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months before, when she had
come to work for him in her first
position, she had been a prim, innocent-eyed
country girl of
whom he had been almost afraid.
Somehow she reminded him of
Mary, his wife, who had left him
not long before when she had
discovered certain matters in his
life. Yet he had really loved
Mary. Perhaps if he had gone
humbly to her. . . He puffed out
a cloud of smoke. Well, for all
his money he was down and out
so far as decent friendships were
concerned. All their friends had
sided with Mary. Stevens had
been through a whirl of dissipa
tion since that time. He was hav
ing his fling all the pleasure that
life now held for him. Undoubt
edly his subtly bestowed praise,
his kindness, his attentions had
turned Miss Keith's head. Well,
if she was such a little fool as to
play with fire. . . .
Stevens looked up to see his
bookkeeper, Henry Austin,
standing at the door of his private
office. The young fellow had been
in his employment some 'two
years; he worked, for a pittance
of forty dollars a month, in the
dimly lighted stock room at the
opposite end of the floor. He
looked at Stevens in an implor
ing manner that irritated the
"Well, Austin, what is it?" he
"I watht to give you a week's
notice to leave, Mr. Stevens," an
swered the young fellow, coming
forward, his hat in his hand:
"So you're going to desert the
ship, eh?" sneered Stevens.
"Why? Got a better job?"
"No, Mr. Stevens. I haven't
got a position yet," he replied.
"Want your salary raised?"
"No, sir, it isn't that. I'm per
Moved by an impulse of kind
ness which surprised himself,
Stevens walked forward and plac
ed his hand upon the young fel
low's shoulder. "Best tell me
what's the trouble," he said.
"I will," Austin blurted out, his
pallid features working convul
sively. "If you were my own size
and willing to fight I'd just about
kill you. Miss Keith and I were
we were going to be married as
soon as I got a raise to fifty.
She's from my home town. And
now you "
"So that's the trouble, eh," said
Stevens, nodding understanding
ly. "You think I've cut you out
in her affections, eh? Why, didn't
you know that I'm married?"
"Yes, damn you," shouted Aus
tin. "That's just where the trou
ble lies. I can't fight a man
twice my weight and the law
wouldn't give me any redress, so
I'm going to leave. Take your
week's notice. I'll get out this
"No you won't Austin, said
Stevens with sudden emphasis.
"Now see here! Suppose I were
out of the way; do you think'
she'd marry you? Do you think'
that if I raised you to well, six
ty, say, you'd be man enough not
to be satisfied with everything
and to keep her at home to look
afte your house, and to try, tq