I stalked on sneeringly every afternoon, virginal before my train of damsels, the knights behind, hawking and nudging.
I was won, though, being but human and having, at eight as now, a belly below my heart. Red, through what advice I can never know, a few days later slipped into my desk the first nickel candybar I had ever seen.
It was a clumsy lump of very good chocolate and “fondant,” with a preserved cherry in the middle, all wrapped up in a piece of paper that, immediately upon being touched, sent off waves of red and gilt stain. It was, to me, not only the ultimate expression of masculine devotion but pure gastronomical delight, in a household where Grandmother disapproved of candy, not because of tooth decay or indigestion, but because children liked it and children should perforce not have anything they liked.
I sniffed happily at the Cherriswete a few times, and then gave each girl in my retinue a crumb, in payment for her loyalty. Then I took it home, showed it to my little sister, spun it a few times past her nose to torture her, and divided it with her, since even though young and savage we really loved each other.
My heart was full. I knew at last that I loved Red as well. I was his, to steal a phrase. We belonged together, a male and female who understood the gastronomical urge.
I never saw him again, since his father was transferred by the Standard Oil from Brea to Shanghai that week end, but he has had much more influence on me with that one Cherriswete than most men could have in twenty years of champagne and lark tongues. Sometimes I wonder if he is still tall, freckled, and irreverent…and if he remembers how well to woo a woman. Often I thank him for having, no matter how accidentally, taught me to realize the almost vascular connection between love and lobster pâté, between eating and romance…