Sunday Story, Part 4: “The Best is Yet to Be”

Summary of preceding chapters: Hope Damon consents to marry Anthony Vance when she learns at their first meeting that, by the terms of his uncle’s will, he must lose his fortune to his enemy, Wilfred Logan, if he does not marry that day by noon. Cecile Talmadge, Vance’s promised bride, has jilted him for Logan. Hope accepts five thousand dollars from Vance, starts a tearoom in Maine, and does not see her husband for more than a year. Meanwhile Cecil and Logan have not married, and Logan has fallen desperately in love with Hope, who calls herself “Miss Stanton.” As Hope scorns Logan, he determines to spoil Vance’s political chances in the latter’s fight for a senatorship.

“I won’t fail. I’ll take the night train.”

Chapter IX

“Miss Hope Stanton,” the postman read aloud. “I guess that’s yourn, if thet’s your name?”

She drew out the sheets from the envelope and looked at the signature, “John Gilman.” Her breath came hurriedly as she began to read:

“My dear Hope–Close the Harvest Moon; come to New York; buy some togs suitable for the wife of a plutocrat, then tell Tony that you are ready to help him as a true partner should.

“I don’t like Tony’s friendship with Cecile. I’m afraid of her and I’m infernally afraid of Logan! He is very suave and smiling, but he’s got it in for Van. I met Tony coming-out of a jeweler’s shop to-day. Just as he left, Logan sidled out behind him. Oh, of course, you’ll exclaim in your cool-headed way, ‘Why shouldn’t Logan go to a jeweler’s as well as Vance?’ Well, it was his manner which made me suspicious. I’ll bet a hat that he didn’t want Tony to see him.

“Don’t waste time considering my proposition. You’re needed here and you’re needed quick.

“Faithfully yours, John Gilman.”

Hope looked back at the date of the letter. It had been written the day before. The fog settled closer about her. She was glad to get into the house.

But she was startled when her maid Susan announced a caller. It proved to be Vance’s man, Jasper.

“My instructions are to give you this, Miss Stanton–have you sign a receipt for it and to leave before you open the package.”

He was very crisp, very decided. Hope suppressed a smile as she recognized his employer’s traits of manner.

“I have just ten minutes in which to get the New York train.”

The girl signed the receipt and gave it to him.

“Thank you. Good-afternoon, Miss Stanton.”

Hope stared after him, rubbed her eyes and gave an incredulous laugh. She turned the package over and over in her hands, eyeing it doubtfully. There was a note under the wrapper, then a wooden box, then white tissue paper, then a white velvet case. She gave a long-drawn “O-o-h!” of surprise and opened it.

A string of pearls lay revealed. Exquisite in color, perfectly matched, they gleamed against the soft background. A diamond, set in a circle of the same stones, formed the clasp.

Dear Hope–You agreed to be friends. These pearls made me think of you. Please keep them. Why shouldn’t I make you a gift? Once–a while ago–you didn’t hesitate to help me. Keep the pearls and wear them.

Yours,

Anthony Vance

Three times Hope read the note through. She shook her head and smiled.

“They would become you, my dear. But you can’t keep them!” With a little sigh of regret she laid the costly gift back in its velvet bed.

Enjoying her rare holiday, Hope drew her big chair near the reading lamp in the living room, curled up in it with one foot under her and gazed absent-mindedly into the fire.

A long, insistent ring on the telephone roused her from her revery.

“Yes. This is Miss Stanton. Long distance? Very well, I’ll hold the line.”

In the few moments of suspense she imagined what might have happened to Jim, to Bobsy, to Elsie, then she heard John Gilman’s voice. She breathed a sigh of relief with her answer:

“Yes. Yes, Mr. Gilman, I received it. New developments? Serious?” there was a frightened note in her voice. “Yes, I can.” “No. I won’t fail. I’ll take the night train.””‘Better close the bungalow?’ But, Mr. Gilman—Mr. Gilman—Mr. G—, why he’s rung off,” she exclaimed indignantly.

What could have happened? It couldn’t be Jim? She caught a glimpse of the lawyer’s letter, the sheets of which had scattered on the floor when she had jumped from her chair to answer the telephone. The last sentence stared up at her.

It must be Tony, she thought, with a little sickening fear at her heart.

“Can I do it?” she thought. “Shall I?”

She stood there motionless till the maid entered in response to her ring.

“Susan, I shall take the night train for New York. Get some one to help you, have Sarah close the house, then come to me in the city,” she directed.

The woman’s mouth opened in surprise.

“Isn’t it quite sudden, Miss Stanton?”

“Quite. Have your supper, then come and help me pack.”

As the maid left the room Hope smiled her quick radiant smile. “Quite sudden?” she mimicked. “Rather. ‘I’m needed and I’m needed quick.'”

Chapter X

“Sunset, Montclair,” George Inness

Anthony Vance was dressed for dinner and he looked impatiently from time to time at the face of the tall clock which ticked ponderously in a corner of the library. Logs blazed on the hearth before which a white collie lay, his head flat on his paws.

The man’s glance traveled around the room. It was very solemn, very luxurious. Bookshelves on all sides rose almost to the ceiling. Over the fireplace, the crimson and gold of an Inness sunset glowed like a gem against the mahogany paneling. The heavy hangings at the windows were drawn; the glow from softly shaded lamps brought out the warm colors in the great Persian rug.

With another impatient look at the clock, Vance walked over to the flat-topped desk in the center of the room. He lifted a miniature which stood upon it and smiled down at the beautiful face tenderly.

“You always understood, Mother. I wonder if you understand now?” he murmured.

The gray eyes so like his own gazed steadily back at him; the red lips were curved in a suspicion of a smile; the poise of the head held a touch of haughtiness. The son’s brow contracted. He had not yet become accustomed to his aching sense of loss whenever he thought of his mother. His father had died when he was a baby and the young widow had borne for twenty years her burden of grief and loneliness with smiling, unselfish courage. Her soft, musical voice echoed in her son’s heart as he gazed at her.

“Tony, you will be clean and honest, won’t you, dear? Be a fair fighter and live your life according to laws both human and divine. Stand for the things you know meant so much to your father and me. I’ve been a very absorbed mother,” he could hear her whimsical little laugh. “I’ve been told that I should broaden my outlook, but–my boy–I’ve conserved all my strength to help make you the sort of man God wants in His beautiful world. You’ll keep faith with Him and with me, won’t you, if only to prove that your mother’s life has counted in the scheme of things?”

“Mother!” Vance looked at the miniature through a mist of mingled emotions. Love and longing tightened his throat. “Mother, dear, you needn’t fear but that inspiration like yours will count.” He put the picture back in its place, brushed his hand across his eyes and looked again impatiently at the clock. Logan was late. He had sent a mysterious message over the telephone to the effect that he must see Vance at once.

The door opened. “Mr. Logan,” the butler announced.

“Here I am, Tony. Sorry to keep you waiting, but perhaps when you know my business you won’t mind the delay.” There was sinister meaning in Logan’s smile.

Vance’s face was inscrutable.

“What do you want, Logan? Cut out the prologue. I have an appointment and I’m late.”

Logan leaned his arms upon the back of a high chair.

“Well, if you will have it, I want you to withdraw your name from the senatorial fight.”

Vance gave a short, contemptuous laugh. “And what are your reasons?” he questioned coolly.

“If you don’t–I’ll–I’ll make public your relationship with Miss Stanton!”

“What?” roared Vance, hoarse with fury. He came around the desk and stood with clenched hands as if ready to spring.

Logan took a cigarette from the case in his pocket and lighted it.

“Have one, Tony?” he drawled. “No? You’d better; it will steady your nerves.”

The insulting tone brought Vance back to himself. Logan replaced the cigarette case in his pocket before he continued:

“It may be a perfectly innocent gift…”

“I happen to know that you purchased a valuable string of pearls several days ago. I also know that your man took them up to Maine and delivered them to Miss Stanton. She accepted them and signed a receipt, which he brought back to you. Now, Tony, you’ve cut your eye teeth and you know that when a married man sends pearls to a girl there can be but one interpretation of the act. Of course, it may be a perfectly innocent gift, as innocent as a box of bon-bons or flowers, but–the world, my dear Van, the world–” he shrugged his shoulders significantly.

“Logan,” Vance’s eyes blazed with anger but his tone was level, “you’re a despicable fighter. You wage your battle on the theory that the end justifies the means. Others have tried your method. Where have they landed? History chronicles its failures. No adversary can score who enlists on his side slander and foul accusations. Obey the rules of the game, Logan, or you’ll be put out. Now what is your proposition?”

“That you withdraw from the contest. All that twaddle about fair fighting doesn’t go down with me, I tell you! You won out in your game for a fortune and I mean to be even with you for it.” The speaker’s eyes sparkled with malice. “I’ve got you now, through this campaign of yours. If you don’t drop politics I’ll blazon your name and Hope Stanton’s from one end of the country to the other and then I’ll produce–“

“Mrs. Anthony Vance,” said a suave voice at the door. The butler swung it wide. Both men stared in amazement.

“Am I late, Tony?” cried an eager, vibrant voice. With a gay little laugh Hope entered the room and almost ran to Vance’s side. She gave his arm a gentle shake. “Do say that you are glad to see me,” she pleaded reproachfully. “I left the sea and the rocks and that glorious coast and came to this dingy city just to be with you, and now you don’t seem half glad to see me.” She turned as though she had just discovered that Logan was in the room.

“How strange to meet you here, Mr. Logan! I remember your exact words when we three were last together at the Harvest Moon. ‘When next we meet, Tony, I hope you’ll give me the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Vance.’ Tony, introduce me!” With a mocking light in her eyes she swept a low curtsey.

Chapter XI

Logan blinked as his eyes fell on the pearls at Hope’s throat. He appraised the costly simplicity of her gown; he noted the elegance of the furs which were thrown about her shoulders. Her right hand rested lightly on Vance’s arm. From her left hand hung a huge sable muff. On the third finger of this hand Logan caught the gleam of a wedding ring. His glance returned to the girl’s face, then shifted to Vance.

He gave a harsh laugh. “Well, old man, you look as stunned as I feel. This situation has the three reel thriller beaten to a frazzle. Why don’t you introduce me to your wife?”

Vance shook off the spell which held him. “You have no need of an introduction, Logan. You knew Mrs. Vance as Miss Stanton. She was Hope Damon when she married me.”

“So-o! Mrs. Jim has been fooling me all this time, and I thought her nothing but a silly doll! I take off my hat to her. But I’ll settle that score.” His face was ugly in its vindictiveness.

“Your impudent curiosity is satisfied, I hope,” Vance returned coldly. “Understand this! I’m in the senatorial fight to a finish. If you try any more of your underhand work, I have something in that desk that may pull you up a bit–your case against Hart; I needn’t explain. The stuff would make interesting reading matter for your constituents. As long as you fight fair, they remain where they are, but if you try any games–” he shrugged his shoulders, walked over to the door and opened it.

Logan’s eyes sought the girl. Her face was blazing with scorn. The white collie stood beside her. He thrust his cold nose into her hand. Logan put his hand to his throat as though he were strangling. Bowing to Hope with exaggerated formality, he began, “I am sorry to have–“

“Show Mr. Logan to the front door, Jamieson,” Vance said to the butler who had come into the room in answer to his ring.

“I do need you, Hope.”

He waited only for the door to close behind Logan to seize his wife’s hands.

“Well, Hope? Well?” His voice was husky with emotion.

She lifted her eyes to his with happy daring. “Tony, if you don’t want me, send me back.” He gripped her hands till they hurt. “Mr. Gilman is responsible for my being here. He said you needed me.”

“I do need you, Hope,” he replied gravely. He saw her lips quiver and smiled at her challengingly. “What is it? You are not afraid of me, are you?”

“No, no! Only–” her voice shook in spite of herself.

He led her to the wide davenport at one side of the fireplace, removed the furs from her shoulders, tossed her muff to a chair and seated himself on the arm of the couch,

“Now tell me all about it,” he commanded. “Did you come alone?”

Hope leaned forward and clasped her hands on her knees, calmed by his quiet friendliness. Her shining eyes reflected the firelight.

“Jim is down stairs. He was only too glad to bring me. Ever since you went to him and told him about our meeting that morning in the Park, he has insisted that I was wrong not to acknowledge our–my–” she stumbled over the word.

“Our marriage?” coolly. “Say it, Hope. Better accustom yourself to the thought now that you’ve crossed the Rubicon.”

“You shouldn’t interrupt!” with gay reproof. There was still a tremor in her voice. “Mr Gilman wrote me that he was afraid of Logan, ‘infernally afraid of Logan,’ he put it. Then he telephoned ‘long distance’ that there had been new developments, and that he must see me at once. I left the Harvest Moon last night. It seems ages ago,” she added. “It seems that it was Elsie again,” apologetically.

“Go on!” Vance put in peremptorily.

“Yesterday she called upon Mr. Gilman. She had some information which she wanted to sell. She had been playing cards again for money and needed–” the girl stopped in shamed confusion.

“Don’t let that trouble you. She isn’t the only woman who gambles. What next?”

“Mr. Gilman agreed to pay her. She told him that Logan had found out about–about the pearls. Of course he had no idea who I was, but he intended to use it against you in politics. He intended to accuse you–to accuse–” she looked at him appealingly.

“I understand; you needn’t put it into words. Go on,” grimly.

“When Mr. Gilman told me what Elsie had said, I realized that I had been a selfish, foolish girl to try to keep our marriage a secret. He explained to me my duty as forcibly as Mr. Gilman can. So here I am, pearls and all. He declared that I must wear these and dress for the part I was to play.” She touched the gleaming string at her throat.

“Thank you, Hope.”

“I have spent the day ordering clothes suitable for my new station in life. Now just suppose you shouldn’t want me after all?”

Her tone was gaily challenging, but there was still that treacherous quiver about the sensitive mouth.

“Want you!” Vance seized her and drew her to her feet. “With you for my adviser I may become President of the United States. I need not stop at a mere senator. But Gilman was wrong, you owe me no duty.” His tone was grave.

She looked at him with clear, questioning eyes and shook her head. “The moment one makes a friend, that moment one’s responsibilities begin. And we are friends, Tony?”

“We are, indeed, my dear,” the man replied with a warmth and earnestness which stilled the throbbing of the girl’s heart and left a quiet glow of happiness in place of the tumult. “Where is Dr. Jim?”

“Downstairs waiting–to know whether I am to stay or not,” tormentingly.

“Could he look at you and doubt it? But brothers are horribly unappreciative.” Vance laughed boyishly. “I’ll go and get him!”

Hope heard him run down the stairs. She looked at her brother as he entered. Her heart went out to him in a great rush of tenderness.

“Jimmy dear,” she called softly, “I’m to stay!”

Chapter XII

He regarded her with the smile which made patients believe that nothing was to be feared while he had hold, and answered:

“You are? How marvelous!” Turning to Vance he added, “Take care of her, Tony. You have made a bitter enemy in Logan. He may strike at you through Hope.”

Vance’s face whitened. “If I thought that any harm could come to her here–“

“Nonsense, Jim! What could happen to me?” She clasped her hands about her brother’s arm and smiled into his face. “Don’t let your imagination carry you away. Do you fancy anyone would try to kidnap your charming sister? Of course the temptation is–considerable.” She tilted her head back; her eyes gleamed with mirth as she flouted him.

“You conceited young minx! Look out for her, Tony. She’s so puffed up with a sense of her own importance that–“

With careful precision Hope flung the huge muff at his head. He dodged and laughed like a boy. The dog rose and looked at them uncertainly.

“See how you have shocked Scott, you undignified girl. Your new mistress is a hoyden, sir, a hoyden,” addressing the collie. “well, I must be off.” The laughter vanished from his eyes and his face grew serious. “Good-night, dear. God bless you.” He kissed his sister tenderly, shook hands with Vance and left the room.

The girl gazed after him, a smile curving her perfect lips. “I haven’t seen Jim so like his old rollicking, tormenting self for years,” she said. “How I wish he could feel young and light-hearted and happy again,” she added wistfully.

Vance’s eyes caressed her.

The girl turned to him radiantly. “‘The best is yet to be’: Do you remember that little song of mine, Tony?”

“Remember it? That line is my inspiration! It turns dangers into molehills and difficulties into high adventure; it takes the sting out of disillusionment, makes the future rosy and encourages me to hop;” he moved toward her impetuously.

“Your car is at the door, sir,” Jamieson announced.

“Confound it! I was to dine with my committee men! Well, I’m not going!” He reached for the telephone.

Hope caught his arm and held it. “Tony, if you let my being here make the least difference in your plans–I–I’ll go at once.”

“But I can’t leave you to dine alone the first evening you are in my house,” he protested.

“Yes, you will! Listen to me,” she said earnestly, as she held him by the lapels of his coat. “I am here to help you win this fight. It’s mine now as much as yours. Go to the dinner and the rally and just–just knock the spots out of Logan!”

Vance shouted with laughter. He placed his hands over hers.

“Whatever you say goes, sweetness! No,” as she made a little movement to escape. “Don’t be frightened; I was only quoting Bobsy. I sha’n’t be gone long. Will you be here when I come back?”

She freed herself from his hold. “Yes. And now may some one show me where I am to live? And please, may I have something to eat? I’m starving,” plaintively.

“Poor little hungry girl!” he mocked tenderly, and rang for Jamieson.

“He has been very particular about flowers.”

The housekeeper, Mrs. Morton, was almost tearful when she greeted Hope at the entrance to the suite of rooms to which Jamieson had deferentially conducted her.

“I am so glad you are here, Mrs. Vance,” she said in respectful greeting. “Mr. Tony said he expected you, but he didn’t tell us when you would be here. He had your rooms done over and gave orders that they were to be kept in readiness for you. He has been very particular about flowers and has run up here whenever he had a moment to be sure that they were what he had ordered.”

She ushered Hope into her boudoir and took off her hat, as she continued:

“I’ve been here for thirty years. I’ve seen Mr. Tony grow from a boy to a man. “He was the light of his uncle’s eyes, but Mr. Mark Vance had all sorts of queer notions. One was the fear that Mr. Tony’d get to be a rich, idle bachelor and be the prey of fortune-hunting women. Many’s the time he’s said to me, ‘the lad must marry young!'” She gave the girl a glance of affectionate admiration. “I guess he’d be satisfied if he could see you, Mrs. Vance. And his mother, too.” She wiped her eyes hastily. “Well, well. I mustn’t talk so much. Did you bring your maid?” with a quick business-like change to the practical.

“No, I have been in the country–and–“

“I’m glad you didn’t. Mary, a maid who lived with Mr. Tony’s mother, is here and would be so happy to serve you, if you will try her.”

“I shall be very glad to. Please send her to me in about ten minutes.”

“Very well, Mrs. Vance. Will you dine downstairs or will you have something sent here? Mr. Tony is dining out.”

“Here, please.”

With a cheery word or two Mrs. Morton bustled out and Hope looked about the charming room. It was exquisite in its appointments, simplicity and coloring. Its only ornaments were a rare Chinese vase and a great bowl filled with pink roses. They were of the variety which Vance had given her the day she married him. Hope buried her face in them for a moment to hide the trembling of her lips, then pushed aside the gold screen before the door of her sleeping room and entered.

“It’s a page out of the Arabian Nights.”

The walls were in cream, the furniture a cream lacquer with Chinese designs in gold. Through an open door she caught a glimpse of her dressing room with sunken bath and great triple mirrors beneath which stood a dressing table glittering with crystal and gold.

“It’s a page out of the Arabian Nights,” the girl murmured. Her face grew troubled. “It is too much, altogether too much for the little I can do to help him. But I’ll not look ahead. I’ll meet each day as it comes.” There was a knock at the door. Hope opened it. A woman of fifty stood before her.

“I’m Mary, Mrs. Vance,” she explained diffidently.

“Come in. Mrs. Morton said that you would look after me, Mary.” She smiled encouragement.

“I shall be only too glad to,” hurriedly answered the woman. “I was with Mr. Tony’s mother for ten years. I loved her; we all loved her and–and if you think I will do I shall certainly try to please you, Mrs. Vance.”

How they all adored Anthony Vance’s mother! Could she ever win such affection? Hope wondered, even as she smiled at Mary’s old-fashioned attitude toward a situation.

“Here are my keys, Mary. I am sure I shall find you just what you were to Mrs. Vance. You may unpack and then I will dress for dinner. I shall wear the white lace gown.”

Hope was proud of the ease with which she disposed of her keys. She felt like the leading lady in a play. At any moment the lights might go out, the scenes shift and she find herself back at the Sign of the Harvest Moon.

When she was alone again, she leaned over the bowl of flowers in the boudoir. Parting the petals of one perfect, pink rose she gazed dreamily into its heart.”

“I wonder,” she whispered, musingly, “if he still loves–” She dropped the flower as though it burned her and resolutely picked up a book.

Chapter XIII

A vision in white greeted Anthony Vance when he returned. He strode across the library and grasped Hope’s hands:

“This is mighty good of you,” he cried. “I dined with my committee men, then we whirled off from the meeting to hear what the other side is saying. Logan dropped out of the fight, but he is working tooth and nail for Haas, they tell me. Of course, he’s doing that to defeat me. He’s spending money hand over fist.”

“How much more speaking will you have to do?” She gazed at him in eager interest.

Every day and evening for four days more. Then the election, and after that–“

“After that,” interrupted the girl briskly, “you’ll be making plans to go to Albany, and having ‘drawn Logan’s teeth,’ as you politicians say, I’ll just disappear.”

“Will you?” he enquired coolly. “I think not.”

She opened her lips impetuously.

“Suppose, Hope,” Vance suggested, “that we live one day at a time? I must concentrate all my energies on this fight. After election we can discuss our own affairs. I have promised that you shall be perfectly free.” His face was grave. Crossing to the fireplace he stood with his back to her as he continued, “free even to marry another man, if that is your heart’s desire.”

“My heart’s desire just now is to see you win!” she cried with thrilling sweetness, “and I’m a mean sort of helper to begin right away to talk about myself.” She went to him and clasped his arm with her hands. “You will forgive me, Tony, won’t you? If you don’t I shall cry, and that would be a bad omen.”

He gave her a gentle shake. “You little fraud!” he laughed, intense relief in his voice. “When you resort to tears it will be when there is no more fighting to be done.”

Hope eluded him and went over to the desk.

“What a lovely miniature, Tony,” she cried, softly. “Is it a portrait of your mother?”

He looked over her shoulder.

“Yes,” he said quietly. “I am glad you noticed it. There is something of hers I wish to show you.”

When Jamieson entered in response to Vance’s ring he handed his master a large leather case.

Vance cleared a space on the table, set the case on it and drew up two chairs.

She dropped into a chair beside him and rested her arms on the table. “What is it? How mysterious!” It looks like Pandora’s box,” she laughed, her eyes shining with interest.

Vance drew his keys from his pocket, fitted one of them to the lock of the case and lifted the cover.

“Oh-o-o!”

It was a long drawn exclamation of delight at the splendid display of rings, brooches and pendants which winked at her under the lamplight.

“How beautiful!” she cried.

Vance, with his head very near the girl’s, looked down at the sparkling tray. The rings were arranged in the grooves provided for them; each ornament had its own compartment. The color swept from his chin to his brow, and he made two attempts before he could speak.

“All these belonged to my mother. Her hands were the last to touch them. I’ve never thad the courage to open the case before.” He contrived to smile, but it was an evident effort. “Mother loved her ‘things’ dearly, as she called them.”

Hope, looking through her tears, was touched with the loving care shown in the arrangement of the jewelry. She felt as though the candid eyes of the woman who had owned and loved it were looking up at her searchingly. Each piece had meant a little bit of life to Tony’s mother. There was a ring which could only have belonged to a very small girl; next came a hoop of softly shimmering pearls which might have been a gift to a young débutante; then a blazing solitaire, her engagement ring. After these came combinations of stones, rings suited to a woman of mature years.

“I want you to wear it, Hope.”

Hope lifted a square cut alexandrite set in brilliant diamonds. She caught the ruby light in the heart of the green stone. “How wonderful!” she murmured to herself. She slipped the ring on her finger and moved her hand back and forth under the light. She looked up. Vance was watching her intently.

She flushed hotly. “Oh, why did I touch it? Really, Tony, I am sorry! I was so enraptured with the gems–” she hurriedly drew the ring from her finger. He caught her hand and held it in a firm grip:

“I want you to wear it, Hope; I want you to use them all. You need jewels, now that you have assumed the role of Mrs. Anthony Vance. Take them–unless, you would prefer to have some of your own. Unless you would rather not wear Mother’s.”

Hope pressed the ring to her lips. “I shall love to wear your mother’s jewels,” she replied softly “Her personality still lives and influences everyone who knew her. I shall feel as if she were with me every moment inspiring me to help you. I’ll take such care of them that–“

A stifled exclamation from Vance made her pause abruptly. He had lifted the top tray and was holding a small white package which he had taken from the lower compartment. His lips were set in a tense line as he stared down at the inscription on it. Without a word or a look at the girl he slipped it into his pocket, closed the case, locked it and handed her the key.

“You will make me very happy if you will wear them,” he said earnestly, then added in a tone of cheery commonplaceness, “Have they made you comfortable upstairs? Did you find everything you needed in your rooms?”

“Everything I needed?” scoffed Hope happily; “you must have studied women very carefully, Mr. Anthony Vance, to have planned those perfect rooms. I never saw anything more complete–nor more beautiful.”

Vance flushed with pleasure. “I am glad you like them. As for knowing the wants of women, well, you see, I had my mother. She was a very dainty, exquisite little mother. I suppose I got an idea of what a woman likes from her. There has never been anyone else to teach me.”

The girl looked at him with unsmiling, questioning intentness. He laid his hands on her shoulders and met her dark eyes steadily.

“You believe me, Hope? You must!”

A little demon of opposition took possession of her.

“I know that you have always loved and always will love–Cecile Talmadge,” she said. His hands dropped from her shoulders.

“You must persuade Dr. Jim to loan you Bobsy for a visit,” he said with unruffled composure, as he turned to the wide mantel over the chimney and began to light his pipe. He handed her the jewel case and opened the door. “Must you go?”

She looked up at him like a child who has been rebuked.

“Good-night, Tony.” The vibrant mischief in her tone, her hesitating sweetness, as she murmured his name, thrilled the man. He took a step toward her.

“Good-night.” The tone was quiet, even friendly. Then he closed the door behind her.

To be continued…


Today’s 😊:

“Your new mistress is a hoyden, sir, a hoyden.”

Spring is here! Happy landings, everyone!


6 thoughts on “Sunday Story, Part 4: “The Best is Yet to Be”

  1. As always I’m happy to see that you have found some more Emilie Loring. Thank you, thank you. And I love how you have been inserting pictures, something that was never available before. It helps me visualize things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very welcome! I’m glad that you like the pictures. I work to find depictions as much like she describes as I can. In today’s installment, I researched trains to New York in the 19-teens to find one like what Hope might have taken. I looked up lacquered furniture from the period with gold, Chinese designs, and I made sure my pearl photo had a diamond clasp like she described. I can’t always hit the mark, but often I’m rewarded. How many times had I read her references to an “Inness sunset” without knowing what one would look like? I hope you liked that one! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am enjoying this series as well, but I wish the segments were a little longer. I also love the pictures. I sometimes can’t picture Loring’s physical descriptions, particularly when it comes to clothes and jewelry.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw this pop up just as I was going to bed. I look forward to reading when I have some quiet time today! Thank you for this new story ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Aloha! Again it’s a tease! I was so enthralled I didn’t expect the pause . . . I love it! And the photo of the Underwood typewriter reminds me of middle school typing class. My teacher put me in the back of the room as I was new and not familiar with any typing. She spent all har time with the practiced students. No offense, just her focus. I had an upright Underwood with sticking keys! The second year of typing , I had her again as she was the only typing teacher. I graduated to the other, properly working upright Underwood! I’m convinced that the first year experience was why I hated typing. I was so glad that I had learned the keyboard so well, though, as I took to the computer keyboard easily. So I am thankful for those lessons after all. Even if I never mastered a faster typing speed. Thanks for that memory. Have a wonderful week, and thank you for this lovely experience of Emily Loring! Aloha pam

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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