employed in bookkeeping there. Yet, being young, as they
all were, each of these girls was an adventuress, in a quiet
way, and each one dreamed bright dreams in the dreary
place, and waited, as youth must wait, for fortune, or fame,
or position, love or power, to evolve itself somehow from
the dulness of her days, and give her the key that should
open--and shut--the doors of Hunter, Baxter & Hunter's
offices to her forever.
And, while they waited, working over the unvaried, stupid
columns of the company's books, they talked, confided,
became friends, and exchanged shy hints of ambition. The
ill-ventilated, neglected room was a little world, and rarely,
in a larger world, do women come to know each other as
intimately as these women did.
Therefore, on a certain sober September morning, the fact
that Miss Thornton, familiarly known as "Thorny," was out
of temper, speedily became known to all the little force.
Miss Thornton was not only the oldest clerk there, but she
was the highest paid, and the longest in the company's
employ; also she was by nature a leader, and generally
managed to impress her associates with her own mood,
whatever it might be. Various uneasy looks were sent to-
day in her direction, and by eleven o'clock even the
giggling Kirk sisters, who were newcomers, were imbued
with a sense of something wrong.
Nobody quite liked to allude to the subject, or ask a direct
question. Not that any one of them was particularly
considerate or reserved by nature, but because Miss