Mary Finley Leonard.

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THE LITTLE RED CHIMNEY




[Illustration: THE CANDY MAN]




The Little Red Chimney

_Being the Love Story of a Candy Man_


BY MARY FINLEY LEONARD


Illustrations in Silhouette by KATHARINE GASSAWAY


New York - Duffield & Company - 1914


Copyright, 1914, by DUFFIELD & COMPANY

* * * * *




CONTENTS


_CHAPTER I_

In which the curtain rises on the Candy Wagon, and the leading
characters are thrown together in a perfectly logical manner by Fate.

_CHAPTER II_

In which the Candy Man walks abroad in citizen's clothes, and is
mistaken for a person of wealth and social importance.

_CHAPTER III_

In which the Little Red Chimney appears on the horizon, but without
a clue to its importance. In which also the Candy Man has a glimpse
of high life and is foolishly depressed by it.

_CHAPTER IV_

In which the Candy Man again sees the Grey Suit, and Virginia continues
the story of the Little Red Chimney.

_CHAPTER V_

In which the double life of the heroine is explained, and Augustus
McAllister proves an alibi.

_CHAPTER VI_

In which Margaret Elizabeth is discussed at the Breakfast Table; in
which also, later on, she and Virginia and Uncle Bob talk before the
fire, and in which finally Margaret Elizabeth seeks consolation by
relating to Uncle Bob her adventure in the park.

_CHAPTER VII_

Shows how the Candy Wagon is visited in behalf of the Squirrel, and how
pride suffers a fall; how Miss Bentley turns to Vedantic Philosophy to
drown her annoyance, and discovers how hard it is to forget when you
wish to.

_CHAPTER VIII_

In which the Miser's past history is touched upon; which shows how his
solitude is again invaded, and how he makes a new friend.

_CHAPTER IX_

Shows how Miss Bentley and the Reporter take refuge in a cave, and how,
in the course of the conversation which follows, she hears something
which disposes her to feel more kindly toward the Candy Man; shows also
how Uncle Bob proves faithless to his trust and his niece finds herself
locked out in consequence.

_CHAPTER X_

In which the Little Red Chimney keeps Festival, and the Candy Man
receives an unexpected invitation.

_CHAPTER XI_

In which a radical change of atmosphere is at once noticed; which shows
how Miss Bentley repents of a too coming-on disposition, and lends an
ear to the advantages of wealth.

_CHAPTER XII_

Which shows Miss Bentley recovering from a fit of what Uncle Bob calls
Cantankerousness; in which a shipwrecked letter is brought to light, and
Dr. Prue is called again to visit the child of the Park Superintendent.

_CHAPTER XIII_

In which the Candy Man relates his story, and the Miser comes upon
Volume I of the shabby book with the funny name.

_CHAPTER XIV_

Shows how Mrs. Gerrard Pennington, unhappy and distraught, beseeches
Uncle Bob to help her save Margaret Elizabeth; also how Mr. Gerrard
Pennington comes to the rescue, and how in the end his wife submits
gracefully to the inevitable, which is not so bad after all.

_CHAPTER XV_

In which the Fairy Godmother Society is again mentioned, among other
things.




ILLUSTRATIONS


THE CANDY MAN

MARGARET ELIZABETH

VIRGINIA

DR. PRUE

UNCLE BOB

THE MISER

COUSIN AUGUSTUS

MRS. GERRARD PENNINGTON




* * * * *

To
George Madden Martin

* * * * *



THE LITTLE RED CHIMNEY




CHAPTER ONE

_In which the curtain rises on the Candy Wagon, and the leading
characters are thrown together in a perfectly logical manner by
Fate_.


The Candy Wagon stood in its accustomed place on the Y.M.C.A. corner.
The season was late October, and the leaves from the old sycamores, in
league with the east wind, after waging a merry war with the janitor all
morning, had swept, a triumphant host, across the broad sidewalk, to lie
in heaps of golden brown along the curb and beneath the wheels of the
Candy Wagon. In the intervals of trade, never brisk before noon, the
Candy Man had watched the game, taking sides with the leaves.

Down the steps of the Y.M.C.A. building sauntered the Reporter.
Perceiving the Candy Wagon at the curb he paused, scrutinising it
jauntily, through a monocle formed by a thumb and finger.

The wagon, freshly emblazoned in legends of red, yellow and blue which
advertised the character and merits of its wares, stood with its
horseless shafts turned back and upward, in something of a prayerful
attitude. The Reporter, advancing, lifted his arms in imitation, and
recited: "Confident that upon investigation you will find everything as
represented, we remain Yours to command, in fresh warpaint." He seated
himself upon the adjacent carriage block and grinned widely at the
Candy Man.

In spite of a former determination to confine his intercourse with the
Reporter to strictly business lines, the Candy Man could not help a
responsive grin.

The representative of the press demanded chewing gum, and receiving it,
proceeded to remove its threefold wrappings and allow them to slip
through his fingers to the street. "Women," he said, with seeming
irrelevance and in a tone of defiance, "used to be at the bottom of
everything; now they're on top."

The Candy Man was quick at putting two and two together. "I infer you
are not in sympathy with the efforts of the Woman's Club and the Outdoor
League to promote order and cleanliness in our home city," he observed,
his eye on the débris so carelessly deposited upon the public
thoroughfare.

"Right you are. Your inference is absolutely correct. The foundations of
this American Commonwealth are threatened, and the _Evening Record_
don't stand for it. Life's made a burden, liberty curtailed, happiness
pursued at the point of the dust-pan. Here is the Democratic party of
the State pledged to School Suffrage. The Equal Rights Association is to
meet here next month, and - the mischief is, the pretty ones are taking
it up! The first thing you know the Girl of All Others will be saying,
'Embrace me, embrace my cause.' Why, my Cousin Augustus met a regular
peach of a girl at the country club, - visiting at the Gerrard
Penningtons', don't you know, and almost the first question she asked
him was did he believe in equal rights?" The Reporter paused for breath,
pushing his hat back to the farthest limit and regarding the Candy Man
curiously. "It is funny," he added, "how much you look like my Cousin
Augustus. I wonder now if he could have been twins, and one stolen by
the gypsies? You don't chance to have been stolen in infancy?"

This innocent question annoyed the Candy Man, although he ignored it,
murmuring something to the effect that the Reporter's talents pointed to
the stump. It might have been a guilty conscience or merely impatience
at such flagrant nonsense, for surely he could not reasonably object
to resembling Cousin Augustus. The Candy Man was a well-enough looking
young fellow in his white jacket and cap, but nothing to brag of, that
he need be haughty about a likeness to one so far above him in the
social scale, whom in fact he had never seen.

The Reporter lingered in thoughtful silence while some westbound
transfers purchased refreshment, then as a trio of theological students
paused at the Candy Wagon, he restored his hat to its normal position
and strolled away. On the Y.M.C.A. corner business had waked up.

For some time the Candy Wagon continued to reap a harvest from the rush
of High School boys and younger children. Morning became afternoon,
the clouds which the east wind had been industriously beating up
gathered in force, and a fine rain began to fall. The throng on the
street perceptibly lessened; the Candy Man had leisure once more to
look about him.

A penetrating mist was veiling everything; the stone church, the
seminary buildings, the tall apartment houses, the few old residences
not yet crowded out, the drug store, the confectionery - all were softly
blurred. The asphalt became a grey lake in which all the colour and
movement of the busy street was reflected, and upon whose bosom the
Candy Wagon seemed afloat. As the Candy Man watched, gleams of light
presently began to pierce the mist, from a hundred windows, from passing
street cars and cabs, from darting machines now transformed into
strange, double-eyed demons. It was a scene of enchantment, and with
pleasure he felt himself part of it, as in his turn he lit up his wagon.

The traffic officer, whose shrill whistle sounded continually above the
clang of the trolley cars and the hoarse screams of impatient machines,
probably viewed the situation differently. Given slippery streets,
intersecting car lines, an increasing throng of vehicles and
pedestrians, with a fog growing denser each moment, and the utmost
vigilance is often helpless to avert an accident. So it was now.

The Candy Man did not actually see the occurrence, but later it
developed that an automobile, in attempting to turn the corner,
skidded, grazing the front of a car which had stopped to discharge some
passengers, then crashing into a telegraph pole on the opposite side of
the street. What he did see was the frightened rush of the crowd to the
sidewalk, and in the rush, a girl, just stepping from the car, caught
and carried forward and jostled in such a manner that she lost her
footing and fell almost beneath the wheels of the Candy Wagon, and
dangerously near the hoofs of a huge draught horse, brought by its
driver to a halt in the nick of time.

The Candy Man was out and at her side in an instant, assisting her
to rise. The panic swept past them, leaving only a long-legged child
in a red tam, and a sad-faced elderly man in its wake. The Candy Man
had seen all three before. The wearer of the red tam was one of the
apartment-house children, the sad man was popularly known to the
neighbourhood as the Miser, and the girl, to whose assistance he had
sprung - well, he had seen her on two previous occasions.

As she stood in some bewilderment looking ruefully at the mud on her
gloves and skirt, the merest glance showed her to be the sort of girl
any one might have been glad to help.

"Thank you, I am not hurt - only rather shaken," she said in answer to
the Candy Man.

"Here's your bag," announced the long-legged child, fishing it out of
the soggy mass of leaves beneath the wagon. "And you need not worry
about your skirt. Take it to Bauer's just round the corner; they'll
clean it," she added.

The owner of the bag received it and the accompanying advice with an
adorable smile in which there was merriment as well as appreciation.
The Miser plucked the Candy Man by the sleeve and asked if the young
lady did not wish a cab.

She answered for herself. "Thank you, no; I am quite all right - only
muddy. But was it a bad accident? What happened?"

The Miser crossed the street where the crowd had gathered, to
investigate, and returning reported the chauffeur probably done for.
While he was gone the conductor of the street car appeared in quest of
the names and addresses of everybody within a radius of ten blocks. In
this way the Candy Man learned that her name was Bentley. She gave it
reluctantly, as persons do on such occasions, and he failed to catch
her street and number.

"I'm very sorry! I suppose there is nothing one can do?" she exclaimed,
apropos of the chauffeur, and the next the Candy Man knew she was
walking away in the mist hand in hand with the long-legged child.

"An unusually charming face," the Miser remarked, raising his umbrella.

To the sober mind "unusually charming" would seem a not unworthy
compliment, but the Candy Man, as he resumed his place in the wagon,
smiled scornfully at what he was pleased to consider its grotesque
inadequacy. If he had anything better to offer, the Miser did not stay
to hear it, but with a courteous "good evening" disappeared in his
turn in the mist. An ambulance carried away the injured man, the crowd
dispersed; the remains of the machine were towed away to a near-by
garage. Night fell; the throng grew less, the rain gathered courage and
became a downpour. There would be little doing in the way of business
to-night.

As he made ready for early closing the Candy Man fell to thinking of the
girl whose name was Bentley. Not that the name interested him save as a
means of further identification. It was a phrase used by the Reporter
this morning that occurred to him now as peculiarly applicable to her.
The Girl of All Others! He rolled it as a sweet morsel under his tongue,
undisturbed by the reflection that such descriptive titles are at
present overworked - in dreams one has no need to be original.

Neither did it strike him as incongruous that he should have seen her
first in the grocery kept by Mr. Simms, who catered to the needs of such
as got their own breakfasts, and whose boiled ham was becoming famous,
because it was really done. He went back to the experience, dwelling
with pleasure upon each detail of it, even his annoyance at the grocer's
daughter, who exchanged crochet patterns with the tailor's wife, after
the manner of a French exercise, and ignored him. It was early and
business had not yet begun on the Y.M.C.A. corner; still he could not
wait forever. The grocer himself, who was attending to the wants of a
lean and hungry-looking student, had just handed his rolls and smoked
sausage across the counter, with a cheery "Breakfast is ready, ring the
bell," when the door opened and the Girl of All Others came in.

She was tallish, but not very tall, and somewhat slight. She wore a grey
suit - the same which had suffered this afternoon from contact with the
street, and a soft felt hat of the same colour jammed down anyhow on her
bright hair and pinned with a pinkish quill - or so it looked. The face
beneath the bright hair was - - But at this point in his recollections
the Candy Man all but lost himself in a maze of adjectives and adverbs.
We know, at least, how the long-legged child ran to help, and finally
went off hand in hand with her, and what the Miser said of her, and
after all the best the Candy Man could do was to go back to the
Reporter's phrase.

He had withdrawn a little behind a stack of breakfast foods where he
could watch her, wondering that the clerks did not drop their several
customers without ceremony and fly to do her bidding. She stood beside
the counter and made overtures to a large Maltese cat who reposed there
in solemn majesty. Beside the Maltese rose a pyramid of canned goods,
and a placard announced, "Of interest to light house keepers." Upon this
her eyes rested in evident surprise. "I didn't know there were any
lighthouses in this part of the country," she said half aloud.

[Illustration: MARGARET ELIZABETH]

The Maltese laid a protesting paw upon her arm. It was not, however, the
absurdity of her remark, but the cessation of her caresses he protested
against. At the same moment her eyes met those of the Candy Man, across
the stack of breakfast foods. His were laughing, and hers were instantly
withdrawn. He saw her colour mounting as she exclaimed, addressing the
cat, "How perfectly idiotic!"

He longed to assure her it was a perfectly natural mistake, the placard
being but an amateurish affair; but he lacked the courage.

And then the grocer, having disposed of another customer, advanced to
serve her, and the grocer's daughter, it seemed, was also at leisure;
and though he would have preferred to watch the Girl of All Others doing
the family marketing in a most competent manner, a thoughtful finger
upon her lip, the Candy Man was forced to attend to his own business.
In selecting a basket of grapes and ordering them sent to St. Mary's
Hospital, he presently lost sight of her.

Once since then she had passed his corner on her way up the street.
That was all until to-night. It seemed probable that she lived in the
neighbourhood. Perhaps the Reporter would know.

Just here the recollection that he was a Candy Man brought him up short.
His bright dreams began to fade. The Girl of All Others should of course
be able to recognise true worth, even in a Candy Wagon, but such is the
power of convention he was forced to own to himself it was more than
possible she might not. Or if she did, her friends - -

But these disheartening reflections were curtailed by the sudden
appearance of a stout, grey horse under the conduct of a small boy. The
shafts were lowered, the grey horse placed between them, and, after a
few more preliminaries, the Candy Wagon, Candy Man and all, were removed
from the scene of action, leaving the Y.M.C.A. corner to the rain and
the fog, the gleaming lights, and the ceaseless clang of the trolley
cars.




CHAPTER TWO

_In which the Candy Man walks abroad in citizen's clothes, and is
mistaken for a person of wealth and social importance._


The Candy Man strolled along a park path. The October day was crisp, the
sky the bluest blue, the sunny landscape glowing with autumn's fairest
colours. It was a Sunday morning not many days after the events of the
first chapter, and back in the city the church bells were ringing for
eleven o'clock service.

In citizen's clothes, and well-fitting ones at that, the Candy Man was
a presentable young fellow. If his face seemed at first glance a trifle
stern, this sternness was offset by the light in his eyes; a steady,
purposeful glow, through which played at the smallest excuse a humorous
twinkle.

After the ceaseless stir of the Y.M.C.A. corner, the stillness of the
park was most grateful. At this hour on Sunday, if he avoided the golf
grounds, it was to all intents his own. His objective point was a rustic
arbour hung with rose vines and clematis, where was to be had a view of
the river as it made an abrupt turn around the opposite hills. Here he
might read, or gaze and dream, as it pleased him, reasonably secure from
interruption once he had possession.

The Candy Man breathed deeply, and smiled to himself. It was a day to
inspire confident dreams, for the joy of fulfilment was over the land.
Was it the sudden fear that some other dreamer might be before him, or
a subconscious prevision of what actually awaited him, that caused him
to quicken his steps as he neared the arbour? However it may have been,
as he took at a bound the three steps which led up to it, he came with
startling suddenness upon Miss Bentley entering from the other side,
her arms full of flowers. Their eyes met in a flash of recognition
which there was no time to control. She bowed, not ungraciously, yet
distantly, and with a faint puzzled frown on her brow, and he, as he
lifted his hat, spoke her name, which, as he was not supposed to know
it, he had no business to do; then they both laughed at the way in which
they had bounced in at the same moment from opposite directions.

With some remark about the delightful day, the Candy Man, as a gentleman
should, tried to pretend he was merely passing through, and though it
was but a feeble performance, Miss Bentley should have accepted it
without protest, then all would have been well. Instead, she said, still
with that puzzled half frown, "Don't go, I am only waiting here a moment
for my cousin, who has stopped at the superintendent's cottage." She
motioned over her shoulder to a vine-covered dwelling just visible
through the trees.

"Please do not put it in that way," he protested. "As if your being here
did not add tremendously to my desire to remain. I am conscious of
rushing in most unceremoniously upon you, and - - "

Hesitating there, hat in hand, his manners were disarmingly frank. Miss
Bentley laughed again as she deposited her flowers, a mass of pink and
white cosmos, upon a bench, and sat down beside them. She seemed willing
to have him put it as he liked. She wore the same grey suit and soft
felt hat, jammed down any way on her bright hair and pinned with a
pinkish quill, and was somehow, more emphatically than before, the Girl
of All Others.

How could a Candy Man be expected to know what he was about? What wonder
that his next remark should be a hope that she had suffered no ill
effects from the accident?

"None at all, thank you," Miss Bentley replied, and the puzzled
expression faded. It was as if she inwardly exclaimed, "Now I know!"
"Aunt Eleanor," she added, "was needlessly alarmed. I seem rather given
to accidents of late." Thus saying she began to arrange her flowers.

The Candy Man dropped down on the step where the view - of Miss
Bentley - was most charming, as she softly laid one bloom upon another in
caressing fashion, her curling lashes now almost touching her cheek, now
lifted as she looked away to the river, or bent her gaze upon the
occupant of the step.

"Do you often come here?" she asked, adding when he replied that this
was the third time, that she thought he had rather an air of
proprietorship.

He laughed at this, and explained how he had set out to pay a visit to
a sick boy at St. Mary's Hospital, but had allowed the glorious day to
tempt him to the park.

Below them on the terraced hillside a guard sat reading his paper;
across the meadow a few golfers were to be seen against the horizon.
All about them the birds and squirrels were busily minding their own
affairs; above them smiled the blue, blue sky, and the cousin, whoever
he or she might be, considerately lingered.

Like the shining river their talk flowed on. Beginning like it as a
shallow stream, it broadened and deepened on its way, till presently
fairy godmothers became its theme.

Miss Bentley was never able to recall what led up to it. The Candy Man
only remembered her face, as, holding a crimson bloom against her cheek,
she smiled down upon him thoughtfully, and asked him to guess what she
meant to do when some one left her a fortune. "I have a strange
presentiment that some one is going to," she said.

"How delightful!" he exclaimed, but did not hazard a guess, and she
continued without giving him a chance: "I shall establish a Fairy
Godmother Fund, the purpose of which shall be the distribution of good
times; of pleasures large and small, among people who have few or none."

"It sounds," was the Candy Man's comment, "like the minutes of the first
meeting. Please explain further. How will you select your beneficiaries?"

"I don't like your word," she objected. "Beneficiaries and fairy
godmothers somehow do not go together. Still, I see what you mean, and
while I have not as yet worked out the plan, I'm confident it could be
managed. Suppose we know a poor teacher, for instance, who has nothing
left over from her meagre salary after the necessary things are provided
for, and who is, we'll say, hungry for grand opera. We would enclose
opera tickets with a note asking her to go and have a good time, signed,
'Your Fairy Godmother,' and with a postscript something like this, 'If
you cannot use them, hand them on to another of my godchildren.' Don't
you think she would accept them?"

Under the spell of those lovely, serious eyes, the Candy Man rather
thought she would.

"Of course," Miss Bentley went on, "it must be a secret society, never
mentioned in the papers, unknown to those you call its beneficiaries.
In this way there will be no occasion or demand for gratitude. No
obligations will be imposed upon the recipients - that word is as bad as
yours - let's call them godchildren - and the fairy godmother will have
her fun in giving the good times, without bothering over whether they
are properly grateful."

"You seem to have a grievance against gratitude," said the Candy Man
laughing.

"I have," she owned.

"There are people who contend that there is little or none of it in the
world," he added.

"And I am not sure it was meant there should be - much of it, I mean. It
is an emotion - would you call it an emotion?"

"You might," said the Candy Man.

"Well, an emotion that turns to dust and ashes when you try to
experience it, or demand it of others," concluded Miss Bentley with
emphasis. "And you needn't laugh," she added.

The Candy Man disclaimed any thought of such a thing. He was profoundly
serious. "It is really a great idea," he said. "A human agency whose
benefits could be received as we receive those of Nature or
Providence - as impersonally."

She nodded appreciatively. "You understand." And they were both aware
of a sense of comradeship scarcely justified by the length of their
acquaintance.

"May I ask your ideas as to the amount of this fund?" he said.


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