Reprinted from New
Edited by John Singer, William Maclellan & Co., Glasgow
by Sheldon Kranz
Joe found it difficult to concentrate on the sports section
of the Sunday paper as he lay sprawled out on the sofa. Finally he put
"What time did you say your friend was coming?" he called
in to his wife.
Dorothy smiled as she came out of the bedroom. "At three
o'clock," she said. She was fastening her belt.
"That's new, isn't it?" he observed, looking at the green
dress she was wearing.
"Yes," she said. "Do you like it?"
Joe pushed the newspaper aside with a sharp movement of his
hand and sat up. "We were going over to the Franklin's this afternoon,
"I know," Dorothy said. "But, gosh, Martha is only going to
be in the city a few days. This is the one chance I'll have to see
her." She sat down and lit a cigarette. "Besides, I want you to meet
Joe frowned. She was sitting across from him with an eager
look on her face like a little girl waiting to be taken to a birthday
"All right," he said, and forced a smile. "But it's funny
you two being such good friends. "He began rolling down his shirt
Dorothy looked at him. "What's so funny about my being
friends with Martha?"
Joe gave a little shrug. "Well, didn't people think it kind
"Some people might have," she said, slowly. "Do
"Oh, no." He finished buttoning his shirt cuffs. "I think
She started to say something but the hall phone rang. She
got quickly up and answered it.
"There's a Martha Reed down here, Mrs. Randolph," the
doorman announced. "She says she's visiting you."
''Of course she is," Dorothy said. "Please send her right
She came back into the living room. "Martha is here," she
said, and walked over to the window. The eager look had gone out of her
face. Joe began silently to gather up the scattered parts of the
newspaper. Then he put on his sports jacket.
"You'll see," she said. "You'll like her." When the
doorbell buzzed, she almost ran to answer it. "Hello," she exclaimed.
"Hello, yourself," the young woman said, grinning, and for
a moment they gripped each other's hands tightly.
"Gosh, you look well," Dorothy said. "North Carolina must
agree with you."
"It's wonderful down there," the woman said. They walked
into the living room. Joe was standing by the sofa, his face
expressionless. "Well, Martha, this is Joe."
Martha put out her hand. "I'm awfully glad to know you,
Joe," she said.
Joe put out his hand. "I'm glad to know you, too."
Martha laughed softly in the back of her throat. "Is he clever?"
"Very," Dorothy said, and smiled at Joe. She could see he
"Put these in the bedroom, will you." She handed him
Martha's hat and coat. Then she led Martha over to the couch.
"I hope you didn't mind the doorman stopping you."
Martha shook her head. "I understand."
"Was he rude?" Dorothy's voice rose.
"He just stared," Martha said. "But, I guess, they don't
have Negroes calling every day."
Dorothy looked up to find Joe in the room again. He was
watching Martha who had lit a cigarette and was leaning back, her head
dark against the pale blue pillows.
"How about some drinks?" Dorothy suggested. "If I remember
this Reed woman, she was never one to refuse a highball."
Martha laughed. "The same old Dottie." They smiled
affectionately at each other. Joe went into the kitchen and closed the
door behind him.
"Now tell me about everything," Dorothy said. "Why are
you rushing back to school before I have a chance to see you?"
"I only have a week," Martha said. "I'm doing a report on
the Negro in education. So I've got to get back to work before Spring
"Two years," Dorothy said. "We'll never get everything said in one day. Tell me about your new job."
"Well, someone finally got married and they wrote saying I
could have the position if I wanted it." Martha laughed softly in the
back of her throat again. "If I wanted it. I had even taken to doing
"I'm glad you got it," Dorothy said. "I'm awfully glad."
Joe came into the room with the tray of drinks. "Let's drink to
Martha's job," Dorothy said. She picked up her glass. "To
Martha who will some day be dean of the university."
"Do you teach at a university?" Joe asked.
"Yes," she said. "I'm an instructor in history."
"That's pretty fine," he said. "I didn't know they
had mixed faculties anywhere."
"I teach at an all-Negro university," Martha said.
"Oh." Joe smiled. "That makes it a lot easier, doesn't
"I suppose it does," she said, and took a sip of her
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