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"Did you see that Gaylord girl?" Miss Maggie was galvanized into sudden life. "He's perfectly bewitched with her. And she—that ridiculous dress—and for a young girl! Oh, I wish Hattie would let those people alone!"

"Oh, well, he'll be off to college next week," soothed Mr. Smith.

"Yes, but whom with? Her brother!—and he's worse than she is, if anything. Why, he was drunk to-night, actually drunk, when he came! I don't want Fred with him. I don't want Fred with any of them."

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"No, I don't like their looks myself very well, but—I fancy young

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Blaisdell has a pretty level head on him. His father says—"

"His father worships him," interrupted Miss Maggie. "He worships all those children. But into Fred—into Fred he's pouring his whole lost youth. You don't know. You don't understand, of course, Mr. Smith. You haven't known him all the way, as I have." Miss Maggie's voice shook with suppressed feeling. "Jim was always the dreamer. He fairly lived in his books. They were food and drink to him. He planned for college, of course. From boyhood he was going to write—great plays, great poems, great novels. He was always scribbling—something. I think he even tried to sell his things, in his 'teens; but of course nothing came of that—but rejection slips.

"At nineteen he entered college. He was going to work his way. Of course, we couldn't send him. But he was too frail. He couldn't stand the double task, and he broke down completely. We sent him into the country to recuperate, and there he met Hattie Snow, fell head over heels in love with her blue eyes and golden hair, and married her on the spot. Of course, there was nothing to do then but to go to work, and Mr. Hammond took him into his real estate and insurance office. He's been there ever since, plodding plodding, plodding."

"By George!" murmured Mr. Smith sympathetically.

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"You can imagine there wasn't much time left for books. I think, when he first went there, he thought he was still going to write the great poem, the great play the great novel, that was to bring him fame and money. But he soon learned better. Hattie had little patience with his scribbling, and had less with the constant necessity of scrimping and economizing. She was always ambitious to get ahead and be somebody, and, of course, as the babies came and the expenses increased, the demand for more money became more and more insistent. But Jim, poor Jim! He never was a money-maker. He worked, and worked hard, and then he got a job for evenings and worked harder. But I don't believe he ever quite caught up. That's why I was so glad when this money came—for Jim. And now, don't you see? he's thrown his whole lost youth into Fred. And Fred—"

"Fred is going to make good. You see if he doesn't!"

"I hope he will. But—I wish those Gaylords had been at the bottom of the Red Sea before they ever came to Hillerton," she fumed with sudden vehemence as she entered her own gate.

It was certainly a gay one—that holiday week. Beginning with the James Blaisdells' housewarming it was one continuous round of dances, dinners, sleigh-rides and skating parties for Hillerton's young people particularly for the Blaisdells, the Pennocks, and the Gaylords.

Mr. Smith, at Miss Maggie's, saw comparatively little of it all, though he had almost daily reports from Benny, Mellicent, or Miss Flora, who came often to Miss Maggie's for a little chat. It was from Miss Flora that he learned the outcome of Mellicent's present to her mother. The week was past, and Miss Flora had come down to Miss Maggie's for a little visit.

Mr. Smith still worked at the table in the corner of the living-room, though the Duff-Blaisdell records were all long ago copied. He was at work now sorting and tabulating other Blaisdell records. Mr. Smith seemed to find no end to the work that had to be done on his Blaisdell book.

As Miss Flora entered the room she greeted Mr. Smith cordially, and dropped into a chair.

"Well, they've gone at last," she panted, handing her furs to Miss Maggie; "so I thought I'd come down and talk things over. No, don't go, Mr. Smith," she begged, as he made a move toward departure. "I hain't come; to say nothin' private; besides, you're one of the family, anyhow. Keep right on with your work; please."

Thus entreated, Mr. Smith went back to his table, and Miss Flora settled herself more comfortably in Miss Maggie's easiest chair.

"So they're all gone," said Miss Maggie cheerily.

"Yes; an' it's time they did, to my way of thinkin'. Mercy me, what a week it has been! They hain't been still a minute, not one of 'em, except for a few hours' sleep—toward mornin'."