Part 2 out of 6
In their hearts they liked everything about the place except Olive, and
they wondered how they were going to get along with such a glum young
person, but they did not talk about her to Mrs. Easterfield; there was
too much else.
Mr. Claude Locker was expected on the train by which the Foxes had come,
but he did not arrive; and this made it necessary to send again for him
in the afternoon.
Mrs. Easterfield tried very hard to cheer up Olive, and to make her
entertain the Foxes in her usual lively way, but this was of no use;
the young person was not in a good humor, and retired for an afternoon
nap. But as this was an indulgence she very seldom allowed herself, it
was not likely that she napped.
Mr. Fox spoke to Mrs. Fox about her. "A queer girl," he said; "what do
you suppose is the matter with her?"
"The symptoms are those of green apples," replied Mrs. Fox, "and
probably she will be better to-morrow."
The carriage came back without Mr. Locker. But just as the soup-plates
were being removed from the dinner-table he arrived in a hired vehicle,
and appeared at the dining-room door with his hat in one hand, and a
package in the other. He begged Mrs. Easterfield not to rise.
"I will slip up to my room," said he, "if you have one for me, and when
I come down I will greet you and be introduced."
With this he turned and left the room, but was back in a moment. "It was
a woman," he said, "who was at the bottom of it. It is always a woman,
you know, and I am sure you will excuse me now that you know this. And
you must let me begin wherever you may be in the dinner."
"I have heard of Mr. Locker," said Mr. Fox, "but I never met him before.
He must be very odd."
"He admits that himself," said Mrs. Easterfield, "but he asserts that he
spends a great deal of his time getting even with people."
In a reasonable time Mr. Locker appeared and congratulated himself upon
having struck the roast.
"As a matter of fact," he said, "we will now all begin dinner together.
What has gone before was nothing but overture. If I can help it I never
get in until the beginning of the play."
He bowed parenthetically as Mrs. Easterfield introduced him to the
company; and, as she looked at him, Olive forgot for a moment her uncle
and his visitor.
"Don't send for soup, I beg of you," said Mr. Locker, as he took his
seat. "I regard it as a rare privilege to begin with the inside cut of
Mr. Locker was not allowed to do all the talking; his hostess would not
permit that; but under the circumstances he was allowed to explain his
"You know I have been spending a week with the Bartons," he said, "and
last night I came over from their house to the station in a carriage.
There is a connecting train, but I should have had to take it very early
in the evening, so I saved time by hiring a carriage."
"Saved time?" exclaimed Mrs. Easterfield.
"I saved all the time from dinner until the Bartons went to bed, which
would have been lost if I had taken the train. Besides, I like to travel
in carriages. One is never too late for a carriage; it is always bound
to wait for you."
In the recesses of his mind Mr. Fox now said to himself, "This is a
fool." And Mrs. Fox, in the recesses of her mind, remarked, "I am quite
sure that Mr. Fox will look upon this young man as a fool."
"I spent what was left of the night at a tavern near the station,"
continued Mr. Locker, "where I would have had to stay all night if I
had not taken the carriage. And I should have been in plenty of time for
the morning train if I had not taken a walk before breakfast. Apparently
that is a part of the world where it takes a good deal longer to go back
to a place than it does to get away from it."
"But where did the woman come in?" asked Mrs. Easterfield.
"Oh, she came in with some tea and sandwiches in the middle of the
afternoon," said Mr. Locker. "I was waiting in the parlor of the tavern.
She was fairly young, and as I ate she stood and talked. She talked
about Horace Walpole." At this even Olive smiled. "It was odd, wasn't
it?" continued Mr. Locker, glancing from one to the other. "But that is
what she did. She had been reading about him in an old book. She asked
me if I knew anything about him, and I told her a great deal. It was so
very interesting to tell her, and she was so interested, that when the
train arrived I was too much occupied to think that it might start again
immediately, but it did that very thing, and so I was left. However, the
Walpole young woman told me there was a freight-train along in about an
hour, and so we continued our conversation. When this train came I asked
the engineer how many cigars he would take to let me ride in the cab. He
said half a dozen, but as I only had five, I promised to send him the
other by mail. However, as I smoked two of his five, I suppose I ought
to send him three."
"This young man," said Mr. Fox to himself, "is trying to appear more of
a fool than he really is."
"I have no doubt," said Mrs. Fox to herself, "that Mr. Fox is of the
opinion that this young man is making an effort to appear foolish."
That evening was a dull one. Mrs. Easterfield did her best, Claude
Locker did his best, and Mr. and Mrs. Fox did their best to make things
lively, but their success was poor. Miss Raleigh, the secretary, sat
ready to give an approving smile to any liveliness which might arise,
and Mrs. Blynn, with the dark eyes and soft white hair, sat sewing and
waiting; never before had it been necessary for her to wait for
liveliness in Mrs. Easterfield's house. A mild rain somewhat assisted
the dullness, for everybody was obliged to stay indoors.
Early the next morning Olive Asher went down-stairs, and stood in the
open doorway looking out upon the landscape, glowing in the sunshine and
brighter and more odorous from the recent rain. Some time during the
night this young woman had made up her mind to give no further thought
to her uncle who kept the toll-gate. There was no earthly reason why he,
or anything he wanted to do, or did not want to do, or did, should
trouble and annoy her. A few months before she had scarcely known him,
not having seen him since she was a girl; and, in fact, he was no more
to her now than he was before she went to his house. If he chose to
offer her any explanation of his strange conduct, that would be very
well; if he did not choose, that would also be very well. The whole
affair was of no consequence; she would drop it entirely from her mind.
Olive's bounding spirits now rose very high, and when Claude Locker came
in with his shoes soaked from a tramp in the wet grass she greeted him
in such a way that he could scarcely believe she was the grumpy girl of
the day before. As they went into breakfast Mrs. Fox remarked to her
husband in a low voice that Miss Asher seemed to have recovered entirely
from her indisposition.
In the course of the morning Mr. Locker found an opportunity to speak in
private with Mrs. Easterfield. "I am in great trouble," he said; "I want
to marry Miss Asher."
"You show unusual promptness," said Mrs. Easterfield.
"Not at all," replied Locker. "This sort of thing is not unusual with
me. My mind is a highly sensitive plate, and receives impressions almost
instantaneously. If it were a large mind these impressions might be
placed side by side, and each one would perhaps become indelible. But it
is small, and each impression claps itself down on the one before. This
last one, however, is the strongest of them all, and obliterates
everything that went before."
"It strikes me," said Mrs. Easterfield, "that if you were to pay more
attention to your poems and less to young ladies it would be better."
"Hardly," said Mr. Locker; "for it would be worse for the poems."
The general appearance of Mr. Locker gave no reason to suppose that he
would be warranted in assuming a favorable issue from any of the
impressions to which his mind was so susceptible. He was small, rather
awkwardly set up, his head was large, and the features of his face
seemed to have no relation to each other. His nose was somewhat stubby,
and had nothing to do with his mouth or eyes. One of his eyebrows was
drawn down as if in days gone by he had been in the habit of wearing a
single glass. The other brow was raised over a clear and wide-open
light-blue eye. His mouth was large, and attended strictly to its own
business. It transmitted his odd ideas to other people, but it never
laughed at them. His chin was round and prominent, suggesting that it
might have been borrowed from somebody else. His cheeks were a little
heavy, and gave no assistance in the expression of his ideas.
His profession was that of a poet. He called himself a practical poet,
because he made a regular business of it, turning his poetic
inspirations into salable verse with the facility and success, as he
himself expressed it, of a man who makes boxes out of wood. Moreover, he
sold these poems as readily as any carpenter sold his boxes. Like
himself, Claude Locker's poems were always short, always in request, and
sometimes not easy to understand.
The poem he wrote that night was a word-picture of the rising moon
entangled in a sheaf of corn upon a hilltop, with a long-eared rabbit
sitting near by as if astonished at the conflagration.
"A very interesting girl, that Miss Asher," said Mr. Fox to his wife
that evening. "I do not know when I have laughed so much."
"I thought you were finding her interesting," said Mrs. Fox. "To me it
was like watching a game of roulette at Monte Carlo. It was intensely
interesting, but I could not imagine it as having anything to do with
"No, my dear," said Mr. Fox, "it could have nothing to do with you."
After Mrs. Easterfield retired she sat for a long time, thinking of
Olive. That young person and Mr. Locker had been boating that afternoon,
and Olive had had the oars. Mr. Locker had told with great effect how
she had pulled to get out of the smooth water, and how she had dashed
over the rapids and between the rocks in such a way as to make his heart
"I should like to go rowing with her every day," he had remarked
confidentially. "Each time I started I should make a new will."
"Why a new one?" Mrs. Easterfield had asked.
"Each time I should take something more from my relatives to give to
her," had been the answer.
As she sat and thought, Mrs. Easterfield began to be a little
frightened. She was a brave woman, but it is the truly brave who know
when they should be frightened, and she felt her responsibility, not on
account of the niece of the toll-gate keeper, but on account of the
daughter of Lieutenant Asher, whom she had once known so well. The thing
which frightened her was the possibility that before anybody would be
likely to think of such a thing Olive might marry Claude Locker. He was
always ready to do anything he wanted to do at any time; and for all
Mrs. Easterfield knew, the girl might be of the same sort.
But Mrs. Easterfield rose to the occasion. She looked upon Olive as a
wild young colt who had broken out of her paddock, but she remembered
that she herself had a record for speed. "If there is to be any running
I shall get ahead of her," she said to herself, "and I will turn her
back. I think I can trust myself for that."
Olive slept the sound sleep of the young, but for all that she had a
dream. She dreamed of a kind, good, thoughtful, and even affectionate,
middle-aged man; a man who looked as though he might have been her
father, and whom she was beginning to look upon as a father,
notwithstanding the fact that she had a real father dressed in a uniform
and on a far-away ship. She dreamed ever so many things about this
newer, although elder, father, and her dream made her very happy.
But in the morning when she woke her dream had entirely passed from her
mind, and she felt just as much like a colt as when she had gone to bed.
_The Captain and his Guest go Fishing and come Home Happy._
When Dick Lancaster told Captain Asher he had taken toll from two ladies
in a phaeton he was quite eloquent in his description of said ladies. He
declared with an impressiveness which the captain had not noticed in him
before that he did not know when he had seen such handsome ladies. The
younger one, who paid the toll, was absolutely charming. She seemed a
little bit startled, but he supposed that was because she saw a strange
face at the toll-gate. Dick wanted very much to know who these ladies
were. He had not supposed that he would find such stylish people, and
such a handsome turnout in this part of the country.
"Oh, ho," said Captain Asher, "do you suppose we are all farmers and
toll-gate keepers? If you do, you are very much mistaken, although I
must admit that the stylish people, as you call them, are scattered
about very thinly. I expect that carriage was from Broadstone over on
the mountain. Was the team dapple gray, pony built?"
"Yes," said Lancaster.
"Then it was Mrs. Easterfield driving some of her company. I have seen
her with that team. And by George," he exclaimed, "I bet my head the
other one was Olive! Of course it was. And she paid toll! Well, well, if
that isn't a good one! Olive paying toll! I wish I had been here to take
it! That truly would have been a lark!"
Dick Lancaster did not echo this wish of his host. He was very glad,
indeed, that the captain had not been at the toll-gate when the ladies
passed through. Captain Asher was still laughing.
"Olive must have been amazed," he said. "It was queer enough for her to
go through my gate and pay toll, but to pay it to an Assistant Professor
of Theoretical Mathematics was a good deal queerer. I can't imagine what
she thought about it."
"She did not know I am that!" exclaimed Dick Lancaster. "There is
nothing of the professor in my outward appearance--at least, I hope
"No, I don't think there is," replied the captain. "But she must have
been amazed, all the same. I wish I had been here, or old Jane, anyway.
But, of course, when a stranger showed himself she would not have said
"But who is Olive?" asked Lancaster.
"She's my niece," said the captain. "I don't think I have mentioned her
to you. She is on a visit to me, but just now she is staying at
Broadstone. I suppose she will be there about a week longer."
"It's odd he has not mentioned her to me," thought Lancaster, and then,
as the captain went to ask old Jane if she had seen Olive pass, the
young man retired to the arbor with a book which he did not read.
His desire to inform his host that it would be necessary to take leave
of him on the morrow had very much abated. It would be very pleasant, he
thought, to be a visitor in a family of which that girl was a member.
But if she were not to return for a week, how could he expect to stay
with the captain so long? There would be no possible excuse for such a
thing. Then he thought it would be very pleasant to be in a country of
which that young woman was one of the inhabitants. Anyway, he hoped the
captain would invite him to make a longer stay. The great blue eyes with
which the young lady had regarded him as she paid the toll would not
fade out of his mind.
"She must have wondered who it was that took the toll," said old Jane.
"And there wasn't no need of it, anyway. I could have took it as I
always have took it when you was not here, and before either of them
"Either of them" struck the captain's ear strangely. Here was this old
woman coupling these two young people in her mind!
The next morning Captain Asher sat on his little piazza, smoking his
pipe and thinking about Olive driving through the gate and paying toll
to a stranger. But he now considered the incident from a different point
of view. Of course, Olive had been surprised when she had seen the young
man, but she might also have wondered how he happened to be there and
she not know of it. If he were staying long enough to be entrusted with
toll-taking it might--in fact, the captain thought it probably
would--appear very strange to her that she should not know of it. So
now he asked himself if it would not be a good thing if he were to write
her a little note in which he should mention Mr. Lancaster and his
visit. In fact, he thought the best thing he could do would be to write
her a playful sort of a note, and tell her that she should feel honored
by having her toll taken up by a college professor. But he did not
immediately write the note. The more he thought about it, the more he
wished he had been at the toll-gate when Mrs. Easterfield's phaeton
Captain Asher did not write his note at all. He did not know what to
say; he did not want to make too much of the incident, for it was really
a trifling matter, only worthy of being mentioned in case he had
something more important to write about. But he had nothing more
important; there was no reason why he should write to Olive during her
short stay with Mrs. Easterfield. Besides, she would soon be back, and
then he could talk to her; that would be much better. Now, two strong
desires began to possess him; one was for Olive to come home; and the
other for Dick Lancaster to go away. There had been moments when he had
had a shadowy notion of bringing the two together, but this idea had
vanished. His mind was now occupied very much with thoughts of his
beautiful niece and very little with the young man in the colored shirt
and turned-up trousers who was staying with him.
Dick Lancaster, in his arbor, was also thinking a great deal about
Olive, and very little about that stalwart sailor, her uncle. If he had
merely seen the young woman, and had never heard anything about her,
her face would have impressed him, but the knowledge that she was an
inmate of the house in which he was staying could not fail to affect him
very much. He was puzzling his mind about the girl who had given him a
quarter of a dollar, and to whom he had handed fifteen cents in change.
He wondered how such a girl happened to be living at such a place. He
wondered if there were any possibility of his staying there, or in the
neighborhood, until she should come back; he wondered if there were any
way by which he could see her again. He might have wondered a good many
other things if Captain Asher had not approached the arbor. The captain
having been aroused from his mental contemplation of Olive by a man in a
wagon, had glanced over at the arbor and had suddenly been struck with
the conviction that that young man looked bored, and that, as his host,
he was not doing the right thing by him.
"Dick," said the captain, "let's go fishing. It's not late yet, and I'll
put my mare to the buggy, and we can drive to the river. We will take
something to eat with us, and make a day of it."
Lancaster hesitated a moment; he had been thinking that the time had
come when he should say something about his departure, but this
invitation settled the matter for that day; and in half an hour the two
had started away, leaving the toll-gate in charge of old Jane, who was a
veteran in the business, having lived at the toll-gate years before the
As they drove along the smooth turnpike Lancaster remembered with great
interest that this road led to the gap in the mountains; that the
captain had told him Broadstone was not very far from the gap; and that
the river was not very far from Broadstone; and his face glowed with
interest in the expedition.
But when, after a few miles, they turned into a plain country road
which, as the captain informed him, led in a southeasterly direction, to
a point on the river where black bass were to be caught and where a boat
could be hired, the corners of Dick Lancaster's mouth began to droop. Of
necessity that road must reach the river miles to the south of
It was a very good day for fishing, and the captain was pleased to see
that the son of his old shipmate was a very fair angler. Toward the
close of the afternoon, with the conviction that they had had a good
time and that their little expedition had been a success, the two
fishermen set out for home with a basket of bass: some of them quite a
respectable size; stowed away under the seat of the buggy. When they
reached the turnpike the old mare, knowing well in which direction her
supper lay, turned briskly to the left, and set out upon a good trot.
But this did not last very long. To her great surprise she was suddenly
pulled up short; a carriage with two horses which had been approaching
had also stopped.
On the back seat of this carriage sat Mrs. Easterfield; on one side of
her was a little girl, and on the other side was another little girl,
each with her feet stuck out straight in front of her.
"Oh, Captain Asher," exclaimed the lady, with a most enchanting smile,
"I am so glad to meet you. I was obliged to go to Glenford to take one
of my little girls to the dentist, and I inquired for you each time I
passed your gate."
The captain was very glad he had been so fortunate as to meet her, and
as her eyes were now fixed upon his companion, he felt it incumbent upon
him to introduce Mr. Richard Lancaster, the son of an old shipmate.
"But not a sailor, I imagine," said Mrs. Easterfield.
"Oh, no," said the captain, "Mr. Lancaster is Assistant Professor of
Theoretical Mathematics in Sutton College."
Dick could not imagine why the captain said all this, and he flushed a
"Sutton College?" said Mrs. Easterfield. "Then, of course, you know
"Oh, yes," said Lancaster. "He is our president."
"I never met him," said she, "but he was a classmate of my husband, and
I have often heard him speak of him. And now for my errand, Captain
Asher. Isn't it about time you should be wanting to see your niece?"
The captain's heart sank. Did she intend to send Olive home?
"I always want to see her," he said, but without enthusiasm.
"But don't you think it would be nice," said the lady, "if you were to
come to lunch with us to-morrow? It was to ask you this that I inquired
for you at the toll-gate."
Now, this was another thing altogether, and the captain's earnest
acceptance would have been more coherent if it had not been for the
impatience of his mare.
"And I want you to bring your friend with you," continued Mrs.
Easterfield. "The invitation is for you both, of course."
Dick's face said that this would be heavenly, but his mouth was more
"It will be strictly informal," continued Mrs. Easterfield. "Only myself
and family, three guests, and Olive. We shall sit down at one. Good-by."
Mrs. Easterfield was entirely truthful when she said she was glad to
meet the captain. Her anxiety about Olive and Claude Locker was somewhat
on the increase. She was very well aware that the most dangerous thing
for one young woman is one young man; and in thinking over this truism
she had been impressed with the conviction that it was not well for Mr.
Claude Locker to be the one man at Broadstone. Then, in thinking of
possible young men, her mind naturally turned to the young man who was
visiting Olive's uncle. She did not know anything about him, but he was
a young man, and if he proved to be worth something, he could be asked
to come again. So it was really to Dick Lancaster, and not to Captain
Asher, that the luncheon invitation had been given.
The appointment with the Glenford dentist had made it necessary for her
to leave home that afternoon. To be sure, she had sent the Foxes with
Olive and Claude Locker upon the drive through the gap, and, under
ordinary circumstances, and with ordinary people, there would have been
no reason for her to trouble herself about them, but neither the
circumstances nor the people were ordinary, and she now felt anxious to
get home and find out what Claude Locker and Olive had done with Mrs.
and Mr. Fox.
_Captain Asher is not in a Good Humor._
The next morning was very bright for Captain Asher; he was going to see
Olive, and he did not know before how much he wished to see her.
When Dick Lancaster came from the house to take his seat in the buggy
the sight of the handsome suit of dark-blue serge, white shirt and
collar, and patent-leather shoes, with the trousers hanging properly
above them, placed Dick very much higher in the captain's estimation
than the young man with the colored shirt and rolled-up trousers could
ever have reached. The captain, too, was well dressed for the occasion,
and Mrs. Easterfield had no reason whatever to be ashamed of these two
gentlemen when she introduced them to her other visitors.
She liked Professor Lancaster. Having lately had a good deal of Claude
Locker, she was prepared to like a quiet and thoroughly self-possessed
Olive was the latest of the little company to appear, and when she came
down she caused a genuine, though gentle sensation. She was most
exquisitely dressed, not too much for a luncheon, and not enough for a
dinner. This navy girl had not studied for nothing the art of dressing
in different parts of the world. Her uncle regarded her with open-eyed
"Is this my brother's daughter?" he asked himself. "The little girl who
poured my coffee in the morning and went out to take toll?"
Olive greeted her uncle with absolute propriety, and made the
acquaintance of Mr. Lancaster with a formal courtesy to which no
objection could be made. Apparently she forgot the existence of Mr.
Locker, and for the greater part of the meal she conversed with Mr. Fox
about certain foreign places with which they were both familiar.
The luncheon was not a success; there was a certain stiffness about it
which even Mrs. Easterfield could not get rid of; and when the gentlemen
went out to smoke on the piazza Olive disappeared, sending a message to
Mrs. Easterfield that she had a bad headache and would like to be
excused. Her excuse was a perfectly honest one, for she was apt to have
a headache when she was angry; and she was angry now.
The reason for her indignation was the fact that her uncle's visitor was
an extremely presentable young man. Had it been otherwise, Olive would
have given the captain a good scolding, and would then have taken her
revenge by making fun of him and his shipmate's son. But now she felt
insulted that her uncle should conceal from her the fact that he had an
entirely proper young gentleman for a visitor. Could he think she would
want to stay at his house to be with that young man? Was she a girl from
whom the existence of such a person was to be kept secret? She was very
angry, indeed, and her headache was genuine.
Captain Asher was also angry. He had intended to take Olive aside and
tell her all about Dick Lancaster, and how he had refrained from saying
anything about him until he found out what sort of a young man he was.
If, then, she saw fit to scold him, he was perfectly willing to submit,
and to shake hands all around. But now he would have no chance to speak
to her; she had not treated him properly, even if she had a headache. He
admitted to himself that she was young and probably sensitive, but it
was also true that he was sensitive, although old. Therefore, he was
Mrs. Easterfield was disturbed; she saw there was something wrong
between Olive and her uncle, and she did not like it. She had invited
Lancaster with an object, and she did not wish that other people's
grievances should interfere with said object. Olive was grumpy up-stairs
and Claude Locker was in the doleful dumps under a tree, and if these
two should grump and dump together, it might be very bad; consequently,
Mrs. Easterfield was more anxious than ever that there should be at
least two young men at Broadstone.
For this reason she asked Lancaster if he were fond of rowing; and when
he said he was, she invited him to join them in a boat party the next
day to help her and Olive pull the big family boat. Mr. Fox did not like
rowing, and Mr. Locker did not know how.
On the drive home Captain Asher and Lancaster did not talk much. Even
the young man's invitation to the rowing party did not excite much
interest in the captain. These two men were both thinking of the same
girl; one pleasantly, and the other very unpleasantly. Dick was charmed
with her, although he had had very little opportunity of becoming
acquainted with her, but he hoped for better luck the next day.
The captain did not know what to make of her. He felt sure that she was
at fault, and that he was at fault, and he could not see how things
could be made straight between them. Only one thing seemed plain to him,
and this was that, with things as they were at present, she was not
likely to come back to his house; and this would not be necessary; he
knew very well that there were other places she could visit; and that
early in the fall her father would be home.
Dick Lancaster walked to Broadstone the next morning because Captain
Asher was obliged to go to Glenford on business, but the young man did
not in the least mind a six-mile walk on a fine morning.
All the way to Glenford the captain thought of Olive; sometimes he
wished she had never come to him. Even now, with Lancaster to talk to,
he missed her grievously, and if she should not come back, the case
would be a great deal worse than if she had never come at all. But one
thing was certain: If she returned as the young lady with whom he had
lunched at Broadstone, he did not want her. He felt that he had been in
the wrong, that she had been in the wrong; and it seemed as if things in
this world were gradually going wrong. He was not in a good humor.
When he stopped his mare in front of a store, Maria Port stepped up to
him and said: "How do you do, captain? What have you done with your
The captain got down from his buggy, hitched his mare to a post, and
then shook hands with Miss Port.
"Dick Lancaster has gone boating to-day with the Broadstone people," he
"What!" exclaimed Miss Port. "Gone there again already? Why it was only
yesterday you took dinner with them."
"Lunch," corrected the captain.
"Well, you may call it what you please," said Maria, "but I call it
dinner. And them two's together without you, that you tried so hard to
"I did not try anything of the kind," said the captain a little sharply;
"it just happened so."
"Happened so!" exclaimed Miss Port. "Well, I must say, Captain Asher,
that you've a regular genius for makin' things happen. The minute she
goes, he conies. I wish I could make things happen that way."
The captain took no notice of this remark, and moved toward the door of
"Look here, captain," continued Miss Port, "can't you come and take
dinner with us? You haven't seen Pop for ever so long. It won't be
lunch, though, but an honest dinner."
The captain accepted the invitation; for old Mr. Port was one of his
ancient friends; and then he entered the store. Miss Port was on the
point of following him; she had something to say about Olive; but she
"I'll keep that till dinner-time," she said to herself.
Old Mr. Port had always been a very pleasant man to visit, and he had
not changed now, although he was nearly eighty years old. He had been a
successful merchant in the days when Captain Asher commanded a ship, and
there was good reason to believe that a large measure of his success was
due to his constant desire to make himself agreeable to the people with
whom he came in business contact. He was just as agreeable to his
friends, of whom Captain Asher was one of the oldest.
The people of Glenford often puzzled themselves as to what sort of a
woman Maria's mother could have been. None of them had ever seen her,
for she had died years before old Mr. Port had come into that healthful
region to reside; but all agreed that her parents must have been a
strangely assorted pair, unless, indeed, as some of the wiser suggested,
she got her disposition from a grandparent.
"That navy niece of yours must be a wild girl," said Miss Port to the
captain as she carved the beef.
"Wild!" exclaimed the captain. "I never saw anything wild about her."
"Perhaps not," said his hostess, "but there's others that have. It was
only three days ago that she took that young man, that goggle-eyed one,
out on the river in a boat, and did her best to upset him. Whether she
stood up and made the boat rock while he clung to the side, or whether
she bumped the boat against rocks and sand-bars, laughin' the louder the
more he was frightened, I wasn't told. But she did skeer him awful. I
"You seem to know a good deal about what is going on at Broadstone,"
remarked the captain, somewhat sarcastically.
"Indeed I do," said she; "a good deal more than they think. They've got
such fine stomachs that they can't eat the beef they get at the gap, and
Mr. Morris goes there three times a week, all the way from Glenford, to
take them Chicago beef. The rest of the time they mostly eat chickens,
"And so your butcher takes meat and brings back news," said the captain.
"The next time he passes the toll-gate I will tell him to leave the news
with me, and I will see that it is properly distributed." And with this,
he began to talk with Mr. Port.
"Oh, you needn't be so snappish about her," insisted Maria. "If you are
in that temper often, I don't wonder the young woman wanted to go away."
The captain made no answer, but his glance at the speaker was not
altogether a pleasant one. Old Mr. Port did not hear very well; but his
eyesight was good, and he perceived from the captain's expression that
his daughter had been saying something sharp. This he never allowed at
his table; and, turning to her, he said gently, but firmly:
"Maria, don't you think you'd better go up-stairs and go to bed?"
"He's all the time thinkin' I'm a child," said Miss Maria, with a grin;
"but how awfully he's mistook." Then she added: "Has that teacher got
money enough to support a wife when he marries her? I don't suppose his
salary amounts to much. I'm told it's a little bit of a college he
"I do not know anything about his salary," said the captain, and again
attempted to continue the conversation with the father.
But the daughter was not to be put down. "When is Olive Asher coming
back to your house?" she asked.
The captain turned upon her with a frown. "I did not say she was coming
back at all," he snapped.
Now old Mr. Port thought it time for him to interfere. To him Maria had
always been a young person to be mildly counseled, but to be firmly
punished if she did not obey said counsels. It was evident that she was
now annoying his old friend; Maria had a great habit of annoying people,
but she should not annoy Captain Asher.
"Maria," said Mr. Port, "leave the table instantly, and go to bed."
Miss Port smiled. She had finished her dinner, and she folded her napkin
and dusted some crumbs from her lap. She always humored her father when
he was really in earnest; he was very old and could not be expected to
live much longer, and it was his daughter's earnest desire that she
should be in good favor with him when he died. With a straight-cut smile
at the captain, she rose and left the two old friends to their talk, and
went out on the front piazza. There she saw Mr. Morris, the butcher, on
his way home with an empty wagon. She stepped out to the edge of the
sidewalk and stopped him.
"Been to Broadstone?" she asked.
"Yes," said the butcher with a sigh, and stopping his horse. Miss Port
always wanted to know so much about Broadstone, and he was on his way to
"Well," said Miss Port, "what monkey tricks are going on there now? Has
anybody been drowned yet? Did you see that young man that's stayin' at
"Yes," said the butcher, "I saw him as I was crossing the bridge. He was
in the big boat helping to row. Pretty near the whole family was in the
boat, I take it."
"That's like them, just like them!" she exclaimed. "The next thing we'll
hear will be that they've all gone to the bottom together. I don't
suppose one of them can swim. Was the captain's niece standin' up, or
"They were all sitting down," said the butcher, "and behaving like other
people do in a boat." And he prepared to go on.
"Stop one minute," said Miss Port. "Of course you are goin' out there
day after to-morrow?"
"No," said Mr. Morris. "I'm going to-morrow. They've ordered some extra
things." Then he said, with a sort of conciliatory grin, "I'll get some
more news, and have more time to tell it."
"Now, don't be in such a hurry," said Miss Port, advancing to the side
of the wagon. "I want very much to go to Broadstone. I've got some
business with that Mrs. Blynn that I ought to have attended to long ago.
Now, why can't I ride out with you to-morrow? That's a pretty broad seat
The butcher looked at her in dismay. "Oh, I couldn't do that, Miss
Port," he said. "I always have a heavy load, and I can't take
"Now, what's the sense of your talkin' like that?" said Miss Port.
"You've got a great big horse, and plenty of room, and would you have
me go hire a carriage and a driver to go out there when you can take me
just as well as not?"
The butcher thought he would be very willing. He did not care for her
society, and, moreover, he knew that both at Broadstone and in the town
he would be ridiculed when it should be known that he had been taking
Maria Port to drive.
"Oh, I couldn't do it," he replied. "Of course, I'm willing to oblige--"
"Oh, don't worry yourself any more, Mr. Morris," interrupted Miss Port.
"I'm not askin' you to take me now, and I won't keep you from your
The next morning as Mr. Morris, the butcher, was driving past the Port
house at rather a rapid rate for a man with a heavy wagon, Miss Maria
appeared at her door with her bonnet on. She ran out into the middle of
the street, and so stationed herself that Mr. Morris was obliged to
stop. Then, without speaking, she clambered up to the seat beside him.
"Now, you see," said she, settling herself on the leather cushion, "I've
kept to my part of the bargain, and I don't believe your horse will
think this wagon is a bit heavier than it was before I got in. What's
the name of the new people that's comin' to Broadstone?"
_Miss Port takes a Drive with the Butcher._
As the butcher and Miss Port drove out of town the latter did not talk
quite so much as was her wont. She seemed to have something on her mind,
and presently she proposed to Mr. Morris that he should take the
shunpike for a change.
"That would be a mile and a half out of my way!" he exclaimed. "I can't
"I should think you'd get awfully tired of this same old road," said
"The easiest road is the one I like every time," said Mr. Morris, who
was also not inclined to talk.
Miss Port did not care to pass the toll-gate that day; she was afraid
she might see the captain, and that in some way or other he would
interfere with her trip, but fortune favored her, as it nearly always
did. Old Jane came to the gate, and as this stolid old woman never asked
any questions, Miss Port contented herself with bidding her good
morning, and sitting silent during the process of making change.
This self-restraint very much surprised old Jane, who straightway
informed the captain that Miss Port was riding with the butcher to
Broadstone--she knew it was Broadstone, for he had no other customers
that way--and she guessed something must be the matter with her, for
she kept her mouth shut, and didn't say nothing to nobody.
As the wagon moved on Miss Port heaved a sigh. Fearful that she might
see the captain somewhere, she had not even allowed herself to survey
the premises in order to catch a glimpse of the shipmate's son. This was
a rare piece of self-denial in Maria, but she could do that sort of
thing on occasion.
When the butcher's wagon neared the Broadstone house Miss Port promptly
got down, and Mr. Morris went to the kitchen regions by himself. She
never allowed herself to enter a house by the back or side door, so now
she went to the front, where, disappointed at not seeing any of the
family although she had made good use of her eyes, she was obliged to
ask a servant to conduct her to Mrs. Blynn. Before she had had time to
calculate the cost of the rug in the hall, or to determine whether the
walls were calcimined or merely whitewashed, she found herself with that
Miss Port's business with Mrs. Blynn indicated a peculiar intelligence
on the part of the visitor. It was based upon very little; it had not
much to do with anything; it amounted to almost nothing; and yet it
appeared to contain certain elements of importance which made Mrs. Blynn
give it her serious consideration.
After she had talked and peered about as long as she thought was
necessary, Maria said she was afraid Mr. Morris would be waiting for
her, and quickly took her leave, begging Mrs. Blynn not to trouble
herself to accompany her to the door. When she left the house Maria did
not seek the butcher's wagon, but started out on a little tour of
observation through the grounds. She was quite sure Mr. Morris was
waiting for her, but for this she did care a snap of her finger; he
would not dare to go and leave her. Presently she perceived a young
gentleman approaching her, and she recognized him instantly--it was the
goggle-eyed man who had been described to her. Stepping quickly toward
Mr. Locker, she asked him if he could tell her where she could find Miss
Asher; she had been told she was in the grounds.
The young man goggled his eye a little more than usual. "Do you know
her?" said he.
"Oh, yes," replied Maria; "I met her at the house of her uncle, Captain
"And, knowing her, you want to see her"
Astonished, Miss Port replied, "Of course."
"Very well, then," said he; "beyond that clump of bushes is a seat. She
sits thereon. Accept my condolences."
"I will remember every word of that," said Miss Port to herself, "but I
haven't time to think of it now. He's just ravin'."
Olive had just had an interview with Mr. Locker which, in her eyes, had
been entirely too protracted, and she had sent him away. He had just
made her an offer of marriage, but she had refused even to consider it,
assuring him that her mind was occupied with other things. She was busy
thinking of those other things when she heard footsteps near her.
"How do you do" said Miss Port, extending her hand.
Olive rose, but she put her hands behind her back.
"Oh!" said Miss Port, dropping her hand, but allowing herself no verbal
resentment. She had come there for information, and she did not wish to
interfere with her own business. "I happened to be here," she said, "and
I thought I'd come and tell you how your uncle is. He took dinner with
us yesterday, and I was sorry to see he didn't have much appetite. But I
suppose he's failin', as most people do when they get to his age. I
thought you might have some message you'd like to send him."
"Thank you," said Olive with more than sufficient coldness, "but I have
"Oh!" said Miss Port. "You're in a fine place here," she continued,
looking about her, "very different from the toll-gate; and I expect the
Easterfields has everything they want that money can more than pay for."
Having delivered this little shot at the reported extravagance of the
lady of the manor, she remarked: "I don't wonder you don't want to go
back to your uncle, and run out to take the toll. It must have been a
very great change to you if you're used to this sort of thing."
"Who said I was not going back?" asked Olive sharply.
"Your uncle," said Miss Port. "He told me at our house. Of course, he
didn't go into no particulars, but that isn't to be expected, he's not
the kind of man to do that."
Olive stood and looked at this smooth-faced, flat-mouthed spinster. She
was pale, she trembled a little, but she spoke no word; she was a girl
who did not go into particulars, especially with a person such as this
woman standing before her.
Miss Port did not wish to continue the conversation; she generally knew
when she had said enough. "Well," she remarked, "as you haven't no
message to send to your uncle, I might as well go. But I did think that
as I was right on my way, you'd have at least a word for him. Good
mornin'." And with this she promptly walked away to join Mr. Morris,
cataloguing in her mind as she went the foolish and lazy hammocks and
garden chairs, the slow motions of a man who was sweeping leaves from
the broad stone, and various other evidences of bad management and
probable downfall which met her eyes in every direction.
When Miss Port approached the toll-gate on her return she was very
anxious to stop, and hoped that the captain would be at the gate.
Fortune favored her again, and there he stood in the doorway of the
"Oh, captain," she exclaimed, extending herself somewhat over the
butcher's knees in order to speak more effectively, "I've been to
Broadstone, and I've seen your niece. She's dressed up just like the
other fine folks there, and she's stiffer than any of them, I guess. I
didn't see Mrs. Easterfield, although I did want to get a chance to tell
her what I thought about her plantin' weeds in her garden, and spreadin'
new kinds of seeds over this country, which goes to weeds fast enough in
the natural way. As to your niece, I must say she didn't show me no
extra civility, and when I asked her if she had any message for you, she
said she hadn't a word to say."
The captain was not in the least surprised to hear that Olive had not
treated Miss Port with extra civility. He remembered his niece treating
this prying gossip with positive rudeness, and he had been somewhat
amused by it, although he had always believed that young people should
be respectful to their elders. He did not care to talk about Olive with
Miss Port, but he had to say something, and so he asked if she seemed to
be having a good time.
"If settin' behind bushes with young men, and goggle-eyed ones at that,
is havin' a good time," replied Miss Port, "I'm sure she's enjoyin'
herself." And then, as she caught sight of Lancaster: "I suppose that's
the young man who's visitin' you. I hope he makes his scholars study
harder than he does. He isn't readin' his book at all; he's just starin'
at nothin'. You might be polite enough to bring him out and introduce
him, captain," she added in a somewhat milder tone.
The captain did not answer; in fact, he had not heard all that Miss Port
had said to him. If Olive had refused to send him a word, even the
slightest message, she must be a girl of very stubborn resentments, and
he was sorry to hear it. He himself was beginning to get over his
resentment at her treatment of him at the Broadstone luncheon, and if
she had been of his turn of mind everything might have been smoothed
over in a very short time.
"Well?" remarked Maria in an inquiring tone.
"Excuse me," said the captain, "what were you saying?"
Miss Maria settled herself in her seat. "If you and that young man
wastin' his time in the garden can't keep your wits from
wool-gatherin'," said she, "I hope old Jane has got sense enough to go
on with the housekeepin'. I'll call again when you've sent your young
man away, and got your young woman back."
Maria said little to the taciturn butcher on their way to Glenford, but
she smiled a good deal to herself. For years it had been the desire of
her life to go to live in the toll-gate--not with any idea of ousting
Captain Asher--oh, no, by no means. Old Mr. Port could not live much
longer, and his daughter would not care to reside in the Glenford house
by herself. But the toll-gate would exactly suit her; there was life;
there was passing to and fro; there was money enough for good living and
good clothes without any encroachment on whatever her father might leave
her; and, above all, there was the captain, good for twenty years yet,
in spite of his want of appetite, which she had mentioned to his niece.
This would be a settlement which would suit her in every way, but so
long as that niece lived there, there would be no hope of it; even the
shipmate's son would be in the way. But she supposed he would soon be
_Mrs. Easterfield writes a Letter._
When Miss Port had left her, Olive was so much disturbed by what that
placid spinster had told her that she totally forgot Claude Locker's
proposal of marriage, as well as the other things she had been thinking
about. These things had been not at all unpleasant; she had been
thinking of her uncle and her return to the toll-gate house. Her visit
to Broadstone was drawing to a close, and she was getting very tired of
Mr. Locker and Mr. and Mrs. Fox. She found, now her anger had cooled
down, that she was actually missing her uncle, and was thinking of him
as of some one who belonged to her. Her own father had never seemed to
belong to her; for periods of three years he was away on his ship; and,
even when he had been on shore duty, she had sometimes been at school;
and when she and her parents had been stationed somewhere together, the
lieutenant had been a good deal away from home on this or that naval
business. When a girl she had taken these absences as a matter of
course, but since she had been living with her uncle her ideas on the
subject had changed. She wanted now to be at home with him: and as
Broadstone was so near the toll-gate she had no doubt that Mrs.
Easterfield would sometimes want her to come to her when, perhaps, she
would have different people staying with her.
This was a very pleasant mental picture, and the more Olive had looked
at it, the better she had liked it. As to the reconciliation with her
uncle, it troubled her mind but little. So often had she been angry with
people, and so often had everything been made all right again, that she
felt used to the process. Her way was simple enough; when she was tired
of her indignation she quietly dropped it; and then, taking it for
granted that the other party had done the same, she recommenced her
usual friendly intercourse, just as if there had never been a quarrel or
misunderstanding. She had never found this method to fail--although, of
course, it might easily have failed with one who was not Olive--and she
had not the slightest doubt that if she wrote to her uncle that she was
coming on a certain day, she would be gladly received by him when she
But now? After what that woman had told her, what now? If her uncle had
said she was not coming back, there was an end to her mental pictures
and her pleasant plans. And what a hard man he must be to say that!
Slowly walking over the grass, Olive went to look for Mrs. Easterfield,
and found her in her garden on her knees by a flower-bed digging with a
"Mrs. Easterfield," said she, "I am thinking of getting married."
The elder lady sprang to her feet, dropping her trowel, which barely
missed her toes. She looked frightened. "What?" she exclaimed. "To
"Not to anybody in particular," replied Olive. "I am considering the
subject in general. Let's go sit on that bench, and talk about it."
A little relieved, Mrs. Easterfield followed her. "I don't know what you
mean," she said, when they were seated. "Women don't think of marriage
in a general way; they consider it in a particular way."
"Oh, I am different," said Olive; "I am a navy girl, and more like a
man. I have to look out for myself. I think it is time I was married,
and therefore I am giving the subject attention. Don't you think that is
"And you say you have no particular leanings?" the other inquired.
"None whatever," said Olive. "Mr. Locker proposed to me less than an
hour ago, but I gave him no answer. He is too precipitate, and he is
only one person, anyway."
"You don't want to marry more than one person!" exclaimed Mrs.
"No," said Olive, "but I want more than one to choose from."
Mrs. Easterfield did not understand the girl at all. But this was not to
be expected so soon; she must wait a little, and find out more.
Notwithstanding her apparent indifference to Claude Locker, there was
more danger in that direction than Mrs. Easterfield had supposed. A
really persistent lover is often very dangerous, no matter how
indifferent a young woman may be.
"Have you been considering the professor?" she asked, with a smile. "I
noticed that you were very gracious to him yesterday."
"No, I haven't," said Olive. "But I suppose I might as well. I did try
to make him have a good time, but I was still a little provoked and felt
that I would like him to go back to my uncle and tell him that he had
enjoyed himself. But now I suppose I must consider all the eligibles."
"Why now?" asked Mrs. Easterfield quickly; "why now more than any
Olive did not immediately answer, but presently she said: "I am not
going back to my uncle. There was a woman here just now--I don't know
whether she was sent or not--who informed me that he did not expect me
to return to his house. When my mother was living we were great
companions for each other, but now you see I am left entirely alone. It
will be a good while before father comes back, and then I don't know
whether he can settle down or not. Besides, I am not very well
acquainted with him, but I suppose that would arrange itself in time. So
you see all I can do is to visit about until I am married, and therefore
the sooner I am married and settled the better."
"Perhaps this is a cold-blooded girl!" said Mrs. Easterfield to herself.
"But perhaps it is not!" Then, speaking aloud, she said: "Olive Asher,
were you ever in love?"
The girl looked at her with reflective eyes. "Yes," she said. "I was
once, but that was the only time."
"Would you mind telling me about it?" asked Mrs. Easterfield.
"Not at all," replied the girl. "I was between thirteen and fourteen,
and wore short dresses, and my hair was plaited. My father was on duty
at the Philadelphia Navy-Yard, and we lived in that city. There was a
young man who used to come to bring messages to father; I think he was a
clerk or a draftsman. I do not remember his name, except that his first
name was Rupert, and father always called him by that. He was a
beautiful man-boy or boy-man, however you choose to put it. His eyes
were heavenly blue, his skin was smooth and white, his cheeks were red,
and he had the most charming mouth I ever saw. He was just the right
height, well shaped, and wore the most becoming clothes. I fell madly in
love with him the second time I saw him, and continued so for a long
time. I used to think about him and dream about him, and write little
poems about him which nobody ever saw. I tried to make a sketch of his
face once, but I failed and tore it up."
"What did he do?" asked Mrs. Easterfield.
"Nothing whatever," said Olive. "I never spoke to him, or he to me. I
don't believe he ever noticed me. Whenever I could I went into the room
where he was talking to father, but I was very quiet and kept in the
background, and I do not think his eyes ever fell upon me. But that did
not make any difference at all. He was beautiful above all other men in
the world, and I loved him. He was my first, my only love, and it almost
brings tears in my eyes now to think of him."
"Then you really could love the right person if he were to come along,"
said Mrs. Easterfield.
"Why do you think I couldn't? Of course I could. But the trouble is he
doesn't come, so I must try to arrange the matter with what material I
When Mrs. Easterfield left the garden she went rapidly to her room.
There was a smile on her lips, and a light in her eye. A novel idea had
come to her which amused her, pleased her, and even excited her. She sat
down at her writing-table and began a letter to her husband. After an
opening paragraph she wrote thus:
"Is not Mr. Hemphill, of the central office of the D. and J., named
Rupert? It is my impression that he is. You know he has been to our
house several times to dinner when you invited railroad people, and I
remember him very well. If his name is Rupert will you find out, without
asking him directly, whether or not he was engaged about seven years ago
at the navy-yard. I am almost positive I once had a conversation with
him about the navy-yard and the moving of one of the great buildings
there. If you find that he had a position there, don't ask him any more
questions, and drop the subject as quickly as you can. But I then want
you to send him here on whatever pretext you please--you can send me any
sort of an important message or package--and if I find it desirable, I
shall ask him to stay here a few days. These hard-worked secretaries
ought to have more vacations. In fact, I have a very interesting scheme
in mind, of which I shall say nothing now for fear you may think it
necessary to reason about it. By the time you come it will have been
worked out, and I will tell you all about it. Now, don't fail to send
Mr. Hemphill as promptly as possible, if you find his name is Rupert,
and that he has ever been engaged in the navy-yard."
This letter was then sent to the post-office at the gap with an
immediate-delivery stamp on it.
When Mrs. Easterfield went down-stairs, her face still glowing with the
pleasure given by the writing of her letter, she met Claude Locker,
whose face did not glow with pleasure.
"What is the matter with you?" she asked.
"I feel like a man who has been half decapitated," said he. "I do not
know whether the execution is to be arrested and my wound healed, or
whether it is to go on and my head roll into the dust."
"A horrible idea!" said Mrs. Easterfield. "What do you really mean?"
"I have proposed to Miss Asher and I was treated with indifference, but
have not been discarded. Don't you see that I can not live in this
condition? I am looking for her."
"It will be a great deal better for you to leave her alone," replied
Mrs. Easterfield. "If she has any answer for you she will give it when
she is ready. Perhaps she is trying to make up her mind, and you may
spoil all by intruding yourself upon her."
"That will not do at all," said Locker, "not at all. The more Miss Asher
sees of me in an unengaged condition the less she will like me. I am
fully aware of this. I know that my general aspect must be very
unpleasant, so if I expect any success whatever, the quicker I get this
thing settled the better."
"Even if she refuses you," said Mrs. Easterfield.
"Yes," he answered; "then down comes the axe again, away goes my head,
and all is over! Then there is another thing," he said, without giving
Mrs. Easterfield a chance to speak. "There is that mathematical person.
When will he be here again?"
"I do not know," replied Mrs. Easterfield; "he has merely a general
"I don't like him," said Locker. "He has been here twice, and that is
two times too many. I hate him."
"Because he is unobjectionable," Locker answered, "and I am very much
afraid Miss Asher likes unobjectionable people. Now I am
objectionable--I know it--and the longer I remain unengaged the more
objectionable I shall become. I wish you would invite nobody but such
people as the Foxes."
"Because they are married," replied Locker. "But I must not wait here.
Can you tell me where I shall be likely to find her?"
"Yes," said Mrs. Easterfield, "she is with the Foxes, and they are
_Mr. Locker is released on Bail._
Nearly the whole of that morning Dick Lancaster sat in the arbor in the
tollhouse garden, his book in his hand. Part of the time he was thinking
about what he would like to do, and part of the time he was thinking
about what he ought to do. He felt sure he had stayed with the captain
as long as he had been expected to, but he did not want to go away. On
the contrary, he greatly desired to remain within walking distance of
Broadstone. He was in love with Olive. When he had seen her at luncheon,
cold and reserved, he had been greatly impressed by her, and when he
went out boating with her the next day he gave her his heart
unreservedly. When people fell in love with Olive they always did it
As he sat, with Olive standing near the footlights of his mental stage
and the drop-curtain hanging between her and all the rest of the world,
the captain strolled up to him.
"Dick," said he, "somehow or other my tobacco does not taste as it ought
to. Give me a pipeful of yours."
When the captain had filled his pipe from Dick's bag he lighted it and
gave a few puffs. "It isn't a bit better than mine," said he, "but I
will keep on and smoke it. Dick, let's go and take a walk over the
hills. I feel rather stupid to-day. And, by the way, I hope you will be
able to stay with me for the rest of your vacation. Have you made plans
to go anywhere else?"
"No plans of the slightest importance," answered Lancaster with joyous
vivacity. "I shall be delighted to stay."
This prompt acceptance somewhat surprised the captain. He had spoken
without premeditation, and without thinking of anything at all except
that he did not want everybody to go away and leave him. He had begun to
know something of the pleasures of family life; of having some one to
sit at the table with him; to whom he could talk; on whom he could look.
In fact, although he did not exactly appreciate such a state of things,
some one he could love. He was getting really fond of Dick Lancaster.
As for Olive, he did not know what to think of her; sometimes he was
sure she was not coming back, and at other times he thought it likely he
might get a letter that very day appointing the time for her return. He
stood puffing his pipe and thinking about this after Dick had spoken.
"But it does not matter," he said to himself, "which way it happens. If
she doesn't come I want him here, and if she does come, he is good
enough for anybody, and perhaps she may be pleased." And then he
indulged in a little fragment of the dream which had come to him before;
he saw two young people in a charming home, not at the toll-gate, and
himself living with them. Plenty of money for all moderate needs, and
all happy and satisfied. Then with a sigh he knocked the tobacco from
his pipe and said to himself: "If I hear she is coming, I will let her
know he is still here, and then she must judge for herself."
As they walked together over the hills, Dick Lancaster was very anxious
to know something about Olive's return, but he did not like to ask. The
captain had been very reticent on the subject of his niece, and Dick was
a gentleman. But to his surprise, and very much to his delight, the
captain soon began to talk about Olive. He told Dick how his brother had
entered the navy when the elder was first mate on a merchant vessel; how
Alfred had risen in the service; had married; and how his wife and
daughter had lived in various parts of the world. Then he spoke of a
good many things he had heard about Olive, and other things he had found
out since she had lived with him; and as he went on his heart warmed,
and Dick Lancaster listened with as warm a heart as that from which the
And thus they walked over the hills, this young man and this elderly
man, each in love with the same girl.
During all the walk Dick never asked when Miss Asher was coming back to
the tollhouse, nor did Captain Asher make any remarks upon the subject.
It was not really of vital importance to Dick, as Broadstone was so
near, and it was of such vital importance to the captain that it was
impossible for him to speak of it.
The next day the bright-hearted Richard trod buoyantly upon the earth;
he did not care to read; he did not want to smoke; and he was not much
inclined to conversation; he was simply buoyant, and undecided. The
captain looked at him and smiled.
"Why don't you walk over to Broadstone?" he said. "It will do you good.
I want you to stay with me, but I don't expect you to be stuck down to
this tollhouse all day. I am going about the farm to-day, but I shall
expect you to supper."
When he was ready to start Dick Lancaster felt a little perplexed. His
ideas of friendly civility impelled him to ask the captain if there was
anything he could do for him, if there was any message or missive he
could take to his niece, or anything he could bring from her, but he was
prudent and refrained; if the captain wished service of this sort he was
a man to ask for it.
The first person Dick met at Broadstone was Mrs. Easterfield, cutting
"I am very glad to see you, Professor Lancaster," said she, as she put
down her roses and her scissors. "Would you mind, before you enter into
the general Broadstone society, sitting down on this bench and talking a
little to me?"
Dick could not help smiling. What man in the world, even if he were in
love with somebody else, could object to sitting down by such a woman
and talking to her?
"What I am going to say," said Mrs. Easterfield, "is impertinent,
unwarranted, and of an officious character. You and I know each other
very slightly; neither of us has long been acquainted with Captain
Asher, you have met his niece but twice, and I have never really known
her until what you might call the other day. But in spite of all this, I
propose that you and I shall meddle a little in their affairs. I have
taken the greatest fancy to Miss Asher, and, if you can do it without
any breach of confidence, I would like you to tell me if you know of any
misunderstanding between her and her uncle."
"I know of nothing of the kind," said Dick with great interest, "but I
admit I thought there might be something wrong somewhere. He knew I was
coming here to-day--in fact, he suggested it--but he sent Miss Asher no
sort of message."
"Can it be possible he is cherishing any hard feelings against her?" she
remarked. "I should not have supposed he was that sort of man."
"He is not that sort of man," said Dick warmly. "He was talking to me
about her yesterday, and from what he said, I am sure he thinks she is
the finest girl in the world."
"I am glad to hear that," said she, "but it makes the situation more
puzzling. Can it be possible that she is treating him badly?"
"Oh, I could not believe that!" exclaimed Dick fervently. "I can not
imagine such a thing."
Mrs. Easterfield smiled. He had really known the girl but for one day,
for the first meeting did not count; and here he was defending the
absolute beauty of her character. But the assumption of the genus young
man often overtops the pyramids. She now determined to take him a little
more into her confidence.
"Miss Asher has intimated to me that she does not expect to go back to
her uncle's house, and this morning she made a reference to the end of
her visit here, but I thought you might be able to tell me something
about her uncle. If he really does not expect her back I want her to
"Alas," said Dick, "I can not tell you anything. But of one thing I feel
sure, and that is that he would like her to come back."
"Well," said Mrs. Easterfield, "I am not going to let her go away at
present, and if Captain Asher should say anything to you on the subject,
you are at liberty to tell him that. From what you said the other day, I
suppose you will soon be leaving this quiet valley for the haunts of
"Oh, no," exclaimed Dick. "He wants me to stay with him as long as I
can, and I shall certainly do it."
"Now," said Mrs. Easterfield, rising, "I must go and finish cutting my
roses. I think you will find everybody on the tennis grounds."
Mrs. Easterfield had cut in all twenty-three roses when Claude Locker
came to her from the house. His face was beaming, and he skipped over
the short grass.
"Congratulate me," he said, as he stepped before her.
Mrs. Easterfield dropped her roses and her scissors and turned pale.
"What do you mean?" she gasped.
"Oh, don't be frightened," he said. "I have not been acquitted, but the
execution has been stopped for the present, and I am out on bail. I
really feel as though the wound in my neck had healed."
"What stuff!" said Mrs. Easterfield, her color returning. "Try to speak
"Oh, I can do that," said Mr. Locker; "upon occasion I can do that very
well. I proposed again to Miss Asher not twenty minutes ago. She gave me
no answer, but she made an arrangement with me which I think is going to
be very satisfactory; she said she could not have me proposing to her
every time I saw her--it would attract attention, and in the end might
prove annoying--but she said she would be willing to have me propose to
her every day just before luncheon, provided I did not insist upon an
answer, and would promise to give no indication whatever at any other
time that I entertained any unusual regard for her. I agreed to this,
and now we understand each other. I feel very confident and happy. The
other person has no regular time for offering himself, and if any effort
of mine can avail he shall not find an irregular opportunity."
Mrs. Easterfield laughed. "Come pick up my roses," she said. "I must go
"It is like making love," said Locker as he picked up the flowers,
"charming, but prickly." At this moment he started. "Who is that?" he
Mrs. Easterfield turned. "Oh, that is Monsieur Emile Du Brant. He is one
of the secretaries of the Austrian legation. He is to spend a week with
us. Suppose you take my flowers into the house and I will go to meet
Claude Locker, his arms folded around a mass of thorny roses, and a pair
of scissors dangling from one finger, stood and gazed with savage
intensity at the dapper little man--black eyes, waxed mustache, dressed
in the height of fashion--who, with one hand outstretched, while the
other held his hat, advanced with smiles and bows to meet the lady of
the house. Locker had seen him before; he had met him in Washington; and
he had received forty dollars for a poem of which this Austrian young
person was the subject.
He allowed the lady and her guest to enter the house before him, and
then, like a male Flora, he followed, grinding his teeth, and indulging
"He will have to put on some other kind of clothes," he muttered, "and
perhaps he may shave and curl his hair. That will give me a chance to
see her before lunch. I do not know that she expected me to begin
to-day, but I am going to do it. I have a clear field so far, and nobody
knows what may happen to-morrow."
As Locker stood in the hallway waiting for some one to come and take his
flowers, or to tell him where to put them, he glanced out of the back
door. There, to his horror, he saw that Mrs. Easterfield had conducted
her guest through the house, and that they were now approaching the
tennis ground, where Professor Lancaster and Miss Asher were standing
with their rackets in their hands, while Mr. and Mrs. Fox were playing
chess under the shade of a tree.
"Field open!" he exclaimed, dropping the roses and the scissors. "Field
clear! What a double-dyed ass am I!" And with this he rushed out to the
tennis ground; Mrs. Easterfield did not play.
Before Mrs. Easterfield returned to the house she stood for a moment
and looked at the tennis players.
"Olive and three young men," she said to herself; "that will do very
A little before luncheon Claude Locker became very uneasy, and even
agitated. He hovered around Olive, but found no opportunity to speak to
her, for she was always talking to somebody else, mostly to the
newcomer. But she was a little late in entering the dining-room, and
Locker stepped up to her in the doorway.
"Is this your handkerchief?" he asked.
"No," said she, stopping; "isn't it yours?"
"Yes," he replied, "but I had to have some way of attracting your
attention. I love you so much that I can scarcely see the table and the
"Thank you," she said, "and that is all for the next twenty-four hours."
_Mr. Rupert Hemphill._
That afternoon it rained, so that the Broadstone people were obliged to
stay indoors. Dick Lancaster found Mr. Fox a very agreeable and
well-informed man, and Mrs. Fox was also an excellent conversationalist.
Mrs. Easterfield, who, after the confidences of the morning, could not
help looking at him as something more than an acquaintance, talked to
him a good deal, and tried to make the time pass pleasantly, at which
business she was an adept. All this was very pleasant to Dick, but it
did not compensate him for the almost entire loss of the society of
Olive, who seemed to devote herself to the entertainment of the Austrian
secretary. Mrs. Easterfield was very sorry that the young foreigner had
come at this time, but he had been invited the winter before; the time
had been appointed; and the visit had to be endured.
When the rain had ceased, and Dick was about to take his leave, his
hostess declared she would not let him walk back through the mud.
"You shall have a horse," she said, "and that will insure an early visit
from you, for, of course, you will not trust the animal to other hands
than your own. I would ask you to stay, but that would not be treating
the captain kindly."
As Dick was mounting Mr. Du Brant was standing at the front door, a
smile on his swarthy countenance. This smile said as plainly as words
could have done so that it was very amusing to this foreign young man to
see a person with rolled-up trousers and a straw hat mount upon a horse.
Claude Locker, whose soul had been chafing all the afternoon under his
banishment from the society of the angel of his life, was also at the
front door, and saw the contemptuous smile. Instantly a new and powerful
emotion swept over his being in the shape of a strong feeling of
fellowship for Lancaster. It made his soul boil with indignation to see
the sneer which the Austrian directed toward the young man, a thoroughly
fine young man, who, by said foreigner's monkeyful impudence, and
another's mistaken favor, had been made a brother-in-misfortune of
himself, Claude Locker.
"I will make common cause with him against the enemy," thought Locker.
"If I should fail to get her I will help him to." And although Dick's
brown socks were plainly visible as he cantered away, Mr. Locker looked
after him as a gallant and honored brother-in-arms.
That evening Claude Locker fought for himself and his comrade. He
persisted in talking French with Mr. Du Brant; and his remarkable
management of that language, in which ignorance and a subtle facility in
intentional misapprehension were so adroitly blended that it was
impossible to tell one from the other, amused Olive, and so provoked the
Austrian that at last he turned away and began to talk American
politics with Mr. Fox, which so elated the poet that the ladies of the
party passed a merry evening.
"Would you like me to take him out rowing to-morrow?" asked Claude apart
to his hostess.
"With you at the oars?" she asked.
"Of course," said Locker.
"I am amazed," said she, "that you should suspect me of such
"You know you don't want him here," said Claude. "His salary can not be
large, and he must spend the greater part of it on clothes--and oil."
"Is it possible," she asked, "that you look upon that young man as a
"By no means," he replied; "such persons never marry. They only prevent
other people from marrying anybody. Therefore it is that I remember what
sort of a boatman I am."
"My dear," said Mr. Fox, when he and his wife had retired to their room,
"after hearing what that Austrian has to say of the American people, I
almost revere Mr. Locker."
"I heard some of his remarks," she said, "and I imagined they would have
an effect of that kind upon you."
When the Broadstone surrey came from the train the next morning it
brought a gentleman.
"What!" exclaimed Mrs. Fox, when from the other side of the lawn she saw
him alight. "Another young man with a valise! It seems to me that this
is an overdose!"
"Overdoses," remarked Mr. Fox, "are often less dangerous than just
Mrs. Easterfield received this visitor at the door. She had been waiting
for him, and did not wish him to meet anybody when she was not present.
After offering his respectful salutations, Mr. Hemphill, Mr.
Easterfield's secretary in the central office of the D. and J.,
delivered without delay a package of which he was the bearer, and
apologized for his valise, stating that Mr. Easterfield had told him he
must spend the night at Broadstone.
"Most assuredly you would do that," said she, and to herself she added,
"If I want you longer I will let you know."
Mr. Rupert Hemphill was a very handsome man; his nose was fine; his eyes
were dark and expressive; he wore silky side-whiskers, which, however,
did not entirely conceal the bloom upon his cheeks; his teeth were very
good; he was well shaped; and his clothes fitted him admirably.
As has been said before, Mrs. Easterfield was exceedingly interested;
she was even a little agitated, which was not common with her. She had
Mr. Hemphill conducted to his room, and then she waited for him to come
down; this also was not common with her.
"Mr. Locker," she called from the open door, "do you know where Miss
The poet stopped in his stride across the lawn, and approached the lady.
"Oh, she is with the Du Brant," said he. "I have been trying to get in
some of my French, but neither of them will rise to the fly. However, I
am content; it is now three hours before luncheon, and if she has him
to herself for that length of time, I think she will be thoroughly
disgusted. Then it will be my time, as per agreement."
Mrs. Easterfield was a little disappointed. She wanted Olive by herself,
but she did not want to make a point of sending for her. But fortune
"There she is," exclaimed Locker; "she is just going into the library.
Let me go tell her you want her."
"Not at all," said Mrs. Easterfield. "Don't put yourself into danger of
breaking your word by seeing her alone before luncheon. I'll go to her."
Mr. Locker continued his melancholy stroll, and Mrs. Easterfield entered
the library. Olive must not be allowed to go away until the moment
arrived which had been awaited with so much interest.
"I am looking for a copy of _Tartarin sur les Alps_. I am sure I saw it
among these French books," said Olive, on her knees before a low
bookcase. "Would you believe it, Mr. Du Brant has never read it, and he
seems to think so much of education."
Mrs. Easterfield knew exactly where the book was, but she preferred to
allow Olive to occupy herself in looking for it, while she kept her eyes
on the hall.
"Wait a moment, Olive," said she; "a visitor has just arrived, and I
want to make him acquainted with you."
Olive rose with a book in her hand, and Mrs. Easterfield presented Mr.
Hemphill to Miss Asher. As she did so, Mrs. Easterfield kept her eyes
steadily fixed upon the young lady's face. With a pleasant smile Olive
returned Mr. Hemphill's bow. She was generally glad to make new
"Mr. Hemphill is one of my husband's business associates," said Mrs.
Easterfield, still with her eyes on Olive. "He has just come from him."
"Did he send us this fine day by you?" said Olive. "If so, we are
greatly obliged to him."
The young man answered that, although he had not brought the day, he was
delighted that he had come in company with it.
"What atrocious commonplaces!" thought Mrs. Easterfield. "The girl does
not know him from Adam!"
Here was a disappointment; the thrill, the pallor, the involuntary
start, were totally absent; and the first act of the little play was a
failure. But Mrs. Easterfield hoped for better things when the curtain
rose again. She conducted Mr. Hemphill to the Foxes and let Olive go
away with her book; and, as soon as she had the opportunity, she read
the letter from her husband.
"With this I send you Mr. Hemphill," he wrote. "I don't know what you
want to do with him, but you must take good care of him. He is a most
valuable secretary, and an estimable young man. As soon as you have done
with him please send him back."
"I am glad he is estimable," said Mrs. Easterfield to herself. "That
will make the matter more satisfactory to Tom when I explain it to him."
When Dick Lancaster, properly booted and wearing a felt hat, returned
the borrowed horse, he was met by Mr. Locker, who had been wandering
about the front of the house, and when he had dismounted Dick was
somewhat surprised by the hearty handshake he received.
"I am sorry to have to tell you," said the poet, "that there is another
"Another what?" asked Dick.
"Another unnecessary victim," replied Locker. And with this he returned
to the front of the house.
At last Olive came down the stairs, and she was alone. Locker stepped
quickly up to her.
"If I should marry," he said, "would I be expected to entertain that
She stopped, and gave the question her serious consideration. "I should
think," she said, "that that would depend a good deal upon whom you
"How can you talk in that way?" he exclaimed. "As if there were anything
to depend upon!"
"Nothing to depend upon," said Olive, slightly raising her eyebrows.
"That is bad." And she went into the dining-room.
The afternoon was an exceptionally fine one, but the party at Broadstone
did not take advantage of it; there seemed to be a spirit of unrest
pervading the premises, and when the carriage started on a drive along
the river only Mr. and Mrs. Fox were in it. Mrs. Easterfield would not
leave Olive and Mr. Hemphill, and she did not encourage them to go.
Consequently there were three young men who did not wish to go.
"It seems to me," said Mr. Fox, as they rolled away, "that a young
woman, such as Miss Asher, has it in her power to interfere very much
with the social feeling which should pervade a household like this. If
she were to satisfy herself with attracting one person, all the rest of
us might be content to make ourselves happy in such fashions as might
"The rest of us!" exclaimed Mrs. Fox.
"Yes," replied her husband. "I mean you, and Mrs. Easterfield, and
myself, and the rest. That young woman's indeterminate methods of
fascination interfere with all of us."
"I don't exactly see how they interfere with me," said Mrs. Fox rather
"If the carriage had been filled, as was expected," said her husband, "I
might have had the pleasure of driving you in a buggy."
She turned to him with a smile. "Immediately after I spoke," she said,
"I imagined you might be thinking of something of that kind."
Mrs. Easterfield was not a woman to wait for things to happen in their
own good time. If possible, she liked to hurry them up. In this Olive
and Hemphill affair there was really nothing to wait for; if she left
them to themselves there would be no happenings. As soon as was
possible, she took Olive into her own little room, where she kept her
writing-table, and into whose sacred precincts her secretary was not
allowed to penetrate.
"Now, then," said she, "what do you think of Mr. Hemphill?"
"I don't think of him at all," said Olive, a little surprised. "Is there
anything about him to think of?"
"He sat by you at luncheon," said Mrs. Easterfield.
"I know that," said Olive, "and he was better than an empty chair. I
hate sitting by empty chairs."
"Olive," exclaimed Mrs. Easterfield with vivacity, "you ought to
remember that young man!"
"Remember him?" the girl ejaculated.
"Certainly," said Mrs. Easterfield. "After what you told me about him, I
expected you would recognize him the moment you saw him. But you did not
know him; you did not do anything I expected you to do; and I was very
"What are you talking about?" asked Olive.
"I am talking about Mr. Hemphill; Mr. Rupert Hemphill; who, about seven
years ago, was engaged in the Philadelphia Navy-Yard, and who came to
your house on business with your father. From what you told me of him I
conjectured that he might now be my husband's Philadelphia secretary,
for his name is Rupert, and I had reason to believe that he was once
engaged in the navy-yard. When I found out I was entirely correct in my
supposition I had him sent here, and I looked forward with the most
joyous anticipations to being present when you first saw him. But it was
all a fiasco! I suppose some people might think I was unwarrantably
meddling in the affairs of others, but as it was in my power to create a
most charming romance, I could not let the opportunity pass."
Olive did not hear a word of Mrs. Easterfield's latest remarks; her
round, full eyes were fixed upon the wall in front of her, but they saw
nothing. Her mind had gone back seven years.
"Is it possible," she exclaimed presently, "that that is my Rupert, my
beautiful Rupert of the roseate cheeks, the Rupert of my heart, my only
love! The Endymion-like youth I watched for every day; on whom I gazed
and gazed and worshiped and longed for when he had gone; of whom I
dreamed; to whom my soul went out in poetry; whose miniature I would
have painted on the finest ivory if I had known how to paint; and whose
image thus created I would have worn next my heart to look at every
instant I found myself alone, if it had not been that my dresses were
all fastened down the back! I am going to him this instant! I must see
him again! My Rupert, my only love!" And with this she started to the
"Olive," cried Mrs. Easterfield, springing from her chair, "stop, don't
you do that! Come back. You must not--"
But the girl had flown down the stairs, and was gone.
_Mr. Lancaster's Backers._
Olive found Mr. Hemphill under a tree upon the lawn. He was sitting on a
low bench with one little girl upon each knee. He was not a stranger to
the children, for they had frequently met him during their winter
residences in cities. He was telling them a story when Olive approached.
He made an attempt to rise, but the little girls would not let him put
"Don't move, Mr. Hemphill," said Olive; "I am going to sit down myself."
And as she spoke she drew forward a low bench. "I am so glad to see you
are fond of children, Mr. Hemphill," she continued; "you must have
changed very much."
"Changed!" he exclaimed. "I have always been fond of them."
"Excuse me," said Olive, "not always. I remember a child you did not
care for, on whom you did not even look, who was absolutely nothing to
you, although you were so much to her."
Mr. Hemphill stared. "I do not remember such a child," said he.
"She existed," said Olive. "I was that child." And then she told him
how she had seen him come to her father's house.
Mr. Hemphill remembered Lieutenant Asher, he remembered going to his
house, but he did not remember seeing there a little girl.
"I was not so very little," said Olive; "I was fourteen, and I was just
at an age to be greatly attracted by you. I thought you were the most
beautiful young man I had ever beheld. I don't mind telling you, because
I can not look upon you as a stranger, that I fell deeply in love with
As Mr. Hemphill sat and listened to these words his face turned redder
than the reddest rose, even his silky whiskers seemed to redden, his
fine-cut red lips were parted, but he could not speak. The two little
girls had been gazing earnestly at Olive. Now the elder one spoke.
"I am in love," she said.
"And so am I," piped up the younger one.
"She's in love with Martha's little Jim," said the first girl, "but I am
in love with Henry. He's eight. Both boys."
"I wouldn't be in love with a girl," said the little one contemptuously.
This interruption was a help to Mr. Hemphill, and his redness paled a
"Of course you could not be expected to know anything of my feelings for
you," said Olive, "and perhaps it is very well you did not, for business
is business, and the feelings of girls should not be allowed to
interfere with it. But my heart went out to you all the same. You were
my first love."
Now Mr. Hemphill crimsoned again worse than before. He had not yet
spoken a word, and there was no word in the English language which he
thought would be appropriate for the occasion.
"You may think I am a little cruel to plump this sort of thing upon
you," said Olive, "in such a sudden way, but I am not. All this was
seven years ago, and a person of my age can surely speak freely of what
happened seven years ago. I did not even know you when I met you, but
Mrs. Easterfield told me about you, and now I remember everything, and I
think it would have been inhuman if I had not told you of the part you
used to play in my life. You have a right to know it."
If Mr. Hemphill could have reddened any more he would have done so, but
it was not possible. The thought flashed into his mind that it might be
well to say something about her having found him very much changed, but
in the next instant he saw that that would not do. How could he assume
that he had ever been beautiful; how could he force her to say that he
was not beautiful now, or that he still remained so?
"I am very glad I have met you," said Olive, "and that I know who you
are. And I am glad, too, to tell you that I forgive you for not taking
notice of me seven years ago."
"Is that all of your story?" asked the elder little girl.
"Yes," said Olive, laughing, "that is all."
"Well, then, let Mr. Hemphill go on with his," said she.
"Oh, certainly," said Olive, jumping up; "and you must all excuse me
for interfering with your story."
Mr. Hemphill sat still, a little girl on each knee. He had not spoken a
word since that beautiful girl had told him she had once loved him. And
he could not speak now.
"You look as if you had a plaster taken off," said the younger little
girl. And, after waiting a moment for an answer, she slipped off his
knee; the other followed; and the story was postponed.
When Mrs. Easterfield heard Olive's account of this incident she was
utterly astounded. "What sort of a girl are you" she exclaimed. "What
are you going to do about it now?"
"Do?" said Olive quietly. "I have done."
Mrs. Easterfield was in a state of great perplexity. She had already
asked Mr. Hemphill to stay until Saturday, three days off, and she could
not tell him to go away, and the awkwardness of his remaining in the
same house with Olive was something not easy to deal with.
During Olive's interview with Mr. Hemphill and the little girls Claude
Locker had been sitting alone at a distance, gazing at the group. He was
waiting for an opportunity of social converse, for this was not
forbidden him even if the time did not immediately precede the luncheon
hour. He saw Hemphill's blazing face, and deeply wondered. If it had
been the lady who had flushed he would have bounced upon the scene to
defend her, but Olive was calm, and it was the conscious guilt of the
man that made his face look like a freshly painted tin roof. This was an
affair into which he had no right to intrude himself, and so he sat and
sighed, and his heart grew heavy. How many ante-luncheon avowals would
have to be made before she would take so much interest in him, one way
or the other!
Mr. Du Brant also sat at a distance. He was reading, or at least
appearing to read; but he was so unaccustomed to holding a book in his
hands that he did it very awkwardly, and Miss Raleigh, who was looking
at him from the library window, made up her mind that if he dropped it,
as she expected him to do, she would get the book and rub the dirt off
the corners before it was put back into the bookcase. But when Olive
left Mr. Hemphill she went so quickly into the house that the Austrian
was unable to join her, and he, therefore, went to his room to prepare
Dick Lancaster had also been waiting, although not watching. He had
hoped that he might have a chance for a little talk with Olive. But
there was really no good reason to expect it, for he knew that two, and
perhaps three, young men had stayed at home that afternoon in the hope
that they might have the same opportunity. The odds against him were
He began to think that perhaps he was engaged in a foolish piece of
business, and was in danger of making himself disagreeably conspicuous.
The other young men were guests at Broadstone, but if he came there
every day as he had been doing, and as he wanted to do, it might be
thought that he was taking advantage of Mrs. Easterfield's kindness. At
that moment he heard the rustle of skirts, and, glancing up, saw Mrs.
Easterfield, who was looking for him.
Mrs. Easterfield's regard for Lancaster was growing, partly on account
of the confidence she had already reposed in him. In her present state
of mind she would have been glad to give him still more, for she did not
know what to do about Olive and Mr. Hemphill, and there was no one with
whom she could talk upon the subject; even if she had known Dick better
her loyalty to Olive would have prevented that.
"Have you found out anything about the captain and Olive?" she asked.
"Has he spoken of her return?"
"No," replied Dick; "he has not said a word on the subject, but I am
very sure he would be overjoyed to have her come back. Every day when
the postman arrives I believe he looks for a letter from her, and he
shows that he feels it when he finds none. He is good-natured, and
pleasant, but he is not as cheerful as when I first came."
"Every day," said Mrs. Easterfield, as they walked together, "I love
Olive more and more."
"So do I," thought Dick.
"But every day I understand her less and less," she continued. "She is
truly a navy girl, and repose does not seem to be one of her
characteristics. From what she has told me, I believe she has never
lived in domestic peace and quiet until she came to stay with her uncle.
It would delight me to see her properly married. I wish you would marry
Dick stopped, and so did she, and they stood looking at each other. He
did not redden, for he was not of the flushing kind; his face even grew
a little hard.
"Do you believe," said he, in a very different tone from his ordinary
voice, "that I have the slightest chance?"
"Of course I do," she answered. "I believe you have a very good chance,
or I should not have spoken to you. I flatter myself that I have
excellent judgment concerning young men, and I am very fond of Olive."
"Mrs. Easterfield," exclaimed Dick, "you know I am in love with her. I
suppose that has been easy enough to see, but it has all been very quick
work with me; in fact, I have had very little to say to her, and have
never said anything that could in the slightest degree indicate how I
felt toward her. But I believe I loved her the second day I met her, and
I am not sure it did not begin the day before."
"I think that sort of thing is always quick work where Olive is
concerned," said Mrs. Easterfield. "I think it likely that many young
men have fallen in love with her, and that they have to be very lively
if they want a chance to tell her so. But don't be jealous. I know
positively that none of them ever had the slightest chance. But now all
that is passed. I know she is tired of an unsettled life, and it is
likely she may soon be thinking of marrying, and there will be no lack
of suitors. She has them now. But I want her to marry you."
"Mrs. Easterfield," exclaimed Dick, "you have known me but a very little
"Don't mention that," she interrupted. "I do quick work as well as other
people. I never before engaged in any matchmaking business, but if this
succeeds, I shall be proud of it to the end of my days. You are in love
with Olive, and she is worthy of you. I want you to try to win her, and
I will do everything I can to help you. Here is my hand upon it."
As Dick held that hand and looked into that face a courage and a belief
in himself came into his heart that had never been there before. By day
and by night his soul had been filled with the image of Olive, but up to
this moment he had not thought of marrying her. That was something that
belonged to the future, not even considered in his state of inchoate
adoration. But now that he had been told he had reason to hope, he
hoped; and the fact that one beautiful woman told him he might hope to
win another beautiful woman was a powerful encouragement. Henceforth he
would not be content with simply loving Olive; if it were within his
power he would win, he would have her.
"You look like a soldier going forth to conquest," said Mrs. Easterfield
with a smile.
"And you," said he impulsively, "you not only look like, but you are an