Jhs

Jhs

"How old is she?"

"Why, let me see—forty-three, forty-four—yes, she's forty-five. She had her forty-third birthday here—I remember I gave her a handkerchief for a birthday present—when she was helping me take care of Mellicent through the pneumonia; and that was two years ago. She used to come here and to Jim's and Flora's days at a time; but she isn't quite so free as she was—Father Duff's worse now, and she don't like to leave him nights, much, so she can't come to us so often. See?"

"Yes, I—see." There was a queer something in Mr. Smith's voice. "And just what is the matter with Mr. Duff?"

"Matter!" Mrs. Jane Blaisdell gave a short laugh and shrugged her shoulders. "Everything's the matter—with Father Duff! Oh, it's nerves, mostly, the doctor says, and there are some other things—long names that I can't remember. But, as I said, everything's the matter with Father Duff. He's one of those men where there isn't anything quite right. Frank says he's got so he just objects to everything—on general principles. If it's blue, he says it ought to be black, you know. And, really, I don't know but Frank's right. How Maggie stands him I don't see; but she's devotion itself. Why, she even gave up her lover years ago, for him. She wouldn't leave her father, and, of course, nobody would think of taking HIM into the family, when he wasn't BORN into it, so the affair was broken off. I don't know, really, as Maggie cared much. Still, you can't tell. She never was one to carry her heart on her sleeve. Poor Maggie! I've always so wished I could do something for her!

"There, how I have run on! But, then, you asked, and you're interested,

I know, and that's what you're here for—to find out about the

Blaisdells."

"To—to—f-find out—" stammered Mr. Smith, grown suddenly very red.

"Yes, for your book, I mean."

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"Oh, yes—of course; for my book," agreed Mr. Smith, a bit hastily. He had the guilty air of a small boy who has almost been caught in a raid on the cooky jar.

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"And although poor Maggie isn't really a Blaisdell herself, she's nearly one; and they've got lots of Blaisdell records down there—among Mother Blaisdell's things, you know. You'll want to see those."

"Yes; yes, indeed. I'll want to see those, of course," declared Mr.

Smith, rising to his feet, preparatory to going to his own room.

It was some days later that Mr. Smith asked Benny one afternoon to show him the way to Miss Maggie Duff's home.

"Sure I will," agreed Benny with alacrity. "You don't ever have ter do any teasin' ter get me ter go ter Aunt Maggie's."

"You're fond of Aunt Maggie, then, I take it."