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becoming angular and thin, there
were gray streaks in her hair and she
knew quite well that whatever beau
ty she had ever possessed was al
ready gone beyond recovery.
Her life had been utterly cramped.
Her bookish learning had never been
modified by contact with the world,
for her father had always been a re
cluse, and in his last days a fretful
invalid. When she met the drummer
she thought him a typical man of
The acquaintance was a wonder
ful thing to her. She felt guilty in
stealing down to the garden gate
when Dick was coming that way
Thursdays he always appeared in
Bourn End. She invented little ex
cuses at first to account for her
presence there. Wistfully she
thought how she would like to ask
him in. But she never dared. It was
not only fear of what the neighbors
would say, but fear of what he would
think of her.
It was odd that the uncouth drum
mer should exercise so strange a fas
cination over the old maid, but it was
equally strange that he should find in
her his ideal of womanhood. Two or
three years passed and their inti
macy stayed exactly where it was.
Neither dared to increase it or to
venture to speak of the thoughts in
the heart. Dick was becoming bald
er and stouter, Elsie more withered
Then came the day when Dick was
amazed to see the house closed and a
big "For Sale" sign in front of it
The town was buzzing with the
news. Miss Elsie's lawyer, who had
had charge of her property, had ab
sconded, taking with him her whole
Miss Elsie had remained secluded
in the house since the Monday be
fore. Dick hesitated only a moment;
then he went into the garden and
knocked at the door.
Miss Elsie-herself opened it and!
stood, watching him through her
tearstained lashes. She looked less
beautiful than ever at that moment,
with her reddened eyelids and her
"It's too bad, ma'am," said Dick.
"Just heard the news, and called to
say how sorry I was."
"I suppose it's what they call life,"
answered Miss Elsie.
"I hope, ma'am, you aren't plan
ning to sell the place because of
"I certainly am. It's all that I have
"Might I ask your price, ma'am?"
"Eight thousand dollars," answer
ed Miss Elsie listlessly. "It ought to
be more, but the house is very old,
and that's what I'm advised to hold
Dick thought hurriedly. He knew
that would mean about three thou
sand cash and a mortgage. Dick was
worth about three thousand; he
could arrange the details.
"I'll buy it," he announced.
"You'" gasped Miss Elsie.
"Yes, ma'am. You see, I've had my
eye on the place for a long time, in
the hopes you might some day sell."
The words struck her like a blow
between the eyes. So that was the
secret of his interest. The vanity of
"I suppose you can have it, then,"
he heard her answer vaguely.
"Everything in it as it stands, lock,
stock and barrel?" asked Dick.
"Why, I guess the furniture's not
worth much," said Miss Elsie. "You'll
have to see my brother, Mr. Van Nu
gent, at Staples. He has charge of
"But if he is willing, you are?" per
"Yes," she replied.
Dick withdrew. He wanted to hide
the elation in his heart, that set it
pounding frightfully as he reflected
upon his maneuver. He clenched his
fists as he thought of the lawyer. He
had known Sharpies well; the man