And so they rode on, dark shadows, almost half the width of the deeply cushioned seat between them. Thus they had ridden along Jackson Avenue, almost into Flushing, when the silence was broken by the first words of the journey. They were husky words, yearning and afraid of their own sound, and were spoken by Maggie's father.
"I--I don't know what to call you. Will--will Maggie do?"
"I'm--I'm not much," the husky voice ventured on; "but what you said about going away--for my sake--do you think you need to do it?"
"I've made--such a mess of myself," she choked out.
"Other people were to blame," he said. "And out of it all, I think you're going to be what--what I dreamed you were. And--and--"
There was another stifling silence. "Yes?" she prompted.
"I wanted to keep out of your life--for your sake," he went on in his strained, suppressed voice. "But--but if you're not ashamed of me now that you know all"--in the darkness his groping hand closed upon hers--"I wish you wouldn't--go away from me, Maggie."
And then the surging, incoherent thing in her that bad been struggling to say itself this last half-hour, suddenly found its voice in a single word: