34. CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR
"Excuse me, I was looking for the Weekly Volcano office.
I wished to see Mr. Dashwood."
Down went the highest pair of heels, up rose the smokiest
gentleman, and carefully cherishing his cigar between his
fingers, he advanced with a nod and a countenance expressive
of nothing but sleep. Feeling that she must get through the
matter somehow, Jo produced her manuscript and, blushing
redder and redder with each sentence, blundered out fragments
of the little speech carefully prepared for the occasion.
"A friend of mine desired me to offer--a story--just as
an experiment--would like your opinion--be glad to write more
if this suits."
While she blushed and blundered, Mr. Dashwood had taken
the manuscript, and was turning over the leaves with a pair
of rather dirty fingers, and casting critical glances up and
down the neat pages.
"Not a first attempt, I take it?" observing that the
pages were numbered, covered only on one side, and not tied
up with a ribbon--sure sign of a novice.
"No, sir. She has had some experience, and got a prize
for a tale in the BLARNEYSTONE BANNER."
"Oh, did she?" And Mr. Dashwood gave JO a quick look,
which seemed to take note of everything she had on, from the
bow in her bonnet to the buttons on her boots. "Well, you
can leave it, if you like. We've more of this sort of thing
on hand than we know what to do with at present, but I'll run
my eye over it, and give you an answer next week."
Now, Jo did not like to leave it, for Mr. Dashwood didn't
suit her at all, but, under the circumstances, there was nothing
for her to do but bow and walk away, looking particularly tall
and dignified, as she was apt to do when nettled or abashed.
Just then she was both, for it was perfectly evident from the
knowing glances exchanged among the gentlemen that her little
fiction of `my friend' was considered a good joke, and a
laugh, produced by some inaudible remark of the editor, as
he closed the door, completed her discomfiture. Half resolving
never to return, she went home, and worked off her
irritation by stitching pinafores vigorously, and in an
hour or two was cool enough to laugh over the scene and long
for next week.