The Enchanted Barn (Chapter V, page 2 of 6)


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Young Graham wore his most businesslike tone to say this, and his eyes were on the paper-knife wherewith he was mutilating his nice clean blotter pad on the desk.

"Oh!" breathed Shirley, the color almost leaving her face entirely with the relief of his words. "Oh, _really_?"

"And you haven't lost your nerve about living away out there in the country in a great empty barn?" he asked quickly to cover her embarrassment--and his own, too, perhaps.

"Oh, no!" said Shirley with a smile that showed a dimple in one cheek, and the star sparks in her eyes. "Oh, no! It is a lovely barn, and it won't be empty when we all get into it."

"Are there many of you?" he asked interestedly. Already the conversation was taking on a slightly personal tinge, but neither of them was at all aware of it.

"Two brothers and two sisters and mother," said the girl shyly. She was so full of delight over finding that she could rent the barn that she hardly knew what she was answering. She was unconscious of the fact that she had in a way taken this strange young man into her confidence by her shy, sweet tone and manner.

"Your mother approves of your plan?" he asked. "She doesn't object to the country?"

"Oh, I haven't told her yet," said Shirley. "I don't know that I shall; for she has been quite sick, and she trusts me entirely. She loves the country, and it will be wonderful to her to get out there. She might not like the idea of a barn beforehand; but she has never seen the barn, you know, and, besides, it won't look like a barn inside when I get it fixed up. I must talk it over with George and Carol, but I don't think I shall tell her at all till we take her out there and surprise her. I'll tell her I've found a place that I think she will like, and ask her if I may keep it a surprise. She'll be willing, and she'll be pleased, I know!" Her eyes were smiling happily, dreamily; the dreamer was uppermost in her face now, and made it lovely; then a sudden cloud came, and the strong look returned, with courage to meet a storm.

"But, anyhow," she finished after a pause, "we _have_ to go there for the summer, for we've nowhere else to go that we can afford; and _anywhere_ out of the city will be good, even if mother doesn't just choose it. I think perhaps it will be easier for her if she doesn't know about it until she's there. It won't seem so much like not going to live in a house."

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