“Very interesting. But I’ve got luncheon to cook,” said Io.
They returned through the desert. As he opened the door of the shack for her, Banneker, reverting to her autobiographical sketch, remarked thoughtfully and without preliminary:
“I might have known there couldn’t be any one else like you.”
Although the vehicle of his professional activities had for some years been a small and stertorous automobile locally known as “Puffy Pete,” Mr. James Mindle always referred to his process of postal transfer from the station to the town as “teamin’ over the mail.” He was a frail, grinny man from the prairie country, much given to romantic imaginings and an inordinate admiration for Banneker.
Having watched from the seat of his chariot the brief but ceremonial entry of Number Three, which, on regular schedule, roared through Manzanita at top speed, he descended, captured the mail-bag and, as the transcontinental pulled out, accosted the station-agent.
“What’d she stop for, Ban?”
“Didn’t say nothin’ about havin’ a ravin’ may-ni-ac aboard, did theh?”
“Ban, was you ever in the State of Ohio?”
“A long time ago.”
“Are Ohio folks liable to be loony?”
“Not more than others, I reckon, Jimmy.”
“Pretty enthoosiastic about themselves, though, ain’t theh?”
“Why, I don’t know. It’s a nice country there, Jimmy.”
“There was one on Number Three sure thought so. Hadn’t scarcely come to a stop when off he jumps and waves his fins and gives three cheers for it.”
“Ohio. I’m tellin’ you.
He ramps across the track yippin’ ’Ohio!
Ohio!’ whoopity-yoop. He come right at me and I says, ’Watch yehself,
Buddy. You’ll git left.’”
“What did he say to that?” asked Banneker indulgently.
“Never looked at me no more than a doodle-bug. Just yelled ‘Ohio!’ again. So I come back at him with ‘Missourah.’ He grabs me by the shoulder and points to your shack. ‘Who owns that little shed?’ says he, very excited. ‘My friend, Mr. Banneker,’ says I, polite as always to strangers. ‘But I own that shoulder you’re leanin’ on, and I’m about to take it away with me when I go,’ I says. He leaned off and says, ’Where did that young lady come from that was standin’ in the doorway a minute ago?’ ‘Young lady,’ Ban. Do you get that? So I says, ’You’re lucky, Bud. When I get ’em, it’s usually snakes and bugs and such-like rep-tyles. Besides,’ I says, ‘your train is about to forgit that you got off it,’ I says. With that he gives another screech that don’t even mean as much as Ohio and tails onto the back platform just in time.”
Said Ban, after frowning consideration:
“You didn’t see any lady around the shack, did you, Jimmy?”