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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAladdin O'brien - Book 2 - Chapter 19
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Aladdin O'brien - Book 2 - Chapter 19 Post by :tomfra Category :Long Stories Author :Gouverneur Morris Date :May 2012 Read :1790

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Aladdin O'brien - Book 2 - Chapter 19


"In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard as I did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made all the time of the fight, he spake like a Dragon; and on the other side, what sighs and groans burst from Christian's heart. I never saw him all the while give so much as one pleasant look, till he perceived he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged sword: then indeed he did smile and look upward."



Senator St. John, attended by Margaret, her maid, and a physician, had made the arduous journey from Washington to Portland without too much fatigue, and it seemed reasonable to suppose that a long rest in his comfortable house, far from the turmoil of public affairs, would do much to reinstate his body after the savage attack of gout with complications to which it had been subjected during six long weeks. Arrived at Portland, he was driven to the house of his old friend Mr. Blankinship, and helped to bed. Next morning he was seized with acute pains in the region of the heart, and though his valiant mind refused for a single moment to tolerate the thought that the end might be near, was persuaded to send for his daughter and his sons.

Margaret was in the parlor with Aladdin. It was April, and the whole land dripped. Through the open window, for the day was warm, the moisture of the soaked ground and trees was almost audible. Margaret had much to say to Aladdin, and he to her; they had not met for several months.

"I want to hear about Peter," said Aladdin--"all about him. He met you, of course, and got you across the city?"

"Yes, and his father came, too," said Margaret. "Such an old dear--you never saw him, did you? He's taller than Peter, but much thinner, and a great aristocrat. He's the only man I ever saw that has more presence than papa. He looks like a fine old bird, and you can see his skull very plainly--especially when he laughs, if you know what I mean. And he's really witty. He knows all about you and wants you to go and stay with them sometime." Aladdin sighed for the pure delight of hearing Margaret's voice running on and on. He was busy looking at her, and did not pay the slightest attention to what she said. "And the girl came to lunch, Aladdin, and she is so pretty, but not a bit serene like Peter, and the men are all wild about her, but she doesn't care that--"

"Doesn't she?" said Aladdin, annoyingly.

"No, she doesn't!" said Margaret, tartly. "She says she's going to be a horse-breaker or a nurse, and all the while she kept making eyes at brother John, and he lost his poise entirely and smirked and blushed, and I shouldn't wonder a bit if he'd made up his mind to marry her, and if he has he will--"

Aladdin caught at the gist of the last sentence. "Is that all that's necessary?" he said. "Has a man only got to make up his mind to marry a certain girl?"

"It's all brother John would have to do," said Margaret, provokingly.

"Admitting that," said Aladdin, "how about the other men?"

"Why," said Margaret, "I suppose that if a man really and truly makes up his mind to get the girl he wants, he'll get her."

She looked at him with a grand innocence. Aladdin's heart leaped a little.

"But suppose two men made up their minds," said Aladdin, "to get the same girl."

"That would just prove the rule," said Margaret, refusing to see any personal application, "because one of them would get her, and the other would be the exception."

"Would the one who spoke first have an advantage?" said Aladdin. "Suppose he'd wanted her ever so long, and had tried to succeed because of her, and"--he was warming to the subject, which meant much to him--"had never known that there was any other girl in the world, and had pinned all his faith and hope on her, would he have any advantage?"

"I don't know," said Margaret, rather dreamily.

"Because if he would--" Aladdin reached forward and took one of her hands in his two.

She let it lie there, and for a moment they looked into each other's eyes. Margaret withdrew her hand.

"I know--I know," she said. "But you mustn't say it, 'Laddin dear, because--somehow I feel that there are heaps of things to be considered before either of us ought to think of that. And how can we be quite sure? Anyway, if it's going to happen--it will happen. And that's all I'm going to say, 'Laddin."

"Tell me," he said gently, "what the trouble is, dear. Is it this: do you think you care for me, and aren't sure? Is that it?"

She nodded gravely. Aladdin took a long breath.

"Well," he said finally, "I believe I love you well enough, Margaret, to hope that you get the man who will make you happiest. I don't know," he went on rather gloomily, "that I'm exactly calculated to make anybody happy, but," he concluded, with a quavering smile, "I'd like to try." They shook hands like the two very old friends they were.

"We'll always be that, anyway," said Margaret.

"Always," said Aladdin.

"Mademoiselle!" Eugenie opened the parlor door and looked cautiously in, after the manner of the French domestic.

"What is it?" said Margaret in French.

Aladdin listened with intense admiration, for he did not understand a word.

"Monsieur does not carry himself so well," said Eugenie, "and he asks if mademoiselle will have the goodness to mount a moment to his room."

"I'll go at once." Margaret rose. "Papa's worse," she said to Aladdin. "Will you wait?"

"I am so sorry," said Aladdin. "No, I can't wait; I have to get out the paper. I"--he smiled--"am announcing to an eager public what general, in my expert opinion, is best fitted to command the armies of the United States."

"Of course there'll be fighting."

"Of course--and in a day or two. Good-by."


"I'll come round later and inquire about your father. Give him my love."

Margaret ran up-stairs to her father's room. He was in great pain, but perfectly calm and collected. As Margaret entered, the doctor went out, and she was alone with her father.

"Are you feeling badly, dear?" she said.

"I am feeling more easy than a moment ago," said the senator. "Bring a chair over here, Peggy; we must have a little talk."

She brought a little upright chair and sat down facing him, her right hand nestling over one of his.

"The doctor," said the senator, "considers that my condition is critical."


"I disagree with him. I shall, I believe, live to see the end of this civil riot, but I cannot be sure. So it behooves me to ask my dear daughter a question." St. John asked it with eagerness. "Which is it to be, Peggy?"

She blushed deeply.

"You are interested in Aladdin O'Brien?"

Her head drooped a little.

"Yes, papa."

The senator sighed.

"Thank you, dear," he said. "That is all I wanted to know. I had hoped that it would be otherwise. Peggy," he said, "I love that other young man like a son."


"I have always hoped that you would see him as I have seen him. I would be happy if I thought that I could leave you in such strong young hands. I trust him absolutely."


"Well, dear?"

"You don't like Aladdin?"

"He is not steady, Margaret." The simple word was pregnant with meaning as it fell from the senator.

"You don't mean that he--that he's like--"

"Yes, dear; I should not wish my youngest son to marry."

"Poor boy," said Margaret, softly.

"It's the Irish in him," said the senator. "He must do all things to extremes. There, in a word, lies all his strength and all his weakness."

"You would be sorry if I married Aladdin?"

"I should be afraid for your happiness. Do you love him?"

"I am not sure, papa."

"You are fond of Peter, aren't you?"

She leaned forward till her cheek touched his.

"Next to you and 'Laddin."

The senator patted her shoulder, and thus they remained for some time.

A great shouting arose in the neighborhood.

The senator sat bolt upright in bed. His nostrils began to quiver. He was like an old war-horse that hears bugles.

"Sumter?" he cried. "Sumter? Do I hear Sumter?"

The shouting became louder.

"Sumter?" he cried. "Have they fired upon Sumter?"

Margaret flew to the window and threw it open. It acted upon the shouting like the big swell of an organ, and the cries of excitement filled the room to bursting. South Carolina had clenched her hand and struck the flag in the face.

The doctor rushed in. He paused flabbergasted at sight of the man whom he had supposed to be dying.

"Great God, man!" cried the senator, "can't you get my clothes?"

When he was dressed they brought him his whalebone stick.

"Damn it, I can walk!" said he, and he broke the faithful old thing over a knee that had not been bent for a month.

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