`What do you think of this whole idea, Helen?’ And he looks at me sitting here centre stage, see? And I say, I say –” She paused and ran her finger under a line in the script. ” Ì think that’s fine!’ And then they go on with the play until he says, `Do you agree to that, Helen!’ and I say, Ì sure do!’ Isn’t that fun, Guy?”
He stood in the hall looking at her.
“It’s sure fun,” she said.
“What’s the play about?”
“I just told you. There are these people named Bob and Ruth and Helen.”
“It’s really fun. It’ll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed. How long you figure before we save up and get the fourth wall torn out and a fourth wall-TV put in? It’s only two thousand dollars.”
“That’s one-third of my yearly pay.”
“It’s only two thousand dollars,” she replied. “And I should think you’d consider me sometimes. If we had a fourth wall, why it’d be just like this room wasn’t ours at all, but all kinds of exotic people’s rooms. We could do without a few things.”
“We’re already doing without a few things to pay for the third wall. It was put in only two months ago, remember?”
“Is that all it was?” She sat looking at him for a long moment. “Well, good-bye, dear.”
“Good-bye,” he said. He stopped and turned around. “Does it have a happy ending?”
“I haven’t read that far.”
He walked over, read the last page, nodded, folded the script, and handed it back to her. He walked out of the house into the rain.
The rain was thinning away and the girl was walking in the centre of the sidewalk with her head up and the few drops falling on her face. She smiled when she saw Montag.
He said hello and then said, “What are you up to now?”
“I’m still crazy. The rain feels good. I love to walk in it.
“I don’t think I’d like that,” he said.
“You might if you tried.”
“I never have.”
She licked her lips. “Rain even tastes good.”
“What do you do, go around trying everything once?” he asked.
“Sometimes twice.” She looked at something in her hand.
“What’ve you got there?” he said.
“I guess it’s the last of the dandelions this year. I didn’t think I’d find one on the lawn this late. Have you ever heard of rubbing it under your chin? Look.” She touched her chin with the flower, laughing.
“If it rubs off, it means I’m in love. Has it?”
He could hardly do anything else but look.
“Well?” she said.
“You’re yellow under there.”
“Fine! Let’s try YOU now.”
“It won’t work for me.”
“Here.” Before he could move she had put the dandelion under his chin. He drew back and she laughed. “Hold still!”
She peered under his chin and frowned.
“Well?” he said.
“What a shame,” she said. “You’re not in love with anyone.”
“Yes, I am ! ”
“It doesn’t show.”
“I am very much in love!” He tried to conjure up a face to fit the words, but there was no face. “I am ! ”
“Oh please don’t look that way.”
“It’s that dandelion,” he said. “You’ve used it all up on yourself. That’s why it won’t work for me.”
“Of course, that must be it. Oh, now I’ve upset you, I can see I have; I’m sorry, really I am.” She touched his elbow.
“No, no,” he said, quickly, “I’m all right.”
“I’ve got to be going, so say you forgive me. I don’t want you angry with me.”
“I’m not angry. Upset, yes.”
“I’ve got to go to see my psychiatrist now. They make me go. I made up things to say. I don’t know what he thinks of me. He says I’m a regular onion! I keep him busy peeling away the layers.”
“I’m inclined to believe you need the psychiatrist,” said Montag.
“You don’t mean that.”
He took a breath and let it out and at last said, “No, I don’t mean that.”
“The psychiatrist wants to know why I go out and hike around in the forests and watch the birds and collect butterflies. I’ll show you my collection some day.”