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patch to complete the work on the original plan.
Everything that had been contemplated was finished,
down to the smallest detail. Large sums were also
expended on the furnishing of the house.

" What can it mean !" cried the people of thq
village. " Is the master about to marry ? Yes, that
must be it. He is preparing a home for his ne\|
wife !"

But the work went on and Willard Linnett^
moved into the house ; and, with the exception otf
the ordinary servants necessary to such a place, and
the occasional visits of his brother Payson, no one
came to the grand mansion.

Payson was an entirely different man from his
brother. Willard had made a great effort to interest
him in his early discoveries, being more than will-
ing to share his success with him. It early became
evident, however, that Payson knew nothing what-
ever about business and disliked everything relat-
ing to it. In the days of their extreme poverty he


had performed the labor necessary to sustain
with ill-concealed detestation, but upon being
released his mind ran rather to the poetic than to
the commonplace, and he proved completely useless
when transferred to the counting room of the new
concern. Much to his satisfaction, though to his
brother's great regret, he was soon retired on a
handsome income. He established his residence in
the city of New York, where he attached himself to
societies for the discovery and advancement of
various things, and also occasionally varied the
monotony of his life by publishing, at his own
expense, erudite works that found their way to the
upper shelves of libraries and remained there undis-

The one thing that varied this programme was his
marriage to a lady who only lived long enough to
present him with a son. Undoubtedly he mourned
her loss, but after all he was better fitted to live a
single than a wedded life.

The owner of Montvale had no confidants. He
began housekeeping with the assistance of a Mrs.
Martin, a rather severe-featured woman of forty
years or so, who for A long time managed all the
internal economies of the place so as to suit him fairly
well and to please herself admirably. It was his
habit to rise at four o'clock in summer and five in
winter, and stroll over his grounds. He visited the
stables, criticising the care given to the animals there,
or inspected the kennels to make sure his dogs were
looking well. He also had many long talks with
a landscape gardener that he had imported to


give additional beauty to his naturally attractive

In those days Willard Linnette Seemed at peace.
He loved to reflect that all these things had come to
him through his own discoveries ; that it was only a
few years since he had been a common workingman,
of whom nobody knew and for whom nobody cared.
It was a pleasure to walk through this estate, and
the works down there in the valley, and the streets
of the growing village, and know that he had created
them all.

And he was generous, too. He founded local
charities and endowed them liberally. He was looked
up to by every one, from the humblest laborer in
his employ to the clergymen who officiated at the
Montvale churches. The great astronomers of the
world wrote him autograph letters of congratula-
tion. He Was the subject of many newspaper and
magazine articles, and an honorary member of sev-
eral astronomical societies. What a change for the
man who, such a little while ago, had shovelled
cinders at Ashfield !

It is from contrasts like this that much of the
comfort in this world is derived. No one so enjoys
the outer air as the convalescent who has been con-
fined for months to a room. No one knows the joy
there is in a drink of water like the traveller who has
well-nigh perished of thirst before reaching the

But, had he completed that great house and those
extensive grounds for his own use alone ? Yes ; and
no. Perhaps he would have done the same, had he


had no intention of sharing them with any other
person, merely for the pleasure of possessing such
an elegant establishment. Still, it was largely on
account of his brother's infant that he set up house-
keeping on such an immense scale.

After the death of Roland's mother, Willard Lin-
nette, on his occasional visits to Payson, found him
so engrossed in his books that he hardly seemed to
know there was a baby to bear his name. The child
was left entirely to the care of servants, and though
this may have been quite as well for its health at
that period of his life, it distressed the kind heart of
the uncle, who soon conceived for the half-orphaned
boy a very warm affection. Having no closer ties he
early formed a resolution to make this little fellow
his heir ; and the real father, who might not have
been able to recognize his child out of a dozen, on a
wager, was quite content so long as he was not to be
troubled in any way about him.

Mrs. Martin, who presided over the household
affairs of the elder brother, and ruled them, it must
be said, with a rod of iron, welcomed the young
stranger doubtfully. But she soon found that she
was to have very little to do with him. A suitable
retinue of special attendants was engaged, and
Roland was to all intents and purposes as much at
home as if he had been the real son of the owner of

This condition of things, if it did nothing else,
relieved the optician of one cause for worry. Since
his fortune had been accumulating so fast he had
speculated a great deal as to what ought to be done


with it, in the event of his death. He felt that it
would be useless to leave to his brother a larger
income than he now enjoyed, which he had reason
to know was much bigger than he Sound use for.
His lawyers had made various wills for him, havinp 1
reference mainly to the spiritual needs of sundry
natives of the Guinea coast and Kamschatka. He
now had them draw up another leaving the bulk of
his property to Roland, without restrictions.

The elder Dombey, in Dickens' delightful story,
never felt more certain that little Paul would become
a famous figure in his house than did Willard Lin-
nette that Roland would be his partner in the Mont-
vale Optical Works when he became of age. As
soon as the boy was old enough to understand, the
uncle liked nothing better than taking him through
the manufactories, and impressing upon him the
various processes required to make the telescopes
which brought him his fortune and reputation. He
fondly dreamed of a time when Roland would build
the name of Linnette still higher among astronomers.

It was well that he enjoyed these reflections while
he was able to do so, for as the lad grew older it
became apparent that he had none of those instincts
which the future owner of such an establishment
ought to possess. The boy liked a gun, and a horse,
and a story book, especially if the book dealt in
tales of travel and adventure ; but he turned wearily
from his arithmetic and physics, and could not con-
ceal how thoroughly he was bored when the con-
versation turned upon the newest comet or the dis-


covery of a star of the seventeenth magnitude by

some searcher in Madagascar.

The uncle hid his disappointment as best he could,
saying to himself at first that the boy was young,
and that it was too soon to expect his mind to
develop in these directions. He sent him away to
school, impressing upon the principal the necessity
of paying particular attention to such studies as
would assist the lad in managing his future trusts.

Roland stayed through the time allotted him, but
his professors failed entirely to alter his natural
bent, in spite of their most vigorous efforts. They
were obliged to admit, when they had done all they
could, that while he was most proficient in history,
he made a very poor showing in algebra and
geometry. He had no difficulty in getting a hun-
dred per cent, in geography, and he was the best
pupil they had in modern languages ; but a logarithm
was entirely beyond his comprehension, and all
attempts to interest him in astronomy were dismal

When Willard Linnette found himself face to face
with these facts he did just the opposite to what
many men in his position would have done. He put
all his hopes aside, and began to realize that he had
no reason to expect any other result. The boy's
father was a dreamer and a poet, and his mother
had come of a race of clergymen. What was there
in this lineage to warrant an expectation that he
would have an adaptability to things scientific ?
Linnette loved his nephew, and as he could not
make him what he had wished, he resolved to let


him pursue his own way, with every advantage that
money could give.

When the young man came home from school the
uncle sat down and had a long talk with him. He
told him frankly that he had expected to teach him
his own business, but being convinced that it was
not to his liking he should say no more about it.
He then urged the lad to open his heart, and to say
for what profession he believed himself best fitted.

Roland, till then unspoiled as any youth imagin-
able, felt the blood rush to his brain at the tender-
ness thus exhibited. He had come to regard this
man as a father, much more than that other relation
to whom he \vas in the habit of paying a brief visit
about once a year. He expressed his regret that his
uncle should find him lacking in the qualities he
desired, but admitted that there was nothing attrac-
tive to him about a business or scientific career. As
to what he would eventually prefer for an occupation
he could hardly say as yet, but for the present he
would like to travel in some of the foreign countries
whose history interested him so much and whose
tongues he had acquired.

" I am quite pleased that this is your desire," said
Mr. Linnette, kindly. "There is nothing like travel
to develop the mind. I shall miss you very much, but
if you make good use of your opportunities I shall
be willing, for your sake, to endure the separation."

Roland replied, with real feeling, and asked how
soon he might start.

"Whenever you are ready/' was the answer


"That is, if your father has no objections. Of
course he must be consulted."

" Certainly," said Roland, with constraint. " I
will write to him at once."

This fiction of consulting Mr. Payson Linnette
had been followed from the first, though both
Roland and his uncle understood perfectly that it
was a merely perfunctory affair.

"I shall not limit you in the matter of expense,"
said Mr. Linnette, when the time of parting came.
"Make your journey as long or as short as it suits
you. I should be sorry to have you travel in any-
thing but the best manner, and I wish to leave you
the sole judge in everything. Only wherever you
go remember that you are a gentleman."




Thus it happened that, when he had barely reached
his nineteenth birthday, Roland Linnette found him-
self on English soil, with no commission except to do
as he liked, and with unlimited means to draw upon.
He was in good health and of a pleasing face and
figure. A young fellow to be envied, will say, I am
very sure, the majority of my readers. A young
fellow to be pitied will be the verdict of a minority,
and perhaps they^re the nearer right of the two.

Roland saw considerable of Europe much more,
in fact, than he described in the letters which he
wrote home. His uncle's life was too busy, and his
father's too poetic, to give them much apprehension
in relation to him. But it is as well established as
any fact in chemistry that most young men need
some object in life, some kind of useful employment,
to keep them out of mischief. Give them plenty of
money and abundant leisure, and in nine cases out
of ten they will find use for both in ways which the
judicious might not wholly approve.

Many young men would have been irretrievably
ruined by the course which young Linnette passed
through during his stay abroad, but there was one
thing which saved him from sinking below a certain
point. He retained, through everything, an inborn


love for the beautiful. Though he had developed
no particular talent as an artist, he had an intense
appreciation of form and color, a love of beauty for
beauty's sake.

If idleness led him to degrade his ideals he never
wholly forgot them.

Like the statues of the old masters, which the
excavator finds buried deep in the clay of centuries,
the original loveliness was still there in the caverns
of his mind, and at the slightest appeal to his senses
it came newly-born to the surface.

Had he remained in England his morals might
easily have survived all the onslaughts made upon
them. As he strolled through the unfamiliar streets
of Liverpool, on the night following his arrival, he was
horrified by the women who accosted him, leering
with reddened eyes into his face, and breathing
brown stout and gin into his nostrils. The high-
ways seemed to be full of them. He could easily
believe it when he afterwards read in some book of
statistics that there were more of this, class in pro-
portion to the population in that great maritime city
than in any other spot in Christendom. He was
glad when he reached his. hotel, for he felt like one
who had passed through a territory infested with
poisonous and ugly reptiles. He wondered if any
man could be found so low as to accept the fearful
invitations with which his. ears had been dinned*

From Liverpool he went to Chester, and walked
upon the Roman walls ; then through the pastoral
country, rich in historic interest, lying between it
and London, stopping at Stratford-on-Avon, War-


wick Castle, and other well-known resorts, where
almost as many Americans as Englishmen are en-
countered. In these places nothing meretricious
disturbed him. If there be women of easy virtue in
that region they are not foisted upon the notice of
unwilling travellers, as they are at the seaboard.
Then he reached London, where he found a condi-
tion of things second only to that of Liverpool, and
which shocks and astounds every man who comes
from this side of the ocean, and has occasion to walk
out after ten o'clock at night, in the metropolis of
the world.

Roland stayed in London a fortnight and would
have stayed longer but for the unbearable annoyance
of the crowd of women who seemed to think him
their natural and legitimate prey, and who pursued
him with a persistency equalled by nothing on earth,
unless it be the beggars at Naples or Cairo. He
anticipated great enjoyment in strolling at night
through the half-deserted streets, examining the
exteriors with which his reading made him familiar.
But everywhere, to his consternation, he found a
legion of scarlet women on his track.

He took lodgings in Russell Square, and if there
is a respectable square in London it is this one, and
found the streets leading from it infested with them.
He followed the advice of his guidebook and rode
into the suburbs on omnibuses, walking back so as
to inspect the various localities more at his leisure.
Wherever he went, they were before him. At
Piccadilly Circus they were more plenty than the
legitimate patrons of the conveyances which start


from there to every corner of London. They were
almost as numerous in the streets of South Ken-
sington as in Commercial Road, Whitechapel, or
Petticoat Lane.

One evening, when he had to walk at a late hour
through Oxford Street, it seemed to him that their
pickets were placed as regularly as those of an
army. They would accept neither his indignant
negatives nor his sullen silence. Sometimes they
followed him for blocks, recounting the advantages
of their propositions, making a price and then
lowering it like a Dutch auctioneer, and finally
dismissing him with a curse.

Long after, he learned the reason why none of
the members of the immense police force of London
make any interference with these people. One of
them happened to arrest a respectable lady, by mis-
take, several years ago, and naturally a great fuss was
made about it. In order to be perfectly sure not to
repeat this error, no similar arrests have been made
in London from that day to this.

Crossing the Channel at Dover, Roland stopped
at but one or two places of historic interest before
he reached Paris. Strolling with a new sense of
delight along the Grand Boulevards, upon the quays
and through the numerous parks, he found women
there, too ; not as plenty as they had been in Lon-
don, but numerous enough. And what an astound-
ing difference! Soft-voiced demoiselles, tastily clad
hot glances at him with their " bon jours" from
which it was not easy to turn away. When he
invited one of them as he did, why should I


falsify for him ? to sit at a little table in front of a
restaurant, she sipped light wine from a petit vtrrc
and replied to his interrogations in modest mono-
syllables that won his Anglo-Saxon heart and turned
his Anglo-Saxon brain.

As they sat there he mentally appraised the gar-
ments she wore, marvelling at the taste displayed in
making very ordinary materials so attractive. From
the bits of straw and lace which formed her hat to
the exquisite bottines which clad her dainty feet,
everything excited his admiration. He compared
her eloquent silence to the noisy chatter of women
of her class that he had seen elsewhere, and knew
that it would embarrass him even to say good-

The American had no idea of completing this
acquaintance at the first interview, and began to
wonder how he should manage to continue it. He
began by inventing tales of an engagement for this
particular evening, and instantly realized from her
unmoved countenance that she did not believe a
word of his explanation.

" I shall have to leave you," he said, diffidently,
trying to stare his watch out of countenance.
" Could you could you come here to-morrow, at
six? I should like to have you take dinner with me.
But " he had read many French novels " I sup-
pose you have a lover "

" No," she replied, looking him in the eye in away
that made it impossible to doubt her.

" May I you won't be offended "

She bowed absently, in a way that made him feel


that she was conferring a favor rather than receiving

He slipped two louis into her hand.

The next day was the longest one of his life. At
six she met him, as agreed, and they dined at one of
the great restaurants on the Boulevard des Italians.
When he asked her to show him where she lived, she
demurred, saying that her apartment was in an
unfashionable quarter and very plainly furnished.
When he had overcome her scruples, they took a
carriage and rode quite a long distance. Passing
through a courtyard they climbed many stairs to her
room at the top of the house. Roland looked out
of the window upon a wilderness of roofs, and bits
of the Seine, and little vistas of streets and parks in
the distance, and a stretch of railroad.

Plainly furnished it certainly was, but everything
was of the most scrupulous neatness. The counter-
pane of the bed was as white as snow. The window
curtains were tastily tied with bright ribbons.
From a bracket a pair of canaries hung in a brass
cage. And what riveted the stranger's attention
most was the fact that nearly every inch of the wall
was covered with pictures arranged with great care ;
pictures which had cost almost nothing, being made
up of supplements to the cheaper newspapers, but
which gave a cheerful air to the apartment, and
made him feel for the first time since he had left
America that he was in a real home.

Willard Linnette's money came freely and Julie
chared it with Roland. In the first flush of what he
imagined was his love for the girl, he promised her


something like eternal fidelity and she gave him

evidence of an intention to take him at his word.
But at the end of six months in Paris the American
began to think it high time to take his departure
for other parts of Europe. Letters from his uncle
contained mild hints that he was making too long
a stay in one city, and the approach of winter began
to remind him of Italy.

Now, mademoiselle was all very well in her own
sphere, but he could not see how he was going to
travel with her. He confided to one of his masculine
French acquaintances that he feared a scene when
he had to tell Julie he must leave.

His friend stared at him with unconcealed

" You surely do not intend to tell her ?" he

" How can I help it ?"

The Parisian smiled softly.

" When there is an easy way to do anything, and
a difficult way, why should you choose the hard
one ?"

" An easy way ?" repeated the American.

"To be sure. If you tell her you are going, she
may only have a crying spell ; but it is much more
likely she will tear your eyes out !"

It was now Roland's turn to smile.

"You do not know Julie," he said. "She never
shows the least symptom of temper.".

"Naturally," responded the other. "There has
been nothing to cause it. You have given her every-
thing she has wanted, and she believes herself settled


for years in her present comfortable position. Tell
her to-morrow that you intend to give her the
go-by, and my word for it, you will have a different
entertainment. These girls are precisely like cats.
Stroke their fur the right way and you will never see
the steel that lies hidden beneath their velvet claws.
Stroke it just once the wrong way, and presto !
out will fly the sharp briers and your skin will be
lacerated. Oh, you are not obliged to believe me !
You can try it yourself if you prefer."

But Roland did not fancy trying it himself.

" How can I get away ?" he asked, helplessly.

" Easily enough. She goes every morning to her
mother's, does she not, to take her djeuner-a-la-
fourchette ? When she departs she inquires at what
hour you wish her to return. You respond that you
will expect her at six o'clock for dinner. That gives
you seven hours in which to leave the city. You
will pack your things, call a cab and skip to the
station, leaving a little note to say that a telegram
has been received informing you of the dangerous
illness of a kinsman in England."

"You mean America," interpolated Roland, more
for the sake of saying something than because he
considered the difference important.

"America or England, it is all the same. Julie
thinks them one country, I'll wager fifty francs.
These Parisian girls have no more idea of geography
than an oyster. They always divide the world into
two parts Paris and the rest and believe Paris by
far the larger. Leave her the note, saying that your
relation in England is dying, and that you were


summoned in such haste that you could not wait to
kiss her good-by. Put a nice little sum of money in
the envelope, to soften her regrets. Pay the con-
cierge three months in advance for her lodgings, and
there you are !"

The author of this ingenious plan spread open the
palms of his hands and shrugged his shoulders, after
the manner of his countrymen.

But Roland's face was very grave.

"It seems contemptible," he said. " Julie cares a
great deal for me."

" So she will for your successor," laughed the
Frenchman. " Bah !"

" She really is a very nice girl," mused Roland,

" I am sure you have found her so," replied the
Other. " And that is a strong reason why you should
take nothing away but pleasant memories. It is a
good rule never to look into a coffin."

In a dolorous voice Roland stammered that this
would be his last adventure of this kind.

" Cla va sans dire, 1 ' laughed the other. " Well,
which will you do, follow my suggestion or your own
fancy ? Because, if you are determined to say good-
by to her in person, I shall think it necessary to send
up a surgeon on the morning of your departure."

The affair of Julie, Roland Linnette used to think
in after years, when he looked back upon it, was
only a slight incident in his life. There soon came
a time when he regarded the delicate scruples he
exhibited as the most senseless things in the world.
But the sentiments of which he grew ashamed did


him more credit than those which supplanted them.
Those feelings of compassion with which the French
girl inspired him marked a mile-post on the road he

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Online LibraryAlbert RossLove at seventy → online text (page 2 of 18)