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"- TI 17" " C1" Ti
Come, let us have a half hour of per
The young man sprang to his feet
"Do you mean that, Miss Vining?"
he asked, catching fire from her
words. "Utter frankness?"
"Whatever the the pain it costs?"
"Then listen," he began. "I have
come here to ask you to be my wife.
Everybody in the ballroom knows
that we have not come here by acci
dent, I believe?"
She nodded again, and a sudden
sense of that espionage made him
reckless. "Well, then, I have taken it
for granted that you would consent.
My family's fortunes are at an ebb
and it was necessary that one of us
should purchase an heiress in Amer
ica." He saw her wince slightly, but then
she smiled. "Go on, please"," she
said, facing him boldly.
"I was selected by my family coun
cil. I must tell you that according to
our ideas there was nothing deroga
tory to nur honor in the pro-o;tion.
It was to be a fair exchange. My title
against your money. I was given a
list by Smith, the agent, who finances
"Ah! I did not know that they were
financed," she said.
"It is a common practice. Smith
invested $10,000 in the game. If I
failed ta win a bride he lost it. If I
gained one he was, to get five times
his investment. It Is" a lucrative pro
fession, you see,"
"And he trusted to your honor to
get one?" she asked with withering
"Yes. And so I have come here to
ask you to be 'my wife tonight"
"Well, you have been very frank,"
answered the girl. "Now I will be
equally so. I was brought up in lux
ury, with the idea' of making a fash
ionable marriage with a man of title.
It didn't matter who he was Eng
lish, French, German, Italian, or his
Ttoi-anfiolitTr en lnnc na Tip tinr? n titlo
JThe higher, the better, you know.
Well, when you came to New York,
of course we all understood your mo
tive in calling upon me. When I anf
with a plain American he takes me td
theaters and the opera alone. Some
times he may take me out in his auto.
But for you, you know, I had to play
the part of an ingenue. I was a deli
cate hothouse flower, who must nev-
er be shown alone. I had to have a!
chaperone with me always. That wal
part of the game. You understand
"No, I didn't understand that," an
swered the man, wincing in his turn!
"But pray go on, Miss Vining."
"That is about all, except that I was
hawked around Europe last year and
the year before. They nearly mar
ried me to an Italian prince. But at
the last moment it was discovered
that he was a courier from Turkey
masquerading. Probably he, too, was"
in touch with your man Smith."
"I hardly think so,4 Miss Vining,"
answered the young man, thoughtful
ly. "You see, Smith is an honest
broker, so to sneak, and only handles
the real article."
The flicker of a smile played about
her mouth for the first time.
"Well," she resumed, "I don't count
myself one whit better than you, unJ
derstand. We are both simply vic
tims of circumstances. The bargain
proposed was a very suitable one. It
isn't that all the people in our society
are hke this, you must know. It is
just the new-rich us! The decent
families wouldn't have anything to do
with us. They married their own peo
ple. However, I suppose I oughtn't
to disparage my own family. AndT
now, Monsieur, suppose we play out
this farce to the end."
"By all means," he replied. "Miss1
Vining, I have the honor to ask youri
hand in marriage."
"The answer is 'no,' " said the girl.
Then she looked in amazement at
his chagrined expression. In fact,
such a reply had never occurred to
"But seriously' he urged.