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The Adventure Of Miss Clarissa Dawson
by [?]

Miss Clarissa Dawson was a young lady who had charge of the cutlery counter in one of the great emporiums of State Street. She was reckoned of a pretty wit and not more cutting were the Sheffield razors that were piled before her than the remarks she sometimes made to those who, incited thereto by her reputation for readiness of retort, sought to engage her in a contest of repartee. It was seldom that she issued from these encounters other than triumphant, leaving her presumptuous opponents defeated and chagrined. But in the month of November of the last year, for once she owned to herself that she had been overcome,–overcome, it is true, because her adversary was plainly a person of stupidity, mailed by his doltishness against the keenest sarcasm she could launch against him, yet nevertheless overcome. To her choicest bit of irony, the individual replied, “Somebody left you on the grindstone and forgot to take you off,” to which the most adroit in quips and quirks could find no fitting replication, unless it were to indulge in facial contortion or invective, and Miss Clarissa was too much of a lady to do either. Forced into silence, she had no resource but to seek to transfix him with a protracted and contemptuous stare, which, though failing to disconcert the object, put her in possession of the facts that he had mild blue eyes, that the remnants of his hair were red, that he was slightly above middle height and below middle age, and that there was little about his face and still less his figure to distinguish him from a multitude of men of the average type. Indeed, one could not even conjecture his nationality, for his type was one to be seen in all branches of the Indo-European race. If from a package in his upper left-hand coat pocket, which, broken, disclosed some wieners, you concluded he was of the German nation, a short dudeen in an upper vest pocket would seem to indicate that he was an Irishman. His coat was of black cheviot, new, and of the current cut. His vest was of corduroy, of the kind in vogue in the past decade, while his pantaloons, black, with a faint green line in them, were a compromise, being of a non-commital cut that would never be badly out of style in any modern period.

Sustaining Miss Clarissa’s stare with great composure, he purchased six German razors at thirty-five cents each, six English at fifty, twelve American at the same price, and a stray French razor at sixty-two.

“Don’t you want some razorine?” asked Miss Clarissa. “It makes razors–and other things–sharper.”

“Why don’t you use it, then, instead of lobsterine?” replied the stranger, picking up his package and the change. Miss Clarissa deigning to give no reply but an angry frown, the stranger expressed his gratitude for the amusement he intimated she had afforded him and he further said he hoped he would see her at the Charity Ball and he made bold to ask her to save the second two-step for him, and thereafter departed, having declined Miss Clarissa’s offer to have his purchases sent to his address, an offer dictated not by a spirit of accommodation and kindliness, but by a desire to learn in what part of the city he had his residence.

On the morrow again came a man to purchase razors, of which there was a large number on Miss Clarissa’s counter, traveling men’s samples for sale at ridiculous prices. The man had purchased two dozen razors before Miss Clarissa, noting this similarity to the transactions of the odious person and thereby led to take a good look at him, observed with astonishment that this new man had on exactly the same suit that had been worn by the purchaser of the day before. She recognized the fabric, the color, everything down to a discoloration on the left coat lapel. Here the resemblance ended. The second individual was a young man. He had a heavy shock of abundant hair. He was not more than twenty-eight years old and so far from being commonplace, he was of a distinguished appearance. But as the eyes of Miss Clarissa continued to dwell upon him in some admiration, she told herself that the resemblance did not end with the clothes, after all. His eyes were of the same blue, his hair of the same auburn as those of the man of yesterday. Indeed, the man of yesterday might have been this man with twenty years added on him, with the light of hope and ambition dimmed by contact with the world, and his youthful alertness and dash succeeded by the resigned vacuity of one who has seen none of his early dreams realized. Again did Miss Clarissa ask if he would have his purchases sent to his address, but this time it was not entirely curiosity and the perfunctory performance of a duty, for she would gladly have been of service to one of such a pleasing presence. Communing with himself for a moment, the young man said: