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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFelix O'day - Chapter 10
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Felix O'day - Chapter 10 Post by :Hugh_de_Payen Category :Long Stories Author :Francis Hopkinson Smith Date :May 2012 Read :1874

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Felix O'day - Chapter 10

Chapter X

While it was true that Felix, since Masie's party, had gained the
complete good-will of his neighbors, there were, strange as it may
seem, certain individuals who, while they acknowledged the charm of his
personality, resented his quiet reserve. What nettled them most was his
not having told them at once who he was and why he had come to Kling's,
and why he had stayed on wrapped in mystery. They considered themselves,
so to speak, as defrauded of something which was their right and said so
in plain terms.

"Well, I hope it won't be a pair of handcuffs they'll surprise him with
some day"; or, "When that pal of his turns up, then you'll see fun,"
being some of the suggestions frequently made over counters, to be
answered by his loyal adherents with a "Well, I don't care what ye say.
I ain't never come across no man any better than Felix O'Day since I
lived here, and that's no lie."

There were others, too, who refused to believe any good of the
self-contained, reticent stranger. The nephew of somebody's
brother-in-law, who lived in Lexington Avenue, was one. He had been
promised, by the cousin of somebody else, the position of clerk with
Otto Kling, and although Otto had never heard of it, he WOULD have heard
of it and the nephew been duly installed but for "a galoot who SAID his
name was O'Day."

And another thing. What was a fellow, who would work under a Dutchman
like Kling, for only enough to pay his board, doing with a dress suit,
anyhow? The fact was that O'Day was either here "on the quiet" to escape
his creditors, while his friends were trying to patch things up for his
return, or he was an English valet who had stolen his master's clothes.

A new rumor now filled the air. O'Day, was a spy sent by some foreign
government to look after important interests, like that Russian who
had been employed in a publishing house, where he wrote articles for an
encyclopaedia, only to be recognized later, whereupon he had disappeared
and was never seen again. Tim Kelsey had known him. In fact, he had
visited often Tim's bookstore at night, just as O'Day was visiting it,
and where a lot of other queer-looking people could be found if anybody
would "take the trouble to knock at Kelsey's door and peer in through
the tobacco smoke some night."

All this gossip rolled off Kitty's mind as rain from a tin roof. Only
once did she rise up in anger with a "Get out of my place! I'll not have
ye soiling the air with yer dirty talk. Get out, I say! Ye don't know a
gentleman when ye see him, and ye never will."

It was when these rumors as to her lodger's identity were thickest and
when Kitty's heart had begun to fear that his despondency was returning,
his nightly prowls having been resumed, that a hansom cab stopped in
front of her door.

It was one of her busy days, the sidewalk being blocked up with twenty
or more trunks, parcels, cribs, and baby-carriages on their way, by the
aid of Mike, the big white horse, and John, to the Ferry for shipment
to Lakewood. Kitty was in charge of the quarter-deck, her head bare,
her sleeves rolled above her elbows, showing her plump, ruddy arms, her
cheeks and eyes aglow with the crisp air of the morning. October had
set in, and one of those lung-filling, bracing days--the sky swept by
dancing clouds, dragging their skirts in their flight--was making glad
the great city.

Kitty loved its snap and tang. She loved, too, the excitement aroused
by her duties, and was never so happy as when there were but so many
minutes to catch a train--a fact she never ceased to impress upon
everybody about her, she knowing all the time that she would so manage
the loading as to have five minutes to spare.

"In with those hand-bags, Mike--in the front, where that Saratoga trunk
won't smash 'em. Now that crib--no--not loose! Get that strap around it;
do ye want to have to pick it up before ye get half-way to the tunnel?
Hurry up, John, dear! Hold on--give me the other handle of that--look at
it now, big as a chicken-coop! Them Fifth Avenue ladies will be livin'
in these things if they keep on."

These orders and remarks, fired in rapid succession, were interrupted to
her great annoyance by the driver of the hansom cab, who, impatient at
the delay, had touched his horse lightly with the whip, bringing the
big wheels to a stop in front of the huge trunk which Kitty was
anathematizing.

"Go on wid ye! Drive on, I tell ye!" she cried, opening fire on the
driver.

"Gentleman wants to--"

"Well, I don't care what the gentleman wants. This stuff's got to go
aboard that wagon."

Here the passenger's head was thrust forward.

"Can you--"

"Yes, of course I can, and glad to, no matter what it is--but not this
minute. Don't ye see what I'm up against?"

The hansom was backed its full length, the passenger watching Kitty's
movements with evident amusement.

Two strong hands, one Kitty's and the other John's--mostly
John's--lifted the chicken-coop of a trunk bodily, rested it for an
instant on the forward wheel, and with another "all together" jerk sent
it rolling into the wagon. This completed the loading.

The passenger craned his head again.

"I am staying in Gramercy Park, and want--"

Kitty, who had been stretching her neck to its full length to catch his
words, straightened up. "Ye'll have to get out. I'm no long-distance
telephone, and the racket of them horse-cars is enough to set a body
crazy."

The passenger laughed, stretched out a leg, gathered the other beside
it, and stepped to the sidewalk. "You seem to understand your business,
my good woman," he began, unbuttoning his overcoat to get at the inside
pocket of his cutaway.

"Why shouldn't I? I been at it these twenty years."

She had taken him in now, from his polished silk hat, gray hair, and red
cheeks down to his check trousers, white spats, and well-brushed shoes.
Her own face was by this time wreathed in smiles; she saw the man was a
gentleman who had intended only to be courteous. "Is that what ye came
to tell me?" she cried.

"No, but I would have done so if I had ever watched you work. Oh, here
it is," he continued, drawing out his pocketbook. "I want you to--"
he stopped and looked at her from over the rims of his gold
spectacles--"but I may not have hold of the right person. May I ask if
you belong here?"

Her head went up with a toss, her eyes dancing. "Of course ye can ask
anything ye please, but I'll tell ye right off I don't belong here.
Every blessed thing here belongs to me and my man John."

The passenger broke into a laugh. He had evidently found a rara avis,
and was enjoying the discovery to the full. American types always
interested him; this sample of Irish-New York was a revelation.

"Go on," smiled Kitty, "I'm waitin'."

"Well, take this order to No. 3 Gramercy Park, and they will give you my
two boxes, a shirt case, a roll of steamer-rugs, and some golf-sticks in
a leather pouch, five pieces in all. Get them down to the Cunard dock by
eleven, and my servant will be there to take charge of them. The steamer
sails at twelve. Is that clear?"

She reached for the paper and began checking off the number of
the apartment, number of pieces, dock, and hour. This was all that
interested her.

"It is--clear as mud--and they'll be on time. And now, who's to pay?"

"I am, and--" He stopped suddenly, staring in blank amazement at Felix,
who had just emerged from the side door and was stopping for a word
with one of John's drivers. "My God!" he muttered in a low voice, as if
talking to himself. "I can't be mistaken."

Felix nodded a good morning to Kitty and, with an alert, quick stride
crossed the sidewalk diagonally, and bent his steps toward Kling's.

The Englishman followed him with his gaze, his open pocketbook still in
his hands. "Is that gentleman a customer of yours?" Had he seen a dead
man suddenly come to life he could not have been more astounded.

"He is, and pays his rent like one."

"Rent? For what?" The customer seemed completely at sea.

"For my up-stairs room. He's my lodger and I never had a better."

The Englishman caught his breath. "Do you know who he is?" he asked
cautiously.

"Of course I do! Do you happen to know him?" John had moved up now and
stood listening.

"Not personally, but, unless I am very much mistaken, that is Sir Felix
O'Day."

"Ye ain't mistaken, you're dead right--all but the 'Sir.' That's
somethin' new to me. It's MR. Felix O'Day around here, and there ain't
a finer nor a better. What do ye know about him?" Her voice had softened
and a slight shade of anxiety had crept into it. John craned his head to
hear the better.

"Nothing to his discredit. He has had a lot of trouble--terrible
trouble--more than anybody I know. I heard he had gone to Australia. I
see now that he came to New York. Well, upon my soul, Sir Felix living
over an express office!"

He handed her a bill, waited until John had fished up the change from
the trousers pocket, repeated, in an absent-minded way: "Sir Felix
living here! Good God! What next?" and, beckoning to the driver, stepped
inside the hansom and drove off.

Kitty looked at her husband, her color coming and going. "What did I
tell ye, John, dear? And ye wouldn't believe a word of it."

John returned Kitty's look. He, too, was trying to grasp the full
meaning of the announcement. "Are ye going to tell him ye know, Kitty?"
Neither of them had the slightest doubt of its truth.

"No, I ain't," she flashed back. "Not a word--nor nobody else. When Mr.
Felix O'Day gits ready to tell us, he will."

"Will ye tell Father Cruse?" he persisted.

"I don't know that I will. I'll have to think it over. And now, John,
remember!--not a word of this to any livin' soul. Do ye promise?"

"I do." He hesitated, another question struggling to his lips, and then
added: "What's up wid him, do ye think, Kitty?"

"I don't know, John, dear. I wish I did, but whatever it is, its
breakin' his heart."

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Chapter XIThe discovery of her lodger's title made but little difference toKitty, nor did it raise him a whit in her estimation. At best, it onlyconfirmed her first impression of his being a gentleman--every inch ofhim. She may have studied the more closely her lodger's habits, notinghis constant care of his person, the way in which he used his knife andfork, the softness and cleanliness of his hands--all object-lessons toher, for she broke out on her husband the day after her talk with theEnglishman in the hansom cab with:"I want to tell ye that ye'll have to stop spatterin' yer soup
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Chapter IXThat the memories of Masie's birthday party should have been revivedagain and again, and that the several incidents should have beendiscussed for days thereafter--every eye growing the brighter in thetelling--was to have been expected. Kitty could talk of nothingelse. The beauty of the room; the charm of Masie's costume; Kling'sgenerosity; and last, O'Day's bearing and appearance as he led the childthrough the stately dance, looking, as Kitty expressed it, "that fineand handsome you would have thought he was a lord mayor," were now herdaily topics of conversation.Masie was equally enthusiastic, rushing down-stairs the next morning tothrow her arms around his
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