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- T. Tembarom - 6/104 -
and then he stood upright and saw Little Ann coming down the staircase holding in her hand a particularly ugly tar-tan-plaid woolen neck-scarf of the kind known in England as a "comforter."
"If you are going out in this kind of weather," she said in her serene, decided little voice, "you'd better wrap this comforter right round your neck, Mr. Tembarom. It's one of Father's, and he can spare it because he's got another, and, besides, he's not going out."
Tembarom took it with a sudden emotional perception of the fact that he was being taken care of in an abnormally luxurious manner.
"Now, I appreciate that," he said. "The thing about you. Little Ann, is that you never make a wrong guess about what a fellow needs, do you?"
"I'm too used to taking care of Father not to see things," she answered.
"What you get on to is how to take care of the whole world --initials on a fellow's socks and mufflers round his neck." His eyes looked remarkably bright.
"If a person were taking care of the whole world, he'd have a lot to do," was her sedate reception of the remark. "You'd better put that twice round your neck, Mr. Tembarom."
She put up her hand to draw the end of the scarf over his shoulder, and Tembarom stood still at once, as though he were a little boy being dressed for school. He looked down at her round cheek, and watched one of the unexpected dimples reveal itself in a place where dimples are not usually anticipated. It was coming out because she was smiling a small, observing smile. It was an almost exciting thing to look at, and he stood very still indeed. A fellow who did not own two pairs of boots would be a fool not to keep quiet.
"You haven't told me I oughtn't to go out till the blizzard lets up," he said presently.
"No, I haven't, Mr. Tembarom," she answered. "You're one of the kind that mean to do a thing when they've made up their minds. It'll be a nice bit of money if you can keep the page."
"Galton said he'd give me a chance to try to make good," said Tembarom. "And if it's the hit he thinks it ought to be, he'll raise me ten. Thirty per. Vanastorbilts won't be in it. I think I'll get married," he added, showing all his attractive teeth at once.
"I wouldn't do that," she said. "It wouldn't be enough to depend on. New York's an expensive place."
She drew back and looked him over. "That'll keep you much warmer," she decided. "Now you can go. I've been looking in the telephone-book for confectioners, and I've written down these addresses." She handed him a slip of paper.
Tembarom caught his breath.
"Hully gee!" he exclaimed, "there never were TWO of you made! One used up all there was of it. How am I going to thank you, anyhow!"
"I do hope you'll be able to keep the page," she said. "I do that, Mr. Tembarom."
If there had been a touch of coquetry in her earnest, sober, round, little face she would have been less distractingly alluring, but there was no shade of anything but a sort of softly motherly anxiety in the dropped note of her voice, and it was almost more than flesh and blood at twenty-five could stand. Tembarom made a hasty, involuntary move toward her, but it was only a slight one, and it was scarcely perceptible before he had himself in hand and hurriedly twisted his muffler tighter, showing his teeth again cheerily.
"You keep on hoping it all day without a let-up," he said. "And tell Mr. Hutchinson I'm obliged to him, please. Get out of the way, Little Ann, while I go out. The wind might blow you and the hat-stand up- stairs."
He opened the door and dashed down the high steps into the full blast of the blizzard. He waited at the street corner while three overcrowded cars whizzed past him, ignoring his signals because there was not an inch of space left in them for another passenger. Then he fought his way across two or three blocks to the nearest "L" station. He managed to wedge himself into a train there, and then at least he was on his way. He was thinking hard and fast, but through all his planning the warm hug of the tartan comforter round his neck kept Little Ann near him. He had been very thankful for the additional warmth as the whirling snow and wind had wrought their will with him while he waited for the cars at the street corner. On the "L" train he saw her serious eyes and heard the motherly drop in her voice as she said, "I do hope you'll be able to keep the page. I do that, Mr. Tembarom." It made him shut his hands hard as they hung in his overcoat pockets for warmth, and it made him shut his sound teeth strongly.
"Gee! I've got to!" his thoughts said for him. "If I make it, perhaps my luck will have started. When a man's luck gets started, every darned thing's to the good."
The "L" had dropped most of its crowd when it reached the up-town station among the hundredth streets which was his destination. He tightened his comforter, tucked the ends firmly into the front of his overcoat, and started out along the platform past the office, and down the steep, iron steps, already perilous with freezing snow. He had to stop to get his breath when he reached the street, but he did not stop long. He charged forth again along the pavement, looking closely at the shop-windows. There were naturally but few passers-by, and the shops were not important-looking; but they were open, and he could see that the insides of them looked comfortable in contrast with the blizzard-ruled street. He could not see both sides of the street as he walked up one side of the block without coming upon a confectioner's. He crossed at the corner and turned back on the other side. Presently he saw that a light van was standing before one place, backed up against the sidewalk to receive parcels, its shuddering horse holding its head down and bracing itself with its forelegs against the wind. At any rate, something was going on there, and he hurried forward to find out what it was. The air was so thick with myriads of madly flying bits of snow, which seemed whirled in all directions in the air, that he could not see anything definite even a few yards away. When he reached the van he found that he had also reached his confectioner. The sign over the window read "M. Munsberg, Confectionery. Cakes. Ice-Cream. Weddings, Balls and Receptions."
"Made a start, anyhow," said Tembarom.
He turned into the store, opening the door carefully, and thereby barely escaping being blown violently against a stout, excited, middle-aged little Jew who was bending over a box he was packing. This was evidently Mr. Munsberg, who was extremely busy, and even the modified shock upset his temper.
"Vhere you goin'?" he cried out. "Can't you look vhere you're goin'?"
Tembarom knew this was not a good beginning, but his natural mental habit of vividly seeing the other man's point of view helped him after its usual custom. His nice grin showed itself.
"I wasn't going; I was coming," he said. "Beg pardon. The wind's blowing a hundred miles an hour."
A good-looking young woman, who was probably Mrs. Munsberg, was packing a smaller box behind the counter. Tembarom lifted his hat, and she liked it.
"He didn't do it a bit fresh," she said later. "Kind o' nice." She spoke to him with professional politeness.
"Is there anything you want?" she asked.
Tembarom glanced at the boxes and packages standing about and at Munsberg, who had bent over his packing again. Here was an occasion for practical tact.
"I've blown in at the wrong time," he said. "You're busy getting things out on time. I'll just wait.. Gee! I'm glad to be inside. I want to speak to Mr. Munsberg."
Mr. Munsberg jerked himself upright irascibly, and broke forth in the accent of the New York German Jew.
"If you comin' in here to try to sell somedings, young man, joost you let that same vind vat blew you in blow you right out pretty quick. I'm not buyin' nodings. I'm busy."
"I'm not selling a darned thing," answered Tembarom, with undismayed cheer.
"You vant someding?" jerked out Munsberg.
"Yes, I want something," Tembarom answered, " but it's nothing any one has to pay for. I'm only a newspaper man." He felt a glow of pride as he said the words. He was a newspaper man even now. "Don't let me stop you a minute. I'm in luck to get inside anywhere and sit down. Let me wait."
Mrs. Munsberg read the Sunday papers and revered them. She also knew the value of advertisement. She caught her husband's eye and hurriedly winked at him.
"It's awful outside. 'T won't do harm if he waits--if he ain't no agent," she put in.
"See," said Tembarom, handing over one of the cards which had been Little Ann's businesslike inspiration.
"T. Tembarom. New York Sunday Earth," read Munsberg, rather grudgingly. He looked at T. Tembarom, and T. Tembarom looked back at him. The normal human friendliness in the sharp boyish face did it.
"Vell," he said, making another jerk toward a chair, "if you ain't no agent, you can vait."
"Thank you," said Tembarom, and sat down. He had made another start, anyhow.
After this the packing went on fast and furious. A youth appeared from the back of the store, and ran here and there as he was ordered. Munsberg and his wife filled wooden and cardboard boxes with small cakes and larger ones, with sandwiches and salads, candies and crystallized fruits. Into the larger box was placed a huge cake with
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