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HOME > Short Stories > The Queen of Farrandale > CHAPTER VII AT ROSS GRAHAM’S
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 The horses were at the door, likewise the secretary. He had encountered Mrs. Lumbard in the hall, and informed her that the luncheon gong would not sound at present. She lifted her shoulders. “Curfew shall not ring to-night! Why the bouleversement?”
“Miss Frink wishes to do an errand.”
“It must be a marvelous one that won’t wait.”
The crest was lifted high. “She behaves very strangely,” was the dignified reply. “She is”—Grimshaw tapped his temple—“somewhat changed since her shock. It betrays itself in many ways. My deeply beloved and respected Miss Frink!” He shook his head.
Adèle gazed at him curiously, with little whimsical twitches at the corners of her lips. “We can’t expect anything else at her age,” she replied, in the low tone that he had used.
The subject of their remarks now appeared at the head of the stairs, dressed for her drive. She looked a little annoyed to see the couple waiting below together.
“Well, well,” she said testily. “I am not going on a journey. You look as if you were waiting to bid me a long farewell.”
“Would you like me to go with you?” asked Mrs. Lumbard. “I can get my hat very quickly.”
As Miss Frink reached the foot of the stairs, she returned the young woman’s eager gaze coolly. “I am not in the least shy of asking your company when I want you, Adèle,” she returned, pulling on her gloves. “Any last wishes, Grim?”
“I am simply waiting to put you in your carriage, dear lady,” he returned, injured dignity again to the fore.
“All right,” brusquely. “Order lunch to be served in three quarters of an hour; and, Adèle, Mr. Stanwood doesn’t feel ready to come downstairs yet, but he’s sitting up, and you might open the piano again. There is no objection to your playing if you feel like it. He might like it—in the distance.”
Mrs. Lumbard lingered until the secretary had his employer safely ensconced and the glistening horses had driven away. She watched him come up the path, and then went out on the wide veranda behind the white columns to meet him.
“Grim by name and grim by nature,” she said, laughing. “You look funereal.”
“Don’t make silly jokes,” he snapped. “I should think you had had a snub to last you for one while.”
“Wasn’t it right between the eyes?” she returned cheerfully.
“Everything that dear Miss Frink says is straight from the shoulder always,” said her secretary.
“I thought you were going to say straight from the heart. No wonder you call her ‘dear.’ So ingratiating, so affectionate.”
“That is enough of that,” said Leonard curtly. “I am here to protect Miss Frink—even from her poor relations.”
Mrs. Lumbard crimsoned to the roots of her white hair. “That is a nasty, insulting thing to say.” The brown eyes scintillated. “The sacred lunch hour is postponed. I may play in the daytime. If you are here to protect Miss Frink, you would better let her relatives take care of themselves, and turn your attention to the crippled Greek god she has been visiting the last hour. Don’t you know, as well as I do, that she has gone on some errand for him? Perhaps not cigarettes this time, but for something he wants, and wouldn’t you be glad if I could have gone[80] with her and found out what it was? You won’t get anywhere by insulting me, Leonard Grimshaw.”
“There, there, Adèle.” The secretary was coloring, too. He disliked hearing put into words the thoughts that had been grumbling in the back of his head; but Mrs. Lumbard flashed past him and into the house, and, hurrying to open the piano, in a minute the crashing chords of a Rachmaninoff Prelude were sounding through the house. Every time those strong white hands came down, it was with a force which might have been shaking the cockatoo crest.
In the White Room the convalescent’s pensive eyes widened. “Who can that be?” he asked the nurse.
“I’m sure I’ve no idea, Mr. Stanwood. It sounds like a man. Perhaps it is Mr. Grimshaw.”
“Say, if it is, he’s some good, after all. Only that’s a punk thing he’s playing. That stuff’ll do when you’re dead. Would you mind going down and asking him if he knows anything from ‘The Syncopated Playfellows’?”
“I shall be glad to, Mr. Stanwood.” And Miss Damon went downstairs and stood outside the entrance to the drawing-room until the last[81] dignified chord was dying away, then she entered.
“Why, Mrs. Lumbard!” she exclaimed in surprise; “we thought it was a man.”
“I wish I was,” said Adèle vindictively, “and that I was just going to fight a duel, and had the choice of weapons. I’d choose horsewhips and I guarantee I’d get there first.”
Miss Damon’s demure little mouth smiled leniently. “Mr. Stanwood sent me down. He was very pleased to hear music, and we thought it might be Mr. Grimshaw; and Mr. Stanwood wanted me to ask him if he could play something from ‘The Syncopated Playfellows.’”
Adèle’s eyes grew their widest. “Goodness, he’s human then if he did come from Olympus!” The eyes brightened. “To think of having a live one in the house! It’s the jazziest kind of jazz, Miss Damon. I might just as well meet Miss Frink at the door with a string of profanity. Will you stand at the window and watch for the carriage while I loosen up?”
She plunged at once into the audacious rhythm and jerking melody requested, and it was not long before Leonard Grimshaw’s pointed nose and amazed spectacles appeared between the heavy satin portières. Adèle flashed defiance at him and pounded on her[82] complicated way. The secretary felt beating symptoms in his feet, but he still glared.
The barbaric strains came to a close.
“I’m surprised,” he said.
“You look it,” retorted the musician.
Miss Damon glided from the room and upstairs. She found enthusiasm in the pale face of her patient.
“Thank you. Grimshaw isn’t so dusty, after all. Why, he’s a wizard.”
“It wasn’t Mr. Grimshaw. It was a Mrs. Lumbard, a niece of Miss Frink’s, who lives here.”
“Lives here? I wonder why she hasn’t played before.”
“Oh, Miss Fink wouldn’t allow the piano opened while you were ill, Mr. Stanwood.”
“Say”—Hugh looked out the window thoughtfully—“she’s been awfully white to me. Miss or Mrs. Lumbard did you say?” looking back at the nurse.
“Mrs. She’s a widow with white hair. Quite pretty.”
“H’m! She’d better have her hair dyed if she’s going to play like that. It’s a wonder it doesn’t turn red and curl of its own accord.”
Meanwhile Miss Frink had directed her liveried coachman to drive to Ross Graham[83] Company’s. Rex and Regina would probably have gone there if left to themselves, so often did they traverse the road. Holding their heads high, their silver harness jingling, they, like their mistress, seemed to be scorning the parvenu motors among which they threaded their way.
Arrived at the store, Miss Frink told the new coachman where to wait—it was a nuisance to have to break in new servants, to have to initiate a novice into her established customs. She supposed the man who had held that position for so many years could not help dying; nevertheless, if he had not done so Rex and Regina would never have run away with her; and, as she left the victoria with this reflection, another consideration followed close on its heels. She would never have known Hugh Stanwood. A softened expression grew around her thin lips.
Yes, she would probably have received him into the store to please John Ogden, but she would never have taken any notice of him. The clerks in the big establishment held just the same place in her consideration as the lights, or the modern fixtures for carrying cash.
She entered the store and was met by a deferential floorwalker.
“How do, Mr. Ramsay. Where are the men’s[84] dressing-gowns or bathrobes or smoking-jackets, or whatever you call ’em?”
“Why, that’s quite flattering, Miss Frink. I didn’t know that you trusted the manager to plan a department out of your knowledge.”
“That is because y............
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