Not far from our city’s heart, adjacent to a well–visited but not overcrowded street, there is a square with a stone fountain and a great maple tree. Perhaps you’ve been there. In winter times, both fountain and tree are dried up and rightfully avoided. But as spring advances and the first softness spreads through the air, the square reenters public consciousness until, with leaves full of life and water bravely flowing, it emerges as a place congenial to idle moments. It was on a mild day in the beginning of April that the following events took place.
      Against the trunk of the maple tree there sat a young woman of not yet twenty. She wore a light yellow dress printed with lively blue and white flowers. The delicate material of the dress occasionally fluttered when touched by a gust of wind, in which event the young woman moved quickly to avoid exposing parts of herself that she had rather remain hidden from general sight. Her dark blonde hair hung in gentle disorder over a slender shoulder, which, like the rest of her body, was thin but shapely. Though her back was straightened against the solid trunk, her head was tilted down at an angle as she was busy filling a white notebook with small, neat handwriting. Every now and then, she would look up and smile – at a dog, a passerby, or simply at the world around her. Sometimes, men mistook her smile for interest and an invitation to approach. When this happened, the young woman would remark, with great politeness, “Excuse me, but I’m writing.” Before the unfortunate man could respond, her head would be bent over the notebook again. She frequently had to excuse herself in this manner, for she was remarkably good–looking. Not a few young men carried her face, after once having encountered it, for days in the pits of their stomachs.
      She had already been interrupted twice today, so when the next young man sauntered over to her she had to overcome a brief flash of irritation. Nevertheless, when he smiled at her, she returned the gesture naturally. She expected a familiar conversation starter, but none came. Instead, the young man nestled himself next to her against the tree trunk. He kept a respectable distance, and yet his presence was unavoidable. He pulled out a notebook and pen from a leather shoulder bag, and, after smiling at her once more, began writing. She was slightly taken back, primarily because she had not expected his behavior. He seemed genuinely absorbed in his writing, bearing a concentrated expression on a face which, with a flush, she conceded was ‘awfully pretty’. She was especially taken with his light brown eyes; while most eyes stopped at a definite point, in his she perceived no bounds.
      When her initial surprise had passed, she settled down again. There the two of them sat, quietly writing and intermittently looking up to each other’s bashful smile. An hour passed, and then another. Not for a moment was the silence uncomfortable. Suddenly, the young woman spoke. “Would you like to exchange notebooks?” The young man examined her. “Do you mean, to read what the other has written?” She moved her head up and down. “Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.” He finished the sentence he had just started, and handed her the notebook. He received hers in turn.
      Again they sat in silence. It was a long time before the young woman dared look at the young man. When he felt her stare, he turned to her. She saw that his eyes were filled with tears. He seemed to ask her, “Can it be true?” She nodded gently to his unspoken question and, in a soft voice, told him: “It’s okay.” She smiled, as if to reinforce her words. “It’s okay.” He turned back, wiped his face, and continued reading.
      She finished first but kept to the last page until she sensed that he, too, was done reading. Then their eyes met in a blaze of tenderness and understanding. Dusk was slowly setting in, but the air was still warm. Finally, he spoke: “Around this time, I usually visit the pond, opposite the theater, to feed the ducks. Would you like to walk there with me?” The smile that she gave him now was the brightest and most beautiful that anyone had received from her in a very long time. “Can we stop at the baker’s to buy them some bread?” He laughed and got up, holding out his hand. “Of course we can.”