Jimmie recalled all that, and he fell on his knees before his wife, and caught her two hands by main force, and swore to her that he had not done any wrong; he went on to tell her exactly what wrong he had done, which was the best way to convince her that he had not done any worse. He vowed again and again that he would never, never dally with Cupid again—he would see Comrade Baskerville at once and tell her it was “all off”.
And so Lizzie looked up through her tears. “No,” she said, “you don’t need to see her at all!”
“What shall I do, then?’”
“Just let her alone—don’t tell her nothin’. She’ll know it’s off all right.”
But when you have a dead romance, you cannot leave it to rot on the highway; you are driven irresistibly to bury it decently. In spite of his solemn promises, Jimmie found himself thinking all the time about Comrade Baskerville, and how he would act when he met her next time—all the noble and dignified speeches he would make to her. He must manage to be alone with her; for of course he could not say such things with the jealous old hags of the local staring at him. The best thing, he decided, would be to tell her the frank and honest truth; to tell her about Lizzie, and how good and worthy she had been, and how deeply he realized his duty to her. And then tears would come into Comrade Baskerville’s lovely eyes, and she would tell him that she honoured his high sense of marital responsibility. They must renounce; but of course they would be dear and true friends—always, always. Jimmie was holding her hands, in his fancy, as he said these affecting words: Always! Always! He knew that he would have to let go of the hands, but he was reluctant to do so, and he had not quite got to the point of doing it when, walking down Jefferson Street on his way home from work—behold, in front of him a trim, eager little figure, tripping gaily, with a jaunty hat with a turkey-feather stuck on one side! Jimmie knew the figure a block away, and as he saw it coming nearer, his heart leaped up and hit him in the bottom part of his neck, and all his beautiful speeches flew helter-skelter out of his head.
She saw him, and the vivid, welcoming smile came upon her face. She came up to him, and their hands clasped. “Why!” she cried. “What a pleasant meeting!”
Jimmie gulped twice, and then began, “Comrade Baskerville—” And then he gulped again, and began, “Comrade Baskerville—”
She stopped him. “I’m not Comrade Baskerville,” she declared.
He could not get the meaning of these unexpected words.
“What?” he said.
“Haven’t you heard the news?” she said, and beamed on him. “I’m Comrade Mrs. Gerrity.”
He stared at her, utterly bewildered. “I’ve been that for twenty-four whole hours! Congratulate me!”
Little by little the meaning of the words began to dawn in Jimmie’s stupid head. “Comrade Mrs. Gerrity!” he echoed. “But—but—I thought you didn’t believe in marriage.”