“Well—” he said again.
“You’d better go.”
“I guess I can get my dinner pretty near any time. I don’t—” He had a thought. “Did you—”
“Did I what?”
“Did you have your dinner before I met you?”
“Well, aren’t you—”
She shook her head. “I don’t want any.”
“I don’t think people have very much appetite to-day and yesterday,” she said, with the hint of a sad laugh, “all over America.”
“No; I guess that’s so.”
“It’s too terrible!” she said. “I can’t sit and eat when I think of the Lusitania—of all those poor, poor people strangling in the water—”
“No; I guess nobody can eat much, if they think about that.”
“And of what it’s going to bring, if we let it,” she went on. “As if this killing weren’t enough, we want to add our killing! Oh, that’s the most terrible thing of all—the thing it makes within us! Don’t you understand?”
She turned to him appealingly, and he felt queerer than ever. Dusk had fallen. Where they stood, under the young-leaved maple tree, there was but a faint lingering of afterglow, and in this mystery her face glimmered wan and sweet; so that Ramsey, just then, was like one who discovers an old pan, used in the kitchen, to be made of chased silver.
“Well, I don’t feel much like dinner right now,” he said. “We—we could sit here awhile on this bench, prob’ly.”
Ramsey kept very few things from Fred Mitchell, and usually his confidences were immediate upon the occasion of them; but allowed several weeks to elapse before sketching for his roommate the outlines of this adventure.
“One thing that was kind o’ funny about it, Fred,” he said, “I didn’t know what to call her.”
Mr. Mitchell, stretched upon the window seat in their “study,” and looking out over the town street below and the campus beyond the street, had already thought it tactful to ambush his profound amusement by turning upon his side, so that his face was toward the window and away from his companion. “What did you want to call her?” he inquired in a serious voice. “Names?”
“No. You know what I mean. I mean I had to just keep callin’ her ‘you’; and that gets kind of freaky when you’re talkin’ to anybody a good while like that. When she’d be lookin’ away from me, and I’d want to start sayin’ something to her, you know, why, I wouldn’t know how to get started exactly, without callin’ her something. A person doesn’t want to be always startin’ off with ‘See here,’ or things like that.”
“I don’t see why you let it trouble you,” said Fred. “From how you’ve always talked about her, you had a perfectly handy way to start off with anything you wanted to say to her.”
“Why didn’t you just say, ‘Oh, you Teacher’s Pet!’ That would—”