There came the most bewitching smile, a smile decorated with two rows of pearly white teeth. “Don’t you understand, Comrade Higgins? No woman believes in marriage—until she meets the right man.”
This was much too subtle. Jimmie was still gaping open-mouthed. “But then, I thought—I thought—” he stopped again; for in truth, he had not known quite what he thought, and anyway, it seemed futile to try to formulate it now.
But, of course, she knew, without his telling her; she knew the meaning of his look of dismay, and of his stammering words. Being a kind little creature, she laid her hand on his arm. “Comrade Higgins,” she said, “don’t think I’m too mean!”
“Mean?” he cried. “Why, no! What? How—”
“Try to imagine you were a girl, Comrade Higgins. You can’t propose to a man, can you?”
“Why, no—that is—”
“That is, not if you want him to accept! You have to make him do it. And maybe he’s shy, and don’t do it, and you have to put the idea in his head for him. Or maybe he’s not sure he wants you, and you have to make him realize how very desirable you are! Maybe you have to scare him, making him think you’re going to run off with somebody else! Don’t you see how it is with a girl?”
Jimmie was still bady dazed, but he saw enough to enable him to stammer, “Yes.” And Comrade Baskerville—that is, Comrade Mrs. Gerrity—gave him her hand again.
“Comrade Higgins,” she said, “you’re a dear, sweet fellow, and you won’t be too angry with me, will you? We’ll be friends, won’t we, Comrade Higgins?”
And Jimmie clasped the soft, warm hand, and gazed into the shining brown eyes, and he made a part of the wonderful speech which he had been planning as he walked. He said: “Always! Always!”
JIMMIE HIGGINS PUTS HIS FOOT IN IT
The world struggle continued with constantly increasing ferocity. All summer long the Germans hammered at the French and British lines; while the British hammered at the gates of Constantinople, and the Italians at the gates of Trieste. The Germans sent their giant airships to drop loads of bombs on London and their submarines to sink passenger-steamers and hospital-ships. Each fresh outrage against international law became the occasion of more letters of protest from the United States, and of more controversies in the newspapers, and in Congress, and in Kumme’s bicycle-shop on Jefferson Street, Leesville.