Albert Ross.

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said Mr. Linnette, after one of his long pauses.

" Quite so," responded Roland. " Having lired


In countries where the manners are so entirely dif-
ferent, things seem a little odd at first, but Hanson
is doing the best he can."

The elder man seemed relieved at the answer.

" I live so plainly myself," said he, " that I fear
you would not be comfortable at my house. How-
ever, some day before you go, if you would like to
come for a dinner, I I could arrange it. That is,
of course, with time for preparation."

Roland laughed lightly.

" That sounds awfully formal," said he. " I would
be glad to take pot-luck with you, but the hotel is
just as well. When you get a chance you might
come in and dine with me, and save all the

" I will do that, then," responded the other, draw-
ing a long breath. " On the whole, it would be
better. Yes," he added, musingly, " it would be
much better."

Although Mr. Linnette had dined twice with his
nephew after this, he had said nothing in relation to
the dreaded subject up to the time when he sent the
pretty waitress to call him, as detailed in the first
chapter of this story.




Mr. Linnette had nothing of special moment to
communicate to his nephew beyond the message
presaged in the words of Miss Arline. A matter
connected with his business had suddenly occurred
which made it necessary for him to take a journey
that might occupy a fortnight or more. He only
wished to say good-by to Roland and to inquire
whether he would probably find him at Montvale on
his return.

Had this question been asked an hour sooner at
any time, in fact, before he met the charming girl
the young man would have answered without hesi-
tation that he would spend the time of his uncle's
absence by taking a trip to New York. He cordially
disliked Montvale, and remained merely from
motives of policy. Nothing but his interest in the
face he had just seen would have kept him there
over night. But, to such a man, this reason was
amply sufficient. He had no idea of leaving a vil-
lage containing such a worthy object of attention,
and he told Mr. Linnette he thought he would stay
where he was for the present.

" You arc still satisfied with the hotel ?" asked the


"Quite," replied Roland, with the pretty girl in
his mind.

" There would be nothing for you to do at the
house," continued Mr. Linnette, reflectively. *' It is
a dull place. I have locked up most of the rooms
and taken the keys." He exhibited a bunch as he
spoke. Then he noticed Mr. Hanson crossing the
yard, and tapped on the window, signalling him to
enter. " Do your best to entertain my nephew," he
said to the landlord, when he appeared. " He has
travelled in lands where every comfort is given to
the stranger, almost as a matter of religion. He
must not find his native country less hospitable."

Hanson responded that he hoped he had already
done what was required of him, to which Roland
answered that he had no fault to find. Mr. Linnette
then shook his nephew's hand cordially not as
warmly as he had done when the boy started on his
foreign journey, but still kindly enough. And get-
ting into the sleigh which his man had in waiting he
was driven towards the railway station.

No sooner was the vehicle out of sight than
Roland turned upon Mr. Hanson with a savage air.

" May Allah forgive me the lie 1 told to that good
man !" he cried. " I would not for the world let
him know the outrageous way that you have treated
me. You know what I mean, you rascal ! Why
have you allowed me to be slowly tortured to death
by that Giddings, when you had all the time under
your roof the charmingest girl in the country,
carefully kept out of my sight and hearing?"

The landlord began to expostulate.


"I did not know"

" Don't prevaricate ! You can't do it well

" But, really, Mr. Roland," stammered Hanson,
"I am quite innocent of any wrong intention. Miss
Giddings is experienced in waiting upon people,
while the other has never before worked in a hotel.
I certainly meant to give you the best one."

The young gentleman gazed at his companion
with a comic look of contempt.

" The best one !" he repeated, as was his wont.
" Experienced ! I should say so ! She must have
had half a century, at least. Don't let her answer
my bell again, if you want me to stay another day
under your roof. Either expect me to take the
evening train, or give orders that no one but Miss
Maud is to respond to calls from Nos. 9 and 10."

The landlord replied that he would certainly do
so, if that was the wish of his guest.

" Miss Arline is a nice girl, I have no doubt," he
added. " Her parents died some years ago, and
Maud was left to the care of a guardian, who seems
to have turned her out as soon as her money was
gone. I agreed to let her board here this winter,
though I really did not need her, and "

But his guest had left him abruptly. Roland lost
all patience at the story. He went to his rooms and
for the next hour mused upon the fate that had
thrown such a lovely creature upon the awfully cold
mercies of the world.

His breakfast was invariably brought to his cham-
ber. The other meals he usually took in the public


dining-room. To-day he decided to have his dinner
brought up, and rang the bell for that purpose. As
he stood with his hand on the rope visions of the
sweet face which would respond to his "Come in,"
filled his mind. He heard in imagination the little
feet of his divinity ascending the stairs, and the
dulcet voice inquiring, " What did you wish, sir ?"
But the knock revealed quite a different order of
person ; none other, in fact, than Miss Sarah Gid-

Roland's surprise and disappointment were suffic-
ient to cause him to utter a vigorous exclamation,
not indicative of the utmost serenity of mind.

"Who sent (or you ?" he cried, somewhat testilv

"I thought you rang, sir."

" Did you ? Well, for once you were right. I
did ring. I rang for Miss Arline. And remember,
hereafter, whenever I ring, it is for the same per-
son, and never, under any circumstances, for you /"

Miss Giddings did not intend to abandon the
field so easily.

" She is busy just now, sir, in another part of the
house. Won't I do just as well ?"

The young man turned from the window, to
which he had gone, and surveyed the questioner dis-

"Won't you do just as^-well ?" he repeated.
" I should say not ! Let me ask you candidly if you
call that a sensible inquiry?"

The woman evinced signs of a lachrymose dispo-


" I'm sure I don't see what you've got against me,
sir. I've tried in every way to suit you."

" Well, don't try any more," he answered, sharply.
Then, as she showed no intention of leaving, he
added, "The doctor has positively forbidden me to
get excited, and you must not irritate me. It can't
possibly do you any good to sweep my room and
make my bed. I shall give you the same amount
in fact, much more if you will kindly keep away.
Here," he handed her a bank bill as he spoke, " is
something on account. I will send you the same
sum each week if you will never present yourself
before my vision."

Miss Giddings took the money, but it did not make
her happy. She still lingered.

" Will you find Miss Arline and request her to
come here," demanded Roland, " or will you not ? I
had an appetite and it is disappearing. Shall I have
to go down and see the proprietor ?"

" I will go at once," replied the woman, sniffing
" Only if she does not suit you she is so inexperi'
enced you can let me know."

He opened the door and held it in the attitude of
one who wishes to facilitate the departure of his guest.

" Yes, I can" he repeated. " But that is quite
different from saying that I shall. Now, good-
morning, Miss Giddings. Perhaps I ought to say
' good-by,' as we may never meet again. If you
consult my wishes and your own interest it will
be a permanent farewell. Miss Arline, if you please,
without unnecessary delay."

He had time to throw himself into a chair and


laugh heartily at what he considered his excellent
joke before a second knock sounded.

" Come in !" he called, somewhat roughly.

He did not intend to make love to Maud and
frighten her again that day. He had gone farther
in that direction when they met in the road than he
thought wise, on mature reflection.

He inquired what there was for dinner and gave
his order, without raising his eyes from a newspaper
which he had hastily caught up.

" You may spread the table here, if you please,"
he added, as he heard her leaving the chamber.

Roland lay back in his chair by the window, and
placed his feet cosily on an ottoman. He was con-
tent to inhale the fragrance of the air her presence
had perfumed. His appetite had vanished. Except
as an excuse to bring her to him he would have
eaten nothing. He gave himself up to dreaming.

Presently the girl returned with a table-cloth,
napkins and dishes. She rapped again at the door,
and he responded that she might enter, but still he
did not turn his eyes toward her. She set the tray
on the table and drew that article of furniture into
the centre of the apartment. Then she hesitated a
moment, undecided what to do next. She was, in
truth, wholly unused to making preparations of this
kind without assistance, and not a little confused at
being alone with a young gentleman of the disposi-
tion which she had found in this one.

She shot a mute glance of appeal for information
in his direction, but he was silent as a stone, appar-
ently wholly engrossed with his newspaper. It was


clear that she must remove the tray from the table
before she could lay the cloth, and there was no
stand in the room upon which she could place it.
Recollecting at last that such an article was sure to
be found in the bedroom adjoining, she went thither
to get it, deeming this preferable to asking any
questions of the sphinx into which Mr. Roland had
suddenly changed.

Maud brought out the stand, first removing from
it various articles of gentlemen's attire, which she
put, for want of a better place, upon the bed. Then
she carried the tray to it and proceeded to set the

Although the young man did not look up once he
felt every thrill of nervousness which his waitress
experienced. His highly sensitive organization re-
sponded to hers, like the strings of a harp to the
touch of a performer. When she left the room to go
for the viands he inspected her preparations. A
smile stole over his countenance as he saw that the
cloth was uneven, the dishes laid irregularly and the
table quite out of the place where the careful Miss
Giddings had always put it. Fastidious to a degree,
he had insisted upon the utmost particularity in
these things, and had given his former attendant
many a pang by the sarcastic remarks with which he
punctuated hi? directions.

Now all was quite different ; but had the meal
been spread on the carpet he would hardly have
cared. The food and the manner in which it was
served were secondary considerations. It was the
nymph who brought it that absorbed his attention.

a l'M 8UB1 I CAN TBTJiT YOU.'* 65

Miss Arline and the dinner soon made their appear-
ance. When all was ready and the girl mustered
courage to inform him of that fact he rose slowly
and took his seat at the table. He was obliged to
make a feint of eating, because she was watching
him. After sipping his soup he drew the cork of a
bottle of claret and filled a glass absently. But his
appetite for food would not come, and presently he
pushed the dishes away.

" You may take them," he said. " I am not

" Is there anything else that I can get you, sir ?"

" Nothing, thank you."

As he did not rise she asked him presently if she
should clear the table ; and he responded in the
affirmative, taking up the newspaper he had laid
down, and pretending again to become deeply inter-
ested in it. She gathered up the dishes, passing
around him, as her duties made it necessary. He
was oppressed by her presence, and felt that he could
not bear it much longer. One may admire the per-
fume of roses, and yet feel a sense of suffocation
when shut up in a room that is full of them.

Roland Linnette had learned to hate the world
that had used him so well, long before this day.
But at this moment he hated it worse than ever.
Why, he demanded of himself, should so many
ugly-featured and ugly-formed women ride in their
carriages, while an houri like this served, a common
waitress, in a common hotel. He remembered the
white-capped maids of England, rosy with health,
bright of eye and round of limb, putting to shame


their fat and pudgy mistresses. He could recall a
hundred houses of wealth in which he had been
made welcome on the Continent, where the last vis-
ion of beauty disappeared with the hall-maid. He
had seen the bonnes at Paris and at Vienna, grouped
prettily in the parks with their infantile charges,
and thought how a better civilization would have
made them the mothers of the little creatures, who
could never know such grace of face and figure as
their temporary slaves possessed.

Then his thoughts shifted again, and took in the
workmen at his uncle's, every one of them better
men than he, idling away his existence while they
supplied him with the abundance of which they
robbed themselves.

Practically Roland was an aristocrat, theoretically
he was an anarchist.

" I do a thousand things which I never will argue
are right," was one of his favorite sayings.

Maud cleared away the dishes, put the table and
stand where she had found them, and quietly left
the room. He said no more to her, and she began
to think he would prove a less disagreeable
person to wait on than she had feared. If she had
known all that passed in his mind she might have
had less cause for congratulation.

An hour later Roland sauntered into the hotel
office, and found the proprietor at his accounts.

" Everything is satisfactory, now, I hope ?" re-
marked Mr. Hanson, with the brand of smile which
we give to those from whom we earn our livelihood.
U has improved, at least," was the response.


" What do you think of the price you get for my
board ? Is it large enough ?"

The landlord, who had charged this guest his very
highest rate, was somewhat disturbed at the ques-

" I do not think it is," continued the young man,
before the other could frame a reply. "I want a
good many extras, and I expect to see them in the
bill. For one thing, I want Miss Arline to wait upon
no one else while I am here. When I ring for her I
do not wish to hear that she is engaged in other
duties. Her time must be mine exclusively. Do
you understand ?"

Mr. Hanson bowed a slow assent.

"It shall be as you desire. But you will not for-
get, I hope, that I am careful of the reputation of
the house, and "

Roland broke in upon him savagely, in the midst
of his sentence.

" What do you mean by that ?" he demanded.
"Your statement is a reflection upon the character
of that young woman, which I do not believe you
have the slightest cause to make !"

" I surely did not so intend it," stammered the
landlord, in great confusion, terrified lest he had
angered his guest beyond repair. " On the con-
trary, I am positive she is innocent, and I should not

He paused of his own accord this time, uncertain
how to end the sentence he had begun.

" Oh, go on ! go on !" cried Roland. " Finish I"


"I meant nothing," Mr. Hanson hastened to say.
" I'm sure I can trust you."

" You can ' trust "me!" echoed Roland. "Who
the devil are you, to trust anyone ? I shall leave the
house to-night !"

" Don't do that, sir," expostulated the landlord,
greatly distressed at the prospect. "You can do
what you like, sir ; I am sure it's no business of

Roland had not the slightest intention of leaving
the Montvale House, but he wanted to give Hanson a
fright. How much further he might have gone in this
direction can only be surmised, for at this moment a
man entered the office hastily and inquired for young
Mr. Linnette. On being told that the individual he
sought stood before him, he handed Roland one of
the latter's address cards.

" A young fellow was found in the snow, by the
side of the road, several miles east of here, an hour
ago," said the man, "with this card in his pocket.
Some of us thought you might know him, and I
drove over to tell you."

Mechanically Roland drew out some money and
gave it to the messenger. He rightly believed that
such an errand had been prompted by expectations
of reward.

" Go on," he said.

" I don't know as I can tell you much. He
applied at a factory near there for something to do,
and they told him there was no chance. And soon
after some one saw him lying in the snow and took


him into a house. Then they got a doctor, and he

says it's an even case."

Roland looked up, much startled.

"You don't mean that he thinks it dangerous !"

"Well, that's what he seemed to say," responded
the messenger. " Perhaps it ain't so bad, but that's
the way he talked."

Roland reflected a moment.

" Is there anything to prevent your going back
with me, to show me the house ?" he asked. " That
is, of course, if I pay you for your trouble."

" I don't know's there is."

" Harness up a double sleigh as quick as you
can !" said Roland to Hanson, forgetting his an-
nounced intention of quitting the hotel. "Let Wil-
liam go with me. If that fellow is alive, or if he's
dead, for that matter, we shall bring him back
with us !"




The most privileged character at Montvale, aside
from its principal proprietor, was Tom Hobbs,
father of Rufus, the cashier. He had long been a
favorite with the senior Linnette, on account of a
certain bluff quality in his nature, which assorted well
with the latter's own disposition. On all occasions
Hobbs was a welcome guest at his employer's
mansion. The close friendship of the men dated
from an occasion thirty years previous to the open-
ing of this tale, when Hobbs then in charge of one
of the minor departments of the works made so
pronounced a stand against one of Mr. Linnette's
projects that he was discharged in anger from his
position. On the very next day the manufacturer
repented of his act. He sent word to Hobbs that if
he would apologize for the language he had used he
could resume his place ; and as soon as the foreman
could reach the office he was there.

" Did you send word that I could be reinstated if
I would apologize to you ?" he asked, as soon as he
stepped foot in the counting room.

" Why, yes," was the pleasant reply. " I know you
were excited and did not mean what you said."

" Do you think I am excited now ?" inquired
Hobbs, in his ordinary tone.


"No, Tom," responded his employer, with the
utmost affability.

" Have you any doubt that I shall mean what I say
this time ?"

" No, Tom."

"Well, I shall not apologize, or anything of the
sort? I came here to tell you to go to the devil !"

The employer looked at the speaker with conster-
nation. He had never heard such words addressed
to a man who was worth a hundred thousand dollars.
What could the fellow mean?

"Do you imagine," continued Hobbs, "that you
are any better than when you worked by my side
over in Ashfield for a dollar and a quarter a day ?
Do you think you are going to run over me with
your high talk of apologies? I am as good a man
as you ever dared to be, and I will see you in hades,"
(only he used the old-fashioned word) " before I
will ever cringe to you, when I am right and you are

He turned abruptly, and was about to leave the
room, when Willard Linnette rose and stopped him
with a word.

" Tom."

" Well r

" You'd better go back to your work, Tom. And
about that matter, perhaps it's as you say, after all. 1 '

" I know it's as I say ! There's not the slightest
doubt about it !"

" All right, Tom. And Tom. You were speak-
ing to me about your boy the other day. He's a
smart little fellow, and when he gets old enough \


want to give him a place in the office. Don't forget
it, Tom/*

" No," replied Hobbs, without so much as a
" thank you." Then he asked, as if nothing had
happened, " Do you want anything else, for I have
got enough to do down to the works !"

"No. That's all, Tom. Good-day, Tom."

When the man had gone the employer sat for a
long time in silence, pondering over the occurrence.

" It's a good thing this happened," he mused.
"I've been piling up money pretty fast, and I'm
afraid I've been getting into the habit of saying
sharp things to the men, just because I'm a little
better off than they are. Tom was right about the
apology. He did a good thing to recall me to my-
self. I must cultivate Tom Hobbs. I must keep
him near me, where he can act as a brake when I
get to going too fast on this slippery road to pros-
perity. Getting a good deal of money in a hurry is
apt to make a man domineering. If Tom finds me
becoming too airy he will certainly take me down.
Yes, I must find a new place for Tom where we shall
meet oftener."

Tom Hobbs was promoted gradually until he be-
came general superintendent of the entire establish-
ment. Next to Linnette, or in any of his temporary
absences, Hobbs' authority was complete. He never
changed in the slightest degree the character shown
in the incident narrated. He would always express
his opinion of anything in the business or out of it
as freely as if equal owner and partner. Nearly
every evening he went to his employer's mansion and


indulged in a smoke with him, a game of chess, or a
talk on various matters, as the whim happened to
seize the old cronies.

Nothing of importance came into Willard Lin-
nette's life that Tom Hobbs did not know about, and
in relation to everything he expressed his views at
considerable length. He was consulted when the
baby Roland was brought to Montvale, when he
was sent away to school, and when he was given his
freedom to travel around the world. Mr. Linnette
did not necessarily adopt all of his friend's opinions,
but he argued each matter over with him, in a quiet,
companionable style, that enabled him to make a
better decision after hearing all sides of the case

Hobbs advanced the strongest opposition to the
new housekeeper and her daughter, when he learned
of their arrival. No good could come of it, he said.
What Mr* Linnette needed was another old griffin
like Martin, who would keep him in order. There
was always danger of a man's falling in love with a
woman of Mrs. Warren's youth and attractions.

" I am over sixty years old," smiled the other,
"and I think I am quite safe."

" ' There's no fool like an old fool,' " quoted Hobbs,
wisely. " And there are no women so shrewd to get
arounjd a man as these young widows."

"Well, let us suppose the very worst should take
place, and I should marry Mrs. Warren," said Lin-
nette, jocosely, " what great harm would result ?
You are a married man yourself, Tom. It seems


inconsistent for you tc argue against the state in
which you are living."

Hobbs pulled at his long pipe, which he was
smoking at the time, until his grizzled head was
enveloped in a cloud that well nigh hid it from

" If a woman marries you now, Will Linnette," he
said, " what will be her object ? Your money, and
nothing else ; and if you were not an old dunce
you'd know it."

The optician glanced at his profile in a mirror
that hung opposite to where he sat, and stroked his
white beard complacently.

" I don't know about that, Tom ; I don't know
about that," he answered. "There is a good deal
to me yet, besides my pocketbook."

" Pshaw !" ejaculated his companion, contemptu-
ously. " It's the queerest thing that you old men "
Hobbs was at least five years the elder of the twain
"always deceive yourselves in that way. You
are forever thinking it is you and not your cash
that these designing creatures are after. Now, let
us imagine this young widow how old is she, should
you say ?"

"Oh, thirty-five or six."

" Let us imagine her given the choice between
you, with your fortune, and a fellow of something

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Online LibraryAlbert RossLove at seventy → online text (page 4 of 18)