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The Girl From His Town

Marie Van Vorst

  Produced by Roger Frank and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at






  COPYRIGHT 1910 The Bobbs-Merrill Company



  CHAPTER PAGE I Dan Blair 1 II The Duchess Approves 21 III The Blairtown Soloist 28 IV In The Coral Room 31 V At The Carlton 47 VI Galorey Seeks Advice 55 VII At The Stage Entrance 70 VIII Dan's Simplicity 76 IX Disappointment 85 X The Boy From My Town 94 XI Ruggles Gives a Dinner 109 XII The Green Knight 128 XIII The Face of Letty Lane 135 XIV From India's Coral Strands 155 XV Galorey Gives Advice 174 XVI The Musicale Program 187 XVII Letty Lane Sings 199 XVIII A Woman's Way 207 XIX Dan Awakes 214 XX A Hand Clasp 225 XXI Ruggles Returns 231 XXII What Will You Take? 234 XXIII In the Sunset Glow 242 XXIV Ruggles' Offer 250 XXV Letty Lane Runs Away 268 XXVI White and Coral 274 XXVII At Maxim's 290 XXVIII Such Stuff as Dreams 299 XXIX The Picture of It All 304 XXX Sodawater Fountain Girl 309 XXXI In Reality 315 XXXII The Prince Accepts 319 XXXIII The Things Above Ground 322



  The fact that much he said, because of his unconscionable slang, wasincomprehensible did not take from the charm of his conversation as faras the Duchess of Breakwater was concerned. The brightness of hisexpression, his quick, clear look upon them, his beautiful young smile,his not too frequent laugh, his "new gayness," as the duchess called hishigh spirits, his supernal youth, his _difference_, credited him withwhat nine-tenths of the human race lack--charm.

  His tone was not too crudely western; neither did he suggest the ultraEast with which they were familiar. American women went down well enoughwith them, but American men were unpopular, and when the visitorarrived, Lady Galorey did not even announce him to the party gatheredfor "the first shoot."

  The others were in the armory when the ninth gun, a young chap, six feetof him, blond as the wheat, cleanly set up and very good to look at,came in with Lily, Duchess of Breakwater. Lady Galorey, his hostess,greeted them.

  "Oh, here you are, are you? Lord Mersey, Sir John Fairthrope." Shemumbled the rest of the names of her companions as though she did notwant them understood, then waved toward the young chap, calling him Mr.Dan Blair, and he, as she hesitated, added:

  "From Blairtown, Montana."

  "And give him a gun, will you, Gordon?" Lady Galorey spoke to herhusband.

  "I discovered Mr. Blair, Edie," the duchess announced, "and he didn'teven know there was a shoot on for to-day. Fancy!"

  "I guess," Dan Blair said pleasantly, "I'll just take a gun out of thisbunch," and he chose one at random from several indicated to him by thegamekeeper. "I get my best luck when I go it blind. Right! Thanks.That's so, Lady Galorey, I didn't know there was to be any shootinguntil the duchess let it out."

  To himself he thought with good-natured amusement, "Afraid I'll spoiltheir game record, maybe!" and went out along with them, following theinsular noblemen like a ray of sun, smiling on the pretty woman who haddiscovered him in the grounds where he had been poking about by himself.

  "Where, in Heaven's name, did you 'corral'--word of his own--the dear boy,Edith? How did he get to Osdene Park, or in fact anywhere, just as heis, fresh as from Eden?"

  "Thought I'd let him take you by surprise, dearest. Where'd you findDan?"

  "Down by the garden house feeding the rabbits, on his knees like alittle boy, his hands full of lettuces. I'd just come a cropper myselfon the mare. She fell, I'm sorry to say, Edie, and hacked her kneesquite a lot. One of those disguised ditches, you know. I was comingalong leading her when I ran on your friend."

  The young duchess was slender as a willow, very brunette, with abeautiful, discontented face.

  "I'm going to show Dan Blair off," Lady Galorey responded, "going togive the debutantes a chance."

  Placidly nodding, the duchess lit a cigarette and began to quote fromDan Blair's conversation: "I fancy he won't let them 'worry him'; he'stoo 'busy!'"

  "You mean that you're going to keep him occupied?"

  The duchess didn't notice this.

  "_Is_ he such a catch?"

  Neither of the women had walked out with the guns. The duchess had a badfoot, and Lady Galorey never went anywhere she could help with herhusband. She now drew her chair up to the table in the morning-room, towhich they had both gone after the departure of the guns, and regardedwith satisfaction a quantity of stationery and the red leather deskappointments.

  "Sit down and smoke if you like, Lily; I'm going to fill out somelists."

  "No, thanks, I'm going up to my rooms and get Parkins to 'massey' thisbeastly foot of mine. I must have fallen on it. But tell me first, isMr. Blair a catch?"

  Lady Galorey had opened an address book and looked up from it to reply:

  "Something like ten million pounds."

  "Heavens! Disgusting!"

  "The richest young man 'west of some river or other.' At any rate hetold me last night that it was 'clean money.' I dare say the river isresponsible for its cleanliness, but that fact seemed to give himsatisfaction."

  The duchess was leaning on the table at Lady Galorey's side.

  "Dan's father took Gordon all over the West that time he went to theStates for a big hunt in the Rockies. He got to know Mr. Blair awfullywell and liked him. The old gentleman bought a little property aboutthat time that turned out to be a gold mine."

  With persistency the duchess said:

  "How d'you know it is 'clean money,' Edith? Not that it makes a rap ofdifference," she laughed prettily, "but how do you know that he is richto this horrible extent?"

  Lady Galorey put down her address book impatiently: "Does he look likean impostor?"

  The other returned: "Even the archangel fell, my dear Edith!"

  "Well," returned her friend, "this one is too young to have fallen far,"and she shut up her list in desperation.

  The duchess sat down on the edge of the lounge and raised her expressiveeyes to Lady Galorey, who once more looked at her sarcastically, andwent on:

  "Gordon liked the old gentleman: he w
as extraordinarily generous--quite atype. They called the town after him--Blairtown: that is where the son'hails from.' He was a little lad when Gordon was out and Mr. Blairpromised that Dan should come over here and see us one day, and this,"she tapped the table with her pen, "seems to be the day, for he camedown upon us in this breezy way without even sending a wire, 'justturned up' last night. Gordon's mad about him. His father has been deada year, and he is just twenty-two."

  "Good heavens!" murmured the duchess. Lady Galorey opened her addressbook again.

  "Gordon's got him terribly on his mind, my dear; he has forbidden anygambling or any bridge as long as the boy is with us...."

  Her companion rose and thrust her hands into the pocket of her tweedcoat. She laughed softly, then went over to the long window wherewithout, across the pane, the early winter mists were flying, chased bya furtive sun.

  "Gordon said that the boy's father treated him like a king, and thatwhile the boy is here he is going to look out for him."

  Over her shoulder the other threw out coldly:

  "You speak as though he were in a den of thieves. I didn't know Gordon'shonor was so fine. As for me, _I_ don't gamble, you know."

  Lady Galorey had decided that Lily's insistent remaining gave her achance to fill her fountain pen. She was, therefore, carefully squirtingin the ink, and she flushed at her friend's last words.

  Lady Galorey herself was the best bridge player in London, and cardswere her passion. She did not remind the lady in the window that therewere other games besides bridge, but kept both her tongue and hertemper.

  After a little silence in which the women followed each her ownthoughts, the duchess murmured:

  "I'll toddle up-stairs, Edie--let you write. Where did you say we weregoing to meet the guns for food?"

  "At the gate by the White Pastures. There'll be a cart and a motorgoing, whichever you like, around two."

  "Right," her grace nodded; "I'll be on time, dearest."

  And Lady Galorey with a relieved sigh heard the door close behind theduchess. Wiping her fountain pen delicately with a bit of chamois, shemurmured: "Well, Dan Blair _is_ out of Eden, poor dear, if he met her bythe gate."

  A fortune of a round ten million pounds was a small part of what thisyoung man had come into by direct inheritance from the Copper King ofBlairtown, Montana. For once the money figure had not been exaggerated,but Lady Galorey did not know about the rest of Dan's inheritance.

  * * * * *

  The young man whistling in his rooms in the bachelor quarters of OsdenePark House, dressed for dinner without the aid of a valet. When LordGalorey had asked him "where his manservant was," Dan had grinned."Gosh, I wouldn't have one of those Johnnies hanging around me--never didhave! I can put on _my_ stockings all right! There was a chap on theboat I came over in who let his man put on his stockings. Can you beatthat?" Blair had laughed again. "I think if anybody tickled my feet thatway I would be likely to kick him in the eye."

  Dressing in his room he whistled under his breath a song from a newlypopular comic opera; and he intoned with his clear young voice a line ofthe words:


  Out through his high window, if he had looked, he would have seen themisty sweep of the park under the faint moonrise and fine shadows thatthe leaves made in the veiled light, but he did not look out. He wasdressing for dinner without a valet and giving a great deal of care tohis toilet; for the first time he was to dine in the house of a noblemanand in the presence of a duchess; not that it meant a great deal tohim--he thought it was "funny."

  In Dan Blair's twenty-two years of utterly happy days his one grief hadbeen the death of his father. As soon as the old man had died Dan hadgone off into the Rockies with his guides and not "shown up" for months.When he came back to Blairtown, as he expressed it, "he packed his gripand beat it while his shoes were good," for the one place he couldremember his father had suggested for him to go.

  Blairtown was very much impressed when the heir came in from the Rockieswith "a big kill," and the orphan's case did not seem especiallydisturbed. But no one in the town knew how the boy's heart ached for theold man. When Dan was six years old his father had literally picked himup by the nape of his neck and thrown him into the water like a pup andwatched him swim. At eight he sent the boy off with a gun to rough-camp.Then he took Dan down in the mines with the men. His education had beenwon in Blairtown, at a school called public, but which in reality wasnothing more than a pioneer district school.

  On Sundays Dan dressed up and went with his father to church twice a dayand in the week-days his father took him to the prayer-meetings, and atsixteen Dan went to college in California. He had just completed hiscourse when old Blair died. Then he inherited fifty million dollars.

  On the day of the shoot at Osdene, Dan dropped sixty birds. He triedvery hard not to be too pleased. "Gosh," he thought to himself, "thosebirds fell as though they were trained all right, and the other sportswere mad, I could see it." He then fell to whistling softly the air hehad heard Lady Galorey play the night before from the new success at theGaiety, and finished it as his toilet completed itself. He took up agardenia from his dressing-table, and fastened it in his coat, stoppingon the stairs on the way down to look over into the hall, where the menin their black clothes and the women in their shining dresses waitedbefore going into the dining-room. The lights fell on white arms andnecks, on jewels and on fine proud heads. Dan Blair had been in SanFrancisco and in New York, on short journeys, however, which his father,the year before, had directed him to take, but he had never seen a"show" like this.

  He came slowly down the broad stairway of the Osdene Park House, thelast guest. In the corner, where, behind her, a piece of fourteenthcentury tapestry cut a green and pink square against the rich black oakpaneling, the Duchess of Breakwater sat waiting. She wore a dress ofgolden tulle which was simply a sheath to her slender body, and from herneck hung a long rope of diamonds caught at the end by a small blackfan; there was a wreath of diamonds like shining water drops linkedtogether in her hair. She was the grandest lady at Osdene, and renownedin more than one sense of the word. As Dan saw her smile at him andrise, he thought:

  "She is none too sorry that I made _that_ record, but I hope to heavenshe won't say anything to me about it."

  And the duchess did not speak of it. Telling him that he was to take herin to dinner, she laid first her fan on his arm and then her hand. AndDan, one of those fortunate creatures who are born men of the world whenthey get into it, gave her his arm with much grace, and as he leaneddown toward her he thought to himself:

  "Well, it's lucky for me I have my head on tight; a few more of thosegoo-goo eyes of hers and it would be as well for me to light out for thewoods."

  * * * * *

  Dan liked best at Osdene Park his chin-chins with Gordon Galorey. Theyoung man was unflatteringly frank in his choice of companions. When theduchess looked about for him to ride with her, walk with her, to findthe secluded corners, to talk, to play with him, she was likely todiscover Dan gone off with Lord Galorey, and to come upon them later,sitting enveloped in smoke, a stand of drinks by their side.

  To Galorey, who had no heir or child, the boy's presence proved to bethe happiest thing that had come to him for a long time. He talked agreat deal to Dan about the old man. Galorey was poor and the fact of afortune of ten million pounds possessed by this one boy was continuallybefore his mind like an obsession. It was like looking down into a goldmine. Galorey tried often to broach the subject of money, but Dan keptoff. At length Galorey asked boldly:

  "What are you going to do with it?" On this occasion they were walkingover from the lower park back to the house, a couple of terriers attheir heels.

  "Do with what?" Blair asked innocently. He was looking at the trees. Hewas comparing their grayish green trunks and their foliage with theCalifornia redwoods. A little taken aback, Lord Galorey laughed.
r />   "Why, with that colossal fortune of yours."

  And Blair answered unhesitatingly: "Oh--spend it on some girl sooner orlater."

  Galorey fairly staggered. Then he took it humorously.

  "My dear chap, I never saw a sweeter, bigger man than your father. If hehad been my father, I dare say I might have pulled off a different yardof hemp, but I must confess that I think he has left you too muchmoney."

  "Well, there are a lot of fellows who are ready to look after it forme," Blair answered coolly. Before his companion could redden, hecontinued: "You see, dad took care of me for twenty-one years all right,and whenever I am up a stump, why all I have to do is to remember thethings he did."

  For the first time since his arrival at Osdene Dan's tone was serious.Interested as he was in the older man, Dan's inclination was to evadethe discussion of serious subjects. With Blair's slang, his conversationwas almost incomprehensible.

  "Dad didn't gas much," the boy said, "but I could draw a map of some ofthe things he did say. He used to say he made his money out of theearth."

  The two were walking side by side across the rich velvet of theimmemorial English turf. The extreme softness of the autumn day, itsshifting lights, its mellow envelope, the beauty of the park--the age,the stability, the harmony, served to touch the young fellow's spirits.At any rate there was a ring in him, an equilibrium that surprisedGalorey.

  "'Most things,' dad said to me, 'go back to the earth.'" He struck theEnglish turf with his stick. "Dad said a fellow had better buy thosethings that stay above the ground." Dan smiled frankly at his companion."Curious thing to say, wasn't it?" he reflected. "I remembered it, and Igot to wondering after I saw him buried, '_what are_ the things thatstay above the ground?' The old man never gave me another talk likethat."

  After a few seconds Galorey put in:

  "But, my dear chap, you did give me a shock up there just now when yousaid you were going to spend 'all your money on some girl.'"

  The millionaire took a chestnut from his pocket. He held it high abovehis head and the little dog that had been yelping at his heels fixed hiseyes on it. Blair poised it, then threw it as far as he could. It spedthrough the air and the terrier ran like mad across the park.

  "I like girls awfully, Gordon, and when I find the right one, why, thenI'm going to feel what a bully thing it is to be rich."

  Lord Galorey groaned aloud.

  "My dear chap!" he exclaimed.

  The spell of the day, the fragrant beauty of the time and place and hourwere clearly upon Dan Blair. Lord Galorey was sympathetic to him. Theterrier came tearing back with the chestnut held between his thick jaws.Dan bent down to take the nut from the dog and wrestled with him gently.

  "Swell little grip he's got. Nice old pup! Let it go now!" And he threwthe nut far again, and as the terrier ran once more Blair thrust hishands down in his pockets and began softly to whistle the tune of_Mandalay_.

  He said slowly, going back to his subject: "It must be great to feelthat a fellow can give her jewels like the Duchess of Breakwater's,ropes of 'em"--he nodded toward the house--"and a fine old place like thisnow, and motors and yachts and all kinds of stuff."

  His eyes rested on the suave lines of the Elizabethan house, with itssoftened gables and its banked terraces. Possibly his vivid imaginationpictured "some nice girl" there waiting, as they should come up, to meethim.

  "I have always thought it would be bully to find a poor girl--pretty as apeach, of course--one who had never had much, and just cover her withthings. Hey, there!" he cried to the terrier, who had come running back,"bring it to me."

  They had come up to the terrace by this, and Dan's confidence, fresh asa gush of water from a rock, had ceased. His face was placid. He didn'trealize what he had said.

  From out of one of the long windows, dressed in a sable coat, her smallhead tied up in a motor scarf, the Duchess of Breakwater appeared. Shegreeted them severely, and Lord Galorey hear her say under her breath toDan:

  "You promised to be back to drive with me before dinner, Dan. Did youforget?"

  And as Galorey left the boy to make his peace, the first smile ofamusement broke over his face. He felt that the duchess had between herand her capture of Dan Blair's heart the elusive picture of some "nicegirl"--not much perhaps, but it might be very hard to tear away thepicture of the ideal that was ever before the blue eyes of this man whohad a fortune to spend on her!