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busied himself with it until she called him to dinner.
He was not hungry in the least, and only touched
the daintiest bits, washing them down with a half
bottle of ordinary claret. The girl's appetite was
not much better, and soon he retreated to the
parlor again and left her to "do " the dishes. When
he fancied she must be through with her labors he
went out into the dining-room, and found her sitting
there, sewing. Her head was bent low over her
work and tears had fallen upon it.

" Bring that into the parlor, won't y< u ?" he asked,
not noticing particularly what she was doing. "I'm
awfully lonesome. If you don't come I shall have
to go and hunt up a theatre, to kill the evening."

She came obediently, feeling that he was her
employer, and had a right to command her. A
ready handkerchief removed the traces of weeping
from her eyes. Linnette sat silent for some minutes
and then exclaimed

"Do you hate me very, very much ?"

She looked up in intense surprise.

" Why should I hate you ?"

"Oh, there are reasons enough. If I had never
insisted on your waiting on me at Hanson's you
would be there yet."

"Do you think I was so entirely happy there?"
she asked, smiling in spite of herself.


" No, but here you are utterly wretched. I am an
unreasonable fellow, I know that very well. No-
body likes me, and nobody ought to. I wish I was
like Guy. I don't wonder you're in love with him.
When you're his wife you'll be a happy woman

She started at the statement, and then asked why
he thought she would ever be Dalton's wife.

" That's a queer question," he replied. " Isn't it
settled ?"

She laid down the sewing in her lap and fixed her
fearless eyes upon him.

" If it is, it has been without consulting me."

" But you can have no doubt you certainly are
lovers. Pshaw ! You're only trying me, Maud.
You wouldn't say he never mentioned marriage to
you ?"

She hesitated, wondering how far she was justified
in answering such inquiries.

" No, he never did," she replied at last.

" That's strange," exclaimed Roland, showing his
astonishment in his voice and look. " Why, you've
been together about all his spare time for weeks
and weeks. What could he find to talk about, if not
love ?"

The color began to mount to her temples.

" I did not say he had never spoken of love" she

What did she mean ? He looked at the girl
searchingly, but could make nothing of her ex-

" The man who speaks continually to a woman of


love, and never of marriage, is not one to be encour-
aged," he said, earnestly. " Yes, I would say the
same if he were my brother."

The helplessness of the girl smote the libertine
like a blow. In the heat of passion he had made
light of such situations in his day, but now he felt
as if he were the witness of the robbery of a house,
the kidnapping of a child. He had no volition
whatever, he was forced to the attitude he took by
the overpowering pressure from within.

" Maud," he cried, drawing his chair nearer to
her, " tell me, is it too late ?"

Quite startled at his manner, she could not
answer him, and he took her silence for a confession.

" I am so sorry !" he said, taking both her hands
in his. " But you shall be his wife I will make him
marry you ! Yes, as soon as he returns !"

She did not know the dark suspicion that was haunt-
ing him. But she could not leave his mind in the
condition she found it. She begged him to promise
that he would not speak to Guy about her.

"And you mean to tell me you are content ?" he
exclaimed. " You do not wisJi to marry him, is that
it ?"

" I do twt," she replied, positively. " I do not wish
to marry anyone."

The riddle was too deep. He looked at her for a
long time in silence. She took up her sewing again,
to engross her mind a little with it, and he watched
her as she plied the needle. How little one could
tell about a woman by seeing her face !

He remembered a time, years ago, when he had


met at the entrance of the Jardin de Paris a beauti-
ful girl, dressed in white, with the purest face he had
ever seen. And he had remarked to a friend that
someone should tell that innocent creature of the
infamous scenes which would soon dye her marble
cheeks with roses. And his friend had laughed and
told him that she was Mile. D'Alencelle, of the
Cirque. Unable to believe it, he had returned to
the place where the shameless dancers were giving
their exhibitions, and watched mademoiselle view
the worst of it unmoved.

The more he thought of Maud the more unbearable
it became, and he excused himself, saying he had an
engagement and must go out for an hour or two.

The cool air of the night revived him. He walked
far up town and then slowly back again. As he
neared his apartments he found it harder and harder
to enter the door, and he went off for another long
walk, which lasted until he heard a clock striking
twelve. Then he went deliberately to the Morton
House, engaged a room and threw himself, fully
dressed, upon the bed.

He thought of a hundred things in those few hours.
He was very angry at Dalton. Such affairs were
the exclusive privilege of wealth. It was outrageous
for a pauper to imitate his betters in this fashion.
Roland stirred himself up to a genuine rage. He
would have it out with Guy. He would tell him
his opinion of his conduct !

But, with daylight, after some sleep that even his
ill-temper could not drive away, there came a
gentler feeling. Human nature was the same in rich


and poor, high and low. He was himself too impe-
cunious now to criticise his equals. Maud was
handsome. If she had been thrown too completely
into Guy's company, who was more to blame than
the man who criticised him ? Roland rose, and
after making his toilet, walked briskly to his home,
determined to say no more about it.

The young housekeeper had also slept badly.
She knew that something she did not understand
what troubled Roland exceedingly, and realized
that the entire night had passed without his return.
Quite early she arose and went about her house-
hold affairs, making the coffee and taking in the
French rolls that the baker's boy left at her door.
When Roland came in he greeted her in the old way,
which reassured her, and they sat down to take their
coffee together.

" I met a friend and passed the night with him,"
he explained, briefly.

With the mercurial temperament which mastered
him at all times, he soon went to the opposite
extreme. There was nothing to do but make the
best of it. Guy was a sly dog ! Roland laughed
and talked with Maud, coming into the kitchen
every little while and making himself entertaining.
When her work was done he sat with her in the
sitting-room and grew more good-natured than ever.
Why should he not be free with her, if he liked ?
A kiss from those red lips would not be wholly
unpleasant, and it would be no robbery if he could
secure one.

" I wonder what Guy has succeeded in finding


out," he said, to keep up the conversation. "That
Tom Hobbs is a shrewd old fellow. And Eva ; I
hope he got in and out of the mansion safely. He
will be here, probably, this afternoon. I can't help
thinking, Maud, of what you told me yesterday. I
surely thought he was engaged to you. He ought
to be, that's all I've got to say. If I were in his
place I'd make you so secure nobody else should
ever put in a claim. And if it hadn't been for the
interference of my uncle, I'm not certain I shouldn't
have tried to win you myself."

Maud rose to get something from the mantel. As
she passed the young man he caught her in his arms
and drew her into his lap. The movement was so
unexpected that she had no chance to avoid the
embrace. His lips were on hers in a warm kiss, and
she was as nearless helpless for the moment as one
could well be. The time was badly chosen, how-
ever, and as Roland released her they were both
startled to see Guy Dalton standing by the door.

Maud turned scarlet, but Roland summoned a
loud laugh and cried out that they were caught that

" How did you find things at Montvale ?" he
added, carelessly. " I am dying to hear your story."

He had no idea that Guy would make a serious
matter of what he had unluckily chanced to witness.
The obligation that the young fellow was under to
him would, he reasoned, outweigh any little feeling
he might have. He would tell him later that he
had acted on the spur of the moment and that Maud
was taken wholly by surprise. But he soon saw thar


^/alton did not intend to take the event in a light

manner. He stood there as if stunned, fora moment,
and then, without speaking, passed into his bedroom.

Miss Arline went to a window that gave on the
small courtyard, and pressed her face against the
pane. She was trembling. Linnette called out
"Guy !" twice, and receiving no answer, added in a
low tone, " Oh, then, go to the devil, if you want to
make such a fuss about it !"

Recovering herself, the girl withdrew to the
kitchen, and Roland walked into the parlor and
began reading the morning newspaper, though very
511 at ease.

An uncomfortable quarter-hour passed, and then
Dalton emerged from his room, dragging a trunk,
which he put into the public hall. Returning, he
brought out a satchel, and several other things, and
started to leave the flat.

" Don't be a fool !" cried Roland, coming to the
doorway. "If you'll give me half a chance, I can
explain everything to your satisfaction."

Dalton straightened himself to his full height. A
dangerous look came into his eyes, usually so soft
and pleasant. Roland stepped aside and the door

" y<?2/7/have to speak to him," he said to Maud r
going to the kitchen. " He'll not listen to me. He's
gone for a cab, I suppose, but you can stop him."

A look of intense suffering was on the girl's face,,
as she lifted her eyes to his.

"I could not," she said, simply.

" Nonsense !"


4 * Not after what he saw."

Roland was full of contrition.

" Lay all the blame on me. Tell him the truth
I'll endorse anything you say. He mustn't leave )'ou
like this. I don't care for myself, but he has no
right to condemn you on such slight evidence."

The girl shook her head slowly and sadly. Find-
ing that he could do nothing with her, Linnette
went out into the hallway, to make one more trial
on his own account. The baggage was not where
he supposed it would be. On the lower floor he
encountered the janitor, who said he had brought it
down at Mr. Dalton's request, and had assisted in
putting it on a carriage that was passing.

Was ever anything accomplished so quickly?
Roland went out into the street, but no carriage
was visible in any direction.

"Well, Maud, he's gone," said he to Miss Arline,
when he reached his apartment again. "Gone like
the wind, nobody knows where."

The girl paused in her work, looking on the

"Then /must go, too," she said, quietly.

" You ? Certainly not ! He'll get over his fit in a
day or so, and be back again."

Maud put her fingers in the neck of her dress as if
it choked her.

" It will be better that I go. He will never be
friends with you while I stay here."

" Friends with me!" exclaimed the other, excitedly.
"That's of mighty small consequence. I must re-
store him to you !"

**Hfi WILL DO IT FOB MB." 225



The silent anger that rises to white heat is
more dangerous than the kind that vents itself in
outward show. Guy Dalton knew what it was to
feel murder in his heart as he stood by the door of
his apartment and saw that couple so close together.

Knowing he was not expected on the earliest train,
he had gone softly up the stairs. He was hardly
surprised at the sight that met his gaze, but he knew
no course except to pack up and leave them.

To have uttered a word in reply to Roland's offer to
" explain " would have been to release the torrent of
rage that filled his being. Guy was afraid of him-
self at that moment. Only a thin veil separated his
self-control from the revenge to which a loud voice
called him.

He packed his things leisurely, like a man in a
dream ; took his baggage into the public hall ; hap-
pened to meet the janitor on the landing, and
secured his assistance in getting it downstairs ; saw
a cab passing ; and, before Linnette could reach him,
had gone out of sight, directing his driver to turn
several corners for the purpose of throwing possible
spies off his track.

He was nearly penniless, but at the time he did
not think of that. He only wanted to get beyond


the reach of those who had deceived him. He
directed the cabman to go as far as Twenty-eighth
Street and Seventh Avenue, and when that point was
reached he stopped and bought a newspaper, scanning
the columns in which rooms were advertised. A
little distance from the corner he found a chamber,
which he engaged, and as he appeared honest and
respectable, the landlady did not require him to pay
anything in advance.

He had eaten no breakfast, but he did not care for
any. He took a chair and sat for hours, in a dazed
sort of way, looking at the adjacent roofs. He was
in a state that closely resembled coma. At last
night came on. Long after dark he went to bed by
the light of the stars. In the morning he awoke,
cold and hungry.

Examining his purse he found less than a dollar in
it. He sought a cheap restaurant in the vicinity
and spent twenty cents for a breakfast. Having
nothing else to do he returned to his room and
relapsed into the listless attitude of the previous day.
At night he went out again to a frugal supper.
The next day he pursued the same course.

On the second morning he awoke with his
thoughts on Eva Warren. In his sleep he had seen
her sweet face, and she had asked him to come to
her. Yes, it was his duty to make the journey.
Roland had committed an irreparable wrong to that
girl, and she ought to know it. Procuring writing
materials at the desk of a restaurant where he went
for a cup of coffee, he indited a note stating that he
would be at Montvale either that night or the one


following, and asking that Charlotte keep watch for
him at the door in the wall. This letter he mailed,
without stopping to think that it required money to
purchase a railroad ticket, and that the price of the
stamp was the last of his resources.

At noon, on starting for dinner, he recollected that
he was penniless. Literally his last cent was gone.
Discouraged, he tried to think what he could pawn
best. There was his trunk and his satchel, and the
thin overcoat that he wore on chilly evenings. He
hated to part with any of them, and he passed the
entire day without food. In the morning he lay
quite late. No breakfast awaited him, and he was
weak and tired. At eleven he dressed and descended
to the street from sheer ennui.

Growing hungrier every minute he walked about,
looking at the things in the shop windows. Bills of
fare in front of eating-houses had a fascination for
him. Dishes that he would have scorned ordinarily
took on a positive deliciousness as he read over their
names. " Baked beans !" How nice they would
taste ! " Stewed tripe !" A banquet fit for the gods
could be made of that material. He eyed the joints
of beef and mutton, and the fat turkeys displayed
in the provision stores, until his hunger grew so
acute that he had to move on. A whiff of air from
a kitchen freighted with the odors of cooking made
him dizzy.

At two o'clock he found himself in front of his
old place of employment, the office of the Montvale
Optical Company. He loitered as he passed, to see
if any of his former acquaintances were in sight.


He did not mean to have them detect him, but the
cashier looked up and beckoned to him with a
smile. Dal ton shook his head, and was moving on,
when the man came to the door and called to him.

" I wish you would come in a minute," he said.
" There is a balance due you, and I want to get it off
the books."

The words rang in the hungry man's ear like the
whirling of a buzz-saw.

"Balance due me ?" he repeated, vaguely.

" Yes, twelve dollars, for the last week you were
here. It would be a convenience if you would take
it now."

Though Guy wanted that money as bad as he had
ever wanted anything, he held back. He hated to
touch a dollar belonging to Willard Linnette. But,
after all, he had earned it honestly. And he was

" How can there be a whole week's pay ?" he
asked. " I left on a Friday."

" You were discharged rather suddenly, you remem-
ber," smiled the cashier, " and in such cases it is
customary. I don't know but you could claim
another week, as you were entitled to notice ; but
twelve dollars is all I can give you in the absence of

Satisfied with the explanation, Guy entered the
office and signed a receipt. The other clerks spoke
to him, in a casual way, saying that he was not look-
ing as well as when he left. The first thing he did
after getting the money was to seek a restaurant and
eat a hearty meal. Then he went to his room and


paid his landlady a week's rent. And after that he
took a satchel with some necessary clothing and
went to the depot, where he bought a ticket, and
took a seat in the train.

Alighting as before, at Ellsworth, he walked briskly
toward Montvale. As he approached the village it
was yet too early to think of gaining admittance to
the Linnette mansion, and the young man turned
into a by-road and paced up and down under the
overhanging branches of the tall trees till the lights
in the neighboring houses began to be extinguished.
Then he emerged from his concealment sufficiently
to gain a good view of the residence he sought, and
found that it appeared to be shrouded in total dark-
ness. He crept quietly to the rear of the grounds
and knocked gently on the door in the high brick
wall. Without an instant's delay it was opened
to him, and Charlotte's well-known features were
discernible in the dusky light.

No interference was found between this point and
the rooms that Miss Warren occupied.

" I received your letter this noon," said Eva,
greeting him in her sweetest manner. " Now, let
me hear what the latest trouble is. As Mr. Willard
Linnette has gone to the city, I presume it is some-
thing in relation to his visit there."

The excitement which he had undergone during
the previous few days had worn very much on Guy.
He shook his head slowly, to imply that her guess
was incorrect. Then she noticed that he was very
pale, and commented upon that fact.

" You are ill, I fear," she said. " Has something


so terrible occurred, then ? Speak at once, and let
me know the worst."

He struggled for a few minutes with the things
that rushed into his mind. Now that he was with
her, the importance of every move began to force
itself upon his mind. She had shown a blind faith
in her lover, on the previous occasion, when alluding
to his uncle's accusations against him. How could
he know that she would give a more willing ear to
the statements he had come prepared to make ?

" I have had troubles serious ones of my own,"
he replied, gravely.

He had counted well on the feminine trait of
curiosity, for she warmly urged him to confide in
her, saying she felt the strongest wish to know every-
thing that affected his welfare. She said this so
kindly, and with such a sympathy in her eyes, that
his voice choked as he began his story.

"When I was last here I told you that we were
living in an apartment together, and that a young
lady was acting as our housekeeper. You must have
gathered from what I said that she and I were on
very friendly terms. I was absent from New York
less than one complete day. When I returned "

His feelings overcame him at this juncture, and
he had to pause to recover himself.

" She was gone ?" suggested Eva, leaning toward
him, and speaking tremulously.

" No. There was a man, who professed the
greatest regard for me, and who knew my feelings
toward toward Miss Arline. I entered our apart-
ment unexpectedly to them, and the first sight that


met my eyes was my supposed friend with that
young woman in his arms, his lips pressed to hers."

Miss Warren had begun to tremble as if with a
deadly chill. The thought of doubting him never
entered her head. His tale was too evidently true.

"And the name of this man?" she asked, her
teeth chattering.

"Was Roland Linnette."

She uttered a low cry and covered her eyes.

" What did he say ?" she inquired, without look-
ing up.

" He said he would explain everything, if I would
listen to him," responded Dalton. " But I could not
bear to hold a conversation then. I was too much
afraid I might do him a mischief. I packed my
belongings at once and had them taken away and
I have seen neither of them since."

The revolution that acts the quickest of all is that
which takes place in the mind of a woman who dis-
covers the infidelity of the man she has learned to
love. Sometimes it takes the form of blind hate,
and she searches for a physical weapon with which
to strike the object of her wrath. Sometimes the
effect is like the erasure of the page in their lives on
which his image is imprinted. This was the effect
in Eva's case.

If Roland had held another girl in his arms and
touched her lips with his, he was no more to her, and
never could be. It was painful to learn of it, her
love and pride were equally injured ; but the chief
impression on her mind was one of a great vacancy.
For months she had thought of little else than this


man. All her plans were made with him as the
central figure. Now the room in which she lived
was suddenly stripped of its garnishings, and noth-
ing but the bare walls confronted her.

" I am so sorry for you," she managed to say.
" You must have been very fond of her, and her
action is incomprehensible."

" It is not that," he replied. " I do not think,
now that I look back on it, that I really cared for
her. What crushed me was to think that he who
professed so much love for me could betray me as
soon as my back was turned. And I cannot tell
how long his plan was maturing. It was he who
suggested her as our housekeeper. Yes, you may as
well know. It was he who asked me to come here
on that errand. It makes me feel as if all the world
was false, as if there was no one whom I could

She assented with a thoughtful nod, and for some
time both were silent. Then she asked what had
brought him on to Montvale.

"I came to tell you," he answered. "I thought
you ought to know. And I had nothing else to do,
left as I am without work, without prospects, with-
out a home, and without a friend."

The extreme sadness with which he uttered these
words touched the girl deeply.

" Not without a friend, surely," she said, putting
her hand in his, with a delightfully graceful motion,
*' though I fear there is little that I can do to aid
you. Tell me your entire story, if you will be so
kind, and see if there is anything I can suggest."


Charmed by her manner, Guy was led to talk
about himself in a way he had never done to any
other person. She drew out of him the tale of his
life, from the earliest period he could remember up
to the present day. When he related his meeting
with Roland Linnette, and the care taken of him in
his illness, the girl paid the tribute of a tear to the
pathos of the narrative.

" I am glad to know Roland is not all bad," she
said. " I shall always think of him hereafter as one
who is dead, and I like to remember all the good
things I can of him. What do you suppose he will
do ? His uncle is not likely to relent, and he does
not seem able to find work."

Dalton reddened.

"That, at least, is no reflection on him," he re-
sponded. " I have tried as hard as he, if not harder,
and there seems to be nothing. Is .it not strange
that in a world so vast there should be no one in
want of a young man of fair talents, willing to labor

Eva agreed with him perfectly. Then she said,
brightly, that she had an idea she could arrange the
matter now. Mr. Willard Linnette had been very
angry because she wished to become the wife of his
nephew, and had treated her coldly of late. When
she told him, as she intended to do forthwith, that
her engagement was at an end, he would resume

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Online LibraryAlbert RossLove at seventy → online text (page 13 of 18)