Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (2)

babbitt

“Well – I suppose you’re waiting for somebody to take you out to some big shindig, Sir Gerald.”

“Shindig? Oh. Shindig. No, to tell you the truth, I was wondering what the deuce I could do this evening. Don’t know a soul in Tchicahgo. I wonder if you happen to know whether there’s a good theater in this city?”

“Good? Why say, they’re running grand opera right now! I guess maybe you’d like that.”

“Eh? Eh? Went to the opera once in London. Covent Garden sort of thing. Shocking! No, I was wondering if there was a good cinema-movie.”

Babbitt was sitting down, hitching his chair over, shouting, “Movie? Say, Sir Gerald, I supposed of course you had a raft of dames waiting to lead you out to some soiree –”

“God forbid!”

“– but if you haven’t, what do you say you and me go to a movie? There’s a peach of a film at the Grantham: Bill Hart in a bandit picture.”

“Right-o! Just a moment while I get my coat.”

Swollen with greatness, slightly afraid lest the noble blood of Nottingham change its mind and leave him at any street corner, Babbitt paraded with Sir Gerald Doak to the movie palace and in silent bliss sat beside him, trying not to be too enthusiastic, lest the knight despise his adoration of six-shooters and broncos. At the end Sir Gerald murmured, “Jolly good picture, this. So awfully decent of you to take me. Haven’t enjoyed myself so much for weeks. All these Hostesses – - they never let you go to the cinema!”

“The devil you say!” Babbitt’s speech had lost the delicate refinement and all the broad A’s with which he had adorned it, and become hearty and natural. “Well, I’m tickled to death you liked it, Sir Gerald.”


Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt
Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1922

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