Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

The Seven Darlings

Gouverneur Morris

  Produced by Annie R. McGuire. This book was produced fromscanned images of public domain material from the GooglePrint archive.


  She stood stock-still, in plain view if they had lookedher way]


  * * * * *


  * * * * *


  * * * * *

  A. L. BURT COMPANYPublishersNew YorkPublished by Arrangements with CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS





  Six of the Darlings were girls. The seventh was a young man who lookedlike Galahad and took exquisite photographs. Their father had diedwithin the month, and Mr. Gilpin, the lawyer, had just faced them, infamily assembled, with the lamentable fact that they, who had been sovery, very rich, were now astonishingly poor.

  "My dears," he said, "your poor father made a dreadful botch of hisaffairs. I cannot understand how some men----"

  "Please!" said Mary, who was the oldest. "It can't be any satisfactionto know why we are poor. Tell us just how poor we are, and we'll makethe best of it. I understand that The Camp isn't involved in the generalwreck."

  "It isn't," said Mr. Gilpin, "but you will have to sell it, or at least,rent it. Outside The Camp, when all the estate debts are paid, therewill be thirty or forty thousand dollars to be divided among you."

  "In other words--_nothing_," said Mary; "I have known my father to spendmore in a month."

  "Income--" began Mr. Gilpin.

  "_Dear_ Mr. Gilpin," said Gay, who was the youngest by twenty minutes;"don't."

  "Forty thousand dollars," said Mary, "at four per cent is sixteenhundred. Sixteen hundred divided by seven is how much?"

  "Nothing," said Gay promptly. And all the family laughed, except Arthur,who was trying to balance a quill pen on his thumb.

  "I might," said Mr. Gilpin helplessly, "be able to get you five per centor even five and a half."

  "You forget," said Maud, the second in age, and by some thought thefirst in beauty, "that we are father's children. Do you think _he_ evertroubled his head about five and a half per cent, or even," she finishedmischievously, "six?"

  Arthur, having succeeded in balancing the quill for a few moments, laidit down and entered the discussion.

  "What has been decided?" he asked. His voice was very gentle anduninterested.

  "It's an awful pity mamma isn't in a position to help us," said Eve.

  Eve was the third. After her, Arthur had been born; and then, all on abright summer's morning, the triplets, Lee, Phyllis, and Gay.

  "That old scalawag mamma married," said Lee, "spends all her money onhis old hunting trips."

  "Where is the princess at the moment?" asked Mr. Gilpin.

  "They're in Somaliland," said Lee. "They almost took me. If they had, Ishouldn't have called Oducalchi an old scalawag. You know the mostdismal thing, when mamma and papa separated and _she_ married _him_, washis turning out to be a regular old-fashioned brick. He can throw a flyyards further and lighter than any man _I_ ever saw."

  "And if you are bored," said Phyllis, "you say to him, 'Say somethingfunny, Prince,' and he always can, instantly, without hesitation."

  "All things considered," said Gay, "mamma's been a very lucky girl."

  "Still," said Mary, "the fact remains that she's in no position tosupport us in the lap of luxury."

  "Our kid brother," said Gay, "the future Prince Oducalchi, will need allshe's got. When you realize that that child will have something likefifty acres of slate roofs to keep in order, it sets you thinking."

  "One thing I insist on," said Maud, "mamma shan't be bothered by a lotof hard-luck stories----"

  "Did it ever occur to you, Mr. Gilpin," said Arthur, in his gentlevoice, "that my sisters are the six sandiest and most beautiful girls inthe world? I've been watching them out of the corner of my eye, andwishing to heaven that I were Romney or Gainsborough. I'd give a milliondollars, if I had them, for their six profiles, immortally painted in arow. But nowadays if a boy has the impulse to be a painter, he is givena camera; or if he wishes to be a musician, he is presented with apianola. Luxury is the executioner of art. Personally I am so glad thatI am going to be poor that I don't know what to do."

  "Aren't you sorry for us, Artie?" asked Gay.

  "Very," said he; "and I don't like to be called Artie."

  * * * * *

  Immediately after their father's funeral the Darlings had hurried off totheir camp on New Moon Lake. An Adirondack "camp" has much in commonwith a Newport "cottage." The Darlings' was no exception. There wasnothing camp-like about it except its situation and the rough barkslats with which the sides of its buildings were covered. There werevery many buildings. There was Darling House, in which the family hadtheir sleeping-rooms and bathrooms and dressing-rooms. There was Guide'sHouse, where the guides, engineers, and handy men slept and cooked, andloafed in rainy weather. A passageway, roofed but open at the sides, ledfrom Darling House to Dining House--one vast room, in the midst of whichan oval table which could be extended to seat twenty was almost lost.Heads of moose, caribou, and elk (not "caught" in the Adirondacks)looked down from the walls. Another room equally large adjoined this. Itcontained tables covered with periodicals; two grand pianos (so thatMary and Arthur could play duets without "bumping"); many deep and easychairs, and a fireplace so large that when it was half filled withroaring logs it looked like the gates of hell, and was so called.

  Pantry House and Bar House led from Dining House to Smoke House, wherean olive-faced chef, all in white, was surrounded by burnished copperand a wonderful collection of blue and white.

  There was Work House with its bench, forge, and lathe for working woodand iron; Power House adjoining; and on the slopes of the mountain backof the camp, Spring House, from which water, ice-cold, at high pressuredescended to circulate in the elaborate plumbing of the camp.

  For guests, there were little houses apart--Rest House, twosleeping-rooms, a bath and a sitting-room; Lone House, in which oneperson could sleep, keep clean, write letters, or bask on a tiny balconythrust out between the stems of two pine-trees and overhanging deepwater; Bachelor House, to accommodate six of that questionable species.And placed here and there among pines that had escaped the attacks ofnature and the greed of man were half a dozen other diminutive houses,accommodating from two to four persons.

  The Camp was laid out like a little village. It had its streets, pavedwith pine-needles, its street lamps.

  It had grown from simple beginnings with the Darling fortune; with thepassing of this, it remained, in all its vast and intricate elaboration,like a white elephant upon the family's hands. From time to time theyhad tried the effect of giving the place a name, but had always comeback to "The Camp." As such it was known the length and breadth of theNorth Woods. It was _The_ Camp, par excellence, in a region devoted tocamps and camping.

  "Other people," the late Mr. Darling once remarked, "have more land, butnobody else has quite as much camp."

  The property itself consisted of a long, narrow peninsula thrust far outinto New Moon Lake, with half a mountain rising from its base. With theexception of a small village at the outlet of the lake, all theremaining lands belonged to the State, and since the State had noimmediate use for them and since the average two weeks' campers couldnot get at them without much portage and expense, they were regarded bythe Darlings as their own private preserves.

  "The Camp," said Mr. Gilpin, "is, of course, a big asset. It is uniqu
e,and it is celebrated, at least among the people who might have the meansto purchase it and open it. You could ask, and in time, I think, get avery large price."

  They were gathered in the playroom. Mary, very tall and beautiful, wasstanding with her back to the fireplace.

  "Mr. Gilpin," she said, "I have been coming to The Camp off and on fortwenty-eight years. I will never consent to its being sold."

  "Nor I," said Maud. "Though I've only been coming for twenty-six."

  "In twenty-four years," said Eve, "I have formed an attachment to theplace which nothing can break."

  "Arthur," appealed Mr. Gilpin, "perhaps you have some sense."

  "I?" said Arthur. "Why? Twenty-two years ago I was born here."

  "Good old Arthur!" exclaimed the triplets. "We were born here, too--justnineteen years ago."

  "But," objected Mr. Gilpin, "you can't run the place--you can't livehere. Confound it, you young geese, you can't even pay the taxes."

  Lee whispered to Gay.

  "Look at Mary!"


  "She's got a look of father in her eyes--father going down to WallStreet to raise Cain."

  Mary spoke very slowly.

  "Mr. Gilpin," she said, "you are an excellent estate lawyer, and I amvery fond of you. But you know nothing about finance. We are going tolive here whenever we please. We are going to run it wide open, asfather did. We are even going to pay the taxes."

  Mr. Gilpin was exasperated.

  "Then you'll have to take boarders," he flung at her.

  "Exactly," said Mary.

  There was a short silence.

  "How do you know," said Gay, "that they won't pick their teeth inpublic? I couldn't stand that."

  "They won't be that kind," said Mary grimly. "And they will be so busypaying their bills that they won't have time."

  "Seriously," said Arthur, "are you going to turn The Camp into an inn?"

  "No," said Mary, "not into an inn. It has always been _The_ Camp. Weshall turn it into _The_ Inn."