Second part of a four-part short story, entitled only “Episodes” written by Sibyl (Croly) (Hanchett) (Schneller), probably during her late teens or early twenties. Unpublished.
They sat on a settee at the end of the broad front porch. Dark? Of course. Their conversating was sensible — very — for it was still early in the evening. A young man ascended the steps, went in, and turned on the lights in the room next [to] the porch. Both windows were open. He started to close the blinds.
“You needn’t do that on our account,” she said ingenuously.
In a gently rueful voice he answered, “But I’m going to bed.”
“Oh!” she ejaculated, and lapsed into blushing silence.
Conversation flagged, for the windows were still open. “We don’t want to disturb him. Can’t we go somehwere else and talk?” suggested the girl.
“To the lowest step?” he asked. She acquiesced, smiling internally — for that had not been her plan.
The big red setter, a self-appointed chaperone, rose, yawned, and followed. He sat on the step next above and thrust his head between them. That dog knew his business. Then the boy moved around to the other side, and the dog, like a well-trained chaperone, knew when to stop interfering.
After some desultory talk the boy said, “Don’t you think we’d better go to the summerhouse? The head-lights on those cars …”
“Do you know the way? I don’t,” she lied easily.
He was a skillful pilot, and the setter helped, but an unforseen obstacle blocked their progress. Across the door of the summerhouse was a swung a hammock. The readiness with which they utilized the apparent hindrance did credit to their ingenuity. The dog lay down under the hammock and relaxed his vigilance. Then they conversed around the verge of the half-sentimental for five minutes.
He put his arm around her. If she had noticed it she would have forbidden it — so she did not notice it. The Recording Angel employed the next few moments in putting several good intentions to the credit side of the girl’s account. Her actions did not erase the record, for she didn’t act. Their faces were close together — closer — closer — almost —
“No,” she said, gently but firmly.
He knew her theories and refrained, wherefore she honored him.
But for the sake of making talk, “Why?” he asked.
She had said it before, but it did not grow easier by repetition, and she spoke slowly. “Well — you know — that — ought to be saved for the one that ….. But then, it all ought to be. I know I’ll be sorry some day. Oh, dear! If I have to go and be silly, why can’t I be it with a clear conscience and an easy mind!”
He laughed softly.
“Why can’t I be the one that …”
“No, be still. You know very well that you don’t mean that. Think of her!” It was the girl’s turn to laugh.
Later — “Do you know, girlie,” he said, “I feel like kissing you.”
“Well, to tell the truth,” she answered candidly, “I feel like letting you, but I’m not going to.”
“You know,” she said severely, “that thinking as I do you would cease to respect me if I did. Don’t attempt to deny it.
“Perhaps you will anyhow,” she continued after a pause, “Oh, if you ever dare to think less of me for this —.”
“Girlie, I never will.”
Later still. Persistent creatures, these men.
“I’d rather you’d give it to me than make me steal it,” he remarked.
She grew a trifle alamed, but found the right word. “You won’t, because I trust you.” And he released her.
“Why, you’re almost slipping out of the hammock,” he said.
“It’s time we were both slipping out,” she answered. They rose to go. She turned her head with a last evasion.
“That’s my good girlie,” he said, and strangely enough, there was reverence in his voice.
At the door they shook hands and said good-night sedately.
And standing in the hall to meet her, was a Man.
“See here, girlie, where have you been?’ he asked in worried accents.
“Out in the hammock waiting for you, Professor,” she replied, very candidly.
“Out in the hammock, flirting with another girl’s beau,” corrected her mother, with an attempt at severity.
“I wasn’t — that,” said the girl.