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HOME > Short Stories > The Queen of Farrandale > CHAPTER XX A PARTING INTERVIEW
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Although Miss Frink had presented herself so promptly at breakfast that morning, she had been as sleepless as Adèle. Waves of wonder and joy had passed over her in the consideration of her happiness, and kept her awake. That honest boy—honest in spite of the part he had been induced to play—admired her, loved her. He had said so, and she believed him. She had not thought her life empty before, but now she felt compassion for her past. Her brain seethed with plans and possibilities, and certain charitable institutions lost a great deal of money that night.
As she thought thus, the remembrance of Adèle clouded the radiance of her reflections. She had yet this problem to meet. If the young woman would solve it by leaving town, what a mercy it would be! Of course, she had fallen in love with Hugh, head over heels. So, thought Miss Frink, sighing, would probably every girl who met him; but Adèle had hazarded all, tried to rush the boy off his feet, and, if she had known that he was related to Miss Frink, it[234] would not have deterred her. Her sort fears neither God nor man. Miss Frink shrank into her pillow and closed her sleepless eyes as she recalled Adèle’s bitter attitude toward herself, and the young woman’s triumphant hope of wounding her.
Miss Frink was a strong woman; but her excitement as she dressed that morning was not sufficient to lift her above her sense of weariness. Explaining the situation to Leonard Grimshaw was before her. It rankled that he would believe her splendid boy to be blameworthy. Then there was John Ogden to be met, and, looming dark above all these, was Adèle to be dealt with. She had been intending to have a final talk with Adèle this morning in any case; so, when the waitress at last went up to Mrs. Lumbard’s room with her breakfast, she carried a message that Miss Frink would come in to see her at ten o’clock.
“Pleasant prospect!” thought Adèle as she sat up in bed to receive the tray. “Thank you, Janet,” she said sweetly to the maid.
“You look awful tired, Mrs. Lumbard,” said the girl, “and so does Miss Frink. There’s all sorts of doings down in the breakfast room.” Janet’s eyes were big. “What do you think! Mr. Stanwood’s name is something else and he’s[235] some sort of relation to Miss Frink all this time, and nobody knew it!”
“Are you sure, Janet?” Adèle put the cream in her coffee.
“Yes, ma’am,” returned the excited girl. “Stebbins heard Miss Frink say so herself to Mr. Grimshaw.”
“Did Miss Frink seem pleased?” Adèle broke off a piece of toast, speaking languidly.
“Oh, yes, indeed, and holding his hand.”
“Mr. Grimshaw’s?” Adèle smiled wanly.
“No, Mr. Stanwood’s; and she seemed so happy over it.”
“Who wouldn’t be happy holding Mr. Stanwood’s hand?”
Janet giggled. “Yes, ain’t he awful handsome?—and now he’ll be the biggest catch in Farrandale; but I guess there won’t any o’ the girls have a chance when you’re around, Mrs. Lumbard.”
Janet’s head fell to one side in sentimental admiration as she regarded Adèle.
The latter smiled and nodded at her: “You’d better run along, Janet.”
The maid disappeared, and Adèle again clamped down the lid on the humiliating memories of last evening. She must not be humiliated when Miss Frink came in. She remembered[236] the violence of her own attack upon that lady and regretted it as most unwise; nevertheless, her head might be “bloody,” but it should be “unbowed.” It had been quite evident for some time that Miss Frink’s hospitality was being strained; Adèle could not in any case have hoped to remain here much longer. Why should she be ashamed of loving Hugh? Why should she be ashamed of trying to get him? She was not. It was all in the game. She had lost for the present, but who could tell?
By the time Miss Frink’s knock sounded on the door, the young woman was dressed and ready to open it with an attempt at a smile.
“Good-morning, Aunt Susanna.”
“Good-morning, Adèle.” Miss Frink regarded the calm face and unfallen eyes uncomfortably; and felt her own self-possession strengthened by such control.
“Well,” she began, as they sat down in neighboring chairs, “we have come to the parting of the ways, Adèle.”
“Have we? Where are you going?” was the astonishing reply.
Miss Frink grimaced her glasses off the eyes beneath which were dark shadows, and at once replaced them.
“You certainly help me not to beat about the[237] bush,” she said. “I thought perhaps last night’s experience would make you feel you did not care to stay in Farrandale.”
“After your giving such an expensive advertisement for me?” Adèle smiled.
Miss Frink’s own deep happiness embarrassed her. Hugh’s earnest “Be kind to Ally,” rang in her ears. This adventuress, pale and defiant, seemed to her so pitiful that, in spite of the other’s audacity, she had to summon her customary directness with an effort.
“That wouldn’t be good economy, would it?” added Adèle.
There was a pause; then Miss Frink spoke again: “I must tell you that I have discovered, quite by accident, that you are not the granddaughter of my dear friend. Her son married a lady with a little girl, a little pianist.”
Color stole over Adèle’s pallor.
“Ah, Mr. Ogden is a regular god in the machine, isn’t he?” she said lightly. “Delightful man!”
“My informant was unaware that he was telling me any news,” went on Miss Frink; “but, this being the case, I feel that it would be rather foolish for us to keep up the pose of aunt and niece.”
“Especially,” returned Adèle “since you[238] have found some one with the right of blood to call you ‘Aunt Susanna.’”
Miss Frink regarded her composed companion in silence. Not with her could she exchange words concerning her heart-warming miracle.
“A few days ago,” she said, “I obtained the refusal for you of a room at the Coopers’: cousins of Leonard’s. If you decide to stay in Farrandale, he will take you over there to-day and introduce you. Mrs. Cooper is ready ............
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