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After that the man and the girl
often met, and Esther shrank more
and more into her shell. It was plain
that Charles cared for her no longer.
As for Charles himself, his mind was
in a whirl and he hardly knew what
he wanted. He was drawn like a
magnet by Laura's bright eyes and
obvious interest in -him.
Then, one evening, when he had
entered the garden to call on Laura
he was surprised to hear her in the
lilttle summer house. It was pitch
dark and before he could make him
self known the words he" heard held
him spellbound. Laura was talking
"Of course I don't love Charles
Dawson," she was saying indignant
ly. "Can't I have a little amusement
with the only eligible man left in
"Do you consider it amusement to
ruin a man's happiness and break his
heart?" asked Esther.
"Oh, men's hearts are not so easily
broken," Laura answered. "He thinks
he is irresistible, that middle-aged
man of over 40, and I am going to
teach him a little lesson which he
"I' have been leading him on and
tonight I expect he will call and a lit
tle encouragement will soon bring
him to the proposing point. And then
I shall rise and say: 'Thank you, sir,
for the honor you propose to do me,
but I am not taking any.' "
- "Laura!" exclaimed Miss Rogers
In horror. Then, with rising indigna
tion, "I think it is dreadful of you to
propose to break a good man's heart
in that way and I don't want to know
any more about it."
"I believe you are after him your
self, Esther," called Laura mocking
ly. 'But Esther walked past Charles
in the darkness, so near that she al
most brushed him and he heard her
convulsive sobbing as she went by.
Charles waited a few moments, but
in those moments experienced one
of those revulsions of feeling that
turn love into bitter hatred. And ,
then, having regained self-control,
he went forward into the garden.
"Miss Dean!" he called.
"Why, is that you, Mr. Dawson?"
called Laura's voice out of the dark
ness. "I was hoping you would call
tonight Do come and sit down be
side me, won't you, and tell me about
Charles Dawson sat down on the
seat He could just see Laura's white
He cleared his throat "The fact
is, I came to speak quite seriously to
you, Miss Dean," he said. "It is a
subject I have thought over for a
long time. Now there is the one ques
tion in my mind and I must ask it."
"What is it?" asked Laura softly.
"I am in love," said Charles, taking
her hand in his. And I haven't the
courage to ask her."
"Fain theart never won fair lady,"
said Laura, letting her hand Vest in
his. "Who is she? But let me see if
I can guess. I should say well,
"You'jire hit it first time," answered
Laura's hand leaped out of his.
"Wh-what?" she stammered.
"It is Esther Rogers and I have
loved her all my life," said Charles.
"Do you think I am worthy of her?
Do you think there is any chance for
"Oh, yes," said Laura, hysterically.
"I suppose so. You are of art age,
you see," she added venemously.
"Then I shall ask her," said
Charles, rising. "Of course, a man
with my income has to be careful
whom he asks. So many women
have mercenary inclinations in this
age. There are lots of the young
girls stbout here who would jump at
me but I'm not taking any."
"How dare you, Mr. Dawson!" be
gan Laura, rising, too. "Do you dare
to insinuate that I "
"Oh, no, indeed; you misunder
stood me,'.' answered Charles. "I
but perhaps I made an unfortunate
statement Good evening."