Cupid’s Understudy
By Edward Salisbury Field

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Public Domain Books

Chapter Two

My mother’s family had never approved of her marriage with Dad, but Dad, poor and running a hardware shop or a livery-stable, and Dad with a fortune in his hands were two very different people—from their standpoint, at least; so as soon as Olaf and the three burros struck it rich, Dad sold his livery-stable, and mammy Rachel and I were bundled off to Ninette’s relations in New Orleans. I didn’t like it a bit at first, but one can get used to anything in time. Ninette’s maiden sister, Miss Marie Madeline Antoinette Hortense Prevost, was awfully nice to me; so was grandmere Prevost. I lived with them till I was sixteen, when I was sent to France.

If I wanted to (and you would let me) I could personally conduct you to Paris, where if you were ten feet tall and not averse to staring, you could look over a certain gray stone wall on the Boulevard des Invalides, and see me pacing sedately up and down the gravel walks in the garden of the Convent of the Sacred Heart. That is, you could have seen me three years ago. I’m not there now, thank goodness! I’m in California.

And just one word before we go any further any further. I don’t want you to think for a minute that I came back from Paris a little Frenchified miss. No, indeed! I’m as American as they make them. When I boasted to the other girls, whether in Paris or New Orleans, I always boasted about two things: Dad and California. And I’ve an idea I’ll go on boasting about them till my dying day.

Of course, when I returned from Paris, Dad met me in New York. It was a good thing he was rich, for it took a lot of money to get me and my seven trunks through the custom-house. It might have taken more, though, if it hadn’t been for a young man who came over on the same boat.

He was such a good-looking young man; tall and broad-shouldered and fair, with light-brown hair, and the nicest eyes you ever saw. It wasn’t their color so much (his eyes were blue) as the way they looked at you that made them so attractive. He was awfully well bred, too! He noticed me a lot on the boat (I had a perfect love of a Redfern coat to wear on deck), but he didn’t try to scrape acquaintance with me. He worshipped from afar (a woman can always tell when a man’s thinking about her), and while I wouldn’t have had him act otherwise for the world, I was crazy to have him speak to me.

Our boat docked at Hoboken, and by tipping right and left I managed to be the very first passenger down the gangway. I half ran, half slid, but I landed in Dad’s arms.

My boxes and bags passed through the custom-house with flying colors. But my trunks—I couldn’t even find them all. Five of them were stacked in the “M” division, but the other two. . . . Then there was my maid’s trunk to look for under the “V’s” (her name is Valentine). Dad and I were commencing at “A,” prepared to got through the whole alphabet, if necessary, when the nice young man stepped up and, raising his hat, asked if he might be of any service. He asked Dad, but he looked at me.

“Oh, If you please!” I said “I’ve lost two trunks. My brand is a white, ’M’ in a red circle.”

“I noticed them in the ’R’ pile” he replied. “I’ll have them moved to the ’M’s’ right away.”

“Now that’s what I call being decent,” said Dad, as soon as the young man had left us. “Did you notice, he didn’t wear a uniform? Probably an inspector, or something of the sort, eh, Elizabeth?”

“Well—er—not exactly,” I managed to say. “The fact is, Dad, he came over on the boat with me, and—”

Dad looked thoughtful.

“He never spoke to me once the whole trip,” I added hastily.

Dad looked less thoughtful.

“It was nice of him to wait till I had you with me, wasn’t it?”

Dad smiled. “If you think it was, it probably was, my dear,” he said.


Chapter One  •  Chapter Two  •  Chapter Three  •  Chapter Four  •  Chapter Five  •  Chapter Six  •  Chapter Seven  •  Chapter Eight  •  Chapter Nine  •  Chapter Ten  •  Chapter Eleven  •  Chapter Twelve

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Cupids understudy,
By Edward Salisbury Field
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