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   Chapter 15 GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS

The Green Mouse By Robert W. Chambers Characters: 13646

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


A Chapter Concerning Drusilla, Pa-pah and a Minion

Capital had now been furnished for The Green Mouse, Limited; a great central station of white marble was being built, facing Madison Avenue and occupying the entire block front between Eighty-second and Eighty-third streets.

The building promised to be magnificent; the plans provided for a thousand private operating rooms, each beautifully furnished in Louis XVI style, a restaurant, a tea room, a marriage licence bureau, and an emergency chapel where first aid clergymen were to be always in attendance.

In each of the thousand Louis XVI operating rooms a Destyn-Carr wireless instrument was to stand upon a rococo table. A maid to every two rooms, a physician to every ten, and smelling salts to each room, were provided for in this gigantic enterprise.

Millions of circulars were being prepared to send broadcast over the United States. They read as follows:

ARE YOU IN LOVE? IF NOT, WHY NOT?

Wedlock by Wireless. Marriage by Machinery. A Wondrous Wooer Without Words! No more doubt; no more hesitation; no more uncertainty. The Destyn-Carr Wireless Apparatus does it all for you. Happy Marriage Guaranteed or money eagerly refunded!

Psychical Science says that for every man and woman on earth there is a predestined mate!

That mate can be discovered for you by The Green Mouse, Limited.

Why waste time with costly courtship? Why frivol? Why fuss?

There is only ONE mate created for YOU. You pay us; We find that ONE, thereby preventing mistakes, lawsuits, elopements, regrets, grouches, alimony.

Divorce Absolutely Eliminated

By Our Infallible Wireless Method

Success Certain

It is now known the world over that Professor William Augustus Destyn has discovered that the earth we live on is enveloped in Psychical Currents. By the Destyn-Carr instrument these currents may be tapped, controlled and used to communicate between two people of opposite sex whose subconscious and psychic personalities are predestined to affinity and amorous accord. In other words, when psychic waves from any individual are collected or telegraphed along these wireless psychical currents, only that one affinity attuned to receive them can properly respond.

We catch your psychic waves for you. We send them out into the world.

WATCH THAT SPARK!

When you see a tiny bluish-white spark tip the tentacle of the Destyn-Carr transmitter,

THE WORLD IS YOURS!

for $25.

Our method is quick, painless, merciful and certain. Fee, twenty-five dollars in advance. Certified checks accepted.

THE GREEN MOUSE, Limited.

President PROF. WM. AUGUSTUS DESTYN.

Vice-Presidents THE HON. KILLIAN VAN K. VANDERDYNK.

THE HON. GEORGE GRAY, 3D.

Treasurer THE HON. BUSHWYCK CARR.

These circulars were composed, illuminated and printed upon vellum by what was known as an "Art" community in West Borealis, N.J. Several tons were expected for delivery early in June.

Meanwhile, the Carr family and its affiliations had invested every cent they possessed in Green Mouse, Limited; and those who controlled the stock were Bushwyck Carr; William Augustus Destyn and Mrs. Destyn, née Ethelinda Carr; Mr. Killian Van K. Vanderdynk and Mrs. Vanderdynk, née Sacharissa Carr; George Gray and Mrs. Gray, very lately Sybilla Carr; and the unmarried triplets, Flavilla and Drusilla Carr.

Remembering with a shudder how Bell Telephone and Standard Oil might once have been bought for a song, Bushwyck Carr determined that in this case his pudgy fingers should not miss the forelock of Time and the divided skirts of Chance.

Squinting at the viewless ether through his monocle he beheld millions in it; so did William Augustus Destyn and the other sons-in-law.

Only the unmarried triplets, Flavilla and Drusilla, remained amiably indifferent in the midst of all these family financial scurryings and preparations to secure world patents in a monopoly which promised the social regeneration of the globe.

The considerable independent fortunes that their mother had left them they invested in Green Mouse, at their father's suggestion; but further than that they took no part in the affair.

For a while the hurry and bustle and secret family conferences mildly interested them. Very soon, however, the talk of psychic waves and millions bored them; and as soon as the villa at Oyster Bay was opened they were glad enough to go.

Here, at Oyster Bay, there was some chance of escaping their money-mad and wave-intoxicated family; they could entertain and be entertained by both of the younger sets in that dignified summer resort; they could wander about their own vast estate alone; they could play tennis, sail, swim, ride, and drive their tandem.

But best of all--for they were rather seriously inclined at the age of eighteen, or, rather, on the verge of nineteen--they adored sketching, in water colors, out of doors.

Scrubby forelands set with cedars, shadow-flecked paths under the scrub oak, meadows where water glimmered, white sails off Center Island and Cooper's Bluff--Cooper's Bluff from the north, northeast, east, southeast, south--this they painted with never-tiring, Pecksniffian patience, boxing the compass around it as enthusiastically as that immortal architect circumnavigated Salisbury Cathedral.

And one delicious morning in early June, when the dew sparkled on the poison ivy and the air was vibrant with the soft monotone of mosquitoes and the public road exhaled a delicate aroma of crude oil, Drusilla and Flavilla, laden with sketching-blocks, color-boxes, camp-stools, white umbrellas and bonbons, descended to the great hall, on sketching bent.

Mr. Carr also stood there, just outside on the porch, red, explosive, determined legs planted wide apart, defying several courtly reporters, who for a month had patiently and politely appeared every hour to learn whether Mr. Carr had anything to say about the new invention, rumors of which were flying thick about Park Row.

"No, I haven't!" he shouted in his mellow and sonorously musical bellow. "I have told you one hundred times that when I have anything to say I'll send for you. Now, permit me to inform you, for the hundred and first consecutive time, that I have nothing to say--which won't prevent you from coming back in an hour and standing in exactly the same ridiculous position you now occupy, and asking me exactly the same unmannerly questions, and taking the same impertinent snapshots at my house and my person!"

He executed a ferocious facial contortion, clapped the monocle into his left eye, and squinted fiercely.

"I'm getting tired of this!" he continued. "When I wake in the morning and look out of my window there are always anywhere from one to twenty reporters decorating my lawn! That young man over the

re is the worst and most persistent offender!"--scowling at a good-looking youth in white flannels, who immediately blushed distressingly. "Yes, you are, young man! I'm amazed that you have the decency to blush! Your insolent sheet, the Evening Star, refers to my Trust Company as a Green Mouse Trap and a Mouseleum. It also publishes preposterous pictures of myself and family. Dammit, sir, they even produce a photograph of Orlando, the family cat! You did it, I am told. Did you?"

"I am trying to do what I can for my paper, Mr. Carr," said the young man. "The public is interested."

Mr. Carr regarded him with peculiar hatred.

"Come here," he said; "I have got something to say to you."

The young man cautiously left the ranks of his fellows and came up on the porch. Behind Mr. Carr, in the doorway, stood Drusilla and Flavilla. The young man tried not to see them; he pretended not to. But he flushed deeply.

"I want to know," demanded Mr. Carr, "why the devil you are always around here blushing. You've been around here blushing for a month, and I want to know why you do it."

The youth stood speechless, features afire to the tips of his glowing ears.

"At first," continued Mr. Carr, mercilessly, "I had a vague hope that you might perhaps be blushing for shame at your profession; I heard that you were young at it, and I was inclined to be sorry for you. But I'm not sorry any more!"

The young man remained crimson and dumb.

"Confound it," resumed Mr. Carr, "I want to know why the deuce you come and blush all over my lawn. I won't stand it! I'll not allow anybody to come blushing around me----"

Indignation choked him; he turned on his heel to enter the house and beheld Flavilla and Drusilla regarding him, wide-eyed.

He went in, waving them away before him.

"I've taught that young pup a lesson," he said with savage satisfaction. "I'll teach him to blush at me! I'll----"

"But why," asked Drusilla, "are you so cruel to Mr. Yates? We like him."

"Mr.--Mr. Yates!" repeated her father, astonished. "Is that his name? And who told you?"

"He did," said Drusilla, innocently.

"He--that infernal newspaper bantam----"

"Pa-pah! Please don't say that about Mr. Yates. He is really exceedingly kind and civil to us. Every time you go to town on business he comes and sketches with us at----"

"Oh," said Mr. Carr, with the calm of deadly fury, "so he goes to Cooper's Bluff with you when I'm away, does he?"

Flavilla said: "He doesn't exactly go with us; but he usually comes there to sketch. He makes sketches for his newspaper."

"Does he?" asked her father, grinding his teeth.

"Yes," said Drusilla; "and he sketches so beautifully. He made such perfectly charming drawings of Flavilla and of me, and he drew pictures of the house and gardens, and of all the servants, and"--she laughed--"I once caught a glimpse in his sketch-book of the funniest caricature of you----"

The expression on her father's face was so misleading in its terrible calm that she laughed again, innocently.

"It was not at all an offensive caricature, you know--really it was not a caricature at all--it was you--just the way you stand and look at people when you are--slightly--annoyed----"

"Oh, he is so clever," chimed in Flavilla, "and is so perfectly well-bred and so delightful to us--to Drusilla particularly. He wrote the prettiest set of verses--To Drusilla in June--just dashed them off while he was watching her sketch Cooper's Bluff from the southwest----"

"He is really quite wonderful," added Drusilla, sincerely, "and so generous and helpful when my drawing becomes weak and wobbly----"

"Mr. Yates shows Drusilla how to hold her pencil," said Flavilla, becoming warmly earnest in her appreciation of this self-sacrificing young man. "He often lays aside his own sketching and guides Drusilla's hand while she holds the pencil----"

"And when I'm tired," said Drusilla, "and the water colors get into a dreadful mess, Mr. Yates will drop his own work and come and talk to me about art--and other things----"

"He is so kind!" cried Flavilla in generous enthusiasm.

"And so vitally interesting," said Drusilla.

"And so talented!" echoed Flavilla.

"And so--" Drusilla glanced up, beheld something in the fixed stare of her parent that frightened her, and rose in confusion. "Have I said-- done--anything?" she faltered.

With an awful spasm Mr. Carr jerked his congested features into the ghastly semblance of a smile.

"Not at all," he managed to say. "This is very interesting--what you tell me about this p-pu--this talented young man. Does he--does he seem-- attracted toward you--unusually attracted?"

"Yes," said Drusilla, smiling reminiscently.

"How do you know?"

"Because he once said so."

"S-said--w-what?"

"Why, he said quite frankly that he thought me the most delightful girl he had ever met."

"What--else?" Mr. Carr's voice was scarcely audible.

"Nothing," said Drusilla; "except that he said he cared for me very much and wished to know whether I ever could care very much for him.... I told him I thought I could. Flavilla told him so, too.... And we all felt rather happy, I think; at least I did."

Her parent emitted a low, melodious sort of sound, a kind of mellifluous howl.

"Pa-pah!" they exclaimed in gentle consternation.

He beat at the empty air for a moment like a rotund fowl about to seek its roost. Suddenly he ran distractedly at an armchair and kicked it.

They watched him in sorrowful amazement.

"If we are going to sketch Cooper's Bluff this morning," observed Drusilla to Flavilla, "I think we had better go--quietly--by way of the kitchen garden. Evidently Pa-pah does not care for Mr. Yates."

Orlando, the family cat, strolled in, conciliatory tail hoisted. Mr. Carr hurled a cushion at Orlando, then beat madly upon his own head with both hands. Servants respectfully gave him room; some furniture was overturned--a chair or two--as he bounced upward and locked and bolted himself in his room.

What transports of fury he lived through there nobody else can know; what terrible visions of vengeance lit up his outraged intellect, what cold intervals of quivering hate, what stealthy schemes of reprisal, what awful retribution for young Mr. Yates were hatched in those dreadful moments, he alone could tell. And as he never did tell, how can I know?

However, in about half an hour his expression of stony malignity changed to a smile so cunningly devilish that, as he caught sight of himself in the mirror, his corrugated countenance really startled him.

"I must smooth out--smooth out!" he muttered. "Smoothness does it!" And he rang for a servant and bade him seek out a certain Mr. Yates among the throng of young men who had been taking snapshots.

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