“If you please, sir,” he said, “Mrs. Belding’s man came over to ask, would you dine there this evening, quite informal.”
“Why didn’t he come in?”
“I told him you were engaged.”
“Ah, very well. Say to Mrs. Belding that I will come, with pleasure.”
A HIGH-SCHOOL GRADUATE.
Miss Matchin picked up her train as she reached the gate, picked up her train as she reached the gate, and walked down the street in a state of mind by no means tranquil. If she had put her thoughts in words they would have run like this:
“That was the meanest trick a gentleman ever played. How did he dare know I wasn’t nearsighted? And what a fool I was to be caught by that photograph—saw it as plain as day three yards off. I had most made up my mind to leave them off anyway, though they are awful stylish; they pinch my nose and make my head ache. But I’ll wear them now,” and here the white teeth came viciously together, “if they kill me. Why should he put me down that way? He made me shy for the first time in my life. It’s a man’s business to be shy before me. If I could only get hold of him somehow! I’d pay him well for making me feel so small. The fact is, I started wrong. I did not really know what I wanted; and that graven image of an English butler set me back so; and then I never saw such a house as that. It is sinful for one man to live there all alone. Powers alive! How well that house would suit my complexion! But I don’t believe I’d take it with him thrown in.”
It is doubtful whether young girls of Miss Matchin’s kind are ever quite candid in their soliloquies. It is certain she was not when she assured herself that she did not know why she went to Farnham’s house that morning. She went primarily to make his acquaintance, with the hope also that by this means she might be put in some easy and genteel way of earning money. She was one of a very numerous class in large American towns. Her father was a carpenter, of a rare sort. He was a good workman, sober, industrious, and unambitious. He was contented with his daily work and wage, and would have thanked Heaven if he could have been assured that his children would fare as well as he. He was of English blood, and had never seemed to imbibe into his veins the restless haste and hunger to rise which is the source of much that is good and most that is evil in American life. In the dreams of his early married days he created a future for his children, in the image of his own decent existence. The boys should succeed him in his shop, and the daughters should go out to service in respectable families. This thought sweetened his toil. When he got on well enough to build a shop for himself, he burdened himself with debt, building it firmly and well, so as to last out his boys’ time as well as his own. When he was employed on the joiner-work of some of those