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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

And Harwood raged in his helplessness


The

young men found seats and Allen nursed his hat musingly. He had nothing whatever to do, and the chance meeting with Harwood was a bright incident in a bleak, eventless day.

"Oh, she's a nice child," replied Harwood indifferently. "But she finds childhood irksome. It gives her ladyship a feeling of importance to hold me here while she asks after the comfort of her mother. I suppose a girl is a woman when she has learned that she can tell a man to wait."

"You should write a book of aphorisms and call it 'The Young Lady's Own Handbook.' Perhaps I ought to be skipping."

"For Heaven's sake, don't! I want you as an excuse for getting away."

"I think I'd better go," suggested Allen. "I can wait for you in the office."

"Then I should pay the penalty for allowing you to escape; she can be very severe; she is a much harder taskmaster than her father. Don't desert me."

Allen took this at face value; and it seemed only ordinary courtesy to wait to say good-night to a young woman who was coming back in a moment to report upon the condition of a sick mother. In ten minutes Marian reappeared, having left her wraps behind.

"Mama is sleeping beautifully. And that's a sign that she's better."

Here clearly was an end of

the matter, and Dan had begun to say good-night; but with the prettiest grace possible Marian was addressing Allen:--

"I'm terribly hungry and I sent down an order for just the smallest supper. You see, I took it for granted that you would both be just as hungry as I am, so you must come and keep me company." And to anticipate the refusal that already glittered coldly in Dan's eye, she continued, "Mama doesn't like me to be going into the restaurant alone, but she approves of Mr. Harwood."

The head waiter was already leading them to a table set for three in accordance with the order Manan had telephoned from her room. She had eliminated the possibility of discussion, and Harwood raged in his helplessness. There was no time for a scene even if he had thought it wise to precipitate one.

"It's only a lobster, you know," she said, with the careless ease of a young woman quite habituated to midnight suppers.

Harwood's frown of annoyance had not escaped her; but it only served to add to her complete joy in the situation. There were other people about, and music proceeded from a screen of palms at the end of the dining-room. Having had her way, Marian nibbled celery and addressed herself rather pointedly to Allen, unmindful of the lingering traces of Harwood's discomfiture. By the time the lobster was served she was on capital terms with Allen.

In his own delight in Marian, Allen failed utterly to comprehend Harwood's gloomy silence. Dan scarcely touched his plate, and he knew that Marian was covertly laughing at him.

"Do you know," said Allen, speaking directly to Dan, "we're having great arguments at Lueders's; we turn the universe over every day."


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