Axidava

Belinda

I remember Belinda. She was arguing with another young woman about the car fare. “Let me pay,” said Belinda; and she paid.

“There,” I mused, “is a perfect woman, nobly planned.”

I met her shortly after that, and she came through many a test. Once I saw her go up to an elevated railroad station, hand in a nickel, and not say, “One, please.” Once I asked her about what day it was, and she said “Wednesday” without adding “All day.” She spoke once of a cultivated taste without adding “like olives,” and once said “That’s another story” without adding “as Kipling says.” And once—and that was the day I nearly begged her to be mine—when she said that something had been grossly exaggerated she failed to giggle “like the report of Mark Twain’s death.”

So you see Belinda had points. She had a dog that wasn’t more intelligent than most human beings; she wasn’t forever saying that there was no reason why a man and a woman shouldn’t be just good pals; she didn’t put me at ease, the way the others did, by looking at me for three minutes and then saying that good looks didn’t matter much to a man, after all; she didn’t, when you gave her something, take it and say coyly, “For me?” as who should say, “You dear thoughtful thing, when you might have brought it for John D. Rockefeller.” And she didn’t say that she couldn’t draw a straight line or that she had no card sense or that she couldn’t write a decent letter.

She could write a decent letter. She did. Lots of them. To me, too. She wrote the best letters I ever read. They were intelligent, humorous, and—why shouldn’t I tell the truth?—ardent. Fervid is nearer. Candescent is not far off. And that is how I lost her.

“P. S.” she wrote. “Burn this letter, and all of them.”

A few weeks later Belinda said, “At the rate I write you, my letters must fill a large drawer by this time.”

“Why,” I said, “I burn them. They’re all burned.”

“I never want to see you again as long as I live,” she said. “Good-by.”

And my good-by was the last communication between me and Belinda.

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