Tommy’s eyes bulged. “You take them down?”
“Why not? Any work is honorable, Tommy.”
Tommy felt that it wouldn’t be a goddess role.
“I can’t see it.” The red crept up into his honest freckled face. “You know the kind of women that’s round on Saturday nights.”
“I am not that kind of woman.” She was suddenly austere.
He found himself stammering. “I didn’t mean—”
“Of course you didn’t. But it’s a good plan, Tommy. Say you think it’s a good plan.”
He would have said anything to please her. “Well, you might try.”
The next day he found himself talking it over with O-liver. “She wants to sell them on Saturday nights.”
“Tell her,” said O-liver, “to stay at home.”
“But she’s got to have some money.”
“Money,” said O-liver, “is the root of evil. You say she has a garden. Let her live on leeks and lettuce.”
“Leeks and lettuce?” said poor Tommy, who had never heard of leeks.
“Her complexion will be better,” said O-liver, “and her peace of mind great.”
“Her complexion is perfect,” Tommy told him, “and she isn’t the peaceful kind. Her hair is red.”
“Red-haired women”—O-liver had his eye on Vanity Fair—“red-haired women always flaunt themselves.”
Tommy, softening O-liver’s words a bit, gave them in the form of advice to Jane: “He thinks you’d better live on leeks and lettuce than go down-town like that.”
Jane gasped. “Leeks and lettuce? Me? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about! And anyhow, what can you expect of a man like that?”
A week later Jane in a white shirt-waist and white apron came down with her white-covered basket into the glare of the town’s white lights. The night was warm and she wore no hat. Her red hair was swept back from her forehead with a droop over the ears. She had white skin and strong white teeth. Her eyes were as gray as the sea on stormy days. Tommy came after her with a wooden box, which he set on end, and she placed her basket on it. The principal stores of the small town, the one hotel and the post-office were connected by a covered walk which formed a sort of arcade, so that the men lounging against doorways or tip-tilted in chairs seemed in a sort of gallery from which they surveyed the Saturday-night crowd which paraded the street.
Jane folded up the cloth which covered her basket and displayed her wares. “Don’t stick round, Tommy,” she said. “I shall do better alone.”
But as she raised her head and saw the eyes of the men upon her a rich color surged into her cheeks.
She put out her little sign bravely:
HOME-MADE SANDWICHES—TWENTY CENTS
With a sense of adventure upon them the men flocked down at once. They bought at first because the wares were offered by a pretty girl. They came back to buy because never had there been such sandwiches.