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- Her Weight in Gold - 1/40 -


[Illustration Caption: Martha told him that he had always been her ideal and that she worshipped him.]

HER WEIGHT IN GOLD

By GEORGE BARR McCUTCHEON

NEW YORK

1914

Nearly all of the stories presented in this volume appeared separately in various magazines. The author desires to acknowledge his thanks to the publications for courtesies extended by their editors: The National Magazine, Short Stories, the Saturday Evening Post, The Reader, The Woman's World, Good Housekeeping and The Illustrated Sunday Magazine.

CONTENTS

HER WEIGHT IN GOLD

THE MAID AND THE BLADE

MR. HAMSHAW'S LOVE AFFAIR

THE GREEN RUBY

THE GLOAMING GHOSTS

WHEN GIRL MEETS GIRL

QUIDDLERS THREE

THE LATE MR. TAYLOR

THE TEN DOLLAR BILL

HER WEIGHT IN GOLD

"Well the question is: how much does she weigh?" asked Eddie Ten Eyck with satirical good humour.

His somewhat flippant inquiry followed the heated remark of General Horatio Gamble, who, in desperation, had declared that his step- daughter, Martha, was worth her weight in gold.

The General was quite a figure in the town of Essex. He was the president of the Town and Country Club and, besides owning a splendid stud, was also the possessor of a genuine Gainsborough, picked up at the shop of an obscure dealer in antiques in New York City for a ridiculously low price (two hundred dollars, it has been said), and which, according to a rumour started by himself, was worth a hundred thousand if it was worth a dollar, although he contrived to keep the secret from the ears of the county tax collector. He had married late in life, after accumulating a fortune that no woman could despise, and of late years had taken to frequenting the Club with a far greater assiduity than is customary in most presidents.

Young Mr. Ten Eyck's sarcasm was inspired by a mind's-eye picture of Miss Martha Gamble. To quote Jo Grigsby, she was "so plain that all comparison began and ended with her." Without desiring to appear ungallant, I may say that there were many homely young women in Essex; but each of them had the delicate satisfaction of knowing that Martha was incomparably her superior in that respect.

"I am not jesting, sir," said the General with asperity. "Martha may not be as good-looking as--er--some girls that I've seen, but she is a jewel, just the same. The man who gets her for a wife will be a blamed sight luckier than the fellows who marry the brainless little fools we see trotting around like butterflies." (It was the first time that Eddie had heard of trotting butterflies.)

"She's a fine girl," was his conciliatory remark.

"She is pure gold," said the General with conviction. "Pure gold, sir."

"A nugget," agreed Eddie expansively. "A hundred and eighty pound nugget, General. Why don't you send her to a refinery?"

The General merely glared at him and subsided into thoughtful silence. He was in the habit of falling into deep spells of abstraction at such times as this. For the life of him, he couldn't understand how Martha came by her excessive plainness. Her mother was looked upon as a beautiful woman and her father (the General's predecessor) had been a man worth looking at, even from a successor's point of view. That Martha should have grown up to such appalling ugliness was a source of wonder, not only to the General, but to Mrs. Gamble herself.

Young Mr. Ten Eyck was the most impecunious spendthrift in Essex. He lived by his wits, with which he was more generously endowed than anything in the shape of gold or precious jewels. His raiment was accumulative. His spending-money came to him through an allowance that his grandmother considerately delivered to him at regular periods, but as is the custom with such young men he was penniless before the quarter was half over. At all times he was precariously close to being submerged by his obligations. Yet trouble sat lightly upon his head, if one were to judge by outward appearances. Beneath a bland, care- free exterior, however, there lurked in Edward's bosom a perpetual pang of distress over the financial situation.

What worried him most was the conviction that all signs pointed toward the suspension of credit in places where he owed money, and, Young Mr. Ten Eyck's sarcasm was inspired by a mind's-eye picture of Miss Martha Gamble. To quote Jo Grigsby, she was "so plain that all comparison began and ended with her." Without desiring to appear ungallant, I may say that there were many homely young women in Essex; but each of them had the delicate satisfaction of knowing that Martha was incomparably her superior in that respect.

"I am not jesting, sir," said the General with asperity. "Martha may not be as good-looking as--er--some girls that I've seen, but she is a jewel, just the same. The man who gets her for a wife will be a blamed sight luckier than the fellows who marry the brainless little fools we see trotting around like butterflies." (It was the first time that Eddie had heard of trotting butterflies.)

"She's a fine girl," was his conciliatory remark.

"She is pure gold," said the General with conviction. "Pure gold, sir."

"A nugget," agreed Eddie expansively. "A hundred and eighty pound nugget, General. Why don't you send her to a refinery?"

The General merely glared at him and subsided into thoughtful silence. He was in the habit of falling into deep spells of abstraction at such times as this. For the life of him, he couldn't understand how Martha came by her excessive plainness. Her mother was looked upon as a beautiful woman and her father (the General's predecessor) had been a man worth looking at, even from a successor's point of view. That Martha should have grown up to such appalling ugliness was a source of wonder, not only to the General, but to Mrs. Gamble herself.

Young Mr. Ten Eyck was the most impecunious spendthrift in Essex. He lived by his wits, with which he was more generously endowed than anything in the shape of gold or precious jewels. His raiment was accumulative. His spending-money came to him through an allowance that his grandmother considerately delivered to him at regular periods, but as is the custom with such young men he was penniless before the quarter was half over. At all times he was precariously close to being submerged by his obligations. Yet trouble sat lightly upon his head, if one were to judge by outward appearances. Beneath a bland, care- free exterior, however, there lurked in Edward's bosom a perpetual pang of distress over the financial situation.

What worried him most was the conviction that all signs pointed toward the suspension of credit in places where he owed money, and, as he owed without discrimination, the future seemed hard to contemplate.

Prudent mothers stood defiantly between him and what might have been prosperity. He could win the hearts of daughters with shameful regularity and ease, but he could not delude the heads of the families to which they belonged. They knew him well and wisely.

The conversation between him and General Gamble took place in the reading-room of the Town and Country Club. There was a small table between them, and glasses.

"What is the market price of gold to-day, General?" asked Eddie impudently, after he had watched the old man's gloomy countenance out of the corner of his eye for the matter of three minutes or more.

The General regarded him with deep scorn. "Gold? What do you know about gold? You seldom see anything more precious than copper."

"That's no joke," agreed Eddie with his frank smile. "I am the only, original penny limit. That reminds me, General. I meant to speak of it before, but somehow it slipped my mind. Could you lend me--"

The General held up his hand. "I've been waiting for that, Eddie. Don't humiliate yourself by asking for a small amount. I haven't the remotest idea how much you already owe me, but it doesn't matter in view of the fact that you'll never pay it. You were about to request the loan of ten dollars, my boy. Why not ask for a respectable amount?--say, fifty dollars."

Eddie's heart leaped. "That's just the amount I meant to ask you to let me have for a week or two. 'Pon my word, it is."

"Well," said the General, taking a notebook from his pocket and carefully jotting down an entry with his gold-tipped pencil, "I cheerfully give it to you, Eddie. I shall credit your account with that amount. Fifty dollars--um! It is a new system I have concluded to adopt. Every time you ask me for a loan I shall subtract the amount


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