Maggies door Anna said, as usual: Be ready at seven, sharp, Mag; and Jimmy and mell come by for you.
But what was this? Instead of the customary humble and grateful thanks from the non-escorted one there was to be perceived a high-poised head, a prideful dimpling at the corners of a broad mouth, and almost a sparkle in a dull brown eye.
Thanks, Anna, said Maggie; but you and Jimmy neednt bother to-night. Ive a gentleman friend thats coming round to escort me to the hop.
The comely Anna pounced upon her friend, shook her, chided and beseeched her. Maggie Toole catch a fellow! Plain, dear, loyal, unattractive Maggie, so sweet as a chum, so unsought for a twostep or a moonlit bench in the little park. How was it? When did it happen? Who was it?
Youll see to-night, said Maggie, flushed with the wine of the first grapes she had gathered in Cupids vineyard. Hes swell all right. Hes two inches taller than Jimmy, and an up-to-date dresser. Ill introduce him, Anna, just as soon as we get to the hall.
Anna and Jimmy were among the first Clover Leafs to arrive that evening. Annas eyes were brightly fixed upon the door of the hall to catch the first glimpse of her friends catch.
At 8.30 Miss Toole swept into the hall with her escort. Quickly her triumphant eye discovered her chum under the wing of her faithful Jimmy.
Oh, gee! cried Anna, Mag aint made a hitoh, no! Swell fellow? Well, I guess! Style? Look at um.
Go as far as you like, said Jimmy, with sandpaper in his voice. Cop him out if you want him. These new guys always win out with the push. Dont mind me. He dont squeeze all the limes, I guess. Huh!
Shut up, Jimmy. You know what I mean. Im glad for Mag. First fellow she ever had. Oh, here they come.
Across the floor Maggie sailed like a coquettish yacht convoyed by a stately cruiser. And truly, her companion justified the encomiums of the faithful chum. He stood two inches taller than the average Give and Take
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