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the unoccupied family sitting room. As soon as they were seated Marjorie said:
"I cannot tell you how much I regret Mr. Culpepper's treatment of you at supper.'
"Oh, don't mention it, Miss Marjorie. To be perfectly frank, my heart fairly aches with gratitude to him for it.”
Marjorie started with surprise, then laughed softly. The glow of the old-fashioned fireplace caused her rich masses of dark auburn hair to gleam like a glorified halo. Ten shapely digits, folded gracefully on her lap, proclaimed the beauty~ the wonderful beauty-of her hands. Dimples in her cheeks and chin seemed to coquette with each other, innocently declaring what exquisite receptacles they would be for kisses. . Her eyes--they reminded him of a pair of eyes in the Palazza Farnesina, painted by Raphael. Yet laughing:
"And pray, Mr. Simonson, why are you thankful for Mr. Culpepper's dastardly conduct?”
“Because to that I am indebted for the great happiness of the present moment, and the thrill I felt when you promised always to be on my side."
Marjorie suddenly sobered. Perhaps her sympathy had carried her too far. It came to her that she was dealing with a masterful man. She thought of a lion-yes, he was a lion, now in sportive mood; but once aroused—but she liked him. He was quieter than Harold, yet stronger; she felt it. She marked his strong jaw, firm chin, glowing eyes. Once angered, or in-love. His low, purring voice when replying to Harold's taunts she remembered and trembled. She awoke to the fact that she was afraid of him-yet she didn't want him to leave her. He was so restful and sensible, evidently honest and strong—she hoped no one would interrupt them, not even Harold. Harold-she paled, and into her eyes came a hunted look. She had forgotten to respond to her guest's gallant speech, She heard him, seemingly in
the distance, addressing her again. Without waiting to catch the drift of his speech, she looked up and said:
"Oh, Mr. Simonson, you must not take me too literally.” She tried to laugh, but in her voice there was a suggestion of tears.
"I understand you now," he said, gravely, "and beg your pardon. I'm sorry I took you too seriously a moment ago. I thought you were in earnest. I did not dream you were jesting. Again I crave your pardon. I guess I'd better be going.”
"No, no, Mr. Simonson. Please do not go yet. You must understand me. I did mean what I said. I like you, as I see Papa and Mama and Fred do. I'm sure you are worthy and—and that we shall learn to like you more and more. Andmand," extending her hand, "believe me, I shall always be on your side."
Reverently he bowed and kissed her liand, an act of homage witnessed by a pair of eyes, sparkling with jealousy, in the adjoining room.
“I thank you from the depths of my heart, Miss Marjorie - that is all I can say."
"That's all a manly man needs to say, Mr. Simonson," and her eyes gave him gracious assurance.
After a little desultory conversation, he remarked: “I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your father's invitation to
"But Papa didn't invite you, Mr. Simonson."
"Now you will be angry with me, Mr. Simonson, and denounce me as an eavesdropper, but really I couldn't help myself. It was this way: When you came into Papa's office--and how could I have known you were coming ?"
with a merry twinkle in her eyes—“I was in Papa's den,
"But I thought it was Zed, the office boy. Your father—"
"Yes, I know-but he had forgotten that I was in the consultation room, and when I came down like an earthquake he rushed in, angry at the interruption, and naturally shouted 'Zed!' Didn't you hear me giggle? Oh, but Papa was angry, but I soon pacified him. Then I told him he must invite you to The Maples to supper, and to stay all night."
“But why, Miss Marjorie? I presume I'm stupid, but really I can't see the connection."
"Why, Mr. Simonson, I'd heard so much of your story, and what a struggle you'd had, and how wonderfully you'd succeeded, and at first I was so sorry for you; and then when I heard you tell all about Harvard, and Boston, and Europe, and—Daniel Webster," deliciously mimicking the dear old Pater, "I was that proud of you--that is, of your success, past and prospective—I told Papa that if he didn't invite you, though you were a stranger, and the-the-well, knew no one in New Richmond, I just wouldn't be his little girl any more. Didn't you hear us fussing and fussing scandalously?”
“And after hearing all about me, from my own lips, my pedigree and station, you were willing to meet me?"
He was very pale, his lips drawn and quivering, his eyes sunken and ghastly. That this queenly maiden, the only woman whose spell he had ever felt, whose magnetic charm for the first time had brought to life in him the unutterable primal mate-passion, whose first look had marked an inde
structible epoch in his life, that she should know his family, his ancestry, unnerved him, immeasurably saddened him.
Marjorie now was more frightened than ever and again realized that she was dealing with a new type of man. When she had begun her confession of eavesdropping she had forgotten who his father was.
“Ah, here you are, you two runaways! Why aren't you dancing?"
"Mr. Simonson doesn't dance, Papa, and I didn't care to; so, to 'escape death and sudden destruction,' according to the Prayer Book, we came in here. And now I shall leave you gentlemen to your glory and tobacco," with a smiling grimace. The gentlemen bowed-ah, that rare old Southern chivalry !-as Marjorie swept out, flinging her father a kiss.
Judge Gildersleeve introduced several of his friends: Prof. Henry St. George Pinckney, Voe Bijaw, editor of The Cackler; Hiram Goldbeck, the leading banker; Uncle Joel Race, proprietor of the Hub; Rector Henry Lee Frothingay, of Gethsemane Church, and the Reverend Webster Beach, shepherd of the Methodist flock.
But the "impromptu" party soon broke up. As Dr. Culpepper departed, he looked the young lawyer keenly in the eyes and said, "I'll see you again very soon, sir."
At another door, apart from the other guests, Harold was saying, “I don't see, Marjorie, how you can bear old Abe Simonson's son."
"He seems to be a perfect gentleman, Harold. Some sons, you know, are better than their parents.”
Harold winced. Amsden Armentrout, the blacksmith, once had hinted that Harold Culpepper was no credit to his parents. As soon as the news had reached The Elms, Harold, in a towering rage, had promptly sallied forth and
provoked a disgraceful altercation with the heat-tanned son
“But, Marjorie, he's such a greenhorn. He's not at all
“So much the worse for our people, perhaps," with a saucy tilt of her chin. “Besides, he's a Harvard man, has spent a year in Europe, and is now a fine lawyer. Why, Harold, I know young men right here in New Richmond, well born and gently bred, who have enjoyed every advantage, and yet have made no such record.” Another home thrust.
"But don't you see,” growing angry, "he's a pesky Abolitionist? He as good as said so, Marjorie.”
"To the contrary, he said he was not an Abolitionist, and I believe him. But what though he is isn't that his privilege? You forget, Harold, that Emerson and Bryant and Whittier and Longfellow are Abolitionists-good men, great men, patriots. I admire Mr. Simonson for his liberality and open-mindedness."
“Then marry him and be damned !” Harold was in a white fury, but instantly repented. "Forgive me, Marjorie! Believe me, I didn't mean it."
“I might do worse than marry Mr. Simonson, for he is a gentleman and would never-of this I am sure-forfeit my respect. And as for being 'damned' by marrying him, I might marry somebody else and suffer a worse damnation. Good-night, Harold, and the pleasure of your reflections!"