“I certainly didn’t intend to take him in, as you call it,” said Frank. “The sooner you tell him the better.”
“I’ll tell him,” said Pliny. “I shall enjoy seeing how provoked he’ll be.”
“I think I will leave you,” said Frank, shortly. “I will take a walk by myself.
“Well, don’t lose your way. Oh, I wish the store was shut! I want to tell the old man.”
And Pliny laughed again, while our hero walked off in disgust.
THE WAY OF THE WORLD
Frank felt like an impostor when he discovered that his cordial reception was wholly owing to the belief that he was his mother’s heir.
The situation was unpleasant, and he was impatient to have Mr. Tarbox undeceived. He was sure that Pliny would lose no time in revealing his true position, and decided not to return to the house of Mr. Tarbox till nine o’clock, when the story would have been told.
He wandered about aimlessly till he heard the city clocks strike nine, and then rang the bell at his relation’s house.
The family, with the exception of the two younger children, were assembled in the common sitting room.
As Frank entered, instead of the cordial welcome he had previously received, he noticed a look of coldness and constraint on the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Tarbox, while Pliny looked as if some stupendous joke was being perpetrated.
“Good-evening!” said Frank, politely. “I have been taking a walk.”
“My son Pliny tells me,” said Mr. Tarbox, “that you have not inherited your mother’s property.”
“And that it has gone to your stepfather.”
“It seems so.”
“I am amazed.”
“So was I, sir.”
“Your mother has practically disinherited you?”
“It was not my mother, sir,” said Frank, hastily. “I can’t explain it, but I’m sure she would not will away everything from me.”
“Do you suspect your stepfather of anything irregular?” asked Mr. Tarbox, briskly.
“I would rather not answer your question, sir. I don’t care to make any charges which I cannot prove.”
“And so Mr. Manning has sent you out into the world to earn your own living, has he?”
“No, sir. He has consented that I may do so. It was my own plan.”
Much as Frank was prejudiced against his stepfather, his natural sense of justice would not allow him to accuse him unjustly.
“Did he suggest that you should come to me?” asked Mr. Tarbox, in a tone which Frank did not like.
“So that was your idea, too,” continued Mr. Tarbox, with a palpable sneer.
“Yes, sir,” answered Frank. “You are not a very near relative, but the nearest I know of, and I supposed you would be willing to give me some advice about the best means of earning my living. I remembered,” he could not help adding, “that my mother received you all as guests for a considerable time, and I thought I might take the liberty.”