Back of the crimson geraniums and the canary’s cage he could see Melissa sitting at a low table. The yellow cat occupied the big rocker. It was all so pleasant and home-like a lump rose in the captain’s throat. He decided to steal quietly in and surprise Melissa. But at the door he stopped as suddenly as if he had been shot. A deep bass voice was uttering words that sounded strangely familiar.
“‘Dear and esteemed lady,’” he heard. Cautiously he tip-toed across the hall. A phonograph was on the table in front of Melissa. As he bent forward the proposal “to a dignified and refined lady” came to an end. Tenderly Melissa put both arms about the shining horn of the phonograph and kissed it!
The sight was too much for the captain. With one bound, he cleared the threshold and entered the cosy sitting room.
“M’lissy Macy,” he declared boldly, “I ain’t goin’ to have you wastin’ kisses on an old phonograph when I’m right here. Where’d you find that record, M’lissy?” he asked at last.
Melissa blushed delightfully. “Mis’ Crowell heard you and told me you was practisin’ how to propose and, after you went away, I went and got every single one of them records,” confessed Melissa. “I’ve played ’em over and over, even the ‘darn it!’ one. I know that proposal by heart.”
“So do I,” responded Captain Enoch grimly, as he salvaged another kiss. “I’ve be’n a reg’lar old putty-head,” he admitted with unsparing honesty, “but if you’ll promise to teach me, I’d like to learn a whole lot more by heart.”
“I’ll do my best,” promised Melissa mischievously.
Place—A flat in Back Bay.
“Bessie Lane, where in the world did you drop from?”
“The station just now and I’m famished.”
“I haven’t a thing for lunch but you take off your wraps while I attend to things.”
“There, I’ve ordered a delicious lunch and it will be here in fifteen or twenty minutes. What a handy thing a telephone is.”
“Oh, yes, very handy indeed.”
“Why the sarcasm, my dear Bessie?”
“You seem to forget that I live in the country.”
“But not out of reach of ’phones, Bessie.”
“No, but we are on a sixteen-party line with eighteen other subscribers. Not long ago I went to the dentist and had a tooth treated. The next morning I awoke with a toothache. About the middle of the forenoon, nine-thirty to be exact, I thought I would call up the dentist to find out if the treatment ought to make my tooth ache. I gave the bell a vigorous ring—”
“Why should you ring a bell to telephone?”
“My dear citified Annie, we do not run our universe by electricity as you do in the city, and it is our only means of attracting ‘central.’ I rang the bell, put the receiver to my ear and heard, ’I am using the line.’