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A Philanthropist   By: (1876-1961)

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A PHILANTHROPIST

By Josephine Daskam

Copyright, 1903, by Charles Scribner's Sons

"I suspected him from the first," said Miss Gould, with some irritation, to her lodger. She spoke with irritation because of the amused smile of the lodger. He bowed with the grace that characterized all his lazy movements.

"He looked very much like that Tom Waters that I had at the Reformed Drunkards' League last year. I even thought he was Tom "

"I do not know Tom?" hazarded the lodger.

"No. I don't know whether I ever mentioned him to you. He came twice to the League, and we were really quite hopeful about him, and the third time he asked to have the meeting at his house. We thought it a great sign the best of signs, in fact. So as a great favor we went there instead of meeting at the Rooms. I was a little late I lost the way and when I got there I heard a great noise as if they were singing different songs at the same time. I hurried in to lead them they get so mixed in the singing and it makes me blush now to think of it! the wretch had invited them all early, and and they were all intoxicated!

"I am sorry I told you," she added with dignity; for the lodger, in an endeavor to smile sympathetically, had lost his way and was convulsed with a mirth entirely unregretful.

"Not at all, not at all," he murmured politely. "It is a delightful story. I would not have missed it a choir of reformed drunkards! But do you not, my dear Miss Gould, perceive in these little setbacks a warning against further attempts? Do you still attend the League? It is not possible!"

"Possible?" echoed his visitor; for owing to certain recent and untoward circumstances, Miss Gould was half reclining in her lodger's great Indian chair, sipping a glass of his '49 port. "Indeed I do! They had every one of them to be reformed all over again! It was most disgraceful!"

Her lodger checked a rising smile, and leaned solicitously toward her, regarding her firm, fine featured face with flattering attention.

"Are you growing stronger? Can I bring you anything?" he inquired.

Miss Gould's color rose, half with anger at her weakness of body, half with a vexed consciousness of his amusement.

"Thank you, no," she returned coldly, "I am ashamed to have been so weak minded. I must go now and tell Henry to pile the wood again in the east corner. There will probably come another tramp very soon they are very prevalent this month, I hear."

Her lodger left his low wicker seat a proof of enormous excitement and frowned at her.

"Do you seriously mean, Miss Gould, that you are going to run the risk of another such such catastrophe? It is absurd. I cannot believe it of you! Is there no other way "

But he had been standing a long while, it occurred to him, and he retired to the chair again. A splinter of wood on his immaculate white flannel coat caught his eye, and a slow smile spread over his handsome, lazy face. It grew and grew until at last a distinct chuckle penetrated to the dusky corner where the Indian chair leaned back against dull Oriental draperies. Its occupant attempted to rise, her face stern, her mouth unrelenting. He was at her side instantly.

"Take my arm and pardon me!" he said with an irresistible grace. "It is only my fear for your comfort, you know, Miss Gould. I cannot bear that you should be at the mercy of every drunken fellow that wishes to impose on you!"

As she crossed the hall that separated her territory from his, her fine, full figure erect, her dark head high in the air, a whimsical regret came over him that they were not younger and more foolish.

"I should certainly marry her to reform her," he said to the birch log that spluttered on his inimitable colonial fire dogs. And then, as the remembrance of the events of the morning came to him, he laughed again.

He had been disturbed at his leisurely coffee and roll by a rapid and ceaseless pounding, followed by a violent rattling, and varied by stifled cries apparently from the woodshed... Continue reading book >>




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