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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMary Louise Solves A Mystery - Chapter 26. What Mary Louise Accomplished
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Mary Louise Solves A Mystery - Chapter 26. What Mary Louise Accomplished Post by :JuvioSuccess Category :Long Stories Author :L. Frank Baum Date :May 2012 Read :1971

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Mary Louise Solves A Mystery - Chapter 26. What Mary Louise Accomplished

CHAPTER XXVI. WHAT MARY LOUISE ACCOMPLISHED

I am quite sure it is unnecessary to relate in detail the scene that followed Mary Louise's introduction or the excited inquiries and explanations which naturally ensued. To those present the scene was intensely dramatic and never to be forgotten, but such a meeting between father and daughter is considered too sacred to be described here.

Mary Louise's intuition had not played her false. She had found at the Congress Hotel another Jason Jones, far different from the one she had known, and a few questions elicited the fact that he was indeed the father of Alora. So, as briefly as she could, she told him how another man had usurped his place and seized all of Alora's income, at the same time willfully depriving the girl of such comforts and accomplishments as one in her position should enjoy.

"And to think," she added indignantly, "that he is not Jason Jones at all!"

"I believe you are mistaken there," replied the artist thoughtfully. "Jason is a family name, derived from one of our most eminent ancestors, and in my generation it is also borne, I have learned, by one of my second cousins, a Jason Jones who is also a painter and aspires to fame as an artist. I have never met the man, but his indifferently executed canvases, offered for sale under our common name, formerly caused me considerable annoyance and perhaps interfered with my career. But of late I have not heard of this Jason Jones, for soon after my separation from my wife I went to Southern California and located in a little bungalow hidden in a wild canyon of the Santa Monica mountains. There I have secluded myself for years, determined to do some really good work before I returned East to prove my ability. Some time after Antoinette died I saw a notice to that effect in a newspaper, but there were no comments and I did not know that she had made me guardian of our child. That was like Antoinette," he continued, in gentler tones; "she was invariably generous and considerate of my shortcomings, even after we realized we were not fitted to live together. Her renunciation of me seemed harsh, at first, for I could not understand her ambitions, but in fact she drove me to success. I have won the Grand Prize, after all these years of patient labor, and from now on my future is assured."

"Have you never longed for your child?" asked Mary Louise reproachfully.

"I have, indeed. In imagination I have followed Alora's growth and development year by year, and one of my most cherished anticipations when coming here was to seek out my daughter and make myself known to her. I knew she had been well provided for in worldly goods and I hoped to find her happy and content. If my picture received favorable comment at the exhibition I intended to seek Alora. I did not expect to win the Grand Prize."

* * * * * * * *

It was this newly discovered Jason Jones and his daughter--who already loved him and shyly clung to this responsive and congenial parent--who went to Dorfield with the Colonel and Mary Louise and Peter Conant and Josie O'Gorman to attend the obsequies of the other less fortunate Jason Jones. Mrs. Orme was there, too; Mrs. Janet Orme Jones; for she admitted she was the dead man's wife and told them, in a chastened but still defiant mood, how the substitution of her husband for the other artist had come about.

"Many years ago, when I was nursing in a New York hospital," she said, "a man was brought in with both arms broken, having been accidentally knocked down by a street-car. I was appointed to nurse him and learned from him that he was Jason Jones, a poor artist who was, however, just about to win recognition. He showed me a newspaper clipping that highly praised a painting then being exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was signed Jason Jones. I know now that it wasn't his picture at all, but the work of his cousin, but at the time the clipping deceived me.

"I was ambitious to become something more than a nurse. I thought that to be the wife of a famous artist would bring me wealth and a position in society, so I married Jason Jones--without love--and he married me-- also without love--in order to get my wages. He won where I lost, for during several years I foolishly supported him with my savings, always expecting him to become famous. At first he attributed his failures to his broken arms, although they had healed perfectly, and I ignorantly accepted the excuse. It was only after years of waiting for the man to prove his ability that I finally woke to the truth--that he had no talent--and I then left him to his own devices. In Chicago I sought to forget my unfortunate past and found regular employment there in my profession.

"It was while nursing Mrs. Jones that I overheard her give to Doctor Anstruther the supposed address of her husband, which had been furnished her by a casual acquaintance, and tell him to wire Jason Jones to come to her at once. I well knew a mistake had been made and that she had given the doctor my own husband's address--the address of an entirely different Jason Jones. My first impulse was to undeceive her, but that would involve humiliating explanations, so I hesitated and finally decided to remain silent. When the doctor had gone to telegraph and the die was cast, I reflected that my husband, whom I knew to be sunk in poverty, would ignore the request to come to Chicago to be reconciled to his dying wife. _My Jason wouldn't care whether I lived or died and wouldn't have spent a cent to be reconciled with me. For of course he would think it was I who asked for him, since he would know nothing of Antoinette Seaver Jones or that she was the wife of his distant relative, the other Jason Jones.

"He did, indeed, answer Doctor Anstruther by saying he would not come unless his expenses were advanced, so the good doctor launched the future deception by sending him ample funds. I knew of this action and wondered what I ought to do. There would be a terrible mix-up when my husband appeared, and I realized how disappointed the sick woman would be. Knowing her condition to be dangerous, I feared the shock would kill her, which it really did, for still I kept silent. I told myself that I had not aided in the deception in any way, that it was a trick of fate, and I could not be blamed. I thought that when Doctor Anstruther met my husband there would be explanations and the truth would come out, but somehow that did not happen. Jason Jones walked into Antoinette Seaver Jones' room expecting to find _me dying, and saw a strange woman in the bed and his wife--in good health--standing before him. He let out an oath in his surprise and my patient, who had raised up in bed to stare at him, uttered a low moan and fell back on her pillow, dead. I saw the tragedy and involuntarily screamed, and Jason Jones saw she was dead and cried out in fear. I had just time to recover my wits and whisper to him to keep his mouth shut and I would make him rich when Doctor Anstruther hurried into the room.

"The whole thing was unpremeditated up to that time, but now I assisted fate, for I had witnessed Mrs. Jones' will and knew well its contents. No one seemed to know there were two artists named Jason Jones and everyone accepted my husband as Alora's father and the one entitled to her guardianship and to profit by the terms of the will.

"An hour after Mrs. Jones died I secured a secret interview with my husband, who until then had been thoroughly bewildered, and explained to him that the mistake in identity would, if he took prompt advantage of it, give him the control of an enormous income for seven years-- until the child reached the age of eighteen. He was fearful, at first, that the other Jason Jones would appear and prosecute him for swindling, but as the husband of Antoinette Seaver had not been heard from in years, even by his own wife, I induced him to accept the risk. It was I who virtually put that income into my husband's hands, and in return he agreed to supply me with whatever money I demanded, up to a half of his receipts. But he proved that there is not always honor among thieves, for after he had been made legal executor of the estate and his fears had somewhat subsided he endeavored to keep all the money for himself and begrudged me the one or two instalments I forced him to give me. Strangely enough, this formerly poverty-stricken artist now developed a love of accumulation--a miserly love for the money itself, and hated to spend any of it even on himself or on the girl to whom he owed his good fortune. The coward actually ran away and hid himself in Europe, and I, having spent all the money he had given me, with the idea I had an inexhaustible fund to draw upon, was forced to turn nurse again.

"After three years I had saved enough to follow him to Europe, where I located him at a lonely villa in Italy. Its very loneliness was my undoing, for he made a husky servant lock me up in an outhouse and there I was held a prisoner until Jason had again escaped to America. He thought he could hide better in the United States and that I wouldn't have the money to follow him there, but I had fortunately saved enough for my return passage. By the time I got home, however, he had completely disappeared and all my efforts failed to locate him. So I returned to Chicago and again resumed my profession.

"You will say I might have denounced him as an impostor and made the police hunt him up, but that would have ruined my chances of ever getting another penny of the money and might have involved me personally. Jason knew that, and it made him bold to defy me. I silently bided my time, believing that fate would one day put the man in my power.

"You know how I happened to find Alora in Chicago and how I lured her to my home and kept her there a prisoner."

It was found that the dead man had made large investments in his own name, and as he had left no will Janet declared that this property now belonged to her, as his widow. Lawyer Conant, however, assured her that as the money had never been legally her husband's, but was secured by him under false pretenses, all the investments and securities purchased with it must be transferred to the real Jason Jones, to whom they now belonged. The court would attend to that matter.

"And it serves you right, madam," added Peter Conant, "for concocting the plot to swindle Alora's father out of the money his dead wife intended him to have. You are not properly punished, for you should be sent to jail, but your disappointment will prove a slight punishment, at least."

"So far as I knew," answered Janet, defending her crime, "Alora's father was either dead or hidden in some corner of the world where he could never be found. To my knowledge there was no such person existent, so the substitution of my husband for him did him no injury and merely kept the income out of the clutches of paid executors. Had the right man appeared, at any time during these four years, to claim his child and the money, he might easily have secured them by proving his identity. So the fault was his as much as mine."

Jason Jones had personally listened to the woman's confession, which filled him with wonder. While severely condemning her unscrupulous methods he refused to prosecute her, although Mr. Conant urged him to do so, and even carried his generosity to the extent of presenting her with one of her dead husband's small investments, obtaining from her in return the promise to lead an honest and respectable life.

It had been the artist's intention to return to his California bungalow, but after the probate court had acknowledged him and transferred to him the guardianship of his daughter, he decided to devote the coming years to Alora and endeavor to recompense her with fatherly devotion for the privations and unhappiness she had formerly endured.

Alora did not wish to be separated from Mary Louise, so her father purchased the handsome residence of Senator Huling, which was situated directly opposite to that of Colonel Hathaway in Dorfield, and succeeded in making it a real home for his daughter.

Josie O'Gorman went back to Washington well pleased with her success, although she said with a little grimace of feigned regret:

"I did pretty well, for an amateur, for I tackled a tough case and won out; but, after all, it was Mary Louise who solved the mystery and restored Alora to her honest-for-true father."


(THE END)
L. Frank Baum's Novel: Mary Louise Solves a Mystery

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