“So! Robert Garrett, this is your vaunted Christianity! You, the immaculate pillar of the church—the friend of the outcast—the chief among philanthropists! Grant your boon? Was there was ever a moment in her sheltered life when Mildred Deering would have consorted with the hypocrite you are? Never! Better a thousand times poverty with nobility and truth in the man she loves. Better an age of privation with Herbert Blaine than a single instant in the presence of such as you. Do your worst! And may God mete out to you and yours the mercy you have shown us!”
Clasping the hand of her little girl who had clung to her mother’s skirts, gazing with wide-open, awestruck eyes at the great man, she was gone in a moment.
“Ah!” uttered Robert Garrett in a long-drawn-out syllable, reaching for the evening paper.
There had been another silent witness of this scene in the person of a lad who stood within the door he had entered just as Mrs. Blaine had appeared in the opposite way. He was a rather ill-favored schoolboy, but his thoughts as he came forward with the lanky awkwardness of youth and took a chair in chimney corner, were not of himself or his looks.
“Father,” he said after some minutes had passed, the rattle of the newspaper and the measured ticking of the clock being the only disturbing sounds, “Father,” he repeated, this time with a falling inflection.
Startled uncomfortably at the unexpected address the father peered frowningly at the boy with a gruff, “What!”
“Do you think it is just the fair and square thing to turn ’em out?”
“What do you know about it, you young meddler. Keep quiet about what does not concern you. You have enough to eat and wear—attend to your own business.”
There was no encouragement to go on, so young Robert sat and pondered till his father, chafing under the silent rebuke personified in every line of the son’s uncomely face, sent him to his room.
In the other house there was little sleep; and for many succeeding days the devoted Blaines, with heavy hearts, put by their idols one by one, till at last the time-honored oaken doors closed upon them in relentless banishment. It mattered not that amid new scenes prosperity once more opened her sheltering arms and kept the wolf from the door. The new owner of Deering Castle, as the villagers had admiringly christened the grand old place, refused to sell it. Robert Garrett, with the littleness born of a mean, cramped nature, clung to this coveted possession as the one thing to be held, though all else were taken. He had money but knew not how to enjoy it. His household, for the most part, reflected the coarseness of his nature, and as time passed his retribution was meted out in rebellious sons and daughters, who wasted his substance and dragged down his name still further in the mire.