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The Count And The Wedding Guest
by [?]

“A fine-looking man,” said Mr. Donovan
, heartily. “How would it suit you, Miss Conway, to give me the pleasure of your company to Coney next Sunday afternoon?”

A month later they announced their engagement to Mrs. Scott and the other boarders. Miss Conway continued to wear black.

A week after the announcement the two sat on the same bench in the downtown park, while the fluttering leaves of the trees made a dim kinetoscopic picture of them in the moonlight. But Donovan had worn a look of abstracted gloom all day. He was so silent to-night that love’s lips could not keep back any longer the questions that love’s heart propounded.

“What’s the matter, Andy, you are so solemn and grouchy to-night?”

“Nothing, Maggie.”

“I know better. Can’t I tell? You never acted this way before. What is it?”

“It’s nothing much, Maggie.”

“Yes it is; and I want to know. I’ll bet it’s some other girl you are thinking about. All right. Why don’t you go get her if you want her? Take your arm away, if you please.”

“I’ll tell you then,” said Andy, wisely, “but I guess you won’t understand it exactly. You’ve heard of Mike Sullivan, haven’t you? ‘Big Mike’ Sullivan, everybody calls him.”

“No, I haven’t,” said Maggie. “And I don’t want to, if he makes you act like this. Who is he?”

“He’s the biggest man in New York,” said Andy, almost reverently. “He can about do anything he wants to with Tammany or any other old thing in the political line. He’s a mile high and as broad as East River. You say anything against Big Mike, and you’ll have a million men on your collarbone in about two seconds. Why, he made a visit over to the old country awhile back, and the kings took to their holes like rabbits.”

“Well, Big Mike’s a friend of mine. I ain’t more than deuce-high in the district as far as influence goes, but Mike’s as good a friend to a little man, or a poor man as he is to a big one. I met him to- day on the Bowery, and what do you think he does? Comes up and shakes hands. ‘Andy,’ says he, ‘I’ve been keeping cases on you. You’ve been putting in some good licks over on your side of the street, and I’m proud of you. What’ll you take to drink?” He takes a cigar, and I take a highball. I told him I was going to get married in two weeks. ‘Andy,’ says he, ‘send me an invitation, so I’ll keep in mind of it, and I’ll come to the wedding.’ That’s what Big Mike says to me; and he always does what he says.

“You don’t understand it, Maggie, but I’d have one of my hands cut off to have Big Mike Sullivan at our wedding. It would be the proudest day of my life. When he goes to a man’s wedding, there’s a guy being married that’s made for life. Now, that’s why I’m maybe looking sore to-night.”

“Why don’t you invite him, then, if he’s so much to the mustard?” said Maggie, lightly.

“There’s a reason why I can’t,” said Andy, sadly. “There’s a reason why he mustn’t be there. Don’t ask me what it is, for I can’t tell you.”

“Oh, I don’t care,” said Maggie. “It’s something about politics, of course. But it’s no reason why you can’t smile at me.”

“Maggie,” said Andy, presently, “do you think as much of me as you did of your–as you did of the Count Mazzini?”

He waited a long time, but Maggie did not reply. And then, suddenly she leaned against his shoulder and began to cry–to cry and shake with sobs, holding his arm tightly, and wetting the crepe de Chine with tears.

“There, there, there!” soothed Andy, putting aside his own trouble. “And what is it, now?”

“Andy,” sobbed Maggie. “I’ve lied to you, and you’ll never marry me, or love me any more. But I feel that I’ve got to tell. Andy, there never was so much as the little finger of a count. I never had a beau in my life. But all the other girls had; and they talked about ’em; and that seemed to make the fellows like ’em more. And, Andy, I look swell in black–you know I do. So I went out to a photograph store and bought that picture, and had a little one made for my locket, and made up all that story about the Count, and about his being killed, so I could wear black. And nobody can love a liar, and you’ll shake me, Andy, and I’ll die for shame. Oh, there never was anybody I liked but you–and that’s all.”