A WORD OUT OF SEASON.
Arthur Farnham awoke the next day with a flight of sweet hopes and fancies singing in his heart and brain. He felt cheerfully and kindly toward the whole human race. As he walked down into the city to transact some business he had there with his lawyer, he went out of his way to speak to little children. He gave all his acquaintances a heartier “Good-morning” than usual. He even whistled at passing dogs. The twitter of the sparrows in the trees, their fierce contentions on the grass, amused him. He leaned over the railing of the fountain in the square with the idlers, and took a deep interest in the turtles, who were baking their frescoed backs in the warm sun, as they floated about on pine boards, amid the bubbles of the clear water.
As he passed by the library building, Dr. Buchlieber was standing in the door. “Good luck,” he said; “I was just wishing to see you. One of our young women resigned this morning, and I think there may be a chance for our handsome friend. The meeting, you remember, is this afternoon.”
Farnham hardly recalled the name of the young lady in whose success he had been so interested, although recent intimate occurrences might have been expected to fix it somewhat permanently in his remembrance. But all female images except one had become rather vague in his memory. He assented, however, to what the doctor proposed, and going away congratulated himself on the possibility of doing Maud a service and ridding himself of the faintest tinge of remorse. He was not fatuous or conceited. He did not for a moment imagine that the girl was in love with him. He attributed her demonstration in the rose-house to her “congenital bad breeding,” and thought it only one degree worse than other match-making manoeuvres of which he had been the object in the different worlds he had frequented. He gave himself no serious thought about it, and yet he was glad to find an apparent opportunity to be of use to her. She was poor and pretty. He had taken an interest in her welfare. It had not turned out very well. She had flung herself into his arms and been heartily kissed. He could not help feeling there was a balance against him.
As he turned the corner of the street which led to the attorney’s office where he was going, he saw a man standing by the wall with his hat off, bowing to him. He returned the unusual salutation and passed on; it was some moments before he remembered that it was one of his colleagues on the Library Board. He regretted not having stopped and made the effort to engage his vote for Maud; but, on second thought, he reflected that it would be as well to rely upon the surprise of the three to prevent a combination at the meeting. When he reached the entrance of the building where his lawyer’s offices were, he turned, with a sense of being pursued by a shuffling footstep which had hastened its speed the last few paces, and saw his colleague coming up the steps after him with a perspiring but resolute face.