Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

263

THE REVERBERATOR.1

1.

sist principally of a bare, highly

polished floor, on which it was easy “I GUESS my daughter's in here,” for a relaxed elderly American to slip. the old man said, leading the way into It was composed further, to his perthe little salon de lecture. He was not of ception, of a table with a green velvet the most advanced age, but that is the cloth, of a fireplace with a great deal way George Flack considered him, and of fringe and no fire, of a window with indeed he looked older than he was. a great deal of curtain and no light, George Flack had found him sitting in and of the Figaro, which he couldn't the court of the hotel (he sat a great read, and the New York Herald, which deal in the court of the hotel), and had he had already read. A single person gone up to him with characteristic

was just now in possession of these directness and asked him for Miss conveniences—a young lady who sat Francina. Poor Mr. Dosson bad, with with her back to the window, looking the greatest docility, disposed himself straight before her into the convento wait upon the young man: he had tional room.

She was dressed as for as a matter of course got up and made the street: her empty hands rested his way across the court, to announce upon the arms of her chair (she had to the personage in question that she withdrawn her long gloves, which were had a visitor. He looked submissive, lying in her lap), and she seemed enalmost servile, as he preceded the gaged in vague contemplation. Her visitor, thrusting his head forward in face was so much in shadow as to be his quest; but it was not in Mr. barely distinguishable; nevertheless, Flack's line to notice that sort of as soon as he saw her, the

young man thing. He accepted the old gentle- exclaimed—“Why, it ain't Miss man's good offices as he would have Francie—it's Miss Delia !” accepted those of a waiter, and mur “Well, I guess we can fix that," mured no protest for the sake of making said Mr. Dosson, wanderiny further it appear that he had come to see him into the room and drawing his feet as well. An observer of these two over the floor without lifting them. persons would have assured - himself Whatever he did he ever seemed to that the degree to which Mr. Dosson wander: he had a transitory air, an thought it natural that any one should aspect of weary yet patient non-arrival, want to see his daughter was only even when he sat (as he was capable equalled by the degree to which the of sitting for hours) in the court of the young man thought it natural her inn. As he glanced down at the two father should find her for him. There newspapers in their desert of green was a superfluous drapery in the door velvet he raised a hopeless, uninterested way of the salon de lecture, which Mr. glass to his eye. Delia, my dear, I)osson pushed aside, while George where is your sister ?” Flack stepped in after him.

Delia made no movement whatever, The reading-room of the Hôtel de nor did any expression, so far as could l'Univers et de Cheltenham was not be perceived, pass over her large young of great proportions, and had seemed face. She only ejaculated, “Why, to Mr. Dosson from the first to con. Mr. Flack, where did you drop from ?' Copyrighted in the United States of

“Well, this is a good place to meet,” America,

her father remarked, as if mildly,

1

and as a mere passing suggestion, to "Well, tell her to hurry," Miss deprecate explanations.

Delia returned, swinging a glove in Any place is good where one meets each hand. old friends," said George Flack, looking “She knows my pace,” Mr. Flack also at the newspapers. He examined remarked. the date of the American sheet and “I should think she would, the way then put it down. “Well, how do

you

you raced !” the girl ejaculated, with like Paris?” he went on to the young memories of the Umbria.

“I hope lady.

you don't expect to rush round Paris * We quite enjoy it; but of course

ihat way.” we're familiar now."

I always rush. I live in a rush. “Well, I was in hopes I could show That's the way to get through." you something,” Mr. Flack said.

“Well, I am through, I guess," said “I guess they've seen most every Mr. Dosson, philosophically. thing,” Mr. Dosson observed.

Well, I ain't!” his daughter “Well, we've seen more than you !” declared with decision. exclaimed his daughter.

“Well, you must come round often," “Well, I've seen a good deal—just the old gentleman continued, as a leavesitting there."

taking A person with a delicate ear might “Oh, I'll come round! I'li have to have suspected Mr. Dosson of saying rush, but I'll do it." "setting," but he would pronounce the “I'll send down Francie." And same word in a different manner at Francie's father crept away. different times.

“And please to give her some more Well, in Paris you can see every money!” her sister called after him. thing," said the young man.

"I'm “Does she keep the money?" George quite enthusiastic about Paris.” Flack inquired.

“Haven't you been here before?"Keep it?" Mr. Dosson stopped as Miss Delia asked.

he pushed aside the portière. “Oh, Oh, yes, but it's ever fresh. And you innocent young man!" how is Miss Francie ? ?"

“I
guess

it's the first time you were “She's all right. She has gone up ever called innocent,” Delia remarked, stairs to get something: we are going left alone with the visitor. out again.”

Well, I wasbefore I came to · It's very attractive for the young," Paris.” said Mr. Dosson to the visitor.

* Well, I can't see that it has hurt “Well, then, I'm one of the young. We are not extravagant." Do you mind if I go with you ?” Mr. Wouldn't you

have a right to Flack continued, to the girl.

be?“It'll seem like old times, on the “I don't think any one has a right deck,” she replied. “We're going to

to be." the Bon Marché.”

The young man, who had seated Why don't you go to the Louvre ? himself, looked at her a moment. It's much better."

“That's the way you used to talk.” “We have just come from there : we “Well, I haven't changed.” have had quite a morning."

“ And Miss Francie-has she?" “Well, it's a good place," the visitor “Well, you'll see,” said Delia continued.

Dosson, beginning to draw on her "It's good for some things, but it gloves. doesn't come up to my idea for Her companion watched her, leaning others.”

forward, with his elbows on the “Oh, they've seen everything,” said arms of his chair and his hands inMr. Dosson.

Then he added, "I guess terlocked. At last he said, interroI'll go and call Francie."

gatively: “Bon Marché ?

[ocr errors]

us.

[ocr errors]

some

No, I got them in a little place I “Why, something to do with that know.'

newspaper-don't you remember?“Well, they're Paris, anyway."

Yes, but it isn't that paper any “Of course they're Paris. But you more-it's a different one." can get gloves anywhere."

“Do you go round for news--in the “ You must show me the little place, same way?' anyhow," Mr. Flack continued sociably. Well, I try to get the people what And he observed, further, with the same they want. It's hard work," said the friendliness" The old gentleman young man. seems all there.”

“Well, I suppose

if
you

didn't “ Oh, he's the dearest of the dear.” one else would. They will have it,

“He's a real gentleman-of the old won't they?" stamp,” said George Flack.

“Yes, they will have it.” But the Well, what should you

think our

wants of the people did not appear at father would be ?

the present moment to interest Mr. “I should think he would be de Flack as much as his own. He looked lighted !”

at his watch and remarked that the "Well, he is, when we carry out our old gentleman didn't seem to have plans.”

much authority. “ And what are they-your plans ?”

“ Much
authority ?”

the

girl asked the young man.

repeated. "Oh, I never tell them.”

“With Miss Francie. She is taking “How then does he know whether her time, or rather, I mean, she is you carry them out ?

taking mine." Well, I guess he'd know it if we “Well, if you expect to do anything didn't," said the girl.

with her you must give her plenty “I remember how secretive you of that." were last year. You kept everything “ All right : I'll give her all I have.” to yourself.”

And Miss Dosson's interlocutor leaned Well, I know what I want," the back in his chair with folded arms, as young lady pursued.

if to let his companion know that she He watched her button one of her would have to count with his patience. gloves, deftly, with a hairpin which But she sat there in her expressionless she disengaged from some mysterious placidity, giving no sign of alarm or function under her bonnet. There was defeat. He was the first, indeed, to a moment's silence, and then they show a symptom of restlessness: at looked up at each other.

“ I have an

the end of a few moments he asked idea you don't want me,” said George

the young lady if she didn't suppose Flack.

her father had told her sister who “Oh, yes, I do—as a friend."

“Of all the mean ways of trying to • Do you think that's all that's reget rid of a man, that's the meanest !quired ? ” Miss Dosson demanded. he exclaimed.

But she added, more graciously“ Where's the meanness, when I Probably that's the reason. She's suppose you are not so peculiar as to so shy.” wish to be anything more?”

“Oh, yes-she used to look it." “More to your sister, do you mean “No, that's her peculiarity, that or to yourself ?”

she never looks it, and yet that she is “ My sister is myself—I haven't intensely so." got any other,” said Delia Dosson. “Well, you make it up for her then, Any other sister ?”

Miss Delia,” the young man ventured “Don't be idiotic. Are you still in to declare. the same business ?” the girl went on. "No, for her, I'm not shy-not in

“Well, I forget which one I was in.” the least.

it was.

do:

we

[ocr errors]

the young

“If it wasn't for you, I think I tion of obstinacy in its repose ; and could do something," the young man yet, with its limitations, it was neither went on.

stupid nor displeasing. It had an air “ Well, you've got to kill me of intelligent calm-a considering, first !"

pondering look that was superior, some“I'll come down on you, somehow, how, to diffidence or anxiety; morein the Reverberator," said George over, the girl had a clear skin and a Flack.

gentle, dim smile. If she had been a “Oh, that's not what the people young man (and she had, a little, the want."

head of one) it would probably have “ No, unfortunately they don't care been thought of her that she nursed anything about my affairs.”

dreams of eminence in some scientific 6 Well, we

are kinder, or even political line. Francie and I," said the girl. “But An observer would have gathered, we desire to keep them quite distinct further, that Mr. Flack's acquaintance from ours."

with Mr. Dosson and his daughters "Oh, yours-yours ; if I could only had had its origin in his crossing the discover what they are!'

Atlantic eastward in their company journalist exclaimed. And during the more than a year before, and in some rest of the time that they sat there slight association immediately after waiting he tried to find out. If an disembarking; but that each party auditor had happened to be present had come and gone a good deal since for the quarter of

an hour that then-come and gone, however, withelapsed, and had had any attention to out meeting again. It was to be ingive to these vulgar young persons, he ferred that in this interval Miss Dosson would have wondered perhaps at had led her father and sister back to there being so much mystery on one their native land, and had then a side and so much curiosity on the second time directed their course to other-wondered at least at the elabo Europe. This was a new departure, ration of inscrutable projects on the said Mr. Flack, or rather a part of a girl who looked to the casual arrival: he understood that it was not, eye as if she were stolidly passive. he called it, the same old visit. Fidelia Dosson, whose name had been She did not repudiate the accusation, shortened, was twenty-five years old, launched by her companion as if it and had a large white face, with the might have been embarrassing, of eyes very far apart. Her forehead having spent her time at home in was high, but her mouth was small : Boston, and even in a suburban porher hair was light and colourless, and tion of it: she confessed that, as Bosa certain inelegant thickness of figure tonians, they had been capable of that. made her appear shorter than she was. But now they had come abroad for Elegance indeed had not been con longer-ever so much : what they had ferred upon her by Nature, and the gone home for was to make arrangeBon Marché and other establishments ments for a European sojourn of which had to make up for that. To a feminine the limits were not to be told. So far eye they would scarcely have appeared as this prospect entered into her plans to have acquitted themselves of their she freely acknowledged it. office; but even a woman would not peared to meet with George Flack's have guessed how little Fidelia cared. approval-he also had a big job on She always looked the same : all the that side and it might take years, so contrivances of Paris could not make that it would be pleasant to have his her look different, and she held them, friends right there. He knew his way for herself, in no manner of esteem. about in Paris—or any place like that It was a plain, blank face, not only -much more than in Boston; if they without movement, but with a sugges had been poked away in one of those

new

as

It ap

an

name

suburbs they would have been lost they saw mainly in him was that they to him.

had seen him before. And, oddly “Oh, well, you'll see as much as you enough, this recognition carried with want to of us—the way you'll have it in general no ability to remember to take us,” Delia Dosson said : which —that is to recall_him: you could led the young man to inquire what not have evoked him in advance, and way that was, and to remark that he

it was only when you saw him that only knew one way to take anything you knew you had seen him. To carry

- just as it came. “Oh, well, you'll him in your mind you must have liked see," the girl rejoined; and she would him very much, for no other sentigive for the present no further ex ment, not even aversion, would have planation of her somewhat chilling taught you what distinguished him in speech. In spite of it, however, she his group: aversion in especial would professed an interest in Mr. Flack's have made you conscious only of what “ job”-an interest which rested ap confounded him. He was not a parparently upon

interest in the ticular person, but a sample or meyoung man himself. The slightly sur mento - moderately tall, moderately prised observer whom we have sup short, moderately everything, modeposed to be present would have rately definite. You would scarcely perceived that this latter sentiment have expected him to have a was founded on a conception of Mr. other than that of his class : a number, Flack's intrinsic brilliancy. Would like that of the day's newspaper, would his own impression have justified that? have been the most that you would -would he have found such a con count

on, and you would have exception contagious! I forbear to say pected vaguely to find the number positively no, for that would charge high-somewhere up in the millions. me with the large responsibility of As every copy of the newspaper wears showing what right our accidental ob the same label, so that of Miss Dosserver might have had to his particular son's visitor would have been “ Young standard. I prefer therefore to note commercial American." Let me add simply that George Flack was quite that among the accidents of his apclever enough to seem a person of im pearance was that of its sometimes portance to Delia Dosson.

striking other young commercial Ameconnected (as she supposed) with lite ricans as fine. He was twenty-seven rature, and was not literature one of years of age, and had a small square the many engaging attributes of her head, a light gray overcoat, and in cherished little sister ? If Mr. Flack his right forefinger a curious natural was a writer, Francie was a reader: crook which might have served, under had not a trail of forgotten Tauch pressure, to identify him. But for nitzes marked the former line of travel the convenience of society he ought of the party of three ? The elder always to have worn something consister grabbed them up on leaving spicuous—a green hat or a scarlet hotels and railway-carriages, but usu necktie. His job was to obtain maally found that she had brought odd terial in Europe for an American volumes. She considered, however, "society-paper." that as a family they had a sort of If it be objected to all this that superior affinity with the young jour- when Francie Dosson at last came in nalist, and would have been surprised she addressed him as if she easily if she had been told that his acquaint- placed him, the answer is that she ance was not a high advantage. had been notified by her father—more

Mr. Flack's appearance was not so punctually than was indicated by the much a property of his own as a pre

manner of her response. Well, the judice on the part of those who looked way you do turn up," she said, smiling at him: whoever they might be, what and holding out her left hand to him :

He was

« VorigeDoorgaan »