"Hal! it's too confounded bad!" said Jim Fellows, bursting into my room; "your apple cart's upset for good. The Van Arsdels are blown to thunder. The old one has failed for a million. Gone to smash on that Lightning Railroad, and there you all are! Hang it all, I'm sorry now!"

And to say the truth Jim's face did wear an air of as much concern as his features were capable of. "Seems to me," he added, "you take it coolly."

"The fact is, Jim, I knew all about this the day I proposed. I knew it must come, and I'm glad, since it had to be, to have it over and be done with it. Mr. Van Arsdel told me exactly what to expect when I engaged myself."

"And you and Miss Eva Van Arsdel are going to join hands and play 'Babes in the Woods'?"

"No," said I, "we are going to play the interesting little ballet of 'Man and Wife.' I am to work for her, and all that I win is to be put into her hands."

"Hum! I fancy she'll find things on quite another scale when it comes to your dividends."

"We're not at all afraid of that—you'll see."

"She's a trump—that girl!" said Jim; "now that's what I call the right sort of thing. And there's Alice! Now, I declare it's too confounded rough on Alice! Just as she's come out and such a splendid girl too!"

At this moment the office boy brought up a note.

"From Eva," I said, opening it.

It ran thus:

"Well, dearest, the storm has burst and nobody is killed yet. Papa told mamma last night, and mamma told us this morning, and we are all agreed to be brave as possible and make it seem as light as we can to papa. Dear papa! I know it was for us he struggled, it was for us he was anxious, and we'll show him we can do very well. Come down now. Mamma says she feels as if she could trust you as a son. Isn't that kind?

Your own Eva."

"I'm going right down to the house," said I.

"I declare," said Jim, "I want to do something, and one doesn't know what. I say, I'll buy a bouquet for Alice, and you just take it with my compliments." So saying Jim ran down with me, crossed to a florist's cellar, and selected the most extravagant of the floral treasures there.

"Hang it all!" he said, "I wouldn't send her such a one when she was up in the world, but now a fellow wants to do all he can, you know."

"Jim," said I, "you are not a mere smooth-water friend."

"Not I. 'Go for the under dog in the fight' is my principle, so get along with you and stay as long as you like. I can do your book notices; I know just the sort of thing you would say, you know—do 'em up brown, so that you wouldn't know my ideas from your own."

Arrived at the Van Arsdel house, I thought I could see and feel the traces of a crisis, by that mysterious intimation that fills the very air of a place where something has just happened. The elegant colored servant who opened the door wore an aspect of tender regret like an undertaker at a funeral.

"Miss Eva was in her boudoir," he said, "but Miss Alice hadn't come down." I sent up the bouquet with Mr. Fellows' compliments, and made the best of my way to Eva.

She was in the pretty little nook in which we had had our first long talk and which now she called our Italy. I found her a little pale and serious, but on the whole in cheerful spirits.

"It's about as bad as it can be," said she. "It seems papa has made himself personally responsible for the Lightning Railroad and borrowed money to put into it, and then there's something or other about the stock he borrowed on running down till it isn't worth anything. I don't understand a word of it, only I know that the upshot of it all is, papa is going to give up all he has and begin over. This house and furniture will be put into a broker's hands and advertised for sale. All the pictures are going to Goupil's sale rooms and will make quite a nice gallery."

"Except yours in this room," said I.

"Ah well! I thought we should keep these, but I find papa is very sensitive about giving up everything that is really his—and these are his in fact. I bought them with his money. At all events, let them go. We won't care, will we?"

"Not so long as we have each other," said I. "For my part, though I'm sorry for you all, yet I bless the stroke that brings you to me. You see we must make a new home at once, you and I, isn't it so? Now, hear me; let us be married in June, the month of months, and for our wedding journey we'll go up to the mountains and see my mother. It's perfectly lovely up there. Shall it be so?"

"As you will, Harry. And it will be all the better so, because Ida is going to sail for Paris sooner than she anticipated."

"Why does Ida do that?"

"Well, you see, Ida has been the manager of papa's foreign correspondence and written all the letters for three years past, and papa has paid her a large salary, of which she has spent scarcely anything. She has invested it to make her studies with in Paris. She offered this to papa, but he would not take it. He told her it was no more his than the salary of any other of his clerks, and that if she wouldn't make him very unhappy she would take it and go to Paris; and by going immediately she could arrange some of his foreign business. So you see she will stay to see us married and then sail."

"We'll be married in the same church where we put up the Easter crosses," said I.

"How little we dreamed it then," she said, "and that reminds me, sir, where's my glove that you stole on that occasion? You naughty boy, you thought nobody saw you, but somebody did."

"Your glove," said I, "is safe and sound in my reliquary along with sundry other treasures."

"You unprincipled creature! what are they? Confess."

"Well! a handkerchief."

"Wretched man! and besides?"

"Two hair pins, a faded rose, two beads that dropped from your croquet suit, and a sleeve button. Then there is a dry sprig of myrtle that you dropped, on, let me see, the 14th of April, when you were out at the Park in one of those rustic arbors."

"And you were sitting glowering like an owl in an ivy bush. I remember I saw you there."

We both found ourselves laughing very much louder than circumstances seemed really to require, when Eva heard her father's footstep and checked herself.

"There goes poor papa. Isn't it a shame that we laugh? We ought to be sober, now, but for the life of me I can't. I'm one of the imponderable elastic gases; you can't keep me down."

"One may 'as well laugh as cry,' under all circumstances," said I.

"Better, a dozen times. But seriously and soberly, I believe that even papa, now it's all over, feels relieved. It was while he was struggling, fearing, dreading, afraid to tell us, that he had the worst of it."

"Nothing is ever so bad as one's fears," said I. "There is always some hope even at the bottom of Pandora's box."

"Sententious, Mr. Editor, but true. Now in illustration. Last week Ida and I wrote to the boys at Cambridge all about what we feared was coming, and this very morning we had such nice manly letters from both of them. If we hadn't been in trouble we never should have known half what good fellows they are. Look here," she said, opening a letter, "Tom says, 'Tell father that I can take care of myself. I'm in my senior year and the rest of the course isn't worth waiting for and I've had an opportunity to pitch in with a surveying party on the Northern Railroad along with my chum. I shall work like sixty, and make myself so essential that they can't do without me. And, you see, the first that will be known of me I shall be one of the leading surveyors of the day. So have no care for me.' And here's a letter from Will which says, 'Why didn't father tell us before? We've spent ever so much more than we needed, but are going about financial retrenchments with a vengeance. Last week I attended the boat race at Worcester and sent an account of it to the Argus, written off-hand, just for the fun of it. I got a prompt reply, wanting to engage me to go on a reporting tour of all the great election meetings for them. I'm to have thirty dollars a week and all expenses paid; so you see I step into the press at once. We shall sell our pictures and furniture to some freshies that are coming in, and wind up matters so as not to come on father for anything till he gets past these straits. Tell mother not to worry, she shall be taken care of; she shall have Tom and me both to work for her.'"

"They are splendid fellows!" said I, "and it is worth a crisis to see how well they behave in it. Well, then," I resumed, "our wedding day shall be fixed, say for the 14th of June?"

"How very statistical! I'm sure I can't say, I've got to talk with mamma and all the powers that be, and settle my own head. Don't let's set a day yet; it soils the blue line of the distance—nothing like those pearl tints. Our drawing master used to tell us one definite touch would spoil them."

"For the present, then, it is agreed that we are to be married generally in the month of June?" said I.

"P. P.—Providence permitting," said she—"Providence, meaning mamma, Ida, Aunt Maria, and all the rest."

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