Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 466
George has been working at the lunch counter of a train station restaurant in order to save money for college. It is his last day on the job before he leaves. The restaurant is frequented by young women on their lunch hours. Though these women usually avoid contact with the three other men who work at the restaurant, they occasionally chat with George. Though not a handsome man, George has a polite and generous nature and is well liked by Steve, the restaurant’s manager.
George always notices one particular young woman (later identified as Lola) who comes to the lunch counter, yet something in her manner suggests an aloofness that makes him hesitate to speak to her. On this day when she comes in, George again notes how shy and pretty she is, even though she is dressed somewhat shabbily. She does not even have a piece of fur around the collar of her thin blue coat—something that most young women can afford.
After returning from a break that evening, Steve tells George that a young woman has telephoned for him and left a number. Not knowing who might have phoned, George returns the call and learns that it is the shy young woman from the lunch counter. She invites him to visit her at half past ten that evening.
At the woman’s boardinghouse room George is somewhat nervous, not knowing what to expect, but the young woman quickly takes charge. Wearing a tight red sweater, she invites him to sit next to her. Soon he is kissing her. She responds excitedly to his embraces, but as George grows overly eager, she breaks away from him and begins pacing the poorly furnished room. When George asks what she is doing, she explains that she is expecting her roommate to return shortly, so he must leave.
George suspects that something strange is going on when he notices the mark from a ring on the woman’s finger. He asks her if she is not really waiting for her husband. She breaks down and tearfully confesses that her husband is a war veteran with a serious spinal injury who will soon return from the sanatorium where he has also been recuperating from tuberculosis. Because of his physical limitations they can no longer make love. She insists that she has been a faithful wife, but that when she learned that George would be leaving the next day, she decided to take advantage of the situation—trusting that he would not complicate her life after their “affair.” After she asks George to hold her once more, he leaves. He briefly considers asking for his job back in order to be with Lola but decides not to spoil things for her because she has it “all figured out.”
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.
- 30,000+ book summaries
- 20% study tools discount
- Ad-free content
- PDF downloads
- 300,000+ answers
- 5-star customer support