The Immigrants

The Immigrants by Howard Fast

Book: The Immigrants by Howard Fast Read Free Book Online
Authors: Howard Fast
arrived, Jean Seldon had not taken her eyes off the entrance to the room, waiting for him. Her mother watched her. Did her mother know? That would come later in the evening, when her mother would demand to know who had invited him.
    “I did,” she would say.
    “Because I wanted him here.”
    “And you knew I did not want him here?”
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    H o w a r d F a s t
    “But I did.”
    Or perhaps not precisely in those terms. Her mother never screamed or lost her temper; her weapons were silence, cold fury, scorn; and all of these were weapons Jean understood and could use in kind. Her father would simply accept it. She had the feeling that he re garded Dan Lavette with amused respect, and if he dared challenge her, she would point out that if he could have Mayor McCarthy and Police Chief Martin as guests in his house, she could certainly invite Dan Lavette.
    Yet she was nervous, sufficiently so for her mother to say to her, “Jean, what on earth is wrong with you? The Brockers said you ignored them. You’re not ill?”
    “I’m just fine, Mother.”
    Mary Seldon could not pursue it. There were fifty guests expected, in what was more or less a tribute to the new mayor, Patrick Henry McCar thy, who had been swept into office by the Union La bor Party, and here he was already to meet the kings and the pashas and the nabobs, his sworn enemies during the campaign and now the convivial recipients of his charming Irish brogue, the Brockers and the Whittiers and the Callans and all the others who ruled the city and so much of the state; and Mary Seldon was totally preoccupied with the business of being a hostess. As for Jean, she turned a deaf ear to the three or four young men who had been asked as her friends, in particular Alan Brocker, who had courted her for the past two years. When he complained that she had not given him two minutes of her attention, Jean, who never minced words, informed him that two minutes were sufficient to bore her to tears.
    Her nervousness was due in part to the fact that she was by no means certain that Dan Lavette would ap pear. She had told him that it would be a formal affair and that he would be expected to wear a tuxedo. He had none. He had never worn one. But now, watching the door and listening to the chatter of her friend Marcy
    t H e I m m I g r a n t s
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    Callan, she saw him come through the wide double doors, tuxedo and all, wearing his dinner jacket as if it had been molded to his enormous body, looking for her over the heads of the others.
    “Who is he?” Marcy Callan asked her. “Oh, no, he’s not your fisherman?”
    “He is. And if you go near him, I’ll claw your eyes out.” Then she went to him, quickly, avoiding the eyes of her mother, who had also seen him, and took his arm. “Oh, Danny, you were so brave to come.”
    “You are goddamn right,” he whispered to her. “What in hell am I doing here?”
    “Being handsome and charming and witty and bril liant—which is exactly what one would expect from the man who intends to marry Thomas Seldon’s one and only child.” She took his arm.
    “Come, let me introduce you to the royalty.”
    Looking at her, Dan would have allowed her to introduce him to the devil himself. She wore a gown of peach-colored crêpe de Chine, and her honey-colored hair was piled like a crown on her head. On her high heels, she was only a few inches shorter than he, and the two of them together became the target for every eye in the room. She felt the keen edge of her triumph; her mother and father could do nothing now but be as pleasant and engaging as host and hostess should. The whispers began, Jean’s fisherman, the Tenderloin braw ler—she’s been seeing him for ages, but who can blame her? Smiling serenely, she introduced him to James Brocker.
    “This is Daniel Lavette, my friend.” She whis pered to Dan, “The other bank. He and Daddy have all the money in the world.”
    Whittier shook hands with him coldly.

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