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The Plastic Age

CHAPTER II
Hugh wrote two letters before he went to bed, one to his mother and father and
the other to Helen Simpson. His letter to Helen was very brief, merely a request
for her photograph.
Then, his mind in a whirl of excitement, he went to bed and lay awake dreaming,
thinking of Carl, the college, and, most of all, of Helen and his walk with her the
day before.
He had called on her to say good-by. They had been "going together" for a year,
and she was generally considered his girl. She was a pretty child with really
beautiful brown hair, which she had foolishly bobbed, lively blue eyes, and an
absurdly tiny snub nose. She was little, with quick, eager hands—a shallow
creature who was proud to be seen with Hugh because he had been captain of
the high-school track team. But she did wish that he wasn't so slow. Why, he had
kissed her only once, and that had been a silly peck on the cheek. Perhaps he
was just shy, but sometimes she was almost sure that he was "plain dumb."
They had walked silently along the country road to the woods that skirted the
town. An early frost had already touched the foliage with scarlet and orange.
They sat down on a fallen log, and Hugh gazed at a radiant maple-tree.
Helen let her hand drop lightly on his. "Thinking of me?" she asked softly.
Hugh squeezed her hand. "Yes," he whispered, and looked at the ground while
he scuffed some fallen leaves with the toe of his shoe.
"I am going to miss you, Hughie—oh, awfully. Are you going to miss me?"
He held her hand tightly and said nothing. He was aware only of her hand. His
throat seemed to be stopped, choked with something.
A bird that should have been on its way south chirped from a tree near by. The
sound made Hugh look up. He noticed that the shadows were lengthening. He
and Helen would have to start back pretty soon or he would be late for dinner.
There was still packing to do; his mother had said that his father wanted to have
a talk with him—and through all his thoughts there ran like a fiery red line the
desire to kiss the girl whose hand was clasped in his.
He turned slightly toward her. "Hughie," she whispered and moved close to him.
His heart stopped as he loosened her hand from his and put his arm around her.
With a contented sigh she rested her head on one shoulder and her hand on the
other. "Hughie dear," she breathed softly.
He hesitated no longer. His heart was beating so that he could not speak, but he
bent and kissed her. And there they sat for half an hour more, close in each
other's embrace, speaking no words, but losing themselves in kisses that
seemed to have no end.
Finally Hugh realized that darkness had fallen. He drew the yielding girl to her
feet and started home, his arm around her. When they reached her gate, he
 
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