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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about The Bread-winners.

“Well, what do you think of his advising the girls to pop?  This ain’t leap year!”

“What of that?” she answered, hastily.  “I don’t see why a girl hasn’t as good a right to speak her mind as a man.”

“Why, Mattie,” said Sam, with slow surprise, “no decent girl would do that.”

They had come to Matchin’s gate.  She slipped in, then turned and said: 

“Well, don’t be frightened, Mr. Sleeny; I’m not going to propose to you,” and she was gone from his sight.

She went directly to her room, and walked up and down a few moments without taking off her hat, moving with the easy grace and the suppressed passion of an imprisoned panther.  Then she lighted her lamp and placed it on her bureau at one side of her glass.  She searched in her closet and found a candle, which she lighted and placed on the other side of the glass.  She undressed with reckless haste, throwing her clothes about on the floor, and sat down before her mirror with bare arms and shoulders, and nervously loosened her hair, watching every movement with blazing eyes.  The thick masses of her blue-black curls fell down her back and over her sloping shoulders, which glowed with the creamy light of old ivory.  The unequal rays of the lamp and candle made singular effects of shadow on the handsome face, the floating hair, and the strong and wholesome color of her neck and arms.  She gazed at herself with eager eyes and parted lips, in an anxiety too great to be assuaged by her girlish pride in her own beauty.  “This is all very well,” she said, “but he will not see me this way.  Oh! if I only dared to speak first.  I wonder if it would be as the spirits said.  ‘If he is noble he will respond!’ He is noble, that’s sure.  ’Love claims love,’ they said.  But I don’t know as I love him.  I would, if that would fetch him, quick enough;” and the hot blood came surging up, covering neck and brow with crimson.

VIII.

A BUD AND A BLOSSOM.

Farnham was sitting the next evening in his library, when Budsey entered and said Mr. Ferguson desired to see him.  The gaunt Scotchman came in and said with feverish haste:  “The cereus grandiflorus will be goin’ to bloom the night.  The buds are tremblin’ and laborin’ now.”  Farnham put on his hat and went to the conservatory, which was separated from the house by the entire extent of the garden.  Arriving there, the gardener took him hurriedly to an inner room, dimly lighted,—­a small square piece between the ferns and the grapes,—­where the regal flower had a wall to itself.  Two or three garden chairs were disposed about the room.  Ferguson mounted on one of them, and turned up the gas so that its full light shone upon the plant.  The bud was a very large one, perfect and symmetrical; the strong sheath, of a rich and even brown, as yet showed only a few fissures of its surface, but even now a faint odor stole from the travailing sphere, as from a cracked box of alabaster filled with perfume.

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