Saturday, December 8, 2012

"All's Fair in Love" by Ellen Lynn

All's Fair in Love
Ellen Lynn

My best friend was Nancy. Yet we were so different. Especially when we became "teenagers"—the differences between us were so marked I feared she would grow tired of me. Before we became—or rather, she, became interested in boys I never thought about such things. But now, when boys became such an important thing in our lives, I felt she would turn to girls who loved dates and parties.

I wanted to be gay and popular—but I hated parties and I hated boys. Until I met Doug.

It was spring and I was in the library. I didn't feel like studying. The air was full of an excitement that made me want to be outdoors feeling the soft wind through my hair. I felt pretty, in my new pale blue sweater and matching skirt; I knew they were the right shade for my eyes, and good with pale gold hair.

"Do you happen to know where 'The History of the Ancient World' is?" a voice broke in on my day-dreaming.

"Why—here, I have it," I answered, and looked into the eyes of our college hero, Douglas Chase. I knew all the girls were "ga-ga" over Doug. I always admired his football skill and his wonderful build. In truth, I often dreamed about him. In my dreams I never hated boys. Doug, in my dreams, often dated me—and often kissed me. Now, face to face with him, I couldn't speak another word.

"Are you studying Ancient History, too?" he asked.

"Y-yes," was all I could say.

"You're not in Miss Arnold's class?"

"Yes—I am. I ss-sit two rows away from you." That was a long speech for me.

"How could I have missed seeing a beauty like you? Have all the other guys gone blind?" I blushed, but somehow I was able to look into his eyes and talk to him. We got onto the subject of our exam. Time passed so quickly, we didn't realize how late it was till the lights started to go on. We looked up and saw we were the only students left in the library.

Doug walked me to my house. "I never thought Ancient History could be such fun. You're not only beautiful, Kathy, you're smart, too. Let's do it again." For the first time in my young existence I felt at ease with a boy. I don't hate them after all—I decided.

"Any time you say," I answered.

When Nancy stopped by for me the next morning, she looked at me strangely, then said—"Kathy—what is it? You're different. Has anything happened?"

I burst out laughing. "Have you noticed anything?"

"Yes—and no," she said. "Well, for one thing, you look awfully pretty. And then you laugh at everything I say. You scarcely ever laughed before."

At school someone came running down toward us. It was Doug. "Morning, Kathy. I waited to wish you good luck in the exam."

My face flushed. I saw Nancy looking at me in amazement, then she turned to look into Doug's eyes. That was Nancy's conquering look. When she chose to operate on a boy with the battery of her enormous eyes, he invariably succumbed. It used to embarrass me to see her "go to work" in this way; perhaps I was jealous of her ability to twist fellows around her little finger; perhaps that's why I thought I hated boys.

But Doug didn't seem to notice her. He kept talking to me and merely said, "Thanks," when Nancy told him she was one of his ardent fans. Then Doug left us with the thrilling words—"Wait for me after the exam, Kathy. Please?"

"Well—that explains it!" Nancy burst out. "When did all this happen? Kathy—you didn't even know Doug Chase to talk to yesterday morning. You'd have told me."

I told Nancy all about the episode in the library.

"Oh, is that all it is!" She sounded relieved. "Well, Kathy, I'm warning you not to put your heart into it. Doug may be impressed with you as a student—but that's not the stuff romances are made of. You're not the romantic type, darling. I wish I had met him there. He'd be eating out of my hand by now."

"And what is the romantic type? Would you say you are an example?"

"Well, since you ask," Nancy went on glibly. "I am. My record speaks for itself. Fellows don't go for your shy, mousy type—they want fun. You must admit, dear, you're not exactly fun."

"Doug thinks I am."

Nancy looked at me pityingly. "You're my best friend, Kathy, but I must tell you the truth. If you ever have a date with Doug—a real party-date—it'll be the last one. You're too prim for him." She smiled slyly, then continued, "You'll think me conceited, but I bet if I ever had a date with him he would forget you."

My mood of gayety was gone. Perhaps Doug was laughing at me. At the end f the exam I tried to hurry home, but Doug called me. "Forget you were supposed to wait for me?" Again his sweetness made me feel at ease and I promised to go to a party with him Saturday night. Now I was completely in love with him—and scared—of Nancy.

I never had such a wonderful time at a party before. All the boys kept cutting in on Doug and me and he pretended to be annoyed.

"Let's dance on the terrace," Doug suggested. My heart beat rapidly as we stood under the starry sky, Doug keeping my hand tightly clasped in his. For a moment I felt panicky and wanted to run inside—but he drew me slowly to him and kissed me. I had been afraid of boys, but Doug was so sweet, so gentle, that even as I tingled with the thrill of his enfolding embrace I felt as though I were where I belonged.

We heard a sound and saw a figure coming through the doors. It was Nancy.

"I've been looking for you, Doug. This is our dance." Nancy clung to his arm as they started toward the dance floor. I waited alone. I wanted nothing to dispel the mood of being loved by the thrillingest boy in the world—Doug Chase.

They were gone a long time. When Doug returned he was apologetic. "Would you mind, Kathy, if I took Nancy home. She hurt her ankle and asked me to see her home—her escort is tight and she's afraid to go with him. It's early and I'll come back. Meanwhile you can be dancing. Is that all right with you?"

"Of course—go right ahead," I answered, trying to be nonchalant. But after Doug had gone I felt wilted, deflated. I kept thinking of Nancy as she had waited for Doug at the doorway—she had winked at me and held up two fingers like a "V"—victory!

At twelve o'clock Doug had still not returned. I managed to sneak out and get home. I felt choked up—only when I was in bed did the dam burst and I sobbed myself to sleep.

When Monday came I was resolved never to see Doug again. Nancy was right—my first date with him was my last. When Nancy called for me for her eyes were sparkling. "Kathy, darling, have you forgiven me? My ankle caused all the trouble—but it's fine now. Come on, let's go."

"Yes, let's go, Nancy," I answered, "And, incidentally, what was there to forgive? Doug's anybody's territory—and he plays the field."

"You're a good sport, Kathy," said Nancy. "Besides, all's fair in love and war. And a gal like you is no competition—'cause you don't know how to get your man."

I had refused to go to the phone when Doug had called on Sunday. I wasn't interested in his excuses. If he could be so susceptible to Nancy's tricks, I wanted no part of him. But, oh, he had been so sweet!

Then we saw Doug. Nancy waved. He waved back and hurried on. Because I'm here, I thought. Then an idea struck me. "Nancy," I said meekly, "how does a girl hold a man? I bow to you as an authority. I can't imagine what a girl could do?"

"Well," Nancy expounded, "you have to think up different things at different times. Such a little thing as making believe you're afraid to be alone so a boy will stay late can accomplish a lot. He gets sort of involved and then you flatter him, show him you're terribly interested... Make him hang around—not run away. It can work wonders."

A few days later I saw Doug go into the library. Nancy's lesson on how to get a man—and hold him—at first had amused me. Then I thought—that's what she did with Doug—kept him from coming back to the dance by a trick! My blood surged in anger. I followed Doug and sat opposite him. He mumbled hello then lowered his eyes to his book. But the thought of Nancy fired my courage. We got onto the subject of tomorrow's picnic. "I'd love to pack a lunch if you'll be my guest," I suddenly offered Doug. He flushed and stammered: "I—I've promised Nancy I'd go with her. Sh-she called early this morning. You were so—angry with me yesterday."

"That's all right, I'll see you there. Perhaps we can have a paddle together during the afternoon." His face lighted up. "That's a date." I felt strangely confident.

Nancy was clinging to Doug's arm at the picnic. "I've come to collect our date for a canoe-ride, Doug," I greeted them. Nancy gave him up graciously, a smile of amusement on her face. Obviously I was no competition. "I'll wait for you here, Doug, last bus leaves at four-thirty," she informed him.

Doug had been paddling, while I sat on a cushion on the bottom of the canoe. His watch and sun glasses were beside me. I smiled to myself as I played with his watch.


I turned my head and dreamily looked up into his eyes. Slowly he slid to the floor of the canoe next to me. I put my head on his shoulder a moment then lifted my face to his. With a deep sigh he kissed me as I had been longing for him to do. Then we returned to the mainland. But the last bus was gone and so was Nancy.

"Oh Kathy! We missed the bus. We're alone. My watch was wrong. I don't care," Doug said.

"Darling, will you now let me explain about Saturday..." he began.

"It's not necessary, dear, I understand," I smiled up at him. We were completely in love.

"Then you're my girl—for always?" he asked. I nodded happily, as I saw his watch read four o'clock. It was really five. Now we would be alone a long while. Well, I thought, I followed your advice, Nancy.

You see I had turned Doug's watch back. But, of course, he never knew.

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