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HOME > Short Stories > The Queen of Farrandale > CHAPTER XVII ADèLE
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 As they entered the carriage, and on the way home, Hugh waited for some further personal remarks from his companion, but none came regarding themselves. Miss Frink declared herself in favor of pushing through the plans for Mrs. Lumbard’s recital. “I should like to get it over with for many reasons. One is that I feel like a bull in a china shop when it comes to entertaining. I know no more about it, nor half so much as my cook. I rely on you to be host, Hugh.”
“I’ll do the best a clumsy doughboy can; but there is Mr. Ogden. He knows the ropes about everything.”
“Yes, he does. I admit that.” Miss Frink nodded in a way which again made Hugh feel that the day of reckoning was upon him. “He’s a smooth rascal!”
Hugh felt profoundly uncomfortable. He yearned to loose that Damocles weapon himself. He couldn’t break his promise to Ogden, but he could relieve himself in an honest remark, something that would lend some respectability to the situation.
“Are you going to let me have that job in the store that I came for, Miss Frink?” he asked.
She smiled vaguely at the roadside. “Of course. Let us see. You want to begin at the sub-basement, and learn how department stores are constructed.”
Hugh blushed furiously. “Don’t make fun of me, please. I was packing boxes in a basement when Mr. Ogden looked me up, for my family’s sake.”
“Yes. He says he used to be in love with your sister,” returned Miss Frink composedly; “but he says so many things besides his prayers.”
“I guess there’s no doubt about that,” returned the boy, miserably embarrassed. “It took some pretty strong impulse to make anybody take any interest in such a shuffling proposition as I was.—It seems a year ago, that day he found me. My hand against every man, and every man’s hand against me.”
“And he dressed you up in nice clean clothes, and laid out your programme, and sent you on your way.”
“Why—he did—but did he tell you so this morning when you were hobnobbing so long?”
Had Ogden laid down the cards without telling him?
“No,” replied Miss Frink equably. “I just X-rayed him a little. He was taking all the credit of your saving my life. I believe he allowed Providence a small part.”
“Oh, do let us forget that, Miss Frink!” ejaculated the boy. “I’m a chap that’s come to you for a job, and you are kind enough to give it to me. I do want to learn the business.”
“And perhaps you will,” was the quiet reply; “but we’ll wait a bit yet till you can walk a mile or so and stand up under it. I do like those Duanes. That little Millicent—I can’t help calling her little, though she’s as tall as I am. What a refreshment it is in these days to find a girl a lady.”
“I’m sorry you don’t like Ally,” said Hugh.
“I don’t like liars,” returned Miss Frink calmly.
The boy’s ears grew crimson.
“I suppose I ought to have been a man,” she added. “I seem to be out of sympathy with most things feminine. Mr. Ogden gave me information concerning Mrs. Lumbard this morning which lifted a big irritation. It makes whatever I do for her now a favor instead[200] of a duty. Once, Hugh, I had an honest friend—just one. There never has been another. We loved each other. Mrs. Lumbard came here representing herself as this woman’s granddaughter, and she called me Aunt Susanna on the strength of it. Mr. Ogden unconsciously spoiled her game this morning. I never had trusted her, and had rebuked myself for it; but I’m usually right—that X-ray, you know.”
Hugh, rolling along beside her in the charming little carriage, wondered wretchedly if she trusted him, or if the X-ray was working.
“I’m sorry for Ally,” he said gravely.
“So am I,” responded Miss Frink promptly. “I hope she will develop some day into a worthy woman. I regret that it has to be in Farrandale, but we can’t have all things to please us.”
“Some day,” thought Hugh, “she will want me to be a worthy man, anywhere but in Farrandale.”
He was in his room dressing for dinner when Ogden came in.
“Well, admitted to the bar yet?” demanded the latter gayly.
“Look here, Ogden”—Hugh advanced and seized his friend. “When you were spilling[201] Ally’s beans this morning, did you spill mine, too, and never told me?”
“Not so, dear one. Will you kindly not pull the button off my coat?”
“She acts as if she knew. We were all on the Duanes’ porch and she asked me to show my mother’s picture to Miss Duane. How did she suddenly know it was my mother?”
“Whew!” Whistled Ogden, surprised. “Search me. I never gave her a clue; but she seemed to have it in for me for some reason this morning. Oh,” after a thoughtful moment, “she doesn’t know! She’s the yea-yea, and nay-nay, kind. If she knew you were Hugh Sinclair, she would either say, ‘bless you, my child,’ or tell you to get off the earth. I know her.”
“I’m growing to know her,” said Hugh, going on with his toilet, “and I’ll say she’s a trump. I don’t like to look forward to being despised by her.”
“Hugh, my son, don’t make me laugh. You’ve got the woman. I don’t know whether it’s the shape of your nose or your general air of having the world by the tail, but the deed’s done.”
Hugh regarded him gloomily. “All to be knocked over by a simple twist of the wrist when she learns that I’m the thing she despises[202] most—a liar. She says she has had only one honest friend. I’d tell her the truth to-night if it weren’t for Ally’s recital. I don’t want anything to disturb that, poor girl.”
Under Ogden’s guidance, the invitations to Mrs. Lumbard’s recital were sent out promptly, and Farrandale society rose to its first opportunity to be entertained in the Frink mansion. Not a regret was received by Miss Frink’s social secretary pro tem. Adèle, as the star of the occasion, took an oddly small part in the preparations. She did some practicing on her programme, apologizing to Hugh for its more weighty numbers.
Leonard Grimshaw observed her infatuation for the young man, and it added to the score against him which began on the day Hugh was carried into the house. Was he in love with Adèle himself? He sometimes asked himself the question. She had sparkled into such life and vivacity in these last days that any man would have felt her attraction.
One day he found himself alone with her on the veranda. “Do you realize all Miss Frink is doing for you in giving this affair?” he asked.
“No. Is it such a great indulgence?” she returned lightly.
“Positively. It is breaking her habits of years, and it will be a great expense. She is making lavish preparations,” declared Grimshaw severely.
“Well, don’t blame me for it, Leonard,” said the young woman, reverting to the appealing manner. “It was Hughie’s idea.”
“For pity’s sake don’t call him ‘Hughie’!” exclaimed the other irritably. “It makes me sick. You’re so crazy about him, anyway.”
Adèle smiled up at her companion. “How delightful! I do believe you’re jealous, Leonard. I’m complimented to death.”
“You have far more reason to be jealous,” he retorted. “Anybody with half an eye can see that Stanwood is fascinated with Millicent’s demur............
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