The next afternoon he sighted
Pearl again on the porch. He hoped
she would come to the road in person
for the mail. Merrill even waved the
letters Intended for the house invit
ingly. But coy Pearl betrayed an inexpli
cable shyness. She made a gesture
and half hid behind a post On top
of the mail box was a fine bouquet of
L' red roses.
"Ah, another errand to Miss
Blake?" soliloquized Merrill, taking
up the pretty flowers. He raised them
to inhale their delicate perfume. Then
his heart beat fast Was it fancy?
Could it be reality? Pearl had wafted
him a light kiss with a lighter cooing
laugh and had flown into the house
as if. hiding some conscious guilt in
a breach of decorum.
Miss Blake stared strangely at Mer
rill as he handed her the bouquet
She looked at him as if misunder
standing. Then she smiled, but she
took the flowers and thanked him.
By this time Merrill was head over
heels in love with Pearl His heart
fluttered as 'he hoped thai she was
interested in him. But the next morn
ing she dkl not even-appear on the
porch. The second morning she
passed across the lawn, her chin high
in the air. She actually turned her
back upon him.
The third morning there was a
sheet of paper across the mail box. It
bore one word:
Merrill went his way pondering.
When his route was finished he
dropped the reins of the old horse, sat
back in the gig listlessly and saw life
and all its hopes and motives drop
into a sea of despair.
) "What does it mean?" he mur
mured dejectedly. " 'Stupid!' surely.
It was meant for me, but why?"
The horse, left guideless, had
strayed from the road into a thicket
In his present joyless mood Merrill
allowed him to graze. His day's la
bors were over and he was in a frame
of mind where solitude was a boon. 1
Suddenly, however, Merrill was.
startled by the echo of a vivid scream,,
"That is a woman's voice!" he de
cided, and leaped from the gig and
dashed through the underbrush in
the direction from which the cry had.
sounded. He came to an abrupt halt
where a path intersected the wild
wood. Miss Blake stood rigid with fear,
confronted by a brawny tramp, who,
cudgel in hand, menaced her.
"Out with your purse and off with
your jewelry, my pretty!" ordered the
man, and then he went sprawling at
a well-directed blow from the strong
fist of Merrill and made off baffled, as
Merrill caught the half fainting girl
In his arms.
Miss Blake was hysterical with
gratitude, but in a few moments had
somewhat regained her composure.
"I had just left Pearl that is, Miss
Foster," she explained, "when that
horrid man came along."
"Then perhaps that fellow has
started after her," began Merrill in
an anxious tone.
"Oh, she is surely home by this
time," interrupted Miss Blake. Then
.she paused. There seemed to be
something on her mind. She finally
placed a pleading hand on his own.
"You have been so good to me,"
she spoke falteringly, "P think I
should tell you something about-
"Anything about Miss Foster will
be of infinite importance to me," as
sured Merrill ardently.
"But but it is a breach of confi
dence, perhaps." She hesitated. Then
she burst out "It was about those
"Oh, the roses Miss Foster sent
"She did not mean them for me."
"Indeed?" questioned Merrill puz
zled. "No. They were intended for
"For me? Oh, I understand now'"j
cried Merrill in a quick, comprehdo
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