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   Chapter 5 A SUNDAY ENCOUNTER

Castle Craneycrow By George Barr McCutcheon Characters: 4889

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


It was a sunny Sunday morning and the church parade was popular. Lady Frances and Quentin were walking together when Prince Ugo joined them. He looked hardly over twenty-five, his wavy black hair giving him a picturesque look. He wore no beard, and his dark skin was as clear as a girl's.

"By the way," said Quentin, "Lady Saxondale tells me you are to marry a former acquaintance of mine."

"Miss Garrison is an acquaintance?" cried the prince, lifting his dark eyes. An instant later his gaze roamed away into the horde of passing women, as if searching for the woman whose name brought light to his soul.

"Was an acquaintance, I think I said. I doubt if she remembers me now. She was a child when I knew her. Is she here this morning?" asked Phil, secretly amused by the anxious look in the Italian's eyes.

"She will be with Lady Marnham, Ah, I see them now." The young prince was looking eagerly ahead.

Quentin saw Miss Garrison and gasped with astonishment. Could that stunning young woman be the little Dorothy of New York days? He could scarcely believe his eyes and ears, notwithstanding the introductions which followed.

"And here is an old New York friend. Miss Garrison, Mr. Philip Quentin. You surely remember him, Miss Garrison," said Lady Frances, with a peculiar gleam in her eye. For a second the young lady at Quentin's side exhibited surprise; a faint flush swept into her cheek, and then, with a rare smile, she extended her hand to the American.

"Of course, I remember him. Phil and I were playmates in the old days. Dear me, it seems a century ago," she said.

"I cannot tell you how well the century has treated you," he said, gallantly. "It has not been so kind to me."

"Years are never unkind to men," she responded. She smiled upon the adoring prince and turned again to Quentin. "Tell me about New York, Phil. Tell me about yourself."

"I can only say that New York has grown larger and better, and that I have grown older and worse. Mrs. Garrison may doubt that I could possibly grow worse, but I have proof positive. I am dabbling in Wall street."

"I can imagine nothing more reprehensible," said Mrs. Garrison, amiably. Quentin swiftly renewed his opinion of the mother. That estimate coincided with the impression his youth had formed, and it was not far in the wrong. Here was the mother with a hope loftier than a soul. Purse-proud, ambitious, condescending to a degree-a woman who

would achieve what she set out to do at all hazards. Less than fifty, still handsome, haughty and arrogant, descended through a long line of American aristocracy, calm, resourceful, heartless. For fifteen years a widow, with no other object than to live at the top and to marry her only child into a realm far beyond the dreams of other American mothers. Millions had she to flaunt in the faces of an astonished, marveling people. Clever, tactful, aggressive, capable of winning where others had failed, this American mother was respected, even admired, in the class to which she had climbed. Here was the woman who had won her way into continental society as have few of her countrywomen. To none save a cold, discerning man from her own land was she transparent. Lord Bob, however, had a faint conception of her aims, her capacity.

As they walked on, Quentin scarcely took his eyes from Miss Garrison's face. He was wearing down the surprise that the sweetheart of his boyhood had inspired, by deliberately seeking flaws in her beauty, her figure, her manner. After a time he felt her more wonderful than ever. Lord Bob joined the party, and Quentin stopped a second to speak to him. As he did so Prince Ugo was at Miss Garrison's side in an instant.

"So she is the girl that damned Italian is to elevate?" said Mr. Quentin to himself. "By George, it's a shame!" He did not see Lord Bob and his wife exchange a quick smile of significance.

As they all reached the corner, Quentin asked: "Are you in London for long, Dorothy?" Lady Frances thought his tone a trifle eager.

"For ten days or so. Will you come to see me?" Their eyes met and he felt certain that the invitation was sincerely given. "Lady Marnham is having some people in to-morrow afternoon. Perhaps you'll come then," she added, and Phil looked crestfallen.

"I'll come," he said. "I want to tell you the story of my past life. You didn't know I'd been prime minister of a South American republic, did you?"

She nodded and they separated. Prince Ugo heard the last words of the American, and a small, clear line appeared for an instant between his black eyebrows.

Lady Frances solemnly and secretively shook her finger at Quentin, and he laughed with the disdain of one who understands and denies without the use of words. Lord Bob had wanted to kick him when he mentioned South America, but he said nothing. Quentin was in wonderful spirits all the way home.

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