“Gee, I hope Kizzie killed by the half dozen last night; if there aren’t three chickens apiece you’ll be hungry, L’Aiglon,” said Mr. Buzz Clendenning with a laugh as he seated himself beside me and unfolded his napkin.
“I wish that you might call me Robert, Mr. Clendenning,” I said with a great friendliness as I ate a food that I had not before tasted and that I did so much like that I was tempted to steal some to put in my pocket for fear I would come to believe that I had dreamed it to exist. It is called corn pone and is made of maize, and it will be found in some form at every meal upon my Uncle, the General Robert’s, table, good Kizzie assured me as I made her a compliment about it.
“Though the name of that son of our great Napoleon is very dear to me,” I added at his quick glance, fearing he might think me offended at what is called a nickname.
“Sure, Bobbie, and you’ll forget that I wouldn’t let you kiss me, won’t you?” he answered as he drew back from the table and lit a cigarette after passing me the case. “Everybody calls me Buzz the Bumble Bee because of a historic encounter of mine with a whole nest of bumblebees right out here in the General’s garden. It is a title of heroism and I’d like to have you use it as if we’d been kids together as we were slated to have been. Gee, I bet you could have beat the bees down some. You looked all soft to me when I first saw you but you are so quick and lithe and springy that you must be some steel. What do you weigh out, stripped?”
“Er—er, about one-thirty,” I answered, and I made a resolve not to blush or show anything of embarrassment, no matter what was to be said to me in my estate of a young gentleman.
And I make this note to myself that it is a great pleasure and interest to sit beside a nice young man with a cigarette in his mouth and one in my hand as if for smoking, which I do not like to do from its bitterness, and converse with him about matters of good sense without having in any way to use that coquetry which breaks into small sections the usual conversation between a man and a woman of enthusiastic youngness.
“I tip at one fifty-two, but I’m an inch and a half taller. Do you run? You’re good and deep chested,” he further inquired and it was with difficulty that I again controlled the blush.
“I fence and I’m large of lung,” I answered quickly.
“Anything ever foaled,” I answered in words I had heard my father use about my horsemanship.