He would finish his vision-plays, as he called them, because he believed in them. But, in the meantime, he would learn something of the real issues of men and women as they live in great cities, so that he could write a play which would be so true, so vital, that it would be like watching the beating of the hot heart of life. That night was the beginning of a new era for Jarvis.
Bambina Parkhurst was a young woman not much given to wrath, but as she read the two letters from New York she grew thoroughly enraged at Jarvis. Evidently, he had been exceedingly rude to Mr. Strong, and evidently Mr. Strong had been exceedingly annoyed. She was so furious at him that when she sat down to her desk to write her daily chapters no ideas came. Her mind just went over and over the situation of kind Mr. Strong putting himself out to be polite for her sake—Jarvis, stiff and ill-mannered, repulsing him. She determined to omit the daily letter to the offender until she cooled off. She gave up work for the morning and descended upon Ardelia.
“Ardelia, I am so mad I can’t think of anything to do but put up fruit.”
“Law, Miss Bambi, you ain’t mad wif me, is you?”
“No. I’m mad with man.”
“Man! Wat’s the Perfessor bin doin’? Has he don’ forgot somfin’?”
“It isn’t the Professor. It’s the sex.”
“Well, don’ you go meddlin’ round wid fruit and gettin’ yo’ hands stained up, jus’ caus’ yo’s mad wid de sex.”
“I have got to do something violent, Ardelia. I am going to jerk the stems off of berries, chop the pits out of cherries, and skin peaches.”
“Laws a-massy, you suttinly is fierce this mohnin’. All right, go ahead, but der ain’t no need of it. I mos’ generally always has put up the fruit for the fam’ly wifout no help.”
“I know you don’t need me, Ardelia, but I need you.”
“Well, chile, heah’s de fust few bushels ob cherries.”
“Bushels? Mercy on us! Are you going to do all those?”
“Yassum. And den some more. Dat’s the Perfessor’s favourite fruit.”
Bambi was promptly enveloped in a huge apron and settled on the back piazza, surrounded with pans and baskets. Ardelia stood by, and handed her things, until she got started.
“Hurry up, and come out, Ardelia. I want you to talk to me and take my mind off of things.”
“I’ll be ’long, by and by.”
[Illustration “I HAVE GOT TO DO SOMETHING VIOLENT, ARDELIA. I AM GOING TO JERK THE STEMS OFF OF BERRIES, CHOP THE PITS OUT OF CHERRIES, AND SKIN PEACHES.”]
Bambi held up a bright-red cherry, named it Jarvis, pulled out its stem, cut out its heart, and finally plumped it into her mouth and chewed it viciously. Then she felt better. There was a cool morning breeze lifting the leaves of the big elms, and nodding the hollyhocks’ heads. The sound of late summer buzzing and humming, and bird songs, made the back porch a pleasant, placid spot—no place in which to keep rage hot.