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" That is all, this afternoou, I thiuk," said young Mrs. Gray, looking over the bundies in he. market-baskct, as sho stood before tlie counter of the villago store. "Lot me see - sngar, coffoe, tea, starcli, soda, cream of tartar, raisins, ápices, and a can of fresh lobsters. The tsro bags of flour you will send, I sup pose ?" "Yes'm," said tlio shopman, aftera second's hesitation, which Mrs. Gray did not notice. " I would like them by seven in the evening, if convenient. " The clcrk bowed. Mrs. Gray lifted her basket from the counter. " As for these things," said she, with a merry laugh, to which tne elerk did not respond, even by a smile, "I am not such a fine lady that I cnuuot carry them home myself. You will charge tliem, if you please. Good af ternoon. " " Good af ternoon nja'am," replied the cierk. He was a teil, middlo-aged, somewhat stiff-maimered man. Sometliing seemed to be on bis mind, which he knew not how to express. And before Mrs. Gray had crossod the threshold of the store, he had passed ! down to the desk at tho lower end of the building, and laid a memorandum of the things jnst sold to her before hi.s maeter, who sat thero, pouring over a groat account book. " Mrs. Gray, sir," said the elerk, "yon told me to let you know about her next order, sir. There it is. She said ' charge it,' as usual, and I didn't know what to do, as you gave no directions." The merohant looked over the order with a slight frown. Thon ho turned over a faw leavesin tho book bofore him, and glanced down the two opposite pages at which he paused. " Make out her bill, and send it in this ovening, with compliment, and request :i npe.cdy settlement, " said he. "S.ay that I have heavy bilis to meet next week, and would feel obliged by the iramediate HH-eipt of the money." ' ' Thero are two bags of flour also ordered, sir. One of Graham - one of superfine. Shall I send thoso down to-day?" " Were they ordcrod for to-day?" "Yes, sir." " Then send them, aud tho bill with them. Or, stay, Mr. Kichards, let the porter take tho flour at once, and do you delivci' tho bill this ovening as you go home to supper. Perhaps sho may bo able to pay it at once. Iï so, you can reccipt the bill. The middle-aged clerk went back to his placo, not much relishing the taak that lay bef ore kim. To draw oft' tiw, bill was nothing - to present it was mueh, since. as he fully believed, pretty Mrs. Gray would not have the inoney on hand with which to pay it. " Aiid then she will look scared and grieved, for I don't think she has any idea how thosc things are mounting up here, day by day," thought the clerk. " And I loiow sho has not much to depend upon, except her house and garden, and that pension money that came to her aftor her liusband's death. To be suro, ibe is rather extravagant, but then ehe is very pretty, and she iikes to look nice- and she does look nice, too, in the things she buys of us ! I feit sorry all the time sho was filling that basket to-day - though it wasn't in my place to say anything. And I wish tho governor would send sorao other clerk on this errand - that I do. ïïowever, it must be done ! I fancy I see Ms face, if I should ask to be exensed from dunning poor littlo Mrs. Gray, because I feit sorry for her, as a soldier's widow, and because she is the prettiest woman in town. I should get my walking papers to a ccrtainfcy, and do her 110 good Oither, poor soul !" Meanwhile, Mrs. Gray, utterly uuaware of the storm-cloud gathcring in her sky, tripped out of the store, and was joiued, bef ore she descended the steps, by Ikücousin, Miss Boxy SandOTSpn. a tall, gaunt aud singulariy ])Liin spinster of fivtvnnd-fiftA-, who B8Q been buying a skein of linen thi-ead at the other ter, tnjd who therefore had bceu a witnss of this little sceriê Groei in;,' r :■■!; t.l;.:r ulier a reír friendly fashion, tho two ladies walked doji tiio st.rcct toward lis. Gray's j ta;,'iï, wliieh stooá in a protty garden at ' tho extreme ond of tlu; village. When they reaehed the Iiotish, tho chaj-ming littlo widow aaked her co to g ) in and tojce a cup of tea with Uit. "I-will," said Mi.H Roxy, soltmnly. " The fóct is Ellen, I want to say sometbing apecial to you, and this is as gooi a time u any." " Como in, theii, and getit off y out miad," saidMrs. Gray, laughing. "But lot me got tho tea on the tftbïe first - there's n good soul." A bíisfe littlo iire buBled in the grato uf the cottage kitchen, whieh WdB one of tho neatest, brightost, coziost piucos ono could wish to see. Tho tea tabla rendy in a moment, the fea wis steeped, the cold broad, cold ham, fresh butter and cranberry pre Barres were quiokly in their placo. Toen the widow placed a plato of ïich-looking oake on oue sido of the tablo, and opening tho eau whieh she had brought froni the store, shè fllled a gluss dish with tho presorvod lobster, and set it down opposite the cake, with a look of pleasont trinmph in hor deep blue oyes. " Th ere, Oousiu Roxy!" she oxolaimed. " If you do not say that this is a Dice sapper, I shall never invite you bere agnin. . . " Very nice, Ellen, vcry mee, imteea I quoth the spinster, taking her appointed chair. " If it was onlyall paid for," she thought, eyejng the dainties with a serious face. " But there- I know what I ban ño to help her, for once in a way, if she is in a fix." And so Miss Roxy ate and drank and praised the vianda jfcül the hospitableheart of the fair widow glowed withiii her with delágtt. "Itisso pleasantto have, some littlo nice thing like this, and thon share it with a friend," said she as they left tho tea table. "I often wish I was rich, Oousiu Roxy- I should liko to entertain j peoplo all the time, and get nice meals roady for them to eat. " Oousin Roxy was silent. She was wondering how, without seeming ungracious af ter tho welcome and treatment she had recoived, she could introduce the subject that was lying heavy at her heavt. Just then tho gate-latch clicked. Mjs. Gray looked out. " Why, nero is Mr. Richards f rom the store!" she exclaimed. " Surely he is not-bringing that flour all the way himself. But I don't seo the porter. Do you, Cousin Roxy i" Miss Sandersou shook her head. _ "It íb coming upon her now without a moment's warning, " sho thought. ' ' I'm j glad I am here, for Ellen is no more iit to meet trouble alono than a baby six months old would bc." " Good evening, Mrs. Gray," said the voice at the open door, where tho young widow was now standing. " Mr. Morton requeated mo to hand, you tkis bill, and say that, as the account has been ,mniñg a long time, he would be greatly obligcd if you could settle it at once. He has some heavy bilis of his own to meet next week, or he would not trouble JOOL." " Oh, it is no trouble at all, Mr. Richards," said Mrs. Gray, flushing a little as she took the paper. "If you will walk in, I havo some money in the house, and I will pay it now." She flshered the middle-aged bachelor (who seemed strangely agitated and nervous) iato the sitting-room, and oponed the folded paper to glance at the amount. "Twouly .: l!.ti'.;," said slio qnickly, "I will get Iho bill for you." SI ie had just that amount in her pocketbook. It was all that she had to dopend upon till the next payment of her pension, and three months must elapso befare that remittance would aiaive. Yet she would not seem to hesitate. Since the merchant had asked for his money, he shonld have it at any inconvenience to herself. She turned to leave the room. "I I I beg your pardon, Mrs. Gray I" stammered Mr. Richards, turning very red. " I think you read tho figures wrongly at tho foot of the column. It is not t wenty dollars that is duo, but twohundred." " Two hundrod dollars f" She glanced at the sum total again, the bright color f ading f rom her cheeks and loaving an awful grayness and pallor in its stoad. Yes, there werc the horrible figures staring her in tho face. Two huudrod dollars! Hnd she been mad? Every penny of her pension monoy must bo taken to satisfy this claim'! And Mr. Morton wanted his money at once- this vcry evening, perhaps - and it was out of her powor to give it to him for three long months to come. What would they do to her ? Soll her house ? Put her in jail ? " I havo not so much monoy as that in tho house," she began, looking up at the clerk with a wild and harrassed glance. And then the ringing in her ears and beating at hor hoart increascd, the room turned black before her eyos, and the next thing she was conscioiis of was that she was supported ly Mr. Richards' arms, with his anxious face looking down helpleasly at her, while Cousin Roxy, scolding vigorously, was Bprin kling her temples with camphor and dir(;cting him to lay her on the sofa as carefully as he could. " And thon go ; don't let her see you when she comes olear to," she heard tlio spinster say. " And John Richards, do yon keep a Etül tongue about tms misiness, if you have the heart of a man." 'Til never breathe a word," au carnest voice replied. "But may I cali late in tlio cveuing, just to see it' she is botter ?" " Come at nine, and I'll speak to you tlirough the door," said lloxy, iu a whisper. "And as for your bilí, I'll see tliat it is iill right." " It isn't tho bilí - it'sher," replied the agitated voico. And then the door closed, and Cousin Boxy took the slender little figure up in her sti ong arma and went back into tlio coszy kitehen, whero, in the familiar glow and comfort of the firc, the scattered senses of the widow soon carne back. , "Oh, Boxy, what shall Ido?" she said, weeping, after she had related to her cousiu the stoiy of the bilí. I had no idea I owed muoh over twenty dolíais there. ïwo lmndred ! Just faney ! Oh, how eould I have been so foolish as to get things charged ! If I once gr.t out of this scrape, I'll never buy another thing in my life unless 1 have tlio money in my hand to pay for it. " "l)o you ívally mean tliat?" asked MÍ85I Boxy, bending over the lire. "Indeed I do. I never siift'cred like this in my life bei'ore, and if I starVe, I'll do without thing nnlesa I con pay for tliem in future, rothcr thau Buffer liko this again ! What must Mr. Richards tlünk of mcV' sJie Kided, color deepeuing. "It seexns t rao as iL thad been stealing. Perhapa he thinií just S the same." "Humph!" said Jilias Koxy, lifting her head and looking keenly at the blushÍOg litllo beauty. " Well," said she, after a paive, "just let John Biohards alone and listen to me. I'vc been feeling concerned about you for some time past, Ellen. I was afraid you were spendiug a greit deal more tlian you knew about by getting things charged Jhavo tríod that niysolf. It was migbty pleasant nuil raighty to step uto the store, and tako auything I wantoil, and put olV thc paymeat to a more convenient day. Rut, olí, my ! when tho settlement carao ! " 8he held np both hands and shuddered. " Wliat was it? Wliat happened to yon?" asked Mrs. Gray, deepty intereated. "Wall, you seo I waan't pretty, to begin with," said the spinster with a knowing glauco, "and there was no one to say a gogd word í'or me, or to feel sorry if I was sold up on the spot. It was down in Massaehusetts, and the store-koepor ] wns a cmsty oíd fellow - more like Mr. Morton than John Biabarás, by a Iong way. Bíyshe: "Wliat did yon get the oooda for if you liad nothing to pay for them with ? I liave to mako my Hving out of my store," saya lio ; " and I may pretty soon shut up hop and turn bankrupt, if I am to bu kept waiting for the money like this," saya ne. "I thought 1 abould have druppad, Ellen, I fialt bó small and so mean whik) ho was abusing toe. And evory word he said was right and true - that was the worst of all ! " "And what did you do, Roxy? " " I did something that I have ne.Yr got over from that day to fchis," said tho spinster, swallowing hard, and wiping a toar away from her oyes. "I had a (iamond ring that my poor mofcher gave me on her death-bed. I had to pawu it to pay tliat hateful debt. 1 tried my best to redeem it, but sickness and trouble of every kind catae upon me that year. At I last I saved the money and went aft er tho ring. I went on tho'cvcning of the day that my pawn-ticket expired. I forgot that I had borrowed the money on tho forenoon of the other day. So the time was up- legally. They said the ring had been sold that very day to a ptruiger. ! I did not believe them. But what could I do? I went homo crying all the way, and from that moment I have never j bought anything uuless I could pay tho cash down' for it. When I had not tho monay I wout without. And that is why I carne here to lecture you to-day, Ellen. I was afraiÖ you was going on the samo i road, and I meant to stop you in time if I could." " It is too lato," said Mrs. Gray, sadly. "And I havo no diamond-ring to eavo me, Roxy." " You have me," said Miss Roxy. Mrs. Gray burst into tears. " There, chüd, there - don't you cry !" said the old maid, patting the bowod head kindly. ' ' I havo some monoy in the bank, and I'll lefid you tho two hundred dollars if you'll gisc me your word of honor no ver to have anything charged again." ' ' I never will, " said Mrs. Gray, kissing her gratefully. " But, Roxy, how am I to pay you back?" " You eau give me ono liundrod dollars out of the pension money tiiis ycar, and let the rest lio at interest for another year, if you like." "Oh, how good ycu are? Are you sure you can spare it? " " Of course I can. But there is nino o'elockstrikiiJg, and Uxcro is John i ards knocking at tiie front door. Will i you go? Orshalli?" "Oh, lot me go," said the young widow, blushing again as she tastily arrangcd her hair beforo the glaes and wiped tho traces of toars from her oyes, "I want to teil him that I can pay the monoy at once - thanks to you, you doax, kind old soul ! " 'She went. Mr. Richards was again ushered into, the sitting-room, aud the door was closed. Miss Roxy sat musing over the fire, her head leaning ón her clasped hands, aud took no noto of time. Bnddenly the clock struck ten. "Bless us aud save us! Is that man going to stay all night? " exclaimod Miss Roxy, aloud. A merry laugh nnswored her. Miss Roxy lookod up, aml ftearly feil ofl' her chair. Boforo her stood Mr. John Richards, his arm completijy encircling the pretty widow's waist, and his face lit np with au expression that made him (juito a himdsome man. " I'm coming woon, to stay nlwuys, I hope, Miss Roxy," said he, as he shook hands with her. "And yon will lind Mr. Richards as good and gratoful a friend of yours as Mrs. Gray has been," ho addcd, with a meaning smile. So the white cottage received a new master, and became once moro a happy home. But the "credit system" found no there. " Cash on dolivery" was the order oí tho day, and Mrs. Richards never knew again the brief but awful feeling of slmmo and degradation that pretty Mrs. Gray endured through "running up a bilí."


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Michigan Argus