This is part two of “Betty’s Biggest Bargain: A Romance Of The January Sales” by E Everett Green.
You can read part one here.
When we left Betty, she had reunited with old flame Jim, and the pair had decided to go shopping . . .
What an afternoon that was! In vain Betty strove to keep Jim in hand; but he was absolutely incorrigible. Her own bargains were duly secured.
Jim watched her make her purchases — listened to her charming bargaining — with laughter-brimming eyes and lips as grave as those of any Judge.
But when she had done, he would begin on his own account — Betty would fairly gasp at the things he said he “fancied” — for her, for her mother, for the sisters at home.
And there was no restraining him! It was awful to see the money melting away. Betty left the shop with a really stern expression upon her happy face.
Once safely inside the car — so heaped with boxes and parcels as to leave but little space for the occupants, for Betty declared that half the charm of bargaining lay in carrying away your spoil — she returned to him with an air of great resolution.
“Jimmy, boy, there must be an end to this. It is perfectly sweet of you; and I am tremendously glad that you have saved money, and have such a good berth; but remember that if you want to get married,” — the arm about her slim waist tightened its hold emphatically — “you must not be so wildly imprudent and lavish.
“We have had such a ‘bust’ as I never thought to have in my life. Now we must draw in our horns and consider how to get all these things made up and taken home.”
“Where is home now, Betty? I’ve simply been hunting you all over the shop whenever I could get this car, and haven’t run you to earth yet. I thought the earth must have opened and swallowed you up.”
“Oh, no, Jim; but we moved a good deal after we left Hampstead, first from one lodging to another, and the from boarding-house to boarding-house. Then old Uncle Timothy died, and left us his little house at Wandsworth, and a hundred a year for mother.
“So that made us feel almost rich. But we have to be quite careful still. I take pupils when I can get them, and the others do a little millinery — at least, they are supposed to do it, but mostly leave it for me to finish off.”
Betty’s gurgling laugh brought back the old days to Jim, as also did her words. Betty had always had to finish off for her sisters all her life.
“But we manage quite well now — unless the roof does something naughty, or the rates jump up twopence in the pound at one swoop.
“Oh, Jim, what are you stopping for here? Gracious, Jim! Don’t you know that this is Bond Street?”
Jim was gingerly descending from the car, and disposing the cardboard boxes to greater advantage.
“Come along, Betty, I’m going to drive out with you Wandsworth; but I want something here first that I took a fancy to the other day. I said in my heart, ‘Wouldn’t little Betty look stunning in it?’ Now I’m just going to see!”
“Jim, Jim — come back — listen — you don’t understand!”
She was forced to run after him into the costly furrier’s, and before she could get a word out she heard his masterful voice speaking to the obsequious shopman, who had noted the stylish appearance of the great motor at the door.
“I want to see that brown fur coat you had in the window the other day. Is it sold yet? Or have you any other like it?”
“I believe we have the very coat you mean, sir. I do not wonder it took your eye — the best Russian sable — but a small-sized coat, which perhaps has made it not sell so quickly as otherwise it would have done.
“The very thing for madam — a motor coat which cannot be beaten for stylish appearance and quality of the fur. Allow me, madam.”
He took the rich, silk-lined garment from the hands of the assistant, and then Betty — too aghast to offer protest — found herself inducted into the magnificent sable coat, and gazed at her own reflection in the glass, certain that all this lovely episode of her meeting with Jim, and the things which followed, must be part and parcel of a dream, from which she would waken to the bare and sordid realities of life.
“To make the effect perfect, madam should wear this sable toque,” spoke the shoman in bland, persuasive accents.
“To be sure!” cried Jim. “Off with your hat, Betty. Now, let’s look at the whole effect! Yes, that’s what I call about the right thing.
“No, don’t take them off. We’ve a cold spin before us, that’s why I wanted to get them today — and we haven’t room for any more parcels.
“Just let me have the bull, and I’ll write a cheque. James Rossiter, Savoy Hotel; Union of London Bank — is that good enough?”
It seemed to Betty as though the name of James Rossiter was known in this place; the bows of the shopman increased in emphasis.
Now that it was all a dream, Betty felt that she would let herself go, and enjoy it to the full. The dream-Jim whipped out a cheque book, and she was not surprised to see him fill in the figures to the tune of four hundred pounds odd.
Why, in a dream, one might as well give four thousand for such a coat as the one her dream-fingers were caressing. How exquisitely the fur felt! How delightfully brightly her eyes sparkled under the little stylish toque crowning her curly brown hair!
Jim had bestowed new fur-lined gloves upon her already. She felt equipped for a journey to the North Pole. She half expected to see a reindeer-drawn sledge awaiting them at the door.
But no, it was the same motor, and the same parcel-crowded interior into which she got, and with a long, gurgling laugh, sank down at Jim’s side, clasping his arm between her two small hands.
“Jim, darling, don’t let me wake up just yet. It is so lovely, so delicious to be with you gliding along through the night. I’ve so often dreamt of being with you — and oh, it’s been so dreadful — to wake up and find myself all alone.”
Then a great, strong arm gripped her almost fiercely.
“All right, little Betty; this dream isn’t going to take itself wings, you bet. You’ve got your Jim back very much in the flesh — and whether you like it or not, your Jim’s got you, and isn’t going to let you go — no, not for a single day; and we’ll be married by special license — without style or flummery — directly I can see about it.
“I’ve made a big pile, little Betty. I was unlucky at first, but when I thought I’d lost you, I set my teeth, and said I wasn’t going to be done every way. And then the luck changed.
“Everything I touched turned to gold. This is my car, Betty — bought to go hunting for you in! I’m going to buy you a pretty place in the country, and take a flat for your mother and sisters in town, in the same block as ours will be, for I’m a man of affairs, and must be near the great heart of things.
“We’ve waited all these years for one another — now I’m going to rush and hustle till I get you all to myself. Betty, you had a welcome for a poor Jim, a failure, down on his luck. What do you say to him as he is? Will you try to send him packing? For he won’t go if you do!
“My little darling Betty, there’s no getting rid of Jim now!”
He had her in his arms; she clung round his neck, half-laughing, half-crying, wholly bewildered, and entirely happy.
How that drive passed neither knew; it seemed not five minutes before the car drew up at the familiar little shabby house.
Betty alighted, filled her arms with parcels, and staggered into the parlour, where she was eagerly awaited.
When the boxes fell from her arms there was a cry of astonishment.
“Betty! Betty! What have you got on? You don’t mean that you got that as a bargain? I never saw such a coat!”
Betty had run across to her mother, and had her arms about her neck.
“Mummy, darling, my biggest bargain is outside; I’m just going to bring it in. Promise to approve it when I do. Oh, mummy, you’ll be so surprised!”
She darted to the door. Jim was just endeavouring to bring in the remainder of the parcels. Over the top of his load, his blue eyes were shining and twinkling.
“Here are the bargains!” cried Betty, rippling over with happiness. “Oh, mother; oh, girls — Jim has come back a rich man. He and I have made a bargain — the very biggest bargain I ever made in my life!”
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