The Very Lilac One
THE VERY LILAC ONE
By Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews
IT was Decoration Day morning; it was hot; she stood there. The fresh white blouse had cost $1.93 at Owen's bargain-counter; the white duck skirt—patch-pockets, wide belt, and all—had stood for $3.47 at the same sale. She saw his eyes lift to the white Panama hat.
"Pretty, isn't it?" she demanded. "But it didn't cost much. I watched the sales for this shape, because I'd seen one in Curran's window, and I got it at $1.50; you know really good Panamas come awfully high. And I had this scarf last year, so I washed it and copied the way of putting it on from the one in Curran's. That one cost $25.00."
"And I dare say yours is prettier," Sandy stated proudly.
Slim lines, sparkling eyes, youthful radiance of a face set in golden-brown waves under the Panama hat made the seven-dollar effect more successful than many a tout ensemble of twenty times the expense. There was more also than the mere gift of dress—there was restraint, simplicity, a lack of silk sweater and cheap jewelry. One felt with approval, looking at this little stenographer on ten dollars a week, that she was not insisting that you take her for a rich woman of leisure with five thousand a year for clothes. One got two or three ideas out of a considering glance at the young face: brains, self-reliance, imagination, sense of humor; such things played cheerfully in and out of the hazel eyes. Sandy McAllister, staring at her, knew all of this, but, being a dumb Scotchman, what he said was: "You look very nice, Annie."
That contented Annie. A shining look came into the hazel eyes. Sitting up late to wash and iron the blouse and skirt, studying Curran's windows, and working over the twist of that scarf—it was all worth while. Sandy said she looked nice. It was a strong remark for Sandy.
"Let's go. We don't want to miss that trolley. Isn't it a perfect day?" she threw at him happily, and started down the steps.
But Sandy caught her wrist, and held her off a second while he stared again, and his silent heart bumped with joy. She was his girl; it was Decoration day morning, a holiday; it was warm and bright; she stood there, looking like this, a picture of delight; she was his own girl. "Yes, let's go now," said Sandy.
They and went and went. They got seats together in the trolley, but were pretty well jammed in the steamer, and laughed and did not care, and at last they came to the the Land of Heart's Desire, known to the rich as a lovely spot spoiled by cheap excursions. There they could wander off without a care, very far away from the crowd, till they came to by the sea. They sat down under the pine with marvellous sweet smells of ocean and earth and hot pine-needles closing them into an enchanted valley. They held each other's hands, and sometimes spoke a word and mostly were silent. After an hour or so of such such inchoate bliss they fell to talking about Sandy's business. He had just bought the little drug-store at the corner of Bath and River Street. Sandy called it a "chemist's shop," but the American for that is "drug-store." By whatever name, not yet was he making enough for the two to get married.
"If I could afford to advertise well, it would bring things quite right," Sandy said. "The little shop has a fair list of patrons, and we've got the agency for Adams's Lorelei Hair Tonic, and that's a very good thing. But we need advertising. If only I could get a new way that wouldn't come too dear. I'm not clever at imagining things like you, Annie," stated Sandy humbly.
Annie, pondering, flashed a smile. "What's the good of me imagining things I can't help you with it, Sandy?" she inquired, and fell to pondering again.
The white Panama lay on the pine-needles; the wind whipped small curls about her forehead; the girl had wonderful hair, long and very curly, an unusual combination. Sandy lifted a hand and touched it shyly; he could never get over his astonishment that he might do these things.
"You don't need any hair tonic, Annie," he said. and smiled. "I could put you in the window for an advertisement, maybe, though."
Annie's hazel eyes lifted quickly, and her brow- drew together with mental effort. She had a thought. "Wait a minute—don't speak," she commanded. "There's an idea coming."
And Sandy, to whom nothing was easier than silence, waited, gazing in respect at this girl whose brain worked in a way which his could not follow, this girl who was yet his own girl.
Then Annie laughed out. "It's good," she said. "I believe it will go. It's not fixed yet, but I can wiggle it out. Listen, Sandy."
And so, sitting in the woods by the sea, her hand in her lover's, laughing, happy, adding step to inspired step, Annie wiggled it out.
Sometimes, going along a city street late at night, one wonders how it would be if the fronts of the houses could be lifted off. There would be rows of people at odd angles asleep in beds; where a light glimmers there might be a girl in evening dress, home from a ball, dancing a reminiscent fox-trot down her room; or a woman happily writing a letter; or a man anxiously pacing a room, maybe; or perhaps nurses working over a sick-bed; all the tragedy and sentiment of life is likely shut behind those long walls which may not be lifted away. But of a morning about mail time, in broad daylight, the walls seem mere boxes holding commonplace or comedy. By the white magic of fiction a story reader may go about a town—why not?—and know whatever is necessary to the situation.
On a morning, then, soon after May 30, Decoration Day, the postmen of the rising city of Brightwater delivered the mail. The bell buzzed at Reginald Towner's house as Reginald himself was sitting down to breakfast. Mrs. Towner, having breakfasted in her room an hour before, was, nevertheless, present to pour coffee for her spoiled darling, who liked this ceremony. The children had been kissed and packed off to school. The butler brought in the mail and laid it by the mistress of the house as she finished the sacred cup and set down glittering silver.
"Quite a lot," remarked Reginald, stirring his coffee luxuriously. Mrs. Towner was sliding envelopes through her fingers. "What's that very lilac one? Scented; I can smell it over here." Mrs. Towner dropped seven others and contemplated the lilac one. "It's to you." She looked up at him.
"Well?" Reginald Towner boasted that his wife opened all his letters.
"It's a woman's writing."
Mrs. Towner opened the lilac one. Reginald tasted his coffee, smiled benignantly, turned his attention light-heartedly to a muffin.
"For heaven's sake!" gasped Mrs. Towner into the middle of the muffin.
"What?" The muffin poised in mid-flight.
"Oh!" and then: "This mail is no place for me, Reginald. I'd better——"
"You'd better read it aloud," finished Towner, the blameless, the frank.
Mrs. Towner looked to see if Jennings was safely departed. "If you say so." There was a thin edge to her voice. "You may not be astonished. I am."
Slowly and with distributed emphasis she read as follows:
"'Dear Mr. Towner:
"'You may not perhaps remember me, but I can never forget you. I have seen you on the street many times and admired you more than I can posibly say——'
"One s in possibly," interjected Mrs. Towner, sotto voce.
"'Please don't think me a bold and forward girl——'
"Huh," threw in Mrs. Towner.
"'—but it would make me so happy if you would talk to me for a few minutes, and surely there could be no harm in that.'"
One eyebrow of Mrs. Towner lifted.
"'Would you, will you, give me a little interview on the corner of Bath and River streets at nine o'clock Wednesday night? Please don't think me a foolish, bold girl——'
"Oh, no!" Certainly not!" remarked Mrs. Towner.
—but do, do come, for this is no common feeling that makes me beg you to, and I am
"'Yours (if you want me)
"'(Miss) Curly Brown."
"'Miss Curly Brown,'" staccatoed Mrs. Towner, and fixed her wedded husband with a glance like a ramrod.
He stared back. By slow degrees his mouth formed three words. "I'll be damned!"
"Quite likely," agreed Mrs. Towner with chilliness.
"Let's see that."
The very lilac one flew across the tulips and was prevented from landing in the butter-pats. Absorbedly the man read it, and the woman, exasperated, saw a slow smile broaden—a serene, altogether delighted smile, which permeated his face. "Foolish child," murmured Reginald Towner in gentle accents. And then, sharply: "Never saw the writing in my life," he pronounced. "Don't know a blessed thing about it." With that he was grinning widely again, and something in that well-known contagious smile suddenly set Mrs. Towner smiling, too.
"Reggie, you old devil! Don't you?" she shot at him.
"On my word, not a blessed thing."
Mrs Towner was a handsome, big person with a face like a lovable boy; she liked to deserve her husband's statement that she was "the squarest woman on earth." Here was a chance. "All right. I believe you," she said heartily. "What are you going to do?"
"What would you?"
Mrs. Towner reflected. Then—"I'd go," she answered," and the admiring grin of a comrade across the table was reward for any effort to be broad-minded.
"You're a perfectly good sport, Nan," said Towner. "Dollars to doughnuts there isn't another woman in town who'd come up smiling like that. But of course I won't go. Awfully—er-rer—undignified. Family man—son twenty years old—ridiculous. Some foolish child." He was grinning rather sheepishly now under the sweeping mustache. That Towner was good-looking was a fact not to be concealed even from himself. The sleepy gray eyes were full of expression, the architecture of his fare was splendidly high-bred; one forgave him easily that he was slightly, oh, very slightly, bald.
"You old heart-smasher," Mrs. Towner went on abusively; "you Man-that-Mows-'em-Down-in-the-Streets—look at me!" Mrs. Towner threw back her head and tapped herself, and did a fair imitation of her lord's conscious grin. "Pretty chesty, eh! She's seen you—she admires you—more than she can possibly—with one s—tell you! Not so unpleasant, is it, Reggie? The lovely ladies adore you still, don't they? Oh, lots! Too bad you hate yourself so this morning, isn't it, Reggie?"
Mrs. Towner's language was commonplace, but her copy of the flattered masculine, her falsetto bass, and stroked-kitten manner were distinctly funny. The audience shook with laughter.
"You wouldn't be so rotten bad in vaudeville, Nan," he indorsed the performance, and turned to a fresh muffin. "But—yes, more coffee—I'm surprised at you a bit for advising me to pay attention to the thing."
"Reginald Towner—" (she brushed the lace back from her wrist) "Reginald Towner, if I were a man I'd die of curiosity till I got to Bath and River Streets Wednesday night."
"Would you?" inquired Reginald conversationally. Mrs. Towner went on.
"Tell you what, old boy. You go, with my blessing, on one condition: that you'll honestly tell me every syllable that happens."
"Of course I will—I mean I would. But of course I don't consider going." There was an uncertain note in the firm words. It continued on a rapid downgrade. "Do you—really wish me to go?"
Mrs. Towner exploded into laughter. "Do I wish! As a favor to me, don't you know! Well—you go—and Larrie and I will trot along on the side, and watch your step."
"Not much you won't! Larrie!" Larrie being the twenty-year-old. The real article in firmness this time, and a tone of horror in that "Larrie!"
Mrs. Towner chortled with glee. "Not a bad rise,"' she commented. "No, Reggie, dear; I wouldn't do a mean thing like that. But I give my full consent to your breaking loose and meeting Miss Curly Brown, if you'll promise to tell me about it. Mind, now, you're susceptible, old Reggie. A sweet young thing—admires you more than she can possibly—with one s—tell you. You'll have to be a strong, firm character. But run along and play, and then come home to mother. That's the scheme. Isn't it?"
Reginald Towner pulled at that long, fair mustache thoughtfully. He stopped pulling and imbibed a last drop of coffee. He set the cup down. "Jove, Nan—I can't let you be more of a sport than I am. That is the scheme. I'll do it."
Lilac was an agitating color to more than one Brightwater breakfast-table. The mayor and his new wife, a young woman fifteen years his junior, got their mail shortly before the Towners. Events began much the same: a very lilac envelope, manly innocence, feminine alertness. But this culminated differently; Mrs. Mayor was unhappily not of the square type, and was jealous about her lately acquired politician. So that in five minutes the loving bride and groom were arguing.
"I have to look into these things, deary," the leader of the Democrats urged. "I'm the mayor of this town. I have to know what's doing."
"You don't have to meet Miss Curly Browns on street corners nights," contested Mrs. Mayor. "That hasn't a thing to do with running the town."
"You don't know," the mayor reasoned darkly. "One can never tell. These Republican henchmen are a wicked lot—wily, corrupt, tricky; queer things happen."
"Well, one queer thing isn't going to happen—you're not going to meet any Miss——"
The mayor interrupted. "Deary," he stated with formality, "I wouldn't give orders—to me."
But Mrs. Mayor had thrown her compass overboard. "I will give orders about this. You shall not go."
The mayor rose and stood; a trifle pale he was. "Dorothy, I shall use my own judgment."
"Oh, don't go, Frederick," wailed Dorothy, and burst into tears.
The mayor began to show excitement. "Don't you see, you've forced my hand—I've got to go," he let off in flights. "I've got to go." The mayor was a short, bald man; he threw out his arms and bobbed his head. Dorothy lifted a tear-stained face from the breakfast napkin and swabbed one eye with a minor handkerchief. "If you go," she announced solemnly, "you need never darken these doors again." She spoke with authority; they were Dorothy's doors; among her charms one counted a grist of shekels.
The mayor was silent a long half-minute, then his arms flew out again in a gesture of abandoned recklessness. As Christopher Columbus, impelled by scientific desire for knowledge, so was the mayor. His head bobbed; his voice went falsetto. "I've got to know what's up. I've got to go," stated the mayor.
A magic wand might indeed melt away walls from all the breakfast-rooms in Brightwater, but one may not look at all of them. Time fails. A glimpse more and the rest must be taken for granted.
Colonel Bigelow, boyish, big, clean-cut of mind and body, looked over the mail while his wife—who was very much his wife, and you'd better know it at once—poured his coffee. The girls, her girls, not his, had gone to school; the maid had disappeared to the pantries. He flipped a pronouncedly lilac envelope across the table; he laughed cheerfully.
"That's amusing," he said. "Read that, Girlie."
Mrs. Bigelow did not strike one as a "girlie," but fond parents had so nicknamed her in early youth, and she had clung to the name like grim death. She was several over forty, four or five years older than the colonel, buxom, handsome in a Napoleonic way, with bright color and abundant hair, but high-shouldered and short-armed, of a good, compressed figure, strenuously youthful. She was intelligent, direct, capable, one of the women who with all good qualities have not a ray of charm. The colonel, being a cousin, had rescued her from a beast whom she had carelessly married, and generously married her himself. One would know that the colonel was likely to do about that.
"Funny, isn't it?" inquired the colonel.
But Mrs. Bigelow, reading with set face, saw no joke; humor was not her strong point. "I call it impertinent," she announced. "Of course you'll pay no attention?"
The colonel rumpled his hair—it was going a thin on top. "Well—I don't know," he reflected. "Rather a lark to go and see what the little beggar has to say—eh?"
Mrs. Bigelow's face set further. "I ask you to do no such thing, Henry," she brought out. "I'm your wife. What right has any other woman to 'admire you,' as this"—tapping the letter—"bold creature says."
The colonel grinned. "I wouldn't prevent the sweet things from admiring me if they want to," he reasoned ingenuously. “I don't mind that. That doesn't hurt anybody. But I won't go if you object. I—just thought—it might be a manner of lark. But if you——"
"I do object, Henry,” Mrs. Bigelow stated warmly. "Please promise that you won't do it."
"Promise! I said I wouldn't. That’s enough,I hope."
The colonel got up impatiently. He had made her his wife; she had a right to every consideration, every gentleness, from him. But sometimes it did feel as if he would like to kick loose into freedom for a while. It is a mistake to let a man get that feeling.
"Thank you, Henry, dear,” said Mrs. Bigelow impressively and with intense gentleness, and the ungrateful colonel choked back a one-syllabled remark.
"All right, Girlie. Nothing to thank me for. I don’t give a damn.” And so the one syllable got said.
"I wish I could have a proscenium box,” Mrs. Towner ejaculated fervently.
Mr. Towner had come in from the hall, where Jennings had just put him into his quietest overcoat and he owned some noisy ones and pressed a gentle-mannered soft hat into his hand. Even at that, Mildred Towner considered, he looked conspicuously handsome and well dressed; it was difficult to disguise the good looks of Reginald Towner. It was eight forty-five of "Wednesday night." and he was about to attempt the adventure of Miss Curly Brown; he looked rather sheepish; it is unusual to start to a rendezvous with an unknown maiden of alluring name with the cordial co-operation of one's wife; it is comfortable, but it also detracts from the joy of feeling oneself a perfect devil. His wife kissed him.
"Heaven's choicest blessings go with you, you old rake," she flung at him affectionately, and Jennings opened the door; and Towner, launched on an "affair" by his wife's own hands, trotted down the street.
"Funny," he murmured as he went along. "I feel a good deal like a fool."
Meanwhile, the mayor, after fiddling over the house, appeared at the same hour before a gloomy Mrs. Mayor—he also coated and hatted.
"I'm going to the city hall for an hour," he stated coldly. Relations had been strained since yesterday.
"Oh—the city hall!" repeated Dorothy with sarcasm. Then, rising to her five feet eight, and shooting an arm aloft with tragedy: "Frederick Kleiner," she intoned, "if you go and meet that brazen woman to-night, it is the end. You need never darken these doors again."
The mayor stared, petrified a second, and then his hands went out and his bald head bobbed in the combination gesture which seemed inevitable to the case. "I've got to go," bleated the mayor.
The colonel sat quietly smoking his cigar that night, and was deep in the papers, when Girlie, his wife, who had gone up-stairs with a toothache immediately after dinner, appeared in ample billows of a negligé of vicious cherry silk.
"Henry," she moaned, "I'm afraid you'll have to go and get me something to stop this agony. Can't you take the car——"
Henry was on his feet, all sympathy and readiness. "Why, surely," he said. "I'll go instantly. Let me see—the nearest drug-store is"—he ruminated "Bath and River I think.
"Yes, that's it. Oh do hurry. I'm suffering terribly, Henry, love."
"I'm awfully sorry," said Henry, love. "Take a drink of whiskey. I'll be back in a jiffy."
"Bath and River." He said the names of the street, over again as he turned on the lights and opened the car door. What was it, recently, with which that address was associated? Suddenly it came to him, and, hand on gear-lever, he hesitated. Then he chuckled. He had said he would not go to Bath and River Streets to-night. No, he had not. He had said he would not meet Miss Curly Brown. Well? Was he going to meet her? He was going to get toothache medicine for his wife. Of course, there were other drug-stores! But this was the nearest; Mrs. Bigelow had begged him to hurry.
What nonsense to hesitate about a footless bit of silliness! Then the colonel grinned broadly in the darkness; it was a manner of lark; the colonel had plenty of boyishness in him still. The lever slid into low gear; the car crawled out, complaining in bass, changed its note, and spun down the street and around the corner.
It was about five minutes before nine o'clock that night when the corner of Bath and River Streets began to assume an uncommon air of liveliness. The strolling across the way, decided there was a meeting; shortly he began to wonder why the men didn't go in to their meeting. It was a well-behaved crowd: the policeman recognized Brightwater celebrities as he sauntered among them. There was the mayor—the officer touched his helmet, but the mayor seemed annoyed to be saluted, which surprised the officer. There was J. T. Hodson, president of the Second National Hank: there was Reginald Towner, the millionaire, the "swell" of the town; there was Doctor Hugh Gray, head of the college on the hill; there was Judge Johnson, and Thomas Hamilton, of Hamilton Brothers, and Emmons, the leading tailor, and perhaps two dozen more.
There was something in the manner of these as they arrived which puzzled the policeman: each seemed surprised to see the others: some halted, hesitated, then walked on quickly, but walked back again. The officer's observation extended to over a very short period, three minutes five minutes; the crowd collected almost instantaneously. With that, in the big window of the little drug-store something was doing. A white curtain veiled it from the eye of man, and behind that curtain there were fireworks. Red and green and violet lights played over the white surface; harmless explosions exploded. The curtain appeared to be call attention to itself, and each one of the thirty or forty or fifty men standing uneasily about paid attention, stopped short in his movement of just going on, and watched. After three minutes of such challenge up rolled the curtain before the transfixed gaze of perhaps a hundred eyes, disclosing the show-window set as a small stage.
Moreover, it was well set. Rocks were in the foreground stage rocks, but dimmed by expert lighting into a convincing islet. Beyond a painted river the background rambled swiftly into vine-yards zigzagging steeply, with blue sky above. It was good scenery; one felt the Rhine flowing around those rocks—and behold the Lorelei!
She arose from canvas depths, a slim figure in clinging sea-green something, a small gold harp in her hand, and about her a loose glory of gold-brown rippling hair. With that she was sitting on a ledge, defined against pale-gray stone, and the spotlight showed her shifting the fillet which bound the waves of hair away from her face. She shifted it swiftly, and in a flash a placard swung out under the spotlight which read in distinct lettering: "Miss Curly Brown."
A manner of murmur ran through the hypnotized crowd outside the drug-store window, and Doctor Gray, head of the university, was heard to mutter: "That scenery is from the Empire Theatre."
But no man stirred from his place except to push toward the window. Miss Curly Brown engaged herself at once in combing her wonderful hair with a bright gilt comb, and one became aware that a concealed Victor in the immediate neighborhood was making music.
"With a comb of gold she combs it
And sings a song the while;
'Tis a strange and wondrous music,
For the heart it doth beguile"
sang Alma Glück in velvet tones from the Victor. And the spotlight shifted, and the little stage blurred, and when it was clear again, behold the Lorelei still manipulating the comb of gilt through the cloud of hair! but the placard now read: "Adams's Lorelei Hair Tonic makes hair grow on rocks." The Lorelei dropped the comb and twanged discreetly at her harp, and Alma Glück coincided melodiously with rhythmical remarks about
"This with her wonderful singing
The Lorelei hath done."
Another blur of light and darkness, and the changing placard bore a new legend.
"Adams's Lorelei Hair Tonic," it read, "All such as are good sports will walk in and buy a bottle. Makes hair grow on rocks."
The Lorelei, with a twentieth-century skip, was gone from the window, and thirty or forty or fifty laughing men, in varying stages of sheepishness, were prodding each other into the little drug-store, where a tall young Scotchman behind the counter found much trouble in waiting on them fast enough.
"Tell me about it, Reggie, quick," the handsome woman with the boyish face begged half an hour later in the Towners' great library. And Reggie told her, every item, and the two chuckled and shouted, like the comrades they were, over the tale till midnight
"It was a very clever advertisement. And the man said the girl planned it all to help him get a start? We'll go there for everything, Reggie, from now on," said big-hearted Mrs. Towner.
"No; stay away—don't touch me—you've got to leave me to-morrow," sobbed Mrs. Mayor, and was astounded to see her Frederick go off into unfitting laughter.
"Listen, Dolly darling," said Frederick.
"Dolly, darling!" She listened, she hesitated, and was lost. For the silver-tongued Frederick told the tale well. His Dolly, to speak the truth, was glad of a retreat from the strong position she had taken and was grateful to the unknown girl who was not clutching after her hero. She laughed to the point of tears.
"I ought to be angry at you, Freddy," she said, with her arm around his neck. "For you went in spite of me. But I can't, because you were so well, so bee-yutifully sold. The girl was a wonder to think up that stunt. Just to help her sweetheart. Say, Freddy, we'll go there for all our drugs after this, won't we, hey?"
And Freddy, well-contented, said yes, "we" would.
"Henry, what—was the mazzer? Did the car break d-down? I had to take whiskey, as you said. I—I think I took—good deal."
Colonel Bigelow, regarding his eminently proper Girlie, grinned sardonically. "I think you did. You're in a state of beastly intoxication," he pronounced. "Here's your stuff. I'm glad the tooth's better, only don't form the habit."
"Hennery!" Girlie threw the name at him in waves, and then spoiled her indignation with a simper. "My Hennery!"
With that her Hennery told the tale of the Lorelei. Mrs. Bigelow, softened with that demon rum, who certainly takes the temporary edge off things, considered. "Hennery," she spoke, with careful enunciation. "I believe that it was a—a—an extremely good lesson for all those flip—flippant men. Not you, Hennery, love. You aren't flip—flippant. You were at—attending to your own wife. Wasn't he?"
Henry grinned. "Well—mostly," he agreed.
"You were, Hennery, love," Mrs. Bigelow pronounced. "But it served all the others right. And that—and that young girl—I owe her an an apology. She was simply at attending to her own husband, or fiancé, anyhow. I think well of those young people, Hennery. I'll go to that shug-drop—shup-drog, no, drup-shog hereafter for whatever we get in that line."
"All right, Girlie. Good for you," said the colonel amiably, and with one more reminiscent grin took up his half-read paper.
Meanwhile, as all over the town men told the story to or kept it from their wives, in the little room behind the drug-store Annie and Sandy gloated. The money-drawer was before them, and they swapped details of the evening's success.
"Such luck, me having a brother at the Empire, and him being chums with the scenery man and the light man, and them all being so friendly to me, Sandy."
Sandy murmured a word through the tinkle of silver.
"And then the house being dark this evening so they could come. And wasn't it a smart idea of Jimmie Peters about that Lorelei piece? Though you were doubtful, first off. But it got across, and it looked awfully pretty, Jimmie said. How much, Sandy? No—never! $75.40! Well, they did all walk up like men and buy the tonic, now, didn't they? And they were that pleasant about it, laughing and joking each other. I think they quite enjoyed it, Sandy."
"And four or five of them said to me after you called me out to help: 'This isn't the last time we'll be in, Miss Lorelei,' said they."
"It was good advertising, whatever," spoke Sandy; and then, manfully: "It's to you that I owe it, Annie, and I'm likely to owe you a lot more than I can ever pay, Annie, dear. And now—darling—if you'll give me a kiss, that will be another thing I'll owe you. But I see my way plain to paying that back, Annie."