"That's so," said Mr. Redbrook; "Zeb told me about it, and she used to come to Mercer to see him after he got out. She ain't much like the old man, I callate."
"I don't think she is," said Austen.
"I don't know what she's stayin' with that feller Crewe for," the farmer remarked; of all the etarnal darn idiots--why, Brush Bascom and that Botcher and the rest of 'em are trailin' him along and usin' him for the best thing that ever came down here. He sets up to be a practical man, and don't know as much as some of us hayseeds in the back seats. Where be you goin'?"
"Well, I've got a committee meetin' of Agriculture," said Mr. Redbrook. "Could you be up here at Mis' Peasley's about eight to-night?"
"Why, yes," Austen replied, "if you want to see me."
"I do want to see you," said Mr. Redbrook, significantly, and waved a farewell.
Austen took his way slowly across the state-house park, threading among the groups between the snow-banks towards the wide facade of the Pelican Hotel. Presently he paused, and then with a sudden determination crossed the park diagonally into Main Street, walking rapidly southward and scrutinizing the buildings on either side until at length these began to grow wide apart, and he spied a florist's sign with a greenhouse. behind it. He halted again, irresolutely, in front of it, flung open the door, and entered a boxlike office filled with the heated scents of flowers. A little man eyed him with an obsequious interest which he must have accorded to other young men on similar errands. Austen may be spared a repetition of the very painful conversation that ensued; suffice it to say that, after mature deliberation, violets were chosen. He had a notion--not analyzed--that she would prefer violets to roses. The information that the flowers were for the daughter of the president of the Northeastern Railroads caused a visible quickening of the little florist's regard, an attitude which aroused a corresponding disgust and depression in Austen.
"Oh, yes," said the florist, "she's up at Crewe's." He glanced at Austen apologetically. "Excuse me," he said, "I ought to know you. Have you a card?"