He bowed and walked away. Sharlee went to the telephone and called Bartlett’s, the florist. She told Mr. Bartlett that a young man would come in there in a few minutes—full description of the young man—asking for seventy-five cents’ worth of red roses; Mr. Bartlett would please give him two dozen roses, and charge the difference to her, Miss Weyland; the entire transaction to be kept discreetly quiet.
However the transaction was not kept entirely quiet. The roses were delivered promptly, and became the chief topic of conversation at Mrs. Paynter’s dinner-table. Through an enforced remark of Mr. Queed’s, and the later discursive gossip of the boarders, it became disseminated over the town that Bartlett’s was selling American Beauties at thirty-seven and a half cents a dozen, and the poor man had to buy ten inches, double column, in the Post next morning to get himself straightened out and reestablish Bartlett’s familiar quotations.
More Consequences of the Plan about the Gift, and of how Mr. Queed drinks his Medicine like a Man; Fifi on Men, and how they do; Second Corruption of The Sacred Schedule.
Queed’s irrational impulse to make Fifi a small gift cost him the heart of his morning. A call would have been cheaper, after all. Nor was the end yet. In this world it never is, where one event invariably hangs by the tail of another in ruthless concatenation. Starting out for Open-air Pedestrianism at 4.45 that afternoon, the young man was waylaid in the hail by Mrs. Paynter, at the very door of the big bedroom into which Fifi had long since been moved. The landlady, backing Queed against the banisters, told him how much her daughter had been pleased by his beautiful remembrance. The child, she said, wanted particularly to thank him herself, and wouldn’t he please come in and see her just a moment?
As Mrs. Paynter threw open the door in the act of making the extraordinary request, escape was impossible. Queed found himself inside the room before he knew what he was doing. As for Mrs. Paynter, she somewhat treacherously slipped away to consult with Laura as to what for supper.
It was a mild sunny afternoon, with a light April wind idly kicking at the curtains. Fifi sat over by the open window in a tilted-back Morris chair, a sweet-faced little thing, all eyes and pallor. From her many covers she extricated a fragile hand, frilled with the sleeve of a pretty flowered kimono.
“Look at them! Aren’t they glorious!”
On a table at her elbow his roses nodded from a wide-lipped vase, a gorgeous riot of flame and fragrance. Gazing at them, the young man marvelled at his own princely prodigality.
“I don’t know how to thank you for them, Mr. Queed, They are so, so sweet, and I do love roses so!”
Indeed her joy in them was too obvious to require any words. Queed decided to say nothing about the mitts.