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 As Miss Frink was leaving the store the floorwalker intercepted her. He had in his hands a letter. “I wonder if you can throw any light on this, Miss Frink. A letter that came several days ago to Mr. Hugh Stanwood in care of the store. We have no employee of that—”
“No, but you will have,” interrupted Miss Frink, almost snatching the letter. “Hugh Stanwood is the man who hindered the rendezvous my horses were trying to keep with that express train a few weeks ago.”
“You don’t say so. The young hero who put us all under such obligation?”
“Me, anyway. I’m in no hurry to play the harp. Yes, he was on his way to Ross Graham’s when he stubbed his toe, poor boy.”
Mr. Ramsay bowed. “I’ve heard that you are caring for him royally. I’m sure we shall be very glad to welcome him into our ranks if it is your wish.”
“Well, we’ll let him catch his breath first, anyway. He’s doing well and, believe me, I[93] couldn’t sleep nights if he wasn’t. I’ve just been getting him a dressing-gown; you don’t sell dressing-gowns for your health here, do you?”
The floorwalker smiled deferentially. “Do you find us exorbitant?”
“Do I! I’ll have to pay for this on the installment plan.”
“Ha, ha! Very good. Very good, indeed. Glad we had something that pleased you. Good-afternoon, Miss Frink.”
On the way home the lady gazed at the letter she was carrying.
“John Ogden has beat me to it,” she reflected. At certain moments the lady of the old school found a relief to her feelings in slang. “Saber cuts of Saxon speech,” Mark Twain called it, and Miss Frink liked saber cuts. She hadn’t time to beat about the bush.
Leaving her box below stairs where her secretary and Mrs. Lumbard could if they wished whet their curiosity on its shape and the Ross-Graham label, she went in to lunch with her bonnet on.
The others of her family dutifully took their places. Adèle’s ivory tints were somewhat flushed. She knew from Miss Damon that she had scored a triumph with her invisible audience, and it was a certainty that that meant[94] credit with Miss Frink. She cast an occasional unforgiving glance at the secretary who kept to his usual safe programme of speaking when he was spoken to.
Miss Frink addressed him now. “Here is a letter from John Ogden to our patient,” she said.
Adèle’s brown eyes suddenly glanced up, startled. Still, there were probably hundreds of John Ogdens in the world.
“Yes. I do feel mortified not to have written him as soon as I received his letter of introduction. He will think I’m a savage when he learns why he hasn’t heard from his young friend.” The speaker regarded the letter beside her plate. “He addressed it in care of the store. Mr. Stanwood was headed for Ross Graham’s, you know; and they had no more idea there who Hugh Stanwood was than the man in the moon.”
“That is a little embarrassing,” returned Grimshaw circumspectly. “Is there anything I can do about it?”
“No,” returned Miss Frink good-naturedly, “since you didn’t stand over me and make me answer that letter.”
“You never showed me the letter of introduction,” said the secretary, “or I might have ventured—”
“Oh, you would have ventured,” returned Miss Frink, “though I don’t think, Grim, that your slogan is ‘Nothing venture, nothing have.’”
“My duty is to protect you, dear lady,” declared Leonard, unsmiling.
“Oh, I know that, and you’re a good boy,” said Miss Frink carelessly. She set down her tea-cup. “Well, I’ll go upstairs and take my medicine. I hope both the boy and Mr. Ogden will forgive me. Will you both excuse me, please?”
She left the room. Adèle longed to comment on the interesting-looking box she had passed in the hall, but she was still too angry with Grimshaw to address him.
“Miss Frink is in remarkably good spirits,” he observed; and because Adèle knew she could irritate him, she responded:
“Yes. She must have succeeded in finding something very fine for her protégé.”
“It is going rather far to call that young person her protégé,” said the secretary stiffly.
Adèle shrugged her shoulders. “Personally I think it is a mild name for him.”
“She will give him the employment he seeks, doubtless, when he is about again,” remarked Leonard.
“Unless she just passes over half her kingdom to him,” said Adèle. “You have been seeing him. Is he really such a beauty as he seemed that first day?”
“Remarkable,” answered the secretary dryly, “with a flaming red beard and mustache.”
“Horrors!” ejaculated Adèle. Then: “Poor thing, I suppose he couldn’t be shaved.”
The secretary pushed his chair back from the table. “Only a most common person could have demanded the music you played for him.”
Adèle grimaced. “Go on. I know what you want to say—And only the commonest sort of person could have played it. Go on. Have courage, the courage of your convictions.”
“I think Miss Frink will be the best person to comment on your actions, in this as in all other matters while you are a guest in her house.”
The two exchanged a dueling glance. Again Adèle experienced that fear of her antagonist which she sometimes experienced. She didn’t dare to allow him to dislike her.
“Oh, what’s the use, Leonard,” she said with a sudden change of tone and manner, and she held out her hand.
He drew back. “Persons shake hands when[97] they are about to fight,” he said. “I hope there is nothing of that sort in the air.”
Adèle dropped her hand. “I should hope not,” she returned, trying to hold him with her soft brown glance; but he was impervious and left the room.
Miss Frink, armed with her box, went to the White Room and knocked on the door. As the nurse opened it, her grave little mouth was smiling.
“We’ve nearly cured Mr. Stanwood while you have been gone,” she said cheerfully. “I’ve heard that music was being used a good deal now to heal the sick; and here we have an example.”
Hugh was smiling, too, above his blanket wrappings. “Some pian............
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