Albert Ross.

A sugar princess online

. (page 12 of 19)
Online LibraryAlbert RossA sugar princess → online text (page 12 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


don't you remember, with the reddish-brown hairr
She came along as Mrs. Van's guest and brought her
two brats with her."

They had lowered their voices now so that even if
the scamps were trying to listen from their perch over-
head they could not succeed. Observations were
thrown down from time to time, nevertheless, sudh as,
"Whisperin's always lying," and "The Englishman's
cut you out, all right." When Thorn could stand
it no longer he raised his voice and remarked. "The
first time I catch you, young man, I'll cuff your ears."
To which Seraph's voice replied, "That's slander. I
ain't no young man ; and I'll tell my mother what you
called me."

Retreating steps indicated that the girl had gone
in the direction referred to.

"Olive," whispered Thorn, when the incident was
ended, "has Miss Amy said anything "

She shook her head dejectedly.

"I'm sorry to say she hasn't. It's just as I wrote
you the last time. She seems exceedingly fond of me,
but when I talk of you she doesn't utter a word. I've
gone as far as I dare. I've talked of you by the half
hour, saying how I wished you'd find some dear girl
for a wife and settle down in a home of your own:
I've told her you never had a love affair and that if
you ever formed an attachment it would be of a
kind to last forever. And she's listened, as if juist out
of politeness, and when she's spoken again it's been
about something else."

Thorn's hands were clenched till the finger nails cut


into the flesh. His face was set and pate. His dark
eyes gleamed in the half light like polished jewels.

"Tell me about the other one," he said, presently.
"Does she give him any encouragement?"

"Mr. Loring? I don't think he's had the courage
to lisp a word to her."

"Has she met anyone else on this journey?"

"No one who could be thought of in that connec-

"Then I'm going to ask her, within a week. There's
nothing to be gained by waiting and she can't get
angry with me for an honest declaration. You remem-
ber the poet's words

" ' He either fears his fate too much,

Or his desert is small,
Who will not put it to the touch,
To win or lose it. all !' "

Miss Thorn lifted her eyes sympathetically to her

"Do you love her very, very much?" she whisper-
ed. "Couldn't you learn to bear it if she said no ?"

"I came here because I could not endure the sus-
pense," he said, with short breaths ; "if she refuses me
it will break up my life."

"Poor boy ! " she murmured. "Don't give way to
discouragement. You may win her yet."

Looking stealthily around to make sure there were
no spectators present, Capt. Thorn pressed a warm
kiss on his sister's cheek. She had given him hope
that he needed badly. As he entered the hallway he
saw Carl Muller dressed for dinner already.


"It can*t be He, that would be impossible," whisper-
ed Thorn to himself, as the idea struck him for the
first time. "Her father objects to men of title, but
he would hardly consent to a man who is little more
than a personal servant. Taint heart never won fair
lady.' I must win! I must!"

The dinner passed quietly, Capt. Thorn taking pains
to be agreeable to everybody and not to address un-
necessary remarks to the object of his hopes.

Mr. Loring was even less talkative than usual. He
too was thinking of the best way to impart to the fair
daughter of the sugar king the desire that rilled his
heart. The coming of Capt. Thorn made it seem dan-
gerous to postpone the important question too long.

The party had adjourned to the veranda as usual for
coffee, when Seraph Young appeared and sought her
mother for the purpose of saying good-night. She
looked as innocently at Capt. Thorn and his sister as
if she had not excited their wrath less than two hours
ago, and bore herself in short quite like the kind of
creature for which she was christened. As soon as
Mrs. Young had pressed her lips to the child's freck-
les, Seraph suddenly asked, in her shrill, piping voice

"Mother, what's a nim bezzler?"

The proverbial pin, had it fallen upon the floor of
the veranda, could easily have been heard. Such a
question, coming from the mouth of so young a child,
was enough to rivet general attention.

"What makes you ask?" was the maternal way of
putting an inquiry, that did not originate, I think,
with Mrs. Young.


" 'Cause Angel was reading in a paper in the par-
lor about a nim bezzler that is badly wanted, a long
way from here. And when I asked him what it was
he told me 'a kind of blackbird.' That's the way he
always makes fun of me. What is a nim bezzler,
mamma? Tell me, please!"

"Angel should not pick up every paper he finds in a
hotel," commented Mrs. Young, but this did not sat-
isfy the child's curiosity.

"What is it what is it what is it?" she cried
stamping her feet. "Somebody tell me, oh ! I won't go to
bed tonight unless they do. Angel will keep nagging
me till I find out. You tell me, Mr. Loring," she
continued, appealing to that gentleman in her despair.

The Englishman was overcome by the battery of
eyes that were turned upon him and hesitated how
to frame a reply.

"Go to bed, that's a good girl," said Mrs. Young,

"No, no! He's just going to tell me!"

"Why, an embezzler," said Mr. Loring, clearing his
throat, "is a man who er takes for his own anything
that is er left in his care; for instance, money."

"That's a lie!" retorted the minx. "If he was, no-
body would 'want him badly.' Capt. Thorn, you tell
me ! I'll go right to bed, if you'll just say what a nim-
bezzler really is."

All eyes were now turned upon Thorn, but before
he could speak Amy interposed sharply.

"If you'll excuse me, Mrs. Young, that child's com-
pany has ceased to be agreeable."


"Amy!" said Mrs. Van Steuben, severely. "Mrs.
Young is my guest."

"So are these gentlemen, whom she permits her
child to annoy and insult," was the quick reply. "It is
not the first time, and I insist it shall be stopped."

Capt. Thorn and Mr. Loring rose quietly and stroll-
ed out upon the lawn. Olive went upstairs. Billy and
Carl were missing from the group, and were supposed
to be away somewhere together. Mr. Lovejoy looked
on without moving, in a fatherly sort of way. Mrs.
Young seemed in doubt what to do, but when she. half
rose from her chair Mrs. Van insisted that she remain
where she was.

"You have made a nice scene," she remarked, sharp-
ly, to her daughter. "I think you owe Mrs. Young an

"I hope she'll sit there till she gets it!" was the
immediate response. "I owe her child a sound whip-
ping. She and her 'Angel' brother have insulted people
in this party quite enough. Now, mother, there is no use
in arguing this point. If Mrs. Young allows it to go
on, and you endorse her, I shall certainly go on my
way without you."

The clergyman, with the blundering faculty for
which he was noted, seemed to think this declaration
demanded a mild reproof. He therefore began to
remind the young lady that her mother was the best
judge of her conduct, when he was suddenly interrupt-

"Did anybody ask your opinion? I would suggest
that you join the other gentlemen who are inspecting
the moon yonder."


The mild and benignant smile with which this idea
was received only exasperated Amy the more. Mr.
Lovejoy looked at her over his glasses, and refused to
take the least offence. Mrs. Van Steuben. thousrh she
had not relished his taking part in the conversation,
was horrified at her daughter's manner toward a man
of "the cloth." After several gasps for breath she rose
and started for her room, followed majestically by
her satellite. The small cause of the disturbance, too
evidently pleased at the excitement she had created,
waited till the last with a grin on her freckled face and
then joined the procession with her chin in the air,
in imitation of those who preceded Tier.

"I didn't mean to be saucy to you," said Amy, when
she was alone with Mr. Loveiov. "but that child oro-
vokes me beyond endurance. I was sincere in what
I said to my mother. If it is not stopped I shall go on
the rest of my journey without her. And now what I
want to ask you is and I know you'll do anything for
me, for my dear papa's sake if Olive and I do run off
together will you let us have Mr. I mean your man
Carl for our courier. You and Mr. Lorinsf are old
travelers and could get along without him better than
two young girls like us."

The minister shook his head like one of the toy
donkeys that fill the shop windows at Christmas, mur-
muring that she must be a good girl and do nothing

"Listen, and don't wiggle your face!" retorted Amy.
"If we do go, Ollie and I, will you let us wander off
alone in a country where we don't know our way and


may get into all kirids of trouble? Perhaps I'd better
not go, and maybe I won't have to, but if I do that's
the question. Can I have Carl if I need him ?"

He digested the new form of the question for a
minute and then asked why she could not take Mr.

"Oh, can't you think of something less ridiculous!"
she cried, forgetting her resolution to be polite. "You
know he doesn't understand the Japanese language
any better than I."

The minister scratched his beard and seemed to
admit that here was really a difficulty. "Capt. Thorn
would hardly want his sister to go away without him,"
he suggested, feebly. "You won't go ; you'll be a good
girl and obey your mother."

"Then you refuse to let me have Mr. I mean Carl ?
I'll write to my father the kind of a friend you are,
before I go to bed !"

As she turned away the clergyman relented enough
to call after her that of course he would do anything
she wished, if things came to such a pass that it was
necessary. But he modified her joy by inquiring, when
her face was turned toward him aeain, if her brother
was not after all best fitted to fill the emergency.

"Oh, what a man you are !" she cried. "Billy knows
nothing about Japan, he knows nothing about the
language, he knows nothing about taking care of any-
body, not even himself. He must stay with mother,
not to take care of her, but to let her take care of him.
I don't know where he is at this blessed minute, but I
presume he's drinking sake with sdme almond-eyed


mousme* and saying a lot of silly things that she
doesn't understand. You will lend Carl to me is that
it? If I need him, you will lend Carl to me and Olive?"

He had one more suggestion left.

" I suppose you wouldn't object to my going,

She said it was not to be thought of for an instant.
She should go quite into the interior of the country,
up among the mountains on horseback, a journey no
gentleman of his years could possibly take. Probably
when Mrs. Van Steuben saw the effect of her action
in siding with a stranger against her own daughter she
would give Mrs. Young to understand that Seraph
must be kept within bounds. In that case Amy said
she would return and all would be aeain serene.

Fearful that he would invent some new plan if she
did not clinch the nail, she repeated her question.

"Mr. Lovejoy, answer me, and don't beat about the
bush ! If Ollie and I go off by ourselves do you mean
to let us go alone, or will you let us have the only
practical guard we can possibly obtain?"

"Why," he stammered, "of course, in that case *'

With a hop, skip and jump she danced up to him
and caught his head between her fair hands, giving it
a delighted squeeze; and a second later she was out
of sight.

When Carl returned he found his employer on the
veranda and heard this solemn statement :

"Miss Van Steuben and her mother have had a
slight difference and she talks of going off for a little


while with Miss Thorn to some of the mountain re-
sorts. In case she does I have consented, reluctantly,
to let you accompany them as guide and interpreter.
I hope it will not be disagreeable to you."




MARCUS LINDES returned to St. Louis heart-broken.
Nothing but the hope of setting aside the latest will
that Mr. Meyer had executed kept him from utter
despair. Mr. Uhrig joined him ardently in this task,
for he had a little of the matter on his conscience too.
Affidavits of Meyer's condition while in Honolulu were
presented to the court. Marcus added his own con-
trite evidence, supported by Mr. Uhrig's and Mr.
Pyne's. The second will was thus opposed by both the
trustees named therein and the court was not lone
in coming to a decision. A record was made that
Carl Muller was Peter Meyer's rightful heir.

Neither Lindes nor Uhrig had much prospect of
finding themselves warmly received by Carl, either
in person or by letter. In this dilemma Mr. Pyne was
consulted, with the result that newspaper publicity
was decided upon as a beginning. He thought if Carl
saw in the public prints that the estate had been
awarded to him without effort on his part he could
hardly do less than return to claim it.

An article was prepared for the San Francisco Hexa-
meter, which took up the better part of a column, and
related the principal facts in the interesting case. The


fact that CarJ was at present journeying in Japan was

carefully inserted.

To make it more likely that he would have these
facts brought to his attention, Mr. Pyne marked copies
of the newspaper and had them mailed to all periodi-
cals printed in the English language in Japanese cit-
ies. The young man was so very peculiar, he did not
send any to him direct, though he debated for some
time the idea of doing so. The article would naturally
attract notice among Americans and Carl's attention
could hardly escape being called to the_ matter.

Although Lindes did not think it wise to follow
Carl to the Orient, he compromised with his impa-
tience by going to Honolulu, where he had many inter-
views with Abel Van Steuben. The sugar king had
frequent news of the young man and every move he
made was duly reported to the anxious waiter.

In the meantime our friends in Japan finished the
sights at Nikko and, in spite of Mrs. Van's repeated
statements that she would not go another foot into
the country, which she declared (with an idea that the
expression, being English, must be aristocratic) was
"perfectly beastly," took horses and made the trip
over the mountains to Ikao, via Chuzenji. The alter-
native was to part company with her headstrong
daughter, whose dislike of the Young contingent did
not abate in the least. Mrs. Van had said a few mild
words to her friend in reference to the children, but
they seemed to have little effect. On the evening be-
fore leaving beautiful Lake Chuzenji an incident oc-
curred which nearly disrupted the party. Seraph had


an out anil out tiff with Amy, in which very warm
language was used on both sides.

However, when word was brought in the morning
that the child was quite ill, and that a doctor had been
called, Amy went impulsively to the bedside and ex-
pressed regret for her sharp words. When Mrs.
Young left them alone Seraph took the young lady's
hand and pressed it to her hot head, while her heavy
eyes opened and closed languidly.

"I didn't want to make any trouble," murmured the
thin voice. "Tell Mr. Loring I'm sorry I said you
wanted to marry him. I didn't mean any harm by

Sobs shook the little form as the child buried her
head in the pillow. Amy was much distressed.

"I will forgive you," she responded, "if you'll never
say anything like that again. I do not want to marry
Mr. Loring, and 'such expressions are very annoying."

The freckled face was revealed and the red hair
was brushed back. The swollen eyes opened.

"You might tell me," said the child, eagerly. "I'll
never say a word to anyone. Captain Thorn is it

"Is what 'him'? My dear dhild, please say nothing
more about my affairs !"

"All right," was the weary response. "I know it
is Thorn. I wonder I didn't understand before. When
are you going to be married ?"

"Seraph!" Amy spoke sharply in spite of herself.

"Yes, it must be Thorn," pursued the young thing,
as if to herself. "There's nobody else but Mullerj


and though he worships the ground you walk on, he's
too poor to marry a rich lady."

Miss Van Steuben had reached the door and open-
ed it a little way, prepared to end the interview, but
she paused, red as a peony.

"What right have you to speak in that way about
about Mr. Lovejoy's man ?" she asked, in a faint voice.

"Poor fellow!" was the soft reply. "I pitv him so
sometimes ! He sits by himself and looks so down-
hearted. And when you come he brightens up like the
sky when the sun breaks through the clouds. But
he's poor," she droned on sleepily, "he has no family
or friends, mamma says. So it must be Thorn ; yes, it's
Thorn. I'll never say a word to anybody, if you'll
just tell me it's Thorn."

Seraph did not even turn her gaze toward her
listener. She seemed as if merely thinking: aloud. Anx-
ious to end the conversation in a way to prevent its
ever being reopened, Miss Van Steuben tarried a mo-
ment longer, foolish as it seemed.

"I'm not going to marry anybody," she said, "and
I don't see what put such ideas into your little head.
Never speak about it again or you'll distress me very

Seraph turned her head on the pillow and looked
earnestly at her visitor.

" But all the others speak about it," she persisted.
"Angel offered to bet me one day you'd marry Hi,
but mother's setting her cap for him and nobody can
cut her out if she makes up her mind. I see through
her pretence of quarrelling with him. She can't fool


me. Rut I'm sure you are going to marry Thorn. You
didn't say you wasn't," she added, slyly.

"Well, I say it now," was forced from Amy's lips,
almost before she was aware of it.

A second later she had opened the door and saw
Mr. Loring standing there. There could not be much
doubt he had overheard her statement. Wondering
what construction he would put upon it she confusedly
bade him good-morning and hurried away without an-
swering the questions he began to ask as to the con-
dition of the sick girl.

Somerset Loring had come to that door for the
simple reason that Miss Van Steuben was inside. He
had happened to inquire Seraph's condition from her
mother and had been directed to the chamber with the
information that Miss Amy was calling there. At the
entrance he had heard her voice; and as he paused,
uncertain what to do, there came those words that had
so much meaning to him :

"I'm just sure you're going to marry Thorn; you
didn't say you wasn't."

And even as his heart sank there came the reply
which sent the life blood through his arteries in great
leaps, "Well, I say it now."

In tfie affairs of this life there are really n<o insig-
nificant things. "Trifles light as air" may change the
course of a human existence. Mr. Loring needed some
sudden impetus to awaken his courage. A thousand
times he had been on the point of declaring his love ;
a thousand times he had let the moment pass. The
silly child had obtained for him the one great assur-


ance he wanted. If Capt. Thorn was not his rival he
knew of none to fear. Amy's confusion, when she
realized that he had overheard her statement, only con-
vinced him of what he most wanted to believe.

Filled with new courage he encountered her the
next day as she was about to take a short walk and
asked permission to accompany her. The ready con-
sent which she gave added to his confidence. As they
strolled along a narrow road by the border of the
lake he began at once to unbosom his mind.

"Miss Van Steuben," he began, "may I speak to
you on a subject of great importance to me one in
which the entire hapiness of my life is bound up ?"

Now, there is no young woman of the present day,
whatever there may have been in past ages, who would
have any doubt what such words meant, coming from
the lips of an unmarried man. Amy understood him

"You may say anything you think wise and proper/*
she answered composedly ; too composedly, he thought

"It is harder to begin than I thought it would be,"
he said, after a short pause. "Your answer to the
question I am going to ask will either make me the
most miserable or the most happy of men, I am thirty
years of age and this is the first time I have ever
said to a woman what I am saying to you. I love you
and I ask you to be my wife."

Amy drew a long breath. The answer she had
thought would be so easy did not come at once.

"One thing more," said Loring, in a very low


voice. "I am the only son of one of the wealthiest men
in England. I belong to a family that had held a high
position for generations. I can say without boasting
that my life has been an honorable one in all respects
and as open as the day. I have loved you almost
from the first moment we met in California. Amy
may I call you Amy? may I call you sweetheart?"

It was much harder than she had dreamed it could
be, to tell this man that he was nothing to her but a
mere acquaintance, that she did not and never could
love him. It grew harder every minute. She wonder-
ed if she had encouraged him unwittingly; if she was
to blame in any way for the pain she must cause.

They stopped in the path at the end of a little
bridge that spanned a ravine.

"Mr. Loring," she said, forcing the words lest he
should mistake her silence, "let me go back to the
hotel now. Tomorrow I will tell you what you wish
to know."

"And in the meantime I may hope ?"

She looked him full in the eyes, with new found
strength. "You must not," she answered.

" Don't say that !" He paled as he uttered the words.
"Think of it a little longer. My proposition was sud-
den unexpected perhaps. Take till tomorrow to
consider it, as you said."

"Very well." She uttered the words calmly, trying
not to say them coldly. "Tomorrow, then/'

"And for today," said he, trying to speak more
brightly, "we will forget that I have tried to be any-
thing more to you than a good friend and companion.
Let us continue our walk to the spring."


But she said she thought she would prefe? to go
back. She pointed to Mr. Muller, who was coming
from the direction of the hotel. "I will get Mr. Love-
joy's secretary to escort me and you can continue your
walk. Good-bye, for today."

She offered him her hand, thoughtlessly, and regret-
ted the aot when he pressed it gently to his lips. Then
he left her and walked across the bridge rapidly.

"Will you please escort me back to the hotel ?" she
asked Carl when he came up.

They walked along together in silence for some
moments. Then she asked him if he could keep a
secret and, when he started from the revery into which
he had fallen, she continued, " Mr. Loring has just
asked me to be his wife."

He stopped stockstill in the path. So this was to be
the end !

"He seems a very excellent gentleman," he forced
himself to say.

Good Heavens ! he must say something !

"I have no doubt he is a very excellent gentleman,"
she answered, "but I did not accept him."

"You did not !"

He felt like falling on his knees and thanking Gdd
and yet he did not know why. She was not for him
and never could be. Why might she not as well marry
Mr. Loring as another?

" No, I told him I would give my answer to-
morrow," she said, demurely. "It is not nice for a
girl to think of being an old maid. And if no one she
really loves offers himself to her, sfhe must con-
sider what proposals she receives."


He had recovered from his first shock and was walk-
ing so rapidly that Amy was being left behind.

"Aren't you going to take me to tfhe hotel?" she
called after him ; and he retraced his steps, saying with
reddening cheek, "I beg your pardon."

"Papa does not want me to marry a foreigner
that's one trouble," sHie continued, as they walked
along. "But Mr. Loring isn't a duke, that's something
in his favor. Papa would rather I married an Ameri-
can without a penny of course one of good reputa-
tion 'than the greatest prince in Europe. But a girl
cant marry a man who doesn't ask her ; can s!he ?"

He was dumb as a sheep before its slhearers. He
could think of nothing to say. He wanted dreadfully
to escape from her presence, but she loitered pur-

"I don't know what to do," she went on, half to her-

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryAlbert RossA sugar princess → online text (page 12 of 19)