Laura is seen sitting at a table in the living room polishing her menagerie. When she hears Amanda coming up the fire escape she pushes the animals away and sits in front of a typewriter as if she'd been working there for some time. Amanda arrives looking dramatically downtrodden. She is wearing what are described to be old garments that are obviously out of fashion.
Amanda enters and Laura explains that she's been working. Amanda accuses Laura of deceptiveness and affects a pained expression, melodramatically dropping her gloves and hat on the floor. She feigns extreme anxiety, taking a handkerchief from her bag and applying it to her lips and nose nervously. She crosses the room and takes down the diagram of a typewriter keyboard, ripping it up dramatically in front of Laura. When Laura asks why Amanda's done this, Amanda first rips up another secretarial diagram, and then she asks Laura how old she is. As her daughter, Laura replies that Amanda knows the answer to this question. Amanda follows up by saying that she had imagined Laura to be an adult, but she is afraid she was wrong. She reveals that she was on her way to a meeting of the D.A.R. (Daughters of the Revolution), when she stopped in to Rubicam's Business College, where Laura supposedly takes secretarial classes. She explains that she was going to tell one of Laura's teachers about Laura's cold and her subsequent absence from school that day, and to ask about her daughter's progress, but that when she introduced herself to the typing teacher she was told that Laura has dropped out of school. Laura has thus been lying to her mother for six weeks, claiming to go to school when in fact she's been going walking in the park. Amanda says that the teacher reported that Laura had been so nervous in class that her hands shook too badly to type, and that she fled the room and never returned.
Amanda reveals that she had thrown up on the floor of the bathroom at the college, and so felt that she could not return to classes there. Laura also adds that she's been going to museums and zoos on her daily walks. She has been visiting the penguins, she adds, and sometimes she skips lunch and goes to the movies with her lunch money instead.
Amanda goes into a monologue asking Laura what the two of them will do without Laura's business career. She fears that they will have to be dependent on an in-law to support them unless Laura marries. She asks Laura if she's ever liked a boy. Laura admits that she had a crush on someone in high school and that his name was Jim. She shows her mother her yearbook, with a picture in it of Jim starring in the Pirates of Penzance. She says that Jim had a nickname for her -- Blue Roses. He called her this, she explains, because she had had pleurosis -- a lung inflammation -- and he had misheard her and thought she said she had "Blue Roses." Laura also notes that Jim had been dating a girl named Emily who was the most fashionable girl at their high school, Soldan. She believes them to be married, judging from the fact that six years ago the high school yearbook said they were engaged.
Amanda encourages Laura to pursue marriage if she won't pursue a business career, and Laura reminds her that she's "'crippled.'" Amanda protests that Laura isn't crippled, and instead only has a slight limp. She pushes Laura to cultivate other qualities, such as charm.
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