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HOME > Short Stories > The Queen of Farrandale > CHAPTER XXV JOURNEY’S END
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 Miss Frink was sitting on the porch of the Sea View Hotel, rocking as all good Americans do, and thinking, as usual, of Hugh. The expanse of ocean lay before her, and, as she watched the sailboats careening, she wondered if her nephew cared for sailing and if he was a good swimmer. She thought of the desirable girls in Farrandale. Some of them had had European educations. She hoped Hugh would accept the Tarrant invitation. As Miss Frink passed in review the young people she had seen grow up without noticing them, Inez Tarrant stood out in her mind as the most attractive. She shook her head as a memory of Hugh’s father struck athwart her thought.
“I won’t,” she reflected. “I won’t interfere this time, whatever the boy does. He shall never think of his old aunt as a wet blanket. Never!”
She was in a blissful dream when suddenly a car drew up before the hotel porch directly in front of her rocking-chair. She didn’t recognize it at first. All its shiny blueness was dust-laden. So were its occupants. One of them[301] saw her instantly, and waved his cap. Millicent was out as quickly as Hugh, pulling off her veil and looking up with a beating heart at Miss Frink, who started to her feet.
“We’ve come to lunch with you, Aunt Susanna.” Hugh embraced her, and she took Millicent’s timid hand.
“Well, if this isn’t fine of you children! What sights you are! Take the car to the garage, Hugh, while I help Millicent to brush up. You must have started very early,” she added to the girl when they had reached her room.
“We did, and it has been such a beautiful morning. The car runs like velvet.”
“You look tired, child. Are those shadows under your eyes, or is it all dust? Now I’ll leave you here. Make yourself at home. Don’t hurry. There’s plenty of time. Come down to the porch when you’re ready.”
Miss Frink returned to her rocking-chair, and soon Hugh joined her, washed and brushed to her heart’s desire.
“I’m your letter to-day, Aunt Susanna,” he said, pulling up a chair beside her.
“Well, I’ll take you”—she regarded the vital light in his eyes—“and read you, too.”
“The X-ray still working?” he laughed.
“Certainly. Here is a very happy boy.”
“With everything to make him happy,” he returned.
“The car pleases you?”
“Perfect. The company, too.”
“Me or Millicent?” Miss Frink’s lips twitched. “My! That girl’s hair was pretty when it tumbled down just now, upstairs.”
“Both of you,” replied Hugh.
“Have you accepted Miss Tarrant’s invitation?”
“No—yes—Oh, yes, I remember now, I did, to please you.”
“It will be to please yourself, later.”
Hugh gave her a brilliant smile in which eyes and lips co?perated with great effect.
“It won’t matter much, Aunt Susanna. There is only one perfect girl in Farrandale, and I’ve found her.”
Miss Frink grasped the arms of her chair.
“Hugh Sinclair!” she gasped. “Why, I never even thought of Millicent Duane!”
He leaned toward her and spoke low. The smile vanished under his aunt’s aghast eyeglasses.
“Set your X-ray going, Aunt Susanna. See the modesty, the honesty, the purity, the frankness, the unselfishness, the charm of total goodness—”
“Did you come down here to tell me this?”
“No. I never said a word to her until this morning on the way; and she refused me. She’s afraid of you. She believes herself too humble and obscure to suit you, and she says she’d rather die than marry me if it didn’t please you. She loves you, too, Aunt Susanna. She appreciates you.”
Miss Frink’s firm resolution of an hour ago recurred to her. Her surprise was so absolute that she leaned back in her chair, speechless.
“We just made up our minds suddenly last night to come, and it has been a most lovely drive.”
“H’m. Millicent looks as if she had been through the war.”
“She has. We’ll tell you about it, later.”
Millicent appeared from the doorway, and Miss Frink noted the expression in Hugh’s face as he started up to meet her.
“I know you are both famished,” she said. “Let us go right in to lunch.”
Poor Millicent, with her double burden of apprehension and embarrassment, made a valiant attempt to eat, and Hugh saved her from the necessity of talking by keeping up a busy conversation with his aunt. As for Miss Frink, she was constantly fighting a sense of resentment.
“Just like me,” she thought. “Just because I didn’t plan it, I suppose I can’t approve it. Just because I can’t have him all to myself, I suppose I wouldn’t like it, whoever it was. Just like you, Susanna Frink. Just like you!”
When they rose from the table, Hugh spoke.
“We did come down here on an errand, Aunt Susanna. Is there some place where we can be entirely by ourselves?”
“We will go up to my room,” she returned. What could their errand be if it was not on that rending subject?
“She didn’t eat anything,” reflected Miss Frink as they went up in the elevator. “I suppose they don’t when they’re in love.”
Her heart pleaded a little for Millicent, just then. Even if it were presumptuous for the girl to fall in love with Hugh, was it within youthful feminine human nature to help it when they had been thrown together daily for so long? What had been nearly superhuman was to refuse him, shut in with him in that very new, very blue, shiny roadster with all the early summer surroundings of romance. The girl had some strength, anyway. And how sweetly she had sympathized with herself at the exciting time of the discovery!
She sat down now, however, with an entirely[305] non-committal expression, and Millicent took a place facing her. Apparently she was the one with the message. Hugh wandered to a window overlooking the sea.
How pale the girl was! The shadows under her hazel eyes had not been dust. Those eyes had apparently started out to be brown, but thought better of it. They were surpassingly clear, and they looked now directly into Miss Frink’s.
“I don’t know even yet if it was right for me to come,” she began. “Grandpa thought it wasn’t, for we haven’t the least right to trouble you in your affairs; but it means so much to Grandpa I couldn’t content myself without knowing from your own lips if you are selling our home.”
Miss Frink’s face continued set. A little frown came in her forehead.
“Not that we wouldn’t get used to the thought, but—just at first, it—he made Grandpa look so old—”
“Who did?”
“Mr. Goldstein. He wants to put up an apartment house and he was looking the ground over to see if he could save the elm.”
“Oh, yes. Mr. Goldstein. He is Adèle’s—Mrs. Lumbard’s employer, I believe.”
“Yes, Miss Frink”—the hazel eyes searched the bright eyeglasses—“did Mrs. Lumbard ask you to sell the place?”
“Certainly not. Why do you ask such a question?”
“Because—I’m ashamed to say so, but I’ve thought so much about it. Mrs. Lumbard hates me. I can’t imagine why. I’ve met her on the street. Nobody ever looked at me the way she does.”
Miss Frink threw a quick glance over her shoulder at Hugh, who came back from the window, and stood near Millicent.
“This only came to light yesterday,” he said. “Of course, if you are selling the place, it is all right; but I talked with Grimshaw last night at dinner, and I was not satisfied with his replies, although he claimed to have your authority. If there was anything for you to look into, I thought it best for us to come in person; but, if everything is being done by your order, there is nothing for us to do but kiss you and leave you.”
“I suppose,” Millicent’s voice wavered, “I suppose it would be dreadful to ask you to change your mind, but Grandpa—I don’t know what he will do. He loves every little sprout, and—and there isn’t any other place—”
“Your grandfather seems to be your whole[307] thought,” said Miss Frink. She was definitely frowning now, and her expression was severe.
“He is. I’d do anything—I’m doing something almost disgraceful now in begging you—” The voice stopped, and color came up in the pale cheeks.
Hugh watched his aunt, but there was no change in her expression.
“We thought if there was any question in your mind,” he said, “that we would leave the car here, and you would return with us on the train.”
Miss Frink looked at her watch. “The train went while we were eating,” she said. “There isn’t another until evening, but I think I will go back with you. Meanwhile”—her set face lightened—“I suggest that this girl lie down and rest while you take me for a drive.”
“That’ll be bully!” agreed Hugh.
Millicent tried to control her trembling lips as she followed Miss Frink’s movement and rose. The latter went into the next room to put on her hat.
Hugh took the young girl’s hands, and she drew them away gently. “Don’t you see,” he said softly, “that that is hopeful?”
“I don’t know. Oh, she looked so hard. I’m afraid of her when she is the Queen of Farrandale.”
“But she wouldn’t go with us if it were settled. You see that?”
“Then, why couldn’t she say one encouraging word?”
“Because she doesn’t know how far Grimshaw has gone. He said he had full authority. Perhaps now she wishes she hadn’t given it to him.”
Miss Frink came back. “Think how many times you’ve put me to sleep, Millicent. Now you let the ocean do the same for you. Go right into that room and make yourself comfortable. Lie down on my bed and don’t think about anything but the waves.”
They left her, and............
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