Cupid’s Understudy
By Edward Salisbury Field

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Public Domain Books

Chapter Six

When we flew down the grade into California, everything seemed settled; we were going to Santa Barbara where Dad was building a little palace for his Elizabeth as a grand surprise (Blakely’s mother was in Santa Barbara); we would take rooms at the same hotel; I would be presented to Mrs. Porter, and as soon as the palace on the hill was completed—a matter of two or three months—Blakely, and Dad, and I would move into it. Only, first, Blakely and I were going to San Bernardino on our wedding trip.

Wasn’t that sweet of Blakely? When I told him about San Bernardino, and the livery-stable, and the cottage where Dad and I used to live, he said he’d rather spend our honeymoon there than any place in the world. Of course Dad had never sold the cottage, and it was touching to see how pleased he was with our plan.

“You’ll find everything in first-class condition,” he said; “I go there often myself. I built a little house in one corner of the garden for the caretakers. You should see that gold-of-Ophir rose, Elizabeth; it has grown beyond belief.”

When we reached Oakland—where our car had to be switched off and attached to a coast line, train—we found we had four hours to kill, so Dad and Blakely and I (it was Blakely’s idea) caught the boat across to San Francisco.

What do you suppose that dear boy wanted us to go over there for? And where do you suppose he took us? He took us straight to Shreve’s, and he and Dad spent a beautiful two hours in choosing an engagement ring for me. So when we finally landed in Santa Barbara I was wearing a perfect love of a ruby on the third finger of my left hand. I was wearing my heart on my sleeve, too; I didn’t care if all the world saw that I adored Blakely. We arrived in Santa Barbara in the morning, and it was arranged that Blakely should lunch with his mother and devote himself to her during the afternoon, but he was to dine with us in our rooms. Naturally, I had a lot to do, supervising the unpacking of my clothes, and straightening things about in our sitting-room so that it wouldn’t look too hotelish. Then Dad wouldn’t be happy till I’d inspected my new palace on the hill.

It was an alarming looking pile. If anybody but Dad had been responsible for it, I should have said it was hideous. Poor old Dad! He knows absolutely nothing about architecture. But of course I raved over it, and, really, when I came to examine it closer, I found it had its good points. Covered with vines, it would have been actually beautiful. Virginia creeper grows like mad in California and with English ivy and Lady Banksia roses to help out, I was sure I could transform my palace into a perfect. bower in almost no time. I was awfully glad I had seen it first, for now. I could break the bad news gently to Blakely. If I were a man, I couldn’t love a girl who owned such a hideous house.

But I didn’t have a chance to talk house to Blakely for some time. When he came in to dinner that night he looked awfully depressed; he brightened up a lot, though, when he saw me. I had on my most becoming gown, and Dad had ordered a grand dinner, including his own special brand of Burgundy. If Dad knew as much about architecture as he does about wine, they’d insist on his designing all the buildings for the next world’s fair.

All through dinner Blakely wasn’t quite himself—I could see it; I think Dad saw it, too-but I knew he would tell us what was the matter as soon as he had an opportunity. One, of the sweetest things about Blakely is his perfect frankness. I couldn’t love a man who wasn’t frank with me. That is, I suppose I could, but I should hate to; it would break my heart. Well, after dinner, when Dad had lighted his cigar, and Blakely his cigarette, it all came out.


“Yes, my boy.” (I think Dad loved to hear Blakely say Tom almost as much as I loved to hear him say Elizabeth.)

“Tom, I’ve got you and Elizabeth into a deuce of an unpleasant position. I’ve told you what a fine woman my mother is, and how she’d welcome Elizabeth with open arms, and now I find I was all wrong. My mother isn’t a fine woman; she’s an ancestor-worshiping, heartless, selfish snob. I’m ashamed of her, Tom. She refuses to meet Elizabeth.”


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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