Pertinent and Impertinent

H.L. Mencken

The Smart Set/March, 1914

(As submitted to the magazine.)

HELEN DAMEREL and Goddard sought a quiet café. Soon they were in a quaint private dining room overlooking the sensuous waters of the Seine. Helen was very seductive that evening. Her filmy satin gown half revealed and half suggested the subtle contour of her body. Her uncovered shoulders glistened in the roseate light of the candelabrum. Her fine features were accentuated by delicate pencilings about her eyes and the merest touch of carmine applied to her cheeks.

A dapper little short-legged waiter tripped in and waited.

“Two Creme d’Yvettes,” Goddard ordered.

“Helen,” he breathed passionately, “say that you love me and that you will marry me! ”

There was a silence. The amorous strains of the “Kreutzer Sonata” were wafted to them. “I wish to God I had never seen you! ” Goddard added despairingly.

“I don’t, my beloved,” the girl returned, her eyes in his.

” You — you mean that? ” Goddard took the cigarette from his lips and, rising, came quickly to where she sat. He put his arms about her and drew her slowly up to him until their lips met. She did not resist him now. When he put his arm about her she surrendered gladly, hungrily, to his embrace, and in that kiss she betrothed him her life.

“Darling!” he breathed close against her young flushed face.

Outside the wind sighed through the naked trees; and in the distance an owl called softly to its mate.

(As pasteurized by the editor.)

H— EN D— EREL and G— dard sought a restaurant. Soon they were in the main dining room overlooking the silent waters of the Seine. H — en was very attractive that evening. Her heavy cashmere dress fitted high about her throat, and its numerous folds hung loosely about her. Her fine features were accentuated by her natural color.

* * *

A dapper little short-limbed waiter tripped in and waited.

“Two French Vichys,” G — dard ordered.

“Miss D — erel,” he breathed, “say that you will marry me and that you love me!”

There was a silence. The solemn strains of Handel’s “Largo” were wafted to them. “I wish to Heaven I had never seen you,” G — dard added despairingly.

“I don’t, Mr. G— dard,” the girl returned, her eyes downcast.

“You — you mean that?” G — dard took the toothpick from his lips and, rising, came quickly to where she sat.

* * *

* * *

* * *

“H— en!” he breathed.

Outside the wind sighed through the trees; and in the distance an owl called softly.

(Source: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101076380409&view=1up&seq=531)

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