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surprise. “How extraordinary!" she mur- had to make a speech at a banquet, and mured. And he thought so, too.
told her so. It is a real epoch in a man's life when "I'll tell you something very original he finds that the cleverest woman whom to say,” she said. And then she told he has ever met is interested in him and in him. his life and in his work. A day or so later “How did you ever think of that?" he he felt a sudden impulse to prove to her asked in real wonder. how brilliant he was, and so he said some- “I don't know," she laughed; "but do thing in the House. What he said did not develop quite as he had expected. In fact, He said it, and it created a tremendous it turned out to be a mistake, and later it amount of talk, all of the most soothing grew into a terrific blunder, which had and delightful kind. the honor of much scathing comment. He He made up his mind to offer himself felt much perturbed, and was inexpressi- on Sunday. It was eminently the right bly soothed on going to see her to find thing for him, and he was positive that he the first smiles that had been turned his loved her, too. "I am positive,” he reway for three days illuminating her lovely peated thrice over to himself. . face.
That evening he went to an informal “Do you know what you can do?" she little theater-party with some friends asked him, holding his hand in both of whom he had not met in years, and they hers and looking up into his face with an had with them the sweetest, most unsoexpression of almost masculine intelligence phisticated, blue-eyed child of seventeen. in her eyes.
She was not in society yet; he was the He did not ask her to what she referred. first “man” whom she had ever met. It He was silent, but in his answering smile is dazing to be the first man whom a really she found encouragement to speak. sweet girl has ever met. He had a seat
“There's a speech in Hansard-a next to hers. She was Charybdis. speech of a chancellor of the exchequer- The others talked of his clever speech, that will turn the tables completely." and he shrugged his shoulders and made Then she named the day, the year, and light of it. Any one could make speeches that particular chancellor of the exchequer. like that, he said, and felt a slight stab as
He was dumfounded. He could not he said it, remembering that he could not speak.
have made it if Mme. Scylla had not out"You see, it is n't where any one would lined it for him. Miss Charybdis had not look for such a reference," she went on, known that he had made a speech, and felt "but it is there. I would n't quote it, if freshly overwhelmed at such a state of I were you; I would simply refer to it. It things. It was wonderful to be sitting in will be more impressive."
the same box with a member of parliaHe was no end grateful. He had no
ment, and to think that he had also made doubt as to the other half of his soul now. a speech! To what dizzy heights might He took her hand and kissed it, and she not so great a being aspire! Her blue smiled again. She did not seem to be a eyes were afraid to contemplate the sun very passionate person, but then, he too closely for fear of some Phaëtonic was not a passionate person himself. And catastrophe, but she looked at his hand she knew all about Manchurian railway hanging loosely on the back of her chapconcessions, what ailed Mauritian credit, eron's chair, and the mere sight of that and why reciprocity seemed so loath to re- brought the color to her pretty face. She ciprocate. He was almost positive as to was able to be romantic and to love. As what the outcome was to be. Really, no likely as not, in ten years she would be as man could possibly do better. And she interesting as lots of other people. was beautiful, and rich, and, then, last, He went home in an odd state of mind. but not least, so clever.
The next day was Saturday, and he had He wondered whether she were Orien- intended offering himself to Mme. Scylla, tal enough to be going to get too stout who was out of town, on Sunday. He felt later in life. She was perfect now. And still more odd to think that that time next her hair?
week all sorts of new emotions would be It was a day or two after this that he running riot within him,-at least he
hoped and trusted that they would, - but her in his arms, and kissed her. It is the he did feel odd.
simplest way, and the most effective. She He rode in the Row the next morning, drew back, laughed, and began to adjust and contemplated the proposal with some her hair-pins. There was no ụse denying trepidation and some satisfaction. He still that she was beautiful. “Such a man!" felt odd. He did not think that the pro- was all that she said. And after that they posal would be any special strain; she must were very happy for some time. It was know that he loved her. “I must have quite wonderful to sit beside her, have his shown it,” he told himself, and then he re- arm around her, and feel her sinuous, peated firmly, “I must have shown it." jeweled fingers tapping his hand. “You Perhaps there would not even be anything shall be a great man,” she said, confisaid. Perhaps he would simply kiss her. dentially. "I'll manage it all for Anyway, it would be quite easy. He you." would start to show her something, would That was a fearful mistake for so clever drag a chair close to her side, would take a woman to make. Despite himself, he out a pencil to point out the particular felt his eyebrows shoot upward.
He passage, she would turn her head to watch could not share that view of his brilliant what he was elucidating, perhaps she future in any circumstances. would be seated on the divan-oh, it “You see, I am a very gifted woman," would be quite easy.
she continued happily; "I have tact and He raised his eyes at that, and there, intuition. You 'll make no more stupid right in front of him, rode the exceedingly blunders now.” pretty girl with a groom in attendance. Well! He drew a long breath and She smiled and blushed and bowed, and withdrew his arm. “The cigarettes are he-well, he rode home with her.
there, just at your hand," she said, pointAnd now began the sitting between ing; but although he could, and did, get Scylla and Charybdis in good earnest. Not one without rising, he did not replace his that he knew it then, for he was still too She sprang quickly up and brought certain that he loved the widow to be able him matches. "I will make you prime to give the lie to his opinion so quickly. minister,” she said, with her glowing gaze. But he felt very odd, vaguely uncom- “I am sure that I can do it, for all that fortable. There was
no denying that you lack I have in abundance." Mme. Scylla was brilliant, brilliantly He colored hotly. For a moment he beautiful, and beautifully rich; but, dash thought that his temper had slipped its ball it all! there is a charm in a young, inno- and chain. He took a match from her and cent girl who knows nothing of anything lit a cigarette. “My odalisque," he said and least of all of men.
then, trying to speak naturally, "don't forBut he went to make his proposal just get that women are, after all, a very small as he had planned, feeling that Monday part of a man's life.” And then he looked would find everything settled and two peo- at the rug, and his look was severe. He ple ecstatically happy. And yet, he told was not a bit happy. himself over and over most irrelevantly, “Not when it is a woman like me and that he did not need to marry a fortune a man like you,” she said. “You know and that he was jolly well sure that he as well as I do that of us two I am the could get on without the brilliant brains.
stronger character." And yet he was not so sure, after all. He bit his lip and moved his fingers And she was stunning. But the young girl curiously. He drew in a tremendous was lovely, too. Altogether his thoughts, as breath. he walked through the park, were most But then it came over him with a horrid uncomfortable. But he always knew that gasp that she was right, that she was cerhe was going to propose and that they tainly right. But she loved him. And were going to be ecstatically happy. No all men would envy him. And, after all, man doubts that or demands details of his she would be a help. imagination. Why under the sun should So he smiled in a ghastly sort of way, he?
said, “Conceited baby!” and noted that He came to the house and went in. She she liked it, and then he pretended that his was alone.
He went straight to her, took declaration had burst from him unawares,
and that a pressing, previous engagement looks pretty in to-day's garb is pretty beclaimed him, and so got away.
yond a doubt. Llexford, with a sudden Outside, in the street, he was aware of leap of his heart, recognized that no being distinctly sore and outraged. “I amount of lineless muffing could take will make you prime minister!" What a away from this girl's charm, because her little fool she was! “You know as well charm was innate. It was her youth, as I do that of us two I am the stronger her innocence, and her adorable ignocharacter.” He turned there and bolted
Oh, ignorance, what bliss to condown a side street. Why, he would never template! marry that woman in this world! Who He managed to be near her very soon, was she, anyhow? Idiot! Conceited little and she looked up at him with adoring monkey!
eyes that were almost too good to be true. A few minutes later, having come near “Oh, you are going to be such a great being run over by a motor and also having man, she said. “How do you ever do collided violently with a man larger than it? And that speech! Just think, I can't himself who was very mad about some- even make out what it 's all about, and thing, too, it occurred to him that it might there you could stand up and say it withbe well to calm himself, and, finding that out any notes.” he chanced to be in the neighborhood of He felt tremendously flattered. “We his inferior friends, he thought that he get used to all that in the House,” he said. would drop in informally; he happened "No notes there often, you know." to know that they made a practice of giv- “No, I suppose not,” she said yet more ing the most delightful informal suppers adoringly, and he looked into her soft, to select little parties of lions every Sun- immature gaze and knew that she would day. So he went in, and he found, to his love him, too, if he asked her. What astonishment, that that speech of his (or a situation! He felt fairly beside himhers) had made him a double lion. The self! host, who had treated him as an equal be- Very late that night he reached his bed fore (the misguided man treated all his and strove to think. The problem was guests as equals, not having the remotest now awful, and there was no steering besuspicion of his own classing), now treated tween. He must wreck himself to save him with a good-humored mock-worship himself. It must be Scylla or it must be which was inexpressibly soothing. “You Charybdis. What should he do? What are slated for big things, do you know it?" could he do? He could not marry a wohe said confidentially. “Do you realize man who set out from the start as brighter that you 're beginning to pull a stroke than he was himself, and neither could he
get on without that woman. But how He could not help feeling much better could he break with her even if he wanted at once, and with the mental uplift came to? And if he did break with her, a buck-shot charge of shame, shattering the and she married one of his opponents in petty side of his self-esteem and making the House and told that opponent that, him realize with a sudden flame of satis- oh, he simply could not contemplate that! faction that he was engaged to her, after And then this adorably, sweet, loving, all. . They would be married, and no one trusting, blue-eyed girl (God bless her!), would ever know how much she helped a million times too good for him, and who him, and the help would be there at hand would never give him advice, or give heralways. And she was beautiful, and she self any airs, or be any help to anybody!
What a mess! Why did such cursed luck Just then the door opened, and in came come to him? He swore, he fumed, he Miss Charybdis, her hair confined in a fussed, he canvased pros and cons. In the fur basket upside down, and wearing a end hecoat that made her look like an educated It was certainly the only wise course to seal. There is no use talking, the girl that take.