“I hardly see why, if Harry didn’t—a fact he plainly showed by deserting the poor creature.” The insolence of the speaker’s tone was scarcely veiled. Her extreme disapproval of her father-in-law sometimes welled to the surface of her suave manner.
Mr. Evringham’s thoughts had fled to Chicago. “Harry proposed leaving the girl here while they are gone,” he said.
Mrs. Evringham straightened in her chair and her attention
“With you? What assurance! How like Harry!” she exclaimed.
The words were precisely those which her host had been saying to himself; but proceeding from her lips they had a strange effect upon him.
“You find it so?” he asked. The clearer the proposition became to Mrs. Evringham’s consciousness the more she resented it. To have the child in the house not only would menace her ease and comfort, but meant a possibility that the grandfather might take an interest in Harry’s daughter which would disturb Eloise’s chances.
“Of course it does. I call it simply presumptuous,” she declared with emphasis.
“After all, Harry has some rights,” rejoined Mr. Evringham slowly.
“His wife is a dressmaker,” went on the other. “I had it directly from a Chicago friend. Harry has scarcely been with the child since she was born. And to saddle a little stranger like that on you! Now Eloise and her father were inseparable.”
There was an ominous glitter in Mr. Evringham’s eyes. “Eloise’s father!” he returned slowly. “I did not know that she remembered him.”
The hurt of his tone and words sank deep into the heart of the girl, but she looked up courageously.
“Your son was my father in every best sense,” she said. “We were inseparable. You must have known it.”
“You appeared to be separable when your father made his visits to Bel-Air Park,” was the rejoinder. “Pardon me if I knew very little of what took place in his household. A telegraph blank, please, Mrs. Forbes, and tell Zeke to be ready to go to the office.”
There was a vital tone in the usually dry voice. Mrs. Evringham looked apprehensively at her daughter; but Eloise gave her no answering glance; her eyes were downcast and her pretense of eating continued, while her pulses beat.
FATHER AND SON
When later they were alone, the girl looked at her mother, her eyes luminous.
“You see,” she began rather breathlessly, “even you must see, he is beginning to drive us away.”
“I do hope, Eloise, you are not going to indulge in any heroics over this affair,” returned Mrs. Evringham, who had braced herself to meet an attack. “Does the unpleasant creature suppose we would stay with him if we were not obliged to?”
“If we are obliged to, which I don’t admit, need you demand further favors than food and shelter? How could you speak of Essex Maid! How can you know in your inmost heart, as you do, that we are eating the bread of charity, and then ask for the apple of his eye!” exclaimed Eloise desperately.