“Y—yes,” said Jimmie. “I—I suppose so.” But he made no move; he stood rooted to the spot.
“Lacey,” put in the woman, “don’t stop for that. Get the car started, or get another.” And Jimmie looked at her; she was rather small, and very beautiful—quite the most beautiful human creature that Jimmie had ever looked at. One could see that she was expensively dressed, even though everything she had on was soaked with rain.
“Nonsense!” exclaimed Lacey. “You can’t travel till you get dry—you’d be ill.” And he turned upon Jimmie. “Get a fire, won’t you?” he exclaimed. “A big fire. I’ll make it worth while to you for whatever you do. Only don’t stand there gaping all night,” he added impatiently.
Jimmie leaped to obey; partly because he had been in the habit of leaping to obey all his life—but also partly because he was sorry for the beautiful wet lady, and because, if he stood and stared any longer, Lacey Granitch might recognize him. The moment when Jimmie had been singled out in the herd of strikers and cursed by the young master of the Empire Machine Shops was one of the most vivid memories of Jimmie’s rebellious life, and it did not occur to him that the incident might not have equally impressed the other participant.
In a few minutes the stove was hot; and urged by her escort, the lady took off her driving-coat and hat, and hung them over a chair. Everything underneath was wet, and the man urged her to take off her skirt and blouse. “What does he matter?” he argued, referring to Jimmie; but the lady would not do it. She stood by the stove, shivering slightly, and pleading with her escort to make haste, to find some way to get the car running again. They might be followed—
“Oh, nonsense, Helen!” cried Lacey. “You are tormenting yourself with nightmares. Be sensible and get dry.” He piled the wood into the stove, and ordered Jimmie to get another armful; and Jimmie obeyed with his hands and feet—but meantime his rebellious little brain was taking in every detail of the situation, putting this and that together.
The talking had waked up Lizzie, so Jimmie rushed into the next room and whispered, “Lacey Granitch is here!” If he had told her that the Angel Gabriel was there, or Jehovah with all his thunders and his retinue of seraphim, poor Lizzie could not have been more stunned. Jimmie ordered her to get up, and get on her dress and shoes, and get a cup of coffee for the lady; the dazed woman obeyed—though she would rather have crawled under the bed than face the celestial personages who had taken possession of her home.
Lacey ordered Jimmie to accompany him, to find some help to get the car into travelling condition. They went out together, and on the porch, before they braved the rain again, young Granitch stopped and spoke: “See here, my man; I want you to help me get a gang together, and I want you to keep quiet, please—say nothing about who was in the car. If any other people come along and ask questions, keep your mouth shut, and I’ll make it worth while to you—well worth while. Do you understand?”