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   Chapter 9 No.9

Drusilla with a Million By Elizabeth Cooper Characters: 15672

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


Drusilla waited several days for the return of the money that she had loaned her visitor from Adams, and when it did not come she was prevailed upon to write to the son of her old friend, Dr. Friedman, asking him regarding the man. The doctor answered that there was no man by the name of John Gleason in Adams; that the Spring Valley Stock Farm was owned by a man named Gleason who had no brother; and that this particular man had never lived in the small village, where every one was known. Drusilla was thoroughly aroused. It was her first experience with a confidence man. It hurt her pride, as she had said; but it hurt her worse to know that people did such things.

"It jest destroys my belief in human natur', and I'll never trust no one again," she said to John.

It was only about a week after the receipt of the letter from the doctor, when she was still smarting from her wounded feelings, that she was told a clergyman wanted to see her personally. She found a quiet little man, dressed in black.

"Miss Doane," he said with a smile, "I am the Presbyterian clergyman from Adams, your old home, and as I was in town I thought I would come to see you."

Suspicion jumped into Drusilla's old eyes.

"Won't you set down?" she said, rather coldly for her.

The stranger sat down.

"Did you take the place of old Dr. Smith?" Drusilla asked.

"Yes; he's had another call, to a higher land"-motioning upward-"and I have his charge."

The man chatted very intelligently regarding the people in Adams, and Drusilla began to thaw. She forgot her other visitor in her enjoyment of hearing the names of the people in her old church.

"Miss Doane," the clergyman said finally, "we are in a little trouble in our church, and I thought that you might help us."

Drusilla stiffened at once.

"What can I do?" she asked.

"We are trying to start a little fund to take care of some poor children of our parish, and as it is very hard to raise money in our little village, I thought you might be willing to head our subscription. I thought it better to come and see you personally instead of writing you."

Drusilla looked at him a moment and then rose.

"Will you excuse me a minute?" she said politely, and left the room.

She went directly to the butler.

"James, telephone for the police. There's another man in there from Adams and I want him arrested."

She left the astonished James to carry out her orders, and returned to the room.

"You say you have some children in Adams without homes?"

"Not exactly without homes, but they are dependent upon the town for support. An Irish family moved in and the father died and the mother is ill, and we want part of the fund to help the family until the mother is able to support her little family of six. We want to keep them together-instead of putting them in asylums and separating them. And there are two children who have lost both parents-at least the mother is dead and the father cannot be found-and we must take care of them. They are too small to work and we thought we could get some one to take them by paying a small sum per week and-"

He quite likely would have enumerated the rest of the charges of his parish if there had not been a discreet knock at the door, immediately followed by James, announcing:

"The men you asked for, ma'am."

Drusilla rose as the two police officers entered the room. She said, pointing to the astonished clergyman, "I want you to arrest this man. He is a confidence man."

"What-what-" sputtered the clergyman.

"I want you to take him to the police station," said Drusilla firmly.

"Do you make a charge, ma'am?" asked one of the officers.

"Yes. I don't know what it is, but I make it. Take him to jail."

"But-but-" said the bewildered clergyman, "this is an outrage!"

"I don't care what it is, you go to jail. I promised the doctor I'd arrest the next man who tried to git money from me by saying he was from Adams. I don't believe you're a preacher; you don't look like one."

The officers went up to the man, who was evidently struggling with emotion, trying to find some suitable words to express his surprise and anger.

"Come along with me," said the officer gruffly. "Don't make no fuss; it won't go."

They put their hands on his arms and he struggled.

"Take your hands off of me! What do you mean? I tell you, I'm the Reverend Algernon Thompson, of Adams."

"Don't you believe nothin' he says," insisted Drusilla. "Whoever heard of a name Algernon! He looks much worse'n the other man that was here. Just you take him along."

Drusilla looked scornfully at the man, who was struggling with the officers. They led him to the door, where he again refused to go, and the policemen took him roughly by the shoulders and pushed him into the hall. He struggled wildly, and his face became convulsed as he turned to Drusilla.

"I tell you I'm the Reverend Algernon Thompson; and this is an outrage-an outrage-"

The officers shook him roughly.

"Oh, can the hot air. We're used to your kind. Come along."

And the last Drusilla could hear was the wail of the clergyman: "I tell you I am the Reverend Algernon Thompson-"

After the noise had subsided and Drusilla knew the man was gone she went slowly upstairs to find John. He looked up from the book he was reading and said quickly as he saw her flushed face:

"What is it, Drusilla. Has something upset you?"

Drusilla sat down wearily in a chair.

"Oh, John, it was another man from Adams. He said he was a preacher this time, and I had him arrested. It's upset me awful. Ring for William; I believe I'll take a glass of wine. I don't believe in spirits, but St. Paul says there's a time for everything, and this is the time."

Drusilla was silent as she sipped the wine; then finally she looked up at John wistfully:

"John, do you think I'd ought to 'a' done it?"

"Certainly, Drusilla. The doctor told you to have any one arrested who asked you for money, claiming to be from your old home. He said you mustn't get the reputation of being easy, or you'd be bothered to death."

"Yes, I know; but then-"

"You did just right, Drusilla; so don't worry."

Drusilla sighed.

"I hate to do it, but I suppose I must. He didn't look a bit like a preacher, and he said his name was Algernon. He'd ought to be arrested for the name if for nothin' else, hadn't he?"

John laughed.

"Well, it's all right. Now let's talk of something else. Let me read you something."

Drusilla sat back in her chair.

"All right, John; read to me. I don't know nothin' that'll make me quiet and sleepy so quick as being read to. I can sleep as easy when you're readin' that poetry stuff to me as I can in my bed. Go on; it'll caam my nerves."

John read to her for half an hour, his voice having the desired effect. Drusilla almost dozed; but when John raised his eyes and, seeing hers closed, stopped reading, Drusilla opened her eyes quickly.

"I ain't all asleep, John, just half," she said; and John laughed and went on.

They were interrupted by James.

"Miss Doane, some one wishes to speak to you on the telephone."

"But, James, let 'em talk to you. You know I don't never talk on the telephone."

"It is some one from the police station, ma'am, and they say they must speak to you particular."

"From the police station? Laws-a-massey! Well, then turn it on here."

She went over to the telephone table and sat down. Soon John heard:

"What's that you say?"

"Laws-a-massey, he's real!"

A murmur was heard from the telephone. Then Drusilla, excitedly:

"He has letters and cards that prove that he is the Reverend Algernon Thompson, from Adams, and has given names in New York and you found out he is real."

Again the murmur.

"Wait a minute," said Drusilla; and

turned to John.

"John, I've done it! That man's a preacher, after all, and he says he's goin' to sue me, and-and-John, what'll I do?"

John looked perplexed and ran his hand through his white hair.

"I'm sure I don't know, Drusilla-I'm sure-"

"What'll I do! What'll I do!" wailed Drusilla. "Just think of putting a preacher in jail. What'll ever become of me!"

Here John had an inspiration.

"Drusilla, send for Mr. Thornton; he is a lawyer and he'll know what to do."

Drusilla drew a breath of relief.

"John, that's the first glimmer of sense you ever showed, and it's the first time I ever wanted to see that lawyer." Turning to the telephone she said: "I'll send for my lawyer at once and he'll know what to do. Where's the man?"

After a moment: "I'll send a car down and get him. Have him come here at once if he'll come."

She left the telephone and turned a very scared face to John.

"John, I'm just a plain old fool. Send the car to the police station, and tell Joseph to get that man if he has to tie him up! And you go telephone Mr. Thornton to come here at once. Now he'll have a chance to talk and I can't say a word."

It was a very frightened and meek Drusilla that greeted Mr. Thornton and Daphne when they came into the room.

"I came along, Miss Doane," Daphne explained, "because Mr. Brierly said you were in some trouble, and I thought perhaps I might help you."

Drusilla laughed rather shakily.

"I'm afraid, Daphne, this is a case for your father. I've arrested the wrong man."

"What do you mean?" said Mr. Thornton quickly.

"I've got a preacher in jail-or he was there unless Joseph can git him to come with him."

Then she told the whole story. Mr. Thornton could not keep a twinkle from his eyes as he listened. But he did not laugh; he saw that Drusilla was too frightened and upset.

"Now what am I goin' to do?" Drusilla finished. "You must get me out of this."

The lawyer thought a moment.

"The man wanted some money for some children, or the poor of his parish. Perhaps we can arrange it. Money is a balm that'll soothe most outraged feelings."

"Give him anything, anything!" Drusilla hegged. "I never thought I'd arrest a preacher, and at my time of life. Poor man, and his name was Algernon, too!"

A very angry man was brought into the room, and was met by a courteous lawyer; but Drusilla brushed him aside and went up to the man and, laying her hand on his arm looked up into his face appealingly.

"I can't tell you how sorry I am! I don't know what to say or what to do! I won't never forgive myself, even if you forgive me, which I don't expect."

The man looked down at her and the angry flush left his face.

"I don't know what to say myself, Miss Doane," he replied. "It's rather a new experience for me, a police station-"

"Well, I'm so ashamed and so sorry I can't talk. Just set down and let lawyer Thornton tell you all about it."

The lawyer explained to him the circumstances of Mr. Gleason's visit, and that Drusilla had received instructions to arrest the next man who claimed to come from her former home.

"It was unfortunate for me that I happened to be the next man," the clergyman said with a laugh. "But I understand, and it is all right."

Drusilla looked at him gratefully.

"You're a good man, if your name is Algernon, and if five hundred dollars will help them children Mr. Thornton will give it to you tomorrow. And now you'll stay here and visit me until you finish your business in New York."

The clergyman flushed, this time with pleasure.

"You are more than kind, Miss Doane. I believe I'd be willing to go to the police station every day if I could help the poor of our little town so easily."

"It is all right then," said Drusilla, "and jest you let me know when you want things and you can always count on me, 'cause I'm so relieved. But I know you're hungry. I'll have some supper brought up here and you can talk with John. Are you goin', Mr. Thornton?" as the lawyer rose. "Let Daphne stay a while with me. I want her to come to my room and talk a while. I'm real upset and tired and I can listen to Daphne without having to think."

"That sounds as if I talked nothing but nonsense!" Daphne pouted.

Drusilla put her arm around the young girl.

"Never you mind, dear; I like your chatter, so come with me."

And they went to Drusilla's room.

They drew up two easy chairs before the fire and as Drusilla settled into the luxurious depths of hers she chuckled to herself.

"Five hundred dollars! I always knowed preachers was a luxury-but- Well, talk to me, Daphne. What you been doin'?"

"I'm so glad to get a chance to talk with you, Miss Doane. I've been intending to come over for a week, but I've been too busy. You know, Miss Doane, I have a real love affair on my hands, and it's giving me no end of trouble."

Drusilla looked at her quickly.

"Not your own love affair, Daphne?"

Daphne flushed under the sharp gaze.

"No," she said hastily; "Uncle Jim's."

"I didn't know you had an Uncle Jim."

"Oh, yes; Papa's younger brother."

Drusilla laughed.

"Well, if he is like your father I should think he could manage his own love affairs."

"He is and he can't. He's just like father, only worse. He's so sort of stiff and cold that he freezes people; but he can't help it. He's been engaged to the nicest girl-Mary Deane. You know she lives in the big house on the Denham road. She's the dearest girl, and I adore her, although she's much older than I am. Oh, she's very old-she must be thirty. Uncle Jim and she were to be married, and then all at once she broke the engagement and went to Egypt. Uncle Jim would never say why it was, and I didn't know until she came back last week, when I found out all about it. She cried when she told me. She said he wasn't human; that she couldn't pass her life with him, he's always so cold and correct. She says he never unbends, sort of stands up straight even when he kisses her. Yet I know she loves him; and Uncle Jim hasn't been the same man at all since the engagement was broken."

"What are you going to do about it? You can't make him over."

"I know it; but if they'd only meet he might be different. She won't come to our house for fear she'll meet him, and he is too proud to go and see her. And I know they are just breaking their hearts for each other."

She was quiet for a moment.

"I wish I could find some way to have them meet accidentally.

"Let's make a scheme, Daphne. Your father is going to Chicago next week, and he told me that his brother-I guess he means this Jim-would take his place with me. Now, why can't I get in some kind of trouble-that's always easy for me-and I'll telephone him to come over right away, and then you come in by chance with this young lady. Tell her that I'm a feeble old lady that needs some one to cheer her up. Tell her anything that'll git her here."

"She'll come. I've told her about you and she said she wanted to come to see you."

"It's easy then, and we'll trust to something turnin' up right."

Daphne rose to go.

"You're a-a-brick, Miss Doane."

Drusilla shook her finger at the girl.

"Young lady," she said severely, "I know where you got that. Dr. Eaton."

Daphne's pretty face flushed and she put her cheek against the faded one.

"We must not talk of-of Dr. Eaton. Father doesn't allow it, and-and Dr. Eaton thinks I'm only a flighty little girl, who is never serious, if he ever thinks of me at all-which I am afraid is not often-" She was quiet a moment, her hand resting against the soft white hair. "But-well, good night. I'll let you know when Mary will come, and then you can get into trouble right away."

Drusilla laughed.

"You trust me for carrying out that part of it. Good night, dear."

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