Albert Ross.

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was to travel, separating widely the two extremes of
his life.

The first place he went to after leaving Paris was
Switzerland, where he soon forgot his resolutions in
the smiles of a fair daughter of Geneva. He then
toured the principal cities of Italy, finding a new
divinity in each. He crossed to Africa and basked
consecutively in the sunlight of a Tunisian, an
Algerian and an Egyptian. After that he passed
through Asia. And everywhere he saw more of the
women of the land than of the topographical
beauties, or the handiwork of ancient or modern

In Rome he visited the Colisseum, the Vatican, the
Forums and the great churches ; but when he
recalled that city the clearest thing in his memory
was a dark-eyed girl, who babbled to him in the soft
accents of her native tongue, as they wandered
about under the moonlight, one of his arms around
her slender waist. He admired the bay of Naples,
which he thought inferior only to that of Genoa,
explored the depths of Herculaneum, walked
through the ashen streets of Pompeii and climbed
the steep sides of Vesuvius ; but he remembered
better than any of these the oval beauty of a Neapol-
itaine, with whom he drove back to the city late at
night, eating grapes they had stolen from a vineyard.
He rode in gondolas over the watery streets of
Venice, the nearest like dreamland that any mortal


city could be ; but always in the foreground of his
vision, when he recalled the place, was the drooping
head of a young girl, sitting by his side in a boat on
the Grand Canal, her dark hair falling over a low
forehead, her white hand making ripples in the wave.

In Berlin and Stockholm he saw the tragedy of
Faust and Margherita re-enacted, a flaxen-locked
young woman, with braided hair and tinted bodice,
taking the now familiar role of the beguiled one.
Even in Japan and China, on the plains of Tartary
and in the City of Mosques he always found his
stay made more agreeable by some sweet creature
with the charm of femininity and the bloom of youth.

Years later, when asked the exact appearance of a
certain historical part of Jerusalem, he was forced to
admit his forgetfulness ; but he could have recognized
without question the photograph of a certain Zerlina
whom he knew there. And when, after belting the
globe, he landed from the Oriental steamer at San
Francisco, he confessed that his greatest anxiety
after years of absence was to know how well the
women of his own country compared with those of
foreign lands.

He would have been surprised, had anyone inti-
mated such a thought, that he had been faithless to
his uncle's advice when he left home, to be "a
gentleman" wherever he went. But then, "being a
gentleman " means many things to different people.




At the risk of leaving Master Guy Dalton stil!
wandering through the snowdrifts in the neighbor-
hood of Montvale, in search of employment, it is
necessary to relate at this time something more of
the experiences of the Linnette family. For some
time after the departure of Roland for Europe the
affairs of his uncle's household continued to be pre-
sided over by Mrs. Martin. She had become a
genuine fixture upon the place, and the idea that she
could leave it had never entered the head of its
proprietor. Her health began to fail, however, and
one day she announced that she was about to take
up her residence with a son who lived in Michigan.

Though not without her faults, Mrs. Martin was a
pattern of neatness and order. The architect who
drew the plans of the buildings had sent her on from
Philadelphia, apparently to match the rest of the
trimmings, which were grand, solemn and impres-
sive. When Mr. Linnette received news of her
intention to leave him he was in a state of conster-
nation and did his best to dissuade her. But the
housekeeper, having made up her mind, was not to
be turned from it, and when the next month ex-
pired she went her way.

Mr. Linnette had lived so long with everything
arranged for him by one set of careful hands that


ior the next few weeks he endured real torture.
The house was all at sixes and sevens. His meals
were execrably served. His bed was not made
right, though the same chambermaid attended to it
as formerly. He could not find anything he wanted.
Still he dreaded the advent of a new housekeeper
quite as much as the inconveniences he was endur-
ing ; and he had just reached a point where he
thought seriously of closing up the house and board-
ing at the hotel, when he was informed one evening
that a lady awaited him in his parlor.

It was the first time a lady had ever asked to see
him in his parlor that he could remember. The vil-
lage people were not of such a social grade as to
presume upon calling in that manner, and his clergy-
man's wife was about the only female person he
knew who would have felt justified, under any cir-
cumstances, in ringing his front door-bell. As he
sent his check quarterly to that lady's husband, and
limited his acquaintance with the ministerial family
to that extent, he did not suppose for an instant that
his present caller was the one in question. He there-
fore went down with some curiosity.

"I heard, sir, that you were in want of a house-

It was a lady in mourning garments who spoke.
So that was all, eh ? He confessed to a feeling of
disappointment. It was a mere applicant for work.

" I am in need of a person in the capacity which
you mention," he replied, " but as I have said noth-
ing about it in this village, I am at a loss to under-
stand "


Mr. Linnette stopped short in his speech, and a
gleam of recognition came into his face.

" Why," he exclaimed, " it is Miss Moulton !"

"No, it is Mrs. Warren now," she answered,
quietly. " I do not wonder you did not recognize me.
It has been a long time since we met."

" And so you you have been married ?" he
responded, now speaking with complete cordiality,
" And, excuse me, you are a widow ?"

She bowed pensively.

"It has become necessary for me to earn mj
living, Mr. Linnette, and I think I could suit you. I
should certainly try very hard."

He looked at her in some doubt.

"I do not like changes," he said. "I want a
person who will be permanent. I want one who
will remain as long as I live. Now, you are young,
and the probability is, will marry again."

A shadow crossed the lady's features.

" Oh, no, I never shall, I assure you," she replied,

"And you have no attachments, no encum-
brances ?"

She hesitated a moment, fearful lest what she had
to say would prejudice him against her cause.

" Only a child a daughter. I know what you
will think, but she is not the least bit of trouble.
She is fifteen years of age, a very good girl, too.
Let me show you her picture."

Upon which she handed him the photograph of a
little sprite, with the sweetest expression, and with
hair hanging in a wavy mass about her shoulders.


" My husband did not leave us much," continued
the mother, "but with economy we have kept along
until now. It is evident that I must soon get em-
ployment, and as I knew you "

The old man was holding the child's picture in
his hand and gazing abstractedly upon it. The
little one had pleaded her mother's cause success-
fully. His heart went out to her at once.

" When can you come ?" he asked.

The mother drew a deep breath of relief.

"Then I am really engaged! But you won't
refuse me leave to bring Eva, will you ? I want
very little wages. Of course," she added, doubt-
fully, " if you insist, I shall have to board her some-
where in the village."

He put the photograph on the table, as if he
accepted it as his own.

" Eva is that her name ? is part of the contract,"
said he. " Where are you staying at present ?"

" We arrived at the hotel an hour ago."

"Then I suppose you can come in the morning ?"

Mrs. Warren smiled an affirmative.

"Your salary will be fifty dollars a month, the
same that I paid Mrs. Martin. I will send a carriage
for you at nine o'clock."

He rose and accompanied her to the door.

" Are you alone ?" he asked, seeing that no one
was in waiting. " I think I will walk back with
you. It is late."

This is how Eva and her mother for it was always
in this order that they appeared to him became
residents of the mansion of Willard Linnette.


For some weeks after Roland's departure his
uncle had missed him acutely. Nothing but shame
kept him from writing to request his return. Even
when at school the boy had come home at least once
a fortnight, and nearly the whole of his vacations
had been passed there. At no time was he so far
away that a few hours' ride would not have sufficed
to reach him in an emergency. Now, with thou-
sands of miles of land and water between them, a
feeling of intense loneliness would often oppress
the foster-father. But for the coming of the War-
rens he surely would never have consented to the
long tour that his nephew made.

Little Eva galloped into the affections of the old
man with as much facility as she galloped about the
roads in the neighborhood on a pony that he very
soon bought for her. She even filled a vacancy
in his heart which the boy had never quite suc-
ceeded in doing. He found the greatest delight in
her society, and thought nothing finer than to take
her little hand in his and stroll through the grounds,
or down to the village, or over to the works.

Gossip, that plant which flourishes in all seasons
and at all times, took up the subject, and many
were the observations and surmises regarding the
strange fancy of the taciturn man for the child of
his housekeeper. As he never heard any of these
things, however, they did not trouble him. His
servants repelled with indignation the insinuations
which came to their ears, declaring that the master's
life raised him above criticism. Having nothing to
feed on, the rumors soon subsided.


Mr. Linnette met his nephew at New York and
welcomed him cordially, though with rather less
effusiveness than the latter expected. When they
spoke of Montvale, Mr. Linnette, Sr., suggested
guardedly that the young man would probably find
much better accommodations at the hotel than at
the family mansion.

" I live like a sort of hermit," he explained, " tak-
ing my meals at random, and I'm afraid it would be
dull for you. When you get ready to come up I will
arrange with Mr. Hanson to give you the best rooms
he has, and I can meet you every day, at the count-
ing room."

So far from being disagreeable to Roland, this
plan entirely met his views. He felt that it would
be necessary to pass considerable time at Montvale,
for the looks of the thing, and he regarded the whole
affair as a species of penance from which there was
no feasible means of escape. He had grown a great
deal older in the past three years. He dreaded the
sepulchral air of his uncle's house, and chafed at
the prospect of bed at nine and breakfast at six,
which he recalled as the rule of former days. Life
at the hotel, though it must be dreary enough, would
not involve these restrictions. He could come and
go when he pleased, with no one to interfere. He
felt certain that Mr. Hanson would not spend much
time in attending to things which were none of his

He accordingly responded, to his uncle's evident
satisfaction, that he would be content with any
arrangements that were made for him.


"You have your letter of credit on Baring's still,
of course," remarked the elder gentleman.

" Oh, yes."

" I believe it is not limited in amount ?"

" No, sir. I hope I have not drawn more than
you thought proper."

" By no means," was the reply. " I left it alto-
gether with Rufus. I wanted you to have enough.
How long do you mean to stay in Montvale ?"

Roland was surprised at the question, and wished
he knew how best to answer it. He stole a sidelong
glance at his uncle, in hopes to find some guide in
his expression, but that gentleman was looking
vacantly at the carpet.

" I do not know, exactly," he replied, at last.
" Have you any suggestions ?" he asked, desperately.

"N-o,"said Mr. Linnette. And here the conver-
sation changed to other subjects and the matter was
not taken up again.

Willard Linnette had never mentioned, in any of
his letters to Roland, that he had changed house-
keepers. The )oung man knew nothing of the child
who had gone so far toward taking his place in his
uncle's house and heart. He must know it at some
time, but the one most interested wanted to postpone
the day as late as possible.

Why should not everything have been revealed at
once ? What reason was there for this secrecy, so
foreign to everything else in the old man's character ?

Roland was now an experienced man. Eva was
seventeen ; quite a woman. Perhaps that had some-
thing to do with it.




Roland's recollections of the character of Mr.
Hanson, who "ran" the hotel at Montvale were
entirely correct. The house over which he presided,
like almost everything else in Montvale, was owned
by Willard Linnette. As Roland was the favor-
ite relation and probable heir of his uncle, Hanson
was glad to see him, and had no idea of letting any-
thing interfere with his contentment. The day
before his arrival the landlord spoke to each of the
employes in turn, bidding them make every effort to
please the young gentleman who was to come.

" He has travelled a great deal," he said, oracu-
larly, " and may appear unreasonable in some things ;
but there is to be just one rule for him. Whatever
he asks for he must have."

To this Mr. Hanson added a mild hint that it
would be very disastrous for any particular servant
with whom Mr. Roland came in collision ; and an
air of trepidation, not to say awe, permeated the
entire household as the critical day drew near.

The number of domestics was naturally small, as
the establishment seldom had a dozen transient guests
at one time. There was a female cook, who never
came into any portion of the house where the guests
would be likely to encounter her, but who played a


most important part, for all that, in the economy of
the concern. There was a middle-aged woman who
officiated in the double capacity of chief chamber-
maid and head table waitress ; a scullery maid ; a
boy who did odd jobs ; and one or two men whose
duties were mainly at the stable.

To this retinue had recently been added the
pretty girl whom Roland met on his way from
the counting room, on the morning when he first
saw young Dalton. She was under general instruc-
tions to be ready for any emergency, and, never
having had the least experience in a hotel, was con-
siderably exercised over the prospect. The chief
chambermaid and head waitress, whose name was
Giddings, partly quieted the fears of this young
damsel in relation to Mr. Roland, by saying that she
(the Giddings) would answer all of his bells in per-
son, and that it was doubtful if she (the pretty girl)
would even so much as get a glimpse of him.

Roland made up his mind, as he was to be forced
to remain for some time in Montvale, that he would
get all the fun possible out of his residence at the
hotel. Before he had been in the house an hour he
had the cordial ill-will of every person with whom
he came in contact, except the landlord, who could
not afford to harbor such a feeling against a guest
of his description.

Nothing done in anticipation of his arrival suited
him in the least.

"These are your rooms, sir," said the smiling
Miss Giddings, when she had piloted him up the


I say the " smiling " Miss Giddings, but it was
the last smile that fair creature wore for many days.

" Rooms !" echoed the heir of Montvale. " Rooms!
These are not rooms! they are ovens! No human
being could exist for five minutes in this atmos-
phere. Throw open those windows, every one of
them or knock them out, or something !"

" We thought " began the chambermaid.

"That I was a salamander? Very likely; but I
am not ! Unhappily I have lungs, which are set in
motion by supplies of oxygen." He walked to the
window as soon as it was opened, and took in a deep
breath of the frosty air. " What in Heaven's name
are these things ?" he continued, in allusion to the
lace curtains that had been arranged with great care
across the upper panes. " Pull them down quick !
I want to look out without sitting on a stool."
Then he glanced around the walls, and uttered an
exclamation of horror. "What are those dreadful
things in frames ! Not pictures ! Don't tell me
that ! Whatever they are, have them removed im-
mediately. I would not sleep in the same room
with them for a fortune !"

Miss Giddings, much agitated by this avalanche,
gladly seized the opportunity to escape to the lower
floor and inform the landlord of the strange requests
which his new guest had made. Mr. Hanson
promptly called William and Patsey, two of his male
retainers, and ordered them to go to Roland's room
and execute as rapidly as possible every order that
he gave.

" Her* ! Take these off first/ called Roland to the


advance guard, as the reinforced detachment ap-
peared in sight. He tossed toward them several bed
coverings known in the vernacular as " comfort-
ables." " What under the blessed sun do you call
those ? They would asphyxiate a man in about
thirty seconds."

Miss Giddings thought it time to make a stand.

" Why, sir, they are the very best we have in the
house. They were bought on purpose for your

" They might do for mats," retorted Mr. Roland,
"but they are totally unfit for any other purpose.
Have you no woolen blankets ?"

" Yes, sir, but "

" Then get them. Lug out that trash !" he added,
to the man, alluding to the pictures. " And what is
this ? A. stove, as I'm alive ! A stove, with a red hot
fire in it, and an unused fire-place ! Drop those
chromos and take this stove out first. No wonder I
was suffocating !"

William, the hostler, who had taken up several
articles in succession and let them fall again, started
for the stove, as if with the intention of removing it
forthwith. But Miss Giddings sprang toward him
with a scream, declaring that the fire must be extin-

" Go down and get some kindlings, Patsey," she
said to the boy, "and start a blaze in the fireplace.
We shall have to wait till the stove is cooler, before
removing it," she remarked to Roland, in a shaking


fhe traveller felt a keen delight in the commotion
ne was causing.

"There is kindling enough here," he said, pointing
to the pictures that lay in a heap on the floor.
"Those frames would burn, I should think."

The woman felt compelled to enter a feeble pro-
test to this proposition.

" Patsey will be here soon with plenty of better
stuff," she ventured.

" But they must be burned some time /" replied

" The last gentleman who had these rooms," re-
torted Miss Giddings, rallying under the impression
that the entire house was being assailed, " never said
a word against them. He was a sick man, too, and
had to lie here all day, with nothing else to look at."

Roland stared at her with counterfeited alarm.

"Where am I?" he demanded. "Is this a hos-
pital ? I thought it was a hotel. He was sick, was
he ? He died, I'll bet a guinea. And he lay there
in that bed day after day looking at those pic-
tures ! And they called doctors, and prescribed for
him, no one suspecting the dreadful cause that was
gradually sapping the foundations of his existence !"
His voice began to tremble. " Did he have this
stove, too ?"

The woman's teeth chattered.

*' Yes, sir in the fall. We put it up when it
began to grow cold."

Roland turned away and buried his face in his


" Poor fellow ! Poor fellow !" he murmureu,
wiping his eyes.

Patsey came up with the kindling. The fire in the
stove was subdued sufficiently to admit of the re-
moval of that obnoxious piece of furniture. Blank-
ets were substituted for the heavy " comfortables."
The lambrequins that had been carefully arranged
to hide the magnificent view were taken down. And
then Miss Giddings ventured to inquire humbly if
that was all he wanted.

"All!" echoed Roland, looking at the woman as
if about to break into another rage. It seemed as if
he could never reply to one of her questions without
repeating something she had said. " No, it is not
all! f It is not half 7 Doesn't it occur to you that a
man who had his dinner two hundred miles from
here may want something in the way of food ?"

" I meant all in the room," faltered the chamber-
maid, her heart ready to burst. She had never
imagined that anyone would address her in this
manner before William and Patsey, who had hitherto
regarded her as a person of superior position.

" Then you should have said so. What have you
in the house that is fit for a Christian to eat ?"

" Anything you like to order, sir."

"But I shall not 'order, sir !' I am not going to
spend my time attending to your business. You can
bring me what you think best. Only," he paused
and looked more darkly than ever at his attendant,
"if it should happen to be a beefsteak, and it
was cooked more than one minute on each side, on
a broiler, over coals, I would not touch it ! If it


was fried in a spider, as I have known your country-
men to cook it, I would sue the landlord of this
house for assault and battery, and I would get judg-
ment, too ! If there is coffee and I don't say there
will be it must come up here half cream, and very
hot, or it will go down again ! If there are fried
potatoes, they will have to be brown, but not burned,
mind you ! And if anyone should offer me/*V not
merely to-night, but at any time during my stay
there would be blood spilled ! You may go."

Miss Giddings delivered this message, shorn of its
verbiage, to the cook, and then went to the rear
door of the kitchen for air. She was actually dizzy
from the shock to her feelings at her strange recep-
tion. As soon as she was out of the room young
Linnette threw himself into one of the easy chairs,
the only articles of furniture present of which he
fully approved, and laughed consumedly.

"Idiots!" he muttered. " Talk about your cool-
ies, your Bengalese ! It takes a free-born American
to bow before the power of gold. As long as I
have plenty of money to salve over the wounds to
their sentiments I can wipe my feet on any of them.
There is not a femme de chambre in Europe who
would endure half the insolence I gave that woman.
I shall be ashamed of my country, if Hanson does
not come up here and toss me out of the window."

The cook, who had heard all that William and
Patsey could tell her of what had passed upstairs,
was in a nervous state lest the viands she was pre-
paring should be returned as unsatisfactory ; but
Roland had exhausted, for the moment, his love of


fun, and ate his supper, which was really very good,
without comment. When it was finished he walked
the piazza, to watch the stars which shone brightly
over the still mountain and valley, and in the pleas-
ure of the contemplation forgot his loneliness foi
the time.

His uncle was away on business when he arrived
at Montvale, but returned within a day or two and
came promptly to the hotel. Roland noticed, as he
had in the interview at New York, that there was
something for which he could not account in the
manner of this relation. He felt that he had in
some unknown way displeased him, and expected,
every time Mr. Linnette opened his mouth, to learn
the cause of his changed attitude. He feared that
he had delayed too long to suit his uncle's ideas in
deciding what to adopt as a profession ; but he had
become so used to doing nothing that he did not
like the thought of giving it up.

Though the conversation lasted for more than an
hour, however, it bore no reference to this subject.
It ran backward and forward at random among
things native and foreign, and not a word was spoken
conveying the least hint that anything disagreeable
was in mind.

Roland could not help wondering whether he had
alarmed himself unnecessarily. Could it be that his
busy uncle was willing he should lead a life of entire
idleness ?

"I hope they make things agreeable for you here,''

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Online LibraryAlbert RossLove at seventy → online text (page 3 of 18)