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HOME > Short Stories > The Queen of Farrandale > CHAPTER X JOHN OGDEN ARRIVES
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 As the heavy door closed behind Millicent, Mrs. Lumbard straightened up. How could Miss Frink reasonably criticize her for civility to the young girl, although the mandate just expressed revealed an objection? “Disagreeable old thing!” reflected Adèle, while her face expressed only deferential attention. She expected to see her hostess disappear as usual in the direction of the study; but instead, Miss Frink, eyeing her steadily, came and took the chair Millicent had vacated, and began at once to speak: “The presence of a sick person in the house throws out the general routine,” she said. “I have really been very anxious until now about Mr. Stanwood; but he is coming out all right and now I can give my mind to your affairs. You said your idea in coming here was to get me to help you decide what to do. I presume you have been studying on your problem. Have you come to any conclusion?”
Mrs. Lumbard blinked under the unexpected attack, and for a minute could not find the right words to reply to the entirely impersonal and businesslike regard bent upon her.
“You are young,” went on Miss Frink.[115] “You are an expert musician. My house is a very dull place for you to live.” Adèle wondered if Leonard had quoted her. “You must have been revolving some plans in your mind. I can give my full attention to you now. Speak on.”
Oh, how hard it was to speak under that cool gaze; since she could not say, “Yes, this house is a regular morgue, but my luxurious bed and your perfect cook reconcile me to staying here.” There was nothing in Miss Frink’s manner to suggest that she had any idea that this guest might make an indefinite stay.
Mrs. Lumbard’s face maintained its deferential look and her voice took the childlike tone she could use at will. “A spineless tone,” Miss Frink dubbed it mentally. She rebuked herself for not liking Adèle, but the latter’s love of idle luxury “thundered above” her inefficient meekness, and not all of Susanna’s still green memory of her Alice could antidote her distaste for the young woman’s lack of energy.
“To tell the truth,” said Adèle slowly, “it has been so wonderful to be in a safe, quiet harbor that I have given up to the refreshment of it for this little while, and just enjoyed your sweet hospitality. I think I have been unconsciously waiting for just such a moment as this,[116] when your experience and wise thought could direct me—”
“No, no, child, don’t talk that way. A woman of your age shouldn’t need directing—”
Miss Frink paused, for a servant entered the hall, and went past them to the door.
As he opened it John Ogden entered, a suitcase in his hand. At sight of his hostess he paused in announcing himself.
“Well, Miss Frink,” he exclaimed, as the servant took the suitcase, “I counted on your not minding a surprise party, for I found it was possible to come at once.”
The two women rose, and Adèle saw that the mistress of the house could be cordial if she wished to.
Scarcely had Ogden dropped Miss Frink’s hand when he realized her companion. “Why, Mrs. Reece,” he said, in a changed tone, “what a surprise to find you here—away from your sunny South,” he added hastily, fearing his amazement betrayed more than he wished.
Adèle, coloring to the tips of her ears, shook hands with him and murmured something which Miss Frink’s brusque tone interrupted.
“Stebbins,” she said to the servant, “Mr. Ogden will have the green room. Show him to it, and when he is ready take him to Mr. Stanwood[117] at once. Mr. Ogden, you are more than welcome, and I know you will do Mr. Stanwood a world of good. I will see you a little later.”
When the guest had vanished up the stairs, Miss Frink resumed her seat and her companion sank into hers, as pale as she had been scarlet.
“I suppose you can explain,” said Miss Frink.
“Mr.—Mr. Ogden never met me after my second marriage,” said Adèle faintly.
“The first one died, I hope.”
“I suppose you know why you are so rough, Aunt Susanna.” Adèle was evidently controlling tears.
“Well, you know how I feel. I like the sod kind better than grass. Never mind my bluntness, child. That’s neither here nor there. Mr. Reece left you something?”
“His life insurance, yes.”
“Then it was all gone, I suppose, when you decided to try again, and drew a blank in the matrimonial market.”
“Yes—almost,” faltered Adèle.
“Then, did the unpleasant ceremony you were forced to go through afterward result in your getting any alimony?”
“A—a very little.”
Miss Frink’s lips twitched in her peculiar smile. “And you still had some life insurance from number one. You’re a fast worker, Adèle.”
At this the tears came.
“Now, don’t cry,” said Miss Frink impatiently. “You can do that later. I was wondering if you would care for a position in Ross Graham’s. I took Miss Duane away from the gloves, and I told them not to fill the place at once.”
The young widow’s angry breath caught in her throat, but she stammered meekly:
“And go on—living here?”
“Oh, you wouldn’t be willing to do that, would you?” said Miss Frink reasonably.
“Would you want Miss Frink’s niece to be selling gloves in her store?”
“Ho!” exclaimed the other with a short laugh. “Miss Frink herself sold candy and cake and waited on table and was glad when she got a tip, and everybody in town knows it.”
Adèle’s cheeks burned again. “It would be foolish not to utilize my music,” she said. “Since you have no pride in the matter, no doubt there are movie theaters in Farrandale, and I can perhaps play in one.”
The young woman got the reaction she was trying for.
“No, you can’t,” returned Miss Frink promptly. “That’s where I draw the line. Let the men do that.”
Mrs. Lumbard rose. “Please excuse me,” she said faintly. It was the psychological moment. She had put Miss Frink in the wrong. Let her reflect a little. She knew the conscientious fairness under that rough husk. “I feel ill, Aunt Susanna,” she faltered. “I should like to lie down for a while.”
Her handkerchief to her eyes she passed up the broad............
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