der the watchful glannes of Saunders
he succeeded in stammering out a
request to visit her that evening, to
which she acceded.
She lived in the same little place,
opposite the house of his relative,
who had died years before. Her own
parents were dead also. It was a lone
ly life for a girl, Merritt thought. The
well-remembered sights depressed
him more than ever, and somehow
the presence of the girl seemed about
all that he had to cling to in the lone
ly life that .seemed to shut him out
from his fellows.
He must have conveyed something
of his f eeling for her, for the restraint
vanished and soon they were chatting
away like old friends and telling each
other the story of their past ten years.
"Yes, I've been clerking for Mr.
Saunders these four years past," she
said. "It's dull but life seems dull
to me. I suppose I'll have to keep at
it And you, Mr. Merritt?"
"It used to be Will," he said.
"Well, Will, then," she returned,
laughing. "I do hope you have had
He looked at her in amazement.
Had she not heard of him? He was
not a vain man, but it seemed incred
ible, when all the newspapers and
magazines had been full of his suc
cess. "Yes, I have done pretty well," he
"I am so glad to hear it," answered
the girl. "You have no idea how hor
rid people are. I but I suppose I
shouldn't be saying it."
He pressed her to tell him. 'You
remember how we used to tell each
other everything," he pleaded.
"Well, after you had gone Mr.
Boyce came into the store and asked
Mr. Saunders if he had seen you. He
said he had, and that you had spent
half an hour in the store taking up
"The best half hour I have ever
spent!" exclaimed Merritt enthusiastically.
Nettie colored slightly. "Well," she I
continued, "Mr. Boyce said he sup
posed you had come back to try to
get a job in town, and were dressed
up to make a bluff. And he said you
would never get anything in his place,
and Mr. Saunders agreed that it was
the same as far as he was concerned.
I felt so humiliated, and I am so glad
to learn that it isn't so at all."
Merritt was thunderstruck. So
these people had never heard of him
at all. He had ascribed their coldness
to the natural reserve of a little com
munity instead of which he was, in
their eyes, the same ne'er-do-well,
the same incapable. And Nettie did
"Nettie," he said, taking her hand,
"do you remember that time we
found a dime in the road and I split
it in two and we divided it?"
"Perfectly, Mr. Merritt," she re
"And do you remember. what I said
to you then?"
"No, William. That part has es
caped my memory altogether."
f ''Would you like me to remind
The girl's eyes, which had been
downcast, were suddenjy raised to
"I told you that that made us
sweethearts, and that some day I
should marry you," said the man.
He saw that she was trembling, and
in that moment he knew that he had
always loved her and that it was prov
idence which had kept him aloof and
uncontaminated by the world, for this
only. And she did not know anything
ofhim, of his wealth, of his success.
"Will you marry me, dear?" he
asked. "I can support a wife in com
fort," he continued whimsically.
He drew her into his arms and
kissed her. "You see, I have always
had the habit of meaning what I say,"
"Will, dear, I have loved you all my
life," she answered.
(Copyright by W. G. Chapman.)
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