its illimitable treasures of wisdom and experience.

When Claude came to Edgewood for a Sunday, or to spend a vacation

with his aunt, he brought with him something of the magic of a

metropolis. Suddenly, to Rose's eye, Stephen looked larger and

clumsier, his shoes were not the proper sort, his clothes were

ordinary, his neckties were years behind the fashion. Stephen's

dancing, compared with Claude's, was as the deliberate motion of

an ox to the hopping of a neat little robin. When Claude took a

girl's hand in the "grand right-and-left," it was as if he were

about to try on a delicate glove; the manner in which he "held

his lady" in the polka or schottische made her seem a queen.

Mite Shapley was so affected by it that when Rufus attempted to

encircle her for the mazurka she exclaimed, "Don't act as if you

were spearing logs, Rufus!"

Of the two men, Stephen had more to say, but Claude said more. He

was thought brilliant in conversation; but what wonder, when one

considered his advantages and his dazzling experiences! He had

customers who were worth their thousands; ladies whose fingers

never touched dish-water; ladies who wouldn't buy a glove of

anybody else if they went bare-handed to the grave. He lived

with his sister Maude Arthurlena in a house where there were

twenty-two other boarders who could be seated at meals all at the

same time, so immense was the dining-room. He ate his dinner at

a restaurant daily, and expended twenty-five cents for it without

blenching. He went to the theatre once a week, and was often

accompanied by "lady friends" who were "elegant dressers."

In a moment of wrath Stephen had called him a "counter-jumper,"

but it was a libel. So short and rough a means of exit from his

place of power was wholly beneath Claude's dignity. It was with

a "Pardon me, Miss Dir," that, the noon hour having arrived, he

squeezed by that slave and victim, and raising the hinged board

that separated his kingdom from that of the ribbon department,

passed out of the store, hat in hand, serene in the consciousness

that though other clerks might nibble luncheon from a brown paper

bag, he would speedily be indulging in an expensive repast; and

Miss Dir knew it, and it was a part of his almost invincible

attraction for her.

It seemed flying in the face of Providence to decline the

attentions of such a gorgeous butterfly of fashion simply because

one was engaged to marry another man at some distant day.

All Edgewood femininity united in saying that there never was

such a perfect gentleman as Claude Merrill; and during the time

when his popularity was at its height Rose lost sight of the fact

that Stephen could have furnished the stuff for a dozen Claudes

and have had enough left for an ordinary man besides.

April gave place to May, and a veil hung between the lovers,--

an intangible, gossamer-like thing, not to be seen with the naked

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