Read CHAPTER XIV of Ethel Morton's Enterprise, free online book, by Mabell S.C. Smith, on


“Uncle Dan,” whose last name was Hapgood, did not cease his calls upon the Clarks. Sometimes he brought with him his niece, whose name, they learned, was Mary Smith.

“Another Smith!” ejaculated Dorothy who had lived long enough in the world to find out the apparent truth of the legend, that originally all the inhabitants of the earth were named Smith and so continued until some of them misbehaved and were given other names by way of punishment.

No one liked Mr. Hapgood better as time went on.

“I believe he is a twentieth century werwolf, as Dorothy said,” Ethel Brown insisted. “He’s a wolf turned into a man but keeping the feelings of a wolf.”

The girls found little to commend in the manners of his niece and nothing to attract. By degrees the “botanist’s” repeated questioning put him in command of all the information the Clarks had themselves about the clue that Stanley was hunting down. He seemed especially interested when he learned that the search had been transferred to the vicinity of Pittsburg.

“My sister, Mary’s mother, lived near Pittsburg,” he told them when he heard it; “I know that part of the country pretty well.”

For several days he was not seen either by the Clarks or by the girls who went to the Motor Inn to attend to the flowers, and Mrs. Foster told the Ethels that Mary had been left in her care while her uncle went away on a business trip.

At the end of a week he appeared again at the Clarks’, bringing the young girl with him. He received the usual courteous but unenthusiastic reception with which they always met this man who had forced himself upon them so many times. Now his eyes were sparkling and more nervously than ever he kept pushing back the lock of hair that hung over his forehead.

“Well, I’ve been away,” he began.

The Clarks said that they had heard so.

“I been to western Pennsylvania.”

His hearers expressed a lukewarm interest.

“I went to hunt up the records of Fayette County concerning the grandparents of Mary here.”

“I hope you were successful,” remarked the elder Miss Clark politely.

“Yes, ma’am, I was,” shouted Hapgood in reply, thumping his hand on the arm of his chair with a vigor that startled his hosts. “Yes, sir, I was, sir; perfectly successful; en-tirely successful.”

Mr. Clark murmured something about the gratification the success must be to Mr. Hapgood and awaited the next outburst.

It came without delay.

“Do you want to know what I found out?”

“Certainly, if you care to tell us.”

“Well, I found out that Mary here is the granddaughter of your cousin, Emily Leonard, you been huntin’ for.”

“Mary!” exclaimed the elder Miss Clark startled, her slender hands fluttering agitatedly as the man’s heavy voice forced itself upon her ears and the meaning of what he said entered her mind.

“This child!” ejaculated the younger sister, Miss Eliza, doubtfully, adjusting her glasses and leaning over to take a closer look at the proposed addition to the family.


This comment came from Mr. Clark.

A dull flush crept over Hapgood’s face.

“You don’t seem very cordial,” he remarked.

“O,” the elder Miss Clark, Miss Maria, began apologetically, but she was interrupted by her brother.

“You have the proofs, I suppose.”

Hapgood could not restrain a glare of dislike, but he drew a bundle of papers from his pocket.

“I knew you’d ask for ’em.”

“Naturally,” answered the calm voice of Mr. Clark.

“So I copied these from the records and swore to ’em before a notary.”

“You copied them yourself?”

“Yes, sir, with my own hand,” and the man held up that member as if to call it as a witness to his truth.

“I should have preferred to have had the copying done by a typist accredited by the county clerk,” said Mr. Clark coolly.

Hapgood flushed angrily.

“If you don’t believe me ” he began, but Mr. Clark held up a warning finger.

“It’s always wise to follow the custom in such cases,” he observed.

Hapgood, finding himself in the wrong, leaned over Mr. Clark’s shoulder and pointed eagerly to the notary’s signature.

“Henry Holden that’s the notary that’s him,” he repeated several times insistently.

Mr. Clark nodded and read the papers slowly aloud so that his sisters might hear their contents. They recited the marriage at Uniontown, the county seat of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, on the fifteenth day of December, 1860, of Emily Leonard to Edward Smith.

“There you are,” insisted Hapgood loudly. “That’s her; that’s the grandmother of Mary here.”

“You’re sure of that?”

“Here’s the record of the birth of Jabez, son of Edward and Emily (Leonard) Smith two years later, and the record of his marriage to my sister and the record of the birth of Mary. After I got the marriage of this Emily straightened out the rest was easy. We had it right in the family.”

The two sisters gazed at each other aghast. The man was so assertive and coarse, and the child was so far from gentle that it seemed impossible that she could be of their own blood. Still, they remembered that surroundings have greater influence than inheritance, so they held their peace, though Miss Maria stretched out her hand to Mary. Mary stared at it but made no move to take it.

“Your records look as if they might be correct,” said Mr. Clark, an admission greeted by Hapgood with a pleased smile and a complacent rub of the hands; “but,” went on the old gentleman, “I see nothing here that would prove that this Emily Leonard was our cousin.”

“But your nephew, Stanley, wrote you that he had found that your Emily had removed to the neighborhood of Pittsburg.”

“That’s true,” acknowledged the elder man, bending his head, “but Emily Leonard isn’t an unusual name.”

“O, she’s the one all right,” insisted Hapgood bluffly.

“Further, your record doesn’t state the names of this Emily Leonard’s parents.”

Hapgood tossed back the unruly lock of hair.

“I ought to have gone back one step farther,” he conceded. “I might have known you’d ask that.”


“I’ll send to the county clerk and get that straightened out.”

“It might be well,” advised Mr. Clark mildly. “One other point prevents my acceptance of these documents as proof that your niece belongs to our family. Neither the investigator whom we had working on the case nor my nephew have ever told us the date of birth of our Emily Leonard. We can, of course, obtain that, if it is not already in my nephew’s possession, but without it we can’t be sure that our cousin was of marriageable age on December fifteenth, 1860.”

It was Mr. Clark’s turn to rub his hands together complacently as Hapgood looked more and more discomfited.

“In fact, my dear sir,” Mr. Clark continued, “you have proved nothing except that some Emily Leonard married a man named Smith on the date named.”

He tapped the papers gently with a thin forefinger and returned them to their owner, who began to bluster.

“I might have known you’d put up a kick,” he exclaimed.

“I live, when I’m at home, in Arkansas,” replied Mr. Clark softly, “and Arkansas is so near Missouri that I have come to belong to the brotherhood who ‘have to be shown.’”

Hapgood greeted this sally with the beginning of a snarl, but evidently thought it the part of discretion to remain friendly with the people he wanted to persuade.

“I seem to have done this business badly,” he said, “but I’ll send back for the rest of the evidence and you’ll have to admit that Mary’s the girl you need to complete your family tree.”

“Come here, dear,” Miss Clark called to Mary in her quiet voice. “Are your father and mother alive?”

“Father is,” she thought the child answered, but her reply was interrupted by Hapgood’s loud voice, saying, “She’s an orphan, poor kid. Pretty tough just to have an old bachelor uncle to look after yer, ain’t it?”

The younger Miss Clark stepped to the window to pull down the shade while the couple were still within the yard and she saw the man give the girl a shake and the child rub her arm as if the touch had been too rough for comfort.

“Poor little creature! I can’t say I feel any affection for her, but she must have a hard time with that man!”

The interview left Mr. Clark in a disturbed state in spite of the calmness he had assumed in talking with Hapgood. He walked restlessly up and down the room and at last announced that he was going to the telegraph office.

“I might as well wire Stanley to send us right off the date of Emily Leonard’s birth, and, just as soon as he finds it, the name of the man she married.”

“If she did marry,” interposed Miss Maria. “Some of our family don’t marry,” and she humorously indicated the occupants of the room by a wave of her knitting needles.

At that instant the doorbell rang, and the maid brought in a telegram.

“It’s from Stanley,” murmured Mr. Clark.

“What a strange co-incidence,” exclaimed the elder Miss Clark.

“What does he say, Brother?” eagerly inquired the younger Miss Clark.

“‘Emily married a man named Smith,’” Mr. Clark read slowly.

“Is that all he says?”

“Every word.”

“Dear boy! I suppose he thought we’d like to know as soon as he found out!” and Miss Eliza’s thoughts flashed away to the nephew she loved, forgetting the seriousness of the message he had sent.

“The information seems to have come at an appropriate time,” commented Mr. Clark grimly.

“It must be true, then,” sighed Miss Maria; “that Mary belongs to us.”

“We don’t know at all if Hapgood’s Emily is our Emily, even if they did both marry Smiths,” insisted Mr. Clark stoutly, his obstinacy reviving. “I shall send a wire to Stanley at once asking for the dates of Emily’s birth and marriage. He must have them both by this time; why on earth doesn’t he send full information and not such a measly telegram as this!” and the old gentleman put on his hat and took his cane and stamped off in a rage to the Western Union office.

The sisters left behind gazed at each other forlornly.

“She certainly is an unprepossessing child,” murmured Miss Maria, “but don’t you think, under the circumstances, that we ought to ask her to pay us a visit?”

Miss Clark the elder contemplated her knitting for a noticeable interval before she answered.

“I don’t see any ‘ought’ about it,” she replied at last, “but I think it would be kind to do so.”

Meanwhile Mr. Clark, stepping into the telegraph office, met Mr. Hapgood coming out. That worthy looked somewhat startled at the encounter, but pulled himself together and said cheerfully “Just been sending off a wire about our matter.”

When the operator read Mr. Clark’s telegram a few minutes later he said to himself wonderingly, “Emily Leonard sure is the popular lady!”

Mr. Clark was not at all pleased with his sister’s proposal that they invite Mary Smith to make them a visit.

“It will look to Hapgood as if we thought his story true,” he objected, when they suggested the plan the next morning. “I don’t believe it is true, even if our Emily did marry a Smith, according to Stanley.”

“I don’t believe it is, either,” answered Miss Maria dreamily. “A great many people marry Smiths.”

“They have to; how are they to do anything else?” inquired the old gentleman testily. “There is such a lot of them you can’t escape them. We’re talking about your name, ladies,” he continued as Dorothy and her mother came in, and then he related the story of Hapgood’s visit and the possibility that Mary might prove to belong to them.

“Do you think he honestly believes that she’s the missing heir?” Mrs. Smith asked.

The ladies looked uncertain but there was no doubt in their brother’s mind.

“Not for a moment of time do I think he does,” he shouted.

“But what would be his object? Why should he try to thrust the child into a perfectly strange family?”

The elder Miss Clark ventured a guess.

“He may want to provide for her future if she’s really an orphan, as he says.”

“I don’t believe she is an orphan. Before her precious uncle drowned her reply with one of his roars I distinctly heard her say that her father was alive,” retorted the exasperated Mr. Clark.

“The child would be truly fortunate to have all of you dear people to look after her,” Mrs. Smith smiled, “but if her welfare isn’t his reason, what is?”

“I believe it has something to do with that piece of land,” conjectured Mr. Clark. “He never said a word about it to-night. That’s a bad sign. He wants that land and he’s made up his mind to have it and this has something to do with it.”

“How could it have?” inquired Mrs. Smith.

“This is all I can think of. Before we can sell that land or any of our land we must have the consent of all the living heirs or else the title isn’t good, as you very well know. Now Emily Leonard and her descendants are the only heirs missing. This man says that the child, Mary, is Emily Leonard’s grandchild and that Emily and her son, the child’s father, are dead. That would mean that if we wanted to sell that land we’d be obliged to have the signatures of my sisters and my nephew, Stanley, and myself, and also of the guardian of this child. Of course Hapgood will say he’s the child’s guardian. Do you suppose, Mrs. Smith, that he’s going to sign any deed that gives you that land? Not much! He’ll say it’s for the child’s best interests that the land be not sold now, because it contains valuable clay or whatever it is he thinks he has found there. Then he’ll offer to buy the land himself and he’ll be willing enough to sign the deed then.”

“But we might not be,” interposed Miss Maria.

“I should say not,” returned her brother emphatically, “but he’d probably make a lot of trouble for us and be constantly appealing to us on the ground that we ought to sell the land for the child’s good or he might even say for Stanley’s good or our good, the brazen, persistent animal.”

“Brother,” remonstrated Miss Maria. “You forget that you may be speaking of the uncle of our little cousin.”

“Little cousin nothing!” retorted Mr. Clark fiercely. “It’s all very nice for the Mortons to find that that charming girl who takes care of the Belgian baby is a relative. This is a very different proposition! However, I suppose you girls ” meaning by this term the two ladies of more than seventy “won’t be happy unless you have the youngster here, so you might as well send for her, but you’d better have the length of her visit distinctly understood.”

“We might say a week,” suggested Miss Eliza hesitatingly.

“Say a week, and say it emphatically,” approved her brother, and trotted off to his study, leaving the ladies to compose, with Mrs. Smith’s help, a note that would not be so cordial that Brother would forbid its being sent, but that would nevertheless give a hint of their kindly feeling to the forlorn child, so roughly cared for by her strange uncle.

Mary Smith went to them, and made a visit that could not be called a success in any way. She was painfully conscious of the difference between her clothes and the Ethels’ and Dorothy’s and Della’s, though why theirs seemed more desirable she could not tell, since her own were far more elaborate. The other girls wore middy blouses constantly, even the older girls, Helen and Margaret, while her dresses were of silk or some other delicate material and adorned with many ruffles and much lace.

She was conscious, too, of a difference between her manners and theirs, and she could not understand why, in her heart, she liked theirs better, since they were so gentle as to seem to have no spirit at all, according to her views. She was always uncomfortable when she was with them and her efforts to be at ease caused her shyness to go to the other extreme and made her manners rough and impertinent.

Mrs. Smith found her crying one day when she came upon her suddenly in the hammock on the Clarks’ veranda.

“Can I help?” she asked softly, leaning over the small figure whose every movement indicated protest.

“No, you can’t,” came back the fierce retort. “You’re one of ’em. You don’t know.”

“Don’t know what?”

“How I feel. Nobody likes me. Miss Clark just told me to go out of her room.”

“Why were you in her room?”

“Why, shouldn’t I go into her room? When I woke up this morning I made up my mind I’d do my best to be nice all day long. They’re so old I don’t know what to talk to ’em about, but I made up my mind I’d stick around ’em even if I didn’t know what to say. Right after breakfast they always go upstairs I think it’s to be rid of me and they don’t come down for an hour, and then they bring down their knitting and their embroidery and they sit around all day long except when that Belgian baby that lives at your house comes in then they get up and try to play with her.”

Mrs. Smith smiled, remembering the efforts of the two old ladies to play with “Ayleesabet.” Mary noticed the smile.

“They do look fools, don’t they?” she cried eagerly.

“I think they look very dear and sweet when they are playing with Ayleesabet. I was not smiling at them but because I sympathized with their enjoyment of the baby.”

“Well, I made up my mind they needn’t think they had to stay upstairs because I wasn’t nice; I’d go upstairs and be nice. So I went upstairs to Miss Maria’s room and walked in.”

“Walked right in? Without knocking?”

“I walked right in. She was sitting in front of that low table she has with the looking glass and all the bottles and boxes on it. Her hair was down her back what there was of it and she was doing up her switch.”

Mrs. Smith was so aghast at this intrusion and at the injured tone in which it was told that she had no farther inclination to smile.

“I said, ‘I thought I’d come up and sit with you a while,’ and she said, ‘Leave the room at once, Mary,’ just like that. She was as mad as she could be.”

“Do you blame her?”

“Why should she be mad, when I went up there to be nice to her? She’s an old cat!”

“Dear child, come and sit on this settee with me and let’s talk it over.”

Mrs. Smith put her arm over the shaking shoulders of the angry girl and drew her toward her. After an instant’s stiffening against it Mary admitted to herself that it was pleasant; she didn’t wonder Dorothy was sweet if her mother did this often.

“Now we’re comfortable,” said Mrs. Smith. “Tell me, dear, aren’t there some thoughts in your mind that you don’t like to tell to any one? thoughts that seem to belong just to you yourself? Perhaps they’re about God; perhaps they’re about people you love, perhaps they’re about your own feelings but they seem too private and sacred for you to tell any one. They’re your own, ownest thoughts.”

Mary nodded.

“Do you remember your mother?”

Mary nodded again.

“Sometimes when you recall how she took you in her arms and cuddled you when you were hurt, and how you loved her and she loved you I know you think thoughts that you couldn’t express to any one else.”

Mary gave a sniff that hinted of tears.

“Everybody has an inner life that is like a church. You know you wouldn’t think of running into a church and making a noise and disturbing the worshippers. It’s just so with people’s minds; you can’t rush in and talk about certain things to any one the things that he considers too sacred to talk about.”

“How are you going to tell?”

Mrs. Smith drew a long breath. How was she to make this poor, untutored child understand.

“You have to tell by your feelings,” she answered slowly. “Some people are more reserved than others. I believe you are reserved.”

“Me?” asked Mary wonderingly.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a great many things that you might have talked about with your mother, if she had lived, but that you find it hard to talk about with your uncle.”

Mary nodded.

“He’s fierce,” she commented briefly.

“If he should begin to talk to you about some of the tender memories that you have of your mother, for instance, it might be hard for you to answer him. You’d be apt to think that he was coming into your own private church.”

“I see that,” the girl answered; “but,” returning to the beginning of the conversation, “I didn’t want to talk secrets with Miss Maria; I just wanted to be nice.”

“Just in the same way that people have thoughts of their very own that you mustn’t intrude on, so there are reserves in their habits that you mustn’t intrude on. Every one has a right to freedom from intrusion. I insist on it for myself; my daughter never enters my bedroom without knocking. I pay her the same respect; I always tap at her door and wait for her answer before I enter.”

“Would you be mad if she went into your room without knocking?”

“I should be sorry that she was so inconsiderate of my feelings. She might, perhaps, interrupt me at my toilet. I should not like that.”

“Is that what I did to Miss Maria?”

“Yes, dear, it was. You don’t know Miss Maria well, and yet you opened the door of her private room and went in without being invited.”

“I’m sorry,” she said briefly.

“I’m sure you are, now you understand why it wasn’t kind.”

“I wish she knew I meant to be nice.”

“Would you like to have me tell her? I think she’ll understand there are some things you haven’t learned for you haven’t a mother to teach you.”

“Uncle Dan says maybe I’ll have to live with the old ladies all the time, so they might as well know I wasn’t trying to be mean,” she whispered resignedly.

“I’ll tell Miss Maria, then, and perhaps you and she will be better friends from now on because she’ll know you want to please her. And now, I came over to tell you that the U.S.C. is going into New York to-day to see something of the Botanical Garden and the Arboretum. I’m going with them and they’d be glad to have you go, too.”

“They won’t be very glad, but I’d like to go,” responded the girl, her face lighted with the nearest approach to affection Mrs. Smith ever had seen upon it.