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Inspector Cranforth was generally regarded as a flint-hearted man. understood that he was an old bachelor and he had never known what love was. He accepted no excuses from postmasters and indulged in no flirtations while traveling. At 50 years of age he had got to be part of the route, and no one knew him for just what he was. Outside of his officialism he had a heart as warm as any man's, and one reason and perhaps the main one-why he had not married was the fact that he had always maintained a home for a mother and a crippled sister. His salary could do no more. One day a windfall came in the shape of a legacy, and if the inspector had dreams of matrimony and a fireside all of his own, no one could blame him.
Those who looked upon the man as flint-hearted did not know the ins and outs of the case at the Dover postoffice. An old soldier had been postmaster there for years. When he died his widow took his place. When she died her daughter Mary, who had known the inspector since her babyhood, was leit motherless, fatherless and almost peuniless. It was the inspector who paid a part of the undertaker's bill; it was the inspector who had Uncle Billy Smith appointed; it was the inspector who got Mary Williams a clerk. ship that practically made her postmistress and financially independent.
Even the girl did not know the extent of his kindness. When he found himself asking why he did it he found himself replying that in two or three years more he hoped to be in a position to marry. At present his feelings toward the girl were merely paternal. What they might be in the future he wouldn't discuss with himself.
It was said that Inspector Cranforth took more time for inspection at the Dover postoffice than anywhere else. Some of the village gossips said it was because of Mary Williams, who regarded him as a friend and was always glad to see him come, and others said he had his eye on Tillie Langton, the daughter of the vil. lage innkeeper. It was the talk that the two girls were rivals, and the innkeeper's daughter at least came to believe it and to feel bitterly toward the girl in the postoffice. The situation of affairs was just right when there_came an official complaint against the Dover postoffice.
William Penfield, son of Deacon Penfield, was in the habit of sending his old father money from Iowa every month or two.
William was of an economical turn and did not want to pay a registry fee or the premium exacted for a money order. The bill was simply inclosed in a letter. The father was inclined to be garrulous and
ROYAL GORGE, COLORADO, D. & R. G. RY.-Photo.
by Bro. B. Deo. to look upon it as a smart trick to get ahead of Uncle Sam, and so in time every one in and around Dover came to know what would have been more prudent to be kept secret.
A money letter was missing. Old Mr. Penfield haunted the postoffice for a week and then wrote to William. William made affidavit that he wrote and inclosed a $10 bill on a certain date. It was the business of Uncle Sam to send out a tracer and for one of his inspectors to follow it up. Inspector Cranforth took his time about it, but he finally traced the letter into the Dover postoffice.
By that time there was great ado in the town. Old Mr. Penfield hadn't hesitated to express his opinions that “someone" right in the home postoffice had cribbed his letter and abstracted the money, and of course he referred to Mary.
She claimed to be innocent, but there were those who held to the contrary, and when Inspector Cranforth arrived to carry his investigation further there was great excitement. To the intense indignation of hundreds of citizens the investigation was held within closed doors—that is, Mary was questioned only in the presence of a justice of the peace. She was nervous and excited and shaken. She admitted her belief that such a letter had arrived at about such a date, but what had become of it, if not delivered, she could not say.
The establishment was a combination grocery and postoffice. A person could
have sneaked into the postoffice part from the grocery, but he would have had to look over all the general delivery mail to get the Penfield letter. He would have also had to hit the exact date of its arrival
Every incident of the day was recalled, but suspicion could not be directed against anybody. The letter had arrived, but what had become of it was a puzzle. Two hours' talk was leaving the investigation just where it had begun, when the outsiders demanded that the girl's trunk at her boarding place be searched. She went pale in an instant, and as the inspector noticed it a suspicion lodged in his heart. When asked if she were willing -he hesitated and finally declined. Even the good old justice, who was her friend, looked at
When the inspector had reached his room he sat down and wrote out his resignation, to take immediate effect. Someone else would have to arrest Mary Williams. It was the hardest blow of his life. He had been thinking of her for a month past as his wife. It seemed impossible that she could be guilty, and yet the inspector sent on to take his place must arrest her on her own showing. The man was feeling more sore at heart than ever before in his life when he heard two female voices in the next room. There was a vacant stovepipe hole just above his head that let every word float through. The women were the inn. keeper's wife and his daughter, and he heard the mother say: "Tillie, where did you get that $10 bill changed?"
“At the butcher's," was the reply.
“And what did you do with the letter?”
"Burned it up. Don't you go to fretting over things. They say that Mary will lose her place, but nothing else will happen. I want to gai Mr. Cranforth in the parlor tonight an i sing and play for him.''
Ten minutes later the inspector was at the butcher's asking questions. He went from there to the postoffice for a few minutes' talk with the accused girl. When he had asked a question or two she remembered that on a certain date when she had half a dozen letters in her hand she had been called into the grocery part in a hurry and had left the letters on the counter for a moment beside the innkeeper's daughter.
"And now about searching your trunk?" asked the inspector.
She handed him the key in a shamefaced way and said:
"I don't want you to, but if you must then you will find the bill in a letter. Read the letter."
The justice was taken along. The letter and money were found, and both read the letter and replaced it and went out of the room almost on tiptoe. The inspector had never heard that Mary even had a beau. The letter proved that she was engaged to a young man in a neighboring town, aud he had sent her the money to save up with more against their wedding.
“Why didn't you tell me this before?'' asked the inspector of the girl that even
ROYAL GORGE, COLORADO.-Photo. by Bro. B. Deo. her with pity in his face. The inspector stared into vacancy a moment, and then his mind was made up.
"Mary, have you a $10 bill in your trunk?” he asked.
“Oh, I couldn't have done it-I never did it!” she wailed.
“Then where did the bill come from?”
"I can't tell you. Please don't ask me anything more. I didn't take the Penfield letter, but I-I can't tell you."
"Poor girl!” sighed the justice as he walked across to the hotel with the inspector. "I've got a duty to do," was the reply.
"I–I didn't want to hurt you," she replied.
"Hurt me how?"
“I knew you were falling in love with me, and you are so old, you know, and I'd have to say no, you see"?
“I understand," he finished, with a sigh, and, going into his own room, he tore up his resignation and sat down and figured it all out and said to himself:
“The girl is right. The man of fifty who has a romance is an old fool!”
He was not entertained in the inn parlor that evening. He never stops there now. The thing was somehow fixed up between the landlord and old Penfield and the government, but it is whispered around that it cost the former $1,000 and that Tillie is likely to die an old maid.
To please the fisherman down by the brook,
A New Year's Dream.
In the cozy depths of an arm-chair thrown,
With the tenderest care, The ragman muffled his bells, for fear They might awaken some sleeper pear, And the newsboys called the Times and Post In tones like a cooing dove's—almost. The plumber offered the pipes to mend, "Just as a favor, to please a friend." The lawyer begged that his little bill, Unpaid, as it happened, be unpaid still. And the worthy parson, considerate man, Finished his sermon before he began.
The cook made tarts each day in the year,
The breeze came blowing in gentle gales
Here the wonderful story fails; For I breathlessly woke. It was New Year's day. The world wagged on in the same old way. "It was only a dream !" said I. Dear me ! But I'll be as obliging as I can be, And the world may be better for that-we'll see!"
-Margaret Johnson, in St. Nicholas.
St. Agnes Eve, January 20.
row on the hearth. The person who will
try his or her fate is blindfolded and led St. Agnes' day, January 21, is a special
to where the dishes are ranged, the left day for the youths and maidens, or, more
hand is dipped in the dish, if, by chance, properly, St. Agnes' eve. It is a mystic
in the one holding water, the fate in store time, when supernatural influences pre
is an international marriage that is if a vail, and those who choose to avail them. young woman, she is certainly bound to selves of the privileges of the occasion
marry a count or a duke; if a young man, may see far into the future.
he is to marry a lady belonging to a titled
family. If the hand is dipped in the dish “Supperless to bed you must retire,
of milk, marriage with a poor but honest Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require youth is assured; while a dip into the of Heaven, with uplifted eyes, for all that you desire."
empty dish means no marriage this twelve
month. This ceremony is repeated three Before retiring, however, there are sev- times, the dishes being changed each eral tricks which must be performed, time. with all due seriousness and ceremony. A cord with a crosspiece is suspended The sleeve of the dress, taken off, must be from the ceiling; at one end of the crossdipped in water, and then hung on a piece is an apple, at the other end a chair to dry before an open fire; the per- lighted candle. If one can catch the son goes to sleep in sight of this fire, or apple at the first trial with the mouth,
while the apple is in motion, speedy marriage is assured; if only a burn or grease from the candle is the result of the experiment, marriage fol. lowed by divorce is all that one can expect.
Some evergreen or holly branches are placed in a jar of earth, and named by some members of the company, which name is announced, when a branch is pulled up, as that of the future unknown, who will be a person of fortune, if any earth clings to the branch.
To ascertain if lovers are faithful, three nuts named after the sweethearts, are placed on the bars of the
grate. The nut that cracks BOSTON & MAINE PASSENGER, C. & P. DIVISION, WITH BRO. FRINK. faithful; the one that burns
or jumps proves the lover un. -Courtesy Bro. H. A. Webber, Div. 63.
up with a blaze is faithful; rather the person remains awake until the if the nuts named for the lover and the witching hour of midnight, when an ap- maiden burn at the same time, a speedy, parition having the exact figure of the happy marriage is foretold. The followfuture spouse will come and turn the ing lines should be repeated during the sleeve, as if to dry the other side.
ceremony of burning: Standing before a mirror, an apple must
Three hazelnuts I threw into the flame, be eaten, the hair being combed at the
And to each one I gave a sweetheart's name. same time; presently the face of the con
This with the loudest bounce me sore amazed, jugal companion to be will be seen in the That in a flame of brightest color blazed ; glass, peeping over the shoulder; or one As blazed the nuts so may thy passion grow, must throw a ball of blue worsted out of For 'twas thy nut that did so brightly glow. the window, retaining the end of the There are still other verses which may wool and then wind off to form a new ball. Toward the end, something will
be repeated to help the spell: hold the thread, and the question must be These growing nuts are emblems true asked, “Who holds?” The answer comes
Of what in human life we view;
The ill-matched couple fret and fume, in the name of that mysterious future individual-lady fair or gay cavalier, as the
And thus in strife themselves consume;
But see the happy, happy pair, case may require.
With mutual fondness, while they burn, Three dishes-one containing water, Still to each other kindly turn. one milk, and one empty-are placed in a
An Unofficial Saint.
“Good evenin', Seth," she said without rising. “Won't you sit down?”
Seth Carlton selected a straight-backed BY GRANT OWEN.
chair in the front row, jerked it forward Copyright, 1906, by P. C. Eastman.
and sat down awkwardly. The little parlor with its haircloth fur. “I run over to see how you was gettin' niture, its gaudy rag carpet, its stuffed on," he explained. birds and its impossible chromos was a "Oh, nicely!” she replied. "Everydismal place at best, but now with the body's been so good. An', Seth, I want double row of chairs still ranged stiffly to thank you now. about the sides of it and the feeble light " Whať for?” he demanded brusquely. of an unshaded kerosene lamp emphasiz- “For all you done,” said she, "fixin' up ing all its barren ugliness it seemed a the hedge an' lookin' after the horses veritable desert of a room.
today an' bein' one of the bearers.” She Sarah Biddle sat primly erect on the paused a moment. “Don't you think sofa, her black bordered handkerchief everything passed off well?" she asked. crushed between her hands. She was He nodded abstractedly. He appeare vaguely resentful of this unwonted soli- to be thinking deeply. tary dignity she was forced to maintain. "Sarah,” he said at length, looking at She wanted to be out in the kitchen her with that penetration of gaze she washing dishes. This sitting still with folded hands like a visitor in one's own house was in nowise pleasing to her, but she realized that tonight at least it was expected of her, and Sarah was not one of those intrepid souls who can throw conventionality to the winds.
It was all over. The last mourning relative — fortified by the ample post-funeral supper-had condoled with her, wept with her and departed trainward. The only sound to break the stillness was the clatter of dishwashing at the kitchen sink, where two sympathetic neighbors plied their dish towels and discussed the late sad function very minutely.
Saral moved uneasily on the sofa. No one could wash dishes to suit her; she would BOSTON & MAINE FREIGHT, BRO. 11. WATSON. MEMBER DIV. 61, at
THE THROTTLE.--Courtesy Bro. H. A. Webber, Div. 63. have to do them all over toinorrow before she put them away. She always found rather disconcerting, “do ached to get at them now, not only to have you know I was sort of provoked today?" them done properly, but to relieve the Provoked?” There were surprise and strain of this unwonted inactivity. This, wonder and disbelief in her voice. however, was clearly impossible accord- Yes, provoked,” he repeated flatly, ing to the precedent of the community. Her eyes questioned him, but she waited To have a mind for household duties be- silently for him to go on. fore the morrow would savor of callous- “I was listenin' to what lots of them
folks had to say to you today,” he reShe heard the gate latch click and then sumed slowly. “I heard 'em talkin' the sound of heavy footsteps coming up about his sufferin' an' his patience. I the gravel walk. She leaned forward, heard one of 'em say he was a regular listening intently. Any diversion would saint on earth." be welcome to her tense nerves. Pres- "Wasn't he?" Her tone was very ently the front door opened softly and calm, but there was a hint of challenge was softly closed. She was aware that in it. someone had tiptoed clumsily into the “I'd be the last one to deny it,” said room. She looked up to find a pair of he, “but what made me provoked was good-natured eyes regarding her whimsic- that them folks only looked at one side ally.
of it. There warn't none of 'em that