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like her own age who hadn't a cent. Why, she'd
marry you, of course. Let us imagine the case re-
versed, and say that the fellow of about her own
age had the money. She'd marry him, then, as sure
as you live. Let us imagine once more, and say



OLD TOM HOBBS. 75

that you and the other fellow had an equal amount.
Which would she choose in that case ?"

" Why, me, of course," laughed Linnette, who
found in the whole matter nothing but a very enter-
taining joke.

" Not by a damned sight !" exclaimed Hobbs, with
so much unction that the other roared aloud.

" But I don't want to marry, and I never shall
marry, and that is all there is to it," said the capital-
ist, when he grew sober again. "I've got to have a
housekeeper, if I live here, and I've had enough of
your Martins. With Roland across the sea I'm glad
to have this woman and her child to brighten up
the house a little. You are getting to be a crank of
the first water, Tom Hobbs, and you growl at every-
thing."

Hobbs puffed away at his pipe.

" Perhaps I am," he replied. " Perhaps I'm
always wrong, and perhaps you have had occasion
to know that I'm pretty of ten right. Human nature
is the same the world over, and I'm going to make
a prediction right here. Either this woman will
make trouble for you, or that little girl will make
trouble for Roland."

" The little girl !" exclaimed Linnette, staring
hard at his companion.

" Yes, sir !" said Hobbs. " He is about twenty
years old. She is fifteen or sixteen. She and her
mother will get a foothold here, and you won't be
able to dislodge them. When he comes home they
will make a dead-set at him. You'll see !"

Mr. Linnette pooh-poohed at this, calling it sisly,



76 LOVB AT SEYMTTY.

nonsensical, ridiculous, but Hobbs, with the dogma-
tism of his nature, persisted in reiterating his pre-
diction.

The owner of Montvale could not connect such a
probability with the slender, golden-haired child he
had welcomed so willingly. But, at that time, even
had he believed that Hobbs' worst fears would come
true, he would not have been alarmed at the pros-
pect. He had at heart only the most democratic
notions, and he did not see anything terrible in the
idea that his nephew might marry the daughter of
such a woman as his housekeeper.

Mrs. Warren went about her duties in a way that
pleased him much. The dining table did not seem
at all like its old self when she sat at it with him,
the child between them. The sunshine thus brought
into his life gradually reconciled him to the pro-
longed absence of his nephew, and finally made him
apprehensive of his return. It was such a nice
family party at that board, and around the fireplace
of an evening ! He used to think of Roland as so
much older than when he went away, and agreed
with Tom Hobbs that there would be a vast differ-
ence between the school-boy and the young gentle-
man who would return from his travels.

" He is getting a great deal of experience," Hobbs
said, one evening, " and nothing alters a young man
like that. He will learn all the good things and
the bad ones to be found over there."

44 The bad ones !" echoed Linnette, with a start.

"To be sure! Do you suppose he is going to
come home with the down still on his cheek ? He's



OLD TOM HOBBS. 77

4

seeing the men of many lands ay, and the women,
too ! And it's a nice chase they'll lead him !"

Hobbs chuckled behind his pipe like some goblin
of old, while his companion shivered from a sensa-
tion he could not repress.

" He is not a boy of bad mind," he said, with an
effort to appear positive.

"Stuff!" growled Hobbs. "A young duck is
bound to swim if it's allowed to get near the water."

" I'll write to him to start home to-morrow," said
the uncle, anxiously.

"You'll do nothing of the kind. The best way is
to let him alone. He'll get sick of it all the sooner,
and settle down as steady as anyone, when you want
him, years from now."

Somehow the time never seemed right for Mr.
Linnette to cut short Roland's journeying. He
developed such an interest in Eva that, before he
was aware of it, his nephew's affairs became of
secondary importance. He ascertained that the
child had been very well taught for her age, and
proposed of his own accord that she should be sent
to a boarding-school, a short distance away. When
Mrs. Warren expressed a guarded doubt whether
she could afford the expense, he remarked that he
intended to double her salary.

Though the widow knew that the increase in
her compensation was made entirely on Eva's
account, she appreciated the kindness of the proposi-
tion and felt herself justified in accepting it. Eva
went to the boarding-school, but she did not remain
long. Mr. Linnette missed her quite as much as



78 LOVE AT SEVENTY.

her mother did, and when she came notne at the
end of her first term he suggested that it would be
better to engage a governess, and arrange with pro-
fessors from the boarding-school to visit her at his
house.

" It will cost more, very likely," he admitted,
when this objection was raised by Mrs. Warren,
"but never mind. I have noticed that the absence
of the child wears on you, and I had rather pay the
extra sum than to exchange you for another house-
keeper."

Mrs. Warren had had a hard struggle to make
both ends meet, before she obtained this position.
She had lain awake many nights wondering what
would be the ultimate result, and what would hap-
pen to her young daughter when she was no longer
able to provide for her. The comfortable place into
which she had drifted, the ease with which every-
thing was now tided over, was very grateful after
those years of doubt and anxiety. She did not look
much into the future beyond the needs of the present
hour, and was very far from being of the designing
nature which Tom Hobbs imagined. Within a year
she had come to have no further thought about Eva
than that Mr. Linnette would see to everything.

" You are sowing a pretty crop of trouble to reap
one of these days," said Tom Hobbs to his employer,
when Eva had come home from the boarding-school
and was receiving instructions from special masters.

" How is that ?" inquired the other, laconically.

"Aren't you bringing up this housekeeper's
daughter like a lady ?"



OLD TOM HOBBS. 79

"I am trying to," was the gentle answer.

"I mean, you're teaching her to regard herself as
above her proper station ? That's not a kindness to
the girl nor a piece of wisdom for ypurself."

" What is her proper station ?" inquired Linnette,
dreamily.

"The station of a girl who ought, if she ever
marries, to be a poor man's wife. What comfort
will she get in that position after you have filled her
head with all the airs that the French master and
the German master and the dancing-master will give
her?"

" She won't be worse on account of her education,
I hope."

Hobbs blew a cloud from his ever present pipe.

" When you get her fixed up she'll fascinate your
nephew. Wait and see if my words aren't true.
When he comes home she'll wind him around her
finger."

Mr. Linnette gazed abstractedly into the fireplace.
What did he see there ? Perhaps a happy young
husband and wife, and other little children that
looked like Eva and spoke like Roland.

"Do you really think so ?" he murmured.

"As sure as you live!" said Hobbs, impatiently.
"What makes you so blind ? When he comes here
this widow and her daughter will be ready for him.
They've pulled the wool over your eyes nicely, and
they'll do the same with your heir. They've planted
themselves here, and they'll own everything before
they've done yes, all the Linnettes and all
Montvale!"



80 LOVE AT SEVENTY.

" Eva is only sixteen," said Linnette, absently.

And even as he spoke she came in to say good-
night to him. And as no one saw her Hobbs turn-
ing his face to the fire she placed her fair arms
around the neck of her foster-father and let him kiss
her on the brow, as was his wont. Then, tripping
out of the room like a fairy, she left him again to his
gruff companion, the encircling clouds of tobacco
smoke and another batch of dreary prognostications
in regard to her future.



"YOU MEAN THE YOUNG LADY." 81



CHAPTER VIII.

" YOU MEAN THE YOUNG LADY."

I cannot help agreeing with the reader that it is
hardly fair to leave young Guy Dalton any longer in
his friendless condition, and we will proceed as fast
as Mr. Hanson's best team can take us to the house
where he is lying under the care of the country
doctor. Roland found him conscious, but very
weak, though able to take the sleigh-ride necessary
to convey him to Montvale. Supported on extra
pillows and covered with warm robes he rode as
easily as if in the most perfect ambulance. The
doctor came with the party and, before he left, gave
minute directions in relation to care and medicines.
He said the young fellow was merely suffering from
exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment, and that
he would come out of it all right, if given proper
care.

" So you wouldn't come up and dine with me, eh ?"
said Roland, half jokingly, half seriously, when he
had put his charge in bed. " But I've got you, and
I shall keep you. You had your way this morning,
now I'm going to have mine."

Guy was not long in recovering. The medicines
ordered by the doctor, combined with the warm
atmosphere of his new quarters, and the nourishing
food that was given him, put him on his feet inside



82 LOVB AT SEVENTY.

of three days. Indeed, had his host permitted, he
would have left his bed sooner. He had a naturally
strong constitution and this was his first serious
illness.

Every time he spoke it was to express regret that
he had put his new friend to so much expense and
trouble.

" I must go to-morrow," he said, every morning.

" It will be time enough to see about that when
to-morrow comes," was the smiling reply.

On the fifth day the lad declared that he was quite
able to take his departure. He was impatient to
begin again his search for employment.

" I suppose I shall have to let you go, if you insist
upon it," said Roland, when all arguments failed.
" I will make out your bill at once."

Guy looked much troubled.

" I have nothing to pay you with," he said, " but
as soon as I earn anything I will send it. If you
will trust me "

"Oh, I can't do that," replied Roland, soberly.
" With a stranger, you know, one must always have
the cash or reasonable security."

" Alas ! I can give you nothing but my word."

" It will not do," said the other, shaking his head
with decision. " When a debtor is unable to pay, the
creditor has a right to hold his body. That has been
the custom in all ages. You admit that you owe me
some odd dollars and cents. You say you have no
money. Very well. I shall hold you for the amount.
You will have to remain here until the debt is
discharged."



" YOU MEAN THE YOUNG LADY." 83

The lad could not tell exactly how much serious-
ness and how much humor there was in these pecu-
liar words.

" The debt would never grow smaller in that way,"
he answered. " It would constantly be on the
increase. The price of my board would be added to
ivhat I already owe you."

Then Roland laughed.

"But if you are allowed to leave," he said, "there
will be various other items to charge you with.
Supposing you go away to-day. This evening I
shall receive word that you have fallen ill at some
point on the road and have required the services of
another doctor. I shall be obliged to hire a sleigh
to bring you back here, and go through all this nurs-
ing again. Then there will be a second bill for
medicines and the et ceteras. No, my boy, it would
really make you too expensive."

Dalton cast down his eyes, pained at the levity
with which his misfortunes were discussed.

" You think, because I did not get work before,
that I never shall, "said he. "The trouble was I was
nearly starved, and had no strength or courage.
When I was refused at the first place I fainted in
the road."

" Yes, and you would faint again," was the reply.
" There is no work for you in all this region. The
only situation you can find in a year's search is right
here, at your disposal. Refuse it as often as you
please, you will have to accept it at last."

Guy protested that it was no situation, but simply
charity, that was offered him.



84 LOVE AT SEVENTY.

" You are quite wrong," said Roland. " If you
leave me when I want you so much I shall think you
very ungrateful. Until within the past week I have
been going insane. Now there are two people who
may save me from that fate ; you and Maud."

Guy had heard the latter name frequently during
the past few days.

" You mean the young lady who brings up our
meals," he said.

" There is but one Maud in the world," said
Roland, rapturously. " Possibly there are thou-
sands who bear that name, but there never was and
never will be any other Maud for me. I believe,"
he continued, as if in a reverie, "you have never
seen Maud."

Dalton replied that he had only heard her voice.

" Did you ever hear another so delicious ?"

Guy replied that he thought it very agreeable.

"It is the music of an angel!" cried Roland.
"When I listen to it I forget that I am on this cold
earth, and imagine that a bit of Heaven has been let
down. And her face is sweeter even than her melo-
dious tongue. I cannot describe it you will soon
see for yourself."

He said this so earnestly that his young compan-
ion was silent, for want of something suitable in the
way of reply.

" How old are you ?" Roland asked, presently.

" Twenty-two years."

"Indeed! As old as myself! I shouldn't have
thought it. Did it ever occur to you that this is a
miserable, selfish world, to let such seraphs do its



"YOU MEAN THB YOUNG LADY." 85

drudgery, reserving its luxury and favors for women
not fit to tie her shoes? I am ashamed sometimes
to live in it, and accept its bounty, for I am no bet-
ter than the rest. Why was I made to want food
and clothing to desire delicacy and ease ? If only
I could bring myself to relinquish those things,
there is in me the making of a hero. Willard Lin-
nette, who owns this hotel, this village, that grand
estate which you can see from the window, the
factories yonder (where they had no place for you),
even the bodies and souls of the workmen and their
families who have helped him build up this gigantic
possession, is my uncle. Of what use is it all to
him ? And when he is through with it, it will go to
an ungrateful nephew."

Guy protested mildly against the arraignment
which Roland made of himself. He was certain
that his kind host had not so mean a quality in him
as ingratitude.

" And your father ?" he asked. " Have you been
long an orphan ?"

Roland's face grew bitter.

" My father," he replied, " has sense enough to
know that there is more pleasure to be got from
books than from children. To him I am only an
unfortunate accident. It is my uncle to whom I
owe all I have, and the only return I am likely to
give is annoyance and disgrace."

Guy interrupted to say he was sure this was not so.

"And I am equally certain it is. What do you
think he would say if I told him I thought of marry*
ing Maud ?"



86 LOVE >T SEVENTY.

Guy could not repress a start of astonishment.

" And you do ?" he exclaimed, breathlessly.

" Not at all. Being the heir of a great fortune
makes it an impossibility. I only say, supposing I
did intend it, and went to this man who was once
as poor as she, mind you and told him. I can hear
him now, in imagination : ' You young rascal, is this
the way you requite my favors, throwing yourself
away on a common working girl ? Never, sir, never,
will I give my consent ! If you marry her you may
cease to expect another penny from me !' '

Roland's imitation of his uncle's wrath was so
striking that he could not help being moved to
laughter by his own portrayal.

" Perhaps you misjudge him," said Guy, mildly.

" I know him well enough not to try it," was the
reply. "And I am sure, consequently," he added,
very slowly, " that the natural result will follow."

His guest looked up with astonishment in his dark
eyes.

" What result ?" he articulated.

" As if you did not know !" responded Roland,
with good-natured sarcasm. " How can it be other-
wise ? When she has learned to love me I shall go
my way and leave her."

The younger man's lips opened slightly, and his
attitude of strained attention relaxed a little at the
answer. He looked more like a child, with his white
face, than a man of twenty-two.

" Nothing more ?" he whispered.

"I hope not," was Roland's reply. "Our fates
are with the gods. Come, you have talked enough



"YOU MEAN THI YOUNG LADY." 87

for one day. If you are going to leave to-morrow
you need rest. Can you spare me for an hour ?"

Receiving an affirmative reply Roland went out
for a stroll, desirous of breathing the cool air of the
beautiful winter day. He wore leggings, in which
his trousers were buttoned, and a slouch hat and
fur-trimmed overcoat, giving him the appearance of
a trooper. He walked up the road, taking his
direction at random, and paused opposite the great
Linnette residence, where he had passed so much of
his boyhood.

The grounds were surrounded by a high wall.
Thinking that he would step inside for a moment he
went around to the massive gates, and found them
securely locked. This surprised him much, as he
had never known them in this condition except at
night time. As he was revolving this matter in his
mind he glanced up the road a little farther, and
saw a man at work with pickaxe and shovel. Walk-
ing slowly toward the man he soon recognized him
as Roger Butler, who had been in his uncle's employ
much longer than he could remember.

" Hallo, Roger !" he said, affably.

The man paused in his work, and for an instant
surveyed the newcomer with an expression of doubt.

" Don't you recognize me ?" cried Roland.

" I do now, sir," answered the man, taking the
hand that was offered him. " It's a good while since
I saw you, Mr. Roland. I heard tell that you had
come to Montvale, but I wasn't thinking of seeing
you up here."



88 LOVE AT SEVENTY.

The young man paused to digest this statement.

" What are you doing ?" he asked.

" Well, you see, sir," replied the man, " the drain
is out of order, and we couldn't very well wait. I
don't like to go to the expense of hiring a regular
pipe layer, when your uncle's away, until I've made
sure I can't do it myself."

The workman evidently expected something in the
way of commendation, but Roland was silent for a
moment.

"How long have you worked for my uncle ?" he
asked, presently.

" I began, sir, over forty years ago, when he first
opened the works."

"You are not a young man."

" Nigh on to seventy, sir, but hale and hearty."

" You have worked pretty steadily ?"

"Never missed a day in all that time."

" You must be pretty well off, now, Roger."

The man looked in a puzzled way at his questioner.

" You must have a good deal of money laid away."

The workman shook his head decidedly.

" Not a blessed penny, sir. I have always thought
I did pretty well to bring up the children seven of
them and take care of the old woman."

Roland was not as much surprised as he pretended,
but he was in the mood for this kind of talk, and he
proceeded :

" I suppose you remember when my uncle was
about as poor as you."

"Yes, sir. We worked side by side at Ashfield."

" He has something laid away, I believe ?"



a TOU MEAH THB YOUNG LADY." 89

The old man leaned contemplatively on his shovel

"You may well say that, sir."

"How much does he pay you a day?" pursued
the questioner.

"A dollar and a half."

" And how much does he get ?'

Roger shook his head, as if to imply that those
figures were beyond the reach of his powers of
computation.

" More than you, at least. Now, can you tell me
why? Does he work any harder? Do you think he
really earns a hundred times as much ?"

Roger murmured that Mr. Linnette did a big
business.

"That's true," assented Roland. *' His business is
large, but how long would it run without you and
such as you. And you only get a dollar and a half
a day !"

The man looked grateful at the interest taken in
him.

" I would like it if I could get a dollar seventy-five,"
he said. " You might kindly speak to him when he
comes home, not saying I asked you. He has treated
me so well I wouldn't want him to think I was com-
plaining."

Roland grew retrospective.

" Do you know what you were doing the first time
I ever saw you, Roger ? Just what you are doing
now. You were working with a pick and shovel. I
could not have been more than five or six years old,
but I remember the very place in the grounds where
you were digging. Here you are at the same kind



90 LOVB AT SEVENTY.

of occupation. When will you quit it ? When some
one else has to use the same tools for you, over there
in the cemetery. And he gives you a dollar and a
half a day ! Just the wages he would give a man
whom he had never seen before, one with whom he
had not eaten the black bread of poverty. Roger,"
the speaker raised his voice, " he ought to give you
ten dollars a day, and tell you never to work again
as long as you live !"

Butler, who had been surveying the young man
with wonder, shook his head, as if to imply that this
was not likely to occur.

"What are those gates locked for?" continued
Roland, pointing to them. " Doesn't any one live
there when he is away ?"

" Only the housekeeper and her daughter, and the
servants," was the response.

" Her daughter ?" repeated Roland, surprised.

He glanced up at the windows that were nearest
to him, and saw a fair face that disappeared almost
instantly from view.



AKOD1TD THE POST-OFFICE FIBK. 91



CHAPTER IX.

AROUND THE POST-OFFICE FIRE.

The next morning, when Guy Dalton spoke again
of leaving, Roland answered him quite sharply. He
declared that if he carried out his purpose he would
have nothing more to do with him no, not if the
news came that he was dying on the road. Affected
by this earnestness the young fellow yielded, and
promised to remain for the present. It required a
more prolonged struggle of mind before he would
allow his friend to order him a suit of clothing from
the village tailor, but finally he accepted that also.

The new garments made a striking change in his
appearance. That he was not wholly oblivious to
his good looks, a long stay in front of the mirror on
the morning of their arrival, testified. Roland
wished he knew more of his history, for he was cer-
tain that he had not always been in his present im-
pecunious condition ; but he had too much polite-
ness to annoy his guest with questions at a time
when they could hardly help proving disagreeable.

The two young men took their meals together in
Roland's sitting-room, now that Guy was able to be
about. The first morning that they breakfasted
together Roland asked his friend pointedly what he
thought of their waitress.



92 LOVB AT SEVENTY.

" Is she not a beauty !" he exclaimed, the instant
Miss Arline shut the door behind her.

" I did not observe her very closely," responded
Dalton, evasively.

" Don't tell me that !" laughed the other. " I had
my eye on you, and I feared by your expression that
you considered her part of the men*."

" Has she not been in the habit of sitting at your
table ?" asked Guy, to divert his companion's
attention.

" For the last few days, yes. It was insufferable
here, with no one to speak to, and yotf lying in the
room yonder. She sat down with me and pretended
to eat, but I know she didn't enjoy Jt. She is
intensely sensitive and inclined to be easily
frightened."

The young fellow looked up with a pained expres-
sion in his eyes.

" I can't see why you want her to do i^fcat was
disagreeable ?"

Roland laughed lightly.

" Can't you ?" he asked, laconically.

" It does not seem like the other things yov do."

" What other things ?"

"Your thoughtfulness on my account, for <&ne,"
said Guy, in a shaking voice.

Roland studied his companion's face intently.

"But, you see, Maud is a woman," he repkJed,
very slowly.

"I do not understand," was the quick re[ N ly,
"why that should lessen your kindness to her."

*' Should?" repeated the other, with a ris4^JJ



THE POttT-OFFICE FIRE. 93

inflection. ' Shojld ' is a great word, Guy. Pro-
bably Maud's sex should not lessen my considera-
tion ; but it does, that is the thing at issue. It less-
ens the kindness of every man to every woman, the
moment she becomes dependent upon his purse. I


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