“Be sad, be sad,” he advised himself gruffly. “What right have you to think? You’re rude to stare, even if she is a queen. She wouldn’t wipe her boots on you.”
Having convinced himself that he should not think, Garrison promptly proceeded to speculate. How tall was she? He likened her flexible figure to Sis. Sis was his criterion. Then, for the brain is a queer actor, playing clown when it should play tragedian, Garrison discovered that he was wishing that the girl would not be taller than his own five feet two.
“As if it mattered a curse,” he laughed contemptuously.
His eyes were transferred to the door. It had opened, and with the puff of following wind there came a crowd of men, emerging like specters from the blue haze of the smoker. They had evidently been “smoked out.” Some of them were sober.
Garrison half-lowered his head as the crowd entered. He did not wish to be recognized. The men, laughing noisily, crowded into what seats were unoccupied. There was one man more than the available space, and he started to occupy the half-vacant seat beside the girl with the slate-colored eyes. He was slightly more than fat, and the process of making four feet go into two was well under way when the girl spoke.
“Pardon me, this seat is reserved.”
“Don’t look like it,” said Behemoth.
“But I say it is. Isn’t that enough?”
“Full house; no reserved seats,” observed the man placidly, squeezing in.
The girl flashed a look at him and then was silent. A spot of red was showing through the tan on her cheek; Garrison was watching her under his hat-brim. He saw the spot on her cheeks slowly grow and her eyes commence to harden. He saw that she was being annoyed surreptitiously and quietly. Behemoth was a Strephon, and he thought that he had found his Chloe.
Garrison pulled his hat well down over his face, rose negligently, and entered the next car. He waited there a moment and then returned. He swung down the aisle. As he approached the girl he saw her draw back. Strephon’s foot was deliberately pressing Chloe’s.
Garrison avoided a scene for the girl’s sake. He tapped the man on the shoulder.
“Pardon me. My seat, if you please. I left it for the smoker.”
The man looked up, met Garrison’s cold, steady eyes, rose awkwardly, muttered something about not knowing it was reserved, and squeezed in with two of his companions farther down the aisle.
Garrison sat down without glancing at the girl. He became absorbed in the morning paper—twelve hours old.
Silence ensued. The girl had understood the fabrication instantly. She waited, her antagonism roused, to see whether Garrison would try to take advantage of his courtesy. When he was entirely oblivious of her presence she commenced to inspect him covertly out of the corners of her gray eyes. After five minutes she spoke.