Sweet Freshness

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That might be worth looking up, too,” ruminated Average Jones thoughtfully. He turned to his telephone in answer to a ring. “All right, come, in, Simpson,” he said. The confidential clerk appeared. “Ramson says that regular black beetles are out of season, sir,” he reported. “But he can send to the country and dig up plenty of actualtest reviews red-and-black ones.” “That will do,” returned the Ad-Visor. “Tell him to have two or three hundred here to-morrow morning.” Bertram bent a severe gaze on his friend. “Meaning that you’re going to follow up this freak affair?” he inquired. “Just that. I can’t explain why, but–well, Bert, I’ve a hunch. At the worst, Ackroyd’s face when he sees the beetles should be worth the money.” “When you frivol, Average, I wash my hands of you. But I warn you, look out for Ackroyd. He’s as big as he is ugly; a tough customer.” “All right. I’ll just put on some old clothes, to dress the part of a beetle-purveyor correctly, and also in case I get ’em torn in my meeting with judge ‘Oily.’ I’ll see you later–and report, if I survive his wrath.” Thus it was that, on the morning after this dialogue, a clean-built young fellow walked along West Sixteenth Street, appreciatively sniffing the sunny crispness of the May air. He was rather shabby looking, yet his demeanor was by no means shabby. It was confident and easy. On the evidence of the bandbox which he carried, his mission should have been menial; but he bore himself wholly unlike one subdued to petty employments. His steady, gray eyes showed a testinside review glint of anticipation as he turned in at the gate of the high, broad, brown house standing back, aloof and indignant, from the roaring encroachments of trade. He set his burden down and, pulled the bell. The door opened promptly to the deep, far-away clangor. A flashing impression of girlish freshness, vigor, and grace was disclosed to the caller against a background of interior gloom. He stared a little more patently than was polite. Whatever his expectation of amusement, this, evidently, was not the manifestation looked for. The girl glanced not at him, but at the box, and spoke a trifle impatiently. “If it’s my hat, it’s very late. You should have gone to the basement.” “It isn’t, miss,” said the young man, in a form of address, the semi-servility of which seemed distinctly out of tone with the quietly clear and assured voice. “It’s the insects.” “The what?”‘ “The bugs, miss.”‘ He extracted from his pocket a slip of paper, looked from it to the numbered door, as one verifying an address, and handed it to her. “From yesterday’s copy of the Banner, miss. You’re not going back on that, surely,” he said somewhat reproachfully. She read, and as she read her eyes widened to lakes of limpid brown. Then they crinkled at the corners, and her laugh rose from the mid-tone contralto, to a high, bird-like trill of joyousness. The infection of it tugged at the young man’s throat, but he successfully preserved his mask of flat and respectful dullness. “It must have been Uncle,” she testinside reviews gasped finally. “He said he’d be quits with the real estate agent before he left. How perfectly absurd! And are those the creatures in that box?” “The first couple of hundred of ’em, miss.” “Two hundred!” Again the access of laughter swelled the rounded bosom as the breeze fills a sail. “Where did you get them?” “Woodpile, ash-heap, garbage-pail,” said the young man stolidly. “Any particular kind preferred, Miss Ackroyd?” The girl looked at him with suspicion, but his face was blankly innocent.


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