The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 12

life, was expressed in dollar signs, while the
love which Abigail craved is better expressed by any other means at the
command of man.

Being misunderstood and, to all outward appearances of sentiment and
affection, unloved had not in any way embittered Abigail's remarkably
joyous temperament. She made up for it in some measure by getting all the
fun and excitement out of life which she could discover therein, or
invent through the medium of her own resourceful imagination.

But recently the first real sorrow had been thrust into her young life
since the half-forgotten mother had been taken from her. The second
Mrs. Prim had decided that it was her 'duty' to see that Abigail, having
finished school and college, was properly married. As a matchmaker
the second Mrs. Prim was as a Texas steer in a ten cent store. It was
nothing to her that Abigail did not wish to marry anyone, or that the
man of Mrs. Prim's choice, had he been the sole surviving male in the
Universe, would have still been as far from Abigail's choice as though
he had been an inhabitant of one of Orion's most distant planets.

As a matter of fact Abigail Prim detested Samuel Benham because he
represented to her everything in life which she shrank from--age,
avoirdupois, infirmity, baldness, stupidity, and matrimony. He was a
prosaic old bachelor who had amassed a fortune by the simple means of
inheriting three farms upon which an industrial city subsequently had
been built. Necessity rather than foresight had compelled him to hold on
to his property; and six weeks of typhoid, arriving and departing, had
saved him from selling out at a low figure. The first time he found
himself able to be out and attend to business he likewise found himself
a wealthy man, and ever since he had been growing wealthier without
personal effort.

All of which is to render evident just how impossible a matrimonial
proposition was Samuel Benham to a bright, a beautiful, a gay, an
imaginative, young, and a witty girl such as Abigail Prim, who cared
less for money than for almost any other desirable thing in the world.

Nagged, scolded, reproached, pestered, threatened, Abigail had at last
given a seeming assent to her stepmother's ambition; and had forthwith
been packed off on a two weeks visit to the sister of the bride-groom
elect. After which Mr. Benham was to visit Oakdale as a guest of the
Prims, and at a dinner for which cards already had been issued--so sure
was Mrs. Jonas Prim of her position of dictator of the Prim menage--the

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