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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 152 pages of information about Patty and Azalea.

“Of course she cares for you!  What girl wouldn’t!  Don’t underestimate yourself or your attractions, Phil.  But I’ll speak plainly; you’re a big man in lots of ways,—­beside physically.  You’re an aristocrat,—­of an old family,—­and you’re very rich.  Now,—­Azalea—­”

“Please don’t talk of my birth or wealth as assets.  I offer Azalea a heart full of love, and a constant care for her happiness and well-being.  If she does care for me, I want your permission to try to win her.  I have broached the subject—­”

“What did she say?”

“She—­oh, I don’t know,—­she said—­well, she ran away!”

“Surprised and a little shy, probably,” Farnsworth looked thoughtful.  “I may as well tell you, Phil, oh hang it!  How shall I put it?  Well, there’s something queer about Azalea.”

“What do you mean,—­queer?”

“I don’t know.  And it may be nothing.  But,—­her only near relative, so far as I know, is her father.  A man I knew years ago,—­a cousin of mine,—­and a decent, hard-working, plain man.  Now, Zaly has not had a single letter from him since she has been here.”

“Why?  Where is he?”

“I don’t know.  She won’t tell.  I’ve written to him twice,—­but I’ve had no reply.  I’m telling you all I know.”

“Thank you for being so straightforward.  Do you—­do you think there’s anything dishonourable—­”

“That he’s in jail?  That’s the idea that haunts my brain.  I can’t think of any other explanation for his continued silence,—­and for Azalea’s mysterious disinclination to talk about him.  Why, Phil, she forged a letter,—­wrote one to herself,—­and pretended to me that it was from her father!”

“Poor child!  How unhappy she must be over it.  If she cares for me, Bill, I’ll take all that load off her poor little shoulders.  I’ll get her to tell me the truth, and then we’ll see what can be done.  But, in any case, or whatever her father may be, it won’t affect my love for the girl herself.  My idea of birth and breeding is that it gives one an opportunity to be tolerant and generous toward others of fewer advantages.  To me, Azalea stands alone,—­her family connections, whatever they may be, I accept gladly, for her dear sake.”

“I say, Phil, forgive me if I express unwelcome surprise, but—­why, you haven’t seemed to be so deeply interested in Azalea—­”

“I know; it is pretty sudden.  But, she somehow bowled me over all at once.  Her brave attitude to-day, when she told her little story, her sweet acceptance of Elise’s remarks, made in petty spite, and her whole big spirit of fearless determination to go into the picture work,—­only to have it spoiled entirely by the wicked acts of that villain Merritt,—­I tell you, Farnsworth, she’s a girl of a thousand!  I read her, I understand her better than you do, and I see far beneath her untaught, outward manner the real girl,—­the sterling traits of a fine character.”

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