Книга Beyond The City. Содержание - Chapter 11 – A Blot From The Blue

"Come in, papa! Do!" cried Ida. "Won't you have a glass of champagne?"

"Pray excuse me," said her father, coldly, "I feel that I am intruding. I did not know that you were entertaining. Perhaps you will kindly let me know when you have finished. You will find me in my study." He ignored the two young men completely, and, closing the door, retired, deeply hurt and mortified, to his room. A quarter of an hour afterwards he heard the door slam, and his two daughters came to announce that the guests were gone.

"Guests! Whose guests?" he cried angrily. "What is the meaning of this exhibition?"

"We have been giving a little supper, papa. They were our guests."

"Oh, indeed!" The Doctor laughed sarcastically. "You think it right, then, to entertain young bachelors late at night, to, smoke and drink with them, to– Oh, that I should ever have lived to blush for my own daughters! I thank God that your dear mother never saw the day."

"Dearest papa," cried Clara, throwing her arms about him. "Do not be angry with us. If you understood all, you would see that there is no harm in it."

"No harm, miss! Who is the best judge of that?"

"Mrs. Westmacott," suggested Ida, slyly.

The Doctor sprang from his chair. "Confound Mrs. Westmacott!" he cried, striking frenziedly into the air with his hands. "Am I to hear of nothing but this woman? Is she to confront me at every turn? I will endure it no longer."

"But it was your wish, papa."

"Then I will tell you now what my second and wiser wish is, and we shall see if you will obey it as you have the first."

"Of course we will, papa."

"Then my wish is, that you should forget these odious notions which you have imbibed, that you should dress and act as you used to do, before ever you saw this woman, and that, in future, you confine your intercourse with her to such civilities as are necessary between neighbors."

"We are to give up Mrs. Westmacott?"

"Or give up me."

"Oh, dear dad, how can you say anything so cruel?" cried Ida, burrowing her towsy golden hair into her father's shirt front, while Clara pressed her cheek against his whisker. "Of course we shall give her up, if you prefer it."

"Of course we shall, papa."

The Doctor patted the two caressing heads. "These are my own two girls again," he cried. "It has been my fault as much as yours. I have been astray, and you have followed me in my error. It was only by seeing your mistake that I have become conscious of my own. Let us set it aside, and neither say nor think anything more about it."

Chapter 11 – A Blot From The Blue

So by the cleverness of two girls a dark cloud was thinned away and turned into sunshine. Over one of them, alas, another cloud was gathering, which could not be so easily dispersed. Of these three households which fate had thrown together, two had already been united by ties of love. It was destined, however, that a bond of another sort should connect the Westmacotts with the Hay Denvers.

Between the Admiral and the widow a very cordial feeling had existed since the day when the old seaman had hauled down his flag and changed his opinions; granting to the yachts-woman all that he had refused to the reformer. His own frank and downright nature respected the same qualities in his neighbor, and a friendship sprang up between them which was more like that which exists between two men, founded upon esteem and a community of tastes.

"By the way, Admiral," said Mrs. Westmacott one morning, as they walked together down to the station, "I understand that this boy of yours in the intervals of paying his devotions to Miss Walker is doing something upon 'Change."

"Yes, ma'am, and there is no man of his age who is doing so well. He's drawing ahead, I can tell you, ma'am. Some of those that started with him are hull down astarn now. He touched his five hundred last year, and before he's thirty he'll be making the four figures."

"The reason I asked is that I have small investments to make myself from time to time, and my present broker is a rascal. I should be very glad to do it through your son."

"It is very kind of you, ma'am. His partner is away on a holiday, and Harold would like to push on a bit and show what he can do. You know the poop isn't big enough to hold the lieutenant when the skipper's on shore."

"I suppose he charges the usual half per cent?"

"Don't know, I'm sure, ma'am. I'll swear that he does what is right and proper."

"That is what I usually pay-ten shillings in the hundred pounds. If you see him before I do just ask him to get me five thousand in New Zealands. It is at four just now, and I fancy it may rise."

"Five thousand!" exclaimed the Admiral, reckoning it in his own mind. "Lemme see! That's twenty-five pounds commission. A nice day's work, upon my word. It is a very handsome order, ma'am."

"Well, I must pay some one, and why not him?"

"I'll tell him, and I'm sure he'll lose no time."

"Oh, there is no great hurry. By the way, I understand from what you said just now that he has a partner."

"Yes, my boy is the junior partner. Pearson is the senior. I was introduced to him years ago, and he offered Harold the opening. Of course we had a pretty stiff premium to pay."

Mrs. Westmacott had stopped, and was standing very stiffly with her Red Indian face even grimmer than usual.

"Pearson?" said she. "Jeremiah Pearson?"

"The same."

"Then it's all off," she cried. "You need not carry out that investment."

"Very well, ma'am."

They walked on together side by side, she brooding over some thought of her own, and he a little crossed and disappointed at her caprice and the lost commission for Harold.

"I tell you what, Admiral," she exclaimed suddenly, "if I were you I should get your boy out of this partnership."

"But why, madam?"

"Because he is tied to one of the deepest, slyest foxes in the whole city of London."

"Jeremiah Pearson, ma'am? What can you know of him? He bears a good name."

"No one in this world knows Jeremiah Pearson as I know him, Admiral. I warn you because I have a friendly feeling both for you and for your son. The man is a rogue and you had best avoid him."

"But these are only words, ma'am. Do you tell me that you know him better than the brokers and jobbers in the City?"

"Man," cried Mrs. Westmacott, "will you allow that I know him when I tell you that my maiden name was Ada Pearson, and that Jeremiah is my only brother?"

The Admiral whistled. "Whew! " cried he. "Now that I think of it, there is a likeness."

"He is a man of iron, Admiral-a man without a heart. I should shock you if I were to tell you what I have endured from my brother. My father's wealth was divided equally between us. His own share he ran through in five years, and he has tried since then by every trick of a cunning, low-minded man, by base cajolery, by legal quibbles, by brutal intimidation, to juggle me out of my share as well. There is no villainy of which the man is not capable. Oh, I know my brother Jeremiah. I know him and I am prepared for him."

"This is all new to me, ma'am. 'Pon my word, I hardly know what to say to it. I thank you for having spoken so plainly. From what you say, this is a poor sort of consort for a man to sail with. Perhaps Harold would do well to cut himself adrift."

"Without losing a day."

"Well, we shall talk it over. You may be sure of that. But here we are at the station, so I will just see you into your carriage and then home to see what my wife says to the matter."

As he trudged homewards, thoughtful and perplexed, he was surprised to hear a shout behind him, and to see Harold running down the road after him.

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