O'henry — while the auto waits
While the Auto Waits
Promptly at the beginning of twilight, came
again to that quiet corner of that quiet, small park
the girl in gray. She sat upon a bench and read a
book, for there was yet to come a half hour in which
print could be accomplished.
To repeat: Her dress was gray, and plain enough
to mask its impeccancy of style and fit. A large-
meshed veil imprisoned her turban hat and a face
that shone through it with a calm and unconscious
beauty. She had come there at the same hour on the
day previous, and on the day before that; and there
was one who knew it.
The young man who knew it hovered near, relying
upon burnt sacrifices to the great joss, Luck. His
piety was rewarded, for, in turning a page, her book
slipped from her fingers and bounded from the bench
a full yard away.
The young man pounced upon it with instant avid-
ity, returning it to its owner with that air that seems
to flourish in parks and public places — a compound
of gallantry and hope, tempered with respect for the
policeman on the beat. In a pleasant voice, be risked
an inconsequent remark upon the weather that introductory topic responsible for so much of the
world's unhappiness-and stood poised for a mo-
ment, awaiting his fate.
The girl looked him over leisurely; at his ordinary,
neat dress and his features distinguished by nothing
particular in the way of expression.
"You may sit down, if you like," she said, in a
full, deliberate contralto. "Really, I would like to
have you do so. The light is too bad for reading.
I would prefer to talk."
The vassal of Luck slid upon the seat by her side
"Do you know," be said, speaking the formula
with which park chairmen open their meetings, "that
you are quite the stunningest girl I have seen in a
long time? I had my eye on you yesterday.
Didn't know somebody was bowled over by those
pretty lamps of yours, did you, honeysuckle?"
"Whoever you are," said the girl, in icy tones,
"you must remember that I am a lady. I will excuse
the remark you have just made because the mistake
was, doubtless, not an unnatural one — in your circle.
I asked you to sit down; if the invitation must con-
stitute me your honeysuckle, consider it with-
"I earnestly beg your pardon," pleaded the young
ran. His expression of satisfaction had changed to
one of penitence and humility. It was my fault,
you know -I mean, there are girls in parks, you
know — that is, of course, you don't know, but — "
"Abandon the subject, if you please. Of course
I know. Now, tell me about these people passing
and crowding, each way, along these paths. Where
are they going? Why do they hurry so? Are they
The young man had promptly abandoned his air
of coquetry. His cue was now for a waiting part;
he could not guess the role be would be expected to
"It is interesting to watch them," he replied, pos-
tulating her mood. "It is the wonderful drama of
life. Some are going to supper and some to — er —
other places. One wonders what their histories are."
"I do not," said the girl; "I am not so inquisi-
tive. I come here to sit because here, only, can I be
tear the great, common, throbbing heart of hu-
manity. My part in life is cast where its beats are
never felt. Can you surmise why I spoke to you,
Mr. — ?"
"Parkenstacker," supplied the young man. Then
be looked eager and hopeful.
"No," said the girl, holding up a slender finger,