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Strictly Business O Henry

XVI. Compliments Of The Season

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"The blessings of another year--"

Fuzzy's memory failed him. The Lady prompted:

"--Be upon this hearth."

"--The guest--" stammered Fuzzy.

"--And upon her who--" continued the Lady, with a leading smile.

"Oh, cut it out," said Fuzzy, ill-manneredly. "I can't remember. Drink hearty."

Fuzzy had shot his arrow. They drank. The Lady smiled again the smile of her caste. James enveloped and re-conducted him toward the front door. The harp music still softly drifted through the house.

Outside, Black Riley breathed on his cold hands and hugged the gate.

"I wonder," said the Lady to herself, musing, "who--but there were so many who came. I wonder whether memory is a curse or a blessing to them after they have fallen so low."

Fuzzy and his escort were nearly at the door. The Lady called: "James!"

James stalked back obsequiously, leaving Fuzzy waiting unsteadily, with his brief spark of the divine fire gone.

Outside, Black Riley stamped his cold feet and got a firmer grip on his section of gas-pipe.

"You will conduct this gentleman," said the lady, "Downstairs. Then tell Louis to get out the Mercedes and take him to whatever place he wishes to go."

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