A Second Chance for Mr. Chandler and Miss Marian: Based on the O. Henry story Lost on Dress Parade.

For Mr. Towers Chandler the next sixty-nine days progressed at their usual pace in the New York City architect’s office.  Finally, having saved another ten dollars, after work he hurried to the boarding house and retrieved his evening suit for a grand night on Broadway.

He could not help thinking of the shop girl who had stumbled into his path the last time that he had ventured out.  Miss Marian in her simple black dress and black straw hat with a velvet ribbon and bow had been a lovely sight on that cold, icy night.

It was her eyes, those green eyes which spoke pages of architectural drawings of stately happiness and kindness.  Of course her dark brown hair was more breathtaking than the Duomo di Milano in Milan, based on the pictures in his office which he had seen of the great cathedral.

He pondered for a moment if it was sacrilegious to compare a woman to a cathedral.  He dismissed the thought with a shrug and said to himself, “Before the cathedral, the Lord had made woman.  She must have been a real beauty.”

To Mr. Chandler, Miss Marian was a beautiful creation.  He had regretted after they parted that he had not told her the truth of his station in life.  $18 dollars a week and saving a dollar for ten weeks so he could pretend to be a fine gentlemen of leisure for one night.

Deep within his soul he had hoped and prayed that he might encounter Miss Marian again on that corner, a busy corner of life.  He had, when he had free time, revisited the area looking into the various shops for the young lady, but his quest always met the same fate—she could not be found.

After pressing his suit and doing a spit and shine on his shoes, he was off.  It was much warmer than it had been ten weeks ago.  No ice to help intrude a beautiful woman into his way so he could offer her dinner.

He stood by the entrance to the place where they had eaten.  For several moments he glanced at the shadows in the corners and eventually moved down the street to his usual place of fare with its gaiety and shallowness.

The waiter seated him by table near the window.  He could hope for a faint vision of Miss Marian in the shadows of evening.

Of course, it was not to be.  As he sat and ate, he remembered the previous meal and delightful conversation.

Glancing up, he caught the eye of a well-dressed woman who reminded him of Miss Marian, except she was a bit older and elegantly dressed.  She cast a curious glance at him and smiled demurely like Miss Marian had.

He could not see her companion because of a large man who blocked his view.  However, he did notice that the lady had gracefully leaned over to her companion and said something humorous.

Every time that he tossed a glance toward the enchanted table their eyes met for a brief second.  He found this to be a bit amusing since if the fine lady knew his actual station she would not give him the privilege of a frown, even less a smile.

After his fine meal Mr. Chandler stood to leave.  He glanced out the window. For a brief moment he saw the face of Miss Marian.

He rushed outside and looked every way but could not find the angel of his vision.  Perhaps, two glasses of Burgundy were too much since he was not a drinking man.

Walking he reached the eatery where he and Miss Marian had dined.  Gazing into the dark interior, the face of Miss Marian appeared beside his in the glass.  Turning he was greeted by his angel.

“Miss Marian,” he uttered with delight.

“Mr. Chandler, what a serendipitous moment,” she replied with a little laugh.

There on the street in the shadows he was lost for several moments in how lovely she was.  Her hair was nicely done and she wore a fine cloak about her shoulders.

She had thought about him often in the ten weeks since they parted.  She had come to this restaurant for nine weeks hoping to see him, but she had given up hope until a dinner party when she was introduced to a Mr. Thomas Hargrove who was a new architect in her father’s employ.

As they talked, Mr. Hargrove had mentioned a young and upcoming architect by the name of Towers Chandler.  She could not believe her ears.

Cautiously she asked about Mr. Chandler and was convinced it was the same young man that she had dined with nine weeks ago.  Why did he pretend to be someone different, she wondered?

Then, Mr. Hargrove told an amazing story about this young man and what he did every seventy days.  A man of leisure, indeed! She thought.

For you see it was her elder sister and her that were dining in the restaurant where Mr. Chandler had eaten.  She had the waiter seat them so Mr. Chandler could not see her, but she saw his sad reflection in the window.

“Miss Marian, I wish to apologize.”

“Apologize? Why?”

“Could we go inside for coffee, Miss Marian?”

“Of course, Mr. Chandler.”

“I have not been totally truthful about myself,” he continued, as he looked into those green eyes as radiant as emeralds in moonlight.

She looked into his dark, kind blue eyes.  Finally, she mused, a man I can love for himself.

“I make $18 a week.”

Oh! She thought.  His boss has not told him that beginning Monday it will be $25 because of my father’s business.  She sighed deeply.

“Miss Marian, are you annoyed by my confession?”

“Mr. Chandler, I was just reflecting on your words and how they touch a simple girl like me.  Please continue.”

He continued his story as she sat there rapt with his words.  “Could this happening?” she thought.

“Now, if you feel my presence is no longer welcome in your company, Miss Marian, I will say my adieu with no ill feelings toward you.”

For several long moments she looked directly at him without saying a word.  Then a smile spread across her face.  “Mr. Chandler, I have a confession to make of my own.”

“Confession, Miss Marian?”

“I am a simple girl born into a sophisticated life.  The night that we met I had escaped to see the world as I have done many times before, but that night changed everything for me.  I would like to introduce you to someone.” She motioned toward the table by the door.

Mr. Chandler turned.  The elegant lady from the restaurant walked toward them.

This must be her employer, he mused.

“Mr. Chandler, this is my sister Eleanor.”

“Sister!” He exclaimed.  It only took him a moment.  “You were in the restaurant the whole time?”

“Yes.”

“Then you are not a shop girl?”

“No, I have had dreams of being one, but alas, I live on Fifth Avenue with my sister, my brothers and parents.”

He was stunned. “I guess we both played an excellent role that night ten weeks ago in this very place.”

“My heart was not playing a role, Mr. Chandler,” she smiled.

Looking into those lovely eyes reflecting the soft candlelight, he took her right hand into his and gently kissed it.  “You captured my heart that night like fireflies in a Mason jar.”

Eleanor sighed and smiled. True love, she pondered as she gracefully slipped away from the two people on a Spring New York City night.

As Eleanor stood under the canopy of the restaurant a gentle spring rain was falling.  I forgot my umbrella, she reflected.

“May I be of assistance, Miss?”

Turning Eleanor noticed a well-dressed gentleman a few years older than she holding a black umbrella.  He had blue eyes the color of azure and light brown hair with a trimmed beard. And he was definitely English.

This is where we will end our tale of Mr. Chandler and Miss Marian.  At a future time we will relate the tale of Miss Eleanor and the English Gentleman.

G. D. Williams       © 2012

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