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Miss Mix, Kidnapper
by [?]

I

“Well, he has done it now, confound his nerve!” said Anthony Fox, Sr., in a tone of almost triumphant fury. He spread the loosely written sheets of a long letter on the breakfast table. “Here I am, just out of a sick-bed!” he pursued fretfully; “just home from a month’s idling abroad, and now I’ll have to go away out to California to lick some sense into that young fool!”

“For Heaven’s sake, Tony, don’t get yourself all worked up!” said handsome, stately Mrs. Fox, much more concerned for father than for son. She sighed resignedly as she folded a flattering request from her club for an address entitled, “Do We Forget Our Maids?” and gave him her full attention. “Read me the letter, dear,” said she, placidly.

“Of course I always knew some woman would get hold of him,” said Anthony, Sr., fumbling blindly for his mouth with a bit of toast, his eyes still on the letter; “but, by George, this sounds like Charlie Ross!”

“Woman!” repeated Mrs. Fox, with a relieved laugh. “Buddy’s in love, is he? Don’t worry, Tony, it won’t last! Of all boys in the world he’s the least likely to be foolish that way!”

“Of all boys in the world he’s the kind that is easiest taken in!” said his father, dryly, securing the toast at last with a savage snap. “H-m–she’s his landlady! Keeps fancy fowls and takes boarders–ha! Says they rather hope to be married in June. This has quite a settled tone to it, for Buddy. I don’t like the look of it!”

“Nonsense!” said Mrs. Fox, with dawning uneasiness. “You don’t mean to say he considers himself seriously engaged? At twenty! And to his landlady, too–I never heard such nonsense! Buddy’s in no position to marry. Who IS the girl, anyway?”

“GIRL is good!” said the reader, bitterly. “She’s thirty-two!”

Mrs. Fox, her hand hovering over a finger-bowl, grew rigid.

“Thirty-two!” she echoed blankly. Then sharply: “Anthony, do you think you can stop it?”

“I’ll do what I can, believe me!” he assured her grimly. “Yes, sir, she’s thirty-two! By the way, Fanny, this letter’s already a month old. Why haven’t I had it before?”

“You told them to hold only the office mail while you were travelling, you know,” Mrs. Fox reminded him. “That one evidently has been following you. Anthony, can Tony marry without your consent?”

“No-o, but of course he’s of age in five months, and if she’s got her hooks deep enough into him, she–oh, confound such a complication, anyway!”

“It looks to me as if she wanted his money,” said Mrs. Fox.

“H-m!” said his father, again deep in the letter. “That’s just occurred to you, has it? Poor old Buddy–poor old Bud!”

“Oh, he’ll surely get over it,” said Mrs. Fox, uncertainly.

“He may, but you can bet SHE won’t! Not before they’re married, anyway. No, Bud’s the sort that gets it hard, when he does get it!” his father said. “There’s a final tone about the whole thing that I don’t like. Listen to this!” He quoted from the letter with a rueful shake of the head. “‘I don’t know what the darling girl sees in me, dad, but she has turned down enough other fellows to know her own mind. At last I realize what Mrs. Browning’s wonderful sonnets–‘”

“He DOESN’T say that?” ejaculated the listener, incredulously.

“‘She doesn’t know I am writing you,'” Mr. Fox read on grimly, “‘because I don’t want her to worry about your objecting. But you won’t object when you know her. She doesn’t care anything about money, and says she will stick by me if we have to begin on an eighty-dollar-a-month job. You don’t know how I love her, dad; it has changed my whole life. It’s not just because she’s beautiful, and all that. You will say that I am pretty young, but I know I can count on you for some sort of job to begin with, and things will work out all right.'”