Cap'n Dan's Daughter by Joseph Crosby Lincoln
The Scarford Chapter of the Guild of the Ladies of Honor was not as large a body as Mrs. Black in the exuberance of her Trumet conversation had led Serena to think. In reality, its membership was less than a hundred. It was formed in the beginning by a number of seceders from the local Women's Club, who, disappointed in their office-seeking ambitions and deeming the club old-fashioned and old-fogyish in its ideas, had elected to form an organization of their own. They had affiliated with the national order of the Ladies of Honor, chiefly because of the opportunity which such a body offered for office holding and notoriety. The members were not drawn from the oldest families of Scarford nor from those whose social position was established. They were chiefly the wives and daughters of men who had made money rather suddenly; would-be geniuses whose genius had not been recognized as yet; women to whom public speaking and publicity were as the breath of their nostrils; extravagants and social climbers of all sorts.
The purposes of the organization, outside those specified in the constitution of the parent body, were rather vague. Ex-Mayor Fenholtz expressed a rather general opinion when he said:
"The Ladies of Honor? Sure! it is a place where the women go who think their husbands don't appreciate them. If I was one of those husbands I should appreciate their having that place. They might stay at home if they didn't. That would be a galamity."
The ladies of the Scarford Chapter made it a point to be always abreast of the times. Theirs was not a suffrage organization because, as many of them said, the belief in suffrage was so common nowadays. Their motto was "Advancement." Just what sort of advancement seemed to make little difference.
The next meeting--that is, the meeting to which Serena had been invited--was one of the few at which men were permitted to be present. The Blacks called at the Dott mansion with the car, Mr. Black not acting as driver this time, and the journey to the hall was made in that vehicle. It was not a lively journey, so Captain Dan thought. He and B. Phelps occupied the folding seats facing the two ladies and Mr. Black maintained a gloomy silence all the way. As for Annette and Serena, they talked and talked upon subjects miles above the head of the captain. Mrs. Black did most of the talking; Serena was content to listen and pretend to understand.
"This is to be an open meeting, Mrs. Dott," said Annette graciously. "You see, we have open meetings, just as you do in Trumet, although I doubt if you find much resemblance between the two. You'd scarcely expect that, would you? Ha! ha! It is a good thing," she added, addressing the occupants of the carriage in general, "for these husbands of ours to be shown occasionally what their wives are capable of. Here is our Chapter building. Phelps, give Mrs. Dott your arm."
The Chapter building proved to be not quite up to Serena's expectation. It was a building, of course, but the Chapter occupied only two or three rooms on the third floor, the other floors being occupied by offices of various sorts. The largest room, that which Mrs. Black dignified by the title of "Assembly Hall," was partially filled when they entered. Some sixty women of various ages, with a sprinkling of men among them, occupied the chairs on the floor. Upon the speakers' platform half a dozen ladies in radiant attire were chatting volubly with another, an imposing creature in crimson silk, who surveyed the audience through a gold lorgnette, and whose general appearance reminded Daniel of one of the stuffed armchairs in the parlor of their new home.
"That is Mrs. Cornish, the speaker of the evening," whispered Annette. "She is one of our most brilliant members."
"Yes," replied Dan'l, to whom the information had been imparted, and upon whom the crimson silk had made an impression; "yes, she--she does look sort of--sort of brilliant."
"But I thought the Chapter was larger than this," said the puzzled Mrs. Dott. "I thought Scarford had one of the largest Chapters."
"Oh, no, not the largest, merely one of the best. Our motto always has been quality not quantity. And now will you excuse me? They are waiting for me on the platform. I will see you when the open meeting is over. Phelps, find good seats for Mr. and Mrs. Dott."
She bustled away to the platform. The gloomy B. Phelps found seats for the guests and himself and sank heavily down beside them. Daniel, who had been gazing about him with curiosity, whispered a question.
"What do they do at these things, Barney--Phelps, I mean?" he asked. "Are they like lodge meetings at home? This is my first trip here, you know."
"Humph!" grunted his companion. "You're in luck."
"Talk, don't they?"
"Talk! Good Lord! Say, Dan, if I get to sleep and you notice Annette looking this way, nudge me, that's a good fellow."
He settled himself in his chair and closed his eyes. Daniel turned to his wife.
"Serena," he murmured. "Say, Serena, don't you think it is a queer-lookin' crowd? Seems to me I never saw such clothes or so many different kinds of hair. Look at that woman's skirt. It's tore all up one side."
"Sshh! Don't speak so loud. That's the latest style."
"What! That? Well, I--"
"Sshh! It's the latest style, I tell you. Haven't you seen the fashion magazines? All the new dresses are made that way."
"Well, I--I'm not as young as that woman is."
"You wouldn't wear a thing like that if you were as young as Gertie; and she wouldn't either, not if I saw it first. I never saw such folks as these at Trumet."
"Of course you didn't. Trumet isn't Scarford. We are in society now, Daniel. We mustn't show our ignorance."
"Humph! I'd rather show my ignorance than--Hello, the doin's are goin' to commence."
The Chapter president, a Mrs. Lake, advanced to the desk, smote it fiercely with a gavel and demanded order. The hall, which had been buzzing like a colony of June bugs, gradually grew still. Then Mrs. Lake opened the meeting. She delivered a short speech. Mrs. Black, in lieu of the secretary, who was absent, read the minutes. Then there were motions and amendments and excited calls for recognition from "Madam President." It was livelier than Daniel had expected.
But soon the woman in crimson silk was introduced. Mrs. Cornish bowed in recognition of the gloved applause, and proceeded to talk... and talk... and talk....
At first Captain Dan endeavored to pay strict attention to the address. Its title was "The Modern Tendency," and the tendency in this case seemed to be to say as much as possible about nothing in particular.
Daniel found his attention wandering and his eyes closing. They opened at intervals as the applause burst forth, but they closed between bursts. The tremendous enthusiasm at the end, however, awoke him for good, and he remained awake until the close of the "open meeting," a marked contrast to Mr. Black, who slumbered to the finish.
When it was over Annette descended from the platform and came hurrying to them.
"How did you enjoy it, Captain Dott?" she purred.
Daniel rather dubiously admitted that he guessed 'twas first rate, far's he could make it out. His wife was enthusiastic; she affirmed that it was splendid.
"I'm sure we couldn't help enjoying it, Mrs. Black," she said. "Everyone of us. Didn't you enjoy it, Mr. Black?"
"Sure!" replied Phelps promptly. "Great stuff!"
His wife swooped upon him like a swallow on a fly.
"You?" she snorted contemptuously. "You didn't hear a word of it. I only hope Mrs. Cornish wasn't watching you, as I was. And now," she added, turning to Serena, "comes the other part, the important part. Captain Dott, there is to be a short business meeting in a few minutes, and men are, of course, excluded. Phelps, will you have James drive Captain Dott home? You had better go with him, and then come back again and wait for us. Captain Dott, I am going to borrow your wife for a short time."
Daniel, not knowing exactly what to say, said nothing. Phelps seized his arm and led him down to the carriage. The driver received his instructions and the homeward ride began.
"I say, Barney," observed Daniel, after waiting for his escort to volunteer a word or two, "are all their meetings like that?"
Mr. Black snorted. "No," he declared; "some are a d----d sight worse."
It was after eleven when Serena returned. Her face was flushed and shining with excitement. She did not wait to remove her hat, but rushed into the parlor where her husband sat in lonely magnificence. The solicitous Hapgood, who had happened in every few minutes to see if his employer "wished anything," had been ordered to "go aloft and turn in." The tone in which the order was given made an impression and Hapgood had obeyed.
"Oh, Daniel!" she cried. "What do you think? I've been made a member of the Chapter!"
Captain Dan should perhaps have been enthusiastic. If he was, he suppressed his feelings wonderfully.
"Have you, Serena?" he observed. "I want to know!"
He listened while his wife dilated upon the wonderful happenings at the meeting and the glorious consequences which she felt sure were to follow. Just before putting out the light he asked one more question.
"That--that Mrs. Lake?" he said. "She's a grass widow, ain't she--isn't she, I mean?"
"Yes, what of it?"
"Oh, nothing. Only I thought you were kind of prejudiced against--against--"
"I've had a good many prejudices, I suppose, like other people. But Mrs. Lake's husband was a brute; Mrs. Black told me so. He must have been, for she is perfectly lovely. I've met them all, and they are all lovely. They're going to call and--and everything. Oh, Daniel, this means so much to us!"
Captain Dan turned out the gas.
"Yes, Serena," he said slowly. "I shouldn't wonder if it did."
The calls began the very next afternoon. Mrs. Black, having made up her mind that the taking of the Dotts under her wing was a necessity, made a virtue of that necessity and explained to her fellow members of Scarford Chapter that Serena and Daniel were really very nice people. "A little countrified, of course. You must expect that. But they are very kind hearted and immensely wealthy--oh, immensely." She was kind enough to add that Serena was quite an exceptional person and an advanced thinker, considering her opportunities. "The club people were going to take them up, and so I felt that we should get in first," she explained. "If they should prove to be impossible we can drop them at any time, of course."
In making this explanation she did not mention the Fenholtzes, and yet if it had not been for the call of the Honorable Oscar and his wife it is extremely doubtful if Serena would have become a member of Scarford Chapter so soon. Also it is doubtful if the little dinner given by the Blacks to Mr. and Mrs. Dott would have taken place within the week. At that dinner Captain Dan wore his first dress suit. He bought it ready made at one of the Scarford shops and it fitted him remarkably well, considering. What he could not do, however, was to feel at ease in it.
"Good land, Serena!" he said, when the dressing was completed and they were about to start for the dinner, "don't pick at me so everlastin'ly. Don't you suppose I know I look as stiff and awkward as if I'd froze? You won't let me put my hands in my pockets, and all I can do is hang 'em around loose and think about 'em, and this blessed collar is so high I can't scarcely get my chin over it. I'm doin' my best, so don't keep remindin' me what I look like all the time."
"I don't care what you say, Daniel," declared his wife. "The clothes are just what you ought to wear, and if you would only forget them for a little while you would look all right."
"But I can't forget. I know the clothes are all right. It's me that's all wrong. My red face stickin' over the top of this collar looks like a fireman's shirt on a white fence. I tell you I ain't used to this kind of thing. I wasn't born to it and it don't come natural to me."
"Neither was Mr. Black 'born to it,' but he has got used to it and so can you if you will try."
"Oh, I'll try. But I'm beginnin' awful late in life. I know you'll be ashamed of me, Serena. You ought to have a different husband."
"I don't want a different one. I wouldn't change you for anybody. But I do think you ought to try and help me as much as you can. My chance has just come; I am only just beginning and I mean to go on and improve myself and our position in life all I can. All I ask you to do is not to hold me back by complaining."
The "little dinner" was not as little as it might have been. Annette had taken pains to make it as elaborate and as costly an affair as she could. This was not solely on the Dotts' account. She had invited Mr. and Mrs. Fenholtz and the impression was to be made upon them, if possible. But, unfortunately, the Fenholtzes did not attend. Mrs. Fenholtz wrote that she had a prior engagement and sent regrets, just as she had previously done on the occasions of Mrs. Black's other "little" functions.
However, the leading lights of Scarford Chapter attended and the display of gowns and coiffures was more varied and elaborate than at the open meeting. Serena, seated at the right hand of B. Phelps, was in her glory. She felt that at last she was in touch with the real thing. Daniel, sandwiched between Annete and Mrs. Lake, was not as happy. The necessity of forgetting his clothes and remembering his grammar was a heavy burden. His conversation was limited to "Yes" and "No" and "I shouldn't wonder," and after a time the ladies ceased in their efforts to make him talk and carried on an animated dialogue across his shirt front.
After dinner there was music and bridge. Daniel was fond of music, but most of the songs, sung by a thin young lady with a great deal of hair and a decollete gown, were in a language which he did not understand, and the piano solos seemed to him to be made up of noise and gymnastics with very little melody. He watched Serena, however, who, in turn, was watching Mrs. Lake and the rest; when they applauded, she applauded and the captain followed suit.
Bridge was an unknown quantity to both of them, and they sat and looked on while Mrs. Black made it "without" and found fault with her partner when they lost. The thin young lady, who had obliged with the vocal selections, asked the captain if he played "nullos." Daniel, who was not sure whether "nullos" was a musical instrument or a game, replied that he wasn't sure, but he didn't think he did; after which he retired into the corner to avoid further questioning.
They reached home about two o'clock, and the captain fell sound asleep in the taxi and had to be shaken into consciousness when the machine reached the Dott door.
"My soul, Serena," he said, when they were upstairs in the bedroom, "don't those folks ever go to bed? There was stuff enough to eat at that dinner to last the average family through three meals. Time I had finished the ice cream I was ready to curl up like a cat in front of the fire; but the rest of them seemed to be just startin' in to be lively. Are we goin' to keep this up very long? If we are, I'll have to sleep in the daytime, like a fo'mast hand on night lookout."
"But wasn't it splendid?" explained his wife. "Weren't they cultivated, brilliant people? You and I never went to anything like that dinner before, Daniel Dott."
The captain admitted that they never did. "Could you make anything out of that game they were playin'?" he asked. "What was it they called it?"
"Bridge. No, I couldn't, but I'm going to. I'm going to learn it just as soon as I can. Mrs. Black says everybody plays it now."
Her husband chuckled. "Those that don't play it had better not try," he observed. "Judgin' from what I saw to-night, if they do try they get into trouble. That Lake woman was givin' that poor little bald-headed fellow she was playin' with fits most of the time. Whenever they won she patted herself on the back, and when they didn't she said it was his fault. He ought to have 'echoed' or hollered back--or somethin'. One time she put down a card and he put another kind of a one on it, and she glared at him and said, 'Havin' no clubs?' and he had one that he'd forgot. He spent the next ten minutes beggin' her pardon, but 'twas a good thing she didn't have a club. She'd have used it on him if she had. He was all shriveled up like a frostbitten cranberry when they got through."
After they were in bed he said, "Serena, what was that black stuff they had on the toast at the beginnin' of that supper? Looked like tar, but it tasted kind of salty and good."
"Don't say supper, Daniel. It was a dinner. All city people have dinner at night. That was caviar on the toast. I've read about it. It comes from Russia."
Silence for a moment. Then Captain Dan said reflectively, "Caviar? Caviar, eh? I've heard of that somewhere before; where was it? Yes, yes, I know. 'Twas a caviar sandwich the waiter asked that young fellow I met in the Rat Cellar to have. I never found out who that young fellow was, and yet I know I've met him somewhere before. I wish I could remember where it was. My memory is failin' me, I guess; must be gettin' old. Can't you remember, Serena?"
But his wife bade him stop talking and go to sleep.
The next day there were more calls, and Serena was asked to attend a committee meeting as a guest. She attended it and returned more full of Chapter enthusiasm than ever. She announced that she might be asked to prepare a paper to be read before the Chapter, and that she intended to study and prepare for it. Study and prepare she did, and, between dodging callers, or helping to entertain them, and keeping out of his wife's way while she was busy with the encyclopedias which she had taken from the library, the captain began to feel somewhat deserted. Hapgood's company was too stately to be congenial, and Daniel sought refuge in the kitchen, where Azuba, as usual, was always ready to talk.
Azuba was brimming over with the novelty of city life. She had been to the theater once already since her arrival, and to the moving picture show three times.
"Don't talk to me," she said. "If them pictures ain't the most wonderful things that ever was, then I don't know. I never expected to see such sights--soldiers paradin', and cowboys a-ridin', and houses a-burnin', and Indians scalpin' 'em! I was so worked up I hollered right out."
"I should think you would. An Indian scalpin' a house is enough to make anybody holler."
"They didn't scalp the house; what sort of foolishness would that be--the idea! They scalped the folks in the house. That is, they would have scalped 'em, only along come the cowboys wavin' pistols and hurrahin'--"
"Could you hear 'em hurrah?"
"No, but I could see 'em. And the way they went for them Indians was a caution. And--Oh, say, Captain Dott, there was one set of pictures there made me think of you. 'Twas all about some people that wanted to go into society. She had a paralyzed father and they had a child, a real pretty girl, and, would you believe it, they commenced to neglect their child and go off playin' cards and dancin' and carousin' around, and the child was took down sick and the poor paralyzed grandfather--"
"Grandfather? Thought you said it was a father."
"'Twas the woman's father--the child's grandfather. Well, anyhow, the poor thing had to take care of it, and the nurse went to sleep and the father come home and found her dyin'--"
"Who, the nurse?"
"No, no, the child. The nurse wa'n't sick; but the child was terrible sick."
"What was the matter with the child; paralysis, too?"
"I don't know what was the matter with it. 'Tain't likely 'twas paralysis. You get me so mixed up I shan't know what I am sayin' pretty soon. Well, anyhow, what happened was that the child's mother and father neglected it on account their fashionable goin's-on, and the child up and died. 'Twas the most affectin' thing. There was the child a-dyin', and the mother and father cryin', and the old grandfather goin' all to pieces--"
"All to pieces! That's worse than paralysis. Hold on a minute, Azuba! Was all this in the picture?"
"And you paid to see it?"
"Course I paid to see it. They wouldn't let me in for nothin', 'tain't likely."
"Well, seems to me you've made a mistake. If cryin' and misery is what you want, I don't doubt you can find a lot of funerals to go to for nothin'. But what was there about all this mess of horrors that made you think of me?"
"Oh, I don't know, unless the way you and Mrs. Dott are goin' in for society in Scarford. Course your child is grown up, so that's different, though, ain't it?"
"Yes, and there isn't any paralysis in the family, so far as I know. That's a mercy. Don't you get paralysis, Azuba. If you do, it will take you longer to get breakfast than it does now."
"That's all right. You ought to be thankful you've got me to get breakfast. If I wa'n't here you'd have to get it yourself, I cal'late. Your wife's too busy these days, and that Hapgood man wouldn't do it. I know that."
Relations between the butler and Azuba were already somewhat strained. He considered her a rude and interfering person and she considered that he would bear watching.
"He's always recommendin' folks for us to trade with," she told Captain Dan. "What business is it to him who we trade with?--unless he gets a little somethin' for himself out of it. He won't do it more than once--not if I catch him at it. Don't talk to me about that Hapgood! I wouldn't trust one of them foreigners, anyhow."
The invitation to dine with the Fenholtzes came about a week after the dinner at the Blacks'. Daniel, who opened the letter containing the invitation, was very much pleased. He liked the Fenholtzes at first sight and felt sure he should like them better on further acquaintance. But when Serena came back from the lodge meeting--the first regular meeting which she had attended since becoming a member--she received the news rather coldly.
"When is it they want us?" she said. "Next Tuesday night? Well, we could go, I suppose, but I don't believe we shall. Mrs. Lake said something about coming around that evening to help me read my paper and criticise it."
The captain was surprised and troubled. "She could come some other time, couldn't she? I think 'twas real kind of the Fenholtzes to ask us. Seems to me we ought to go. You and I haven't even been to pay back that call yet."
"I know it. I've meant to, but I've been so busy. Besides, I don't know whether it is worth while or not. The Fenholtzes have got a great deal of money, but all the Chapter people say they are sort of back numbers."
However, she decided to accept the invitation, and they went in state. But the state was largely on their part. The dinner was a very simple affair compared to the elaborate spread of the Blacks, and the two or three people whom they met were quite different from Mrs. Lake and her friends. Captain Dan enjoyed himself hugely. He sat next to Mrs. Fenholtz at the table, and her quiet conversation on every-day subjects he could understand. Before the dinner was over he was thoroughly at ease, and when later on, in company with the Honorable Oscar and the male guests, he sat smoking in the library, he found himself spinning yarns and joking as freely as if he had been in the back room of the Metropolitan Store in Trumet. The shouts of laughter from the library could be heard in the parlor, and Serena grew nervous.
"Your husband must be very entertaining," said Mrs. Fenholtz. "I haven't heard Mr. Fenholtz laugh so heartily in a long time."
Mrs. Dott was fearful that Daniel might be making himself ridiculous. She didn't mention her fears. Her own remarks were delivered with a great deal of dignity, and she quoted Mrs. Black and the encyclopedia often. On the way home she took her husband to task.
"What in the world were you talking about with those men?" she demanded. "I never heard such a noise as they made. I do hope you didn't forget yourself."
The captain rubbed his chin. "I don't know but what I did forget myself, Serena," he replied. "I know I had a good time and never thought about my clothes after the first ten minutes. Could you hear 'em laughin'? I was tellin' em' about Azuba's goin' to the movin' pictures then."
His wife was shocked. "And Azuba is our cook," she said, "and they know it. I don't know what sort of servants they think we have. They must think you're pretty familiar with them."
"Good land, Serena! I've been familiar with Zuba all my life. If I was to put on airs with her she'd take me down in a hurry."
Mrs. Dott sighed. "I'm afraid you did forget yourself," she declared. "I think if you could hear what the Fenholtzes are saying about us now you'd be ashamed. I'm sure I should."
And at that very moment Mr. Fenholtz was saying: "That man Dott is all right. I have not laughed so for years. And he has common sense, too. I like him."
His wife nodded. "So do I," she said; "and I think I should like Mrs. Dott, too, if she had not been spoiled by Annette Black and the rest of those foolish women she associates with. I don't mean to say that Mrs. Dott is completely spoiled yet, but she will be soon, I'm afraid, unless I can make her realize that she is beginning all wrong here in Scarford. If she could only have gone to the Woman's Club first I think she might understand, but now I'm afraid it's too late."
At the next meeting of the Chapter Serena read her paper. She mounted the platform with fear and trembling. She left it exalted and triumphant. The paper had been applauded and she had been congratulated by her fellow members. Annette was enthusiastic and Mrs. Lake and the other leaders equally so. Stories of the "vast" wealth inherited by the Dotts had been circulated freely, and these, quite as much as the wonderful paper, were responsible for Serena's bound into popularity.
But the popularity was there, and the unconscious Serena believed it to be real. That meeting was the beginning of her obsession. Thereafter she talked chapter and society and opportunity and advancement, and ate them and drank them, too--at least the meals--those at home--seemed to the captain to be made up of very little else. Their evenings alone together became few and fewer. When they were not entertaining callers they were calling. Captain Dan actually began to feel at home in his evening clothes; a good deal more than he did in his night clothes, so he told his wife. Breakfast, which, in the beginning of their Scarford residence, had been served at seven-thirty, was now an hour later, and even then Daniel frequently ate alone.
Then came the reception idea. Annette--she and Mrs. Dott were calling each other by their Christian names now--had dropped the hint concerning it. She had said that a good way in which to repay social obligations was by doing it all at once, by giving a dinner, or reception, or a tea, to which everyone should be invited. Serena decided that the reception was perhaps the better, all things considered. And so preparations for the reception began. There was to be a collation, and when this item of information was imparted to Azuba the kitchen became a maelstrom of activity in which Captain Daniel could no longer find rest and refuge.
"But, Zuba," he remonstrated, "what do you think's comin' here; a drove of hyenas? You've cooked enough already to victual a ship halfway across the ocean. These folks eat sometimes at home. You don't think they're comin' here to make up for six months' starvation, do you?"
"Don't talk to me!" was all the satisfaction he got. "I've heard about what they had to eat over there at Barney Black's, and I don't mean for folks to say that they went hungry when they come here. Don't say another word. I don't know now whether it was a cup full of sugar or a pinch of salt I put in, or the other way 'round. Cookin'! Don't talk to me."
The captain found it practically impossible to talk to anybody. Hapgood was busy; Serena was busier, and Azuba was busiest of all. Wherever he went he seemed to be in the way, and when he fled for walks up and down the streets the crowds of strange faces made him feel lonelier than ever. On the evening before that upon which the reception was to be held he returned from one of these walks to find Serena in tears.
"Why, good gracious sakes!" he exclaimed. "What's the matter?"
"Matter!" sobbed his wife. "Oh, dear me! Everything is the matter! I'm so tired I don't know what to do, and Annette and Mrs. Lake were coming here to-morrow to help me, and now they can't come. They'll be at the reception, of course, but they can't come before; and there's so much to get ready and I don't know whether I'm doing it right or not. What shall I do!"
Daniel shook his head. "Seems to me I'd do the best I could and let it go at that," he advised. "If they ain't satisfied I'd let 'em stay the other way. I wish I could help you, but I don't know how."
"Of course you don't. You don't have any sympathy for the whole thing, and I know it. I feel it all the time. You haven't any sympathy for me."
The captain sighed. He had a vague feeling that he could use a little sympathy himself, but with characteristic unselfishness he put that idea from his mind.
"I guess what you need is a manager," he said. "Somebody that's used to these sort of things that could help you out. I wish I knew where there was one."
Hapgood appeared and announced that dinner was served. Serena hurriedly dried her eyes and they descended to the dining-room. Just as they were about to take their seats at the table the doorbell rang. Hapgood left the room and returned a few moments later bearing a card on a tray. Serena took the card, looked at it, and then at her husband. Her face expressed astonishment and dismay.
"Why, Daniel!" she exclaimed under her breath. "Why, Daniel! Who do you suppose is here?"
Her husband announced that he didn't know. He took the card from her hand and looked at it. It was a very simple but very correct card, and upon it in old English script was the name "Mr. Percy Hungerford."
Daniel's face reflected the astonishment upon his wife's.
"My soul!" he muttered. "Percy Hungerford! Why, that's--that's the cousin; the one Aunt Laviny cut out of her will; the one that would have had all this place and all the money if we hadn't got it. I thought he was in New York somewhere. Black said he was, and now he's here. What in the world does he want?"
Mrs. Dott rose. "I don't know," she gasped. "I can't imagine. But I suppose we must see him. We've got to. Did you ask him to wait, Hapgood?"
Hapgood bowed respectfully. "Mr. Hungerford is in the drawing-room, ma'am," he said.
To the drawing-room moved Serena, followed by her husband.
"Good evening, Mr. Hungerford," said the lady, with a partially successful attempt at calmness. "How do you do? My husband and I--"
She paused. The expression on Mr. Hungerford's face was an odd one. She turned to Daniel, and his expression was odder still. He was standing in the doorway gazing at the visitor, his eyes opening wider and wider.
Mr. Percy Hungerford was the young man whom his friend had addressed as "Tacks," the young man with whom Captain Dan had exchanged repartee in the Rathskeller of the Palatine Hotel.