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OUR SHORT STORY. I THE LADY SLAVEY. I By CHRISTINE ASHLEY. I "I often think money doesn't; bring hap- pinesSJ" said Mrs Markham with a sigh She was a commonplace person and gener- .;ally indulged m commonplace, rcllections. Mr. Markham, who had recently" rmule his pile," was irritated ivitil littr. and her two daughters despised her. "Our money came at tho wrong time," said Gertrude "Wo iiadn't got it long enough to enjoy it I "There's nothing' to s pend it on now. agreed Maude "Wove never had a real house-party since Dad bought the lowers, ind at; for a dance "Strikes can't Jast for ever," snapped Air. Markham. He was thinking that everything would be better when Tony came homo troni abroad, and that was exactly the thought which made Mrs. Markham pur.c sadly out of Die French window over the broaid acres that belonged to her husband, 4triving to keep the tears out of her eyes. "What's the good of money when you're worrying night and day for news that doesn't come" clie said 1o herself. Things have gone wrong ever since we got rich. Dad wasn't anything like no irritable when he went to business every day. She sighed dccplv, because it had cost her a greatdeal to hhed the vulgarity her daughters complained of. and to learu to behave in the way Dad and the girls thought suitable for the wife of a man with an estate and iive-ligure income. Tonv had never ceased quarrelling with Dad after the money came. He would never behave like the heir 1o a great pro- perty. He proferrcd his old ways and his old friends. It ended in "the deuce of a row" between father and son, and Tony cleared out 111 a rage. "It.s been a miserable time," she thou -,ht. "What with the servant worries we never guessed how difficult servants would be when Dad bought the Towers! We were much better off when we just kept the two—cook and Eva! I've never had -another parlourmaid like Eva, never She "wasn't happy here, either! Always tied. "Mother!" said Maude Markham. I, Do attend a minute! Listen! Now that I'm home from hospital and Gertrude's got leave, and so many people we know are in England just now, why shouldn't we try to enjoy ourselves a little bit? if we collect a few joJly people, just for a week-end, is there any reason why we shouldn't have a dance? Mrs. Markham longed to plead "ser- vants," hut she did want her daughters to have anything they asked for, and 6he thought just for a week-end they might manage. Mrs. Markham went downstairs and liter- ally implored her stafT to do their very best. "Just for three days! she said in a tumbling voice. "ArId-and afterwards 1 will ask your master to—to raise all your Wli Iles But so little use is money that two days before the guests were expected three of the five maids left. A quarrel that started about th" lame footman, a discharged soldier tem- porarily engaged, began it. So they left that same afternoon. Not all t liL- mtster's money, they declared, would induce them to (spend another mght under that roof! "I'll get one from somewhere!" sobbed Mrs. Markham. She rummaged in her desk until she fouad Eva Brown's address. Eva had left soon after the arrival at the Towers be- cause her parents needed her. Eva was a splendid servant. If she was still at home 'Mrs. Markham promised hereon that she would implore Eva, bribe T'jVa> ki^ dnap Eva ,to help her ()ut of the ditlicilltvl She set out for London immediately. In -twent.y-four hours the guests would- be arriving. But-would she have gone if she had known as much about Eva as Tony Mark- ham did? II. 11 Eva was Tony's wife. He had fallen in love with her (and no wonder) while Dad was just a middle-class, business man, and Mrs. Markham was happy enough in a red-brick villa with two servants. While Eva was still keeping him at arm's length, Dad made his pilo, bought the Towers, and expected his family to live up to it. Eva was one of the reasons why Tony wasn't pleased with the change. It made it still more difficult to tell Dad the truth. Eva hadn't admitted her love for him un- til ho had told her he was leaving the Towers for ever, and that he was going1 abroad. I "I never wanted to be the kind of chap Dad' expects," he said. "I just want peace And comfort and—and you, Eva Won't yon marry me, darling? So Eva said yes, and agreed that it was of no use to make still more trouble by telling the family of their love. She left the Towers to go to her parents, though she minded leaving Tony's motherly mother very much. She was very fond of Mrs. Markham, and she understood something of the suffering it, was coting bor to tihc-d her vulgarity so late in life and to learn to be a lady. Perhaps you can guess what Eva thought when she opened the door and saw Mrs. Markham in satin and sables btanding on the steps, smiling her uncertain smile, with a pleading look on her fat, motherly face. "Oh! said the girl in a frightenea whisper. "Oh—how very, very kind of you to come, ma'am She was just going to add that she had .believed Tony's mother would never forgive .her, when she was interrupted by Mr*. Markham's rush of words us she brought out her request. You are the only maid I've had who -didn't irritate the master," said Mrs. Mark- ham pathetically. "I couldn't trust a stranger, Eva, not with the butler so deaf and the house so understaffed! And the young ladies will be so disappointed if the party doesn't go -off well." "I—I don't think I can, ma'am," Eva said haltingly. "I really don't think I can! I'm very sorry indeed, and I'll do my best to find someone eliie-but I cau't come! "But it's you I want, Eva!" said Tony's mother with tears in her eyes. "It's bad enough to know that the housemaids arc in. competent, and cross over the extra work. and—and all the rest of it! To have trouble over the waiting at table—oh! I feel I must just run away from it all, I'm so tired." She forgot to try not to be vulgar, and so she left off being commonplace. Instead, she was just pathetic. "Why won't you oblige me, Eva? I was always fond of you," she said. Eva grew absolutely crimson to the very roots of her soft brown-gold hair. For a moment she wanted to say "why so badly that she could scarcely keep back the words. She knew exactly how Mr. Markham and the voung- ladies would take the news that Tony had married the par- lour-maid. "Please!" said Mrs. Markham softly. Then she saw the plain gold ring on Eva's hand; "Why—you're married!" she said. "Yes, ma'am." said Eva. "He's abroad. 'I'm Mrs. Miles." be "M"y poor child, how lonely you must be! "Yes," said Eva, and her grey eyes were wet too. I "Mr. Tony—you remember Mr. Tony? began his mother. < But she couldn't manage to eay any more just then, so she just assumed that Eva un- derstood that they were anxious about Mr. Tony. Like her son, she had always noticed that Eva seemed to "understand" things. "Still," she said after a pause, "that needn't make <any difference—you being married, I mean! Won't you come all the same, And somehow Eva couldn't go on refus- j ing. It seemed to her that Tony's mother .had enough to bear without servant troubles—at any rate during that import, I ant week-end. With. Eva's advent all went smoothly. She seemed to have a gift of understanding the peculiarities of each of the other ser- vants, even the impudent page-boy. If Tony was here I should be happier than ever I've been since Dad left off going to business every day," thought Mrs. Mark- ham. They were, at dinner—dinner which cook had managed so successfully that it seemed as if the shortage of meat and butter and sugar was a matter of taste. No di.-h would haro been improved by the addition of any of the three. The butler's deafness was not noticeable because the pretty parlourmaid "understood and knew how to make him understand. Directly after dinnc the guests began to arrive for the dance in the beautiful picture gallery that contained pictures of other people's ancestors. "I wish, Tony, you were dancing too!" said Tony's mother, watching tHe happy throng. Downstairs the servants were at supper. Eva was enjoying jelly and fruit-salad and all those kind of delicacies like any other healthy girl—but like Tony's mother she was wishing that Tony could be there to enjoy them too I It was the page who opened the door in answer to a double knock, and took in a l i les. telegram addressed to "Miles." Mrs. Miles took it with a hand that shook and was as cold as ice. The servants stared curiously. It was a queer time to have a telegram, anyway. Then he departed. The page poured him- self out w-onie lemonade. Entirely from habit, because he was feeling so uncomfort- ably sympathetic, the deaf butler began to sharpen the carving-knife. He had taken a fancy to the nice young woman. who had come to wait at table, because she under- stood her business. The pretty young woman had the tele- gram in front of her and was reading it— or appeared to be reading it-over and over again. "Sorry to inform you Arthur Miles dan. gerously ill." Eva's mother had wired. Across Eva's distracted mind flashed a picture of a fat, motherly face, and trem- bling lips that had tried to tell her about Mr, Tony"—and failed. I She gal"e a dry Htl Rob, and CM of tL: flighty ° m^ids fcigot to be flighty, and ran to put her Arms round her. But Eva didn't give way. She wanted to get to Tony, tc see him once niore, if it really were to be only once mo-re. She clutched the telegram in her icy h-iid and went quietly upstairs. The servants thought she was going to tell the mistress that she must go at once. < Eva made her way to the room where Mr. Markham was playing bridge. She was white as a sheet and trembling all over, but nobody noticed that when she informed Tony's father that "someone wanted to see him on urgent business in the library." She then returned to the library and un- pinned her cap and her muslin apron. Plainly garbed in black, she stood waiting until he appeared in the doorway and raised his bushy eyebrows .interrogatively. "Your son is dangerously ill,' said Eva softly. "I had the telegram just now- sent on from London. Here it is. There's no time to lose. I—I I "Yes—you? said Mr. Markham sharply. "Where do you come in?" He was no fool. Even in the agitation of the moment he knew who she was. "I'm his wife," said Eva briefly. "But never mind about that now. You can blai,%c me afterwards if you want to. The wire savs dangerously.' I want to see him—°h, lIdo want to see him! Will you telephone? Will you find out where he is? If-if they Ccyi't* bring him home will you-help me to go to him? I love him—you can't want him to—to die alone—without me The telephone was in the library. First and foremost Mr. Markham was a business man. He started his inquiry be- fore he said any more to Eva. He lost his temper, and shouted so loud that Mrs. Markham, who had come in search of him, heard. She would have fallen to the floor if Eva had not caught her. By the time Mrs. Markham was in bed some more particulars Were forthcoming. The "dance came abruptly to an end. The guests departed, and the house-party made arrangements to disperse next morning early. Eva went back to London that night, and everybody, including Mrs. Mark- ham, believed &he had gone home. But next morning she went with Tony's father to a narrow hospital cot in which lay Tony Markham, III tIe had not recognised "either of thexL1 when first they stood beside his bed. That was very hard to bear-for both! A lfoctor entered. His face was enough to tell them that the news was good—not bad. When they returned to the bedside, seme few hours later, and found that Tony was expecting them, with a soul alive and awake behind his boyish blue eyes, Dad suddenly found that he was oddly fond ot Eva, and that he had forgotten she was a servant. And he was so glad to have a living son, that he didn't remember what a born fool Tony had always been about his money and his position. Nothing seemed to matter very much with Tony imiliii- into his face and thanking him so fervently for bringing my wife to him "And mother-docs she know?" Tony asked. "She knows you're ill, but she doesn't know—about me," said Eva. We'd better wait for you to tell her yourself, my boy. I'm afraid it will be a bit of a blow," said Dad. "What do you think? Tony asked Eva. Eva smiled. "I think," sTie said shyly, "flat I'll tell her myself as soon as we get back. I want to nurse her—and somehow I don't believe she'll mind very much." Mrs. Markham was a very much happier person about her son's marriage, and the money came in, very useful in various ways. Still, it must not be forgotten that Eva was a very exceptional parlourmaid, nnd a quite incomparable wife.




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