“Hello, Butstein,” he said. She dropped the blankets.
“Oh, Wemedge. You shouldn’t have frightened me like that. I was afraid you hadn’t come.”
“Dear Butstein,” Nick said. He held her close against him, feeling her body against his, all the sweet body against his body. She pressed close against him.
“I love you so, Wemedge.”
“Dear, dear old Butstein,” Nick said.
They spread the blankets, Kate smoothing them flat.
“It was awfully dangerous to bring the blankets,” Kate said.
“I know,” Nick said. “Let’s undress.”
“It’s more fun.” They undressed sitting on the blankets. Nick was a little embarrassed to sit there like that.
“Do you like me with my clothes off, Wemedge?”
“Gee, let’s get under,” Nick said. They lay between the rough blankets. He was hot against her cool body, hunting for it, then it was all right.
“Is it all right?”
Kate pressed all the way up for answer.
“Is it fun?”
“Oh, Wemedge. I’ve wanted it so. I’ve needed it so.”
They lay together in the blankets. Wemedge slid his head down, his nose touching along the line of the neck, down between her breasts. It was like piano keys.
“You smell so cool,” he said.
He touched one of her small breasts with his lips gently. It came alive between his lips, his tongue pressing against it. He felt the whole feeling coming back again and, sliding his hands down, moved Kate over. He slid down and she fitted close in against him. She pressed tight in against the curve of his abdomen. She felt wonderful there. He searched, a little awkwardly, then found it. He put both hands over her breasts and held her to him. Nick kissed hard against her back. Kate’s head dropped forward.
“Is it good this way?” he said.
“I love it. I love it. I love it. Oh come, Wemedge. Please come. Come, come. Please, Wemedge. Please, please, Wemedge.”
“There it is,” Nick said.
He was suddenly conscious of the blanket rough against his bare body.
“Was I bad, Wemedge?” Kate said.
“No, you were good,” Nick said. His mind was working very hard and clear. He saw everything very sharp and clear. “I’m hungry,” he said.
“I wish we could sleep here all night.” Kate cuddled against him.
“It would be swell,” Nick said. “But we can’t. You’ve got to get back to the house.”
“I don’t want to go,” Kate said.
Nick stood up, a little wind blowing on his body. He pulled on his shirt and was glad to have it on. He put on his trousers and shoes.
“You’ve got to get dressed, slut,” he said. She lay there, the blankets pulled over her head.
“Just a minute,” she said. Nick got the lunch from over by the hemlock. He opened it up.
“Come on, get dressed, slut,” he said.
“I don’t want to,” Kate said, “I’m going to sleep here all night.” She sat up in the blankets. “Hand me those things, Wemedge.”
Nick gave her the clothes.
“I’ve just thought of it,” Kate said. “If I sleep out here they’ll just think that I’m an idiot and came out here with the blankets and it will be all right.”
“You won’t be comfortable,” Nick said.
“If I’m uncomfortable I’ll go in.”
“Let’s eat before I have to go,” Nick said.
“I’ll put something on,” Kate said.
They sat together and ate the fried chicken and each ate a piece of cherry pie.
Nick stood up, then kneeled down and kissed Kate.
He came through the wet grass to the cottage and upstairs to his room, walking carefully not to creak. It was good to be in bed, sheets, stretching out full length, dipping his head in the pillow. Good in bed, comfortable, happy, fishing tomorrow, he prayed as he always prayed when he remembered it, for the family, himself, to be a great writer, Kate, the men, Odgar, for good fishing, poor old Odgar, poor old Odgar, sleeping up there at the cottage, maybe not sleeping, maybe not sleeping all night. Still there wasn’t anything you could do, not a thing.
COMPANY OF TWO
He had been in swimming and was washing his feet in the wash bowl after having walked up the hill. The room was hot and Dutch and Luman were both standing around looking nervous. Nick got a clean suit of underwear, clean silk socks, new garters, a white shirt and collar out from the drawer of the bureau and put them on. He stood in front of the mirror and tied his tie. Dutch and Luman reminded him of dressing rooms before fights and football games. He enjoyed their nervousness. He wondered if it would be this way if he were going to be hanged. Probably. He could never realize anything until it happened. Dutch went out for a corkscrew and came in and opened the bottle.