“Well, in a question like that,” I said, and I won my neighbor’s easy laugh, “I always like to give my own sex the benefit of the doubt, and I haven’t any question but man’s inconsistency is always attributable to his magnanimity.”
“I guess I shall have to put that up on the doctor,” my neighbor said, as he lifted his arms from the fence at last, and backed away from it. I knew that he was really going in-doors now, and that I must come out with what was in my mind, if I meant to say it at all, and so I said, “By-the-way, there’s something. You know I don’t go in much for what’s called society journalism, especially in the country press, where it mostly takes the form of ’Miss Sadie Myers is visiting with Miss Mamie Peters,’ but I realize that a country paper nowadays must be a kind of open letter to the neighborhood, and I suppose you have no objection to my mentioning the engagement?”
This made Mr. Talbert look serious; and I fancy my proposition made him realize the affair as he had not before, perhaps. After a moment’s pause, he said, “Well! That’s something I should like to talk with my wife about.”
“Do so!” I applauded. “I only suggest it—or chiefly, or partly—because you can have it reach our public in just the form you want, and the Rochester and Syracuse papers will copy my paragraph; but if you leave it to their Eastridge correspondents—”
“That’s true,” he assented. “I’ll speak to Mrs. Talbert—” He walked so inconclusively away that I was not surprised to have him turn and come back before I left my place. “Why, certainly! Make the announcement! It’s got to come out. It’s a kind of a wrench, thinking of it as a public affair; because a man’s daughter is always a little girl to him, and he can’t realize—And this one—But of course!”
“Would you like to suggest any particular form of words?” I hesitated.
“Oh no! Leave that to you entirely. I know we can trust you not to make any blare about it. Just say that they were fellow-students—I should like that to be known, so that people sha’n’t think I don’t like to have it known—and that he’s looking forward to a professorship in the same college—How queer it all seems!”
“Very well, then, I’ll announce it in our next. There’s time to send me word if Mrs. Talbert has any suggestions.”
“All right. But she won’t have any. Well, good-evening.”
“Good-evening,” I said from my side of the fence; and when I had watched him definitively in-doors, I turned and walked into my own house.
The first thing my wife said was, “You haven’t asked him to let you announce it in the Banner?”
“But I have, though!”
“Well!” she gasped.
“What is the matter?” I demanded. “It’s a public affair, isn’t it?”
“It’s a family affair—”
“Well, I consider the readers of the Banner a part of the family.”