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seriously. She is, if I am a judge, a pure, sweet
girl, fit to be the companion of any man who lives.
If I had not something to tell you, however, that
completely fills my mind and heart, I should express
a doubt whether it is for her lasting happiness to be
thrown too much into your society. Do not mis-
understand me," he added, as Roland's cheeks began
to flush ; " I mean nothing unkind. In the hour I
have been here I have discovered, beyond question,
that she cares too much for you."

Roland was not in a mood to comprehend the
meaning of , this statement, and he inquired what his
relation meant.

"Why," stammered Mr. Linnette, " I believe she
fovts you, to put it plainly ; and you can see howun-


happy that may make her, when she finds that your
affections are enlisted elsewhere."

The young man breathed a deep sigh.

" Oh, uncle," he replied, " I must seem like a very
strange fellow to you, but you should know the
truth. Within the past few days it has grown clear
to me that I have been mistaken all along ; that
the sentiment which I have for Miss Arline is the
true one, and that Miss Warren "

Mr. Linnette sprang to his feet and held out his
arms again, overcome with joy.

"You do not mean " he began.

" Yes, I do," said Roland. " I regret deeply, for
her sake, that things have gone so far. For I will
not deny to you," he explained, " that we have cor-
responded, in spite of your prohibition. I began, I
think, by pitying Eva, who complained of the close-
ness of her confinement, and before I knew it I had
asked her to marry me and she had consented. I
now mean to write again, telling my whole story and
begging her to release me. It looks cowardly, but
it is the only thing left under the circumstances."

The fact that his nephew was about to relinquish
his aspirations to Eva's hand was all that Willard
Linnette comprehended, or wished to know. He
threw his arms around him once more, calling him
his dear Roland, and assuring him that his affection
had endured through everything.

" But now," he said, soberly, when he again be-
came tranquil, " I have a story of my jwn to telL
Lask week I learned a secret that had been kept
from me for many years, a secret of vital importance.


Roland, it is extremely probable that I have a living
child somewhere in the world, who has no idea of its

The young man eyed his relation curiously. What
kind of a statement was this, to be made by that
venerable man, that stickler for forms, that detester
of the very mildest dissipation !

" You have a child T he repeated.

" Yes, Roland, unless death has taken it from me
even before I have found and claimed it. 1 came
here to tell you the story, and to ask you to enter
with me at once upon the search that has been

Quite stunned by the revelation, Roland kept
perfectly still.

" At the age of thirty-five," said Mr. Linnette,
slowly, " I made a trip through New England, on a
vacation, driving from place to place alone. Fre-
quently I had to pass the night in villages so small
that they did not boast a hotel. One night the
family with which I stopped contained two daugh-
ters. One was about twenty-five years of age, the
other sixteen. Their name was Lincoln."

And then he went on with a long story, which may
as well be put into the words of the author. Some-
thing in the elder daughter interested the guest,
who had been, up to that time, wholly oblivious to
feminine attractions, engrossed as he was in his
business enterprises. Although he had intended to
xemain but one day in the village, he stayed a fort-
night. Before he went away a correspondence was
arranged. Fpr a number of years the manufacturer


made quarterly visits to his new friends. In the
meantime the parents of the two girls died, leaving
them to find their sole reliance on each other. Noth
ing definite had been spoken upon the subject of
marriage, but the elder girl, whose name was Ber-
tha, considered this the unquestionable outcome of
the affair. She iiad fallen deeply in love, and waited
patiently for the day when she should be asked the
inevitable question.

In all this time, Mr. Linnette had never hinted to
the Lincolns that he was possessed of more than the
average fortune. His early life had been one of
great hardship, and when the thought of marriage
occurred to him, he wanted a wife who would wed
him for himself and not for his money.

On being asked once by a villager if he were
related to the Linnettes of Montvale, he replied
evasively that he believed he was connected with
that family. His letters were all dated at New
York, where, it was understood, he was clerk in an

But Cupid plays strange pranks. After going
several times each year to visit Miss Bertha, after
writing her hundreds of letters, Mr. Linnette dis-
covered that the younger sister, a child when he first
knew her, had blossomed into one of the prettiest of
women. His long delay had allowed Bertha to
reach an age when female charms begin to fade,
while Beatrice had just arrived at her full beauty.
The slow wooer turned almost unconsciously toward
the rising sun ; and the words he had never spoken


to the elder sister began to come upon his lips when

he was alone with the younger one.

Not realizing the extent of the affection which
Bertha had developed for him none are so blind as
those in love he resolved to make Beatrice his wife
if she would accept him. It was then that a hun-
dred artisans were sent to Montvale, to create the
most beautiful home in all that region for his future
bride. But in the whispered confidences which he
gave to Beatrice, nothing was intimated of the
wealth he possessed. He meant to bring her, like
the bride of the Lord of Burleigh, to

... "a mansion more majestic
Than all those she saw before,"

and to spend there with her the remainder of what
bade fair to be a happy and contented life.

At last the day came when he proposed to the
younger sister, and was accepted. The elder one
had seen the drift of matters for some time, and
though her heart was breaking, she bore the pain
like a mediaeval martyr, never uttering a word to
lessen the happiness of Beatrice.

As the home which he intended for his wife was
not yet completed, Mr. Linnette took her to New
York, where he kept up the illusion of being in
moderate circumstances, in order to enjoy her sur-
prise the more when she should see the glories of
Montvale. Prospects of an heir to his fortune and
house came to gladden the husband and to make him


feel that his cup of joy was soon to be filled to the
brim. But, alas ! The future is for no man to read !

As Beatrice seemed in excellent health, Mr. Lin-
nette felt justified in leaving her for seven or eight
weeks, when invited to join a party of scientific men
who were going to one of the Pacific Islands to view
an eclipse. The young wife urged him to go, say-
ing she did not need the least care and that he would
return long before the day of her especial trial. An
unlooked-for delay occurred, however, and when he
reached San Francisco, on his return, he received a
letter from Bertha, containing the saddest imagin-
able news.

The young wife had been taken suddenly ill, so
the letter said, and in spite of every effort, had
expired with her unborn child. She had sent for
her sister, who had done everything possible, but all
in vain. The body had been taken to her former
home and interred in her father's lot.

Mr. Linnette was so prostrated by this news that
he felt unable even to visit his sister-in-law. He
sent a generous check, asking her to accept it for
the expense and trouble she had undergone, but the
larger share was returned to him, with the statement
that she would take only what she had actually
expended. The manufacturer ordered all the work
stopped on his elegant residence. He never saw
Bertha again and soon ceased to hear from her.
The little son of his brother Payson, left motherless
some time before, then began to attract his atten-
tion. For this boy he had his mansion finished.

And now comes the strangest part of the story.


Beatrice, when she died, was the mother of a ten-
hours-old babe, which, though born before its time,
was healthy and likely to live. The mad idea seized
Bertha to take this child away, and keep the knowl-
edge of its existence from its father. She had lost
both lover and sister, and her heart pined for some
creature on which to lavish the affection that welled
up in her maiden breast.

She supposed Mr. Linnette what he represented
himself, a man in ordinary circumstances, who would
find a motherless child a burden. There was plenty
of opportunity to carry out her hastily formed plan.
The death of her father had put her in possession of
a little money, and she was in want of nothing in the
simple way she desired to live.

Taken suddenly ill, years after, Miss Lincoln had
been moved to confide her cherished secret to a
clergyman of the town where she resided. She ex-
acted a promise from him that he would try to find
her adopted child's father. If he succeeded, the child
was to be told of its parentage, but if not, it was to
be kept in ignorance.

Miss Bertha only knew of Willard Linnette as a
clerk in the employ of some house whose name she
had never heard, and as a distant relation of the
famous man whose name he bore. The minister
did not mean to confide his secret to every person
he met. It was his object to make inquiries, not to
answer them. He went as far, on one occasion, as
to penetrate the private office of the very man he
sought, but left it no wiser than he came. The
optical instrument maker told him that he had


never known of any Willard Linnette except him-
self. Discouraged at the obstacles he encountered
the minister returned to his home, feeling that his
duty was ended.

Roland listened to this tale with mixed feelings.
He was rather disappointed to find that his uncle's
life held no scandal, after all. He had expected,
from the introduction, to hear of an unchaste love,
and the thought of such a thing in connection with
that austere man had thrilled him to the utmost.
However, it was interesting enough.

* ; A short time ago," said Mr. Linnette, in conclu-
sion, " the revelation was made in a most peculiar
way. At a dinner given in honor of a distinguished
foreign savant I was placed next to a prominent
physician, who long since abandoned the practice of
medicine for the more entrancing pursuit of astrono-
mical knowledge. In the course of our conversation
he remarked that the name of Willard Linnette al-
ways brought a sad recollection to his mind. ' The
first mother I ever lost in childbirth,' he said, ' was
the wife of a gentleman of that name.' Reminded
thus of the inquiries that had been made of me by
the clergyman, I inquired where the lady had re-
sided. Judge of my surprise when he mentioned the
street and number where I had made my temporary
home with my young bride.

" Before he finished, this doctor had said enough
to convince me that my wife had given birth to a
living child. The next morning, as you may im-
agine, I was on the train that would take me nearest
to the town where Bertha Lincoln had resided.


There I learned that some months after the death of
her sister she had 'adopted/ as she claimed, a child
found in an asylum, but which I have proved she
brought from New York. The clergyman has re-
tired from the ministry, but by the description I
gave of him he was easily identified and I have
communicated with him."

Roland listened without interruption, and when
his uncle finished he asked

"Have you found your child yet?"

"No," was the sad reply, " but I shall move heave*
and earth until it is accomplished 1"




A more disagreeable situation could easily be con-
ceived than that of Mr. Guy Dalton, during the
next few days after he became the guest of Eva War-
ren. In the wing of the great mansion that had
been practically given up to Eva, he was as secure
from intrusions of an objectionable nature as if in a
mountain fastness. Nobody dreamed of his presence
there, else it is very certain he would not have been
allowed to remain long. Mrs. Grundy would have
viewed the affair with her severest frown, had it
come to her attention. On general principles the
usually meddlesome old lady would have been right,
for this once. But with such a phenomenally good
young man as Guy, such a paragon of innocence as
Eva, and such a very wise young maiden as Char-
lotte, all was sure to go properly.

Eva was certain that, if she could only get an in-
terview with Mr. Linnette, and tell him she would
no longer oppose his wishes about Roland, she
could enlist his kind interest in securing for Guy the
position he had lost. What was to follow she did
not exactly know, but she believed, when the manu-
facturer once got acquainted with Guy, he would
see his good qualities and insure his subsequent rise
in the business. As for herself, this plan left her


at Montvale, it was true, but since her experience
with Roland she felt more reconciled to her quiet
home. She had dreamed of a happiness that could
never have been hers, for a lover who would act as
he had done would be sure to make a most unreli-
able husband. So thought this wise young woman,
and more than likely she was not far out of the way
in her conjectures.

But there was a certain satisfaction in the very
presence of such a fine young fellow as Dalton. As
she partook with him of the coffee and toast and
eggs that Charlotte brought, she decided that it was,
on the whole, the most romantic thing she had ever
heard of. Roland's midnight visits were not to be
compared with it. In the old novels that she bor-
rowed from the library there were tales of mysteri-
ous underground passages, with pass-words and
knocks known only to the initiated. But the cav-
erns were always gloomy, and she was certain they
must have been damp. It was much nicer to have
four hero hidden in the upper story of a modern
house, right over the heads of his natural enemies,
where he could peep through the closed shutters at
his baffled pursuers.

All day long these young people talked together,
of life, and literature, and the things they knew and
the things they thought. It was noon before they
supposed it eleven o'clock, time for dinner long ere
they felt hungry, the hour for retiring when the
evening seemed only begun. Charlotte was their
timepiece, and they obeyed her suggestions im-


Weaned by that one blow from Roland, it is no
wonder that Eva found the society of Guy more
than delightful. A week may equal a month or a
year when two people of their age are thrown into
each others' exclusive company for almost every one
of their waking hours.

One evening, when Guy had been at the Linnette
mansion for nearly a week, he found himself unable
to sleep, and after trying in vain to " woo the drowsy
god," he dressed himself, took the key to the door in
the rear wall by which Charlotte had admitted him
to the estate, and went outside the grounds for a
stroll. It was a most imprudent thing to do, but he
thought it safe enough, from what he knew of the
character of the villagers. In this case, however, he
had made a mistake, for he had not been walking
ten minutes when he came suddenly upon another
stroller, and one of the last men he would have
cared to meet.

It was Tom Hobbs. There was no escaping the
keen eyes of the old man, which recognized him
instantly, in spite of the semi-darkness, and Dalton
stopped when he heard his name pronounced.

" Well, well ! This is a surprise !" said Hobbs.
" How came you here and where are you going at
this time of night ?"

Guy was, happily, on the road that led to Ells-
worth, and apparently coming toward Montvale from
that direction. He replied, with alacrity, that he had
walked over again, to have a talk with Mr. Hobbs,
and was just going to his residence.

" Pshaw !" said Hobbs. " You don't say ! It's


lucky I happened to see you, for I got wakeful and
was out trying to walk off the blues. That matter
of Linnette and his nephew rests on my mind all the
time. I'm afraid the boy is actually suffering for
funds, and I can't make out why he doesn't write me
a word. Did you give him the message I sent by
you, that time you came up here ?"

Somewhat confused, not only at the unexpected
meeting, but at the question, Guy suggested that
they had best go into the house as soon as possible,
as his desire not to be seen in Montvale was still
strong. In a few moments the two men were alone
in the superintendent's parlor. Then Guy related
his falling out with Roland on his return to the city,
though without giving the cause of the rupture.

" I could not talk to him about anything," he said.
" I did not speak a word. As soon as I could pack
my things I took them away, and that is why I never
was able to give him your message."

" The deuce !" said Hobbs. " And so, for all you
know, he may be starving to death at this present

"Yes," said Guy, coldly. "For all I know, or
care !"

Hobbs stared at the young man for some seconds.

"There is but one cause that could so embitter
two such friends as you were," he said, at last.
" There was jealousy about some woman."

" No matter what it was," replied Dalton. " I
will not discuss it. Our acquaintance is at an end."

" And why, then," asked Hobbs, " have you come
to me ?"


Poorly prepared for contact with so shrewd a
mind, Guy had a second of apprehension. But by
good luck he hit upon an answer that looked rea-

" I am still out of work," said he, ** and nearly
penniless. You have great influence with Mr. Lin-
nette. I want my old place in his office."

Mr. Hobbs laughed aloud.

" You are a cool one," he replied. " Don't you
know that I love that boy Roland, as much as if he
were my own flesh and blood ? After abandoning
him without even conveying my message offering
assistance, you come to ask help for yourself ! But
I'm not going to be as cruel as you. Give me his
address, and I'll give you " he paused, noting the
gleam in Dalton's eyes " I should say lend you any
sum you need."

Guy was struck by the position of the old man,
and touched by the tenderness of his voice.

" I will gladly give you the address," he responded.
" You will find him, unless he has moved away, at
No. East Sixth Street. As to your offer to lend me
money, I shall have to subdue my pride enough to
accept a little. If you can let me have ten dollars I
promise to return it at the very earliest possible
date. The truth is, I have not enough to get back to
the city without walking."

Hobbs wrote the address carefully in a little mem-
orandum book that he carried in his coat pocket.

" If it will ease your pride any," said he, *' I have
another proposition to make. I would like to
employ you for a week or so on a very particular


and private affair. If you succeed in what I wish to
accomplish you will be handsomely rewarded. If
you fail, your expenses and a good salary for the
time employed will be paid."

The young man caught eagerly at the proposition.
While it was very agreeable to stay in the Linnette
mansion with Eva, he knew it was far from being a
sensible way to pass any more of his time. He
wanted the pleasure of again earning something, the
sensation of having in his purse a few dollars that
would enable him to hold his head up among men.
He told Mr. Hobbs that he would willingly under-
take any honorable mission.

"I am going to impart a most profound secret,"
said the elder man, when this had been arranged.
"You will need to show the greatest judgment in
carrying out the investigations I intend to commit
to you."

Much impressed, Dalton inquired why he had
been selected for this work.

" For two reasons. One is because you are avail-
able, because you are able to begin at once. The
other is because it will lead you to a location with
which you have told me you are familiar, that of
East Ryegate, Vermont."

Guy started perceptibly when he heard the con-
cluding statement ; but he recovered himself, and
begged his companion to proceed.

" You may remember telling me," said Hobbs,
" that you knew of a family by the name of Lincoln,
living in Ryegate."


Again there was the slight start, that did not
escape the watchful eyes of the questioner.

" Yes," said Dalton, slowly, " I remember."

" There were two daughters in this family," pur-
sued Hobbs. " One of them, the younger, was
named Beatrice. She married and moved away a
great many years ago. The elder's name was "

He paused, and looked at Guy inquiringly.

" Bertha," said Guy.

" Exactly. She lived during the later years of her
life in a village about twenty miles from Ryegate.
The name of it escapes me at this moment "

Dalton named it quietly.

"Precisely," said Hobbs. "And this Miss Lincoln
Miss Bertha Lincoln did not live entirely alone,
I believe. She had adopted a child, soon after her
sister's death and now comes the secret, that you
must swear not to reveal without my permission."

Guy inclined his head in token of assent.

" I believe the child which Miss Bertha adopted
and brought up was the offspring of her sister."

Guy looked intently at the speaker.

" Well ?" he said, interrogatively.

Mr. Hobbs smiled, as he was wont to do when he
cornered his adversary at a game of chess.

" Were you pretty well acquainted with things in
Ryegate ?" he asked.

"Quite well."

"Did you ever hear" the old man bent forward
anxiously " the name of the man Miss Beatrice
married ?"

Dalton contracted his brows in thought. Yes, he


said, he had heard the name, but it had slipped his

" Was it Linnette ?" demanded Hobbs, triumph-

" I think it was," said Guy, with a nod.

" And Willard ? Was it Willard Linnette ?"

"I don't know. But you don't mean you
wouldn't wish me to understand "

Hobbs rose and rubbed his hands together with

" Wouldn't I ? Oh, yes, I would ! Begins to grow
entertaining, doesn't it ?"

Then he told Guy, with all the flourishes of a
romancist, about the long-past love and marriage of
the master of Montvale, much as detailed by Mr.
Linnette himself to Roland, and already explained
to the reader. Hobbs had known all that his em-
ployer knew, even in those remote days, but upon
the latter's return with the sad news of his young
wife's death, it had been agreed that the matter
should never again be mentioned between them.

Upon learning through the New York doctor that
his child was born alive, the instrument manufacturer
had confided all he learned to his faithful friend, by
means of the mail. After himself visiting Ryegate,
and setting a detective agency to work upon the trail
of the lost child, Linnette had again written to
Hobbs, telling him of the latest developments. It
was then that the superintendent remembered that
Dalton came from that town, and he was debating
making a journey to the metropolis in the hope of


finding him when the unexpected meeting took

If he could manage to find this child by his own
efforts, directed in this way, what a crowning glory
it would be for him !

" I want you," he said to Dalton, " to go to East
Ryegate and learn what became of this adopted
child. The clue does not seem an easy one, from
what Linnette writes me, but perhaps a smart
Yankee boy, who knows the neighborhood, may out-
wit the New York detectives. You will see what an
important matter this is. If you are successful, you
may be sure not only of your old place in the count-
ing room, but of almost anything else you want."

Guy had been growing very sober during the pro-
gress of these arrangements. He rose like one who
has slept on the bare ground and finds his bones

" You are quite certain that Bertha's adopted child
was Mr. Linnette's own ?" he asked.

" Quite. The coincidence is too remarkable to
leave much doubt."

The young man listlessly took the money that
Mr. Hobbs handed to him, not counting it. As long
as it was no charity he did not care what the
amount was.

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Online LibraryAlbert RossLove at seventy → online text (page 15 of 18)