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Baby Mine By Margaret Mayo Characters: 7890

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07

Even in college Alfred Hardy was a young man of fixed ideas and high ideals and proud of it.

His friend, Jimmy Jinks, had few ideas and no ideals, and was glad of it, and before half of their first college term had passed, Jimmy had ridded himself of all such worries as making up his own mind or directing his own morals. Alfred did all these things so much better, argued Jimmy, furthermore, Alfred LIKED to do them-Jimmy owed it to his friend to give him that pleasure.

The fact that Jimmy was several years Alfred's senior and twice his size, in no way altered his opinion of Alfred's judgment, and through their entire college course they agreed as one man in all their discussions-or rather-in all Alfred's discussions.

But it was not until the close of their senior year that Alfred favoured Jimmy with his views on matrimony.

Sitting alone in a secluded corner of the campus waiting for Alfred to solve a problem in higher mathematics, Jimmy now recalled fragments of Alfred's last conversation.

"No twelve dollar shoes and forty dollar hats for MY wife," his young friend had raged and he condemned to Jimmy the wicked extravagance of his own younger sisters. "The woman who gets me must be a home-maker. I'll take her to the theatre occasionally, and now and then we'll have a few friends in for the evening; but the fireside must be her magnet, and I'll be right by her side each night with my books and my day's worries. She shall be taken into my confidence completely; and I'll take good care to let her know, before I marry her, just what I expect in return."

"Alfred certainly has the right idea about marriage," mused Jimmy, as the toe of his boot shoved the gravel up and down the path. "There's just one impractical feature about it." He was conscious of a slight feeling of heresy when he admitted even ONE flaw in his friend's scheme of things. "Where is Alfred to find such a wife?"

Jimmy ran through the list of unattached girls to whom Alfred had thus far presented him. It was no doubt due to his lack of imagination, but try as he would, he could not see any one of these girls sitting by the fireside listening to Alfred's "worries" for four or five nights each week. He recalled all the married women whom he had been obliged, through no fault of his own, to observe.

True, all of them did not boast twelve dollar shoes or forty dollar hats-for the very simple reason that the incomes or the tempers of their husbands did not permit of it. In any case, Jimmy did not remember having seen them spend many evenings by the fireside. Where then was Alfred to find the exceptional creature who was to help "systematise his life"? Jimmy was not above hoping that Alfred's search might be a long one. He was content for his friend to go jogging along by his side, theorising about marriage and taking no chances with facts. Having come to this conclusion, he began to feel uneasy at Alfred's non-appearance. Alfred had promised to meet him on this spot at four-thirty, and Alfred had decided ideas about punctuality. It was now five-thirty. Ought Jimmy to look for him, or would he be wiser to remain comfortably seated and to try to digest another of his friend's theories?

While Jimmy was trying to decide this vexed question, his ear caught the sound of a girlish titter. Turning in embarrassment toward a secluded path just behind him, whom did he see coming toward him but Alfred, with what appeared to be a bunch of daffodils; but as Alfred drew nearer, Jimmy began to perceive at his elbow a large flower-trimmed hat, and-"horrors!"-beneath it, with a great deal of filmy white and yellow floating from it, was a small pink and white face.

Barely had Jimmy reversed himself and rearranged his round, astonished features, when Alfred, beaming and buoyant, brought the bundle of fluff to a full stop before him.

"Sorry to be late, old chap," said Alfred. "I have brought my excuse with

me. I want you to know Miss Merton." Then turning to the small creature, whose head peeped just above his elbow, Alfred explained to her graciously that Jimmy Jinks was his very best friend, present company excepted, of course, and added that she and Jimmy would no doubt "see a great deal of each other in the future."

In his embarrassment, Jimmy's eyes went straight to the young lady's shoes. It was possible that there might be more expensive shoes in this world, but Jimmy had certainly never seen daintier.

"I hope we didn't disturb you," a small voice was chirping; and innocent and conventional as the remark surely was, Jimmy was certain of an undercurrent of mischief in it. He glanced up to protest, but two baby-blue eyes fixed upon him in apparent wonderment, made him certain that anything he could say would seem rude or ridiculous; so, as usual when in a plight, he looked to Alfred for the answer.

Slapping Jimmy upon the shoulder in a condescending spirit, Alfred suggested that they all sit down and have a chat.

"Oh, how nice," chirped the small person.

Jimmy felt an irresistible desire to run, but the picture of himself, in his very stout person, streaking across the campus to the giggled delight of Miss Fluff, soon brought him submissively to the seat, where he sat twiddling his straw hat between his fingers, and glancing uncertainly at Alfred, who was thoughtful enough to sit next him.

"Goodness, one could almost dance out here, couldn't one?" said the small person, named Zoie, as her eyes roved over the bit of level green before them.

"Would you like to try?" asked Alfred, apparently agreeable to her every caprice.

"I'd love it!" cried Zoie. "Come along." She sprang up and held out her hands to him.

"I'm going to be unselfish," answered Alfred, "and let Jimmy have that fun."

By this time, Jimmy had been seized with an intuitive feeling that his friend was in immediate danger.

"Was this the young woman who was to sit opposite the fireside five nights a week and systematise Alfred's life?"

Jimmy stared at the intruder blankly. For answer, two small hands were thrust out toward him and an impatient little voice was commanding him to "Come, dance." He heard Alfred's laughter. He had no intention of accommodating the small person in this or any other matter, yet, before he realised quite how it had happened, he was two-stepping up and down the grass to her piping little voice; nor did she release him until the perspiration came rolling from his forehead; and, horror of horrors, his one-time friend, Alfred, seemed to find this amusing, and laughed louder and louder when Jimmy sank by his side exhausted.

When Jimmy was again able to think consecutively, he concluded that considerable conversation must have taken place between Alfred and the small one, while he was recovering his breath and re-adjusting his wilted neckwear. He was now thrown into a fresh panic by an exclamation from the excitable Zoie.

"You must both meet my friend, Aggie Darling," she was saying. "I am bringing her with me to the hop to-night. She is not at all like me. You will like her dreadfully." She smiled at Jimmy as though she were conferring a great favour upon him.

"Like her dreadfully," commented Jimmy to himself. "It was just the kind of expression one might expect from a mind in such disorder as hers. 'Systematise Alfred's life,' indeed!"

There was more nonsensical chatter, or so it seemed to Jimmy, then Zoie and Alfred rose to go, and Jimmy was told by both of them that he was to put in an appearance at the Fraternity "hop" that night.

"I'll see you at dinner," called Alfred gaily over his shoulder and Jimmy was left to grapple with his first disappointment at his friend's lack of discrimination.

"It's her fault," concluded Jimmy, as he lifted himself heavily off the bench and started down the campus, resolved to console himself with food.

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