I'm going to stay with the three Miss Miners at the Trehearnes' place, said Louis Lawrence, looking down into the blue water as he leaned over the rail of the Sappho, on the sunny side of the steamer. "They're taking care of Miss Trehearne while her mother is away at Karlsbad with Mr. Trehearne," he added, in further explanation. "Yes," answered Professor Knowles, his companion. "Yes," he repeated vaguely, a moment later. "It's fun for the three Miss Miners, having such a place all to themselves for the summer," continued young Lawrence. "It's less amusing for Miss Trehearne, I daresay. I suppose I'm asked to enliven things. It can't be exactly gay in their establishment." "I don't know any of them," observed the Professor, who was a Boston man. "The probability is that I never shall. Who are the three Miss Miners, and who is Miss Trehearne?" "Ohyou don't know them!" Lawrence's voice expressed his surprise that there should be any one who did not know the ladies in question. "Wellthey're three old maids, you know." "Excuse me, I don't know. Old maid is such a vague term. How old must a maid be, to be an old maid?" "Ohit isn't age that makes old maids. It's the absence of youth. They're born so." "A pleasing paradox," remarked the Professor, his exaggerated jaw seeming to check the uneasy smile, as it attacked the gravity of his colourless thin lips. His head, in the full face view, was not too large for his body, which, in the two dimensions of length and breadth, was well proportioned. The absence of the third dimension, that is, of bodily thickness, was very apparent when he was seen sideways, while the exaggeration of the skull was also noticeable only in profile. The forehead and the long delicate jaw were unnaturally prominent; the ear was set much too far back, and there was no development over the eyes, while the nose was small, thin, and sharp, as though cut out of letter paper. "It's not a paradox," said Lawrence, whose respect for professorial statements was small. "The three Miss Miners were old maids before they were born. They're not particularly old, except Cordelia. She must be over forty. Augusta is the youngestabout thirty-two, I should think. Then there's the middle oneshe's Elizabeth, you knowshe's no particular age. Cordelia must have been prettyin a former state. Lots of brown hair and beautiful teeth. But she has the religious smilewhat they put on when they sing hymns, don't you know? It's chronic. Good teeth and resignation did it. She's good all through, but you get all through her so soon! Elizabeth's clevercomparatively. She's brown, and round, and fat, and ugly. I'd like to paint her portrait. She's really by far the most attractive.