PART II. Neighboring Fields
7. CHAPTER VII
Marie's father, Albert Tovesky, was one of the more intelligent
Bohemians who came West in the early seventies. He settled in Omaha
and became a leader and adviser among his people there. Marie was
his youngest child, by a second wife, and was the apple of his eye.
She was barely sixteen, and was in the graduating class of the
Omaha High School, when Frank Shabata arrived from the old country
and set all the Bohemian girls in a flutter. He was easily the
buck of the beer-gardens, and on Sunday he was a sight to see, with
his silk hat and tucked shirt and blue frock-coat, wearing gloves
and carrying a little wisp of a yellow cane. He was tall and fair,
with splendid teeth and close-cropped yellow curls, and he wore a
slightly disdainful expression, proper for a young man with high
connections, whose mother had a big farm in the Elbe valley. There
was often an interesting discontent in his blue eyes, and every
Bohemian girl he met imagined herself the cause of that unsatisfied
expression. He had a way of drawing out his cambric handkerchief
slowly, by one corner, from his breast-pocket, that was melancholy
and romantic in the extreme. He took a little flight with each
of the more eligible Bohemian girls, but it was when he was with
little Marie Tovesky that he drew his handkerchief out most slowly,
and, after he had lit a fresh cigar, dropped the match most
despairingly. Any one could see, with half an eye, that his proud
heart was bleeding for somebody.
One Sunday, late in the summer after Marie's graduation, she met
Frank at a Bohemian picnic down the river and went rowing with him
all the afternoon. When she got home that evening she went straight
to her father's room and told him that she was engaged to Shabata.
Old Tovesky was having a comfortable pipe before he went to bed.
When he heard his daughter's announcement, he first prudently
corked his beer bottle and then leaped to his feet and had a turn
of temper. He characterized Frank Shabata by a Bohemian expression
which is the equivalent of stuffed shirt.