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HOME > Short Stories > The Queen of Farrandale > CHAPTER XV APPLE BLOSSOMS
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 Adèle was in a porch swing, her pretty slippers and ankles very much in evidence when Miss Frink and Ogden came up on the veranda. She was singing “Madelon,” and Hugh was trying to stop her, amid much laughter and threatening. The lady of the old school crossed to her and pulled down the skirt of the young woman’s pink dimity morning dress. It would have kept Miss Frink busy if she had performed that office for all the girls in Farrandale who needed it that morning, and all the mornings; although Farrandale was no more lax than any other town.
Adèle rose quickly from the swinging seat, and Miss Frink turned to Hugh. “Well, what’s this I hear about our young lawyer?”
“Oh, has Mr. Ogden told you of my wish to read with Colonel Duane? I’m keen for it, Miss Frink.”
That lady looked up into his eager face with a lingering regard. What would he say if she told him here and now that she knew him to be[175] hers; her own flesh and blood; she who but a few weeks ago had believed herself alone in the world? This splendid specimen of young manhood was hers, hers to assist or to renounce. Her habitual shrewdness and forethought warned her that she did not know him: that he must show the stuff he was made of before she could discover whether she cared to own him. He was deceiving her, at the present moment. He was only watching for opportunities to use her. No wonder his conscience had revolted at the succession of favors pressed upon him by the woman he was hoodwinking. Miss Frink’s X-ray mentality told her that here was an honest thought manipulated by the man of the world with whom she had just been tête-à-tête. Nevertheless, Hugh was at fault. He should have spurned such a plan—“And let you lie under the simple granite monument provided for in your will?” added some small inner voice.
Probably that suggestion was what made her smile at him now, so reflectively.
“That is, if Colonel Duane is willing to be bothered with me,” went on the boy, still eagerly. “I can’t trust you, Miss Frink. I won’t have the old gentleman bound hand and foot and thrown down at my feet.”
This egregious remark touched Miss Frink’s[176] sense of humor. She laughed spontaneously. The implication of her power pleased her no less than that of her devotion to this dastardly, double-faced youth.
“You just mind your own business, Hugh,” she returned. “You shall see the Colonel to-day.”
“I should love to walk over there with him,” said Adèle.
“I believe you,” replied Miss Frink, “but do you know Colonel Duane?”
“Why, no, but—”
“I think another arrangement would be better,” said Miss Frink, and, turning, went into the house.
Adèle pretended to shiver. “Oh, she does sit on me so hard!” she cried, then she dropped back into the porch seat and continued her gay badinage with Hugh, the undercurrent of her thought triumphing over her difficult hostess, inasmuch as she knew her to be a dupe and could reveal it, at any time.
John Ogden watched the young woman uneasily. It was evident that she was doing her best to attract Hugh.
“Say, boy, I’d look out for Ally if I were you,” said Ogden when again they were alone.
“Oh, she’s lots of fun.”
“Yes, she means to be; but she’s in wrong with Miss Frink. It seems she is here, entirely under false pretenses.”
Hugh turned and stared down at his mentor.
“Indeed!” he replied. “How shocking!”
“Miss Frink has found it out,” said Ogden, flushing, “and through me. That’s the worst of it.”
“A little stone-throwing in your glass house, eh?”
“Totally unintentional.” And Ogden repeated what had taken place.
Hugh stared into space. He hated to have people get in wrong. It disturbed him all the time that Ally should have been such a fool as to deserve to get in wrong with the courts.
“Of course Miss Frink doesn’t dream of the court disgrace,” added Ogden.
“Women always get the worst of it,” said Hugh moodily.
“Well, I’ve no doubt she will at least keep her word about the recital,” remarked Ogden.
“We must take it for granted,” said Hugh energetically. “We must help the poor girl, and have some pep about it.”
Ogden laughed. “You can be trusted for pep,” he returned. “That was a good line about Colonel Duane. I should have expected[178] Miss Frink to have Grimshaw escort your conceited self to the gate.”
At that moment the Colonel was watching a pair of birds feeding their young. Millicent came to the door and called him in to the ’phone.
“It is Miss Frink,” she said with bated breath. “I do hope it is nothing about me.”
The old gentleman patted her hand as he took the receiver, and the girl stood with parted lips, listening.
“Good-morning, Miss Frink.”
“Why, yes, if an old fogy like myself can be of any use to him, certainly.”
“Oh, yes, plenty of time. I’m a very small farmer, you know.”
“Yes, I have the foundational books.”
“No doubt you would, Miss Frink.”
“To-day? Yes, I shall be very glad to see him.”
“Very well, I shall be here.”
Colonel Duane hung up the receiver and smiled at the girl with the rapt eyes.
“No, you’re not discharged, my dear. She has another errand for you to do.”
“What is it, Grandpa?”
“Don’t lose those eyes out, my dear. You’re sure to need them again some time. The young[179] man there, Mr. Stanwood, wants to come over here to see my law books.”
“Are you sure it isn’t Mr. Ogden?” asked Millicent earnestly. “He was so interested in everything yesterday.”
“No, it is Mr. Stanwood. It seems he started to read law, and then they needed him in France.”
“Oh, I told Mr. Ogden that you were a celebrated lawyer.”
“You little girl! Blowing the old man’s horn.” He put his arm around her.
“What is the errand, Grandpa?”
“To bring Mr. Stanwood over here.”
“When you get through the reading, he will be waiting for you on the veranda.”
“I don’t see why Mr. Ogden doesn’t bring him.”
“Why should he, when you are coming right home, anyway? Possibly Mr. Ogden doesn’t care to call on us every day.”
What could be simpler than picking Mr. Stanwood up on the veranda, and showing him the way to her grandfather? Millicent was vexed with herself for feeling as if she were setting out on an adventure when she went to her reading that day. She could see Hugh as he sat[180] on the arm of his easy-chair, bejeweled with crimson petals, swinging his gay foot, and snapping his fingers in time to the jazz. At least he would not have on that cursed dressing-gown to-day, and she would show him by her businesslike manner that she was simply doing an errand for Miss Frink in being his escort.
When that lady lost consciousness to-day, and began gently to blow the silk handkerchief thrown over her face, Millicent despised the sensation of her ............
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