I told her she probably would never meet another who required so much convincing, and, after wrangling over the matter politely for a minute, got her to promise me another waltz, said promise to be redeemed after supper.
I tried to talk to “Aunt Lodema,” but she would have none of me, and she seemed to think I had more than my share of effrontery to attempt such a thing. Mrs. Loroman was better, and I filled in fifteen minutes or so very pleasantly with her. After that I went over to Edith and got her to sit out a dance with me.
The first thing she asked me was about Frosty. Who was he? and why was he here? and how long had he been here? I told her all I knew about him, and then turned frank and asked her why she wanted to know.
“Mama hasn’t recognized him—yet,” she said confidentially, “but I was sure he was the same. He has shaved his mustache, and he’s much browner and heavier, but he’s Fred Miller—and why doesn’t he come and speak to me?”
Out of much words, I gathered that she and Frosty were, to put it mildly, old friends. She didn’t just say there was an engagement between them, but she hinted it; his father had “had trouble”—the vagueness of women!—and Edith’s mama had turned Frosty down, to put it bluntly. Frosty had, ostensibly, gone to South Africa, and that was the last of him. Miss Edith seemed quite disturbed over seeing him there in Kenmore. I told her that if Frosty wanted to stay in the background, that was his privilege and my gain, and she smiled at me vaguely and said of course it didn’t really matter.
At supper-time our crowd got the storekeeper intimidated sufficiently to open his store and sell us something to eat. The King faction had looked upon us blackly, though there were too many of us to make it safe meddling, and none of us were minded to break bread with them. Instead, we sat around on the counter and on boxes in the store, and ate crackers and sardines and things like that. I couldn’t help remembering my last Fourth, and the banquet I had given on board the Molly Stark—my yacht, named after the lady known to history, whom dad claims for an ancestress—and I laughed out loud. The boys wanted to know the cause of my mirth, and so, with a sardine laid out decently between two crackers in one hand, and a blue “granite” cup of plebeian beer in the other, I told them all about that banquet, and some of the things we had to eat and drink—whereat they laughed, too. The contrast was certainly amusing. But, somehow, I wouldn’t have changed, just then, if I could have done so. That, also, is something I’m not psychologist enough to explain.
That last waltz with Miss King was like to prove disastrous, for we swished uncomfortably close to her father, standing scowling at Frosty and some of the others of our crowd near the door. Luckily, he didn’t see us, and at the far end Miss King stopped abruptly. Her cheeks were pink, and her eyes looked up at me—wistfully, I could almost say.