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HOME > Short Stories > The Queen of Farrandale > CHAPTER XXI PAVING THE WAY
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 Ogden went on thinking about the unusual docility with which Hugh had received his exhortation. Also there was the devotion to his studies at a moment when Ally was about to depart from the house. How about that? As he swung along he began to smile, his retrospective reflection visualizing that slipping away into the moonlight which he had witnessed and worried over last evening. After a minute in a rush of thought his smile broadened. It seemed probable that the siren, in the excited reaction from her performance, might have thrown a scare into the heir apparent. At what juncture had she slipped away from Hugh’s arm and Miss Frink slipped into it? Something had gone on, to flush Miss Frink’s cheeks and weary her eyes this morning. All the time that he himself was reading and fretting in his room last evening, things had been happening downstairs. Anyway, the net result had been a joyous one, as transpired unmistakably, later.
As Ogden tramped along, he was roused from[245] his reverie to realize that many persons he met greeted him. Realizing that they remembered him as the busy master of ceremonies on the night before, he responded cordially, and at last a short man in a checked suit forced him to a standstill by his effusive manner.
“Goldstein, Mr. Ogden. I. K. Goldstein. We had but a minute’s talk last night—”
“Ah, good-morning, Mr. Goldstein.” Ogden endeavored to edge away from the plump hand with the diamond ring, after yielding to its determined grasp.
“I cannot let you go without speaking again of that won-derful evening. Such an artist you have there, that Mrs. Lumbard; she is amazing. In a town the size of Farrandale we are all one family. You put us all under obligation bringing such an artist here!”
“Oh, not I at all; Miss Frink—”
“Miss Frink! Oh, she is the genius of our city!” Mr. Goldstein made known by gestures and upturned eyes that Miss Frink’s glories were indescribable. “You come any time to see me, Mr. Ogden, and I wish you would bring Miss Frink, and I show you both all over the Koh-i-noor, our theater—”
“Thank you, Mr. Goldstein, but I am leaving town to-night—”
“But can’t you spare a little time, a half an hour this afternoon?—it is a palace equal to any in the country. An organ—oh, such an organ I have installed!—we open in less than a month; you would be happy to see those velvet furniture in the lobby.”
“No doubt I should; but I have—”
“That young man at your house, the one who saved our wonderful Miss Frink’s life, he should be in the pictures, you must see that. There’s the story right there, too. I give him introductions; you send him to me.”
John Ogden disengaged the clinging hand from his lapel as best he could, and, mindfully thanking the manager of the Koh-i-noor, contrived to escape with an apology for his pressing business.
Mr. Goldstein called after him cordially as long as he could hear.
Millicent Duane, enveloped in an apron, had brought out some vegetables to prepare for the noon dinner and was sitting on the porch with a large tin pan in her lap.
Her grandfather, who had been as usual working about the garden, finally came slowly up the steps and sank restfully into his favorite chair with the calico cushion.
“I can’t get that last piece she played out of my head,” he said. “Mrs. Lumbard said it was[247] a Marche Militaire. I should say so.” The speaker drummed the rhythm on the arms of his chair.
“It was splendid,” agreed Millicent. She had been hearing all the morning about the recital, and the English “fed up” but faintly described her satiation.
The morning was so beautiful, the birds so tuneful, everything that had not unfolded was so busy unfolding, and the air so full of sweetness, Millicent could not understand why she felt at odds with a world that was so amiably putting its best foot forward. She forced herself to respond with ardor to her grandfather’s comments. She was glad he had had such an unusual treat. He had seen nothing but charm in Mrs. Lumbard’s manner; while Millicent still felt the perfunctoriness of the star’s response to her own effort to express her appreciation. Hugh had been beside her at the time, and as usual Mrs. Lumbard had implied, or at least Millicent felt the implication, that she was negligible, and the sooner she effaced herself the sooner could life really go on. And it had gone on. The stinging remembrance was that, before the Duanes left, Millicent had seen Hugh and the star disappear together. The girl’s annoyance, and resentment that she could feel it, made her an extra[248] lively and agreeable companion to her grandfather on the way home. He remarked affectionately on the good the evening had done her, and how she needed such outings; and she laughed and hugged him, then went to bed, strains of music flowing through her hot head, while her wet eyes buried in the pillow still saw the moonlight sifting through the great trees with their black shadows, shadows through which they were walking. She wanted—she knew now how desperately she wanted—to walk in the moonlight with Hugh herself, and her feeling that it was a contemptible wish did not help the situation in the least.
Now, this morning, she sat there, enveloped in her pink checked apron, the bright tin pan in her lap and her hands busy, while her grandfather watched her fleeting smiles.
“Seems to me you look sort of pale this morning, honey,” he said.
“Dissipation,” she returned. “You know I’m a country girl.”
“It wasn’t late,” he returned reminiscently, still evidently enjoying his memories. “How she did play the ‘Spring Song’! Simplest things are the best, aren’t they, Milly? I think you look sweeter in that pink apron than in your party dress,” he added.
“Didn’t I look nice last night?” asked the girl with unexpected gravity.
“I should say so. Quite the up-to-date girl, standing there with Miss Frink in her august dignity.”
“Grandpa, here comes Mr. Ogden.”
Colonel Duane rose as the caller opened the gate, and came to the head of the steps to meet him.
“Don’t you move now, Miss Millicent,” said Ogden as the girl started to put aside the big pan. “You make the most charming domestic picture.”
“I can’t shake hands,” she returned, as he approached, and her cheeks matched the gay hue of her apron while her eyes welcomed him.
“This is my P.P.C.” he remarked, taking the chair Colonel Duane offered.
“Oh, are you leaving us?” asked the old gentleman, returning to his calico cushion. “I don’t know what they’ll do without you at Miss Frink’s. That was a great treat she gave us last night. We haven’t talked about anything else this morning; and your announcements, and the general pleasant informality with which you managed the occasion, gave it the last touch of charm. How is that delightful, bright particular star, this morning?”
“Mrs. Lumbard? I haven’t seen her. She didn’t come down to breakfast.”
“Well, she certainly earned that luxury,” responded the Colonel, while Millicent’s gaze fell demurely to her busy hands. “I’d like to have Milly take some lessons of her,” he added.
The girl flashed a quick glance up at the caller. “But I’m not going to,” she said. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
The men laughed.
“What makes you go away, Mr. Ogden?” she added.
“Oh, life can’t be all Farrandale, you know. There’s business waiting for me over there in the suburb of New York. I only came to see Hugh because he was ill.”
“Hugh seemed quite proud of his brilliant friend last night,” remarked the Colonel.
“Oh!” thought Millicent, “will he ever get through talking about her!”
“I shouldn’t blame him if he lost his heart—so handsome and so talented she is.”
Down went the young girl’s gaze again to the contents of he............
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