Okay. Why don’t we pray to the God who is not dead nor sleeping.”
At this, Mr. Langdon prayed. “Eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that you are neither dead nor sleeping. We thank you for watching over us this past year and, as we look forward to 1868, we ask again for your divine protection and guidance. In Your Son’s name, Amen.”
They left the table and sat in the living room, as the servant cleared the table. Mr. Langdon offered Mark a cigar and the servant passed out coffee. Father Langdon looked Mark over and asked, “Is that frog story the only thing you’ve written?’
“Story-wise, it is, so far. My newspaper work and lectures keep me pretty busy.”
“Well, no doubt you’ll come up with another doozie soon.”
It was one thirty in the morning by the time they thought to say goodbye. As he stood looking at her at the doorstep, he bowed and asked: “Will I see you again, mam?”
She smiled. “I dearly hope so. Say, there’s a reading tomorrow afternoon by that English author, Charles Dickens. I was thinking of having brother Charles take me, but he’s not really into such things—thinks their rather stuffy.”
Mark’s eyes lit up. “I’d be glad to take you, Miss Olivia. What time is the reading?”
“I believe it’s at three in the afternoon.”
“Well, why don’t I pick you up at one? That way we could grab a bite to eat on the way.
“I think that’s a splendid idea.”
He didn’t get much sleep that night for thinking of her and anticipating the morrow’s date. But he finally dozed off and woke up at the stroke of noon.
The meeting hall was crowded with people, but, arriving early, they managed to find a seat fairly near the front. Soon the curtain opened and there in the middle of the stage stood a stocky old gentleman with white hair. “I thought he’d be taller.” observed Mark to Olivia.
“Shhhhh!” She shushed him. “He’s about to begin.” she whispered.
He slowly inched to her, hoping she wouldn’t notice.
Dickens read from his novel “Oliver Twist.” The story was interesting but he had a hard time concentrating with the beautiful Olivia beside him. He tried to look straight at the figure on the stage while looking out of the corner of his eye at her seated beside him.
After the reading, there was a time for questions. Mark raised his hand and was recognized by the author. “As from one author to another, Sir, do all of your stories have children as main characters?”
Dickens was slightly taken aback, but answered “Most of them do, Sir.”
“Well, do you find it hard to write about them in such a way as to hold the interest of adults as well as children?”
“Oh, good heavens, no!” exclaimed the white haired Dickens. “A good writer should be able to hold anyone’s interest no matter what age group his characters belong to. Now are there any more questions?”
He felt a little embarrassed, but then thought “why not try writing about children?”
On the way home, they talked. “Well, what did you think of him?” she asked.
“He’s quite a polished writer and a polished speaker as well.”
“Have you read any of his works?”
“Not as yet. But I surely intend to.”
“I read The Old Curiosity Shop” she volunteered. “I could hardly put it down.”
Soon they had reached her home. They dismounted and he walked her to the door. “It was a lovely evening.” she said.
“Yes,” he answered. “And you were the loveliest part of it. In fact, I think you’re the loveliest girl I’ve ever met.”
She laughed. “Oh, I bet you say that to every girl you meet.”
He frowned. “No, seriously. You can ask any of my friends. I hardly looked at any girls till I saw you.”
“Well,” she blushed again and sighed. “I really don’t know what to think.”
Now he sighed. “It’s a pity I have to leave, but I promised my papers out west that I’d return. There are a few things I have to set in order. But, I’ll write you every day.”
She laughed. “I doubt that seriously. You’ll get so busy with your writing you’ll soon forget about me.”
He sighed. “Will you give me a picture to remember you by?”
Now they were at the doorstep. “Wait here.” She said, and ran inside. In a moment she was back with a 5 x 4 photo of herself. “Will this do?”
“Perfectly,” he replied. He took the picture and placed it into his coat pocket. It just fit. Again his heart was pounding as he reached for her and put his arm around her. He drew her closer to him. She started to wriggle free from his grasp.
“One kiss” he urged. “One little kiss to carry with me.” He drew her to him again and their lips met.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish