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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/278

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A PHILANTHROPIST'S IDEA

said Floyd. "Must the man show up five thousand then or forever hold his tongue?"

"We went into that quite thoroughly," Marion replied. "Adelaide pleaded hard that he should be let off for two thousand at least, but the others were quite firm. The girl's condition should n't and would n't influence any right-feeling man one way or the other, they decided; there was only one course that he could feel justified in pursuing in any circumstances. Adelaide Ward got quite indignant and said everybody was vulgarly commercial, and Geraldine reproved her for making such charges, when, as every one knew, they were only trying to take the highest ethical position. Adelaide was quite worked up by that time and said she did n't care, she did n't believe a single one of them had ever been in love or they would n't talk so; and then there was a great commotion, and I backed up Adelaide,—she seemed so alone in the world; and altogether it was one of the liveliest meetings the Discussion Club has had. Adelaide went away almost in tears, and I went away cross; and the last I heard was Helen Foster and May Pennington off in one corner discussing whether a man was ever justified in proposing by letter. May insisted that nothing but great distance could excuse this; she declared she would n't consider a proposal in writing from anywhere nearer than Salt Lake City—and probably not from there, as it might be a Mormon; and Helen thought there might be cases—some men might do it so much more prettily that way—it might be allowable."

"It seems a pity that the only persons to whom your debate might have been profitable were excluded," said Floyd.

"Men? Oh, it would n't have done them any good—only bewildered and scared them. They would n't have understood the intellectual dishonesty and moral cowardice of a lot of girls when they're gathered together and called on to express convictions. It was such a vital thing