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To Mr. Smith it was like coming into another world. The deep, comfortable chairs, the shaded lights, the leaping fire on the hearth, the book-lined walls—even the rhythmic voices of the distant violins seemed to sing of peace and quietness and rest.

"Dad's been showin' me the books he used ter like when he was a little boy like me," announced Benny. "Hain't he got a lot of 'em?—books, I mean."

"He certainly has."

Mr. James Blaisdell stirred a little in his chair.

"I suppose I have—crowded them a little," he admitted. "But, you see, there were so many I'd always wanted, and when the chance came—well, I just bought them; that's all."

"And you have the time now to read them."

"I have, thank—Well, I suppose I should say thanks to Mr. Stanley G. Fulton," he laughed, with some embarrassment. "I wish Mr. Fulton could know—how much I do thank him," he finished soberly, his eyes caressing the rows of volumes on the shelves. "You see, when you've wanted something all your life—" He stopped with an expressive gesture.

"You don't care much for—that, then, I take it," inferred Mr. Smith, with a wave of his hand toward the distant violins.

"Dad says there's only one thing worse than a party, and that's two parties," piped up Benny from his seat on the rug.

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Mr. Smith laughed heartily, but the other looked still more discomfited.

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"I'm afraid Benny is—is telling tales out of school," he murmured.

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"Well, 'tis out of school, ain't it?" maintained Benny. "Say, Mr. Smith, did you have ter go ter a private school when you were a little boy? Ma says everybody does who is anybody. But if it's Cousin Stanley's money that's made us somebody, I wished he'd kept it at home—'fore I had ter go ter that old school."

"Oh, come, come, my boy," remonstrated the father, drawing his son into the circle of his arm. "That's neither kind nor grateful; besides, you don't know what you're talking about. Come, suppose we show Mr. Smith some of the new books."

From case to case, then, they went, the host eagerly displaying and explaining, the guest almost as eagerly watching and listening. And in the kindling eye and reverent fingers of the man handling the volumes, Mr. Smith caught some inkling of what those books meant to Jim Blaisdell.

"You must be fond of—books, Mr. Blaisdell," he said somewhat awkwardly, after a time.

"Ma says dad'd rather read than eat," giggled Benny; "but pa says readin' IS eatin'. But I'd rather have a cookie, wouldn't you, Mr. Smith?"

"You wait till you find what there IS in these books, my son," smiled his father. "You'll love them as well as I do, some day. And your brother—" He paused, a swift shadow on his face. He turned to Mr. Smith. "My boy, Fred, loves books, too. He helped me a lot in my buying. He was in here—a little while ago. But he couldn't stay, of course. He said he had to go and dance with the girls—his mother expected it."