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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 10
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Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 10 Post by :rjsexton1 Category :Long Stories Author :Gouverneur Morris Date :May 2012 Read :1027

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Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 10

BOOK I CHAPTER X

Senator St. John, for he was at heart democratic, and heard little of Aladdin that was not to Aladdin's credit, derigorized the taboo which he had once placed on Aladdin's and Margaret's friendship, and allowed the young man to come occasionally to the house, and occasionally loaned him books. Margaret was really at the bottom of this, but she stayed comfortably at the bottom, and teased her father to do the needful, and he, wrapped up in the great issues which were threatening to divide the country, complied. In those days the senator's interests extended far beyond his family, Margaret and the three powerful sons who were building a reputation for the firm of John St. John & Brothers, lawyers in Portland. He gave Aladdin leave to come and go, even smiled grimly as he did so, and, except at those moments when he met him face to face, forgot that Aladdin existed. Margaret enjoyed Aladdin hugely, and unconsciously sat for the heroine of every novel he began, and the inspiration of every verse that he wrote. When Aladdin reached his eighteenth year and Margaret her sixteenth there was such a delightful and strong friendship between them that the other young people of the town talked. Margaret in her heart of hearts was fonder of Aladdin than of anybody else--when she was with him, or under the immediate influence of having been with him, for nobody else had such extraordinary ideas, or such a fund of amusing vitality, or such fascinating moods. Like every one with a touch of the Celt in him, Aladdin was by turns gloomiest and most unfortunate of all mortals upon whom the sun positively would not shine, or the gayest of the gay. From his droll manner of singing a song, to the seriousness with which he sometimes bore all the sufferings of all the world, he seemed to her a most complex and unusual individual. But his spells were of the instant, and her thoughts were very often on that beautiful young man, Manners, who, having completed his course at the law school, was coming to spend a month before he should begin to practise. Since his first visit years ago, Manners, now a grown man of twenty, had spent much of many of his vacations with the St. Johns. The senator was obliged, as well as his limitations would allow, to take the place of a mother to Margaret, and though it was barely guessable from his words or actions, he loved Peter Manners like a son, and had resolved, almost since the beginning, to end by having him for one. And the last time that Manners had visited them in Washington, St. John had seen to it that he shook hands with all the great men who were making history. Once the senator and Margaret had visited the Manners in New York. That had been a bitter time for Aladdin, for while all the others of his age were sniffing timidly at love and life, he had found his grand passion early and stuck to it, and was now blissful with hope and now acrid with jealousy. Peter Manners he hated with a green and jealous hatred. And if Peter Manners had any of the baser passions, he divined this, and hated Aladdin back, but rather contemptuously. They met occasionally, and the meetings, always in the presence of Margaret, were never very happy. She was woman enough to rejoice at being a bone of contention, and angel enough to hate seeing good times spoiled.

But it was hard on Aladdin. He could go to her house almost when he liked, and be welcomed by her, but to her father and the rest of the household he was not especially welcome. They were always polite to him, and always considerate, and he felt--quite rightly--that he was merely tolerated, as a more or less presentable acquaintance of Margaret's. Manners, on the other hand, and it took less intuition to know it, was not only greatly welcome to Margaret, but to all the others--from the gardener up to the senator. Manners' distinction of manner, his wellbred, easy ways, his charmingly enunciative and gracious voice, together with his naive and simple nature, went far with people's hearts. Aladdin bitterly conceded every advantage to his rival except that of mind. To this, for he knew even in his humble moments that he himself had it, he clung tenaciously. Mrs. Brackett, with a sneaking admiration for Peter Manners, whom she had once seen on the street, had Aladdin's interests well in heart, and the lay of the matter well in hand. She put it like this to a friendly gossip:

"I guess' Laddin O'Brien's 'bout smaht enough to go a long ways further than fine clothes and money and a genealogical past will carry a body. He writes sometimes six and eight big sides of paper up in a day, and if he ain't content with that he just tears it up and goes at it again. There won't be anybody'll go further in this world than 'Laddin O'Brien, and you can say I said so--"

Here under oath of secrecy Mrs. Brackett lowered her voice and divulged a secret:

"He got a letter this mornin' sayin' that the Portland'spy' is goin' to print three poems he sent 'em, and enclosin' three dollars to pay for 'em. I guess beginnin' right now he could go along at that rate and make mebbe five or six hundred dollars a year. Poetry's nothin' to him; he can write it faster than you and I can baste."

At the very moment of this adoring act of divulgence Aladdin was in the parlor, giving his first taste of success a musical soul, and waiting--waiting--waiting until it should be late enough in the day for him to climb the hill to the St. Johns' and hand over the Big News to Margaret. And as he sat before the piano, demipatient and wholly joyful, his fingers twinkled the yellowed and black keys into fits of merriment, or, after an abrupt pause, built heap upon heap of bass chords. Then the mood would change and, to a whanging accompaniment, he would chant, recitative fashion, the three poems which alone he had made.

The day waned, and it was time to go and tell Margaret. His way lay past the railway-station, under the "Look out for the locomotive" sign, across the track, and up the hill. In the air was the exhilarating evening cool of June, and the fragrance of flowers, which in the north country, to make up for the shorter tale of their days, bloom bigger and smell sweeter than any other flowers in the world. Even in the dirty paved square fronting the station was a smell of summer and flowers. You could see people's faces lighten and sniff it, as they got out of the hot, cindery coaches of the five-forty, which had just rolled in.

The St. Johns' fine pair of bays and their open carriage were drawn up beside the station. The horses were entering a spirited, ground-pawing protest against the vicinity of that alway inexplicable and snorting monster on wheels. On the platform, evidently waiting for some one to get off the train, stood St. John and Margaret. She looked much fresher and sweeter than a rose, and Aladdin noted that she was wearing her hair up for the first time. Her dress was a floaty white affair with a blue ribbon round it, and her beautiful, gay young face flushed with excitement and anticipation till it sparkled. There was a large crowd getting off the train, at that aggravating rate of progression with which people habitually leave a crowded public conveyance or a theater, and Margaret and her father were looking through the windows of the cars to see if they could catch a glimpse of whom they sought. Suddenly the senator broke into a smile and waved his cane. The action was so unusual for him that it looked grotesque. Margaret stood on tiptoe and waved her hand, and a presentiment came to Aladdin and took away all his joy.

Peter Manners, looking fresh and clean in spite of his long, dusty ride, got off the train and made a hilarious rush for his friends. He shook hands with Margaret, then with the senator, and turned again to Margaret. She was altogether too pretty, and much too glad to see him. In the excitement of the moment it couldn't be borne, and he kissed her. Then they both laughed, and the senator laughed, for he was glad. He put his great hand on Manners' shoulder, and laughing and talking, the three went to the carriage. Then the senator remembered that the checks had been forgotten, and against a voluble protest he secured them from Manners, and went after an expressman. Having found the expressman--one of his constituents and a power in the town,--he handed him the checks, a fifty-cent piece, and a ponderous joke as old as Xerxes, at which the expressman roared. Manners stood by the carriage and looked at Margaret. "Lord God," he thought, "it has come at last!" and they grinned at each other.

"Mmm!" said Margaret, who stood for the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome. She had not expected to be so glad to see him.

Meanwhile Aladdin had turned and was going home.

Margaret caught sight of his back, and the pitiful little droop in the usually erect shoulders, and she divined like a flash, and called after him. He pretended not to hear and went on. In his pocket was the editor's letter which he had designed to show her. It had lain down and died.

"Why does that man hate me so?" said Manners.

A little of the joy of meeting had gone. A cloud passed over the sun, and the earth was darkened. Many drops of rain began to fall, each making a distinct splash as it struck. One began to smell the disturbed dust. But the flowers continued to send up their incense to heaven, and Manners put his light overcoat about Margaret.

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BOOK I CHAPTER XIAladdin had a large acquaintance in the town among all sorts of men, and, as he went home sorrowfully in the rain, he met a youth, older than himself, who had an evil notoriety; for being born with brains, of respectable people, and propitiously launched on the world, he had begun in his early teens, and in the face of the most heartrending solicitude, to drink himself to death. The miserable part of it was that everybody loved him when he was sober, and out of consideration to his family still asked him to the best that the
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BOOK I CHAPTER IXThere is no doubt that Aladdin's recovery dated from Margaret's visit. The poor boy was too sick to say what he had planned, but Margaret sat by his bed for a while and held his hand, and said little abrupt conventional things that meant much more to them both, and that was enough. Besides, and under the guns of her father's eyes, just before she went away she stooped and kissed him on the forehead, and that was more than enough to make anybody get over anything, Aladdin thought. So he slept a long cool sleep after Margaret
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