The Enchanted Barn (Chapter III, page 1 of 8)


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"I'm sure I don't know what you will think of my asking," said Shirley excitedly, "but I want very much to know whether there is any possibility that you would rent a beautiful big stone barn you own out on the old Glenside Road, near Allister Avenue. You do own it, don't you? I was told you did, or at least that Mr. Walter Graham did. They said it belonged to 'the estate.'"

"Well, now you've got one on me," said the young man with a most engaging smile. "I'm sure I don't know whether I own it or not. I'm sorry. But if it belongs to grandfather's estate,--his name was Walter, too, you know.--why, I suppose I do own part of it. I'm sorry father isn't here. He of course knows all about it--or the attorney--of course he would know. But I think he has left the office. However, that doesn't matter. What was it you wanted? To rent it, you say?"

"Yes," said Shirley, feeling very small and very much an impostor; "that is, if I could afford it. I suppose perhaps it will be way ahead of my means, but I thought it wouldn't do any harm to ask." Her shy eyes were almost filled with tears, and the young man was deeply distressed.

"Not at all, not at all," he hastened to say. "I'm just stupid that I don't know about it. Where did you say it was? Out on the Glenside Road? A barn? Come to think of it, I remember one of my uncles lived out that way once, and I know there is a lot of land somewhere out there belonging to the estate. You say there is a barn on it?"

"Yes, a beautiful barn," said Shirley anxiously, her eyes dreamy and her cheeks like two glowing roses. "It is stone, and has a wide grassy road like a great staircase leading up to it, and a tall tree over it. There is a brook just below,--it is high up from the road on a little grassy hill."

"Oh, yes, yes," he said, nodding eagerly, "I see! It almost seems as if I remember. And you wanted to rent it for the summer, you say? You are--ah--in the agricultural business, I suppose?" He looked at her respectfully. He knew the new woman, and honored her. He did not seem at all startled that she wanted to rent a barn for the summer.

But Shirley did not in the least understand. She looked at him bewildered a moment.

"Oh, no! I am only a stenographer myself--but my mother--that is----" she paused in confusion.

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