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10. X. THE HOMELY HEROINE (continued)
The Grim Reaper spared him, and Sam came, and was introduced to the family, and ate. He put himself in a class with Dr. Johnson, and Ben Brust, and Gargantua, only that his table manners were better. He almost forgot to talk during the soup, and he came back three times for chicken, and by the time the strawberry shortcake was half consumed he was looking at Pearlie with a sort of awe in his eyes.
That night he came over to say good-bye before taking his train out for Ishpeming. He and Pearlie strolled down as far as the park and back again.
"I didn't eat any supper," said Sam. "It would have been sacrilege, after that dinner of yours. Honestly, I don't know how to thank you, being so good to a stranger like me. When I come back next trip, I expect to have the Kid with me, and I want her to meet you, by George! She's a winner and a pippin, but she wouldn't know whether a porterhouse was stewed or frapped. I'll tell her about you, you bet. In the meantime, if there's anything I can do for you, I'm yours to command."
Pearlie turned to him suddenly. "You see that clump of thick shadows ahead of us, where those big trees stand in front of our house?"
"Sure," replied Sam.
"Well, when we step into that deepest, blackest shadow, right in front of our porch, I want you to reach up, and put your arm around me and kiss me on the mouth, just once. And when you get back to New York you can tell your girl I asked you to."
There broke from him a little involuntary exclamation. It might have been of pity, and it might have been of surprise. It had in it something of both, but nothing of mirth. And as they stepped into the depths of the soft black shadows he took off his smart straw sailor, which was so different from the sailors that the boys in our town wear. And there was in the gesture something of reverence.
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