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His Proposal

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Mr. Scftheart had ,.ways Ice:) a romantic man, anrl hs v.-as BtML Mr. íofthea:f bad never desired to be a bachelor. Ke arfmired the other sex too inuch, but althongh he had been in love with four blonds, three brunettes and five young ladies who were neither one nor the other he had never been able to pop thí question point blank, bnt delieately iüsfnuated it in such a way th:t his m?Miing would have been a riildle to the sphinx, and was, naturally enough, never successful. Now, at 40, and growing extremely stout, he was as romantic as ever. Mr. Softheart was very well off and not ill looking. For six months Belinda Bellows had been waitiug for Mr. Softheart to propose and growing every day more certain that he positively intended to place his brownstone mansión and bank acconnt at her disposal. But, though Mrs. Bellows was kind enough to allow the eook to summon her to consultations when Mr. Softheart callee!, and so leave the pair tete-a-tete, and although Miss Angelina was equally considérate, and invariably remembered that something she wanted very particularly was up stairs wheii her mother went to speak to the cook, poor Mr. Softheart could never bring himself to the point of saying, "Will you have me?" "111 do it by letter, " he said to himself af ter long consideration. "Women, so far, have misunderstood me. I'll do it in black and ■ i te now. " i And so, on the .ast day of March, Mr. Sof theart wrote an offer of his hand and heart, enveloped, sealed it and put it in his pocket before he made his evening cali on his beloved Belinda. Now, it so happened that that very eveuing Belinda herself had come to a resolution. Her twenty-fifth birthday was approaching, and she could not afford "to waste time. " If Mr. Softheart meant anything, he should say it; if he did not, she would accept young Spooney. When Mr. Softheart rang the bell, he found the field quite clear at the Bellowses'. Miss Belinda had artfully contrived that it should be so. That perfidious young person had actually purchased tickets for a concert; requested young Spooney, who was half mad with joy at the idea, to accompany Angelina and herself and on the evening in question was smitten with a terrible attack of neuralgia; but, after all, Mr. Spooney should not have his trouble for nothiiig - mamma and Angelina would go. Ten minutes after the departure of the trio Miss Belinda, arrayed in bine silk, was playing at such a rate on the piano that it seemed quite certain that the demon neuralgia must have vanished. She did not even hearMr. Softheart 's ring and started in sweet confusión on his appearance. "I'm all alone," she said. "Mamma and Lina won't be home until 11 o'clock, "and the two talked together in very low voices, sitting very close to each other on twin chaire. Mr. Softheart looked and sighed and uttered romantic sentiments, but he did not pop the question. Miss Belinda did all that a modest young lady could to further this object, but in vain. She did not know - how should she? - that at the door Mr. Softheart had said to Biddy: "Look here, girl, put this in Miss Belinda's room, where she will be sure to see it, and I'll give you a quarter, " and had presented her with the billet containing his proposal, crowned by a silver 25 cent piece. If the man did not avail himself of such a chance after six months' courfcship, plain even to the servante in the kitchen, why, he meant nothing. And the uuhappy, unlucky Mr. Softheart did not utter the expected words and lef t at 10:45. "He's a contemptible thing, " said Miss Belinda. "I'll showhim my heart is not broken. I'll marry Spooney. " And Belinda wept, for she was bitterly mortified, and Spooney did not own a brownstone house. Belinda wept, as we have said, and went to bed in the dark. Of course she did not see the letter in the workbasket, and no one else saw it until the lst of April dawned. Now, in their normal condition, with no love affairs on the tapis, the Bellows were merry people, who iudulged in practical jokes, and April Fool's day was always religiously kept in the famUy. But this year the three particular Bellows with whom we have to deal were not prepared with any practical joke, hough each suspected the other. And when Angelina, sitting up in bed beside ler sister, saw the glittering white note n the workbasket she immediately made up her mind that it was a trick. She crept softly toward it and read :he inscription - ' 'Miss Belinda Belows" - and retiredto her pillow again. "What a flat trick!" she said to herself. "Why, Bell will guess at once unless she forgets that it is the lst of April." Then a thought struck her. She crept iptoe out of the room and down stairs o the kitchen, where Bridget, with a mutty face, was making the flre, takiug the letter with her. "Biddy," she said in a whisper, "come up stairs and awaken my sister and teil her Mr. Softheart brought this this morning. ' ' And Angelina tiptoed back to bed But Belinda was awake this time. "She ! is going to try to fooi me, I know, ' ' said she to herself, with her eyes shut and in a very cross mood, and awaited fhe denouement. Biddy meanwhile had recognized the letter. And up stairs she stumped and knocked at Belinda's door. "Misther Softheart bade me give ye this, mnrn," she swd. 'Til teach you to teil lies, " said ' ; :. "Yon hnow Miss Angelina gave it to yon. ' ' Biddy was confonnded. "He gave it to me last night, miss, as true as I hope to go to heaven, " she said. "Last niht?" said Angelina, with a warning glance, supposing Biddy to have forgotwaj her lesson. "I mane this morning, " said Biddy, taking the hint. "(?ive me the letter," said Belinda. Then, snatching it, she tore it deliberately into four pieces and threw them on the floor. That evening Spooney called to inquire after Miss Belinda's health and found her well enough to walk out with him, and Angelina and her mamma begau to compare notes. Then, and not till then, the letter began to be a mystery, and Biddy, being sent f or, explained that, to the best of her belief, Mr. Softheart gave it to her to put in Miss Belinda's room the night before. Then in dismay the ladies rummaged the dust bin and after an hour's search appeared in the parlar with dusty dresses and soiled hands and niue little pieces of paper. These, deftly pieccd together, made a whole note, which, being perused, revealed a proposition. Belinda returned very late with a very conscious look upon her face and stared in astonishment at the dusty objects, who met her with excitement on their countenances. It was a good while before the truth could be extracted from the interjections and ejaculations with which she was greeted, but when at last it was made manifest Belinda listened like one in a trance. She had indeed been made an April fooi of. Mr. Sof'theart had really proposed. The brownstone house had been offered to her, the bank stock and all that made the bachelor an eligible match, and she that very evening had accepted Spooney. It was not very complimentary to her betrothed, but she went into hysterics at once and kept them up for an hour or two. As for Mr. Softheart, he never 1 posea to any one


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