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by [?]

THERE she sat, with both little hands covering her face. It was twilight, and beyond the little finger glanced a watchful eye towards the door, to see if Theodore would go. She didn’t think he would. He came back.

“Is the little child crying?” he asked, relentingly, as he took the pretty fingers, one by one, away from the youthful face, hard as she tried to keep them there. At last she gave up, and broke into a merry laugh.

“You little hypocrite!” said her husband, in rather an incensed tone of voice–men do hate to be gulled into soothing a laughing wife.

“Well! can’t I go?” pleaded the enchanting little creature, looking up into his eyes so beseechingly.

“Why, Nellie, it isn’t becoming for you to go without me.”

“Yes, it is!” she answered, in a very low way, as if she hardly dared say it, and at the same time running her forefinger through the hem of her silk apron. “May I go?” and she lifted up her eyes in the same beseeching way again.

“Why are you so anxious to go, to-night?”

“O, because!”

“But that is not a good reason!”

“Well, I want to dance a little!”

“Nellie, I can’t possibly go with you, to-night. You are very young–you know nothing of the world and its malice–“

“But I can go with Mr. and Mrs. Williams, next door.”

“I can’t consent to your going without me, little pet.”

Nellie put her apron up to her face, and actually did succeed in squeezing two tears into her eyes. She instantly dropped her apron after this was accomplished, and looked reproachfully into her husband’s face. Suddenly a thought darted into her head. “When will you come home?” she asked, with quiet melancholy of manner.

“I fear not before ten or eleven, dear. Good-bye! I am late, now!” He went away, and Nellie sat down and soliloquized.

“Business! old business! If there is anything I hate, beyond all human expression, it is this business. I know it was never intended there should be such a thing. Adam and Eve were put right in a garden, and that shows that it was meant we should play around, and have fun, and live in the country, and cultivate flowers and vegetables to live on. I have always felt so, and I always shall. I don’t know that I’d be so particular about living in the country; but the playing part, that’s what I’m particular about. If we lived on a farm, I suppose Theodore would wear cowhide boots, and pants too tight and short for him, and a swallow-tailed coat. I declare! I’m afraid I never should have loved him, if I had seen him–in such gear, although I have said forty times that I should have known we were created for each other, if we had met under any circumstances; but I didn’t think what a difference clothes make! Isn’t he a magnificent-looking man! Wouldn’t anybody have been glad to have got him? I think it’s the most wonderful thing in the world how he ever thought of such a little giddy thing as I am! Such a great man, and so much older than I am! Thirty-two years old! No wonder he knows so much! Well, I must stop thinking of this! ‘To be, or not to be, that is the question!’ Shall I go, or shall I not? Would he be very mad about it, or would he not? Let me see! He won’t be home before ten or eleven. I can dress and go with Mrs. Williams, and then Fred shall bring me home before ten o’clock; and after a few days, some time when Theodore is in a most delicious humour, and perfectly carried away with my bewitchments, I’ll gradually disclose the matter to him, and say I’ll never do the like again, and it’s among the things of the past, an error which repentance or tears cannot efface; but the painful results will never be forgotten, namely, his look of disapprobation. I wonder if that will do!” Nellie broke into a low, gay laugh. She was a spoilt child; from her cradle she had been idolized, and taught that she could not be blamed for anything. But she buried her face in her hands, and reflected. That day she had received a note from a young gentleman, saying,