Under normal circumstances , he had a certain bright-eyed all-American-boy charm , with great appeal for young ladies , old ladies , and dogs .
Today , he looked like an Astronaut who had left his vitamin pills on the bureau and spent six months in space : hollow eyes , hollow cheeks , hollow stomach .
Breakfast , he thought .
A shot of orange juice would make everything seem better .
He looked around his little Eden : bureau , bed , table , chair , two-burner stove .
Then he remembered .
`` You share a refrigerator '' , Mrs. Kirby had said , and somehow , at midnight , after the long drive from New York in pelting rain , that had sounded reasonable .
In the cold light of day , it seemed a lunatic arrangement .
Share bath , maybe -- but share refrigerator ? ?
She had explained it -- something about summer people's eating out and not enough space in the units .
And where was the thing ? ?
He remembered seeing it last night , when he put away his small store of bachelor-type eatables .
Ah , yes -- his half of a refrigerator stood outside , on the `` curving veranda '' between Unit Number Three and Unit Number Four .
It was still raining , and Mrs. Kirby's cottages bloomed through the gray haze like the names they bore , vivid blue and green and magenta .
Charlie downed his orange juice and one of the long , skinny green pills , his spirits as damp as the day .
This vacation had seemed like a good idea last week , when his doctor had prescribed it .
`` Take a full month '' , the doctor had said .
`` Lots of sun , lots of rest .
The red pills are a vitamin-and-iron compound .
This is a sleeping capsule .
The others will make you a little more comfortable until you get it licked .
You young men get to be my age , you won't take flu so lightly '' .
Charlie had accepted the diagnosis without comment .
The doctor could call it anything from flu to beriberi ; ;
but Charlie knew what was wrong with him and knew , too , that there was no pill to cure it .
He had loved and lost Vivian Wayne to somebody else , had watched her marry the somebody else , and had caught a bear of a cold by kissing the bride good-by forever , which was really piling it on .
He had caught , too , like an ailment , a confirmed distrust of women .
Once burned -- scalded , really , because Vivian had given him every encouragement -- forever shy .
From now on , his was going to be a man's world : the North Woods , duck blinds at dawning , beer and poker and male secretaries .
Meanwhile , he had this miserable cold , and as he leaned against the refrigerator , watching the rain make sandy puddles at his feet , the doctor's prescription for lots of sun seemed like a hollow mockery .
In these damp circumstances , he was an odds-on bet to develop pneumonia .
He looked up to see Mrs. Kirby , awesome in a black-and-yellow polka-dotted slicker , bearing down on him .
`` Three-day blow '' ! !
She bellowed triumphantly .
He had noticed before that the natives seemed to regard really filthy weather as a kind of Pyhrric victory over the tourists .
`` Fine , day after tomorrow '' , she added .
`` I hope so '' , he said .
`` I've got this cold .
Thought I'd bake it out in the sun '' .
`` Ah '' .
She studied him briefly .
`` You've got a peaked look .
Better get in out of the wet '' .
Charlie forbore to mention that the wet was somewhat universal , Peony being less than weatherproof .
As for its being fine , day after tomorrow , he had the unhappy conviction that it would never be fine again , with Vivian lost to him forever .
He could imagine her at this minute , honeymooning in Nassau with what's-his-name , lounging on golden sands , looking forward to a life of unalloyed bliss .
All Charlie could look forward to was a yellow pill at noon , a salami sandwich for lunch , and a lonely old age -- if he lived that long .
He leafed through the light reading provided by Mrs. Kirby for her guests : four separate adventures of the Bobbsey Twins ( At the Seashore , At the Mountains , On the Farm , and In Danger ) and several agricultural bulletins on the treatment of hoof-and-mouth disease in cattle , hideously illustrated .
He dozed , only to dream of Vivian , and woke , only to crash into the night table , bruising his other shin .
He took a yellow pill , only to choke on it , and went for the salami , only to find something alive in the refrigerator -- something pink and fuzzy .
His first thought was that Mrs. Kirby , in her mania for color , had dyed a cat and that cat had somehow managed to open the refrigerator door and climb in ; ;
but on further investigation , the thing proved to be a sweater , of the long-hair variety that sheds onto men's jackets -- pale , pale pink and , according to the label , size thirty-four .
He thought about it for a minute , could find no reasonable explanation for the presence of a sweater in the refrigerator , got the salami , bread , and a Bermuda onion , and put the whole thing out of his mind .
Next morning , he found a note in the refrigerator .
`` Would you mind wrapping your onion '' ? ?
Said this note .
`` The smell permeates everything '' ! !
Everything being the sweater , a lipstick case , and a squirt bottle of Kissin' Kare pink hand lotion .
The note paper was pink , too , and the handwriting small and dainty and utterly feminine .
Not that he had supposed , considering the evidence , that he was sharing this refrigerator with a member of the Beach Patrol .
He scrawled `` Sorry '' across the bottom of the note and then , against his better judgment , added : `` Don't you eat '' ? ?
He didn't want to encourage anything here ; ;
but on the other hand , he didn't want her swiping his salami .
`` Not onions '' , came the answer the following day .
`` Ugh '' .
Must have really smelled up her sweater , he thought , and wondered idly just why she kept the sweater fast-frozen .
But then , as he well knew , women are not guided by logic or common sense .
Take Vivian .
Yes , take Vivian .
Somebody had .
Now , if this were Vivian next door to him and if , for some obscure female reason , she kept her clothes in the refrigerator , they would not be pink .
They would be black or white or horse-blanket plaid , chic and splashy , like Vivian herself .
Pink , Vivian once had told him , was for baby girls , and grown-up girls who wore pink were subconsciously clinging to their infancy .
`` Why does this girl keep a sweater in the refrigerator '' ? ?
He mused aloud .
Eh '' ? ?
It was Mrs. Kirby , making her toilsome way along the veranda , laden with a clattery collection of mops , brushes , and pails .
`` What's that you say '' ? ?
`` Oh , nothing .
Just glad the rain's stopped '' .
`` Oh , yes .
Just look at that sky .
Be a scorcher by afternoon '' .
`` I hope so .
I've got this cold '' .
`` So you said '' .
She scrutinized him .
`` My , you're peaked .
You want to watch out that you don't get burned to an ash , first sunny day .
I must remember to warn the girl next to you in Larkspur .
That pale kind's the worst '' .
That pale kind , Charlie thought .
Hardly an inviting description .
But then , neither was peaked .
He could hear Mrs. Kirby now , warning her pale guest against sunburn .
`` I spoke to the fellow next door , too '' , she might say .
`` He's that peaked kind '' .
Surely there was a better word .
Charlie looked in the mirror .
Run-down , iron-poor .
He looked more closely .
Frail , feeble -- peaked .
Clearly , two damp days with the Bobbsey Twins had done him no good .
The sun , blazing hot as prophesied , was far from kind to Mrs. Kirby's varicolored properties .
When Charlie came up from the beach for his four-o'clock pill , the whole establishment ( gaudy enough when seen through mist and fog ) looked like a floodlit modern painting -- great blocks of dizzy color , punctuated at regular intervals by the glaring white of five community refrigerators .
This weekend , he thought , he would look around for some more subdued retreat , with Cape roses , maybe , at the door .
He could not imagine a flower's being brave enough to grow beside Peony , Larkspur , and the rest .
The sweater was gone from the refrigerator , and in its place was a large plastic bag , full of wet pink clothes .
No wonder she was so pale , wearing all those cold clothes .
He got a red pill and a beer and then , on impulse , transferred the rest of his salami to her side of the refrigerator and scrawled `` Be my guest '' on the wrapping .
It gave him a good feeling .
`` M-m-m .
Thanks '' , was her answer the next day .
The note was propped against his pill bottles and bore a postscript : `` You're not at all well , are you '' ? ?
`` I've got this cold '' , he wrote .
Not that it was any of her business .
`` It's none of my business '' , said the next note , `` but my Aunt Elsie used to take lemon juice and honey in hot water for a cold , and she lived to be ninety-six .
I mean , she's still living , and she's ninety-six .
Why don't you try that '' ? ?
`` I don't have a lemon '' .
He had to write very small to get it on the bottom of the scrap of paper .
By the next morning , she had turned the paper over .
`` Gee , neither do I '' .
Charlie grinned .
She didn't sound like a pale girl .
She sounded a little like a redhead .
But then , redheads are often pale .
He stuck his head in Mrs. Kirby's little rental office .
`` I guess that redhead next to me took your advice .
I haven't seen her on the beach '' .
`` You won't , if you're looking for a redhead .
She's got browny hair '' .
He spent that afternoon on the beach , looking for a pale , browny-haired girl in a pink bathing suit .
There were pink bathing suits on blondes , and browny-haired girls in red or black or green bathing suits .
There were a sprinkling of daring bikinis and a preponderance of glorified tank suits .
Up on a dune , he saw a girl , all by herself , sitting on a camp stool before an easel and absorbed in her painting .
He paid little attention to her because she was a redhead and because she was wearing white -- one of those bulky , turtle-neck sweaters .
On the beach , there were pale girls and not-so-pale girls .
And he saw them all as he walked up and down .
At two that morning , he was still walking -- up and down Peony , up and down the veranda , up and down the silent , moonlit beach .
Finally , in desperation , he opened the refrigerator , filched her hand lotion , and left a note .
`` I've got this sunburn '' , said the note , `` and I used some of your hand lotion .
Hope you don't mind '' .
`` Of course I don't mind '' , she answered .
`` You're having a miserable time , aren't you ? ?
Use all the lotion you want , and for goodness' sake , stay in out of the sun for a couple of days '' .
This was a very warm , sympathetic girl , he decided .
Sympathy is a fine quality in a woman .
Now Vivian , for instance , was not too long on sympathy .
She felt , and said , that sympathy only made people feel sorry for themselves ; ;
it was a tough world , and you had to be tough to hold your own .
He didn't know what was so tough about Vivian's world , slopping around Nassau with what's-his-name .
Suppose what's-his-name got a sunburn ? ?
Charlie couldn't see Vivian offering any hand lotion .
She might peel him , once the worst of the agony was over .
Charlie spent the next two days in his pajama bottoms , waiting for the fire in his back to subside , and used generous quantities of the hand lotion .
Correspondence passed back and forth .
`` How's your sunburn now ? ?
The only thing , this lotion has glycerin in it , and that whitens the skin , so if you're so anxious to get a tan , you may not want to use it '' .
`` I'm not that anxious , but maybe that's why you're so fair '' .
`` That Mrs. Kirby ! !
I'll bet she told you I was puny , too .
How's your cold '' ? ?
`` Broiled out .
She didn't say you were puny .
Are you ? ?
What's puny '' ? ?
`` Puny goes with pale and peaked .
Do you have anything to read while you're shut up ? ?
There are two things here about Surviving in the Wilderness , and a book called ' Tom Swift and His Speedy Canoe ' ; ;
but the picture of Tom Swift is pretty sinister .
Also the canoe '' .