Marjorie Dean's Romanceñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
There was very little of Angela in this part of the record. Now and again her name would appear in, “I received a letter last week from Angela. It has been many weeks on the way to me, judging from the date of writing,” or, “Angela writes that she believes I may never go back to America. How little a girl understands a man’s high aspirations. My absence from home is merely a necessary part of my great plan. I shall try to make Angela understand. Hers is a fine mind. She should not lend it to such trivial conjectures. My return to America, God sparing my life, is certain.”
Marjorie’s sympathies were now firmly enlisted toward Angela. She marveled that a man possessed of Brooke Hamilton’s fine spirit and high ideals should have so blindly passed by an unswerving devotion like Angela’s. He had not loved her, and had been honestly unaware that she loved him. He had been too completely centered in the giant labor he had set himself to perform to stop by the way for flower gathering.
The last entry of the China group inspired Marjorie with somber consternation. It had been penned only a few months before the successful man of affairs had returned to America and Hamilton Arms.
“I nearly lost Angela, my little comrade.” Followed a blank; as though the writer had paused in horror of his own words. “She has been near death of pneumonia. I am shocked beyond expression. I cannot image home without her to welcome me. Since receiving the bad news in a letter from her cousin, Adele Vernon, I have thought of Angela night and day. I shall leave my business interests here in Woo Fah’s hands and sail on the next mail steamer. It is three months since Adele’s letter was written. God knows what may have happened to my little girl.”
Marjorie cast a sorrowful upward glance at the portrait. She thought she knew the tragic end of the blue-eyed man’s love idyl. Nothing but the rustle of the notebook’s leaf as she turned it broke the hush pervading the study. Her eyes met that which wrung from her a little cry of gladness.
“I have found love. I know its meaning now. I have come from the other side of the world to learn the wonder of all wonders. It is not the wonder of deeds. It is the wonder of a woman’s love, changeless in its white glory. I walked in darkness, without knowing. Now I have come into the light. She always loved me, from the first day. How could I have been so blind? There was a woman, my mother, who loved me. There is a woman, Angela, who loves me now. I know only these two.
“We shall be married at Easter. That time seems far off. Angela tells me it is only five months away. From November until April I shall endeavor to lavish upon her the devotion she says she feared might never be hers. I chose achievement instead of love. Yet love did not forsake me. I have been magnificently favored by God.”
The lovely, changeful face of the absorbed reader lightened a little over the cheerful turn in the story. Her faint smile died with the stark remembrance that Brooke Hamilton had not married.
She continued reading with a sigh:
“Christmas Eve, eleven o’clock. I have just returned from Vernon Lodge. Early this evening I heard my favorite carol, ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’ coming sweetly from the sitting room bow window. Angela, Adele and Bobby Vernon were the carolers. Angela’s high, entrancing soprano voice still lingers in my ears. I think I shall never wish to hear a truer, sweeter voice singing the carol my mother so greatly loved.
“Of course I caught them, brought them into the house, kissed Angela’s lips, under the mistletoe, kissed Adele’s hand and shook hands with Bobby. I would have entertained them at the Arms but they marched me off to Vernon Lodge. There we had one more divinely happy evening together. Angela is always so full of life, so brimming over with charm. I tell her sometimes she is too charming for her strength. She is rather frail still from the ravages of pneumonia. When we are married we shall go overseas on a long honeymoon voyage. This I believe will restore her to her former strength of constitution.”
Marjorie hastily turned the leaf. She was prepared for disaster, but it came with a relentlessness which made her heart ache:
“May first. My birthday. I am alone. It is two months since Angela died. Is that a long, or a short space of time? I do not know. I know only she is gone. She complained of being weary in the evening. Next morning they found her asleep, her dear little crinkling smile on her lips. Pneumonia had weakened her heart. Even she did not know to what extent. This afternoon I gathered quantities of the double, fragrant purple violets for which the Arms has been famed since my grandmother’s day. I took them all to the Vernon vault, my offering to love. Angela was not there, naturally. Her radiant spirit had long since transcended earth.
“I, Brooke Hamilton, a strong man, remain here. If only I had earlier understood love. I might have, had I not been so closely wrapped in my own dreams of achievement. What even greater things I might have accomplished with her by my side. Great love is the impetus to noble achievement. I know it now. Dear Angela! I bruised her tender heart with my selfish indifference to her love for me. God in mercy willed that I should not break it. Out of long years, four months! Forgive me, sweet. I shall never write in this book again.”
Marjorie put her curly head down on the table and cried. She had lived and suffered that balmy spring morning with Brooke Hamilton. She had a sad impression that she had forever passed out of the comfortable state of disinterest with which she had formerly looked upon love. Nothing would ever be the same again.
ON THE ROAD TO ORCHARD INN
Mechanically, Marjorie closed the journal of Brooke Hamilton and slipped the rubber around it. She felt as though she never wished to open it again. What a tragedy lay between those black, worn, leather covers. Brooke Hamilton had suffered too greatly she thought for that which he was not really to blame.
He had not understood that Angela loved him. Still, he had upbraided himself with the remorseful thought that he might have understood, if he had tried. Angela had always loved him. She had known that she loved him. He had not in the beginning loved her, or at least he had given no thought to love. The last despairing entry in the journal held strong accusation against himself for not having given love a place in his life. Mind had dominated heart, when instead heart and mind should have gone seeking love and achievement together.
Then the thought which had been pounding at the walls of her brain for admittance entered her consciousness. Suppose that, some day, too late, she were to discover she really loved Hal? She had the same friendly regard for Hal which Brooke Hamilton had entertained for Angela. Hal loved her truly. Angela had truly loved Brooke Hamilton.
The mere idea of such a far-fetched catastrophe filled the sober-faced, lately tearful lieutenant with panic. She took the sad little history of a man’s ambition and misunderstanding and hurriedly replaced it in the rosewood box. She turned the key, then placed the box in the cabinet. Having now read it, she could not bear to talk with Miss Susanna again about it that day. She longed to go out in the bright spring weather and walk until she had shaken off the deep-seated melancholy which had invaded her young heart. The quotation from Thanatopsis: “Go forth, under the open sky, and list to nature’s teachings,” recurred to her with force.
“It’s almost time for luncheon,” she murmured. “I can’t help it. I must go outdoors for awhile. I shan’t write a line today. Maybe not tomorrow. I’ll scribble a note to Miss Susanna and give it to Jonas to hand to her. Jerry’ll survive my desertion for once.”
Luncheon at the Arms was at one o’clock. It lacked only a few minutes of one when Marjorie came downstairs to find Jonas and deliver her note into his hands. She had stopped only long enough to bathe her slightly pinkish eye-lids and draw on a pretty buff sports coat and hat.
She had hardly progressed the length of the long stone walk leading to the gate when her drooping spirits began to revive. She was not shallow, in that she could lightly throw off the impression of the morning’s reading. She was strong-willed enough not to allow it to gain a distressing hold upon her. Most of all she wished to forget her dejected suppositions which concerned Hal.
Outside the gates of the Arms she paused to decide on which way to go. Should she walk to the town of Hamilton, or toward the campus. A walk into staid, drowsy Hamilton meant nothing more than a lonely prowling up and down the main streets. To go toward the campus! There was no telling who she might meet. Marjorie chose the campus, and variety.
“Now by King John’s castle where may you be going?” Leila Harper called out the salutation as she swept past Marjorie in her car. A moment and it had stopped. Leila leaned far out of it, beckoning. “Have the feet to hurry,” she ordered. “I have just been to town, but I’ll take you back again in a trice, if you say.”
“I don’t want to go to town.” Marjorie shook an emphatic head. “Take me for a spin, Leila Greatheart. I’ve quit biographing for the day and I wish to be amused; wish to be, and hope to be.”
“I am that amusing! And you must have heard it. Now who told it to you?” Leila cocked her head to one side and smilingly awaited an answer.
“Leila Harper,” laughed Marjorie. “I hope she knew what she was talking about.”
“I hope so,” Leila echoed fervently. “Let us take a ride, Beauty, to Orchard Inn. I should be busy with my Irish play this afternoon. I have no thoughts for it. We are both less gifted than we might be.”
“Orchard Inn to luncheon sounds comforting.” Marjorie was settling herself beside Leila in the car. “It’s a glorious day for a drive. I’ve not seen you for more than a few minutes at a time since the Rustic Romp. I’ve only seen Robin once. She came over to the Arms the day after the Romp to tell me we made nearly a thousand dollars from it.”
“Did you not hear, Beauty? Someone dropped a hundred dollar note into the cash box. Miss Dow had charge of the box. She had no idea who the generous rustic might be.”
“Oh-h!” Marjorie’s exclamation died in a soft breath. She had made a quick flashing guess as to the donor. Leslie Cairns, of course. What an odd proceeding on her part! Nevertheless Marjorie gave her the benefit of having been animated by a generous motive. She had undoubtedly come prepared to give such a sum. Marjorie was also of the opinion that Doris Monroe had paved the way for Leslie’s lark.
“It is not a campus performance to give such wealth,” smiled Leila. “I mean outside the Travelers and a few such princes as Gentleman Gus and her train of hearties. I thought Ronny might be the one. She accuses Vera; and so it goes.”
“Whoever gave it must have wished her identity to be a secret.” Marjorie would have liked to tell Leila of Leslie’s lark. She had made up her mind that night, however, to be silent. Three persons besides herself knew it. No, only one, Doris Monroe. Jane Everest and Julia Peyton lacked the evidence of their own eyes. Unless Julia Peyton should gossip, Leslie’s uninvited presence in the gymnasium would not be known.
“Since we have the gold, why should we seek the miner,” Leila said genially. “‘The Knight of the Northern Sun’ is coming on grandly. Next Tuesday evening we shall give a full rehearsal. I trust our spear proof silver buckram helmets will fit our Norse warriors. Kathie is a true playwright, but I am a Celtic fake. It is hard to glorify my hero, since I am to be the hero myself. I am in a fine dilemma,” she complained drolly. “Why did I ever imagine I could write an Irish play?”
It was an hour’s run by automobile to Orchard Inn. It was the most distant from the campus of the coterie of tea rooms dear to the hearts of the Hamilton girls. The route lay for the most part over Hamilton Pike. The last three miles of the journey had to be made over a dirt road. It was fairly smooth and easily traveled except when roughened by heavy rains.
The two girls kept up a low steady stream of conversation as the car sped on toward the Inn. Both were feeling the pleasantness of a brief freedom from everything connected with even their beloved work. Neither had expected to take a trip to the Inn when she had started out. As a consequence, both were jubilant over the little excursion.
“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you something very important, Leila. We were so busy talking about the Travelers’ stunts it almost slipped my mind. Captain’s coming to the Arms for Easter.” Marjorie’s voice rang with joy. “That means I can stay here. Jerry is going to stay, too.”
“May I ask whose marvelous managing that is?” Leila’s eyes grew starry. She adored Mrs. Dean.
“Captain’s. You see General will be away on a trip. Captain knows how much I have to do here, so she is going to help me by coming to the Arms. Miss Susanna is delighted. It’s a case of Captain Bean making Lieutenant Bean and all the Beanstalks happy.”
“We should start a Beanstalk colony here at Hamilton and remain here all our days. Would it not be a credit to the township and a satisfaction to my old age?”
“I’d love to live in Hamilton Estates, Leila,” Marjorie confessed. “I care for Sanford because of Jerry, Muriel, Lucy and a few other chums of my high school days. If Jerry, Lucy, Muriel and a few more could be transplanted to Hamilton, I’d move Castle Dean here, too. Sanford has always meant a great deal to me. Hamilton means more.”
“I understand. Midget and I have sometimes romanced of building ourselves a hut in the land of college.” Leila looked dreamily away for an instant at the peaceful spring landscape. There was a touch of home hunger in her reply. She was silent for a little, her attention riveted on picking as smooth a route as was possible on the dirt road for the car. The machine had struck a rough, narrow stretch of ground not more than wide enough for two cars to pass each other.
“Hey, ho,” she said, coming back to practicality; “I am not anxious to meet any cars on this cattle path.” The words had scarcely left her lips when a low frame, black roadster, built for speed, appeared in sight upon the brow of an incline ahead of them. “Do you see that, Beauty? I had but to speak when a listening jinxie whisked a black hob-goblin into my path,” Leila cried out in mild vexation.
Marjorie watched the approaching car with more than casual interest. A comprehensive glance at it had informed her as to the identity of the driver. A young woman was at the wheel, the car’s sole occupant. Marjorie did not miss seeing the peculiar expression which showed itself in the other’s face as she glanced at Leila’s car and prepared to keep strictly to the proper side of the narrow road.
Instead of starting down the low hill the other motorist stopped her car at the top of the little rise of ground and waited for Leila’s roadster to come up. As Leila’s car came abreast of her automobile she leaned out and cried: “Will you please stop your car? I’d like to speak to Miss Dean.”
“Has the world come to an end?” Leila muttered in Marjorie’s ear as she complied with the other girl’s request. “The Hob-goblin is no myth, as you can see for yourself, Beauty.”
With Leila’s muttered comments in her ears Marjorie had hard work to keep a sober face and maintain an air of pleasant impersonality toward Leslie Cairns. She could think of no reason why Leslie Cairns should speak to her. She thought Leslie could hardly have guessed her identity since the Romp. Certainly on that night Leslie had not recognized her. The fact that she had amiably permitted Marjorie to conduct her to the door and freedom was sufficient proof in itself.
“Good afternoon, Miss Dean.” Leslie’s salutation was laconic. Marjorie thought she was looking particularly well in a sports suit and hat of bright brown English weave. Her irregular, dark features bore no trace of ill humor. Instead her face was singularly impassive.
“Good afternoon, Miss Cairns.” Marjorie’s clear brown eyes looked straight into Leslie’s small black ones. She could think of nothing to say. She therefore waited for Leslie to make the next advance in conversation.
“It’s about the other night, I’d like to speak to you,” Leslie declared with somber steadiness.
“Pardon me. I am willing to listen to whatever you may wish to say to me, Miss Cairns, but – I am with Miss Harper,” Marjorie reminded with candid courtesy.
“Miss Harper is welcome to hear what I have to say to you. She probably knows already that I – ”
“She knows nothing of – of – certain things from me. Pardon me for interrupting you.” Marjorie smiled friendly warning.
“I am sure she doesn’t,” Leslie agreed with an odd energy which brought a faint flush of surprise to Marjorie’s cheeks. “She must have heard it somewhere on the campus, though. I thought possibly that screech owl – I’ll say Miss Peyton, one’s her natural name, the other only a surname, had published me on the main bulletin board before this.” Mention of Julia Peyton filled Leslie’s tones with contemptuous sarcasm.
“Hardly.” The quick sturdiness of the retort brought a peculiar gleam to Leslie’s eyes.
“It was a mistake – losing my temper as I did.” Leslie’s next speech came with shamed apology. “I don’t know that it matters specially – now. The mischief’s done. I had no business in the gym that night.” She looked at Marjorie as though asking for an opinion.
Leila sat the picture of immobility. Her hands loosely clasped the wheel. Her blue eyes stared straight ahead. She affected deep interest in the immediate road ahead of the car. She had had no inkling of what Leslie meant until the latter had made pertinent allusion to the gymnasium. Light had then broken upon her acute Irish intelligence. Comprehension threatened to break up her immobile expression.
“That is of course true from – from a certain standpoint,” Marjorie admitted. “If you wish my personal opinion,” she smiled; “I can’t see but that your presence there was an added attraction to the crowd. I have fought for democracy at Hamilton, Miss Cairns. I can only feel my attitude to be democratic now. I believe that you went to the Romp merely to have fun. There could be no harm in such a motive.”
“There wasn’t!” Leslie cried in sharply anxious agreement. “I had grown tired of myself and only wanted to have a good time. I wouldn’t do such a stunt, again, though. I’m through with such performances. I’m through with everything,” she added with a dull kind of desperation.
“I think I understand how you felt about going to the Romp,” Marjorie said gently.
“Still you wouldn’t have done so. That’s the difference between your disposition and mine. Never mind about that. I’ve just one thing to tell you. I wish you’d believe me. I’m all through trying to make trouble for you at Hamilton or any place else.” Leslie’s earnestness was unmistakable.
“It – truly, Miss Cairns, it doesn’t make – ” Marjorie colored with growing confusion.
“Oh, but it does. I want you to know, Bean – ” It was Leslie who now turned very red. Before she could offer an abashed apology Marjorie’s merry laugh rang out.
“Please don’t.” She gaily warded off apology. “You can’t imagine how truly fond I’ve become of being called ‘Bean.’ It’s funniest of two or three pet names the girls have given me. Miss Macy has even composed some funny verses which she calls ‘Jingles to Bean.’”
“What?” A slow smile succeeded Leslie’s momentary air of uncertainty as to whether she had heard aright.
“You have a keen sense of humor, Miss Cairns,” Marjorie generously continued. “Your costume the other night showed your appreciation of funny things. You spoke of Miss Peyton. She was unfair with you at the dance. I was glad you walked away from her, and sorry that you should have been aggravated by her to the point of answering.” Marjorie tried to lead the subject away from intimate personalities. She disliked to make apologies. She disliked far more to receive them. She desired no promise of future rectitude from Leslie.
“Leila,” she addressed Leila’s clear-cut Irish profile, “have you heard that Miss Cairns was masked at the Romp?”
“I have not.” Leila slowly turned her face toward Leslie. “May I inquire what your costume was? I was not in the gym until a very few minutes before the unmasking,” she explained.
“I was just a farmer, blue overalls, gingham shirt and all that sort of thing,” Leslie described briefly. “I happened to get hold of a particularly silly-looking mask. That was the funny part of the costume.”
“And now I will tell you the funny part of your adventure.” Leila regarded the girl she had ranked as her pet aversion with a not unkindly glance. “I have heard nothing about you in connection with this funny-face farmer, but I have heard plenty of myself. It seems I had the credit for being that one. I was not on the floor while you were. I waited in my room so as to tease the girls. I had bet with a crowd of freshies that none of them could pick me out in that rustic mob.”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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