Lady Baltimore eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 279 pages of information about Lady Baltimore.
day, I was luxuriously biting one of these, I heard his voice and what he was saying.  Both the voice and the interesting order he was giving caused me, at my small table, in the dim back of the room, to stop and watch him where he stood in the light at the counter to the right of the entrance door.  Young he was, very young, twenty-two or three at the most, and as he stood, with hat in hand, speaking to the pretty girl behind the counter, his head and side-face were of a romantic and high-strung look.  It was a cake that he desired made, a cake for a wedding; and I directly found myself curious to know whose wedding.  Even a dull wedding interests me more than other dull events, because it can arouse so much surmise and so much prophecy; but in this wedding I instantly, because of his strange and winning embarrassment, became quite absorbed.  How came it he was ordering the cake for it?  Blushing like the boy that he was entirely, he spoke in a most engaging voice:  “No, not charged; and as you don’t know me, I had better pay for it now.”

Self-possession in his speech he almost had; but the blood in his cheeks and forehead was beyond his control.

A reply came from behind the counter:  “We don’t expect payment until delivery.”

“But—­a—­but on that morning I shall be rather particularly engaged.”  His tones sank almost away on these words.

“We should prefer to wait, then.  You will leave your address.  In half-pound boxes, I suppose?”

“Boxes?  Oh, yes—­I hadn’t thought—­no—­just a big, round one.  Like this, you know!” His arms embraced a circular space of air.  “With plenty of icing.”

I do not think that there was any smile on the other side of the counter; there was, at any rate, no hint of one in the voice.  “And how many pounds?”

He was again staggered.  “Why—­a—­I never ordered one before.  I want plenty—­and the very best, the very best.  Each person would eat a pound, wouldn’t they?  Or would two be nearer?  I think I had better leave it all to you.  About like this, you know.”  Once more his arms embraced a circular space of air.

Before this I had never heard the young lady behind the counter enter into any conversation with a customer.  She would talk at length about all sorts of Kings Port affairs with the older ladies connected with the Exchange, who were frequently to be found there; but with a customer, never.  She always took my orders, and my money, and served me, with a silence and a propriety that have become, with ordinary shopkeepers, a lost art.  They talk to one indeed!  But this slim girl was a lady, and consequently did the right thing, marking and keeping a distance between herself and the public.  To-day, however, she evidently felt it her official duty to guide the hapless young, man amid his errors.  He now appeared to be committing a grave one.

“Are you quite sure you want that?” the girl was asking.

“Lady Baltimore?  Yes, that is what I want.”

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Project Gutenberg
Lady Baltimore from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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