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The Register
by [?]

MISS REED, thoughtfully: “Do you think so, Henrietta?”

MISS SPAULDING: “I know so.”

MISS REED: “And you’re not afraid that you wrong yourself?”

MISS SPAULDING: “Not the least.”

MISS REED: “Well, be it so–as they say in novels. I will not contradict you; I will not say you are my BEST friend; I will merely say that you are my ONLY friend. Come here, Henrietta. Draw up your chair, and put your little hand in mine.”

MISS SPAULDING, with severe distrust: “What do you want, Ethel Reed?”

MISS REED: “I want–I want–to talk it over with you.”

MISS SPAULDING, recoiling: “I knew it! Well, now, we’ve talked it over enough; we’ve talked it over till there’s nothing left of it.”

MISS REED: “Oh, there’s everything left! It remains in all its original enormity. Perhaps we shall get some new light upon it.” She extends a pleading hand towards Miss Spaulding. “Come, Henrietta, my only friend, shake!–as the ‘good Indians’ say. Let your Ethel pour her hackneyed sorrows into your bosom. Such an uncomfortable image, it always seems, doesn’t it, pouring sorrows into bosoms! Come!”

MISS SPAULDING, decidedly: “No, I won’t! And you needn’t try wheedling any longer. I won’t sympathize with you on that basis at all.”

MISS REED: “What shall I try, then, if you won’t let me try wheedling?”

MISS SPAULDING, going to the piano and opening it: “Try courage; try self-respect.”

MISS REED: “Oh, dear! when I haven’t a morsel of either. Are you going to practise, you cruel maid?”

MISS SPAULDING: “Of course I am. It’s half-past four, and if I don’t do it now I sha’n’t be prepared to-morrow for Miss Robins: she takes this piece.”

MISS REED: “Well, well, perhaps it’s all for the best. If music be the food of–umph-ump!–you know what!–play on.” They both laugh, and Miss Spaulding pushes back a little from the piano, and wheels toward her friend, letting one hand rest slightly on the keys.

MISS SPAULDING: “Ethel Reed, you’re the most ridiculous girl in the world.”

MISS REED: “Correct!”

MISS SPAULDING: “And I don’t believe you ever were in love, or ever will be.”

MISS REED: “Ah, there you wrong me, Henrietta! I have been, and I shall be–lots of times.”

MISS SPAULDING: “Well, what do you want to say now? You must hurry, for I can’t lose any more time.”

MISS REED: “I will free my mind with neatness and despatch. I simply wish to go over the whole affair, from Alfred to Omaha; and you’ve got to let me talk as much slang and nonsense as I want. And then I’ll skip all the details I can. Will you?”

MISS SPAULDING, with impatient patience: “Oh, I suppose so!”

MISS REED: “That’s very sweet of you, though you don’t look it. Now, where was I? Oh, yes, do you think it was forth-putting at all, to ask him if he would give me the lessons?”

MISS SPAULDING: “It depends upon why you asked him.”

MISS REED: “I asked him from–from–Let me see; I asked him because- -from–Yes, I say it boldly; I asked him from an enthusiasm for art, and a sincere wish to learn the use of oil, as he called it. Yes!”

MISS SPAULDING: “Are you sure?”

MISS REED: “Sure? Well, we will say that I am, for the sake of argument. And, having secured this basis, the question is whether I wasn’t bound to offer him pay at the end, and whether he wasn’t wrong to take my doing so in dudgeon.”