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24. CHAPTER XXIV
ALL that midsummer month Carol was sensitive to Kennicott. She recalled a hundred grotesqueries: her comic dismay at his having chewed tobacco, the evening when she had tried to read poetry to him; matters which had seemed to vanish with no trace or sequence. Always she repeated that he had been heroically patient in his desire to join the army. She made much of her consoling affection for him in little things. She liked the homeliness of his tinkering about the house; his strength and handiness as he tightened the hinges of a shutter; his boyishness when he ran to her to be comforted because he had found rust in the barrel of his pump-gun. But at the highest he was to her another Hugh, without the glamor of Hugh's unknown future.
There was, late in June, a day of heat-lightning.
Because of the work imposed by the absence of the other doctors the Kennicotts had not moved to the lake cottage but remained in town, dusty and irritable. In the afternoon, when she went to Oleson & McGuire's (formerly Dahl & Oleson's), Carol was vexed by the assumption of the youthful clerk, recently come from the farm, that he had to be neighborly and rude. He was no more brusquely familiar than a dozen other clerks of the town, but her nerves were heat-scorched.
When she asked for codfish, for supper, he grunted, "What d'you want that darned old dry stuff for?"
"I like it!"
"Punk! Guess the doc can afford something better than that. Try some of the new wienies we got in. Swell. The Haydocks use 'em."
She exploded. "My dear young man, it is not your duty to instruct me in housekeeping, and it doesn't particularly concern me what the Haydocks condescend to approve!"
He was hurt. He hastily wrapped up the leprous fragment of fish; he gaped as she trailed out. She lamented, "I shouldn't have spoken so. He didn't mean anything. He doesn't know when he is being rude."
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