An Ambitious Man (Chapter 4, page 2 of 5)


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Chapter 4

"You are going away?" she asked, with a tremor in her voice. "Is it
not very sudden?"

"No, I am not going away," he replied, "not from Beryngford--but I
shall doubtless leave your house ere many months. I am engaged to be
married to Miss Mabel Lawrence. You are the first person to whom I
have imparted the news, but you have been so kind, and I feel that
you ought to know it in time to secure a desirable tenant for my
room."

Again there was a pause. The rosy face of the Baroness had grown
quite pale, and an unpleasant expression had settled about the
corners of her small mouth. She waved a feather fan to and fro
languidly. Then she gave a slight laugh and said: "Well, I must confess that I am surprised. Miss Lawrence is the last
woman in the world whom I would have imagined you to select as a
wife. Yet I congratulate you on your good sense. You are very
ambitious, and you can rise to great distinction if you have the
right influence to aid you. Judge Lawrence, with his wealth and
position, is of all men the one who can advance your interests, and
what more natural than that he should advance the interests of his
son-in-law? You are a very wise youth and I again congratulate you.
No romantic folly will ever ruin your life."

There was irony and ridicule in her voice and face, and the young man
felt his cheek tingle with anger and humiliation. The Baroness had
read him like an open book--as everyone else doubtless would do. It
was bitterly galling to his pride, but there was nothing to do, save
to keep a bold front, and carry out his role with as much dignity as
possible.

He rose, spoke a few formal words of thanks to the Baroness for her
kindness to him, and bowed himself from her presence, carrying with
him down the street the memory of her mocking eyes.

As he entered his private office, he was amazed to see Berene Dumont
sitting in his chair fast asleep, her head framed by her folded arms,
which rested on his desk. Against the dark maroon of her sleeve, her
classic face was outlined like a marble statuette. Her long lashes
swept her cheek, and in the attitude in which she sat, her graceful,
perfectly-proportioned figure displayed each beautiful curve to the
best advantage.

To a noble nature, the sight of even an enemy asleep, awakes
softening emotions, while the sight of a loved being in the
unconsciousness of slumber stirs the fountain of affection to its
very depths.

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