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|The Voice of the City||O Henry|
While The Auto Waits
|Page 3 of 4||
"Parkenstacker," breathed the young man. "Indeed, you cannot know how much I appreciate your confidences."
The girl contemplated him with the calm, impersonal regard that befitted the difference in their stations. "What is your line of business, Mr. Parken-stacker?" she asked.
"A very humble one. But I hope to rise in the world. Were you really in earnest when you said that you could love a man of lowly position?"
"Indeed I was. But I said 'might.' There is the Grand Duke and the Marquis, you know. Yes; no calling could be too humble were the man what I would wish him to be."
"I work," declared Mr. Parkenstacker, "in a restaurant." The girl shrank slightly.
"Not as a waiter?" she said, a little imploringly. "Labor is noble, but personal attendance, you know -- valets and -- "
"I am not a waiter. I am cashier in" -- on the street they faced that bounded the opposite side of the park was the brilliant electric sign "RESTAURANT" -- "I am cashier in that restaurant you am there."
The girl consulted a tiny watch set in a bracelet of rich design upon her left wrist, and rose, hurriedly. She thrust her book into a glittering reticule suspended from her waist, for which, however, the book was too large.
"Why are you not at work?" she asked.
"I am on the night turn," said the young man; it is yet an hour before my period begins. May I not hope to see you again?"
"I do not know. Perhaps - but the whim may not seize me again. I must go quickly now. There is a dinner, and a box at the play -- and, oh! the same old round. Perhaps you noticed an automobile at the upper corner of the park as you came. One with a white body
"And red running gear?" asked the young man, knitting his brows reflectively.
"Yes. I always come in that. Pierre waits for me there. He supposes me to be shopping in the department store across the square. Conceive of the bondage of the life wherein we must deceive even our chauffeurs. Good-night."
"But it is dark now," said Mr. Parkenstacker, "and the park is full of rude men. May I not walk -- "
"If you have the slightest regard for my wishes," said the girl, firmly, "you will remain at this bench for ten minutes after I have left. I do not mean to accuse you, but you are probably aware that autos generally bear the monogram of their owner. Again, good-night"
Swift and stately she moved away through the dusk. The young man watched her graceful form as she reached the pavement at the park's edge, and turned up along it toward the corner where stood the automobile. Then he treacherously and unhesitatingly began to dodge and skim among the park trees and shrubbery in a course parallel to her route, keeping her well in sight
When she reached the corner she turned her head to glance at the motor car, and then passed it, con tinuing on across the street. Sheltered behind a convenient standing cab, the young man followed her movements closely with his eyes. Passing down the sidewalk of the street opposite the park, she entered the restaurant with the blazing sign. The place was one of those frankly glaring establishments, all white, paint and glass, where one may dine cheaply and conspicuously. The girl penetrated the restaurant to some retreat at its rear, whence she quickly emerged without her bat and veil.
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