Aunt Jane's Nieces/Chapter 28

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Uncle John reached Willing Square before Patsy and her father returned, but soon afterward they arrived in an antiquated carriage surrounded by innumerable bundles.

"The driver's a friend of mine," explained the Major, "and he moved us for fifty cents, which is less than half price. We didn't bring a bit of the furniture or beds, for there's no place here to put them; but as the rent at Becker's flat is paid to the first of next month, we'll have plenty of time to auction 'em all off."

The rest of the day was spent most delightfully in establishing themselves in the new home. It didn't take the girl long to put her few belongings into the closets and drawers, but there were a thousand little things to examine in the rooms and she made some important discovery at every turn.

"Daddy," she said, impressively, "it must have cost a big fortune to furnish these little rooms. They're full of very expensive things, and none of the grand houses Madam Borne has sent me to is any finer than ours. I'm sure the place is too good for us, who are working people. Do you think we ought to stay here?"

"The Doyles," answered the Major, very seriously, "are one of the greatest and most aristocratic families in all Ireland, which is the most aristocratic country in the world. If I only had our pedigree I could prove it to you easily. There's nothing too good for an Irish gentleman, even if he condescends to bookkeeping to supply the immediate necessities of life; and as you're me own daughter, Patricia, though a Merrick on your poor sainted mother's side, you're entitled to all you can get honestly. Am I right, Uncle John, or do I flatter myself?"

Uncle John stroked the girl's head softly.

"You are quite right," he said. "There is nothing too good for a brave, honest girl who's heart is in the right place."

"And that's Patsy," declared the Major, as if the question were finally settled.

On Monday morning Mary had a dainty breakfast all ready for them at seven o'clock, and Patsy and her father departed with light hearts for their work. Uncle John rode part way down town with them.

"I'm going to buy my new suit, today, and a new necktie," he said.

"Don't let them rob you," was Patsy's parting injunction. "Is your money all safe? And if you buy a ten dollar suit of clothes the dealer ought to throw in the necktie to bind the bargain. And see that they're all wool, Uncle John."

"What, the neckties?"

"No, the clothes. Good-bye, and don't be late to dinner. Mary might scold."

"I'll remember. Good-bye, my dear."

Patsy was almost singing for joy when she walked into Madam Borne's hair-dressing establishment.

"Don't take off your things," said the Madam, sharply, "Your services are no longer required."

Patsy looked at her in amazement. Doubtless she hadn't heard aright.

"I have another girl in your place," continued Madam Borne, "so I'll bid you good morning."

Patsy's heart was beating fast.

"Do you mean I'm discharged?" she asked, with a catch in her voice.

"That's it precisely."

"Have I done anything wrong, Madam?"

"It isn't that," said Madam, pettishly. "I simply do not require your services. You are paid up to Saturday night, and I owe you nothing. Now, run along."

Patsy stood looking at her and wondering what to do. To lose this place was certainly a great calamity.

"You'll give me a testimonial, won't you, Madam?" she asked, falteringly.

"I don't give testimonials," was the reply. "Do run away, child; I'm very busy this morning."

Patsy went away, all her happiness turned to bitter grief. What would the Major say, and what were they to do without her wages? Then she remembered Willing Square, and was a little comforted. Money was not as necessary now as it had been before.

Nevertheless, she applied to one or two hair-dressers for employment, and met with abrupt refusals. They had all the help they needed. So she decided to go back home and think it over, before taking further action.

It was nearly ten o'clock when she fitted her pass-key into the carved door of Apartment D, and when she entered the pretty living-room she found an elderly lady seated there, who arose to greet her.

"Miss Doyle?" enquired the lady.

"Yes, ma'am," said Patsy.

"I am Mrs. Wilson, and I have been engaged to give you private instruction from ten to twelve every morning."

Patsy plumped down upon a chair and looked her amazement.

"May I ask who engaged you?" she ventured to enquire.

"A gentleman from the bank of Isham, Marvin & Co. made the arrangement. May I take off my things?"

"If you please," said the girl, quietly. Evidently this explained why Madam Borne had discharged her so heartlessly. The gentleman from Isham, Marvin & Co. had doubtless interviewed the Madam and told her what to do. And then, knowing she would be at liberty, he had sent her this private instructor.

The girl felt that the conduct of her life had been taken out of her own hands entirely, and that she was now being guided and cared for by her unknown friend and benefactor. And although she was inclined to resent the loss of her independence, at first, her judgment told her it would not only be wise but to her great advantage to submit.

She found Mrs. Wilson a charming and cultivated lady, who proved so gracious and kindly that the girl felt quite at ease in her presence. She soon discovered how woefully ignorant Patsy was, and arranged a course of instruction that would be of most benefit to her.

"I have been asked to prepare you to enter a girls' college," she said, "and if you are attentive and studious I shall easily accomplish the task."

Patsy invited her to stay to luncheon, which Mary served in the cosy dining-room, and then Mrs. Wilson departed and left her alone to think over this new example of her unknown friend's thoughtful care.

At three o'clock the door-bell rang and Mary ushered in another strange person—a pretty, fair-haired young lady, this time, who said she was to give Miss Doyle lessons on the piano.

Patsy was delighted. It was the one accomplishment she most longed to acquire, and she entered into the first lesson with an eagerness that made her teacher smile approvingly.

Meantime the Major was having his own surprises. At the office the manager met him on his arrival and called him into his private room.

"Major Doyle," said he, "it is with great regret that we part with you, for you have served our house most faithfully."

The Major was nonplussed.

"But," continued the manager, "our bankers, Messers. Isham, Marvin & Co., have asked us to spare you for them, as they have a place requiring a man of your abilities where you can do much better than with us. Take this card, sir, and step over to the bankers and enquire for Mr. Marvin. I congratulate you, Major Doyle, on your advancement, which I admit is fully deserved."

The Major seemed dazed. Like a man walking in a dream he made his way to the great banking house, and sent in the card to Mr. Marvin.

That gentleman greeted him most cordially.

"We want you to act as special auditor of accounts," said he. "It is a place of much responsibility, but your duties will not be arduous. You will occupy Private Office No. 11, and your hours are only from 10 to 12 each morning. After that you will be at liberty. The salary, I regret to say, is not commensurate with your value, being merely twenty-four hundred a year; but as you will have part of the day to yourself you will doubtless be able to supplement that sum in other ways. Is this satisfactory, sir?"

"Quite so," answered the Major. Twenty-four hundred a year! And only two hours' work! Quite satisfactory, indeed!

His little office was very cosy, too; and the work of auditing the accounts of the most important customers of the house required accuracy but no amount of labor. It was an ideal occupation for a man of his years and limited training.

He stayed in the office until two o'clock that day, in order to get fully acquainted with the details of his work. Then he closed his desk, went to luncheon, which he enjoyed amazingly, and then decided to return to Willing Square and await Patsy's return from Madam Borne's.

As he let himself in he heard an awkward drumming and strumming on the piano, and peering slyly through the opening in the portierre he was startled to find Patsy herself making the dreadful noise, while a pretty girl sat beside her directing the movements of her fingers.

The Major watched for several minutes, in silent but amazed exultation; then he tiptoed softly to his room to smoke a cigar and wait until his daughter was at liberty to hear his great news and explain her own adventures.

When Uncle John came home to dinner he found father and daughter seated happily together in a loving embrace, their faces wreathed with ecstatic smiles that were wonderful to behold.

Uncle John was radiant in a brand new pepper-and-salt suit of clothes that fitted his little round form perfectly. Patsy marvelled that he could get such a handsome outfit for the money, for Uncle John had on new linen and a new hat and even a red-bordered handkerchief for the coat pocket—besides the necktie, and the necktie was of fine silk and in the latest fashion.

The transformation was complete, and Uncle John had suddenly become an eminently respectable old gentleman, with very little to criticise in his appearance.

"Do I match the flat, now?" he asked.

"To a dot!" declared Patsy. "So come to dinner, for it's ready and waiting, and the Major and I have some wonderful fairy tales to tell you."