Norine’s Revenge, and Sir Noel’s Heir - May Agnes Fleming - ebook

Norine’s Revenge, and Sir Noel’s Heir ebook

May Agnes Fleming

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Mr. Richard Gilbert, a New York lawyer, entering five minutes before the start, found only one place unoccupied near the door. The old hard farmer held the upper half and moved grumpily to the window when Mr. Gilbert took his seat. The month was March, the morning was snowy and blowing, slushy and slushy, as usual in the Canadian March morning. Mr. Gilbert, inwardly congratulating himself on having gotten a seat by the stove, opened the damp Montreal True Witness and settled down comfortably to read.

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Contents

NORINE'S REVENGE

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

SIR NOEL'S HEIR

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

A DARK CONSPIRACY

FOR BETTER FOR WORSE

NORINE'S REVENGE

CHAPTER I

TWO BLACK EYES AND THEIR WORK.

The early express train from Montreal to Portland, Maine, was crowded.

Mr. Richard Gilbert, lawyer, of New York, entering five minutes before starting time, found just one seat unoccupied near the door. A crusty old farmer held the upper half, and moved grumpily toward the window, under protest, as Mr. Gilbert took the place.

The month was March, the morning snowy and blowy, slushy and sleety, as it is in the nature of Canadian March mornings to be. The sharp sleet lashed the glass, people shivered in multitudinous wraps, lifted purple noses, over-twisted woolen clouds and looked forlorn and miserable. And Mr. Gilbert, congratulating himself inwardly on having secured a seat by the stove, opened the damp Montreal True Witness, and settled himself comfortably to read. He turned to the leading article, read three lines, and never finished it from that day to this. For the door opened, a howl of March wind, a rush of March rain whirled in, and lifting his eyes, Mr. Richard Gilbert saw in the doorway a new passenger.

The new passenger was a young lady, and the young lady was the prettiest young lady, Mr. Gilbert thought, in that first moment, he had ever seen.

She was tall, she was slim, she was dark, she had long loose, curly black hair, falling to her waist, and two big, bright, black, Canadian eyes, as lovely eyes as the wide earth holds. She stood there in the doorway, faltering, frightened, irresolute, a very picture–the color coming and going in the youthful, sensitive face, the luminous brown eyes glancing like the eyes of a startled bird. She stood there, laden with bundles, bandboxes, and reticules, and holding a little blinking spaniel by a string.

Every seat was filled, no one seemed disposed to dispossess themselves, even for the accommodation of youth and beauty. Only for six seconds, though; then Richard Gilbert, rose up, and quietly, and, as a matter of course, offered his seat to the young lady. She smiled–what a smile it was, what a bright little row of teeth it showed, dimpled, blushed–the loveliest rose-pink blush in the world, hesitated, and spoke:

“But, monsieur!” in excellent English, set to a delicious French accent. “But, monsieur will have no place.”

“Monsieur will do very well. Oblige me, mademoiselle, by taking this seat.”

“Monsieur is very good. Thanks.”

She fluttered down into the seat, and Mr. Gilbert disposed of the many bundles and boxes and bags on the rack overhead. He was smiling a little to himself as he did so; the role of lady’s man was quite a new one in this gentleman’s cast in the great play of Life. The grumpy old farmer, with a grunt of disapprobation, edged still further up to the window.

“Monsieur can sit on the arm of the seat,” suggests the young lady, glancing up with a pretty girl’s glance–half shy, half coquettish; “it is so very fatiguing to stand.”

Monsieur avails himself of the offer immediately, and finds he is in an excellent position to examine that very charming face. But he does not examine it: he is not one of your light-minded, mustache-growing, frivolous-headed youths of three-or-four-and-twenty, to whom the smiling face of a pretty girl is the most fascinating object under heaven.

Mr. Gilbert casts one look, only one, then draws forth the True Witness and buries himself in the leading article. The last bell rings, the whistle shrieks, a plunge, a snort, and they are rushing madly off into the wild March morning. The young lady looks about her, the grumpy farmer is between her and the window, the window is all blurred and blotted; Mr. Gilbert is fathoms deep in his paper. She gives a little sigh, then lifts her small dog up in her lap, and begins an animated conversation with him in French. Frollo understands Canadian French, certainly not a word of English, and he blinks his watery eyes, and listens sagaciously to it all. The farmer looks askance, and grunts like one of his own pigs; the lawyer, from behind his printed sheet, finds the words dancing fantastically before his eyes, and his brain taking in nothing but the sweet-spoken, foolish little prattle of mademoiselle to Frollo.

He is thirty-five years of age, he is a hard-headed, hard-working lawyer, he has a species of contempt for all women, as bundles of nerves and nonsense, fashions and foolery. He is thirty-five; he has never asked any woman to marry him in his life; he looks upon that foolish boy-and-girl idiocy, called love, as your worldly-wise cynics do look upon it, with a sneer and a scoff. Pretty girls he has met and known by the score–handsome women and clever women, but not the prettiest, the handsomest, the cleverest of them all has ever made his well-regulated legal pulses beat one throb the quicker in all his five-and-thirty years of life. Why is it then that he looks at this little French Canadienne with an interest he has never felt in looking at any of the bright New York beauties he has known so long? Simple curiosity, no doubt–nothing more.

“She looks like a picture I once saw of Joanna of Naples,” he thought, “only Joanna had golden hair. I hope the similarity to that very improper person ends with the outward resemblance.”

He returned to his newspaper, but somehow politics and cable dispatches, and Our Foreign Relations, had lost their interest. Again and again, under cover of the friendly sheet, his eyes wandered back to that fair drooping face, that piquant profile, those long eyelashes, and the rippling black tresses falling from beneath the little hat. The hat was trimmed with crape, and the graceful figure wore dingy black.

“Who is she?” Mr. Gilbert found himself wondering “where is she going? and for whom is she in mourning?” And then, conscious of his own folly and levity, he pulled himself up, and went back for the dozenth time to the True Witness.

But–his hour had come, and it would not do. The low French babble to the dog rang in his ears, the dark mignonne face came between him and the printed page, and blotted it out.

“She is much too young, and–yes, too pretty to be travelling alone. I wonder where is she going; and if her friends will meet her? Very imprudent to allow a child like this to travel alone. She hardly looks sixteen.”

His interest–fatherly, brotherly of course, in this handsome child was increasing every moment. It was something not to be explained or comprehended. He had heard of such imbecility as “love at first sight,” but was it likely that he, a man of five-and-thirty, a lawyer, without an ounce of sentimentality in his composition should make an idiot of himself over a French Canadienne, a total stranger, a bread-and-butter-eating school-girl at his time of life. Not likely. She interested him as a pretty picture or marble Venus, or other work of art might–just that.

He did not address her. Lawyers are not bashful as a body. Mr. Gilbert was not bashful individually, but something, for which he knew no name, held him silent now. If that grumpy, overgrown farmer were only out of the way, he thought, instead of sitting sulkily there staring at the falling rain, he could no doubt find something to say.

Fate favored him, his evil angel “cursed him with the curse of an accomplished prayer.” At the very next station the surly husbandman got up and left; and the mistress of Frollo, moving close to the window, lifted those two orbs of wondrous brown light to the lawyer’s grave, thoughtful face, and the sweet voice spoke:

“Will monsieur resume his place now?”

Monsieur needed no second bidding. He resumed it, threw aside his paper, and opened conversation in the usual brilliant and original way:

“The storm seems to increase–don’t you think so? Abominable weather it has been since March came in, and no hope of its holding up to day.”

“Oh, yes, monsieur,” mademoiselle answered, with animation; “and it is such a pity, isn’t it? It makes one low-spirited, one can see nothing, and one does like so to see the country as one goes along.”

“Was she going far?” the lawyer inquired.

“Oh, very far!” Mademoiselle makes a little Gallic gesture, with shoulders and eyebrows and hands all together to express the immensity of the distance.

“A great way. To Portland,” with a strong accent on the name of that city. “Monsieur knows where Portland is?”

“Yes, very well–he was going there himself en route to New York. You, mademoiselle,” he adds, inquiringly, “are going on a visit, probably?”

Mademoiselle shakes her pretty head, and purses her pretty lips.

“Monsieur, no–I am going home.”

“Home? But you are French.”

“But yes, monsieur, certainly French, still my home is there. Papa and mamma have become dead,” the brown eyes fill, “and Uncle Louis and Aunt Mathilde have seven of their own, and are poor. I am going to mamma’s relatives, mamma was not French.”

“No?” Mr. Gilbert says in sympathetic inquiry.

“No, monsieur. Mamma was Yan-kee, a New England lady, papa French Canadian. Mamma’s friends did not wish her to marry papa, and she ran away. It is five years ago since she died, and papa–papa could not live without her, and two years after the good God took him too.”

The tearful brown eyes look down at her shabby black dress. “Monsieur beholds I wear mourning still. Then Uncle Louis took me, and sent me to school, but Uncle Louis has so many, so I wrote to mamma’s brothers in Portland, and they sent a letter back and money, and told me to come. And I am going–Frollo and me.”

She bends over the little dog, her lips quivering like the lips of a grieved child, and the lawyer’s middle-aged heart goes out to her in a great compassion.

“Poor little lonely child!” he thinks, watching the sweet overcast face: “I hope they will be good to her, those Yankee friends.” Then aloud. “But you are very young, are you not, to travel this distance alone?”

“I am seventeen, and I had to travel alone, there was no one to come with me. My Uncle Kent will meet me at Portland.”

“You are Mademoiselle Kent?” he says with a smile.

“No, monsieur, my name is Bourdon–Norine Kent Bourdon.”

“Have you ever seen those relatives to whom you are going?”

“Once. They came to see mamma when she was dead. There are three–two uncles and an aunt. They were very kind. I liked them very much.”

“I trust you will be happy in your new home, Miss Bourdon,” the lawyer says gravely. “Permit me to offer you my card. If you ever visit New York I may meet you again–who knows?”

The young lady smiles as she reads the name.

“Ah–who knows? I am going out as governess by-and-by. Perhaps I shall write to you to help get me a situation.”

“What a frank, innocent child it is!” thought Mr. Gilbert, looking down at the smiling, trustful face: “other girls of her age would be bashful, coquettish, or afraid of a masculine stranger. But this pretty child smiles up in my face, and tells me her little history as though I were her brother. I wish I were her brother, and had power to shield her from the hardships of life.” “Any service in my power I shall always be happy to render you, my dear young lady,” he said; “if at any time you apply to me, believe me I shall do my utmost to serve you.”

Mademoiselle Norine Kent Bourdon looked up into the grave, genial face, with soft, trustful eyes that thanked him. She could not have defined it, but she felt he was a man to be trusted–a good man, a faithful friend and an honorable gentleman.

The train flew on.

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