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The Agony Column - Earl Derr Biggers

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The Agony Column

by Earl Derr Biggers


London that historic summer was almost unbearably hot.  It seems,
looking back, as though the big baking city in those days was meant
to serve as an anteroom of torture  - an inadequate bit of
preparation for the hell that was soon to break in the guise of the
Great War.  About the soda-water bar in the drug store near the
Hotel Cecil many American tourists found solace in the sirups and
creams of home.  Through the open windows of the Piccadilly tea
shops you might catch glimpses of the English consuming quarts of
hot tea in order to become cool.   It is a paradox they swear by.

About nine o'clock on the morning of Friday, July twenty-fourth,
in that memorable year nineteen hundred and fourteen, Geoffrey West
left his apartments in Adelphi Terrace and set out for breakfast at
the Canton.  He had found the breakfast room of that dignified hotel
the coolest in London, and through some miracle, for the season had
passed, strawberries might still be had there.  As he took his way
through the crowded Strand, surrounded on all sides by honest
British faces wet with honest British perspiration he thought
longingly of his rooms in Washington Square, New York.  For West,
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