Mr. Albert P. Pennyfeather was in love. For those who knew him well this was not, altogether, much of a surprise. Mr. Pennyfeather, after all, was infamous within certain circles for his particular talent for falling into and out of love at the drop of the proverbial hat; sometimes even before the hat had been dropped. Indeed, there was some debate amongst his friends and relations precisely how he accomplished his feats of romantic permutation. This time, however, was different, as Mr. Pennyfeather earnestly assured his friends at the club. This time it was true love. Mr. Jonathan Fallows of Ward & Beecham, who had, by last count, heard Mr. Pennyfeather make approximately two hundred and twenty-three such declarations, was unconvinced.
“Now look here, Pennyfeather,” he said rather sharply, “I’ve heard this all before. Just last week you were telling me all about whatsername…the one with the violin, or was it the cello?”
“It was the viola,” Pennyfeather replied with a dismissive wave of his hand, “but never mind her. That was just a silly little crush. Best to forget about her. I certainly have. No, Dorothea is the one for me.”
“Dorothea?” Fallows asked. “Not Dorothea Rayne?”
“Yes,” Pennyfeather sighed happily, “Dorothea Rayne…”
“Not the author of ‘The New Venus: The Phrenological Case for Women’s Supremacy?’”
“The very same,” Pennyfeather nodded.
Mr. Fallows peered at him incredulously. “Have you actually read her book?” he asked.
“Well no,” Pennyfeather admitted, “ but she gave me an autographed copy after her lecture.”
Mr. Fallows blinked trying to picture his friend attending any lecture at all, let alone one on The Phrenological Case for Women’s Supremacy, but found that it was beyond his powers of imagination.
“You went to her lecture?” he asked at last.
“Oh yes,” said Pennyfeather, “it was most instructive.”
“Ignoring the implications of that for the moment,” said Mr. Fallows, who was beginning to harbor grave doubts concerning his friend’s state of mind, “why precisely did you attend a lecture on Women’s Supremacy?”
For the first time, Pennyfeather appeared a trifle reluctant. “Well you see, old boy, it was like this… What I mean to say is that… it was Angela you see. She so desperately wanted to go…”
“I see,” said Mr. Fallows, who was indeed beginning to, “So you accompanied Ms. Cartwright to the lecture on her insistence…”
“Yes,” said Pennyfeather, “I would never have thought to go on my own.”
“Well quite,” Mr. Fallows agreed. “And where is Ms. Cartwright now?”
“How the blazes should I know?” Pennyfeather cried. “It doesn’t matter anyway. She isn’t half the woman Dorothea is.”
“No, of course not,” Mr. Fallows said. Then, checking his watch, he suddenly remembered an urgent engagement elsewhere and so, appropriately apologetic, he took his leave. And as he headed out into the rain he shook his head sadly. Poor Old Pennyfeather, he never would change.