Harum Scarum's Fortune,
Produced by Al Haines.
HARUM SCARUM'S FORTUNE
_By_ ESME STUART
JARROLDS _Publishers_ LONDON _Limited, 10 and 11 Warwick Lane, E.C._
First Printed in 1910 Reprinted 1913 " 1915 " 1916 " 1917 " 1918 " 1919 " 1921 " 1923 " 1924 " 1925
_By the same author_: HARUM SCARUM HARUM SCARUM MARRIED
I. DO YOU REMEMBER? II. FIFTY THOUSAND A YEAR III. BEFORE THE FRAY IV. VERY EARLY V. PREPARATIONS VI. REAL SILVER VII. THE VISITORS ARRIVE VIII. A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW IX. A BARN DANCE X. THE PATH OF PERFECTION XI. THE NEW SECRETARY XII. AN UNDIGNIFIED SITUATION XIII. A BIG PILE XIV. THE FIRST-FRUITS XV. GENTLE AND SIMPLE XVI. UNEXPECTED NEWS XVII. STUCK IN A BOG XVIII. A GENEROUS COUSIN XIX. A REFUGE XX. SHAPING A ROMANCE XXI. PLAYING WITH FIRE XXII. FAILURE XXIII. TEN MINUTES XXIV. LEWIS' DECISION XXV. SHORT NOTICE XXVI. ANOTHER OFFER XXVII. A TERRIBLE SECRET XXVIII. LILIES AND A WEDDING XXIX. AN ANGRY LAWYER XXX. A FIERY ORDEAL XXXI. HOME AGAIN
*Harum Scarum's Fortune*
*DO YOU REMEMBER?*
Toney Whitburn pulled in her thorough-bred suddenly by a gap in the parkand looked at her companion. The two had met by chance and they had hada canter together, so that the exercise had made the girl look radiant,and her hair, though twisted round her well-shaped head, rebelled at therestriction, and in protest curled itself round her temples and the napeof her neck.
"Do you know--I'm twenty-one to-morrow. Isn't it terrible?"
"Terrible!" answered the young Squire, Lewis Waycott, with a smile halfof amusement and half of sympathy.
"You don't think so, but I do! You know I've honestly tried to become'a young lady with expectations.' I've been to a finishing school atParis, and I've tried to learn German at Dresden, and I've gone to sleepthrough ever so many concerts, and I've seen all the old things atRome--and yet----"
"You haven't succeeded? You are just the same as you were, thankHeaven!"
Toney's joyous laugh woke the echoes.
"No, I've failed utterly, though, honest Injun, I have tried! Aunt Dovesays so! She's always implying what a national misfortune it is thatto-morrow I shall be my own mistress, but now, will you--you have alwaysbeen awfully chummy--will you be the judge?"
"Between you and Lady Dove?"
"Yes. You know I offered to be her companion--and I meant it----"
"You always mean what you say, Toney."
"I try to because Pups always did-- Oh, if only he could just come tome now and say, 'Toney, you must'--no, he always said _we_ must--do thisand that with our money."
"I wish he could--but if you ask me, Toney, I should say give it all toLady Dove, as she seems mighty jealous of your having it."
For a moment Toney looked at her companion with wide open and surprisedeyes, then she answered gravely,
"Do you really mean that?"
"Yes, I do," he muttered.
"You are quite wrong. The dear old General would rise from his grave ifI gave away his present. Oh, I couldn't; besides--I believe he wishedAunt Dove not to have it, so it would be betraying trust if---- No,I've got to keep it, but the thing is what I'm to do with it!"
"It's not many people who are puzzled what to do with money. Isuppose--you'll----"
"What? I never knew you jib before."
"I was going to say you'll have lots of offers--and marry someNabob----"
"How odd you should say that! Do you know, I wanted to ask your opinionabout that very thing, because I can trust you. What does one say ifpeople make you offers?"
The two had been waiting by the gate that led into the plantation. Itwas a lovely October day with the sunshine turning yellow leaves intogold and decay made glorious by its touches. Toney was so unconsciousthat her remark was at all comical, that her companion dared not laugh,nor did he even dare to look surprised.
"If you love the man, say 'yes,' and if you don't, say 'no.'"
"Thank you. I see it does seem easy and simple. Dear old Crumpet--bythe way, this was the gap she went through on our first visit to you--doyou remember? Well, when we went to Italy together----"
"Lady Dove did not approve!"
"Of course not, but she was wrong. No one could have done it betterthan Crumpet. She was just delighted over everything, and I had to hidemy yawns often not to make her sorry; I couldn't stand more than onegallery a day, and one ruin thrown in, I really couldn't, but she lovedit all. Do you know every now and then she used to burst out into asoft little laugh all to herself just because she was so happy, and Iwas so scrumptiously pleased to hear it, that I swallowed an extragallery and did another old ruin without letting her see how sleepy itmade me."
"But she was with you to do as you liked, I thought!"
"Oh, to see Crumpet laugh was what I really enjoyed! Do you rememberwhat she used to be like, and now what with the Reverend, and Harry, andToney, she is quite too happy, she says. But that isn't what I wantedto say, you'll see her to-morrow, and I've been here so little that itall brings back the past to-day. You understand?"
"Yes, I do; it seems ages since you were here, except on awfully shortvisits."
"Well, in Italy, there was a young man who made me an offer."
"Oh, no, and he didn't do it to me personally, because he told Crumpet Inever gave him the tiniest chance, but he did it to her instead! Wasn'tit funny, and she wept bitterly when she told me, she thought it was herfault."
"And what answer did you give him?" This time his companion smiled.
"I begged Crumpet to tell him Pups had said that he pitied any man whomarried me, as I was such a dasher--you know--and that Aunt Dove said noone would ever propose to _me_ except he wanted my money!"
The man at her side bit his lip and impatiently flipped his horse withhis whip, holding him in tightly at the same time.
"Lady Dove said that!"
"Yes, and of course it's true! Aunt Dove does say the truth now andthen. Don't you see yourself that it's true? I'm not like your cousinor Silvia Hales, or any of the nice girls about! Aunt Dove says Paris,Rome, Berlin, Dresden, and London, have all failed to make me an Englishyoung lady."
"A good thing too!"
"Oh, you say that because we are chums, but I know it's true. I can't_feel_ different, though I've tried. Once a month I say 'make me a newheart' in the Psalms, you know, but nothing happens, so I suppose itisn't possible to alter some people, and I'm one of them."
"No, it's true; Madame Lemoine, at Paris, used to say, 'Il faut toujoursdire la verite en famille,' but to other people it didn't matter. Itold her it was all wrong, but she never could see it my way, so I gaveit up, and she was an old dear in spite of her fibs!"
"She didn't convert you to fibbing, Toney!"
"There you see, I can't alter, but that wasn't what I was going to say.Do you know that last night, dear Uncle Evas--who is really quitecheerful now--and didn't he
They both laughed heartily, and slowly walked their horses on together.If a stranger had seen them he would have paused to look at this pictureof the man and the maid.
"Well, what did your uncle say?"
"Oh, it was funny. He wanted to give me good advice about my coming ofage! He cleared his throat and said, 'My dear Antonia, to-morrow youwill be----' Then I laughed so much that he couldn't help joining intoo, so I just gave him a hug till he begged for mercy."
Her companion also bowed his head over his horse's mane in happylaughter.
"I see, Toney, it's true you _are_ incorrigible!"
"Yes, but really I don't believe you could have been so cruel as to letUncle Dove give you a homily, now, could you? It would only have givenhim a sore throat for a month."
"I should like to have heard him all the same."
"You know he's just all right deep down in his heart, but he can'tpreach to save his life. However, when I released him--Aunt Dove hadgone to bed, and he was so afraid of her hearing us--he showed me a longlist of names, all men's names."
"Good heavens! What for?"
"I was a bit surprised too, and he laughed and said, 'Don't be afraid,they are not suitors,' then I scolded him and said he knew I neverthought of such things. Well, then he explained that as I was cominginto so much money--and do you know somehow it's a lot more than theyexpected--I must have a secretary, because it would take all my time andstrength to open the letters. There's a lot come already, begging me tobuy carpets and boots and smoked bacon, and heaps more things!"
"Never open letters, then you won't want a secretary," said Lewisdecidedly.
"And I said, 'Oh, I can find a girl to do it,' but uncle intimated thatthere was more work than any poor girl could do, and that I must have atrained man--sort of lawyer--Mr. Staines insists on it, because hedoesn't trust me with money--they none of them do--and fancy, dear olduncle had been spending hours collecting a lot of right-minded young menfor me! Isn't it funny?"
"Very unnecessary; the London lawyers could do it all."
"No, they say they can't be bothered about begging letters, and so on;anyhow, I've got to have a secretary. I looked at the list and theirtestimonials and oh, do you know, everyone was perfect, and all theirfriends declared there was not a fault in them, so I told uncle itdidn't matter which I took, and I suggested we should put their names onslips of paper and stick them up in his hat and pull one out!"
"Did he consent?"
"No! he was afraid I should tell of him I think, anyhow I had to choose,and there was one with an Australian uncle who recommended him highly.Out there we always recommended our relations, it wasn't neighbourly notto say all the good and leave out all the bad, so I told uncle I'd havehim. Plantagenet Russell, that's his name. His father was a blacksheep out home, but his uncle says he is most gentlemanly!"
"Toney, how ridiculous! Of course he's a plant too!"
"Gracious stars! what's the matter? I told you Uncle Dove had writtenabout them all, he's all right and he's coming the day after to-morrowto see us, so as to avoid the coming of age party. You've promised tocome, haven't you? I've been working so hard to get everything rightfor it."
"Of course, we are all coming."
"Heaps of Aunt Dove's friends are coming. We haven't had one refusal.Awfully kind of them, though of course I would much rather some of themdidn't come, it's only to see if I've improved."
"Shall I stay away?"
"Why it would not be coming of age without you and Crumpet and UncleDove and Doctor Latham, and a few more--and Jim's coming to be mycoachman and groom all in one, because Aunt Dove doesn't want to payanything for me now I'm rich. Jim is just a faithful friend, and he'sstill engaged to his second young woman, the first was a bit fast so hegave her the slip one day."
"How do you know, Toney?"
"Jim and I have corresponded regularly. You see if you just leave go ofthese young fellows they soon forget their promises, besides I kept allhis savings, and he's a nice little lump now in the Savings Bank. Oh,dear, it's tea-time and I must scoot! Mr. Staines is coming to explainthings to me, and there's no end to do, but Crumpet is staying with mein our old rooms, top storey, and she'll help a bit. You should see therooms, I spent all one quarter's pocket money on them, and now they'rereal palatial, at least Crumpet's is; I hate a lot of things, but I putin a big tub and---- Oh! gracious stars! I must go, so good-bye, dearold chum!"
Toney Whitburn held out a strong young hand and her companion graspedit.
"Look here, Toney, if you are in trouble or want anything, anything, youknow--you'll ask me to help you--promise?"
"Of course I will. Haven't I just now asked you about young men andoffers, all because I thought you would know and wouldn't laugh."
"Yes, thank you--and I'll come to-morrow in spite of not being sure Ishall be welcome."
"There! you are telling fibs like Madame, but honest truth, I'd ratherhave you and Jim at my party, than any other men I know."
"Thanks awfully," and with a laugh the two separated. Toney gallopedacross the park, and the Squire was just going to jump the fence when hepaused and looked back at her.
"Oh, Toney, Toney," he said to himself; "when will you understand, buteven if you did I'll never let that horrid old cat say I wanted yourmoney! Hang it all--and now there's a beastly young secretary coming tobe always in her pocket. Sir Evas ought to know better!"