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CHAPTER XV. THE PROFESSOR'S COURTSHIP.
"What a guy!"

The busy day at Macy's was over. Troops of young women passed through the doors, in street costume, and laughing and chatting, made their way up or down Sixth Avenue, or turned into Twenty-third street. Among them was Ruth Canby, and it was to her that her friend Maria Stevenson addressed the above exclamation.

Ruth turned to observe the figure indicated by her friend, and was almost speechless with surprise.

At the corner leaning against the lamppost was a figure she knew well. The rusty overcoat with its amplitude of cape,[Pg 129] the brown crushed hat, the weather-beaten face, and the green goggles were unmistakable. It was Prof. Poppendorf. He was peering in his short-sighted way at the young women emerging from the great store with an inquiring gaze. Suddenly his eyes brightened. He had found the object of his search.

"Mees Ruth!" he exclaimed, stepping forward briskly, "I haf come to walk home with you."

Ruth looked confused and almost distressed. She would gladly have found some excuse to avoid the walk but could think of none.

"Maria!" she said, hurriedly, "it is an old friend of the family. I shall have to leave you."

Her friend looked at the rusty figure in amazement.

"Oh, well, Ruth," she said, "we will meet to-morrow. So long!"

This was not perhaps the way in which a Fifth Avenue maiden would have parted[Pg 130] from her friend, but Maria Stevenson was a free and easy young woman, of excellent heart and various good qualities, but lacking the social veneering to be met with in a different class of society.

"How provoking!" thought Ruth, as she reluctantly took her place beside the Professor, who, unlike herself, seemed in the best of spirits.

"I haf waited here a quarter of an hour to meet you, Mees Ruth," he said.

"I wish you hadn't," thought Ruth, but she only said, "I am sorry to have put you to so much trouble."

"It was no trouble, I assure you, Mees Ruth," said her elderly companion in as genial a tone as his bass voice could assume.

"Let us cross the street," suggested Ruth.

She wished as soon as possible to get out of sight of her shop companions, who were sure to tease her the next day.

"With all my heart," said the [Pg 131]Professor. "I should wish to be more alone."

They crossed Sixth Avenue, and walked down on the west side. Ruth was wondering all the while what on earth could have induced the Professor to take such pains to offer her his escort. She did not have long to wait.

"I haf something very particular to say to you, Mees Ruth," said the Professor, gazing fondly at her through his green goggles.

"Indeed!" returned Ruth, in great surprise.

"Yes, Mees Ruth, I haf been feeling very lonely. I am tired of living at a boarding-house. I wish to have a home of my own. Will you marry me? Will you be my frau—I mean my wife?"

Ruth Canby stopped short. She was "like to drop," as she afterwards expressed it.

"Marry you!" she repeated, in a dazed way.

[Pg 132]

"Yes, Mees Ruth, dear Mees Ruth, I want you to be my wife."

"But, Professor, I could never think of marrying a man so——" old she was about to add, but she feared it would hurt the Professor's feelings.

"I know what you would say, Mees Ruth. You think I am too old. But I am strong. See here!" and he smote his large breast vigorously. "I am sound, and I shall live many years. My father lived till eighty-five, and I am only sixty-five."

"I am only twenty."

"True! you are much younger, but no young man would love you so fondly."

"I don't know," said Ruth.

"Perhaps you think I am poor, but it is not so. I haf a good income, and I haf just been appointed to gif lectures on philosophy in Miss Green's school on Madison Avenue. We will take a nice flat. I will furnish it well, and we will haf a happy home."

[Pg 133]

"Thank you very much, Prof. Poppendorf," said Ruth, hurriedly. "Indeed I feel complimented that such a learned man and great scholar should wish to marry me, but I am only a simple girl—I have not much education—and I should not make a suitable wife for you."

"Do not think of that, Mees Ruth. I will teach you myself. I will teach you Latin and Greek, and Sanscrit, if you please. I will read my lectures on philosophy to you, and I will make you 'un............
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