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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

Beaton made a show of not deigning to reply


"Oh,

you can sketch me," he said, with so much gloom that it made her laugh.

"If you think it's so serious, I'd rather not."

"No, no! Go ahead! How do you want me?"

"Oh, fling yourself down on a chair in one of your attitudes of studied negligence; and twist one corner of your mustache with affected absence of mind."

"And you think I'm always studied, always affected?"

"I didn't say so."

"I didn't ask you what you said."

"And I won't tell you what I think."

"Ah, I know what you think."

"What made you ask, then?" The girl laughed again with the satisfaction of her sex in cornering a man.

Beaton made a show of not deigning to reply, and put himself in the pose she suggested, frowning.

"Ah, that's it. But a little more animation--

"'As when a great thought strikes along the brain, And flushes all the cheek.'"

She put her forehead down on the back of her hand and laughed again. "You ought to be photographed. You look as if you were sitting for it."

Beaton said: "That's because I know I am being photographed,

in one way. I don't think you ought to call me affected. I never am so with you; I know it wouldn't be of any use."

"Oh, Mr. Beaton, you flatter."

"No, I never flatter you."

"I meant you flattered yourself."

"How?"

"Oh, I don't know. Imagine."

"I know what you mean. You think I can't be sincere with anybody."

"Oh no, I don't."

"What do you think?"

"That you can't--try." Alma gave another victorious laugh.

Miss Woodburn and Fulkerson would once have both feigned a great interest in Alma's sketching Beaton, and made it the subject of talk, in which they approached as nearly as possible the real interest of their lives. Now they frankly remained away in the dining-room, which was very cozy after the dinner had disappeared; the colonel sat with his lamp and paper in the gallery beyond; Mrs. Leighton was about her housekeeping affairs, in the content she always felt when Alma was with Beaton.

"They seem to be having a pretty good time in there," said Fulkerson, detaching himself from his own absolute good time as well as he could.


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