Copyright
Anna Katharine Green.

The millionaire baby online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryAnna Katharine GreenThe millionaire baby → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


E-text prepared by Annie R. McGuire from page images generously made
available by Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org)



Note: Project Gutenberg also has an HTML version of this
file which includes the original illustrations.
See 38347-h.htm or 38347-h.zip:
(http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38347/38347-h/38347-h.htm)
or
(http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38347/38347-h.zip)


Images of the original pages are available through
Internet Archive. See
http://www.archive.org/details/millionairebaby00gree





THE MILLIONAIRE BABY

[Illustration: "I HAVE SAID SO MUCH THAT I MUST SAY MORE. LISTEN AND BE
MY FRIEND." _p. 288_]


THE MILLIONAIRE BABY

by

ANNA KATHARINE GREEN

Author of The Filigree Ball,
The Leavenworth Case, Etc.

With Illustrations by Arthur I. Keller







Indianapolis
The Bobbs-Merrill Company
Publishers

Copyright 1905
The Bobbs-Merrill Company




CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE
I Two Little Shoes 1
II "A Fearsome Man" 30
III A Charming Woman 39
IV Chalk-Marks 52
V The Old House in Yonkers 69
VI Doctor Pool 80
VII "Find the Child!" 98
VIII "Philo! Philo! Philo!" 109
IX The Bungalow 122
X Temptation 132
XI The Secret of the Old Pavilion 140
XII Behind the Wall 176
XIII "We Shall Have to Begin Again" 196
XIV Espionage 201
XV A Phantasm 207
XVI "An All-Conquering Beauty" 211
XVII In the Green Boudoir 232
XVIII "You Look As If - As If - " 249
XIX Frenzy 263
XX "What Do You Know?" 274
XXI Providence 289
XXII On the Second Terrace 315
XXIII A Coral Bead 321
XXIV "Shall I Give Him My Word, Harry?" 331
XXV The Work of an Instant 338
XXVI "He Will Never Forgive" 340
XXVII The Final Struggle 350




THE MILLIONAIRE BABY




I

TWO LITTLE SHOES


The morning of August eighteenth, 190-, was a memorable one to me. For
two months I had had a run of bad luck. During that time I had failed to
score in at least three affairs of unusual importance, and the result
was a decided loss in repute as well as great financial embarrassment.
As I had a mother and two sisters to support and knew but one way to do
it, I was in a state of profound discouragement. This was before I took
up the morning papers. After I had opened and read them, not a man in
New York could boast of higher hopes or greater confidence in his power
to rise by one bold stroke from threatened bankruptcy to immediate
independence.

The paragraph which had occasioned this amazing change must have passed
under the eyes of many of you. It created a wide-spread excitement at
the time and raised in more than one breast the hope of speedy fortune.
It was attached to, or rather introduced, the most startling feature of
the week, and it ran thus:

A FORTUNE FOR A CHILD.

_By cable from Southampton._

A reward of five thousand dollars is offered, by Philo Ocumpaugh,
to whoever will give such information as will lead to the recovery,
alive or dead, of his six-year-old daughter, Gwendolen, missing
since the afternoon of August the 16th, from her home in
- - on-the-Hudson, New York, U. S. A.

Fifty thousand dollars additional and no questions asked if she is
restored unharmed within the week to her mother at Homewood.

All communications to be addressed to Samuel Atwater,
- - on-the-Hudson.

A minute description of the child followed, but this did not interest
me, and I did not linger over it. The child was no stranger to me. I
knew her well and consequently was quite aware of her personal
characteristics. It was the great amount offered for her discovery and
restoration which moved me so deeply. Fifty thousand dollars! A fortune
for any man. More than a fortune to me, who stood in such need of ready
money. I was determined to win this extraordinary sum. I had my reason
for hope and, in the light of this unexpectedly munificent reward,
decided to waive all the considerations which had hitherto prevented me
from stirring in the matter.

There were other reasons less selfish which gave impetus to my resolve.
I had done business for the Ocumpaughs before and been well treated in
the transaction. I recognized and understood both Mr. Ocumpaugh's
peculiarities and those of his admired and devoted wife. As man and
woman they were kindly, honorable and devoted to many more interests
than those connected with their own wealth. I also knew their hearts to
be wrapped up in this child, - the sole offspring of a long and happy
union, and the actual as well as prospective inheritor of more millions
than I shall ever see thousands, unless I am fortunate enough to solve
the mystery now exercising the sympathies of the whole New York public.

You have all heard of this child under another name. From her birth she
has been known as the Millionaire Baby, being the direct heir to three
fortunes, two of which she had already received. I saw her first when
she was three years old - a cherubic little being, lovely to look upon
and possessing unusual qualities for so young a child. Indeed, her
picturesque beauty and appealing ways would have attracted all eyes and
won all hearts, even if she had not represented in her small person the
wealth both of the Ocumpaugh and Rathbone families. There was an
individuality about her, combined with sensibilities of no ordinary
nature, which, fully accounted for the devoted affection with which she
was universally regarded; and when she suddenly disappeared, it was easy
to comprehend, if one did not share, the thrill of horror which swept
from one end of our broad continent to the other. Those who knew the
parents, and those who did not, suffered an equal pang at the awful
thought of this petted innocent lost in the depths of the great unknown,
with only the false caresses of her abductors to comfort her for the
deprivation of all those delights which love and unlimited means could
provide to make a child of her years supremely happy.

Her father - and this was what gave the keen edge of horror to the whole
occurrence - was in Europe when she disappeared. He had been cabled at
once and his answer was the proffered reward with which I have opened
this history. An accompanying despatch to his distracted wife announced
his relinquishment of the project which had taken him abroad and his
immediate return on the next steamer sailing from Southampton. As this
chanced to be the fastest on the line, we had reason to expect him in
six days; meanwhile -

But to complete my personal recapitulations. When the first news of this
startling abduction flashed upon my eyes from the bulletin boards, I
looked on the matter as one of too great magnitude to be dealt with by
any but the metropolitan police; but as time passed and further details
of the strange and seemingly inexplicable affair came to light, I began
to feel the stirring of the detective instinct within me (did I say that
I was connected with a private detective agency of some note in the
metropolis?) and a desire, quite apart from any mere humane interest in
the event itself, to locate the intelligence back of such a desperate
crime: an intelligence so keen that, up to the present moment, if we may
trust the published accounts of the affair, not a clue had been
unearthed by which its author could be traced, or the means employed for
carrying off this petted object of a thousand cares.

To be sure, there was a theory which eliminated all crime from the
occurrence as well as the intervention of any one in the child's fate:
she might have strayed down to the river and been drowned. But the
probabilities were so opposed to this supposition, that the police had
refused to embrace it, although the mother had accepted it from the
first, and up to the present moment, or so it was stated, had refused to
consider any other. As she had some basis for this conclusion - I am
still quoting the papers, you understand - I was not disposed to ignore
it in the study I proceeded to make of the situation. The details, as I
ran them over in the hurried trip I now made up the river to - - , were
as follows:

On the afternoon of Wednesday, August sixteenth, 190-, the guests
assembled in Mrs. Ocumpaugh's white and gold music-room were suddenly
thrown into confusion by the appearance among them of a young girl in a
state of great perturbation, who, running up to the startled hostess,
announced that Gwendolen, the petted darling of the house, was missing
from the bungalow where she had been lying asleep, and could not be
found, though a dozen men had been out on search.

The wretched mother, who, as it afterward transpired, had not only given
the orders by which the child had been thus removed from the excitement
up at the house, but had actually been herself but a few moments before
to see that the little one was well cared for and happy, seemed struck
as by a mortal blow at these words and, uttering a heart-rending scream,
ran out on the lawn. A crowd of guests rushed after her, and as they
followed her flying figure across the lawn to the small copse in which
lay hidden this favored retreat, they could hear, borne back on the
wind, the wild protests of the young nurse, that she had left the child
for a minute only and then to go no farther than the bench running along
the end of the bungalow facing the house; that she had been told she
could sit there and listen to the music, but that she never would have
left the child's side for a minute if she had not supposed she would
hear her least stir - protests which the mother scarcely seemed to heed,
and which were presently lost in the deep silence which fell on all, as,
brought to a stand in the thick shrubbery surrounding the bungalow, they
saw the mother stagger up to the door, look in and turn toward them with
death in her face.

"The river!" she gasped, "the river!" and heedless of all attempt to
stop her, heedless even of the efforts made by the little one's nurse to
draw her attention to the nearness of a certain opening in the high
hedge marking off the Ocumpaugh grounds on this side, she ran down the
bank in the direction of the railway, but fainted before she had more
than cleared the thicket. When they lifted her up, they all saw the
reason for this. She had come upon a little shoe which she held with
frantic clutch against her breast - her child's shoe, which, as she
afterward acknowledged, she had loosened with her own hand on the little
one's foot.

Of course, after this the whole hillside was searched down to the fence
which separated it from the railroad track. But no further trace of the
missing child was found, nor did it appear possible to any one that she
could have strayed away in this direction. For not only was the bank
exceedingly steep and the fence at its base impassable, but a gang of
men, working as good fortune would have it, at such a point on the road
below as to render it next to impossible for her to have crossed the
track within a half-mile either way without being observed, had one and
all declared that not one of them had seen her or any other person
descend the slope.

This, however, made but little impression on the mother. She would
listen to no hints of abduction, but persisted in her declaration that
the river had swallowed her darling, and would neither rest nor turn her
head from its waters till some half a dozen men about the place had been
set systematically to work to drag the stream.

Meanwhile, the police had been notified and the whole town aroused. The
search, which had been carried on up to this time in a frantic but
desultory way, now became methodical. Nor was it confined to the
Ocumpaugh estate. All the roads and byways within half a mile either way
were covered by a most careful investigation. All the near-by houses
were entered, especially those which the child was most in the habit of
frequenting, but no one had seen her, nor could any trace of her
presence be found. At five o'clock all hope of her return was abandoned
and, much against Mrs. Ocumpaugh's wish, who declared that the news of
the child's death would affect her father far less than the dreadful
possibilities of an abduction, the exact facts of the case had been
cabled to Mr. Ocumpaugh.

The night and another day passed, bringing but little relief to the
situation. Not an eye had as yet been closed in Homewood, nor had the
search ceased for an instant. Not an inch of the great estate had been
overlooked, yet men could still be seen beating the bushes and peering
into all the secluded spots which once had formed the charm of this
delightful place. As on the land, so on the river. All the waters in the
dock had been dragged, yet the work went on, some said under the very
eye of Mrs. Ocumpaugh. But there was no result as yet.

In the city the interest was intense. The telegraph at police
headquarters had been clicking incessantly for thirty-six hours under
the direction, some said, of the superintendent himself. Everything
which could be done had been done, but as yet the papers were able to
report nothing beyond some vague stories of a child, with its face very
much bound up, having been seen at the heels of a woman in the Grand
Central Station in New York, and hints of a covered wagon, with a crying
child inside, which had been driven through Westchester County at a
great pace shortly before sunset on the previous day, closely followed
by a buggy with the storm-apron up, though the sun shone and there was
not a cloud in the sky; but nothing definite, nothing which could give
hope to the distracted mother or do more than divide the attention of
the police between two different but equally tenable theories. Then came
the cablegram from Mr. Ocumpaugh, which threw amateur as well as
professional detectives into the field. Among the latter was myself;
which naturally brings me back once more to my own conclusions.

Of one thing I felt sure. Very early in my cogitations, before we had
quitted the Park Avenue tunnel in fact, I had decided in my own mind
that if I were to succeed in locating the lost heiress, it must be by
subtler methods than lay open to the police. I was master of such
methods (in this case at least), and though one of many owning to
similar hopes on this very train which was rushing me through to
Homewood, I had no feeling but that of confidence in a final success.
How well founded this confidence was, will presently appear.

The number of seedy-looking men with a mysterious air who alighted in my
company at - - station and immediately proceeded to make their way up
the steep street toward Homewood, warned me that it would soon be
extremely difficult for any one to obtain access to the parties most
interested in the child's loss. Had I not possessed the advantage of
being already known to Mrs. Ocumpaugh, I should have immediately given
up all hope of ever obtaining access to her presence; and even with this
fact to back me, I approached the house with very little confidence in
my ability to win my way through the high iron gates I had so
frequently passed before without difficulty.

And indeed I found them well guarded. As I came nearer, I could see man
after man being turned away, and not till my card had been handed in,
and a hurried note to boot, did I obtain permission to pass the first
boundary. Another note secured me admission to the house, but there my
progress stopped. Mrs. Ocumpaugh had already been interviewed by five
reporters and a special agent from the New York police. She could see no
one else at present. If, however, my business was of importance, an
opportunity would be given me to see Miss Porter. Miss Porter was her
companion and female factotum.

As I had calculated upon having a half-dozen words with the mother
herself, I was greatly thrown out by this; but going upon the principle
that "half a loaf was better than no bread," I was about to express a
desire to see Miss Porter, when an incident occurred which effectually
changed my mind in this regard.

The hall in which I was standing and which communicated with the side
door by which I had entered, ended in a staircase, leading, as I had
reason to believe, to the smaller and less pretentious rooms in the rear
of the house. While I hesitated what reply to give the girl awaiting my
decision, I caught the sound of soft weeping from the top of this
staircase, and presently beheld the figure of a young woman coming
slowly down, clad in coat and hat and giving every evidence both in
dress and manner of leaving for good. It was Miss Graham, a young woman
who held the position of nursery-governess to the child. I had seen her
before, and had no small admiration for her, and the sensations I
experienced at the sight of her leaving the house where her services
were apparently no longer needed, proved to me, possibly for the first
time, that I had more heart in my breast than I had ever before
realized. But it was not this which led me to say to the maid standing
before me that I preferred to see Mrs. Ocumpaugh herself, and would call
early the next day. It was the thought that this sorrowing girl would
have to pass the gauntlet of many prying eyes on her way to the station
and that she might be glad of an escort whom she knew and had shown some
trust in. Also, - but the reasons behind that _also_ will soon become
sufficiently apparent.

I was right in supposing that my presence on the porch outside would be
a pleasing surprise to her. Though her tears continued to flow she
accepted my proffered companionship with gratitude, and soon we were
passing side by side across the lawn toward a short cut leading down the
bank to the small flag-station used by the family and by certain favored
neighbors. As we threaded the shrubbery, which is very thick about the
place, she explained to me the cause of her abrupt departure. The sight
of her, it seems, had become insupportable to Mrs. Ocumpaugh. Though no
blame could be rightfully attached to her, it was certainly true that
the child had been carried off while in her charge, and however hard it
might be for _her_, few could blame the mother for wishing her removed
from the house desolated by her lack of vigilance. But she was a good
girl and felt the humiliation of her departure almost in the light of a
disgrace.

As we came again into an open portion of the lawn, she stopped short and
looked back.

"Oh!" she cried, gripping me by the arm, "there is Mrs. Ocumpaugh still
at the window. All night she has stood there, except when she flew down
to the river at the sound of some imaginary call from the boats. She
believes, she really believes, that they will yet come upon Gwendolen's
body in the dock there."

Following the direction of her glance, I looked up. Was that Mrs.
Ocumpaugh - that haggard, intent figure with eyes fixed in awful
expectancy on the sinister group I could picture to myself down at the
water's edge? Never could I have imagined such a look on features I had
always considered as cold as they were undeniably beautiful. As I took
in the misery it expressed, that awful waiting for an event momently
anticipated, and momently postponed, I found myself, without reason and
simply in response to the force of her expression, unconsciously sharing
her expectation, and with a momentary forgetfulness of all the
probabilities, was about to turn toward the spot upon which her glances
were fixed, when a touch on my arm recalled me to myself.

"Come!" whispered my trembling companion. "She may look down and see us
here."

I yielded to her persuasion and turned away into the cluster of trees
that lay between us and that opening in the hedge through which our
course lay. Had I been alone I should not have budged till I had seen
some change - any change - in the face whose appearance had so deeply
affected me.

"Mrs. Ocumpaugh certainly believes that the body of her child lies in
the water," I remarked, as we took our way onward as rapidly as
possible. "Do you know her reasons for this?"

"She says, and I think she is right so far, that the child has been bent
for a long time on fishing; that she has heard her father talk
repeatedly of his great luck in Canada last year and wished to try the
sport for herself; that she has been forbidden to go to the river, but
must have taken the first opportunity when no eye was on her to do so;
and - and - Mrs. Ocumpaugh shows a bit of string which she found last
night in the bushes alongside the tracks when she ran down, as I have
said, at some imaginary shout from the boats - a string which she
declares she saw rolled up in Gwendolen's hand when she went into the
bungalow to look at her. Of course, it may not be the same, but Mrs.
Ocumpaugh thinks it is, and - "

"Do you think it possible, after all, that the child did stray down to
the water?"

"No," was the vehement disclaimer. "Gwendolen's feet were excessively
tender. She could not have taken three steps in only one shoe. I should
have heard her cry out."

"What if she went in some one's arms?"

"A stranger's? She had a decided instinct against strangers. Never could
any one she did not know and like have carried her so far as that
without her waking. Then those men on the track, - they would have seen
her. No, Mr. Trevitt, it was not in _that_ direction she went."

The force of her emphasis convinced me that she had an opinion of her
own in regard to this matter. Was it one she was ready to impart?

"In what direction, then?" I asked, with a gentleness I hoped would
prove effective.

Her impulse was toward a frank reply. I saw her lips part and her eyes
take on the look which precedes a direct avowal, but, as chance would
have it, we came at that moment upon the thicket inclosing the bungalow,
and the sight of its picturesque walls, showing brown through the
verdure of the surrounding shrubbery, seemed to act as a check upon her,
for, with a quick look and a certain dry accent quite new in her speech,
she suddenly inquired if I did not want to see the place from which
Gwendolen had disappeared.

Naturally I answered in the affirmative and followed her as she turned
aside into the circular path which embraces this hidden retreat; but I
had rather have heard her answer to my question, than to have gone
anywhere or seen anything at that moment. Yet, when in full view of the
bungalow's open door, she stopped to point out to me the nearness of the
place to that opening in the hedge we had just been making for, and when
she even went so far as to indicate the tangled little path by which
that opening could be reached directly from the farther end of the
bungalow, I considered that my question had been answered, though in
another way than I anticipated, even before I noted the slight flush
which rose to her cheek under my earnest scrutiny.

As it is important for the exact location of the bungalow to be
understood, I subjoin a diagram of this part of the grounds:

[Illustration: LAWN EXTENDING TO THE HIGHWAY.

A The Ocumpaugh mansion. B The Bungalow. C Mrs. Carew's house. D Private
path. E Gap in hedge leading to the Ocumpaugh grounds. F Gap leading
into Mrs. Carew's grounds. G Bench at end of bungalow.]

As I took this all in, I ventured to ask some particulars of the family
living so near the Ocumpaughs.

"Who occupies that house?" I asked, pointing to the sloping roofs and


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryAnna Katharine GreenThe millionaire baby → online text (page 1 of 16)