Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > For the Allinson Honor > CHAPTER 32 THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 On the day after the meeting Andrew returned to Ghyllside, and Hilda met him at the station, her eyes sparkling with delight.  
"You have won!" she cried. "Antony came down last night and brought us the news. Then Gertrude was over this morning and could talk of nothing else. She said you were splendid, and she got quite vexed1 when I told her she needn't speak as if she hadn't expected it."
"After all, my position was a strong one," Andrew said. "It doesn't need much skill to win the game when you hold the best cards, and of course Dream Mine was the ace2 of trumps3. Leonard could only throw down his hand when I brought it out."
"Ah! but how did you get the ace? It wasn't by chance; you searched for it, starving, in the snow. But it's a silly metaphor—one isn't allowed to choose one's cards."
"That's true," Andrew replied with a trace of gravity. "It was dealt to me—I think not by accident. Without it, I should not have won the game."
Hilda's manner changed, for she was seldom serious long.
"Well," she said, when he had helped her into the waiting trap, "in the future you'll be called on to play a different one. You can't reasonably expect[Pg 342] to find another mine, and you'll have no excuse for tramping through the wilds on snow-shoes, after this. Instead of furs and moccasins, you'll have to wear a silk hat and a Bond street coat, and write things in ledgers4 instead of firing off dynamite5. How will you like it?"
"I don't know. However, I suppose it will have to be done; though I might, perhaps, hire somebody to do the writing for me."
"That would be better," Hilda laughed; "your writing isn't good. But I'm afraid there's a bit of a trial in store for you to-night. All your friends and relatives in the neighborhood are coming to dinner and of course they'll congratulate you and try to look as if you hadn't astonished them. In a way, the situation is distinctly humorous."
"How so?"
Hilda broke into a delighted laugh.
"Can't you see it's the triumph of the foolish and looked-down-upon members of the family? You're a popular hero; Antony's a director; and I'm no longer a person who needn't be considered!"
"But what had you to do with it?" Andrew asked with unflattering frankness.
"I believe I pulled some strings6 in a humble7 way. You know you're not really brilliant, Andrew, and I'm afraid you never will be. Perhaps that's why you can't see the large part we women had in your triumph. Of course, you can walk a long distance in snow-shoes and use a pickax; but who led you to think of putting the snow-shoes on?"
"Graham, I believe."
"Try to use some imagination! Go back a little farther. Who made you see that Allinson's had a[Pg 343] claim on you, encouraged you to go to Canada, and prompted you to right that horrid8 contractor9? Can you deny that I, and Ethel, and the girl in Canada, now and then gave you the push you needed? Indeed, I think Miss Frobisher must have been very firm with you."
"You're right," Andrew admitted. "Am I to understand that you propose to continue your supervision10 and assistance in my duties as the company's manager?"
"You might do worse than consult me sometimes; but you must get a good partner who knows the things you haven't learned, when Leonard leaves." Hilda looked up anxiously. "I suppose he is going to leave?"
"I'm inclined to think so," Andrew replied with some severity. "Still, I haven't seen him since the meeting. It's fortunate I know of a partner who'll make up for my deficiencies—I mean our old accountant, Sharpe."
"But surely he has no money!"
"No. You may have heard that money can be valued too highly, and I believe it's true."
Hilda chatted on general topics during the remainder of the drive, and soon after he got home Andrew went down to receive his guests. Ethel Hillyard was the first to arrive, and she smiled at him as she gave him her hand.
"I have heard the news and am very glad," she said. "But it was only what I had confidently looked forward to."
"Then you had a narrow escape of being badly disappointed. As a matter of fact, I owe a great deal to the staunchness of my friends. I should hardly have pulled through if they hadn't cheered me on."
"That's an easy task. It was you who made the fight."
"I had no choice," said Andrew humorously.[Pg 344] "There was no retreat. Then I was well supported—by Olcott's friend, upon whom I had no claim, among others."
"Mr. Murray? I don't suppose you know that you won him over by letting him miss a snipe you could have shot. It's a curious reason for giving you his confidence, isn't it? But it has struck me that in many ways you and he are alike."
"After that, I can hardly say that Murray's a good sort," Andrew laughed. "However, we must drop the subject, for here he comes."
He saw that Murray had not noticed him but was advancing straight toward Ethel, and that a faint tinge11 of color showed in her face. Then after a word of welcome to the man he turned away.
Mrs. Fenwood appeared next and greeted him with more cordiality than he could remember her displaying.
"It's a gratification to see you following in your father's steps at last, though I must say that for a long time we doubted your ever doing so. One recognized that you were influenced by a very proper sense of your responsibility yesterday, and though I thought you were, perhaps, somewhat rash, Robert assures me that you showed signs of business acumen12."
"The trouble is that I may not be able to keep on doing so. If Robert's capable of judging on such a matter, I'm afraid you'll have to be patient with me and make allowance for my wasted years."
"Don't be flippant. It isn't becoming," Mrs. Fenwood rebuked13 him. "You have begun well, and it would be a grief to all of us if you relapsed again."
Mrs. Olcott came to his rescue and soon afterward14 they went in to dinner. Andrew was quiet during the meal, though he felt content. The strain he had long[Pg 345] borne had told on him, and a mild reaction, which brought a sense of fatigue15, had set in. He wanted to rest and he had not finished with Leonard yet.
It was a calm, warm evening, and though a few shaded candles threw a soft light over the table, the windows were wide open and the smoky red of the dying sunset gleamed above the shadowy hills. Wannop was in a boisterous16 mood and Hilda abetted17 him, apparently18 to Robert's irritation19. Ethel talked to Murray, who seemed gravely interested; Mrs. Olcott was patiently listening to Mrs. Fenwood; Gertrude now and then made furtive20 attempts to check her husband. Andrew looked on with languid satisfaction, and joined in only when it was necessary. Presently, to his annoyance21, Wannop filled his glass and got up.
"You have all heard what happened in London yesterday," he said. "Now that we are here together and those who have joined us are our host's good friends, it seems opportune22 to wish a long and useful career to the Head of the House."
They rose with lifted glasses, and Andrew felt a thrill as he read the good-will in their faces and knew his victory over his relatives' prejudices was complete. The toast they drank with hearty23 sincerity24 was, in a sense, an act of homage—a recognition of his authority. Instead of bearing with and trying to guide him, they would henceforward follow where he led. There was a moment's silence after they sat down, and then he thanked them awkwardly.
As they left the table Mrs. Fenwood remarked to Hilda, who was nearest her.
"It's your brother's rightful place, but he was a long time claiming it; and, after all, I don't see what Leonard can have done that he should be deposed25."
[Pg 346]"That lies between him and ............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved