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A Story Successfully Told

A Story Successfully Told image
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Protty, plump Mrs. Archibald Steelo wroto tlie following paragraph in one of ' her letters to lier husband the othor day: " Jolm must coino down nero at once, whether you can spare him or not. Our dear lfttle Laura is grcatly taken with a tall, tbin young man, -vith ahookednose and thin lips,,called Stuyvesant. It is whispercd about the hotel that he is a very good match, and has the veritable blue blood of the old Dutch Governor in his veins. I must say it has a queer way of showing itselï, for the young man is as palo as a specter ; and drossed in that white duck, with his sunken eyes and bilious skin, is enough to irighten one. I I have grown to hate him, while Laura is growing to do quito the contrary, I'm afraid. All the evening he kans up against the wall, never dancing, or opening his mouth save to give vent to some hatof ui sarcastic criticism upon the sceno around him, and yet dear Laura's eyes as, indeed, all the other pretty eyes about - are perpetually beseeching him for attention. In the day time he is always with a long black horse, that covers more ground with its legs when it is going than any animal I ever saw. When Laura goes out to drive behind it, and vanishes out of sight with the bony creature, I tremble to think how dreadful it would be if our dear little girl would become part and parcel of this wretched man and his wicked boast. So I think Jolm had better come down at once ; I quito long to see his handsomo face and hcar his honest voice, and I think it is about time John should teil his little story to Laura, and have tliings scttled comfortably." Mr. Archibald Steele smiled when he put the letter of liis wife in his waistcoat pocket, and picking up the morning paper, scaimod throngh hifl gold rimmed spoctaclos the news of the day. Fiuding nothiug thereiu to ruille the exccedingly satisfactory condition of afïairs, he put it down, and smiled againas only aprosperous, conteutcd, down-town rnerchant can smile. He was one of those happy exceptions to the ordinary rula of mortals, with whom cverything went welL His whole appoarance was an exclamalion point to that effect. If he ventured a little hazard'jusly in trade, fortune trimmed her sails to favor him. If he set his heart upon anything relating to domostic felicity, all the elementa of art and nature conspired to briDg it about. So when he stepped to the door of the oflico and beckoned to a young maa with a strip of commercial paper in his hand and a pendí behind his ear, with that genetal air of briskuess and shrewdness about him that betokened a successful down-town njerchant in embryo, Mr. tëteelo smiled the third time, with the air of one who was not at all afraid of any bilious, blueblooded obstacle thatmight be thrown in the path of a domestic happini-KS whioh he iirmly believed had been arranged by an omnipottnt hau l. ".khn," suid Mr. Steele, closing the door of his private office, and looking upon his young clerk benevoluntly, I 'Tve got au order 1 ere from Mik! Stj!il(, which 1 wish you would attend to." "Ortainly, sir," said John. " Shall I go vu{ and get the article myself ?" " Why, the fact is, John," said iho merchant, enjoying hia joke more and uioie, "it'a ouly oue article- a rather bulky one. It was bargained for long ago. I think you will have to go witn it, John." "Down to the seashores !" said Jolm, gettiug a little hot and fluttered. " Is it avery valuablo parcel, sir?" ' ' Well, perhaps your natural modcsty may deprecíate its worth, John. Mrs. Steele and I think a good deal of it, and Laura, too - I'm sure slie does. The eomraodity is yourself, John. Mrs. Steele wants you to go down and tako a little holiday there." When the name of Laura was men tioned, the young man's face grew more flustered and liot than before. "You are very kind, sir," ho said, "and Mrs. Steele is always more like an angel thau a woman." " Bathorsolid and plomp for that," interposed Mr. Steele, but liking the phrase nevertheless. "But it is simple madness," pursucd John, "to dream of furtlicr happiuess than I enjoy now- your affcction and that of your wife, my position Lere; I don't dare - I can't hopo for anything more. Oh, Mr. Steele, I can't teil her my story, sir. She wotild shrink froin me with horror and aversión, sho is so young, so beautiful. Let mo at least en]oy the present." ';And in the mean time some cadaverous, bilious, blue-blooded scoundrel will carry her off from us all I" TJien John's face grew palo and stern. "If there is the slightest feeliug upon her part for - for any ono else, then indeed, Mr. Steele, my case is hopeless." The commercial paper fluttered from lus hand, the pencil feil from his ear; he leaned his head against the desk and trembled. "Why, who would suppose you could be such a coward?" said Mr. Steele, impetuoiisly. "You shall go down with me this very day." All tho -way to the seashore John's face j wore the look of one who had resolved to storm a deadly breaeh, but who did not hope to survivo the attempt. Even the oceaii, when it confronted them, wore a threatening look. Upon the horizon a pile of clouds formed a background wan and glooiny, a great black mist lay in the zenith, a dense red vapor altnost touched the water. "A very nasty sea," said Mr. Stocle. John snuffed it in, his eyes dilating, his broad shoulders expanding, his head j high in tho sea-soented air. A tramp on the hard, wet sand, and like a meteor a long black horse shoi, by, lUsappeanng m tüo mist, loavmg lor Jolin tho memory of a chamring head orowned with blonde curling bair, two kind eyes bent upon bis omi, a white waving hand extended in salutation. "John," said Mr. Steele, "did you seo tho face of that man ? I couut upon yoiu1 saving Laura. Did you seo bis thin, cruel lips, his trcacherous oyos?" "I only saw Laura, sir," said Jolm, simply. Later on, Mr. Archibald Steelo and his plump protty wife were alone togethcr in their private parlor. Her dimpled hand lay lovingly in his, her shapely head, fresh from tho hands of tbc coiffour, rested reeklessly on his shoulder. Suddenly the door opened, and there was heard the rustle of silken drapery. A still shapelior little head, and fresher from the bands of the cciffeur, all unrumpled by the audacious touch of a mortal, peoped in at the door. Laura was pale; hor little white hands were clasped togetbcr; her musical voic trembled. " Oh, papa, mamma, come directly ! I Mr. Stuyvesant venturod out too far, and - and - " " Was drowncd?" said Mr. Steele, with a peculiar combination in bis voice of pity and relief. "No, no; how can you suppose so dreadful a thing ? He was rescued, but he is very weak and ill. Ho bas asked for me - and may I go ? Will you como with me, mamma? Oh, do, I beg of you ! Can't she, papa?" Hor blue eyes iilled with tears; hor little feet seemed panting to fly tbrougb tbc corridor. " Certainly not," said Mr. Steele. "Let bim wait till be is able to come to you or to me. Either a man is drowned I or he isn't. Becauso he was imbecile enough to risk his life, that is no reason for your being tbo talk of tbc botel." Laura raised hor head proudly. "Nodangerof that, papa ; and, besides, every one is occupied now with the one that rescued him." " And what madman was that?" said poor Mr. Steele, who could not roconcile bimself to tho present condition of ffairs. " I don't know- a stranger, I believe ; I was so interested in Mr. Stuyvesant I forgotto ask." " Pah !" said Mr. Steole, gottingupon bis feet, and walking to the door, "I'll go and iind out all about it. Do you stay here till I return." Before be had gone far Mr. Stcolo heard from the excited guests sevcral different versions of the affair ; but one and all agreed tbat tho rescuer could be nothing less tban a chainpion swimmer. "A regular water-dog!' said one gentleman to Mr. Steele ; and as the merchant had heard tbis epithet used but once before in bis life, and tbat on an occasion of vital interest to himsolf, ho sought out the hero of tho hour, and found, to his unbounded astonishment, it was John Waters bimsolf ! He was quite onveloped in the flouuces and furbolows of pretty and sympathetic womn, who insisted upon knowing cvery half second if he was sure he feit strong and well, and how in tbo world could ho buffet tliose dreadful waves in that grand, heroic way, and how did he man age to drag poor dear Mr. Stuyvesant in to tho shore ? John, liko any other bcro of tbc hour, enjoyed tbis womanly adulation, but ! looked anxiously at Mr. Steelo when he approached. '"'Hum!" growled that worthy mercbant, "a pretty fellow you to intorfere with other peoplo's plans ! How do you know ho wantod to bo rescuod?" " Ho appeared anxious that wny, sir," said John. ' ' He wrapped himself about mo like a dovil fish. I thougbt one I time wo'd both go down together. Tbero ougbt to be a school for teaching people the eaaiest thing in the world ; the water itself is an accessory, if you manage itrigbt." "Oh, do teil us bow, Mr. Waters, I pleasc .'" chorused the pretty and j sympathetio women ; and as John bogan his losson, Mr. Steelo slipped away. "Oh, papa," began Laura, "how i.s Mr. Stuyvesant." "I don't know- I didn't ask," he replied, "I tombo interested in the j low (bat dragged him ashore. He'fl nu old friend of ours. The way we made hia acquaintance was on just sucli im occasion ; lio savccl a lady from drowning." "Why, papa," said Laura, "ho must be a splendid fellow." "Magnifloenfi!" aard Mr. Stcele. " You see, wc bad traveled over conniderable of the world together, your mother and I, while you wero yet a baby. j And we femad it rather odd ono ïnorning to discover that having crossed the ocean and the Alps, loitered in the Hudson Highlands, travelod thence down through the Mississippi Vnlley, across the American Desert to California, and back again by nnother route, your mother had never been up the East river as far as Morrisania. It seemed so absurd to have negleoted this home excursión that we determined upon it at once. The morning was wet, but that didn't matter. Your mother ïooked prettier in a waterproof and rubbers, with a shovel-bat tied onder her chin, than most women would in a ball-drese. She wasn't a bit afraid of rain or mud. Sho was a littlo too recldess, for getting ashore to see ono of the institutions for vagabond boys, her foot slipped off tho plank, and s'he disappeared." Mr. Steele stoppod a minute; his voico taltered; the httle plnmp hand of lus vife slipped into his own; ho clutchcd it i and went on again. "One minuto I saw her as noat and j trim a littlo figuro as over graced a waterproof and shovel-hot, the uext sho was gonc." "Gone!" cried Laura. "Gone where ?" "luto the water, child; into the huugry green wavcs thot surged up to take her away from the fondost heart in the universe; and if it liadn't beeu for onc of thosc yery vagabond boys, who had been luiking there for a chance to escape from the island, you'd have lost us both, my dear, for I made an agonized plunge after her, though I'm ashamed to say I couldn't swiin a süroke, and should only have gonc to the bottom like a plummot of lead, butau official standing by caught and held me, and cried out that John Waters had her safo as a trivet; andpresently that vagabond boy carne np with your sweet mothcr on the otlier side of the boat, and the official criod out, ' He 's a regular water-dog, that Johnny Waters !' And these wcre the very words a guest here used in relation to John a minute or so ago. " " John !" cried poorbowilJcred Laura, "onr John? Mamma? My mamma? Was mamma the lady ? Was John the boy ? And is it John, our John, that saved poor Mr. Stuyvesant !" "The very same, darling - John, our John; he's always on hand where there 's trouble or danger," "Uli, mamma! mamma! cried Laura, forget.ting all the years tbat had passed since the accident, and crumpliiig both the coiffured lieads in a most rccklcss marnier. "Papa,"shetlien said, "we must go and find John. I want to teil him how mucli I - I - " "Yes, dear,"saidMr. Arehibald Stcelc, and all the way throughthe corridor and into the païlora of the hotel, witli his plump and pretty wife on one arm, his lovely daughter on the othor, he smiled. But John was still surroxuided by the pretty and sympathetic women, who had craelly deserted the blue-blobded descendant of the old Dutch Governor, lyiug in his most gracefnl and languid of attitudes on a neighboriiig lounge - the descendant, not the Governor - and had flocked ono and all to the handsome and heroic founder of the new school for teaching people the way to be rcscucd from drowning. These charming crcatures spcnt so much of their time at the sea shoro, and it was so necessary and so nice to be wise ! John was alrnost hidden in flounces and laces; butwhen his eyes met Laura's, ho plunged out of these costly billows with his usual oaso and intrepiility. Thcro was somethiug in Laura's eyes that ho had ncver scen there bef ore; a tempting languor, a bewitching shyucss, a bewildering splendor, that stceped his soul in a mad sweet hope. Laura stopped one moment to whisper to her mamma, and John gasped out Mr. Steole ; "If I darcd- if I only darcc teil her-" " I'vo told her myself," said the merchant. " That I was a pauper without home or friends?" "I told the story in my owii way, John," continuod Mr. Steole, "and I flatter myself I toldit successfully; don't spoil it if you picase. I have managed the past and the present; do you look out for the future, John." And John did. Laura walked through the parlors that night, the envied of all the pretty and sympathotic womeli and brave and appreciative men tbat congregated there.


Old News
Michigan Argus