“We are to give up Mrs. Westmacott?”
“Or give up me.”
“Oh, dear dad, how can you say anything so cruel?” cried Ida, burrowing her towsy golden hair into her father’s shirt front, while Clara pressed her cheek against his whisker. “Of course we shall give her up, if you prefer it.”
“Of course we shall, papa.”
The Doctor patted the two caressing heads. “These are my own two girls again,” he cried. “It has been my fault as much as yours. I have been astray, and you have followed me in my error. It was only by seeing your mistake that I have become conscious of my own. Let us set it aside, and neither say nor think anything more about it.”
A BLOT FROM THE BLUE.
So by the cleverness of two girls a dark cloud was thinned away and turned into sunshine. Over one of them, alas, another cloud was gathering, which could not be so easily dispersed. Of these three households which fate had thrown together, two had already been united by ties of love. It was destined, however, that a bond of another sort should connect the Westmacotts with the Hay Denvers.
Between the Admiral and the widow a very cordial feeling had existed since the day when the old seaman had hauled down his flag and changed his opinions; granting to the yachts-woman all that he had refused to the reformer. His own frank and downright nature respected the same qualities in his neighbor, and a friendship sprang up between them which was more like that which exists between two men, founded upon esteem and a community of tastes.
“By the way, Admiral,” said Mrs. Westmacott one morning, as they walked together down to the station, “I understand that this boy of yours in the intervals of paying his devotions to Miss Walker is doing something upon ’Change.”
“Yes, ma’am, and there is no man of his age who is doing so well. He’s drawing ahead, I can tell you, ma’am. Some of those that started with him are hull down astarn now. He touched his five hundred last year, and before he’s thirty he’ll be making the four figures.”
“The reason I asked is that I have small investments to make myself from time to time, and my present broker is a rascal. I should be very glad to do it through your son.”
“It is very kind of you, ma’am. His partner is away on a holiday, and Harold would like to push on a bit and show what he can do. You know the poop isn’t big enough to hold the lieutenant when the skipper’s on shore.”
“I suppose he charges the usual half per cent?”
“Don’t know, I’m sure, ma’am. I’ll swear that he does what is right and proper.”
“That is what I usually pay—ten shillings in the hundred pounds. If you see him before I do just ask him to get me five thousand in New Zealands. It is at four just now, and I fancy it may rise.”