Mary Minds Her Business Part 46

"It was the only solution," he told her.

"I wonder ..." she mused again. "Anyhow it was something definite. If women are really going to take up men's trades, it's only right that they should know what it means. As long as we just keep talking on general lines about a thing, we can make it sound as nice as we like. But when we try to put theory into practice ... it doesn't always seem the same.

"Take these plans, for instance," she ruefully remarked. "I thought I knew exactly what I wanted. But now that I see it drawn out to scale, I don't like it. And that, perhaps, is what we've been doing here in the factory. We have taken a view of woman's possible future and we have drawn it out to scale. Everybody can see what it looks like now--they can think about it--and talk about it--and then they can decide whether they want it or not...."

He caught a note in her voice that had a touch of emptiness in it.

"Do you know what I would do if I were you?" he gently asked.

She looked at him, his eyes eager with sympathy, his smile tender and touched with an admiration so deep that it might be called devotion.

Never before had Archey seemed so restful to her--never before with him had she felt so much at home.

"If I smile at him, he'll blush," she caught herself thinking--and experienced a rising sense of elation at the thought.

"What would you do!" she asked.

"I'd go away for a few weeks.... I believe the change would do you good."

She smiled at him and watched his responding colour with satisfaction.

"If Vera was right," she thought, "that's Chapter One the way he just spoke. Now next--he'll try to touch me."

Her eyes ever so dreamy, she reached her hand over the desk and began playing with, the blotter.

"Why, he's trembling a little," she thought. "And he's looking at it....

But, oh, isn't he shy!"

She tried to hum then and lightly beat time with her hand. "No, it isn't the only thing in life," she repeated to herself, "but--just as I said before--sooner or later--it becomes awfully important--" She caught Archey's glance and smilingly led it back to her waiting fingers.

"How dark your hand is by the side of mine," she said.

He rose to his feet.

"Mary!"

"Yes ... Archey?"

"If I were a rich man--or you were a poor girl...."

Mary, too, arose.

"Well," she laughed unsteadily, "we may be ... some day...."

Ten minutes later Sir Joseph of the Plumed Crest opened the door with a handful of mail. He suddenly stopped ... stared ... smiled ... and silently withdrew.

THE END

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