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gentleman can bring two ladies. Why ference, but he judged more rightly the not let me take her there?

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"I'm sure it's very kind of you, John," said Jamie. He felt a pang that he too could not take Mercedes to balls.

"It's not like one o' them Tremont Street balls, you know," said Hughson proudly. Secretly he thought it a very fine affair. The governor was to be there, and his aides-de-camp, in gold lace.

Mercedes went to the ball when the night came, but only stayed an hour. She knew very few of the other girls. Her dress was a yellow muslin, modestly open at the throat, and she could see them eying it. None of the other women wore low-necked gowns, but they wore more pretentious dresses, with more of ornament, and Mercedes felt they did not even know in how much better taste was she. But John Hughson was in a most impossible blue swallow-tail with brass buttons, the sort of thing, indeed, that Webster had worn a few years before, only Hughson was not fitted for it. She suspected he had hired it for the evening, in the hope of pleasing her, for she saw that he had to bear some chaff about it from his friends. One of the colonels of the staff, with plumed hat and a sword, came and was introduced to her. In a sense she made a conquest of him, for he tried clumsily to pay his court to her, but not seriously. Nothing that yet had happened in her little life had enraged Miss Mercedes as did this. She inly vowed that some day she would remember the man, to cut him. And so she had Hughson take her home.

Poor Hughson felt that his evening had been a failure, and rashly ventured on some chances of rebuff from her as the two walked home, chances of which Miss Mercedes was cruel enough to avail herself to the full. The honest fellow was puzzled by it, for even he knew that Mercedes' only desire in going to the ball was to be admired, and admiration she had had. John was too simple to make fine discriminations in male de

feminine opinion of her looks and manners than did Miss Mercedes herself. They had thought her too fine for them as she had wished.

After all her democratic education, social consideration was the one ambition that had formed in pretty Mercedes' mind. Her desire for this was as real in the form it took with men as in the form it took with other women; as clear the outcome of the books and reading given her as of the training given any upper servant in a London suburb, patterned on a lady mistress. Mercedes had no affections; she was as careless of religion as a Yankee boy; this desire alone she had, of self-esteem above her fellow-creatures, especially those of her own sex and age. Her education had not gone to the point of giving her higher enjoyment, -poetry, art, happiness of thought. Even her piano-playing was but an adornment. She never played for her own pleasure; and what was the use of practicing now?

This New World life has got reduced to about three motives, like the three primary colors; one is rather surprised that so few can blend in so many shades of people. Money-getting, love of self, love, is not that quite all? Yet poor Jamie and Mercedes, who was nearest to him, did not happen in the same division. Hughson, perhaps, made even the third. Yet a woman who holds herself too fine for her world will get recognition, commonly, from it. To honest Hughson, lying unwontedly awake, and thinking of the evening's chances and mischances, now in a hot fit, now in a cold fit, of something like to love, such a creature as Mercedes, as she lightly hung upon his arm that evening, had never yet appeared. She was an angel, a being apart, a fairy, any crude simile that occurs to honest plodding men of such young girls. John took the distrait look for dreamy thought; her irresponsiveness for ethereal purity; her moodiness for superiority of soul. She imposed herself on

him now, as she had done before on Jamie, as deserving a higher life than he could give her. This is what a man terms being in love, and then would wish, quand même, to drag his own life into hers!

One day, some weeks after this, Mr. James Bowdoin, on coming down to the little office on the wharf rather later than usual, went up the stairs, more than ever choky with that spicy dust that was the mummy-like odor of departed trade, and divined that the cause thereof was in the counting-room itself, whence is sued sounds of much bumping and falling, as if a dozen children were playing leap-frog on the floor. Jamie McMurtagh was seated on the stool in the outer den that was called the bookkeeper's, biting his pen, with even a sourer face than usual.

and she's got ahead of me and come down to get it of the governor."

There was a sudden and mysterious silence in the inner room. James Bowdoin looked at Jamie, and noted again his expression. "What's the matter, Jamie? Have you anything to tell me?" "It's for Mr. Bowdoin's private ear, Mr. James," said Jamie testily. "Oh, ah! in that case I'll go in and see." James threw the door open. Old Mr. Bowdoin was standing, still puffing, in front of the fire, evidently quite breathless. In the corner by the window, too rapt to notice her father's entrance, sat Miss Abby, intently gazing into a round glass crystal that, with a carved ebony frame, formed one of the Oriental ornaments of the counting-room.

"I trust we are not disturbing important business, sir?" said Mr. James the

"Good-morning, Jamie," said he younger dryly.


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"One, sir," grunted Jamie.

"One child? Great heavens, who makes all that noise?"

"Mr. Bowdoin do the most of it, sir," said Jamie solemnly. "I have been waiting, sir, to see him mysel' since" Jamie looked gravely at his watch "since the half after twal'. But he does not suffer being interrupted."

James Bowdoin threw himself on a chair and laughed. "Who is it?" "It'll be your Miss Abby, I'm thinkin'."

"The imp! I stopped her week's money for losing her hat this morning,

"Sh, sh! Abby, my dear, don't take your eyes out of it for twenty minutes, and you'll see the soldiers." And the old gentleman winked at James and Jamie, and became still purpler with laughter that was struggling to be heard. "As for that child of mine "


"Psst! h'sh!" and Mr. Bowdoin snapped his fingers in desperation at his uncomprehending son. "Never mind them, dear!" he cried to the child. "Only look steady; don't take your eyes out of it for twenty minutes, and you're sure to see the armies fighting! The most marvelous idea, and all my own," he said, as he slammed the door behind him. "Crystal-gazing, for keeping chil dren quiet, nothing beats it!"

"I thought, sir, you were both in need of it. But Jamie here has something to say to you."

"What is it Jamie? No more trouble about that ship Maine Lady? D-n the British collier tramps! and she as fine a clipper as ever left Bath Bay. Well, send her back in ballast; chessmen and India shawls, I suppose, as usual”

"It's about Mercedes, sir.'

"Oh, ah!" Mr. Bowdoin's brow grew grave.

"She will not marry John Hughson, sir."

"Now, Jamie, how the devil am I to make her?"


John Hughson took his rejection rather sullenly; and Mercedes was more than ever alone in the old house. She never had had intimate companions among the young women of the neighborhood, and now they put the stigma of exclusion upon her. They envied her rejection of a serious suitor such as John. It was rumored the latter was taking to liquor, and she was blamed for it. Women often like to have others say yes to the first man who comes, and not leave old love affairs to cumber the ground. And girls, however loving to their friends, have but a cold sympathy for their sex in general.

One person profited by it, and that was old Jamie. He urged Mercedes nearly every day to alter her decision; and she seemed to like him for it. Always, now, one saw her walking with him; he became her ally against a disapproving world.

The next thing that happened was, Jamie's mother fell very ill. He had to sit with her of nights; and she would look at him fondly (she was too old and weak to speak much), as if he had been any handsome heir. Mercedes would sit with them sometimes, and then go into her parlor, where she would try to play a little, and then, as they supposed, would read. But books, before these realities of life, failed her. What she really did I hardly know. She wrote one letter to young Harleston Bowdoin, and he answered it; and then a second, which was still unanswered.

One night "the mother" spoke to Jamie of the girl: ""T is a comely lass.

I suppose you 're proud you were adopting her?"

Old Jamie's face was always red as a winter apple; but his eyes blushed. "Anybody 'd 'a' done that, mither, such a lady as she is!"

"What 'll ye be doin' of her after I'm gone? The pirate father 'll come a-claimin' of her."

Jamie looked as if the pirate captain then might meet his match.

"Jamie, my son have ye never thought o' marryin' her your own sel'? I'd like to see you with a wife before I go."

There was no doubt that Jamie was blushing now.

"Do ye no love the lass enough?” "I" — Jamie stopped himself. "I am too old, mither, and and too queer."

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"Too old! too queer! There's not a better son than my Jamie in all the town. I'd like to see a better, braver boy make claim ! And if you seem old, it's through tending of your old forbears. Whatever would the lassie want, indeed!"

"Good heavens! I've never asked her, mither," said Jamie.

The old woman looked fondly at her boy. "Ask her, then, Jamie; ask her, and give her the chance. She's a daft creature, but bonny; and you love her, I see."

Jamie pinched up his rosy features and squirmed upon his chair. "Can I do anything for ye, mither? Then I think I'll go out and take a bit o' pipe in the streets with John Hughson."

"John Hughson, indeed!" snorted the old woman, and set her face to the wall.

But Jamie did not go near John Hughson. He rambled alone about the city streets; and it was late at night before he came back. Late as it was, there was a light behind Mercedes' windowshade, and he walked across the street and watched it, until a policeman, coming by, stopped and asked him who he


But the virus took possession of Jamie quietly. him and spread.

The Bowdoins, father and son, noted that their old clerk's dress was sprucer. He was more than ever seen with Miss Mercedes; and she seemed to like him better than before. Women who are to all men fascinating must have a subtle instinct for perceiving it, a half-conscious liking for it. Else why do not they stop it sooner?

But Jamie had never admitted it to himself. Perhaps because he loved her better than himself. He judged his own pretensions solely from her interest. Marriages were fewer did all men so.

Still a year went by, and no other man seemed near Mercedes. Then the old mother died. To Mercedes life seemed always going into mourning for elderly people. They went on living, she and Jamie, as before. He had got to be so completely accepted as her adoptive father that to no one, not even the Bowdoins, had the situation raised a question; to Mercedes least of all. With such natures as hers there also goes instinctive knowledge of how far male natures, most widely different, may be trusted. But Jamie had thought it over many times.

Until one morning, James Bowdoin and his father, coming to the countingroom, found Jamie with a face of circumstance. He had on his newest clothes; his boots were polished; and his hair, already somewhat gray, was carefully brushed.

His eyes were very

bright; he was almost young - looking; and his manner had a certain dignity. "And I beg you, sir, for leave to ask your judgment."

Mr. Bowdoin motioned Jamie to a chair. And it marked his curious sense that he was treating as man to man that for the first and only time within that office Jamie took it.

"Mercedes." Jamie lingered lovingly over the name. "I have tried my best, sir. I have made her — nay, she was one like a lady. You would not let her marry Master Harley." "I never" the old gentleman interrupted. Jamie waved his hand.

"They would not, I mean, sir. She will not marry John Hughson. You are a gentleman, sir, and could tell me if I would be taking an unfair advantage. - if I asked her to marry - me. I am sure I love her enough."

Jamie dropped his voice quickly on the last words, so that they were inaudible to Mr. James Bowdoin, who had suddenly laughed.

Old Mr. Bowdoin turned angrily upon his son.

But Jamie's face had turned to white.

He rose respectfully. "Don't say anything, sir. I have had my answer."

"Forgive me, Mr. McMurtagh," said James Bowdoin the younger. "I'm sure she could not have a kinder husband. But"

"Don't explain, Mr. James."

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"But after all, why not ask her?" "Nay, nay," said Jamie, "I'll not ask the child. I would not have her make a mistake, as I see it would be."

"What is it, Jamie? Have you come for a vacation?" said Mr. Bowdoin.

"Vacation!" sniffed Jamie. Once, many years before, he had been given a week off, and had gone to Nantasket; but his principal diversion had been to take the morning steamboat thence to the city, and gaze into the office windows from the wharf.

"But, Jamie," said Mr. James kindly, "what will you do? She can hardly go on living in your home."

"Not in my home? Where else has the child a home?"

There are certain male natures that

"It is something about pretty Miss fight, crying. An enemy who looks Sadie, I'll be bound."

"You are always right, sir," said

straight at you, with tears in his eyes, is not to be contended with. And Jamie

stood there, blushing fiery red, with flashing eyes, and tears streaming down his cheeks.

"James Bowdoin, you 're a d-d fool!" sputtered his irate sire. "You talk as your wife might talk. This is an affair of men. Jamie," he added very gently, "you are quite right. My boy's an ass." He put his hand on Jamie's shoulder. "You'll find some fine young fellow to marry her yet, and she 'll bring you-grandchildren."

"I may — I need hardly ask you to forget this?" said Jamie timidly, and making hastily for the door.

"Of course; and she shall stay in her old home where she was bred from a child, and, d―n 'em, my grandchildren shall go to see her there But the door had closed.

"James Bowdoin, if my son, with his d-d snicker, were one half so good a gentleman as that old clerk, I'd trust him with — with an earl's daughter,"


To Beauty and to Truth I heaped
My sacrificial fires.

I fed them hot with selfish thoughts
And many proud desires.

I stripped my days of dear delights
To cast them in the flame,
Till life seemed naked as a rock,
And pleasure but a name.

And still I sorrowed patiently,
And waited day and night,
Expecting Truth from very far,

And Beauty from her height.

Then laughter ran among the stars; And suddenly I felt

That at my threshold stood the shrine

Where Truth and Beauty dwelt.

said the old gentleman inconsequently, and violently rubbing a tingling nose.

"I think you're right, governor," said James Bowdoin. “Did you notice how spruced up and young the poor fellow was? I wish to goodness I had n't laughed, though. He might have married the girl. Why not? How old is


"Why not? Ask her. He may be forty, more or less."

"What a strange thing to have come into the old fellow's life! And we thought it would give him something to care for! I never fancied he loved her that way."

"I don't believe now he loves her so much that way -as- as he loves her," said old Mr. Bowdoin, as if vaguely. "She is n't worth him."

"She's really quite beautiful. I never saw a Spanish girl before with hair of gold.”

"Pirate gold," said old Mr. Bowdoin. F. J. Stimson.

Charles G. D. Roberts.

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