Mellicent—" he resumed, in a very different voice.

But Miss Maggie was not apparently listening. With a rather loud rattling of the doorknob she was pushing open the door.

"Why, how hot it is! Did I leave that damper open?" she cried, hurrying into the living-room.

And Mr. Smith, hurrying after, evidently forgot to finish his sentence.

Miss Maggie did not attend any more of the merrymakings of that holiday week. But Mr. Smith did. It seemed to Miss Maggie, indeed, that Mr. Smith was away nearly every minute of that long week—and it WAS a long week to Miss Maggie. Even the Martin girls were away many of the evenings. Miss Maggie told herself that that was why the house seemed so lonesome.

But though Miss Maggie did not participate in the gay doings, she heard of them. She heard of them on all sides, except from Mr. Smith—and on all sides she heard of the devotion of Mr. Smith to Miss Mellicent. She concluded that this was the reason why Mr. Smith himself was so silent.

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Miss Maggie was shocked and distressed. She was also very much puzzled. She had supposed that Mr. Smith understood that Mellicent and young Gray cared for each other, and she had thought that Mr. Smith even approved of the affair between them. Now to push himself on the scene in this absurd fashion and try "to cut everybody out," as it was vulgarly termed—she never would have believed it of Mr. Smith in the world. And she was disappointed, too. She liked Mr. Smith very much. She had considered him to be a man of good sense and good judgment. And had he not himself said, not so long ago, that he believed lovers should be of the same age, tastes, and habits? And yet, here now he was—

And there could be no mistake about it. Everybody was saying the same thing. The Martin girls brought it home as current gossip. Jane was highly exercised over it, and even Harriet had exclaimed over the "shameful flirtation Mellicent was carrying on with that man old enough to be her father!" No, there was no mistake. Besides, did she not see with her own eyes that Mr. Smith was gone every day and evening, and that, when he was at home at meal-time, he was silent and preoccupied, and not like himself at all?

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And it was such a pity—she had thought so much of Mr. Smith! It really made her feel quite ill.

And Miss Maggie looked ill on the last evening of that holiday week when, at nine o'clock, Mr. Smith found her sitting idle-handed before the stove in the living-room.

"Why, Miss Maggie, what's the matter with you?" cried the man, in very evident concern. "You don't look like yourself to-night!"

Miss Maggie pulled herself up hastily.

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"Nonsense! I—I'm perfectly well. I'm just—tired, I guess. You're home early, Mr. Smith." In spite of herself Miss Maggie's voice carried a tinge of something not quite pleasant.

Mr. Smith, however, did not appear to notice it.

"Yes, I'm home early for once, thank Heaven!" he half groaned, as he dropped himself into a chair.