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Love Story by Irving E. Cox and Jr.

_love story_

BY IRVING E. COX, JR.

_Illustrated by Paul Orban_

_Everything was aimed at satisfying the whims of women. The popular cliches, the pretty romances, the catchwords of advertising became realities; and the compound kept the men enslaved. George knew what he had to do...._

* * * * *

The duty bell rang and obediently George clattered down the steps from his confinement cubicle over the garage. His mother's chartreuse-colored Cadillac convertible purred to a stop in the drive.

"It's so sweet of you to come, Georgie," his mother said when George opened the door for her.

"Whenever you need me, Mummy." It was no effort at all to keep the sneer out of his voice. Deception had become a part of his character.

His mother squeezed his arm. "I can always count on my little boy to do the right thing."

"Yes, Mummy." They were mouthing a formula of words. They were both very much aware that if George hadn't snapped to attention as soon as the duty bell rang, he risked being sentenced, at least temporarily, to the national hero's corps.

Still in the customary, martyr's whisper, George's mother said, "This has been such a tiring day. A man can never understand what a woman has to endure, Georgie; my life is such an ordeal." Her tone turned at once coldly practical. "I've two packages in the trunk; carry them to the house for me."

George picked up the cardboard boxes and followed her along the brick walk in the direction of the white, Colonial mansion where his mother and her two daughters and her current husband lived. George, being a boy, was allowed in the house only when his mother invited him, or when he was being shown off to a prospective bride. George was nineteen, the most acceptable marriage age; because he had a magnificent build and the reputation for being a good boy, his mother was rumored to be asking twenty thousand shares for him.

As they passed the rose arbor, his mother dropped on the wooden seat and drew George down beside her. "I've a surprise for you, George--a new bidder. Mrs. Harper is thinking about you for her daughter."

"Jenny Harper?" Suddenly his throat was dust dry with excitement.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you, Georgie?"

"Whatever arrangement you make, Mummy." Jenny Harper was one of the few outsiders George had occasionally seen as he grew up. She was approximately his age, a stunning, dark-eyed brunette.

"Jenny and her mother are coming to dinner to talk over a marriage settlement." Speculatively she ran her hand over the tanned, muscle-hard curve of his upper arm. "You're anxious to have your own woman, aren't you, George?"


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