“Ah, I see. When the cat’s away?”
“Not at all. I am taking this richly earned vacation by his express command.”
“In that case, why mightn’t we turn about and go a real walk—cease picking our way through the noisome hum of commerce and set brisk evening faces toward the open road—and all that? You and I and the dog. What is his name? Rollo, I suppose?”
“Rollo! No! Or Tray or Fido, either! His name is Bee, short for Behemoth—and I think that a very captivating little name, don’t you? His old name, the one I bought him by, was Fred—Fred!—but already he answers to the pretty name of Bee as though he were born to it. Watch.” She pursed her lips and gave a whistle, unexpectedly loud and clear. “Here, Bee, here! Here, sir! Look, look. He turned around right away!”
West laughed. “Wonderfully gifted dog. But I believe you mentioned taking a walk in the November air. I can only say that physicians strongly recommend it, valetudinarians swear by it—”
“Oh—if I only could!—but I simply cannot think of it. Do you know, I never have a holiday without wondering how on earth I could have gotten on another day without it. You can’t imagine what loads of things I’ve done since two o’clock, and loads remain. The very worst job of them all still hangs by a hair over my head. I must cross here.”
West said that evidently her conception of a holiday was badly mixed. As they walked he paid for her society by incessantly taking off his hat; nearly everybody they met spoke to them, many more to him than to her. Though both of them had been born in that city and grown up with it, the girl had only lately come to know West well, and she did not know him very well now. All the years hitherto she had joined in the general admiration of him shyly and from a distance, the pretty waiting-lady’s attitude toward the dazzling young crown prince. She was observant, and so she could not fail to observe now the cordiality with which people of all sorts saluted him, the touch of deference in the greeting of not a few. He was scarcely thirty, but it would have been clear to a duller eye that he was already something of a personage. Yet he held no public office, nor were his daily walks the walks of philanthropic labor for the common good. In fact Semple & West’s was merely a brokerage establishment, which was understood to be cleaning up a tolerable lot of money per annum.
They stood on the corner, waiting for a convenient chance to cross, and West looked at her as at one whom it was pleasant to rest one’s eyes upon. She drew his attention to their humming environment. For a city of that size the life and bustle here were, indeed, such as to take the eye. Trolley cars clanged by in a tireless procession; trucks were rounding up for stable and for bed; delivery wagons whizzed corners and bumped on among them; now and then a chauffeur honked by, grim eyes roving for the unwary pedestrian. On both sides of the street the homeward march of tired humans was already forming and quickening.