“Get out! What I mean is, she called me ‘Ramsey’ without any bother; it seems funny I got stumped every time I started to say ‘Dora.’ Someway I couldn’t land it, and it certainly would ‘a’ sounded crazy to call her ‘Miss Yocum’ after sittin’ in the same room with her every day from the baby class clear on up through the end of high school. That would ‘a’ made me out an idiot!”
“What did you call her?” Fred asked.
“Just nothin’ at all. I started to call her something or other a hundred times, I guess, and then I’d balk. I’d get all ready, and kind of make a sort of a sound, and then I’d have to quit.”
“She may have thought you had a cold,” said Fred, still keeping his back turned.
“I expect maybe she did—though I don’t know; most of the time she didn’t seem to notice me much, kind of.”
“No. She was too upset, I guess, by what she was thinkin’ about.”
“But if it hadn’t been for that,” Fred suggested, “you mean she’d have certainly paid more attention to who was sitting on the bench with her?”
“Get out! You know how it was. Everybody those few days thought we were goin’ to have war, and she was just sure of it, and it upset her. Of course most people were a lot more upset by what those Dutchmen did to the Lusitania than by the idea of war; and she seemed to feel as broken up as anybody could be about the Lusitania, but what got her the worst was the notion of her country wantin’ to fight, she said. She really was upset, too, Fred; there wasn’t any puttin’ on about it. I guess that ole girl certainly must have a good deal of feeling, because, doggoned, after we’d been sittin’ there a while if she didn’t have to get out her handkerchief! She kept her face turned away from me—just the same as you’re doin’ now to keep from laughin’—but honestly, she cried like somebody at a funeral. I felt like the darndest fool!”
“I’m not laughing,” said Fred, but he did not prove it by turning so that his face could be seen. “What did she say?”
“Oh, she didn’t say such an awful lot. She said one kind o’ funny thing though: she said she was sorry she couldn’t quite control herself, but if anybody had to see her cry she minded it less because it was an old schoolmate. What struck me so kind o’ funny about that is—why, it looks as if she never knew the way I always hated her so.”
“Yes,” said Fred. “It wasn’t flattering!”
“Well, sir, it isn’t, kind of,” Ramsey agreed, musingly. “It certainly isn’t when you look at it that way.”
“What did you say when she said that?” Fred asked.
“Nothin’. I started to, but I sort of balked again. Well, we kept on sitting there, and afterwhile she began to talk again and got kind of excited about how no war could do anything or anybody any good, and all war was wicked, no matter what it was about, and nothin’ could be good that was founded on fear and hate, and every war that ever was fought was always founded on fear and hate. She said if the Germans wanted to fight us we ought to go to meet them and tell them we wouldn’t fight.”