Bunker Bean by Harry Leon Wilson


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Page 1

"Every time I get alone I just giggle myself into spasms. Isn't it
the funniest?"

It was a friendly young face he saw there, but troubled

"I feared he was discommoding you," ventured the Countess, elegantly
apologetic

"Daughter!" said Breede with half a glance at the flapper

In that instant Bean read the flapper's look, the look she had
puzzled him with from their first meeting

"Oh, put up your trinkets!" said Bean, with a fine affectation of
weariness

Thereafter, until late at night, the red car was trailed by the
taxi-cab

"Lumbago!" said Bean, both hands upon the life-belt




BUNKER BEAN




I


Bunker Bean was wishing he could be different. This discontent with
himself was suffered in a moment of idleness as he sat at a desk on a
high floor of a very high office-building in "downtown" New York. The
first correction he would have made was that he should be "well over six
feet" tall. He had observed that this was the accepted stature for a
hero.

And the name, almost any name but "Bunker Bean!" Often he wrote good
ones on casual slips of paper and fancied them his; names like
Trevellyan or Montressor or Delancey, with musical prefixes; or a good,
short, beautiful, but dignified name like "Gordon Dane." He liked that
one. It suggested something. But Bean! And Bunker Bean, at that! True,
it also suggested something, but this had never been anything desirable.
Just now the people in the outside office were calling him "Boston."

"Gordon Dane," well over six feet, abundant dark hair, a bit inclined to
"wave" and showing faint lines of gray "above the temples"; for Bean
also wished to be thirty years old and to have learned about women; in
short, to have suffered. Gordon Dane's was a face before which the eyes
of women would fall in half-frightened, half-ecstatic subjection, and
men would feel the inexplicable magnetism of his presence. He would be
widely remarked for his taste in dress. He would don stripes or checks
without a trace of timidity. He would quail before no violence of colour
in a cravat.

A certain insignificant Bunker Bean was not like this. With a soul
aspiring to stripes and checks that should make him a man to be looked
at twice in a city street, he lacked courage for any but the quietest
patterns. Longing for the cravat of brilliant hue, he ate out his heart
under neutral tints. Had he not, in the intoxication of his first free
afternoon in New York, boldly purchased a glorious thing of silk
entirely, flatly red, an article to stamp its wearer with distinction;
and had he not, in the seclusion of his rented room, that night hidden
the flaming thing at the bottom of a bottom drawer, knowing in his
sickened soul he dared not flaunt it?

Once, truly, had he worn it, but only for a brief stroll on a rainy
Sunday, with an entirely opaque raincoat buttoned closely under his
chin. Even so, he fancied that people stared through and through that
guaranteed fabric straight to his red secret. The rag burned on his
breast. Afterward it was something to look at beyond the locked door;
perhaps to try on behind drawn shades, late of a night. And how little
Gordon Dane would have made of such a matter! Floated in Bean's mind the
refrain of a clothing advertisement. "The more advanced dressers will
seek this fashion." "Something dignified yet different!" Gordon Dane
would be "an advanced dresser."

But if you have been afraid of nearly everything nearly all your life,
how then? You must be "dignified" only. The brave only may be
"different." It was all well enough to gaze at striking fabrics in
windows; but to buy and to wear openly, and get yourself pointed
at--laughed at! Again sounded the refrain of the hired bard of dress.
"_It is cut to give the wearer the appearance of perfect physical
development. And the effect so produced so improves his form that he
unconsciously strives to attain the appearance which the garment gives
him; he expands his chest, draws in his waist and stands erect._"

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Tue 16th Jul 2019, 12:28