“Yes, yes, Auntie, I know—I have the letters here——at last,” he added in low, husky tones.
* * * * *
The Louisville Journal of the next New Year, under date of January 9, contained the following notice, with lengthy editorial comment:
“Died suddenly last night, of heart
disease, at the close of the
Military Ball, at the Capitol Hotel, Frankfort, the Hon. Leslie
Walcott, age thirty-two years.”
Did hope stretch out an alluring hand to one lonely reader?
VENGEANCE IS MINE
“But surely you do not realize, Robert Garrett, that when you foreclose this mortgage you leave us virtually penniless;” and the large dark eyes of the suppliant were blinded by an agony of tears.
“Really, madam, I regret to seem hard;” and the polished courtesy of the cold, harsh voice fell with heavy weight upon her strained senses. “Your husband has had more time now than any law allows, human or divine.”
“Oh, how gladly he would have paid the debt;” she moaned; “it was his kindness and forbearance to others—kindness that seemed imperative. He could not take the law against his crippled brother, his mother’s dying legacy to him. You know all this—you know, too, that if you will only grant a little longer respite he can settle the claim, or the greater part of it. How then can you be so cruel as to drive us out of doors! You who need nothing of this world’s goods!”
The man of business stirred a little, crossed his well-clad legs in still greater comfort, and audibly repressed a yawn. Then as if unwillingly forced to say something he did it as ungraciously as possible.
“Again I say I grieve to proceed to harsh measures, but”—then as she was about to interpose he broke out irritably, “God bless my soul, Mrs. Blaine, how can you expect anything else! I am obliged to be accurate in my matters, otherwise there would be no end to imposition from shiftless men who are always going to pay but——never do.”
“This, then, is your ultimatum, sir? You will turn me and my children out wanderers from the old home where I was born—where I had hoped to die? Can you do this? Even you, whom the world calls rich and prosperous and——charitable!” As she spoke she bent upon him in fine scorn her brilliant eyes dark and piercing.
“Painful things occur every day, my dear madam, in this transitory life. And once in a while the tables turn. I think I remember a time when I pleaded with perhaps not so much eloquence, but quite as much earnestness, for a boon at the hands of pretty Mildred Deering. I didn’t get it, and I have survived, you see. We are apt to magnify our misfortunes;” and a mocking smile told wherein lay the animus that was her undoing.
Then she drew her graceful figure to its full height, and with the contempt of an outraged wife and mother, her words came in tones of concentrated vehemence: