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|In the Lobby of the St. Francis
There is something about having money enough to stay at the St. Francis, and to dine there and to wear smart clothes there that makes people step out and act sure of themselves. Even when they can't afford it, and their stay there is a splurge or an outing, they act just as sure and stepping. And as for the people to whom the St. Francis is but an incident they act sure because they were born that way.
Never in my life have I seen such sure, well-dressed women as in the lobby of the St. Francis. And I am no greenhorn at lobbies. I have reviewed in my day some of the best peacock alleys in the country. There is the New Willard. Now when I think of the New Willard, I see frumpily dressed dowagers talking through their lorgnettes to moth-eaten senators. The Selbach in Louisville, the St. Charles in New Orleans are famed for their handsome women, but none are so free and proudly sure of themselves on peacock alley as California women. No women dress as they do either. They are not so chic as they are smart; their tailor mades, their furs, their hats with a preponderance of orange, their well-dressed legs and feet and a reserved brilliance that makes them the finest-looking women in the United States.
It is a fine pastime to step out from the surge of Life for a minute and let it ebb and flow around one in the lobby of the St. Francis. Such a pageant of individual stories. An exquisitely dressed young girl meets another there, and soon two young chaps appear and they all begin talking silly nothings, and laughing at each other's silly jokes, and looking into each other's foolish young eyes much as lovers have always done. A harassed business man rushes frantically to the telegraph desk and wires his firm at Pittsburgh. Some staid, comfortably-fixed tourists from Newton Center, Massachusetts, come in from sight-seeing and go up to their rooms and quickly get their shoes off. A group of Elks come in, arm-linked, and start one wondering about the enforcement of the dry law. In and out among all these moving comedies and tragedies flits like an orange-colored butterfly a little Oriental boy, an angel-faced page goes calling "Mister Smith," and sober looking bell-hops stand alert to the sound of "Front."
A beautiful woman steps forward and meets a handsome man and they go to dinner together, and somehow I don't think he is her husband and wonder if she is a widow and decide that it is none of my business. If she has a husband he is probably an "ornery" fellow who never takes her anywhere.
Everyone who passes by me looks alert, and sure, and happy and prosperous, but I comfort myself that probably each one of them has as much to worry about as I myself do.