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HOME > Classical Novels > For the Allinson Honor > CHAPTER XII INTERRUPTED PLANS
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 Mrs. Denton reclined in an easy-chair in her room at Frobisher's house. A shawl of beautiful texture1 covered her shoulders, her feet rested on a stool, and the lamp on a neighboring table was carefully shaded. The dull pallor of her skin and the gauntness of her face suggested the invalid2, but her health, while far from good, had suffered from the thought she bestowed3 on it. She was a reserved and selfish woman, and her mean ambitions were responsible for much of the trouble that had befallen her. Geraldine and she were generally at variance4, Frobisher bore with her, but there was one person for whom she cherished a somewhat misguided tenderness. Mappin had been her favorite from his earliest years.  
His father had been her lover when the Frobishers were poor, and she had returned his affection. Nevertheless she had thrown him over when a richer suitor appeared, and her marriage had turned out disastrously5. Urged by a desire for social prominence6 and love of ostentation7, she had driven her husband into hazardous8, speculations9, for which he had weakly reproached her when the crash came. He escaped total ruin by Frobisher's help, but he afterward10 went downhill fast, wrangling11 with his wife until his death set her free. Her old lover had also married, and died a widower12, leaving one son, and Mrs. Denton had shown a benevolent13 interest in the boy. He was bold and ambitious,[Pg 124] which was what she liked, and she was not deterred14 by the lack of principle he early displayed. Success was the one thing she respected, and as he grew up young Mappin promised to attain16 it. Now she was expecting him, for he came to see her whenever he was in the neighborhood, and Frobisher made him welcome for her sake.
When Mappin came in he was red-faced from the frosty air.
"This place is stiflingly17 hot," he said. "I'm afraid that's because you're not feeling very fit yet."
Mrs. Denton told him she could not get rid of her cold, and he had the tact18 to listen with a show of interest while she talked about her health.
"You will stay all night?" she asked.
"Yes, I'm sorry I must get back to-morrow."
"Then I've no doubt it's necessary," she remarked in a suggestive tone.
Mappin laughed as if he understood her.
"It is. As things are going, business must come first. Besides, I can't flatter myself that I gained much by my last visit."
"That's a point I can't speak upon, but you're not likely to lose your head. There's a cold-blooded, calculating vein19 in you. I wonder whether that was why you came straight to my room, though the society of a crotchety old invalid can't have much charm for you."
The man's heavy face grew a trifle redder than usual.
"No," he protested, "it wasn't. I'm not dirt mean."
"Oh, well," said Mrs. Denton, looking at him gently, "you know I'm your friend. But I never pretended not to guess what brought you here."
"And I haven't made a secret of it. I mean to marry Geraldine."
[Pg 125]"She'll have a good deal of money some day."
Mappin looked up angrily.
"I'll admit that my interest generally comes first; but I'd be mighty20 glad to take Geraldine without a cent."
"Then you had better bestir yourself. Allinson has been here pretty often and she seems to like him. Besides, he's made a good impression on her father."
"Ah!" exclaimed Mappin, "that confounded Englishman again! It's only a few hours since he threatened to cut my connection with the Rain Bluff21; and one way and another that's a bad set-back." He frowned and the veins22 showed on his forehead. "I was coining money out of my contract, and I need it, because I have my feelings and I won't ask Frobisher for Geraldine like a beggar. He has a cool, smiling way of saying unpleasant things that makes me mad. I want to show him I'm as smart as he is and can give the girl as much as he can."
When they were detached from his business, Mappin's ideas were crude, but Mrs. Denton was not refined and found no fault with them. Moreover, she had an interest in his success. For a long time she had been the mistress of her brother's house and directed his social affairs. The position was a desirable one, especially as she had been left without means; but it was threatened. It was inevitable23 that Geraldine would take the power she enjoyed out of her hands, unless she married. Had Mappin not entered the field, Mrs. Denton would have furthered the claims of any suitor, to get the girl out of her way.
"I suppose money would gratify your pride, but you may find waiting risky," she said. "If you're wise, you'll make all the progress with Geraldine you can."
[Pg 126]He smiled ruefully.
"I sometimes feel that I'm making none. She looks at me half amused and half astonished when I express my opinions; I have to keep a curb24 on myself when I talk to her. In fact, I've once or twice got mad. I can take a joke, but her condescending25 smile is riling."
"Then why do you want to marry her?"
"It puzzles me when I think it over coolly, but that's difficult. When she's near me I only know that I want her." His eyes gleamed and his face grew flushed as he proceeded. "Guess it must be her wonderful eyes and hair and skin; the shape of her, the way she stands, the grit26 she shows. Once when I said something she flashed out at me in a fury, and I liked her for it." He clenched27 a big hand. "Somehow I'm going to get her!"
Mrs. Denton smiled. The savagery28 of his passion did not jar on her; she admired his determined29 boldness. She respected force that was guided by capacity; she liked a man who was strong or cunning enough to take what he desired. Her niece, however, held different views.
"That sounds genuine," she said. "Still, you had better talk to Geraldine in a more polished strain."
"No; I'd do it badly, and it wouldn't pay. There's red blood in me, and I haven't found much difference in men and women. If you hit straight at their human nature, you can't go wrong. A girl's never offended because you like her for being pretty."
He was wise, in that he knew his limitations and never pretended to be what he was not. His knowledge of human weaknesses had been profitable, for he had not scrupled30 to prey31 upon them, but he erred15 in assuming that his was the only rule of life. Virtue32 he[Pg 127] frankly33 regarded as either absence of desire or a sentimental34 pose.
"You're too coarse, too crude in your methods," Mrs. Denton persisted. "If you're not careful, you'll disgust Geraldine. You don't seem to see that she's different from the girls you are accustomed to."
Mappin laughed.
"Oh," he said, "at heart, they're all the same."
"In a sense, you're wrong. Allinson lets Geraldine see that he puts her on a higher plane, and she likes it. If you can't imitate him, you had better watch him."
"If Allinson's likely to make trouble, I'll fix him quick. Pretty talk and finicking manners, that's all there is to him, except a few fool notions about the mining business which he hasn't the grit or ability to carry out. But you look as if you had a headache and I guess I've talked enough."
She let him go, fearing to strain the consideration he sometimes showed her, for he was the only person for whom she had a scrap35 of affection. Mappin left her with half-contemptuous pity. He owed her some gratitude36, because it was on her account that he had been received in the house; but he knew how little her support was worth, for he was shrewd enough to see that her brother and her niece held her in no great esteem37. Indeed, he knew his position was not encouraging. Geraldine had shown him no favor, and Frobisher's attitude was more marked by forbearance than friendliness38; but Mappin was not deterred. He had stubborn courage and a firm belief in his powers.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, he stopped in the shadow of a heavy curtain as Geraldine c............
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