dull and apparently unimportant. He was, as I later learned,
She looked puzzled at first, then blushed to the temples. "Munificent act, gentlemen! Alas! I did but direct my agent to distribute a small sum among the deserving poor. He has done very ill to court your attention. My little contribution should have been as private as it is insignificant."
"Nay, madam," said the clerk of the council, who was a recognized orator, "your agent did well to consult our worthy burgomaster, who knows the persons most in need and most deserving. We do not doubt that you love to do good in secret. Nevertheless, we have also our sense of duty, and we think it right that so benevolent an act should be published, as an example to others. In the same view, we claim to comment publicly on your goodness." Then he looked to the burgomaster, who took him up.
"And we comment thus: Madam, since the Middle Ages the freedom of this town has not been possessed by any female. There is, however, no law forbidding it, and therefore, madam, the civic authorities, whom I represent, do hereby present to you the freedom of this burgh."
He then handed her an emblazoned vellum giving her citizenship, with the reasons written plainly in golden letters.
Ina Klosking, who had remained quite quiet during the speeches, waited a moment or two, and then replied, with seemly grace and dignity:
"Mr. Burgomaster and gentlemen, you have paid me a great and unexpected compliment, and I thank you for it. But one thing makes me uneasy: it is that I have done so little to deserve this. I console myself, however, by reflecting that I am still young, and may have opportunities to show myself grateful, and even to deserve, in the future, this honor, which at present overpays me, and almost oppresses me. On that understanding, gentlemen, be pleased to bestow, and let me receive, the rare compliment you have paid me by admitting me to citizenship in your delightful town." (To herself:) "I'll scold him well for this."
Low courtesy; profound bows; exit deputation enchanted with her; _manet_ Klosking with the freedom of the city in her hand and ingratitude in her heart; for her one idea was to get hold of Mr. Joseph Ashmead directly and reproach him severely for all this, which she justly ascribed to his machinations.
The cunning Ashmead divined her project, and kept persistently out of her way. That did not suit her neither. She was lonely. She gave the waiter a friendly line to bring him to her.