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|Schools and Schools||O Henry|
|Page 1 of 2||
It is a common custom to refer to the usual complication between one man and two ladies, or one lady and two men, or a lady and a man and a nobleman, or--well, any of those problems--as the triangle. But they are never unqualified triangles. They are always isosceles--never equilateral. So, upon the coming of Nevada Warren, she and Gilbert and Barbara Ross lined up into such a figurative triangle; and of that triangle Barbara formed the hypotenuse.
One morning old Jerome was lingering long after breakfast over the dullest morning paper in the city before setting forth to his downtown fly-trap. He had become quite fond of Nevada, finding in her much of his dead brother's quiet independence and unsuspicious frankness.
A maid brought in a note for Miss Nevada Warren.
"A messenger-boy delivered it at the door, please," she said. "He's waiting for an answer."
Nevada, who was whistling a Spanish waltz between her teeth, and watching the carriages and autos roll by in the street, took the envelope. She knew it was from Gilbert, before she opened it, by the little gold palette in the upper left-hand corner.
After tearing it open she pored over the contents for a while, absorbedly. Then, with a serious face, she went and stood at her uncle's elbow.
"Uncle Jerome, Gilbert is a nice boy, isn't he?"
"Why, bless the child!" said old Jerome, crackling his paper loudly; "of course he is. I raised him myself."
"He wouldn't write anything to anybody that wasn't exactly--I mean that everybody couldn't know and read, would he?"
"I'd just like to see him try it," said uncle, tearing a handful from his newspaper. "Why, what--"
"Read this note he just sent me, uncle, and see if you think it's all right and proper. You see, I don't know much about city people and their ways."
Old Jerome threw his paper down and set both his feet upon it. He took Gilbert's note and fiercely perused it twice, and then a third time.
"Why, child," said he, "you had me almost excited, although I was sure of that boy. He's a duplicate of his father, and he was a gilt-edged diamond. He only asks if you and Barbara will be ready at four o'clock this afternoon for an automobile drive over to Long Island. I don't see anything to criticise in it except the stationery. I always did hate that shade of blue."
"Would it be all right to go?" asked Nevada, eagerly.
"Yes, yes, yes, child; of course. Why not? Still, it pleases me to see you so careful and candid. Go, by all means."
"I didn't know," said Nevada, demurely. "I thought I'd ask you. Couldn't you go with us, uncle?"
"I? No, no, no, no! I've ridden once in a car that boy was driving. Never again! But it's entirely proper for you and Barbara to go. Yes, yes. But I will not. No, no, no, no!"
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