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HOME > Short Stories > The Queen of Farrandale > CHAPTER XIX JOHN OGDEN
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 John Ogden’s eagle eye had been on Adèle and Hugh when they slipped out of the house this evening, and he was well aware that they had not come in when he persuaded Miss Frink to seek her couch and leave the disposition of affairs below-stairs to him. At last, when Stebbins alone was prowling sleepily about, Ogden decided that Hugh might become unmanageable if he found his guardian up and waiting for him and his lady, as if with rebuke; so he decided to go to his room. It was scarcely past eleven o’clock, but, in this household of early hours, it was late. Arrived in his room, Ogden opened a window, turned on the reading-lamp, and taking a book set himself to listen for his mutinous young friend. It was not long before he heard the murmur of voices beneath his window and then the muffled closing of the house door. He set his own ajar in order to hear the pair come upstairs. They did not come. He scowled at his book and said something between his teeth which was an aspiration concerning Adèle[224] Reece. Long minutes passed. He fumed. The clock on the stairs chimed the half-hour.
By the time the solemn midnight bell fell upon the quiet house, Ogden had made up his mind to have nothing more to do with his protégé. He would leave for New York the next day, after making a few straight-from-the-shoulder remarks to Hugh, releasing him from their partnership. Scowling at his book, he heard the clock chime another quarter, and, starting up, went to the door and pulled it open. The lights were still on. He set his teeth. He felt his ears burn. It was indecent. He was humiliated before the chaste image of Miss Frink. He would wait until the clock chimed again and then he would go downstairs, no matter what he came upon. He was determined to quarrel with Hugh, anyway. It might as well be to-night as in the morning.
He went back to his book. At the first stroke of the half-hour, he bounded to the door and opened it once more. All was dark below. Hugh’s room was near his. He went to it. The brilliantly lighted transom was open. He knocked softly on the door and opened it. Hugh, turning about, faced a gentleman in his shirt-sleeves with a scarlet face, rumpled hair, and a generally wild and angry appearance.
“Anything wrong, Mr. Ogden?” he asked.
“Anything wrong!” John Ogden was speechless. He had never seen Hugh look like this. The boy’s face was alive with—was it hope? It was certainly gladness, satisfaction.
“I’ve been frank with you, Hugh,” he said in a lowered voice; then to be more certain that there was no eavesdropping, Ogden turned and closed the transom. “I told you she was a person of no principle, knowing no law but her own will, and, to say nothing of the bad taste and danger of playing with such a woman, you risk outraging Miss Frink’s strict ideas of decorum by staying down there alone all this time. I’m thoroughly disgusted. I must be honest. Right at the time when you are wanting to disclose yourself, to have you play the fool like this, it’s painfully disappointing. That’s what it is, painfully disappointing. I shall leave for New York to-morrow, and you can conduct your affairs to suit yourself.”
The effect of this intense speech on his listener surprised Ogden even while he was delivering it. Was Hugh so fatuous, so impervious?
The boy, smiling and looking exasperatingly handsome and happy, seized the smaller man and pulled him down beside him on the couch at the foot of the bed.
“It is true,” he said. “I’ve been party of the second part in a love-scene downstairs, and I owe it all to you, Ogden.” Hugh threw an arm around his companion’s shoulders. “I’ll never, never forget it.”
Ogden with open mouth stared into the violet eyes.
“It’s Aunt Susanna. I’ve been hugging Aunt Susanna.”
Ogden went limp. He still stared. He brushed his hand across his eyes.
Hugh laughed low. “Yes; she’s known it ever since Ally held that letter of Carol’s in her lap; and she forgives us, and she understands.”
“What—where—when did you exchange Ally for Miss Frink?”
“Aunt Susanna couldn’t understand the lights, and she came downstairs.”
“Where—where is Ally?” asked Ogden, still stunned.
“Asleep, I suppose,” Hugh sobered.
“Intact, then?” Ogden looked questioning.
“Of course. She shared in the big surprise. Aunt Susanna told her I was her nephew—Ally had seen Carol’s letter, too.”
Ogden’s alert brain grasped the possible scene. “Ah! Perhaps she had thought that she was the one to provide the surprise.”
“Perhaps,” said Hugh vaguely; then impulsively, “Don’t go home, Ogden. Stay and be happy with us awhile. I told Aunt Susanna I wanted to go away, but the idea seemed to hurt her.”
John Ogden began to nurse his knee, and rock back and forth reflectively, keeping up occasional bursts of low, nervous laughter.
“It won’t hurt her to have me go away,” he said. “That explains all those side-winders and innuendoes. Ha, ha, it is a good joke on the lady. It gives her the nettle-rash that I got away with it, at the same time that she’s glad of it.” Ogden’s eyes were bright as he continued to consider. “And Grimshaw! Oh, Grimshaw! Draw a veil.” At this, his laughter threatened to grow violent. He buried his face in the satin cushions.
The secretary awoke the morning after the recital with a confused but happy sense that the world was a pleasant place to live in. He had ............
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