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   Chapter 1 THE TELEGRAM.

Tracy Park By Mary Jane Holmes Characters: 7327

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


'To Mr. Frank Tracy, Tracy Park, Shannondale.

'I arrived in the Scotia this morning, and shall take the train for Shannondale at 3 p.m. Send someone to the station to meet us.


This was the telegram which the clerk in the Shannonville office wrote out one October morning, and despatched to the Hon. Frank Tracy, of Tracy Park, in the quiet town of Shannondale, where our story opens.

Mr. Frank Tracy, who, since his election to the State Legislature for two successive terms, had done nothing except to attend political meetings and make speeches on all public occasions, had an office in town, where he usually spent his mornings, smoking, reading the papers and talking to Mr. Colvin, his business agent and lawyer, for, though born in one of the humblest of New England houses, where the slanting roof almost touched the ground in the rear, and he could scarcely stand upright in the chamber where he slept, Mr. Frank Tracy was a great man now, and as he dashed along the turnpike behind his blooded bays, with his driver beside him, people looked admiringly after him, and pointed him out to strangers as the Hon. Mr. Tracy, of Tracy Park, one of the finest places in the county. It is true it did not belong to him, but he had lived there so long that he had come to look upon it as his, while his neighbors, too, seemed to have forgotten that there was across the ocean a Mr. Arthur Tracy, who might at any time come home to claim his own, and demand an account of his brother's stewardship. And it was this very Arthur Tracy, whose telegram announcing his return from Europe was read by his brother with mingled feelings of surprise and consternation.

'Not that everything isn't fair and above-board, and he is welcome to look into matters as much as he likes,' Frank said over and over to himself, as he sat stating blankly at the telegram, while the cold chills ran up and down his back and arms. 'Yes, he can examine all Colvin's books and he will find them straight as a string, for didn't he tell me to use what I needed as remuneration for looking after his property while he was gallivanting over the world; and if he objects that I have paid myself too much, why, I can at once transfer those investments in my name to him. No, it is not that which affects me so, it is the suddenness of the thing, coming without warning and to-night of all nights, when the house will be full of carousing and champagne. What will Dolly say! Hysterics of course, if not a sick headache. I don't believe I can face her till she has had a little time to get over it. Here, boy, I want, you!' and he rapped at the window at a young lad who happened to be passing with a basket on his arm. 'I want you to do an errand for me,' he continued, as the boy entered the office, and, removing his cap, stood respectfully before him 'Take this telegram to Mrs. Tracy, and here is a dime for you.'

'Thank you, but I don't care for the money,' the boy said 'I was going to the park anyway to tell Mrs. Tracy that grandma is sick and can't go there to-night.'

'Cannot go! Sick! What is the matter?' Mr. Tracy asked, in some dismay, feeling that here was a fresh cause of trouble and worry for Dolly, as he designated his wife when off his guard and not on show before his fashionable friends, to whom she was Dora, or Mrs. Tracy.

'She catched cold yesterday fixing up mother's grave,' the boy replied; and, as if the mention of that grave had sent Mr. Tracy's thoughts straying backward to the past, he looked thoughtfully at the child a moment, and then said:

'How old are you, Harold?'

'Ten, last August,' was the reply; and Mr. Tracy continued:

'You do not remember your mother?'

'No, sir, only a great crowd, and grandma crying so hard,' was Harold's reply.

'You look like her,' Mr. Tracy said.

'Yes, sir,' Harold answered, while into his frank, open face there came an expression of regret for the mother who had died when he was three years old, and whose life had been so short and sad.

'Now, hurry off with the telegram, and mind you don't lose it. It is from my brother. He is coming to-night.'

'Mr. Arthur Tracy, who sent the monument for my mother-is he coming home? Oh, I am so glad!' Harold exclaimed, and his handsome face lighted up with childish joy, as he put the telegram in his pocket and started For Tracy Park, wondering if he should encounter Tom, and thinking that if he did, and Tom gave him any chaff, he should lick him, or try to.

'Darn him!' he said to himself, as he recalled the many times when Tom Tracy, a boy of his own age, had laughed at him for his poverty and coarse clothes. 'Darn him! he ain't any better than I am, if he does wear velvet trousers and live in a big house. 'Taint his'n; it's Mr. Arthur's, and I'm glad he is coming home. I wonder if he will bring grandma anything. I wish he'd I bring me a pyramid. He's seen 'em, they say.'

Meantime, Mr. Frank Tracy had resumed his seat, and, with his hands clasped together over his head, was wondering what effect his brother's return would have upon him. Would he be obliged to leave the park, and the luxury he had enjoyed so long, and go back to the old life which he hated so much.

'No; Arthur will never be so mean,' he said. 'He has always shown himself generous, and will continue to do so. Besides that, he will want somebody to keep his house for him, unless-' and here the perspiration started from every pore, as Frank Tracy thought: 'What if he is married, and the us in his telegram means a wife, instead of a friend or servant, as I imagined!'

This would indeed be a calamity, for then his own and Dolly's reign was over at Tracy Park, and the party they were to give that night to at least three hundred people would be their last grand blow-out.

'Confound the party!' he thought, as he arose from his chair and began to pace the room. 'Arthur won't like that as a greeting after eleven years' absence. He never fancied being cheek by jowl with Tom, Dick and Harry; and that is just what the smash is to-night. Dolly wants to please everybody, thinking to get me votes for Congress, and so she has invited all creation and his wife. There's old Peterkin, the roughest kind of a canal bummer when Arthur went away. Think of my fastidious brother shaking hands with him and Widow Shipley, who kept a low tavern on the tow-path! She'll be there; in her silks and long gold chain, for she has four boys, all voters, who call me Frank and slap me on the shoulder. Ugh! even I hate it all; and in a most perturbed state of mind, the Hon. Frank and would-be Congressman continued to walk the room lamenting the party which must be, and wondering what his aristocratic brother would say to such a crowd in his house on the night of his return.

And if there should be a Mrs. Arthur Tracy, with possibly some little Tracys! But that idea was too horrible to contemplate, and so he tried to put it from his mind, and to be as calm and quiet as possible until lunch-time, when, with no very great amount of alacrity and cheerfulness, he started for home, where, as he had been warned by his wife when he left her in the morning, 'he was to lunch standing up or anyhow, as she had no time for parade that day.'

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