“But I shan’t let myself say it now. And that’s why I’m going away. And I’m going without saying good-bye because I think it will be easier for both of us. You and I can’t be friends. What we feel is too big. I found that out about myself that night when you sat there on the platform, and I wanted to save you from Tillotson. If I’m going to work and be happy in my work I’ve got to get away. And you will work better because I am gone. I mustn’t be here—O-liver.”
Jane had indeed seen straight. O-liver laid the note down on his desk and looked up at the mountain. He needed to look up. If he had looked down for a moment he would have followed Jane.
And now there was no sandwich stand in Tinkersfield. But there was a good hotel. O-liver saw to that. He got Henry Bittinger to put up the money, with Tommy and his mother in charge. O-liver lived in the hotel in a suite of small rooms, and when Atwood Jones passed that way the four men dined together as O-liver’s guests.
“Some day we’ll eat with you in Washington,” was Atwood’s continued prophecy.
They always drank “To Jane.” Now and then Atwood brought news of her. First from the college, and then as the years passed from the beach resort where she had opened a tea room. She was more beautiful than ever, more wonderful. Her tea room and shop were most exclusive and artistic.
“Sandwich Jane!” said O-liver. “How long ago it seems!”
It was five years now and he had not seen her. And next month he was to go to Washington. Not as President, but representing his district in Congress. Tommy’s hotel had outgrown the original modest building and was now modern and fireproof. Henry was married, he had had several new cars, and his wife wore sables and seal.
The old arcade was no more; nor the old post-office. But O-liver still talked to admiring circles in the hotel lobby or to greater crowds in the town hall.
He still would take no money from his father, but he saw much of him, for Mrs. Lee was dead. The Tudor house was without a mistress. It seemed a pity that O-liver had no wife to grace its halls.
The newspapers stated that Fluffy Hair’s income had doubled. Whether this was true or not it sounded well, and Fluffy Hair still seemed young on the screen. Jane would go now and then and look at her and wonder what sort of woman this was who had laughed at O-liver.
Then one day a telegram came to O-liver in his suite of rooms. And that day and for two nights he rode Mary Pick over the hills and through the canon and down to the sea, and came to a place where Jane’s tea room was met in the center of a Japanese garden—a low lovely building, with its porches open to the wide Pacific.
He had not seen her for so long that he was not quite prepared for the change. She was thinner and paler and more beautiful, with an air of distinction that was new. It was as if in visualizing his future she had pictured herself in it—as first lady of the land. Such a silly dream for Sandwich Jane!