Albert Ross.

A sugar princess online

. (page 14 of 19)
Online LibraryAlbert RossA sugar princess → online text (page 14 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


nothing from the Meyer estate and have writtein to
that effect to Mr. Uhrig, asking him to mail me any
documents whidh I ought to sign."

The minister murmured that he was glad he was
not to lose his valued companion.

"But," continued Carl, "I have decided also to ask
you to release me from my contract. I am at last out
of your debt and there are strong reasons, entirely
unconnected with yourself, which make me desire a
different position."

For some time Mr. Lovejoy did not speak. He
seemed completely nonplussed.

"You have a more lucrative place in view, I pre-
sume," he said, when he found his voice. "I can
readily see tihat having very correctly, it seems to
me, from your standpoint concluded to earn ycnir
living permanently, such a position as mine can have
few attractions. Would you mind telling me, as one
who has some title to call himself yotif friend, wihat
you intend to do?"

Carl stammered that he had secured nothing as yet.

"Why, then, must you leave me so suddenly?" in-
terrupted Mr. Lovejoy. "Is it not better to continue
to draw your salary until you are sure of something
better? I will increase it, if you wish, until that time
comes, adding, say, $25 a month to what you now re-
ceive. Japan is not the best place for a young man
to find a good position at short notice unless he has
influential backing."

To this Carl replied that he hoped his conduct had



230 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

not seemed ungrateful. He appreciated the kindness
he had received, but desired to obtain a place with
some business house as soon as he could possibly do
so.

With the prospect of losing the member of tihe party
to Whom all arrangement had been entrusted, Mr.
Lovejoy thought he ought to tell Carl's decision to
Mrs. Van Steuben. It happened that Amy and Mrs.
Young were in her parlor at the time and the effect of
the announcement on eadh of the ladies is worthy of
notice.

"I hope he won't leave us in the lurdh," said Mrs.
Van, "but I suppose he will No matter how kind
one is to servants they only think of themselves."

"Mother!" broke in Amy's indignant voice. "You
have no right to use a term like that in speaking of
Mr. Muiler! He is a gentleman who has shown the
highest sense of honor. It is an outrage to speak of
him as if he were a common laborer !"

"A person who works for wages is a servant," her
mother replied, stiffly. "Mr. Meyer I mean Muiler
is no different as I see from anybody else. We have
got used to him and he knows our wanlbs ; if he leaves
vrs I say again it simply shows the ingratitude of his
class."

The lady was becoming slightly excited, as sftie al-
ways did wlhen an argument grew warm, and Mrs.
Young sympathetically handed her a smelling-bottle.

"Don't get nervous," murmured the widow, in a
tone which implied that sihe fully agreed with her
friend. "You can get a courier quite as good at a



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 23!

day's notice, by sending to Yokohama. Ahd one who
won't think himself above his duties, eitiher," sftie add-
ed in an undertone.

Amy sprang to her feet.

"Will you be good enough, Mrs. Young," she de-
manded, with flashing eyes, "as I have asked you
more than once before, not to interfere in conversa
tions between my motiher and me? I don't see the
difference, myself," she added, wkfli cutting sarcasm,
"between accepting a salary and traveling at other
people's expense, like some folks I could mention."

This shot was so severe that its effect was imme-
diately apparent. Mrs. Young took oult her handker-
chief and buried her face in it.

"You have gone a little too far, Amy," said Mrs.
Van Stetfben, sharply, "When you compare a hired ser-
vant with a lady who is my friend. I am going to
my room. Until you are ready to apolog'ze you need
not come to me.'*

"Don't neglect to have your meals sent up till I do,"
was the spiteful retort. "The impudence of this creat-
ure," she continued, vehemently, as the ladies started
together, "is beyond endurance. I shall go to Mr.
Muller myself and beg him to remain, as a personal
favor to me."

Mrs. Van Steu'ben faced about, very white.

"That would be a fitting climax to your present ac-
tions," she said. "Let me tell you, Mr. Lovejoy, that
this man cannot remain in my party after today. Be-
fore we left Honolulu I made an agreement with him



232 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

to add to the wages he was to receive froim you. So
far as I am concerned, I discharge him from this mo-
ment."

She swept through the doorway With Mrs. Young,
whose face was still concealed and whose attitude sug-
gested deep grief. As the door closed somewhat
noisily behind the pair Amy turned to the clergyman
with distended eyes.

"Is it true what my mother said?" demanded the
girl. "Has Mr. Muller been receiving pay from her?"

"Why, I I" he began.

" Has he, or has he not! Yes or nof*

"It is news to me."

"You never heard of it before?"

He shook his head, like a perplexed sheep.

"Then I don't believe it. But 111 find out!" she
added, with a gasp. "And if it's true that he's taken
a penny from her he may go for all I care !"

Then, to show how little she was interested in the
matter, the girl threw herself into a chair and burst
into tears. Mr. Lovejoy, as if thankful for the
chance, took the opportunity to make his escape. After
a little time Amy composed herself and removed the
traces of weeping from her face as well as she could.
When she opened the door to leave the parlor it
struck sharply against an object outside, nothing less
than the head of Seraph Young, who immediatetly set
up a howl that might have been heard for some dis-
tance. All of Amy's wrath burst forth again.

"You've been listening at that keyhole!" she owed,



'A SUGAR PRINCESS. 233

grasping the cMd by the shoulder. "What do you
mean by doing a thing like that?"

"Ididn't listen,'' blubbered the child, rubbing her
head. "I I was just looking at my face in th
doorknob."

Now the knob of the door was of a reflecting ma-
terial which might easily have served as a mirror
and was about on a level with Seraph's eyes. Believ-
ing that she had perpetrated an injustice Amy was
filled with instant contrition. She knelt down, gath-
ered the little form in her arms and kissed the freckled
face.

"I'm very, very, very sorry. I tihougiht you were
spying and there's nothing meaner than that. Don't
mind, dear, please."

The child did not feel inclined to be mollified at
once.

"You hurt me!" she said, chokingly. "You hurt
me very much."

"But I can't do any more than say I'm sorry," per-
sisted Amy. "You'll be over it in a minute."

" I sha'n't. I'm going to be sick again, I know."

"Oh, please don't ! I'll do anything you ask if you
won't."

Seraph looked cunningly into the sad face. "Any-
thing?" she repeated.

"Anything."

"Then tell me I won't say a word, hope to die
if I dois it Mutter?"

Scrambling to her feet Amy flew as fast as pas-



234 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

sible to her own room, shut the door and began crying
again.

It was more than she could bear that this little imp
should penetrate a secret that was makimg her the
most miserable of women.



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 23$



CHAPTER XXIV.

AN UNWELCOME CHEQUE FOR $5OO.

THOUGH our little heroine had a temper of her own
she was not vindictive, nor did she seriously intend
to give her mother just cause of offense. The various
members of the Young family had annoyed her^ ex-
tremely and she had at times been betrayed into lan-
guage which she regretted afterwards. That day,
when she had sobbed in her room for an hour, she
slipped around to her mother's door and knocked
softly. As soon as she was admitted she threw herself
at the maternal feet, with the exclamation, "Oh,
mamma, I'm so unhappy !"

"Have you come to ask my pardon for your con-
duct?" was "the uncompromising way in which this
contrite attitude was met.

"Oh, yes, mamma, anything you like, only let's not
quarrel. I am so sick and nervous I don't know what
to do. Put your arms around me."

Before yielding to this request it occurred to Mrs.
Van that this was a good time to obtain a complete
surrender. She did not even mean to leave the garri-
son its side-arms.

"Will you apologize to Mrs. Youmg lo the way you
insulted her?"



336 A SUGAR PRINCESS

This question came very near spoiling the whole
business, for a spasm crossed Amy's brain at the sug-
gestion. Her mind was so troubled about weightier
tihings, however, that she suppressed the reply which
rose to 'her lips.

"Mamma, dear," she said, pleadingly, "why need
that woman come between you and me ? Do you care
for her more than for your own child? Can't you
dispose of her in some way and let us go on in peace
together?"

The mother still believed that she had -the advantage
of position and proceeded accordingly.

"Mrs. Young is a lady," she answered, "whom I
invited to make this trip with me. I have seen noth-
ing in her action's to call for criticism. Although you
have treated her several times in a scandalous manner
she has borne it with a truly Christian spirit. Unles's
you can view year conduct in its right light I do not
feel that you deserve forgiveness."

'So even this rock of safety was denied to the glirl
except on the most severe terms.

"I -think you are very -hard, mother," she pleaded.
"You never 'before asked your daughter to humble her-
self before a person of lower grade. You forget," and
at the humourous idea a smile broke through the (tear
clouds, "that I am a Sugar Princess, the daughter of a
Sugar King."

As the 'suggestion in reference to Mrs. Young had
not panned out very well, Mrs. Van tried another tack.

"You are a frivolous child," she said, stroking the
gfri's hair as she lay on the rug at Hier feet "Ita not



A SUGAR PRINCESS.

sure it wouldn't be the best thing for you if you (had
a husband."

Amy immediately sat up, with every appearance of
interest.

"Haw strange it is you should tsay tihat? Do you
know, I think so, too !"

"You would like to get married !" exclaimed the as*
tonished lady.

"Above all things !" Amy clasped her hands to-
gether and raised her eyes ecstatically toward the ceil-
ing.

"You did not give much consideration to Mr. bor-
ing's proposal."

"How could I ? As soon as I mentioned it to you,
you said he was out of the question. I 'had promised
to tell him the next day and you gave me no choice."

The eager matrimonial agent did not perceive the
light vein of irony that uniderran these statements.
She thought she saw a chance to make some effective
moves.

"I fear I was a little hasty," she said. "I was at
first indignant that a gentleman 'should ask your hand
without coming to your parents. I have had a talk
with Mr. Loring since then and his explanation was
entirely satisfactory."

Amy pulled a chair to her mother's 'side.

" Whatever did he say to make you change your
mind so completely ?"

"Why, he talked like a thorough gentleman, and
aid such nice things about you and "

"But he it not a duke," interrupted Amy. "You



238 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

Wouldn't Want tme to marry a man without a title -
why, mamma!"

The wondering eyes were fixed on the maternal! face
in a way tihalt caused Mrs. Van great embarrassment.

"He is well connected and his family 'Stands high in
England and are very rich. I never seriously ex-
pected you to marry a duke. That was your father's
way of expressing my idesire that you would select a
suitable -husband. If you want to marry I don't be-
lieve that you'll find a better match than Mr. Mr.
Loring, if you hunt the world over."

Drawing a long breath, Amy 'said 'she was too much
astonished to know what to say. Encouraged by this
attitude Mrs. Van Steuben went on to clinch the nail
she had driven.

"If you 'will tell Mr. Loring you (have reconsidered
your refusal," she said, "and let me announce the fact
of your engagement, I will do whatever you ask about
MIT'S. Young. I must admit that her children are
sometimes annoying. And now, darling," it was an
expression that Amy could not remember ever having
heard from those lips before "give me a kiss and get
ready for dinner."

The Sugar Princess lay awake that night till nearly
daylight, trying to find a satisfactory explanation of
her mother's change of front. Between times she had
little gusts of tears as she thought of Mr. Muller. She
had no idea of marrying Lorimg or any other man.
She was >bo be an old maid a little, d'ried-up old maid,
with -short corkscrew curls and perhaps a red nose,
surrounded with cato and parrots. With this dismal



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 239

forecast the poor ohild fell asleep as the sun was color-
ing the eastern sky and did not wake till it was nearly
at the zenith, so exhausted was she. with Tier worries.

Before that hour, however, Mrs. Van Steuben had
executed two important pieces of business. In the
first place she h'ad written a cheque for $500, payable
to Carl Muller at any branch of the Hongkong &
Shanghai Banking Co. This her maid put into his
hand, with a very brief note saying that if the sum
was insufficient for what services he had rendered he
could write her to that effect. The second thing was
a conversation with Mr. Loring, as we may as well
continue for the present to call him, in which she toVl
that young gentleman, with so(me embellishments of
her own, what her daughter and she had talked about
the 'night before.

The Englishman was not dull enough to be imposed
upon as thoroughly as the mother had been. He did
not build too much hope on her eager protestations that
she would " bring the child around " in a few days to
giving him an affirmative answer when next he re-
newed his 'suit. But he replied to the lady's state-
ments with his accustomed dignity, committing himself
no further than to say he 'hoped she was right in her
prophesy.

"And Will you really be an Earl, when your father
dies ?" said Mrs. Van. "I hope he is m good health,"
she added piously.

"In excellent health, I am glad to say," he answered,
keeping his countenance with difficulty.

"And what do 'they call the wife of 'an Earl?" she



24O A SUGAR PRINCESS.

continued. "You see I don't knew much about titles,
as we .have only the royal family in Honolulu she is
called an Earless, I suppose."

" No, a countess. An earl in the English peerage
[is of the same rank as a count in some of the con-
tinental countries. When I come into the title, if I
am married, my wife will be Countess of Somerset."

Mrs. Van rolled the words under her tongue like a
sweet morsel.

"Countess of Somerset! And at present you are
just 'Mr. Somerset?'"

"I am called by courtesy 'Lord Loring.' But plain
'Mr. Loring' suits me quite as well. I have a vein of
republican simplicity, and as I understand Mr. Van
Steuben objects to titles I should be quite willing to
bear only that name until I am compelled to take up
the other."

To this Mrs. Van protested earnestly. "Lord Lor-
ing" was ever so much better than "Mr." She told a
story of 'how her "ancestors" ihad belonged to a noble
family in Portugal, but had succumbed to ill-fortune in
one of the civil wars. This was a little fiction that
she had long ago invented, and had caused infinite
amusement in Honolulu, where many of the inhabi-
tants remembered her parents very well.

While this was going on Carl Muller was pacing his
room, with darkened brow. He held the cheque in his
Wand, trying to -study out what it all meant, sent to
him in that abrupt fashion. He recalled Mrs. Van
Steuben's request, made to him in Honolulu, that he
would keep a careful eye on her son and remembered



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 24!

her statement that he would be "recompensed" for
anything he might do in that direction. He had want-
ed at the time to tell the purse-proud wbman that he
would be glad to oblige 'her, but could not dream of
taking money for the service. And he had said noth-
ing because he hoped that the idea would vanish from
her mind of its own accord.

And here was her cheque representing in t!he blunt"
est manner the estimate she put upon him. The slight
services he had rendered to Billy because he was
Amy's brotiher and to Miss Van Steuben, had been
weighed on her balance. This cheque represented the
figure at which she estimated him.

How degrading it was! How bitter this cup of
poverty that he had chosen to drink! He could not
stand it mudh longer. It would be better to buy a
'ricksha and pull strangers over the sandy road from
Shibukawa.

He finally sought Mr. Lovejoy.

"I am sorry to trouble you again," (he said, in a
shaking voice, "bult I must ask you to release me at
once." t

Pausing to allow this strange statement to penetrate
his brain, tftie clergyman asked what had happened.

"That has happened !" was the answer, as the sense
of indignity swept over his features. "Read those two
pieces of paper and see if you think a man with any
delicacy of feeling can remain here after receiving
them."

Wonderingly Mr. Lovejoy took the letter Mrs. Van
Steuben had written and perused it word by word.
flThen he read the cheque with equal deliberation.



242 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

"I don't exactly understand," he began, looking at
the young man over his spectacles.

"I don't suppose you do!" was the quick retort.
"Nobody understands ! I was born a gentleman's son,
poor perhaps, but with a sense of honor inherited from
ancestors who were neither serfs nor lackeys ! There's
good blood in my veins and it boils when I am crowded
into the mire by people witlh a little money. Confound
tihis woman and her gifts!" He reached for the ob-
noxious piece of paper and tore it into fragments.
"You see by her letter that s%e thinks me her servant
and has discharged me. This has become unbearable !"

The impetuosity of the younger man was in marked
contrast to the perfect calmness of the other one.

"You have had no trouble wrfch any other members
of the party?" queried the minister, gently. "With
William or Amy "

"No, no, no! May I consider this matter settled,
between you and me? I want to go I must go to-
day."

Mr. Lovejoy slowly drew a letter from his pocket
and, after hunting awhile for 'his glasses, made sure
it was the right one.

"Did you not take -some kind of trust from Mr. Van
Steuben before we sailed on the Coptic?" he inquired.

As Carl stared vaguely at the speaker the solemn
injunctions of the father edhoed again in his ears.

"Here are a few words wihich lie has written to me,"
continued the clergyman, as he found the place :

I feel easy in my mind about my child, knowing
Chat she is in some measure under the eye of my old



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 243

friend Meyer's adapted son, who promised me to
guard her faithfully. I believe him a young man of
his word. If I had the least d'o-ubt of th'at I should
take the next steamer to Japan notwithstanding the
seasickness I should be sure to experience. I have no
doubt you will do all you can, but it needs a younger
and more active man. Gave Mr. MuMer my regards
and %11 him I shall hold him rigidly to his promise.

'A tremor passed over Carl as he listened. Yes, he
had give%that promise, ,fce recalled it with perfect dis-
tinctness. The introduction of Peter Meyer's name
affected him powerfully.

"When I had the conversation with Mr. Van Step-
hen," he said at last, "I did not anticipate this conduct
on the part of his wife."

"Don't you over-estimate the matter?" asked the
minister. "It seems to me that if I were in your place
I would simply write a polite note, saying that I had
done nothing for wftiidh I desired payment and would
be equally as ready in the future to render any service
she migfht require. Wouldn't tihat be better than leav-
ing us in this impulsive fashion ? I shall t>e surprised
and grieved if you abandon Miss Amy after hearing
what her father has written to me."

"What can I do for her that others cannot?" Carl
demanded.

"Her father seems to rely upon you. If you are
determined to leave, you should at least notify him
of your intention and give him a chance to carry out
the alternative of which he speaks."

For some time Carl was uncertain what to do.
There seemed the strongest arguments on both sides.



244 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

On no account, he said, could he remain where h
was not wanted. If Mr. Lovejoy wished to see Mrs.
Van Steuben and could then assure him that t!he lady
wished him to remain, he would consider the sugges-
tion of writing to her husband.

As he could not be induced to modify this in the
least it was agreed upon after a little more debate.

Soon after he left the clergyman a slight figure ap-
peared at the latter's door, and a voice asked if it
might come in.

"Always, always !" responded Mr. Lovejoy, cheerily.
"What can I do for Little Rosebud ?"

"Oh, it's noth-ing par-ticular," she began, though
her face belied her words. " You heard what mo-ther
said about paying Mr. Muller for his ser-vices. Do
you believe she ever offered him mo-ney?"

He nodded in the affirmative; but there was a sly
smile on his lips that gave the girl hope.

"Don't be silly !" 'slhe said, in a vexed tone. "I don't
want to joke about the matter. Did slhe offer him
money or not?"

"She did," he repUied, still smiling. "More than
that, she gave him a cheque for $500. I saw it my-
self/'

"Oh !" Amy cried, sinking into a chair and pressing
her hands to her throbbing head. There was so much
pain in that one word that Mr. Lovejoy hastened to
expound his riddle.

"Here are the pieces scattered on the floor," he re-
marked.

Amy blinked rapidly and looked where he directed



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 245

her. Yes, there were pieces of paper which looked as
if they had been parts of a cheque.

"I don't understand."

"Sit down, my dear, and compose yourself. Let me
be sure the door is shut and I'll make it clear to you."

When this precaution had been taken he drew a
chair dose to the girl's : "Your mother .sent Mr. Mu<l-
ler that dheque this morning. He brought it to me, and,
in a whirlwind of rage, declared it an insult that he
could not endure. Tearing it to pieces he gave me
notice that he would at once leave the party for
good."

The joyful look which had begtin to creep into
Amy's face gave place to a doleful shadow as she heard
the concluding words.

"Then he has gone!" she gasped. "He has gone!"

"Why, what a fuss you make over an unimportant
matter !"

"He's gone!" she repeated. And with both hands
over her eyes she burst into frantic weeping.

Mr. Love joy arose and looked at the girl helplessly.
"What does this mean ?" he asked.

"Oh, you blind bat, you deaf post !" 'Sthe cridd, "must
I tell you what you have no eyes to see? I love the
ground 'that man walks on! I worship the air he
breathes! I cannot live without him! Is that plain
enough ? Do you understand now?"

She fell back into her chair, half fainting. The min-
ister walked up and down the room, muttering to him-
self.

"Well, I never, never, never! Dear, dear, wlhat a
yery istrange thing!"



246 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

Finally he seemed to grasp the situation and, lean-
ing over the pathetic form, -whispered soothingly :

" He loves the ground you walk on, too, my child.
He worships the air you breathe, also. If he were not
over proud in his poverty he would have told you so
long ago. Oh, I have watched him very carefully,
poor boy !"



A SUGAR PRINCESS. 247



CHAPTER XXV.

ON THE ROAD TO KUSATSU.

IT is neither necessary nor expedient to give the de-
tails of the conversation that followed Mr. Lovejoy's
assertion. It may be said, however, that Amy's teafs
gave way to smiles as she drew out of the old gentle-
man his reasons for die faith that was in him. In
the hands of the youthful potter he proved a plastic
bit of clay and revealed many things that contributed
to her satisfaction.

"Then he is not going away immediately?" she ask-
ed, when they reached that point.

"No. He has promised to stay for five or six weeks
at least. But I do not think we can keep him longer
than that unless some reason stronger than any I
can advance is held out to him."

Amy determined to lose no time in beginning her
campaign. She told her mother that she was suffering
for more active exercise and suggested a journey over
the hills to Kusatsu. She knew very well that Mrs.
.Van would never dream of taking that ride and that
she was now in a mood to humor her daughter in
every reasonable way. Amy played her cards shrewd-
ly and at last it was agreed that she might go, with
Olive, Lisette and Mr. Mudler, for three or four days,



248 A SUGAR PRINCESS.

the entire party to start for Tokyo on their return,


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryAlbert RossA sugar princess → online text (page 14 of 19)