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"Miss Duff. My name is Duff."

"You don't mean—'Poor Maggie'!" (Not until the words were out did Mr. Smith realize quite how they would sound.) "Er—ah—that is—" He stumbled miserably, and she came to his rescue.

"Oh, yes, I'm—'Poor Maggie.'" There was an odd something in her expressive face that Mr. Smith could not fathom. He was groping for something—anything to say, when suddenly there was a sound behind them, and the little woman at his side sprang to her feet.

"Oh, Hattie, you came down!" she exclaimed as Mrs. James Blaisdell opened the screen door and stepped out on to the veranda. "Here's Mrs. Blaisdell now, Mr. Smith."

"Oh, it's only Mr. Smith!" With a look very like annoyance Mrs. Blaisdell advanced and held out her hand. She looked pale, and her hair hung a bit untidily about one ear below a somewhat twisted pyramid of puffs. Her dress, though manifestly an expensive one, showed haste in its fastenings. "Yes, I heard voices, and I thought some one had come—a caller. So I came down."

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"I'm glad—if you're better," smiled Miss Maggie. "Then I'll go, if you don't mind. Mr. Smith has come to ask you some questions, Hattie. Good-bye!" With another cheery smile and a nod to Mr. Smith, she disappeared into the house. A minute later Mr. Smith saw her hurrying down a side path to the street.

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"You called to ask some questions?" Mrs. Blaisdell sank languidly into a chair.

"About the Blaisdell family—yes. But perhaps another day, when you are feeling better, Mrs. Blaisdell."

"Oh, no." She smiled a little more cordially. "I can answer to-day as well as any time—though I'm not sure I can tell you very much, ever. I think it's fine you are making the book, though. Some way it gives a family such a standing, to be written up like that. Don't you think so? And the Blaisdells are really a very nice family—one of the oldest in Hillerton, though, of course, they haven't much money."

"I ought to find a good deal of material here, then, if they have lived here so long."

"Yes, I suppose so. Now, what can I tell you? Of course I can tell you about my own family. My husband is in the real estate business. You knew that, didn't you? Perhaps you see 'The Real Estate Journal.' His picture was in it a year ago last June. There was a write-up on Hillerton. I was in it, too, though there wasn't much about me. But I've got other clippings with more, if you'd like to see them—where I've poured, and been hostess, and all that, you know."

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Mr. Smith took out his notebook and pencil.

"Let me see, Mrs. Blaisdell, your husband's father's name was Rufus, I believe. What was his mother's maiden name, please?"

"His mother's maiden name? Oh, 'Elizabeth.' Our little girl is named for her—Bessie, you know—you saw her last night. Jim wanted to, so I let him. It's a pretty name—Elizabeth—still, it sounds a little old-fashioned now, don't you think? Of course we are anxious to have everything just right for our daughter. A young lady soon coming out, so,—you can't be too particular. That's one reason why I wanted to get over here—on the West Side, I mean. Everybody who is anybody lives on the West Side in Hillerton. You'll soon find that out."

"No doubt, no doubt! And your mother Blaisdell's surname?" Mr. Smith's pencil was poised over the open notebook.

"Surname? Mother Blaisdell's? Oh, before she was married. I see. But, dear me, I don't know. I suppose Jim will, or Flora, or maybe Frank—though I don't believe HE will, unless her folks kept groceries. Did you ever see anybody that didn't know anything but groceries like Frank Blaisdell?" The lady sighed and shrugged her somewhat heavy shoulders with an expressive glance.

Mr. Smith smiled understandingly.

"Oh, well, it's good—to be interested in one's business, you know."

"But such a business!" murmured the lady, with another shrug.