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14. All Is Clear
"This is my daughter, Judge Ostrander, Reuther, this is the judge."
The introduction took place at the outer gates whither the judge had gone to
receive them.
Reuther threw aside her veil, and looked up into the face bent courteously
towards her. It had no look of Oliver. Somehow she felt glad. She could hardly
have restrained herself if he had met her gaze with Oliver's eyes. They were fine
eyes notwithstanding, piercing by nature but just now misty with a feeling that
took away all her fear. He was going to like her; she saw it in every trembling line
of his countenance, and at the thought a smile rose to her lips which, if fleeting,
lent such an ethereal aspect to her beauty that he forgave Oliver then and there
for a love which never could be crowned, but which henceforth could no longer
be regarded by him as despicable.
With a courteous gesture he invited them in, but stopping to lock one gate before
leading them through the other, Mrs. Scoville had time to observe that since her
last visit with its accompanying inroad of the populace, the two openings which at
this point gave access to the walk between the fences had been closed up with
boards so rude and dingy that they must have come from some old lumber pile in
attic or cellar.
The judge detected her looking at them.
"I have cut off my nightly promenade," said he. "With youth in the house, more
cheerful habits must prevail. To-morrow I shall have my lawn cut, and if I must
walk after sundown I will walk there."
The two women exchanged glances. Perhaps their gloomy anticipations were not
going to be realised.
But once within the house, the judge showed embarrassment. He was conscious
of its unfitness for their fastidious taste and yet he had not known how to improve
matters. In his best days he had concerned himself very little with household
affairs, and for the last few years he had not given a thought to anything outside
his own rooms. Bela had done all--and Bela was pre-eminently a cook, not a
general house-servant. How would these women regard the disorder and the
"I have few comforts to offer," said he, opening a door at his right and then hastily
closing it again. "This part of the house is, as you see, completely dismantled and
not--very clean. But you shall have carte blanche to arrange to your liking one of
these rooms for your sitting-room and parlour. There is furniture in the attic and
you may buy freely whatever else is necessary. I don't want to discourage little
Reuther. As for your bedrooms--" He stopped, hemmed a little and flushed a vivid
red as he pointed up the dingy flight of uncarpeted stairs towards which he had
led them. "They are above; but it is with shame I admit that I have not gone
above this floor for many years. Consequently, I don't know how it looks up there
or whether you can even find towels and things. Perhaps you will go up first, Mrs.
Scoville. I will stay here while you take a look. I really, couldn't have a strange