“If you persist in thinking so, you might feel like rewarding me by coming to see me soon again.”
“Yes, yes! I shall come to see you soon again. Certainly. Of course,” he added hastily, “it is desirable that I should talk with you more at length about my school.”
He was staring at her with a conflict of expressions in which, curiously enough, pained bewilderment seemed uppermost. Sharlee laughed, not quite at her ease.
“Do you know, I am still hoping that some day you will come to see me, not to talk about anything definite—just to talk.”
“As to that,” he replied, “I cannot say. Good-night.”
Forgetting that he had already shaken hands, he now went through with it again. This time the ceremony had unexpected results. For now at the first touch of her hand, a sensation closely resembling chain-lightning sprang up his arm, and tingled violently down through all his person. It was as if his arm had not merely fallen suddenly asleep, but was singing uproariously in its slumbers.
“I’m so glad you came,” said Sharlee.
He retired in a confusion which he was too untrained to hide. At the door he wheeled abruptly, and cleared himself, with a white face, of evasions that were torturing his conscience.
“I will not say that a probable benefit to the boys never entered into my thoughts about the school. Nor do I say that my next visit will be wholly to talk about definite things, as you put it. For part of the time, I daresay I should like—just to talk.”
Sharlee went upstairs, and stood for a long time gazing at herself in the mirror. Vainly she tried to glean from it the answer to a most interesting conundrum: Did Mr. Queed still think her very beautiful?
Recording a Discussion about the Reformatory between Editor West and his Dog-like Admirer, the City Boss; and a Briefer Conversation between West and Prof. Nicolovius’s Boarder.
About one o’clock the telephone rang sharply, and Queed, just arrived for the afternoon work and alone in the office, answered it. It was the Rev. Mr. Dayne, Secretary of the Department of Charities; he had learned that the reformatory bill was to be called up in the house next day. The double-faced politicians of the machine, said Mr. Dayne, with their pretended zeal for economy, were desperately afraid of the Post. Would Mr. Queed be kind enough to hit a final ringing blow for the right in to-morrow’s paper?
“That our position to-day is as strong as it is,” said the kind, firm voice, “is due largely to your splendid work, Mr. Queed. I say this gladly, and advisedly. If you will put your shoulder to the wheel just once more, I am confident that you will push us through. I shall be eternally grateful, and so will the State. For it is a question of genuine moral importance to us all.”