The Bread-winners eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about The Bread-winners.
night lulled him into drowsiness.  In spite of the reason he had for keeping awake, his eyes were closing and his senses were fading, when a shrill whistle startled him into broad wakefulness.  It was the melancholy note of a whippoorwill in the branches of a lime-tree in the garden.  Offitt listened for the sound of voices in the library.  He heard nothing.  “Can I have slept through——­no, there is a light.”  A shadow fell across the window.  The heavy tread of Budsey approached.  Farnham’s voice was heard:  “Never mind the windows, Budsey.  I will close them and the front door.  I will wait here awhile; somebody else may come.  You can go to bed.”

“Good-night, sir.”

“Good-night.”

Offitt waited only a moment.  He rose and looked cautiously in at the window.  Farnham was seated at his desk.  He had sorted, in the methodical way peculiar to men who have held command in the army, the papers which he had been using with his tenants and the money he had received from them.

They were arranged on the desk before him in neat bundles, ready to be transferred to the safe, across the room.  He had taken up his pen to make some final indorsement.

Offitt drew off his shoes, leaped upon the platform, and entered the library as swiftly and noiselessly as a panther walking over sand.

XVII.

IN AND OUT OF WINDOWS.

Alice Belding was seated before her glass braiding her long hair.  Her mother had come in from her own room, as her custom often was, to chat with her daughter in the half hour before bed-time.  It gratified at once her maternal love and her pride to watch the exquisite beauty of her child, as she sat, dressed in a white wrapper that made her seem still taller than she was brushing and braiding the luxuriant tresses that gave under the light every tint and reflection of which gold is capable.  The pink and pearl of the round arm as the loose sleeve would slip to the elbow, the poise of the proud head, the full white column of the neck, the soft curve of cheek and chin,—­all this delighted her as it would have delighted a lover.  But with all her light-headedness, there was enough of discretion, or perhaps of innate New England reserve, to keep her from ever expressing to Alice her pleasure in her beauty.  So the wholesome-minded girl never imagined the admiration of which she was the object, and thought that her mother only liked to chat a little before sleeping.  They talked of trivial matters, of the tea at Mrs. Hyson’s, of Formosa Hyson’s purple dress which made her sallower than ever, of rain and fair weather.

“I think,” said Mrs. Bekling, “that Phrasy Dallas gets more and more stylish every day.  I don’t wonder at Arthur Farnham’s devotion.  That would make an excellent match—­they are both so dreadfully clever.  By the way, he has not been here this week.  And I declare!  I don’t believe you have ever written him that note of thanks.”

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The Bread-winners from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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