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A Captain's Umbrella

A Captain's Umbrella image
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Captain FortOSCue ilanccd for the best part of one bap j evening with the prctt'ui-l i r] of the HUOD. Anil the iriiÜMti t Captain feil desperately in love with lier. He went homo in tl; bright mistiness of aa early sumnier morning In a high leut ui eXoitement, for he balieved that Miss Iïrai;cgirdle viewed liim witli oonaiderable favor. The next aflernoon he went to cali on her. Bhe leemed to hitu even moro beautiful in the daylight, and in a ¦imple dress; he beoame momentarily more and more in love. And now be fanuied that not only Miss Braoegirdle but her mother rogarded him with kindlv eyes. In that case he had but to go in and win. He resolved so to do, and left the house so full of his passion and his thoughts that he fonrot - his unibrella! This was no unusual cireumstance. Captain Fortescuo was given to forgelting liis umbrella, and lcaviiig it in a h:nsom cab or any other convenient place. Thus it happened tbal this which he had ttow left ni the only ono ho possessed. Tho next day he knew Miss Braeegirdle ras il"ing to an afternoon fete at the Botánica] (iardens. He In tended to moot hor there. But it wasshowery, thunderom weather, and be feit that to visit the Botanical Gardeus without an iimbrulla would bo dangorous and diffioult. Resides, an umbrella is often admirably usoful duringlhe progresa of a love aïlair. Ht; had learned by accident that the Bracegirdles were going out ihopping in the naorning. He determincd, therefore, to cali and ask tho housemaid to give him his ambrolla. This seemed exeee lingly simple, but luck was agaitist ( aptain l-ortesrne. The maid who admitted him on tho day before had tli is verv morning departed in a four-whcclrd cab with two boxos on the top of it, her "month" being "up." A new niaid bad taken her place - one of a lesa smillng disposition than the last. 'I called hen; yestard&y aftornoon," said the Captain, "and left my umbrella; will you let me have it?'' Something in the sternness of the eye.s rkioh were upon him made him falter before he had said the last word of his request; it suddcnly occurred to him that he might tind it a little dillicult to prove that the umbrella in quostion was indeed his own. "No, thank you," said the maid: "l've had enough of that at my last place. I'm not going to get into trouble here. Better take to an honost trade, young man." With which piece of advice she shut the door in Captain Fortescue's face, leaving the ofticer astonished, quenched and crestfallen. He went straightway and bought a new umbrella. Armed with this, and admirably attired in other respectó, he went to tho Botanical Gardens, where he met Miss Braeegirdle, who seemed more beautiful, more charming and more graceful than ever. As soon as seemed at all decent he with himself and his fate. But when he asked whether Mrs. Bracegirdle was at home. and the stern maid eyed him for a"silent, awful instant, his spirits feil strangely. "She is not," said the maid. and shut the door with an abruptness that gave him a singularly diseonsolato feeling. When, about an hour later, the ladies carne in and tho maid brought them sorae tea. she said to Mrs. Bracegirdle; "If you iljaso, ina'am, that young man has been here again who came one dav with the umbrella dodge. He aked ii you wen: at home- of course ho knew you were not - and I suppose he had sorae plan of getting into the house; but I shut the door in his face and would not listen." "That'sright, Kliza," said Mrs. Bracegirdle, "never give them a chance to get inside the hall. There's been too much of that stealing of coats and umbrellas in tbi' neighborhood; it never wonld happen vith a sensible housemaid. Master Harry leavea liis things hanging in the hall, so that it would be quite easy to carry off a coat or umbrella, if yon left the man Hiere alone only for a minute. If he is so inipudent as to come again. the moment you see who it is shut the door." The next afternoon was Mrs. Bracegirdle's day "at home." Captain Fortescue had not intended to go then; he wanted the lovely Miss Bracegirdle to himself, not surrounded by a crowd of admirers. But as he had not been able to see her the day before he determinod to brave the crowd, and bn coia tent if he got but one smile all hisovru. And so he presented himself once more at Mrs. Bracegirdle's door, this time knowing her to be within. But when it was oponed, and he confidently framed the phrase, not as a query, but an ¦wortlou: "Mrs. Bracegirdle at home?" and proposed immediately to enter, the maid said, shortly: "No, she is not," and quickly shut the door upon him. No words ean describe his feelings. Hestared blankly at the handsomedoor. well shut and lirm, that suddenly had closed upon him and separated him from his lova, What conld this awful thing mean? Had Mrs. Bracogirdlo heard something- false, of course, and uttered by some other base adtnirev of her daughtor - which had mado her tako this cruel step? It was impossiblo to guess. It was uiipusslbla to knock again and ask; it was ridiculous to stand staring at tho door. He turned, descended the steps and walked down the treet. Before he had gone half-way he met % hated rival, a very line fellow. whom iie had only begun to hate in the last ;hree or four days, since he hadnoticed ;hat Miss Bracegirdlo sometimes gave lim Tery cbarming and encouraging jlances. Captain Kortescue walked oa slowly, and hstened for the contident at-a-tat-tat of his rival. He heard it, istened, and looked back. The door was opened, and the visitor instantly admitted. The unhaDDv man who had been turnea away from thal samo entrance sighed heavily and went away down the mitiny ítreet, banglng his nead. He told himself that it would be only a fool or a madman who could pretend to misundentaad so plain arefusalastbis. l'erhaps t was meant kindly, ho ihouznt, and groaned at the thought. Miss Bracegirula was no ooqootte, and i 11 nut care o have men offer her their lovo whon she had no intuntion of accepting it. He was so desperal il v enamored of lur that he busied himself in trying to see this cruel cut as a kind deed. His hopes wcro ono, but he oonld not bear so suddonly to lose his ido!. Ho determined he would not worry her by his unwelcume preseneo whore she could not easily avoid him, nor pormit himself to be laughod at by his successful rival. So he exeused himself from certain engagements at housos where he knew lio should meet her. He gave up dancing and took to oftrdfl instead. "Jlamnv," said Miss Bracegirdle one day, "doesn't it seem odd that for three weeks Captain Fortescuo has not called?" "It does," said Mrs. Bracegirtlle; "and yet, when I come to thi'k of it, we havo not met him out anywhere, either. He must be ill, r more likely he has gone out of town. He willcall when he comes baak. ' ' This sho said, noting that her danghter looked a little pali and out of sorts. But, secretly, she was uneasy herself. Captain Kortescue had showu signs of being so ea' nest a wooer that it seemed very improbable he would tMtve town without a word to them. At the nezi opportunity she quietly made soino in I n ir-in about him, and learnod that Captain Fortescue was neither ill nor out of town. This was bad news, inWeed: for Mrs. Bracegirdle knew perfectly well that her daughter's lieurt was "seriously touched; and, as Captain Fortesceue was porfectly "eligible." all had promised fairly. Now that fair nothing to be done except try. by other distracüons, to erase the impression whicli Captain Foftosoae had made. Mrs. Hracegirdle devoted hprself to her daoghter more tenderly than ever, and the gfirl understood her. Aiiiid all the gayety and the raany engagemente wnich came with every daj', there was a melancholy ahout the house which had nevor been thero before. It was impossible for thom to banUh it altojjether. Kven Master Harry, a ohi'erfiri youth of about fourteen, bccame aware of it at last, and declared hi.s sister was not "half as jolly as the aaod to le." One day, when his mother and sister were takino; a quiet half hour before dressing fordinner, he came iuto the room earrying au umbrolla. "I say, ruothur, this umbrella's been in the stand for a month. The fellow it belonged to has forgotten all about it, 1 expeot; don'tyon tfaink I niight have it?"' 'Isn't it yours?" said Mrs. Bracegirdle. "I gave you a silver-handled ouo last yoar." "(), I lost that Ion; ago," repliod the youth, coolly; "and I may as vvell h:ivr this instigad. It's liko mine, but ever so much sweller. There's a name engraved on it, but I could have that soratühed out." "Let mo see the name," said Mrs. Braccgirdlu. 8he took it and read "ïortescue." An odd look came over hor face. Sho said nothing for a moment, but seemed plunged in thought; then she rose and went down staire to the dining-room. She rang the bell and the stemled niaid appnarod. "Eli.a,"' she said, "can you remembor the appearance of that young man who 'ame one day and asked for au unibrellu? He camo twice. I think you said, and askod for me the second time. Will yon describe him, if you can?" "He was quite a gentleman to look at, nia'am," said Eliza; "but this sort mostly are. Tall and broad .shouldered, and military looking, witli blue eyes, very short, fair hair, and a long, heavy, fair mustache." "That will do. Eliza," said Mrs. ¦Bracegirdle; "yon can go." As soon as Eliza had left the room, Mrs. Hraeegirdle sat down and wrote a notu. Then she tore it up and wrote another, which was raerely au informal invitation to lunch the next day. Then she called Harry down to lier. "Harrv," she said, "l want you to go to Captain Fortescue's room and take this note and the umbrella. See him il you possiblycanandtrv toexplain about this unhappy umbrella and that wretched, stupid Eliza." Then she told Master Harry the story, at which he laughed immensely. "Now, you must not laugh, but thiak how you can do the thin nicely, Harry. You can manage itadmirably, ii you choosA. It is too absurd to put on pApor. And inaUo Ofcptaia l'ortoaoua promise to come to lunch, just to show he bears no malice." Harry put Oü hi.s bost manners, and aocomplished his task well, though he feit much aggrieved at having to give up the umbrella. Captain Fortescuo came to lunch, and this time Eliza admitted hin. and blushed as she did hl - l.undoit World.


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News