A Man's Hearth
Library of Alexandria
Millions, You Know!
The man who had taken shelter in the stone pavilion hesitated before taking a place on the curved bench before him. He had the air of awaiting some sign of welcome or dismissal from the seat’s occupant; receiving none, he sat down and turned his gaze toward the broad Drive, where people were scattering before the sudden flurry of rain. It suggested spring rather than autumn, this shower that had swept out of a wind-blown cloud and was already passing. After a moment he drew a cigar-case from his pocket, then paused. Obviously, he was not familiar with the etiquette of the public parks, with their freedom and lack of formalities. He was beside a woman—a girl. He had no wish to be inconsiderate, yet, to speak—in suspicious, sardonic New York—that was to invite misconstruction, or a flirtation. Still——
May I smoke?
he suddenly and brusquely shot his question. The girl turned towards him. Her eyes were as gray as the rain; heavily shadowed by their lashes, their expression had a misted aloofness suggesting thoughts hastily recalled from remote distances. He realized that he might have come, smoked, and gone without drawing her notice any more than a blowing leaf. She was not a beauty, but he liked the clearing frankness of the glance with which she judged him, and judged aright. He liked it, too, that she did not smile, and that her steadfast regard showed neither invitation nor hostility