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ruin, as you have a hundred others, will be kep v
from your clutches. To her will go the fortune I
had meant for you. When you are starving in some
garret, console yourself by remembering how easily
you threw a million good dollars away !"

During the delivery of this speech he choked fre-
quently, overcome by the vehemence of his feelings.
As he paused, Dalton, appalled at the extent of the
calamity he had helped to bring upon his friend,
stepped forward.

" I have been wrong, entirely wrong !" he cried.
"Roland must not suffer on my account. No, the
letter is mine, but he shall give it to you. I with-
draw all objections. I accept my discharge, sir, but
I entreat you not to punish another for a fault that
was wholly my own. Give it to him, Roland," he
added, addressing himself to that young gentleman.
" I am sure he will then retract what he has said
about you and leave me to bear my punishment

Wrought up as he had been, Willard Linnette
would willingly have met even a halfway approach
on the part of his nephew. He felt a genuine alarm
at the extent to which his passionate nature had led
him. But, angrier even than he, Roland gave him no

"He shall not have it !" he retorted. "A letter
from such a girl shall not be touched by profane
hands. Do you think he is going to scare me by his
threats? What do they amount to, at the worst?
Why, that he will give his miserable money the
only thing there is to him, the only thing that makes


people doff their hats when he passes, to the one
I most love and honor ! That money of his ! He has
spent too much of it for me already. It would have
been a thousand times better had he sent me out
years ago, with twenty dollars in my pocket, to fight
my way. But let me tell you, sir" (lie addressed
himself to his uncle), "you will never steal Eva
Warren's love from me. I am now free from obliga-
tion to you, and shall attempt no farther conceal-
ment. She has promised to marry me, and, if she
will take me as I am, she shall be my wife."

Mr. Linnette's features seemed petrified as he
answered. These words withered the olive branch
he had been ready to stretch out.

" If that misguided young woman should link her
life with yours which she never will do, if I can
prevent it she will not receive a penny of my
money. Don't imagine you are going to mock me
and inherit my wealth through that channel. When
you find that she is penniless we shall see how real
your professions are !"

Roland gazed with a pitying look at the old man
before him.

" Look at him, Guy," he said. " He is seventy
years of age, and the only thing he can think of is
money, money, MONEY ! During his long life no
woman's love has ever warmed his heart, no child
of his own has ever played about his knees. He has
not even felt the delights of passion. He has known
nothing but money, and now that his hair is white he
babbles of his possessions as children of their toys."

Putting his arm affectionately around his com-


panion's shoulder Roland drew him out into the
main office, where he found his hat and coat. Then
the two young men, one of them white and dizzy,
the other loftily serene, went out of the building




As soon as he was left alone in his office Willard
Linnette sank into his chair, and for more than an
hour did not move from that position. He could
hardly believe himself awake. The scene he had
just witnessed was like an exceedingly unpleasant
dream. It seemed impossible that his nephew could
have dared him to his face, thrown away all his
prospects like dross, and ended by those most insult-
ing words. But he was obliged to admit that the
crisis had actually occurred. The Rubicon had
been passed. There was no longer any question of
reconciliation. He must return to Montvale and
carry out his threat.

Late that night he reached home, and all the next
day he remained indoors, preparing himself for an
interview with Tom Hobbs, which he had determined
to have that evening. He knew that Hobbs would
oppose him at every point, but he had no other per-
son in whom he was willing to confide. In his
present state of mind it would be a relief to
unbosom himself even to him.

The collision with Roland made him desperate.
For the past month he had tried with all his might
to bring himself to the point where he could effect a


full reconciliation with the young man. He pre-
ferred to believe he was not as bad as represented.
He reflected that something must be allowed for his
unguided youth. And he had even debated the
possibility of surrendering to his nephew all hopes
of possessing the sweet girl whose love filled the
brightest spot in his lonely existence.

Now all this was over. Every time he thought of
Roland he heard that mocking voice, " Money,
money, MONEY ! All this old man thinks of is
money /" Ah, well ! The boy would learn what
money was, when he had tried a few weeks to live
without it, and would come creeping back, begging
for ever so little of an allowance ; this fellow without
a trade or profession. And he would give him
nothing no, not one cent. He was through with
him, and forever !

In a short conversation which he had with Mrs.
Warren, he gave her a dim impression that his nephew
had met with a severe accident.

"Did you meet any of your relations in New
York ?" she asked, anxiously.

" I did not," he replied, frowning darkly. " I have
no relation there but my brother, and I was too busy
to see him."

" Something serious has happened, then, to Mr.
Roland ?"

" Something very serious, Mrs. Warren. It is a
disagreeable subject, and I do not care to go into it.
Let it suffice that I have discovered him to be
wholly unworthy of my regard, and shall neither pro-
vide for him hereafter nor leave him anything in my


Ti'.f. This being the case, having already made full
provisions for my brother, I shall have a handsome
sum to bequeath to to someone else. Within a
few days I intend to have a lawyer here and re-
arrange everything."

When Tom Hobbs came that evening, Mr. Lin-
nette put on his very boldest front. Everything must
now depend upon one cast of the die.

"You've often called me an old fool, Tom," he
said, quietly. " You can't say anything much worse
when I tell you what I am going to do next."

Tom was engaged at the moment in the impor-
tant occupation of cutting tobacco for his pipe. He
nodded his head, without looking up.

" I'm going to marry !"

Hobbs raised his eyes just enough to dart a look
of contempt at his companion.

" You don't suppose that's any surprise to me," he
said. " How many times have I said your house-
keeper would pull the wool over youi eyes and get
to be mistress of this place, before she had done
with you ?"

The error was a natural one, but Mr. Linnette bit
his lip as he heard it.

"Well, for once, you were wrong," he replied.

"Wrong?" echoed Hobbs, amazed.

" Wrong. It is not Mrs. Warren that I am to

The superintendent was completely nonplussed.
For a moment he felt a sensation resembling regret.
If Linnette was bound to marry, Mrs. Warren would
do as well as anyone else. She was at least used to


his moods, his manner of living, and acquainted to a
certain degree with his business. Hobbs did not
like to contemplate a strange woman there, altering
everything to suit her own tastes, and his employer
had denied the suggestion of Eva so vehemently on
a previous occasion that he never once thought of

" Not your housekeeper !"

Linnette laughed a little. He was becoming reck-
less. He meant to defy the entire universe, in the
person of old Tom Hobbs. His superintendent
undoubtedly represented popular opinion on this
matter. All Montvale would have said the same.
What business had Hobbs, or Montvale, to pick out
Mrs. Warren for him ? Could he not decide on his
own wife, without their interference ?

" No," he said, decidedly, and not without a tinge
of malice. " It is not Mrs. Warren that I am think-
ing of marrying."

" Then you are a bigger fool than I took you to
be," snarled Hobbs. " To marry her would prove
you short of common sense, but to take another
woman would show that you had become completely

The man of wealth listened with no sign of disap-
proval. He was used to this blunt man and expected
nothing less from him.

" Thanks," he responded, with polite irony.
"And what would you call me if I were to tell
you that the woman I mean to wed is her
daughter ?"


At this remark the slight control which Hobbs
had retained of his temper gave way entirely.

" A villain /" he cried.

Linnette's manner changed like lightning at the
appellation. He lost color and his voice grew stern.

" Take care !" he said, icily.

Hobbs was excited. He rose to his feet and took
a dozen steps up and down the room. Then he
turned to Mr. Linnette, and begged him, with the
utmost earnestness, to admit that he did not mean
what he said.

" Only tell me you were joking," he pleaded,
" and I will yes, I will even beg your pardon !"

Never had Mr. Linnette seen his superintendent in
such a mood. He had not believed that an occasion
could arise when Hobbs would admit, under any cir-
cumstances, that he had been in the wrong.

44 I never meant anything more in my life," he
said, coldly. " And let me add that if the announce-
ment does not please you I cannot help it. I am old
enough to manage my own business."

Hobbs was still struggling with his incredulity.

44 Old enough !" he ejaculated. " God knows you
are old enough ! But this child this school-girl "

" She is eighteen," interrupted his companion,

41 And she has consented?"

Linnette paused ior some seconds before ne

14 1 have not yet proposed to her ; but, do you
think she will refuse ?"

No, Hobbs did not think so. He could see in


imagination the bauble dangling before her eye*
the million dollars that would bait the hook.

"What does her mother say ?" he asked, like one
who catches at a straw.

" Her mother is a sensible woman. She will not be
likely to stand in the way of her daughter's advance-

Hobbs, in his wrath, shook his clenched fist at the

" Advancement !" he cried. " God, Will Lin-
nette ! You drive me crazy !"

The man addressed vouchsafed no reply to this
exclamation. He was becoming angrier every minute
at the attitude taken an attitude, he told himself,
that the world at large would be sure to copy.

" I've thought, a hundred times," continued Hobbs,
speaking as if the words choked him, " that the time
would come when you would marry the mother and
the girl would get your nephew. But "

He stopped, appalled by the savage gleam in his
employer's eyes.

" Never speak to me of that boy again !" thundered
the latter. " He has interfered between me and one
of my clerks, insulted me, called me every name he
could lay his tongue to, abused and threatened me !
And that is not the greatest offence of which he has
been guilty. Before he left Montvale he entered
these grounds at night, in collusion with a servant,
and was admitted to Miss Eva's apartment !"

Hobbs stared at the speaker until it seemed as if
his eyes were frozen in their sockets.

" Who told you that last lie ?" he demanded.


44 Oh, I know some things !" was the retort. " I saw
him enter the house, with her maid as his escort, and
I saw him leave it an hour later. Then I stopped
him in the road on his way back to the village, and
charged him with it ; and he had not a word to say
for himself."

There was no questioning this direct evidence, and
Hobbs decided to change the manner of his attack.

" And you tell me that you mean to marry a girl
like that!" he exclaimed. "A girl who admits a
young man to her chamber at night !"

Willard Linnette had not thought of the matter
in this light. He had only considered the offense as
his nephew's. It now occurred to him that he must
have come by Eva's invitation. The color left his
face and he was quite pale.

" You happened to discover this visit, "said Hobbs,
pushing his advantage, like a skillful general, at the
point where his adversary's line was weakest. " By
some accident you learned of that one call, but how
can you tell there were not fifty others that escaped
your observation ?"

Linnette was plainly staggered by this suggestion.

" A man should select his wife of different mater-
ial than this," pursued the other, relentlessly.
"Your nephew was here at the hotel for three weeks
while you were out of town. For all you know he
may have gone to see her every night. If her maid
could let him in once she could again. Don't let
your infatuation blind your eyes completely."

Mr. Linnette drew a long breath that was full of


" 'Love laughs at locksmiths,' " continued Hobbs,
" and every post-office holds one of his representa-
tives. You have sent the boy away, but you can't
keep them from corresponding."

Linnette shook as if he had the ague. He knew
the correspondence had begun, not by his nephew,
either, but by Eva. What terrible thing was this
pressing upon his brain ? Could it be that Hobbs
had a basis for his insinuation ? Was this girl,
instead of the innocent creature she appeared, a
scheming adventuress of depraved character ? It
was true he had seen Roland enter the house but
once, but was it at all likely this was his only call
there? No, he could not bear it; anything was
better than these horrible suspicions. And he burst
out that he would know the truth that he would
go that instant to seek the girl and force her to tell
him the facts with her own lips.

But this was the last thing that Hobbs wanted
him to do at that time. As Mr. Linnette rose to
leave the room he stopped him.

" Don't be foolish," he said, impressively. " There
is but one way in which you can preserve the honor
of your establishment. In the first place you must
give up your senseless plan of marrying this child,
and next you must compel your nephew to right
the wrong he has done."

But Linnette lost his temper at this, and swore
roundly that Roland's name must never again be
mentioned in his presence. If that boy had done
anything criminal anything reflecting on Miss
Warren's good name he would see that he was


^unished, not rewarded. But he did not believe it,
and he was going to see her at once and satisfy
himself that it was untrue.

" You will probably make a mess of it," growled
Hobbs. " You had better let me go with you."

This offer was refused sharply.

" Then I will wait here," said the imperturbable

" You can do as you please."

Linnette went into the parlor and summoned a
servant, whom he despatched for Charlotte. When
the maid arrived he inquired if her mistress was to
be found in her apartment.

"Yes, sir," said the maid. "But," she added, not
liking the strange look on the master's face, "she is
about to retire."

" I am going to see her," was the brief statement
Mr. Linnette made.

" In her room ?" exclaimed the maid, with vivid

Mr. Linnette bent toward her and spoke with a
volume of meaning.

" It will not be the first time she has received a
man there, as you know well. She is not undressed,
I suppose ?"

" N-o, sir," replied Charlotte, frightened at his

"Then I shall go. You need not accompany me.
And, unless you wish to leave this house to-morrow,
you will say nothing to anyone."




When Roland Linnette and Guy Dalton walked
out of the office of the Montvale Optical Company,
neither was in a very comfortable frame of mind.

Dalton was by far the most distressed. He could
not help feeling that he had wrecked the prospects
of his benefactor. It grieved him to the utmost that
his proffered sacrifice had not been accepted as the
best solution of the unhappy business. His own loss,
that of his situation, seemed trivial beside his friend's
misfortune. It was a terrible thing that such a
rupture should have happened between Mr. Linnetttf
and his nephew.

Roland, on the contrary, was too indignant to think
consecutively. His uncle's conduct appeared to him
entirely indefensible. Proposing to open a letter
directed to another person was, in his opinion, the
depth of meanness. As to Eva Warren, her mother's
employer had no right to interfere with her actions
in the way he had attempted to do. She was not
his child, nor was he in a legal sense her guardian.
The young man was stung again at the recollection
of the ignominious manner in which he had been
driven from Montvale. He had persuaded himself
that his consent to obey his uncle's peremptory
order was obtained quite as much from fear of
injuring Eva as from care for his own interests. As


they walked along toward his rooms he lashed him-
self into a rage over his injuries.

" Confound the man, did he take me for a fool !"
he cried. "I should think by the way he talked he
considered me about five years old. The deuce take
him and his money ! I'm heartily glad to be rid of
both. I will get work and eat the bread of indepen-
dence. Yes, Guy, and when I can earn enough for
two, I will bring that charming girl from Montvale
and divide the loaf with her."

Guy, who had been through the experience of
looking for a situation, was not so confident. But
he did not mean to discourage his companion, whom
he believed much wiser and abler than himself.
Accordingly, he concealed his apprehensions, and said
they must sit down as soon as possible and form a
regular plan of action.

" We'll do it," said Roland, briskly. " Come into
the house with me and let us study out our problem

Seated in the cosy parlor of the suite, they soon set
themselves to the task before them.

" To begin with," said Roland, " I shall have to
give notice that I'm going to move. They have the
assurance to charge me a hundred dollars a month
for this little box, which will certainly be beyond my
means now. I don't know exactly where I shall dis-
pose of my time and talents, but it's very unlikely the
emoluments will justify this rate of expense at pres-
ent. I shall have to pack these traps away some-
where, hire a furnished bedroom, and browse around
in boarding houses for my meals. Ugh ! it makes


me shiver! What do you suppose I'm fit for?
Never mind. I've a lot of pluck, and they say the
world owes every man a living. Wait a minute,
now, till I send a letter to my landlord."

He went to a handsome desk and took out some
elegant stationery, upon which he began to write.

" It must be awfully dreary in a furnished room,"
he said, pausing in the midst of his labor. " I shall
never stay in it except when I'm a-bed or getting in
or out. Is there anything to let over on Tenth
Avenue ? By George !" he exclaimed, springing
gaily to his feet. " I have an idea !"

Dalton was the picture of interest. It is the nature
of drowning men to catch at straws.

" Why not take a cheap flat ?" said Roland, putting
down his pen. " I have things enough to furnish all
but the kitchen. Then, if we could get a house-
keeper, we should at least have the satisfaction of
knowing how our food was cooked. With two of
us to divide the cost, it wouldn't be so recklessly
expensive. Besides, if we got nervous, there would
be several rooms to promenade in. And it would
be a kind of home, which a mere lodging never is.
What do you say ?"

" It would be very nice, if the cost was low
enough," responded Dalton, doubtfully.

Roland scratched the top of his head for a few
minutes with the handle of a paper cutter. All at
once he uttered a war-whoop.

" Tra-la-la-la-la ! 1 have it ! Don't say a word !
Nothing could be finer. She is working for hardly
enough to pay for her board and room, and she


would certainly come. Yes, there is no question
about it !"

Dalton shook his head in a puzzled way, wonder-
ing if his companion's troubles had unsettled his

" Of whom are you talking ?" he asked.

" Why how stupid you can be when you like !
Maud, of course. She's living a miserable life be-
tween that millinery shop and her poorly furnished
chamber. She has been in a hotel and ought to
make a famous housekeeper. We could hire the
harder things done by those women who go around
by the day, but as the presiding genius of our flat
she would be adorable ! She'd come, wouldn't
she ?"

Guy colored, as was his wont when women were
the subject of discussion ; but he rallied presently,
and replied that he believed Miss Arline might con-
sider the matter.

" Consider it ?" laughed Roland. " She'll jump at
it, if only for the chance of seeing you oftener. I
believe you have quite fascinated her, by this time.
Honor bright, between us, isn't she in love with
you ?"

Guy did not give an answering smile to the one on
the face of his friend, but he replied, very calmly,
that he thought Maud liked him.

" Think !" cried Roland. " Hang it, don't you
know ?"

"Yes," said the other, in his straightforward way.
"I know."

Roland gazed at him with intense curiosity. He


wondered how far things had gone. He knew they
were in the habit of meeting almost every evening.
The pretty Maud ! How shy she had been at Mont-
vale, hardly daring to sit at the table with him.
blushing when he addressed her, ready to faint when
he hinted that he would like to touch her cheek with
his lips. Sweet Maud ! Innocent little Maud !

"Then that is settled," he said, rousing himself.
" What a nice party we three will make. We shall
have a common purse. There's not likely to be too
much in it, but we'll share all there is. Do you con-
sent to that ? Shall we divide everything all but the
kisses of Miss Maud, which, it is understood, belong
exclusively to you ?"

Guy felt distressed as he heard these words.
What would be Roland's attitude toward Maud, if
they became one family? If he should make obnox-
ious advances, nothing could prevent a rupture, not
even the recollection of old obligations.

" I'm afraid," he replied, ignoring the unpleasant
part of his friend's remarks, " that I shall get the
best of the bargain, if we have one pocketbook.
You'll be sure to bring in much more than I. You
have a number of acquaintances in the city, while I
have absolutely none."

Linnette laughed lightly.

" We are equal on that score," said he. " I would
starve to death before I would ask for help. No, we
must depend on ourselves entirely. But my rent is
going on at a fearful rate and I must send this letter
to my landlord. After that we can take an account
of stock."


Ringing a bell he placed the letter in the hands of
a servant.

"A fortnight from to-day," he said, smiling, when
the man had disappeared, " we shall have to do our
own errands. These electric contrivances with a
messenger on the end are really too luxurious and
debilitating. Now, let us see what we have on which
to begin our independent existence. We will empty
our pockets and learn the worst."

In spite of the sober thoughts that afflicted him,
Guy could not help being affected by his friend's
gaiety. He found on investigation that he had the
sum of $17.29, while Roland had $92.25. The latter
counted the money in great glee, and remarked that
is was much better than nothing.

" You are quite rich, compared with me," Guy
remarked, regretfully.

"Ah, but my liabilities are greater. I shall have
to pay fifty dollars on these rooms, before I can get
out of them. Give up your chamber on the shortest
possible notice and come here. That will save a
little. I have a few rings, a gold watch and a
diamond pin that will bring something. As we are
to be so very economical Maud might come here
also," he added, with a laugh, "if she could content
herself with a sofa."

Guy rose, uneasy at this turn in the conversation.

" I will go home now and prepare to move," he
said. " I will speak to Miss Arline about the house-
keeping matter, when I meet her to-night for dinner.
I am very, very sorry to have been the means of
making trouble between you and your uncle," he


continued, with a tremor in his voice. " Perhaps,
when you have slept over it, you will feel like trying

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Online LibraryAlbert RossLove at seventy → online text (page 10 of 18)