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Old Valentines A Love Story   By: (1873-1942)

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OLD VALENTINES

A Love Story

by

MUNSON HAVENS

With Illustrations

Boston and New York Houghton Mifflin Company The Riverside Press Cambridge 1914

Copyright, 1914, by Munson Havens

TO MY WIFE

ILLUSTRATIONS From drawings by Griswold Tyng

"SHE WAS YOUR MAMMA, TOO, WASN'T SHE?"

"MAY I CALL YOU PHYLLIS?"

"ARE YOU CERTAIN YOU CAN SPARE SO LARGE A SUM?"

SIR PETER GAVE IT INTO THE TINY FINGERS

OLD VALENTINES

I

You might enter this story by the stage door. You remember beautiful Valentine Germain the actress? She married Robert Oglebay, the painter, brother of Sir Peter Oglebay, the great engineer. Their baby Phyllis

But, after all, the main entrance is more dignified.

Sir Peter Oglebay's passion is for Construction: to watch massive machinery slowly hoisting materials more massive into positions of incredible height with calculated accuracy. Wherever construction is in progress you are likely to see him, standing at a little distance, holding his silk hat on his white head with one hand as he looks upward, and leaning, a little heavily, on his stick with the other. And whenever or wherever you see him, you will see an English gentleman.

His portrait, in the lobby of the Engineering Society, is by Sargent. His erect bearing, white mustache, and something about the cut of his clothes suggest the soldier. But he is one of the great engineers; his father and grandfather were engineers. You observe the red ribbon in his lapel; France honors him.

Sir Peter's big house is in Armytage Street, near the park. You may remember the house by its walled garden and the imposing wrought iron grille through which one has access to the flagged walk, the wide steps, and the great doorway.

In his house, the library defines his chief interest in life. The shelves are filled with somber sets of the "Transactions" and "Proceedings" of several learned societies. Sir Peter is himself a Fellow of these societies Mr. Rowlandson, his bookseller, has a standing advertisement in "The Athenaeum" for certain missing volumes. One in particular, the "Proceedings of the British Engineering Society for the year 1848," he would tell you, was the very devil to find; it seems there was a fire at the printer's. Sir Peter's monograph on the "Egyptian Pyramids Considered in their Relation to Modern Engineering" was dedicated to this society. He presided over its grave deliberations for several years. "With dignity and impartiality," said his successor, when Sir Peter surrendered the gavel.

He serves on boards of directors. His name is seen on subscription lists headed by the Right People. Late afternoon should find him at the Carlton Club.

Many years ago, Sir Peter brought together a number of fine pictures. They hang in the drawing room, but the collection is not a notable one in these days. Each year, however, the Oglebay Prize speeds some talented English lad to Paris. But that endowment was his brother Robert's suggestion. Sir Peter's calls at the Christie Galleries ceased when Robert married beautiful Valentine Germain, the actress. Perhaps half of the cruel things Sir Peter said of her were true. But the quarrel was irreparable; the brothers never met afterward.

Robert Oglebay was a painter of distinction, if not of genius. His few finished pictures enriched the world. His impulses were noble, but they were impulses only; the will to complete the undertaken task was lacking. For patient work he substituted high talk of Art in the studios of his friends. The gay little suppers in their own rooms were famous; nine at table, mostly men, entranced by Valentine's beauty and her wit. Charming were their afternoons among the curio shops, and their return, laden with loot too precious to wait over night for delivery. Glorious were their holidays in Paris and Vienna; wonderful nights in Venice! Always together! To their sudden migration to Egypt, whence he returned with a portfolio of exciting promise. Alas, the slender fulfilment! for then was the time for work, the sobering thought of Baby Phyllis... Continue reading book >>




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