that lady worshipped and offered sacrifices. She had also gone

with Maude Arthurlena to Claude Merrill's store to buy pair of

gloves, and had overheard Miss Dir (the fashionable

"lady-assistant" before mentioned) say to Miss Brackett of the

ribbon department, that she thought Mr. Merrill must have worn

his blinders that time he stayed so long in Edgewood. This bit

of polished irony was unintelligible to Rose at first, but she

mastered it after an hour's reflection. She wasn't looking her

best that day, she knew; the cotton dresses that seemed so pretty

at home were common and countrified here, and her best black

cashmere looked cheap and shapeless beside Miss Dir's

brilliantine. Miss Dir's figure was her strong point, and her

dressmaker was particularly skillful in the arts of suggestion,

concealment, and revelation. Beauty has its chosen backgrounds.

Rose in white dimity, standing knee deep in her blossoming brier

bushes, the river running at her feet, dark pine trees behind her

graceful head, sounded depths and touched heights of harmony

forever beyond the reach of the modish Miss Dir, but she was out

of her element and suffered accordingly.

Rose had gone to walk with Claude one evening when she first

arrived. He had shown her the State House and the Park Street

Church, and sat with her on one of the benches in the Common

until nearly ten. She knew that Mrs. Brooks had told her nephew

of the broken engagement, but he made no reference to the matter,

save to congratulate her that she was rid of a man who was so

clumsy, so dull and behind the times, as Stephen Waterman, saying

that he had always marveled she could engage herself to anybody

who could insult her by offering her a turquoise ring.

Claude was very interesting that evening, Rose thought, but

rather gloomy and unlike his former self. He referred to his

grave responsibilities, to the frail health of Maude Arthurlena,

and to the vicissitudes of business. He vaguely intimated that

his daily life in the store was not so pleasant as it had been

formerly; that there were "those" (he would speak no more

plainly) who embarrassed him with undesired attentions, "those"

who, without the smallest shadow of right, vexed him with petty

jealousies.

Rose dared not ask questions on so delicate a topic, but she

remembered in a flash Miss Dir's heavy eyebrows, snapping eyes,

and high color. Claude seemed very happy that Rose had come to

Boston, though he was surprised, knowing what a trial his aunt

must be, now that she was so helpless. It was unfortunate, also,

that Rose could not go on excursions without leaving his aunt

alone, or he should have been glad to offer his escort. He

pressed her hand when he left her at her door, telling her she

could never realize what a comfort her friendship was to him;

could never imagine how thankful he was that she had courageously

freed herself from ties that in time would have made her

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