“Everybody calls you ’Joe’,” she said reproachfully, as the car dropped downward. “Why don’t they call you ‘Mr. Fleming’? That’s no more than proper.”
But he was staring moodily at the elevator boy and did not seem to hear.
“What’s the matter, Joe?” she asked, with a tenderness the power of which to thrill him she knew full well.
“Oh, nothing,” he said. “I was only thinking—and wishing.”
“Wishing?—what?” Her voice was seduction itself, and her eyes would have melted stronger than he, though they failed in calling his up to them.
Then, deliberately, his eyes lifted to hers. “I was wishing you could see me fight just once.”
She made a gesture of disgust, and his face fell. It came to her sharply that the rival had thrust between and was bearing him away.
“I—I’d like to,” she said hastily with an effort, striving after that sympathy which weakens the strongest men and draws their heads to women’s breasts.
Again his eyes lifted and looked into hers. He meant it—she knew that. It seemed a challenge to the greatness of her love.
“It would be the proudest moment of my life,” he said simply.
It may have been the apprehensiveness of love, the wish to meet his need for her sympathy, and the desire to see the Game face to face for wisdom’s sake,—and it may have been the clarion call of adventure ringing through the narrow confines of uneventful existence; for a great daring thrilled through her, and she said, just as simply, “I will.”
“I didn’t think you would, or I wouldn’t have asked,” he confessed, as they walked out to the sidewalk.
“But can’t it be done?” she asked anxiously, before her resolution could cool.
“Oh, I can fix that; but I didn’t think you would.”
“I didn’t think you would,” he repeated, still amazed, as he helped her upon the electric car and felt in his pocket for the fare.
Genevieve and Joe were working-class aristocrats. In an environment made up largely of sordidness and wretchedness they had kept themselves unsullied and wholesome. Theirs was a self-respect, a regard for the niceties and clean things of life, which had held them aloof from their kind. Friends did not come to them easily; nor had either ever possessed a really intimate friend, a heart-companion with whom to chum and have things in common. The social instinct was strong in them, yet they had remained lonely because they could not satisfy that instinct and at that same time satisfy their desire for cleanness and decency.