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to make up with him."

" D n him !" was the reply. " I am only too
glad to be rid of him, to be able to do as I please..
But what a crazy pair we are ! you have not read
I your letter yet, the one that made all the row."
It was true. The letter was still slumbering in
Guy's pocket, where he had placed it when first
handed to him. He took it out now and offered it
to his companion, but Roland insisted that as it was
directed to him he must read it. Persuaded by this
logic, Guy opened the envelope and found its con-
tents to be as follows :

" DEAR SIR : Are you able to inform me of the
present address of Mr. Roland Linnette ? If so, you
will confer a great favor. Please send your reply to
*W. E.,' Care of Mrs. Susan Merrill, Montvale.

" Yours Sincerely, EVA WARREN."

" Not very touching, is it ?" laughed Roland, as
he perused the letter. "Well, with your permission,
I will answer it myself. She shall know the little
scrape she has got me into. My uncle can't keep
her from writing, as I see, if Charlotte continues
true. I'll send a reply in time for the evening mail
and she'll get it by noon to-morrow. Mrs. Merrill's
name shows that she does not dare to have anything
sent direct to the house. To avoid interference at
this end of the road I will give her my new street
and number. Don't forget to call to-morrow morn-
ing. Au revoir, men ami/"




Roland's letter reached Eva, as he expected, on
the noon of the day following the one on which it was
written. It was composed in his best vein, and
divided between a narration of what had happened
in his uncle's office and a series of solemn declara-
tions that he meant to make himself worthy of " the
only girl he had ever cared for." Eva felt a great
elation as she read it. How noble it was of him, to
make such a sacrifice ! He had given up fortune,
comfort, ease everything for her dear sake. How
different this from the picture his uncle had drawn !

" Now that you are able to communicate with me,
through the assistance of your friend, Mrs. Merrill,"
he wrote, " we shall be able to nerve each other for
every trial that enemies may put in our way. Have
Mrs. M. write on your envelopes, and send your let-
ters to the address and name which I enclose. That
will make all perfectly safe both at Montvale and
here. My uncle has evidently determined to keep
you from me, if he can. He may try to fill your head
with the most awful stories, but don't believe him.
I have not always been a saint, which I lament sin-
cerely ; but I shall be true to you, whatever happens.
Keep me informed of all that transpires. I shall
await your replies with the utmost eagerness. Af


soon as fate smiles on my endeavors, rest assured I
shall come for you."

Eva read this, first to herself and then to Charlotte.
She could not resist the inclination to share her
secret with some feminine breast, and she had the
most perfect confidence in her maid.

" Oh, it is so sweet to be loved !" she cried,
ecstatically. " This is what I wanted all the time
instead of those dreadful powders and potions. See
how much better my complexion is, how much more
color I have. I hope he will not make me wait too
long. I want very little only a piece of bread and
a roof to cover me, but in his arms I should forget
even hunger and cold."

The next hour was taken up in discussing the
matter, Charlotte looking on the bright side, like
her mistress, and predicting that all would come out
right in the end. Then Eva took her pen and poured
out her soul to her lover. In the innocent freedom
of her heart she kept back nothing. She did not
hesitate to declare that she had never known happi-
ness till now, to vow eternal fidelity, even to admit
that she longed for the hour when he would be her
own in deed and truth. Sneer not at her, my dear
young lady reader. She had not acquired your
power of concealing her feelings. She did not
understand why she should be less frank than the
man she had promised to wed.

When her letter was finished and crowded into
its envelope she affixed two stamps, knowing that it
must be over-weight. Charlotte took the missive to


her relation, Mrs. Merrill, who wrote the address as
requested and put it in the mail box.

The rest of the afternoon was passed by Eva in
a delirium of bliss. She played for more than an
hour on the piano, chanting a love-song that she
found among her music. The words had meant
nothing to her when the piece first came into the
house. Now each fond expression referred dis-
tinctly to Roland, and she sang it over and over

At supper she noticed that Mr. Linnette said little,
but for a long time he had not talked as much as he
used at the table. Mrs. Warren was not equal to
carrying the mam burden of a conversation, and as
Eva had nothing to say, the meal was passed in al-
most total silence. When it was ended Eva went
back to her sitting-room, ensconced herself in a
comfortable chair, and after reading Roland's letter
through again, and kissing it many times, plunged
into the pages of a love-story that Charlotte had
found for her in the library.

The book was so suited to her frame of mind that
she read a long time. She was accustomed to re-
quire the services of her maid at frequent intervals,
for in that house she had grown accustomed to all
the attentions usually given to a young lady of
wealth. But this evening, falling into a reverie that
she did not wish disturbed, she removed her cloth-
ing without assistance. Then, donning a white
night-dress, and slipping over it a chamber gown,
she put a pair of worsted slippers on her stocking-
less feet, and curled up in the easy chair again.


Her hair floated about her shoulders like a clout..
She meant to have Charlotte braid it before she
went to sleep, but for the present the novel filled all
her thoughts. There was a young man in it that
made her think of Roland, and wonder of wonders !
a cruel uncle who threatened to disinherit him if
he married against his will. But the young man
exactly like Roland again declared on every third
page that nothing should win him from the girl he

There came a tap at the door. What a nuisance !
Charlotte should know better than to appear when
she was not rung for. Eva was at the most enter-
taining part of the story.

" Come in !" she called, without lifting her eyes
from the page. As the door swung slowly open she
added, "Sit down, and don't speak till I finish this
chapter. I never read anything so interesting. It
seems exactly like my own case."

It was not Charlotte, but Willard Linnette. He
had come straight from his conference with Tom
Hobbs, resolved to take this girl to task for her con-
duct in reference to his nephew, and to wring from
her a confession as to its extent. He was not going
to be made a fool of by this child any longer. She
should not aid his graceless nephew to insult him. He
would soon decide whether his fortune should go to
her, or whether she was as unworthy as the one he
had disinherited.

He had loved this girl. He had been mad over
her. He had been very near to bringing on himself
the derision of the world, as an old man who had sue*

nr VA'S CHAMBER. 187

combed to the charms of a child. For three years he
had seen nothing but her beauty, he had cared for
nothing so much as her smile. It was Tom Hobbs
who had revealed to him the extent of his devotion
the fact that he loved her so dearly that he wanted
to clasp her in his arms as his wedded wife ! But
there are limitations to what even love can endure.

If the last guess Hobbs had made was correct, if
she had been more to his nephew than a virtuous
girl should be, he would find it out. If she was
determined to correspond with that young scoundrel,
she had only to say so, and he would have done
with her. Very likely he had been on the verge of
idiocy over her charms, but that was ended. He
would know, before he left her room, whether she
was still worthy his affection and esteem, or whether
he must cast her out of his heart.

These were the thoughts that traversed his mind
as he came through the hallway and ascended the
stairs. But, as he opened the door, in response to
her voice, his resolutions weakened. He knew, when
his glance rested upon her, that she had not intend-
ed to admit anyone but her mother or Charlotte.
The floating hair, the neglige costume, the pose, all
told him this. Still he did not retreat, nor did he
inform her of her error. He was glad to have a
minute in which to recover himself. They had been
such intimate friends that he did not believe the
condition of her dress would disturb her unduly,
when she discovered her mistake. He must talk to
her, now ; he could not wait another hour. So he


closed the door softly behind him and took his chair
near it, awaiting her pleasure.

The first glance decided one great point. He
could not look at that sweet face and think anything
but innocence rested there. She had been guilty of
no graver fault than indiscretion. Hobbs was a
wretch to suggest such a possibility. Mr. Linnette's
harsh thoughts began to fade away. He knew he
could not say half he had meant to, nor could he
assume the dictatorial tone he had intended to use.
Before she raised her eyes from the book, he wished
heartily that he had taken more time before rushing
so heedlessly into her presence.

A low sigh escaped the girl's lips as she finished
the chapter. Her hero had not yet had the happi-
ness of pressing the pretty heroine to his breast. A
hundred barriers rose before them at every turn,
intensely aggravating to the fair young reader, who
would have preferred to have them married in the
first chapter and relegated to a life of bliss forever

" Well, Charlotte," she began.

When she saw who her visitor was, she rose
from her chair with a look that was far from

" Mr. Linnette," she said, " I am surprised that
you should come into my room in this manner. If
you wished to see me, you could have sent me

He was not pleased at the extreme haughtiness
with which she spoke. She need not wholly forget,
he thought, what she owed to his bounty. His tern-


per had been severely tried during the past two
days, and again it mastered him.

" Why this distinction ?" he answered, coldly.
" I knew you were in the habit of receiving gentle-
men here "

The attack was begun, almost before he knew it.
He had entered on a campaign from which there
was no retreat. With one great flash of flame he
had burned his bridges behind him.

The girlish face lit up with indignation.

"Gentlemen !" she repeated.

He knew that she questioned the plural, but he
seized his opportunity.

" I beg your pardon," he said. , " The term was
too complimentary."

The girl's bosom rose and fell rapidly.

" If a person ever came here," she replied, " it was
not without an invitation, nor was I compelled to
receive him in such attire as this. He may or may
not be a ' gentleman,' according to the interpreta-
tion put upon that word. To-day, thanks to you,
he is a penniless seeker after work with which to
support himself. But it requires something more
than money to make a true gentleman ; and I feel
justified in adding that your present conduct does
not stamp you as one."

She had heard from Roland. Her words proved
that. She was resolved to remain his friend. This
was attested by her manner.

" Your words are meaningless," he .replied, his
heart growing harder. " It matters little whether
you wear one dress or another, whether my coining


is announced or not. What I have to say to you
is of the utmost moment, and must not be delayed
an instant longer."

She shrugged her shoulders, as if to intimate that
he might go on, if he was willing to do so after the
protest she had made. Wrapping her peignoir
closer around her, and making sure that her feet
were invisible, she turned a passionless face toward

"You have lived in my house," continued Mr. Lin-
nette, " for three years. You have had everything
that I could give you. There has been nothing "

"Let us consider that understood," she inter-
rupted. " And let me remind you that it detracts
greatly from the value of a gift when the recipient is
reminded of it."

The old man's brows contracted.

" I have never alluded to it before," he retorted,
" and I only do so now because it is a necessary pre-
lude to what I intend to say."

" If the rest is not more agreeable than the pre-
lude, I hope it will be brief," was her calm reply.

At that he broke forth hotly that he had a right
to speak to her ; that he was in effect the guardian
of her reputation ; that he should be remiss in his
duty when he found her making a serious mistake if
he did not inform her of it. He then went on, not
giving her time to interrupt him, to speak of Miss Ar-
line, whom he said he had sent away from Montvale
to save her from Roland. He alluded to the collection
of photographs which his nephew had brought home
from Europe, of his hundred sweethearts in foreign


lands, " white, black, yellow and brown." He
declared that no good girl was safe in his company.
Roland was capable of making love until her head
was turned, and then deserting her without mercy.
Lately he had conducted himself in such a manner
that his uncle felt obliged to cast him off.

Then he referred to the visit his nephew had made
her. He said Roland knew acquainted with the
world as he was that he had committed a most
flagrant breach of good morals ; and the speaker
^averred that no man could do less than denounce
such an act, though the perpetrator were one of his
nearest blood relations.

Eva listened to all this without changing her posi-
tion, and with no evidence of special surprise.
When Mr. Linnette paused for breath she kept
perfect silence.

" What have you to say ?" he demanded.


" You do not object to these things !"

" I do not believe them."

He had expected anything but this cool response.
It was almost as if she had called him a liar in set

" He has bewitched you !" he cried.

A smile came over her pretty mouth.

"I think you are right," she replied. "I lore
Roland too much to credit anything against him."

What a wall of adamant she was !

" Supposing I showed you proofs ?"

" I would not look at them."

u If I brought you witnesses ?"


" I would not listen."

These answers made him quite beside himself
with rage.

" You shall never lower yourself by marrying that
boy !" he exclaimed. " And I will tell you another
thing : I have arranged to have my will re-drawn,
so that you should inherit my wealth, which he has
forfeited by his conduct. If you persist in this
insane folly I will give you nothing!"

Eva laughed, actually laughed at him.

"When Roland is ready he will come for me," she
said. " He will come for me, and I shall go with
him. He is under no obligations to you now. You
cannot frighten him any more. Yes, you may as
well understand."

Mr. Linnette stared stupidly at the girl.

"Would you give up a million dollars for him?"
he asked, gutturally.

" Indeed, yes ! A hundred millions !"

It rose to his lips to tell her that she might go
from under his roof at once ; that he would harbor
such an ungrateful thing no longer ; but he re-
strained himself. Before proceeding to such an
extremity he wanted to talk with Mrs. Warren.

He rose, hesitated a moment, tried to speak, and
then left the chamber. He had accomplished
nothing, and less than nothing.

And Tom Hobbs knew as much, before a word
was spoken, when his employer re-entered the
library and found him there, smoking his pipe in




When Guy met Maud Arline on the evening fol-
lowing the troubles in Mr. Linnette's office he gave
her a rather full account of what had occurred there,
besides narrating as much as was necessary of the
circumstances which had led up to the final catas-
trophe. The girl listened silently as he told the
story of Eva Warren, of Roland's wild infatuation
for her, of his uncle's wrath, of the letter sent to his
care, and of the complete rupture between the rela-
tions. She hardly tasted the food set before her,
though her appetite for the palatable French dinner
which they were now in the habit of taking together
was generally good. Guy was flattered by the close
attention she gave him. and rattled on for fully ten
minutes, pausing only long enough to take an occas-
ional mouthful of the soup or fish.

" I was so sorry that I didn't know what to do,"
he said, after describing the manner in which Ro-
land and he had left the office. " He says I'm not
the least bit to blame, but I can't help thinking I

He looked at Maud as if he wanted her opinion on
the subject, and she replied, in a low voice, that she
could not see how he could have acted differently.

** I am glad to hear you say so," said he, as if re-


lieved. "He has done so much for me that I shall
always feel indebted to him. But now I have some-
thing to tell you that will, it is possible, interest you
even more than the recital I have already made. It
concerns yourself."

Maud roused herself from the lethargy into which
she had fallen and inquired what Dalton meant.

"When we found ourselves, both together, thrown
out upon the world," he answered, " we went down
to his rooms and held a council of war. The agree-
ment that we reached was to share everything we
had and all we could earn, for he is going to look
for work as well as I. Our greatest watchword
necessarily being economy, we began to consider
what was the most frugal way of living, outside of a
cheap boarding-house, which Roland would not
think of for a moment. We finally decided to rent
a low-priced flat, and to engage a housekeeper."

The girl's eyes opened wider as she heard this
statement. Guy noticed their peculiar expression,
and stopped to inquire whether she saw any objec-
tions to the plan.

" I am afraid a good housekeeper, such as you
would require, is not the easiest thing to find," she
said. " You need an experienced woman, to begin
with ; one who would look out for your interests ;
and you could not afford, I suppose, to pay very high

Guy was obliged to laugh at her description.

"I think we know just where the right person can
be found," he replied. " She certainly has had ex-
perience, for she was employed several months in a


country hotel. She would look out for our interests,
because she knows us intimately and would share
our home on equal terms. As for compensation, she
is not at the present time earning much more than
her living. She would be much better off managing
a home of her own, for such it really would be, besides
doing a genuine kindness to two stranded young

It was more than a minute before Maud spoke
again. She could not fail to understand that he
referred to her, and at first she shrank from the pro-
position with a vague dread. More than this, she did
not know as she had a right to live under the same
roof with Mr. Linnette's nephew. It was hardly
keeping faith with his uncle. However, since their
rupture, the latter would have little further interest
in him so far as she was concerned.

She remembered also, very vividly, the nervous
tension at which Roland had kept her when she
officiated as his waitress at Montvale. But if he was
as deeply in love with Miss Warren as his actions
implied, he would not be likely to trouble her much.
To tell the truth, she was very tired of her milliner's
shop, where the promised advance in wages had not
materialized. Her solitary room when Guy was
not there was excessively lonely. The only bright
spot in her existence was the dinners they took
together, and these would be lost if he adopted his
housekeeping plan and she did not share it. It would
be delightful, after the discomforts she had suffered,
to have a home, no matter how poor or humble.


"You mean me," she said, looking up at hf

" Yes," he replied, earnestly, " that is just what I
mean. Roland was the one who first thought of
you, but I saw in an instant what a fine thing it
would be. Neither of us has anything to brag of in
the way of expectations, but we shall do our best.
If you say it is settled we will look for aflat immedi-
ately, and begin to pick out the pans and kettles for
your new kitchen."

Maud wanted to think of the matter for another
day, but Guy was so persistent, and represented the
scheme in such bright colors, that before he left her
that night she had given her full consent.

Within a week the flat was secured, a set of diminu-
tive rooms up three flights of stairs on Sixth Street,
overlooking some picturesque if not over-clean back
yards of the neighborhood. When Roland's furni-
ture was moved in, and the necessary purchases
made, the place looked remarkably cosy. There was
a striking incongruity between some of the expen-
sive things he brought and some of the very cheap
ones they had to purchase, but all three of the new
tenants were in too good humor to find anything
but amusement in this fact. A diamond pin had
been sacrificed at the first start to replenish the
exchequer, and it was announced with positive glee
that a balance of $77 was in the treasury, with every-
thing paid for, including an advance month's rent of
the premises.

It was admitted on all sides that Maud developed
wonderful capacity. Roland declared with enthu-


siasm that he had never dined better, even in the days
when he made the grand tour. The coffee she pre-
pared in the morning was decidedly superior, he
solemnly averred, to that served by any femme de
chambre in dear Paree. He liked to sit in the kitchen
and watch her, with her sleeves rolled up, at the
dish-pan or the bread-board, when Guy was out
scouring the town in search of something to do.
And his manners were so good, and his temper so
equable, that he became as agreeable a companion
as could be asked.

He had a shrewd way of seeming to admit Guy's
proprietorship in Maud, though he never actually
made any allusion to it. Believing that they en-
joyed themselves better alone, he got into the habit,
when the six o'clock dinner was over, of going out
" to see a friend," and seldom returning before ten
at the earliest. But if he heard that Guy intended
to walk out with Maud, he would take a book or
magazine and settle himself in their bijou of a
parlor, announcing that he would spend the evening
at home. The apprehensions that Dalton had felt
were soon lulled into perfect repose by the admirable
conduct of his friend.

Though Roland did not apply in person for any
situation, he wrote a number of letters in response
to newspaper advertisements. One of the reasons
he gave for remaining at home so much during the
day was that he wanted to be in when the mail
arrived. If he were sent for in haste, he wished to
be ready to respond. But the letters he deposited in
the box over the way were much more numerous


than those which the postman brought. The only
one he was sure of came three times a week from
Montvale and was answered as regularly.

In one of these letters he learned of the visit that
Mr. Linnette made to Eva, though she did not give
a full account of all that passed between them.
" He assured me," she wrote, " that you were a very
naughty fellow, but I refused to listen, though I fear
he had some basis of truth for what he wanted to
say. I told him to his face that I loved you ; that
nothing would ever make me change ; and that as
soon as you were ready for me I should marry you.
Then he threatened, saying that he had intended to
leave me all his money, but that now I shall get noth-
ing. As if that would make any difference ! I fear
he will be unpleasant to Mamma, and perhaps she
will join forces with him. People used to say he
meant to marry her. I wish he would, for she wor-
ries me very much. She is so afraid of poverty that
she lies awake nights thinking of it. Keep up good
courage, darling. All will come out right in time."

In a subsequent letter she made the interesting
statement that Tom Hobbs had asked Charlotte for
Roland's address, and that the girl, suspecting some
trick of Mr. Linnette's, had given him an evasive

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Online LibraryAlbert RossLove at seventy → online text (page 11 of 18)