The Enchanted Barn (Chapter VI, page 1 of 7)


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Shirley sat with shining eyes and glowing cheeks, turning over the leaves of the magazines with trembling fingers, but unable to read anything, for the joy of what was before her. A real automobile ride! The first she had ever had! And it was to include George and Carol! How wonderful! And how kind in him, how thoughtful, to take his own sister, and hers, and so make the trip perfectly conventional and proper! What a nice face he had! What fine eyes! He didn't seem in the least like the young society man she knew he must be from the frequent mention she had noticed of his name in the papers. He was a real gentleman, a real nobleman! There were such. It was nice to know of them now and then, even though they did move in a different orbit from the one where she had been set. It gave her a happier feeling about the universe just to have seen how nice a man could be to a poor little nobody when he didn't have to. For of course it couldn't be anything to him to rent that barn--at ten dollars a month! That was ridiculous! Could it be that he was thinking her an object of charity? That he felt sorry for her and made the price merely nominal? She couldn't have that. It wasn't right nor honest, and--it wasn't respectable! That was the way unprincipled men did when they wanted to humor foolish little dolls of girls. Could it be that he thought of her in any such way?

Her cheeks flamed hotly and her eyes flashed. She sat up very straight indeed, and began to tremble. How was it she had not thought of such a thing before? Her mother had warned her to be careful about having anything to do with strange men, except in the most distant business way; and here had she been telling him frankly all the private affairs of the family and letting him make plans for her. How had it happened? What must he think of her? This came of trying to keep a secret from mother. She might have known it was wrong, and yet the case was so desperate and mother so likely to worry about any new and unconventional suggestion. It had seemed right. But of course it wasn't right for her to fall in that way and allow him to take them all in his car. She must put a stop to it somehow. She must go in the trolley if she went at all. She wasn't sure but she had better call the whole thing off and tell him they couldn't live in a barn, that she had changed her mind. It would be so dreadful if he had taken her for one of those girls who wanted to attract the attention of a young man!

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