“Alexander came. He was a costly an’ beautiful young man, about thirty years old, with red cheeks an’ curly hair an’ polished finger-nails, an’ wrote poetry. Sometimes ye meet a man that excites yer worst suspicions. Your right hand no sooner lets go o’ his than it slides down into your pocket to see if anything has happened; or maybe you take the arm o’ yer wife or yer daughter an’ walk away. Aleck leaned a little in both directions. But, sir, Sam didn’t care to know my opinion of him. Never said another word to me on the subject, but came again to ask about the money.
“‘Look here, Sam,’ I says. ’You tell Lizzie that I want to have a talk with her at four o’clock in this office? If she really wants to buy this man, I’ll see what can be done about it.’
“‘All right, you talk with her,’ says he, an’ went out.
“In a few minutes Dan showed up.
“‘Have you seen Lizzie?’ says I.
“‘Not to speak to her,’ says Dan. ‘Looks fine, doesn’t she?’
“’Beautiful!’I says. ‘How is Marie Benson?’
“’Oh, the second time I went to see her she was trying to keep up with Lizzie,’ says he. ’She’s changed her gait. Was going to New York after a lot o’ new frills. I suppose she thought that I wanted a grand lady. That’s the trouble with all the girls here. A man might as well marry the real thing as an imitation. I wish Lizzie would get down off her high horse.’
“‘She’s goin’ to swap him for one with still longer legs,’ I says. ‘Lizzie is engaged to a gentleman o’ fortune in the old country.’
“Dan’s face began to stretch out long as if it was made of injy-rubber.
“‘It’s too bad,’ says he. ’Lizzie is a good-hearted girl, if she is spoilt.’
“‘Fine girl!’ I says. ‘An’, Dan, I was in hopes that she would discover her own folly before it was too late. But she saw that others had begun to push her in the race an’ that she had to let out another link or fall behind.’
“‘Well, I wish her happiness,’ says Dan, with a sigh.
“‘Go an’ tell her so,’ I says. ’Show her that you have some care as to whether she lives or dies.’
“I could see that his feelin’s had been honed ’til they were sharp as a razor.
“‘I’ve seen that fellow,’ he says, ‘an’ he’ll never marry Lizzie if I can prevent it. I hate the looks of him. I shall improve the first opportunity I have to insult him.’
“‘That might be impossible,’ I suggested.
“‘But I’ll make the effort,’ says Dan.
“As an insulter I wouldn’t wonder if Dan had large capacity when properly stirred up.
“’Better let him alone. I have lines out that will bring information. Be patient.’
“Dan rose and said he would see me soon, an’ left with a rather stern look in his face.
IN WHICH LIZZIE DESCENDS FROM A GREAT HEIGHT