The Reason Why eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about The Reason Why.
hotels, until the mother’s face grew pinched and white, and no letters but her own—­returned—­came from Uncle Francis.  And ever the fear grew that if Mimo were absent from her for a moment Uncle Francis would kill him.  The poor, adored mother!  And then of the coming of Mirko and all their joy over it; and then, gradually, the skeleton of poverty, when all the jewels had been sold and all Mimo’s uniform and swords; and nothing but his slender income, which could not be taken from him, remained.  How he had worked to be a real artist, there in Paris!  Oh! poor Mimo.  He had tried, but everything was so against a gentleman; and Mirko such a delicate baby, and the mother’s lovely face so often sad.  And then the time of the mother’s first bad illness—­how they had watched and prayed, and Mimo had cried tears like a child, and the doctor had said the South was the only thing to help their angel’s recovery.  So to marry Ladislaus Shulski seemed the only way.  He had a villa in the sun at Nice and offered it to them; he was crazy about her—­Zara—­at that time, though her skirts were not quite long, nor her splendid hair done up.

When her thoughts reached this far, the black panther in the Zoo never looked fiercer when Francis Markrute poked his stick between its bars to stir it up on Sunday mornings.

The hateful, hateful memories!  When she came to know what marriage meant, and—­a man!  But it had saved the sweet mother’s life for that winter.  And though it was a strain to extract anything from Ladislaus, still, in the years that followed, often she had been able to help until his money, too, was all gone—­on gambling and women.

And then the dear mother died—­died in cold and poverty, in a poor little studio in Paris—­in spite of her daughter’s and Mimo’s frantic letters to Uncle Francis for help.  She knew now that he had been far away, in South Africa, at the time, and had never received them, until too late; but then, it seemed as if God Himself had forsaken them.  And now came the memory of her solemn promise.  Mirko should never be deserted—­the adored mother could die in peace about that.  Her last words came back now—­out of the glowing coals: 

“I have been happy with Mimo, after all, my Cherisette, with you and Mimo and Mirko.  It was worth while—­” And so she had gasped—­and died.

And here the tears gathered and blurred the flaming coals.  But Zara’s decision had come.  There was no other way.  To her uncle’s bargain she must consent.

She got up abruptly and flung her hat on the bed—­her cloak had already fallen from her—­and without further hesitation she descended the stairs.

Francis Markrute was still seated in his library; he had taken out his watch and was calculating the time.  It was twenty-five minutes to eight; his guests would be coming to dine at eight o’clock and he had not begun to dress.  Would his niece have made up her mind by then?

That there could be any doubt about the fact that she would make up her mind as he wished never entered his head.  It was only a question of time but it would be better, for every reason, if she arrived at the conclusion at once.

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The Reason Why from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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