determined to enlarge the premises, the three clerks who had been
retained having two weeks' vacation with half pay.
It is extraordinary how frequently "wise serpents" are retained
by the management on half, or even full, salary, while the
services of the "harmless doves" are dispensed with, and they are
set free to flutter where they will.
Rose Wiley had the brightest eyes in Edgewood. It was impossible
to look at her without realizing that her physical sight was
perfect. What mysterious species of blindness is it that
descends, now and then, upon human creatures, and renders them
incapable of judgment or discrimination?
Claude Merrill was a glove salesman in a Boston fancy-goods
store. The calling itself is undoubtedly respectable, and it is
quite conceivable that a man can sell gloves and still be a man;
but Claude Merrill was a manikin. He inhabited a very narrow
space behind a very short counter, but to him it seemed the earth
and the fullness thereof.
When, irreproachably neat and even exquisite in dress, he gave a
Napoleonic glance at his array of glove-boxes to see if the
female assistant had put them in proper order for the day; when,
with that wonderful eye for detail that had wafted him to his
present height of power, he pounced upon the powder-sprinklers
and found them, as he expected, empty; when, with masterly
judgment, he had made up and ticketed a basket of misfits and odd
sizes to attract the eyes of women who were their human
counterparts, he felt himself bursting with the pride and pomp of
circumstance. His cambric handkerchief adjusted in his coat with
the monogram corner well displayed, a last touch to the carefully
trained lock on his forehead, and he was ready for his customers.
"Six, did you say, miss? I should have thought five and three
quarters--Attend to that gentleman, Miss Dir, please; I am very
"Six-and-a-half gray suede? Here they are, an exquisite shade.
Shall I try them on? The right hand, if you will. Perhaps you'd
better remove your elegant ring; I shouldn't like to have
anything catch in the setting."
"Miss Dir! Six-and-a-half black glace--upper shelf, third box
--for this lady. She's in a hurry. We shall see you often
after this, I hope, madam."
"No; we don't keep silk or lisle gloves. We have no call for
them; our customers prefer kid."
Oh, but he was in his element, was Claude Merrill; though the
glamour that surrounded him in the minds of the Edgewood girls
did not emanate wholly from his finicky little person: something
of it was the glamour that belonged to Boston,--remote,
fashionable, gay, rich, almost inaccessible Boston, which none
could see without the expenditure of five or six dollars in
railway fare, with the added extravagance of a night in a hotel,
if one would explore it thoroughly and come home possessed of allDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>