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Hugh first saw Clara Butterworth one day in July when she had been at home for
a month. She came to his shop late one afternoon with her father and a man who
had been employed to manage the new bicycle factory. The three got out of
Tom's buggy and came into the shop to see Hugh's new invention, the hay-
loading apparatus. Tom and the man named Alfred Buckley went to the rear of
the shop, and Hugh was left alone with the woman. She was dressed in a light
summer gown and her cheeks were flushed. Hugh stood by a bench near an
open window and listened while she talked of how much the town had changed
in the three years she had been away. "It is your doing, every one says that," she
Clara had been waiting for an opportunity to talk to Hugh. She began asking
questions regarding his work and what was to come of it. "When everything is
done by machines, what are people to do?" she asked. She seemed to take it for
granted that the inventor had thought deeply on the subject of industrial
development, a subject on which Kate Chanceller had often talked during a
whole evening. Having heard Hugh spoken of as one who had a great brain, she
wanted to see the brain at work.
Alfred Buckley came often to her father's house and wanted to marry Clara. In
the evening the two men sat on the front porch of the farmhouse and talked of
the town and the big things that were to be done there. They spoke of Hugh, and
Buckley, an energetic, talkative fellow with a long jaw and restless gray eyes who
had come from New York City, suggested schemes for using him. Clara gathered
that there was a plan on foot to get control of Hugh's future inventions and
thereby gain an advantage over Steve Hunter.
The whole matter puzzled Clara. Alfred Buckley had asked her to marry him and
she had put the matter off. The proposal had been a formal thing, not at all what
she had expected from a man she was to take as a partner for life, but Clara was
at the moment very seriously determined upon marriage. The New York man was
at her father's house several evenings every week. She had never walked about
with him nor had they in any way come close to each other. He seemed too
much occupied with work to be personal and had proposed marriage by writing
her a letter. Clara got the letter from the post-office and it upset her so that she
felt she could not for a time go into the presence of any one she knew. "I am
unworthy of you, but I want you to be my wife. I will work for you. I am new here
and you do not know me very well. All I ask is the privilege of proving my merit. I
want you to be my wife, but before I dare come and ask you to do me so great an
honor I feel I must prove myself worthy," the letter said.
Clara had driven into town alone on the day when she received it and later got
into her buggy and drove south past the Butterworth farm into the hills. She
forgot to go home to lunch or to the evening meal. The horse jogged slowly
along, protesting and trying to turn back at every cross road, but she kept on and
did not get home until midnight. When she reached the farmhouse her father was
waiting. He went with her into the barnyard and helped unhitch the horse.