I eagerly plunged in with the obvious question:—
“Oh, no! Only Wednesday week.”
“But will it keep?”
My ignorance diverted her. “Lady Baltimore? Why, the idea!” And she laughed at me from the immense distance that the South is from the North.
“Then he’ll have to pay for two?”
“Oh, no! I wasn’t going to make it till Tuesday.
“I didn’t suppose that kind of thing would keep,” I muttered rather vaguely.
Her young spirits bubbled over. “Which kind of thing? The wedding—or the cake?”
This produced a moment of laughter on the part of us both; we giggled joyously together amid the silence and wares for sale, the painted cups, the embroidered souvenirs, the new food, and the old family “pieces.”
So this delightful girl was a verbal skirmisher! Now nothing is more to my liking than the verbal skirmish, and therefore I began one immediately. “I see you quite know,” was the first light shot that I hazarded.
Her retort to this was merely a very bland and inquiring stare.
I now aimed a trifle nearer the mark. “About him—her—it! Since you practically live in the Exchange, how can you exactly help yourself?”
Her laughter came back. “It’s all, you know, so much later than 1812.”
“Later! Why, a lot of it is to happen yet!”
She leaned over the counter. “Tell me what you know about it,” she said with caressing insinuation.
“Oh, well—but probably they mean to have your education progress chronologically.”
“I think I can pick it up anywhere. We had to at the plantation.”
It was from my table in the distant dim back of the room, where things stood lumpily under mosquito netting, that I told her my history. She made me go there to my lunch. She seemed to desire that our talk over the counter should not longer continue. And so, back there, over my chocolate and sandwiches, I brought out my gleaned and arranged knowledge which rang out across the distance, comically, like a lecture. She, at her counter, now and then busy with her ledger, received it with the attentive solemnity of a lecture. The ledger might have been notes that she was dutifully and improvingly taking. After I had finished she wrote on for a little while in silence. The curly white dog rose into sight, looked amiably and vaguely about, stretched himself, and sank to sleep again out of sight.
“That’s all?” she asked abruptly.
“So far,” I answered.
“And what do you think of such a young man?” she inquired.
“I know what I think of such a young woman.”
She was still pensive. “Yes, yes, but then that is so simple.”
I had a short laugh. “Oh, if you come to the simplicity!”
She nodded, seeming to be doing sums with her pencil.
“Men are always simple—when they’re in love.”