Albert Ross.

Moulding a maiden online

. (page 1 of 24)
Online LibraryAlbert RossMoulding a maiden → online text (page 1 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

I > r

-. :.. fr-

trv - ^"v -f^ if"**



Aejsirs OF BOOKS




23 Volumes

May be had wherever books are sold, at the price you
paid for this volume

Black Adonis, A
Garston Bigamy, The
Her Husband s Friend
His Foster Sister
His Private Character
In Stella s Shadow
Love at Seventy
Love Gone Astray
Moulding a Maiden
Naked Truth, The
New Sensation, A
Original Sinner, An
Out of Wedlock
Speaking of Ellen
Stranger Than Fiction
Sugar Princess, A
That Gay Deceiver
Their Marriage Bond
Thou Shalt Not
Thy Neighbor s Wife
Why I m Single
Young Fawcett s Mabel
Young Miss Giddy

Publishers :: :: New York






" // will avail nothing to a girl
that she has health, beauty and in
telligence, if her character is not
moulded rightly. And no man,
though he were a saint, can properly
mould it "Page 185.



G* W. Dillingham Co., Publishers*
AURigMs Res*rv*k


i. Max Vandenhoffs Will. . . 9

II. Examining the Baby. . . , sj

HI. * Paris is a wicked city." . . j

IV. A Never Ceasing Pressure. . . 48

V. A Study from the Nude. . .61

VI. The Great Story Book. . . .74

VII. " I do not want to say." . .85

VIII. Inside of Bohemia 97

IX. * A little like lying." . . . . in

X. " I never kiss gentlemen." . , . 124

XI. A Demoralizing Practice." . . 137

XII. Drawing from Mile, Susette. . . 151

XIII. " Oh, is that religion ?" 165

XIV. Lysle Comes Home Again. . . 180
XV. " Good-bye, little woman." . , 189

XVI. It is Different with a Girl . . . 199

XVII. Stanley at Heidelberg. . . . aio

XVIII. Don t call me a child !" . . fl

XIX. Indisputable Documents. . . . tag

XX. " You must go with me. * . . . 944

XXI. Death Enters the House. . . . t$4




XXII. Like a Sweet Delirium. . . . 67

XXIII. C est gaie, n est pas ?" . . . . 278

XXIV. Arthur Peck s Revenge. . . ,886
XXV. Confronting the Defaulter. . . 393

XXVI. In the Inspector s Power. ... 304

XXVII. * It surprises you does it ?". . . 317

XXVIII. Off for Buenos Ayres. .... 330

XXIX. " Here are two criminals." . , . 337

XXX. " Where are your jewels ?" . . . 346

XXXL Too Wonderful to be True, . . 35*


In introducing the sixth of the " Albatross Novels**
to the reader, I shall attempt neither apology nor
explanation, though I think no other novelist of the
present age has aroused so much unwarranted criti
cism. I have been accused of almost every fault.
Not only are my stories very " wicked," but they are
wholly uninteresting, if we are to believe the review
ers of some of the periodicals. There is only one
point which no one has cared to dispute more of
my books have been sold in the last thirty months
than of those written by any of my very excellent
and much lauded contemporaries.

But I must be careful. A critic whose article has
just fallen under my observation accuses me of
boastfulness, because I once before alluded to the
success of my ventures in the literary field. Let me
assure him that I did it rather in a spirit of grati
tude and appreciation than of undue pride. I have
not yet ceased to wonder that the American public
has chosen to purchase, in so short a time, nearly
half a million copies of my works. I am continually
surprised at the figures which my publisher gives me,
and at the statements of traveling friends that
hardly a book-stand from Bangor to the Pacific is
without these volumes.

Why this immense circulation ? " Because you
have dealt in forbidden subjects," says the chorus.
Is that really the reason ? Then why has * Her



Husband s Friend/* which is admitted to be withta
the strictest bounds, surpassed in its sales, during
its first four months, even the figures of " Thou Shalt
Not," counting the same length of time ? Why have
the orders for the present book been larger than any
of those received before, in advance of its publica
tion ? Perhaps you have made a mistake, Mr. Critic
In spite of your opinion, there may be something
worth reading in these novels.

In an article which appeared in the Arena for
March, 1891, I fully explained my theory of what is
permissible in fiction. If I have done anything
reprehensible it is in not living closer to that theory.
One hates to walk the public streets with a legion of
curs barking at his heels, be his conscience ever so
clear. If enough mud be thrown with diligence at a
given object, says the proverb, some of it will stick.
I find myself affected by the hue and cry, senseless as
I know it to be. And I can the less excuse myself
when I find the number of my followers increasing
instead of falling away.

You, my dear patrons, are, after all, the only
judges for whose opinion I ought to care. Write
and tell me, as you have done before, what you
think of my work. What have you to say of Janet
Steiner ? Have I made Rosalie what she should be ?
Is Stanley Melrose impossibly precocious or Lysle
too virtuous for a student of the Latin Quarter ?
Tell me all about it, and though I may not answer
you, I shall treasure every word as though it came
from one whose voice and face I knew intimately.


Mo. S} West 236 Street
Mew York Ci. *



M Well, I ll be hanged!"

" No doubt about that, I guess."

** What an unnecessary statement !"

" Come, Lysle, tell as something we don t fcnow.**

Four of the students of Brooks Academy were
gathered in the room of one of their number, during
the part of the day devoted to recreation. The first
sentence above quoted was uttered, in a tone of the
greatest surprise, by the youngest of the party, and
the succeeding ones were merely the attempts of his
companions to show their wit.

Carlysle Melrose, or " Lysle," as everybody called
him, had just received a letter, and it was evidently
its contents that had drawn from him the exclama
tion referred to.

" The oddest thing has happened that you ever
heard of !" he said, looking up. " A relation of
mine has died in Europe

" And left you a fortune of a million pounds !"*
cried Arthur Peck. " My best wish is that you may
be unable to eat or sleep till you ve given us half.


A million pounds ! What the dickens can you do
with all that money ? It is altogether too much for

Lysle was still too deeply absorbed in the letter he
had received to do more than stare at the rest of the
boys, without comprehending in the least what they
were saying.

"What are you going to do about that fortune?"
continued Peck, with an air of mock insistance.
"Come, we are entitled to know."

" My relation has not left me any large sum," said
Lysle, " but he has"

"You dog !" exclaimed Luke Woodstock, another
of the party, taking up the joke begun by Arthur
Peck. " Do you intend to swindle us out of our
share of the estate ? By the vane on yonder
Academy, I swear ."

" Oh, let him tell his story," interposed Dudley

Silence being restored, Lysle proceeded to reveal
the news that had caused him so much astonish

" It is the strangest thing in the world. I had a
cousin named Vandenhoff, whom I have never seen
to remember, as he has spent most of his later years
in Germany and France. He has recently died,
leaving an infant daughter, who is to inherit his
fortune when she comes of age. His wife is also
dead, it appears, and in his will he has named three
guardians for the little girl a cousin of his wife s,
named Janet Steiner, a maiden lady of twenty-five
years or so, Stanley Melrose and myself."

At the last word, all of Lysle s companions
burst into uncontrollable laughter.

* You !" cried the party in chorus. " You d make


a nice guardian for a young lady ! What was the
matter with the old gent crazy ?"

" I should think so," was the sober reply. ** And
yet he has always been supposed to be sane enough.
He was not an old gent, either. Not more than
thirty at the most. I m very sorry to hear he s dead,
upon my word !"

The boys seemed to realize, all at once, that there
was something besides fun in the affair, and they
looked at Lysle with a new interest.

" Here is the whole story," he said. " Max Vanden-
hoff inherited his money from his father, and has
spent most of his time since then abroad. He must
have married within a comparatively short time, as
I had never heard of him except as a bachelor.
His wife s cousin, Miss Steiner, who writes me this
letter, says she had been acting for some time as
a companion to Mrs. Vandenhoff, who died shortly
after the birth of this child. The father s death
occurred very unexpectedly, and he has left the
little girl to our care, because we are, as she says,
her sole relations."

Luke Woodstock said he wondered what the law
was in a case like this,

" Can you exercise such authority as is contem
plated in that will," he asked, " while you are your
self a minor? I should think you would have to
wait till you could control your own property before
you could handle that of other people."

Woodstock was a little older than the others, and
as he intended to be a rawyer, this hazard of an
opinion was received with due consideration.

" I don t know, I m sure," said Lysle, in reply.
"If your conjecture should prove correct it will leave
Miss Steiner in charge of her for a good while, as


Stanley Is only two years older than I am. But thort
can t be much that we can do, any way, while the
child is such an infant. I imagine that ail Vanden-
hofif intended was to provide for emergencies. Stan
ley and I were merely put in, I suppose, to act as
alternates in the event of her death/

Luke then asked, with an eye to the main thing of
importance, what provision there was for recompense
to the guardians.

" We all get something," replied Lysle, referring
again to the letter whih he held in his hand. " Miss
Steiner gets twenty-five thousand dollars, Stanley fif
teen thousand dollars, and I five thousand dollars."

" What s the reason for the sliding scale ?" queried
young Peck.

** I m sure I don t know. Perhaps Miss Steiner has
no other expectations."

But Luke took up the cudgel in great indigna

" Stanley has at least as much coming to him from
his father s estate as you have from yours, and yet
he is to get three times what you do, by this will.
Now, that is what I call downright meanness !"

Lysle Mel rose surveyed the speaker with his calm,
wondering eyes.

* I am sure it was Mr. Vandenhoff s money to do
as he pleased with," said he. " There was no obli
gation for him to leave me a cent, unless he wished.
It was very kind of him to remember me at all. It
would be unhandsome to find fault merely because
some one else gets more."

Upon this, Dudley Morgan, who had been pacing
up and down the room in silence, paused to inter
ject a remark.

* It isn t because he has left you such a little sum


thtt I care, Lysle, but because he has left Stanley so
much. He will never spend a cent of that fifteen
thousand dollars on anybody but himself. He is
the meanest, stingiest "

Lysle rose quickly, and caught hold of his com
panion s arm.

"Stop, Dud, unless you wish to offend me," he
said. "I cannot hear such remarks about my

"It is true, though," put in Luke Woodstock,
impetuously, " and every boy at this academy will
say the same. *

"They won t say it to me, for I ll not listen,"
replied Lysle, firmly, taking up his hat. He was not
in temper, but he had a grieved look that told its
own story. " When you fellows are ready to tall
about something that interests me, I shall be glad to
return," he added, taking a step toward the door, as
if to quit the room.

But Dudley had him by the sleeve, and on behalt
of the entire group of offenders promised to drop the
unpleasant discussion about Stanley if he would
remain. Lysle was a great favorite at Brooks, and
none ot its inmates were more attached to him than
was Morgan.

**I ve been studying it all out," remarked Wood-
Stock, when the party were seated once more. " Your
relation was a man of discretion, after all. He has
appointed Miss Steiner to this trust because he
wanted some one to look after the moral and relig
ious welfare of his child. He has named Stanley on
account of his financial tastes, to see that her fortune
is well invested, and made to earn a large dividend.
And he has added you, in the hope that, when she
grows older you will develop her artistic nature.


With three such guardians, the young Jady Daght to
become a perfect paragon. If you take as good care
of her as you should, Lysle," he added, gayly, "I
think I shall postpone all thoughts of marriage till
she becomes of sufficient age, and then put in an
application for her hand,"

This was considered amusing enough to draw
laugh from everybody in the room, and put all in the
best of feeling.

" How old do you say she is now ?" inquired

** Nearly a year."

" And her fortune, how big is that ?**

** Nearly two hundred thousand."

"It will be two millions by the time she is twenty-
one," said Morgan, " with Stanley to manipulate it.
Luke, accept my congratulations."

There was an implied reflection against Stanley in
this statement, but it was veiled with a compliment,
and Lysle could not very well object.

" Confound all your avaricious speculations ! *
burst fort Arthur Peck. " What color are her
eyes ? That s the question. Will she be tall, short
or medium ? Will she weigh just a hundred and fif
teen the charming weight for a woman or will she
tip the scales at one hundred and eighty ? Will she
be sweet and tender and clinging, or cold, formal
and dignified ? What size shoes will she wear on her
feet? What will be the number of her gloves ? Will
her upper lip have a delicious shortness, causing the
pearls beneath to drive men to distraction ? Will
her shoulders be shapely, but not too full, her arms
slender, but beautifully moulded, her slight bust the
promise of a not too grand fulfilment ? Will her **

But at this juncture, young Melrose uttered an


exclamation that stopped his companion short in the
midst of his rhapsody.

" What s the matter, Lysle ?" inquired the speaker.

** You ve no business to talk in that style, Arthur,"
was the reply, * and you know it."

" Not of a baby a year old ?" laughed Peck.

"No, not when she is to be my ward. Beside,
you were not speaking of the baby that is, but of
the woman that is to be."

Arthur seemed determined, however, to consider it
nothing more than a joke.

" Serious as ever !" he exclaimed, still laughing.
" I was only drawing an artistic picture for the eye
of an artist. You are going to be a great painter,
you must remember. These fellows " pointing to
Morgan and Woodstock " whose mission in life will
be the weaving of cloth and the drawing of deeds,
might misunderstand me, but you should not. You
are an artist, and you ought to look at things from
an artistic standpoint."

Still Lysle declined to be convinced, and it was
evident that the remarks he had heard had nettled
him more than he wished to show.

" Say what you may,* he answered, " I think no
one would care to hear the physical qualities of his
female relations debated with your remarkable free
dom. You may mean all right, but your language
&s very distasteful to me."

Peck grew angry at that.

" Oh, if you don t like it " he drawled, in that
exasperatingly slow tone which is often more insult
ing than a direct rebuff.

"I don t!" replied Lysle, sharply, "And what s
more, I won t have it !"

M mrume A lunam.

" Won t r echoed Peck, in a rage. " If I chote to
go on, what would you do about it, I d like to know?*

It takes very little to precipitate a quarrel between
schoolmates. Blows would have followed in another
moment, had not Luke Woodstock, the coolest head
in the party, interposed, and told them both that
the one who struck first would have to fight him,

" That isn t the question," said Peck, still smart-
ing under his fancied injuries. " Who was wrong,
that s the point ?"

" No matter about that," said Luke. * You fel
lows think the world of each other, and in a min
ute more you d have been pounding faces like two
ragamuffins of the street. Drop it, now, and never
even think of it again."

" But who was right ?" reiterated Peck. " If I
was wrong, I will apologize. If he was, let him do
the same."

Luke looked at both the boys.

* Do you want me to decide it ?" he asked Mel-

"Yes/ saidLysle.

44 Well, Arthur was wrong in the first place," he
said, " and you were wrong in the second. Besides
that, Dudley and I were wrong to listen without
protest when we could see so plainly that you were
being annoyed."

** Shall I apologize r" demanded Arthur,


u Shall I ?" asked Lysle, with an effort.

** No, but I want you to shake hands."

This was done with a fairly good grace on the
fart of both.

"Now, is there anything else you wish to tell


n about your new ward ?** asked Woodstock, with
an idea that this would be a good way to get the
conversation back again into agreeable channels.

14 No,** replied Melrose, positively. * I do not
wish to say anything more about the matter."

Morgan began to whistle a popular tune, and
one by one the lads withdrew. As it was Lysle s
room in which the affair occurred, he soon found
himself alone.

" I must take better care of that temper of mine,"*
he mused, as he sat there. " It will get me into
trouble some day if I do not look out. In another
second I should have struck Arthur. But after all,
he was very aggravating. His comments were in
frightful taste. Perhaps he couldn t see how they
appeared to me, though. Was I too sensitive ? If I
had made the same remarks about a sister of his,
would he have liked it, I wonder? I ve half a
notion to apologize to him the first time we meet.
The only trouble is he might receive it badly.
No, on the whole, I think I won t say anything."

He took up one of his books and began to study,
but the unpleasantness of his recent altercation was
too fresh in his mind to be forgotten, and he made
little progress with his task. Presently he put the
volume away, and gave himself up to reverie.

Carlysle and Stanley Melrose were the sons of
two brothers, both of whom had died in youth, leav
ing their only children to the care of such guardians
as the court might appoint. The boys were, as the
reader may have already surmised, quite different in
their mental make-up and habits of thought. Stan
ley, who was now sixteen, had already developed a
tendency to careful expenditure of his allowance,
and was known to be saving up a good part of it.


some of which he loaned to his fellow pupils at
usurious rates. No occasion was important enough
in his eyes to justify a gift of money or other
thing of pecuniary value, and the occasional sub
scription papers that were passed about the
academy never bore his name. To the charge of
meanness he had the ever ready answer that if
others were as careful of what they possessed, there
would be no necessity for charity. He was a bright
scholar, seldom missing anything in his lessons, or
violating any of the rules of the school. His
intention was to be a lawyer. He never was known
to have trouble with either teachers or pupils, and
his habits were such that no fault could be found
with them. And yet not a scholar at Brooks
Academy was less liked than he.

Lysle s character can be easiest described by say
ing that he was almost everything that his cousin
was not. He was so careless with his expenses,
and so generous with his gifts, that he was always
in arrears financially, and very often heavily in debt
to his more prudent cousin. His good nature got
him into innumerable scrapes. Several times he
was on the point of being sent away in disgrace,
but the universal fondness for him stood him in
good stead. There was nothing really wicked about
the lad, and this his preceptors soon came to know.
The nearest he ever came to being expelled was
when he took upon himself the offence of one of the
other boys, a very grave one, which it was hard for
the authorities to overlook, and perhaps I cannot
introduce him better than by giving a short history
of that affair.

" Don t you say a word,** he had said to the real
culprit, when he found that the investigation that


had been set on foot would surely result in hit
detection unless some one confessed. " I know 5*
you are turned out of this academy you will Iiave to
go to work, and won t be allowed to finish your
education, while if I am expelled my guardian will
only send me to some other institution. Keep quiet,
and they will never suspect you."

The sinner protested that he should not allow
Lysle to do anything of the kind, but his fear at the
punishment in store was too great, and when the
boys were appealed to in the great hall to tell who had
perpetrated the mischief, young Melrose stood up in
his place. " Do you know the penalty ?" asked the
old professor, his voice shaking with emotion.

" Yes, sir."

" Master Melrose," said the professor, " will remain
after the rest are dismissed."

The principal of the academy, Professor Wilson,
had had charge of boys for forty years, and he was
quick to notice things. The astonishment of the
other lads at Lysle s confession, the gasp that had
issued from the throat of the real culprit, and the
sad looks of the entire school as they marched out,
some with tears in their eyes, were not lost on him.
When he was alone with Lysle he did not immedi
ately speak. They sat regarding each other with
expressions of mingled regret and esteem.

"The penalty of t he offence which you have con
fessed is expulsion/ said the old professor, at last.

" I know it, sir," said Lysle, unflinchingly.

" Shall you not be sorry to leave this academy ?"

**Very sorry, sir."

** What do you expect to do next ?"

" I hope t go to another one with the least posse
bfe delay/*


* If they knew your record here, do you think they
would care to receive you ?" asked the professor,

" Perhaps not, sir."

** Supposing they asked you the cause of youf
leaving Brooks ?"

Lysle hesitated.

" You would not lie to them ?" said the professor,
altering the form of his question for greater effect.

"I do not think I would, sir. But I would not
need to tell everything."

* Lysle," said the professor, kindly, " would you
think it right to tell a lie a downright lie under
any circumstances ?"

The boy hesitated again.

** I cannot answer you, sir.**

* Cannot answer me !" exclaimed his questioner,
in mock surprise. " If you had committed a breach
of the rules of this academy, for instance, would you
He to save yourself ? *

"Oh, no, sir."

" Or would you allow any one else to lie for you ?"

The boy was very ill at ease. For the first time
he could not look the professor in the face.

" I know a boy," continued Professor Wilson, " who
has allowed another boy to shoulder an offence that
belongs to him. What ought to be done to a boy
like that T

Lysle looked up and saw that he could no longer
conceal his secret.

"You do not need to punish two for the offence of
one," said he, with deep earnestness. " Expel the
boy who has confessed the guilt. The other may
have a mother at home who will feel his disgrace
very keenly. He may have a step-father who will be


enly too glad of an. excuse to take him from school

and put him at work. The punishment of expulsion
which to the one will be only a slight delay in his
education may mean endless torment to the other.
I know your kind heart, sir, and I am sure you can
not hesitate."

"Has Dudley Morgan a step-father?" asked the
professor, wiping his glasses. He had had a step
father himself.

Lysle did not answer. He was appalled at the
mention of the name, which he had not supposed
the professor knew.

" You have told me a falsehood " said the pro

Still Lysle was silent.

* May I go now, sir ?" he asked, presently.

The professor was in a great quandary. He did

Online LibraryAlbert RossMoulding a maiden → online text (page 1 of 24)