When K. was sure that the boy had gone, he would turn back toward the
Street. Some of the heaviness of his spirit always left him at sight of
the little house. Its kindly atmosphere seemed to reach out and envelop
him. Within was order and quiet, the fresh-down bed, the tidiness of his
ordered garments. There was even affection--Reginald, waiting on the
fender for his supper, and regarding him with wary and bright-eyed
Life, that had seemed so simple, had grown very complicated for Sidney.
There was her mother to break the news to, and Joe. Harriet would approve,
she felt; but these others! To assure Anna that she must manage alone for
three years, in order to be happy and comfortable afterward--that was hard
enough to tell Joe she was planning a future without him, to destroy the
light in his blue eyes--that hurt.
After all, Sidney told K. first. One Friday evening, coming home late, as
usual, he found her on the doorstep, and Joe gone. She moved over
hospitably. The moon had waxed and waned, and the Street was dark. Even
the ailanthus blossoms had ceased their snow-like dropping. The colored
man who drove Dr. Ed in the old buggy on his daily rounds had brought out
the hose and sprinkled the street. Within this zone of freshness, of wet
asphalt and dripping gutters, Sidney sat, cool and silent.
"Please sit down. It is cool now. My idea of luxury is to have the Street
sprinkled on a hot night."
K. disposed of his long legs on the steps. He was trying to fit his own
ideas of luxury to a garden hose and a city street.
"I'm afraid you're working too hard."
"I? I do a minimum of labor for a minimum of wage.
"But you work at night, don't you?"
K. was natively honest. He hesitated. Then: "No, Miss Page."
"But You go out every evening!" Suddenly the truth burst on her.
"Oh, dear!" she said. "I do believe--why, how silly of you!"
K. was most uncomfortable.
"Really, I like it," he protested. "I hang over a desk all day, and in the
evening I want to walk. I ramble around the park and see lovers on
benches--it's rather thrilling. They sit on the same benches evening after
evening. I know a lot of them by sight, and if they're not there I wonder
if they have quarreled, or if they have finally got married and ended the
romance. You can see how exciting it is."