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Her Rustic Lover

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Dinner was over, and all the dishes cleared away ; and the thrif ty f armer' s wife liadsat down to liersewing. with a pair of silver spectacles perched on her Román nose. Fanny Clifford sat opposite- a trim, pretty damsel, witli a sweet, sunburnt face, and great gray eyes, with blue-black flashes coming and going in their irises. "So Miles has really gone?" said Fanny, after a moment's silence; and there was a little quiver in her voice tliat the motherfully comprehended. "Yes," said Mrs. Perry, stitching diligently away at the unbleached cotton shirt she was making for her husband, and pretending not to see the liush on Fanny's cheek, 'he has gone; and a great fooi he is, in my humble opinión." "Oh, Mrs. Perry !" deprecated Fanny. " VVell, what else is it?" asked Mrs. Perry, looking in au owlish fashion through the round lenses of her spectacles. "Here he is, with as nice a farm as there is in the country, and him the only son, and yet he's possessed to go to the city and clerk it, just because he thinks it a little genteeler than to plow and sow and reap, and his father and gran'ther before him, and-" she hesitated a little here- "because he fancies Antonia Archer will be pleased. 'Tve no patience with him ; and I wish she had rever come down to the Morrises, turning the heads of the girls with her city airs and flirnmirfni Si -fHrttng wrcn every young man she could entice into her toils." "She is very attractive," said poor Fanny. "Yes, to them as likes gilding better than true gold, and is cauglit by red cheeks and dashiag ways. Well" - after a minute's pause, during whicli she stabbed her needie vindictively into the unoffending cloth - " there's some as can learn by experience only, uul our Miles is cme of the sort. He'll )e back, I expect, when he's found out ie isn't the only poor moth whose vings liave been scorched in the llames of a coquette's wicked eyes." 'Oh, Mis. Ferry, Miss Archer never would refuse Miles?" cned Fanny breathlessly. "If I thought she wouldn't I should ive up," said Mrs. Terry, energeticaly. "To think of this kitchen, as I've cleaned myself every Saturday mornng, and kept as sweet and fresh as a rose, being left to a miserable hired giil, while my lady idles in the jest room! I do believe it would drive me crazy. "But you're not going, Fanny ? Stay to tea, there's a dear, and 111 mix a pan of light biscuit, and gather some o' them strawberries as would make a fit supper f or a princess. Stay, Fanny ; it's a sort o' company to have you here." And Fanny Clifford stays- her poor, sore heart somewhat relieved by the sympathy, unspoken, yet expressed, of Miles l'erry's mother. The June sunset, f ading in such tender tints of rose and opal and gold over the old farm, was f uil of glow and sultriness in London. The season was dull. It was a Saturday afternoon, and the Messrs. Scratch and Staylace, after getting all they could out of their muchenduring clerks, had at last reluctantly closed their store and put up their wooden shutters. And Miles Perry. tired and weary, had at last the opportunity to hurry home to his garret-room in a thirdrate liouse. But to night he wculd cali on Miss Archer; and with eager restlessness lie tried on collar after collar, and iinally ad j usted a scarlet silk necktie, for which he paid the, to him, extravagant sum of five shillings. securing it with a gaudy pin, borrowed. f rom one of his companions at Messrs. Scratch & Staylace's, and brushed diligently away until every speek of dust was removed from his coat and trowsers, pausing at last to give his boots an extra "shine." "I don't suppose," he said to himself when, all these preliminaries comlileted, lie took a farewell survey of himself in the glass, "that any one would know me for a country l'ellow ow." And, to complete the illusion, our young aspirant lighted a cigar, aml made himaelf uncomfortable with it is lie walked along the streets now brigbt with the Kleum of many gaslights. Miss Antonia Archer lived in an aristocratie and pretentious locality, with a good deal of polished glass and plated door hinges, and at No. street. Mr. Miles Perry presented hiinself, with a blushing countenance and throbbing heart. The servant, a young damsel in blue ribbons and a smart alpaca dress looked at our hero as if she rottier suspected that he had mistaken this for the servant's bell. "She's at home," she admitted,ral,her grudgingly. "Can't you leave your errand willi me, young man?" "I wish to see Miss Archer," Miles said, loftily ; and the maid showed him into the library, an apartment divided from the drawing-room by a drapery of blue silk curtains hung botween Hut cd pillara of variegated marble, and there left him. Through a disarranged fold in the silk, Miles Perry could eatch a glimpse of the splendors of the two rooms beyond. The middle one was tenanted only by the grand piano and half a dozen blue silk chairs. 13ut in the front apartment, where Axminster carpets and bulil and gilding glittered under a full-lighted chandelier, sat the fair Antonia, in a dress of lemon-colored crape, trimmed with rich black lace, and topaz ornamenta swinging like miniature suns from her ears. And close beside her on the sofa sat a bald, elderly gentleman, with diamond studs ilashing in bis Unen, and a doublé chin. Miles could see the blue-ribboned lass advance to her mistress, and deliver some message. The bald-headed gentleman rose, and took a gold-knobbed cane from the corner, as if to depart. "If you liave other cornpany, he gan, ratlier testily. But Antonia laid her little white hand caressingly on his sleeve. i "Don't go," she cooed. "Dear t las, whose cornpany could I prefer to your's ? It's only that country boy I : told you about yesterday, you know." í "The one who had the audacity to i f all in love with you out in the wilderness'iï' chuckled the old gentleman. "Exactly. To think oí his haring ] followed me here! But these rustics ' have neither sense nor discrimination." ■ "I'll go and send him away," said i Mr. Xicholas Goodbeater, promptly. But when he got to the library it was empty. Miles Perry had not waited for a more formal dismissal. He walked homeward, feeling as if I a fountain of flery indignation were buming in his heart. So the fair Antonia Archer, for whose sake he had offended his father, grievedhis mother, and pro ved tacitly false to poor Fanny ClifTord, who taught the district school, had forgbtten him already, save as a theme of mirth bet ween herself and her elderly lover. Well, it served him right. He might have expected it. When he reached his garret a crumpled note lay thrust half way under the door. He read it by the sickly gaslight in the hall. 'Messrs. Scratch & Staylace's compliments, and thpy regret that they have no further occasion for the valuable services of Mr. M. Perry." Miles sat down, resting his aching head upon his hands. The garret roof, on which the sun had beat relentlessly all day, was like a reservoir of dull heat. The sickly sniells from the hall below brooded like a vapor in the unventilated apartment, and the one narrow window, as it was opened, admitted onlv the nn."""" "■ ul il neigHDÖflng factory. Miles thought of the dewy clover iields at home, over which the moon was just now beginning to rise. "If mother was only here to put some camphor on my head," he thought. "I wonder if I am going to be sick." The garden path was carpeted with layers of fallen foliage, brown and yellow and jewel-red. And Miles Perry, sitting up in the great calico-covered easy chair, by a crackling lire of logs, was eating a bowl of gruel that Fanny Clift'ord's brown fingers had prepared. "It's a long time l've been sick, Fanny, eb V" "A long time, Miles. There is your mother coming up the garden. I must go now." "But, Fanny!" "Yes. Miles," "Don't tie on your hood just now, Fanny. I want to teil you something. I want to ask you to marry me, Fanny. I know l've behaved like a brute, but I think l've had a sufficient lesson now. One thing I am certain of ; I never should have recovered from this f ever without your care and kindness. Won't you be my wif e, Fanny 'i And when Mrs. Perry carne in, bring ing the scent of wild grapes and autumn leaves with her, she knew at a glance what had happened. "Mother!" whispered Fanny, in a soft, appealing tone ; and Mrs. Perry elasped her in her arms. 'l'm so glad," said Mrs. Perry. "So am I, mother," said Miles contentedly. And Antonia Archer was f orgotlen.


Old News
Michigan Argus