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A Night In New Arabia
by [?]

Celia looked out of her window one day and gave her heart to the grocer’s young man. The receiver thereof was at that moment engaged in conceding immortality to his horse and calling down upon him the ultimate fate of the wicked; so he did not notice the transfer. A horse should stand still when you are lifting a crate of strictly new-laid eggs out of the wagon.

Young lady reader, you would have liked that grocer’s young man yourself. But you wouldn’t have given him your heart, because you are saving it for a riding-master, or a shoe-manufacturer with a torpid liver, or something quiet but rich in gray tweeds at Palm Beach. Oh, I know about it. So I am glad the grocer’s young man was for Celia, and not for you.

The grocer’s young man was slim and straight and as confident and easy in his movements as the man in the back of the magazines who wears the new frictionless roller suspenders. He wore a gray bicycle cap on the back of his head, and his hair was straw-colored and curly, and his sunburned face looked like one that smiled a good deal when he was not preaching the doctrine of everlasting punishment to delivery-wagon horses. He slung imported A1 fancy groceries about as though they were only the stuff he delivered at boarding-houses; and when he picked up his whip, your mind instantly recalled Mr. Tacktt and his air with the buttonless foils.

Tradesmen delivered their goods at a side gate at the rear of the house. The grocer’s wagon came about ten in the morning. For three days Celia watched the driver when he came, finding something new each time to admire in the lofty and almost contemptuous way he had of tossing around the choicest gifts of Pomona, Ceres, and the canning factories. Then she consulted Annette.

To be explicit, Annette McCorkle, the second housemaid who deserves a paragraph herself. Annette Fletcherized large numbers of romantic novels which she obtained at a free public library branch (donated by one of the biggest caliphs in the business). She was Celia’s sidekicker and chum, though Aunt Henrietta didn’t know it, you may hazard a bean or two.

“Oh, canary-bird seed!” exclaimed Annette. “Ain’t it a corkin’ situation? You a heiress, and fallin’ in love with him on sight! He’s a sweet boy, too, and above his business. But he ain’t susceptible like the common run of grocer’s assistants. He never pays no attention to me.”

“He will to me,” said Celia.

“Riches–” began Annette, unsheathing the not unjustifiable feminine sting.

“Oh, you’re not so beautiful,” said Celia, with her wide, disarming smile. “Neither am I; but he sha’n’t know that there’s any money mixed up with my looks, such as they are. That’s fair. Now, I want you to lend me one of your caps and an apron, Annette.”

“Oh, marshmallows!” cried Annette. “I see. Ain’t it lovely? It’s just like ‘Lurline, the Left-Handed; or, A Buttonhole Maker’s Wrongs.’ I’ll bet he’ll turn out to be a count.”

There was a long hallway (or “passageway,” as they call it in the land of the Colonels) with one side latticed, running along the rear of the house. The grocer’s young man went through this to deliver his goods. One morning he passed a girl in there with shining eyes, sallow complexion, and wide, smiling mouth, wearing a maid’s cap and apron. But as he was cumbered with a basket of Early Drumhead lettuce and Trophy tomatoes and three bunches of asparagus and six bottles of the most expensive Queen olives, he saw no more than that she was one of the maids.

But on his way out he came up behind her, and she was whistling “Fisher’s Hornpipe” so loudly and clearly that all the piccolos in the world should have disjointed themselves and crept into their cases for shame.