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|The Voice of the City||O Henry|
Nemesis And The Candy Man
|Page 1 of 4||
"We sail at eight in the morning on the Celtic," said Honoria, plucking a loose thread from her lace sleeve.
"I heard so," said young Ives, dropping his hat, and muffing it as he tried to catch it, "and I came around to wish you a pleasant voyage."
"Of course you heard it," said Honoria, coldly sweet, "since we have had no opportunity of informing you ourselves."
Ives looked at her pleadingly, but with little hope.
Outside in the street a high-pitched voice chanted, not unmusically, a commercial gamut of "Cand-de-ee-ee-s! Nice, fresh cand-ee-ee-ee-ees!d
"It's our old candy man," said Honoria, leaning out the window and beckoning. "I want some of his motto kisses. There's nothing in the Broadway shops half so good."
The candy man stopped his pushcart in front of the old Madison Avenue home. He had a holiday and festival air unusual to street peddlers. His tie was new and bright red, and a horseshoe pin, almost life-size, glittered speciously from its folds. His brown, thin face was crinkled into a semi-foolish smile. Striped cuffs with dog-head buttons covered the tan on his wrists.
"I do believe he's going to get married," said Honoria, pityingly. "I never saw him taken that way before. And to-day is the first time in months that he has cried his wares, I am sure."
Ives threw a coin to the sidewalk. The candy man knows his customers. He filled a paper bag, climbed the old-fashioned stoop and banded it in. "I remember -- " said Ives.
"Wait," said Honoria.
She took a small portfolio from the drawer of a writing desk and from the portfolio a slip of flimsy paper one-quarter of an inch by two inches in size.
"This," said Honoria, inflexibly, "was wrapped about the first one we opened."
"It was a year ago," apologized Ives, as he held out his hand for it,
"As long as skies above are blue
To you, my love, I will be true."
This he read from the slip of flimsy paper.
"We were to have sailed a fortnight ago," said Honoria, gossipingly. "It has been such a warm summer. The town is quite deserted. There is nowhere to go. Yet I am told that one or two of the roof gardens are amusing. The, singing -- and the dancing -- on one or two seem to have met with approval." Ives did not wince. When you are in the ring you are not surprised when your adversary taps you on the ribs.
"I followed the candy man that time," said Ives, irrelevantly, "and gave him five dollars at the corner of Broadway."
He reached for the paper bag in Honoria's lap, took out one of the square, wrapped confections and slowly unrolled it.
Sara Chillingworth's father," said Honoria, "has given her an automobile."
"Read that," said Ives, handing over the slip that had been wrapped around the square of candy.
"Life teaches us -- how to live,
Love teaches us -- to forgive."
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