“No,” she said. “I think you all really love to fight.”
Ramsey was roused to become argumentative. “I don’t see where you get the idea. Colburn isn’t that way, and back at school there wasn’t a single boy that was anything like that.”
“What!” She stopped, and turned suddenly to face him.
“What’s the matter?” he said, stopping, too. Something he said had startled her, evidently.
“How can you say such a thing?” she cried. “You love to fight!”
“You do! You love fighting. You always have loved fighting.”
He was dumbfounded. “Why, I never had a fight in my life!”
She cried out in protest of such prevarication.
“Well, I never did,” he insisted, mildly.
“Why, you had a fight about me!”
“No, I didn’t.”
“With Wesley Bender!”
Ramsey chuckled. “That wasn’t a fight!”
“Nothing like one. We were just guyin’ him about—about gettin’ slicked up, kind of, because he at in front of you; and he hit me with his book strap and I chased him off. Gracious, no; that wasn’t a fight!”
“But you fought Linski only last fall.”
Ramsey chuckled again. “That wasn’t even as much like a fight as the one with Wesley. I just told this Linski I was goin’ to give him a punch in the sn— I just told him to look out because I was goin’ to hit him, and then I did it, and waited to see if he wanted to do anything about it, and he didn’t. That’s all there was to it, and it wasn’t any more like fighting than—than feeding chickens is.”
She laughed dolefully. “It seems to me rather more like it than that!”
“Well, it wasn’t.”
They had begun to walk on again, and Ramsey was aware that they had passed the “frat house,” where his dinner was probably growing cold. He was aware of this, but not sharply or insistently. Curiously enough, he did not think about it. He had begun to find something pleasant in the odd interview, and in walking beside a girl, even though the girl was Dora Yocum. He made no attempt to account to himself for anything so peculiar.
For a while they went slowly together, not speaking, and without destination, though Ramsey vaguely took it for granted that Dora was going somewhere. But she wasn’t. They emerged from the part of the small town closely built about the university and came out upon a bit of parked land overlooking the river; and here Dora’s steps slowed to an indeterminate halt near a bench beneath a maple tree.
“I think I’ll stay here a while,” she said; and as he made no response, she asked, “Hadn’t you better be going back to your ‘frat house’ for your dinner? I didn’t mean for you to come out of your way with me; I only wanted to get an answer to my question. You’d better be running back.”
He stood irresolute, not sure that he wanted his dinner just then. It would have amazed him to face the fact deliberately that perhaps he preferred being with Dora Yocum to eating. However, he faced no such fact, nor any fact, but lingered.