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|The Voice of the City||O Henry|
Nemesis And The Candy Man
|Page 4 of 4||
One afternoon she leaned far over the sill, and she did not challenge and torment him as usual.
"Candy man," said she, "stand up and look into my eyes."
He stood up and looked into her eyes, with his harsh laugh like the sawing of wood. He took out his pipe, fumbled with it, and put it back into big pocket with a trembling band.
"That will do," said Mademoiselle, with a slow smile. "I must go now to my masseuse. Good-evening." The next evening at seven the candy man came and rested his cart under the window. But was it the candy man? His clothes were a bright new check. His necktie was a flaming red, adorned by a glittering horseshoe pin, almost life-size. His shoes were polished; the tan of his cheeks had paled -- his hands had been washed. The window was empty, and he waited under it with his nose upward, like a hound hoping for a bone.
Mademoiselle came, with Sidonie carrying her load of hair. She looked at the candy man and smiled a slow smile that faded away into ennui. Instantly she knew that the game was bagged; and so quickly she wearied of the chase. She began to talk to Sidonie.
"Been a fine day," said the candy man, hollowly. "First time in a month I've felt first-class. Hit it up down old Madison, hollering out like I useter. Think it'll rain to-morrow?"
Mademoiselle laid two round arms on the cushion on the window-sill, and a dimpled chin upon them.
"Candy man," said she, softly, "do you not love me? "
The candy man stood up and leaned against the brick wall.
"Lady," said be, chokingly, "I've got $800 saved up. Did I say you wasn't beautiful? Take it every bit of it and buy a collar for your dog with it."
A sound as of a hundred silvery bells tinkled in the room of Mademoiselle. The laughter filled the alley and trickled back into the court, as strange a thing to enter there as sunlight itself. Mademoiselle was amused. Sidonie, a wise echo, added a sepulchral but faithful contralto. The laughter of the two seemed at last to penetrate the candy man. He fumbled with his horseshoe pin. At length Mademoiselle, exhausted, turned her flushed, beautiful face to the window. "Candy man," said she, "go away. When I laugh Sidonie pulls my hair. I can but laugh while you remain there."
"Here is a note for Mademoiselle," said Fe1ice, coming to the window in the room.
"There is no justice," said the candy man, lifting the handle of his cart and moving away.
Three yards he moved, and stopped. Loud shriek after shriek came from the window of Mademoiselle. Quickly he ran back. He heard a body thumping upon the floor and a sound as though heels beat alternately upon it.
"What is it?" be called.
Sidonie's severe head came into the window.
"Mademoiselle is overcome by bad news," she said. "One whom she loved with all her soul has gone -- you may have beard of him -- he is Monsieur Ives. He sails across the ocean to-morrow. Oh, you men!"
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