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Title: Thrice wedded, but only once a wife

Author: Mrs. Georgie Sheldon

Release date: May 23, 2023 [eBook #70837]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: Street & Smith, 1891

Credits: Richard Tonsing and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

Devoted to Good Reading in American Fiction.
Subscription Price, $6.00 Per Year. No. 80.—MARCH 21, 1891.
Copyrighted, 1891, by Street & Smith.
Entered at the Post-Office, New York, as Second-Class Matter.

Thrice Wedded,

STREET & SMITH, Publishers,
31 Rose Street.
Price, 25 Cents.
Some Opinions of the Press.

“As the probabilities are remote of the play ‘The Old Homestead’ being seen anywhere but in large cities it is only fair that the story of the piece should be printed. Like most stories written from plays it contains a great deal which is not said or done on the boards, yet it is no more verbose than such a story should be, and it gives some good pictures of the scenes and people who for a year or more have been delighting thousands nightly. Uncle Josh, Aunt Tildy, Old Cy Prime, Reuben, the mythical Bill Jones, the sheriff and all the other characters are here, beside some new ones. It is to be hoped that the book will make a large sale, not only on its merits, but that other play owners may feel encouraged to let their works be read by the many thousands who cannot hope to see them on the stage.”—N. Y. Herald, June 2d.

“Denman Thompson’s ‘The Old Homestead’ is a story of clouds and sunshine alternating over a venerated home; of a grand old man, honest and blunt, who loves his honor as he loves his life, yet suffers the agony of the condemned in learning of the deplorable conduct of a wayward son; a story of country life, love and jealousy, without an impure thought, and with the healthy flavor of the fields in every chapter. It is founded on Denman Thompson’s drama of ‘The Old Homestead.’”—N. Y. Press, May 26th.

“Messrs. Street & Smith, publishers of the New York Weekly, have brought out in book-form the story of ‘The Old Homestead,’ the play which, as produced by Mr. Denman Thompson, has met with such wondrous success. It will probably have a great sale, thus justifying the foresight of the publishers in giving the drama this permanent fiction form.”—N. Y. Morning Journal, June 2d.

“The popularity of Denman Thompson’s play of ‘The Old Homestead’ has encouraged Street & Smith, evidently with his permission, to publish a good-sized novel with the same title, set in the same scenes and including the same characters and more too. The book is a fair match for the play in the simple good taste and real ability with which it is written. The publishers are Street & Smith, and they have gotten the volume up in cheap popular form.”—N. Y. Graphic, May 29.

“Denman Thompson’s play, ‘The Old Homestead,’ is familiar, at least by reputation, to every play-goer in the country. Its truth to nature and its simple pathos have been admirably preserved in this story, which is founded upon it and follows its incidents closely. The requirements of the stage make the action a little hurried at times, but the scenes described are brought before the mind’s eye with remarkable vividness, and the portrayal of life in the little New England town is almost perfect. Those who have never seen the play can get an excellent idea of what it is like from the book. Both are free from sentimentality and sensation, and are remarkably healthy in tone.”—Albany Express.

“Denman Thompson’s ‘Old Homestead’ has been put into story-form and is issued by Street & Smith. The story will somewhat explain to those who have not seen it the great popularity of the play.”—Brooklyn Times, June 8th.

“The fame of Denman Thompson’s play, ‘Old Homestead,’ is world-wide. Tens of thousands have enjoyed it, and frequently recall the pure, lively pleasure they took in its representation. This is the story told in narrative form as well as it was told on the stage, and will be a treat to all, whether they have seen the play or not.”—National Tribune, Washington, D. C.

“Here we have the shaded lanes, the dusty roads, the hilly pastures, the peaked roofs, the school-house, and the familiar faces of dear old Swanzey, and the story which, dramatized, has packed the largest theater in New York, and has been a success everywhere because of its true and sympathetic touches of nature. All the incidents which have held audiences spell-bound are here recorded—the accusation of robbery directed against the innocent boy, his shame, and leaving home; the dear old Aunt Tilda, who has been courted for thirty years by the mendacious Cy Prime, who has never had the courage to propose; the fall of the country boy into the temptations of city life, and his recovery by the good old man who braves the metropolis to find him. The story embodies all that the play tells, and all that it suggests as well.”—Kansas City Journal, May 27th.



In a retired street in one of the inland cities of Massachusetts stood a neat and attractive little cottage of purest white, the dark green of its blinds making it seem still whiter beneath the dazzling sunshine of a lovely June morning.

Its little gem of a yard was surrounded by the daintiest of white fences, and filled with the brightest and choicest of flowers, showing that the owner was a person of taste and refinement.

The neatly graveled walk, from which every intruding blade of grass was carefully plucked, led to a smooth, wide stepping-stone as clean and spotless as a daily application of soap and water could make it.

The door stands invitingly open this bright morning, but we will not enter just yet. An introduction first is necessary to its inmates.

The sound of wheels is heard, and down the street comes a light, elegant buggy, drawn by a noble, spirited, but yet gentle horse of coal black. On and on it comes, until, at a word from the driver, it stops directly in front of the gate before the little cottage.

A boy of perhaps fourteen or fifteen years of age sprang lightly to the ground, tied his horse, then, with a look of 6eager expectation upon his face, walked quickly toward the open door.

He was a bright and active-appearing youth, with a full, round face, whose frank, open expression won you at once. His eyes were a fine hazel, large and full. His forehead, as he lifted his hat and ran his fingers through the clustering rings of chestnut hair that crowned his head, shone white and fair as polished marble, and was broad and high. His nose was straight and rather thin for the rest of his face, while his mouth was small but very pleasant in its expression, though there were certain lines about in that indicated firmness and a will of his own.

He was manly in form and bearing, and there was a look of conscious pride upon his beaming face as he glanced complacently back at the handsome equipage at the gate, while the silver tinkle of a bell gave back an answering echo to his touch.

“Oh, mamma, Robbie has come at last.”

And a bright little elf sprang dancing into the hall, and instantly a pair of chubby arms were around Robbie’s neck, and a hearty smack testified to the warmth of his reception.

She was just the sweetest little bit of sunshine ever caught and imprisoned in human form. A little round rosy face, all smiles and dimples; a pair of laughing blue eyes that danced and sparkled every minute in the day with fun and mischief. A pug nose and a rosebud mouth, always ready to give and take the sweetest kisses, as she had already proved. Her hair hung in curls around her plump cheeks, and was a sort of yellowish brown—not at all red, reader, but the brightest and richest auburn you ever saw.

Her figure was short and plump, while her little skipping fairy feet seemed almost too tiny to hold up so much precious flesh and blood.

“Oh, Robbie!” she said, almost breathless with delight and anticipation. “I thought you never, never, never would come; and mamma has coaxed and scolded to get me from the window, watching for you. She says it’s so unbecoming and unladylike to be so impatient; but I couldn’t help it, it’s so long since I had a ride. How nice the old pony looks, doesn’t he? and o-oh! you’ve had the buggy newly painted, too. What a grand time we will have! Come, I can’t wait any longer.”

7The little witch was about to spring down the step, when a voice from within arrested her.

“Dora, Dora, wait, my child, you have no collar or gloves. Your hat is on wrong side front, and your cape is not fastened; come here, my dear, and let me fix you.”

A quiet, lady-like looking woman followed the pleasant voice, and approached her lovely little daughter with the missing collar and gloves.

“Good-morning, Robert,” she said, smiling. “Did you ever see such a little Miss Wild-fire before?”

“Good-morning, auntie! I can’t blame Dora a mite, for I can hardly keep still myself this bright day. I wish you could go with us.”

“Thank you, Robert, I fear Dora would hardly consent, for she thinks it is a great thing for you to take her out alone. How is your father to-day?”

“He is about as usual, only he does not seem to be in very good spirits. I told him the other day he would be happier if he was a poor man and had to work for a living. He would then have something besides himself to think about.”

“What did he say to that?” asked Mrs. Dupont.

“Oh, he only laughed and said I was a queer boy, and that I might work for my living if I wanted to.”

“Now, Dora,” said her mother, “you must hold still or I shall never be able to dress you. Put on your gloves while I pin the collar. I fear Robert will not wish to take you riding often if you don’t make a better appearance. Ladies never go to ride without their gloves.”

“But, mamma, I ain’t a lady; I’m only a little girl, and I hate gloves and starched things.”

The bright little face was very red just now from the effort of putting on the troublesome gloves, and there was something very like a pout upon the red lips.

“Well, never mind, dear,” returned her mother, kindly, “you will forget all about them after you have started. Have a happy time, and come home and tell me all about it. I hope you are a careful driver,” she added, turning to Robert. “You won’t forget that Dora is my all now.”

“You may trust me, auntie, and then old Prince is so gentle there is no fear. Come, Brightie, you are ready now, and we will start.”

He took Dora by the hand, and leading her to the buggy, 8put her carefully in; then unfastening the horse he sprang lightly after her, and with smiles and waving of hands they started, and were soon out of sight.

Mrs. Dupont stood looking after them for a few minutes, a happy smile upon her fine face. She was a widow, and this one pet lamb—this bright and winsome Dora was her all in the world.

Her husband had been a physician, and had settled in S—— soon after marriage, building up a good practice, which increased every year; until he had earned this snug little home, which with a few thousands at interest, made him feel quite easy as to the future. Besides this he had his life insured for five thousand more, and so when he was suddenly stricken with a malignant fever, and knew he could not live, he felt that he should leave his dear ones in comfortable circumstances if not in affluence. It was a heavy blow to Mrs. Dupont, for it left her almost alone in the world. She was an orphan, with no relatives except a maiden aunt, who, disapproving her union with the poor physician, had cast her off forever, and threatened to leave her large fortune to some charitable institution.

Maggie Alroyd, scorning the fortune, married her own true love, and was happy with the penniless doctor. He had been dead now four years; having died when Dora was eight years of age. But he was not forgotten. His memory was still fondly cherished in their hearts, and not a day passed that loving words did not testify to the strength and depth of their affection for him.

Robert Ellerton, Jr., was the son of one of Dr. Dupont’s patients. A rich and influential man, who was proud as Lucifer of his wealth, and also his name, which he claimed was spotless. His wife had died when Robert, their only child, was born, and he had never married again, his household affairs being governed by a maiden sister. He had conceived a sudden attachment for Dr. Dupont, who had saved Robert’s life—for Mr. Ellerton declared that he did—when he had a severe attack of the croup.

There was nothing he would not do for the doctor after that; the families immediately became intimate, while Robert and Dora grew to love each other like brother and sister. Better, in fact, for Robert used to tell her that some time she should be “his little bright-eyed wife.” And he always called Mrs. Dupont “Auntie.”

9After the doctor died the intimacy continued, until within the last year or two Mr. Ellerton had suddenly become cold and distant, though he still allowed Robert and Dora to visit each other. Whenever questioned why he did not visit them, his reply invariably was that his health was failing and he did not go out much. Indeed, it seemed to be, for he grew thin, pale, sullen, and cross to everybody about him.

Even Robert began to fear him and keep out of his way. But in his secret heart he worshiped his bright and handsome boy, and planned his future course, building wondrous castles in the air for him.

He was beginning to think that it was about time to put a stop to “Robert’s foolish fancy for that girl Dora,” for they could not always expect to keep it up. His son would be rich, and would move in very different circles from the doctor’s daughter, who was comparatively poor.

How well he succeeded the future alone will show!

The youthful pair, all unconscious of these plots against their peace, and also of the very queer act in life’s drama which they were to play that bright June day, were riding briskly along the smooth, wide road that led into the country, enjoying to the uttermost the green fields, sparkling brooks, and gay flowers, with faces as bright and smiling as their own happy, joyous hearts could make them.

“Where are we going, Robbie?” asked Dora, suddenly remembering that she did not know.

“I thought we’d ride out to N—— and look at Squire Moulton’s new statuary. I heard he had just received some, and that it’s the finest collection in the country. I have a nice little lunch in a basket here, and after we’ve seen all we want to, we’ll go down by the lake and eat it.”

“Oh, how nice!” said Dora, clapping her hands. “Is it that great, big house with the beautiful grounds, where we went to the picnic last summer?”

“Yes; only you remember I didn’t go. Father doesn’t like the squire very much,” his face clouding for an instant.

“What is the reason he does not like him?” asked Dora, inquisitively.

“I don’t know, I’m sure, only he was very cross last year when I asked if I might go to the squire’s picnic, and I thought he swore about him.”

“I don’t care,” said Dora hotly. “I think he’s a real 10nice man to give all the children a picnic, and we had a splendid time. I shouldn’t think he’d let you go to-day, if he wouldn’t then.”

“He didn’t know where I was going to-day. I asked if I might take old Prince, and he said yes; but I don’t think there would be any harm in going to see the statuary,” replied Robert, though the hot blood rushed to his face, as if he felt half guilty.

“I don’t think there is any harm, either; but, oh, Robbie, look at that squirrel there!—there he goes, right through the wall.”

“Yes, and there goes its mate. Now they’ve both gone into that hole in that tree.”

“Yes; how cunning they were! I wish you and I were squirrels, with nothing else to do but run around in the sunshine all day, and eat nuts; it must be real fun,” glancing back wistfully toward the place where the squirrels had disappeared.

“Oh, no, Dora, you don’t, either; you forget that if we were squirrels we could not be married, and, you know that some day you are to be my little wife,” replied Robert, looking roguishly at her.

“Yes, I could be your wife just the same; for don’t you suppose one of those squirrels was the other’s wife? And then we shouldn’t have to work. I hate to wash dishes, and dust, and——”

“Well, Dora,” interrupted Robert, “you won’t have to work when you marry me, for I shall have plenty of money, and you can have servants to do the work, and all you’ll have to do will be to dress up in pretty clothes and trinkets, and play all the time, if you want to.”

“Oh, that will be so nice, Robbie!” exclaimed Dora, heaving a sigh of relief at the pleasing prospect of not having to work. “I wish I were your little wife now.”

“Do you?” he asked, a bright look coming into his face. “Well, I’ll tell you what we will do. We will go and be married before we go home, then I can take you to mother, for she will be my mother too, then. Will you, Brightie?”

“Yes, indeed, we will,” replied Dora. “Then my name will be Dora Ellerton, won’t it? I think it’s a real pretty name, too. But who will marry us, Robbie?”

“I don’t know. I guess Squire Moulton will; he’s justice, 11or something. Any way, I’ll ask him. Come, get up, old Prince, for we are going to be married.”

He touched the horse lightly with the whip, and these two children, so full of their fun and mischief, laughed, chatted, and planned for the future, little dreaming of the sorrow and misery they were about to entail upon themselves.

At length they rode up the broad drive-way, and stopped before the squire’s elegant country seat.

He was not in, the man said, who opened the door for them, but guessed they would find him somewhere about the grounds.

“Well, no matter,” said Robert, who was beginning to feel a little embarrassed with his strange errand. “We will go and find him.”

And taking Dora by the hand, they strolled down one of the beautiful walks until they came to a rustic arbor.

On looking within they discovered a little bent man of about fifty, with sharp black eyes and grizzly hair.

He looked up crossly as they entered, and demanded what they wanted, in a tone that made Dora shrink closer to Robert’s side.

“Are you Squire Moulton, sir?” asked Robert, respectfully.

“Yes, I’m Squire Moulton. What is it?” he replied sarcastically mimicking the boy’s manner.

“We’ve come to be married; that’s what we want,” said Dora, smartly, at the same time snapping her large eyes angrily at him.

“Come to be married, indeed! Ha! ha! ha!”

The little gray-headed old man went off into a paroxysm of laughter that made the echoes ring all over the grounds, while his evil black eyes glowed with the intensity of his merriment.

“And pray,” he continued, when he could find breath to speak, and looking amusedly at the youthful pair before him, “who are you, and what may be the names of the parties who wish to assume the hymeneal yoke?”

And he laughed again.

“My name is Dora Dupont, and Robbie’s is Robert Ellerton, and you needn’t laugh, either, for we’ve been engaged this long time.”

There was a sudden change in the man’s manner, and he 12repeated, with a dark scowl, looking first at one, then the other.

“Been engaged this long time, have you?”

“Yes, we have, and if you won’t marry us, we can go to some one else. Robbie is rich, and I guess he can pay for it, so you needn’t be afraid about that.”

The indignant little lady’s face was of a crimson hue, and her blue eyes snapped fire, while she enforced her speech with a stamp of her tiny foot, as she stood erect and defiant before him.

They made a strange picture, and one that each remembered in the long, dreary years that followed. That gray old man, with his evil face, and wicked eyes, sitting there, looking so intently at the two children before him. Robert, with his fine, manly face, glowing with excitement and exercise, a smile wreathing his full lips at Dora’s anger, while at the same time there was a half perplexed look in his eyes at the old man’s words and manner. He was holding Dora’s hand in a protecting sort of way, while she stood all flushed and indignant, and half ready to cry at the bare idea of being made fun of, her hair tossed and flying with every motion of her quivering little form.

Yes, it was an interesting and striking picture beneath that rustic arbor, with the waving trees, the bright sunshine, and beautiful flowers, for a background, interspersed here and there with the gleaming white figures of statuary, and an occasional glimpse of the silvery waters of a miniature lake, as the waving branches of the trees were parted by a gentle breeze.

As Dora mentioned the name of Robert Ellerton, a sudden change came over the squire’s wrinkled face.

He became ashy pale, his lips were clenched beneath his teeth until they sank deep into the flesh, and his coal-black eyes became almost red with the fierce blaze of passion that seemed to stir him.

His frame quivered, and he glanced at the youthful lovers in a way that frightened Dora, who pulled Robert by the sleeve, and whispered that she was afraid, and wanted to go home.

Robert stood silent and spell-bound, at the sudden and almost terrifying change in the squire’s manner, staring at him with wonder-wide eyes, and gaping mouth.

“Robert Ellerton!” at length almost gasped the man. 13“And is your father’s name Robert Ellerton, too, young man?”

“Yes, sir,” replied the boy, still regarding him with surprise.

“And your mother—tell me quick,” he continued, hastily, and almost sternly.

“My mother is dead, sir. She died when I was born, and Aunt Nannie has always taken care of me.”

“Dead! Oh, Heaven, dead! Jessie dead!” muttered the old man, pressing his hand to his side, and staggering back upon the seat from which he had just arisen.

Great beads of perspiration stood upon his brow, and his hands shook as if with palsy, as he took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped them off.

“Oh, Jessie,” he wailed, “thou wert lost to me before, but I did not think that thou hadst gone so long to the regions of the unknown.

“Say, boy,” he added, and he clutched Robert almost fiercely by the arm, “was your father kind to her? Did she love him?”

“Of course he was kind to her—of course she loved him,” replied Robert, indignantly, but wondering still more at the man’s strange behavior.

“Come, Dora,” he added, “we will go home; we won’t stay here any longer.”

He again took Dora’s hand, which he had dropped in his astonishment, and started to leave the place.

“Stay,” said Squire Moulton, quickly, and a wicked expression swept away the agony that had been on his white face a moment before, while the devilish look came back to his evil eyes, though he tried to control it, and render his manner pleasant and affable.

“Stay, my young friends, you shall have your wish. I will marry you. I used to know your mother, young man, and hearing that she was dead took me by surprise. Yes, I will marry you, certainly,” he continued, gleefully rubbing his hands together; “only tell me first who this young lady is. Is her papa rich like your father?”

“No, sir,” replied Dora, promptly, her anger vanishing at the squire’s pleasant manner. “Poor papa is dead; he was a doctor; and my name is Dora, and mamma lives in a little cottage; but that is no matter, for Robbie will be rich, so it doesn’t make any difference.”

14“No, no, certainly not, my little miss,” and he laughed disagreeably again.

“You stay here a few minutes while I go and make out a certificate—for, luckily, I happen to be clerk as well as justice—and then I’ll come back and perform the ceremony, and you shall be truly Mrs. Robert Ellerton before you go home.”

So saying the squire strode with hasty steps toward his elegant mansion, where, once within his library, he gave free vent to his pent-up feelings.

With clenched hands and wrinkled brow he paced back and forth the spacious length of that great room, cursing, bitterly cursing, and muttering to himself:

“Oh, Robert Ellerton,” he said, “I have you now; I can now pay you twice told for all my weary years of woe and anguish. You shall moan and weep, and gnash your teeth, even as I have done. Your false pride shall have a blow from which it will never recover. I remember you too well to know how it would gall you to have your son marry a poor girl, and under such circumstances, too. And he—he too, will chafe in the future at the chain that binds him. I know how you have built proud castles in the air for him, even as you used to for yourself, but they shall all tumble about your ears in confusion. It is in my power to crush you now, and, curse you, I will do it! Oh, Jessie, my poor blossom, had you but given yourself to me, how bright would I have made your life! I would have held you close—close to this beating heart, and it should have given you life. My life has been, and is, like the dregs of the wine-cup, sour and bitter, but you could have made it sweet and fragrant as burning incense. But now there is nothing left but revenge, and—I will take it! Oh, how I hate you, blighter of my happiness! I curse you! and I will crush you and yours if I can.”

It was a fearful passion that moved him. One moment of intense hatred and anger toward one whom he imagined had wrecked his life. The next full of tenderness and sorrow for the one loved and lost sweetness of his existence. It was a long pent-up agony flowing afresh over his soul, a wound long since healed and scarred over now torn rudely open, and pouring forth his inmost heart’s blood. He tore his hair, he beat his breast, as he strode wildly back and forth, 15until at last, utterly overcome, he sank back exhausted upon a chair.

Several moments passed, when with a mighty effort he conquered his emotion in a measure, and rising, he went to his secretary, took out some papers, and sitting down, commenced writing. He soon finished, folded the paper, and then went back to the arbor, where the children, having forgotten all unpleasantness, were chatting merrily.

They became silent as he approached, and looked uneasy; but he entered with a pleasant smile, told them to rise and take hold of each other’s right hand, and going hastily through the marriage service, he soon pronounced them man and wife.

His own face paled as he looked into those so earnestly raised to his, and his heart half sank within him as the thought of what he had done rushed over him. But he quickly cast it from him, and giving the folded paper to Dora, he told her, with a sinister smile, that she must never part with it, but treasure it sacredly, or she could not prove that she was Robert’s wife.

She took it, with a feeling half of awe, half of shame, and thrust it quickly within the depths of her pocket.

How could that bold, bad man stand up so calmly and perform such a mockery in the sight of Heaven? How could he so deliberately plan to blight and crush two innocent hearts and lives—two babes, as it were, who had never had a thought or wish of evil for any of God’s creatures? He little knew or realized to what extent his threat would be carried. Perhaps, could he have looked into the future, even he would have shrunk from the depth of woe to which his curses consigned them.

After he had performed this diabolical act, he instantly became the most agreeable of hosts, taking them all over his grounds, showing them the statuary, and explaining the different subjects to them; afterward giving them a sail upon the miniature lake in the daintiest of dainty boats. He then invited them into the grand old house, where, after looking a half-hour or so at some magnificent paintings, he ushered them into a pleasant little room, where they found a tempting little treat of strawberries and cream and cake.

They made merry here for a while, and then, as their buggy was ordered to the door, they bade their host a pleasant 16good-by, thanking him for his kindness to them; took their seats, and drove merrily away.

Squire Moulton watched them until they disappeared from view; then, raising one clenched hand, he shook it threateningly, and hissed through his shut teeth:

“Go, you young fools! and my worst curses go with you!”

He then went within, slamming the door violently after him. As he did so, two men arose from behind some bushes and shrubs which grew beside the arbor where the strange marriage had taken place, and stealthily made their way out of the grounds, whispering as they went.


All unmindful of the withering curses invoked upon their devoted heads, the young and newly-wedded pair went on their homeward way, as happy and light-hearted as they had come, little dreaming of the reception that awaited the announcement of their mad freak—little dreaming of the sudden and cruel separation in store for them—that the bright day so happily begun, and well-nigh spent, was to close, as it were, in a night of black despair, and long, long years of weary sorrow and heart-pangs intervene ere joy and reunion would come again to them.

Old Prince held his head higher than ever, and stepped briskly along on the homeward route, as if half conscious of the new and strangely important relations which the occupants of the buggy bore to each other.

“Well, Robbie, I don’t feel any different from what I did before, do you?” asked Dora, with a comical look on her rosy face.

“Why, no, Brightie; I didn’t expect to, did you?”

“I d’no,” replied the child, looking somewhat confused. “Well—yes—I thought folks who got married felt bigger and grander some way.”

Robert laughed.

“Did you?” he asked. “I guess it must be because they always have on new clothes, and are fixed up so much.”

“Perhaps so,” replied Dora, still looking puzzled. “And 17now I’m married, I suppose I shall have to wear my dresses long, like other ladies, and do my hair up in a waterfall behind, and wear bonnets instead of hats, and, oh, dear! now I shall always have to wear gloves and stiff collars.”

She heaved a little sigh here, half regretful, but presently went on:

“And, Robbie, you must have a tall hat and a long-tailed coat, and I wish you had whiskers and a mustache; then I guess it would seem more real, but I don’t feel a bit as if I was married now.”

Robert looked rather sober and sheepish, as he answered:

“I don’t know, Dora; I’m afraid we shouldn’t know each other rigged up in that style. I don’t think I should like you half so well, with your hair bobbed up behind, and then the long dresses would cover up your pretty little feet; and I’m sure I shouldn’t know how to act in a stove-pipe hat, and a long-tailed coat. I like you best as you are, Brightie, so I guess we hadn’t better change.”

“But,” persisted the little lady, still fearful they would not be able to support the dignity of man and wife, “don’t you think you could raise some whiskers? I think you would look real nice if you had some like Professor Allen.”

“I could get some false ones, if you want——”

“Ugh, don’t!” shivered Dora, as she thought of the horrid thing she had seen in the shop windows on the street. “Well, I don’t care much any way,” she continued; “but what do you suppose mamma will say?”

“I rather think she will be surprised when I call her mother, for I love her dearly, and you know I never had one of my own.”

His bright face fell for a moment.

“I don’t believe I can ever say papa to your father. He has been so sober and cross lately I’m almost afraid of him.”

“I guess he’ll get over that when he finds out what a pretty little daughter he’s got,” replied Robert, with a fond look into the lovely face of his little bride. “Here we are at home again,” he added, as he drew up before the gate. “Whoa, old Prince, till I help my wife out and take her into mother.”

Old Prince stopped in obedience to the word of command, and Robert helped Dora out just as Mrs. Dupont’s smiling face appeared at the door of the cottage to welcome them home.

18Robert, taking Dora gravely by the hand, led her up to her mother, and said:

“How do you do, mother? We’ve had a nice day, and I’ve brought my wife back to you safe and sound.”

Mrs. Dupont laughed a light mocking laugh, as she said, with comic seriousness:

“Happy to see you, little Mrs. Ellerton, and very glad to know you have had such a nice time.”

“Very nice time, indeed, mamma,” replied Dora, with funny dignity; “only the man who married us acted so strangely that I was almost afraid of him. However, he got over it, and it’s all right now.”

“Really, my dear madam,” replied her mother, still willing to humor what she thought was one of their old jokes, “who was the clergyman that married you?”

“Oh, it wasn’t a minister at all, mamma, but Squire Moulton, and he gave me the certificate, and told me I must never part with it, or I couldn’t prove I was Robbie’s wife.”

“Nonsense, Dora, what do you know about a marriage certificate?”

“Well, but, mamma, he did, and I have it here in my pocket—haven’t I, Robbie?”

“Yes,” answered Robert, now glad of a chance to say a word; “and you are really and truly my mother now. Aren’t you glad you have a son?”

She did not answer; she looked first at one, then at the other with a puzzled expression, hardly knowing what to make of the affair. Both their faces were so earnest, and they talked in such a matter-of-fact way, that she could not comprehend it.

At last Dora, who had been fumbling in her pocket, took out the certificate and handed it to her mother, saying, triumphantly:

“There, mamma, read and see if we ain’t married, really and truly.”

Mrs. Dupont was frightened, and sank down pale and faint on the door-step, the paper still folded in her fingers.

“Now, Robert and Dora, if this is a joke,” she said, “you have carried it far enough; but if you are in earnest, tell me all about it at once.”

Robert then related all that had transpired from the time they left home until their return. He told her how the 19squire had questioned him about his father and mother, how angry and excited he seemed to get, and about his wanting to know if Dora’s papa was rich, etc. He described the marriage ceremony, their ramble around the grounds, their sail on the lake, and their treat in the house, with such truthful manner that Mrs. Dupont could not doubt him.

With trembling fingers and paling lips Mrs. Dupont opened the paper, and saw it was a regular certificate, with the children’s names and ages attached. She could no longer doubt the truth of what she heard and saw.

With a low moan the paper dropped from her hand, and she cried out in frightened tones:

“Oh, Robert, oh, Dora, my children, what have you done?”

“Why, mamma!” exclaimed Dora, in astonishment, “I thought you’d like it. You know I always promised to be Robbie’s wife, and now I am, what makes you feel so? I’m sure I’m as glad as can be.”

“Stop!” replied her mother, sternly. “You foolish child, you know not what you have done.”

Poor innocent Dora had never heard her mother speak so before, and with her heart almost broken she rushed sobbing into the house, and crouched half frightened in a corner.

Robert, who had listened to all that passed, with surprise and almost anger, grew pale himself at Mrs. Dupont’s strange manner, and began to think it had not been such a happy day after all. That he had done a serious thing was certain, though for his part he could not yet see the harm.

“Robert,” at length said Mrs. Dupont, “drive home as quickly as you can, and bring your father to me. I must talk this matter over with him immediately.”

Robert became seriously alarmed. He thought if he had done anything that demanded a solemn conference with his father, it must be serious indeed.

“Auntie,” he said, looking wistfully into her face and addressing her by the old name, “I am sorry you feel so badly about this, but do not blame Dora, for I alone am to blame for all that has happened.”

“Go!” she said wearily, pointing toward his buggy.

“But please, auntie——”

“Go bring your father here. My brain is in a whirl, I cannot think or act until I have seen him.”

20She stooped and picked up the paper she had dropped, and then entered the house.

With a long drawn sigh and a quivering lip he turned to obey her, and entering his buggy, drove rapidly toward home, fearing, he knew not what, but his heart was heavy within his bosom.


While Robert is gone for his father we will return to Squire Moulton’s mansion.

It was a large and elegant building, unique in its architecture and adornments, and furnished with the most exquisite taste. It was a home of exceeding beauty, but, with all its costliness and splendor, it was a dreary and lonely home, for its master lived alone, with only his servants for companions. No loving smile from a tender and affectionate wife greeted him when he came; no watchful eyes or listening ears waited to catch the shadow of his form, or the sound of his footsteps; no prattling voices made the lofty rooms ring with their joy and merriment, or sang out the glad word “papa” at his approach. No, it was a dreary life of lonely splendor.

I said he lived alone; but not alone all of the time, for his nephew, Ralph Moulton, a youth of seventeen, made his uncle’s mansion his home, and was always there to spend his holidays. The squire had brought him home when he came from abroad, and when the boy was very young, merely saying he was his nephew and would always remain with him.

He gave him every advantage, which, to the lad’s credit be it said, he eagerly improved, and he was now preparing for college. He was a clever, active youth, very attractive in form and feature, and when nothing went wrong was pleasant and agreeable. But when in a passion he displayed the same sinister emotions that moved his uncle. He was selfish and cruel at heart, aiming only to gratify his own desires and passions, in spite of all opposition. Report said that he was to inherit the squire’s property, indeed he had been brought to believe so himself, and the world bowed 21down in reverence and humility accordingly. He was now at home on a few days’ vacation.

The squire, on entering his mansion, after the departure of the children, proceeded in deep thought to his library again. When here he violently pulled a bell-rope, and then seated himself in a large easy-chair, burying his face in his hands.

Presently the massive door swung softly open, and a servant stood respectfully awaiting his commands.

Squire Moulton raised his head and said, in a harsh voice:

“Is Master Ralph in?”

“No, sir,” replied the man, “he went fishing this morning, and has not yet returned.”

“Well, send him immediately to me on his return. You may go.”

With an humble bow the man disappeared.

Half an hour, perhaps more, elapsed, when the sound of whistling was heard in the hall, and immediately the door opened again, and the young man in question entered.

He was dressed with exquisite neatness, and very gentlemanly in bearing and manners.

“Well, uncle, John told me I was wanted here, so I came as soon as I could get off some of the fish smell—such mean luck I never had before,” he said, a vexed look coming into his handsome face at the remembrance.

“I did wish to see you, Ralph; be seated, for I have much to say to you.”

The young man obeyed, inwardly wondering what was coming.

“Did you ever hear me speak of a man named Robert Ellerton?” asked the old man, looking sharply at his nephew.

“No, sir, but I’ve seen you look mighty cross if any one else happened to speak his name in your presence,” was the curt reply.

“You perhaps know that he has a son by the same name?” was the next query.

“Yes, sir, I’ve met him, and he’s a tip-top fellow, for a youngster, and smart as chain lightning!”

The squire’s face was black as night at this stream of praise, which, coming from such a source, annoyed him exceedingly.

22“Spare your praises,” he said sarcastically; “perhaps you won’t laud him so highly when you hear what I have to tell you.”

“Well, out with it, uncle. What has the boy done? Thrown a stone and broken one of your treasured nymphs out yonder?”

And Ralph motioned toward the grounds, which could be seen from the deep bay-window near which they sat.

“Cease your nonsense, boy, and listen, for I have a story to tell you,” replied Squire Moulton, angrily.

He paused a few moments, while an expression of pain swept over his hard face. At length, with an effort, he began; while Ralph listened, wonderingly.

“When I was a boy of nineteen or twenty, I loved a beautiful girl. Her name was Jessie Almyr. I need not describe her; my days of rhapsodies are passed. Sufficient that I loved her with all the fire of my heart. It had grown with the growth of years, for we had been intimate from childhood, and I had almost begun to consider her as rightfully belonging to me.

“I had never told her of my love; I was poor then, and would not offer her an empty hand. I had written to an uncle in the city for a situation, and was waiting for an answer, which, if favorable, I felt would then place me in a position that would warrant my telling Jessie how dear she was to me.

“While waiting for the much-wished for answer, a young man two or three years older than myself came to our village. He was rich, talented and handsome. He was introduced to Jessie, and, of course, loved her, too. Who could help it that knew her? But I will not anticipate. The long-looked for letter at last arrived, telling me that I could have the situation, and offering me an ample salary, more than I had expected, and I felt that now I could support my bride in comfort. Wild with joy, I sought her and poured out the whole story of my love, not dreaming but that her reply would be all I could wish. She listened with downcast eyes and beating heart; I could see it throb beneath the folds of her dress. Her cheek was flushed, and I felt that I was almost sure of my prize, when—oh, my God! I can never forget it——”

The squire stopped and covered his face with his hands, while tears gathered in his eyes and rolled down his withered 23cheeks, as the memory of his blighted hopes rushed over him. It was some minutes before he could proceed, and there was utter silence in the room. Finally he raised his head; a stern, hard look had taken the place of the softened expression, and he continued:

“We were standing before a window that looked out on the western sky; the sun was just setting, and its yellow rays streamed in a golden glory all around my love, making her look like some bright-robed divinity. When I had finished telling her my hopes and plans, her lips moved as if she was about to speak, and I bent my ear to catch the blessed words. She raised her eyes, and I could have sworn that the love-light was in their bright depths; but—the sound of a horse’s footsteps outside drew them from me to rest on the handsome face and figure of Robert Ellerton as he rode by on horseback.

“He saw us, bowed gracefully, and waved one daintily gloved hand to her.

“The look of love fled from my darling’s eyes, as his form passed from sight, and with an absent-minded air she said she was afraid she did not love me well enough to be my wife—that she could not give me as much in return as I could wish.

“I protested that if she would only be mine, I would never complain of a lack of affection. She replied that she would think of my offer for a day or two before she gave me her answer. I gazed at her for a moment in astonishment—I was so sure she loved me! I could hardly believe it was the same Jessie whom I had always worshiped—her manner was so changed.

“Half-mad with jealousy, and the fear that I might lose her after all, I seized her in my arms and kissed her passionately. She gently released herself, and I went away—and—I never spoke to her again!

“A few days after, she sent me a note, telling me she could not be my wife—that she did not love me well enough, and she would not wrong me by giving me her hand without her heart.

“Oh! I saw it all! I saw it all! Another had usurped my place! Ralph, listen to me!”

The agitated old man leaped forward, while he whispered, hoarsely:

“In three months from that time she married that villain, 24Robert Ellerton—that city dandy. Yes, she chose a shallow love, of three or four months’ growth, to a devotion of years—but he was rich, and I was poor. But I swear he stole her from me—he stole her from me—the thief that he is!”

The bitter remembrance was too much for the squire, and he sank back nearly fainting in his chair.

Ralph sprang up, poured out a glass of wine, and held it up to his lips. He swallowed it eagerly, and it revived him. He was about to proceed, when his nephew interrupted him:

“Uncle, do not finish your story to-night. Some other time will do as well; though, for the life of me, I can’t see yet what I have to do with it.”

“No, no, my boy; I must finish it now; I should not have courage to begin again. Well, they were married, and went to their city home—for he was rich, and lived in great style—while I was left to my loneliness and desolation, without a thought or care. But I swore revenge, deep and fearful, and since I have had means to secure it, I have sought to keep my oath! For awhile I lost track of them, but finally followed them to this city, though I only heard to-day that Jessie was dead. She died nearly fifteen years ago, and I never knew it until to-day. And to-day I have begun my work of revenge in earnest.”

He then narrated how he had married the children, and sent them home with the certificate made out in due form in their pockets.

“Now Ralph,” he continued, “what I want of you is to help me fulfill my oath. I want you to watch this boy and defeat every plan of his life. Be his evil genius, as it were. I have given the father a heavy blow in marrying his son to a poor girl, for he is as proud as Lucifer. I don’t care what you do or how you do it, only ruin him, and his girl wife, too. I want them to experience a little of what I have suffered, and of what has made me an old man before my time. I look more than fifty, and am not yet forty. In return for your promise to do this I will bequeath you all my fortune. I may not live to see the end of it—I do not expect to, for I have heart disease, and am liable to die at any time. Will you do it?”

Ralph had been deeply interested in his uncle’s story, but 25he hesitated now to give the desired promise. At last he said:

“I don’t know, uncle, about it; it’s a pretty hard task to set a fellow, to avenge another man’s injuries, especially when he’s in no way concerned himself.”

“Perhaps you’re more concerned in it than you think,” replied his uncle, eying him wickedly.

“I should like the fortune well enough, but I thought—I have always thought I was to have that anyway.”

“Oh, really, young man, have you? Pray, who informed you to that effect?” sneered the squire.

Ralph blushed angrily.

“I have been brought up with that hope always held out to me. If any one is to blame in the matter I think it’s you,” he retorted.

“Indeed! But let me ask you, have you any conscientious scruples about undertaking this affair?”

“Hang it, no!” answered Ralph. “Conscience and I don’t trouble each other much. But how do I know but you may get a grudge against me sometime, and then where will the fortune go?”

“Very well, young man, you can do as you choose about it,” replied the squire, bitterly. “But as long as a fortune of half a million does not seem to tempt you, perhaps I can whisper a word in your ear that will have more weight with you; and you will be glad to seek revenge on your own account.”

“Well, what is it?” impatiently demanded the boy.

“Presently, presently; but first tell me why you thought you would be my heir.”

“Why, I am your nephew for one thing, and——”

“My nephew, are you? Can you prove it?”

“Prove it! what do you mean, sir!”

Ralph was beginning to be frightened at the other’s manner and words.

The squire looked almost fiendish, as his face glowed with a sudden thought and determination. He leaned toward the youth, speaking in a low tone, as if fearful of being overheard.

“I mean,” he said, “that you are not my nephew!”

“You lie!” gasped the thunder-struck boy, with a white face. “Then why am I here?”

“Yes,” coolly replied Squire Moulton, “I have lied. My 26whole life for the last few years has been a lie. You are here simply because I brought you here. You are a part of my plan of revenge!”

The old man’s face grew ghastly at this statement.

Ah! what a double lie was on his soul!

“You old schemer, this is too much! If I am not your nephew, who am I then?”

He sprang to his feet, and stood with one clenched hand raised as if he would strike the evil man before him dead.

“Oh, you begin to be interested, do you?” was the taunting reply. “You are ready enough to look after your own interests, but won’t risk anything to help another.”

“Who am I? I ask you,” fairly hissed the boy, the perspiration starting from every pore of his white, convulsed face.

“Will you promise——”

“I promise nothing; but I’ll choke you if you don’t tell me quick,” and he glared savagely at his uncle.

The wicked squire looked uneasy. He sat in deep thought for a moment, while Ralph watched him in stern and breathless silence. He was about to venture a great stake, and if he failed it might prove the worse for him. At last he heaved a deep sigh, and with sudden determination in his voice, said:

“Put your ear down here, Ralph, for I would not have a breath of this heard.”

Ralph bent close to the old man, his white face growing whiter with the intense excitement he felt.

“You are——”

The rest was in a swift, hissing whisper, but the boy heard it, for his eyes instantly blazed with a lightning passion, while the rage and hate shown in every feature, and he shook as with an ague fit.

“Curse him! Ten thousand maledictions on him! I will do it!” he wildly exclaimed, striding up and down the room in a towering fury.

“Ha, ha!” laughed the other. “I thought you’d come to your senses, my fine fellow. Now you can work for two fortunes instead of one.”

He laughed wickedly, and looked so evil that his cloven-footed master must have been proud of such an ally.

“I don’t believe it. I won’t believe it,” said Ralph, stopping 27suddenly, as if in doubt. “I don’t see how it can be possible.”

“Very well,” answered Squire Moulton, with an ugly sneer. “Sit down again and be calm, and I will tell you how it happens to be so. I will give you the whole history.”

Ralph Moulton (for we who are not in the secret must still call him so) went to the sideboard and poured out a glass of wine, which he instantly drained, and then resumed his seat.

“Draw nearer,” said the squire, “for should a breath of this be heard it would spoil all our plans.”

Ralph obeyed, and for an hour listened with breathless interest to the exciting story related by his supposed uncle.

And as they sat there, those two with their white faces and coal black eyes that glowed with the fierce fires of hate and revenge, any one would have been willing to swear, so fearfully alike was the expression of both, that they inherited the same evil passions, and that the same blood flowed in their veins.

Did it?

The future will show.


Robert drove home as fast as he could make old Prince go, his mind all confused, while doubts and fears oppressed him. His father was just going in to tea when he arrived, and Robert followed him into the dining-room.

Mr. Ellerton received Mrs. Dupont’s message with evident displeasure.

“What does Mrs. Dupont wish to-night,” he asked, “that is so important? Can’t she wait until some other time?”

“No, sir; she told me to come back immediately.”

“Do you know what she wants?” inquired his father.

“Yes, sir,” replied Robert, blushing deeply; “but I cannot tell you; she will do that.”

Mr. Ellerton eyed him sharply, as if he mistrusted he had been up to some mischief. He then took his seat at the table, and ate his supper in silence.

28As for Robert, he was so anxious and uneasy that he could scarcely swallow; but the meal was soon over, and they started for Mrs. Dupont’s.

It was only a short distance, and they were soon there.

Mrs. Dupont met them in the hall, with a grave and troubled face, and ushered them into the cozy sitting-room, where Dora lay upon a lounge, with red and swollen eyes. At sight of Robert, her tears started afresh, and she sobbed as if her heart were broken.

He went to her, and took her in his arms, whispering words of comfort in her ears, and soon had her smiling again. She could not be unhappy long when he was with her.

Taking Mr. Ellerton’s hat, Mrs. Dupont asked him to be seated, and then drawing a low rocker opposite him, she began her story.

Mr. Ellerton listened with cold politeness until she mentioned Squire Moulton’s name, when he glanced angrily at his son. Robert understood the look, and his own eyes fell.

When she had finished, he replied, half laughing at what he considered children’s play:

“Well, my dear madam, you are making yourself unhappy about a very slight matter. No ceremony like that could possibly be legal. In the first place, they are minors; then there are no witnesses, and they had no certificate.”

“Oh, but I forgot to tell about that,” she replied, hastily. “There it is,” and she handed him the paper.

His brow clouded instantly as he read it. The affair was beginning to assume a more serious look than he liked. He saw it was made out in due form, and signed by “Anson Moulton, clerk.”

He saw through the whole plot immediately—saw that the man whom he knew to be his deadly enemy had intended to do him this great wrong; that he meant to strike a blow where it would tell.

He turned sternly to Robert, and said:

“Well, sir, what have you to say for yourself? You have disobeyed me by going where I have strictly forbidden you, to say nothing of the fix you have got yourself into.”

“I intended no harm, father,” replied Robert, respectfully. “I heard of the squire’s statuary, and you know how fond I am of such things, so I told Dora we would ride out and see it.”

29“What put this ridiculous idea into your heads?” he asked, shaking the certificate impatiently at him.

“I don’t know; I always thought Dora was to be my wife, so I thought we might as well be married to-day as any time.”

“Such talk was all very well for a couple of children; but you could not think I would really allow such a thing, either now or in the future. I had other plans for you,” said Mr. Ellerton, an angry flush spreading itself over his face.

“But I did, sir,” replied Robert, firmly, though with a mortified air, for the implied inferiority cast upon the Duponts by his father’s words stung him. “It has been talked of for years,” he went on, “and I, for one, have believed it. I love Dora, and always shall love her; and if we had waited ten years, and she was willing, I would have done the same thing.”

“Bosh!” exclaimed his father, impatiently. “You can sit down again, and hold your peace. Madam,” he continued, turning icily to Mrs. Dupont again, “I think we can fix this little affair. Even if the ceremony proves to be legal, we can easily have them divorced. I suppose it’s your wish as well as mine?”

“Certainly,” replied Mrs. Dupont, in a constrained tone, for she was deeply hurt at Mr. Ellerton’s words and manner. “But do you think the marriage is legal?”

“I don’t see how it can be, for they are under age; but I assure you there will be no trouble about the matter.”

“Can we not see a lawyer to-night, and get his advice about the matter? I should feel much relieved to have it settled at once.”

“I don’t think it is necessary; still, if you desire it, I will drive to Lawyer Leonard’s office, and talk it over with him.”

“Do, if you please, for I shall not rest easy until I know beyond a doubt,” replied Mrs. Dupont, nervously.

Without a word Mr. Ellerton took his hat and left the house.

He drove directly to the office of his friend, Squire Leonard, where he remained nearly an hour, and when he came out the lawyer was with him, and he looked moody and anxious. They entered the buggy and drove back to Mrs. Dupont’s.

30Mr. Ellerton introduced the lawyer, and then sat down, stern and silent.

Mr. Leonard questioned and cross-questioned the children, making them relate over again every particular of their trip.

He could find no flaw anywhere. The irrevocable words were pronounced, and the ceremony was legal in every particular except that the children were under age. The certificate was made out without an error, and it seemed as if every precaution had been taken against proving the marriage null and void.

When Mr. Leonard had finished his examination of the children he turned to Mr. Ellerton and Mrs. Dupont, saying:

“I find there is but one course left us. That villain has bound them for life, unless they will agree to a separation. If they will say they are sorry it ever happened we can procure a divorce, and it is the only way now that they can be separated.”

“Of course there will be no difficulty, then,” returned Mr. Ellerton, looking much relieved. “Robert,” he continued, turning to his son, “you will tell Mr. Leonard that you are sorry for this affair immediately.”

“But, father, I am not sorry, and I can’t say that I am, unless I tell an untruth.”

“Heavens, boy, don’t be stubborn! Don’t you see what a fix you are in? Don’t you see that you are tied to that girl for life?”

“I can’t see that it is a very bad fix to be in,” replied Robert, smiling fondly at Dora, who lay with her head upon his shoulder, and looking up at him with her big eyes.

“I told you I loved Dora,” he went on, “and that if we waited ten years, I should marry her. No, sir, I am glad instead of sorry.”

“Your son has learned one virtue at least, Mr. Ellerton—that of frankness,” laughed the lawyer, much amused.

Mr. Ellerton, exasperated beyond control at being thus defied, left his seat, and going to his son, laid a heavy hand upon his shoulder, saying, in a fierce voice:

“Robert Ellerton, I command you to say, in the presence of these witnesses, that you regret this marriage.”

“Father, I cannot,” pleaded the boy, beseechingly.

31“You mean you will not, willful boy. But disobey me at your peril!”

The lines about the boy’s mouth grew hard and firm. He looked his father calmly in the eye as he replied:

“I will not, then, if that pleases you better.”

Mr. Ellerton threatened and entreated, coaxed and pleaded, but all to no purpose, for his son was firm as a rock, and at length, in despair, he turned to his friend and asked what he should do.

Squire Leonard looked amused yet perplexed, for it was the most novel affair he had ever had anything to do with.

“Try the other one,” he said, pointing to Dora.

“Dora,” said Mr. Ellerton, trying to frighten her into obedience by a black look, “are you not sorry that you and Robert are married? Just think what a wrong thing for two little children to do.”

Dora looked wistfully up at Robert.

“Robbie,” she asked, sadly, “shall I tell him that I am sorry?”

“Tell them just as you feel, Brightie,” he replied, yet there was an anxious expression in his eye as he waited for her answer.

“Well, then, I ain’t sorry one mite,” she said, flushing angrily, “and I think you are a real wicked man to try and part us, for Squire Moulton said ‘what God hath joined together let no man put to thunder.’ Was not that it, Robbie?” she asked, half doubtfully, thinking that it didn’t sound just right.

The lawyer shouted, while even her mother and Mr. Ellerton could not repress a smile at this new version of the Scriptural command.

“No, ‘put asunder,’ darling,” replied the boy lover, a glad look in his eye, while he gathered her closer in his arms.

“Come here, Dora,” said Mrs. Dupont, who had noticed the act, and feared it might influence her replies.

She obeyed, though somewhat unwillingly.

Lawyer Leonard, controlling his mirth, turned to the child and said:

“My dear little girl, don’t you see how unhappy you are making your mother? Only see how pale and sad she looks 32at what you have done. If you will only say you are sorry she will be happy again.”

Dora looked up in her mother’s face with a troubled expression.

“Mamma,” she asked, “are you unhappy?”

“Yes, dear, very,” replied Mrs. Dupont.

“Mamma, do you want me to tell a lie?”

“I have always told you to speak the truth, my child,” replied her mother, somewhat evasively.

“No, but do you want me to tell one now?”

Mrs. Dupont caught the child to her bosom as she whispered:

“No, dear.”

She then turned with a look of anguish to her visitors, and said:

“It’s of no use, gentlemen; I cannot ask my child to tell a falsehood even for this. I have always taught her to shun an untruth, and I cannot be the first to bid her speak one.”

Dora threw herself into her mother’s arms again, and bursting into tears, said, between her sobs:

“Mamma, if Robbie was sorry, I should be—because—because if he didn’t want me for his wife I shouldn’t want to be.”

Something very like a curse burst from Mr. Ellerton’s lips, while the lawyer, with tears in his eyes, turned to him and said:

“I think, my dear sir, you had better let this matter rest, at least for the present. It is clear that the children love each other. It’s an odd predicament, I know, and I must say I never before knew or heard of an attachment so strong in persons so young. It may prove to their mutual happiness hereafter, and therefore I advise you to let the subject drop.”

“No!” thundered Mr. Ellerton. “If the law won’t separate them, I shall. They are a couple of stubborn fools, and if they won’t give in, I will send Robert off where he shall never see the girl again. Once for all, what do you say, Robert?”

“Oh, Robbie!” sobbed Dora.

“Hush, darling,” whispered her mother, while she anxiously waited Robert’s reply.

A look of anger flashed from the boy’s fine eyes, while the 33lines about his mouth grew harder and sterner, though his tone was perfectly respectful as he replied:

“I say, sir, that I am glad it was done before you had a chance to stop it. She is mine now and forever, and nobody can take her from me.”

White with suppressed wrath, Mr. Ellerton walked to the table, took up his hat and giving Robert his cap, pointed silently to the door.

Robert took the cap and went boldly to Dora’s side.

“Good-night, darling,” he whispered. “Watch for me, for I shall come again soon.”

He bent down and kissed her flushed cheek, and bowing to the others, followed his father from the room.


Mr. Ellerton and his son entered their carriage in silence; the one in stern and gloomy displeasure, the other with a look of firm resolve still upon his face, though his heart throbbed and glowed with exultation, that Dora had remained steadfast as he himself.

Mr. Ellerton drove furiously homeward, giving free vent to his feelings by smartly applying the lash to poor startled old Prince’s back, which had never been beaten so before.

At the door he gave the horse to a servant, and telling Robert to go directly to the library, he took off his light summer overcoat and hat, hung them upon the rack in the hall, and then followed him.

He locked the door after him, and going the table, lit an astral lamp and seated himself in silence, motioning Robert to do the same.

After a few moments spent in deep thought, he turned his eyes upon his son and said, in a hard, cold voice:

“Well, sir, how much longer do you intend to carry on this farce?”

“What farce?” asked Robert, innocently.

“What farce, you fool? why, this ridiculous obstinacy about this more ridiculous marriage.”

34“It is no farce, father,” firmly replied his son.

“Have done with such talk, or by Heaven, I’ll flog you. I tell you this thing is going to be made null and void, and if you won’t obey me willingly, I will force you to obedience. Not one penny of my money shall you have, to begin with; I will give it to some one who is willing to give heed to my wishes. And I think I know of one who would be very glad to get it.”

This latter sentence was muttered partly aloud and partly to himself, while a bitter sneer curled his lips.

“I will shut you up,” he continued, “and you shall live upon bread and water until you consent, or if that does not bring you to your senses, I will send you to the remotest lands of the earth, where, with barely enough to live upon, you will soon be glad to come to terms. The idea of you really thinking that you love this low, ill-bred girl, or even the thought of marrying her in the future, is perfectly absurd. Why, boy, she is almost a beggar, while you will be worth your hundreds of thousands. My son mating with such as she! I tell you I won’t have it. Better had you died when you were so ill, than that Dr. Dupont should have saved your life, to waste it on his girl. Choose, sir, and choose thoughtfully and carefully, for I swear I’ll move heaven and earth before this thing shall go on. You know what the girl said; if you would repent she would also.”

“I will ask you the same question, father, that Dora asked her mother: Do you wish me to utter a falsehood? You have been as strict with me about the truth as any one.”

“This talk is all cant, Robert,” replied his father, angrily. “You know as well as I that you will regret it in the future. It’s only your thundering will. Just think how ashamed you will be to introduce her into your own circle by and by; as commonly brought up as she has been, and such a frightful little squab, with red hair, too.”

Robert’s eyes blazed now with a dangerous sparkle.

“I am not at all afraid, sir, that I shall ever have cause to be ashamed of my wife. Her mother is more of a lady now than you are a gentleman, with the insinuation that you cast at her to-night.”

Mr. Ellerton winced. He had repented what he had said as soon as the words were uttered; but it enraged him beyond measure to be reproved by his son, and he shouted:

“Silence, you young rascal! If you ever call that girl 35wife again in my presence, I swear I’ll thrash you. I ask you again, will you give up this girl?”

“No, sir.”

“You will not?”

“I will not.”

They sat gazing into each other’s eyes for several minutes; those two, so firm and unyielding, until Mr. Ellerton, unable longer to endure his son’s steadfast look, turned angrily away, and, in a voice hoarse with wrath, said:

“Go to your room, you ungrateful boy, and remain there until I decide your fate.”

Robert picked up his cap, which had fallen to the floor, and moved to the door. He opened it, and turning back, said, respectfully:

“Good-night, father.”

There was no reply, and he passed out, up the broad and handsome stairway, into his own room; where he sat in deep and earnest thought for several hours. At length, feeling tired and worn, he retired, and slept soundly until morning.

Poor Mr. Ellerton, down stairs, paced the room all night long. He was angry, but he was more, he was crushed.

It was, indeed, as Squire Moulton meant it should be, a heavy blow, not only to his pride, but to all his hopes and plans for his boy in the future. He intended to educate his boy in the most thorough manner, giving him every advantage and privilege that money could procure, and he had hoped to see him contract a brilliant marriage in the future. Those plans were now crushed in a single day—were blighted, never to revive again, and—“by a nobody,” he said, bitterly, to himself; and he cursed his foe with the deadliest curses. He felt that he had never wronged the man otherwise than by marrying the girl he had loved. But he knew that, besides this, there was another reason, which, though he himself was not to blame for it, the squire might see fit to revenge upon him. It was a secret between them, and they had never breathed it to mortal ears.

He determined to keep Robert a close prisoner for awhile, until he had the best advice in the state about the matter, and if that did not bend his will, he would send him abroad to be educated, and perhaps, with time and absence, he would get over his infatuation.

When morning broke Robert arose and dressed himself, but on attempting to leave the room, he found the door was 36locked on the outside. The hot and angry blood mounted to his brow, and he stood several minutes with his hands grasping the silver knob, as if he would wrench it open, despite the strong lock that held it fast.

Finally, thinking better of it, he turned away, and, taking up a book, commenced reading.

An hour elapsed, when the key turned, and a man entered, bearing a silver tray upon which was arranged a steaming and tempting breakfast. He sat it down, and, without a word, left the room, Robert disdaining to question a servant.

He remained thus alone for nearly a week, his meals being brought regularly to him, only each day they grew less and less palatable, until at last he received only a glass of water to wash down his cold, dry bread.

The confinement began to grow tedious; his father or any member of the family had not been near him, and he began to feel uneasy about Dora, for he had promised to come and see her, and he knew she was watching for him. While thinking thus the lock clicked and his father entered, still wearing the same stern and forbidding countenance as when he last saw him.

“Well, Robert,” he said, coldly, “are you ready to yield to my wishes?”

“If your wishes remain the same as when I last saw you, I am not.”

“Will nothing move you, my son?” pleaded his father, a look almost of despair on his fine face.

His voice softened, and tears stood in his eyes.

“Father, did you love my mother?” asked Robert, softening for a moment.

“As my life, my boy,” and his lip quivered.

“Even so I love Dora, and I cannot give her up.”

“That is all gammon, Robert,” replied his father, again becoming excited. “If you were older, I might think there was something in it; but you two; such a couple of babies—bah! I say you shall give her up.”

Robert turned moodily to the window.

“Will you, boy?”

“No, sir.”

“Very well,” icily responded Mr. Ellerton. “Prepare yourself to start for Germany to-morrow morning. Major Atherton will take charge of you, and place you in an institution, 37where I hope rigid discipline and a thorough education will bring you to your senses.”

Saying which he hastily left the room, again locking the door after him.

Robert caught his breath quickly.

Could he go so far away from Dora? He asked himself the question over and over again. His brain seemed on fire at the thought, and for a long time he rebelled at the idea.

Finally, when he could think calmly about it, he reasoned that he must have an education, that he wanted one, and that Dora must be educated too, and he desired that she might become a polished and elegant young lady, so that when he graduated and came to claim her, his father could not help being reconciled to their marriage, and willing to acknowledge her as his daughter.

Yes, indeed, he thought, on the whole it was better so. Better even to be separated; then each would study the hardest to please the other, and he resolved to calmly obey the decree, go his long journey peaceably, and make the most of every advantage.

But he must see Dora first; and how to manage it? Here the anxious look came back to his eyes.

He was a prisoner, securely locked within his room, but he must get out some way, he must and would see his Brightie once more before he commenced the long and weary discipline in store for him.

A light and fancy trellis was underneath his window, so near that he could easily step out upon it. But would it bear his weight?

He went to the window and looked out, and his face lighted up with a triumphant smile, for he saw it was perfectly safe, and the way was now opened for him to go and bid his little wife a last “good-by.”

He spent the rest of the day in gathering up his treasures, and preparing for his journey.

It seemed a long time after the servant brought him his tea, (and a dainty supper it was too, this last one which he was to eat beneath his father’s roof for years) until dark.

But at length night drew her sable robe around the earth, and all was hushed and quiet. Robert satisfied himself that no one was around the house, and then lightly descended the trellis, and made his way swiftly toward the little white cottage, which contained the treasure of his heart.

38As he approached, he saw a little white face pressed close against the window-pane, and he knew that Dora was watching for him; and his heart ached for her, for he felt that thus she had been watching every day since he left her, nearly a week ago.

He sprang lightly up the step, just as the door opened, and his child-bride threw herself sobbing into his arms.

“There, Dora, darling, do not cry. I could not come before,” he said, while his own lip quivered.

“Oh, Robbie, I thought you never would come again, and I have watched every day till it got so dark that my eyes ached.”

She hugged him tight, and sobbed afresh from joy at seeing him.

“Is your mother at home, Brightie?” he asked, when she grew quiet again.

“No; she went out to see a sick lady, and oh, Robbie, I was so lonely, I thought my heart would break.”

“Well, then, let us go into the house, for I have something to tell you.”

He put his arms around her and drew her in. He sat down and took her in his lap, clasping her close in his arms, while a great lump rose in his throat and almost choked him as he thought it was the last time.

“Robbie,” she asked, softly patting his face with her little hand, “you aren’t sorry yet, are you?”

“No, darling, nor ever shall be. Why?”

“Why, I thought you must be, or you would have come before.”

“I could not, Dora. I have been locked in my room ever since that night, and I climbed down the trellis to come to you to-night. I ran away!”

He flushed with shame that he was obliged to say it.

“You have, you did?” said Dora, with flashing eyes. “I don’t care, I think your father is a wicked, naughty man, and I hope God will punish him.”

“Hush, darling, for I have something worse than that to tell you.”

And he told her all that had passed between him and his father, only keeping back what he had said of her, and that he was to start for a far-off country on the morrow.

Again the flood-gates were opened, and torrents poured from the riven heart. She clung to him with a death-like 39grip, crying out, in her agony, “that she would not let him go—that they would make him love some one else, and she should never see him again, and she should be, oh! so lonely that she should surely die!”

The poor boy hardly knew how to comfort her, and really did not know but she would die, while his own heart ached almost to bursting at the sad parting.

“No, Dora, dear,” at length he gravely replied, “you will not die. You will have your mother to love you, and I shall never forget you while I live. Now, listen to me, and promise to do as I ask you. I want you to mind your mother in everything, for she knows best what is right; I want you to study hard, and learn all you can; and do not be naughty any more about practicing your music; for I am going to get the best education I can, and I shall come back for you some day, and I want to feel proud of my little wife. Yes, Dora, I want you to be as nice a young lady then as Miss Annie Burton is now. Will you promise to try?”

Dora caught her breath at this request.

“Oh, Robbie, I’m afraid I can’t; but I’ll try. I promise anything that you want me to, but I can’t bear to have you go. I shall never be happy again as long as I live.”

“Yes, you will, darling; you must try to be happy. And now I want you to say that you love me, and won’t ever forget me, and then I must go.”

“Of course I will not forget you, and you know I love you,” she said, raising her tear-stained face from his shoulder.

His arms closed tightly round her as he said:

“Look at me, Brightie—right into my eyes! There now—how much do you love me?”

She looked at him, half-puzzled, a moment, before answering, then said:

“I don’t believe I can tell you, Robbie; I guess as well as—as if you were really my brother.”

His arms clasped her more tightly yet, and while a disappointed look came into his eyes, he whispered:

“Brightie, think—don’t you love me any better than that? Would you rather always be my sister than my wife?”

His heart beat quick and hard; his eyes burned with 40a deep and abiding passion, while they eagerly sought for some answering sign in the fair face upraised to his.

The blue orbs that heretofore had looked so clearly and fearlessly into his own took on a look of startled surprise, then they softened with a consciousness of some deeper emotion, and began to droop until they were hidden beneath the white lids, with their long silken fringes, while the rich crimson tide swept over cheek, neck and brow, with the sudden unvailing of her heart.

Instantly her face was buried in his bosom, and her little frame quivered in every nerve with the strange and exciting emotions.

Robert’s face lighted with instant happiness. The varying expression of that innocent face was all the answer he needed, and he did not press her for a reply, but held her in a close and silent embrace for a few moments.

At length, he said, tenderly:

“Look up, Brightie, for I must go, or I shall be missed. You must say good-by, now. I know that you will not forget me; and, see here, darling! I have brought you something to look at when I am gone.”

He took from his pocket a little box and handed it to her.

She opened it eagerly, and a cry of pleased surprise broke from her lips, as her eyes caught the glimpse of a beautiful gold locket and chain.

“It is a locket that belonged to my mother, Brightie; her picture is on one side, and mine is on the other. I have brought it for you, and you must never part with it, but wear it for my sake. See.”

He touched the spring and it flew open, revealing a lifelike picture of himself, and opposite, that of a young and lovely woman.

“Oh, Robbie, how like you it is! And this is your mother! I love her, she is so beautiful. No, I never will part with it, and I am so glad I have got it!”

He smiled fondly as he fastened it about her neck.

“I have a picture of you, you know. But my little Brightie must be brave now, and say ‘good-by,’ for it is time I was at home. Kiss me, darling.”

The red blood again mounted to her brow as his lips thrilled a lingering kiss upon hers. Then, forgetting everything except that he was going where she could not see him, she 41threw her arms around his neck, and sobs she could not restrain again racked her frame.

One long, long, close embrace, and he put her down and sprang from the room, out into the darkness of the night, wiping from his own cheek the fast-falling tears.

Dora flung herself full length upon the floor, in an utter abandonment of grief, and there her mother found her, an hour after, sound asleep, with the bright crystals still on her brown lashes.

Robert retraced his steps, and reached his room undiscovered, and though he was grieved and sad to part with Dora, yet he hugged to his heart with joy the knowledge that she was really and truly his very own, and that her love for him was all he could ask.

The next morning he started on his long journey, his father accompanying him as far as New York, from which place he was to sail.

Robert wept at parting with his only parent, and felt almost desolate to thus sunder every tie and go a stranger to a strange land. He had always loved and respected his father in spite of his cold, stern manner; still he would not beg to be allowed to remain at home, for he was fully determined to improve every advantage of travel and study, and thus fit himself to be a useful and happy man.

So when Mr. Ellerton coldly shook his hand at parting, he could not realize the agony that whitened his boy’s proud face, and hardened his already stern voice; nor could he know how that pent-up anguish burst forth as the vessel bore him from his father’s lingering eyes, from which the tears rolled fast and unheeded, as he turned with aching heart to go back to his lonely home.


Squire Moulton was walking on the white pebbly margin of his beautiful miniature lake.

His head was bowed upon his narrow and sunken chest, his hands were clasped with rigid firmness at his back, while his long grizzly hair hung in neglected masses around his stooping shoulders.

His face, always ugly, looked yellower and uglier still as 42the dim light of a cloudy day—rendered yet more dismal by the thick branches of the overhanging trees—fell around him.

He looked like some restless evil spirit haunting that lovely spot, and lying in wait for his unsuspecting prey, rather than the master and the owner of so much beauty.

He was pacing back and forth in deep and evidently unpleasant meditation, judging of his lowering brow and the mutterings constantly issuing from his thin lips.

He doubtless considered himself entirely alone. But he could not see the pair of eyes, bright and black, and evil as his own, that glared fiercely upon him from within a closely growing circle of arbor vitæ.

For an hour his restless pacings and mutterings had continued, and for an hour these fierce eyes had blazed upon him, at first with anger and hatred, then as time went on, with uneasiness. Evidently whoever was within that verdant circle was becoming impatient with the proprietor’s lengthened promenade; for there was a slight rustle as if some one was trying to change his or her position.

Unlucky moment!

For losing its balance, a figure came crushing against the branches with a force that could not fail to disturb and attract the attention of the master of Moulton Hall.

With a start of surprise, and a quick glance of his fiery eyes toward the place, he called out rudely:

“Who’s there? and what do you want?”

There was no reply, only a further crouching among the foliage.

With hasty steps the squire reached the arbor, parted the branches at the entrance, and gazed within.

A woman in soiled and ragged garments slowly turned her face, scornful and defiant, full upon him!

For a moment she gazed thus upon him, then silently arose.

She must have been beautiful once; but her cheeks were hollow and livid, the large and brilliant black eyes sunken in their sockets. The mouth was distorted with the play of evil passion and suffering; while her long raven hair, streaked with silver, hung in tangled masses from beneath her soiled and misshapen hat.

“What do you want here?” again demanded the squire. “I do not allow beggars about my premises.”

43“I am no beggar,” she replied, lifting her head with a sudden, haughty grace, and her voice possessed a certain musical cadence, despite its sharpness.

What was there in her movement and tone that made the proud squire start and gaze so fixedly at her, while a white fear settled over his face?

“Who are you then?” he asked, quickly.

“Ha, ha!” laughed the woman. “Your memory does not serve you quite as well as mine does me, most worthy squire. I presume my acquaintance would not be considered much of an honor. Nevertheless you and I are old friends!”

“Have done with your croaking, and tell me what you want here,” interrupted Squire Moulton, impatiently, yet with a touch of uneasiness in his voice.

“What do I want? I will tell you soon enough what I wish!” she replied, flashing her eyes angrily at him. “You had a sister once?”

“Yes, to my sorrow. What of her?”

“Where is she now?” asked his visitor, with a sinister smile.

“Dead, and gone to perdition, for all I know or care,” returned he, brutally.

“Dead, is she,” repeated the woman, with the same look.

“Yes, dead, I say! Confound you, what do you mean by all this quizzing, you fool?”

The squire was becoming enraged, and could not calmly bear the steadfast, penetrating gaze of the persistent woman before him.

“How do you know she is dead?” was the quiet question.

“How do I know, you vile hag? She died at Naples, thirteen years ago. I was with her only a few hours before her death. The next time I went to see her they told me she was dead and buried.”

“Ah! but what became of the child she left for you to take charge of?”

She bent forward and gazed eagerly into his face, as if she would read his very soul.

“Curse you, it’s none of your business! I’m sure I don’t know why I stand here parleying with such as you.”

A bright flush spread itself over the woman’s pale face at this taunt, while her lips quivered with suppressed rage.

“Stop!” she said, sternly, as he turned to go. “Stop, you fiend in human form, and give an account of yourself. 44It is my business, and I will know. It is true your sister was sick and destitute in the city of Naples. It is also true that when she heard of your arrival there she sent to you for assistance. She felt there was no help on earth for her, and she wanted to be reconciled to the only living member of her family before she went the way of all the earth. She also needed food and medicines, but most of all she wanted to give you her child, her bright and beauteous boy, to educate and rear, so that he might never feel the curse and sting of poverty and shame. You obeyed the summons. But how did you comfort her? You swore at her; you taunted and reviled her; you cursed her with the bitterest curses your vile heart could invent, and your lips utter; and when she prayed for a little love and forgiveness, you turned a deaf ear to her entreaties. Ah! cannot you hear her now pleading for her boy, that you would not leave him to the cold mercies of strangers? Cannot you see her now as she quivered in her anguish when you swore that you would not be disgraced by such as he? Are your dreams never haunted by that white, drawn face, by a wasted hand clutching yours, and a trembling voice begging, pleading for her one earthly treasure? Does not a phantom hover around your couch at night? I think there does. You look as if your whole life had been passed amid ghostly shadows.

“But to my story. A week after you left your only sister to suffer and die alone—a stranger in a strange land—you sought her again; your hard heart relented a little. Tardy repentance! They told you she was dead and buried. With a curse, and not even inquiring where her body was laid, you asked for her boy and took him away with you. That, Ralph Moulton, was the only good deed you ever did in your life. But has it continued to be a good deed? How have you kept your trust? Is it well, or would it have been better that he had died also, than that you should have taken him to rear in a poisoned atmosphere? I ask you, Ralph Moulton, where is that boy—where is he whom you have named for yourself, but who was christened Ralph Ellerton?”

The wicked man stood gazing at her, as if an avenging angel had smitten him, while she related these incidents of his past life. A look of blank amazement and fear covered his face; his knees knocked together, and when he tried to speak his ashen lips refused to move.

At length he managed to articulate:

45“Who are you, that you know all this?”

“Who am I?” she cried, bitterly. “Look and see who I am. Does not your heart speak for itself? Is there not one spark of kindred affection left in its hardened depths? Who am I indeed? I am Rose Moulton; she who loved, trusted, and was betrayed; who thought she was an honored and cherished wife, whom Heaven had blessed with its own and earth’s richest blessings, but who soon awoke to the misery and knowledge that she was no wife—only a disgraced and ruined woman, whose only child and treasure had no right to claim his father’s name. An outcast, deserted and dishonored! Who am I? I am your disgraced and erring sister, whom you cast off when she and every one else thought she was dying. I did not die. I began to gain from the moment you left me.”

“It is a lie!” shrieked the wretched old man, as, with eyes starting from their sockets, he staggered back against the green wall behind him.

“It is no lie; and you know every word I speak is true. I have followed you—I have been on your track ever since; and now I have come to claim my son, and be recognized as a member of your family. I knew if you thought me dead and out of the way, you would take my boy. So I went and hid myself, making those who took care of me promise to say I was dead. I followed you from abroad. I have watched you ever since, but have never spoken to my boy since I pressed that last fond kiss upon his pure lips, when I left him quietly sleeping in his childish innocence. I have just recovered from a long and weary illness. I am alone, forsaken, destitute; and, my brother, I have come to you for comfort and support. Oh! Ralph, will you not take your Rose once again to your heart, forgive her, and bless her with your love?”

She stopped and looked beseechingly in his face, while her wild eyes softened and tears poured down her sunken cheeks. Her hands were clasped, and in almost breathless silence, she awaited his reply.



While the unhappy woman was pleading so earnestly for recognition, and a welcome, the heartless squire had in a measure recovered from his fright at thus being confronted by one whom he had long supposed dead, and who now threatened to overthrow all his careful plottings; and he exclaimed in a voice of scornful wrath:

“You are not Rose Moulton; you cannot prove it. You are only some vile imposter who has picked up small bits of gossip, and, cleverly putting them together, has come to frighten me with the story, doubtless expecting to be bought off. Go! I will have nothing to do with you.”

“Your heart is harder than adamant, but, thank Heaven, it is in my power to prove my identity. Look!”

She raised her long, bony hand, and held it out to him.

On the palm lay a large and heavy brooch. She touched a spring, and a lid flew open, revealing the face of a very handsome man.

Squire Moulton started, and a look of hatred flashed over his countenance; for the face that looked out upon him was like the face of his deadly foe, only with a younger and fresher expression.

“Look!” she said again, and touched another spring.

The face of the man disappeared, and in its place that of a young and exquisitely beautiful girl appeared.

The dark and star-like eyes had a wistful look in their depths; the ripe, full lips a tempting curve, and masses of raven hair fell upon her neck and shoulders, spotless and fair as polished marble.

The evil man smote his brow with his hand, and caught his breath convulsively at sight of this radiant creature.

“Rose,” burst from his pale lips.

Again she repeated that one word:


Another spring yielded to her touch, and a dimpled, rosy-cheeked cherub, with black eyes and hair, smiled joyously up at him.

47With an oath he sprang to seize the strange jewel from her; but quickly shutting the several lids, she hid it in her bosom.

“Oh, Heaven!” he exclaimed, “you are, you must be Rose!”

“You acknowledge me, then, at last!” she cried, with a wave of hope in her voice. “Oh, bless you for Ralph’s sake. Do not harden your heart again, for my life has been a desolate waste. My name was a misnomer, for nothing but thorns and briers have grown along my life-path. Say, my brother, speak, and tell me that I have not come to plead in vain—that you will give me back my place in your heart and home, and, I promise you, no servant ever was more faithful and devoted than I will prove, if you will but lift me out of the depths of my present woe.”

Vain, useless pleading! Hearts of stone do not yield to a woman’s tears.

With a bitter oath he spurned her from him.

“No, you shameless wretch!” he exclaimed. “Get you gone from my sight, for I swear, by all that’s sacred, that you shall never cross my threshold. My house shall burn to ashes before it shall be polluted by your vile presence!”

She bent her head upon her hands in silent anguish for a moment. Her heart was crushed anew within her as its returning affection was thus outraged. All hope died within her bosom. An outcast she had been for many long and weary years, and an outcast she must remain.

The squire smiled grimly. It pleased him well to see her writhing in her agony at his feet, for he deemed the conquest now would be an easy one.

But can a mother forget her young?


“Where is my boy?” at length she demanded, hoarsely. “How have you brought him up? Is he as evil and cruel as yourself? or have you kept that one trust sacred? Tell me!”

“Rose Moulton—for I am convinced that you are indeed she whom I once called sister, for no other could have had that brooch—for this once, and only this once, will I condescend to answer your question, then you must tramp. I never will recognize you. You chose your own path in life, and now you may reap the fruits of it. After I left you that night, as I thought, to die, I resolved never to think of you 48again; you might die and rot, you and yours, before I would lift a finger to save you.

“I did not leave the city, for it was my pleasure to stay. I was plotting vengeance against one whom I had followed for years. A week went by, when all at once it flashed upon me, that if I had your boy, I could use him to carry out my plans; so I resolved to go back and get the young one——”

“Oh, Heaven! pity—spare me!” groaned the stricken mother, sinking back among the bushes, and burying her face in her emaciated hands.

“Yes,” pursued the villain, “I knew if rightly trained, he would be just the one for my purpose. You know all about that silly story of my youth; how Ellerton stole my bride. And that was not all, either, that I had against that family. Your own seared heart, and blighted life, will bear me witness to that.

“Well, Ellerton was in Naples. I had followed him there. His wife was dead, but he, poor love-sick youth, could not get over it, and so went abroad to take his mind from his grief. His son and nurse were with him. He left them at Naples while he went traveling for a few months.

“His boy was not very well—was pale and puny, but after his father’s departure he began to pick up, and grew wonderfully, until I was struck with his strong resemblance to Ralph, who you know was always small for his age. There was two years difference in their ages, but you would never have known it, and a stranger would have sworn they were twins. Satan must have put the idea into my head, for I resolved to change the children. I resolved to have my darling’s child to myself, and let him have yours to bring up and educate.”

“Ralph Moulton, curse you—curse you!” shrieked the poor creature, rocking to and fro in her agony.

“Hold, I have not finished yet. You wanted to know how your boy had been brought up, and I am telling you. I felt assured that if I could effect the change without the nurse’s knowledge, the father would never be the wiser, for they were so near alike.

“For weeks and weeks I watched, but it was of no use; the nurse was always with him, never leaving him for a moment. But one day fortune favored me. They were out in a grove behind their villa, and the boy begged for a drink 49of water. The nurse tried to make him go in to get it, but he was obstinate and refused.

“At length she consented to go, but told him not to move from the place while she was gone. I almost shouted for joy, for I felt my hour of triumph had come. I stepped from my place of concealment, taking Ralph with me, and seated him beside the other one. It was a picture I shall never forget. The two children, as near alike as two peas, sat looking at each other for a moment in silent astonishment. But I could not stop to look long, and lifting the one I was after in my arms I turned to flee, when a heavy blow felled me.

“The nurse had gone like a flash for the water, and was back in an instant; she had seen me take the child from the seat where she had left him, and comprehended the whole thing. She struck me on the head with the tumbler, and seizing the child, sped away into the villa. Cursing my ill-luck, I took Ralph and made off. The next I heard of them was that Mr. Ellerton had been sent for; the nurse had had an apoplectic fit and was dying—people said she had received a fright the day before; what it was no one could learn, for she would not speak of it until her master came. When he arrived it was too late, and she died trying to tell him something.

“What that something was I know, and you can guess; so my secret was safe, and I thought I might have another opportunity to effect the change. But he suddenly left the city, taking the boy with him, and for several years I lost sight of them.

“We finally met in this place, but the boys had not retained their resemblance to each other; besides, they were too old, so I had to give up the idea. I have sought in vain for other ways to wreak my vengeance, but never had an opportunity until a little while ago, when I played him a fine trick. But that’s not here nor there.

“I have recently taken Ralph into my confidence, only I have changed the story to suit my purposes. I have told him that it was Ellerton whom you sent for when you were dying—that you were his mistress before he married, and you sent for him, begging he would take your boy and educate him. He refused to do so, scorning alike him and you. I have also forged papers proving that you were legally married, and that he is in reality the rightful son and heir. He believes 50every word I have told him, and being brought up, you know, under right influences, he enters heartily into my plans for vengeance,”

Nothing could have been more fiendish than the expression with which Squire Moulton concluded these dark revelations.

“Heaven pity me that I was ever born, or that I ever gave birth to a child for you to bring up to such wickedness and woe,” groaned the poor woman, in a voice of despair.

Then suddenly springing to her feet, she shrieked:

“It shall not be, you villain! I will thwart your fell designs; I will go to my boy and reveal the whole plot—tell him what a foul lie you have told him, and that you are but making a tool of him. I will reveal myself to him and expose your villainy. You shall not ruin my boy!”

“You will reveal yourself to your son, will you?” sneered the other. “What a revelation that will be! Do you think he will believe that you are his mother? You look like the mother of the boy who is to inherit a million! He would be proud of you, no doubt!”

She flushed deeply at his cruel insinuations, but replied, sadly:

“If there is one particle of filial affection in his heart he will show it, and believe me when I show him this.”

She held up the brooch before him.

He had forgotten she had it, but he now knew that she could prove her story with it, and he resolved to gain possession of it by fair means or foul.

“You said you were destitute,” he said, trying to assume a more friendly air; “what will you sell me that bauble for? I will give you a good price for it.”

“I thank you, sir,” she replied, with biting scorn. “But I do not choose to part with such valuable evidence in my behalf. No, sir! this will prove my story, and I will use it. Such wickedness as you meditate shall not go on.”

“You talk well of wickedness; pray, how long since you became such a saint? But enough of this,” he added, sternly. “How do you suppose Ralph would receive your story? Do you think he would love a woman who had brought him into the world to suffer shame and disgrace? Do you think he would feel tenderly toward a mother who confesses she deserted him in infancy, and led a dissolute, 51abandoned life ever since? And, moreover, would he thank you for revealing to him the fact that he had no name? Madam, take warning; you don’t know your son as well as I do.”

“Oh!” wept the desolate creature, realizing the truth of all he said. “But you lied to him about his parentage, and—”

“What of that? Ought not his name to be Ralph Ellerton?”

“Yes, oh, yes; but——”

“Well, then let him claim it, and get the fortune if he can. The papers I have will prove all I want, in spite of all Ellerton can do. I’ll make a bargain with you. If you’ll help the matter along, when it is all settled, I will acknowledge you as a relative, perhaps a cousin or something of the kind.”

“Never! You do but insult me the more by such an offer! I tell you it shall never be. If I cannot see Ralph, I can at least go to Mr. Ellerton and warn him, so that his son may be saved from such suffering and disgrace. I have sinned in the past, but I trust I have repented, and am willing to do what is right now, even to the sacrificing of my own son! Let me pass.”

She tried to leave the arbor, but he barred the way, standing firm within the entrance.

“No,” he said, “you do not go until you give me those pictures, and a promise not to meddle with my affairs.”

Her heart quailed, for there was a wicked look in his eye that was fearful. But she put on the semblance of boldness.

“Let me pass.”

She drew herself to her full height, raised her head haughtily, sweeping back with one hand the heavy masses of her hair, while she flashed her brilliant eyes witheringly upon him.

She must have been glorious in her youthful days, for there was majesty even now in her look and mien, despite the soiled and tattered clothing.

“Never!” he growled between his teeth.

Swifter than a flash she darted toward him, seized him around one knee, and he fell to the ground, crashing and struggling among the thick branches of the arbor vitæ.

52Another instant, and she had vanished from his sight like a ghost.

Curses loud and deep burst in a torrent from Squire Moulton’s foaming lips, as, painfully arising, he made his way from the place.

Scarcely had he stepped outside the circle, when a sight met his eyes which caused him to totter back, half fainting and gasping for breath.


Half crouching, half lying among the tall grass just outside the circle of arbor vitæ, was a large, swarthy-looking man, his eyes and mouth agape with astonishment at the wondrous story he had just heard rehearsed.

A close observer might have noticed his paleness and agitation. Evidently something in the tale had moved him deeply, for great beads of perspiration stood on his forehead, from which his cap was pushed back, and the hand he raised to wipe his brow shook like a reed.

He might have been a fine-looking man, for his face was highly intelligent in expression, and his form was tall, straight, and well developed. But clad in his soiled and much-worn garments, with face deeply bronzed, locks uncombed, and beard unshaven, he was but a sorry-looking object. There was a roughness about him, too, and a fierceness in the gaze of his eye as he looked upon the terror-stricken squire, which were enough in themselves, coming as he did unexpectedly upon him, to drive the color from his face and lips.

The stranger was the first to recover his self-possession, and assuming a sneering, half defiant air, while at the same time he seemed to enjoy Squire Moulton’s fright, said:

“Well, squire, I must say she’s a pretty spunky sort of a woman, that sister of yourn!”

“Who are you—how long have you been here—did you hear——” incoherently gasped the startled villain.

“I heard every word!” interrupted his visitor, with an air of triumph. “That answers two of your questions, I believe; but the other I do not know as I feel inclined to reply to just at present.”

53“How came you here?” demanded Squire Moulton, beginning to recover himself somewhat, and angry at the insolent manner of the other.

“Well, if you must know just how I came, I rode part of the way, and walked t’other part.”

There was a sly twinkle in his eye, and a sarcastic smile lurking in the corners of his mouth.

“What was your object in prowling around my grounds, and listening to conversation which did not concern you!”

The schemer’s voice was more friendly now, for he felt he was in the man’s power, and it would be better to temporize with him than to threaten him, though in his heart he wished he could strike him dead at his feet.

“Well, squire, I don’t know as I object to telling you that that woman has been prowling around here, too, for several days. I’ve sort o’ had my eyes on her, and I thought I’d find out what she was up to. As to its being no concern of mine, perhaps ’tis, and then again perhaps it isn’t. Anyway, I rather think she’s got a little the best of you, hain’t she, squire!—that is,” he added slyly, “unless you can get hold o’ them pictures. Handsome man, that! Seems to me I’ve seen him somewhere before now.”

“The duse take it!” muttered the squire, uneasily. “I would give a good deal if I had them in my possession.”

“Would you, really?” asked the other, a sudden idea seeming to strike him. “Well, what would you give a feller to get them for you?”

“Ah!” said Squire Moulton, starting, and eying his strange companion closely. “I would give a hundred dollars—fifty on the spot, and fifty more when they are in my possession.”

“By golly, I’m your man, then! Fork over, and call it a job!”

The strange man sprang eagerly to his feet, evidently anxious to have his services engaged.

“But,” returned the other, hesitating, “I don’t know anything about you. How do I know but you will make off with the money I give you, and never show yourself again? What is your name?”

“Well, I am a stranger in these parts, so I guess you won’t be able to find out much about me, except what I choose to tell you myself. I go by the name of Ronald Edgerton—a pretty good sounding one, I think, too. And as 54to my making off with your money, you’ll have to take me on trust, I guess, as I’ve nobody to back me.”

“Where did you come from?” asked the squire, wishing he could strike the man, for his cool insolence exasperated him beyond measure.

“Well, I came from the city out here; but I hail from California.”

“California!” repeated the squire, with a gasp. “What part of the State?”

“The diggins! Mighty poor diggins they were, too, for me, so I thought I’d better dig for somewhere else. But what do you say, squire—is it a trade that I go for the pictures?”

“I don’t know,” muttered the perplexed man, less and less inclined to trust the stranger.

“Better,” replied Ronald Edgerton, laconically.

“Why?” demanded Squire Moulton, sharply.

“Well”—continuing to use what seemed to be a favorite word with him—“well, I’ve gained some pretty valuable information to-day, you know, and if I can’t make a trade with you, why, I shall be under the necessity of doing so with some one else!”

“Oh! you threaten me, do you?”

“Not at all, squire—not at all; only a feller must get a living some way or other.”

“What do you do generally for a living?”

“Well, most anything that turns up; sometimes this and sometimes that.”

Squire Moulton was in despair. He could get nothing whatever out of the man. He was too much for even his sharp villainy to fathom, and no cross-questioning could catch him. He did not like his appearance at all. Sometimes he spoke like a gentleman, and sometimes like a rough, ignorant fellow. He was a puzzle, which it was beyond his power and wit to solve. It would have pleased him better had there been more of the decided rascal about him. But the man had evidently listened to the whole of the conversation he had had with his sister, and he was in his power. All his dearest secrets were now in the possession of this cool, insolent man who called himself Ronald Edgerton; and he cursed himself again and again for having allowed himself to breathe them in the open air. But it was of no 55use now, to waste time in vain repinings, and he resolved to do the best he could by making an ally of the man.

“I’ll tell you what I will do, Edgerton,” he said, at length, assuming a friendly air, at the same time drawing forth his purse. “I will hire you to do such little odd jobs as these, if you like, and pay you well for them, too. You shall have the fifty dollars now, and the remainder when you bring me the pictures, then I shall have something else on the docket, I have no doubt.”

“That’s it; now you talk to the point! Thank’ee, sir,” he said, as he took the money.

“You will not fail me now—I may depend upon you?”

“Depend upon me, that you may. If it’s in the power of man, I’ll have that breastpin before many days. I guess I’ll be traveling now,” he said, as he put the bill out of sight; “but you will see me again soon. Good-day, sir.”

He touched his slouch cap politely to the squire, and turning, was quickly lost to view.

For some moments Squire Moulton stood lost in deep thought. He could not trust the man fully, try as he would. But he was where he could not help himself, and so resolved to make the best of the matter.

Ronald Edgerton walked briskly in the direction of the city, for half a mile, when he came upon a horse tied to a tree. He quickly unhitched the animal, and leaping into the saddle, trotted swiftly away. It was getting dark, and he spurred his horse onward, looking anxiously at every object he passed. Soon his eye brightened, for he caught sight of a familiar figure hurrying in the same direction with himself. He now slackened his speed, in order to keep the figure in view, but did not follow so closely as to be himself discovered.

They entered the city, and he rode nearer to Rose Moulton, for she it was whom he was watching.

She had walked swiftly after fleeing from her brother’s grounds, in order to gain her lodgings before night came on; but her now lagging gait told that she was foot-sore and weary. Once she stopped and leaned against a lamp-post, but having a faint sigh, she soon started on again.

She had not proceeded far before, uttering a deep cry, she fell stumbling upon the rough pavement.

Quick as thought the horseman sprang to the ground, and before other assistance was offered, he had tenderly raised 56her in his arms. He bent an anxious look upon her face, and placed his hand upon her heart. She had only fainted from weariness; and hastily calling a cab he placed her within, and giving the name and number of the street, to which he wished to be driven, he then followed.

Seating himself, he took the insensible woman’s head in his lap, smoothed back with a gentle hand the heavy masses of her tangled hair; and once he heaved a long, quivering sigh, and murmured—“Poor Rose!”

But this weakness soon passed, and he began searching earnestly for the hidden treasure. Not many moments passed ere he held it in his hand. He thrust it within his own bosom, and then hastily rolling the fifty-dollar note which he had received from the squire in a piece of paper, he put it in place of the stolen brooch.

He had barely completed these operations when the carriage stopped. Quickly gathering the woman, who was beginning now to revive, in his arms, he bore her into the house before which they had stopped, and left her in the care of the kind-hearted lady.

The next day Edgerton, completely transformed by rich and handsome apparel, looking what he was in reality—every inch a gentleman—entered one of the first jewelry establishments in the city, and ordered a brooch to be made exactly like the one he had with him. When it was completed he took the two to an artist, had the pictures copied and the copies put into the new ones, and in just one week from the day on which he made the bargain with the squire, he was back again to report his success.

It was evening when he arrived, and he was shown into the library where the old man was sitting.

It was a damp, chilly evening, and there was a glowing fire in the grate, which rendered the room cheerful and inviting.

“Well, squire,” remarked Edgerton on entering, “you see taking a feller on trust ain’t so bad after all. Here I am back again, and with the plunder safe and sound in my pocket!”

“Really, Mr. Edgerton, I am surprised that you should have been so expeditious,” replied Squire Moulton, a flash of joy lighting up his wrinkled face. “Where are they?” he continued, eagerly.

57“Here,” replied Edgerton, and handed him the brooch which he had had made.

He took it, and opening each lid, convinced himself that they were really the pictures of the faces he wished to possess, then shutting them with a snap, he uttered an oath and cast them into the blazing grate.

“Zounds!” exclaimed his ally, springing from his chair as if to save the doomed jewel; then drawing in a deep breath, he sank back again, inwardly congratulating himself that it was only the copy, and not the original.

“There!” said Squire Moulton, with an evil smile. “Those infernal pictures will never trouble anybody again.”

“That is true, sir,” replied Edgerton, returning the smile tenfold, and speaking with marked emphasis. “Now,” he continued, “if you’ll hand over the cash, squire, I’ll go.”

“Oh! but you have not told me how you gained possession of the brooch yet.”

“Well,” laughed the other, “I was not aware it was in the bargain for me to reveal all my slight-of-hand performances, though it was easy enough done. You see I had my eye on the woman, and one day she fainted in the street, and I very humanely went to her assistance; a little maneuvering and the thing was mine.”

“Where does she live?” asked the squire, scowling darkly.

“Couldn’t say just now, squire; but perhaps I can find out,” replied Edgerton, with a sly glance at the dark face before him.

“Well, at all events, you have earned your hundred dollars easily enough.”

He handed him the other fifty as he spoke.

“Just keep your eye open, and report occasionally, and you shall be well paid for it.”

“All right; and now I will say good-evening to you, sir. It is some distance back to the city, and it is getting late.”

Ronald Edgerton passed out into the night, leaving Squire Moulton to indulge in more pleasing reflections than he had enjoyed this many a day.

“Ah!” muttered Edgerton, “you little know, my worthy squire, with whom you are dealing. I shall study this game pretty thoroughly. Your instinct is finer than your honor, you fool, for you did not like to trust me; but you were in 58rather a tight place, and I warn you to look to it, that some day you are not in a tighter one.”


Six years!

How much significance those two short words contain! To how many souls they have brought joy and sorrow, weal and woe—some lifted to the highest pinnacle of happiness, while others are driven to the deepest depths of despair!

Hearts so gay and happy six years ago, now crushed with their weight of trials and cares. Bright eyes have wept away their luster over hopes that were born but to wither and die. The cankerous worm, sorrow, gnawing at once happy hearts, has robbed the once rounded cheek of its bloom and beauty, leaving in their place deep lines of pain and suffering which time can never remove.

Sorrow! sorrow! The earth is full of sorrow! Yet a happy few there are who move on in the even tenor of their way, growing each year more beautiful and lovely, making the world glad, bright, and gay, dispensing sunshine and joy along the pathway of their lives, giving and receiving a full measure of earth’s choicest blessings—love, joy, happiness!

We will have nothing to do, dear reader, with life’s shady side just now. Our lines are cast in more pleasant places, and we will enter for a while the charmed circle of the careless and free.

Madame Alroyd’s elegant up-town mansion was all one glittering blaze of light and beauty.

Every pane of glass in the high and lofty windows was like a star, and every door-way and arch a constellation of stars; while every room and hall was a floral temple, filling the air around with the richest perfume.

Guests, young, gay, and lovely, clad in their richest and most becoming robes, throng this modern palace to pay their compliments, congratulations, and adieus to its fair young mistress and heiress, who on the morrow is to leave her native land to travel among scenes new and strange in the olden world.

It is Dora Dupont’s eighteenth birthday.

As she stands in all her royal beauty at one end of the 59spacious drawing-room, clad in robes of glistening white, and receiving her guests with faultless grace, one cannot marvel at the words and looks of admiration and homage that fall from the lips and eyes of that brilliant assemblage.

Yes, it is Dora Dupont! That “homely little squab,” to use Mr. Ellerton’s phraseology, had sprung up into a tall and graceful woman, beautiful as a dream, but in other respects the same laughing, happy Dora as of yore.

The years had only added new graces, instead of robbing her of the old. There were the same sunny blue eyes, and golden brown hair, only perhaps with a deeper tint in their bright depths and silken sheen. The same rosebud mouth and laughing dimples. Her manners were as free and simple as when she ran skipping through the hall of the little white cottage to meet Robert Ellerton on that bright, fine morning, six years ago. No amount of city polishing could rob her of her freshness, and this alone added tenfold to her charms.

But how came she here, surrounded by so much wealth and magnificence?

Ah! Death had again breathed his icy breath upon her home, and laid low her fond and tender mother. But not to leave her friendless and alone, as she feared, for before her grief had had time to sere her heart, she was again surrounded by an atmosphere of tenderest love and care.

Ere she could realize to the full extent her great loss, she was plunged into the lap of luxury, and into the arms of a doting, lonely old woman.

The years passed quickly away after Robert Ellerton’s departure for Germany, despite the loneliness and dreariness which “Brightie” at first thought would follow. Then her mother suddenly sickened and died, and the poor girl thought she was desolate indeed—alone in a cold and heartless world.

But the great Giver of Good did not so will it that this bright bird, so full of promise, should wither and droop before its bloom.

One day an elegant barouche stopped before the little white cottage, and a woman, attired to the extent of fashion, stepped to the ground and entered.

It was Mrs. Dupont’s maiden aunt, who had cast her off when she displeased her by marrying the poor doctor. She was sixty years of age, but looked scarce fifty.

60Many a time her heart had been lonely and sick for the want of a little love; many a time her conscience had whispered that she had done wrong in forsaking her own flesh and blood; but pride would not let her yield, until her once darling and favorite was laid cold and silent beneath the sod.

Then, in her grief and remorse, she pounced down upon poor, terrified little Dora, and carried her off, to love, pet, and spoil her, if she could, and to make a lady of her.

Everything that heart could wish was now hers, and she reigned a very queen over a household of servants, and in the heart of Madame Alroyd, and despite the shadows that had clouded her young life, she grew happy as a bird, and bright and winsome as the day.

Her education was now completed, and for the past few months she had reigned as a beauty and a belle in the first circles of New York.

But Dora had not forgotten her childhood, nor her boy husband.

Oh, no! Even now his picture lay against her throbbing heart, and not a day passed but that it was taken from its hiding-place, and pressed tenderly and passionately to her ripe, beautiful lips.

But it was her secret!

She had never dared to tell her aunt of that episode in her life, fearing that the sacredness with which she regarded it would be laughed to scorn.

And so the years came and went, until she arrived at young ladyhood, and suitors by the score flocked around the wealthy beauty, seeking in vain for a favorable response to their vows of eternal love and fidelity.

All met with the same firm yet gentle reply, and went away disappointed, yet loving the more.

Two young men had lately appeared in society, who seemed more favored than the others had been, and report said that one of these two would receive the prize. Which—all were waiting eagerly to learn.

One was a young German, highly educated and refined, handsome and wealthy. He had recently graduated at a celebrated seminary in his native country, and was now making a tour of the United States.

His name was Fredrich Weimher.

The other was—Ralph Moulton!

61Both hovered near Dora now, waiting anxiously to be favored with a smile or a word.

A band of musicians, concealed by a floral screen, suddenly struck up their inspiriting music, and both these young gentlemen stepped quickly forward to secure her hand for the dance.

Fredrich Weimher, being first, secured the prize, and led her away, leaving Ralph Moulton standing alone, angrily gnawing his lips and frowning darkly.

Graceful as a willow was our heroine, and as gracefully Mr. Weimher bore her through the mazes of the dance, and then led her away to get a breath of fresh air.

Sweeping aside some heavy curtains, they stepped through a low window, out upon a balcony, and were hidden from view of the guests within the drawing-room.

“Miss Dora,” said Fredrich Weimher, gayly, “I have not yet offered you my congratulations. Permit me to do so now.”

“I thank you, my friend, for I believe you sincere; which can be said of very few out of the many who are here to-night.”

“All seem happy, nevertheless,” he replied.

“Yes,” replied Dora, half regretfully. “And I am happy, while at the same time I am sad. I long to visit the old world, and yet it makes me almost homesick to leave my native land, though I have not many kindred ties to bind me here.”

“Your friends will miss you sadly, Miss Dupont.”

“Thank you again, Mr. Weimher, and I may reckon you among them, I trust,” she replied, smiling archly up at him.

“A friend! Oh, Dora, pardon me, but I can be still no longer. I brought you out here to speak my farewell, for I could not say it when others were looking coldly on; and does not your heart tell you that I had more than a formal farewell to say? Does it not tell you that I am more than a friend? It is a cold word to apply to me, who loves you as deeply as I do. Do not hide your face, my darling, but give, oh, give me the love I crave.”

He would have taken her hand, but she held it from him, while a look of pain swept over her fair face.

“Oh, Dora,” he went on, while a shade of keen disappointment clouded his eyes, “have you not seen how dear you have become to me, how I have fed and lived upon your 62smile? Has your heart no welcome for me? You do not answer. Oh, my love, my love! do not send me from you, I pray! Give me what I ask, else my heart will break.”

“Fredrich,” she began, and then hesitated.

“Ah, darling, thank you for uttering that one word. Bless you. You will give yourself to me—you are mine!”

He passed his arm around her waist, and drawing her tenderly toward him bent a look of eager love upon her fair face.

But she quietly disengaged herself from his embrace, and though the tears were in her lovely eyes, and her voice trembled with every word she uttered, there was a quiet firmness in her manner that crushed every atom of hope from his breast.

“Mr. Weimher, I am pained beyond measure at your words, for they make me feel as if I had deceived you with false hopes; but what you ask can never be!”

She paused a moment, then went on, sadly:

“I have loved you—nay, hear me,” she added, quickly, as he flashed a look of joy at her—“I have respected you as a friend, and loved you as I would a brother, but I never dreamed you cherished a deeper feeling for me. I thought Miss Nettie Allen had your heart’s best and deepest devotion!”

“Oh, Dora, my lost love, I cannot bear this,” he groaned.

“Yes, my friend, you must bear it, though it pains me to say it. I have always treated you openly and frankly, have I not?”

“Yes, but—oh, cruel fate! I had so hoped there might be something deeper beneath.”

“Forgive me, Fredrich, if I have unintentionally misled you. But I can never give you more than a sister’s affection, and that you shall have.”

“But, Dora, I will give you time, and perhaps you can learn to love me as something nearer. Oh, if you will try,” pleaded the disappointed man.

“My poor friend, it can never, never be. It is an utter impossibility!” she replied, weeping bitterly. After a few moments spent in deep thought, she continued:

“Listen, Mr. Weimher, and I will tell you a secret. No one knows it. It is a story of the past, and I tell it to you to prove to you how hopeless it is for you to love me. My friend, I may trust you? You will not betray me?”

63“Can you ask? You have but to command me, and I obey, even to the yielding up of life itself.”

She sighed deeply. It pained her to know of such rare devotion, when she had nothing to give in return. Bending toward him, she whispered:

“I love another. I am already married!”

“Good heavens!” he exclaimed, leaning trembling and aghast against the railing of the balcony.

“It is even so,” she returned, sadly. “But I doubt if I should even know my own husband should I meet him now.”

She then related to him the story of her youthful marriage, with which the reader is already acquainted; while Fredrich Weimher listened, spell-bound, to the thrilling and startling events which had transpired to bind for life one so young, beautiful, and good.

There was a look of hope in his eyes again when she had finished, and he said, eagerly:

“Dora, do you not know that that marriage ceremony can be set aside now if you so will it. If you will only give yourself to me, I will devote my life to your service until you are free.”

“Nay—nay, my kind friend, you would but wreck my life then——”

“The fates forbid!” he interrupted, fervently.

“For,” she went on, “I love Robbie Ellerton still. Strange though it may seem, when that evil-minded man made us man and wife, I gave myself wholly to him. My love has grown with the growth of years, and I feel that naught but death can ever break the link that binds us.”

“But, Dora, were you free—forgive me, but I must know—if by any chance death should set you free, would you give yourself to me?”

He bent over her, holding his very breath, and his heart beat almost to suffocation as he waited for her answer, for upon it depended his last and only hope.

“Fredrich—Mr. Weimher, I beg—I entreat you will not harbor such a thought for an instant,” she said, wildly. “He will not die—he shall not die. It cannot be that I have loved him all these long years for naught. It would shroud my life in a night of wild despair. No, he promised he would come and claim me, and I feel—I know he will. Yes, I am Robert Ellerton’s bride, and his alone will I be, whether it be a bride of life or of death.”

64He buried his face in his hands, and she could see the bright tears trickling through his fingers and falling at his feet.

The sight of his sorrow recalled her to herself.

“Fredrich,” said she, almost tenderly, “forgive me, but I must tell you the truth, and it is best you should know the worst at once. Go and seek some one fairer and more worthy your love than I, and from my heart I will say Heaven bless you.”

“Can you ask me to do that? can you bid my heart so soon forget its allegiance?”

“Ah! but you would bid mine forget its own, and come to you,” she replied, smiling.

He started at the reproof.

“Forgive me,” he said, repentantly; “I am selfish in my sorrow. I accept my sentence, and will try to bear it patiently, and think myself blessed if I can but merit your friendship; and should you ever need a faithful friend, you have only to call upon Fredrich Weimher.”

“Thank you, I will,” she said, frankly holding out her hand to him, while in her secret heart she honored him for his manly conduct. “And now,” she added, “would you like to see my hero as he was then?”

She drew the hidden locket from its resting-place, touched the spring, and held it up before him. He looked—started—looked again.

“Miss Dupont,” he exclaimed, “surely it cannot be—but it must be—it is one of the dearest friends I have! Robert Ellerton! strange I did not think before. Why, Dora, I know your boy husband—he and I have spent many an hour in hard study together, though he is younger, and I graduated a year ago. He is a splendid fellow, and worthy even of your priceless love.”

She had listened in pale and silent amazement to his words, while she trembled in every nerve with joyous excitement, and now poured forth a perfect torrent of questions.

And he gave her the whole story.

When Robert Ellerton first entered the German institute he was a lonely, sorrowful boy, always pale and silent, but a perfect scholar, never knowing what the word failure meant. Fredrich Weimher, noble, kind-hearted, and tender, pitied the stranger so far from his native land, sought him out, and at once made friends with him.

65They were more like brothers than friends, and were scarcely ever separated until Fredrich graduated and started on his American tour.

One thing alone Robert would never talk about, and that was his home affairs, seeming quite sensitive if the subject was even mentioned. That, and that alone, was the only thing in which Fredrich did not share his confidence.

“Heaven bless you, Dora, my friend!” cried Weimher, as he concluded his recital, and smiling quite brightly. “I can give you up with one pang less, now that I know you belong to my dearest friend.”

“Oh, Fredrich Weimher,” replied the delighted girl, “if I considered you my friend before, you are doubly so now. I only regret that I did not make a confidant of you sooner; it might have saved you pain, and given me much happiness to hear directly from one who is so dear to me. But I leave on the morrow, and must say farewell to you now and return to my guests, or I shall be missed.”

He took the white-gloved hand held out to him, and pressed it fervently, then gently drawing her toward him, he bent and respectfully kissed her fair upturned brow, saying:

“Good-by, my friend—my sister. May old Neptune bear you safely on your journey, and perchance we may meet abroad, for I shall shortly return to my native country. God grant you may meet your own loved one, and that unalloyed happiness may ever be yours.”

He turned quickly from her, and disappeared within, leaving her alone, happy yet sorrowful, for his was too noble a heart to be rent with unrequited love.

As Fredrich Weimher lifted the heavy curtains which concealed the balcony on which he and Dora had stood, and stepped within the drawing-room, a man moved quickly aside, scowling blackly upon him, yet with a certain air of triumph. But his evil gaze was thrown away, for its object passed on and soon left the mansion.


Waiting a few moments, Ralph Moulton—for it was he who was hidden among the heavy folds of drapery, and had listened to every word that passed between Weimher and 66Dora—stepped softly out upon the balcony, and stood beside his fair hostess.

She was weeping, and did not notice him until he laid his hand gently upon her smooth, bare arm, and said, in a sympathizing tone:

“Why do you weep, Miss Dupont?”

With a start of affright and a haughty gesture, she moved away from him, for his familiar touch angered her.

Hastily wiping her eyes, she said, coldly:

“Really, Mr. Moulton, I don’t know as I can explain to you my feelings. Sadness, I presume, is one cause of my tears.”

“And what could possibly render Miss Dupont sad? Methought her life was as fair and bright as earth’s choicest gifts could make it,” he said, with a voice which he tried to make tender.

“If you please,” she replied, “we will not discuss that subject now, Mr. Moulton.”

She turned abruptly to leave the balcony, for she deemed him rude to intrude himself upon her when she was struggling with her sad feelings.

He quickly caught her hand, detaining her, while he exclaimed:

“Stay, Miss Dupont; do not leave me so, for I have something to say to you.”

“I am listening,” she replied coldly. “But pray, Mr. Moulton, be good enough to release my hand.”

He did not release it, but drew it within his arm, and then led her to one end of the balcony.

“Miss Dupont—Dora, I love you; will you be my wife?”

“No, sir,” she answered, sharply.

He started violently; then said, reproachfully:

“I beg your pardon; did I understand you aright?”

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Moulton, for allowing myself to speak in such a manner,” she replied, wearily.

Her heart had been almost broken with the scene that had just transpired, and she did not feel equal to another.

“I have not been feeling very happy for a few moments past,” she went on; “but I am pained at your declaration, for I cannot return your affection.”

“Miss Dupont, you must not say that,” he returned, almost fiercely, “for my happiness—nay, my life depends upon your love.”

67“I cannot listen to such words as these, Mr. Moulton; my answer is final. Please allow me to return to the drawing-room.”

“Never!” he replied, hotly, as he seized her in his arms with a convulsive clasp and rained kiss after kiss upon her white face. “Never until you yield to my love, my darling. My heart tells me that you are mine—mine by the right of my insatiable love, which nothing earthly can quell. No, no, my pretty one; lie still in these arms, which have ached to infold thee for months—nay, for years; while my tongue has burned to pour forth the story of my adoration, but never before have I dared to approach you with these words. My own, my own, you are about to be torn from me, and I cannot longer be silent. I cannot let you go; I would die to serve you, and do you think I will let the sea divide us? Never! I will follow you to the ends of the earth, and the land where you dwell shall be my home. Dora—Dora Dupont, you must—you shall be my wife!”

He stopped, exhausted by his emotions, though he still held her pressed close to his fiercely throbbing heart.

“Mr. Moulton, will you be good enough to unhand me? or shall I be obliged to call for assistance?”

Ice could not have been harder or colder than the clear, frozen tones which fell upon his ear.

In an instant his arms dropped from around her, and then they closed firmly across his breast, while he gazed upon her with eyes that almost burned her with their intense brightness.

Scornfully erect she stood for a moment, returning his gaze with one full of defiance.

Her white robes trailed in graceful folds around her; her head was thrown haughtily back, while her nostrils quivered and dilated with the virtuous indignation that surged beneath her heaving bosom. Juno in her wrath could not have been more majestic and glorious.

“Your insulting words and deportment, sir, merit but one answer,” she sternly said. “Go, and never let me look upon your face again!”

“By Heaven, I will not!” he replied, stung to madness by her look and tone. “Is there no pity in your heart for love like mine? I will not believe you so cold and dead to all feeling as your words imply.”

“If you expected love, or sympathy even, from me, Mr. 68Moulton, you have taken the wrong way to obtain them. I am not one to be forced!”

“Forgive me, my beautiful one; but I could not help it, and on my knees I beg your pardon,” pleaded Ralph Moulton, with white face and imploring eyes upraised to hers.

“’Tis useless; I do not and cannot love you.”

He was on his feet again in an instant, while the hot, angry blood mounted to his brow.

“Is that answer final, Dora Dupont?” he asked between his set teeth.

“It is,” she returned, coldly. “And now allow me, if you please, to return to my guests.”

She began to wonder within herself how she had ever tolerated this man’s presence.

He placed himself directly in her way while he said:

“I warn you, Dora Dupont, to beware. I am not one to be trifled with. I give you one more opportunity to accept as true and pure a love as ever throbbed in the heart of man or woman. Will you accept it?”


“Enough! I swear—hear me—I swear you shall yet be my wife! Think not that I care for that foolish, childish ceremony; that can easily be set aside. Yes, you need not start and grow pale—I know your whole history. You little dreamed that it was the nephew of the man who bound you and your boy lover together; who bowed down and worshiped you. That marriage was illegal; I can prove it, and besides there were no witnesses. And then I have a sweet little secret for your ear that may cause you to change your mind, and accept my offer. I presume you think you are wedded to an honorable person, and the son of a wealthy man. But let me undeceive you! Robert Ellerton, Jr., has no right to his name! Come nearer and let me whisper, lest the winds should perchance gather the words and waft them to other ears. I am the rightful son of Robert Ellerton, while he is——”

The remainder of the sentence was barely breathed in her ear; but she heard it, for she grew white to her very lips, and shivered as if with the cold; but her voice never faltered as she replied:

“Coward, do you think I will credit your base falsehood? You have no proof of your vile assertions!”

69“Not quite so fast, my pretty one. I have the proofs here; come nearer to this light and I will explain.”

He took some papers from his pocket as he spoke, while she, drawn as if by fascination, came and stood beside him.

“Robert Ellerton,” he explained, casting a triumphant look upon her, “was secretly married to my mother long before your hero was born. I say secretly married, for he believed the ceremony to be only a farce, for he hired a man to marry them whom he thought had no legal authority. But he was mistaken, as these papers prove. My mother was Squire Moulton’s cousin, though until within a few years I had been led to believe that she was his sister. When Ellerton wished to marry his other sweetheart, he coolly informed my mother that she was not legally his wife, and that he could no longer take care of her; and she, stung to madness, fled from the country. After she had gone, my uncle, who hated Ellerton, discovered that the marriage was legal, and went to seek her and restore her to her rights; but she died at Naples, and Squire Moulton brought me to this country and educated me. I only discovered this a few years ago, and have been waiting until we both had finished our education, that my triumph might be more complete. I am the rightful son and heir of Robert Ellerton; and now it rests with you whether I assert my claims, and bring shame and disgrace upon one whom you profess to love so deeply, or whether I remain plain Ralph Moulton, with you for my loved and cherished wife. Examine these papers, and see if I have not proof of what I tell you.”

He held them up before her as he finished speaking.

She read the marriage certificate, with Robert Ellerton and Rose Moulton’s names attached, and her heart sank like lead in her bosom as she realized what suffering and shame it would bring upon her loved one if exposed to the world.

She could easily have snatched the paper from him and torn it to fragments had she desired; but her pride would not allow her to let him see and gloat over the pain that racked her soul, and she answered, proudly:

“I do not believe the story you have told me!”

“What! not with this paper to prove it?” he asked, shaking the paper he held.

“No. It were easy enough to forge it, to serve your base purposes. And were Robert Ellerton to-day a beggar in rags, and disgraced as you would have me believe, I would gladly 70share his lot before I would wed with you, had you a thousand fortunes! Now I command you go, and never pollute my sight with your vile presence again!”

She raised her graceful arm and pointed toward the drawing-room.

“You’ll repent of this, my fair lady, and that right soon, too,” he muttered, savagely.


He took a step forward as if to obey the imperious command, then stopped and turned toward her again.

“I warn you once again that I will hunt your lover to the death, and I swear that you shall yet be my wife!”

Her clear eyes flashed angrily, and her finger did not even quiver as it still pointed toward him.


Clear and ringing as a trumpet-call it sounded on the still night air, and a tiny foot stamped impatiently upon the floor of the balcony.

Like the craven coward he was, his eyes drooped before her stern gaze, and he slunk cringingly from her sight.

A deep, shuddering sob burst from Dora Dupont’s pale lips as he disappeared. She clasped her hands upon her breast, as if to still the painful throbbings of her aching heart, while an expression of keenest agony swept over her beautiful face.

“Heaven grant that it is nothing but a base calumny,” she murmured, as she paced to and fro. “But I fear it is all too true; still, it may be, he only did it to frighten me into becoming his wife—coward that he is, to threaten a weak woman! But Robbie, come weal or come woe, I am yours, and only yours, until my heart shall cease to beat.”

A sweet smile dispersed the shade of anxiety that clouded her lovely face, as her thoughts flew over the seas to one whom she knew would yet claim her as his own.

“Oh, heartless flirt that I am,” she continued, after a moment—“two offers in one night! The Fates defend me against another!”

Saying which, she gracefully swept aside the heavy drapery, and appeared within the brilliantly lighted drawing-room again.

The following day a noble steamer sailed slowly down the 71harbor, laden with its precious weight of human freight. Hundreds were gathered upon its wide, clean decks, gazing back upon the gradually receding spires and domes of the great city.

Among these, but standing apart by themselves, was a gay and joyous party, who seemed to have cast all care and trouble to the winds, and who were happy only in the present, and in anticipations of the future.

Madame Alroyd and Dora, attended by their servants, were of this party; and our lovely heroine was laughing and chatting merrily, as if no sorrow had ever clouded her fair brow or dimmed the luster of her clear blue eye.

She could not be still. Her gayety sparkled and bubbled forth in a continual stream of bright sayings and musical, silvery laughter, for was she not bound for the land that held her darling? And perhaps she might by some chance meet him there! It should be no fault of hers if she did not; and she knew their hearts would speak for themselves when that happy day should arrive; and she felt earth could hold no greater joy for her than to be again clasped to his loving, throbbing heart as in days of yore, and to feel that nothing earthly could ever again separate them.

Many wondered at this bright, innocent beauty’s excessive life and joy that day, and many envious glances were drawn toward the group that was such a host of pleasure in itself.

On the opposite side of the deck stood a man wrapped in a large traveling cloak, and with a hat slouched and drawn down over a pair of piercing black eyes.

At his side stood another clad in like manner, only his hair was white, and he had a disagreeable stoop in his shoulders.

Both these men were engaged in a low, muttering conversation, while at the same time they cast baleful looks upon the party opposite, who little dreamed of the phantoms of evil lurking in their path, tracking their every footstep, and vowing eternal vengeance.


Late one night, while the wind was howling dismally, and the rain poured down in torrents, a carriage drawn by a pair 72of noble but weary and dripping horses, drew up before an inn in the village of ——, Germany.

Two men alighted, and muttering discontentedly about the storm, hastened within the friendly shelter of the inn.

It was not a first-class inn. All those were already filled to overflowing by the crowds who thronged the place to be present on the morrow at the commencement exercises of —— Institute.

The house before which our travelers had stopped, although clean and moderately well kept, was one in which the middle and lower classes collected every night to drink their beer, smoke their meerschaums and chat a while around the fire, which always burned brightly in the public room.

This room was now occupied by a dozen or more of this class, who left off their drinking and smoking as the strangers entered and shook the water from their dripping cloaks.

Mine host approached them with many smiles, asking what he could do for them, and at the same time assisting them to remove their wet garments.

“Give us a warm, private room, and something hot to eat and drink,” replied the younger of the two gentlemen, “and be quick about it too,” he added, “for we are almost perished with this cold, miserable storm.”

The speaker took off his hat as he spoke, revealing the handsome face of Ralph Moulton! While his companion proved to be Ralph Moulton the elder!

A man who was seated in the back part of the room, and rather in the shadow, started violently as the features of the new-comers were revealed; and he drew still farther into the shade, while he pulled up his coat collar, so that it half concealed his face; and then he sat in an attitude which showed that he was eagerly listening to catch every word that should be uttered.

In a few moments the host entered, saying their room was in readiness, and that supper would soon be served to them.

“A wet night!” he said, affably, while he lighted a candle.

“Yes, blast it!” replied Ralph, the younger, who constituted himself spokesman. “A mighty disagreeable night for any one to be out, especially if they have traveled as many miles as we have to-day.”

“Come to be here at the grand doings to-morrow?” asked the irrepressible keeper.

73“Um—yes—partly. Please show us to our room now,” was the curt reply.

The host accommodatingly shut his mouth, and taking the candle preceded the strangers from the room.

The moment they had disappeared, the man who was sitting in the back part of the room, and who had been so affected upon their arrival, arose and left the inn.

Heedless of the driving storm, he proceeded quickly toward a drug store. Arriving there he purchased a fine white powder, and again returned to the inn.

He did not go back into the public room, but proceeding round to the back door, entered the kitchen where he seemed to be perfectly at home.

Going to the stove he sat down and appeared to be watching the servants while they prepared the strangers’ supper.

He seemed to be a favorite with the maids, with whom he laughed and joked in a familiar manner.

“Who are them new ones? Seen ’em?” at length asked one whom they called Mina, and who seemed to be queen of the kitchen.

“Strangers from over the water,” was the reply.

“Pretty grand, ain’t they? with their private rooms and supper served in them? Most folks who come here don’t feel so big but what they can eat in the room with common people.”

“Oh, well,” replied the man, “that’s the way with the bon ton, as they call them over in the United States.”

“What’s that,” asked Mina, with wide eyes and open mouth.

“Bon ton! Don’t you know what that means?” replied her companion, with an amused smile at her astonishment. “It means those who live at the top of the ladder!”

“How do you know? Have you ever been there?”

“Lord bless you, yes! I was born there!”

“Eh!” exclaimed the girl, amazed. “And you talk as much like a Dutchman as any of us!”

Again the man smiled. Had he chosen he could have entertained her with several other languages; but he did not choose to subject himself to her curiosity, and so remained silent, but watching intently every movement of the servants as they prepared the tempting viands for the new-comers.

Once he was left entirely alone in the room. He hastily 74arose, and noiselessly lifting the lid of the steaming coffeepot, emptied the whole powder he had obtained at the drug store within it, then resumed his seat and former position.

“What room do the strangers have? I thought the house was full,” he carelessly asked when Mina returned to her duties.

“Oh, the one over the keeping-room. We never let any but big bugs have that, you know, no matter how full we are,” replied the girl.

His eyes glowed with a strange bright light for a moment, then a look of fierce determination settled over his face.

Soon after he arose, and taking a candle retired to his room, which proved to be directly back of the one which Ralph Moulton occupied.

The house was a wide building, with a hall running through the center. The public room and kitchen were on one side of this, and on the other the keeping-room and dining-room; and overhead were chambers corresponding.

Between the room which the Moultons occupied and that belonging to the strange man was a huge chimney, leaving quite a space on one side for closets, one in each room, which were separated from each other only by a thin, loose, board partition.

The man, on entering his room, set his candle upon a table. He then began to disrobe himself, first removing a huge wig and heavy pair of whiskers, revealing the black, curling locks and handsome face of Ralph Moulton’s ally, Ronald Edgerton.

“I guess the old rascal couldn’t have known me, anyhow,” he muttered, with a complacent smile at the transformation, “but I felt rather ticklish when they came in so unexpectedly. To think that youngster should be so near me and not——”

He stopped suddenly, and looked around as if he feared some one might overhear what he was about to utter. Then, heaving a deep sigh, while a look of sadness overshadowed his face, he removed his coat.

“Well, I must to work now. I am bound to know if he has it in his possession. If I do not find it to-night I shall give up the game.”

Saying which, he took a small screw-driver from the table drawer, and going into the closet, listened intently.

75He could hear nothing but the sharp rattling of dishes and the low muttering of voices.

He then cautiously applied his screw-driver, and removed an already loosened board at one end of the partition, and out of sight of the door, so that any one going to the closet would not discover the aperture.

He then carefully squeezed himself through this opening and found himself in the closet belonging to the other room, and could now hear the voices quite plainly.

He crept softly along to the door, and applying his ear to the crevice, could easily catch every word that was uttered. Squire Moulton was speaking, and he heard the words:

“Let the girl go to the duse, boy; you have something of more importance on hand just now.”

“I tell you, uncle, I would give up everything to gain Dora Dupont for my wife,” said Ralph, excitedly.

“What! would you give up an honorable name?” sneered the squire.

The young man colored angrily.

“I tell you,” he hissed, “I won’t be twitted with that again. You may carry out your own plans for revenge alone, for all me, if you can’t treat me decently.”

“Well, well,” interrupted his uncle, soothingly.

“No, no; it isn’t well, well. You are always throwing out something about my parentage, and I am about tired of it.”

“That’s all the thanks I get,” retorted Squire Moulton, hotly. “Here I am trying to help you to one of the first positions. Perhaps you would rather I would tell you outright that you are illegitimate, with no chance of claiming an honorable name?”

There was a touch of intense sarcasm in his tone.

“You know better than that, uncle, and that I am only too willing to believe that I am the rightful son of Mr. Ellerton; but it is not pleasant to be twitted about one’s obligations.”

“Very true,” returned the squire, with an evil smile. “But I wish you would let the girl alone.”

“I will not. I have sworn that I will have that girl for my wife, and have her I will.”

“Well, let us talk of something else, then. You know Ellerton will be here to witness the honors with which his son is to graduate. He has not yet arrived. I bribed the driver who was to bring him not to let him arrive until after 76the exercises had commenced. It won’t do to let father and son meet, you know—at least, not at present—it would spoil our plans. Have you made any arrangements to prevent it yet?”

“Yes; I saw Hans, the smuggler, told him what I wanted, and he has promised to have a decoy ready as soon as the exercises are over. I will see that he is kept out of the way until I bring the girl to terms and get my claim established; then he may go free, for all I care.”

“How are you going to manage it? You know as well as I do that the marriage was legal, and can only be annulled by both parties consenting to it.”

“I know it was legal, though I have told Dora Dupont that I could prove it was not. She won’t believe me, so I have given up trying to lie her out of it. But she is gloriously proud, and I can easily send her a dainty little note, purporting to come from her gallant husband, saying that time and absence have effaced the affection he once had for her, and planted other hopes and plans in his heart; and asking that she will consent to a divorce! Of course, you can easily imagine what the reply of such a proud little beauty would be to a note of that kind. And then my way is clear.”

“Hum!” murmured his listener, discontentedly. “I don’t know as I care, only I wish you would take up the other matter first. I hate the son as bad as I hate the father, and want to see him dethroned. Perhaps, on the whole, it would be a good idea to get the girl away from him; it will only make the victory more complete.”

“That’s it; now you talk like business,” returned Ralph, his good nature now fully restored at his uncle’s concession. “But,” he added, “I’m dused sleepy; so let us go to bed.”

“Very well; but first tell me how you are going to manage to keep young Ellerton out of the way while you do all this,” replied Squire Moulton.

Ralph lowered his voice to a whisper as he replied; and turn which way he would, their listener could not hear what he said, only once he caught the words “cave” and “smuggler.” But that was sufficient to set him on the right track.

The two plotters then retired to bed, and Ronald Edgerton returned to his room, to wait until the drug which he had put into their coffee should take effect.

77Two hours passed, and again donning his disguise, Ronald again made his way through the closets into the adjoining room. He left his candle just within the closet, partly closing the door, so that the light should not disturb the sleepers.

He smiled triumphantly as he heard their deep, regular breathing, while he coolly set himself about investigating their luggage.

He found nothing there that seemed satisfactory, and so turned his attention to their clothing.

He found two wallets filled with money and drafts; but these he put back again, after a careful examination of their contents, and without taking anything from them.

It was evident that money was not the object of his midnight visit.

At length he found another smaller wallet in the breast-pocket of the squire’s coat. This he took to the light and opened.

It contained a number of papers, which he carefully examined, and then laid aside with evident disappointment.

The last one was in his hand, and he hesitated a moment before opening it, as if he dreaded to have his hopes blasted by not finding it to be the one he sought.

At length, with a half-desperate, half-resigned air, he unfolded it.

The instant his eyes caught sight of its contents his whole face lighted up with sudden joy.

It was the long-lost and long-searched-for paper!

“Ah!” he whispered to himself, with a deep sigh of relief. “Now I begin to feel like a man once more!”

Hastily unfolding it and concealing it about his person, he replaced the other papers, and laid the clothing back as he had found it. Then picking up the candle, he returned as noiselessly to his room as he had come, where after carefully replacing the board he had removed, he had retired to bed and slept soundly until morning.


The day following broke clear, bright and beautiful, and at an early hour a vast crowd was assembled in the great hall of —— Institute.

78It was commencement day! That day so dreaded, while at the same time it possesses a strange fascination to every one who attains the position of a graduate.

The examination exercises of the few days past had passed off satisfactorily alike to professor and pupil; and now the last day of all, the great day, had arrived, that was to give to the class of faithful students, the honors they had so valiantly battled for, and so bravely won!

The orations were delivered, the diplomas given, and each and all had performed his allotted part except the valedictorian.

The band in attendance suddenly sent forth a burst of rich triumphant music, as if proclaiming the victory of one who had won the first honors through all his college course, and who now was about to be crowned victor and conqueror!

The music ceased, and the crowd sat in almost breathless silence, awaiting the appearance of the hero of the day. He came and bowed low and gracefully, was greeted with a burst of enthusiastic applause, and—our friend Robert Ellerton stands before us.

He it is, who by hard labor, and close application, has borne off the highest prize, who has taken the first place in all his classes, and now stands before an anxiously waiting audience, with the first honor of the day, to deliver the valedictory!

It is delivered in the German language, and as his voice rises clear and deep, floating over that vast assembly, and filling every niche and corner of that grand edifice, not a movement is made; not a whisper heard; scarcely a breath drawn; and as the young orator gradually loses himself in his theme, and mounts higher and higher, carrying every listener with him, it seems almost as if the hush of death was on the air, or as if every living, breathing form of a few moments before, had turned to sculptured marble!

Oh, what a tribute is such breathless silence to eloquence! Who can ask for more? Who would wish for more?

For an hour the thrall was upon them, and when our hero resumed his seat, shout after shout rose up from the throats of the multitude, and rent the air with their bursts of approbation and praise. Handkerchiefs were waved, and hands were clapped, while a few of the more aristocratic 79of the crowd threw bouquets of choice and fragrant hothouse flowers at his feet.

Once he stooped to raise one; and then arose and bowed gracefully in acknowledgment of the tribute.

The bouquet that he raised was the loveliest cluster of flowers one ever saw; formed of pure waxen tuberoses and heath.

In vain he looked around to see whence the offering came. No one answered his look of inquiry; only his eyes fell upon the flushed and lovely face of a young girl, who was sitting quietly smiling to herself, while her downcast orbs and heightened color, and the tears sparkling upon her long, heavy lashes, told that her very soul had been moved by the glowing eloquence of the young orator.

Why did Robert Ellerton’s heart leap so suddenly and fiercely within his bosom as his gaze rested upon the fair girl?

He bent eagerly forward for a better view of her lovely features.

They seemed strangely familiar—strangely like the face of one who had long been cherished and enshrined within the holy of holies of his heart, and he felt almost sure that the elegant floral offering had come from her dainty hand.

He cast his eyes again upon the flowers, and started as he saw, coiled between the pure leaves, a little perfumed note.

He quivered in every nerve as he drew it quickly from its hiding-place, and unfolded it.

A cry almost burst from his lips as the words within met his gaze. They were simple, chaste, yet breathing an intense longing for the one to whom they were addressed.

“Robbie, I am here; I could not stay away. Oh, come and tell me if I am welcome.

“At the Glenburn House.”

For a moment he sat clasping that precious missive, in a trance of motionless delight. He almost feared to move lest he should break the spell. His face was pale as marble, and he could scarcely credit the evidence of his own senses. He feared to raise his eyes lest the vision should have vanished, and he find it all a dream.

80Poor Robert! Poor Dora! That moment of hesitation was fatal to both!

Dora timidly raised her eyes to him, while his were bent in their riveted gaze upon her note; and his pale, cold look, as she interpreted it, struck a chill to her heart, and with a look of deep disappointment upon her lovely face, she turned with a heavy sigh, to obey her aunt, who called for her to go; for the band had ceased its music, and the throng was dispersing.

When Robert recovered himself, and sprang eagerly to his feet to seek his darling, he saw her leaving the hall.

He curbed his disappointment as best he could, though still clinging fondly to the precious bouquet, and resolving, the moment he was at liberty, to seek her at the Glenburn House.

Other parties had been present to witness Robert Ellerton’s triumph, and a mad jealousy burned within the hearts of both the Ralph Moultons at the well-merited homage he received.

Their eyes had greedily devoured the little by-play of the bouquet and the note. And an expression of satisfaction gleamed from Ralph’s dark and fiery eyes, as he took in at a single glance the position of affairs, and realized how keen and fierce would be the agony of his rival, ere the day should close.

Another still had listened, rapt and spell-bound, to the thrilling eloquence of the valedictorian, with a heart that was well-nigh bursting with pride and affection for the noble young man who was his all—his only child!

Yes, Mr. Ellerton, having been detained by the breaking of a part of the carriage in which he was traveling, had only arrived just as his son arose from his seat to utter his farewell to those with whom he had spent so pleasantly and so profitably the past six years.

Mr. Ellerton looked weary and worn, as if he had missed something out of his life during the past six years, and was lonely and hungry after a morsel of love. But his thin face lighted up with joy and affection as he feasted his eyes upon the manly beauty of his son. The rolling years had removed every trace of bitterness from his heart, and he was willing to concede everything, could he but once again clasp Robert to his breast.

81Poor, mistaken father, thou didst commit a grave error when thou didst banish thine only son from thy love and presence. Ay, gaze fondly upon him, as he stands there so noble, and so like one inspired! Revel in his brilliant powers and intellect! gloat over him with all thy father’s fondness, for he is worthy of it. Yet he and thou wilt suffer much of sorrow and misery ere ye shall meet again. And ye little dream that that fond look had nearly been the last!

But we will return to Robert.

He was eagerly pressing his way through the crowd, when he felt a light touch upon his arm.

Looking around, he saw a little fellow neatly and simply dressed, who held a note up to him.

“Who sent it?” he asked, as he took it from the boy.

“A gentleman with white hair,” he respectfully answered, and which was true, for Ralph had cunningly given the note to his uncle to send by the boy.

With a beating heart Robert hastily tore it open, and read the following lines:

My Dear Son:—

“I arrived to-day, but not in time to see you before the exercises commenced. Come to me at once, for my heart aches to welcome my long absent boy to my arms. Come quickly to your impatient father.

Robert Ellerton.

“The hotels are all full, so I have been obliged to take up with such accommodations as I can get. The bearer of the note will conduct you to me.

R. E.”

“When was this note given to you?” he asked again, turning to the boy, and with a joyous smile upon his fine face.

“Just a few minutes since, sir.”

“Which way did the gentleman go?” asked Robert, with a sharp glance over the boy.

“I will show you, sir,” he replied, quickly dropping his eyes before Robert’s clear gaze.

“What is your name?” pursued our hero, who did not like the youngster’s looks at all.

“Hans Weichel, sir.”

“What is your father’s name?”

“Hans Weichel, sir?”

Robert smiled at the boy’s concise replies, and said:

“Well, we will not wait for this crowd to get out; we can go out through the chapel.”

And turning, they went through another large room, then down some steps, and thus reached the street.

82The boy led Robert away from the town, down toward the sea, where there were several little cottages in which fishermen lived. They passed these and walked on some distance before Robert noticed where he was going, so deeply was he engaged in thought, wondering at his darling’s unexpected presence that day.

At length, on looking up, he saw only the vast expanse of the sea upon one side of him, and on the other great, rocky cliffs, rising high against the sky in somber and majestic grandeur; while behind him, nearly half a mile distant, was the town, and the great buildings of the institute.

Turning suddenly to his guide, he said, sternly:

“Where are you leading me?”

“We are most there,” answered the boy, somewhat confusedly. “Just beyond that clump of trees is the house.”

“Are you sure the gentleman told you to come to this place?” pursued Robert, somewhat suspiciously.

“Yes, sir; he said he did not like noise, and wanted to be where he could see the ocean, and be quiet,” replied young Hans, with evident truth.

Robert knew his father could not bear confusion, and that he loved the sea, though he could not help wondering that he should choose such a very remote abode, and rather an unsafe one, too, for there were reports abroad that a band of smugglers was concealed somewhere about the ledge of rocks, which they were gradually approaching.

However, he continued to follow the boy, and soon came in sight of a neat little cottage, painted white, and both quickening their steps, soon arrived before the door.

The boy gave three sharp raps upon it, and it was immediately opened by a rough-looking man, who bade them enter.

Robert’s suspicions were now fully aroused, and he demanded if a man by the name of Ellerton was waiting for him there.

The man replied that there was, and Robert, with a rather doubtful air, entered.

In an instant the door was shut and barred. A heavy hand was laid upon his shoulder, while a pistol covered his heart, and the same rough voice said:

“Make the least disturbance, and you are a dead man.”

“What means this violence, villain?” demanded Robert, thoroughly alarmed.

83“It means that you are my prisoner.”

“For what offense?”

“Oh, you will know all in good time, my proud youngster,” replied Hans Weichel, senior, with a coarse laugh.

“If it is my money or watch you want, you are welcome to them, only do not detain me, for my friends are anxiously waiting for me,” said Robert, thinking he could bribe the man.

“Not quite so fast, my young lark; I care nothing for your purse or baubles, but you are not to see your friends at present.”

“Why, I demand to know?”

“Why? Oh, because one of your very particular friends forbids it,” replied Hans, again laughing disagreeably.

“Take that, then, for your insolence, you rascal,” shouted Robert, suddenly dealing the man a heavy blow upon the temple.

He fell to the floor with a groan, then quick as lightning Robert turned to unfasten the door to escape.

Before he could draw the bolt, his arms were pinioned from behind, while at the same moment a heavy cloak was thrown over his head, completely blinding him and smothering his cries.

It was done so quietly and quickly that he was amazed, for he had supposed there were no others in the house, though now he heard several voices; but all spoke in low tones.

He was borne through the house, then down some steps. And now he heard some one stamp three times upon the ground. Immediately there was a grating sound, as if a heavy door was swinging upon its hinges. He was then borne within what seemed to be an underground passage, for he felt the air cool and damp, even through the fold of the heavy cloak, and he shuddered, for he was now convinced that he was in the hands of the smugglers, though for what purpose he could not conceive. He did not know that he had an enemy in all Germany, and the words of the rough brute who met him at the door were a mystery to him.

After proceeding through the several passages, and what appeared to be secret doors, he was at length set down, and the cloak removed from his head.

A flash of dazzling light blinded him for a moment, but 84when he opened his eyes again, he looked around him in utter amazement.

He found himself in one of the richest and most gorgeous apartments he had ever entered in his life; in fact, the whole room was one bower of beauty and luxury, like unto a very modern palace.

At one end of the room stood a magnificent piano; also a harp of gold set with pearls.

The ceiling, as our hero glanced above, was dazzling as the sun, from which chandeliers of gold, crystal, and bronze hung suspended.

The man who had brought him to this fairy bower had unbound him immediately upon entering, and then disappeared, uttering no word of explanation, neither seeming to have any fear about leaving him alone.

He had not finished the inspection of his surroundings when the heavy tapestry suddenly parted near him, and a boy, clad as a page, entered, bearing a silver tray, upon which a most tempting repast was arranged.

This he placed upon a small table, and then wheeled it in front of Robert, after which he went and stood behind his chair, waiting to obey his slightest wish.

Despite his wonder at this strange adventure, he was very faint, and set himself to eat the savory viands with the keenest relish. There were fragrant coffee and choice wines, and luxurious fruits, which, added to the more substantial viands, made a meal a royal prince might envy.

Again the heavy tapestry parted, and a lovely girl, clothed in heavy white silk and gauzy lace, looped with scarlet trimmings, entered, and, seating herself gracefully at the piano, made the grand room echo again and again with the sweetest music.

Was he dreaming a fairy dream? Or had some knavish sprite—a “Puck” perchance—bewitched his eyes, that he should see such marvelous sights, and deem them reality.

He questioned the page; but he might have been a breathless statue, for all the reply he got was a cold, calm glance from a pair of pale blue eyes.

He finished his meal, convinced that the mystery must remain a mystery still, and the page bore away the tray, while at the same time the lovely nymph at the piano glided as noiselessly away as she had come.

Soon another page entered, and bade Robert follow him. 85He could but obey; besides, his curiosity was excited to explore still farther this underground palace, with its beauteous maidens, secret passages, and elegant appointments.

The youth led him through spacious halls, hung like the room he had just left, with tapestry, and lighted by chandeliers of strange forms and devices, until at length stopping, he parted some rich and heavy curtains, and bade our hero enter.

The page then turned and disappeared.

Robert found himself in a chamber scarcely less elegant than the room he had just left. A luxurious bed stood at one side, and was hung with curtains of white silk, looped with cord and tassels of gold.

The room contained everything that the most fastidious could desire, either for comfort or luxury. Books, richly bound, were scattered in profusion upon a marble table, and it being early in the evening, Robert amused himself an hour or two with these, and then retired to rest; and being much fatigued with the efforts of the day, he slept soundly until morning.


The next morning Robert arose, and found a perfumed bath and all the dainty appointments of a toilet awaiting him. After performing his ablutions, and dressing himself with great care, he sat down to await a summons to the morning meal.

Almost immediately a page appeared, and conducted him into a room hung with green and gilt, where a table, spread for two, contained an inviting repast served upon dishes of silver.

The page conducted Robert to a seat, and then placed himself, as the other had done, behind his chair.

Presently another man entered, likewise followed by a page.

He was a tall and well-formed man, and fine-looking, though his face was somewhat bronzed, and his beard was long, black, and very heavy, giving him a rather fierce expression.

He was clad in a suit of rich green velvet, ornamented 86with gold lace and seed pearls; while at his side there hung an elegant dagger, whose golden handle was brilliantly ornamented with jewels.

He greeted Robert in a very gentlemanly manner as he seated himself opposite him. Our hero returned the bow, without at all losing his self-possession.

He felt assured that he was in the presence of the chief of the band of smugglers.

And he was right.

“Did you rest well, Mr. Ellerton?” asked the chief, as he filled a plate with the good things spread before them and passed it to Robert.

“Very well, indeed, sir,” he replied, courteously; “but you have the advantage of me, for I cannot call you by name.”

“Weilman Weichel, at your service, and brother of the man whom you saluted with such warmth on entering his cottage yesterday,” replied the chief, with a smile, and bowing low.

“’Twas but in self-defense, Herr Weichel,” returned our hero, a shade of uneasiness crossing his face at the remembrance of the severe blow he had given the villain.

“Nay, do not be alarmed, my friend; I know it,” said Weichel, remarking the look. “I but honor you the more for the courage and bravery you displayed; and I assure you Hans himself bears you no ill-will. We are a class of people who admire courage, be it in friend or foe.”

“Have the goodness to answer a question, Herr Weichel. Why am I brought like a prisoner to this place, and yet treated in a manner of which a prince could not complain?”

The chief smiled at this off-hand compliment, and then replied:

“’Tis true, you are my prisoner, or rather, let me say guest, and as such you must remain for a few weeks. I admit it is no personal feeling that causes me to retain you as such; you have never injured me or mine, and, indeed, I respect you highly, for I know who you are, and the high position you have always held during the few years you have been in our country. But I will be candid with you. I am to have fifty thousand dollars if you remain here six weeks, and that is a sum I should like to possess. I trust, however, that you will not feel like a prisoner, and I pledge myself that you shall be entertained to the best of my ability. 87Everything you wish you have but to name, and it shall be granted.”

“I thank you, chief, for your kindness and hospitality, but I have only one desire at present, and that is my liberty. I am rich, or at least, my father is. He is now in this village, and I promise you that I will give you a check for fifty thousand dollars—the same sum that you have been promised for detaining me here—as soon as you place me in his presence.”

“Your offer is very generous, Mr. Ellerton,” said the chief, after a few moments’ deliberation, “but I cannot accept it. My word is pledged to another, and no amount could tempt me to break that.”

“My friends will surely institute a thorough search for me, and thus your retreat may be discovered, and yourselves routed, perhaps arrested,” returned Robert, deeply chagrined and disappointed that the smuggler refused to set him at liberty.

A sneer half-curled the lip of the chief, but quickly repressing it, he politely replied:

“I have no fears, my friend, on that score; for our fortress is of solid rock, with no crack or crevice to betray that there is aught within. Only those who are perfectly familiar with our secret openings can ever enter these vaults. There is but one in the wide world outside of our band, who has an inkling even of their existence; and he is not now in the country. He learned it through the carelessness of one of our pages; but I have no fear that he will ever trouble us.”

“Who are the instigators of this foul wrong?” demanded Robert, hotly, hardly heeding the latter part of the chief’s speech.

“That, also, I cannot reveal to you. You doubtless realize they are enemies,” he returned, not at all disturbed by Robert’s passion.

“Well, then, will you tell me the motive which actuates it?”

The chief did not reply at once. He sat absently sipping his coffee for a few minutes; then suddenly waving the pages from the room, he bent toward his guest, and said, in a low tone:

“A person has discovered that you are not the legitimate son of your father—that he was married to another woman before he ever saw your mother. That woman he forsook, 88believing the marriage only a farce, and wedded your mother. The first marriage has been proved legal, and a friend of the first wife is now on your father’s track, with the rightful son, to make him acknowledge him. They thought there would be less trouble about the matter if you were out of the way, and that is one reason why you are here.”

“It is false, every word of it!” burst in indignant amazement from Robert’s pale and quivering lips, while the perspiration started from every pore.

He arose and paced the floor, in mingled grief, mortification, and rage, at the stain thus cast upon his name—the name which he had always been taught to believe was spotless.

He would not believe it; for did it not blast every hope that he had cherished from his boyhood up to the present time? He could not claim Dora if it were true! He had no right to her; for he had no name to give her. His heart almost withered within him at the thought, and even the chief cast looks of pity upon his white, agonized face, as he sank, with a despairing cry, into a chair and bowed his head upon his hands.

“It is all a base conspiracy!”

“False or true,” resumed the other, “that is what I have been informed is the fact. But that is not the principal reason why you are confined here.”

“Then for Heaven’s sake tell me what it is, or I shall go mad,” groaned Robert.

“A young man has become very much enamored of a young lady, and wishes to marry her; but he says you imagine you have a prior claim upon her—some foolish childish ceremony or betrothal, and that if you were allowed to remain at liberty it would interrupt all his plans with reference to her. When they are united, then you are to have your freedom.”

“Tell me the name of this fiend in human form, whose brain but plans ruin for fellow-mortals. Tell me! I will know it!”

Robert sprang fiercely to his feet and confronted his captor with clenched hands. The veins upon his forehead were hard and knotted. Like a hero of the ancient times, every nerve trembled, every muscle was on the stretch; rage and contempt, hate and revenge were in all his features; 89and for a moment Weilman Weichel dropped his eyes in confusion.

“Tell me,” repeated Robert, huskily, “for by all the gods, the villain whoever he is, shall dearly pay for this!”

“I cannot, Herr Ellerton; and I beg you will calm yourself. This passion is of no earthly use,” the chief coldly replied.

“Heavens! what a conspiracy I am the victim of, and not to know who my enemies are! To be struck by a hidden foe is worse than all else; let them but come to open warfare, and equal combat, and I will battle to the death! Chief, I tell you, you are as vile as they, with your complicity in the affair.”

“Agreed, my friend,” returned the ruffian, smiling complacently, though not in the least ruffled at Robert’s ravings and revilings. “I do not profess to be at all saintly you know; but I do assure you that I am very fond of money, and so have made up my mind to see this thing through.”

“Money!” repeated Robert, bitterly. “Sell your soul for a few paltry dollars, and wreck the happiness of two loving, trusting hearts.”

After a few moments spent in troubled thought, while he paced to and fro, Robert suddenly halted and said:

“Weilman Weichel, I will pledge you a hundred thousand dollars if you will set me free—nay, do not refuse until you hear my story!”

He then related the history of his whole life, up to the present time, and ended by showing the chief the note he had received from Dora the day before.

The chief appeared to be convinced of the truth of the story, and started violently when Robert spoke the name of Squire Moulton. He hesitated a long time before he replied. He evidently coveted the great sum that Robert offered him, but he finally replied in a cold, hard tone:

“I told you before, young man, that my word was pledged, and that no amount of money could tempt me to break it.”

The chieftain withdrew, and Robert was left alone. In a few moments a page appeared. He conducted the unhappy young man to the chamber allotted to his use. Robert threw himself upon the couch, and utterly exhausted with his passionate emotions, fell into a sound slumber, which lasted many hours.



Madame Alroyd and Dora, on leaving the institute, drove rapidly back to the Glenburn House, where they had an elegant suite of rooms.

Madam was in ecstasies over the young orator—the more so, because he was one of her own countrymen, and had borne off the palm in the face of all the natives.

She kept up an incessant chattering during the drive, extolling his eloquence, praising his manly beauty and elegant manners, and ended by declaring that they must manage some way to get acquainted with him.

Dora, on the contrary, sat silent and sad, scarcely heeding her aunt’s many expressions of delight. She was wounded to her heart’s core that Robert had not given her a smile of recognition, nor even a glance of his eye, to show that he was glad she had been present to witness his triumph.

His pale, cold look haunted her. Perhaps he thought her unmaidenly—wanting in womanly delicacy, to thus force herself unasked upon his presence and notice; and her delicate cheek burned with shame and mortification as the thought presented itself to her.

She wished now that she had given heed to her aunt, who had tried to persuade her not to come. But from the moment she heard when the exercises were to take place, her heart had been set upon it; and although Madame Alroyd deemed it a wild, unaccountable freak of Dora’s to break in upon their pleasure trip and go so far out of their way, she at length yielded the point, as she always did, to gratify every wish of her darling.

“What is the matter with my pet?” she said, when they had removed their outer wrappings, and she noticed for the first time Dora’s sad face. “Were you not pleased with our countryman’s valedictory? But I need not ask you that, for your face was radiant during the whole of it, and I began to fear that, at last, my little girl had lost her heart. And no wonder, for I almost wished myself young again, if only for the privilege of trying to win the heart of our handsome hero of to-day. Eh, Dora?”

91And madam laughed at what she considered a very bright saying.

A vivid blush spread itself over Dora’s fair face at this sally, which, upon noticing, Madame Alroyd laughed again, and exclaimed:

“Ah! that’s it, is it? Surely I had not given myself credit for quite so much shrewdness.”

Poor Dora could bear no more, but burst into a flood of tears.

Her heart was full, well-nigh to bursting, and she longed to unburden her mind that she might gain sympathy and comfort. She had kept her secret thus far sacred; but its weight was getting too heavy for her to bear alone.

Still she dreaded to reveal it, lest she should displease her aunt, who, she knew, was hoping great things for her in the future.

“What is it, my darling? Have I wounded you so deeply? Forgive me; I was only rallying you on your somber looks.”

Her darling’s tears alarmed her; and, going to Dora, she took her in her arms, and fondly kissed away the bright drops as they fell.

For a few minutes Dora could not answer, for her sobs.

But at length she suddenly sat up, and wiping her eyes, said earnestly, looking her aunt in the face:

“Auntie, am I very much changed since you took me to live with you?”

“Yes, dear, I think you are a good deal changed about many things; still you have many of your girlish ways and looks about you even now. You are Dora yet, but with considerable development, and a good deal of polish added. But why do you ask me such a question, my love?”


She hesitated a moment, deeply confused, then went on.

“Do you think if a friend had not seen me for six years, he would know me now?”

“What do you mean, Dora? Did you ever know Mr. Ellerton when he was a boy?” asked madam, suddenly, a light breaking in upon her mind, and half explaining Dora’s sadness.

“Answer me, please, auntie, and then I will tell you what I mean,” pleaded Dora, earnestly, her cheeks taking a still deeper hue.

“I can’t say confidently whether he would recognize you 92or not,” she said, answering her question. “He might think there was something familiar about you, and yet seeing you in such a crowd, not feel confident you were the same person. You may have changed more to other eyes than to mine you know. But what has that to do with your tears, my pet?”

“One more question, auntie, first,” persisted Dora, turning away her burning face from madam’s piercing gaze. “Did you notice Mr. Ellerton when he picked up my bouquet?”

“Yes, dear,” replied her aunt, starting violently, and becoming more and more convinced that the two were old friends. She went on.

“He gazed very earnestly at you for a few moments. He then turned his look upon the flowers again, and suddenly became very pale and abstracted. I looked at you then, and your eyes were downcast, while I thought you looked confused, about a very little thing—if throwing a bouquet could make you lose your self-possession.”

“It wasn’t that, auntie,” returned Dora, desperately. “I—I—put a note in that bouquet.”

“Dora—Dora Dupont!” cried Madame Alroyd, in a voice of amazement, and lifting her hands in horror. “You don’t mean to tell me that you did such an indelicate thing as that! I don’t wonder now at his strange looks. Did you ever know that young man before?”

“Yes, auntie,” replied her niece, in a low, clear voice. “Robert Ellerton is my husband!”

“What!” shrieked the old lady, bounding from her seat like an India rubber ball, and gazing upon Dora as if she thought she was demented.

“It is true, auntie,” said she, sadly, “and the note I put among my flowers was to tell him I was here, and asking him to come to me.”

“Is the child crazy? I believe you are. Oh, I wish we had never come here now. For pity’s sake tell me what you mean, child!” she muttered wildly, while she walked the floor with a woeful face and wrung her hands.

“Sit down, auntie, and be quiet, and I will tell you all about it,” replied Dora, calmly; intensely relieved that her secret was out, and a secret no longer.

She led Madame Alroyd to an easy-chair, then bringing a footstool she sat down at her feet. She laid her head 93lovingly in her lap, and then repeated the story of her marriage, her love for Robert, how it had grown with her growth, and strengthened with her strength. And this was the reason why she had persisted in coming to be present at his graduation.

She showed her the locket, which she had always worn next to her heart, and Madame Alroyd felt, as she gazed upon the honest and handsome face of our hero, that treachery or fickleness could not lurk in the heart of one who possessed such truthful eyes, and such a frank, open countenance.

She had listened in speechless amazement to the strange tale, and when Dora finished, she asked in a husky voice:

“Why have you never told me this before, Dora?”

“I didn’t dare to, auntie. I feared to displease you, and above all, I feared to be ridiculed about it. I thought you would say just as everybody else did, who knew it, that ‘it was a foolish, childish affair,’ and try to persuade me to consent to a separation.”

Dora buried her burning face in the folds of madam’s dress, and sobbed afresh.

Her aunt laid her hand fondly upon that golden-crowned head, and stroked it tenderly, while she sat for a few minutes in deep and troubled thought. At last she said:

“And do you love him now, darling, well enough to consider yourself bound to him for life?”

“Oh! yes, auntie, only—I am afraid he has forgotten his love for me.”

And again the tears poured forth.

“Why, love?” asked madam.

“Because,” she replied, when she could control her voice, “when I looked up after he found the note, he sat pale and cold as a marble statue. You say you saw it too. I hoped he would at least give me one look of remembrance; but no, he did not, and my heart sank like lead in my bosom. Just then you called me, and I did not dare to look again. I felt so ashamed and grieved.”

“What did you write, darling?”

Dora repeated word for word what she had written.

“There was nothing that you need feel at all ashamed of; and if he is true to you, he will seek you the first moment he is at liberty. And I don’t believe a man with such a face could be untrue!”

94“Bless you, auntie!” exclaimed Dora, giving her a little hug, “you make me very happy by saying so.”

“Perhaps,” resumed madam, “he was so taken by surprise that he could not believe it at first, and if you had looked at him again you might have come away with a happier heart.”

Truly she was a “shrewd one at guessing,” for she could not know how nearly the truth she came!

“Do you really think so?” asked Dora, eagerly, the bright look coming again to her eyes.

“I hope that may be the truth of it,” replied her aunt, thoughtfully. “But if it should not—nay, darling, try to look at it bravely,” she added, as Dora shuddered, and uttered a little moan. “If you should discover that, during the long years of hard study, his heart should have forgotten its allegiance to the little girl whom he married upon the impulse of a moment—or if, perchance, some German beauty has usurped your place, I know it would be hard, but it is best to look at the matter calmly—would you—could you desire to force yourself upon him as his wife?”

“Never! I would let my heart break—I would die first!” exclaimed Dora, with glittering eyes and heaving bosom. “But, oh!” she added, a moment after, with quivering lips, “I cannot believe anything so dreadful of Robbie. I feel that he is true. I could almost say I know he is.”

“Ah!” replied Madame Alroyd, smiling at her returning trust, and patting her tenderly upon the cheek.

“Ah, could he see you now, your faith alone would win him. We will hope the best of your hero, and try to wait with patience his coming. And so my pet could not trust the old woman with her secret?”

“No, it was not I could not trust you. I could not bear to have my love made light of.”

“Ah, you did not know that this old and withered heart was once as trusting and fresh as your own. But we will not talk of that now,” she said, with a sigh; then added, softly, “My own darling, I love you too dearly to ever make light of anything which you consider sacred; so don’t ever shut me out in the cold again.”

Dora threw her arms around her aunt’s neck, and said, while she rained kisses upon her wrinkled face:

“You are the best and dearest auntie in the whole world, and I love you—almost as well as I do somebody else.”

95Madame Alroyd lovingly returned her embrace, while at the same time she slyly wiped a tear from her eye.

The dressing-bell for dinner now rang, and both hastened to make their toilets; while Dora’s heart was relieved of half its burden by the blessed influence of love and sympathy.


In direct contradiction to the note which Robert received, Mr. Ellerton bent his steps toward the Glenburn House, where, despite the crowd of visitors, he had managed to obtain rooms.

He sought in vain for his son among the throng that poured out from the institute. He then found one of the professors and asked him to send Robert to him, if he should find him.

The professor had politely told him that he would send to his boarding-place, and inform him of his father’s arrival, which he did, and with what success future chapters will show.

Thanking him for his kindness, Mr. Ellerton then returned to the hotel, where he waited with ill-disguised impatience for Robert’s appearance.

At the dinner-table Madame Alroyd and Dora sat directly opposite Mr. Ellerton; and as his eyes fell upon the graceful and familiar beauty of our heroine, he started violently, and during the whole meal intently studied her features.

Dora had recognized him at a glance, and all her old anger toward him revived instantly. For she could not forget how bitterly he had opposed Robert’s love for her, nor the sarcastic insinuations he had cast at her mother.

She wondered why Robert was not with his father, if they had seen each other at all. She wondered also if he had fully forgiven his father for his former harshness and ill-treatment, and if Mr. Ellerton was as cross and unyielding as ever.

She glanced up furtively at him, as her thoughts reached this crisis, and caught his eye fastened earnestly and thoughtfully upon her.

Her own dropped instantly, and with almost a guilty feeling; for she felt as if he must have read her thoughts, so searching had been his glance.

96She thanked the fates fervently that just at this moment her aunt finished her meal, and arose to leave the table. She felt that a pair of eyes were following her the whole length of the room, and she was ill at ease until the door closed upon them.

“Who were those two ladies who just left the room?” asked Mr. Ellerton of a gentleman who sat at his right hand, and with whom he had been having some previous conversation.

“Madame Alroyd and Miss Dora Dupont, her niece. They are from your own country, sir, I have been told,” replied his companion.

Mr. Ellerton puckered up his mouth very much as if he were going to whistle, while he muttered to himself:

“Well, I don’t wonder the little beauty looked at me, as if she thought I was an old bear. She must have known me; and now I know where I have seen those great, deep blue eyes before.”

“Do you know anything about them?” he asked, aloud.

“Only by report,” replied his neighbor. “That says that the old lady is as rich as Crœsus, and has adopted the young lady who is her niece. They are making a tour for pleasure of this country. They say the little beauty is turning all the young men crazy.

“Is she? That’s a pity, for I have my doubts about any of them getting her,” remarked Mr. Ellerton, dryly.

“I don’t know about that. I sat beside her to-day in the institute, and I began to think that one young man had turned her head; for she scarce breathed all through Ellerton’s valedictory; and when he finished she threw him a lovely bouquet, and which you might have seen in his hand afterward. She’s a dainty little craft, anyhow—don’t you think so?”

“Um—well, yes—rather,” replied Mr. Ellerton, smiling at his companion’s volubility, and rather enjoying this bit of gossip about his son. Then to himself he added, “I guess I shall have to look into this matter a little. Rich, is she? well, I won’t mind so much about his having her now. I’ll cultivate their acquaintance immediately, and try to get the little one to like me if I can.”

With which complacent reflections he arose and left the table.

As Madame Alroyd and Dora were passing up the stairs to 97their rooms, a servant met them and handed the latter a note.

She glanced at the handwriting, and in an instant flushed crimson, then turned pale as the pure lilies which hung from her hair, and lay against her soft cheek.

Passing swiftly to her room, with the note clasped in both her hands over her beating heart, she sank breathless upon a sofa, quivering in every nerve. The writing was Robert’s, and she felt that that white folded missive had power to seal her happiness or plunge her into the depths of woe.

Madame Alroyd took in at a glance the cause of her emotion, and so remained silent until her niece should recover herself sufficiently to read the note.

She had not long to wait, for soon Dora tore it eagerly open and read it through, her white face blanching to the hue of death, until at the last word she fell with a moan of anguish to the floor.

Her aunt sprang quickly to her side, and, seizing the fatal missive, flashed her eyes swiftly over it, for she felt she had a perfect right to know its contents.

“Dastard! cowardly villain!” burst fiercely from her firmly compressed lips at its close. Then ringing a furious peal for her maid, she gathered the unconscious girl tenderly in her arms, and moaned, “My poor stricken lamb, it is cruel, cruel to crush your young heart thus.”

The maid came in, and together they raised her and laid her gently upon a sofa, and applied restoratives.

Could Ralph Moulton have seen her then, methinks even his cruel heart would have failed him at the sight of that white, rigid face, and he would have been glad to give the lovers back to each other to have seen those lovely eyes again unclose, and that breathless bosom heave again.

His diabolical plan had worked well, for the note ran thus:


“For I cannot say my dear Dora—I feel as if I have forfeited all right to name you thus—your note, so deftly concealed in your lovely tribute to-day, causes me more suffering than I like to own, for it shows me how fully and faithfully you have trusted in me all these years; when I——. Well, I thought when I last saw you, that I, too, should be true, and that nothing could ever change my affection for you. But how changeable is life! I will be frank with you, however, and trust to your kindness of heart to release me from all bonds that have united us in the past. I have recently met a young and lovely maiden, without 98whom life to me would be utterly wretched. Could you see her, you would not blame me that I wish to wed her. And now I have one request to make, and then I bid you farewell forever, and hope that you may yet attain earth’s highest happiness. Will you consent that the bonds which unite us be annulled? I feel that I have not the courage to meet you, and when you receive this I shall be far away. I have written to my father the cause of my absence, and if you will sign the paper which he will present you, you will render deeply grateful one who has done you great wrong, and who earnestly wishes to be forgiven.

“Yours, with deep repentance,
Robert Ellerton.”

For an hour Dora lay in a fearful swoon, and Madame Alroyd was nearly distracted with the fear that her darling would die. She showered the bitterest reproaches her heart could invent upon the author of all this sorrow and suffering. She blamed herself, again and again, for being overpersuaded to come to that “horrible place.” But Dora’s health was good, and her constitution firm and strong, and she finally opened her eyes and gazed wildly upon her aunt and maid, who hung so anxiously over her.

At first she could not realize why she was lying upon the sofa, so weak and languid, but presently the remembrance came to her, and she closed her eyes again wearily, with a low, helpless moan.

“There, darling, you are better now; drink this, and it will give you new strength,” said her aunt, putting some wine to her lips.

She obeyed, and the color soon began to tinge her pale lips again.

Madame Alroyd bent tenderly over her and pressed a kiss upon her pure brow.

“Have courage, my precious pet,” she whispered. “Show your brave little heart now. You are all that poor old auntie has got, and must try and live for her.”

“Do you know—did you read? she gasped, a look of stony agony in her deep eyes.

“Yes, love; I knew I might; and, oh, darling, this poor old withered heart has suffered, too. I know how it feels, and the sting is there yet. The thorn is left, if the rose is faded and dead.”

And poor, sympathizing Madame Alroyd took the pale, crushed lily in her arms, and sobbed as if the sweetness of her own life had been just crushed out, instead of years and years ago.

And Dora cried, too; the tears came like a flood, and they 99did her good, though she felt as if life held no joy for her now. But she would live as happily as she could for her dear aunt’s sake, who had made her life so happy the past six years.

She passed her night of sorrow alone, and when morning came she rose up calm and proud, and pale and cold as an iceberg. Not another tear did Madame Alroyd see, not another sob did she hear. Dora’s heart might have been impregnable marble, after that first wild burst of sorrow, for any outward appearance of grief.

No queen could have borne herself more proudly and coldly at the offense of some criminal, than did Dora Dupont after she believed that she was forsaken; and her aunt being a woman of the world, exulted at the spirit she showed, while in her secret heart she wondered at her powers of endurance.


Madame Alroyd and her niece were sitting quietly in their room, the morning after the reception of that fatal note.

Both were trying to busy themselves about some light fancy work, to drive away the agony that was tugging so fiercely at their heart-strings, and failing most miserably, as their white, wan faces plainly showed.

Not a word was spoken about Robert’s faithlessness; only when they met that morning, madam had taken Dora tenderly in her arms, kissed her, and murmured some loving and soothing words of fondness, and calling her by all the pet names she had at her command. But Dora gently withdrew from her aunt’s fond embrace, with a low, “Please don’t, auntie!” while her face grew a shade paler, and she caught her breath convulsively.

So the subject was dropped, for madam knew she could bear it better if let alone, and so she said no more, and Dora subsided into her icy calmness again.

All through that day her aunt kept regarding her with wonder, for Dora had always been a creature of impulse, and now she was like a block of marble, so hard and cold; and she more than once found herself repeating these words of Thomas Hood:

100“Fair is she as the dreams young poets weave—
Bright eyes, and dainty lips, and tresses curly—
In outward loveliness a child of Eve,
But cold as nymph of Lurley!”

A slight commotion in the hall attracted their attention, toward the middle of the forenoon.

There were steps going back and forth, and anxious, troubled whispers; then the voices grew to muttering, and then louder, till the ladies sitting so quietly in their room could hear quite plainly what was said, and Dora instantly recognized the voice of Mr. Ellerton; the other one she did not know.

“It is the strangest thing,” she heard Robert’s father say, “I ever knew the boy to do! It doesn’t seem like Robert at all! He never was a coward about anything when he was at home, and I can’t understand his showing the white feather now. Besides, the letter doesn’t read like him; it is too precise and constrained.”

“But you say the writing is his?” asked the other voice.

“Yes, as near as I can tell. You know I have not seen much of it for the last six years. I will show it to you; you can judge better than I, as you have probably seen more of it.”

There was a rustling, as if some one was unfolding a letter, then a moment of quiet, and the strange voice again said:

“It certainly looks like his hand, though perhaps a little straggling, as if written in a hurry. But I cannot understand why he should do such a dishonorable thing. As you say, it is not in the least like him. I have always had the greatest respect for him, thinking him one of the most noble and manly young men I ever met with.”

“Did you have any idea of his having formed another attachment in this place?” asked Mr. Ellerton, with a deep sigh.

“No; and that is what puzzles me. But there is his own word for it in black and white; and can we doubt it? I am deeply disappointed—deeply!” and the unhappy father’s sigh was echoed from the breast of the other.

“It is very strange; for when he left home neither coaxing nor threats would move him an inch. He was thoroughly bewitched; and I did not think he was one that would change.”

101“Did I understand you to say that this same young lady was present yesterday to witness his honors?”

“Yes; and I must say I as deeply regret the termination of this affair as I was opposed to it in the beginning.”

“May I ask the young lady’s name?”

“Miss Dora Dupont——”

Dora waited to hear no more, but, with flashing eyes and form drawn haughtily erect, she walked proudly to the door and threw it open, and stood confronting the astonished gentlemen.

Mr. Ellerton started violently, and the hot blood rushed to his very brow as he realized how inconsiderate he had been in choosing the corridor in which to reveal his troubles to the professor. But he had met him at the head of the stairs as he was about descending, and almost unconsciously they had turned back into the hall to converse.

The little German professor gazed upon our enraged but beautiful heroine with eyes and mouth gaping wide with amazement and admiration.

“I beg pardon,” she said, icily, and bowing low, “but will the gentlemen have the kindness to walk in here and finish their conversation? Being an interested party, I feel somewhat sensitive about having my name made public in the affair. Besides, sir,” she added, turning to Mr. Ellerton, “I believe there is a little matter of business to be settled between us.”

She stepped one side, and made a graceful motion with her hand for them to enter.

Being thus taken entirely at a disadvantage, they knew not what else to do than obey her, and entered the presence of Madame Alroyd with rather a crest-fallen air.

With queenly stateliness Dora introduced her aunt to Mr. Ellerton, and he in his turn introduced Professor Ursengen of the —— Institute to both the ladies.

Mr. Ellerton gazed upon Dora with wonder.

He knew by her words that she had received some communication akin to his own; and he had not expected to see her bear herself so proudly. He remembered her only as a little girl whom he had seen in tears, and he had anticipated a reception of the same kind when he should make known his son’s desire. But the tables were turned; she was the one who was self-possessed, and he confused and abashed before a slender girl.

102The little professor’s eyes wandered admiringly over her, from the top of her queenly head to the tip of her dainty feet, while he quoted to himself:

“A daughter of the gods!
Divinely tall and most divinely fair.”

Then suddenly feeling that he had no part nor lot in her affairs, asked to be excused and bowed himself out.

Mr. Ellerton immediately recovered himself, and said, in a voice of regret:

“I beg, Miss Dupont, you will pardon me for being so inconsiderate as to mention this subject in so public a place. My intense anxiety and disappointment at the absence of my son must be my apology for my forgetfulness.”

Dora bowed coldly, then arose, and taking Robert’s letter from the table, handed it to him, saying:

“It is but right, sir, that you should know the contents of the communication I have received from your son. I understood from your conversation with Professor Ursengen that you had been the recipient of one something like it.

Mr. Ellerton read that cruel letter through, and then exclaimed, with perplexity:

“Zounds!” He immediately recovered himself, and added, “I beg pardon, ladies, but I don’t understand this business—it is so unlike Robert of old.”

“I agree with you there, sir,” replied Dora, a scornful smile wreathing her white lips, which had again grown pale as her marble cheek.

“I never knew Robert to do a mean thing in his life before. Why on earth could he not have informed us of the change in his feelings sooner? I never thought they would change when he left home.”

“But you see that he acknowledges life to be very changeable. But, if you please, we will not discuss this matter further. He spoke of a paper for me to sign, which I presume you have with you. I would like to have this matter settled at once.”

Oh, how proud and cold was that voice!

But he could not see those tiny hands, so fiercely clasped among the folds of her dress that the blood started beneath the pressure of the delicate nails.

“My dear young lady,” responded Mr. Ellerton, in deep distress, “I wish—shall we not wait awhile, until I can see my son, and obtain a more definite explanation?”

103“Sir,” she retorted, pointing to the note he held in his hand, while her eyes flashed fire, and the blood mounted in an angry torrent to her pale brow, “sir, I have no desire to humiliate myself enough to await anything more definite than that.”

He regarded her with a look of admiration while he replied:

“Believe me, Miss Dupont, I suffer more than I can express, that anything so unfortunate as this should have occurred. Nay,” he entreated, as he saw the scornful curve of her lip, and knew that she was thinking of her former opposition, “I also sincerely regret the past; so sincerely that I had come to receive my boy with open arms, and allow him to follow his own inclinations, if he still chose to claim you as his bride. I beg you will believe me. All opposition has long since died out of my heart.”

Again Dora bowed coldly, and then said, with a touch of sarcasm in her voice:

“You perceive that your son has followed his own inclinations in renouncing me. And I pray you will believe me when I say that I, too, regret the past; bitterly regret that I was ever the cause of discord in your family. If you will now give me the paper, I will prove my sincerity by at once sundering the relations which bind me to your son, Robert Ellerton!”

With tears in his eyes, the unhappy father took a folded paper from his bosom and handed it to our heroine. He knew the beautiful young creature was suffering, despite her cold and haughty manner, and his heart melted at the sight of her pure, waxen face and pale, sternly compressed lips. Had he dared he would gladly have taken her in his arms and comforted her.

But she was unapproachable.

She hid her fearfully lacerated heart beneath a barrier of chilling scorn and contempt.

Dora ran her eyes swiftly over the paper.

It was in the form of an agreement between both parties, to annul the marriage ceremony which had been performed over six years before.

Robert Ellerton’s name was signed beneath!

With a dash of her pen Dora affixed her own name underneath, and then returned the document to Mr. Ellerton.

104He placed it carefully in his pocket, and then rising, bade the ladies a polite “good-morning” and retired, sad and disappointed, from the room.

Our poor stricken lamb, utterly overcome by the restraint she had imposed upon herself, again fell lifeless to the floor.

She soon revived, however, and resumed her cold, calm exterior; refusing all sympathy, and forbidding the subject to be mentioned.


That same evening found Ralph Moulton and his uncle again seated in their room at the inn, engaged in earnest conversation, while the same eager listener, Ronald Edgerton, was within the closet, to devour every word that fell from the two plotters’ lips.

“I tell you things don’t work just as I want them to, Ralph,” said the old man, discontentedly.

“Why?” asked Ralph.

“Because the old fellow does not seem to mind the young one’s disappearance very much. He seems to take it as a matter of course, that, if his son did not wish to meet the young lady, he should take himself off. I saw him just after he had received your cunning forgery, or at least within a couple of hours after, and he was as calm as a clock. It would have done me good to have seen him rave and tear a little.”

“I guess he’ll rave and tear enough when I demand my rights, which I intend to do to-morrow,” replied the nephew, with a touch of bitterness.

His uncle did not reply at once. He did not like to have Ralph quite so eager about this claim. When he had told him his history—or rather when he had invented this abominable lie, in order to make him a willing tool to further his own evil designs—he had hoped to be able, by promising him his whole fortune, to make him give up the idea of claiming Ellerton as his father. But he was determined to prove that he had a legal claim to that name. And the squire blamed himself now for twitting him so much about his obscure birth.

Another thing troubled him greatly. He had not anticipated meeting Mr. Ellerton in Germany.

105His plan had been to ruin the son, blast all his prospects in life, and then return and try to destroy the father.

While Mr. Ellerton was in the country, he knew he could do nothing with Robert without exciting suspicion, unless——

A bright idea struck him here, and his evil face lighted with a fiendish triumph.

He reasoned that his enemy had probably disposed of most of his property on leaving his native land, intending to spend several years traveling with his son. In that case he would have most of it in gold with him, or if not in the coin itself, something equivalent in value to show for it.

Why could he not put Mr. Ellerton out of the way, and thus ruin father and son at one blow! Then he could put forward Ralph’s claim, with no one to dispute it, and he would be sure to win. He felt he would never have so favorable an opportunity as now, for the smugglers were at hand to aid him, and once the thing was done, they could leave the country and enjoy their triumph without a fear of being molested.

As these thoughts passed with lightning-like rapidity through his mind, he glanced askance at his nephew, wondering within himself whether it would be safe to impart to him this diabolical plan.

He was a little fearful that Ralph was not quite hardened enough in sin yet, to calmly contemplate robbery and murder. At all events, it would do no harm to sound him a little upon the subject.

“I don’t know about going to the trouble and expense of trying to prove your claim, Ralph,” he finally said. “I think we can come at it easier than that!”

“How?” asked Ralph, looking up, surprised.

“Why, I have been thinking that Ellerton must have turned most of his property into money before leaving home. I know he did before when he went abroad, and it would only take a little maneuvering to get possession of it,” he replied, winking wickedly at him.

Ralph cast a quick, searching glance over his uncle’s face, and then replied, with an assumed air of indifference:

“Explain yourself, if you please. I don’t understand.”

“Well, if we will only say the word, the smugglers will quickly put him out of the way, and the money is ours.”

“What then is to become of my honorable name that 106you have harped upon so much?” demanded Ralph, with a sneer.

His uncle winced beneath this quick retort, but replied confidently:

“Why, you foolish boy, don’t you see that will be easy enough then. You will have no one to dispute your claim but that puling boy, and what can he do, with no proofs, against such incontestable ones as you have?”

“Then you mean for us to cage up the father for life, get possession of the property, and let my young rival go, and work or beg for his living?” Ralph said, in a manner which gave his uncle some encouragement to reveal the whole of his plan.

“That is just what I mean, with one or two important alterations, which I will name,” he replied, jocosely. “I propose to cage him, as you call it, but not like his son, but rather in a wooden box, and six feet below ground, and then let the young man go to Jericho if he wants to.”

“In other words, you would murder the man,” said Ralph, in a husky voice, with a pale face and stern brow.

“You’ve hit it right this time, my boy!” he answered, with a wicked leer. “And now what do you think of it?”

Ralph involuntarily shuddered at such bold, out-spoken treachery, and he replied in a voice of intense loathing and horror:

“I think you are a fiend, and I only wish you had left me to die in the land of strangers, where my mother died, instead of bringing me up for crimes like this. And I tell you I will never dip my hands in human blood.”

“Really, young man, you are getting to be quite complimentary in your style of address,” sneered the heartless villain, an angry glow suffusing his yellow and wrinkled face.

“I do but speak the truth, sir; and I would have you distinctly understand that I will never stain my soul with the crime of murder. And I begin to think that I have taken the wrong way after all to gain my honorable name that you tell so much about. You have inspired my heart with hatred—from my infancy, as it were—toward every legally born child, making me feel like an outcast and a beggar. I believe if I had gone bravely and openly to him whom you say is my father, with the proofs in my hand, he might have been willing to recognize me equally with 107his son. But you have always bribed me to hatred and revenge. Oh! if my mother had only lived to teach me to be upright and truthful, I would have blessed her, even had she been unable to give me an honorable name.”

Squire Moulton’s heart was boiling with wrath at the boy’s bold and defiant language, and cursing himself for a fool for revealing his plans to him, he retorted bitterly:

“Oh, ho, my fine young man! it’s all very nice to imagine a man like Mr. Ellerton to be so generous and noble. A man in his position you know is apt to be willing to acknowledge his own dishonor. I advise you to proceed to him at once and see what kind of a reception he will give you.”

Imagination cannot picture the expression of that vile man’s face as he made this sarcastic and taunting reply. It seemed as if all the evil passions of his nature had concentrated themselves into one look of convulsive fear, hate, and malice, while his wicked heart beat with terror lest his tool—his dupe—should reveal everything, and thus thwart every chance for vengeance upon his despised foe.

He saw it would not do to break with Ralph; he had trusted in him to such an extent that he was necessary to help him. He resolved to work upon his evil passions again. It would not do to let him madly plunge both of them into ruin by one false step. But he felt almost as if he could strike him dead as young Ralph looked him full in the face and replied to his last taunt.

“I shall at least make the trial,” Ralph said, firmly. “I have done evil enough already without having a dead man haunting me all the days of my life. I have sworn that Dora shall be my wife; and I am willing to do anything reasonable to win her. I shall force her into a marriage, and teach her to love me afterward. But as for murder, ugh! I will not do it!”

“I tell you, Ralph, you shall not do anything so rash as to go, as you intend, to Mr. Ellerton. You would only get kicked and scorned for your pains, and perhaps be arrested; then how will you marry your lady-love? Besides, I think you are rather overlooking the wrong he has done your mother, and that you also forget that he has known of your own existence, and willfully deserted you all these years. Are you willing to forgive and forget all this?” asked the crafty man.

108“I know all this,” replied his nephew, with a weary sigh, as he realized the force of his uncle’s remarks.

“Then, don’t you see, if you make yourself known at this early hour, and get yourself into trouble, you will surely lose the girl, together with your name and fortune?”

Squire Moulton saw the advantage he had gained, and thus had hastened to increase it.

Ralph bowed his head upon the table in troubled thought, while heavy sighs burst every now and then from his aching heart. He felt the truth of what his uncle argued, namely, if they possessed themselves of Mr. Ellerton’s money, he would be almost powerless to resist them, and would be willing, perhaps, to concede what they asked.

At last he looked up and said, half desperately, half sadly:

“Uncle, I don’t see but that one sin leads to another, and that we will have to get possession of the old fellow’s money before we can accomplish much. But, mark me, I will not have a single drop of blood spilled!” His love for Dora prompted him to use every exertion to win her, and he added, “I will tell you what I will consent to do; but beyond it I will not go. I will agree that Mr. Ellerton be waylaid and conveyed to the cave, where we can get possession of his valuables; for in all probability he carries them about his person. Then, when we have him in our power, we can compel him to sign papers agreeing to acknowledge me as his rightful heir, or, at least, joint heir, with Robert. The boy has never wronged me, and is not to blame for what his father has done, and I don’t wish to take anything from him. If Ellerton will agree to this, as I have no doubt he will when he sees our proofs, then we will free them both. It will probably take some time to bring him to these terms, and in the meantime I will secure my bride. What do you say to my plan?”

While Ralph had been speaking the squire’s brain had been busily at work.

He saw at once it would be policy to appear to agree to his nephew’s proposition.

After they had once got his enemy in their power, he knew there would be ways enough to dispose of him.

Indeed, he rather liked the plan on the whole, for he would then have an opportunity of triumphing over him, and making him feel his victory.

109Yes, he would agree with Ralph, but—he vowed Ellerton should die—and—by his own hand.

If once safe within the smuggler’s cave, he should never see the light of day again.

Oh! it would be sweet to see him chained in a dungeon, and taunt him with his grief! It would be glorious to tell him how he had worked out his ruin, planning it night and day for years, and see him writhe and suffer in his agony!

Then he would reveal to him how he had helped Ralph to tear Robert’s bride from his almost clasping arms, and appropriate her to himself. And it was with difficulty that he disguised and concealed his anticipated triumph from the sharp eyes of his nephew. But he dropped his glowing orbs, and replied, calmly:

“Yes, yes, boy. I’ll agree to anything to keep the peace between us; and, in fact, I guess it’s the best thing we can do. When shall we put the plan in force?”

“To-morrow, if possible. I want this thing over with as soon as practicable. I will go immediately to see Hans, and give him our instructions, and have him on Ellerton’s track before sunset to-morrow evening.”

“All right. The quicker the better,” replied the old villain.

Ralph instantly arose and left the room, intent on his errand, leaving his uncle maturing his diabolical plan for the future.

Ronald Edgerton, who had listened to the above conversation with creeping flesh and eyes distended with horror, crept cautiously back into his room, muttering to himself:

“We shall see! We shall see!”


Toward evening of the following day Mr. Ellerton stood booted and spurred upon the steps of the Glenburn House, impatiently waiting for the groom to bring around a horse.

He was going for a gallop over the distant hills to get a breath of fresh air and a view of the surrounding country.

While standing thus he saw a dirty little urchin, barefooted 110and ragged, behind one of the large fluted pillars which supported the porch, and every little while he caught him peeping out upon him with curious eyes.

He bore this scrutiny as long as he cared to, and then walked up to him, saying, somewhat crossly:

“What are you prowling about here for, you youngster? Anything wanted?”

The little fellow tore off his tattered cap, and catching hold of the shock of yellow, tangled hair that hung down over his forehead, gave it a vigorous pull.

He then thrust his hand deep into his trousers pocket, pulled out a soiled and crumpled piece of paper, which he put hastily into Mr. Ellerton’s hand, and with a low “Mum’s the word, sir,” he darted like a flash from his sight.

Somewhat amused at this singular proceeding, while at the same time he was unconsciously impressed by the urchin’s mysterious manner, he glanced around to see if any one had observed the event before he opened the note.

There was no one about, and he unfolded it and read the contents.

It was written in a round, manly hand, which Mr. Ellerton thought had a familiar look; but where or when he had seen that same handwriting before, he could not remember.

It had been carefully and neatly folded, but the boy had probably soiled and rumpled it through carelessness.

It contained the following words:

Robert Ellerton:—

“Be on your guard to-day. Do not go beyond the reach of help without the means of self-defense, for danger lurks in your path!

A Friend.

Mr. Ellerton curled his lips in a scornful smile, as if he did not fully credit the writer’s story. Nevertheless he turned and went within the hotel, back up into his room, and slipped a couple of loaded pistols into his breast-pocket.

When he appeared below again the groom stood waiting with his horse.

He mounted, and, putting his spurs to the animal, galloped swiftly away in the direction of the cliffs which we have before mentioned, and in the recesses of which our hapless hero was imprisoned.

Mr. Ellerton thought if he could gain the summit of these cliffs he should have a splendid view of the surrounding country.

111As he slowly ascended the side of the rugged cliffs, he began to ponder upon the strange warning he had received. Who could have written it? Who was there in all the country who knew him familiarly enough to call him Robert Ellerton?

Where had he seen that handsome handwriting before? It was somewhere away back in the dim past; but when or where he could not recall, and the more he tried to remember the more puzzled he grew. Neither could he imagine what the danger was that lurked in his path.

Had he been in a country among barbarians, he might well give heed to such a warning; but here, in such a quiet town, where almost every one gave his attention to cultivation and learning, it could not be possible that any very great danger could threaten him.

Still, the more he meditated upon it, the more uneasy he grew.

By this time he had reached the summit of the cliff.

The prospect from this point was attractive. Far, far away as the eye could reach was the sea in all its grandeur, and reflecting from its silver bosom the many-tinted glories of yonder sky, while just at his feet its waves gently washed the huge crags with its foam and yellow sands; and involuntarily he murmured those beautiful lines from Tennyson’s pen:

“Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, oh, sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.”

With a feeling half of pleasure, half of melancholy at his heart, he turned to leave the enchanted spot, when a shrill cry, as of some one in pain, startled him.

Turning his eyes in the direction whence the sound proceeded, he saw just below him a noble horse, madly rearing and plunging among a cluster of bushes, while near by lay the prostrate form of a man apparently much injured, judging from his repeated cries and shrieks.

Without a moment’s thought, except that of helping a suffering fellow-being, Mr. Ellerton put spurs to his horse and clashed recklessly down the narrow path of the cliff—out of sight of the village, out of the reach of help—on, on into danger and treachery, and into the hands of a set of vile and heartless villains!

112Oh, why did he not heed that timely warning?

He quickly gained the side of the prostrate man, and sprang to the ground to his assistance.

Scarcely had his foot touched the earth when the man sprang to his feet, and covering Mr. Ellerton’s heart with a heavy revolver, shouted:

“Stand, or your life is the forfeit!”

Like a flash of lightning his situation rushed upon him, and he realized all too late how necessary had been the warnings he had that morning received!

He knew he must have been followed and watched every step of the way from the hotel, and that the farce of the dismounted and injured rider had only been an ingenious trap, into which he had so readily fallen.

His own hand involuntarily sought for his weapons of defense, but at that moment a slight rustling caused him to glance up, and he saw three more ruffians surrounding him.

He realized at once how utterly vain and useless would be any attempt at resistance, and without a word he submitted to have his hands bound behind him.

One of the villains now approached him with a folded handkerchief, remarking jocosely, with a tantalizing grin:

“Neat little trap, wasn’t it? Now, if you please, we will cover up those peepers of yours, as you might be adding to your stock of information while we make our journey to the palace; and that would not suit the king you know.”

The villain laughed a coarse laugh, in which he was heartily joined by his companions.

“For what am I molested?” demanded Mr. Ellerton, with calm disdain, while he suffered himself to be blindfolded.

“The king wants you,” was the reply.

“What king?”

“Why, our king. He has got no particular province as I know of. I may as well call him the King of the Cannibal Islands as anything else,” replied the ruffian, winking at his comrades.

Again their rude laughter rang over the echoing hills.

“Where are you taking me?” asked Mr. Ellerton, not deigning to notice the wretched attempt at witticism.

“To the palace, as I informed you before; and to safe quarters I’ll warrant you. Come, tramp, for we are in a 113hurry,” and the poor man was seized by both arms and hurried roughly over the uneven path.

He asked no more questions. His pride kept him silent, and he would not have calmly borne their coarse insolence had it been in his power to resent it.

They traveled more than a mile in this manner, then after the same ceremonies of stamping, passing through secret passages and doors that his son had noticed, he was finally unbound, and found himself in a large stone cell comfortably furnished. The ruffians left him to himself after bolting and barring the door.

The cell was lighted by a large hanging lamp, while the air which ventilated the apartment came through the upper part of the door which was formed of an iron grating.

With a heavy heart he sat down to consider his uncomfortable position, and to wonder why he was thus a prisoner.


The sound slumber into which Robert had fallen was broken by the sweetest strains of music. He sat up on his couch and rubbed his eyes, trying to arouse himself; he was bewildered, yet enchanted, for the strains continued, now bursting forth into joyous melody, then dying away into the softest cadences, and finally sweeping on into intense passion and sadness.

They seemed to come from behind his bed, and he vowed to himself that mortal ear never before heard such exquisite music.

It sounded like a voice accompanied by a harp, and the tones so clear, so sweet, were like the chiming of delicate silver bells.

He examined the tapestry hangings and found a place where they could be parted; he pulled aside the heavy folds, and saw a ponderous block of stone upon hinges, and swung open a foot or so into his chamber.

Determined to learn all he could of this strange underground castle, and hoping this might be some secret passage which would lead him to liberty, he swung the block still farther back, and sweeping the heavy curtain aside, he beheld a fairy bower of beauty and elegance.

114The room was about the size of the one assigned to him, but hung with elegant white velvet, with gilt and purple trimmings. The carpet, also of white velvet, was strewn with great purple pansies, so perfect with their golden centers, and in their royal beauty, that Robert scarcely dared to step lest he should crush out their brilliant hues.

The furniture, of purple and white, and framed in gilt, was of the most exquisite and graceful pattern. Lovely paintings and statues adorned the walls and niches of the room, and upon a table of some foreign wood inlaid with pearl, were scattered richly bound books, music, and all the delicate little trifles which one so likes to see in a lady’s boudoir.

Over this table, and perched daintily upon one foot in his fancy cage, was a canary of purest gold, ever and anon twittering and chirping an echo to the song of his fair mistress.

For several moments Robert scarcely dared to breathe, lest the lovely scene should melt away before his vision, and he awake and find it all a dream. He stood transfixed and amazed; every step he took in this strange smugglers’ fortress, he discovered new beauties and fresh mysteries.

Upon a divan, dressed in spotless white, sat a golden-haired maiden, lightly fingering a magnificent harp, and pouring forth her soul in song.

Her face was fair and pure as a lily, and round, sweet, and almost babyish in its contour. Her heavily fringed lids drooped over a pair of purple-blue eyes, and almost lay upon her delicately tinted cheeks, while occasionally a bright drop left their wondrous depths and rolled like a sparkling dewdrop down upon the purple pansies at her feet.

All at once her song ceased, and with a deep sigh the bright beauty bowed her lovely head and rested it against the harp before her.

Almost involuntarily the sigh was echoed from our hero’s breast, and the spell was broken.

The young girl started violently, and rising, a low, frightened cry broke from her ripe lips as her glance rested upon Robert.

He recognized her at once.

She was the same beautiful maiden whom he had seen 115the previous evening, and who had entertained him with her music while he was eating his supper.

He saw that she was startled by his presence, and raising his hand with a reassuring gesture, he said, respectfully:

“I pray you, fair lady, do not be alarmed. I mean you no harm. Some kind fate, or Providence, has opened a secret passage between your room and mine, and impelled partly by curiosity, partly by your beautiful song, I ventured to seek its source. Is my apology accepted?”

She raised her liquid orbs to his, while a bright blush suffused her face, and bowed her graceful little head in token of assent, but spoke no word in reply.

“I am a captive,” Robert went on to explain, “put here by some bitter enemy, and I must needs believe you are in a like situation, for no one so fair and lovely would voluntarily remain in these vaults, gloomy despite their oriental magnificence.”

“I am a prisoner, and yet I am not a prisoner. There are circumstances which would compel me to remain here were every secret door and passage thrown open to give me liberty,” replied the lovely being, in tones so sweet, yet so sad, that the tears involuntarily started to our hero’s eyes.

“Can such a thing be possible?” he asked in surprise.

“Yes, for I have no other home in all the wide, wide world, and while I mourn, I am still glad, for it is in my power to protect and minister to others, who, like yourself, are held in captivity here.”

“Will you forgive my curiosity, and explain yourself more fully? Or do I intrude? If so I will retire at once?”

Robert’s eyes pleaded hard to be allowed to remain, though he made a motion as if about to retreat.

“Nay, be seated,” the girl replied, waving him to a seat, and at the same time sinking back upon the divan from which she had risen.

Robert took the seat indicated, and anxiously waited for his fair hostess to resume the conversation.

At length she said, with a strain of sympathy in her sweet voice:

“I know something of your history, and partly the reason why you are confined here, and I sorrow every day I live that I cannot in some way be the means of liberating the 116unfortunate ones who are so often brought here. But I am only a weak woman, and can do but very little against so many wicked men.”

Robert thought that she was a very, very beautiful woman, if she was weak; almost as lovely as Dora.

“I told you,” she continued, “that I have no other home. My mother is dead. My father I never saw, as he deserted his wife before I was born. My uncles, who were once rich and prosperous, have spent all their wealth in trying to hunt down the man who so deeply wronged their sister; and when she died they took me, a poor little orphan, brought me up and educated me, suffering every privation that I might not be denied any dainty or luxury.

“Finally their last dollar was spent, and in their desperation they joined this band of smugglers, and while on some business for the gang in the United States they discovered my father.

“They watched and dogged his every step until he came to this country, and are now waiting for a favorable opportunity to wreak their vengeance upon him, and claim my rights, after which they have promised me they will forever renounce this wicked business.”

“You say the man, who is your father, is now in this country,” said Robert, as he paused for a moment.

“Yes, in the country and in this very village, though why he is here, I do not know, unless a righteous Providence has driven him here to compel him to do justice to the wronged.”

A shade of sadness clouded her fair brow, and a deep sigh broke from her lips.

“Will you tell me this unnatural father’s name?” asked Robert.

“Ralph Moulton.”

“Ralph Moulton!” exclaimed Robert, wildly. “Which—who—what—pardon me, I am so taken by surprise. But will you please tell me in what part of the United States your uncles found him?”

Our hero leaned breathlessly forward, awaiting her reply.

“In S——, Massachusetts,” she answered, glancing up in gentle surprise.

“The same—the very same. How exceedingly strange!” 117he replied, starting to his feet and pacing back and forth.

“Do you know this man, who, I am told, is my father?”

“Know him?” replied Robert, bitterly. “I know him as an enemy—as my father’s bitterest enemy; and I begin to feel convinced that he is concerned in that plot against me. Yes, yes; I see it all now—fool that I have been, not to think of it before!”

He struck his hand violently against his brow as he recalled what the chief had told him—about his father’s unlawful marriage, and his being an illegitimate son.

Then his mind went far back to the day when he and Dora went to the squire to be married; his questions and emotion concerning his mother; and he realized at once that there was a deep and vile plot on foot to destroy him.

He remembered that the squire had a nephew, and was convinced that it was he who had seen Dora, become attached to her, and was resolved to marry her, taking this way to get rid of him in order to make his own way clear.

He was deeply agitated, and wondered what his father thought had become of him. And Dora—would she think he had willfully deserted her? He feared so, feeling that his enemy would urge this view of the case, and eventually win her for himself.

He was nearly frantic with the thought, and forgot where he was—forgot everything but that he would wreak the bitterest vengeance upon the vile plotters, could he but lay his hands upon them; and wrung his hands in his agony, utterly regardless of the two beautiful eyes that were wistfully following his every movement.

“Yes, yes; it is as I fear, without doubt. Oh, why does Heaven permit such wickedness to go unpunished? Is there no way that I can escape, that I may thwart them? Oh, Heaven, give me strength to bear this, or I shall go mad!”

He threw himself, exhausted, into a chair, and groaned aloud.

The lovely girl opposite him arose, and gliding softly to his side, laid one of her small white hands upon his arm, and said:

118“My friend, I begin to believe that a kind Providence has indeed led you to me to-day; and that our lives and destinies are in some mysterious way connected, and the same person has done us both a foul wrong. I pray that you will have confidence in me. Tell me your story, and perhaps I may be able to help you, or rather we may be able to help each other.”

He looked at her with a sad, yet admiring glance, and taking her little hand, pressed it reverently to his lips; then said:

“My dear young lady, you do me honor to put so much faith and trust in me; while at the same time you shame me with your courage and calmness. I thank you sincerely for your sympathy, for your gentle eyes tell me I have that. But I am selfish to be so bound up in my own sorrows and troubles, besides being rude to interrupt so abruptly your story. Please pardon me, and continue your narrative, after which I shall, in return, tell you my own history.”

He led her gently to a sofa, and taking a seat beside her signified his readiness to listen to her tale.


“Some nineteen years ago,” said the maiden, “a gentleman, Ralph Moulton by name, was traveling in Italy. He came to Naples, where my mother’s family resided. There were four of them in the household—my grandfather, my two uncles, and my mother. Their names were Count of Lamerack, Gerient and Edwin, and Vivien. She was the darling of their hearts, the light and pride of their eyes. Nothing was too good or too expensive for her, her every wish was gratified, every whim pampered.

“At a fashionable evening party my mother was introduced to this Mr. Moulton, and loved him at once. It was not a mere girlish fancy, but the strong, pure love of her inmost soul. He, in return, professed to reciprocate her affection, and wished to marry her. This her father objected to strongly. He gave as one reason that he could not part with his darling to go so far away. Neither did he wish her to marry a foreigner, no matter how wealthy he might be. She must have a titled gentleman for a husband.

119“Mr. Moulton became very angry at this decided refusal of his suit, and vowed he would be revenged, and my mother, in her intense love and passion, at length yielded to her lover’s persuasions, and wedded him in secret.

“The blow was too much for my grandfather, and he died in a fortnight after the discovery of his idol’s disobedience. Upon looking into his affairs, instead of the wealthy nobleman that every one supposed him to be, he was found to be involved to the extent of his whole fortune, and his darling was therefore left penniless. Her brothers had each a small fortune, left them by their father’s brother, which they generously offered to settle upon my mother. But she firmly refused the sacrifice, believing that her husband loved her for herself alone, and would be true to her, though she brought him no dowry.

“She was quickly and cruelly undeceived, however, for he commanded her to accept her brother’s proposition. Again she refused, and he coaxed and threatened to no purpose, until finding it all unavailing, he declared he would have nothing more to do with her, brutally telling her that he did not love her, and had only been attracted to her by her resemblance to one whom he had loved a few years before. Moreover, he said that their marriage was only a farce; that he hoped by making her father believe they were married, he would be willing to forgive her, acknowledge him, and settle his fortune upon them. Now that she had no money, and would not take what was offered her, he was tired of her, and never wished to see her again. He left her in her weakness and despair, and she never saw his face again.

“My uncles were furious, and vowed the deepest vengeance upon the villain; they tried to prove the marriage legal, but the brute had cunningly planned the affair, and removed every trace and proof of its legality. After a tedious search they at length found the man who had performed the ceremony. He was a poor monk, who had been confined in a mad-house by this villain, and, on his death-bed, sent for a clergyman and confessed the whole story.

“In the meantime I was born, and my mother died of a broken heart.

“I was put out to nurse until I was old enough to go to school, when I entered a convent, and there received my education, during which time my uncles were constantly 120searching after the wretch who had so wronged their sister.

“As I told you before, they spent all their money, and then in their desperation joined this band, all of whom swore to help each other in their troubles. About six years ago, while on duty in the United States, they accidentally discovered my unnatural father living in the most luxurious manner imaginable. They were witnesses of an event which was likely to affect him injuriously in the future, and treasured it up, hoping to use it against him. From that day to this they have followed him, tracking every step, until at last he has strangely come to the very place of all others they most wished him to come, and, they trust, a few days, or weeks at most, will give them their long sought triumph.

“Perhaps you think it strange that I so love and cling to my uncles; but I do love them dearly, despite what they have come to be. They have been both father and mother to me, and are ever gentle and tender. I will not leave them, and go forth into the world, where I know I should find more congenial associations, for I feel that my love keeps them from committing many crimes which otherwise they might be led into.”

“You are as noble as you are beautiful!” exclaimed Robert, in admiration, as the fair girl finished her narrative, to which he had listened with breathless interest.

“Nay,” she replied, blushing deeply at his earnest words and gaze; “you forget how lonely I should be had I no one to love, or who loved me. They are all the relatives I have in the world.”

“True; but this is no fit place for such as you to live in, and among all these rough villains, too.”

“Oh, but I never see any but the chief and my uncles, unless it is, in such instances as yours, where I go to entertain with my poor efforts some poor person who has been taken captive.”

“I need not tell you, my gentle friend, that blessings will ever follow you for your kind ministrations,” exclaimed Robert, enthusiastically. “And I trust,” he added, “the time may soon come when you may be liberated, and know earth’s brightest joys.”

“I fear the sun will never brighten my pathway in 121life,” she returned, with a sigh, “for my destiny lies underground.”

She shuddered as she spoke, and grew ashy pale.

Robert regarded her in silence for a moment, then asked, gently:

“Will you tell me why you fear this?”

The question recalled her to herself, and she flushed a deep crimson, and buried her face in her fair hands.

Our hero regarded her wonderingly, but did not press her for a reply.

Presently she uncovered her face, and, without looking up, said:

“The chief is not willing I should leave this place, at least, until he sees fit to remove me himself.”

The truth flashed upon Robert at once. He realized that that great rough man wished to appropriate this delicate and lovely blossom to himself. His very soul revolted at the thought, and he inwardly vowed that if ever he escaped, his first duty should be to set at liberty this suffering maiden.

“Cannot your uncles protect you from a fate like this?” he at length asked.

“They would if they dared; but you doubtless realize that they, too, are in his power. He has but to say the word and they die, and in that case my lot would be a hundred-fold worse.”

“Cowardly wretch! Let me but regain my liberty, and I swear before Heaven I will put to rout this miserable gang of thieves!” said Robert, passionately.

“You would do a noble act, for others suffer as well as myself. I am in no immediate danger, for my uncles have made the chief take an oath that he will not press his attentions until I am of age. But I pray Heaven that I may die before that time. I will die! for I will never, never be that bad man’s wife!” she exclaimed, clasping her hands, and in a voice of agony.

“You shall not, my dear friend—my sister, let me call you, for I have none of my own. I promise you that it shall never be.”

She shook her head sadly, and heaved a deep sigh.

“I thank you, but I fear your efforts will prove unavailing. I thank you, too, for giving me the sweet name of sister. 122You forget that I am the daughter of the man whom you say has wronged you deeply, do you not?”

“I do forget it, as I trust you yourself do. For no such brute has a right to claim so pure a being for his child.”

She smiled archly as she replied:

“Silence, flatterer, though your words are very sweet to me, and I am only too proud to regard you by so dear a tie.”

“Do you never feel lonely here with no companions of your own age and sex?” asked Robert, eager to turn her thoughts into a different channel.

“Oh, no! I have plenty of company. Come and you shall see.”

She bounded lightly from her seat, and moving quickly to a curtain of purple velvet, and sweeping it aside, revealed a glass door.

She motioned Robert to conceal himself among the folds of the drapery and glance within the room beyond.

He obeyed, and saw six lovely girls almost as lovely as his companion, elegantly dressed, and seated in different parts of the room, and laughing and chatting pleasantly, though upon every face he could trace lines of sorrow.

“They are my companions and my charges,” she said, gazing fondly upon them. “I am, as it were, their ‘mother abbess.’ For I protect them from all harm and unpleasant attentions from the band. My word is law here, and no person can enter their presence without my permission. It is my compact with the chief that I will remain here cheerfully so long as he allows these innocent girls to remain innocent and unmolested. So you see that this must be my home, and that I have my duties here, and I assure you that I am happy in being allowed to do even this much good. Come away now, please, for I would not have you discovered by my friends.”

She led him back to his seat, first carefully drawing the curtains over the door.

“How came these beautiful girls in this place?” he asked, more and more surprised with what he saw.

“They were stolen by different members of the band from their homes. You perceive that everything is done here to render life beautiful and attractive. When the band are at liberty they wish to be amused, and these young girls, with myself, play, sing, and read to them just as they 123desire. We always assemble in the drawing-room, and sometimes we have dancing, and sometimes merely conversation. Though we know that we are associating with the worst characters the world affords, yet at these times a stranger would think he was among the very first people of the country. The conversation is refined and elevating; no word or act is ever allowed that could wound the most delicate or fastidious. This is the way I have managed to guard and protect my sisters, as I call them. Nearly all of them are of noble birth, and would prefer death to dishonor. I live in the hope that I may yet be the means of returning them pure and spotless to their mourning friends.”

“You are an angel,” burst involuntarily from Robert’s lips as she finished speaking. “Now please tell me your name. That I consider an important omission in your story.”

“Sure enough,” she laughed, “though you already know it, for I was named for my mother. I am called Vivien Lamerack, but I suppose my true name is Vivien Moulton. They tell me I am very like my poor mother.”

Robert’s eyes plainly said that he thought her mother must have been a very beautiful woman, but he asked:

“Who was that dark-eyed little fairy in yonder room, who was playing with a pet kitten?”

“Ah! you noticed her, did you?” said Vivien, with a smile. “She is my darling, my pride, my second self. Her name is Enid Chichester, an English lady, who was taken from a ship that fell into the hands of the band. Her father was killed in helping the crew defend the vessel. He was her only relative, and she is left all alone in the world. Mr. Chichester was very wealthy, and she is, of course, his heiress. The band have long been trying to get possession of her wealth, but unsuccessfully as yet. Could my darling but regain her liberty she would be one of the richest ladies of her country.”

“Poor, unfortunate girls! I little imagined such wickedness was going on so near our quiet institute, or I should not have enjoyed my years of study so fully. It is very strange this retreat has never been discovered,” said Robert, thoughtfully.

“People do mistrust that the smugglers have a den, but 124all their efforts to discover it have proved fruitless. The entrances are so cleverly concealed that it would take a great deal of searching to discover them. I have been told there is one person who has an inkling of its whereabouts; but it may be only a story.”

“Do you and your companions never go out to enjoy a breath of fresh air or the sunshine?”

“Oh, yes, frequently. There is an underground passage to the sea, and we often go out for a sail, but always dressed like high-born ladies, and accompanied by some of the band richly clad as gentlemen, so that any one to see us would think we were some of the gentry out on a pleasure excursion. In the same way we often go out horseback riding, though we are never allowed to go where it is thickly settled, lest some of us should give the alarm. We are carefully guarded at all times, and every precaution taken to conceal our identity. Now,” she added, looking up at Robert, archly, “I have gossiped long enough, so please take your turn and tell me about yourself. I am getting impatient to know all about you.”

Robert, in return, related all that the reader already knows about him, much to the wonder and indignation of his fair listener, who mourned from the very depths of her pure heart that she was the child of a man who was so vile in all his acts and intentions; whose only desire seemed to be to work out revenge and the unhappiness of others.


A week passed away, more quickly and pleasantly than Robert could have imagined, and he daily had secret interviews with the fair Vivien, and her sweet presence soothed him to bear with something of calmness and patience his torturing imprisonment and suspense.

Robert told his fair sister, as he called her, of Dora, and of all her enchanting ways, her beauty and accomplishments, painting her in the most glowing colors, until Vivien said that she already loved her, and longed to see one whom she knew must be good and beautiful, to win so noble and true a heart as his own.

Strange though it may seem, her own heart was not 125touched by the many engaging qualities which Robert possessed, other than with a pure sisterly affection. She never dreamed of loving him, herself, which many a girl of less mind and character would surely have done. Their intercourse was pure, free, and ennobling, such as two delicate, accomplished, and high-minded persons could not help enjoying to the uttermost.

Notwithstanding all this, there were many hours of weariness and impatience which our hero spent by himself. It chafed him almost beyond endurance to be thus shut off from all communication with the outer world; to be so confined that he could do nothing for himself, or demand or secure redress from others for his wrongs; and most of all, cut off from all possibility of rescuing his darling from the fate which he had been told awaited her.

He would have felt tenfold more miserable had he even dreamed that not a dozen yards from his own chamber, which hour after hour he paced in such an angry and discontented mood, his father lay in a dark and dismal cell, a close and unhappy prisoner.

Poor Mr. Ellerton was unhappy indeed, for he felt that he had almost willfully thrown himself into his present situation, by so utterly disregarding the warning he had received. A week had passed since his abduction, and as he sat brooding over his situation, a slight rustling outside his door caused him to look quickly up, with a faint hope at his heart that some friend might be at hand.

His hope was quickly crushed, however, as he caught sight of the ugly face, with its cruel and sinister expression, which peered eagerly at him from between the iron bars of his prison door.

Ugh! what a horrible face it was! with its wolfish grin and snaky red-black eyes. Despite its ugliness it had a familiar look; but where or when he had ever seen it he could not recall to mind.

“Ha! my friend,” said the stranger, in a disagreeable voice, and with intense irony. “You don’t seem to remember me, do you?”

“No, sir, I do not,” was the reply. “And yet there is something about your face that seems familiar.”

“Um!—it’s a pleasant face to you, no doubt,” was the sneering rejoinder.

Mr. Ellerton made no answer. He loathed the very sight 126of this man, but resolved not to gain his ill-will by making any incautious remark.

The stranger eyed him balefully, while he kept hopping uneasily first upon one foot and then upon the other; at length he said, grimly:

“Um! I presume if you don’t remember me you do Jessie Almyr! Ha! that touches you in a tender spot, doesn’t it?” said the villain, with a horrible grin, as the other started violently, and flushed to his very brows with a deep crimson, at hearing one whom he had tenderly loved and reverenced spoken thus lightly of, and by such a monster, too.

At last, raising himself to his full height, he replied, proudly:

“Of course I remember one who was my wife. But I do not know who you are that dare mention her name to me in that tone.”

“Oh, no! But you probably know who it was that dared to steal her from her rightful lover; curse you!”

“Ha! I know you now, Ralph Moulton!” replied the unhappy man, again closely scrutinizing his enemy’s face, going nearer to the grating for that purpose. “Yes, I know you now,” he continued; “but I cannot understand what has brought you here, unless you are a prisoner like myself. However that may be, I wish no conversation with you, under any circumstances, with regard to my marriage. I will say this, though, as the subject has been mentioned: Miss Almyr probably accepted me for her husband because she loved me and considered me worthy to fill that place; and Heaven knows that I loved and cherished her as the apple of my eye; and life has been dark and dreary enough to me since she left me for her happy home above.”

As Mr. Ellerton finished speaking, he turned away from the intruder at his door, as if to put an end to any further conversation, and again seating himself, buried his sad face in his hands.

Squire Moulton, exasperated at his enemy’s calm dignity of manner, and at his inability to excite his anger, fairly gnashed his teeth, and in a frenzy of passion, exclaimed:

“It is a lie—a base lie! You know that you came with your flattery and honeyed words, your wealth and baby face, and won her from me—me, who had always loved her, and whose whole life had been one continual study 127for her happiness and the gratification of her every wish, in the hope that she would one day be mine. She would have been my wife, but for your coming. She had almost promised me, when you interposed your form between us, and blinded her eyes, and snatched her away from as true a heart as ever beat within a human breast. There was no more joy or sunshine in the dreary world for me. The very sun was black and the stars went out, and demons from the lowest depths of Hades possessed my soul, spurring me on to desperation and revenge. Yes, revenge; and I swore it then and there in my maddening agony. I vowed, and called upon Heaven to witness my oath, that you should yet writhe and suffer even as I did; that you should cry out in your misery for mercy, but that you should cry and plead in vain. I have followed and dogged you ever since, striving to wreak my vengeance upon you. But the Fates have been against me, with the exception of once or twice, until now. Now that you are in my power, my very soul pains me with the intense desire I have to see your torture and misery begin; to see you clasp your hands, and on your knees sue for mercy; to see you beat your breast, tear your hair, and plead and beg for death to release you from your torments!”

The villain had wrought himself to the highest pitch of excitement, and he fairly shrieked out his last words, as he shook his fist in the face of his astonished rival.

I say astonished, for Mr. Ellerton had never dreamed that any defeated lover would carry his disappointment to such an extent, and he gazed upon the furious man with a sort of stupid amazement, as he realized that this jealous and revengeful lover of so many years ago was the cause of his present suffering and imprisonment.

He knew that he had always hated him for being his successful rival, and for that reason always kept out of his way, thinking the less he had to do with him the better. He had never thought of such a thing as his attempting to revenge himself, until six years ago, when he married Robert and Dora.

He recognized the fact then, and cursed him for it, but supposed that would be the extent to which he would carry it.

Now that he found he had been hated, cursed, and pursued all his life-time, and for this one offense, he could not 128help regarding with wonder the man who had devoted his whole life to such an unworthy and dishonorable purpose.

“Ha! ha! ha!” wildly laughed the still intensely excited squire, when he had regained his breath. “You may well look surprised. Methinks I can astonish you still more. Listen! I followed you, years ago, when you made your trip after the death of your darling. I tried to steal your child—her child, and put my own nephew in his place. But that cursed nurse of yours was too quick for me, and I only got a sore and aching head for my pains. Yes, yes,” he hissed, as he saw the light beginning to break over Mr. Ellerton’s face. “It was probably the fright I gave her that caused her death. You possibly remember how hard she tried to tell you something when she was dying? Yes, well, that was it. And had you not suddenly disappeared from the place, I should have tried another grab at the youngster.”

“Villain, do you mean to tell me that you have allowed such a pitiful jealousy to lead you to such crimes? Beware, lest they descend with tenfold force upon your own vile head!” exclaimed Mr. Ellerton, his eye flashing with angry excitement.

“Ha! you are beginning to be touched, are you? Good! that is what I came here to-day for. I want to see you cringe beneath my power. It is very sweet to me to see you so; it quiets my nerves, and fills my heart with exultant joy, and I trust to see your proud head bowed still lower before I have done with you,” sneered the monster.

“Leave my presence, vile fiend! I will not be polluted by so evil a thing,” commanded Mr. Ellerton, angrily.

“Not quite so fast, my lord,” replied the squire, mockingly. “I have not yet finished my interesting narrative. I would like to give you a list of the things I have done, rather than of those I have tried to accomplish. I reckon I gave your pride a severe blow when I married your only child to a beggar. You may look as lofty and scornful as you choose, but for all that I knew it cut deep, as I meant it should, else you would not have separated them, and banished your boy from his home and his native land——”

“Hold, you scoundrel!” shouted the now thoroughly enraged man, but with a gleam of triumph in his eye. “Hold! and let me tell you for your benefit, that the girl is not a beggar, as you imagine, but the sole heiress of hundreds of thousands, and that, if my son chose to claim her 129to-day, he would have my full and free consent to do so. How does that compare with the heavy blow to my pride that you tell about?”

Squire Moulton threw back his grizzled head and laughed a long, loud, and scornful laugh, making the dull and unearthly echo ring again and again through the dim, low vaults. It was the utter abandonment of the most fiendish joy, and his captive, goaded almost to madness by its mocking tones, gazed upon him with a look in which perplexity, fear, and anger were mingled.

What did it mean—that taunting, derisive peal of laughter? Could it be possible that he had been so closely watched and followed that his rival knew of the signatures attached to that document lying so safely stowed away in his pocket?

Could it be that his son, like himself, had been enticed into captivity?

He began to think so, and his heart sank like a stone, as he marked the look of gloating triumph that gleamed upon him from the savage eye of the wicked squire.


When the squire recovered from his fit of merriment, which lasted many minutes, he replied, in a voice of intense satisfaction:

“Oh, my fine gentleman, that is too good! The joke is really refreshing, after my hard labor in accomplishing what I have. It is truly very cunning of you to seek to blind my eyes in that manner, when you know that the marriage between your son and Miss Dupont is rendered null and void—that you have the signature of both parties in your pocket at this very minute, agreeing to consider it so. You are very smart, Robert Ellerton, but I must own that I am a little ahead of you, this time.”

The look of blank and troubled amazement which spread itself over Mr. Ellerton’s face, at this unexpected disclosure, was distressing to see. And with a disturbed and crest-fallen air, he exclaimed:

“Who told you—how do you know?”

130“How do I know? Very easily. My little plot has worked finely, gloriously; and a few days more will see the consummation of my dearest hopes. The paper you have is all a forgery, except the girl’s signature, as are also the letters which you and she received. But that is no matter, for one of their signatures is sufficient to break the marriage, which is all I want. Perhaps you would like to know why? I will gladly inform you. You are aware that I have a nephew. You know who he is, although you have never been willing to recognize the tie that binds him to you. Well, this nephew is very much in love with Miss Dora Dupont, and wishes to make her his wife, which she never could be legally unless she signed a document consenting to a divorce from your son. Ralph Moulton Ellerton—oh, you need not start, you know that ought to be his name—realized that she would never give up her first love unless her pride was severely wounded, so he planned this little plot, forged the necessary papers—with what success you already know—and in a few days she will be his bride.”

“Coward! dastard! you don’t mean to tell me that she will willingly become his wife!”

“Oh, no! she has not even been asked to consent to it yet. She will be forced into the contract, and learn to love him afterward, you know!” said the wretch, making a horrible grimace.

“But such a marriage will not be legal. The law would never recognize it,” returned Mr. Ellerton, in a composed manner. He was utterly confounded by the bold wickedness of the other.

“Ha, ha! The law won’t have anything to do with it. The young lady will be wedded here, in the presence of witnesses enough to prove all that is necessary. And when she is set at liberty it will be too late for the law to do anything about it.”

“And my boy—my boy! what is to become of him?” now gasped the thoroughly frightened father, as he began to realize how firm was the web that entangled himself and son, how cunningly the plot had been laid, and how fatal the snare into which they had been enticed.

“Oh! you begin to think my vengeance is going to amount to something after all; don’t you? I swore you should rue the day you stole my bride, and now your son shall taste some of the bitterness which I have realized!”

131“What have you done with him?”

“He is safe, where I can clap my hands upon him the moment I want him.”

“Where is he, I ask you? Oh! you will not murder my boy!” shrieked the agonized father.

“Murder him? No!” replied his foe, with a sneer, “I would not have him die on any account. I should feel deeply disappointed should anything happen to him. I want him to live, and drag out a miserable existence, as I have done, without the cheering smile of one he loves; I want him to see her the wife of another, and let his heart wither and die within his breast, and to have life become a dreary, wretched burden, almost too tedious to be borne.”

“Oh, Heaven! Is it possible that such wicked heartlessness can dwell upon this fair earth? Is there no mercy in your hard heart?” he cried, with a look almost of despair written upon his pale features.

“No, not an atom! Was there mercy in your heart for me when you stole Jessie Almyr almost from my arms?” asked the vile wretch, with a wicked leer.

Poor Mr. Ellerton dropped into his chair, groaning in anguish. Oh, could he but burst his prison bars, what direful vengeance would he wreak upon his tormentor! He would trample him into the very dust; he would grind him to powder, for this shameful wrong.

Some moments elapsed in silence, while each was busy with his own thoughts, the squire full of irrepressible joy, and his captive’s heart beating with sad despair. At last the squire spoke:

“You seem to be enjoying this little drama so much, my friend, that I will proceed with it to the end. I have another cunningly devised fable to relate to you. As I said before, you know who my nephew is, and what his true name ought to be. I have made him acquainted with that fact, and planned a way for him to obtain it. I made a few alterations in the story to suit my own arrangements, however. I will explain why he was so ready to join me in my plans for your destruction. I told him that you were his father; that you pretended to marry his mother, who was my cousin; that you lived with her until you saw my darling, when your fickle heart turned to her, and her pretty face won you from your fidelity to his mother. Then you coldly told her that your marriage was only a farce, and you wanted 132nothing more to do with her, at the same time heartlessly informing her that she must henceforth take care of herself.”

“Wretch!——” began Mr. Ellerton, in a furious tone.

With a slight wave of the hand, and a taunting smile, the squire replied:

“Yes; he thinks you are a wretch. But please do not interrupt me again; it is very annoying. I told Ralph a pitiful story; how his beautiful mother begged and pleaded at your feet that you would not forsake her in her delicate situation, that you would not cast her and her child upon the cold charities of the world. But to all you turned a deaf ear, and went your way, and never saw her again. I also told him that you refused to acknowledge him as your son, but lavished all your love and all your wealth upon the son of his mother’s rival.

“The boy curses you from his heart, and believes himself your legal son and heir, for I have shown him a paper which proves to him that your marriage with his mother was legal. He joins me heart and hand, and as soon as our business is ended here, he will return and try to establish his claim to your name and fortune, which, you perceive, will be a very easy matter to do with the proofs he has in his hands. Do you not think it will be a proud day for your brilliant boy when he discovers his name and honor are claimed by another, and believes himself to be only a child of shame? And will not my revenge then be complete?”

“God will never allow such a foul lie to prosper—such a tissue of lies—such a wicked fraud to succeed,” moaned the miserable man.

“Ha! ha! God! What has he to do with it?” was the impious retort. “If you have a God, perhaps He will help you out of this fix. But I rather think that Ralph Moulton will win the day this time.”

“You have not told me what you have done with my son. I demand to know where he is.”

“Well, I don’t mind telling you, if it will be any satisfaction,” replied the villain, with a malicious sparkle in his eye. “His agony, at this moment, is almost equal to yours; for he is a prisoner within these very vaults, and not a dozen yards from your own cell, but his life shall be spared. When my nephew and myself have settled everything to our own satisfaction, then he can go free.”

133“And what is to become of me?” asked Mr. Ellerton, fixing his eye firmly upon his foe.

“You,” he hissed, with a furious expression—“you shall die!”

“Fiend!—for none but a fiend could conceive so vile a plot—you dare not do this dreadful thing!”

Mr. Ellerton grew white to his very lips, while a spasmodic quiver ran over his frame at the thought.

Squire Moulton laughed a low, taunting laugh.

“You will never do what you propose,” at length Mr. Ellerton said, in a firm, even tone. “Something will occur to prevent the perpetration of such a crime. But be that as it may, you shall not rob my boy of his name, his honor, and his pride. His fortune is not of so much account, for he can carve out his own. You shall have it, every penny, for I have it nearly all with me, only grant my boy this one boon. Oh, if there is one drop of mercy in your heart, do not deny me this one request. Promise me, promise me, and I will yield up everything else, even to my very life.”

But the poor man might as well have pleaded to the cold and silent walls. He noted the greedy sparkle in the squire’s eyes, when he mentioned his having his fortune with him, and realized that his pleadings were vain.

“Oh, ho! I thank you for your most generous offer,” was his reply. “But I intend to have the fortune anyway. It was partly for this that I came to see you to-day. I must have it before I leave this place, together with that paper we spoke of; and—listen”—he hissed the words from between his teeth—“the next time I come, I promise you that you shall go to join your long-lost and much-loved wife.”

“Craven, is not your soul already black enough?”

“Ha! I must hunt you to death, or my triumph will not be complete. Come, now, hand over your funds, for I must hasten to other matters.”

“Never, sir! You will never get them from me until you take them from my dead body, and that, I warn you, will never be, for—villain, you die!”

Mr. Ellerton had spoken with a calm, defiant air, and as he muttered the last words he hastily pulled a pistol from his breast, and leveling it at his enemy, fired!

Just an instant too late! for Squire Moulton darted like a flash to one side, and the ball sped harmlessly across the 134narrow passage, and flattened itself against the impenetrable rock beyond.

Mr. Ellerton then drew another pistol from its hiding-place, and calmly awaited what should follow.

Squire Moulton, from his position of safety, realized the danger he should be in if he revealed himself, and taking a silver whistle from his pocket he blew it.

Immediately footsteps were heard, and two rough-looking men appeared. Both of them cast baleful glances at the squire from beneath their shaggy brows, showing at once that they were not friends of his, although they might be obliged to obey him for the present.

One of them glanced eagerly within the cell, and his eyes lighted peculiarly as he caught sight of the firm, defiant form within.

“Go within and bind that man. Search him thoroughly, and bring me whatever you may find about his person,” commanded Squire Moulton, as they appeared.

“Hold!” cried Mr. Ellerton. “I have no wish to shed blood, but I warn you, that the first one who attempts to lay his hand upon me, dies. I only act in self-defense.”

He held his pistol cocked, and ready for action. But the man before mentioned fixed his eyes calmly upon him, and quickly made a peculiar sign, and the weapon dropped from the prisoner’s nerveless hand upon the floor of his cell.

The door was quickly unlocked, and both men approached the prisoner, who allowed himself to be searched and robbed of his possessions without the slightest resistance, though his eyes closely questioned the one who had made that strange signal. And a look of blank surprise remained upon his countenance meanwhile.

Suddenly the stranger bent over him, and as he pretended to be busily unfastening a purse-belt from his waist, whispered:

“Courage! we are friends, and will strive to set you right, and free, ere long. Had you obeyed the warning you would not be here. Make no sign, but be on the watch!”

He then gathered up the booty, and carried it all to the squire, and they departed, leaving the unfortunate man to himself again.

But he felt cheered, even at the light ray of hope offered him, though his blood boiled within him at the heartless torture he had been subjected to by his relentless enemy. 135And he prayed that the day might come when the tables would be turned, and the miserable wretch brought to justice.


Madame Alroyd and Dora had intended departing from the place where they had suffered so much, the day following the one on which Mr. Ellerton had visited them and obtained our heroine’s signature to that fatal document. But their plans were defeated; for on the morning set for their departure, madam awoke with one of her raging nervous headaches, caused by the excitement of the day previous, and from which she did not recover for several days. Then a driving storm set in, which detained them three days longer.

Toward evening of the third day, however, the clouds dispersed, and Dora begged her aunt not to delay their departure any longer.

Madam thought it rather late in the day to begin a long journey, but finally yielded to her niece’s persuasions, and ordered their carriage to be got in readiness.

The kind-hearted landlord was much distressed at this decision, for he knew it was unsafe for any one to travel in that part of the country during the night, and put forth every inducement he could think of to make them defer their journey until the following day.

But, no; Madame Alroyd said she wanted to get away from that “horrible place” as soon as possible, and now that she had made up her mind, she should not alter it; and in defiance of the anxious landlord’s protestations, they started, with only their driver for a protection, just as the last rays of the glorious setting sun faded from sight.

They soon repented of their hasty determination, for they had not proceeded five miles upon their way when heavy clouds overcast the before cloudless sky; the winds arose, and there was every indication of another severe storm, or a continuation of the previous one. But they would not turn back.

On they went, over the dark, rugged, mountain road, 136which was rendered doubly dismal by the huge forest trees which lined each side of the rough way.

Suddenly the carriage lights revealed to the driver’s frightened eyes a closely muffled figure, with upraised arm, in the act of hurling a heavy, knotted club at his head.

He dodged, but too late, for it struck him full in the face, and, with a groan of pain, his fingers relaxed their hold upon the reins, and he rolled senseless from his seat to the damp earth below.

At the same moment, the flying horses were seized by the bits by a strong and evidently masterly hand, for after a few fearful plunges, they yielded to firm hold, and stood quiet and resistless.

Madame Alroyd, thoroughly alarmed at this fearful state of affairs, but without knowing the cause, hastily pulled down the carriage window, and strove in vain to see what was the trouble.

“Thomas, what has occurred?” she asked, in a frightened voice.

“Nothing much, mum; only the horses got a little unruly and one of the lamps went out, so I stopped to light it again,” replied a voice which madam thought did not sound quite natural, but laid it to the howling winds which rendered it almost impossible to hear.

“Very well,” she returned. “Light it again as soon as possible, for it is a fearful night, and I am anxious to gain a shelter.”

“Yes, mum.”

“How far is it before we can reach one?” she continued.

“About six or eight miles,” said the man with a low chuckle, as he bent over the refractory lamp which would not light.

“Blast it! there goes my last match,” he added, as it flickered, flared, and went out.

“Well, well, Thomas, never mind,” returned the lady, impatiently. “Let it go, and do the best you can with the other, only do hasten, for we are almost frightened to death in this darkness, and long for a comfortable room, with cheerful lights and a fire.”

“Yes, mum. All right, mum,” was the answer, as the man hastily climbed to his seat, and touched the horses with his whip, muttering with intense satisfaction.

137“Neat little job that! neat little job; though I would rather have liked to see what became of that stupid coachman.”

The horses’ heads, during the struggle which had just occurred, had been adroitly turned to one side, and now in obedience to the reins, dashed on with the speed of the winds in an entirely different direction from that which they had been pursuing.

In fact, our unsuspicious travelers were being conveyed back to the very place whence they had just come.

On, on they sped through the night’s intense blackness, over a rough and uneven road, jolted and pitched from side to side, until they were ready to cry out with pain and fatigue.

Two mortal hours, which they thought would never end, were spent in this manner, and then they drew up before a small white house, from the casement of which a single light was gleaming.

The driver went to the door and rapped.

His summons was immediately answered by a trim servant girl, who demanded his business, though a close observer might have noticed the look of recognition which passed between them.

He explained, loud enough for the inmates of the carriage to hear, their situation; and after a slight demur on the part of the girl, obtained permission for them to pass the night there.

Going back to the coach, he stated that it was not a regular inn, only a little cottage in which lived a poor but honest family.

Our weary travelers cared not whether it was inn or hovel, so that they could obtain rest, and quickly alighted, eagerly seeking the welcome shelter, when they found to their surprise a neat little parlor at their service, and a cheerful fire.

Their spirits readily returned under these pleasant influences, and when a tempting little supper of tea, toast, and chicken was added to their comforts, their faces fairly grew radiant with satisfaction.

Having finished their meal, they spent an hour or more chatting cheerfully, and congratulating themselves upon their comfortable quarters. The same trim little servant 138then entered and signified her readiness to show them to their sleeping-room.

Both felt their need of rest, and followed her to the apartment behind the one they had first entered, where they found a soft and inviting bed, hung with dainty white curtains, and everything fresh, sweet, and clean. They retired to rest, and soon their senses were locked fast in sound and refreshing slumber.


Midnight found the night calm, quiet, lovely.

The roaring winds had ceased, and the clouds had been suddenly swept aside by a master-hand, and the blue-vaulted heavens, studded with their sparkling gems, looked serenely down upon earth and sea. Our weary travelers lay wholly unconscious of the change without, their eyelids heavy with the weight of sleep, and their bodies cumbered with its powerful influence.

But see! Suddenly their white-draped couch begins to move! Slowly, silently, steadily, it commences to descend!

Heavens! Will not some one warn those unconscious sleepers? Will not some one bid them awake, arise, and flee?

Ah! but what could two such defenseless women do against the powers at work.

They could not escape even should they awake, for the entrance to that innocent looking white cottage was closely guarded, and none could enter or retreat without the knowledge and consent of that rough, stern sentinel!

Reader, you doubtless recognize the place as the same to which Robert Ellerton was so adroitly enticed and made a prisoner.

The villain who had knocked madam’s faithful driver senseless from his seat had driven the unsuspecting women back, though by an unfrequented road, to the German settlement which they had but just left. And now they were in the power of a band of heartless villains, sleeping as calmly and sweetly as if no such thing as danger or treachery inhabited the earth!

139Softly, gently as a tender mother would bear her slumbering infant upon her bosom, their bed descended through the floor, down, down—twenty, yes, thirty feet, when it was received by four muffled figures and carefully wheeled to one side of a most gorgeous apartment, which contained every comfort and luxury that the most fastidious could desire; after which the trap noiselessly ascended to its place, leaving no crack or crevice by which its existence could possibly be detected!

Immediately after the four muffled forms silently glided from the room, leaving our friends to pass the remainder of the night unmolested.

Late the next morning Dora opened her deep blue eyes, and with one fair hand swept aside the spotless curtain, and gazed out into the room.

An expression of wondering admiration shone in her lovely orbs as she beheld the splendor, lighted by the many-jetted chandelier, which surrounded her, and she raised her hand as if to brush away some imaginary vision; but when she looked again the fair scene remained.

With a breathless voice, and a quickly beating heart, she shook her aunt, and cried out:

“Auntie, auntie, wake up, and tell me what this means!”

“What, child—what is it?” exclaimed the old lady, in a fright, sitting bolt upright in bed, and unable to get her eyes open.

“Why, this lovely room!—all these beautiful things! Everything around us is gorgeous. This is not the room we came into last night. That was plain and homely, although neat and clean. And—why—but this is the same bed!”

“Sure enough,” said Madame Alroyd, staring about with an amazed expression on her face. “We are either bewitched,” she continued, “or our room has been entered during the night, and we borne off, bed and all, to another.”

“Oh, auntie, see what lovely pictures and statuettes—and just look at this lovely toilet set—was there ever anything so exquisite!” exclaimed the impulsive girl, who had sprung from her couch, and was pattering about in her little bare feet upon an exploring expedition, and filled with admiration at everything she saw.

140But madam was in a brown study. The change was as unaccountable as it was lovely, and she was deeply troubled and perplexed. What could be the motive for this complete transformation?

The design could not have been robbery, for there lay all their luggage right before them, while her watch and money were snugly tucked beneath her pillow, just where she had placed them before retiring.

The more she strove to solve the mystery, the more puzzled she became.

But she wisely resolved not to excite Dora’s fears, until she saw something actually alarming.

At this moment a servant swept aside the heavy curtain which covered the entrance to the room, and approached. But she suddenly stopped upon seeing that little white-robed fairy who was flitting about the room, and a look of honest admiration settled over her face.

Presently she went forward, and said, in a low, sweet voice:

“Can I assist mademoiselle about her toilet?”

Dora gave a little scream of startled surprise, for she had not heard the girl’s light steps behind her. But seeing that it was not the same maid who had attended them the previous night, she recovered her self-possession, and said:

“How you startled me, my good girl! But never mind. Where did you drop from and what is your name?”

“Nina, at your service; and I came in at the door,” was the reply.

“Well, then, Nina, if that is so—for I did not know but that you had woke up and found yourself here, like ourselves—please tell me where we are, for I believe my head is nearly turned with so much beauty and elegance.”

“I am happy to know that mademoiselle is pleased with her apartments,” returned Nina, evading Dora’s query.

“Apartments? Is there more than one?” questioned Dora, in surprise.

The girl stepped hastily forward, and seizing a heavy tassel, gave it a vigorous pull, and instantly two huge curtains slid apart, disclosing an elegant boudoir.

“See!” she said. “This is for your accommodation, too.”

“Oh-o-oh! Auntie, do come and see!” exclaimed the gratified girl, with a radiant face. Her features clouded again instantly, as she said: “But you have not yet 141answered my question; you have not told me where I am.”

She tapped her foot impatiently, while she went on:

“It is all very nice to have these beautiful things at my command. But I want to know whose hospitality I am enjoying, all unasked. We were not in this place last night. Whose residence is this?”

There was no retreat. The little maiden’s tone was very imperative, and there was an indignant sparkle in her blue eyes.

“You are in the palace of his lordship, the Baron Weichel,” answered Nina, dropping her eyes, while a guilty flush mounted to her brow, beneath the penetrating gaze of Miss Dupont.

“But how came we here?” interrupted Madame Alroyd, with a sharp glance at her, as she noted her evident confusion.

“You were brought here by the baron’s own orders, madam.”

“And what authority has he to order us here, I should like to know?” said the old lady, indignantly. “And another thing I want to have you explain to me; and that is, how were we brought here during the night without our knowledge?”

“His lordship arranged all that,” said Nina.

“Well, then, I must say that his lordship is no gentleman, to allow people to enter a room and remove its sleeping occupants,” returned madam, with a good deal of asperity.

“No one entered your room to remove you, madam——”

“No one entered our room!” repeated the now angry woman, with hands upraised in absolute astonishment. “Do you suppose you can make me believe such an unlikely story as that?”

“No, madam, unless you choose,” was the humble reply.

“I am all out of patience with you. Do, Dora, try and make her explain this mystery,” urged Madame Alroyd, with a look of perplexity upon her face.

And Dora, with a charming expression of good nature, which won the servant’s heart at once, went up to her and said, sweetly:

“Now, Nina, please to dress my hair; and, in the meantime, tell us all you know about this singular transportation 142during the night. You must realize that it is a very trying situation to us.”

Dora seated herself, and the girl went to work, with nimble and willing fingers, to bind up and arrange her abundant golden tresses; and after a few moments’ hesitation, replied:

“Mademoiselle must excuse me, for I cannot answer her question.”

“Why not?” asked Miss Dupont, with a pout upon her red lips.

“Because—because the chief—I mean his lordship—will do that,” stammered Nina, in confusion.

Dora was startled from her seat by a sharp shriek from her aunt, who sprang frantically from the bed, wringing her hands, and exclaiming:

“The chief! the chief! Do you hear, Dora?—the chief! Oh, heavens! we are in the hands of a band of robbers—in the hands of those awful smugglers that we heard about at the hotel! I see it all now—the trouble with the horses, their plunging and rearing; that dreadful noise as of some one falling; the unnatural tones of the driver, which was not Thomas at all! All—all is as plain as day to me now. Oh, Dora, Dora, my darling, we are lost!”

Dora, with a pale face, turned to Nina, and demanded sternly:

“Girl, what have you to say? Is what my aunt suspects the truth?”

“Ah! pardon, pardon, mademoiselle, but I dare not tell!” cried the poor girl, with streaming eyes and clasped hands, for she was touched to the heart with their cruel distress.

“It is enough!” answered our heroine, her very lips becoming white as marble, and her heart sinking with despair at what she imagined their fate would be. Then suddenly assuming a haughty, defiant air, she added, “Go at once and tell your chief that I desire his presence immediately!”

“Oh, my lady, do not blame poor Nina, for she would gladly serve you if she could. But my lot is that of a slave here, and I dare not disobey, lest my life pay the forfeit. Were it not for my own dear mistress, I would gladly die.”

“What!” almost shrieked Dora, “are there others here, in the same situation with ourselves?”

143“Ah, mademoiselle, there are seven as lovely ladies here as ever the sun shone upon.”

“Oh, heavens! and how long have they been held captive in such a place?”

“Some have been here three or four years; some not as long, but one has lived here many years. But I must not tell you more, lest I be overheard; only do not blame me for what you suffer,” she entreated, heaving a deep sigh.

“My poor child!” said Madame Alroyd, soothingly, while a shudder quivered through her frame. “We cannot regard you with any other feeling than that of pity. And rest assured, should kind Providence send friends to our rescue, we will not forget you and your poor mistress.”

The grateful girl seized her hand and kissed it passionately, and immediately glided from the room.

The two terror-stricken ladies then made a hasty toilet, and sat down with fear and trembling, to await the appearance of the much dreaded chief.

Presently Nina returned and said:

“The chief desires that you will partake of your breakfast, which is waiting; after which your request shall be attended to.”

She parted another set of curtains, and revealed beyond an elegant breakfast-room, in which a table was daintily spread for two.

Dora walked proudly within, without uttering a word in reply. Madam timidly followed, and they seated themselves, going through the ceremony of eating, being attentively waited on by the faithful girl.

When the repast was ended, Nina seized a tiny silver whistle that lay upon the table and blew it, and instantly a page entered and removed the service, followed by the girl.

Not many minutes elapsed, and Dora saw the drapery which hid the entrance move; then there was a sound, as of persons whispering.

She held her breath—she felt that the decisive moment had arrived.

A fair, white, shapely hand parted the curtains; a trim, finely formed foot was upon the threshold, and for an instant our heroine’s head grew dizzy, while a mist vailed her eyes; but with a mighty effort she conquered the faintness, 144and drew her queenly little form to its fullest height, and waited for the appearance of her dreaded visitor.

The drapery was swept entirely aside, and a cry of indignant surprise parted her lips as she fixed her eyes upon the figure before her.


Well might Dora Dupont cry out, for she recognized in the handsome face and form of the man who stood beneath that arched entrance, her rejected suitor and enemy, Ralph Moulton.

Utterly overcome by his sudden and unwelcome presence, her trembling limbs refused to support her, and she sank weak and faint upon a sofa which stood behind her.

A look of intense love, followed by one of triumph, flashed over his dark, fine face, as his gaze fell upon the lovely girl before him.

Madame Alroyd, who had half risen as he entered, now sank into her seat again, exclaiming:

“Mr. Moulton! and here too!”

“Yes, madam,” he replied, with a smile and a graceful bow; “and I trust that I find you well this morning.” Then turning composedly to Dora, he added: “Miss Dora, allow me to congratulate you upon your fine looks, although I perceive that traveling has robbed you of some of your former bloom.”

He seated himself carelessly, though his restless eyes devoured every expression of her marble face.

She had by this time recovered her self-possession somewhat, and rising with proud hauteur, she said, in icy tones:

“To what circumstance am I to attribute this untimely visit, Mr. Moulton? It was my desire to have an interview with the chief of this place. I am now awaiting his presence.”

“The chief you will not see this morning, Miss Dupont; and you are to attribute this visit from me to your own fair self, and the love I bear you.”

She waved her hand with a gesture of scornful impatience and said:

145“That subject was long since forbidden between us.”

“Nay, my fair one, I could not receive your cruel answer as final; and if you remember right, you know I told you that I should at some future time renew my suit. And I am here this morning to plead again, that you will consent to be my wife. Madam, have I your permission to address your niece?” he said, turning quickly to Dora’s aunt.

“It must be as she says, Mr. Moulton. I trust all such matters to her own heart and judgment,” she returned, coldly.

“Very well, then to her I will appeal,” turning to our heroine again.

“How came you in this place, sir?” she demanded.

“Why, I came here the same as I would go anywhere, but my object was to meet you.”

“Ah! perhaps Mr. Moulton has something to do with our captivity here,” said Dora, shooting a wicked glance at him from her flashing eyes.

“Possibly he may have,” he returned, with a smile and a bow.

“Thank you, sir; you are very kind. You have taken a load from my mind,” she answered, in a relieved tone.

“How so?” he asked, surprised.

“I feared I had been brought here by a set of lawless robbers, and that my honor would be the sacrifice; but, I assure you, I fear no such craven as yourself,” she said, in a voice of intense sarcasm.

He colored angrily at the scorn and irony which her look and tone betrayed, and replied:

“I did not come here to be scorned and abused, Miss Dupont. I came to offer you marriage, honorable and true, together with a heart as faithful as ever beat in the breast of one mortal for another. In a word, I have come to ask you to be my wife!”

Dora stood in a graceful attitude, her pretty head raised just a trifle more than was natural, her little hands coquettishly clasped before her, and one tiny blue velvet slipper peeping out from beneath her white robe, while her eyes were fixed in a cold, unflinching gaze upon his own.

She did not reply, as he ceased speaking, but stood calmly regarding him, as if waiting for him to continue.

His eyes wavered, and finally drooped, and he said, while he moved uneasily in his chair:

146“Do you understand my proposition, Miss Dupont?”

“I do, sir!”

“And do you accept it?”

“I do not, sir!”

“Do I understand that you refuse me a second time?”

“Utterly and forever!” she answered, without once changing her position, or removing her eyes from his face.


“Allow me to correct you, sir. My name is Miss Dupont.”

“I warn you not to exasperate me beyond endurance,” he returned, angrily.

Just the least little bit of a sneer curled her red lips at this threat, but he saw it, and said, with sudden determination:

“I will give you five minutes in which to reconsider your answer, after which, if it is not favorable, I shall not hesitate to take the matter into my own hands. Possibly you remember the oath I took in your presence the night of your birthday entertainment.”

He uttered these last words in a meaning tone, at the same time taking an elegant gold watch from his pocket to note the time.

She did remember the oath he referred to, and she grew a shade paler, but by no other sign did she show that she felt or noticed his words, and remained standing in the same cold, calm attitude during the whole five minutes.

“Miss Dupont, your time is up!” at length said Ralph Moulton, in a gentler voice than he had hitherto used.

He thought he really and truly loved this beautiful creature, and his heart softened toward her a little, for he knew she suffered in spite of her apparent indifference.

She made no reply, nor moved a muscle.

He regarded her in perplexity for a moment, then arose and went and stood before her.

“Will you be my wife?”

“No, sir!”

“Beware! Do you mean it?”

“Most emphatically! And now, if you are done with your persecution, I can dispense with your society.”

“By heavens, I won’t bear this! I have sworn that you shall be mine, and I will not give you up!” he exclaimed, excitedly. Then turning to Madame Alroyd, he continued, 147“Madam, will you not use your influence before it is too late. Her fate is in my hands, but I have no desire to use my power, if by any possible means she can be induced to yield willingly.”

Madam cast an appealing glance at Dora; but there was no encouragement to be gathered from her inflexible features, and with a bitter sigh she remained silent.

Cursing both of them in his heart, Ralph bent toward Dora, and said in a low, concentrated voice:

“Listen! This evening you are to become my wife. Everything is arranged, and at seven o’clock the clergyman will be present to perform the ceremony. Nothing can save you; your fate is sealed.”

He had no reason to complain of her want of animation now, for instantly neck, cheek, and brow were flooded with an angry crimson, and with a gesture of intense loathing she cried:

“You dare not do this thing! I will defy you at the very altar, and no clergyman will pronounce the banns against my will.”

“My darling, you will do no such thing; it would be very improper,” he laughed, lightly, glorying in her proud, brilliant beauty.

“Villain, you shall see,” she retorted, snapping her small pearly teeth savagely together.

“Shall I, my beautiful one? Very well, I shall come for you a little before the time; and in the meantime some suitable attire shall be provided for you. I would not have my bride disgrace the occasion, for we are to have a ‘gay company’ at our wedding.”

“I will die first!” she said, passionately.

“You see that lady sitting there—your only friend—your benefactress? Well, the moment you attempt your life, she dies. And should you refuse to be my wife when we come before the clergyman, she will be instantly shot by a concealed foe. I told you truly when I said your fate was sealed. Will you defy me now?”

“Oh, merciful Heaven! I am lost—lost!” shrieked the miserable girl, in a heart-rending voice, as she sank back half fainting upon her seat.

Madame Alroyd sprang frantically forward, and clasping her convulsively in her arms, cried out:

“No, no, my precious darling, it shall not be! You shall 148not sacrifice your life and happiness for such an old and worthless thing as I. You shall defy him at the very altar.”

Then turning with a sort of scornful majesty to Ralph, she added:

“You can have my life and welcome, but you must spare this poor stricken child. She shall never be your wife!”

“And do you think, madam, she would be allowed to escape me, even if your life were sacrificed? No, I want her, not you. I have sworn that mine she shall be, and nothing can turn me aside from the accomplishment of my oath. So prepare yourselves to carry out gracefully the plan for this evening.”

With these heartless words Ralph Moulton turned and disappeared from the room.

“Oh, merciful Father! sustain me in this trying hour,” moaned the fainting girl, as she sank unconscious to the floor.

For hours she lay in this blessed stupor, and only revived to be arrayed for her bridal.


As Ralph withdrew from the presence of those heart-broken women, and was swiftly passing along the narrow corridor to his own apartment, he ran against a fairy form.

She was half enveloped in a cloud of gauzy, spotless lace and dainty ribbons, which she carried in her arms.

With a startled cry, she staggered and would have fallen, had not his quickly outstretched hand caught and upheld her.

Ralph was rewarded by a sweet “thank you,” and a glimpse of a pair of lovely purple-black eyes, which for a moment were roguishly upturned to his, and then vailed beneath their long silken fringes, which drooped low upon her fair, soft cheek.

“I beg your pardon, lady,” said he, gallantly, as he noted her exceeding beauty. “It was very awkward in me to be so heedless.”

149“No harm done, sir, except the tumbling of my laces a little. And that my dear maid can easily remedy,” replied the girl, in clear, bell-like tones, while a deeper color suffused her face, as she noticed the look of ardent admiration.

Her manner was that of a high-bred lady, while her pure English accent showed her to be of that origin.

“May I ask is this in honor of the bridal to-night?” he cunningly asked, as he touched the finery in her arms.

“Yes,” and she laughed a little gleeful laugh; then added, “We do not often have an opportunity to grace a wedding here, so all are striving to look their sweetest and best to-night.”

“You say we; are there more young ladies like yourself here?”

“Yes, oh, yes,” with a deep sigh and a look of sadness. “There are seven, besides the poor young lady who was brought here last evening, and who is to be forced into a marriage to-night.”

“How do you know that the lady is opposed to the union?” he asked, flushing deeply.

“Oh, we found it out, through Nina, who is my maid, and whom I lent to wait upon this unfortunate lady. She says she is the loveliest person she has ever seen, and my faithful girl sobbed like a child while telling me of it.”

“Does she not even except her fair mistress, when she lavishes so much praise upon the captive?” asked Ralph, with a gaze she could not misinterpret.

“Ah! but Nina loves me, and besides, I do not allow her to flatter!” replied the little lady, with an air of reserved dignity.

“I beg pardon again. I realize that I am very unfortunate to-day in my words, as well as my motions. But do you know the gentleman whom this fair young girl is to wed?”

“No, but I think him a heartless wretch!” she returned, with blazing cheeks and flashing eyes, while her little foot came down with a decided pat upon the floor.

“Why so, my little friend?”

“If I were a man do you think I would wish to marry a girl who scorned my love? If it be for revenge that he wishes to wed her, and darken forever her bright young 150life, why, he is more vile than aught else in the world. But to profess to love and wed one who loathed me, my pride would never let me bow so low as that!”

“But,” urged Ralph, uneasily, “look at the case in a different light. Suppose this man had taken a solemn oath that this lovely being should be his wife, what then?”

This little dark-eyed lady was showing him up in colors, altogether too truthful to be agreeable, though he could but admire her for her spirit and honesty, and already he felt his passion for Dora beginning to cool beneath the charms of the more brilliant, yet not more lovely, girl by his side.

“I should say,” she replied, in answer to his question, “that his oath was a most unworthy one, and were better broken than kept. But excuse me. I forget that I am talking very plainly to an entire stranger,” and with a haughty little bow she was turning away when his voice arrested her.

“Stay, please, and I will introduce myself according to rule. I should have done so before, but my awkwardness in obstructing your path has put to flight all my ideas of etiquette. I am Ralph Moulton, at your service.”

He bowed low and gracefully before her as he spoke, for, in spite of her surroundings, he recognized her as a lady noble and pure. Then he added, “Will you kindly return the favor?”

“Certainly. My name is Enid Chichester.”

“And are you and your companions retained as captives here? But I need not ask, for doubtless you are.”

“Yes. I have not seen my bright, beautiful home for two weary years.”

Two sparkling drops struggled up from the liquid depths of her lovely eyes, and rolled like gems over her flushed cheeks, hiding themselves within the folds of the fleecy robes in her hands.

A strange expression gleamed within Ralph Moulton’s eyes as he gazed upon her emotion. One might interpret it thus:

If he had but seen this lovely, friendless little fairy before he had gone to such extremes with Dora, he thought he could have found all the consolation he wished in her smile.

With a sigh, half of regret for himself, and the other 151half of sympathy for her, Ralph Moulton asked, in a low tone:

“Would you accept freedom, Miss Chichester, could it be obtained for you?”

“Would I accept it? Oh, Heaven grant me but this one boon, and no sacrifice would be too great to testify my gratitude!”

“My friend,” he whispered, bending nearer, so that his own dark locks mingled with hers. “Listen. Prepare yourself for the change, and your wish shall be gratified. I pledge you my word that it shall be so.”

“Will you? Oh, thanks, thanks!”

She dropped her laces all in a heap upon the floor, and clasping her hands impulsively around his arm, bowed her dainty head, and sobbed like a child.

Ralph Moulton quivered in every nerve beneath her touch, and the color mounted hotly to his brow. He thought to clasp her in his arms and comfort her, dry her tears, and win back her smile.

But he dared not do it; from his very soul he respected this pure girl, and felt himself unworthy even to touch her robes. If he had not made that rash vow, or even if he had not had this last interview with Dora, all would be well.

He began to feel as if the net he had spread for others was becoming entangled about himself, and the chains which he had prepared for our heroine were beginning to gall him severely.

Cupid was busy at work, but—would he win?

Enid Chichester wept unrestrainedly for a few moments. The hope was so unexpected, she had schooled her heart so long to bear her lot, that this sudden rift in the clouds, revealing the brightness beyond, was too dazzling to her sorrow-shadowed soul, wholly overpowering her.

At last she started suddenly, and said, in a quivering, grateful voice:

“Oh, Mr. Moulton! it was so unexpected I could not help it, and you have my deepest gratitude, even though you should not succeed.”

The look which she shot at him contained something stronger than mere gratitude.

“I am a stranger to you, Miss Chichester. Are you sure that you can trust yourself to me. I fear you look upon me 152as being really better than I am,” he said, searching her face closely, and with a rather remorseful tone.

“I know I can,” she answered, confidently.

“But should I happen to do something, between this and the time that I could effect your escape, that seemed to you most unworthy—that would merit perhaps your sternest disapprobation—what then?”

She looked at him for a moment, with a puzzled air, then smilingly replied:

“If you should—if I should be very, very much displeased with you for anything you might do, still I should feel that there was some good in you—that you were noble and kind at heart—and I should not fear to trust you.”

“I thank you, and bless you for your words. I feel them more deeply than I can express,” returned Ralph, the tears actually springing to his eyes at so much trust and confidence.

He pressed her little hand reverently, and hearing footsteps approaching, he hastily left her, saying he would see her again, and passed on to his room, sadder and more dissatisfied with himself than he had ever been in his life.

He was not all bad, as she had said. There was a germ of truth and goodness within his heart which, if nourished and tended in the sunshine of purity and love, might yet bloom with beauty and fragrance.


Early on the morning of the same day on which Ralph imparted his diabolical design to our heart-broken heroine, two men sat in the room back of the one which was occupied by Squire Moulton and his nephew, at the inn before spoken of.

We recognize them at once—one as its former occupant, Ronald Edgerton, who now sits without his previous disguise; and the other as Fredrich Weimher, Dora’s former friend and lover.

The latter had only a few days before returned from his foreign tour, and immediately on arriving, his first inquiry had been for his old friend, Robert Ellerton.

153He had intended to arrive in season to be present at the commencement exercises, but was unavoidably detained. He was deeply disappointed, for he knew well enough that his friend would take the first honors, and he wished to be among the first to congratulate him upon his success.

Unlike his rival, Ralph Moulton, his noble nature repelled the idea of allowing a feeling of jealousy and ill-will to spring up in his heart because the object of his love refused to listen to his suit.

When Fredrich Weimher was informed of Robert’s sudden disappearance, and also its cause—for in some mysterious way it had leaked out, in defiance of Mr. Ellerton’s reticence upon the subject—he was astonished beyond expression.

But when he learned that his father also had vanished in the same unaccountable manner, together with the horse which he had hired for his ride—and, stranger than all else, leaving his luggage behind him—he looked grave and troubled.

He felt convinced that all was not right, that there was foul play somewhere, and resolved to set himself about unraveling the mystery.

Ronald Edgerton, on hearing of his interest in the matter, sought him out, and taking him to his room, related all he knew of the affair, together with what he had overheard in the closet which communicated with the plotter’s room.

“I know the young man you speak of,” replied Fredrich Weimher, in reply to the other’s story. “I met him several times in New York; he is very fine looking, though his principles are none of the best; still I always felt that there was some good about him. I knew of his admiration for Miss Dupont, and now you say he is going to force her into a marriage with him.”

“Yes, I heard him swear it!” returned the man, with a look of pain upon his rough but fine-looking face.

“But they have left the place, I hear,” said Fredrich.

“They started to leave the place last night,” replied Edgerton, in a whisper, “but were intercepted about five miles from here, their driver knocked senseless from his seat, which was immediately occupied by another man, and the unfortunate ladies driven off to a place of security.”

“How do you know all this?”

154“Partly from the coachman himself, whom I discovered lying half dead upon the ground, where he had fallen, and partly from my own knowledge of what is transpiring among these regions.”

“Where is the man now?” asked Fredrich.

“He is safe, and under good care; and no one knows anything about the affair except those who have the charge of him and myself. Of course,” he added, “I mean aside from those who instigated the deed.”

“Who do you think are the instigators? Do you think the Moultons would dare commit such an act, and if so, where have they carried their captives?”

“I know that, personally, Squire Moulton and his nephew had nothing to do with the abduction, but that it was some one or two of the smugglers who did it for them, and for their money. I also know where they are at the present moment.”

“The smugglers?” ejaculated Fredrich Weimher, springing eagerly to his feet. “Ah! I know where their den is, and we will organize a party at once, and go to the rescue of my friend and his bride.”

“But how will you enter their den, as you call it? That is a secret which but very few even of their own band is possessed of.”

“How do you know?” demanded Fredrich Weimher, regarding the man searchingly.

“Because I am one of them,” he replied, boldly meeting his glance.


“Yes, I!”

“Then you are, after all, an enemy to those whom I would serve,” returned Fredrich, sternly.

The strange man smiled, and Fredrich Weimher, fearing that he had been willfully duped, said sharply:

“Do you mean me to understand that you are in league against these people?”

“To that question I can answer both yes and no,” he calmly returned. “I am a friend, and yet I am an enemy.”

“Explain yourself.”

“I will; listen. I have followed these Moultons everywhere for a long time, for I know what their aim has been. I have watched every footstep since they came here, but in a complete and safe disguise. Look!”

155He opened the drawer in the table before which they sat, and, taking out a wig and heavy pair of whiskers, put them on.

“Ah! I should never know you for the same man,” exclaimed Fredrich, in surprise; then asked, “But why is this disguise necessary? Do they know you?”

“Because,” he answered, as he removed the wig and whiskers and replaced them in the drawer, “I have been a sort of ally of the squire’s in my present character, and am therefore in the secret of what he is up to.”

“My friend, if I indeed can call you so, you surprise me more and more; you are a mystery, and I scarcely know whether to call you friend or foe,” said Weimher, with a troubled look.

“I will soon convince you with regard to that,” returned Edgerton, with a peculiar smile. “I have told you that I am one of the smugglers’ band, and I will now explain how it happens. Some few years ago, while I was in the United States, I came across a couple of fellows—I call them fellows, because they appeared to be rough, rude men when I first saw them, though they had known better days. They were sons of an Italian nobleman, and were on the track of this very self-same squire. Ah! I tell you he has been a wicked one in his day,” said the man, with a gleam of hate in his eye.

“I believe you; but go on,” returned Fredrich, earnestly.

“It seems that he, Moulton, had married their only sister secretly, and then, on discovering that her father was insolvent, deserted her, proclaiming their marriage a farce, and leaving her to bear alone the cruel sufferings of poverty and childbirth. She died when the child was born—a beautiful girl, the image of her mother—and the brothers took their oath that they would hunt the villain to his death. They had a small fortune of their own, but spent it all before they had got any trace of him, and as a last resort joined this band of smugglers, which has branches all over the world; but this place seems to be the principal rendezvous, and I assure you it is no ‘den,’ but a veritable palace. People have an idea that it is somewhere in the region of that ledge of rocks yonder, and have sought it for years, but have been wholly unsuccessful as yet.

“As I was saying, these Italians were on some business for the band when I came across them, and, learning their 156story and object, I told them mine, at the same time expressing a wish to join them. They gladly took me as a companion, and since then I have worked in unison with them.”

“But I do not understand yet why you should be such an enemy to him. How has he injured you?”

“No, I suppose you don’t; but wait awhile and I shall come to that part of it.”

He arose as he spoke, and going to his toilet-stand, rubbed something over his face and then washed it thoroughly; he then brushed his rough locks in the style of the present day, then removed a heavy pair of eyebrows and his mustache, and, going to his wardrobe, exchanged his rough smuggler’s jacket for a finer and more stylish covering.

Not until he had made a complete transformation did he again turn to his visitor, who had been watching him curiously during these strange proceedings.

“Zounds!” exclaimed Fredrich Weimher, more than ever astonished, and gazing in perplexity at the wonderful change which he had effected. “Who are you, that you adopt so readily and so cleverly such different characters?”

It was no wonder that he exclaimed, for the transformation was more complete than the previous disguise had been.

Edgerton had washed off the swarthy hue that had hitherto been upon his face, revealing a clear though rather dark complexion. His eyes, which before with their heavy eyebrows had looked fierce and evil, now had a mild and genial expression, and his mouth was very handsome, the lips being thin and finely curved, which, with the change in his apparel, made him look like a highly educated, intelligent, and polished gentleman.

“Listen, my friend,” he said, seating himself again, still in his new character; “you shall know my whole story before we part, and then judge for yourself whether I am an interested party in the treacherous plot this gray-headed sinner is at work upon.”

He ground his white, even teeth as he uttered these last words.

“Do you know, sir, that there is a familiar look about you since this last change. I think I must have met you before somewhere,” said Fredrich Weimher, regarding his companion earnestly.

157“No, I think not,” he returned, with a smile. “But you may be able to account for that familiarity when I tell you who I really am. Come nearer, for I would not have even a breath of what I am about to relate heard, before the time comes for me to reveal myself. My name is——”

He dropped his voice to the lowest whisper, and Fredrich Weimher sprang to his feet, startled and amazed.

“Hush!” said his companion; “you have not yet heard all.”

Then he continued to speak in low, rapid tones for nearly half an hour.

When he had finished, the young man sat looking at him in wondering silence for a moment, then grasping his hand, he shook it warmly, while a smile of sympathetic triumph suffused his face as he exclaimed:

“I see it all now! I understand! Oh, I almost envy you your triumph; and yet there must be something of bitterness in it. But I trust all is not as bad as you anticipate, and that it will all end well.”

“Heaven grant it!” returned the strange man, earnestly, while a tear for a moment dimmed his fine eye. “But we must to work at once,” he added, with energy, “for they will make quick business now they have the game in their hands, you may be sure, and the odds are against us.”

“How so? It seems to me that it will be a very easy matter to raise a company of daring men, enter their den, and release the captives,” said Fredrich.

“Yes, but there is the trouble. How are we going to enter it?”

“Do you not know the way?” asked the young man, in surprise.

“I know the entrance by the way of the water well enough, but not that by land. But it will be necessary for a party to enter both ways, for there are so many passages and secret doors that they will escape us unless they find themselves between two fires. My plan is for you to go one way and I the other, and if no alarm is given before we reach the principal room, to station a guard before each entrance to it; and then it will be impossible for them to resist us.”

“But why before this particular room?”

“Because I heard it hinted that the ceremony is to be 158performed at seven to-night, and in that case every one will be there to witness it.”

“Heavens! we have got to work with a will. I think your plan is excellent, though I know nothing of the interior of this wonderful place; but I can solve the difficulty about the land entrance easily enough.”

“You!” returned Ronald Edgerton, amazed.

We must continue to know this man of triple character by that name, at least for the present.

“Yes, I, for strange though it may seem, I know of one way to enter that place, and I believe it is the principal one too. I will tell you how it happened:

“Several years ago I was straying about that ledge of rocks, hunting up geological specimens, when I saw strange maneuvering among some men at the base of them. I resolved to know what was going on, and crept slyly toward the place, shielding myself as well as I could from observation by the rocks and bushes. Nearer and nearer I went, until I could hear their voices quite plainly, and at length I made a bold push, darted across an open space like the wind, and crouched panting and half frightened behind a rock so near them that I could see every face, and hear every word that was spoken. You can imagine that my alarm was somewhat increased when at something that was said I discovered them to be the smugglers that I had heard so much about. I was half tempted to retreat, but feared they would see me, and there was just danger enough in my situation to give spice to the adventure, so I resolved to remain in my hiding-place until they were gone, and learn all I could.

“Presently I saw a little fellow go three paces forward alone, then stamp three time upon the ground. Suddenly it seemed as if a portion of the solid rock was swung back upon a pivot; the men entered, and the rock closed again. I thought I would just creep forward and examine this strange entrance into the solid granite, and accordingly went cautiously toward the place. I stood, as nearly as I could judge, upon the spot where I saw the boy stand. I then walked three paces forward, and carefully examined the surface of the rock before me.

“It was some time before I could make out anything. Then I found a very fine crack, and tracing it, found it surrounded a nearly square block of stone, about five or six feet 159each way. I was very much delighted with my discovery, for I felt convinced that I had now found out the much talked of smugglers’ cave, that so many people had tried in vain to find.

“But my joy was suddenly turned into terror, as a heavy hand was laid upon my shoulder, and a gruff voice demanded:

“‘Well, youngster, what are you looking for here?’

“‘I—I—was hunting for specimens,’ I replied, in confusion, while my heart beat like a trip-hammer.

“‘No use trying to come that, you little Paul Pry. I’ve been watching you for some minutes, and I rather think you have got yourself into a scrape with your meddlesome disposition.’

“He shook me roughly, and I began to think my doom was surely sealed, for he made as though he was about to give the signal to enter the cave. But I begged so piteously to be let off, promising I would never tell what I had seen, that after a few moments spent in meditation he said:

“‘Well, then, down on your knees, and swear that you will never tell any one where the entrance you have discovered is.’

“I immediately obeyed, glad enough to get off on any terms, and then he let me go.

“I assure you I never ventured within a mile of that region alone again, and I have kept my promise not to tell any one what I saw. I shall still keep my oath, and not tell, but I shall now avail myself of the knowledge I possess, and go and force an entrance with a strong party at my heels.”

“My young friend, you are really very fortunate,” said Edgerton, who had been much interested in his account. “Your knowledge will be of great service, for we shall surely capture this notorious band, which for so many years has overrun the country, and done so much wickedness. It is settled, then. I will blockade the entrance from the water, while you force the one by land. In this way we shall take them by surprise, and everything will work to our advantage. I will go now and enlist my men, and if I have the opportunity give a hint of what we are up to, to the Italian brothers. They will greatly facilitate the work for us. In the meantime do you make your preparations, and remember one thing, to go well armed. We may not need 160to fight at all, for if things are as I think they are, the whole band (or what there is of them at home now) will be unarmed while they witness the ceremony. In that case they will all be at our mercy. Still, we must not neglect to take plenty of weapons.”

“Very well; where shall we meet?” asked Fredrich Weimher, his handsome face all aglow with excitement.

“I will have the men scattered near the place; it will not do to have them go in a body, lest some of the band should see them and give the alarm. I will notify them to secrete themselves near the spot, with the understanding that when they hear a short, sharp whistle, they collect directly behind the little cottage, where you say the entrance is. Of course you will have to be on the lookout and choose your time. At the same time, I, on hearing the signal, will enter the passage in boats from the sea with my own men.”

“That is well. And now at what hour shall I give the signal?”

“A little before seven will be a good hour; it is quite dark at that time. I will go at once and make arrangements, for we have no time to lose.”

With which words Ronald Edgerton arose, resumed his disguise, and both departed to prepare for the exciting and perilous adventure of the evening.


Seven o’clock came, and Dora sat, pale as the robes in which she was arrayed, awaiting the appearance of her persecutor, who was to lead her forth to such a heartless sacrifice.

Very, very lovely she looked in her misty dress of costly lace over glimmering satin.

Nina, ever ready to entertain, had related the history of those fatal robes while decking our wretched heroine.

She shuddered as she heard the story, and felt as if she were being arrayed in a shroud instead of bridal attire.

The dress had been provided for a beautiful lady, brought there like Dora against her will, and whom on seeing, one of the smugglers had become very much enamored with, and desired to marry her. She indignantly refused his suit, but preparations were made for the bridal, the dress 161and its paraphernalia were all in readiness, but when the time came the bride was missing.

Every vault and passage was explored, but without success, until at last her body was found floating in the sea.

She had found a passage leading to it, and had cast herself into it rather than become the bride of such a wretch.

Poor Dora! no wonder her heart shrunk within her at this sad story. But she would gladly have followed the unfortunate lady’s example had the opportunity offered.

Only once did she betray the slightest interest about her apparel, and that was when Nina placed a very large casket before her, and opening it, began to fasten the elegant jewels which lay within it upon her person.

Then for a few moments her eye brightened at beholding so much magnificence.

There were bracelets, ear-rings and necklace; a coronet with which to fasten the vail, from which hung graceful and delicate pendants; little tassels and ornaments to loop up the long, full skirt; a pair of dainty slippers, embroidered in strange devices with the same costly gems; and a girdle for the waist, from which depended two superb tassels, one before, and one behind, and which outrivaled anything that our heroine’s most brilliant imagination had ever pictured.

Madam Alroyd, even through her tears, could not help exclaiming:

“Oh, how lovely!” as Nina clasped the last ornament in its place, and stepped back to note the effect.

She then gently led the fair girl before a full length mirror, and entreated her to look.

Dora raised her sad, lovely eyes, and gazed upon her reflected image, and realized for an instant that she was indeed surpassingly beautiful; but with a shudder she covered her face with her white-gloved hands.

“Oh, Robbie! Robbie!” she exclaimed, as the extent of her shattered hopes rushed over her.

With unsteady steps she walked to a chair, upon which she sat, with clasped hands and a stony heart, waiting for the fatal summons.

It came before she was aware of it.

A curtain noiselessly swung aside, and Ralph Moulton entered.

162He stopped spell-bound at sight of the vision before him, and the cloud that had hung on his brow ever since he had parted from little black-eyed Enid Chichester vanished in the presence of his elegant bride-elect.

She did not move, for she had not heard nor seen him enter.

He passed swiftly to her side, bent upon one knee, and taking her icy hand, pressed a passionate kiss upon it.

Then she started as if an asp had stung her, and spurned him from her with loathing. Rising, she stood haughtily erect, and fixed her flashing eyes full upon him.

He arose also, not in the least disturbed at his reception, and bowing low before her, said in tones of earnest admiration:

“My bride, my queen, I am overwhelmed with so much loveliness, and my heart exults with pride over your exquisite beauty.”

Still he heaved a little sigh as his mind wandered involuntarily to the fair Enid.

The hour had arrived, the clergyman was waiting, and Ralph offered Dora his arm, saying, imperatively:


“Go, and I will follow; but I will not touch you until I am obliged to,” she said, icily.

Somewhat crest-fallen he obeyed, turned, and led the way from the room, followed by the three sorrowful women.

They passed through several brilliantly lighted corridors, and at length paused before a wide entrance, draped with heavy curtains, before which stood two pages.

There was a confused murmur of voices within, as if a large company were assembled, and waiting for the appearance of the bridal party.

Dora gasped once or twice, but made no other sign to reveal the struggles of her almost breaking heart.

Without a word Ralph stepped to her side, and taking her hand, drew it within his arm; then making a sign to the pages, the curtains were suddenly swept aside, revealing the magnificent and brilliantly lighted drawing-room, into which Robert was conducted on the night of his capture.

A murmur of admiration greeted the ears of the party as they thus stood revealed to the company within.

163At one end of the room there had been erected an altar, over which was a canopy of white velvet looped with gold cord and tassels, a most graceful and elegant affair. The floor of the altar was likewise carpeted with white velvet, with a delicate vine of gold trailing over it.

Thither Ralph proceeded, leading his fair and lovely bride. They reached it, ascended the steps, and placed themselves in position, waiting for the clergyman to speak the words which should make them one.

He arose, an old, gray-headed man, with a sad, pale face, and who glanced with compassion at the white, rigid countenance of Dora.

He knew she was an unwilling bride, and his heart ached in sympathy for the anguish so plainly stamped upon her features, and he rebelled against performing such a mockery in the sight of Heaven.

But he was powerless, for he himself was a prisoner within those vaults, and had received his orders to pronounce them man and wife in defiance of all opposition, or his own life would pay the forfeit.

The assembled guests consisted of about fifty persons in all, and comprised twenty-five of the band of smugglers, most of the captives, and the servants.

All were clad befitting the occasion, and conspicuous among the company were the seven lovely girls before alluded to, all of whom were robed in spotless white.

Near the altar, and with a smile of fiendish exultation upon his evil face, stood Squire Moulton.

He was muttering to himself, in a satisfied sort of tone (a habit he had recently acquired), at the smooth way his plans were working.

“One scene more in this drama, and my revenge will be complete, and then I will rest awhile!” he said.

Ah! thou soulless reprobate! Several scenes more will pass before your gaze ere you shall take your rest!

There was a sudden hush as Father Francis (as he was called) passed slowly from his seat to the foot of the altar.

Faint and trembling the tones fell from his lips as he began the ceremony, and Ralph Moulton felt himself shudder, and his flesh creep, as they floated up through space, and died away in the lofty, brilliantly gemmed vault above them.

The demand came forth, solemnly and fearfully.

164“Wilt thou take her whom you hold by the hand to be your true and lawfully wedded wife, to love, honor, and cherish while life doth last?”

“I will!”

Then, with a tear moistening his sunken eye, the holy man turned to the cold, white statue leaning on Ralph’s arm.

“Will you take him who stands by your side to be your true and lawful husband, to love, honor, and obey until death doth part you?”

The hush of death was on the air, an awful stillness reigned, while the clergyman waited for the expected response.

It came not; the white lips moved not—the pale eyelids did not even quiver, and the bosom scarcely fluttered!

Ralph Moulton might have been wedded to a marble statue, for all the reply that could be gained from that calm, cold creature at his side.

He scowled angrily; he grasped the hand he held with such cruel force that at any other time she would have fainted with the pain.

All to no purpose, however, for not a muscle moved, not a sound or motion escaped her, that could be construed into a token of either assent or refusal.

Again the voice of the priest rang out; this time full and clear, almost with a note of warning in its tones——

“Does any one here present know any reason why the banns of matrimony should not be sealed between these two? If so, in the name of Heaven I command you, speak.”

It was an awful moment!

The clergyman raised his clear eyes with an air of almost inspired authority, and scanned every face before him. But not a glance answered his, every orb drooped before his earnest, thrilling gaze, and every face wore a look of conscious guilt.

Each and every one realized the sacrilegiousness of the act, and those who would have answered that solemn appeal dared not; and in that breathless, voiceless silence the fatal, mocking words were spoken, the holy man himself shuddering as he uttered them.

“I pronounce you husband and wife; and what God has joined together let not man put asunder!”

A startling, piercing, horrible shriek instantly followed, 165and that white-robed form dropped senseless at Ralph Moulton’s feet.

“Hold!” thundered a deep, full voice. “I forbid the banns!”

“Too late! too late!” chattered the squire, starting forward, and wringing his hands with malicious triumph.


Every eye was turned like a flash upon the intruder, and the chief, with a fearful oath, sprang toward him, with a gleam of startled fear in his eye notwithstanding his dauntless bearing.

He would have seized in his rough grasp him who had thus defied him in his den; but stepping back a pace or two, Fredrich Weimher turned his flashing eyes full upon the towering form before him, and said, in clear, ringing tones:

“Not another step, sir! I warn you!”

His heavy revolver was raised, and covered the defeated villain’s heart, and grinding his teeth in bitter rage, he retreated a step, for he saw that courage and determination lurked in the young man’s eyes.

He could not help admiring him too, for, though armed to the teeth, few would have dared to come into the presence of so large a number of his band, even though they were entirely defenseless.

He could not account for the strange circumstance. How could he have gained an entrance to his fortress? There must be treachery somewhere, unless——A sudden thought struck him; he looked again, and then his eyes gleamed with such a fire of rage and hate that a stronger man than he might have quailed beneath it.

“Ha!” he roared; “I know you now!—curses on you! You shall not escape me a second time! Fool that I was, not to finish you when I had the chance!”

“Sir?” demanded Fredrich, in his turn surprised.

“Sir! You needn’t sir me, you young Paul Pry; I told you your meddlesome disposition would yet lead you into trouble.”

“Ah! yes, now I understand you, although for the moment 166I did not recognize you,” replied Fredrich, smiling calmly.

“And you have broken your oath never to reveal to mortal man what you knew of this place,” returned the chief, more and more amazed at his calm, self-possessed manner, while those around were speechless with surprise, that any one should thus dare to “beard the lion in his lair.”

“How do you know I have broken my oath?”

“How do I know? Is not your presence here alone sufficient proof? Who is your companion in this hazardous expedition?”

“If you remember rightly, my oath was worded thus—that I would never tell any one where the entrance to the cave was to be found. I have literally kept my word. I have not told, but I have come myself to release my friends whom you hold as captives. I have come to stop that fiendish business,” he said, pausing, and pointing to Dora’s lifeless form. “That villain says I am too late; but a short time will serve to prove that I am not.”

“Curse you! do you think I am going to stand this insolence, and from a mere boy? Seize him, and bind him instantly!” he cried, turning to his band, and fairly foaming at the mouth with rage.

Several men sprang forward to do his bidding, while he shouted to the rest:

“To arms, all of you! There is a traitor in the camp, I’ll swear.”


The word was echoed from a dozen different points of that enormous room, and instantly the drapery was swept aside from as many places, and from each entrance emerged five or six stalwart men, with pistols cocked, and otherwise armed to the teeth.

Every smuggler stood mute and terror-stricken; they saw at once the fearful odds against them, and knew that resistance would be useless. In sullen silence they awaited the result of this fearful and unexpected interruption of their wedding gayeties.

“Edgerton, place your men in position, and shoot the first man that moves or resists,” commanded Fredrich Weimher, in a clear, ringing tone.

Ronald Edgerton and about twenty-five men filed along 167at one end of the room, and at a word of command from him each raised his weapon, and held it ready for action.

The smugglers gazed in terror around, but every entrance had an armed sentinel, and not a chance of escape was possible.

“Forward and bind these villains, every one of them!” shouted Fredrich, and boldly springing forward to lead the attack.

The scene which followed was exciting beyond description.

Those great lawless men, who for years had fearlessly roamed the world at large, committing their crimes, and the most daring acts conceivable—who were a terror and a dread to all who knew of their existence—were now rendered powerless in a single instant.

The fame of an artist, who could have faithfully transferred to his canvas that brilliant, gorgeous room, with its strange and excited occupants, would forever have been established, and his praises sung throughout the world.

See them!

That company of conquerors, with their flushed, eager faces, weapons raised and aimed at the hearts of the baffled villains, Fredrich Weimher’s men, with coils of stout cord in their hands, and in the act of springing forward to bind their helpless foes.

The smugglers, with their sullen, terror-pale faces, their confused and faltering manner, gazing half beseechingly, half menacingly at their hitherto infallible chief, who, with white and foaming lips, frantic eyes, despairing mien, stood stunned and dismayed before them. While on one side were the beautiful maidens, huddled together, shivering and gazing with a sort of horrible fascination upon the scene before them, though in their faces one might read of hopeful hearts beating beneath their colorless features.

Opposite this group, and seated upon the floor of the altar, was Madame Alroyd, holding the senseless bride clasped in her trembling arms, while Ralph, the clergyman, and Nina were bending anxiously over them, and applying restoratives.

Last, but not least, was the astonished squire, who stood with his gray locks streaming back, his eyes protruding from their sockets, his face shrunken and livid with fear 168and rage, while his hands worked backward and forward, and his whole attitude betraying uncertainty and doubt.

They seized and bound the much-dreaded chief first, who, though he cursed and raved fearfully, dared not offer resistance. The rest, now that their leader was secured, were a comparatively easy conquest, though the words which fell from their lips were horrible to hear, and the expression of their faces fearful to behold.

There were only about twenty-five of them present, and these were all quickly and firmly bound, and then placed under a guard upon one side of the room.

When the last one was disposed of those lovely captives could restrain themselves no longer. They clasped each other in their arms, weeping and laughing by turns for joy.

They felt that their time for release was near at hand, that loving arms would soon encircle them, and hearts that long since mourned them as dead would beat once again with joy and thankfulness at their resurrection, as it were.

Vivien Lamerack, or Moulton, alone had retained her self-possession through the whole scene, and now stood regarding the handsome leader of this glorious enterprise, her lovely, earnest eyes filled with profoundest admiration.

Poor Enid Chichester knew nothing whatever of what was transpiring around her, for the moment the curtains had parted, revealing Ralph leading in his lovely bride, she had uttered a faint cry, and then sunk softly down into the depths of a massive chair and quietly swooned away; and there she had remained, wholly unconscious, no one noticing or realizing what had happened to her, so intent were all upon the exciting scene before her.

Ralph’s whole attention, after the first moment of startled surprise, had been devoted to his senseless bride, who continued to lay pale and still, as if death had already claimed her for his own. When he would have raised her in his arms Madame Alroyd waved him sternly off, and taking her to her own heart, bent with streaming eyes over her, calling pitifully upon her to awake, while Ralph at last, conscience-stricken, remained standing silently and sadly by.

Suddenly he raised his eyes, and saw his uncle stealing noiselessly toward one of the outlets of the room.

There was a most sinister expression upon his evil face, 169which, upon interpreting, Ralph’s heart grew still with a deathly horror for a moment, then instantly bounding with new life and a sudden determination, he left the sad group at the altar and quickly followed his retreating figure.

The squire, on lifting the drapery at the door, discovered a guard; but a lightning blow dropped him senseless, and he sped with flying steps in the direction of Mr. Ellerton’s cell, feeling the sharp edge of a dagger as he went, and muttering to himself:

“Now’s my time—now’s my time!”


Suddenly Vivien started forward, and gliding quickly up to Fredrich Weimher’s side, said sweetly, while her face flushed crimson beneath his gaze of admiration:

“Will you allow me to leave this place for a few minutes? Nay,” she added, quickly, as she saw him hesitate and glance suspiciously at her, “it is only good that I would do. I would liberate one who has mourned in vain for freedom, and if I mistake not, one whom you came to release to-day.”

“His name?” eagerly cried the young man.

“Robert Ellerton!” she answered.

“Yes, lady, yes, you shall be allowed to go wherever you choose; and if you will allow me I will accompany you, for he is the dearest friend I have.”

She smiled an assent, and offering her his arm, they proceeded from the room.

She led him through several passages and rooms, he gazing with wonder as he went at everything he saw, until at length they stopped before the glass door through which Robert had gazed down upon the six lovely girls.

She took a tiny key from her pocket and unlocked the door; leading him within, she asked him to be seated while she went to summon his friend.

He took the seat indicated, but said, as she was turning away:

“Stay, lady, one moment, and tell me, first, if I am, indeed, too late to prevent that sacrilegious ceremony, as that old villain said?”

170“You are, indeed!” she said, sadly. “The fatal words were but just spoken as you entered; the shriek you heard was one of despair, that she was too truly the wife of a man whom she detested and loathed.”

“I am grieved,” he replied, “for I would have saved Miss Dupont the suffering of being compelled to go through with such a trial. But it will never be recognized as a legal marriage; she is as free as ever, and can choose for herself whom she will marry; and I have not much doubt what that choice will be,” he added, with a smile.

Vivien’s fair face glowed with joy, as she replied:

“I am rejoiced more than I can express to hear you say this, for my heart has been filled with sorrow at the young lady’s fate, and I dared not tell Mr. Ellerton lest it should drive him to some act of desperation.”

“How is it that you are allowed to associate with one who is held so close a prisoner as my friend?”

“I am not allowed. He by accident discovered a secret passage leading from his room into this. Since then we have passed many pleasant hours in each other’s society.

“He has told me his history, and the reason why he was enticed here. Though he never imagined that his lovely bride was to be brought here to be sacrificed.”

The lovely eyes filled with tears of sympathy, while her cheeks were crimson, with the excitement which she had undergone that day.

He gazed upon her with profound admiration, and every time the sweet tones fell upon his ear his heart quickened its pulsations, and he felt the blood leap madly in his veins.

At last he said, respectfully:

“Will you tell me your name, lady? I am grateful for the consolation which I know your society must have been to my deeply tried friend.”

Her lips quivered painfully, and the hot blood swept over cheek, neck, and brow, as she replied:

“My true name is Vivien Moulton, but——”

“Ah!” he exclaimed, springing quickly to his feet. “And that vil—I beg your pardon, Miss Moulton.”

He stopped in confusion, for his mind instantly reverted to the story which Ronald Edgerton had related to him that morning, and he saw at once that he was reviling one who was intimately connected with the fair girl before him.

“Yes, that wicked man is my father, and though my 171heart almost breaks with the knowledge, yet it is none the less true,” she returned, sadly.

“And did you know that he was present to witness the ceremony this evening?”

“What! here?” she almost shrieked, starting toward him with clasped hands and pale face.

“Yes, my friend, here. Did you not notice that bent, gray-haired man, who came forward as I entered the place? That was Ralph Moulton.”

She shuddered, and covered her white face with her hands. She had noticed that ugly, sinister face, and in her heart she had hated him, though she could not have told why had she been asked.

Fredrich Weimher arose, and taking her by the hand, led her gently to a seat.

“Pardon me,” he said, “for arousing such unpleasant feelings; he may indeed be unfortunately allied to you by blood, but surely the sacred name of ‘father’ can never be breathed by your pure lips to one such as he. You cannot recognize him by any such tie when he has willfully forfeited all such claim.

“Never,” she replied. “Though it is deeply humiliating to me to know that I am indeed the child of one who is so base.”

The tears burst passionately from her beautiful eyes as she finished.

“Do not weep; he is not worthy that you should shed a tear for him. Believe me, you have my deepest sympathy. I know your history, and before I saw you my heart bled for your sufferings and your wrongs.”

His voice had softened to its tenderest accents, and its tones were very sweet and pleasant to the young and almost friendless girl’s ears.

She raised her head, and gazed with gratitude for a moment into his expressive eyes; and she saw within them that which made her own droop instantly, while the rich crimson tide again rushed upward, suffusing her whole face. He could not resist giving the delicate hand he held just the least little bit of a pressure, then hastened to relieve her confusion by asking:

“Did you not know the young man who officiated as bridegroom in the heartless mockery you have just witnessed? Your words lead me to infer as much.”

172“No,” she answered. “We were so excited over Miss Dupont’s sufferings, that we never thought to ask who her persecutor was. Our thoughts and sympathies were only for her. Do you know him?”

“Yes, I know him well. I met him in New York, where we both first met Miss Dupont.”

“And his name?” she asked.

“Shall I tell you—can you bear to know it?”

“Why not? Oh, yes—quick—your face tells me that it is one in whom I am interested,” she said, breathlessly.

“Nay, do not be alarmed; he can never do you harm. His name is also Ralph Moulton, his——”

“His son—oh, no—do not tell me that I have a brother, too, who is steeped in crime,” she moaned, in a voice of anguish.

“Forgive me, my friend, for thus causing you to suffer. He is no brother of yours, but a nephew of the elder Moulton.”

“Thank Heaven that he is no nearer to me than a cousin!” she said, with a sigh of relief, then added: “And I thank Heaven too, sir, that you have come here to-day; for of course all these unfortunate captives will be restored to their homes and friends. But—please—will you not tell me who their deliverer is?”

“I do not claim to be their deliverer; I am only working in unison with others. But my name is Fredrich Weimher.”

“Oh, yes! I know you now. Mr. Ellerton has told me all about you,” she returned, with a brilliant smile. “But come, we have nearly forgotten him; let us hasten to impart to him the glad tidings that he is once more free!”

“In one moment. But tell me that when we leave this place to-night you will accompany us,” he asked, with an expression of his eyes that revealed much more of meaning than his words conveyed.

“I would gladly do so, but my uncles, who will probably remain here for the present, must decide my destiny. They are all the friends I have,” she replied.

“I know they are all the relatives you have, but I cannot leave this place until you are free. If I can gain their consent, will you make one of Miss Dupont’s party, until other arrangements can be made for you? This is no fitting place for a lady!”

173“Willingly, with Miss Dupont’s leave,” she smiled.

“Thanks,” he returned, fervently.

“And now I am ready to go to my friend.”

She turned, and sweeping aside the drapery, pressed upon a spring, and the heavy stone before mentioned swung back.

She then blew a tiny silver whistle which hung at her girdle, and stood waiting.

Almost instantly Robert Ellerton parted the hangings in his room and appeared.

“Mr. Ellerton, come quick!” she exclaimed, her beautiful face all aglow with glad triumph.

There was a joyous ring in her voice that made him quicken his steps, and he had hardly entered her boudoir when his hand was warmly grasped, and the word “Robert!” was uttered in familiar and welcome tones.

“Fredrich! Heaven bless you, my boy, how came you here?”

Gently as they could they told him the whole story, and notwithstanding that he was somewhat prepared to learn that harm had happened to his darling, still his suffering was pitiful when he learned the extent to which the villains had carried their vile plottings.

Dora herself was not paler than he at this moment, and they had hardly finished their account, when he sprang wildly to his feet and begged them to take him to her.

Vivien went up to him and said, gently:

“My dear friend, I beg that you will be calm. Miss Dupont had fainted when we came for you, and it would unnerve her again to see you thus moved, if she should be recovered.”

“Thanks, my sweet sister, for your kindly warning; I will be calm, but I beg you will not keep me longer here.”

He dashed through the entrance of the room as he spoke, in direct contradiction of his previous assertion that he would be calm; but he soon stopped and waited for Vivien to come up with him, for he did not know one step of the way through those intricate passages.

At last they entered the spacious room.

Wholly unmindful of the conquered chief, who gazed at him with black and threatening looks, passing over with one swift glance of his eye every inmate of the place, until his gaze fell upon the group at the altar, when with one 174bound and a wild cry of joy, Robert sprang to Dora’s side, and seizing her in his arms, pressed kiss after kiss upon her cold lips, while he murmured tenderest words of endearment in her dull ears.

As if in answer to his beseeching eyes, and the earnest, touching appeals which fell from his lips, she revived there in his arms.

A faint tinge of color crept into the death-white lips, the heavy eyelids fluttered, unclosed, and closed again, then flew wide open, revealing the blue orbs beneath, which fixed their astonished gaze full upon the loving, tender face bending above her.

A smile of rapture overspread her features, and nestling closer in his arms, she murmured:

“Oh, Robbie, am I dead—and is this heaven? When did you die? I thought you did not love me, but you do!”

“No, darling, you are not dead, but, thank Heaven, living, breathing still, and my own little wife once again.”

“Where am I?” she asked, glancing above at the brilliant, sparkling vault, with a perplexed look.

“Safe, safe, my precious, and nothing shall ever part us again.”

She closed her eyes again wearily, and heaving a deep, satisfied sigh, as a tired child in its mother’s arms might have done, laid her soft cheek against his throbbing heart.

He watched her anxiously for a few moments, until suddenly he saw the crimson tide of life surge swiftly up, covering her fair face with its deepest hue.

Then an expression of keenest anguish settled around her quivering lips, and plowed deep furrows in the smooth white brow, and with a quick motion she slid from his clasping arms, covering her face with her hands.

“What is it, darling? Come back to me again,” he said, earnestly, while a pained look settled over his features.

But when he would have taken her to him, she motioned him away.

“No, no I cannot, I dare not—they have married me to—to—oh, heaven! it shall not be, I will not have it so!” she shudderingly answered, while she crouched in anguish at his feet.

He knelt beside her, and again drew her to him, saying:

“Darling, you are not that rascal’s wife, except by your sweet will. A forced marriage is no marriage. Look up, 175Brightie, you are mine yet, and I shall never let you go, until you bid me give you up.”

She looked up, a faint smile for a moment wreathing her pale lips; but it quickly faded, and again releasing herself from his clasp, she said, sorrowfully:

“No, I am not yours—you do not want me, else why did you send me that horrible paper to sign? And that cruel letter——”

“What paper? What letter? I know not what you mean!”

“Oh, don’t you!” she cried, wildly starting to her feet, then said, gravely, looking him full in the eye, “Robert Ellerton, do you indeed speak truly? Oh, I will bless you all the days of my life if you will tell me you did not write them.”

She stretched out her clasped hands to him with such an eager, wistful look, that his heart ached within him, for he knew that, like himself, she must have suffered untold agony, and that in some way she had been led to believe him untrue to her.

He took the little clasped hands tenderly in his own, and said, gazing earnestly in her eyes:

“Dora, my own, I do not understand what you mean; tell me what it is that has caused your love to turn from me?”

“Oh, not my love! That has always been yours; it is yours now and forever,” she sobbed, bowing her head, and resting it upon her clasped hands.

“Well, then, explain what has caused this mistrust in me.”

He drew her head to his bosom, and there she told him all. And he realized how near he had come to losing her, how cunningly the plot had been laid, and in his heart he blessed his friend, Fredrich Weimher, that he had come in time to save her. When she finished, he said:

“My darling, I never penned one word of what you have repeated to me; both the letter and the paper which you signed were gross forgeries. You remember the dainty little bouquet which you threw to me; for a moment after I read the note which you concealed in it, I was so overwhelmed with joy—with the knowledge that you of all others were there to congratulate me upon my honors, that I was fairly dizzy; my head began to swim, and a mist was 176before my eyes. When I had collected myself sufficiently to glance at you, intending to look the love and joy I could not speak, you were leaving the hall. I started up, and was hastening after you, when a boy handed me a note, purporting to be from my father. It proved, like what you received, to be a forgery—a decoy to lure me here, where I have been detained as a prisoner ever since. You can imagine something of my agony and indignation, especially when I heard of the foul wrong that was being meditated against you. I have mourned and prayed, but all was of no avail. Now that I have you safe once again, I cannot be thankful enough.” He smiled, fondly drawing her closer to him, then added, slyly: “And if you really feel that you have signed away your right in me, why, we can make it all right again, in a very short time.”

She hid her now radiant and blushing face upon his shoulder, and whispered:

“But am I really and truly free from that horrid man—free to choose for myself?”

“Yes, Brightie, you are free to give your own precious self to whom you will. Must I ask again for my wife?”

He raised her head and gazed earnestly in her happy eyes. They told him all he wished to know, but her answer filled his cup of joy full to overflowing.

“No, Robbie; I am blessed indeed if you will take me the second time.”

Joyous tears glittered upon the heavy fringes of her eyes, and as he stooped and kissed her now scarlet lips she returned the caress with a pressure that thrilled to his heart’s core.

“Come,” she then said, starting up; “let me take you to auntie. There she sits, looking as if she could not wait for us much longer.”

They went down from the altar with beaming, radiant faces, and hand in hand approached the happy old lady, who had drawn Nina away the moment her darling had revived, feeling in the delicate kindness of her heart that their meeting was too sacred to be gazed curiously upon.

When she saw by their happy looks that all was right, she wept and laughed by turns at her niece’s recovered joy, until they approached to ask her blessing.

She greeted the young man with a warmth which convinced 177him at once that he had nothing to fear for his future from her.

He had conversed with her only a few moments when these words fell upon his startled ear:

“Robert, my son!”

He turned and was clasped in a warm, fervent embrace, while the one word, “Father!” burst from his glad lips.


We must go back to the moment when Ralph saw his uncle leave the room, fell the guard, and speed away through the mazy passages.

He followed as well as he was able, for he was wholly unacquainted with the situation of the different cells and the way which led to them. Every few moments Ralph paused to listen, to catch the sound of the squire’s footsteps, and then hurried on.

At last there was a moment of utter silence, then he heard the sharp clang of a heavy bolt as it was drawn from its socket, then the noise of an opening door, after which an almost satanic laugh echoed through those low vaults as Squire Moulton at last reached his victim.

Ralph crept cautiously nearer. He did not wish to be seen by his uncle, and resolved not to interfere in any way, unless he should attempt violence.

“Ha!” he heard the squire say, tauntingly, “I thought I’d bring you news of the wedding. Your——” Ralph could not catch the next word, though he strained his ears to do so—“has wedded the wealthy little lady, as I told you he would, and deeming it likely that you would be anxious to learn when it was all nicely over, I came to tell you.”

“Cease, babbler, and leave; I would be alone,” replied Mr. Ellerton, commandingly.

“Oh, ho! Command the rocks to open and set you free; perhaps they will hear and obey,” was the sneering retort. “But I cannot obey you just yet; you know, I promised to return to you again, and I always keep promises of this kind, especially when I have a purpose to accomplish.”

Mr. Ellerton bowed his head wearily upon his hands and made no reply. The evil-hearted squire went on, sneeringly:

178“Nice little match that of Ralph Ellerton’s. I presume you will be interested to know that he will now have the command of three fortunes; you have always taken such an interest in the lad’s welfare that it must be pleasing to you to know of his present good luck. Miss Dupont’s, or rather Mrs. Ellerton’s fortune, united with my own, and then yours on the top of that, will make quite a little pile, amounting in all to about two millions of dollars. You perceive I keep posted about these things.”

“Villain! will you hold your peace?” demanded Mr. Ellerton, exasperated nearly beyond control.

He raised his head again, and sharply scrutinized the face of his enemy, and grew a shade paler at the diabolical purpose he saw written there. He saw at once that the man meant to take his life.

Step by step the squire approached nearer to his victim, until only a short space remained between them.

In a stern, authoritative tone, Mr. Ellerton cried out:

“Back, villain! Do not dare to take another step, or you shall pay dearly for it!”

The wretch leered fearfully at him, and, with a shrill, mocking laugh, glided still nearer.

“Do you think I fear you?” he asked, “or that I have come here unprepared to defend myself! Look!”

The squire drew a long, slender dagger from his bosom as he spoke, and held it up before the face of his victim.

“This beautiful little instrument,” he said, lightly feeling its edge with one long, bony finger, “is poisoned, and one scratch would send you to your long-lost and lovely bride—she who ought to have been mine, and whom you stole from me, curses on you!”

His deepest passions began to be stirred, as they always were when his mind reverted to the fancied wrongs of long ago.

“But,” he continued, “my revenge will soon be complete, for I am going to stab you to the heart with this, and then watch you while you die. Oh, it will be a feast to my eyes, a joy to my soul! No, no—better not try that,” he said, as Ellerton made a motion as if to seize the weapon from his hand. “Remember, the merest trick will prove fatal and cause you tenfold more suffering. Better take it quietly to your heart at once and have it over with; you will meet Jessie then all the sooner.”

179“Oh, heavens, what a monster!” moaned the wretched man.

His heart sickened within him as he realized his horrible situation.

The fiend bent near to him; he could feel his hot breath against his cheek, see the pupil of his eye dilate and then contract with the deadly purpose of his heart shining through them.

The squire raised his arm high above his head, while his long, bony fingers firmly clutched the handle of the dagger. For a moment it quivered in the air, then it descended toward his foe with full force.

But it missed its destination, for his arm was fiercely arrested in its downward motion, and with a howl of baffled rage the squire turned to see who had cheated him of his long wished for revenge. He met the stern face and flashing eyes of his nephew. He was pale as the dead, and he shook with the excitement of the dreadful moment; but his hold upon his uncle was like the grip of a vise, and the murderous wretch could no more move his arm under it than if he had been an infant.

Ralph pulled him roughly from his intended victim, and said, hoarsely:

“I told you that you should not do this thing.”

“Curse you, I will!” he shrieked, frantically striving to free himself. “He shall not live—I will have his black heart to pay me for what I have suffered! Let me go, you young dog. Oh, it was treacherous in you to cheat me so, when my triumph was so near. Help! help!—I will be free!”

The baffled wretch writhed and twisted in the iron grasp that held him. His eyes grew blood-shot, his face became of a purple hue, while flecks of foam flew from his mouth.

Gaining renewed courage from his almost miraculous deliverance, Mr. Ellerton struck his foe a powerful blow, which felled him to the floor, and sent the fatal dagger flying to the farthest corner of the room.

“Now,” said Ralph, “if you have a cord anywhere, we will bind this dangerous gentleman until he recovers his senses; it will not do to let him run at large.”

Mr. Ellerton picked up the weapon that had so nearly put an end to his existence, and, quickly stepping to the stout bell-rope, severed it with a single blow; then together they 180firmly bound the squire’s arms behind him, wholly unmindful of his curses and shrieks.

When this was accomplished Mr. Ellerton turned to Ralph, and said gratefully:

“Young man, I know not who you are, whether friend or foe; but you have saved my life, and for this I am inexpressibly thankful.”

“I ask no thanks; I have simply done my duty,” replied Ralph, quietly and coldly, though he gazed searchingly in the other’s face. Then, after a moment, he added, while the hot blood rushed over his features, “Perhaps it is right that you should know who I am. My name is Ralph Moulton Ellerton.”

“You!” he gasped, staggering back as if some one had struck him.

“Yes, sir; and, of course, with your blood flowing in my veins, I could not see him do this thing,” returned the young man.

“Ah, my friend, I know what you think, and I assure you you have been grossly deceived about your history, and are not so much to be blamed for the part you have taken against me and mine.”

“What! do you mean still to deny our relationship?” asked Ralph, an indignant sparkle replacing the former cold glitter of his eye.

“I have never denied the true relationship existing between us. But I have never wronged you, neither have I ever done you any good. How could I, when you were in the hands of my bitterest foe? Had he not taken you, believe me, I would never have allowed you to suffer,” said his companion, earnestly.

Ralph gazed at him half wonderingly; he could not doubt the truthful look which he saw upon his face, yet he asked severely:

“Do you mean to say that you have never done me wrong in denying your own flesh and blood, and have you never done me wrong in the injury you have done my mother? What am I if I am not your son?”

“You are not my son. I swear it! I told you that you had been cruelly deceived. You are the son of my brother, who married your mother in secret, or rather, without consulting his friends, and shame be upon him, deserted her soon after your birth.”

181“Is this true?” demanded Ralph, pale and faint.

“Every word of it, as sure as there is a heaven above us.”

“Is this true?” he asked again, turning fiercely to his uncle.

He would not answer, but remained sitting doggedly silent. But that silence was answer enough; it convinced Ralph, who cried brokenly:

“If you have deceived me with this awful lie, I will have no mercy upon you. Oh! if it is true—what have I done? May Heaven and you forgive me, sir, for I have bent all my energies toward your own and your son’s ruin, believing that you had done me this great wrong, and desiring to be revenged upon you for it.”

He covered his face with his hands and groaned aloud. Mr. Ellerton went to him and laid a hand gently on his shoulder, saying:

“My boy, I believe you, and I freely forgive you for all you may have been influenced to do in this affair. I know what a black-hearted wretch yonder man is, and feel that he alone will have to answer for all these crimes. But I will explain all to your satisfaction some other time. Did you come to give me liberty? I see the door is open—am I to go free? I am anxious to see my son, whom I know has been a prisoner here like myself.”

“Yes, sir; all within these vaults are now free, except the smugglers, whose den it has been for so many years. But please answer me one more question before I lead you to your son. Are my father and mother living?”

“I know not,” replied Mr. Ellerton, sadly. “My brother suddenly disappeared and went to California. I have never seen him since, and your mother I can tell you nothing of. She went away soon after he left her, and I have never heard from her since. I supposed she was dead, as the squire had taken you. Ask him where she is; he ought to know, for she was his sister,” he said, pointing to the squire.

“You told me she was not your sister, but your cousin, you reprobate,” thundered Ralph, turning to the squire, who was now writhing beneath the words which proved his lies. But he lifted his head defiantly, and sneered:

“Yes, I’ve told you a good many things.”

“That were false?” questioned his nephew, with angry eagerness.

182“Some were true, and some were false,” was the dogged reply.

“It is enough,” replied Ralph, with an ominous calmness. Then, turning again to Mr. Ellerton, he said, “We will talk of this again; but come now, and I will take you to your son. You, sir, must go also; there will perhaps be some explanations to be made which will require your presence,” he said to his uncle.

They each took an arm, and led the baffled wretch back through the passages whence he came so jubilantly but a short while before.

They entered the principal room, placed him under guard, and then Ralph, with a humble air, led Mr. Ellerton toward the group where he saw Robert conversing with Madame Alroyd. He then immediately retired to a distant part of the room, and sat down to nurse his sorrow and remorse alone.


With those few touching words, which fell from the lips of the long-parted father and son, they were clasped in each other’s arms, all the bitter feeling of the six years previous swept from their hearts, leaving nothing but love, joy, and thankfulness in their place.

Dora looked upon this meeting, sobbing for joy, and, like them, forgetting past injuries in the bliss of the delightful present.

At length Robert wiped the tears, which would come, and taking Dora’s hand placed it within that of his father, saying, with a proud, fond look:

“Father, this is Dora; you surely remember her.”

“Ah! yes, indeed,” he replied, pressing the little hand warmly.

She greeted him with a charming smile, returned the hearty shake of his hand, and was her own sweet, natural self once more. There was no cold, scornful dignity in her manner, and in his heart Mr. Ellerton pronounced her a most lovely and lovable little lady.

183“But,” he presently said, with a comical look, first at Robert, then at her, “by what name shall I address this young lady?”

“Dora Dupont, for the present, please,” she laughed, though her cheeks were rosy red.

In the meantime, Ronald Edgerton, in his disguise, had seen that every smuggler was securely bound and placed under a sufficient guard to insure against any possibility of their escaping.

Then he sought the two Italians, and held a whispered conference with them for a few moments; then all approached the group where Robert and his father stood.

“Sir,” said Edgerton, with a pale face, and in a voice that quivered in spite of his efforts to steady it, “I see you are free, and my aid in that matter will not be necessary; but yonder sits a man,” pointing to the squire, “with whom I have a long account to settle, and I would like you to be present and listen to what passes between us.”

Mr. Ellerton started forward and grasped his hand warmly, saying:

“Ah! yes, my friend; I think I have seen you before. If I mistake not, you are the one who gave me a word of cheer, while you relieved me of my property. Strange contradiction, though,” he added, laughing, “to take all I was worth, leave me a beggar, and then tell me to be of good cheer. But please tell me your name, and then I’ll comply with your request.”

“I am known here as Jake Toleman; but more of myself hereafter; we will attend to Squire Moulton first.”

“Very well; lead the way, and we will follow.”

All proceeded toward the wretch, who glared savagely at them.

Dora and her aunt, too, drew near, and soon the others about the room gathered around to hear what was going on.

In the back part of the room and watching with a piercing eye every movement that was made, sat a tall, slender figure, enveloped in a heavy cloak, with its hood drawn close around her face. No one seemed to notice her presence, nor had she moved from her seat since she entered the place. She had quietly followed one file of men when they entered, and seated herself near the entrance.

Now she suddenly rose and drew near the group surrounding 184the squire, and listened eagerly to every word that was spoken.

Jake Toleman, as he called himself, stepped forward in front of Squire Moulton and said:

“Do you know me, sir?”

“Curse you, no, only as a smuggler, who was paid to do my will; nor do I wish to know you,” he growled.

“I can easily believe the latter part of your reply,” replied the man, grimly, then added, “but the first part I deny. Look!”

He pulled off his heavy wig and whiskers as he spoke.

“Ha! Edgerton! Traitor!” exclaimed the wretch, starting angrily up.

“No, sir, you are wrong; Edgerton is not my name, it is only the name of a character I have assumed.”

“Who are you, then—and how came you here?” he asked, curiosity getting the better of his fear for a moment.

“Your first question I will answer presently. I am here because I followed you. I knew your errand, and I came to thwart you at every point. I have been on your track for the last six or seven years. Why, do you ask? Because I had an object in view; you possessed something which I wanted, and which at last I have got.”

“What—what is it?” gasped the squire, wildly, and striving to free himself from his fetters.

“This!” said the other, sternly, taking a paper from his bosom, unfolding it, and holding it up before his eyes.

“Blast you! what did you want of that? Ten thousand fiends take you—who are you, I say?”

“I am one whom you have deeply wronged. You have made my life desolate, as well as that of others, by misrepresenting my character, my intentions, and everything connected with me. Would you know who I am? then look again!”

He hastily pulled off his rough coat, revealing a neat and rich suit of broadcloth; then off came his fierce, heavy eyebrows and mustache—he had previously removed the swarthy tint from his face—and he stood forth the gentleman whom we saw in earnest conversation with Fredrich Weimher at the inn!

“Alfred Ellerton!”

“My brother! thank Heaven!”

These exclamations burst simultaneously from the trembling 185lips of the villain before him, and from Mr. Ellerton, who stood at his side.

Ralph, who had been leaning despondently upon a chair near by, sprang eagerly up and came nearer the deeply interesting group.

At this instant, a sharp, shrill cry rang through the room, and a woman’s figure rushed frantically forward, and threw herself at the feet of him who stood at last revealed in his true character.

It was the woman before mentioned, enveloped in the heavy cloak.

Alfred Ellerton’s face paled to the hue of death, his heart throbbed wildly, and he shook in every limb as he stooped and gently raised the prostrate woman to her feet.

She leaned against him, scarcely able to sustain her own weight.

With nervous and trembling fingers he quickly unfastened her wrappings and cast them from her, revealing a tall, graceful form clad in a rich black velvet robe.

She was queenly. Her hair, black as midnight, was twined around her small head like a coronet, but her face, which every one imagined must be beautiful, was hidden in her trembling hands.

The man who so tenderly supported her drew them firmly but gently away, and eagerly scanned her face for a moment, then clasping her in a close, fond embrace, exclaimed, in joyful accents:

“Rose, my wife!” and she nestled in his arms once more, a happy wife, feeling that all was right, that he had been true to her all these years, was true to her still; and she trusted him with the full confidence of her noble, loving heart.

Squire Moulton sank back nearly fainting, the moment his sister’s face was revealed to him, terror plainly depicted upon every feature. He knew and realized now that the castle of revenge which he had been rearing all these long years was about to tumble and crush him in its fall. Oh, if he were only free he would fight his way from that dreadful place; he felt as if he could defy them all, were his arms only at liberty, or even if he had that cruel dagger which he had so cunningly prepared for another, he would plunge it into himself and thus escape his present torture.

Poor Ralph, as he saw those whom his heart told him 186were his father and mother, longed to spring forward and clasp the two to his heart; but—the doubt lingered still “was he a lawful child?” So he controlled himself, and resolved to wait for further developments.


Alfred Ellerton raised the fair face that was hidden upon his bosom, and tenderly kissed the rich, full lips of his wife; then wiping the tears from her splendid eyes, said:

“Rose, my wife, how came you here?”

She smiled, such a sweet, rare smile, as his tender words fell upon her ears, and fondly replied:

“Alfred, I forget everything now that I am here, and you call me by that dearest name—wife; and I would fain ignore all the past. But am I truly your wife?”

“Yes, dear, if you choose to remain such, after so many years of cruel desertion on my part. Why do you ask?” he added, a heavy frown clouding his brow.

“Why! Because all this weary time I have believed that I was a ruined, abandoned woman; that you had taken from me the dearest treasure a woman possesses—my honor—and then left me to bear my shame alone; that you had won my heart’s best affections but to trample them beneath your feet, and worse than all else—left my child fatherless, and without a name.”

“Hush, Rose, hush!” said the husband, soothingly, for she was becoming terribly excited, as the agony of years rushed over her heart and almost crushed her anew.

“I know all that you have suffered, my poor darling,” he said; “but listen, and I will make everything as clear as noonday. I will tell you all that has happened to me since I last saw your dear face. Sit here, dear, and calm yourself, for it is a long story.”

He placed her in a chair, but remained standing by her side, holding her hand in his own. Then he said:

“You are my own true wife, and have been for over twenty-five years, though I myself have sometimes feared that you had freed yourself from me during the years of our separation.

“You remember, doubtless, the day I received a letter 187calling me away on business. I went, bidding you a fond ‘good-by,’ but expecting to see you again in two or three days at most. My business took me aboard a vessel, where I met a friend who was just ready to sail for California; or, at least, he was ready to start in a few days. He urged me strongly to accompany him, and I was sorely tempted to give him the desired promise, for he pictured in glowing colors the fortunes so easily made in the land of gold. Finally I left him, promising to go home and talk it over with you, and if you consented, I would join him before the vessel sailed.

“It seemed such a good opportunity that I longed to improve it. And then I was so poor! I could not give you the comforts and luxuries which you seemed so fitted to enjoy, and I knew it would take years to gain them plodding on in the old routine of life. All the way home I planned how I would work and save the year or two I intended to spend in California—for I thought that sufficient time in which to make a fortune where gold was so plenty. I would deny myself everything, that I might gain a competence for my darlings; then home again on the wings of love, and the earnest welcome I should receive. Then I would build a palace fit for my treasures, and spend the rest of our days in peace and plenty.

“Charming picture! But how quickly its bright and glowing colors vanished and faded from my sight!

“On entering our little home, eager to clasp you and my boy to my heart, I found it deserted. I searched every room, but no wife’s glad smile greeted me; no baby’s chubby arms were outstretched, eager to come to me. At last, in your work-basket, I found a closely written letter, saying that you had gone back to your home to stay—that you did not love me, as I had believed you did, and that you could not longer live in the presence of one who constantly made you unhappy. You said you never wished to see my face again, and that I was free from that moment to go where I chose. You closed your cruel letter by positively forbidding me to seek you, saying you should not see me if I did; neither would you allow me to send you money, as you could not look for support from one whom you did not love.

“Hush, dearest, till I have finished,” he said, as she would have interrupted him.

188“I know now that you did not pen one word of it; but I will tell you my story, and then you shall relate yours. You can imagine something of what my feelings were! At first I was stunned, overwhelmed; then grief filled my heart, and I was nearly crazy. Once I resolved to go to you and demand an explanation; but I knew your proud, willful spirit, and felt assured it would be of no avail. Ah! if I had but obeyed the instincts of my heart then, all this sorrow would have been spared us.

“But my own pride began to assert itself, and, in a fit of desperation, I hastily packed a few things in a valise, and, with an almost breaking heart, I went back to the city, found my friend, and started for California.

“There I toiled for many long, weary years, growing rich and prosperous beyond my most sanguine expectations, though I was often starving for a morsel of love—for a kiss and a smile from your sweet lips, and a glimpse of my baby boy. I still loved you, and clung to you, in spite of what I believed you to be—false!

“At last, about seven years ago, a man came among us who had lived near your former home. I immediately sought him and inquired after you and my boy. He told me that which made my blood boil, my heart furious, and realized who the schemer was—your vile brother! He said you returned home the day after I departed, and found a letter from me awaiting you, saying that I was tired of you, pronouncing our marriage a farce, telling you that I did not love you, and had left you forever. In a frenzy of grief and passion, you flew to the little casket where you had always kept our marriage certificate; but, lo! it was gone.

“I questioned him closely, asking how you had happened to leave home while I was gone. He said that you had received a letter the very day I left, saying that your father was ill, and you, somewhat alarmed at such an unusual occurrence, hastened to go to him; but finding him more comfortable than you expected, you returned the next day but one, fearing I would miss you.

“You found I had been there and gone, leaving, as you believed, that heartless letter behind me. He said you fainted when you read it; and only revived when the cries of the little one attracted the attention of some one passing, who entered, and came to your assistance. Soon after you disappeared, and were only heard from when your 189brother returned from abroad, bringing our boy with him, saying he had found you in Naples, where, dying, you left Ralph to his care.

“These were the facts which I gathered from the man. I immediately closed up my affairs and started for home, nearly heart-broken at the loss of you, and the knowledge of what you must have suffered, believing me false, and resolving to claim my boy, and bring to justice the villain who had thus heartlessly plotted our ruin.

“I realized at once why he had done this wicked thing—that he was resolved to destroy the whole family of Ellertons (even to the sacrificing of his only sister), because one of them had married the girl he loved.

“The day I arrived in ——, I went directly to Squire Moulton’s house. I was passing up the avenue, with bitter and revengeful thoughts in my heart, when I heard voices within a sort of arbor near by. I stopped to listen, and glancing between the branches I saw you (oh, how it makes my heart ache even now to think of it!) in soiled and tattered garments, pleading with your brother to take you to his heart again, and to give you your child.

“I knew you at once by your voice, and by the haughty grace with which you lifted your head when he called you a beggar, and you answered:

“‘I am no beggar!’

“I nearly betrayed myself then, for I was about rushing forward to clasp you in my arms, when I remembered that you would not know me, for I had disguised myself so that your brother should not recognize me until I had sounded him, and found out where my boy was. So I resolved to listen to what passed between you. I crouched among the bushes, and there remained until you fled from the place; then, when the heartless man followed, I showed myself, and half cajoled, half threatened him, into hiring me to steal those pictures from you.

“He engaged me, and I immediately followed you, saw you when you fainted, picked you up, took you into a cab, and while we were being driven to a house where I knew you would find kind attention, I took the locket from your bosom, leaving a fifty-dollar bill in its place, together with a few words, telling you to go to the post-office in a fortnight.

“Oh! how I longed to wait until you revived, and tell 190you all. But I resolved that I would not reveal myself until I could bring you the proof of our marriage.

“I knew well enough that your brother had stolen it, and I felt assured I could get it from him before many weeks passed. But I followed him from place to place, never gaining the opportunity I sought.

“At length he left the country, and I, determined not to be thwarted, immediately followed. I have at last succeeded in my efforts, and here is our marriage certificate, proving beyond a doubt that you are my lawful wife. I got discouraged many and many a time, and once went to the house where I had taken you when you fainted, but you were gone, and had left no address behind you, so I lost track of you, though I did not cease to blame myself for leaving you so long in ignorance of the true state of affairs. I ought to have gone to you in the beginning, and thus saved you all these years of suffering. Can you—will you forgive me, that I did not?”

She smiled, and sealed his forgiveness with a kiss as he bent over her; then said, eagerly:

“But the pictures, Alf; where are they? You did not give them to him?”

He too smiled as she uttered the old, fond name, and replied:

“I took them to an artist, had them faithfully copied, then had another brooch made exactly like the original, and carried it to your scheming brother, who immediately threw it into the fire. But here is the original, safe and uninjured for you.”

He drew it from his bosom, unfastened from his neck the chain to which he had it attached, and clasped it around her own.

She seized it with eager, trembling fingers, opened it, and gazed with tender, tearful eyes upon the faces within. Then turning to her husband, she wailed:

“But, Alfred, where is our boy? Oh! I have not seen him since I left him long years ago in Naples, though I begged and pleaded with my brother to take me to him.”

There was a look of pain upon Alfred Ellerton’s fine face as he raised his eyes and glanced around upon the group in front of them.

“Here! Oh! mother! mother!” suddenly exclaimed a choking voice; and Ralph suddenly rushed forward, threw 191himself at his mother’s feet, and hid his tearful face in her lap.

She raised his head and drew it to her bosom, put back the heavy black locks from his brow, and gazed earnestly into his flushed face. Then suddenly her mother’s heart spoke, and she cried, in tenderest accents:

“Oh, my boy! oh, my boy! can it be? Yes, it must be; my heart tells me that you are my child—my long-lost deserted boy!”

She rained kisses upon his brow, cheeks, and lips, while her own fast-dropping tears mingled with his.

Alfred Ellerton regarded them with looks at once fond and proud, stern and sorrowful, until at length he said: “Has my son no word for his father?”

Ralph rose to his feet at once, while the hot blood mounted to his brow.

He realized that his father knew what he was—that all his plots and evil deeds were known to him; and he stood sad and humble before him, his heart nearly bursting with shame and sorrow for what he had done—also with joy and gratitude that he had found a father and a mother, and that there was no longer a doubtful stain upon his name.

He raised his eyes, and met the sorrowful gaze of his parent, and stretching out his hands, as if beseeching his love and forgiveness, he uttered the one word:


“My son!”

Their hands clasped, and father and son wept tears which were an honor to their manhood, and the sight of which caused other eyes to fill.


It was several minutes ere the reunited family could compose themselves. But at length Alfred Ellerton conquered in a measure his emotion, and said:

“I thank Heaven for these unexpected and unmerited blessings. It is more than I ever hoped for, to have both wife and child restored to me at once. But, my son, we will now listen to your mother’s story, after which we will hear what you may have to tell us. I know my dear ones have 192seen much of suffering, but I trust all is over now, and that the future has only blessings in store for us.”

Ralph turned again to his mother, seated himself by her side, and took her delicate hand in his.

She smiled a sweet, fond smile at the caressing touch, and clasped her other hand over it, then turning to her husband, began her tale:

“My life has been a dreary one indeed! When I returned to our home, Alfred, and found your letter, or what I supposed to be yours, and also that the only proof of our marriage was missing, I could not do otherwise than believe you false and heartless, as your cruel words indicated.

“I believe I was deranged for awhile, for I remembered nothing for several days after. Finally, I went to my brother Ralph, and questioned him.

“I knew he never had liked you, and had never felt the same toward me after I married you; but I was not prepared for the fury and abuse which burst forth upon my defenseless head, when I asked him if he knew anything about your sudden disappearance. He answered affirmatively, saying he knew you were a vile and unprincipled man; that he had warned me against you in the beginning, but I had chosen my path in life, and now must walk in it; he would have nothing to do with a nameless outcast like myself.

“I bore all meekly until he hinted that you had fled to the arms of another; then with a shriek of agony I took my child, and I too fled!

“I cared not where I went, so that I hid my shame and sorrow from familiar and prying eyes. My brother, glorying in my anguish, had already blazed the story of your desertion around, and I left the place, leaving no clew by which they could trace me.

“I sold my jewels, which, though few in number, were rare, and realized sufficient to take me abroad; and I went to Naples. There for a year or two I lived quietly with my baby. He was my only comfort, for I shunned acquaintances, and lived wholly by myself.

“Finally he sickened, and I feared he would die. For weeks I watched him, giving myself no rest, until the fever turned, and I knew he would live. Had I lost my idol then, I think I should have taken my own life; existence without him would have been such a burden. I prayed as 193only a broken-hearted wife and mother can pray, and Heaven in His mercy heard, and gave me back my child from the jaws of death!

“Then my slender stock of money began to fail, and it was the old, old story of cruel poverty, seeking for employment, and finding scarcely sufficient to sustain life.

“At length when Ralph was four years old, my own health began to fail, though I still dragged myself about, and strove to work that he need not go hungry.

“One day I sat drearily gazing from my window, when my eyes fell upon a familiar form. I started wildly to my feet, and looked again. I could not be mistaken, and my heart beat with fresh hope and courage, for I felt assured that help was near.

“That familiar form was my brother Ralph. I rushed forth, followed him at a distance, and found out the place where he stopped, resolving to go to him the day following, and claim his care and protection.

“Alas, for human plans! That night I was taken violently ill, and when morning came I felt that my earthly race was almost run. I immediately sent for my brother, and he came. But only to curse me anew, and taunt me with my shame and degradation, and to swear that he would do nothing for me. I begged and pleaded that he would take my boy, and care for him, when I was gone, telling him I felt I could not live a week; but with a heart like adamant, he turned from me, and, as I thought, left me to die alone, and my darling to the cold care of strangers.

“But, contrary to all expectations, my disease took a favorable turn, and I grew better immediately. Still, I was so destitute and friendless that my heart nearly failed me at the prospect of continued toil and poverty, with no one to encourage or lend me a helping hand.

“A week passed, and I was able to sit up. One day, with a heart full of sorrow, and forebodings of ill, as I sat clasping my boy in my arms, as if I could thus shield him from all harm, I chanced to turn my gaze without, and saw Ralph coming again toward my dwelling.

“My heart told me at once that his coming was not to benefit me, but that he thought I was no more, and, with a dim spark of humanity still flickering in his bosom, he had determined to care for my boy.

“I made a sudden resolution, and, hastening to the 194woman who had charge of the house where I lived, and who was a gentle, kind-hearted creature, I hastily told her my situation, and begged her to tell my brother that I was buried.

“It was no lie that I urged her to speak, for I intended to effectually bury and hide myself henceforth from every one whom I had ever known or ever seen.

“The woman consented to do my bidding, from pity of me and my suffering child; and with an almost bursting heart I gave my idol the last embrace, and fled from the house to see him no more.

“My plot worked well. For Ralph Moulton took my child, gave him his own name, believing I was dead, and has reared him till the present moment. But, oh! better would it have been had I kept him with me, to suffer poverty and illness, hunger and thirst, and brought him up as best I could under the influences of a tender, loving heart, than to have committed him, so pure and innocent, to the care of one so vile and heartless, so devoid of principle, and all that makes a man good and noble. Oh! my boy, forgive your mother, for she erred unconsciously, believing she deserted you only for your future good.

“I felt you would never suffer hunger any more, that you would receive an education such as I craved for you, and perhaps in the end so twine yourself around your uncle’s heart that he would make you the heir of his vast wealth.

“But I know, my darling, by the hungry look in your eyes, that you have starved for the want of a little love and tenderness.”

The lovely woman turned her eyes pleadingly upon Ralph for a moment, then, with a passionate burst of tears bowed her stately head upon his shoulder.

He clasped her convulsively to him, and in a broken, husky voice replied:

“Mother—the sweetest name I have ever spoken—it is I who should ask your forgiveness for not better improving the privileges which, to gain for me, you doomed yourself to a solitary, loveless life. It is I who should sue for pardon, that I have allowed my heart to become like a garden full of noxious weeds, instead of bright blooming flowers, whose fragrance and beauty would now be grateful to you, and in a measure repay you for your great sacrifice.”

195She would have stopped him with a kiss, but he gently restrained her, saying, with a sad smile:

“No; let me lay bare my whole heart to you, and show you that I am not wholly hardened and depraved. I know I have too willingly been influenced to do evil and crime, but I beg that you will believe me when I say that I have often felt the stingings and upbraidings of conscience, and I now humbly repent all the evil I have ever done or contemplated doing. Say that you forgive me, my sweet mother, and you too, my father, and I promise you that my life henceforth shall be devoted to your comfort and happiness, and to the atonement of injuries which I have done to others.”

“Bless you, my boy!” said Rose Ellerton, raising her face radiant with happiness; “your words make my heart leap for joy, and I seal your pardon thus.”

She took his pale grave face between her slender hands, and kissed him lovingly upon his quivering lips.

Then, with a half-drawn sob, he turned for that other pardon he so much desired.

It was not denied him!

Alfred Ellerton clasped his son’s hand warmly, and said, with a deeper feeling:

“I thank Heaven, my son, for this confession, and I believe you are sincere in your repentance. All our lives, thus far, have nearly proved a failure, but together we will strive to make the future atone for the past, and, in trying to do right, yet receive much of the joy and happiness that for so many years have been denied us. Still,” he added, gravely, and with an anxious glance at Ralph, “there is one wrong you have done that demands immediate reparation. It has caused me more sorrow than all else, and is, I believe, your greatest sin. Are you willing to atone for it, Ralph? I mean the wrong you have done Miss Dupont this evening.”

Ralph sprang quickly to his feet, his face crimson with mingled shame, sorrow, and remorse.

He made no reply to his father’s words, but walking bravely to where Dora stood, her hand clasped in Robert’s, said manfully, but humbly:

“Miss Dupont, if you do not hate me too much to listen to my words, I would implore your pardon for my shameful persecution, and for what I forced you to this evening, together 196with the suffering I have caused you. And believe me when I say I gladly yield you up to one who is nobler in every respect than I. I will not deny,” he continued, while a look of regret passed over his face, “that you have been very dear to me, and that I had intended forcing you to recognize the tie which I compelled you tacitly to submit to to-night, vainly believing that in time I could teach you to return my affection. Once more I implore you to forgive me, and allow me the pleasure of saying that you are free; though the mockery we listened to an hour or so since was in no way binding, still, it affords me satisfaction to bid you go free.”

Dora’s eyes had flashed indignantly when he came forward and began to address her, but long before he was done she was sobbing with sympathy for him; and now, wiping the bright drops from her heavenly eyes, with something of her own impulsiveness she held out her dainty hand toward him, and said, sweetly:

“Mr. Moulton—no, let me call you by your right name, and a better one—Mr. Ellerton, you have my full and free pardon.”

“Thanks!” was all he could utter, and stooping, he kissed the little hand outstretched to him. He then turned to Robert, and was about to crave a like pardon from him, but he stopped him, saying heartily, as he shook his hand:

“No, my boy, don’t say one word. I know all you would ask, and it is freely granted. I owe you a debt of gratitude for saving the life of my father. Yes, he has told me all about it,” he said, in answer to Ralph’s look of inquiry, then added, “and now let us be friends, as well as cousins, forget the past, and live as persons who are so nearly connected should live. Now I must go and greet your new-found friends.”

He turned quickly away, and went to speak to his aunt and uncle, to allow Ralph time to recover himself, for he was entirely overcome at this unlooked-for cordiality.

Then there was a general handshaking, while good wishes and congratulations passed blithely from lip to lip between the reunited friends.



When their boisterous joy had subsided a little, Alfred Ellerton turned again to his wife and said:

“My love, your story was rather unceremoniously interrupted. If you feel equal to it, I would like to hear how you spent all those long years, after you gave up our boy.”

There was a tenderness in his voice, as he pronounced the words “our boy,” that brought the tears to Ralph’s eyes, and, seeking his mother’s side again, he remained a rapt listener while she continued her tale.

“I lived,” she said, “most of the time quite comfortably by the effort of my needle. But sometimes, when too ill to work, I was very destitute. I left Naples and went into a quiet village, where the people were kind and friendly, and after a while my life became quite peaceful, but, oh, so lonely.

“Finally a long and weary sickness unfitted me for labor of any kind, and I resolved to return to my native land and make one last appeal to Ralph.

“I had not quite money enough to defray my expenses, so I pawned everything but a few necessary articles and the precious brooch.

“I went to him, and the result you know, as you say you heard all that passed between us. When I fled from him that day, I thought my heart was breaking. I felt so friendless, homeless, and so weary of life, that I longed to die and be at rest. The last I remembered, as I wandered through the streets of the city, was falling heavily upon the pavement, believing that I was dying. When I again recovered consciousness it was far into the night, and the woman in whose care you say you had left me was bending kindly over me. I asked her where I was and what was the matter. She told me that I had fainted in the street, and a gentleman had brought me there in a cab.

“I remembered all then, and somewhat anxiously felt in my bosom for my treasured pictures. Imagine my grief and indignation when I found they were gone. All I possessed 198on earth to link me to the joys of the past taken by a cruel, relentless hand from me, for I felt convinced that I had been robbed by my brother. All hope was crushed out of my heart, for now I had nothing with which to prove my identity. Once again I thrust my hand in my bosom, hoping that I had missed my treasure in my search. I only found the paper containing the fifty-dollar bill, and upon which were the words bidding me go to the post-office in a fortnight.

“Then I was convinced that my brother was the robber, and perhaps, feeling a touch of remorse, had left the money in its place. I could not do otherwise than accept my fate, cruel though it was, and at the end of that fortnight I went as directed to the office. I found an envelope directed to ‘Rose Moulton’ awaiting me. It contained another fifty dollars, with instructions to go for the same every fortnight.

“I still thought the money came from my brother, and accepted it as my rightful due. I resolved at once to improve my condition and appearance, and, when I had become something like the Rose Moulton of former years, to seek my son, in spite of all opposition, tell him my story, and rely on the natural love-instincts of the heart to own and greet me as his mother.

“But while I waited and prepared, he and his uncle disappeared. After a few years I heard of them in New York. In the meantime I had lived comfortably, with plenty of means at my command, and really looked like my own self once more.

“I immediately went to New York, but when I arrived there I found that they whom I sought had gone abroad. I learned their destination from the lawyer whom I engaged to receive my remittances and forward them to me, and immediately followed them.

“I only arrived this morning, and hearing the story of the unfortunate lady who was to be forced to wed my son, also of the expedition formed to prevent it, I wrapped myself in this heavy cloak and followed, little dreaming of the happiness and joy that awaited me.”

“Oh, what is there of evil that you have not done, wretch that you are?” said Alfred Ellerton, sternly, turning to the squire, who had sat in a state of torture, as he listened to the stories just related.

199Now he ground his teeth with rage at the sight of their joy, but replied, with a fiendish leer:

“I have the satisfaction of knowing that my plots worked well for twenty years, even if they do fail in the end.”

“Silence, fiend; the day of reckoning is for you at hand!”

He subsided again into a dogged and sullen silence.

“But, Alfred, how came you to get the certificate again? you have not told me,” said Rose, turning again to her husband.

“I told you that I followed him for a long time. I knew he must have stolen it, for I had never opened the casket which contained it except in your presence. I felt assured, too, that he would either keep it about his person, or else destroy it, and I resolved to satisfy myself, feeling it was well worthy an effort. In my disguise I went to the inn where he and Ralph put up, and while the maids were getting their supper the night they arrived, I went into the kitchen and slyly drugged their coffee. My room was directly back of theirs, with only a closet between, and after they were asleep (sound asleep, too, I assure you they were, for it was a powerful drug I used) I removed a board from the partition in the closet, entered their apartment, and searched until I found this precious bit of paper.”

He put it in her hand as he ceased speaking, and she clutched it eagerly, while her eyes flew swiftly over it, devouring every word; then, with a smile and a sigh of intense relief, she hid it within her bosom.

“I concealed myself several times in that closet,” continued her husband, “and in that way learned much of the treachery that was afloat.”

The squire gave a howl of rage at this disclosure, and muttered a horrible oath, while Ralph hung his head in shame and confusion.

“Now, my precious wife,” said Alfred Ellerton, without heeding the interruption, “I believe I have told you everything you care to know, unless I repeat that I have an abundance of this world’s goods, and that your future life shall be one bright dream of happiness, if my devotion and love can make it such. We will improve every moment, and strive to forget in the joy of the present the bitterness and suffering of the past. But,” he added, quickly turning and glancing around, “I have a couple of friends 200here who have, also, something against this peace-destroying wretch; and when they have settled with him we will leave this place for more agreeable quarters.

He turned away, as he spoke, to see the Italians before mentioned, while the squire, with an uneasy, and anxious expression upon his yellow face, remained waiting and watching, not without cause, for further painful developments.


We left poor Enid Chichester in a faint in the arm-chair, into which she had fallen on discovering who the bridegroom was; and there she had remained unnoticed and uncared for until the excitement had somewhat subsided—until every smuggler was firmly bound and put under close and watchful guard.

Then some of her fair sisters had discovered her and immediately set about her restoration. For a long time the efforts of her friends were unsuccessful, but, at last, with a heavy sigh, she opened her eyes and gazed wonderingly around her.

Soon she remembered where she was—why she was there, and what had happened—that he—he who had promised to devote himself to the work of liberating her—he upon whom she had placed her whole dependence, her whole faith and trust, was married to another; worse than that! was the wretch who had heartlessly forced the bonds of wedlock upon an unwilling bride; and with a moan of pain she covered her beautiful face with her hands.

“What is it, Enid—what made you faint?” gently asked one of her friends.

She started as if suddenly smitten with a rod, at the question. Disagreeable as the fact might be, she realized that her heart had gone out to this same sinful and erring man, with all its freshness and wealth of affection; in plain words, that she loved him, in spite of the hideous and glaring colors in which he now stood revealed.

But she would die before she would ever let any one suspect the truth. So, setting her little teeth firmly together, and tossing her head defiantly, she said, in reply to the query of her friend:

201“Oh, nothing but a nervous shock, from which I shall soon recover.” Then, anxious to turn the conversation from herself, she added: “But what does all this mean?—and what makes you all look so happy?”

They explained everything to her, while she listened, laughing and crying at the same time, with joy that once more they would all see home and friends.

Finally, when Enid grew more calm, they all arose and joined the group where such interesting revelations were being made, and where Rose Ellerton had just thrown herself at the feet of her husband. They listened with intense interest to the story of the long-parted husband and wife, and Enid began to feel her heart warming toward Ralph again when she heard how he had been deprived of a mother’s influence all his life, and in the clutches of his vile uncle.

Then, when he so humbly begged forgiveness, her warm heart grew sympathetic, and poor little Enid’s defiance and pride all melted away like the dew before the sun, and bowing her pretty head, she sobbed out her pity and her love—pity for the painful remorse he felt, and the trial he did not spare himself in confessing it, and love for the good that her tender, womanly heart told her was in him.

Ralph had seen her tears, and half-interpreting their cause, his heart bounded; and when his mother had finished her story, and his father had gone to seek the Italians, he arose, and approached her.

“Miss Chichester, why do you weep?” he asked, gently.

She started violently at the sound of his voice, and then looked up at him.

The instant their eyes met both colored deeply, and the young girl drooped her gaze, as she replied:

“Who could help weeping at all this happiness and good that has come so unexpectedly?”

“I know strange things have developed themselves here to-night; but,” he added, with a touch of sadness in his voice, “do you remember what you promised me this morning?”

“Yes, I do remember.”

“I have come to release you from that pledge. You must have seen, ere this, that I am unworthy to perform such a duty, and though I know you have no friends to care for you, yet knowing what you now do of me, I feel I have no 202right to expect you to trust in me. But I will find some one who will care for you faithfully.”

His voice was full of regret and self-depreciation, and the sound of it brought the tears again to the fair girl’s eyes. But she hastily lifted her head, and glanced half-defiantly at him, as if daring him to accuse her of being unmaidenly in what she was about to say, and replied:

“I do not desire to be released from my promise.”

“Miss Chichester! surely you do not mean it,” he said, eagerly, his whole face lighting brilliantly.

“Yes, Mr. Ellerton, I do.”

“And can you trust me still, after knowing what you do?”

“I can. Do you not remember what I said this morning—that you might do something, impelled by the force of circumstances, that would merit my severest censure, but that even then I should feel there were goodness and truth in you. My words have proved true! There is much of good in you; I feel that you were intended for a noble man, and had the influences around you been pure, you would never have been led into such evil ways. I feel that the words you only a short time since uttered were sincere, and I have no wish to retract anything that I have pledged, least of all my faith in you.”

Ralph gazed at her in wondering admiration!

“I cannot tell you, Miss Chichester,” he said, “how deeply grateful I am for your confidence in me. Your words move me more than I can express; they give me new courage, they inspire me with a blessed hope.”


Meanwhile Alfred Ellerton had found the Italian brothers, who had retreated into the background when the long-lost wife presented herself; but they now came forward, and stood proudly and coldly before the squire, having first sought and found Vivien, who still remained with Fredrich Weimher, both seeming to find an irresistible charm in each other’s society.

They, too, came near, but took their places behind Squire 203Moulton, where he could not see them until the proper moment should arrive for Vivien to reveal herself.

“Well, what now?” snarled the villain, as, on looking up, he beheld, as he supposed, two of the smugglers standing in front of him.

“Your doom!” was the stern response, while both men threw aside their rough garments, and stood revealed in their true characters as Italian noblemen.

A shriek of craven fear rang long and loud throughout the lofty cavern, and finally died away among the glittering arches above; then a death-like silence ensued for a few moments, while, with rigid face and starting eyes, the unhappy wretch gazed upon the forms before him as if they had been ghosts from the other world, come back to haunt and torture him with fearful memories.

At length the elder spoke, in tones that froze the listeners’ blood.

“Our oath is nearly fulfilled, and the fearful wrong you did our sister is about to be avenged, and justice will at last be done. We have hunted and tracked you for long, long years; we have seen you plot evil and suffering for others, and only waited for a favorable opportunity to wreak our own vengeance upon you. That opportunity has at last arrived. You are soon to be called to account for your treacherous and sin-blackened career.”

“Oh, you will not kill me; you will let me live a little longer!” cried the wretched man, trembling with terror.

“Who killed our sister? Who came into a peaceful, loving family, created discord and sorrow, blighted every joy and hope it had ever known, dishonored its fair name, and broke the hearts of a loving father and a tender, devoted daughter? Do you deserve to be spared? Think you there is one iota of pity in my heart for such a wretch as you? No! As I said before, your doom is sealed, and justice shall have her due.”

“Mercy—mercy!” the squire gasped, writhing in agony at their feet.

“Mercy!” thundered Count Gerient, of Lamerack. “Were you merciful when you deserted her whose innocent heart and affections were won by your artful schemes, whom you made your wife that you might fill your purse with gold, and finding none, pronounced your marriage a trick, broke her gentle heart, and heartlessly left her to suffer poverty 204and childbirth alone. Mercy to such as you? Wretch, unnatural father, who never cared even to look upon his offspring’s face, or clasp in his arms the tiny creature formed from his own flesh and blood! No! no mercy shall be shown you; we have sworn it, and our oath is inviolable.”

The cringing villain turned shiveringly to his sister; his teeth chattered in his head, and huge drops of cold perspiration rolled down his shrunken cheeks.

“Oh, Rose,” he cried, “plead for me; do not let them murder me; think how I reared your boy; I cared for him for over twenty years, and do I not deserve something for it? I cannot die now. I shall go to eternal perdition—oh, save me, save me!”

His sister’s lips curled slightly at the sight of his abject fear, though her face was pale as death as she replied, huskily:

“It would please me better, Ralph Moulton, to see you on your knees pleading to Heaven for mercy. You cannot expect much love from me, though I would that you had time to repent.”

“Oh, Heaven! will no one help me?”

“Here cometh one, and it shall be as she says,” sternly said the Count Gerient, as he beckoned Vivien to come forward.

She came, pale as marble, but beautiful as an angel, leaning upon Fredrich Weimher’s arm.

Slowly, softly she glided forward, and stood before the kneeling wretch.

He did not see her at once, she had come so silently; but chancing to raise his eyes after a moment, he instantly started wildly to his feet, his eyes protruded from their sockets, his nostrils dilated, and his under jaw dropped like a dead man’s.

“Back!” screamed Squire Moulton, frantically. “Back to the land of spirits whence you came. Heavens! why come you here to torture me thus?”

“Villain, it is your daughter!” said her uncle, solemnly.

“It is a lie! Back with you—come no nearer—mercy—Vivien!”

With a shriek of mortal agony that pierced every heart like an arrow, that rang and echoed, and rang again through that lofty, spacious cavern, curdling the blood in every vein, and paling every cheek with horror, the miscreant, by 205a mighty effort, burst the fetters that bound his hands, waved them wildly in the air for a moment, then tottered forward, swaying from side to side, and fell prostrate again at Vivien’s feet.

With a moan of fear and anguish, the lovely girl closed her eyes upon the horrible scene, and sank fainting upon the bosom of him who supported her. Ralph and his father sprang forward and raised the form of the prostrate squire; but life had fled, and they raised only a stiffening corpse.

The heart disease that so many years had threatened him, hanging like an avenging sword ever above him, had cut him down in an instant and he had gone to his reward; gone to where justice would be dealt unto him, not by the weak and erring hands of humanity, but by a stern and righteous Judge.


An hour later a happy company, comprising the reunited husband and wife, the happy lovers, and the lovely but now joyous and hopeful maidens, who long had been held in captivity within that wonderful underground palace, might be seen wending their way toward the large and commodious inn where Madame Alroyd and Dora, also Mr. Ellerton, had taken rooms on first entering the place.

Mine host’s face glowed all over with sympathy, delight, and genial hospitality, as he welcomed so many illustrious people beneath his comfortable roof.

It was not often that anything so interesting and exciting occurred in the quiet village, a proof of which might be seen in this honest landlord’s flurried manner, as he rushed hither and thither, giving an order here, and countermanding one there. But at last all was right, every one was comfortably settled, and every eye closed in sound and peaceful slumber, and every heart forgetting in its gentle embrace the thrilling events of the few hours previous.

The fated smugglers were left behind within the cavern, under a strong and watchful guard, until morning, when they were handcuffed and chained in pairs, and then sent from the place to be tried and sentenced by the country’s laws, which for so many years they had boldly and successfully defied.

206The body of the squire was quietly interred in a wild and secluded spot not far from the sea, the people refusing to allow so wicked a man to be buried in their sacred grounds. A plain shaft of marble, bearing his name, age, and the date of his death, was erected over his lonely grave, and he was left to sleep even as he had lived—alone.

For a week after these events the hotel where our friends sojourned was a scene of hilarity and joy, such as the wide old rooms had not witnessed in many a year; then the gay and happy company broke up, and all departed, to go their different ways.

The lovely captives, all except Vivien and Enid, were placed under the care and protection of good old Father Francis, together with an abundance of means, to be conveyed to their several homes, where all arrived safely, as Vivien learned through loving letters received from her affectionate and grateful charges. Having satisfactorily accomplished the mission with which he was intrusted, the good father returned to his former duties in a distant convent.

Dora claimed Vivien and Enid, declaring that they should accompany her on the remainder of her tour, which she was unwilling to give up, though madam would have preferred going straight home, after receiving such a fearful fright.

Vivien consented to make one of their party, but Enid gravely shook her head and said “no; she must go to her own home and attend to her estates, which so long had lain without an owner. But,” she added, trying to smile, though her heart was sad and heavy, “I will return and get everything in order, and be prepared to receive you all when your travels are ended, six months hence, and we will have a joyful reunion before the final separation, and each return to his and her own fireside.”

So it was agreed, and lovely Enid Chichester bade them all a tearful farewell, and departed with Nina and Mr. Ellerton, who had promised to see her safely within the halls of her ancestors, and then join his own party in Paris, whither they had decided to go.

Poor Ralph was disconsolate enough at this arrangement, for he had come to love the “sparkling little English Gem,” as they called her, with the purest affection of his heart; but he had obtained a promise that she would write 207to him, and he tried to content himself with that poor consolation, resolving that when his six months’ probation—for he knew she meant it as such by the look she gave him when she bade him good-by—was over that he would tell his love, and win, if possible, the beautiful Enid for his wife.

Madame Alroyd, Dora and Robert, Vivien and Fredrick Weimher (who had discovered that he could not exist beyond the presence of the fair Italian), Alfred Ellerton, with Rose, his wife, and Ralph, then all bade a final farewell to Germany, and departed for gay, thoughtless, charming Paris.

Vivien’s two uncles returned to their native country, to fair and lovely Italy, with its sunny skies and fragrant vineyards, to prepare a home for the idol of their hearts, where she was to dwell with them after the promised reunion at Chichester Hall.


The six months were past.

Behold! upon a lofty hill, surrounded by magnificent beeches, whose overhanging boughs make a royal arch of green above the smoothly graveled drive-way that encircles it, stands a grand old castle, the very air around which breathes of centuries and aristocracy.

On this brilliant day its massive portals were swung wide open.

A magnificent floral arch was erected over the wide entrance, while above it, in letters of gilt, is inscribed that sweetest of words, Welcome! And garlands and festoons hung suspended through every room and hall, as if clad in holiday attire, in honor of loved and long expected guests.

The great drawing-room on the left of the grand old hall is redolent with the richest perfume, and within it, pacing up and down its spacious length, clad in her rich and trailing robes, is the fair mistress of all this grandeur and magnificence—lovely Enid Chichester.

Hope and joy beam in her eyes, a flush is upon her soft cheek, which creeps higher and higher with every passing moment, while smiles part her ruby lips, showing the gleaming pearls between.

208Suddenly she starts; a happy, expectant look is upon her face, as she bends eagerly forward in a listening attitude.

Yes, she is not deceived; the sound of approaching wheels, grating upon the graveled drive-way, comes in through the open hall, and with a joyous cry she bounds out to receive her friends.

Three heavy traveling carriages drew up before the hospitable door, their glowing occupants alighted and immediately all was gay confusion; handshaking until the bones ached, kissing and congratulations.

At last all was over and settled in his or her respective apartments, and the next two or three days were given up to resting, after their long and tedious journey.

Enid did the honors as mistress, as she did everything else, gracefully, and dispensed her hospitality with a lavish hand, her heart overflowing with excess of joy in the happiness she was contributing and receiving.

One morning, soon after the arrival, she arose early, and descending the grand old stairway, went, softly humming to herself, into the library, where she intended to have a quiet hour all her own, before her guests should come down to breakfast.

The morning sun streamed brightly in through the low, open window, which led out upon a balcony overlooking the park. With a sigh of pleasure Enid seated herself in an inviting arm-chair, and lay back among its cushions, with a smile of happiness upon her sweet lips, wholly forgetful of the book she held in her hand, and which she had intended reading, and wholly unconscious that a pair of fine dark eyes were tenderly regarding her from behind the heavy curtains which draped the balcony window.

Neither did she hear a step upon the soft carpet, or realize the presence of any one, until a fragrant waxen capejasmine was suddenly dropped from above into her lap.

She started then, and looked quickly up, but flushed the deepest crimson, as she met the earnest gaze of Ralph Ellerton, who was bending over the back of her chair.

“Why, good-morning, Mr. Ellerton,” she said, striving to cover her confusion by speaking lightly. “How you surprised me. I thought I was the only one stirring so early this morning.”

209“Pardon me for startling you, but I have been up since sunrise,

‘Over the hills and far away.’

I have but just come in, and stepped out upon the balcony to enjoy the glorious view.”

“It is fine, isn’t it? Poor papa used to enjoy it so much,” she replied, sadly, the tears springing to her eyes; then added, “This was always his favorite resort, and he would sit for hours upon the balcony and gaze upon the scenery around.”

She picked up the flower he had thrown into her lap, inhaled its fragrance, and then fastened it upon her bosom.

He smiled slightly at the act, and she, suddenly looking up, caught his eye fixed upon her, and again the rich blood suffused her face, but she did not remove the flower.

“Enid,” said Ralph, tenderly, “may I interpret that as a good omen? May I tell you of my love after waiting so long?”

“There is no need to tell it, Ralph; I knew it long ago,” she replied, in tones as tender, and with an irresistible frankness.

“Darling, your tones tell me if your words do not, that you return it, unworthy as I am,” he said, as he passionately clasped her in his arms.

“Yes, Ralph, I do; I loved you before I left that horrid cavern, and it almost broke my heart when I thought you the husband of another. But even after I found you were free again, I would not encourage you to speak the words which I knew were on your lips, for I wished to try you first, to prove the good I felt there was in you.”

“Bless you for your frankness; but you will perhaps be surprised when I tell you that my heart forgot its allegiance to that other the moment I first beheld you.”

“Then why did you persist?” hastily interrupted Enid, raising her radiant face in surprise, then blushing scarlet again as she remembered it must wound him to be thus reminded of the past.

“It is all right, darling,” he returned, noticing her confusion, and clasping her again to him. “I wish you to know me just as I am. I persisted in the evil I had begun, merely because my will and my pride would not yield to my heart. But I cannot express the gratitude I feel for the gift of your precious love. I know——”

210“Now, Ralph, you are not to talk that way any more. You have done wrong, and you own it and repent of it. It is enough. None are perfect, and I have my faults, as you will find out one of these days. I love you just as you are now, not what you may have been a long time ago, so please don’t disparage my lover to me any more,” and the bright-eyed little maiden held up two pouting lips.

She received what she wished, and then Ralph asked, tenderly:

“And you will be my wife, Enid?”

“Yes, Ralph.”

“When, darling?”

“Whenever you wish.”

“God bless you, my precious one; let it be soon, then, for I need you much, and I think you know it.”

They conversed some time longer, and when the breakfast bell sounded, and their friends descended, the day was decided upon.

Ralph led his promised bride directly to his father and mother, and proclaimed the good news; and then breakfast had to be delayed, much to the annoyance of the worthy housekeeper, half an hour, for the joyful congratulations of all that happy company.

After breakfast was over, Enid, with a very mysterious air drew Dora and Vivien away to impart a very important bit of information, as she called it, to them, namely:

That she was to be married in three weeks.

“I know,” she said, as both the girls held up their hands in dismay at the limited time, “that it usually takes six months, at least, to complete the trousseau of a fashionable young lady; but I think I can do better than that; and then, poor Ralph is so sad and lonely, I am going to humor him in this. You both must be my bridesmaids; and Vivien, would you be willing to stand up with Mr. Weimher? I don’t think he would object to you,” said the sparkling girl, mischievously.

Vivien blushed and stammered, and then broke down entirely. At last she saw it was no use to try and hide it longer, and made a clean breast of it, confessing that she was engaged to that same gentleman.

“Ah! you rogue, I mistrusted you long ago,” said Dora. “You little goose, why did you try to keep it so still?”

“Because I wished the consent and congratulations of my 211uncles, first. Mr. Weimher spoke to them yesterday, and we were to acknowledge the engagement to-day. But you see how you have robbed me of my secret, you heartless girls!”

She laughed gayly, though the tell-tale color still remained upon her fair face.

Just then there was a rap upon the door, and a maid entered saying that Miss Dupont and Miss Moulton were requested to step into the library for a few moments.

The two girls twined their arms about each other’s waists and wonderingly obeyed the summons. In the room designated they found their lovers, who, likewise having been informed of the approaching nuptials of their hostess, now importuned their own fair brides-elect to consent to don the matrimonial bonds upon the same day, and thus make a triple wedding of the affair. Both demurred at first, but finally the ardent gentlemen overcame all obstacles, and, consenting, they immediately vanished to communicate the news to their fair hostess.

Enid was in raptures, declaring that theirs should be a wedding, such as was never heard of before in the annals of Chichester history.

Then ensued three weeks of such bustle and confusion as made worthy Mrs. Judson, the housekeeper, nearly distracted, and the servants were kept flying hither and thither from early morn till dewy eve.

The bridal morn broke calm, clear, and beautiful. The hour appointed for the ceremony arrived, and the three beautiful girls, clad in their white gleaming robes, with no ornaments save nature’s sweetness—pure and fragrant orange blossoms—were ready to confide themselves for life into the keeping of their hearts’ chosen ones.

Three chariots, each drawn by a noble pair of milk-white steeds, bore them from the Chichester mansion to the distant cathedral, where the bishop waited to speak the irrevocable words, and where anxious friends were waiting to witness the brilliant wedding.

Ralph and Enid led the way up the broad aisle to the foot of the sacred altar, and the words were spoken which bound them to each other for life.

Then Fredrich and Vivien pledged their vows, and likewise received the benediction of the holy man.

212Last, but not least, Robert and Dora joined their hands and re-pronounced the vows uttered in childhood, and which had been so faithfully and fondly kept through sorrows and trials, and in defiance of all disappointments and opposition.

Never had the lovely girl looked more beautiful, nor her lover more strikingly noble and handsome, than at that moment when, in solemn, earnest tones, they repeated the marriage service that gave them anew to each other.

Faithful hearts they truly were, and faithful we know they will ever remain; and there in their happiness and love we will leave them, bidding them a long farewell, trusting that the lives of each and all may be a succession of blessings, so bright that they will never fade until the greater brightness and glory of heaven and eternity shall burst upon them, enveloping them in endless bliss.


“A GODDESS IN EXILE; OR, THE SPANISH PLOTTERS,” by Philip S. Warne, will be published in the next number (81) of The Select Series.

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No. 79—THE GAY CAPTAIN, by Mrs. M. V. Victor 25
No. 78—VASHTI’S FATE; or, PURIFIED BY FIRE, by Helen Corwin Pierce 25
No. 76—A PROUD DISHONOR, by Genie Holtzmeyer 25
No. 75—THE WIDOWED BRIDE, by Lucy Randall Comfort 25
No. 74—THE GRINDER PAPERS, by Mary Kyle Dallas 25
No. 73—BORN TO COMMAND, by Hero Strong 25
No. 72—A MODERN MIRACLE, by James Franklin Fitts 25
No. 71—THE SWEET SISTERS OF INCHVARRA, by Annie Ashmore 25
No. 70—HIS OTHER WIFE, by Rose Ashleigh 25
No. 69—A SILVER BRAND, by Charles T. Manners 25
No. 68—ROSLYN’S TRUST, by Lucy C. Lillie 25
No. 67—WILLFUL WINNIE, by Harriet Sherburne 25
No. 66—ADAM KENT’S CHOICE, by Humphrey Elliott 25
No. 65—LAURA BRAYTON, by Julia Edwards 25
No. 64—YOUNG MRS. CHARNLEIGH, by T. W. Hanshew 25
No. 63—BORN TO BETRAY, by Mrs. M. V. Victor 25
No. 62—A STRANGE PILGRIMAGE, by Mrs. J. H. Walworth 25
No. 61—THE ILLEGAL MARRIAGE, by Hon. Evelyn Ashby 25
No. 60—WON ON THE HOMESTRETCH, by Mrs. M. C. Williams 25
No. 59—WHOSE WIFE IS SHE? by Annie Lisle 25
No. 58—KILDHURM’S OAK, by Julian Hawthorne 25
No. 57—STEPPING-STONES, by Marion Harland 25
No. 56—THE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT, by Mary A. Denison 25
No. 55—ROXY HASTINGS, by P. Hamilton Myers 25
No. 54—THE FACE OF ROSENFEL, by C. H. Montague 25
No. 53—THAT GIRL OF JOHNSON’S, by Jean Kate Ludlum 25
No. 52—TRUE TO HERSELF, by Mrs. J. H. Walworth 25
No. 51—A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN’S SIN, by Hero Strong 25
No. 50—MARRIED IN MASK, by Mansfield Tracy Walworth 25
No. 49—GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY, by Mrs. M. V. Victor 25
No. 48—THE MIDNIGHT MARRIAGE, by A. M. Douglas 25
No. 47—SADIA THE ROSEBUD, by Julia Edwards 25
No. 46—A MOMENT OF MADNESS, by Charles J. Bellamy 25
No. 45—WEAKER THAN A WOMAN, by Charlotte M. Brame 25
No. 44—A TRUE ARISTOCRAT, by Mrs. Georgie Sheldon 25
No. 43—TRIXY, by Mrs. Georgie Sheldon 25
No. 42—A DEBT OF VENGEANCE, by Mrs. E. Burke Collins 25
No. 41—BEAUTIFUL RIENZI, by Annie Ashmore 25
No. 40—AT A GIRL’S MERCY, by Jean Kate Ludlum 25
No. 39—MARJORIE DEANE, by Bertha M. Clay 25
No. 38—BEAUTIFUL, BUT POOR, by Julia Edwards 25
No. 37—IN LOVE’S CRUCIBLE, by Bertha M. Clay 25
No. 36—THE GIPSY’S DAUGHTER, by Bertha M. Clay 25
No. 35—CECILE’S MARRIAGE, by Lucy Randall Comfort 25
No. 34—THE LITTLE WIDOW, by Julia Edwards 25
No. 33—THE COUNTY FAIR, by Neil Burgess 25
No. 32—LADY RYHOPE’S LOVER, by Emma G. Jones 25
No. 31—MARRIED FOR GOLD, by Mrs. E. Burke Collins 25
No. 30—PRETTIEST OF ALL, by Julia Edwards 25
No. 29—THE HEIRESS OF EGREMONT, by Mrs. Harriet Lewis 25
No. 28—A HEART’S IDOL, by Bertha M. Clay 25
No. 27—WINIFRED, by Mary Kyle Dallas 25
No. 26—FONTELROY, by Francis A. Durivage 25
No. 25—THE KING’S TALISMAN, by Sylvanus Cobb, Jr. 25
No. 24—THAT DOWDY, by Mrs. Georgie Sheldon 25
No. 22—A HEART’S BITTERNESS, by Bertha M. Clay 25
No. 21—THE LOST BRIDE, by Clara Augusta 25
No. 20—INGOMAR, by Nathan D. Urner 25
No. 19—A LATE REPENTANCE, by Mrs. Mary A. Denison 25
No. 18—ROSAMOND, by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller 25
No. 17—THE HOUSE OF SECRETS, by Mrs. Harriet Lewis 25
No. 16—SYBIL’S INFLUENCE, by Mrs. Georgie Sheldon 25
No. 15—THE VIRGINIA HEIRESS, by Mrs. May Agnes Fleming 25
No. 14—FLORENCE FALKLAND, by Burke Brentford 25
No. 13—THE BRIDE-ELECT, by Annie Ashmore 25
No. 12—THE PHANTOM WIFE, by Mrs. M. V. Victor 25
No. 11—BADLY MATCHED, by Mrs. Helen Corwin Pierce 25
No. 10—OCTAVIA’S PRIDE, by Charles T. Manners 25
No. 9—THE WIDOW’S WAGER, by Rose Ashleigh 25
No. 8—WILL SHE WIN? by Emma Garrison Jones 25
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No. 3—VELLA VERNELL; or, AN AMAZING MARRIAGE, by Mrs. Sumner Hayden 25
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No. 38—THE LOS HUECOS MYSTERY, by Eugene T. Sawyer 25
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No. 15—TOM AND JERRY, by Tony Pastor 25
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No. 9—OLD MORTALITY, by Young Baxter 25
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Ft. Wayne, Cincinnati, and Louisville Railroad.
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Peoria, Bloomington, Chicago, St. Louis, Springfield, Lafayette, Frankfort, Muncie, Portland, Lima, Findlay, Fostoria, Fremont, Sandusky, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Peru, Rochester, Plymouth, LaPorte, Michigan City, Ft. Wayne, Hartford, Bluffton, Connersville, and Cincinnati, making Direct Connections for all Points East, West, North, and South.
The Great Natural Gas and Oil Fields

Of Ohio and Indiana, giving the patrons of this Popular Route an opportunity to witness the grand sight from the train as they pass through. Great fields covered with tanks in which are stored millions of gallons of Oil, Natural Gas wells shooting their flames high in the air, and the most beautiful cities, fairly alive with glass and all kinds of factories.

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Without Change.

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(Throughout the Year.)

This is the Inside Route, and especially safe and comfortable in Winter. Connects at Stonington with THREE Express Trains for Boston, Worcester, and all points North and East. Steamboat Express to and from Boston has reclining chair Parlor Cars without extra charge. This is the only direct Sound route in Summer to


Steamers leave New Pier 36, N. R., daily, except Sunday, at 4:30 or 5 P. M.

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(Three Miles South of Plattsburgh, on Lake Champlain).
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Parlor and Chair Cars on Day Trains between Cincinnati and Points Enumerated, the Year Round.
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Comprising translations of the best foreign fiction, together with the works of popular English and American Authors.
No. 1—Another Man’s Wife, by Bertha M. Clay 50
No. 2—The Belle of the Season, by Mrs. Harriet Lewis 50
No. 3—Doctor Jack, by St. George Rathborne 50
No. 4—Kathleen Douglas, by Julia Truitt Bishop 50
No. 5—Her Royal Lover, by Ary Ecilaw 50
No. 6—Jose, by Otto Ruppius 50
No. 7—His Word of Honor, by E. Werner 50
No. 8—A Parisian Romance, by A. D. Hall 50
No. 9—A Woman’s Temptation, by Bertha M. Clay 50
No. 10—Stella Rosevelt, by Mrs. Georgie Sheldon 50
No. 11—Beyond Pardon, by Bertha M. Clay 50
No. 12—Lost A Pearle, by Mrs. Georgie Sheldon 50
No. 13—The Partners, by Alphonse Daudet 50
No. 14—Sardou’s Cleopatra, by A. D. Hall 50
No. 15—The Lone Ranch, by Capt. Mayne Reid 50
No. 16—Put Asunder, by Bertha M. Clay 50

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No. 81—A GODDESS IN EXILE, by Philip S. Warne 25
No. 80—THRICE WEDDED, BUT ONLY ONCE A WIFE, by Mrs. Sheldon 25
No. 79—THE GAY CAPTAIN, by Mrs. M. V. Victor 25
No. 78—VASHTI’S FATE; or, PURIFIED BY FIRE, by Helen Corwin Pierce 25
No. 77—THE THREE BLOWS, by Karl Drury 25
No. 76—A PROUD DISHONOR, by Genie Holtzmeyer 25
No. 75—THE WIDOWED BRIDE, by Lucy Randall Comfort 25
No. 74—THE GRINDER PAPERS, by Mary Kyle Dallas 25
No. 73—BORN TO COMMAND, by Hero Strong 25
No. 72—A MODERN MIRACLE, by James Franklin Fitts 25
No. 71—THE SWEET SISTERS OF INCHVARRA, by Annie Ashmore 25
No. 70—HIS OTHER WIFE, by Rose Ashleigh 25
No. 69—A SILVER BRAND, by Charles T. Manners 25
No. 68—ROSLYN’S TRUST, by Lucy C. Lillie 25
No. 67—WILLFUL WINNIE, by Harriet Sherburne 25
No. 66—ADAM KENT’S CHOICE, by Humphrey Elliott 25
No. 65—LAURA BRAYTON, by Julia Edwards 25
No. 64—YOUNG MRS. CHARNLEIGH, by T. W. Hanshew 25
No. 63—BORN TO BETRAY, by Mrs. M. V. Victor 25
No. 62—A STRANGE PILGRIMAGE, by Mrs. J. H. Walworth 25
No. 61—THE ILLEGAL MARRIAGE, by Hon. Evelyn Ashby 25
No. 60—WON ON THE HOMESTRETCH, by Mrs. M. C. Williams 25
No. 59—WHOSE WIFE IS SHE? by Annie Lisle 25
No. 58—KILDHURM’S OAK, by Julian Hawthorne 25
No. 57—STEPPING-STONES, by Marion Harland 25
No. 56—THE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT, by Mary A. Denison 25
No. 55—ROXY HASTINGS, by P. Hamilton Myers 25
No. 54—THE FACE OF ROSENFEL, by C. H. Montague 25
No. 53—THAT GIRL OF JOHNSON’S, by Jean Kate Ludlum 25
No. 52—TRUE TO HERSELF, by Mrs. J. H. Walworth 25
No. 51—A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN’S SIN, by Hero Strong 25
No. 50—MARRIED IN MASK, by Mansfield Tracy Walworth 25
No. 49—GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY, by Mrs. M. V. Victor 25
No. 48—THE MIDNIGHT MARRIAGE, by A. M. Douglas 25
No. 47—SADIA THE ROSEBUD, by Julia Edwards 25
No. 46—A MOMENT OF MADNESS, by Charles J. Bellamy 25
No. 45—WEAKER THAN A WOMAN, by Charlotte M. Brame 25
No. 44—A TRUE ARISTOCRAT, by Mrs. Georgie Sheldon 25
No. 43—TRIXY, by Mrs. Georgie Sheldon 25
No. 42—A DEBT OF VENGEANCE, by Mrs. E. Burke Collins 25
No. 41—BEAUTIFUL RIENZI, by Annie Ashmore 25
No. 40—AT A GIRL’S MERCY, by Jean Kate Ludlum 25
No. 39—MARJORIE DEANE, by Bertha M. Clay 25
No. 38—BEAUTIFUL, BUT POOR, by Julia Edwards 25
No. 37—IN LOVE’S CRUCIBLE, by Bertha M. Clay 25
No. 36—THE GIPSY’S DAUGHTER, by Bertha M. Clay 25
No. 35—CECILE’S MARRIAGE, by Lucy Randall Comfort 25

These popular books are large type editions, well printed, well bound, and in handsome covers. For sale by all Booksellers and Newsdealers; or sent, postage free, on receipt of price, 25 cents each, by the publishers,

P. O. Box 2734. 25 to 31 Rose Street, New York.
THE STANDARD COCOA OF THE WORLD. The Messrs. VAN HOUTEN have put an entering wedge into unhealthy domestic economy, by advertising a pure, soluble cocoa, as a substitute for tea and coffee. As inventors and original patentees of cocoa, the VAN HOUTENS have introduced it so thoroughly all over Europe that VAN HOUTEN’S COCOA has become a household word. The end of the wedge which has been inserted here is fast making way for the leading Cocoa of America. Van Houten’s Cocoa, Best & Goes Farthest.

☛ It only needs a single trial to convince any one of the superiority of Van Houten’s Cocoa. Please insist upon your grocer or storekeeper ordering it for you, and take no substitute. It is put up in one-eighth, one-quarter, one-half, and one pound cans. ☛ If not obtainable, enclose 25 cents in stamps or postal note to either Van Houten & Zoon, 106 Reade Street, New York, or 45 Wabash Avenue, Chicago, and a large sample can will be sent, postpaid, if you mention this publication. Prepared only by Van Houten & Zoon, Weesp, Holland.


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Written from the celebrated play now running its second continuous season in New York, and booked to run a third season in the same theater.

The scenes are among the New Hampshire hills, and picture the bright side of country life. The story is full of amusing events and happy incidents, something after the style of our “Old Homestead,” which is having such an enormous sale.

THE COUNTY FAIR” will be one of the great hits of the season, and should you fail to secure a copy you will miss a literary treat. It is a spirited romance of town and country, and a faithful reproduction of the drama, with the same unique characters, the same graphic scenes, but with the narrative more artistically rounded, and completed than was possible in the brief limits of a dramatic representation. This touching story effectively demonstrates that it is possible to produce a novel which is at once wholesome and interesting in every part, without the introduction of an impure thought or suggestion. Read the following


Mr. Neil Burgess has rewritten his play, “The County Fair,” in story form. It rounds out a narrative which is comparatively but sketched in the play. It only needs the first sentence to set going the memory and imagination of those who have seen the latter and whet the appetite for the rest of this lively conception of a live dramatist.—Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

As “The County Fair” threatens to remain in New York for a long time the general public out of town may be glad to learn that the playwright has put the piece into print in the form of a story. A tale based upon a play may sometimes lack certain literary qualities, but it never is the sort of thing over which any one can fall asleep. Fortunately, “The County Fair” on the stage and in print is by the same author, so there can be no reason for fearing that the book misses any of the points of the drama which has been so successful—N. Y. Herald.

The idea of turning successful plays into novels seems to be getting popular. The latest book of this description is a story reproducing the action and incidents of Neil Burgess’ play, “The County Fair.” The tale, which is a romance based on scenes of home life and domestic joys and sorrows, follows closely the lines of the drama in story and plot.—Chicago Daily News.

Mr. Burgess’ amusing play, “The County Fair,” has been received with such favor that he has worked it over and expanded it into a novel of more than 200 pages. It will be enjoyed even by those who have never heard the play and still more by those who have.—Cincinnati Times-Star.

This touching story effectively demonstrates that it is possible to produce a novel which is at once wholesome and interesting in every part, without the introduction of an impure thought or suggestion.—Albany Press.

Street & Smith have issued “The County Fair.” This is a faithful reproduction of the drama of that name and is an affecting and vivid story of domestic life, joy and sorrow, and rural scenes.—San Francisco Call.

This romance is written from the play of this name and is full of touching incidents.—Evansville Journal.

It is founded on the popular play of the same name, in which Neil Burgess, who is also the author of the story, has achieved the dramatic success of the season.—Fall River Herald.

The County Fair is No. 33 of “The Select Series,” for sale by all Newsdealers, or will be sent, on receipt of price, 25 cents, to any address, postpaid, by STREET & SMITH, Publishers, 25–31 Rose st., New York.

  1. Moved advertisements from the front of the book to after the ad section at the end.
  2. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in spelling.
  3. Retained archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.