you can.' What a joke that
would be. Picture the poor men's
faces! Will you, Mildred?"
"It seems a shame," murmured
Mildred. "But I couldn't bear to
think he had deceived me. Are
you sure he has, Fanny?"
"My dearest girl, of course he
has. How old is he? Twenty
eight! And never kissed anyone
but you? Mildred, you certainly
are simple. And now's the time
to show him you aren't as simple
as he thinks, and he'll think all
the more of you for it. Is it a bar
gain?" It was. It was not without
many misgivings that- Mildred
Thomas mailed her letter to Geo.
Howard, but Fanny's hints were
eating into her soul like vitrol.
She must know, now, whether
her lover ever had been in love
before. That would be dreadful.
Still she might forgive it, but she
could never forgive deceit. When
the letter was mailed she wanted
it back, and all that day and the
next she listened in terror for the
postman's whistle. On the third
day, Friday, the answer came a
hasty, incoherent letter, full of
self-accusations and reproaches.
"I shall tell you about what you
refer to when I call tomorrow
evening," he wrote, "and I shall
come half an hour before the
party, in the hope of gaining your
forgiveness before the guests ar
rive." Mildred was looking her pret
tiest when George Howard ar
rived. He looked so haggard and
mournful that she could hardly
find words with which to greet
him. iBtterly now she repented
having been persuaded by Fanny J
to play that foolish joke. But she
must play her part through. They
sat down very soberly side by side ()
in the empty reception room.
"I'm going to tell you every
thing, Mildred," said George
humbly. "I did not wilfully de-1''
ceive you, for it was only because
I had put the memory of that ri
mad summer, two years ago, out
of my mind and heart, and dared
not recall it, even to myself. She
was the only woman before you."
"Go on," murmured Mildred,
and to her consternation she dis
covered that she was not shock
ed at all only deeply interested.
"It was at Atlantic City. T
won't tell you her name. We
were almost the only guests at
the hotel at the end of the sea
son. We fell in love with each
other; we loved each other mad
ly. We were engaged. Then she
went back to town, and I, like a
fool, lived in a fool's paradise, an
ticipating the time when I should
meet her again, to ask her to ful
fill her promise.
"Well, the upshot was that she
had imagined me to be a cousin of
mine, Garfield Howard, the wealthy-manufacturer.
When I call-"
ed at her home sie was quite
frank about it. She said she had
loved me and would have fulfilled
her promise, but she had resolved
never to marry a poor man."
"The horrid cat !" exclaimed
Mildred indignantly, slipping her
hand into his.
"That broke the spell. Mildred.
1 1 realized then that I had never,
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