The Triumph of Mr. Hathaway
CARTER V. HATHAWAY, superintendent of the Mapleton public schools, smiled to himself all the way down the street. Mr. Hathaway did not usually smile to himself. He had too much selfdiscipline. Besides, he had a position of dignity to maintain in the community. But today he just couldn’t help it.
The smile was gleefully wicked, for Mr. Hathaway had, as he told himself in unscholarly terms, pulled a fast one. fie was unexpectedly proud of this. He was, moreover, anxious to reach his destination and the victims of his coup. So he walked rapidly down the sleepy, tree-lined street, nodding briefly to those he passed and occasionally forgetting to tip his hat to the ladies.
For this he was forgiven. Carter V. Hathaway had been superintendent of the Mapleton schools for five years and Mapleton liked him. Particularly feminine Mapleton. He had a good physique, which he kept in trim by playing golf on Saturdays. His slight stoop bespoke his intellect. He was not too young to worry a community, nor too old to make his presence felt. He was exactly 50. He had an enchanting manner, a pleasant face, and a head of thick, luxurious silver hair. To top it all off he lived alone in his modest, neat apartment and thus afforded the matrons of Mapleton that extra male so necessary to social occasions at the same time that he lit (quite unwittingly, to be sure) a spark of hope in the hearts of eligible spinsters.
In view of all these attribut«* he could be forgiven for neglecting to tip his hat to certain of Mapleton’s feminine population. “After all, school starts tomorrow,” th«*e forgotten ladies reminded themselves, “an«l poor Mr. Hathaway undoubtedly has a great deal on his mind.”
Mr. Hathaway had a great deal on his mind, but it had nothing to «lo with school starting the next day. It had to do with the new' librarian arriving this day. She was the eighth librarian of Mr. Hathaway’s Mapleton career, and if Mr. Hathaway had played his cards correctly she would la* the last. He chuckled quietly, picturing the faces of the young engineers when they saw her.
Then he immediately felt guilty. He remembered the day he had first come to Mapleton, five years before. Mr. Ballard, the retiring superintendent, had taken him through the school buildings and introduced him to the staff. “We’re very proud of our school,” Mr. Ballard said, when the tour was over. “For a town of Mapleton’s size we have unusually high standards and, as you know, un excellent rating.”
Mr. Hathaway agreed. “1 have only one criticism,” he said amiably, “and it is perhaps not professional. But how, in heaven’s name, did you colltxrt such a menagerie of homely teachers?”
Mr. Ballard’s face turned slightly blue. His shoulders slumjanl. He sank into his chair dejectedly. “They’ve b«?en picke«! over,” he said dully.
“I beg your pardon?” said Mr. Hathaway. “Mapleton has one industry. It is a zinc mine,” said Mr. Ballard.
“I know,” said Mr. Hathaway impatiently.
“Every year the zinc mine imports half a dozen young engin«*ers from colleges around the country. The boys get their practical experience here and then move on.”
“That’s interesting,” said Mr. Hathaway, “but hardly—”
“Young engineers need w’ives,” said Mr. Ballard dolefully, “and the Board of Education allows no married women on the staff.”
“But what does that have to do—?”
“Mr. Hathaway!” Mr. Ballard’s voice rang with the portent of doom. “I hate to disillusion you. but you will not be running a school system here. You will be running a matrimonial bureau!”
“Fiddlesticks,” said Mr. Hathaway, and with that he forgot the interview, and the zinc mine, and the young engineers. He plunged into the first task of his
new job, which was filling his only vacancy the librarianship.
MR. HATHAWAY believed that members of his staff should be selected with great care. He sorted through applications tirelessly, weeding out the poorly qualified. He spent $15 in postage acquiring references and information about candidates. He spent $50 on long-distance calls and $320 on personal interviews. He met trains in the middle of the night. He interviewed librarian after librarian, bringing to bear in each interview his years of training in psychology, school administration and personnel problems. He lay awake nights mulling over the choice in his mind, and when at last he made the selection he had lost six pounds and seven ounces and had a severe case of indigestion.
But it was worth it. The librarian he chose was the best to be had, of that he was sure. She had every qualification, a thorough training, excellent experience, and an unblemished character. She was also attractive, and would be an asset to a library where school children and townspeople alike were supposed to feel at home.
The new librarian arrived on Sept. 5. Her name was Miss Phelps. She left on Dec. 2. Her name was Mrs. Myers.
Said Mr. Myers, the bridegroom, in parting: “You see I trust your judgment implicitly, Mr. Hathaway. You have excellent taste in women. I hope you’ll do as well for the other boys. It’s lonely, you know, being a bachelor.”
Mr. Hathaway knew. He had been a widower for 15 years. But he was not sympathetic. With little
enthusiasm he set himself to the task of finding another librarian to finish out the school year. When this new librarian came to work one morning, a month after her arrival, sporting a diamond ring, Mr. Hathaway developed ulcers of the stomach. The new librarian was persuaded to postpone the wedding date until summer, however, and Mr. Hathaway’s condition improved.
It had been that way ever since. The rest of the staff, “picked over,” as Mr. Ballard had explained it, by the engineers, remained intact. But the librarians came and went. Always Mr. Hathaway hoped that the young lady best suited for the job would prove also to be unbearably unattractive. But it never happened. Even those whose pictures gave Mr. Hathaway reason for hope turned out to have personalities which quite compensated for any beauty they might lack. He pleaded with the Board of Education, but they refused to allow married women on the staff. Eventually he took to hoping that the zinc mine’s new engineers would be dullards or that the zinc mine would run out of zinc. He even contemplated denying library facilities to unmarried men under 30.
And then the solution to his problem presented itself in the application of a woman who was 43 years old, and, if her picture spoke correctly, looked it. Her qualifications were excellent, though Mr. Hathaway admitted he might be prejudiced. Nevertheless he put the other applications away in his file and hired Miss Bertha Gibbs, aged 43, sight unseen.
Now, as he strode happily down the street toward
the schoolhouse, he realized that Miss Gibbs was probably already there. She was due to arrive on the 9.45 train and Mapleton’s only cab driver had instructions to bring her directly to the schoolhouse. Mr. Hathaway whistled as he turned off the cement walk and picked his way along the cobblestone path that wound unhastily through scrubs and trees to the yellowed-brick school building. On a green bench outside the schoolhouse door sat three young men dressed (with what care only Mr. Hathaway knew) in casual sports clothes, with new haircuts, and carefully shaved faces, and highly polished shoes. They looked up as Mr. Hathaway approached and then looked down again, disappointed.
Mr. Hathaway, who usually ignored the young men on this “day the new librarian is rumored to arrive,” beamed at them delightedly and asked, with practiced unconcern, “Waiting for somebody?”
One of the young men grinned sheepishly. “Well, school starts tomorrow,” he said; and then, almost violently, “aren’t we getting a new librarian?”
“Certainly! Certainly!” boomed Mr. Hathaway. “Hand-picked for you boys to fight over. Hasn’t she arrived?” He pretended to look alarmed.
“The only unknown who’s arrived this morning is
somebody’s mother,” said another of the young men in a discouraged voice.
“Grey-haired?” asked Mr. Hathaway. “About, well, say 43?”
The young man nodded.
“I was expecting her,” said Mr. Hathaway joyously, and charged, chuckling, into the schoolhouse.
In his outer office Mrs. Seeley presided with prim authority behind her long counterdesk. She had presided there since her husband died, some 30 years ago, and, though she was well past 60, she seemed to Mr. Hathaway as permanent and durable an office fixture as the file cabinet or the desk itself.
Mr. Hathaway greeted her shortly, removed his hat, placed it on a chair with his brief case, and asked anxiously: “Did she arrive?”
Mrs. Seeley indicated the pile of luggage beside the door. Though she was officially Mr. Hathaway’s secretary she was inclined to treat him with the tolerant impatience of a maiden aunt.
“And she’s —she’s what we expected?”
“She’s not what I expected,” said Mrs. Seeley with obvious distaste. “Lipstick on a woman her age! It’s disgraceful.”
“But—but she is her
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Mr. Hathaway's scheme to foil Dan Cupid certainly exploded ... like a shotgun with a plugged muzzle
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age?” Mr. Hathaway suggested hopefully.
“And lipstick won’t hide it,” said Mrs. Seeley. “When a woman’s approaching 45 she might as well give in to it.”
Mr. Hathaway laughed heartily. It wasn’t often Mrs. Seeley pleased him, but today everything pleased him. He left the office and hurried down the hall to the library. The door was open. He stepped in quietly. The new librarian was standing with her back to the door, examining the books in the open stacks around the room.
The first thing Mr. Hathaway noticed was her hair, which was not only grey, but severely straight, and pinned in a large knot at the nape of her neck. He would have been better pleased if her hair had not been such a startling, shining grey. A little yellow cast would have been nice. And her head, beneath the close-fitting hair, needn’t have been so perfectly shaped, nor should she have held it with such a youthful, challenging tilt. Still, grey hair was grey hair, and not what young engineers were looking for.
Then, too, this Miss Gibbs was not streamlined. She had a plump, mature figure, even if she did seem to stand as though she were proud of it. And the fact that her legs were nice would never be noticed in those fiat-heeled shoes. Yes, she was exactly what Mr. Hathaway had ordered. He rubbed his hands together, pleased, and coughed.
Miss Gibbs turned around. She was not pretty, Mr. Hathaway decided
with satisfaction. Except for the I lipstick she wore no make-up. Her face was quite round and her skin was j healthily tanned. When she smiled the wrinkles showed around her eyes and mouth, and even if her eyes did glitter misehieviously she was obviously 43. Mr. Hathaway beamed at her. He stepped forward and held out his hand.
“You’re Mr. Hathaway,” said Miss Gibbs, before he had a chance to introduce himself. She took his hand in a firm grip, and looked him over | unabashed. “I like to work with j someone pleasant,” she said approv¡ ingly. “I left the last place because j the superintendent was— well, to put j it bluntly, an old fogy. You look more j human.”
“I hope so,” said Mr. Hathaway j uncertainly. For the first time in his j professional career he was being ap! proved by a hireling, and he didn’t know how to act.
“I like your selection of books, too,” she said. “And the library doesn’t look too stuffy.” She put her hands in the pockets of her suit jacket and whirled around, surveying the room. “In all, if I can find a decent place to live I may stay forever.” She laughed. “When a woman reaches my age she begins to look for a permanent place to roost.”
The idea that Miss Gibbs might not like it in Mapleton and the alluring possibility that she might like it well enough to stay forever trembled and clashed in Mr. Hathaway’s mind. All his other worries, responsibilities and duties disappeared, and he found himself assuring Miss Gibbs that there was no place else on earth that could quite compare with Mapleton and insisting that they go out at once to find her a place to live.
“I’m not in the least fussy,” said j Miss Gibbs. “Aii 1 ask is an apartment j large enough to turn around in and j private enough to undress in. And, of i course, a shower that works.”
Mr. Hathaway made mental notes of these specifications. He called the taxi that had brought Miss Gibbs from the station, and cancelled his appointments for the morning. When the taxi driver came for Miss Gibbs’ luggage, Mr. Hathaway escorted her down the stairs and out of the building with a j flourish.
The three engineers were still standj ing doggedly outside the door. “I ! believe these young men are waiting j to meet you,” said Mr. Hathaway genially, and he presented them to Miss Gibbs. “Miss Gibbs,” he announced, “is our new librarian.” The three young men looked askance at one another. “These ambitious engineers,” Mr. Hathaway explained to Miss Gibbs, “spend a great deal of time in the library. Be especially considerate of them,” he pleaded. “Young bachelors live lonely lives.”
Miss Gibbs regarded the young men with the motherly condescension befitting her age. The young men j regarded Miss Gibbs with bewilderment and gallantly subdued disappointment. Mr. Hathaway regarded them j all with triumph. “Come,” he said, | “we must be on our way,” and he took j Miss Gibbs’ arm, determined to find her the finest apartment in town if it took him all day.
It took him only that morning. By midafternoon he was back at his desk, revising class schedules, interviewing ¡ parents of new students, checking Í supplies. Miss Gibbs was taken care of. j She was pleased with her apartment, j which had not only a shower that j worked, but a wood-burning fireplace, j and a whole wall of windows, and a view of the park. Mr. Hathaway had I assured her that she need not report for j
duty until the next day, and she was, presumably, settling herself at leisure in her new abode.
STILL she worried Mr. Hathaway.
He found himself thinking about her off and on during the afternoon. So many things could happen to make a person dislike a place—poor janitor service, or a disagreeable neighbor, or a water faucet that leaked. He kept wishing he could convince himself that Miss Gibbs was satisfied and happy. The wish mounted toward the end of the day and finally, at 8.30 that evening, Mr. Hathaway could think of nothing else. He telephoned Miss Gibbs.
“I just wanted to be sure everything was all right,” he told her. “We—we want you to be happy.” He was a bit surprised at his effrontery, but Miss Gibbs was not surprised. Her voice over the phone was exceedingly cheery.
“Everything’s splendid,” she declared. “I’m just rearranging the furniture, and hanging my own pictures, and moving in some bookcases I bought this afternoon.”
Mr. Hathaway was appalled. “All alone?” he asked.
“Of course,” she answered.
“But—” said Mr. Hathaway. He remembered a heavy secretary in the apartment, and there was a baby grand piano, and a monstrous davenport. It occurred to him that something might happen to Miss Gibbs. She might injure herself, or worse—He swallowed deeply. “I’ll be right over to help you,” he said. “You shouldn’t do such heavy work all by yourself.” For the next two weeks Mr. Hathaway spent his evenings helping Miss Gibbs arrange her apartment. He moved furniture, fixed furniture, waxed furniture, hung pictures, curtains, towel racks and whatnots. He oiled squeaking doors, pried open balky windows, carried wood to the woodbox, polished andirons, and adjusted light switches. When at last the work was finished Miss Gibbs rewarded him with a home-cooked dinner. That was on Sunday. Mr. Hathaway felt bronzed and tired after his Saturday afternoon of golf, and relaxed because Sunday was his day of rest.
Miss Gibbs’ dinner was the very best. Her roast of beef was tender and rare. Her Yorkshire pudding was light as a cloud and infinitely more tasty. Her salad was crisp and dry, with just the right amount of dressing, and her lemon freeze might have been dropped by spoonfuls from heaven.
It was just the kind of dinner a man I likes to enjoy at leisure, in pleasant surroundings, and with good company.
I And Mr. Hathaway had all three. He ! relaxed on the davenport with his after-dinner coffee. He looked about , him at the cheerful room, and felt not only pleasure but a certain pride too. He had, after all, helped create it. He watched Miss Gibbs sipping her coffee J in the shadows of the armchair across from him. It seemed appropriate that they should be sitting in the same room in a quiet comradeship which made words unnecessary. Miss Gibbs was the kind of woman with whom you could [ do such things. She was absolutely j natural. What’s more she was most j unusually attractive, Mr. Hathaway decided. And she cooked a mighty fine j meal.
“I’ve often wondered,” he said quite j unexpectedly, “why you never married.” And then he blushed to realize his audacity.
But Miss Gibbs was neither shocked nor embarrassed. “It’s only in the movies that the right man invariably I comes along,” she answered. “In real life you sometimes have to get along Í without him.”
Mr. Hathaway nodded sympathetically.
“And really it’s not so bad,” Miss Gibbs laughed. “There’s much to be said for the single state. I do the work of my choice, live where I please, travel where I please. But then, why should I list the advantages of freedom to you? If I’m to believe the gossips, you’ve been alone for 15 years and shown not the slightest inclination to change that status.”
“Yes, that’s right,” Mr. Hathaway admitted.
“So you must like being alone,” said Miss Gibbs practically.
Mr. Hathaway thought about that. He hadn’t minded being alone, that was true, but somehow when he thought of going home tonight to his dark, bare little apartment he felt depressed. “Sometimes a person needs company,” he remarked thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Miss Gibbs. “Sometimes a person does.” Her voice was very soft.
DURING the next month Mr.
Hathaway was unusually busy, not only during the working day but also at night. There was the Board of Education dinner, a speech before the Chamber cf Commerce, Mrs. Mercer’s benefit, two supper invitations, and three bridge dates. He saw Miss Gibbs only now and then as he popped in and out of the library. He was pleased to observe that the young engineers no longer took such an interest in literature, and that the legitimate library patrons were getting efficient and cheerful service. He noted also that Miss Gibbs had placed some potted plants in the library windows and rearranged the magazine racks. She had placed book displays on the reading tables and provided an inviting brows-
ing nook at the far end of the room. She was, Mr. Hathaway decided, quite the best librarian Mapleton had ever seen. Quite the best. He was very pleased.
Not ten minutes after he had decided this for, say, the sixth time, Mrs. Puddle called to invite him to dinner. “It’s just a small impromptu party,” Mrs. Puddle said. “Sometimes a person needs company.”
The phrase brought a quick thought of Miss Gibbs to Mr. Hathaway, and a twinge of conscience. “May I expect you about seven?” Mrs. Puddle was asking.
“Well, that’s very nice of you but —no. No! I’m afraid not tonight. I have an engagement. A very important engagement.”
Mr. Hathaway put the telephone down abruptly and hurried into the library. He burst into Miss Gibbs’ private office, behind the checking counter, and asked breathlessly. “Will you have dinner with me tonight?” Then, hunting for a reason for such a belated invitation, he had a sudden, brilliant inspiration. “Sometimes a person needs company,” he announced decisively.
“I’d love to,” said Miss Gibbs, and smiled at him with such frank anticipation that he knew his suspicion had been well-founded. Miss Gibbs was lonely.
Mr. Hathaway saved his tires’ for special occasions —and this was a special occasion. He took Miss Gibbs to Dannerton, 15 miles away, and they ate in Dannerton’s famous steak house. Miss Gibbs, it developed, loved steak, and apple pie too, and ate both with an enjoyment unhampered by fears of the effect on her weight
After dinner they selected a movie which turned out to be a mystery of the
most bloodcurdling variety. Before the victims of terror were released and the villain apprehended, Miss Gibbs was holding Mr. Hathaway’s hand in tightly clenched fingers. Mr. Hathaway did not object. Indeed, he managed to hold Miss Gibbs’ hand through what would otherwise have been a very boring short subject. And thus they sat, their fingers interlocked, right through the Coming Attractions—a thing Mr. Hathaway had never done before.
In all it was an enjoyable and highly successful evening. When, at the end of it, Miss Gibbs said, “I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed myself as much as I have since I came to Mapleton,” Mr. Hathaway felt amply rewarded for his effort. And he determined that Miss Gibbs should go on feeling just that way.
Quite without realizing it, Mr. Hathaway let this determination usurp his entire social life. Whenever a Mapleton hostess called to invite him to dinner he found himself remembering how much Miss Gibbs liked steak and how much more he himself preferred this manly dish to the concoctions (invariably with raisins) which Mapleton women were apt to spring on dinner guests. Mr. Hathaway declined the dinner invitations. He declined the bridge dates too. He liked bridge but it was difficult to get together a really congenial foursome, and over a cribbage board he and Miss Gibbs were most congenial.
He even dropped out of his Saturday afternoon golf party when he found that Miss Gibbs played golf too, and they went around the links together two or three times a week, usually in the evening. Afterward they cooked wieners over a campfire, and drank cup after cup of hot coffee, and toasted marshmallows, and just sat and watched the stars come out. It was a lovely, long autumn, and Mr. Hathaway enjoyed it thoroughly.
When winter came Mr. Hathaway found that Miss Gibbs skied and bowled and was more than willing to try tobogganing. She could also read aloud in a low, pleasant voice that did not distort the rhythm of Mr. Hathaway’s favorite poets. Seated before the fire in Miss Gibbs’ apartment, his feet propped on an ottoman, the room filled with the beauty of poetry that was surely written for Miss Gibbs alone to read and for him to listen to, Mr. Hathaway quite forgot his work, his troubles, and even the annoying fact that his laundry had not come back. He forgot everything but that at this moment he was an utterly happy and contented man
On Dec. 5, as always happened, Mr. Hathaway received a letter from his sister, inviting him to spend his Christmas vacation at her home in Windsor. That he should spend his Christmas vacation anywhere else had never before occurred to Mr. Hathaway. This year it did. He remembered that Christmas ait his sister’s was usually dull. Her children annoyed him. His sister was pernickety and had a rasping voice. Her husband talked constantly of hunting. Besides, Mr. Hathaway did not like Windsor in the wintertime. He put off answering his sister’s letter.
On Dec. 15 he met Miss Gibbs, on the street, carrying a small but handsome evergreen. “It’s my Christmas tree,” she said. “I’m going home and make a stand for it.”
Mr. Hathaway went nome with her. They made a stand for the tree, and put it on the table in front of the window, and decorated it with tinsel and little colored lights. “I’m going to cook a whole goose,” said Miss Gibbs, “and make cranberry jelly and plum
pudding, and spend the whole of Christmas just; eating and sleeping.” “You’re not—not going anywhere?” asked Mr. Hathaway, surprised. His teachers usually vanished from town the minute school was out.
“I’ve no one to visit but relatives,” said Miss Gibbs, “and we have nothing in common except our relationship. I bore myself much less.”
“If I don’t bore you too much, might I—?” Mr. Hathaway began.
“Of course!” said Miss Gibbs. “That would be splendid. You can even help me stuff' the goose.”
That night Mr. Hathaway wrote a long, appreciative letter to his sister in which he remembered, with pleasure, all the lovely Christmases they had spent together and regretted (with a pleasure he did not mention) that he would be unable to accept her hospitality this year.
EARLY Christmas morning, carrying candy, flowers, and a musical powder box, bright in Christmas wrappings, Mr. Hathaway set out for Miss Gibbs’ apartment. It was a glistening snow-bright morning and Mr. Hathaway was in a holiday mood. He found Miss Gibbs, in a huge Mother Hubbard apron, cleaning the goose. Together they stuffed it and put it in the oven. Together they scraped the vegetables, and prepared the salad dressing, and iced the cranberry molds.
Mr. Hathaway built a fire in the fireplace while Miss Gibbs changed her clothes, and before the fire they opened their presents. For Mr. Hathaway there was a humidor of simple design and ample capacity. He was deeply moved by the gift. It was exactly the kind of a humidor he would have chosen for himself, and he knew, from experience, that articles thus precisely suited to his personality were not found at the first stop, nor the second, but only after days of careful search.
He regarded Miss Gibbs with admiring eyes. It was a rare woman who knew a man’s tastes so well. Miss Gibbs herself was excited over the flowers and pleased with the candy. But when the little musical powder box began its tinkling, carefree melody Miss Gibbs clapped her hands together in delight. Before Mr. Hathaway knew it she had kissed him on the forehead. “It’s enchanting,” she said. “Not since I was a child have I received such a charming present.”
Perhaps it was the kiss, or the dinner they ate in flickering candlelight. Or perhaps it was the nearness of Miss Gibbs herself, familiar and yet excitingly exotic in the green hostess gown that highlighted the silver of her hair and accented the bronze smoothness of her skin. It might have been the setting sun, casting its rose hue over the room, or the remembrance of other happy hours spent in this setting. It
might have been any one of these things or all of them together.
Mr. Hathaway didn’t ask what it was, or why he felt compelled to draw Miss Gibbs into his arms. He just reached out for her. She came willingly. Her lips were soft against his. Her hair brushed his cheek. “Miss Gibbs— Bertha—” he murmured, “I love you.”
“I’m glad,” she said.
He held her closer. “I don’t ever want to let you go. I—I—Will you marry me?”
“Yes,” said Miss Gibbs. “I love you, Carter.”
Those words were the sweetest Mr. Hathaway had ever heard. They filled his heart with a trembling excitement and drove from his mind all practicality and wisdom. “We’ll go to Dannerton,” he said, “tomorrow! We’ll have a whole week to ourselves before school starts again—a whole, long glorious week.”
“That will be wonderful, darling,” Miss Gibbs sighed contentedly.
And so, a week later and a day before the Christmas recess was officially over, Mr. Hathaway strode down the snowy street with a smile on his face and a bright new wedding band on his little finger. His mind was so filled with the delicious joy of having a wife to kiss him good-by at the door, to remind him to wear his overshoes, to tuck in his scarf about his throat, that he quite forgot to tip his hat to certain of his lady acquaintances. But they forgave him, with knowing glances at each other. After all, Mr. Hathaway had just been married and undoubtedly had a great deal on his mind.
Mr. Hathaway turned off the street onto the winding path that led through snow-covered shrubbery to the schoolhouse. The sun glistened on the damp, ancient rocks of the building and cast a halo of shining snowy splendor over the roof. It was beautiful. - The morning was beautiful. Life was beautiful. Everything that Mr. Hathaway saw pleased and delighted him.
Except the three unexpected figures in front of the schoolhouse. Those young engineers again. Mr. Hathaway stared at them darkly. “What are you doing here?” he demanded.
The braver of the three stepped forward smiling. “Aren’t we getting a new librarian?” he asked. “I understand Miss Gibbs got married.”
The schoolhouse door was unexpectedly heavy. The stairs were unusually steep. Mr. Hathaway dragged himself up to his office, put down his brief case wearily, and nodded a silent hello to Mrs. Seeley.
“I’ll want the file of librarian applicants,” he announced dispiritedly.
“Of course,” said Mrs. Seeley. “It’s already on your desk.” She smiled at him sympathetically. “Perhaps this time you could try a man,” she suggested timidly. “An older man—about my age.”