Зображення сторінки
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]

“No, it isn't too late. ' I don't know dingy, the shutters were closed. It was the whether your great-grandfather said this in epitome of desolation and neglect. his will, or whether it's only the law in such “I haven't been here for five years," said cases, but we can get it back in your father's Mrs. Braddock, shivering. lifetime.”

“Nor I," answered Curtin. “I–I was “How do you know?"

abroad, you know, that is, most of the time.” Mrs. Braddock stammered in her excite- “Oh, you needn't apologize,” laughed ment. It was the name of her lawyer which his sister-in-law, grimly. “It hasn't been made the thing so blessedly certain. an especially pleasant place to come to."

“I went to Lorado Gray,” she said. “He She went through the broken gate, liftsays there isn't any question about it. All ing her skirts carefully above the snow. that needs to be done is for your father to “We'll have to go round to the diningapply. Their own catalogue proves our room,” she said. “I don't suppose there's case. They've—they've thrown the money anybody here to open the door." away, back to us where it belongs.”

Curtin knocked, first with his hand, then Curtin turned to look at her. For the with his cane. There was no answer. first time in their acquaintance they saw What if the old man should be dead? Loeach other with friendly eyes.

rado Gray had said that only he could apply “Did you discover all this—suddenly ?” to the courts. Panic-stricken, Mrs. Brad

“No,” she confessed, frankly. “I worked dock turned to her brother-in-law, and their for weeks till I found it all. And then I eyes met in frightened understanding. couldn't believe it till I went to Lorado “A little louder,” she said faintly. “PerGray. He says there can't be any defense, haps he is-asleep.” that it is ours, ours, ours.”

The “Come in ” which answered CurIt was a long time before Curtin spoke tin's pounding was so shrill, that Mrs. again. He stared past the unkempt head Braddock clutched his arm, in a mixture of of his nephew, while the snow-covered New fright and relief. Once inside the door, England landscape glided slowly by. He they stood for a moment, silently. Curtin's was oblivious to the discomfort of the jolt- eyes saw first of all the well-remembered ing stops, he did not hear the angry scream- grandeur of the room, its splendid proporing of a child in the car.

tions, its fine old fireplace, and the noble “Are you really poor, Emma?” he asked portrait of his great-grandfather, the most finally.

famous man of his day. Then the inde“Oh, we get along. But the girls should scribable slovenliness of the place struck marry, and I can't take them out as I more than one of his senses. He was conought. Think of having five hundred scious of both impressions before he saw thousand dollars to divide among us!” his father, who stood beyond the great din

“It would be-heaven!" answered Cur- ing-table. He was grandeur and slovenlitin.

ness combined, the fine head and face of the In an hour the train stopped, jerkingly, portrait masked by a week's growth of at Dalton. Egbert scrambled down first, white beard, and almost brutalized by without the least thought of helping his drink and dissipation. There was none of mother, and Curtin, who was behind her, the joviality of the confirmed drinker about could not save her from stepping almost him, his supply of liquor was now too poor knee-deep into the snow. The people on in quality and quantity to keep him cheerthe station platform eyed them curiously as ful. Curtin could foresee the passionate dethey started up the street. It was unusual light with which he would receive their now, since almost all the Braddock family story. He almost wished they had written had died or had gone away, to see three such to him instead of coming. prosperous-looking persons.

The old man bade them sit down. CurIt was bitterly cold, but in their enchant- tin fancied that he was really glad to see ment they were conscious of no discomfort, them for once. until they came opposite to the house itself, “What did you come for?” he asked. standing far back beneath its pine-trees, “Because” Curtin went across the through whose thick shade the sun never room and took him by the hand. “Because penetrated. The house, once white, was we have some good news for you, father."

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

"Humph!” said the old man. He looked "Sure, sure, SCRE,” she answered, jubisharply at them, as though he expected to lantly. see the good news in their hands.

The old man propped his head against It was Mrs. Braddock who told the his clasped hands. story.

“Did Lorado Gray say anything else "I was up in Braddock last summer, about taking the money away from 'em?" father, and I saw all the fine college build- he asked. ings they have bought with the income of Mrs. Braddock flushed. your grandfather's money, and it seemed “He said it was legal," she answered, so terrible for him to have given it away sharply. “Isn't that enough?" from his own children, and— ”

"And you want me to apply for it?" The “He gave his children a lot," said the old old man's mind seemed to be quickening. man, shrilly. “He was the only Braddock “Yes. Mr. Gray will come out to see who was ever worth his salt. His college you. You won't have any trouble, father, will be there when we are dead.”

but only comfort, luxury, everything you “But, listen, father. I thought, I thought want." it wasn't fair for them to have it when we The old man looked at her, grimly. are so poor

“What do you want with money? You're "Poor!” cried the old man. “You are held on to enough." not poor with your fine house and your fine “Enough? One never has enough. Ve clothes. I am poor!”

girls must have dowers; they must hare, "I know," said Mrs. Braddock. “I oh, a thousand things. They have a name know you are poor. But it is nonsense for to live up to.” you to be poor. Listen, father. I got his “A name! Bosh! Fifty years ago we will, and he said if they didn't do certain had a name.” He turned suddenly toward things, the money would come back to us. young Egbert. "What do you want money And — "

for?" “Not to you.” His old dislike for her “Oh, lots of things," answered the bor flared up. “Not to you. To me." vaguely. He had been looking first of ali

“Yes, father, to you.” Her eyes blazed, about the room, then up to his great-greatbut her voice was quiet. “To you and to grandfather's portrait, then down upon his Curtin and to Rollin's children. They were grandfather, and the sight seemed to to do certain things, and they haven't done frighten him. them.”

“And you, Curtin?" ** What things?"

“I? What do I not want money for “Their president was to be a minister, What do you want money for, father?" and all the students were to study Hebrew. “I don't want it," the old man shouted And there are other things. They- " "Not that way.”

“Bosh!” said the old man. “What does “Not that way!” repeated Mrs. Brad a minister know about a college? What dock. “It's perfectly legal and right. They does a boy want with Hebrew? Does your oughtn't to have it. They haven't obeyed bov know Hebrew?"

him. It ought to be taken away from the * But listen, father. You don't see the as a punishment, therpoint. If they didn't do those things the The old man threw back his head ani money was to be taken away. I went to laughed. Lorado Gray, and he says we can have it "Punishment! We punish anybot back."

Because they've dropped Hebrew? Ye The sound of that mighty name seemed gods! Who is to punish us if we get it?" finally to make the old man understand. “Why should we be punished?" He sat down, heavily.

“Do you think he would give it to me, "He said we could take it away from or to you? To squander? Where's tx 'em?"

rest of his money gone?" "Yes, we can take it awar from them. “Do you mean to say you won't aro Fire hundred thousand dollars."

for it?" she faltered. Curtin turned to her once more.

"Yes, that's exactly what I mean." H* Are you sure, Emma :"

lifted himself out of his chair, and stand looking down upon them. His mouth the temptations before which he had fallen trembled.

in his youth. He lifted his head. His face “Father," began Curtin.

was altogether evil. There had been but “It won't do you any good to talk, not if one thing left in which he could take pride, you talk a hundred years."

the college which his grandfather had estabMrs. Braddock began to speak once moré. lished. That still held the Braddock name

“You might just as well have some of it above the dishonor with which he and his while you live,” she said, cunningly. sons had surrounded it. Why not let that

"Do you mean that you will get it after I go also? Since Lorado Gray was willing to am dead? Did Gray tell you that?" take the case, it was already won. It was

“Yes." Her eyes commanded Curtin to true that money had ruined them. It had be still. They seemed to say that a lie or made of his name a byword, it had sent two did not matter.

Rollin to a drunkard's grave, it hadThen Gray doesn't know what he's Horror of the past overcame him. But if talking about. I know a little about law. money had ruined them, it should serve I don't believe he said anything of the kind. them now till they died, him, who was so And I won't do it.” His voice rose to a desperately poor, Curtin whom he despised, shrill cry, as though he were an old, old Emma whom he hated, and this boy who woman. “I won't do it.”

would some day go like the rest. Let Ellen A stick of wood in the fireplace fell from Tavish come back! the andirons and lay blazing upon the He looked at them all, one after the other, hearth. Then the old clock struck one, and then at the portrait above the fireplace. two, three, four. Their train left at five, Suddenly he turned upon them. and they had a long walk to the station. “Get out of my house!” he shouted. Mrs. Braddock crossed the room with her “Goand never come back. If he knew you, delicate rustle of silk against silk, and laid he would curse the day he was born." her hand on the old man's arm.

Curtin turned to watch his sister-in-law. · "Listen, father, it would mean comfort What would she do now? Then he saw for you again, and horses and drink,” her that young Egbert had moved. He stood eyes met Curtin's and dropped before them, beneath the picture, his face twitching. He "and perhaps Ellen Tavish would come looked like his grandfather in his wretchedback to keep house for you, and— ” ness before him, and his great-great-grand

Young Egbert's lips opened in a question. father, statesman, soldier, philanthropist, “Who is Ellen Tavish?”.

above his head. Curtin afterward tried to His uncle Curtin sprang to his feet. put the whole thing into a story, all his “Emma! Have you no mercy? And no father's misery and Emma's commonness.

Against them, he set the sudden, leaping But Mrs. Braddock's voice went smoothly pride and ambition in young Egbert's eyes. on, recalling to the old man the sins of his He said it was as though a torch had passed youth, the evil consolations which he had visibly from the dead hand in the picture allowed himself in his loneliness after his to the young, living hand beneath. The wife's death.

boy was crying, his voice choked, he could "-and you could forget all this pov- hardly speak. erty and misery, father. If you will only “Don't say that, grandfather! I am go

ing to study and work and try! Don't, The old man's face was hidden in his grandfather!” hands. His was the proverbial third gen- Then, when the birth-pang of his soul eration from honor. It was scarcely likely grew too intolerable for speech, he hid his that in his feebleness and age he could resist face in his hands, sobbing.

sense ?"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »