The House of a Thousand Candles
The House of a Thousand Candles
By Meredith Nicholson Author of The Main Chance Zelda Dameron, Etc.
With Illustrations by Howard Chandler Christy
“So on the morn there fell new tidings and other adventures” Malory
Copyright 1905 The Bobbs-Merrill Company
To Margaret My Sister
- I The Will of John Marshall Glenarm
- II A Face at Sherry’s
- III The House of a Thousand Candles
- IV A Voice From the Lake
- V A Red Tam-O’-Shanter
- VI The Girl and the Canoe
- VII The Man on the Wall
- VIII A String of Gold Beads
- IX The Girl and the Rabbit
- X An Affair With the Caretaker
- XI I Receive a Caller
- XII I Explore a Passage
- XIII A Pair of Eavesdroppers
- XIV The Girl in Gray
- XV I Make an Engagement
- XVI The Passing of Olivia
- XVII Sister Theresa
- XVIII Golden Butterflies
- XIX I Meet an Old Friend
- XX A Triple Alliance
- XXI Pickering Serves Notice
- XXII The Return of Marian Devereux
- XXIII The Door of Bewilderment
- XXIV A Prowler of The Night
- XXV Besieged
- XXVI The Fight in the Library
- XXVII Changes and Chances
- XXVIII Shorter Vistas
- XXIX And So the Light Led Me
The House of a Thousand Candles
THE WILL OF JOHN MARSHALL GLENARM
Pickering’s letter bringing news of my grandfather’s death found me at Naples early in October. John Marshall Glenarm had died in June. He had left a will which gave me his property conditionally, Pickering wrote, and it was necessary for me to return immediately to qualify as legatee. It was the merest luck that the letter came to my hands at all, for it had been sent to Constantinople, in care of the consul-general instead of my banker there. It was not Pickering’s fault that the consul was a friend of mine who kept track of my wanderings and was able to hurry the executor’s letter after me to Italy, where I had gone to meet an English financier who had, I was advised, unlimited money to spend on African railways. I am an engineer, a graduate of an American institution familiarly known as “Tech,” and as my funds were running low, I naturally turned to my profession for employment.
But this letter changed my plans, and the following day I cabled Pickering of my departure and was outward bound on a steamer for New York. Fourteen days later I sat in Pickering’s office in the Alexis Building and listened intently while he read, with much ponderous emphasis, the provisions of my grandfather’s will. When he concluded, I laughed. Pickering was a serious man, and I was glad to see that my levity pained him. I had, for that matter, always been a source of annoyance to him, and his look of distrust and rebuke did not trouble me in the least.
I reached across the table for the paper, and he gave the sealed and beribboned copy of John Marshall Glenarm’s will into my hands. I read it through for myself, feeling conscious meanwhile that Pickering’s cool gaze was bent inquiringly upon me. These are the paragraphs that interested me most:
I give and bequeath unto my said grandson, John Glenarm, sometime a resident of the City and State of New York, and later a vagabond of parts unknown, a certain property known as Glenarm House, with the land thereunto pertaining and hereinafter more particularly described, and all personal property of whatsoever kind thereunto belonging and attached thereto,—the said realty lying in the County of Wabana in the State of Indiana,— upon this condition, faithfully and honestly performed:
That said John Glenarm shall remain for the period of one year an occupant of said Glenarm House and my lands attached thereto, demeaning himself meanwhile in an orderly and temperate manner. Should he fail at any time during said year to comply with this provision, said property shall revert to my general estate and become, without reservation, and without necessity for any process of law, the property, absolutely, of Marian Devereux, of the County and State of New York.
“Well,” he demanded, striking his hands upon the arms of his chair, “what do you think of it?”
For the life of me I could not help laughing again. There was, in the first place, a delicious irony in the fact that I should learn through him of my grandfather’s wishes with respect to myself. Pickering and I had grown up in the same town in Vermont; we had attended the same preparatory school, but there had been from boyhood a certain antagonism between us. He had always succeeded where I had failed, which is to say, I must admit, that he had succeeded pretty frequently. When I refused to settle down to my profession, but chose to see something of the world first, Pickering gave himself seriously to the law, and there was, I knew from the beginning, no manner of chance that he would fail.
I am not more or less than human, and I remembered with joy that once I had thrashed him soundly at the prep school for bullying a smaller boy; but our score from school-days was not without tallies on his side. He was easily the better scholar—I grant him that; and he was shrewd and plausible. You never quite knew the extent of his powers and resources, and he had, I always maintained, the most amazing good luck,—as witness the fact that John Marshall Glenarm had taken a friendly interest in him. It was wholly like my grandfather, who was a man of many whims, to give his affairs into Pickering’s keeping; and I could not complain, for I had missed my own chance with him. It was, I knew readily enough, part of my punishment for having succeeded so signally in incurring my grandfather’s displeasure that he had made it necessary for me to treat with Arthur Pickering in this matter of the will; and Pickering was enjoying the situation to the full. He sank back in his chair with an air of complacency that had always been insufferable in him. I was quite willing to be patronized by a man of years and experience; but Pickering was my own age, and his experience of life seemed to me preposterously inadequate. To find him settled in New York, where he had been established through my grandfather’s generosity, and the executor of my grandfather’s estate, was hard to bear.
But there was something not wholly honest in my mirth, for my conduct during the three preceding years had been reprehensible. I had used my grandfather shabbily. My parents died when I was a child, and he had cared for me as far back as my memory ran. He had suffered me to spend without restraint the fortune left by my father; he had expected much of me, and I had grievously disappointed him. It was his hope that I should devote myself to architecture, a profession for which he had the greatest admiration, whereas I had insisted on engineering.
I am not writing an apology for my life, and I shall not attempt to extenuate my conduct in going abroad at the end of my course at Tech and, when I made Laurance Donovan’s acquaintance, in setting off with him on a career of adventure. I do not regret, though possibly it would be more to my credit if I did, the months spent leisurely following the Danube east of the Iron Gate—Laurance Donovan always with me, while we urged the villagers and inn-loafers to all manner of sedition, acquitting ourselves so well that, when we came out into the Black Sea for further pleasure, Russia did us the honor to keep a spy at our heels. I should like, for my own satisfaction, at least, to set down an account of certain affairs in which we were concerned at Belgrad, but without Larry’s consent I am not at liberty to do so. Nor shall I take time here to describe our travels in Africa, though our study of the