SHE came in at dusk, when the April twilight was slanting gray-green in the room where Ann Eversole waited. Outside, a small detached wind went through the trees, touching them almost leaf by leaf, turning them over, looking, as it seemed, for some lost treasure. The bell in St. Andrew’s tower was ringing, long pensive strokes, shadows of sound, as remote and absent as the wind. ‘So the church bells in a tapestry might ring,’ Ann thought. ‘As though they did not belong here, but came down out of the past.’

Mrs. Newmarch’s entrance seemed a part of the wistful evening; the graygreen twilight opened to let her through, the bells wafted her in on one of their far-away strokes.

The minute Ann looked at the older woman a pain tightened in her heart. ‘But I won’t speak — if I speak I ’ll make it true,’ she thought, warding off the impending fate.

Mrs. Newmarch did not speak at once either. Crossing over to the window, she began pulling off her gloves very slowly, finger by finger. Then she put up her lovely slender hands and removed her hat, her hair showing silver against the green effulgence without.

‘They tricked me, Ann,’ she said. ‘The appropriation for the crippled children has gone into their own pockets — that is, it has gone for paving streets that need no paving, the contracts for which will be let to their friends on a fifty-fifty basis.’

‘I knew it,’ Ann thought. ‘I knew it as soon as the bells began to ring from far away. Things are not of this world for people like her — their fulfillment is somewhere else — but she minds horribly.’

‘I’m so sorry,’ she said out loud, a little catch in her voice.

‘It was Wilbur Boggs’s doing. He put the committee up to it, of course. But all the rest were ready enough; they only needed to be shown the way. They were all laughing. I saw that at once, in spite of their trying to cover it up — so futile of them, like mean little boys! They tried to be very polite, too — I mean as polite as they know how to be.’ She drew the purple scarf she wore from around her neck. It fell away, Ann thought, with just the lingering regret of the church bells. ‘It did not matter in the least that they laughed at me,’ she explained. ‘It did not even matter so very much that all my hopes for the crippled children had failed. But there was something else that mattered terribly. It was what they were doing to themselves.’

Ann crossed the room, quickly dropping down on her knees beside the older woman. ‘You’ve worked for this town all your life. You’ve set your spirit against all the mean duplicity. There is n’t a good thing or a beautiful one that has been done here for forty years that you have n’t had a hand in. I think you wanted this appropriation for the children’s hospital more than you have wanted anything for a long time, and now these dirty blackguards with their feet in the trough have tricked you! It hurts me — it hurts me so that — if you wanted the lining of my heart to make a garment — or shoes for your feet — you could have it.’

Mrs. Newmarch put her hands down over the young eager ones Ann laid in her lap, smiling in the old way; but something jumped in Ann, startling her. ‘She does n’t hear me — does n’t even know I’ve spoken! She’s somewhere else — not here at all!’ she thought with a little gust of fear.

‘ It was n’t that I minded their laughing, you understand, Ann,’ the remote voice picked its way through the twilight. ‘That was nothing. To be laughed at by people who have tricked you is nothing at all — that I got used to long ago — ’

‘ All my love is right here beside you! ’ Ann cried.

‘I must get through to her! I must — I must!’ she thought.

‘It was n’t the laughing that mattered, nor even what they had done to the children. What mattered — what was the awful thing was what they were doing to themselves, and not knowing it. Somehow that frightened me. I tried to make them understand — I felt I must. I made them a speech. That was very foolish of me — so useless! I could see them winking when they thought I did n’t see. But I felt I must try. “Gentlemen,” I said, “I congratulate you on your finesse.” That was very foolish too, Ann. I ought not to have let myself be sarcastic; I should have been very straight and direct. Besides, some of them were not quite sure what “finesse” meant. They thought I was trying to show off with big words. “Aw, cut out the highbrow stuff!” I could hear them thinking. I saw my mistake and tried again. “Gentlemen,” I said — I don’t know why I kept calling them gentlemen, except it seemed to me if I could just get through to their other selves I could make them understand. “Gentlemen,” I said, “I realize that you have tricked me and are filling your own pockets with money that was promised for the children’s hospital, but I beg you will not think I speak from personal chagrin.” “Chagrin” seemed too ornate a word, so I changed it to “personal grievance.” “That you have tricked me is of no consequence,” I said; “nor is it even a supreme matter that you have defrauded these invalid children. The terrible thing is that you do not grasp the nobility of life, and therefore have no conception of what you have done to yourselves.” I saw them laughing inside at that, Ann. “What we’ve done to ourselves! Say, that’s pretty rich!” I could hear them thinking, and I saw Boggs slide his eye around and wink very secretly at Jud Handley. “Oh, I know quite well what is in your mind,” I said. “You are thinking that what you have done for yourselves is not so bad; that one of you will get a new car out of this, another a trip, perhaps, and a third make the first payment on that house out at Crescent Park he has so long desired. But what you do not realize is that the man who plays politics with crippled children cripples his own soul so that forever after he goes halt and blind through the great adventure of life.” But it was all useless, Ann. They did n’t know what I meant; I just made them angry, and then of course I could n’t reach them. I kept thinking, “If I can only find the right word I can surely make them understand.” But I could n’t find it, and now they were angry. I knew they were defending themselves with the same old phrases: “Well, of course politics ain’t a Sundayschool picnic. If the ladies are goin’ to play it with us they got to take what’s comin’ — an’ anyhow the old woman can’t lecture us like a lot o’ kids.” They were right about that, Ann. I was talking down to them, but could n’t seem to help it. Of course it made them angry — my mistake,’ she said vaguely.

She began folding up her scarf very carefully, as though it were of the utmost importance that its edges should exactly meet.

‘The nobility of life,’ she repeated slowly. ‘The great adventure — I saw it all in a flash. I wanted to make them see. It terrified me that I could n’t. You must n’t think it was altogether their fault, Ann — it was really mine. If I could have found the right word! But you see I bungled things and made them angry.’

‘Your hands — they’re so hot! Are you ill ? ’ Ann cried.

With difficulty Mrs. Newmarch got to her feet. ‘But I doubt if words would have helped — not even the tongues of men and of angels. Only silence — that might have made them understand. Not their fault — mine.’ Her gloves and scarf slipped out of her hands to the floor. ‘After all, I am not a young woman any more, and things seem — heavy,’ she said.

Ann flashed the light on, and now she saw that the other’s face was flushed, and her eyes curiously bright and expressionless. ‘You are ill!’ she cried. ‘I must telephone to the girls, and Dr. Fletcher.’

Mrs. Newmarch put her hands up to her head. ‘I remember now — I waked with a cold this morning. I’m feverish, I think — things seem so far away — queer. I don’t think I should have heard them thinking if I had n’t been feverish — nor have made them angry.’ She was staring very fixedly at a large upholstered chair, explaining matters to it. ‘But there is no right word — only silence,’ she repeated, with a nod of finality.

Ann got her upstairs and, turning her over to her maid, rushed down again and telephoned to the married children and the doctor. The children came and were frightened. The doctor came and was reassuring in the sick room, but grave outside. ‘Pneumonia, and with her heart — Temperature very high — slightly delirious, of course. But we’ll put up a good fight.’


The fight was lost. ‘It was lost before it began,’ Ann thought. ‘It was all over when the wind went through the trees from far away, and St. Andrew’s bells began to ring like church bells in a tapestry.’

Ann did not see her friend again in life. Mrs. Newmarch’s children and the nurses were with her. She was delirious at first; then a long coma set in. She died early in the morning, just a week after the evening when she came home and Ann was waiting for her in the April twilight. ‘And the evening and the morning were the seventh day,’ Ann thought, staring at the cluster of white roses and purple tulle hanging from the bell, as she waited on the doorstep.

Miss Evie White, Mrs. Newmarch’s elderly cousin, opened the door for Ann and whispered to her: ‘Yes, just at four this morning. Never regained consciousness — just slipped away. Yes, from St. Andrew’s, of course, to-morrow at eleven, but they want her especial friends to come to the house a few minutes before. My dear, she is perfectly beautiful! More beautiful than anyone I ever saw. You must take in your own flowers. Lilies of the valley? Ah, she loved them so! I remember as a girl —’

The disjointed whispers trailed into silence as Ann followed her down the hall through the library and to the door of the front drawing-room. ‘May I go in alone, please?’ Ann asked. Miss Evie nodded and, opening the door, withdrew. Ann was alone. She was conscious of the cool room, and the fragrance of many flowers: the intimate sweetness of roses, clusters and clusters of them; the spicy freshness of carnations; the fragrance from the lilies in her own hand and from Madonna lilies somewhere, too, and something else? Oh, yes! Irises, a great purple sheaf of them. That was nice. Someone must have rushed out into a garden in the cool morning and cut all its bloom for her.

Ann let her eyes rest first on the flowers — they were stepping-stones of approach to the sanctuary. Then at last she turned and looked. For a long time she stood completely motionless, hardly breathing, awe-struck by the overwhelming Presence before her. There were no words that could in any way express the beauty, the nobility, the aloof majesty of the face before her, the great dignity of the brow, the finality of the folded hands. ‘It is finished,’ Ann whispered as she looked and looked. ‘But there is nothing to say — only silence. I knew she was a great personality, but I only brushed the hem of her garment. There is n’t anything to say — nothing any of us can say any more. I will go softly all my days — something tremendous, overwhelming, is here. It—it frightens me.’ Her spirit seemed poured out through her eyes as she looked and looked. ‘Her body is here,’ she thought, ‘right here in this room. I might touch her hands, but she is away, away, owning herself forever. Nothing for any of us to say any more.’ Her whole being shifted into deeper levels of awe. She knew herself on the very edge of something overwhelming, terrifying almost, because of its solemn beauty and complete finality. ‘The dignity of life — the majesty of death—’ Her mind groped, but could find no satisfying interpretation.

Tip, tip, Miss Evie came into the room. ‘Ann, you have a black dress, have n’t you? Could you lend it to one of the girls? You and Julia are about of a size.’

‘Yes, of course. I’ll bring it around. Let me stay a little longer, please.’

Again Ann was alone in the room where for a moment the awful mysteries of life and death were met. Once more she could only approach the Presence gradually by way of the flowers — lilies, carnations, roses, irises, more roses, more roses — at last the hands folded in that ultimate repose, the face, the overwhelming mystery of the brow. ‘She knows the secret,’ Ann thought, ‘but cannot tell us. Each of us must find out for himself. No words, nothing big enough to say about it — but I feel a rushing mighty wind. It’s awful to have the spirit come so close. I’m too small a person, too inadequate, to be on the edge of anything so tremendous, so complete. It makes me gasp. I feel breathless — not in my body — in my soul. I could n’t stand it; I’d have to go away — only the beauty — that is a gift, a revelation. It makes you understand how marvelous life is — how mysterious and wonderful all human beings are — all of us part of a tremendous whole. The adventure of life — amazing! We have no idea of the wonder of it right here before us. We can’t grasp it — too big for us to lay hold of — and so we go on dragging it all down to small ends. The nobility of life — that is it! That was what she tried to make those men see, Wilbur Boggs and his crew; but of course they could n’t understand. Yes, they could, though, if they could see just for a moment how much bigger they are than they guess. I must n’t stay too long. She saw it all plainly.

I know now what she meant — the nobility of life. She thought it was her fault that she could n’t make them see it, too. Do all great people feel this responsibility to the small ones? She saw life for that flash just as she looks now — of course she tried to make them understand. I must n’t stay too long. I wish there were some great music being played — something in me needs it. But there are no words — nothing big enough in me for it — only silence. My thoughts even don’t touch the heart of this emotion. No, not big enough — a rushing mighty wind — ’

Again she was conscious of Miss Evie wavering on the threshold. Ann joined her.

‘Ann, could you be at the front door this afternoon from about five to six? I have all the other hours arranged for.’

‘Of course — thank you for asking me.’

‘Then I’ll count on you. My dear, you look very white. You must n’t take it so hard. We have to lose our friends in this world. I’ve lost almost everyone: but what can you expect? It’s life.’

‘Oh, no! That is n’t Life! Life is n’t loss — it’s something else — something marvelous. We don’t understand at all. I almost understood — in there!' Ann cried.

‘But she has n’t seen at all,’ she thought. ‘She does n’t understand. If you almost meet the Holy Ghost face to face, of course you take it — hard.'


‘The nobility of life’ — the words returned again and again to Ann’s mind as she took her place that afternoon at the front door. She could see through the curtained panel out into the street where people went by under the budding trees. ‘But they don’t seem to know in the least how marvelous the whole adventure of life and death is. They pass like sleepwalkers,’ she thought.

Many people came up the steps to leave cards, to whisper messages of sympathy or offers of service, and to bring flowers — more and more flowers. Ann opened the door a little way, received the messages and flowers, made careful lists of the callers, answered questions, whispered when the funeral would be, and asked Mrs. Newmarch’s intimate friends to assemble at the house beforehand; made notes of people who offered to take others in their cars; received more flowers, more cards.

Many organizations and committees with which Mrs. Newmarch had been associated sent elaborate floral pieces — anchors, crosses, sheaves of wheat. ‘Yes,’ Ann thought, ‘the public conscience of this community has died — of course these others rejoice to send wreaths.’

But she repented the thought at once, for its cynicism broke the serenity in which for the present her spirit dwelt. She had caught the grave beauty which death had stamped upon her friend’s brow, and, though she found no words with which to interpret its meaning, she had received it into herself like a clear effulgence. Standing there at the door, giving messages and receiving them, she felt herself in an interlude between two worlds. A veil was drawn between herself and everyday existence. The veil of death? Of life? She could not say what it was; only in the house was complete stillness, in the room near by the presence of death, while there in the street before her people moved in and out of the sunshine and green April shadows like people passing remotely in a mirror. She could hear the traffic sliding by, the brisk or loitering steps of pedestrians, and the laughter of children. Now a man was calling, ‘Strawberries! Strawberries!’ Presently he came into view, nearer and nearer: ‘Strawberries! Strawberries!’ He was passing now, a negro in blue shirt and overalls, his tray of red berries balanced on his head, in which manner he moved with the grace of a hidden rhythm. ‘Strawberries! Straw — ber — ries!’ He faded from sight under the green trees, his cry passing into the distance. A fat yellow bus came rolling down the street, and more and more automobiles, their sleek sides winking in the sun. Across the way two newsboys were romping, their bundles of papers under their arms. A little lame boy hopped by on a crutch. He paused a moment to Watch the runs and dashes of the other boys, then, with a defiant waggle of his crutch to make them think it was fun to be lame, hopped away out of the picture.

Now a car was stopping by the curb. A man got out of it and, turning back, received a huge wreath from another man within. Ann thought she saw a smile slide between the two. They waved their hands in farewell as the car moved on. The man who was left, looked up at the house, shook down his clothes a little, adjusting himself to the atmosphere of death, then came up the steps, bearing his pompous wreath. It was Wilbur Boggs, Chairman of the Appropriation Committee. ‘I wish someone else were at the door,’ Ann thought. ‘But after all, it does n’t matter — none of the little meannesses matter now.’

She opened the door a little way, but Mr. Boggs’s mission was too important to be transacted from without. He thrust himself forward, and to admit his huge wreath Ann had to throw the door wide, so that for a moment the warmth and noise of the street eddied into the still hall.

She surveyed the wreath. ‘What is it?’ her thoughts jibed. ‘The largest make of automobile tire, I suppose.’

Mr. Boggs carefully removed some tissue paper which still covered the flowers, handing it bit by bit to Ann, the servant for his importance. When the wreath was all disclosed, he directed her eyes with a gesture — evidently he could not speak in the house of death — to a card affixed to the purple tulle bow. ‘From the Appropriation Committee’ the card read, and underneath was a list of names. He placed his thumb nail, not scrupulously clean, beneath the top name, holding her attention to the words ‘Wilbur J. Boggs, Chairman,’ then, tipping the thumb back, he transferred it to his own chest. It was all-important that she should realize that the Chairman himself had come in person.

Ann nodded. ‘I understand—I understand perfectly. It’s the largest — er — appreciation of them all,’ she whispered, and held out her hand for it. But now words were wrung from him. ‘No, if you please, the Committee instructed me — their Chairman — to place the wreath in person — a token of our respect, you understand.’

‘Oh — but do you think you’d better?’

He tipped his ear toward her, raising a surprised eyebrow.

‘I’ve just seen a crippled child go up the street,’ she said suddenly.

She thought something within him gave a startled jump, almost breaking through his smooth exterior. But he was master of his voice and eyes. ‘Is that so?’ he interrogated impersonally, keeping his eyes full upon her.

‘The trickiest people I know always look you straight in the eye,’ Ann thought. ‘But he’s forgotten his mouth!’ That feature was out of the picture; caught unawares, it was ashamed, angry. The color also stirred faintly in his face. Nevertheless he clutched his wreath firmly. ‘I’ll thank you to direct me,’ he said.

Well, if he must, he must. Ann led the way down the hall. Self-important, bearing his monstrous tribute, he followed. He tiptoed out of respect to the presence of death, but his shoes cried out, calling attention to themselves all the way. ‘He can’t get the whole of himself into the picture,’ Ann thought. All at once he seemed pathetic, human, pitifully futile in his pompous trickery, his complete confidence in the immense wreath. ‘Poor fellow!’ she thought. ‘Even his shoes cry out, “Cheap! Cheap!”’ For a flash she saw the pathos of human duplicity so vividly that it hurt.

At the door she stood aside, pushing it open for him to enter. With his squeaking shoes, his wreath, and his smug complacency, he tiptoed into the fragrance, the stillness, and the presence of death.

Suddenly Ann perceived that the key was on the outside of the door. Very softly she swung the door to, very quietly she turned the key in the lock. She glanced at her wrist watch. ‘A quarter to six. Five minutes will be all he can stand,’ she thought. ‘All any of us can stand all uncovered, face to face with — silence.’

She went back to her post by the door, leaning her head against the frame and staring out through the curtain. The passing world still seemed remote, reflections in a mirror. The newsboys continued to romp across the way, and now an old negro woman had taken up her stand on the corner with a great basket of jonquils. The flowers made a pool of gold in the gray street. The lame boy came back down the street. The old colored woman gave him a handful of jonquils with their green spears. He accepted them happily and hopped away out of the mirror. ’I am very tired of florists’ flowers. I wish I had some jonquils for her,’ Ann thought. She looked at her watch. A minute and a half gone. How long even a minute seemed if you watched it! ‘All you would have to do to make time stand still would be to watch it second by second. He’s very inadequate to be there all alone. I wonder if he has anything to — to cover himself up with. How could I ever have done such a thing! I could n’t on any other day. To-day I’m between two worlds — not in either one. Besides, I wanted her to have another chance to explain —’

More people were coming up the steps. She opened the door, took in the cards and a box of flowers, closed it again, and added some names to her list. Three minutes gone. Only two minutes more for him now. What was he doing there with his meagre self, his cheap complacency, his wreath, faced by that complete finality? The awful beauty of that presence must burn through to his soul. But it might burn too deep — she glanced nervously at her watch. Did he have any zones of safety within himself? Any depth or reverence where he might hide? The words of the negro spiritual passed through her mind: —

I went to the rocks to hide my shame —
The rocks cried out, ‘No hiding place!
There is no hiding place down here!’

‘I ought not to have done it,’ she thought. Was he frightened? Would he rattle the door, try to get out? Oh, no, not even Wilbur J. Boggs, Chairman, could make a disturbance in that Presence. Only half a minute more now —

But here was someone else at the door. She had to take a message upstairs, and then, returning, exchange further whispers. ‘Yes, a terrible loss to the community! From St. Andrew’s at eleven to-morrow; but they want you to come to the house a few minutes before, please. Yes, I’ll be sure to tell them — thank you. Yes, if you would take somebody in your car — thank you very much.’ Ann closed the door, wrote ‘Two seats in Mrs. Henry Armstrong’s car,’ and looked quickly at her watch. Ten minutes — twice as long as she had meant him to stay!

She went hastily down the hall and, unlocking the door, pushed it open. There was a slight scuffle in the room — had he been on his knees? He shot past her, coming out backward so that he almost knocked her down.

‘Aw — oh! Excuse me — excuse me, lady! I did n’t go to knock into you! I — I — someway I never liked to turn my back on — you know — turn your back on — them. I never could — must be funny that way, I reckon.’ He cleared his throat, trying to collect himself. ‘The door — someway it got locked. I could n’t git out —’

He was limp, disheveled, collapsed like a pricked balloon.

‘But your wreath — you have n’t left it,’ Ann pointed out.

He stared at it like a child with a broken toy. He had had such confidence in it, but it had completely failed him. Its perfect round was spoiled, the flowers broken. At some time in there he must have clutched it to him, perhaps for safety. He was still clutching it. He relaxed his grasp, staring at it.

‘It cost a lot o’ money,’ he said.

‘Yes, I can see it did.’

‘But I could n’t leave it — someway. I’ll tell the Committee. They got to send somebody else — not me.’ He followed her down the hall. ‘I got locked in that room. The door must ’a’ got locked someway. I — I could n’t git out — could n’t git away no place.’ In spite of himself his hands shook on the wreath so that the flowers shook with them. ‘Dead people,’ he got out, ‘they make me feel — sorter funny — always did. I — ’he broke off. ‘I got locked in there, I tell you — all alone. I could n’t git the door open — could n’t git out — ’ His voice was getting high.

‘I am sorry,’ Ann said.

‘I don’t know what happened to that door! It was awful! I could n’t git it open ’thout busting the lock. I could n’t git away. And all the time — all the time she was there — just sort of waiting. God, it was awful! I was all alone — ’ He was hunting desperately through his pockets. ‘Why n’t the other fellers come along too?’ he burst out wildly. ‘Why’d they go putting it all off on me? They’d oughter been there too!’ He looked at Ann accusingly. ‘Why’d they pick on me?’ he demanded.

She shook her head.

‘Politics is a rough game!’ he cried violently, forgetting and raising his voice. ‘If you ladies is going to play it you got to expect — you got to — ’ Suddenly he turned his head aside. ‘My — mother,’ he blurted out with a great, uncouth gulp.

‘Of course,’ Ann told herself. ‘The thought of his mother is the deepest thing in him — that would be the only real word he could find to say.’

He had found his handkerchief now and was trying to hide his emotion, keeping his face turned from her and looking about desperately for some escape. But there was no escape. He could not go upstairs — the family were there. He could not go out into the street, all undressed in his emotion as he was. And now more people were ascending the steps.

Ann touched his arm. ‘There is a chair under the steps by the telephone stand — if you want to collect yourself —’

‘I thank you, ma’am.’ He went gratefully, his shoes apologizing and humble, his broken wreath, which he still clutched, trailing forlornly behind him. Halfway down the hall he turned and came back. ‘I ain’t as hard-boiled as you might think,’ he said with difficulty. ‘Things get to me — it’s the Irish in me, I reckon.”

Ann nodded. ‘I know — I understand.’

He came back again some time later. ‘I was meaner ’n the rest — it was me showed ’em how,’ he said.

‘Yes, she knew it was you.’

‘I reckon she did. She tried to tell us something, but — someway — she could n’t git it across —’

‘She was sorry. She felt it was her fault. She wanted to make you understand, and instead she only made you angry. You see, she was a little delirious already. She blamed herself. I think she would want you to know she was sorry.’

He turned his face aside, biting his lips. ‘There was some of us laughing at her all the time.’

‘Yes, she knew that, too.’

‘I know what she meant now. I got it — in there,’ he tipped his head toward the room. ‘I saw it all—just how ornery and mean I was. But I got something else — that we were all up against something bigger than we realized. Life is a sight bigger proposition than we figure on. I got aholt of the idea, all right — in there — but — someway — I have n’t got the words for it.’

‘I have n’t either. She called it “the nobility of life.”’

He considered this for a moment. ‘Yes, I guess that’s about it,’ he nodded. ‘Well — I reckon I ’ll go now.’

She opened the door for him. He passed out and down the steps absently. ‘Does he know he’s still dragging that wreath — like the Ancient Mariner and his dead albatross?’ Ann wondered.

Out in the street he appeared to hesitate, then with sudden decision crossed to the flower woman on the corner. An unexpected flash of tears came into Ann’s eyes. He returned presently, bearing a simple bunch of jonquils from the old negress’s basket. Even from outside Ann could hear the squeak, squeak, of his humble shoes as he came up the steps.

He hesitated for a moment when she opened the door. ‘I’d like mightily for her to know I got what she was trying to say,’ he said.

‘It’s too late for that — she’s a million worlds away. All you can do is to tell yourself.’

‘Yes, ma’am — that’s what I am doing.’ He paused a moment. ‘That appropriation for paving, now — someway it kinder got away from us. I’m goin’ to head it on back to the Children’s Hospital — that’s where it belongs, I reckon.’

Ann smiled at him. ‘Don’t you want me to take that wreath now? You can’t go on dragging it through the streets like that.’

He handed it over gratefully. ‘I thank you, ma’am.’ Then he held out the jonquils. ‘These is from me — just me —if she’ll have ’em, please,’ he said.