“Johnny,” Edith said, “why do you suppose Eleanor gives me so many call-downs? ’Course I hate music; and once I said she was always pounding on the piano—and she didn’t seem to like it!” Edith was genuinely puzzled. “I can’t understand Eleanor,” she said; “she makes me tired.”
“I should think she’d make Maurice tired!” Johnny said, and added: “That’s the worst of getting married. I shall never marry.”
“When I was a child,” Edith said, “I always said that when I grew up I was going to marry Maurice, because he was just like Sir Walter Raleigh. Wasn’t that a joke?”
Johnny saw nothing amusing in such foolishness; he said that Maurice was old enough to be her father! As for himself, he felt, he said, that marriage was a mistake. “Women hamper a man dreadfully. Still—I may marry,” Johnny conceded; “but it will be somebody very young, so I can train her mind. I want a woman (if I decide to marry) to be just the kind I want. Otherwise, you get hung up with Eleanors.”
Edith lifted her chin. “Well, I like that! Why shouldn’t she train your mind?”
“Because,” Johnny said, firmly, “the man’s mind is the stronger.”
Edith screamed with laughter, and threw a handful of snow in his neck. “B-r-r-r!” she said; “it’s getting cold! I’ll knock the spots out of you on belly bumps!” She got on her feet, shook the snow from the edge of her skirt, flung herself face down on her sled, and shot like a blue comet over the icy slope. Johnny sped after her, his big sled taking flying leaps over the kiss-me-quicks. They reached the bottom of the hill almost together, and Johnny, looking at her standing there, breathless and rosy, with shining eyes which were as impersonal as stars, said to himself, with emotion:
“She’s got sense—for a girl.” His heart was pounding in his broad chest, but he couldn’t think of a thing to say. He was still dumb when she said good-by to him at Maurice’s door.
“Why don’t you come to dinner next Saturday?” she said, carelessly; “Maurice will be away all week on business; but he’ll be back Saturday.”
Johnny mumbled something to the effect that he could survive, even if Maurice wasn’t back.
“I couldn’t,” Edith said. “I should simply die, in this house, if it wasn’t for Maurice!”
As, whistling, she ran upstairs, Edith thought to herself that Johnny was a lamb! “But, compared to Maurice, he’s awfully uninteresting.” Edith, openly and audibly, compared every male creature to Maurice, and none of them ever measured up to him! His very moodiness had its charm; when he sat down at the piano after dinner and scowled over some new music, or when he lounged in his big chair and smoked, his face absorbed to the point of sternness, Edith, loving him “next to father and mother,” watched him, and wondered what he was thinking about? Sometimes he came out of his abstraction and teased her, and then she sparkled into gay impertinences; sometimes he asked her what she thought of this or that phrasing, “...though you are a barbarian, Skeezics, about music”; sometimes he would pull a book from the shelf over his desk and read a poem to her; and he was really interested in her opinion,—ardently appreciative if he liked the poem; if he didn’t, it was “the limit.”