“That’s a good idea, Roddy. I’m glad you’re not coming back. Good night.”
It was with a reminiscent smile that Rose sat down before her telephone the next morning and called a number from memory. Less than a year ago, it had been such a thrilling adventure to call the number of that fraternity house down at the university and ask, in what she conceived to be a businesslike way, for Mr. Haines. And then, presently, to hear the voice of the greatest half-back the varsity had boasted of in years, saying in answer to her “Hello, Harry,” “Hello, Rose.”
It was really less than a year, and yet it was so immensely long ago, judged by anything but the calendar, that the natural way to think of him was as a married man with a family somewhere and faint memories of the days when he was a student and used to flirt with a girl called Rose something—Rose Stanton, that was it!
It was during one of the interminable waking hours of last night that she had thought of the half-back as a person who might be able, and willing, to do her the service she wanted, and she had spent a long while wondering how she could get track of him. Then the logic of the calendar had forced the conviction on her, that he was, in all probability still at the university, dozing through recitations, or lounging about the corridors, in a blue serge suit and a sweater with a C on it, waiting for some other girl to come out of her class-room; and that between the hours of ten-fifteen and eleven, it was altogether likely that she’d find him again, as she had so many times in the past, at his fraternity house, going through the motions of getting up an eleven o’clock recitation. It was absurd enough now to find herself calling the old number and asking again for Mr. Haines. The dreamlike unreality of it grew stronger, when the voice that answered said, “Just a minute,” and then bellowed out his old nickname—“Hello, Tiny! Phone!” and, after a wait, she heard his own very deep bass.
“Hello. What is it?”
“Hello, Harry,” she said. “This is Rose Aldrich. Do you remember me?—Rose Stanton, you know.”
The ensuing silence was so long, that she said “Hello” again to make sure that he was still there.
“Y—yes,” he said. “Of—of course I haven’t forgotten. I—I only ... I ...”
She wondered what he was so embarrassed about, but to save the situation, she interrupted.
“Are you going to be awfully busy this afternoon? Because, if you aren’t, there’s something you can do for me. You’re in the law school this year, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” he said. “Of course I’m not busy at all.”
“It’ll take quite a little while,” she warned him, “an hour or so, and I don’t want to interfere with anything you’ve got to do.”
Again he assured her that he hadn’t anything.