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"Oh, that's what you meant by the 'whole darned business,' was it?"
cried the Youngish Girl suddenly, edging away out to the front of her
seat. Along the curve of her cheeks an almost mischievous smile began
to quicken. "Oh, yes! I heard that, too!" she confessed cheerfully.
"But what was the beginning of it all? The very beginning? What was
the first thing you said? What started you talking about it? Oh,
please, excuse me for hearing anything at all," she finished abruptly;
"but I've been traveling alone now for five dreadful days, all the way
down from British Columbia, and--if--you--will--persist--in--saying
interesting things--in trains--you must take the consequences!"
There was no possible tinge of patronage or condescension in her
voice, but rather, instead, a bumpy, naive sort of friendliness, as
lonesome Royalty sliding temporarily down from its throne might
reasonably contend with each bump, "A King may look at a cat! He may!
Along the edge of the Young Electrician's cheek-bones the red began to
flush furiously. He seemed to have a funny little way of blushing just
before he spoke, and the physical mannerism gave an absurdly
italicized sort of emphasis to even the most trivial thing that he
"I guess you'll have to go ahead and tell her about 'Rosie,'" he
suggested grinningly to the Traveling Salesman.
"Yes! Oh, do tell me about 'Rosie,'" begged the Youngish Girl with
whimsical eagerness. "Who in creation was 'Rosie'?" she persisted
laughingly. "I've been utterly mad about 'Rosie' for the last
"Why, 'Rosie' is nobody at all--probably," said the Traveling Salesman
a trifle wryly.
"Oh, pshaw!" flushed the Young Electrician, crinkling up all the
little smile-tissue around his blue eyes. "Oh, pshaw! Go ahead and
tell her about 'Rosie.'"
"Why, I tell you it wasn't anything so specially interesting,"
protested the Traveling Salesman diffidently. "We simply got jollying
a bit in the first place about the amount of perfectly senseless,
no-account truck that'll collect in a fellow's pockets; and then some
sort of a scorched piece of paper he had, or something, got him
telling me about a nasty, sizzling close call he had to-day with a
live wire; and then I got telling him here about a friend of
mine--and a mighty good fellow, too--who dropped dead on the street
one day last summer with an unaddressed, typewritten letter in his
pocket that began 'Dearest Little Rosie,' called her a 'Honey' and a
'Dolly Girl' and a 'Pink-Fingered Precious,' made a rather foolish
dinner appointment for Thursday in New Haven, and was signed--in the
Lord's own time--at the end of four pages, 'Yours forever, and then
some. TOM.'--Now the wife of the deceased was named--Martha."
Quite against all intention, the Youngish Girl's laughter rippled out
explosively and caught up the latent amusement in the Young
Electrician's face. Then, just as unexpectedly, she wilted back a
little into her seat.
"I don't call that an 'indiscreet letter'!" she protested almost
resentfully. "You might call it a knavish letter. Or a foolish letter.
Because either a knave or a fool surely wrote it! But 'indiscreet'?
"Well, for heaven's sake!" said the Traveling Salesman.
"If--you--don't--call--that--an--indiscreet letter, what would you
"Yes, sure," gasped the Young Electrician, "what would you call one?"
The way his lips mouthed the question gave an almost tragical purport
"What would I call an 'indiscreet letter'?" mused the Youngish Girl
slowly. "Why--why--I think I'd call an 'indiscreet letter' a letter
that was pretty much--of a gamble perhaps, but a letter that was
perfectly, absolutely legitimate for you to send, because it would be
your own interests and your own life that you were gambling with, not
the happiness of your wife or the honor of your husband. A letter,
perhaps, that might be a trifle risky--but a letter, I mean, that is
absolutely on the square!"
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