The next morning at ten Platt walked into the store ready to do business. He had a bunch of hyacinths pinned on his lapel. Zizzbaum himself waited on him. Navarro & Platt were good customers, and never failed to take their discount for cash.
And what did you think of our little town? asked Zizzbaum, with the fatuous smile of the Manhattanite.
I shouldnt care to live in it, said the Texan. Your son and I knocked around quite a little last night. Youve got good water, but Cactus City is better lit up.
Weve got a few lights on Broadway, dont you think, Mr. Platt?
And a good many shadows, said Platt. I think I like your horses best. I havent seen a crowbait since Ive been in town.
Zizzbaum led him upstairs to show the samples of suits.
Ask Miss Asher to come, he said to a clerk.
Miss Asher came, and Platt, of Navarro & Platt, felt for the first time the wonderful bright light of romance and glory descend upon him. He stood still as a granite cliff above the cañon of the Colorado, with his wide-open eyes fixed upon her. She noticed his look and flushed a little, which was contrary to her custom.
Miss Asher was the crack model of Zizzbaum & Son. She was of the blonde type known as medium, and her measurements even went the required 38-25-42 standard a little better. She had been at Zizzbaums two years, and knew her business. Her eye was bright, but cool; and had she chosen to match her gaze against the optic of the famed basilisk, that fabulous monsters gaze would have wavered and softened first. Incidentally, she knew buyers.
Now, Mr. Platt, said Zizzbaum, I want you to see these princesse gowns in the light shades. They will be the thing in your climate. This first, if you please, Miss Asher.
Swiftly in and out of the dressing-room the prize model flew, each time wearing a new costume and looking more stunning with every change. She posed with absolute self-possession before the stricken buyer, who stood, tongue-tied and motionless, while Zizzbaum orated oilily of the styles. On the models face was her faint, impersonal professional smile that seemed to cover something like weariness or contempt.
When the display was over Platt seemed to hesitate. Zizzbaum was a little anxious, thinking that his customer might be inclined to try elsewhere. But Platt was only looking over in his mind the best building sites in Cactus City, trying to select one on which to build a house for his wife-to-bewho was just then in the dressing-room taking off an evening gown of lavender and tulle.
Take your time, Mr. Platt, said Zizzbaum. Think it over to-night. You wont find anybody else meet our prices on goods like these. Im afraid youre having a dull time in New York, Mr. Platt. A young man like youof course, you miss the society of the ladies. Wouldnt you like a nice young lady to take out to dinner this evening? Miss Asher, now, is a very nice young lady; she will make it agreeable for you.
Why, she doesnt know me, said Platt wonderingly. She doesnt know anything about me. Would she go? Im not acquainted with her.
Would she go? repeated Zizzbaum, with up-lifted eyebrows. Sure, she would go. I will introduce you. Sure, she would go.
He called Miss Asher loudly.
She came, calm and slightly contemptuous, in her white shirt waist and plain black shirt.
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