“I refrain from pointing out the town hall, and the Carnegie Library,” she said.
“I am grateful,” he bowed.
“Are you married?” she darted at him, out of their impersonality.
“That helps a little.”
His surprise was evident.
“I’m afraid I’ve got you into rather a box.”
“I don’t mind, if you will play Pandora.”
“Thanks. You remember that I told you that my—my career was to be a secret from the ’Heavenly Twins’?”
“I suppose my career is about over, but I don’t want them to know about it.”
“Excuse me. What’s that—about your career being over?”
“That’s why you’ve come, isn’t it? You didn’t like the last story?”
He stared at her, and then burst out laughing.
“You thought I would come way out here from New York to tell you I didn’t like it?”
“I have a high opinion of your kindness,” she nodded.
“You nice little girl!” he added impetuously. “I came partly because I wanted to talk to you again, partly because I wanted to see Jarvis and the Professor.”
She smiled and nodded encouragement.
“Then, too, we’ve had such a raft of letters about the ‘Francesca’ story that I want to talk to you about making a novel of it, to run serially, instead of the short stories we arranged for.”
“A novel? You want me to write a novel?”
“But I wonder if I could?” she said, in an awed voice.
“Of course you could. The second story was ripping.”
“Was it? Was it?” She clapped her hands joyously.
“We can use it as Chapter Two, with very few changes, and from now on you can build your story about the characters you have introduced, with a spinal cord of plot to give it shape.”
“It frightens me to death, to think of doing it. I have always thought it took genius to write a novel.”
“My dear young woman, not in this day, when publishing houses gush books like so many geysers. Anybody with your gift of words and vivid reactions ought to find writing the line of least resistance. Of course you can do it.”
“I’d adore trying if you’d help me.”
He watched the concentration of her face with interest. She was wrapped in the thought of the book. She was attacking it, on all sides, with the lance of her mind. When she threw herself into every new interest with such abandon, it was no wonder that she gave out impressions with the same intensity.
“What about the box I’m in?” he reminded her. She came out of her trance with a start.
“I’d forgotten all about you,” she said frankly. “I had to explain you to the ‘Heavenly Twins,’ somehow. If I said you were an editor, they would naturally ask why you came to see me?”
“I never thought of that. I am afraid I’ve put you in an embarrassing position.”