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A Bachelor's Tenant

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I shoulil 'ike to describe my liero as a yount and gallant cavalier of this nineteenth century, with the beauty of an Apollo and the wisdom of a sage, but truth compels me to acknowledge that llupert Smithson, in spite of liis ine Christian appellation, was neithcr one nor the other. His nepliew and ïame-sake, who was called in the bosom of his family Eupert the Second, s.-rid ttüU IHH üiMntrTTirpgrtrTragacrns= y ola bachelor," and I hamnier my brains in vain for a more ñtting description. A crusty old bachelor he undoubtedly was, morethan fifty years of age, witli grizzled hair, lieavy gray eyebrows, a thick gray beard, and a rough voice and manner. It is true ;hat he was always very careful to ceep the crustiest side of his nature on ;he surface, and had been discovered in the act of committing secretly deeds of charity that utterly belied his habitually surly tone and abrupt manner. Twenty years before when the gray hair was' nut-brown, and clustered in rich curls over the broad white forehead, when the brown eyes shone with the lire of ambition, the clear voice was true and tender, llupert Smithson had given his lieart to Katie Carroll, neighbor and friend, and little sweetheart from childhood. Urged by love as well as ambition, he had left his home in a small western town and gone to New York to win a name and fortune to lay at Katie's feet. The fortune and fame as a successf ui merchant came to him, but when he returned to Katie he found she liad left her home also to become the bride of a wealtliy pork dealer in Cincinnati. Nobody told llupert of treachery to the pretty Katie, of letters suppressed, of slanders circulated, and parental acthority stretched to its utmost in favor of the wealthy suitor. He had no record of slow despair that crept over the loving heart when the pleading letters were unanswered, of the dull apathy that yielded at last, and gave avvay the hand of the young girl when her heart seemed broken. All that the young ardent lover knew was the one bitter fact that the girl he loved faithfullv and fondly was false to lier promise - the wife of another. He spoke no word of bitterness, but retumed to the home he had htted up f his bride, and the business he had íoped would be a stepping-stone to lappiness, and to a life of ioneliness. Ten yèars later, whenhis sister, with ïer son and daughter, carne to live in íew York f or educational advantages, iupert the First was certainly what ïis saucy nephew called hiin - a crusty old bachelor. Yet, into that sore, disappointed heart Katie's desesjion had so wounded, the bachelor unele took with warm loye and indulgence his ïephew and niece, bright handsome children of ten and twelve, who, childlike, imposed upon his good nature, loted over his quiet orderly home till i's staid housekeeper declared they were worse than a pair of monkeys, caressed him stormily one moment and pouted over some refusal for a monstrous indulgence the next, and treated him generally as bachelor úneles must be treated by their sisters' children. ïliore was some talk wben Mrs. Kimberly carne to New York of making ne househald of the family, but the idea was abandoned, and the wealthy widow selected a residence three doors off, in the same block. "Rupert was so set in his fidgety old bachelor ways," she said, "that it would be positively cruel to disturb bim." l'robably young Rupert and Flora did not consider their bright, young faces disturbers of their uncle's tranquility ; but it is quite certain that out of school No. 46, their uncle's house, saw them as often as No. 43, where tlieir mother resided. With the intuitive perception of children, they understood that the abrupt, often harsh voioe, the surly words, and the undemonstrative manner, covered a heart that would have made any sacrifice for their sakes, that loved them with as true a love as their own dead father could have given them. Aa they outgrew childhood, evidences of affection ceased to take the forms of dolls and drums, and cropped out in Christmas checks, inball dresses, and bouquets, a saddle horse, and various other delightful and acceptable shapes, till Rupert became of age.when he was taken from college into his cle"s house, and a closer intimacy than ever was cemented between the young life and the one treading the downward path of old age. There had been a family gatliering at Mrs. Kimberly's one evening, late in the month of March, and a conversation had arisen upon the traditional custonu) and tricks of tlie flrst of April. "Senseless, absurd tricks!" Jlupert Smithson had called them, in his abrupt, rough way, "fit only to amuse children or idiots." "Oh, psliaw! Uncle Rupert," Flora said, saucily ; you played April fooi tricks, too, when you were young." "Ne ver! Never could see any wit or sense in them. And what's more, Miss Flora, 1 was never once eaught by any of the shallow deceits." "Never made an April fooi T' "Never, and never will be," was the reply. "Hut, there, child, go play that last nocturn you learned. It suits me. I hate sky-rocket musie, but that is a dreamy, lazy air and 1 like it." "The idea of your liking anything dieamy or lazy.', said Mrs. Kimberly. "1 thought you were allenergy and aetivity." "When I work, I work," was the reply: "but when I rest, I want to rest." "Uncle Rupert," broke in Itupert, suddenly, "will you bet I can't fooi you next week ?" "Bah! ïhe idea of getting to my age to be fooled by a boy like you!" "Then you defy me ?" "Of course I do." "Hl do it, keep your eyes open.'" "Forewarned is forearmed. But come, stop chatting. I want my music." Pretty, sauey, mirth-loving Flora, with her dancing black eyes and a brilliant smile, did not look like a very prominent interpreter of dreamy, lazy music ;" but once her hands touched the keys of the grand pianoforte, the girl's whole nature seemed to merge into the sounds she created. Merry music made dancing elves of her flngers as they flew over the notes ; dreamy music drew a mesh of hushed beauty over her face, and her great black eyes would dilate and seem to see far away, as the room fllled with the sweet, low cadenees. She would look like an inspired J oan of Are when grand cords rolled out under her hands in majestic measures, and sacred musie transformed her into something saintly. Once the rosewood case was closed, St. Cecilia became pretty, winning Flora Kimberly again. There were few influences that could sof ten the outer crust of manner of Rupert Smithson, but he would hide his face away when Flora played, trying to hide the tears that started, or the smiles that hovered on Ms lips, as the music pierced down, down into that warm, loving heart he had tried to conceal with pvnical' words and looks. So that when Yïïë" ïïhal chord of tiïë" nocturn melted softly into siltnee, the old bachelor stole away and lef t the house, bidding no one farewell. They were accustomed to his singular ways, and no one followed him; but Mrs. Kimberly sighed, as she said : "Rupert gets older and crustier every year." "But he is so good," Flora said, leaving her piano stool with a whirl that kept it spinning around very giddily. "Whydont he get married?" said Rupert. "It's a downright shame to keep that splendid house simt up year af ter year, except just the few rooms Uncle" Rupert and Mrs. Jones occupy." "I mean to ask him," Flora said, iinpulsively. "No, no," said Mrs. Kimberly, hastily, "never speak of that to your uncle, Flora, never!" "But whynot?" "I never told you beforc, but your uncle was engaged years ago, and there was some trouble. I never understood about it exactly, for I was married and left Wilton the same year that Rupert carne to New York. But this I do know ; the lady, after waitingthree or four years, married and Rupert has never been the same man since. I am quiet sure he was very much attached to her, .tud you would wound him, Flora, if you jested about marriage." "But I don t mean to jest at all. I think he would be ever so much happier if he had some one to love, and some one to love in return. It must be terrible lonesome in that large house with no companion but Mrs. Jones, who is one hundred years old I am certain.', "He ought to marry her," said Rupert ; "She always calis him dearie." "Don't children, jest about it any more," said the mother, "and be sure you never mention the subject to your uncle." The flrst of April was a clear, rather cold day, the air bright and snapping, and the sky all treacherous srniles, as became the coquettish month of sunshine and shower Unc e Eupert, finishing his lonely breakfast, soliloquised tohimself : "I must be on the lookout to-day for Rupert's promised trick. He won't flnd it so easy to fooi his old uncle. Who's there ?" The last two words in answer to a somewhat tiniid rap upon the door. It was certainly not easy to astonisli Rupert Smithson, but his eyes opened with a most uninistakable expression of amazement, as the door opened to admit a tall, slender figure in deep mourning, and a low, very sweet voice asked : "Is this the landlord ;" "The- the- what?" "I called about the house, sir.'" 'What liouse? Take a seat"- suddenly recalling his politeness. ' Is this No. 40, W place?" "Oertainly it is." "1 liave been looking out for some time for a furnished house suitabe for boarders, sir, and if I find this one suits me, and the rent is not too high - " "But," interrupted the astonished bachelor. "Oh, I hope it is not taken! The advertisement said to cali between eight and nine, and it struck eight as I stood upon the doorstep." "Oh, the advertisement ! So, so,Masterliupert! This is your doing, is it ? Will you let me see the advertisement, madame ?" "You have the paper in your hand, sir," she said, timidly. "I did not cut it out." 'Oh, you saw it in the paper." He turned to the list of houses to let and there, sure enough it was : "To let,furnished,a three-story brown stone front, basement," and rather a full description of the advantages of the premises, wïtb the emphatic dition: "Cali bet ween eight and nine A. M. "So as to be sure 1 um at home, the rascall" said llupert Smithson, laying aside the paper. "I ara sorry, madam," he said, "that you have had the trouble of calling upon a useless errand." "Tlien it is taken !" she said, in a very disappointedtone, and the heavy crape veil was liftedto show a sweet.matronly face framed in that saddest of all badges, a widow's cap. "Well, no," said the perplexed bachelor, "it is not exactly taken." Perhaps you object to boarders ?" "You want to take boarders '(" he answered, thinking how Jady-ljfce and gentleshe lookwl, and Wohdënng if she had Deen long a widow. "Yes, sir; but 1 would be very careful. about the references." "Have you kept boarders before." "No, sir. Since my husband died, six years ago (he failed in business and brought on a severe illness by mental anxiety), my daughter and myselfhave been sewing, uut we have both lieen in poor health all winter, and I wish to try sJme way of getting a living that is less confining. I have kept house several years, but have not capital to furnish, so we want to secure a house furnished like this one, if possible." Quite unconscious of the reason, Kupert Smithson was linding it very pleasant to talk to this gentle little widow about her plans, and as she spoke, was wondering if it would not make an agreeable variety in his lonely life to let her make her experiment of keeping a boarding-house upon the premises. Seemg his hesitation, she said, earnestly: "I think you will be satisfletl with my references, sir. I have lived in one house, and have had work from one flrm for six years, and, if you require it, I can obtain letters from my husband's friends in Cincinnati." "Cincinnati V" 'He was quite well known there. Perhaps you knew of him, John Murray, street ?" "John Murray ?" Ttupert Smithson looked searchingly into the pale, sad face that was so pleadingly raised to his gaze. Where were the rosy cheeks, the dancing eyes, the laughing lips that he had pictured as belonging to John Murray's wife ? Knowing now the truth, he recognized the face before him, the youth all gone and the expression sanetified by sorrow and euffering. "You have children ?" he said after a long pause. "Only one living, seventeen years old. I have buried all theothers." "I will let you have the house on one condition," he said, his lips trembling a little as he spoke. She did not answer. In the softened eyes looking into her own, in the voice suddenly modulated to a tender sweetnp-ig mmamamimrwy awalrpniul uu] she only listened with bated treaEïï and dilating eyes. "On one conditon, Kate," he said, "that you come to it as my wife and its mistress. I have waited for you twenty years, Kate." It was hard to believe, even then, tho' the little widow let him caress her and sobbed upon his breast. This gray-haired, middle-aged man was so unlike the Rupert she had believed false. But after the whole past was discussed, it was not hard tobeheve that there might be years of happiness still in store l'or them. Kupert Srnithson did not "put in an ippearance" at his counting-honse all day, and Hapert the Second went home to his dinner in rather an uneasy frame of mind regarding that April fooi trick of his. "I must run over and see if I have off ended beyond all hope of pardon," he said, as he rose from the table. Bat a gruff voice behind him arrested his steps. So, so! you have advertised ui y house to let," said his uncle ; bilt in spite of his efforts, he failed to look very angry. "ilow many old maids and widows ipplied'i' inquired the daring young scape-grace. "I don't know. Af ter the flrst application, Mra. Jones toid the others the liouse was taken." "ïaken!" "Yes, I have let it upon a life lease to" -here he opened the door- "mj wife!" Very shy, blushing and timid, "my wife" looked in her slate-colored dress and bonnet, as her three-hours' husband led her in, but after a moment's scrutiny Mrs. Kimberly cried : "It isKate Carroll!" 'Kate Smithson!" said the bridegroom, witli immense dgnity,"and my daughter Winifred!" ïliere was a ne w sensation as a pretty blonde answered to his' cali, but wanner welconie was never given to relatives, and to this day Uncle Rupert will not acknowledge that he got the worst of the joke when his nephew played him an April fool's trick by advertising his house to let.


Old News
Michigan Argus