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"To think," I said, "that in so natural a society as this seems to be, so unnatural a distinction should be made."

"Why unnatural?" he asked. "Anyway, it is costumbre del paisa custom of the country which there's no escaping."

"It seems a wasteful custom," I persisted. "That one's opportunities should depend wholly on one's birth, regardless of personal qualities-"

"Does seem a pity sometimes," he agreed.

"Take the case of a girl," said I. "Some girl who is born a muchacha a serving-maid-"

Don Feliciano looked at me with sudden attentiveness.

"Must she expect to be tied for life to some such fellow as that bridegroom of yours this morning was. a good-natured, plodding, noddle-headed, round-skulled, thicklimbed dolt, who at his best trails a glory of purple velvet slippers behind him as he goes?"

Don Feliciano smiled at my energetic adjectives. "In the natural course of things," said he, "a muchacha would expect to marry some man of her own class."

"And yet she might conceivably be a creature of such grace and

spirit and true gentleness as are rare in any class. Why," I cried scornfully, "people don't breed dogs as carelessly and wastefully as that. Blood counts, but points count, too."

"In Felicidad," said Don Feliciano, smiling whimsically, "I'm afraid we don't bother to breed dogs. They happen."

"Don Feliciano," said I, smiling with him at my own enthusiasm, "I see that one or two of the customs of Felicidad need the attention of a reformer."

He chuckled. "Upon my word," said he, "I don't believe we've ever had a single reformer here. What an opening, eh?" He took up his candle. "Now I'll say good night, hoping that the ankle will let you sleep.

"The ankle's just nothing at all," I assured him, and he left me to listen idly to the steady flowing of the river in the dark.

"Will she," I wondered, "be down there at the mortar in the morning? And will her hand flutter moth-like above her hair when she becomes. aware of me, from a distance looking down? She has the hands of an Oriental princess and the air of one at times. A poor disinherited little princess in a world of purple velvet slippers. Heigho! I wonder-"

But with that sleep must have stopped my wondering for a while.

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We were selecting a husband for this girl. I seemed to have become very paternal toward her all at once, considering the brevity of our acquaintance-selecting him in most businesslike and unsentimental fashion.

We moved through a vast, dim warehouse filled with all the really eligible young men in the world. It was vast, but not so overcrowded as you might fancy at first thought. For no one was admitted there who had ever touched foot to purple velvet slipper. All of them had been born in riding-boots.


We had our difficulties. None of the young men-they were ranged on pedestals, of course, and displayed to the best advantage,-none of the young men before whom Pepita halted contemplatively appealed to me in the least. Distaste

so overcame me that I hurried her on. And she obeyed me with a very appealing submissiveness and trust in my maturer judgment.

But all at once, as things will go sometimes in dreams, without one's knowing how or why, we were in that matrimonial clearing-house no longer, but alone on a wide plain. Pepita was looking up at me reproachfully.

"If you hadn't hurried me so," she complained. "There were one or two of them-"

"Who wouldn't have suited you at all," said I, "after you'd got them home. They always look much better in the shops. That's why the management frowns so on exchanges. Otherwise there'd be nothing to offer but a line of bargains, slightly worn.'

"I don't see how you know," she objected. "You're nothing but a

"I," said I, "mere man that I am, stood on a pedestal once myself, till I fell off. I learned a thing or two, both in the standing and the falling."

"But now," she said disappointedly, "we've looked at all there were, and there isn't one-"

"Not one," I agreed. "I'm glad

you see it. You've no notion what a very extraordinary person you are, Pepita of the Saints. Unless you have an extraordinary mate to match you, it's much better for you to have none at all."

"But I'm going to have some kind of a one," she said defiantly. "All girls do. You needn't think that just because you saved my life—”

"I'm sorry," I said humbly, "I'm very sorry. But you see how it is. We've come to the End of the World here, you and I, where there's no one left, and we haven't seen a single-"

Pepita glanced up at me quickly, and a saucy, almost a coquettish spark of laughter was in the depths. of her eyes. "You're awfully unobservant," she said. “I've seen one."

"You thought you saw one," I corrected her. "But in my maturer judgment—”

"But I see him still, and I'm sure you'd think him extraordinary enough for any one," she said, with the laughter growing in her eyes.

I looked all around over that wide, empty plain. There was no one there except us two. "Pepita," said I, "your experience is psychopathic. There's no one here but us. a fact at which Doña Ceferina would hold up her hands in—”

"As if I didn't know that!" she said, still saucily. Then she turned timid. "Don D-jon," she whispered, and stood looking down.

I gazed at her with eyes that were like new ones, watching delightedly her shy little face and remembering all her shy, proud, dainty little ways. "Pepita!" I cried incredulously. "You don't mean that out of all the world-I can't believe it. Why, I'm old and dull and-"

Pepito looked up at me from underneath her lashes. The laughter in her eyes was very gentle then, and with a small typhoon of wonderment buzzing in my brain I-woke


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