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 The town of Farrandale was en gala. It was the annual day of rejoicing in its own success and prosperity. Everybody was happy except Miss Frink’s horses. The new coachman had drawn the check reins too tight. They didn’t like the streamers of bunting; they had objected to the band; and just as Miss Frink, always the queen of the occasion, rose in her carriage to say a few words to her fellow townsmen, a corner of a temporary platform near them gave way, and the celebrated bays, Rex and Regina, did what for some minutes they had been nervously contemplating: they bolted. The coachman’s efforts irritated them still more. Miss Frink was thrown violently against the side of her chariot, and in the mad, crashing gallop that ensued she saw her end in the sharp curve of the railroad they were heading for, and the advance of an oncoming express train. Some one else saw it, too, and, springing from the side of the road, caught the bridle and was dragged until one of the horses fell down entangled in the reins the coachman had dropped when he[27] jumped. The shouting crowd leaping after the runaway found a very much-shaken queen of the fête, and an unconscious man lying in the road with a gash in his head, his hair matted with blood. The express train crashed by. It was a flyer that ignored even the thriving little city of Farrandale. Never was Miss Frink’s indomitable spirit more regnant than in the present catastrophe. Somebody picked up the dazed coachman, who proved to be intact and able to help disentangle the fallen Rex and get him to his feet; while others lifted the unconscious hero. Motors came flying to the scene. In one was Miss Frink’s secretary, Leonard Grimshaw, and a pretty young woman with pure white hair. The latter fell upon Miss Frink with horrified exclamations; while the secretary also rushed to the victoria and stood beside it. “Oh, had you only allowed me to drive with you, dear lady!” he mourned.
“Yes, probably the horses wouldn’t have run away,” returned Miss Frink irritably. She readjusted her fallen eyeglasses. “Adèle, kindly leave my bonnet alone.”
“But it is on the side, dear Aunt Susanna.”
Miss Frink looked past them to the unconscious burden being lifted from the ground.
“Has any one sent for the ambulance?” exclaimed the secretary nervously. “Oh, how shocking, dear Miss Frink! What might have happened! It makes my blood run cold.”
“It must run cold if you think I’m going to send that man off in an ambulance,” announced Miss Frink. “Here, lift him into your car, Grim, and Adèle, you go for Dr. Morton and bring him to the house.”
“The house, Miss Frink?” asked the secretary. “Don’t you mean the hospital, dear lady?”
“No, I do not,” snapped the “dear lady.”
One of the gathering crowd came up with a dusty suitcase. “This must be his,” he said, and the secretary accepted it, gloomily.
Adèle Lumbard gave one look at the unconscious face of the rescuer as he was lifted into the waiting car and Miss Frink took the place beside him, then she jumped into an eagerly offered motor and sped away.
Miss Frink leaned out and addressed the shaken coachman.
“Get the horses home somehow, Foley.” Then to the increasing crowd: “It is my wish that you go on with the programme. I am not hurt in the least, and later Mr. Grimshaw or Mrs. Lumbard will represent me.”
She steadied the form of the injured man beside her while her secretary drove toward the house on the outskirts of the town. His brow was exceedingly dark. He was afraid the cut on the stranger’s head would stain the upholstery of the car. Once he turned toward his employer and made a last effort.
“You know they give them the very best care at the hospital,” he suggested.
“Leonard Grimshaw, I am a lady of the old school,” returned Miss Frink. “Everybody was not rushed off to a hospital in my young days. I probably wouldn’t be here if it was not for this young man, and I am going to supervise personally every bone in his body. Drive carefully. We’ll get there as soon as Dr. Morton does.”
Her secretary resigned himself, and gave his attention to avoiding the bumps as a matter of self-preservation.
Miss Frink was attired in her best in honor of the state occasion. Her bonnet of black maline was decorated with white roses, and the maline lace-edged strings were tied under her chin. Her handsome dress and wrap were of black satin. Her hair, though streaked with silver, still gave the impression of being dark, and it was crimped in the even waves which had[30] framed her face for forty years. The face itself, though lined, was still firm in texture, and her dark, alert eyes were bright. If she ever wore spectacles, it must have been in the privacy of her own room. The eyeglasses on their slender black ribbon were as inseparable from her appearance as a feature of her face.
She looked through them now at the unconscious form beside her, and her spontaneous thought was: “He is too handsome! I hope I haven’t killed him!”
The stranger’s long legs were stretched out in the spacious car, and, as his shoulders slid, Miss Frink put her arm around them the better to steady him, and looked anxiously at the matted hair, relieved to see that it seemed to have stanched the wound.
“Grim,” she called, “it seems to have stopped bleeding.”
“I hope so,” was the reply, fears for that upholstery soothed. He turned about enough to behold the amazing sight of his employer holding in her embrace the stalwart and fallen figure.
“Did you ever see such a beauty, Grim?” Miss Frink’s eyes were fixed on the face on her breast. “What a mercy he wasn’t disfigured!”
The secretary’s nostrils dilated. “It won’t matter much, if it’s concussion of the brain,” he remarked curtly.
“Grim! Don’t!” exclaimed the lady; and at the same moment the stranger’s eyelids flickered and the lashes she had been admiring lifted. The hero blinked and looked up, dazed, into the face bending over him. About her lips flickered a small smile of intense relief.
In a weak voice Hugh spoke: “Have you got a cigarette?”
“Grim, he wants a cigarette,” said Miss Frink, her voice wavering. “Have you got one?”
“Miss Frink,” exclaimed the secretary, justly shocked. “You ought to know—”
“Yes, I suppose so, but you see when the cat’s away, how do I know what you play? It would be convenient if you happened to—”
“Oh, the devil,” said Hugh, as he tried to move.
“What is it? What hurts?” asked Miss Frink anxiously.
“I don’t know, my shoulder, I guess. What’s doing, anyway?” inquired the sufferer feebly, beginning to realize his satin environment.
“You caught the horses and were dragged. Don’t you remember? You saved my life.”
Slowly Hugh cerebrated while his pensive eyes gazed up into the dark ones.
“And I’m so thankful to hear you speak, I could weep if I ever did, but I don’t indulge.”
John Ogden came floating back into the dazed, aching head, and all that had preceded his coming here.
“What did he call you just now?” asked Hugh with feeble incredulity.
“Miss Frink. I’m Miss Frink,”—with energy, “and I don’t want to die, and you saved my life.”
At this Hugh moved his head a little in the encircling satin, and he made an inarticulate sound. It was feeble, but it was trying to be a laugh, and Miss Frink appreciated the beauty of it.
“Yes, it is sort of funny saving an old woman, isn’t it, instead of a lovely young girl as it would be in the story-books?”
“I was thinking—” said Hugh. “Are you—Susanna?”
“Why, yes. How did you know it?”
“Because I have a letter of introduction to you—that’s why I laughed.”
“I should think you might,” dryly. “You are certainly introduced.—Grim,” sharply, “what are you doing!” The secretary’s feelings[33] were such that he had increased his speed and jounced over a rough spot that made Hugh wince.
“Better not talk,” said Miss Frink. “We’re nearly there.”
Dr. Morton was waiting for them. Adèle Lumbard had told him that Aunt Susanna had a young Greek god in captivity, but that he needed some restoring.
It proved that the cut in Hugh’s head required a few stitches, and that his left arm was broken. Miss Frink still insisting that her home should be Hugh’s only hospital, he found himself finally installed in a handsome, spacious room with a competent and peremptory nurse.
On Miss Frink’s first visit to his bedside, where he lay with but one of the blue eyes peering out from his bandages, and his swathed arm resting on a pillow, he protested.
“Miss Frink, it’s all absurd,” he said. “I don’t need a nurse any more than a toad needs a tail. I can take care of myself perfectly. I have my right hand. If you’ll just send up some chow once in a while—”
“Chow,” interrupted Miss Frink thoughtfully. “You were in the war, of course.”
“Of course,” said Hugh, smiling at her tone,[34] but with teeth set owing to an assortment of twinges.
“You must have been wonderful!”
“Oh, I was. Ask Pershing. Say, Miss Frink, I don’t like to be all this unnecessary expense to you.”
Miss Frink continued to look down at him reflectively. As John Ogden had said, she liked prosperous folk and had little patience with derelicts. Had she seen Hugh a few days ago shuffling along on his way to his job, unshaven, shabby, and careless, she certainly would not have looked at him twice, or if she had done so would have dilated disgusted nostrils at the odor of his cigarette; but John Ogden had sent his protégé forth from the hands of a good tailor and barber; and, had he known the disaster which befell that fine new suit, would have rubbed his hands in triumph.
“Don’t fret about expense,” said Miss Frink. “If it were not for you, I shouldn’t sign any more checks; and, speaking of checks, where is yours for your trunk? We must send for it.”
“It’s there in my pocketbook with my letter of introduction.”
Miss Frink, taking this as permission, found the pocketbook. She looked at the marking thereon. “Hugh Stanwood,” she read aloud.[35] “That is odd,” she said. “Stanwood is one of our family names.” She looked toward the bed with a little twitch of her lips. “Perhaps we are related.”
“Who knows?” returned Hugh, who was longing for a cigarette.
“May I read this letter of introduction?”
“It is yours,” he answered.
Miss Frink read it attentively. “John Ogden,” she said aloud as she reached the signature. “I congratulate you on your friend. I respect John Ogden very much.”
“So he does you,” returned Hugh feebly, turning his bandaged head with a weary movement that his hostess was quick to notice.
He was wishing he had never seen John Ogden, and that he was back, a free Bolshevist without the headache, packing boxes with both hands in a basement, to pay for his hall bedroom and hot dogs.
Miss Frink, who had sent the nurse out of the room when she entered, went back to the bedside, and opened a package she had brought in with her. Hugh’s one violet eye rolled toward her listlessly. It suddenly brightened. Miss Frink had never looked so shame-faced in her life.
“You see, I went out and bought them myself,[36] and not having the least idea what you liked I told the man to give me a variety.” The handsome box she opened held a number of packages of cigarettes, all of a different brand, and the lover-like smile Hugh gave her as his eager right hand shot out made color come up in the guilty face.
“Perhaps the nurse won’t let you, I don’t know,” she said hurriedly—“here, let me strike the match for you, it is awful to have only one hand!”
The cigarette was lighted, Miss Frink called the nurse, and fled to the study where her secretary was busily sorting papers at his desk. He was a smooth-shaven man in his late thirties, immaculate in appearance, his retreating hair giving him a very high forehead, and his small mouth with its full lips seeming an appropriate gateway for his voice and speech which were unfortunately effeminate.
“Grim,” said Miss Frink upon her sudden entrance, “Mr. Stanwood has been put in the White Room and the nurse is with him—Hello, Adèle, I didn’t see you.”
Mrs. Lumbard rose from the floor where she had been sitting Turkish fashion near the book-shelves.
“I was looking for that ‘Life of Mozart,’[37] Aunt Susanna. I thought the ‘Lives of the Musicians’ were on this lowest shelf.”
“No, upper. Take the ladder. Grim, I want you to go up to Mr. Stanwood’s room and get his suit of clothes, and pack them in a box and send them to his tailor with an order to duplicate the suit at once. Explain that he has been in an accident, and that the clothes and bill are to be sent to me. Here’s his trunk check. Get that, too. Adèle, why are you here? You know I wanted you to go back to the festivities.”
“I did, Aunt Susanna,” said the young woman with conscious rectitude. “I listened to the speeches and applauded, and answered a thousand questions about you. Why, you’re perfectly wonderful, Aunt Susanna. Any other woman would be lying in bed in a darkened room with a bandage around her head.”
“One bandage in the family is sufficient,” said Miss Frink, with a little excited laugh. “That poor boy upstairs looks as if he had been through the wars. And he did”—she turned acutely toward her secretary—“he did go through the war.”
Grimshaw lifted his high forehead in an injured manner. “If that is aimed at me, Miss Frink, I will remind you once again of my helpless mother and sister.”
“Oh, yes, yes,” said Miss Frink impatiently, “I know. Scuttle along, Grim, and do the errand. I believe I’ll jump into your car and just show myself at the supper at the City Hall.”
“Oh, you’re wonderful, Aunt Susanna!” exclaimed Mrs. Lumbard, clasping her pretty hands. “If you want me to, I’ll—”
“I don’t. I know how it would bore you. I’ll see that coachman first. I must get rid of him. I knew the checks weren’t right.”
She swept out of the room as suddenly as she had entered it, and the two left standing there looked at each other, their expressions changing from the solicitude they had worn to gravity.
“If the gods hadn’t intervened,” said Adèle softly, “to-night we should have been—”
“Sh!” warned the secretary.
“Of course, there would be some charities,” she went on, her brown eyes shining, “but you and I, you and I—”
“Hush!” warned the secretary again. “We can’t be thankful enough that dear Miss Frink’s life was saved.”
Mrs. Lumbard laughed low. “You’ve said it, Leonard. I don’t think we can.”
“Yes, I know.” She still laughed softly.

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