Press enter after choosing selection

The Merchant

The Merchant image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

"I am sure, sir," s;iid Mrs. Outwood, wlth a sort of ecstatic clwplng of tlie hands, "we can never b gratet'ul enotiuti tor the honor you think of doing oui Ot-rHlli'e." Mr. Southmayed fat up a little str.iiylitcr, clrew i long brentb, and looked down at liis iieally triinmed finger nnils, with au air of OOillciona fupenority. '¦Slie'í ynuiie," said Mr. Snuthmaved. "Eighteen next week," apologeticall.y reniarked Mr, üutwood ; "hut deur me, ir, stie's grnwlug oldiT every day." "Your remarles, M ulam, ara elmiacter Ized ly trutli," siid Mr. Soutlimayed. "8ho also uiiint'iirmed and inexperi sneed, bul time wurks wonden. I un williug to take tlie responsibility. Af tur tliis girlish faney of hers for young Applegate- " 'tíhe wlll get over it," hurrledly interposed Mrs. Outwood. "Henry Applegate never can have the audaclty to staud in your way, Mr. Southmayed." And when the fat elderly shipping merchant hud taken hls departure, Mis. Outwood made hast to cali Oeraldine down stairs and communicated to her the unexpected ray of good fortune which had beained upon theui. "Wants to uiarry me!" cried Qeraldine Outwood, her red lips apart, her soft, velvet brown eyea beaming unqimlilind surprise. "Wliat, oíd Soutlimayed!1' "Mr. Southmayed!" corrected her mother. "Yes, Geraldine; he really and truly has condescended to admire yon." "But I don't admire him!" saucily re maiked the youiij; beauty. "Baldlieaded, long-bearded ! 1 wimld as soon niarry the smoky oíd picture 'Mo9es Blessing thc Cliildren ol Israel' that hangs in the back parlor.1' "ticraldiiie," quotli Mrs. Outwood, impressively, "do you want to do fine sewing and take in boarders for a living, as I Iiave done all my lifetime?" "I needn't do that, manim:i," ohirped Geraldine, hopefully. "Harry Applegati- '' "There,"curtly Interrupted her inotlier, "I don't waut lo heur anythiag about Mr. Applegate. Hereafter he will be nothntf to you, nor you to him." "Mamma, how can that bv, wheu we are engaged ?" "Eugaged !" croaked Mrs. Outwood, in a voice like tlie cry of an uetouudcd raven. "Geraldine, if I hear any more of this boy and-girl fol-de-rol I shall be seriously ofltniled wiihyou ' "But mamma - " "My dear, he has given me a five-hundred dollar bilí to get any little uecessaries as he generously expreases himst-lt, and we must go out at lice." Geraldine's eycs Üashed,Hiid her slciuler liure straightened itself. "Wre are not beggari, mamma." "But tor all that, a little reiidy nioney inay not be unacccptable; and only ihiuk how muoh ot'it will be at your disposal soon, if - " "Ifï" echoed Geraldine. "Mamma, I uever, never wlll conseut to - " "Uold your toujiiie, miss!' sternly commanded Mrs. Outwood, with :i bendiug of the browK which had quellfld Geraldine niany a lime during lier childliood, and luid nut entirely lost ils elllc.icy vet. "You will consenr, or I will know the re. isoii why. I am not olie to allow tliis golden oppoitunily slip tliroiijrh your ñngers. If young Applegale makes any diülculiy, st-nd 1 1 i ui to me. 1 can lind ways and means to scttlu 1 1 is SOruplen. Mrs. Southinayed you siuiil be befure you ie thrie mouths older, so put on your Ihingi-at once and let us go out." Qeraldlne obeyed in silene ¦; but she was not eiilirely inbdoed, 88 Mrs, Outwuod inight have kuown by the glitter beni-ath her eyelashe-, and the burning red !-pols OU lier clieeks. Mr. Outwood was a woinan of Indomitatile resolutlon, and Geraldine was a tiue chip of the old block. "I wou't marry hiin," öeraldtno sai'!, to henelf, "not if I smother hiin with :i plllow, like Othello and Defdemona. ilurrid old wretch, wlmt business lias lie to come prowllug and purring about after a young wite. If he wants to marry any one it aught to be mamma. 1 won't iive Harry up for uil the noli old baldlieado in New York, so there." Itwas the old story, wrltten ancw esch day upon the tablets of lile. Mammon versus love - schemiiig okl &gv against two warm hearts. "Oh, Gfrjililine, If I were ouly ricli," said Ileury Applegate. "Nonsense cried Geraldine. "Rlofi or pooi', I'li marry no one but yon, Harry." "Aml tlieu Mr. Soutlimayed will come down on your motlier for that Ove thousaiid dollars lie leut her to furnish tlie house for boarderí, and - " 'He won't do tliat, Harry." "Won't he? Mydeir, Innocent little Gerry. Yon have no IdeM of the iinonnt of vindictiveness tliere is in a purse -proud oíd monster like that.1' "Oh, but, Harry, I mpan lie himself shall ask to bfl let ofl" f rom the engagement" "You know that Í8 simply Imponible, Geraldine." "Strangcr tilines have liappened," said Geraldine, and away slie trippi'd singiug: I won't he a nuu. No, I won't be a nuil.'' "I wonder whutthat pretty little witch means?" thought Harry, as lie went down stairs, consciona that be was alrendy balf an bour behind time at the office, of Taper & Uedwafe. where be oecupied the position of tliird clerk at a salary of $900 a year. "Why Imven't I got a rich' únele to die and leave me money ? Why can't I find a pot of gold somewhere like the good little boya in the fairy tales? But what nonsense I am allowing niyself to think ! Isn't Geraldine Outwood's heart worth all the golden legacies tbat ever were be(liieathed ?" After these days a change somehow came over the spirit of Mr. Southmayed's dream. From acid Garldine turned to sweet; sbe smiled ut her ancient lover's ponderous jokes; she grew uuaccountable docile, meek and inanagable. Mrs. Outwood tlittered herself that "the child had come to her coinmon sense and reason ifter all." Mr. .Southmayed bougbt a wedding ring bijr enough for a bracelet, and priced a set of solitaire diainonds, and Harry Applegate's spirits grew rorrespondiiiKly depressed. "I don't uuderstaud Ger.ildine," he said. No, nor did any one else. But if the young lady understood berself was not Ibatenougfi ? "Geraldiue, child!" Mr?. Outwood's volee tounded up the stairway. ".Mr. Southmayed is askiug for that letter bc promised to mail for you tlus morning." (uraldiue puiscd witli her lonsr briülit tressts looking like ripples of uncoiled gold betweerl lier tingeis. "Letter mamma? Isn't iton the mantel down stairs?" "No." "Nor on the sewingtnachlue, nor In my little worlï buuket with the bluo ribbons?" "Of course t Isn't. Didn't I look everywhere before I called you?" "Then It must be in my portfolio. Idon't know where it is, mamma. Ask Mr. önuthmiiyed to please look for the letter I Ih'mk t's somewhere among the blotting sheets." Mr Soatbmayed wis In a murtal hurry to .r't down to bil shipping office, but if Qi-raklint had ask&l liim to stop a week, on her capiicious bebc-t he wouUl have oKeyed He took the little brown mor occo portfolio reverently. "How entirely the dear child trusts me !" he thouifht, Peatlng himselr in a big chair by the wiudow to commence hi search. "It is not every girl who would venture to place her portfolio in the hands of the man to whom she is engaged. But Geraldine Outwood is like a child- she bas nothlng to feur, DOthlng to conceal. What is that ? 'Tlioughts on Spring,' and in poetry, too? A mue, eb, with all the rest? "My dading Öeraldine!' and In that younj; scump Applegate's writlnr." Mr. Southmayed had nearly let the portfolio fiill in dismay. Fortunately, however it is dated slx weeks ago, but I do not think Geraldine onght to keep such sentimental nonsense. However, things will be entirely altered when we are married ! Hey ! how! what'a thls ?" Mr. Southmayed was as honorable as most gentlemen of the nineteenth century, but it was not in human flesh to resist the temptation of taking a second peep, after he had seen, upon a half linished sheet of note paper, the four ominOU8 words, "that odious old Southmayed," in Geraldine Outwood's own pretty Italian han(lwritinL. "Nobody will ever know how it happened," began the writiiifj at the top of the page, 'iny one who ever read Bulwer's dellffhuul novel of Lucrecia will iinderstaiid how ensily it mny be done. Ajenie in gradual doses, Increaring little by little, oreven some more powerlul poison - and when 1 am left a rich young witlow by thst odious old Kouthmayed's demise - '' Mr. Southmayed uttered a low groan - the pirttolio with all itscontents drifted on to the Hoor. "Shude of Lucrecia Dormía! Ghost of Palmer the Polsoner! and liad it come to thia?'' "Can't you flnd the letter, Pcletlah ?" cooed Geraldine's honey-sweet voice down the ftairway. Oh, I remember now, Harry Applegate said he would put it in the post-box for me. Í am 80 sorry to have tioubled you " "Yes - no - no trouble at all- a very jfood inorniiig!" stuttered the horriöed old shipping nierchant, as he worked liiniself out of the front door, his h;iir bristling la so many directions that it was a marvel his new silk hat, bought with an especial eye to the forthcomlng wedding, stayed on ut all. And Geraldine, laughing a inerry little solo UI to herself, ran down the st ilrs, the golden halr yet banglog unkempt about her shoulders, to piek up the scattered eouents of the brown morocco portfolio. But she burned the sheet of uote-paper whicb had strlcken such awe into Mr. Soutbmayed't beart, the very flrl thing 8lie dld. "Blasé (ip little Flip of tinder," she mortuttrud, half' aloud; "you have done your work.1' "I wonder whv Mr. Sonthni:iyed don't comí'," said Mis. Outwood, sitling at the head of the populniia dinner table tb at night wben the soup had been taken uway and the roast turkcy iluly carvcd. "Here'l a letter, mem," said Pat riek, the Irish waiter, "an' U's nieself clane forgot It until this niiiinit, bad luck to the memory of me!" Mrs. Outwood broke the fat red seal ; the meuaye thereby unarded was short, it' nol sweet!'' "Iikaii Madam: [neloted ym win flnd a limiilred dolUr 1)111 to lecure you agalnst utiy pucunlary loss In regard to my aparlmanti. I Mud mywlf unexpectedly obllned V leave toWD, und us I may be compelled to vlitt Snulli America and olher fïrl(Ei ports before my return, It will perhapa be better tliatnll i'houishm of n marrlane between myself and Misa üutwowl should be atmndoDed. My lawyer ha order to glve you a recelpt fr the flve thousand dollars I was happy enough to accommodate yon with, and tioplug Ihttt you muy lu nowUe be lD0OUTenlencd ty tlils suelden cluinge of plans on my part, I remnln yours very truly, l'KI.ETIAU J. SOÜTHMAYED." Mrs. Outwood fainteil away her spectftoles fallhif; nto the butter-boat, and her blM curls slipping around on one siifc; and Qeraldlne, not without a conscious lonk, carne to the rescue. Just six weeks aftrrv:mls Miss Outwood and Mr. Applcgito were married; but Mr. Sootbmayed never made his appearanoc on tlieir stage of life again. "Oernldine Ims had n luoky escape," lln. Outwood siiid vindictively. But neither alie nor nny one clse ever knew lust liow Oeraldine manniKd the matter