Louise Edna Dearborn Keesing.

Before the war; or, The return of Hugh Crawford online

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HUGH CRAWFORD






THE LIBRARY

OF
THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA
LOS ANGELES




THE MAN WAS HUGH CRAWFORD,
AND THE WOMAN



BEFORE THE WAR

OR,

The Return of Hugh Crawford



BY

ELDEE KEESING



ILLUSTRATED

BY
ROBERT J. DAVISON



SEATTLE, WASH.
1915

PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR



COPYRIGHT 1915

BY
ELDEE KEESING



PRESS OF

CURTIS-JOHNSON PRINTING CO.
CHICAGO, ILL.







DEDICATED

TO
MY MOTHER






1966151



INDEX

CHAPTER PAGE

I. A WHITE CHRISTMAS 1

II. LOVE S YOUNG DREAM 13

III. A MAN OF PLEASURE 27

IV. MARRIAGE BY REGISTRAR 39

V. RIFTS 57

VI. ELEANOR 71

VII. BROKEN PROMISES 85

VIII. MAN S INHUMANITY 97

IX. MANAGING AUNT ELLEN Ill

X. WHEN You PLAY WITH LOVE 129

XL I WANT TO BE FREE 145

XII. DIVORCE 163

XIII. AN ACCIDENT 185

XIV. A WARNING 201

XV. THE REVOLUTIONISTS 211

XVI. THE JAPANESE IDOL 221

XVII. THE WAY OF THE TRANSGRESSOR 233

XVIII. SONIA, COUNTESS RAMONIFF 243

XIX. ST. PETERSBURG 261

XX. BURNING BRIDGES 273

XXI. AN OLD WEDDING RING 281

XXII. SUCCESSFUL 293



ILLUSTRATIONS

THE MAN WAS HUGH CRAWFORD, AND

THE WOMAN Frontispiece

PAGE

THE RUSSIAN THREW HIMSELF BACK

AMONG THE CUSHIONS 139

To OUR LITTLE FATHER ! To OUR CZAR 226



Vll



Before The War, or The Return
of Hugh Crawford



CHAPTER I.

A WHITE CHRISTMAS.

It was Christmas night. The moon was shining from a sky
dotted with stars and the moon-beams streamed into the snow-
covered garden of the old Hamilton place, making a wierd,
mysterious picture of lights and shadows as it fell on tree and
bough; even beautifying the bare branches of the trees with
its silvery splendor.

Anne Hamilton stood at the window of her room, gazing
into the night, watching for Hugh Crawford. She and her
aunt owned the beautiful old house they lived in, but it was
Miss Hamilton alone who managed everything ; from the edu
cation of Anne, whom she loved with protective tenderness, to
the smallest particular of comfort and elegance of their daily
life. She paid everything and she was never idle, and though
naturally aggressive, was a lovable, womanly woman of fine
intelligence and upright nature.

Anne was a small, dark creature with magnificent black eyes,
and of the type that remains immutable in spite of per
suasions. In all her healthy, well-guarded life she had been
kept ignorant of the world and its dangers but she was so in
tense so excessively temperamental, thrilling with the
exuberance of youth and the joy of living, that she con
stantly shocked her practical aunt. She came of gentle peo-



2 RETURN OF HUGH CRAWFORD

pie, for her mother was the daughter of a peer and her father
was a highly cultured Scotch-American who, with his only
sister, had inherited some money, which by shrewd invest
ments he had made into a great fortune. It was while on
one of his business trips to Great Britain that he met, wooed,
and won Anne Ridgway and brought her to his home in
La Conner.

A year later the lovely English girl lay in a huge, old-
fashioned bed of the great chamber, staring into the pink,
crumpled face of the little daughter beside her. With lov
ing hands she touched the soft, curling, black hair crowning
the tiny babe, then turned to her husband.

Donald Hamilton, humbly kneeling beside the bed, tried
to return his dying wife s smile as she seemed to settle down
nearer the child. When she gathered her failing strength,
and lay her arms around her husband s neck, he made an
effort to speak, but she would not have heard, for, with a
deep sigh of happiness, the young wife passed quietly away.

Heredity is a strange thing.

Many years before our story, the grandfather of Donald
Hamilton had married a Spanish woman. She had lived to
a great age, much loved for her impulsive warmth of heart,
greatly admired for her dark, picturesque beauty, and greatly
feared for her sharp temper. She had worried, and stormed,
and raged, because none of the Hamilton children, or grand
children, looked like her. They were a sturdy, red-haired
family, showing no trace of the Spanish blood infused into
their race, but if the old lady could have seen Anne, she
would have been gratified, for the great-granddaughter born
in America to Donald Hamilton and his blond English wife,
was distinctly of Spanish type.

"Why, she s like Grandmother!" Miss Hamilton gasped,
when the nurse brought the child to her. She looked with
perplexity at the dark creature with the mass of blue-black



A WHITE CHRISTMAS. 3

hair and great dark eyes, so like the portrait hanging in the
parlor. "Yes!" she muttered. "She s Spanish."

The baby, gentle and ingratiating in manner, wound her
self around her aunt s heart and when Donald Hamilton
died, he gave his little daughter Anne into his sister s lov
ing care.

"You ve been like a mother to me, Mary, and you ll guard
her?"

"Indeed I will, Donald. She s our own blood and I m
thankful to have her."

Donald Hamilton did not smile, but a happy expression was
on his face, fixed by the Great Sculptor, and Mary Hamilton,
bending her head over the little child left to her care, gave
vent to the tremendous sorrow which tore her heart and
soul, and cried as if her heart would break.

Relatives in England tried to get possession of the child
but she was under her aunt s guardianship until her eight
eenth birthday, and Miss Hamilton devoted her life to the
girl.

Anne, dark and vivacious, but with a langourous charm of
manner, was not aggressive and usually attained her desires
by insidious perseverance hidden under a patient demeanor.
She had the Scotch strength of will, and when she saw she
could not cajole, would storm, or doggedly wait for what
she desired. She was not militant, as was her aunt, although
she made a slave of that warlike lady.

She was ripening into womanhood and wanted to dance
and sing and work, not knowing that nature was arousing her
emotions. She often electrified her aunt by her astoundingly
unreserved queries. For instance, one summer s day, she
was in the garden quietly sewing under Miss Hamilton s
direction.

"Why do most people get married? "Why didn t you?"
she asked impulsively, and seeing that her aunt changed
color and stared, she added politely. "Didn t you want to?"



4 RETURN OF HUGH CRAWFORD

"Yes, I wanted to marry, dear."

"Well," persisted the girl, "why didn t you?"

"The man I loved didn t ask me," Miss Hamilton an
swered simply though she was much annoyed and added
severely, "I am surprised at your question, Anne. I can t
understand such unnatural curiosity. Has any-one been talk
ing nonsense to you? When I was young, girls didn t think
of such things, but I suppose it s the fault of co-education
of allowing intimacies between boys and girls."

The good lady would have been astonished had she known
how many hours Anne and Hugh Crawford spent together,
and how completely the youth had magnetized the heart out
of the sweet, sensitive girl s keeping, but Miss Hamilton did
not take Crawford seriously, although she was not sorry
that he was leaving La Conner, and considered him a silly
young fool.

"His trip to Europe will put an end to their boy and girl
flirtation and Anne will forget him after a month or two.
She is not the kind to sit in a corner and mope for an absent
lover, and there is nothing serious between them," she
thought. "They ll imagine they are heartbroken for a day
or two."

But she didn t understand the nature of the girl she loved
so devotedly.

"In a few years you ll be getting married, too," she told
Anne after they returned from the Deak-Hardeen wedding
in New York where Anne had been one of the bridesmaids.
"Some day a fairy prince will come for you and lead you to
the altar, and you ll have the protection of a good man s
love."

"Perhaps he will come in disguise," Anne laughed,
shrewdly looking into her aunt s eyes. "He might be here
now."

"I am quite sure he is not," Miss Hamilton answered with
asperity. "You ll recognize him when he appears."



A WHITE CHRISTMAS. 5

The conversation had dropped when Dora brought tea.
The elderly woman glanced uneasily at the girl. "I wonder
if I ever will understand the child," she mused. "She s so
different from the rest of us." She would have been more
perplexed if she could have looked in on Anne s mind.

Christmas night had come again and little Anne waited
for Hugh Crawford. He was going to Berlin to complete
his medical studies, and she was disturbed. She knew his
pleasure-loving nature, and fear, coupled with a surge of
sorrow, swept over her. The poignancy of grief was a new
experience to the girl who could not understand the agony
of presentiment which oppressed her.

"I m selfish and unreasonable," she thought sombrely,
"and Hugh is gentle and kind, just as a doctor should be. /
believe in him. If he were poor, he d do big things. Auntie
says he has the capacity to learn and could make himself
famous, but he s not serious. She says his money is too new,
and you have to learn how to be rich and enjoy a sane life.
She thinks he wants to go to Europe to enjoy himself, and
not to study but she never did appreciate Hugh.

She tapped her fingers nervously on the window-panes and
her scarlet lips trembled at some thought. She looked sad
and unattractive until a tall figure appeared around the cor
ner and entered the gate; then her face bloomed into
sparkling beauty and her eyes grew blacker, while her heart
seemed to stop beating as she watched Crawford approach
the house.

She silently slipped from her room and ran down the hall
to the great staircase, meeting him when he entered the hall.
Entirely oblivious of the maid he came eagerly toward Anne
with both hands outstretched.

Hugh Crawford was a vivid picture of manhood. The bril
liant color of his golden hair and magnificent complexion
made him almost uncanny in beauty, and he seemed to
bring a rush of tingling, fresh air in with him. Anne looked



6 RETURN OF HUGH CRAWFORD

very small and dark beside him, yet her eyes held him cap
tive when she laughingly gave the Christmas greeting, and
he smiled at her with adoring fervency.

"I brought you a little remembrance, Anne. I wanted
you to have it before you went to church." He put a small
packet in her hand.

"Oh, Hugh! What is it?" she exclaimed. "Wait until
I open it."

"No, I can t stay a minute. I want to finish my good
bye calls." He looked at her meaningly. "I ll see you at
church."

With a parting nod he stepped out in the air and went
swinging out of the gate. The world was fine to the young
American and his spirits were soaring on the wings of am
bition, while he had not the slightest fear that anything, or
anybody, could stop his rise to honor and renown, and al
ready he was picturing his triumphant return to La Conner.

Anne watched the door close upon him, then she lightly
ran upstairs to her rooms. What had Hugh given her?
She had some difficulty in undoing the wrapping, for her
nervous fingers were trembling with happiness and curiosity,
but she at last opened the box and started with an exclama
tion of delight when she saw her lover s face smiling at her
from the golden setting of a locket.

"Oh, how lovely! How dear of him to think of what I
really wanted." She leaned over the miniature, then shyly
kissed the pictured face before fastening the slender chain
around her throat and slipping the locket under the collar
of her dress. "I can t show it to auntie just yet," she mur
mured. "I ll tell her to-morrow." There was an unusual
flush on her smooth olive cheeks and excitement made her
beautiful eyes brilliant. The festive spirit of the season
seemed to possess her and a delightful expectation, deeper
than any feeling she had ever known, came over her when
she thought of Crawford. As eight o clock approached, she



A WHITE CHRISTMAS. 1

put on her hat and slipped into her fur coat. She took a
last glance in the mirror at the smart, glowing little figure,
and snatching up her muff, stepped into the hall.

"Are you ready, auntie?" she called as she fastened her
gloves, smiling with engaging sweetness when Miss Hamil
ton answered by leaving her room and looking appreciatively
at the rosy-cheeked girl.

"It s cold, so we mustn t keep the horses waiting," her
aunt said briskly. "Yes, I m ready."

They walked down the stairs, side by side, and when they
opened the front door, Christmas seemed to be in the very
air, and the children trooping past the large, square, formal
house, set far back from the street, shouted salutes.

For a few minutes the slender girl and stout lady stood in
the blaze of light at the open door, replying to the merry
greetings.

"Isn t Christmas grand!" Anne cried, throwing her furred
arms around the dignified lady. "I m so happy. Isn t it
good to be alive?"

"I m glad you re happy but you needn t knock my bonnet
off," Miss Hamilton grumbled, trying to conceal her irrita
tion. The girl s sudden and energetic expressions of affec
tion always embarrassed the straight-laced woman, and she
severely followed the dancing, svelte figure down the wide
steps and into the big sleigh, piled with fur rugs.

With a great jingling of bells, they sped over the white
roads, some fleecy snow floating from the trees decorating
them with great splashes of white, and when the coachman
drew up in front of the church, the two women, nodding
and laughing while they shook the snow from their garments,
passed through a huge open door that disclosed a wealth of
warmth, light, and brightness the glories of an immense
Christmas tree dominating the interior.

Anne s heart gave a great bound of joy when she saw
Hugh Crawford waiting near the door. He drew a long



8 RETURN OF HUOH CRAWFORD

breath when he looked at her (but he had not disdained
looking with appraising eyes at the other girls around him
while he waited.)

Crawford was twenty-two and felt that he knew a great
deal of the world. He was quite satisfied with himself and
fully aware of his own physical charms, and did not scorn
posing.

His eyes met Anne s and the girl s jubilant happiness
showed in her face when she looked at him through her
thick lashes, and Crawford, unreservedly proud and happy,
returned the glance ardently.

The news of his going to Europe created much interest in
the little church and friends gathered around with fervid
good wishes and merry prophecies. Many tried to insist that
winter was the worst time of the year to cross the Atlantic, but
he intended to spend a few months in Germany before enter
ing the University, and his passage was engaged for the first
week in January.

For the moment he forgot everything but the girl, and he
was in a happy mood of expectancy when he went forward to
meet her.

From childhood they had been fond of each other. They
moved in the same circle, and although Anne was the rich
est girl in the State, Crawford knew she was his for the
asking.

"When Anne gets that deep look in her eyes she s a stun
ning beauty and I m going to marry her," he decided, for
there was none of the hopeless lover in Hugh Crawford.
Modesty was never one of his virtues, but his debonair assur
ance was not unbecoming and he floated over the course of
existence, affable, generous, a "prince of good fellows," and
liked by every one, except Miss Hamilton.

"Oh, Hugh ! It was just what I wanted," Anne whispered,
laying her hand over her bosom, and Crawford knew that
she wore his locket. "I don t know how to thank you."



A WHITE CHRISTMAS. 9

He glowed with distinct gratification in discovering that
she stole timorous glances up at him, quite unlike her usual
careless smiles, and he did not speak but pressed her arm.

"In a couple of weeks you will be in Europe," she whis
pered. "It seems so far away."

"I am here tonight, Anne. Don t think of anything sad.
I want it to be the happiest night of my life. I m going to
ask Miss Hamilton to let me take you home. I have some
thing important to tell you."

Reluctantly Miss Hamilton consented, and coming home
from the church Christmas tree, Hugh Crawford asked Anne
to be his wife. She had known that they belonged to each
other had felt so ever since they were children, but there
had been no love-making.

Crawford faltered and stammered, finding his feelings toe
deep to express. In spite of his emotion, the thought of
going away did not carry a pain to his heart, as it did to
Anne s, although he was under the spell of her sweetness and
felt the power of love.

"You promise to marry me, Anne?" He drew her master
fully, closely almost roughly into his arms. "Kiss me and
give me your promise, darling."

For an instant she held her breath and looked into his eyes,
then gave him her first kiss. Something seemed to unlock
the wonders of the world to Crawford, and his heart fluttered
as madly as hers. Life was a fairy romance and the future
promised heavenly sweetness. "Tell me that you love me,"
he whispered.

She murmured her answer, and slowly under the shadow
of the leafless trees, they walked homewards, the beauty of
the Christmas night unnoticed.

"We must tell auntie," Anne ventured nervously. "She
may not want us to marry."

"What s the use of worrying her now," Crawford whis
pered. "It only concerns ourselves, and we can tell her when



10 RETURN OF HUGH CRAWFORD

we are ready," but noticing the pain in Anne s face, his tone
changed, his face quivered and he bent tenderly over her.
"Do just as you want to, dear," he yielded fondly.

"I ll tell her some other time," Anne answered quietly.
"It shall be our secret for the present."

-A man seems to feel the domination of love more intensely
than does a girl, and fear of the terrible power of passion
makes him timorous, but a girl accepts things and has ro
mantic dreams and desires for love-making, and, without
reasoning, knows things a man only learns from experience.

When Dora, who had been Anne s nurse but now was her
maid, opened the door, she whispered that Miss Hamilton
was already at home.

"We won t disturb her," Anne said easily. "Auntie must
be tired out with Christmas work. It is not necessary to
call her."

Crawford was in high sprits and followed her into the
cozy reception room that led to the parlor. Everything was
going to be as he wished the future promised to be perfect,
for his whole heart was engrossed in his love for Anne.

"You will never change, dear?" he a sked as he stood be
side her. "You will not forget me?"

"Why do you go away now, if you have any doubt?" the
girl retorted quickly. "Wait a few months. I will be eight
een, and I will go with you. Our marriage would not inter
fere with your studies. I can t bear to think of your going
to a strange country without me."

Crawford smiled at her. "No, dear, it would not do. I
am going away to work and if we were married, I would want
to be with you always." He was very handsome and manly
when he added, "I m going to make you proud of your hus
band-to-be, Anne."

He loosened her furs and threw them on the table and
drew her into the large, old-fashioned parlor. It was an im
mense, high-ceilinged room, with crystal chandeliers and



A WHITE CHRISTMAS. 11

gilded mirrors, stately and comfortable, warm and velvet-
carpeted, and the great fireplace was piled with glowing logs.
His hand sought hers as they sat on a couch in a corner, and
with her head resting on his shoulder, they cheerfully planned
their future.

But Anne s heart grew heavy, and again she begged him
not to go without her.

"You are so handsome, Hugh. :_I m afraid someone may
win you from me," she argued jealously. "Ah, if you loved
me as I do you, you would wait for me."

He put his arm about her and drew her close. "Don t you
trust me, dear?" he interrogated. "Don t be afraid, dar
ling," he added passionately, "I love you. I will be true to
you, but marriage will hamper me, and if you love me you
will not cramp my our future. Surely our affection is strong
enough to bear this separation."

Love and confidence opened the glory of life to her and she
laid her face close to his, believing in his faith and promises.
The future beckoned with alluring delights and her love, up
lifted by pride, gained strength. He was her Hugh, her
husband-to-be.

They were oblivious to time until they heard Miss Hamilton
speaking querulously to a servant.

It must be late I must go, darling, Crawford whispered.
Say good-bye before your aunt comes. He kissed her warm,
responsive lips. "You will love me always, Anne?"

"Always," she replied solemnly, "but will you never
change? You will meet such beautiful women, Hugh, and I
am not even pretty."

Again he kissed her and her uplifted eyes found a sweet
answer to her fears.

"No one can ever be so beautiful to me as you are, Sweet
heart," he asserted and let her slip from his arms just as Miss
Hamilton, bustling and smiling, entered the room.



12 RETURN OF HUGH CRAWFORD

Crawford s train was to leave shortly after midnight and
there wasn t much time for friendly God-speeds, but the man,
young, handsome, rich and confident, proudly faced the world
with Anne s promise in his mind and her kisses on his lips.

When he had gone, the girl went to her room and, press
ing her treasured locket against her heart, stood at her win
dow gazing through the silvery sheen of the night, trying to
pierce through the shadows of the future. Her nature was in
tense and passionate and thinking of her promise to Craw
ford, she bowed her head and murmured, "until death us
do part."



CHAPTER II.
Love s Young Dream.



13



CHAPTER II.

LOVE S YOUNG DREAM.

After his arrival in Europe, Crawford wrote interesting
though brief letters, telling of his new experiences, friends,
and sometimes of his studies, but he never mentioned a hope
of returning to claim Anne for his w-ife.

She loved him with the splendid passion of youth and felt
miserable and uneasy when he raved over th e beauty of some
of the women he met. One day Dora brought her a thick
letter bearing the German post-mark. The girl tore it open
with a beating heart, smiled at its unusual length, and read
and re-read words that restored her confidence.

"And again I am in Vienna," Crawford wrote. "You will
think I do not attend my lectures and will never get down
to hard work at the University, but I return to Berlin in a few
days ; and never mind, Anne dearest, if I m not made of the
stuff that famous men are made of, my laziness will give a
better man a chance ; but I 11 get my degree and frame it for
you some day. I wish you could meet some of the splen
did people here, and that I could show you the wonderful
places we used to dream of when we were kids ; but you are in
La Conner, and I am here without you. "Wouldn t it be won
derful if you were in London when I go there which will be
in November."

Blissfully happy, Anne joyously wrote that she would meet
him, directed and sealed the letter, eager to send her message
on its way, but her face grew sorrowful when she remembered
her aunt, and with loving intuition she concluded not to send
her reply until she had told Miss Hamilton of her decision.
The girl was in her sitting-room, an immense, old-fashioned
apartment paneled and hung with golden-tinted hangings.

15



16 RETURN OF HUGH CRAWFORD

The small square panes of the windows made strange bars of
light on the rich carpet, quiet and correct in color, and toned
with the perfect furnishings of the room. Anne loved solitude
at times, and knew that no one would disturb her if her door
were closed, but she rose and opened it, calling to Miss
Hamilton.

She did not know that nervousness made her voice shrill,
and stared when her aunt ran to her, crying, "What is the
matter, Anne ? Have you bad news ?

" No ! Oh, no, indeed ! She tried to speak naturally, but
stammered and blushed. "Hugh is well. I want to speak of
his letter. He is going to London in the autumn."

Miss Hamilton looked relieved. "Is that so?" she said,
her face clearing before Anne s words. She had, from time to
time suspected that Anne was engaged to Crawford, and could
not understand the girl s desire for personal independence and
secretive wish to keep her love affair to herself. Her pride
and affection rankled at Anne s want of confidence.

The truth was that Anne had been afraid to confide in her
aunt, remembering Miss Hamilton s antagonism to Crawford,
and Hugh had written such peculiar such friendly letters,
that she was beginning to fear his love had changed, and had
even imagined he wanted to break their engagement. But now
she could tell her aunt that she was going to him, and that all


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Online LibraryLouise Edna Dearborn KeesingBefore the war; or, The return of Hugh Crawford → online text (page 1 of 18)