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HOME > Short Stories > The Queen of Farrandale > CHAPTER XXIV A SHOCK
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 Miss Frink had instinctively felt that during the first weeks of his new status in the town Hugh would not wish to be seen driving with her in her well-known equipage, and she had desisted from asking him; but to-day he was beside her as the handsome bays jingled toward that large salesroom where reposed their hitherto unsuccessful rivals. “Now I have picked out a car,” said Miss Frink as they neared their goal, “but I didn’t want to buy it without your approval because, of course, I hope you would like to drive me a good deal.”
“I understand,” replied Hugh. “I certainly should like to.”
As they entered the salesroom, a man came forward to welcome them eagerly.
“Mr. Godfrey, this is my nephew, Mr. Sinclair, and I want him to see that roadster I was looking at.”
“Yes, Miss Frink, I’ve been watching for you.”
He led the way to where a low, rakish, canary-colored machine shone gayly.
Hugh stared at it.
“Is this the one, Aunt Susanna?”
“Yes,” she replied, rather defiantly. “You know I don’t do things by halves. If I’m going to have a motor, I want to go the whole figure. I told Mr. Godfrey I wanted a snappy, classy car: even if it was extreme: even if it was to cars what jazz is to music.”
Hugh looked at the salesman, but no sense of humor could be discerned in his earnest countenance. Hugh struggled with his own risibles and also with a desire to hug his aunt in public. It seemed the only way to deal with her.
“How were you going to get into it, Aunt Susanna?” he asked.
She gazed at the machine, observing for the first time that it had no doors.
“I—why—” she began.
“You wouldn’t want to turn a somersault every time you went for an outing, would you?”
She looked at him helplessly. “Don’t you like it, Hugh?” she asked faintly.
He looked again at the salesman to see if he was human. Apparently the depth of Miss Frink’s pocketbook was the only feature of the transaction which he was taking in.
“Let’s find something a little less sporty,” he continued. “You’ve a fine assortment here.”
“That’s right, Hugh, you choose,” said Miss Frink, her spirits rising, “and don’t think too much about me. One that you would like to drive is what I want.”
They chose one at last. It was very dark blue, and very shiny, and low hung, and very expensive, and it had embryo doors, and could be delivered promptly, and Hugh’s eyes shone at the prospect of being its chauffeur. Miss Frink was tremulous with happiness at seeing his pleasure, and they returned home to dinner, her hand in his.
“I don’t know what to do with you, Aunt Susanna,” he said.
“Now, Hugh, you’re doing me injustice,” she returned firmly. “I do want to drive in an auto. I want to progress, and not be a clam. Besides, I’m going away, and I thought you could learn all about the machine while I am gone.”
“Where are you going?”
“To Waveland Beach. It is only a few hours from here. I guess I’m tired. At any rate, I’m not sleeping very well, and I’ll get down there and not hear a word about business for a few weeks.”
“I’m sorry you’re not feeling all right. Can’t I do something? Don’t you want me to go with you?”
Of course, she did, but she denied it. “No, you stay here and go on with Colonel Duane. Shan’t you choose Columbia in the fall? I’ve been writing to Carol and telling her we are going to have a full-fledged lawyer of our own pretty soon.”
So a few days later Miss Frink departed to her resort, and it fitted in so well with Leonard Grimshaw’s plans that she should go away, that he was quite affable about the new automobile, and in his first tête-à-tête dinner with Hugh was less taciturn than usual.
He talked of the cleverness with which Adèle handled the Koh-i-noor organ. He gave him the tickets for the opening of the Cinema Palace, and Hugh took Millicent and her grandfather and Damaris Cooper, and they had a delightful party. They talked with Adèle afterward. She was in the highest spirits, and Leonard Grimshaw stood beside her with an air of proprietorship which Hugh discerned with satisfaction.
The secretary had not yet qualified for that reward of hers, promised when he should have evicted the Duanes; and seeing Millicent with Hugh to-night created in Adèle a tigerish eagerness for its fulfillment.
“Have patience,” Leonard told her when the others had gone. “Everything is working[291] toward the desired end; but why are you so interested?” he added.
“Can you ask?” she returned with one of the looks he dreamed about. “Is it nothing to—to us that Goldstein wishes to be so generous?”
Grimshaw smiled. “We may be living in that apartment house ourselves, Adèle. Who knows?”
One afternoon there appeared in Colonel Duane’s garden an alien growth in the shape of the manager of the Koh-i-noor. The owner saw him walking along the garden paths and in surprise went out to meet him.
Mr. Goldstein held out his hand. “It looks like intrusion, I’m sure, Colonel Duane, but you excuse me if I look this ground over; I have a strong personal interest.”
Colonel Duane mechanically shook hands.
“Yes; I am about to buy this property.” The visitor smiled into the old gentleman’s startled face.
“I’ve heard nothing of this,” said the Colonel, and his voice was not steady. “Miss Frink is away.”
“Ah, who so progressive as Miss Frink!” said Goldstein devoutly. “This property is too valuable for its present use. I will put an apartment[292] building here that you will be proud to live in—proud, Colonel Duane.”
“I—I can’t realize that what you say is true.”
“Oh, there is nothing to worry you,” said Goldstein soothingly. “You will not be required to leave before the autumn. I’m sure we would not do anything to disturb or annoy so respected a citizen.” The speaker’s eyes wandered afield. “I wanted to see what the chances would be of retaining that old elm in the corner there. You know, Colonel Duane, to me a fine tree is an asset. There is something money cannot buy. It is worth a sacrifice to retain it. It is a thing that the years only can produce. It is—” He turned to face his companion, but the old gentleman had gone.
Colonel Duane entered the room where his granddaughter was, and Millicent started up in alarm.
“What is it Grandpa? Are you ill?”
“I’ve had a shock, Milly. Miss Frink is going to sell our place.”
“Oh, I can’t believe it! Not without any warning.”
“Mr. Goldstein, of the Koh-i-noor, is going to buy it. He is out there now, looking the ground over.”
Millicent ran to the window. She could see the purchaser, his hands folded behind him looking up at the fine old tree. She turned back to her grandfather with eyes that flashed. Her soft lips set in a hard line.
“How can she do it with all her money! How can she take your garden away, Grandpa?”
“He is going to put up a flat building.” Colonel Duane sank into a chair. “We can’t expect the world to stand still for us, Milly. Business is business. Mr. Goldstein says this land is too valuable to be left for an old man to go puttering about in.” He smiled pitifully.
“That is why she has gone away,” said Millicent acutely. “She w............
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