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THE GIRL, AND THE HISSING RADIATOR
l . BY JANE WHITAKER
The radiator hissed -spitefully. '
It is strange how Inanimate things seem to acquire a personality from
association, wif human heingSi. Thla radiator seemed, always to hiss the
same thing jto Florence Burton, twenty, slim, pretty and wistful. It hissed:
"I'm lonely Tin, lonely rm lonely?'
Loneliness is"' a terrible thing. Ho, not Just the idle hour -when you
conjure up sdpaethjng to do and can think of nothing, but the hours upon
hours, the days utfort days, the weeks upon -weeks, -when there isn't any one
to say a jrieasaritord, when a girl comes to her own room alone, when
she goes tq Iter meals alone, when she returns again alone and sits all even
ing and every evening alone. ,
It is very possible that this radiator had heard Florence sob that same
cry, "rm loneiyr so many times
that it unconsciously lmitatedt but
it was maddening.
Tonight, as" she listened to it, she
"I don't rieed to be lonely," she
said, and there was defiance in her
voice, but it gave the lie to the
scared look in her eyes as her V01ce
died away Into silence.
"I don't need to be lonely." Some
thing sinister seemed to echo it, per
haps the radiator, but it wasn't in
the radiatorjBat she saw the thing
that made her' jeyes. dilate.
It was a panorama of another
evening like this an evening when
her own madness at the solitude had
given her courage to go to a public
dance hall alone, when her own mad
ness had led her to dance lightly
about the room catching the eyes of
the men, answering their bold
smiles, finally letting one of them
monopolize the rest of her evening.
I guess it was the rest of the even
ing that made her eyes dilate, for
the man had insisted upon her ac
companying him into the back room
of a saloon, and though she drank
only plain Bo8a, she hadn't forgotten
her fear -as he drank whisky and
looked at her with such unveiled,
such insulting admiration.
And she hadn't forgotten that he
took her home, that at the. door he
grasped her roughly to him and
kissed her. and she hadn't forgotten
that she had not felt disgust at the
portion, but a wild joy that someone
in all of the big, merciless, careless,
cruel city had cared enough for her
existence to kiss her.
The radiator hissed a little harder.
Perhaps it didn't like that look of
fear, because it insisted: "I'm
"Oh, I don't care," she said, and a
sob broke from her lips. "Ill go mad
this way. Six months without a
friendly word from anyone a ma
chine in the office, an automatic
payer of Tent here it doesn't matter
what I do nobody cares nobody
She took off her somber black
frock that she wore to the office for
the sake of economy, and tossed
from the bureau drawer a low
necked lingerie waist Then she
rummaged injjre closet for her light
tan skirt, and still the radiator
"Stop that you!" she cried, sud
denly, forgetting it was just a radi
ator. "I'm not lonely. I won't be
lonely any more. I don't care."
Feverishly she dressed herself, and
once she stopped and turned her
mother's picture to the wall.
"She needn't know," she apolo
gized. "They think I'm"happy I
won't go back a failure, and I won't
tell "them how miserable I've been
111 just make my own life."
The radiator hissed.
tSertrude faced it. "I can take