The Enchanted Barn (Chapter V, page 1 of 9)


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As the morning passed on and it drew near to the noon hour Sidney Graham found himself almost excited over the prospect of the girl's coming. Such foolish fancies as a fear lest she might have given up the idea and would not come at all presented themselves to his distraught brain, which refused to go on its well-ordered way, but kept reverting to the expected caller and what he should say to her. When at last she was announced, he drew back his chair from the desk, and prepared to meet her with a strange tremor in his whole bearing. It annoyed him, and brought almost a frown of sternness to his fine features. It seemed not quite in keeping with his dignity as junior member of his father's firm that he should be so childish over a simple matter like this, and he began to doubt whether, after all, he might not be doing a most unwise and irregular thing in having anything at all to do with this girl's preposterous proposition. Then Shirley entered the office, looked eagerly into his eyes; and he straight-way forgot all his reasoning. He met her with a smile that seemed to reassure her, for she drew in her breath half relieved, and smiled shyly back.

She was wearing a little old crêpe de chine waist that she had dyed a real apple-blossom pink in the wash-bowl with a bit of pink crepe-paper and a kettle of boiling water. The collar showed neatly over the shabby dark-blue coat, and seemed to reflect apple-blossom tints in her pale cheeks. There was something sky-like in the tint of her eyes that gave the young man a sense of spring fitness as he looked at her contentedly. He was conscious of gladness that she looked as good to him in the broad day as in the dusk of evening. There was still that spirited lift of her chin, that firm set of the sweet lips, that gave a conviction of strength and nerve. He reflected that he had seldom seen it in the girls of his acquaintance. Was it possible that poverty and privation and big responsibility made it, or was it just innate?

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