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Adrift in New York: Tom and Florence Braving the World, a novel by Horatio Alger

Chapter 30. Florence Is Followed Home

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_ Chapter XXX. Florence Is Followed Home

"I am listening, madam," said Florence, inclining her head.

"I wish to speak to you about last evening, Miss Linden."

"I hope my playing was satisfactory, Mrs. Leighton. I did my best."

"I have no fault to find with your music. It came up to my expectations."

"I am glad of that, madam."

"I referred, rather, to your behavior, Miss Linden."

"I don't understand you, Mrs. Leighton," Florence responded, in unaffected surprise. "Please explain."

"You danced several times with my nephew, Mr. Percy de Brabazon."

"Twice, madam."

"I understood it was oftener. However, that is immaterial. You hardly seemed conscious of your position."

"What was my position, Mrs. Leighton?" asked Florence, quietly, looking her employer in the face. "Well--ahem!" answered Mrs. Leighton, a little ill at ease, "you were a hired musician."


"And you acted as if you were an invited guest."

"I am sorry you did not give me instructions as to my conduct," said the governess, coldly. "I should not have danced if I had been aware that it was prohibited."

"I am sorry, Miss Linden, that you persist in misunderstanding me. Mr. de Brabazon, being in a different social position from yourself, it looked hardly proper that he should have devoted himself to you more than to any other lady."

"Did he? I was not aware of it. Don't you think, under the circumstances, that he is the one whom you should take to task? I didn't invite his attentions."

"You seemed glad to receive them."

"I was. He is undoubtedly a gentleman."

"Certainly he is. He is my nephew."

"It was not my part to instruct him as to what was proper, surely."

"You are very plausible. Miss Linden, I think it right to tell you that your conduct was commented upon by one of my lady guests as unbecoming. However, I will remember, in extenuation, that you are unaccustomed to society, and doubtless erred ignorantly."

Florence bowed, but forbore to make any remark.

"Do you wish to speak further to me, Mrs. Leighton?"

"No, I think not."

"Then I will bid you good-morning."

When the governess had left the house, Mrs. Leighton asked herself whether in her encounter with her governess the victory rested with her, and she was forced to acknowledge that it was at least a matter of doubt.

"Miss Linden is a faithful teacher, but she does not appear to appreciate the difference that exists between her and my guests. I think, however, that upon reflection, she will see that I am right in my stricture upon her conduct."

Florence left the house indignant and mortified. It was something new to her to be regarded as a social inferior, and she felt sure that there were many in Mrs. Leighton's position who would have seen no harm in her behavior on the previous evening.

Four days afterward, when Florence entered the Madison Avenue car to ride downtown, she had scarcely reached her seat when an eager voice addressed her:

"Miss Linden, how fortunate I am in meeting you!"

Florence looked up and saw Mr. de Brabazon sitting nearly opposite her.

Though she felt an esteem for him, she was sorry to see him, for, with Mrs. Leighton's rebuke fresh in her mind, it could only be a source of embarrassment, and, if discovered, subject her in all probability to a fresh reprimand.

"You are kind to say so, Mr. de Brabazon."

"Not at all. I hoped I might meet you again soon. What a pleasant time we had at the party."

"I thought so at the time, but the next day I changed my mind."

"Why, may I ask?"

"Because your aunt, Mrs. Leighton, took me to task for dancing with you twice."

"Was she so absurd?" ejaculated Percy.

"It is not necessarily absurd. She said our social positions were so different that it was unbecoming for me to receive attention from you."

"Rubbish!" exclaimed Percy, warmly.

"I am afraid I ought not to listen to such strictures upon the words of my employer."

"I wish you didn't have to teach."

"I can't join you in that wish. I enjoy my work."

"But you ought to be relieved from the necessity."

"We must accept things as we find them," said Florence, gravely.

"There is a way out of it," said Percy, quickly. "You understand me, do you not?"

"I think I do, Mr. de Brabazon, and I am grateful to you, but I am afraid it can never be."

Percy remained silent.

"How far are you going?" asked Florence, uneasily, for she did not care to have her companion learn where she lived.

"I intend to get out at Fourteenth Street."

"Then I must bid you good-afternoon, for we are already at Fifteenth Street."

"If I can be of any service to you, I will ride farther."

"Thank you," said Florence, hastily, "but it is quite unnecessary."

"Then, good morning!"

And Percy descended from the car.

In another part of the car sat a young lady, who listened with sensations far from pleasant to the conversation that had taken place between Florence and Mr. de Brabazon.

It was Emily Carter, whose jealousy had been excited on the evening of the party. She dropped her veil, fearing to be recognized by Mr. de Brabazon, with whom she was well acquainted. She, too, had intended getting off at Fourteenth Street, but decided to remain longer in the car.

"I will find out where that girl lives," she resolved. "Her conduct with Percy de Brabazon is positively disgraceful. She is evidently doing her best to captivate him. I feel that it is due to Mrs. Leighton, who would be shocked at the thought of her nephew's making a low alliance, to find out all I can, and put her on her guard."

She kept her seat, still keeping her veil down, for it was possible that Florence might recognize her; and the car moved steadily onward till it turned into the Bowery.

"Where on earth is she leading me?" Miss Carter asked herself. "I have never been in this neighborhood before. However, it won't do to give up, when I am, perhaps, on the verge of some important discoveries."

Still the car sped on. Not far from Grand Street, Florence left the car, followed, though she was unconscious of it, by her aristocratic fellow-passenger.

Florence stopped a moment to speak to Mrs. O'Keefe at her apple-stand.

"So you're through wid your work, Florence. Are you goin' home?"

"Yes, Mrs. O'Keefe."

"Then I'll go wid you, for I've got a nasty headache, and I'll lie down for an hour."

They crossed the street, not noticing the veiled young lady, who followed within ear shot, and listened to their conversation. At length they reached the tenement house--Florence's humble home--and went in.

"I've learned more than I bargained for," said Emily Carter, in malicious exultation. "I am well repaid for coming to this horrid part of the city. I wonder if Mr. de Brabazon knows where his charmer lives? I will see that Mrs. Leighton knows, at any rate." _

Read next: Chapter 31. Florence Is Discharged

Read previous: Chapter 29. Mrs. Leighton's Party

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