Arthur Beverly Baxter
Who Wrote “The Man Who Scoffed,” etc.
IN AN exquisite boudoir in an unusually lovely home, an exquisite and unusually lovely young lady sat before a mirror and with deft fingers added the last touch of powder and the last faint pencilling of the eyelashes before she ventured out for another evening of conquest.
She was pretty, everyone admitted that, including herself. She had a light, graceful step — so light, so lithe, that one wondered if the law of gravitation did not make an exception in the case of Miss Winnifred Middleton.
She had eloquent shoulders, melting violet eyes, and a voice that undulated like a gurgling stream. When the fair Winnifred laughed,, she rippled ' up and down the
scale like Tettrazini in a coloratura role. Young women whose pulchritudinous charms were less flawless than hers, had on more than one occasion hinted that her laugh was not always spontaneous?-in fact that she rehearsed it frequently in private. The sunflower is always envious of the wild rose.
On this particular evening Miss Middleton was conscious of the need for all the charm she could command. Hubert Melton had practically proposed the evening before and had sent her flowers that morning, and he would be at the door any moment now in his lovely Rolls-Royce. She wondered if he would propose at once or wait until later in the evening; she hoped the latter. They were going to the Christie’s dance and Fred Greenslade would be there and she could make Hubert jealous of Fred and besides—adinfinitum, ad feminitum. Miss Winnie Middleton was not thinking for publication; few young ladies of 19 do. One of the charms of the butterfly is its utter inability to think. Miss Winnifred Middleton felt that if a butterfly acquired intellectuality it became a dragon fly—neither beautiful nor useful. She was supremely satisfied with her own beauty. And wasn’t it Mr. Browning who said, “Would you have a rose sing?”
AT THE moment that she was ádding these last touches of the pencil and puff, her father sat in his library in the front of the house, an unopened book in his lap, an after-dinner cigar in his mouth. It was obvious that Mr. E. Spencer Middleton was worried. He smoked more vigorously than was his wont and appeared ill at ease, shifting his position at frequent intervals and frowning at nothing. A superficial observer would have said that Mr. Middleton was planning another of his colossal business enterprises and that it promised more than usual difficulties.
A bell sounded at the rear of the house
and a maid admitted Mr. Hubert Melton, ushering him into the music room. Some fifteen minutes later a vision of satins, laces and loveliness emerged from her room and with dainty steps, syncopated towards the stairway.
The vision paused.
“Yes, daddy dear?” Her voice was • meltingly affectionate and in her girlish forgetfulness she seemed to send it as much toward the music room as the library.
“I would like to speak to you, Winnie.”
Miss Middleton pouted and then entered the library precincts. ,
“Can you spare me ten minutes, my dear?”
She glanced at the clock on the mantle. “I’m awful late, daddy, and Hubert’s down stairs.”
Mr. Middleton removed his spectacles and slowly cleaned them with a handkerchief.
“I am sorry to ask for so much of my daughter’s time,” he said, slowly, “but— please sit down Winnifred. The young man below can wait. What I have to say I want to say now.”
SOMETHING in his manner stopped the pert reply on her lips and silently she nestled into a great arm chair and fixed a puzzled look on her parent. Mr. Middleton breathed on his glasses, then carefully wiped them with his handkerchief again.
“I have not had experience enough,” he said quietly, “to approach a subject like this tactfully. I have been accustomed for years to go straight to the point. So, my dear, excuse my bluntness if I tell you that, as a daughter and as a woman, you are a very great disappointment to me.” Winnifred’s eyes widened and her pomegranate lips parted in mute amazement.
“Had your mother lived,” went on her father, holding his glasses towards the light to test their cleanliness, “she would have seen to your bringing up. As it happened. I have had to leave it to governesses who couldn’t govern and ladies’ colleges that apparently produce neither ladies nor collegians.”
His daughter suddenly recovered from her original shock and rose to her feet— a vibrating five-foot-two of rosebud indignation.
“I simply won’t listen,” she said and started for the door. In some mysterious way her father reached there first.
“I am not through yet,” he said.
“Let me go at once!”
“Not until I finish.”
“MISTER MIDDLETON!” she spluttered and then, seeing a smile creep into his eyes, she blushed with mortification and, turning, threw herself into the arm chair again, hiding her face from him. “Go on,” she said, “but I won’t listen.”
MR. MIDDLETON shrugged h i s shoulders, adjusted his glasses, reached for a match and then relit his cigar—all of which was very trying on the morale of Miss Winnifred.
“If it is any consolation,” he said, resuming his seat, “I -might say that these remarks apply equally to almost every girl of your set—not only to you. Oñ the verge of womanhood, approaching the time when you will have a home of your own, you have so wasted your time and opportunities that, mentally, you are as undeveloped as a child. You do not read, you cannot converse, you have no accomplishments of any sort, and though you dance incessantly there is hardly one of you who can play the simplest one-step without maltreating it beyond recognition.”
Her figure remained as inanimate as a doll.
“Last winter,” resumed ' her father,
calmly, “I made you take a course in shorthand and typewriting, thinking the mental discipline would do you good. It is now my intention to make use of that education. For the next six months I want you to go down town to business.” An indignant doll came to life.
‘‘ME—WORK?” and then she laughed from middle G to high C and back to middle A.
“I won’t work,” she said, “you can’t make me. Do you think Pm going in a poky office with a lot of skinny typewriters—ugh !” (She probably meant stenographers but was always a little vague as to which were machines and which were humans—an error she shared in common with a great many employers of female labor.)
“Why not, W’innie?”
“I’ll marry Hubert.”
“My dear, a man with pink socks is worse than a man with a past. If that young fellow downstairs ever had any
brains they have becomíe dislocated long ago by his endless dancing.”
AGAIN she started for the door and rather to her surprise he allowed her to reach there, unmolested. That rankled her still further and she paused -irresolute. She was beginning to understand for the first time the powerful grip exerted by her millionaire father.
“You’re a grouchy old bear,” she pouted, coming back towards the centre of the room. “I’ve just heaps and heaps of friends and they all like me and you are my father and say all sorts of horrid things—you never say anything nice to me any time. You’re an old bear and I don’t care.” She would have cried at this moment but remembered the pencilling of her eyelashes and refrained.
“What do you want me to b®?” she turned on him angrily. “A Joan of Bernhardt?”
She felt that she had failed somewhere
in the remark but fixed herl progenitor with a furious glare. A look of humorous compassion crossed his face.
“I expect neither a Joan aArc nor a Sarah Bernhardt,” he began. I “I'll go nursing.” she thrust at him vehemently. \ I
“-nor a Sarah Gamp,” went on Mr.
Middleton with just the suspicion of a smile, “but, remembei*, little I one,” the smile left his eyes and a far-away tenderness crept into them instead, ‘I when you were born we both lost what was dearest to us—you a mother, I, a wife.l She was a lady, Winnie, cultured, gentlej beautiful —the kind of woman every man dreams of as a wife. Sometimes I sit hene alone—
I am much alone these days—and see her at the piano . . . making oun evenings rich with beauty, singing some little song and playing old melodies of thd masters . . . real music, not rag-time. She
used to knit while I read to her4—Tennyson and Hugo and Keats and Dickens . .
that is why I come to the library so often. I can forget in here the weary years that have passed without her.”
He rose to his feet and slowly paced the floor.
“Then, Winnie, I can see her at a dinner party—charming everyone, bringing out what was best in every one . . . in hqr place I have memory . . . and you.”
He paused and a wistful note crept into, his voice.
“Think it over, dearie,” he said. “Tonight, when you girls are smoking your cigarettes and giggling and Hubert is chattering in your ear, ask yourself if I am not right. That you must make some kind of a change at once. I know that down in your heart you’re a little thoroughbred and I want you to go downtown and prove it. After six months you can do what you "like.”
She felt for her powderpuff and applied it to her nose.
“If I refuse, I suppose you’ll cut me off with no money.”
“I am threatening nothing. Good-night now. You had better be going.”
Without a word she left the room and Mr. Middleton sank wearily into his chair. He opened the book but gazed unseeingly at the lines of print. Men are illogical creatures at best . . . slaves to the two tyrants, Reason and Emotion. - He was yearning for the caress which his daughter had not proffered hinj and for which he could not ask—yearning until his heart ached with a dull heavy pain.
Yearning like a million other parents in a million other homes.
THE following morning Winnifred surprised the entire household by appearing at breakfast—very pretty, very quiet, very determined.
“Good morning, Winsome,” said her father from behind a newspaper. It was rarely he used the pet name—she had not heard it for ten months.
“Good morning.” Her tone was colorless and non-committal.
She took a seat at the table and he put away the paper. An awkward silence ensued while a servant adjusted the electric toaster and poured a cup of coffee for the unexpected apparition of Milady at Breakfast.
“Did you enjoy the dance?” Mr. Middleton looked over the rim of his glasses at his daughter.
“No. How could I after what you said to me!” Her tone was lightly resentful but not vindictive. Even if her role was a somewhat unenviable one, she was holding the centre of the stage and no woman, especially a pretty one, is entirely oblivious to the glory of down stage centre.
“I am sorry you did not enjoy the dance —yet in some ways I am glad, too.” Mr. Middleton buttered a piece of toast as he spoke. She was just aböut to retort, “I should worry,” when she changed her mind and turned on him vehemently.
“When do I start work?” she said.
“To-morrow, if you wish,” replied Mr. Middleton, calmly..
“I shall go to-day,” said Winnifred.
“At once !”
“Delighted,” said her father eating a piece of toast with evident relish. It was one of the secrets of his success that nothing ever surprised . him. Winnifred frowned. It was annoying to find her climaxes treated as commonplaces. It offended her sense of the dramatic.
“I am going to show you,” she said after a somewhat lengthy pause, “that I am not what you take me for. Just because a girl’s pretty, every one says she’s a doll, a great big, blue-eyed doll with pretty teeth and an ejnpty head. I told them all last night what you said and Hubert said he would bet a dinner party for fifty at the country club that I’d make good, down town.”
Mr. Middleton lit a cigar and suppressed a desire to smile.
“You will go to work where I say?”
“Good.” He blew a wreath of contemplative smoke towards the electric dome.
heard of Lea-
Co.?” it sounds
“I had not intended you for the factory. The manager is a young man who is absolutely just and who treats his women employees with coùrtesy—plain business courtesy, that is all. He is about thirty years of age.” His daughter’s eyes lit up for a moment. “He can get more work out of a man, a machine or a woman than any man I know—that is why we pay him five thousand a year. If he had an imagination in keeping with his driving power he would earn fifty thousand a year. He is a slave to work and his hobby is business. In addition to these qualities he is especially satisfactory to us because he is utterly oblivious to the charms of women.”
Winnifred tossed her head. “That is why he only earns five thousand a year,” she said. Her father rose from his chair.
“I shall write him a note,” he said, “and you can take it with you.”
“Just a minute.” She placed a piece of loaf sugar perpendicularly on her spoon and dipping it into her cup of coffee, held it there. “My name is Helen Holborne,” die said gazing intently at the slowly dissolving sugar. Her father looked puzzled.
“I am going in with both feet,” she said. “No millionaire’s daughter stuff for me. Tell him I’m a foundling, tell him anything— say I’m a daughter of an old sweetheart of yours.”
“And so you are, by Jove!” cried the father, completely entranced and advancing with outstretched arms.
“Don’t . . DON’T,” she almost
shrieked“Can’t you see?”
HE PAUSED and for the first time noticed the experiment with the sugar. Breathlessly she held it and in spite of himself the great leather magnate was held a ridiculous and motionless witness to the scene.
“Hurrah!” The sugar slowly fell towards her and, dropping the spoon, she clapped her hands with delight. “He loves me!”
“Thunder and lightning—who?” cried her astonished parent.
“Him, he—it! The woman-hater at your old leather business.”
Mr. Middleton pressed a hasty kiss upon her brow and hurried from the room. Happy as a cricket, Miss Winnifred reached for the newspaper and turned to
Continued on page 67.
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read the names on society’s roll of honor. A dock in the hallway chimed eight.
. . Which is an unimportant fact
except that it was the first morning for eighteen months that Winnifred had heard it.
THREE hours later, within the precincts of his private office, Mr. Richardy Hardy reached for the 'phone in response to a ring.
“Yes?” he snapped. “Tell her I’m very busy. . . What? A letter from
the President? That is different. Send her in at once.”
“That will do Miss McAdam,” he said, replacing the receiver on the hook and nodding to an alert spinster who sat opposite his desk, note book and pencil in hand. “Get your enclosures for Smith Bros, from Henderson and see that my figures for Westinghouse are checked by Mr. Burns before you write them.”
Miss McAdam placed the pencil in her severely arranged coiffure and closed the note book. The vision of her white shirtwaist and black skirt had been'.gone less than half a minute when Miss Winnifred Middleton entered upon the scene, all blushes and demure daintiness. The contrast was startling.
“Have a chair, Miss-” Mr. Hardy
rose as he spoke. ,
“Holbome, Helen Holborne,” said Winnifred, taking the chair but a minute before occupied by Miss McAdam. “Would you read this letter, please?” She handed him her father's note.
HE TOOK it and quickly read its contents—not so quickly, though, that Winnifred did not t*ke in the strong, intelligent face and the dark hair that actually struggled into curls in a couple of places. Shé was just debating whether or not she would pronounce him handsome when he reached for a rubber stamp, pressed it on the letter and tossed the epistle into a basket. *
“The hours here are from nine to fivethirty,” he said. “An hour and a quarter off for lunch. How is your spelling?” “Nothing to write home about,” she answered, slangily nervous.
“Mr. Middleton says you can do shorthand and typewriting.”
“Y-es, in a sort of a way.”
“I see. No previous experience?” “N-no—that is, not business experience,” she added in a burst of candor. A. suggestion of a smile played about his lips, then left as quickly as it had come.
“In that case your salary will be small to start,” he said. “We pay here what people are worth and would rather pay big salaries than small ones.”
Miss Middleton made an almost imperceptible toss of her head.
‘I should wor—oh, please, pay me a nice salary, won’t you?”
He frowned slightly. -“If you care to come on at seven dollars a week you can begin «at once,” he said. She clapped her hands for the second time that day.
“Oh. goodee!” she cried, “that is so nice of you.” ,
For one brief moment the young man whose face seemed never to change looked genuinely puzzled. Then he frowned.
“It is against our policy to employ un-
trained stenographers,” he said, reaching for the ’phone. “However, Mr. Middleton wishes it in your case. . . Hello.
Send Miss McAdam here right away, please.” He put the ’phone aside and, reaching for a file of papers, intently studied their contents. The silence was becoming oppressive when the sharp-eyed spinster entered the office.
“Miss McAdam,” said Hardy, looking up, “this is Miss Holborne.” Winnifred smiled with frank friendliness and Miss McAdam who, beneath a colorless, angular exterior possessed a pleasant enough nature, nodded approvingly, being completely and instantaneously thawed by the witchery of the two violet eyes.
Mr. Hardy sucked at a pencil.
“Take charge of Miss Holborne,” he said, “and show her what is expected. She» is to be used as an inexperienced stenographer. Let me know from time to time how she gets on.”
“But won’t I see you any more?” Winnifred’s eyes opened to their widest. When a man looked into the full depth of Winnifred’s eyes, he was playing fast and loose with his peace of mind.
“That will do for this morning,” he said grimly, but not discourteously and turned his attention once more to his papers. W’innifred rose and stood beside him.
“That will do for this morning,” said Hardy for the second time, a faint blush mantling his cheeks. Relunetantly, W’innifred turned and slowly left the office. Miss McAdam was about to follow when Hardy stopped her.
“For Heaven’s sake!” he said earnestly. “Tell her—teach her—that is—show her.” He paused, utterly beaten.
“I know,’’ said Miss McAdam knowingly. “But, goodness gracióus, Mr. Hardy, isn’t she the sweetest little thing you ever laid eyes on? She won’t be here long, I tell you that.”
“So much the better.” said Hardy. And for the first time the General Manager and Miss McAdam had discussed something which had absolutely nothing to do with leather.
C'ROM the head of the social column to * the foot of a pay roll is rather a startling transformation. Nevertheless, Miss Winnifred Middleton made it and survived. From the inane routine of the younger smart set she was planted in the midst of a grim, unimaginative leather goods office. She felt somewhat like the man from Mars who came to Earth.
According to the laws of thdbest sellers she should at once have changed and by swift leaps and bounds mounted to the top of the commercial laddet and there. ruled as Czarina of all the leathers. She' did nothing of the sort, however. She came to the office, incompetent and she remained, for a long while, incompetent. Her spelling became no worse for the very good reason that it was as bad as it could be when she started. Her writing was huge and unwieldy—her typewriting would have been better if the fraction M,4” had not been next to the letter “p.” The office boy once rescued an envelope addressed to
Mr. peter Sim p son, Peterborough, Ont
Nevertheies she remained absolutely confident in her sex charm and she dressed for the office staff as though thedr daily grind were a daily reception. The fact that she was almost Useless and that
her work necessitated such corrections i from her felldw stenographers that it would have been less labor for them to ; have done the work from the beginning, did not discompose« her in. the least. She realized that the freckled office boy knew more than she did; she must have known that her position was kept for her only by the patience of the other women who hid her deficiencies from Mr, Hardy, but it did not stir in her thé least desire for efficiency. Mamy«a time, without so much as a “good night,” she left Miss McAdam seated at the typewriter, re-writing, with , tired wrinkled fingers, the few letters entrusted to Miss Helen Holborne.
Yet—selfish; incompetent and unambitious as she was—Winnifred Middleton w’as but a fair example of the system that takes a girl from school at sixteen and turns her loose in society until she is twenty-three or five when she marries— most of her vivacity gone, her early learning forgotten, her talents undeveloped— sans wit, sans charm, sans everything.
The problem of the poor must always be first, because the poor are the more important, but, second only to them in importance are the rich, .the impossible nouveau riche. Some day our educational philanthropists must master their natural repugnance and invade the music rooms w’here music is never heard and gorgeous libraries where, books are never opened and give the children of the idle rich an equal chance with, the children of the slums.
THREE months passed and it must be confessed that Miss Helen Holborne’s work improved-slightly. She became absolutely accurate in separating “*«*” from the letter “p,” and was firmly entrencehd in the knowledge that leather was not spelled “lether.” Whilst her salary had remained at $7 a week she had received a small promotion inasmuch as Mr. Hardy dictated to her for an hour every day— explaining that Mr. Middleton had requested him to keep her in sight—dictated very slowly and very distinctly. She managed to get it down in her book by a weird combination of shorthand, longhand and mysterious signs of her own that seemed to bridge in a bound the gulf between Isaac Pitman and the stone age.
During these interviews Mr. Hardy was courteously impersonal and, although she had never known her low-cut, lace-trimmed blue blouse, with the daintiest of lockets against the loveliest of throats, to cause so little havoc, he remained as impervious to blue as to mauve, and was as indifferent to the lustre of her eyes as he was to the shining surface of his mahogany desk. With the aid of Miss McAdam the letters were written—Winnifred receiving ,the assistance as her natural rights, pdiss McAdam yielding to her beauty all the homage and admiration that homeliness always pays to perfection. She never spoke of the office to her father and he never questioned her on the subject.
TO her, as to all his employees, Hardy remained a Sphinx. In vain did \v innifred use every artifice of voice and gesture to melt his immobile nature. The Sphinx retained his secret, and, in exact proportion to his inaccessibility, her admiration for him and her desire to conquer him, increased. He had an impersonal charm that was most alluring to her after the effervescent superfluities
of Hubert Melton, but, though she favored him with glances that would have unnerved an iceberg, he either sought refuge in a file of papers or thrust the subject of leather between them as a first line of defence.
Once, she thought, his armor had been pierced. Following a very late party at the Golf Club she had pleaded indisposition and remained in bed the next day. When she returned to the office the succeeding morning, Miss McAdam took her to one side with almost incoherent exuberance.
“What do you think, dearie?” she said. “Mr. Hardy asked for you three times yesterday. It’s my opinion he’s got a crush on you. Three times in one day!”
“Nonsense,” laughed the fair Miss Holborne—but her laugh only went up to G and then rippled down again. She was thinking too seriously to achieve a really «ploratura effect.
A moment later Mr. Hardy sent for her, and she went to him with the gentle demure air of a martyred fairy—it was a triumph of stage effects.
Mr. Hardy looked up.
“Good morning,” he said, “you sent the wrong enclosures to Robinson of Hamilton last Tuesday. You must try and avoid these mistakes. Just take a short note of explanation to them.”
She bit her lip and, suppressing a desire to hurl the notebook at his head, she took the short note of explanation—such is title spell of discipline. Forty minutes later she rose and started for the door.
“Are you quite well again, Miss Holborae?”
Her heart thumped painfully but she turned defiantly on him.
“Quite well, I thank you, Mr. Hardy,” she answered. “And it was so good of you to inquire three times yesterday after me.”
He scratched his head and a whimsical look came over his countenance.
“Ye-es,” he said. “You see . . we’re ' expecting a busy month. I want all hands on deck.”
With her head erect she left the office and he subsided in his chair. “I wonder,” he muttered. But at that particular moment his ’phone rang and he became absorbed in the great passion of his life— leather.
ONE evening in the early spring Hardy had left the office at six o’clock. As he passed through the general offices he noticed that Miss Helen Holborne was working at a typewriter (it was the fourth attempt to write one of his letters —Miss McAdam having gone home with an attack of nerves). A couple of clerks were carrying huge ledgers into the vault and, with the exception of these and his secretary, Mr. Burns, who was writing at his desk, the office was deserted. The elevator man had gone and Hardy walked down the two flights of stairs and into the street.
He had gone about three blocks when a puff of wind caught him in the face, leaving his cheek moist. He paused and looked at the darkening sky that, of a sudden, left the street as dark as night. He stood irresolute for a moment while the traffic eddied about him. Then, feeling some fresh drops of rain on his face, he retraced his steps to get his rain coat.
As he entered the building the sound of a smothered scream came from the offices above. He heard the suppressed voice of
his secretary, Burns, and the struggling voice of a woman—then another muffled scream. With an oath Hardy raced up the stairs three steps at a time. For a second he paused on the landing, then burst through the door into the general offices. Miss Holborne was struggling furiously in the arms of his secretary.
At Hardy’s entrance the young man released her hurriedly.
“What does this mean?” said Hardy, fiercely.
Burns shrugged his shoulders. “I’ve merely broken the . eleventh commandment,” he said, impudently. “I’ve been found out.”
Hardy made.an angry gesture. “You mean that I must have detectives to watch my staff? That I dare not leave a woman here alone? What is the matter, Burns, have you lost your manhood all of a sudden?”
The younger man adjusted his collar. “I couldn’t help it,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
The secretary thrust his hands in his pockets. “Believe me or not—but I didn’t plan this. I didn’t even know the girl was here until she came over to my desk to.ask about an address and she laid her hand on my arm and fumbled with my coat lapels and—and let her hair brush against my face. Oh, hell! Ask her.”
Hardy ran his fingers through his hair and a far-away look crept into his eyes.
“Burns,” he said, ' slowly. “You were alone with her ten minutes and couldn’t keep your self-control. What about me who am alone with her for hours at a time?”
He paused as though aghast at his own admission. The girl looked up quickly, then lowered her eyes and a dull, dark red flush crept into her cheeks and remained there. Burns shook himself together.
“I suppose I’m fired,” he said, sullenly.
Hardy stepped back. “You may go,” he said. “I think you’ve learned your lesson. And because I don’t think it was entirely your fault you may return in the morning if you wish. As far as I am concerned the incident is closed.”
Without a word Burns reached for his hat and left the office. There was a strange, awesome stillness about the empty chairs and neglected desks. The office clock ticked wearily on and the rain poured past the windows in great drenching torrents. Winnifred slowly raised her eyes until they rested on Hardy’s face. Hardy met her gaze with a steady, impersonal look that defied analysis. She slowly came towards him.
“Mr. Hardy,” she said softly, “you believe-” She could not finish, but her
hand rested timidly on his arm while her tear-dimmed eyes pleaded with his.
“It is raining hard.” His voice sounded strangely monotonous in the empty stillness of the office. “I shall go down stairs and get a taxi for you.” Her fingers on his arm tightened.
He slowly drew his arm away. “I wish you would get out of the habit of pawing every man you talk to,” he said.
THAT night, in the solemn darkness of her boudoir, Winnifred Middleton with tears that fell upon her pillow, took stock of herself and, like the little thoroughbred that she really was, did not spare herself when arraigned before the bar of conscience. She admitted that she had done everything in her power to gain the admiration of Hardy. Why? She scarcely knew except that it had be-
come instinctive in her to sway every man she met with the power of her beauty. She scarcely knew which hurt the more—• the memory of Burn’s impulsiveness or Hardy’s coldness. The fact became slowly impressed upon her mind that both men had placed the same valuation on her, only was a gentleman.
The first grey light of dawn found her pale and weeping. The little Butterfly’s wings had drooped.
She rose early in the morning to find a night lettergram from her father stating that he was leaving for England that day from New York on some business of the utmost importance. She wrote a short note of resignation to Mr. Hardy and sent some flowers to Miss McAdam. And, having thus shuffled off the coil of Miss Helen Holborne, she turned her full attention to the further and immediate development of Miss Winnifred Middleton. She left the house that morning, a determined little figure encased in a handsome t waterproof—the rain was still falling— * and hurried through the city streets. Her steps took her down a quiet, old fashioned avenue, near the end of which she paused at a house that bore the sign:
He was her old music master who had once striven to teach her something of his art and who had sent her home with the statement that he might as well try to fill a soap-bubble with wine. ?
She stood before him now in his studio —a touching, pathetic, little figure. The old man looked at her, with a querulous kindliness.
“1 ou have come back, yes,” he said with an odd accent. “For more lessons in moosic—yes? Ah, my dear leetle girl, moosic is not for every one.” He slowly shook his head and gently pushed back the long, white hair from his massive brow.
“Please, dear old Maestro.” She took his hand in both hers. “I have come back to you—the kindest and sweetest teacher I have had. I have come back -not only for music, but—please Maestro—please make me a lady." And against the old man’s breast the little butterfly poured out her tearful story while the Maestro stroked her hair and murmured gentle encouragements in a quaint mixture of English and Italian.
COME months later Mr. Richard Hardy ^ gazed at a note from Mr. E. Spencer Middleton, who had just returned from Europe:
“My dear Hardy,—I am giving a dinner party on Wednesday night for my daughter. I want you to come.
E. Spencer Middleton.”
“If there is anything I dislike more than another,” muttered Hardy* “it’s going out to dinner.” Nevertheless he went.
Mr. Middleton rose from his chair to meçt him when Hardy entered. “Good evening, Hardy,” he said. “Glad you came. By the by, you know my daughter, don’t you? Just twenty to-day.” Hardy turned and saw a girl approaching, diessed in a superb gown that, with its train and adornment of jewels, made her look like the queen of some fairy kingdom.
“Congratulations,” he said, taking the hand she had proffered.
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“I am so glad to meet Mr. Hardy, of whom I have heard so much,” she answered. Hardy glanced up quickly.
“Great Sc--!” he ejaculated.
“Excuse me,” said his hostess, “ I must speak to my old Maestro.”
Hardy watched her go with a dazed expression on his face.
“I suppose I’m wrong,” he said vacantly, “but I could have sworn-”
“Never swear.” Mr. Middleton emitted a distinct chuckle. “Come in and have a cocktail.”
AT DINNER Hardy was dimly conscious that soup and entrées had been set before him and duly taken away. He had a dim remembrance of indignation when the servant removed jome frog legs untouched. He was also vaguely aware that he had asked and answered several questions of his nearest neighbor, but his finite conscious mind was centered upon one face, one personality—the queen of beauty at the head of the table. He heard her lovely voice that seemed more cultured and soft than the voice he thought he remembered. He glanced at his host, to find that worthy capitalist as fascinated as he was. The older man was living his past memories over again as he watched with proud eyes the little creature that held the threads of the past and present in the witchery of her beauty. Only once towards the end of the meal she turned her face directly towards Hardy.
“Mr. Hardy,” she said, “do you agree with Mr. Walford here who says that one uses the word ‘charming’ about a woman when he can't say anything else about—” To the astonishment of the entire party Mr. Hardy rose to his feet and smote the table such a blow with his fist that the dishes danced and clattered.
“Great Scott,” he cried. “It is she!” Whereupon Mr. Middleton burst into a laugh at the very moment that be was about to drink a gigs of port—all of which caused Hubert Melton, who had been lost all evening between two dowagers, to remark afterwards that “the Middleton’s dinner party was a most deucedly vulgar thing—rotten form, in fact.”
After dinner Winnifred sat down at the piano and, after glacing timorously at Maestro Carlotti, who beamed encouragement with his whole symphonic countenance, she played and sang a little song of Schubert that sent the blood tingling through all the bachelor arteries of Richard Hardy, woman-hater.
“Goot!” cried the old music master, goot Î99
“Not bad,” said Mr. E. Spencer Middleton.
“Not bad?” Hardy turned upon him impatiently.' “Not bad? Man alive, it’s heavenly!”
THREE hours later Hardy was mak-.
ing his adieu—he had managed to outstay all the other guests. Winnifred had wandered out upon the verandah with him and the moon had looked down for a moment on them and then glided behind a cloud to have its smile to itself.
“This has been a wonderful evening,” he said, softly, although his voice trembled slightly. “I feel as if life—that is, I’ve never enjoyed. ... No, that isn’t the word.”
“Do you want me to take this down in shorthand?”
Hardy did not reply ’directly. “When
may I come again?” he asked, finally.
She placed her hand on his. “Come when you wish” she said.
“To-morrow night?” He literally hung on her answer.
“To-morrow night,” she assented so softly that her words could scarcely be heard. With sudden impulsiveness he stooped and kissed her fingers, then strode away into the darkness.