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HOME > Short Stories > The Queen of Farrandale > CHAPTER XII THE CONSOLE
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 John Ogden continued to reassure his protégé, telling him that he would be right behind him if there was anything he could do at any time for Carol, and Hugh was fast clearing the dainty tray when, replying to a knock at his door, Miss Frink walked in. Hugh noticed at once that she was wearing that triumphant expression which portended some contribution to his well-being; and, indeed, she was at once followed by the bearer of a handsome piece of furniture which proved to be the latest artistic shape, and most expensive wood, that can encase a musical machine.
“Music is good for him, Mr. Ogden,” she explained when the polished beauty was set against the wall and the man had left. “Hugh is very fond of music, and I wanted him to be able to have it whenever he wished, and choose his own pieces.”
“Oh, Miss Frink!” exclaimed Hugh, not joyfully, rather with an accent of despair.
“Yes, I know,” she responded, opening the door of the record depository. “He doesn’t[136] want me to get him anything; but for my own sake I ought to have one of these in the house.”
“That is a corker, Miss Frink,” said Ogden, coming forward to make an admiring examination of the Console.
“You pick out something for him,” said Miss Frink. “Where’s Miss Damon?”
“I’m here.” The nurse appeared from the dressing-room and removed Hugh’s tray while Ogden put an opera selection on the machine and started it to playing.
They all listened in silence to the Pilgrims’ Chorus, and Miss Frink watched Hugh’s face, noting that none of that stimulation which the nurse had described as the effect of music appeared upon it.
“Turn it off,” she said brusquely. “He doesn’t like that piece. We’ll try another.”
“Why, yes, I do,” said Hugh when quiet again reigned. “You make me feel deucedly ungrateful.”
“Don’t bother to be grateful, boy,” said Miss Frink imperturbably. “I want you to have what you like. I let the clerk pick out these records and they’re here on trial. Back goes Wagner. Perhaps you’re like the man who heard ‘Tannh?user’ and said he thought Wagner had better have stuck to his sleeping-cars.”
“I’ll tell you, Miss Frink,” said Miss Damon in her demure voice. “You have the catalogue there, and I think, if you would let Mrs. Lumbard come up and make some selections—she seems to understand Mr. Stanwood’s taste—”
“Bright thought!” exclaimed Miss Frink. “Miss Damon, go over to her room and get her, will you?”
No sooner said than done; and, as soon as the nurse had disappeared, Hugh spoke: “Miss Damon has to leave this afternoon, Miss Frink.”
That lady faced him with a slight frown. “I don’t know about her having to,” she returned.
“Yes, a very sick woman has sent for her,” said Hugh. His voice suddenly burst from his control, “And I can’t stand it any longer!”
“I didn’t know you didn’t like her.”
“You know I do like her,” returned Hugh roughly, “but you know I’ve been trying to get you to let her go for a week.”
“And if you will allow me,” said Ogden, with his most charming and cheery manner, “I will stay a few days and chaperon Hugh over the stairs a few times, enough to give you confidence—he seems to have it plus—”
Miss Frink gave her rare laugh. “That boy is a joke, Mr. Ogden. He spends his days[138] counting my pennies, I do believe. He sees me bankrupt. All right, you stay and Miss Damon shall go.” And here the nurse and Adèle came into the room.
The latter stared greedily at the object of her curiosity. Flushed with his recent resentment, and robed in the small crimson jewels glinting against their lustrous black background, he sat there, and she devoured him with her eyes.
“Mr. Stanwood, this is—” began Miss Frink, when Hugh, pushing on the arms of his throne, sprang to his feet with a smile of amazement.
“Ally!” he exclaimed.
Miss Frink stared. Another strange name for her incubus. She was no more surprised than the object of Hugh’s laughing recognition. Mrs. Lumbard gazed at him for a delighted, puzzled space.
“I do believe you don’t know me. Why should you?” he cried. “This”—he grasped his robe—“is a little different from the canteen.”
“Hughie!” exclaimed Adèle, and hurried forward to take both his hands.
“She made music for us over there, Miss Frink. I ought to have known it when I heard her yesterday. Nobody can hit the box quite like Ally.”
“Why do you call her Ally?” Miss Frink found voice to ask.
“Short for Albino,” laughed Hugh. “Of course, Ally.”
Miss Frink’s heart quickened. “In a single night.” The sad statement recurred to her at once; but it was characteristic that she postponed this consideration.
“Here is another chance for you to be useful, Adèle,” she said. “Take this catalogue over to Mr. Stanwood and between you make out a list of his preferences. Give me three numbers right away.—No, don’t either of you say, ‘Do you remember,’ until I’ve got those numbers. I suppose you can find some of the tunes you had over in France.”
“I don’t want one of them,” said Hugh emphatically. “Not much. That thing you played yesterday, Ally.”
“Oh, yes, that will be here, and other selections from the same opera.”
Meanwhile Miss Frink was exchanging words with Miss Damon, and, as the nurse left to get into her street dress, Miss Frink went to the phone and called a number.
“Is this you, Millicent? This is Miss Frink. Hold the wire. Now, then, Adèle?”
Mrs. Lumbard came near with the catalogue[140] and gave three numbers in turn. These Miss Frink repeated over the wire. “Have you a pencil there? All right. You’ve written them? All right. Now take a cab, please, and get these records. If you can’t find them one place, go to another. Have them charged to me, and drive out here and ask to be shown up to the White Room.”
She hung up. “You can go on making a longer list now. Perhaps Mr. Ogden will help you. Excuse me while I see Miss Damon.”
Miss Frink left the room, and Adèle and Hugh immediately fell into reminiscence, John Ogden looking on with an expression not wholly in keeping with the mirthful chuckles that accompanied their resurrected jokes.
“And what’s doing now, Ally? Are you a lady of leisure?” asked Hugh at last.
“Yes; I am visiting Aunt Susanna for a little while, but I’ve got to go at something to earn my living. Do you know Farrandale well, Mr. Ogden?”
“Why—a—pretty well,” returned that gentleman who had suddenly been galvanized by seeing that the young woman had unconsciously picked up a letter lying near her, and was twisting it nervously in her hands. It was Hugh’s letter from Carol.
“Do you think I would have a chance of getting enough music pupils here to make my bread and butter, with occasionally a little jam?” Mrs. Lumbard’s eyes sparkled at the welcome bit of life that had come her way, and she felt jubilant that the drudgery of first moves in an acquaintance had been done away with in the case of herself and “Hughie.” So his name was Stanwood. He was one of the crowd of “Buddies” who doubtless would all remember her, though her stay at their canteen had not been long, and only Hugh’s exceptional looks had marked him out for her remembrance. She hoped his pleasure at seeing her and his enjoyment of her music would weigh in her favor with the difficult relative she had stormed but not conquered. That awful break about her hair! How would she get over that?
“Why, yes, it is a flourishing little town,” returned Ogden, coming nearer, with hungry eyes on the letter. “If there was some way to give them a chance to hear you play.”
Here Miss Frink returned, and Hugh accosted her.
“Ally says she wants to teach music, Miss Frink. You’re always doing nice things for people. Why not let her give a recital here in[142] the house and show the Farrandale folks what she’s made of?”
Miss Frink drew near to his chair, attracted by the interested expression of his face, a vital look she had not before seen.
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