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The Indifference of Juliet

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I.—An Audacious Proposition

Anthony Robeson glanced about him in a satisfied way at the shaded nook under the low-hanging boughs into which he had guided the boat. Then he drew in his oars and let the little craft drift.

“This is an ideal spot,” said he, looking into his friend’s face, “in which to tell you a rather interesting piece of news.”

“Oh, fine!” cried his friend, settling herself among the cushions in the stern and tilting back her parasol so that the light through its white expanse framed her health-tinted face in a sort of glory. “Tell me at once. I suspected you came with something on your mind. There couldn’t be a lovelier place on the river than this for confidences. But I can guess yours. Tony, you’ve found ‘her’!”

“And you’ll be my friend just the same?” questioned Anthony anxiously. “My chum—my confidante?”

“Oh, well, Tony, that’s absurd,” declared Juliet Marcy severely. “As if she would allow it!”

“She’s three thousand miles away.”

“I’m ashamed of you!”

“Just in the interval, then,” pleaded Anthony. “I need you now worse than ever. For I’ve a tremendous responsibility on my hands. The—the—you know—is to come off in September, and this is June—and I’ve a house to furnish. Will you help me do it, Juliet?”

“Anthony Robeson!” she said explosively under her breath, with a laugh. Then she sat up and leaned forward with a commanding gesture. “Tell me all about it. What is her name and who is she? Where did you meet her? Are you very much——”

“Would I marry a girl if I were not ‘very much’?” demanded Anthony. “Well—I’ll tell you—since you insist on these non-essentials before you really come down to business. Her name is Eleanor Langham, and she lives in San Francisco. Her family is old, aristocratic, wealthy—yet she condescends to me.”

He looked up keenly into her eyes, and her brown lashes fell for an instant before something in his glance, but she said quickly: “Go on.”

“When the—affair—is over I want to bring my bride straight home,” Anthony proceeded, with a tinge of colour in his smooth, clear cheek. “I shall have no vacation to speak of at that time of year, and no time to spend in furnishing a house. Yet I want it all ready for her. So you see I need a friend. I shall have two weeks to spare in July, and if you would help me—”

“But, Tony,” she interrupted, “how could I? If—if we were seen shopping together——”

“No, we couldn’t go shopping together in New York without being liable to run into a wondering crowd of friends, of course—not in the places where you would want to go. But here you are only a couple of hours from Boston; you will be here all summer; you and Mrs. Dingley and I could run into Boston for a day at a time without anybody’s being the wiser. I know—that is—I’m confident Mrs. Dingley would do it for me——”

“Oh, of course. Did Auntie ever deny you anything since the days when she used to give you jam as often as you came across to play with me?”


“Have you her photograph?” inquired Miss Marcy with an emphasis which left no possible doubt as to whose photograph she meant....