The voice of the Railroad Journey was a dull, vague, conglomerate, cinder-scented babble of grinding wheels and shuddering window frames; but the voices of the Traveling Salesman and the Young Electrician were shrill, gruff, poignant, inert, eternally variant, after the manner of human voices which are discussing the affairs of the universe.
“Every man,” affirmed the Traveling Salesman sententiously—“every man has written one indiscreet letter during his lifetime!”
“Only one?” scoffed the Young Electrician with startling distinctness above even the loudest roar and rumble of the train.
With a rather faint, rather gaspy chuckle of amusement the Youngish Girl in the seat just behind the Traveling Salesman reached forward then and touched him very gently on the shoulder.
“Oh, please, may I listen?” she asked quite frankly.
With a smile as benevolent as it was surprised, the Traveling Salesman turned half-way around in his seat and eyed her quizzically across the gold rim of his spectacles.
“Why, sure you can listen!” he said.
The Traveling Salesman was no fool. People as well as lisle thread were a specialty of his. Even in his very first smiling estimate of the Youngish Girl’s face, neither vivid blond hair nor luxuriantly ornate furs misled him for an instant. Just as a Preacher’s high waistcoat passes him, like an official badge of dignity and honor, into any conceivable kind of a situation, so also does a woman’s high forehead usher her with delicious impunity into many conversational experiences that would hardly be wise for her lower-browed sister.
With an extra touch of manners the Salesman took off his neat brown derby hat and placed it carefully on the vacant seat in front of him. Then, shifting his sample-case adroitly to suit his new twisted position, he began to stick cruel little prickly price marks through alternate meshes of pink and blue lisle.
“Why, sure you can listen!” he repeated benignly. “Traveling alone’s awful stupid, ain’t it? I reckon you were glad when the busted heating apparatus in the sleeper gave you a chance to come in here and size up a few new faces. Sure you can listen! Though, bless your heart, we weren’t talking about anything so very specially interesting,” he explained conscientiously. “You see, I was merely arguing with my young friend here that if a woman really loves you, she’ll follow you through any kind of blame or disgrace—follow you anywheres, I said—anywheres!”
“Not anywheres,” protested the Young Electrician with a grin. “’Not up a telegraph pole!’” he requoted sheepishly.
“Y-e-s—I heard that,” acknowledged the Youngish Girl with blithe shamelessness.