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York, after my return from abroad, he suggested
that I should go to the hotel when I came to Mont-
vale. And as soon as I arrived in town he had his
gates closed and locked, as if you were some crim-
inal that I might assist to freedom."

"That is very odd," commented the girl, with her
astonishing frankness. "Very odd, indeed, when
people used to say that he intended you to marry

The statement nearly took the young man's
breath away. There was no change in Eva's voice
or manner as she uttered it. She spoke as if the
idea was the most ordinary one imaginable.

" People used to say that, did they ?" he managed
to repeat.

" Yes. It seemed to be generally understood."

" But they don't say it any more ?" he ventured,

" N-no," she replied, regretfully. " Not lately."

He noticed the tone in which she uttered this,
and thought it about time to say something humor-

" I suppose you are sorry," he remarked, smiling.

" Well, I knew I should like you. When I heard
them talking in that way I used to go and look at
your picture. ' If he marries me,' I thought, ' he


will take me away, and I shall be glad of that.' Of
course, a married woman has more freedom than a
young girl."

In all his travels he had never heard anything half
so entertaining.

" It is rather a pity," he said, with a smile, " that
the gossips who outlined your fortune should not
have carried it to completion."

With her face as sober as ever, she seemed to
entirely agree with him. He resolved on a bold

" Eva, do you like me still ?"

" Yes, Mr. Roland."

He leaned toward her, with his most bewitching

" Prove it, then, by giving me a kiss."

She reddened a little for the first time.

" If you were going to marry me I would," she
said. " I should not like to have two men in the
world who had kissed me."

He was so dumbfounded by her manner that for
a moment he did not know what to do. All that
had been said was evidently of the utmost serious-
ness to her.

"It would hardly do for me to marry against the
wishes of my uncle, upon whom I rely for every-
thing," he remarked, tentatively.

The color faded from the fair cheek.

"We could not marry without his consent could
we ?" he insisted.

She fixed her innocent eyes intently upon him.

" Not unless we ran away," she replied, slowly.


" Would you leave everything, your home, your
mother, all for me ?" he cried, astounded.

Her femininity was asserting itself. Her eyes had
left his face and were gazing at the carpet.

" Yes," she said, in a voice scarcely audible.

As he looked at her the full knowledge of his
vacillating nature swept across his brain. He was
" in love," of course. But he had been as much in
love many, many times, and had awakened to find
his passion at an end. He resolved to use a little
more sense with this girl, for Willard Linnette
might not be a good man to trifle with.

"There are many things to think of," he said, in
a grave voice. " I like you very much, and I want
to see you often, that we may talk this over. You
are such a prisoner that we shall have to invent some
method of communication. Have you no servant
who can be bribed ?"

Miss Eva looked pleased at the suggestion that he
would meet her.

" There are none of them who would take your
money, I am sure," she answered, "but Charlotte
(she is my maid) would do anything I asked. There
is a rear door in the high wall that is very seldom
used, and to which I have a key. Would you mind
coming at a very late hour, when everyone else is
a-bed ?"

The innocence of the face she turned toward him
was a marvel. It surpassed anything he had ever
seen or heard of. To meet such a Juliette in the
manner she described was like a chapter from a


Story book. Whatever the risks involved Roland
Linnette was not the man to refuse this invitation.

" I will come at any hour you wish," he responded.
" Only, be very careful. There must be no doubt of
your maid's fealty, nor of her thorough judgment."

The next half hour was spent on details, which
were satisfactorily arranged. Eva called Charlotte,
who gave evidence of being wholly devoted to the
service of her mistress. A way in which notes could
be exchanged the first thing of importance was
provided for. Then, remarking that risk enough
had been run on the present occasion, Roland parted
from the two girls and sought the library, in order
to carry out the pretense with which he had entered
the house.

As he expected, he found the room Bpen, notwith-
standing the fable that Slocum had invented. The
rows of volumes familiar to his boyish eyes began
to interest him, and he was soon seated in one of
the leather-covered chairs, engrossed in pages that
he had read long years before the " Adventures of
Gil Bias of Santillane." Delighted to con again
that masterpiece of fiction, especially as he had since
reading it visited many of the places described by
Le Sage, he did not hear the opening of a door, nor
see a man's form enter. It gave him quite a shock
when he looked up from the page he was reading,
and saw his uncle standing within a yard of him.

" Why ! How long have you been here ?" he ex-
claimed, rising, and speaking nervously. " I did not
hear a sound."

Willard Linnette did his best to conceal the anx-


iety he felt. He had just left Slocum, who had told
him of the young master's persistence in entering
the house, in spite of all his efforts to dissuade him.
He would have given a good deal to know whether
Roland had seen Eva, but there was no way to find
out except by asking one of them, which he was too
proud to think of doing.

" I have just arrived from New York," was the
quiet answer. " Business detained me longer than I

Roland could see that his uncle was troubled, but
he affected not to notice it. As Mr. Linnette
remained standing, he considered this a hint that he
had best be going.

" Let me take a few of these books," he said,
picking up several. " I will send them back when I
have finished them. It almost renews my boyhood,
to see these dear old authors again."

Mr. Linnette bowed.

"It is nearly time for supper," he said, constrain-
edly. "Won't you remain and take the meal with
me ?"

" No, thank you, unless you are particular," re-
plied the nephew, realizing that a refusal was the
better part of judgment. " Hanson expects me."

The manufacturer was growing relieved. He
began to feel certain that no meeting between the
young people had taken place.

"As you like," said he. " By-the-way, have you
decided how much longer you will remain at Mont-
vale ?"

It was as plain as if the words had said it that


Willard Linnette would not regret the day when his
nephew turned his back on the village. The young
man felt a severe wound to his amour propre t but he
was too much master of himself to show it.

" 1 would rather leave that to you, sir," he answered,
dutifully. ' I must admit there is more going on in
the way of entertainment at New York than here.
If it is quite the same to you I shall run on there
within a few weeks ; though I can return at any time,
should you desire."

A few weeks ! Mr. Linnette wondered what was
the reason for this delay, but he could not lessen the
time without exciting suspicion. There seemed
nothing more to say, and the relations parted at the

When Roland reached the hotel he was met with
the startling announcement that Miss Arlinehad left
suddenly, giving no intimation as to where she would
make her future home.

He made no comment upon this news, but young
Dalton received it with consternation, when he
returned from his work.

" I am afraid this means something disagreeable,"
Guy said to his friend, when he had deliberated for
a long time upon the matter.

" D n it, yes ! It means Giddings to wait on
me !" was the only reply that Roland vouchsafed.

He did not intend to convey his suspicions to any-
one else at present, but he was as certain as that he
breathed that Willard Linnette's hand was in this






The second evening after the day when Mr. Lin-
nette, Sr., came home, he was sitting in the library
where he had met his nephew, and this time he had
old Tom Hobbs as his companion. Hobbs was
occupied in puffing clouds of smoke from his pipe,
after his usual fashion, and a chess board that had
served them for a quarter century stood between
the two men.

" Do you suppose Roland came here for anything
but to get those books ?" asked Mr. Linnette, paus-
ing between the moves.

" Shouldn't wonder," responded Hobbs, mechani-
cally. " What if he did ?"

The instrument maker made his next play with

" I shouldn't like to have them meet," he replied.

Why not ?"

" That's a queer question, to come from you."

Hobbs looked up sharply from the chess board.

" You've done everything you could to prepare
her for him," he said, vehemently. " Getting a little
doubtful of your own work, are you ?"

"I'm afraid Roland is not good enough for her,"
replied Linnette, deliberately.

Hobbs snorted in disgust.


" Good enough !" he echoed. " He's good enough
to be your brother's son, that's all you need to know.
I call him a very decent young fellow. What's the
matter with him ? It's no crime that he doesn't want
to buckle down to business. Every other generation
has a right to take a lay-off, if it can. And if it's
anyone's fault, it's more yours than his. You en-
couraged him to keep up his long journey. You
know why you did it, too."

There was something in this statement, and in the
manner of its delivery, that made Mr. Linnette for-
get the game he was playing.

" Why did I do it ?" he demanded, pettishly. " You
seem to ascribe reasons of your own to everything

Hobbs pointed out the fact that his opponent in
the game had not taken a pawn that fell to his
share, and then made his next move adroitly.

" I've a good mind to tell you why," he said, re-
moving the pipe from his mouth. " By Godfrey,
Will Linnette, you'll need a guardian, if you keep
on ! Roland ' not good enough ' for her, indeed.
Isn't a man's flesh and blood of as much account as
the children of his hired help ?"

Mr. Linnette controlled himself with an effort.

"Never mind, he's going away in a few days," he
said. " You didn't used to be so favorable to a
match between them," he added, pointedly.

" No, nor I don't favor it now !" snapped Hobbs.
" It's only when you talk as if the ' goodness' was all
on one side as if that housekeeper's girl would have
to stoop to marry your nephew that you stir me


up. I told you, when she and her mother came here,
that they'd get around you till you wouldn't know
whether your soul was your own. And now, look
at it. Roland comes home and is sent to the hotel,
while this child, no relation to you whatever, gets
the cream of the mansion. I tell you, Will Linnette*
you ought to be ashamed !"

The other player made a very ill-advised move
that immediately resulted to his disadvantage.

"You say a good many things when you get to
talking," he answered. " You never heard anything
against Eva."

Hobbs laughed ironically.

"You've taken fine pains to keep her shut up," he
replied. " She hasn't been allowed to go outside
the gates without some one at her heels. Do you
know what is certain to follow that kind of treat-
ment ? If she gets a husband who gives her the
least freedom, she will be the prey of any man who
wants her. Why "

The proprietor of the house rose from the table
and spoke in a stern voice.

" That will do, Tom Hobbs. You can't talk that
way to me !"

The superintendent of the Montvale Optical Com-
pany did not seem in the least disturbed. He
merely said, " Knight takes pawn 6," and waited for
his antagonist to go on with the game.

" No, I will not play !" exclaimed Mr. Linnette.
** There are bounds that you have no right to pass.
You have hated my housekeeper and her child ever


since they came here, for no better reason than the
contrary spirit that's in you. Now, when it gets to
making insinuations like the one you just uttered,
it's got to stop. Do you hear me, Tom Hobbs ?"

The superintendent affected to be engrossed in
the condition of the chess-men, and his employer
repeated the inquiry.

" Do you hear me, Tom Hobbs ?"

" Oh, yes, I hear you," responded the other. " But
whenever I think I have a duty to perform I shall
speak out. You will talk till you're grayer than you
are now before you put a chain on my tongue, when
I see people bamboozling you as these Warreras are

Mr. Linnette was in doubt what to say next.
However unpleasant the words of his old friend, he
knew the motive that prompted them was devotion
to his interests, as Hobbs understood them.

"Tell me one thing," he said. "You spoke just
now about my keeping Roland abroad, and said you
had a good mind to tell me why I did it. I want
you to explain what you meant by that."

"You don't want anything of the kind !" was the
ungracious reply. " Come, sit down and make your
moves. At this rate we shall be here all night."

" I tell you I do want it !" retorted Linnette, almost
angry. " If you have anything to say to me, let it
out. Anything is better than your everlasting

Hobbs realized that it would create no ordinary
commotion if he revealed what he had in mind when
he made use of the terms referred to, but his dogged-


ness was not proof against this demand. He pushed
the table away from him, knowing there would be
no more chess playing that evening, and after draw-
ing two or three long puffs from his pipe, he took
the article from his mouth.

" You're an old fool, Will Linnette," said he.
"You'll tell me I'm wrong, but I know you better
than you know yourself, and I've been watching this
thing for a long time. Why didn't you want your
nephew at home ? Why did you keep him away
from your house when he came to Montvale ? The
reason is not a very creditable one to a man who
has seen almost seventy winters, and has a business
reputation as a fellow of common sense, but it's the
real one. You're in love with that little girl,
yourself !"

For several seconds Willard Linnette looked as if
he was going to strike the author of this bold declar-
ation. He raised his arm and clenched his fist,
while a terrible expression convulsed his counten-
ance. Hobbs more than half expected that the blow
would fall, but his sturdy character would neither
have allowed him to retreat nor to make any effort
to parry the stroke. Then a sudden change came
across the face of the optician, and staggering to
the chair he had vacated he dropped weakly into

"Perhaps you haven't gauged the extent of your
own feelings," pursued Hobbs, as his employer gave
no sign of replying in words to his accusation.
" But it's as I tell you, as sure as you're alive. To
put it plainly, you were afraid that young chap


would excite sentiments in her heart that would
lessen her affection for you, and you're seventy, and
she's eighteen ! Her grandfather, if he were living,
might be about your age. I know how it is
you've lived a solitary life, and she has twined her-
self around you, little by little, until you don't
understand your own mind."

The seated figure made a clutch at the air, as if to
save itself from falling.

" It's not true !" murmured Linnette, hoarsely.
'* I love her as a daughter no more. It's not true,
Tom ; no, I swear to you it's not !"

Hobbs had no idea of relenting in the least.

" Why don't you invite him here, then ?" he
queried. " It's not my notion of the way to dispose
of him, mind you, but you've shown in a hundred
ways that it is yours. Why don't you have him
up here, and let them get acquainted, and watch the

Mr. Linnette roused himself slowly, like one who
feels the first effects of a painful injury.

" There are reasons enough," he answered, faintly.
" Eva is not well, to begin with. The doctors say
she must avoid every species of excitement. But
there are other things, which I have disliked to
mention to you, because Roland is my near relation.
He hasn't the kind of character I could wish. His
experiences have given him a light opinion of
women. I sent him to the hotel till I could ascer-
tain if he was fit to associate with this white flower
that I have watched so tenderly, and from what I
learn I fear he is not."


These words came with difficulty, and there were
many pauses between the sentences. Hobbs had a
sneer in his voice and on his face as he replied :

"What the devil did you learn?"

" I'll tell you. I told Hanson to keep an eye on
him and to report everything that he saw. It seem*
there was a very pretty servant there, upon whom
my nephew cast his eyes. He immediately demanded
that she should wait on no one but him, and has
taken his meals in his own apartment, with her for
his companion. His every act showed that he was
quietly meditating her ruin. Then a Miss Giddings,
who assists in the house, found an immense collection
of female photographs in his bureau, some of them
dressed in costumes which prove the depravity of
his taste. Knowing these things, how could I
introduce him to such a child as Eva ?"

Tom Hobbs had risen and stood leaning against
the mantel, with his hands in his trousers' pockets.

" Hanson is an ass of the first water !" was his
snappish comment. " That Giddings is a scarecrow,
who was probably driven to inventing lies on account
of jealousy because Roland very properly preferred
that the prettier girl should attend him. Goodness,
Will Linnette, I never should have thought such
things of you ! Sending the boy to that confounded
hole, and then putting such a set of spies on him !
Well, what's the worst they found, believing all they
tell you ? A few pictures of youth and beauty that
the lad would have to be blind not to like, and a con-
versation with a waitress over his chops and coffee 1


That's all, isn't it ? They don't accuse him of actu-
ally doing any harm to the girl ?"

Mr. Linnette was very haggard. The discussion
was wearing heavily upon him.

"She's been sent away," he said. " Hanson had a
talk with her and gave her some money to take the

The superintendent's lip curled in scorn.

" Where has she gone ?" he asked.

*' I don't know."

"So," cried Hobbs, with a rising inflection, "to
save her from a fancied danger you've sent her where
she'll be almost sure to run into a raz/one ! You're
a very moral man, jvv are ! If any harm happens to
that girl the blame will belong at your door. How
do you know but he meant to marry her?"

Mr. Linnette looked incredulously at his ques-

" She has neither property nor family."

" Has your housekeeper's daughter either of those
qualifications ?"

The maker of instruments paid no attention to the
sarcasm in this remark.

" Roland has not evinced the least interest in her
fate," he answered. " That disposes of your suppo-
sition in one word."

" It also disposes of yours," smiled Hobbs, iron-
ically. " If he was so desperately set on her ruin, he
would not let her escape him so easily."

There was something in this, certainly, that Mr.
Linnette had not thought of, but he replied that
probably the nephew had found victims too plea-


tiful to feel the need of pursuing one in the man-
ner indicated.

"Anything to fan your dislike," said Hobbs.
" Where that boy is concerned you hare no leaning
toward the merciful. For the past three years,
through your neglect, he has had no tutor but him-
self. If he has found amusement in looking into the
eyes of a pretty woman, now and then, is it any-
thing for which he should be hanged, drawn and
quartered ?"

Mr. Linnette was silent. He seemed too exhausted
to debate the subject any longer.

"You say the housekeeper's girl is not well," con-
tinued Hobbs. " I shouldn't think she would be.
You'd be an invalid yourself if you were fastened up
as she is. There's nothing in the world the matter
with her except a lack of something to interest her
mind. Bring your nephew up here, and you'll see a
difference from the start. Keep your eye on them,
if you think they need it set the whole household
to spying, as you did Hanson's precious crowd.
But, for God's sake, don't steel your heart against
one of the best boys that ever wore shoes, a young
fellow you ought to be prouder of than anything
else you own !"

The lamp in the room gas was not one of the
luxuries of Montvale at that period had been
gradually flickering, and had at last gone out. The
moon was full, however, and its beams furnished
sufficient light. Mr. Linnette showed his caller
through the outer gate of the premises, and parted
from him there without another word.




As it was apparent that Mr. Linnette, Jr., would
probably be in New York before a great while, for
either a longer or shorter period, he consulted with
Rufus Hobbs, the cashier, as to the feasibility of
getting young Dalton transferred from Montvale to
the principal office of the concern at the metropolis.
Rufus, who had never grown any fonder of the
young fellow, and who would have sent him flying
without hesitation had he had his way, was glad
enough to make any arrangement which would
relieve him from his presence. Correspondence with
the main office soon resulted in the manner desired.
Guy came to the hotel one evening positively radi-
ant with joy and told his friend of his good fortune.

" It is better than anything I had dreamed of," he
cried. " And as you are so soon to be there we shall
not be entirely separated after all."

"You must have very uninteresting dreams," was
the response, " if you see anything attractive in a
seat on a high stool, with a pen in your hand, figur-
ing up somebody else's profits out of your labor.
What salary are they to pay you ?"

" Twelve dollars a week, to begin with, and more
Jn a short time if i give satisfaction. Is it not
generous ?" . .-


" Noble," laughed Roland. " In fact, I should say
magnificent ! On that sum you'll be able to live
like a prince. Over on Tenth Avenue there are
places where you can get an attic bedroom and
something they call food for seven dollars, which
will leave you five to squander on clothing, amuse-
ments, and other unnecessary trifles."

Guy declined to be disconcerted by the tone his
friend assumed.

" I shall do very well," he said, positively. " I
know all about attic bedrooms and ordinary fare,
for I have tried them before. I suppose those places
you speak of those on Tenth Avenue are perfectly
respectable ?"

" Indeed they are !" was the humorous reply.
" They don't throw in much sin at that price in
New York. That comes extra, like coffee in Paris.
You will find out. It takes the country boy, the one
with high purposes and great ambitions, to sound
the depths of a large city. If I should be a month
behind you, you will be able to take me anywhere.
Ah, Guy, what an awful bad lot you are !"

For a moment the younger man looked troubled,
but the prospect before him was too bright for a
cloud to remain long on his face.

" You will probably discover, before you have been
long in the office," pursued Roland, encouragingly,
" that you are receiving a few dollars less each week
than other clerks who are doing the same kind of
work. Of course you will not mind that. You may
be giving more faithful service, may be more prompt
at your desk in the morning, and less anxious to


leave at night, and yet get half that they do. A
little matter like this would never breed discontent
in such a head as yours. No, I think it would rather
please you than otherwise."

Dalton replied brightly that he should not con-
sider it his affair what the others got. He should do
his own work as well as he could and let the rest
take care of themselves.

" Just what I said," replied his irrepressible friend.
"Do that, and according to all the story books they
give boys to read you will succeed marvellously.
You start without a single bad habit. You do not
drink anything intoxicating, I believe, not even a

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Online LibraryAlbert RossLove at seventy → online text (page 7 of 18)