“I bet I did,” he said, “I bet I was comical. Society’s Pet, I must have been. And what happened then, after my overwhelming success with the waiter?”
“Why, nothing much,” she said.”You took a sort of dislike to some old man with white hair, sitting across the room, because you didn’t like his necktie and you wanted to tell him about it. But we got you out, before he got really mad.”
“Oh, we got out,” he said.”Did I walk?”
“Walk! Of course you did,” she said.”You were absolutely all right. There was that nasty stretch of ice on the sidewalk, and you did sit down awfully hard, you poor dear. But good heavens, that might have happened to anybody.”
“Oh, sure,” he said.”Louisa Alcott or anybody. So I fell down on sidewalk. That would explain what’s the matter with my—Yes. I see. And then what, if you don’t mind?”
“Ah, now, Peter!” she said.”You can’t sit there and say you don’t remember what happened after that! I did think that maybe you were a little tight at dinner—oh, you were perfectly all right, and all that, but I did know you were feeling pretty gay. But you were so serious, from the time you fell down—I never knew you to be that way. Don’t you know how you told me I had never seen your real self before? Oh, Peter, I just couldn’t bear it, if you didn’t remember that lovely long ride we took together in the taxi! Please, you do remember that, don’t you? I think it would simply kill me, if you didn’t.”
“Oh, yes,” he said.”Riding in the taxi. Oh, yes, sure. Pretty long ride, hmm?”
“Round and round and round the park,” she said.”Oh, and the trees were shining so in the moonlight. And you said you never knew before that you really had a soul.”
“Yes,” he said.”I said that. That was me.”
“You said such lovely, lovely things,” she said.”And I’d never known, all this time, how you had been feeling about me, and I’d never dared to let you see how I felt about you. And then last night—oh, Peter dear, think that taxi ride was the most important thing that ever happened to us in our lives.”
“Yes,” he said.”I guess it must have been.”
“And we’re going to be so happy,” she said.”Oh, I just want to tell everybody! But I don’t know—I think maybe it would be sweeter to keep it all to ourselves.”
“I think it would be,” he said.
“Isn’t it lovely?” she said.
“Yes,” he said.”Great.”
“Lovely!” she said.
“Look here,” he said, “do you mind if I have a drink? I mean, just medicinally, you know. I’m off the stuff for life, so help me. But I think I feel a collapse coming on.”
“Oh, I think it would do you good,” she said.”You poor boy, it’s a shame you feel so awful. I’ll go make you a whisky and soda.”
“Honestly,” he said, “I don’t see how you could ever want to speak to me again, after I made such a fool of myself, last night. I think I’d better go join a monastery in Tibet.”
“You crazy idiot!” she said.”As if I could ever let you go away now! Stop talking like that. You were perfectly fine.”
She jumped up from the couch, kissed him quickly on the forehead, and ran out of the room.
The pale young man looked after her and shook his head long and slowly, then dropped it in his damp and trembling hands.
“Oh, dear,” he said.”Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear.”