Conclusion. Convincing Camilla
 

"If you can convince me, Jim, that you are more irresponsible and more in need of a guiding hand than Mrs. Francis--why then I'll--I'll be--"

Jim sprang from his chair.

"You'll be what, Camilla? Tell me quick," he cried eagerly.

"I'll be--convinced," she said demurely, looking down.

Jim sat down again and sighed.

"Will you be anything else?" he asked.

"Convince me first," she said firmly.

"I think I can do it," he said, "I always have to write down what I want to do each day, and what I need to buy when I come in here, and once, when I wrote my list, nails, coffee, ploughshare, mail, I forgot to put on it, 'come back,' and perhaps you may remember I came here that evening and stayed and stayed--I was trying to think what to do next."

"That need not worry you again, Jim," she said sweetly. "I can easily remember that, and will tell you every time."

"To 'come back'?" he said. "Thank you, Camilla, and I will do it too."

She laughed.

"Having to make a list isn't anything. Poor Mrs. Francis makes a list and then loses it, then makes a second list, and puts on it to find the first list, and then loses that; and Jim, she once made biscuits and forgot the shortening."

"I made biscuits once and forgot the flour," Jim declared proudly.

Camilla shook her head.

"And, Camilla," Jim said gravely, "I am really very irresponsible, you know Nellie Slater--she is a pretty girl, isn't she?"

"A very pretty girl," Camilla agreed.

"About your size--fluffy hair--"

"Wavy, Jim," Camilla corrected.

"Hers is fluffy, yours is wavy," Jim said firmly--"lovely dark eyes--well, she was standing by the window, just before the lamps were lighted, and I really am very absent-minded you know--I don't know how it happened that I mistook her for you."

Camilla reached out her hand.

He seized it eagerly.

"Jim--I am convinced," she said softly.

Fifteen minutes afterwards Camilla said:

"I cannot tell her, Jim, I really cannot. I don't how know to begin to tell her."

"Why do you need to tell her?" Jim asked. "Hasn't the lady eyes and understanding? What does she think I come for?"

"She doesn't know you come. She sees somebody here, but she thinks it's the grocery-boy waiting until I empty his basket."

"Indeed," Jim said a little stiffly, "which one, I wonder."

"Don't you remember the night she said to me 'And what did you say this young man's name is, Camilla'--no, no, Jim, she hasn't noticed you at all."

Jim was silent a moment.

"Well now," he said at last, "she seemed to be taking notice that morning I came in without any very good excuse, and she said 'How does it happen that you are not harvesting this beautiful day, Mr. Russell?'"

"Yes, and what did you say?" Camilla asked a trifle severely.

Jim looked a little embarrassed.

"I said--I had not felt well lately, and I had come in to see the doctor."

"And what was that?" Camilla was still stern.

"The ingenious device of an ardent lover," he replied quickly.

"'Ardened sinner you mean, Jim," she laughed. "But the next time you had a splendid excuse, you had a message from Pearl. Was my new suit done?"

"Yes, and then I came to see--"

There was a frou-frou of skirts in the hall. Camilla made a quick move and Jim became busy with the books on the table.

Mrs. Francis entered.

"Camilla," she began after she had spoken cordially to Jim, "Mr. Francis is in need of a young man to manage his business for him, and he has made up his mind--quite made up his mind, Camilla, to take Mr. Russell into partnership with him if Mr. Russell will agree. Mr. Francis needs just such a young man, one of education, good habits and business ability and so, Camilla, I see no reason why your marriage should not take place at once."

"Marriage!" Camilla gasped.

"Yes," Mrs. Francis said in her richest tones. "Your marriage, Camilla, at once. You are engaged are you not?"

"I am--convinced," Camilla said irrelevantly.

And then it was Mrs. Francis who laughed as she held out a hand to each of them.

"I do see--things--sometimes," she said.