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WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARD
BY CHARLES BATTELL LOOMIS
HEN I saw her on the roof of that great house in the heart of New York City, sitting on the limb of an appletree and gazing at the clouds, I fell in love with her and said, 'That woman, and she alone, shall be my bride!' And then I threw a kiss down to her. The next minute I was a mile away-" "Lenox Avenue express. off, please."
At the interruption of the guard, the crowd surged about me, and I was driven out of ear-shot of the man who had uttered the singular words printed above.
He was in evening clothes, and was accompanied by two elderly ladies, who, it was plain to be seen, were deeply interested in what he was saying.
Pale-faced, intellectual-looking, with the stamp of candor in his eyes and a nameless something that might well be romanticism permeating his whole being, he filled me with an absorbing curiosity to know of what he was talking.
I was waiting for a down-town local, and he was evidently waiting for a Broadway express, for he let the Lenox pass. I felt an insane impulse to go up to him and ask him what he was talking about. I could see he was still engaged in telling his story, and the solemn-looking women on each side of him shook their heads and opened their mouths and unconsciously mimicked his facial expressions, as is the habit of many; but they never smiled. What he was telling them was of absorbing import, but it was evidently not hu
And yet it had had that sound.
This wonderful woman, whoever she was, was on the roof of a house in the heart of Manhattan, and yet she was sitting on the bough of an apple-tree and gazing at the passing clouds. Apple-trees on New York houses are unheard of as far as I know. And then he threw down a kiss to her. Where was he? On top of a higher building? No, for he said that the next minute he was a mile away.
"One of the roof-gardens," said Ralph, patronizingly.
"No, it was n't a roof-garden; a rooffarm would come nearer to describing it. It was very evidently a private place, and it must have covered a couple of acres right in the heart of New York, and from twenty to thirty stories up.
"My companion was busy running the balloon, and did not notice the farm, but I was full of eyes, for at one corner of this prosperous little heart's-ease of a place was an apple-tree, and sitting on a bough of it was the most beautiful woman I
"When I saw her on the roof of that great house in the heart of New York City, sitting on the limb of an apple-tree and gazing at the clouds, I fell in love with her and said, "That woman, and she alone, shall be my bride.' And I threw a kiss down to her. The next minute I was a mile away."
I almost expected to hear, "Lenox Avenue express. Passengers off, please," but there was no such interruption, and the romantic young man went on, his three auditors visibly interested, the old ladies. as before aping his facial expressions through absorption in what he was saying.
"But in that one look I had seen with a busy eye, and I knew that that young woman in the apple-tree was living a country life in the heart of New York, that the little rustic cottage at the side of which the apple-tree grew sheltered her form at night, that the old man driving the yoke of oxen at the farther end of the little patch was her father, and I also knew that in the whole wide universe I loved but one woman, and that woman the lovely one I had surprised in her simple life. She had seen me when I threw the kiss and had not seemed annoyed.”
"How charming!" said the elder of the two old ladies, with a little sigh. I fancied that she would have liked to be back in the fifties, before the war, sitting in an apple-tree on the top of a sky-scraper and receiving with equanimity the kisses thrown by a strange man in a dirigible balloon. But it could never be; hence the sigh.
"Idyllic," said the younger lady, not at all shocked at the rapid passage of loverlike courtesies on the part of the young man who sat before them.