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Title: Orion The Gold Beater
Author: Sylvanus Cobb
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ORION, THE GOLD BEATER

OR

TRUE HEARTS AND FALSE

A TALE OF NEW YORK LIFE

BY

SYLVANUS COBB, JR.


AUTHOR OF:
"THE GUNMAKER OF MOSCOW,"
"THE STORM SECRET," ETC., ETC.


PHILADELPHIA: HENRY T. COATES & CO.

1896

THE CASSELL PUBLISHING CO.


Previously serialized in
"The New York Ledger"
and the
"New York Tribune"
in 1856.


INTRODUCTION.

IT would be gilding refined gold to introduce Sylvanus Cobb, Jr., to the lovers of fiction in the United States. There are few to whom his name is not a household word, so that it is not as an introduction to the author that the publishers print this note. They give it merely to set forth a few facts in connection with the publication of Mr. Cobb's works by them. For a number of years it was only through the columns of the New York Herald that Sylvanus Cobb, Jr., could reach his public, and it is unnecessary to say that his extraordinary popularity added largely to the circulation of that journal. What this popularity was and how lasting its quality may be judged from the fact that Mr. Bonner reprinted his stories in the very columns where they made their first appearance. He was shrewd enough to appreciate that the taste of one generation of readers is not unlike that of another, and he printed for the delectation of the sons the stories that had kept their fathers up into the small hours to read. They were only accessible through the columns of the Ledger until now that the under-signed have arranged for their publication in book form. That masterpiece of the decently sensational novel, "Orion the Goldbeater," is the first of Mr. Cobb's stories to find itself between covers, and others will follow in the Sunshine Library at short intervals. His "Orion the Goldbeater" is a story of New York life, and is as true to-day as when the author wrote it. The scenes are just the same, the characters just as real, and the interest as intense as when a quarter of a million readers were waiting breathlessly for its appearance from week to week.

It may be said of Sylvanus Cobb, Jr., that while he wrote with a pen that never lost its hold upon those who followed its course, while small boys and young girls as well as their parents followed the careers of his heroes and heroines, while they wept over their sorrows and laughed with their joys, their interest was held by legitimate means and not by the publication of things that should cause the author to blush. There is nothing in any of Sylvanus Cobb's stories that the most particular parent could call objectionable, and an author could have no prouder epitaph than that which would record this fact.

Sylvanus Cobb, Jr., as he was called to the day of his death, was the son of a New England clergyman, and was born in Waterville, Maine, in 1823, and died in 1887, at Hyde Park, Massachusetts, where he had lived since 1869. His life was a quiet one, and had been devoted principally to journalism. He was the editor of one or two Boston papers at different times, but he found story-writing so remunerative that he gave up every other form of writing and devoted himself exclusively to that branch of the art. By an arrangement with Mr. Bonner his stories for the last twenty years of his life were published exclusively in the columns of the Ledger. Mr. Cobb amassed a large fortune by his pen, and built himself a handsome house at Hyde Park. His study was situated in a remote corner of the house in a tower built exclusively for his convenience. There he wrote uninterrupted, surrounded by all the curious odds and ends that he had picked up during his life. He was particularly fond of arms and armor, and his collection of these articles was rare and valuable.

"Mr. Cobb's will is so characteristic of the man that we quote an extract from it;

"I do set it down as my express desire that no member of my family or relative or friend shall for me put on at any time any outward badge of mourning. Let no blackness of crape or funeral weed cast its gloom upon my memory. I would that my beloved ones should seek the brightness and fragrance of faith and trust in God, rather than the gloom which belongs to doubt and unrest. I go to find more light. Add ye not to the darkness who remain behind."


ORION, THE GOLD BEATER;

OR

TRUE HEARTS AND FALSE.



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.—ORION—A CURIOUS ADVENTURE.
CHAPTER II.—A CATASTROPHE.
CHAPTER III.—THE HOME OF THE DYING.
CHAPTER IV.—THE CONFLICT.—STORY OF A LIFE.
CHAPTER V.—JASPER THORNTON.—A SUSPICION.
CHAPTER VI.—A MYSTERY.
CHAPTER VII.—DARO KID.—THE MERCHANT AT HOME.
CHAPTER VIII.—A STARTLING SCENE.
CHAPTER IX.—SHADOWS.
CHAPTER X.—RUIN! A THRILLING EPISODE.
CHAPTER XI.—RESTITUTION.
CHAPTER XII.—PASSING AWAY.
CHAPTER XIII.—CONVALESCENCE.—A PLEASING INTERVIEW.
CHAPTER XIV.—AN ACCOMMODATING ROBBER.
CHAPTER XV.—THE ABDUCTION.
CHAPTER XVI.—A LIVE COUNT, AND AN UNWELCOME VISITOR.
CHAPTER XVII.—COUNTER PLOT.
CHAPTER XVIII.—DISAPPOINTMENT.—THE DAWN OF LOVE.
CHAPTER XIX.—THE PRISONERS.
CHAPTER XX.—A BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT.
CHAPTER XXI.—IN SEARCH OF A SECRET.
CHAPTER XXII.—THE CONFERENCE.—AN UNEXPECTED ADVENTURE.
CHAPTER XXIII.—THE PRINCE.—LOST! LOST!
CHAPTER XXIV.—A WOLF IN THE WORN ONE'S RETREAT.
CHAPTER XXV.—THE VISION.—PASSING AWAY.
CHAPTER XXVI.—A NEW PHASE OF THE MYSTERY.
CHAPTER XXVII.—THE LAST MISSION.
CHAPTER XXVIII.—THE PLOTTERS FOR EVIL.
CHAPTER XXIX.—THE PLOT IS CONSUMMATED.
CHAPTER XXX.—LOVE'S BATTLE.
CHAPTER XXXI.—MORE PLOTTING.—BARTERED SOULS.
CHAPTER XXXII.—CLICKER PLAYS A TRUMP, AND SHOWS HIS HAND; BUT IS SLIGHTLY ASTONISHED UPON BEHOLDING THE HAND OF HIS ADVERSARY.
CHAPTER XXXIII.—HOW THORNTON'S PLOT WORKED.
CHAPTER XXXIV.—ASTOUNDING DEVELOPMENTS.
CHAPTER XXXV.—THE LAST BLOW IS STRICKEN!
CHAPTER XXXVI.—REUNION.—THE STRICKEN.
CHAPTER XXXVII.—A RECORD.
CHAPTER XXXVIII.—A STORY OF THE PAST.
CHAPTER XXXIX.—CONCLUSION.



CHAPTER I.—ORION—A CURIOUS ADVENTURE.

NEW YORK! The Metropolis of the Union! Nestled away in its land-locked bay—teeming with the collected wealth of nations—crowded with its gathering hosts of humanity—a vast battle-ground of Life, in the midst of which stands Mammon, flushed with conquest and victory!

What a field for the study of man! Who can count its riches, or who shall dare to guess at its poverty? The eye is dazzled by its princely palaces, and the heart bleeds in view of its squalid wretchedness!

Here its thousands roll in luxurious plenty; and there its thousands more fall crushed and dying beneath want and famine! Here the favored ones see green trees, and breath fresh air; while there the poor children of dire necessity look only upon fostering corruption and breathe the foul miasma of pestilence and death!

Pass this way, and we find intelligence, morality, and virtue; but turn thither, and we stand in the midst of ignorance, of vice, and of moral death! But mark! All its poverty is not vicious—and all its wealth is not virtue! No, no! In some of the palaces you may find hearts black with sin; and in some of the hovels you shall find souls as true and pure as earth can beget.

And now, if any of the scenes of my story cause a shudder, remember that I only give them because they are true. God forbid that I should draw one single theme of horror from imagination, when I have seen with my own eyes, in this great city, scenes so terrible that I could not write them if I would—scenes which would so shock the senses that even simple belief would be staggered. I would not pander to morbid curiosity—I will only picture humanity as I find it. If I show you vice, it is that you may shun it; but be sure we shall find much, very much, of noble virtue that is worth copying—virtue that warms the heart, beautifies life, and lifts the soul heavenward!

It was towards the close of a wet, cold day in Spring—in the first week of May. It had not been raining, but a sort of sleety mist had hung over the great city since early morning, and the pavements were sloppy and wet. The dampness fell insensibly, but it clung to the stones and bricks with such tenacity, never drying up nor running off, the deposit of the early hours still remaining where it first found rest, that there was more mud and slop in the streets and upon the sidewalks than could have resulted from rain. Upon the avenues the cars and the stages were full—even to that fabulous fullness in view of which the drivers refuse to stop for even "one more,"—and yet the sidewalks were crowded with men, women, and children hurrying home from the toils of the day—jostling and pushing—each one for self—looking only ahead caring for nothing about them—all citizens of the same town, and yet all strangers. Down-town the larger stores were all closed, and in some of the more retired localities the gas was already lighted.

Upon Broadway, in the midst of the great business portion of the city, stood a large brick building, which, running back over several lots, rested its rear upon a courtyard that opened from the main thoroughfare by a narrow passage. Upon this court were several shops and offices, and, unlike most places of the kind, the yard was neat and clean. In one of the basements, which was well lighted from both sides, was a manufactory of gold-leaf. The apartment was quite spacious, with a small office and assaying-room in one corner, and with anvils, or beating-tables, for some dozen workmen. At the present time there was only one person in the goldsmith's shop—a young man, twenty-two years of age, named Orion Lindell. He had been in the employ of Mr. Garvey, the owner, only about five years, and yet he was the foreman of the shop. All outside of the office was under his charge, and those who know the peculiar value of the material which passed in large quantities through his hands will at once realize the responsibility of his station. He had proved himself competent and faithful, and untold wealth was left to his individual care with as much assurance of its safety as its owner could have felt in all the vaults and proof locks in the city.

Orion Lindell was of medium size, not large in frame, but firmly and compactly built, with a form of admirable proportions; his limbs full and finely rounded; his breast broad and nobly developed, and his carriage free and light. His face was one of peculiar, manly beauty. His brow was high, open, and full, above and about which clustered the glossy hair in light brown curls; his eyes sparkling and bright, and of a deep bluish gray color; his nose slightly aquiline, with those finely curved nostrils which mark the firm, energetic soul; his lips thin—though not too thin—betraying no sensualism, but showing the stout will and quickness of feeling which characterize the man of dauntless moral courage.

Such was Orion Lindell—true, pure, and noble; beloved and honored by all who knew him; respected by those below him, and always obeyed cheerfully and quickly. None could do more work, and few could do as much as he. His arms were like the shaft of a trip-hammer, and a constant swinging of the ponderous beating-maul had so developed the muscular power that even he himself was ofter surprised at the result of his own physical strength. He had just finished putting things in order, and was about to put on his coat, when the door was opened, and a young man entered. He was a clerk in a store overhead, being some three years older than Orion, and taller, as well as a little heavier.

"Ah, Orion—off, eh?" the new-comer remarked, as he closed the door behind him.

"Yes, Charley—it's late enough, isn't it?"

"I s'pose 'tis. It's dark early to-night. But say—I've come down to take a bout with the gloves, Won't you try 'em?"

"Pooh," laughingly returned Orion, "you don't want to try the gloves to-night."

"Yes—just a minute. I'm going to see Bill Emmerton to-morrow, and I want to astonish him. Come—just give us a turn."

"Well—if you are earnest about it." And thus speaking Orion turned to a small desk from which he took two pairs of boxing gloves. He was not a boxer by profession, but having been brought up in company with a man who taught the art for a living, he had learned much of the science. He found it a healthy, athletic exercise, and he had followed it up; and now, as a source of amusement, he taught the art to some of those friends who objected to mixing with professed pugilists. Having handed one pair of the gloves to his friend he put on the other, and then bade the former to "prepare."

Charles Adams was very handy at the play, and for some time he had been in the habit of practising with Orion; but in point of skill or prowess he was a mere child when compared with his friendly tutor.

"It's no use," said Adams, at the end of some five minutes, during which time he had been trying to hit his antagonist somewhere. "It's no use. I can't do it."

"Do it in this way," returned Orion, laughing, at the same time placing the back of his glove very carefully and gracefully upon Charley's face, but without any force.

"Tell me how to do that," the clerk cried, earnestly.

"Now strike my face with all your might," said Orion.

Adams made the attempt, but his hand passed harmlessly over Orion's shoulder, and as he plunged forward with the impetus of the blow the latter caught him, and, with a ringing, merry laugh, laid him on the floor. Yet he gave his friend such instruction on a particular point as the time would permit, and then the gloves were put away.

"I'd give all I'm worth if I could only possess your power and skill, Orion," said the clerk, as he ran his eyes admiringly over the handsome, compact frame of the gold-beater.

"Practice—practice," returned Orion.

"Ah—but practice won't give me your muscle."

"Never mind—'twill give you a good substitute—science."

"Well—you shall teach me. Only teach me so that I can hit you once, and that's all I'll ask."

"Oh—you may easily do that."

"We'll try it, at all events," said Adams, as he turned away. "I shall hold you to your promise."

With these words the clerk left the place to return to his store, while Orion proceeded to put away the gloves. After this the young gold-beater put on his coat, and having assured himself that all was right otherwise, he closed and secured the heavy iron shutters, and then left the shop. There were two doors—one of wood and glass, and one of iron. These he closed and locked, and then putting the key in his pocket he moved away. The other shops that opened into the court were all closed, and Orion was the last one out.

He had walked half the distance from the shop to the street, when he was suddenly stopped by a small girl rushing in through the narrow passage. She saw him, and at once ran towards him, with her little hands both stretched out most imploringly.

"Save me! Oh, good sir, save me!" she cried, as she reached the place where he stood, and clasped one of his hands. She trembled violently, and as soon as she thus stopped she burst into tears.

She was very small; not over eight years of age, with a face of striking beauty; her eyes large and black; her hair floating in raven ringlets wildly over her shoulders; her dress very spare, and though soiled by the present muddy state of the streets, yet neat and tidy. Her bare feet—her little hood, and the thin, insufficient frock bespoke her to be the child of poverty and want. All this Orion saw in a moment, and during that moment, too, his heart went out in love and pity for the little one.

"What is it?" he asked. "What do you fear?"

"Oh, those bad men, sir!" she gasped, gazing prayerfully up through her tears. "Oh, don't let them get me!—they'll hurt my good mamma, if you do!"

Ere Orion could speak further, two men rushed into the passage, and were soon in the court.

"Aha! Here you be, eh?" uttered the foremost of them. "Here you be, my chick. Now, I'll just trouble you to come along."

Orion knew he had seen that face somewhere, and upon a closer survey he remembered the speaker as one whom he had seen at the police court, charged with some petty theft, at one time when he had been summoned as a witness in another case.

The fellow's name was Duffy Glicker—a stout, heavy, burly brute, in the prime of physical life, and known to the police as a low gambler, thief, and bully. His companion was of the same kidney, and full as stout and heavy.

"No, no, no!" shrieked the poor little one. "I don't want to go!"

"Ye don't, eh? Well—I'm sorry—I am. But come along."

"Stop a minute," said Orion, at the same time drawing the girl quickly away from Glicker's grasp. "What do you want with this child?"

Mr. Duffy Glicker straightened up and gazed upon the youth with a sort of condescending wonder. He measured the light frame with his eye—for he judged everything of that kind by its bulk—and then said:

"What's that to you?"

"It's this much to me," returned Orion, calmly; "I would know how much right you have to the girl. She has claimed my protection, and——"

"Your protection! Ha, ha, ha. Your protection. Well, we'll just take her off'm yer hands. Come along, you little——"

But Duffy was interrupted in turn, for Orion again pulled the little one from him.

"Tell me, child, who these men are?" he inquired, turning to the little girl, as he drew her close to his side.

"They're wicked men, sir; and they want to find my mamma. She has got away from them once, and now they say they will kill me if I don't tell them where she is. Oh, don't let them! Don't! don't!"

"Look 'e, my fine cove," cried Glicker, beginning to show his temper, "just mind your own business, and don't trouble yourself with mine. Ye may get yer head broke if yer don't look out. D'ye mind that?" And then turning to his companion he added:

"Say, Bill—nab the brat, and I'll just pop this cove if he meddles. Come—quick."

The little girl uttered a low, quick cry of terror as she saw the second wretch start towards her, but he did not reach her; Orion caught her by the arms, and having darted back a few paces he placed her behind him, and then turned towards the two scamps.

"Stop!" he cried, as they started to advance. "If you have any right to this girl you can prove it. I shall keep her now, and if she belongs to you, you can easily claim her. But mark me, you can't have her now; so clear out. Come—away you go!"

"Well!" burst from Mr. Glicker's lips, in astonishment. "Here's a rum go, an' no mistake. Bill Slumpkey, what'll we do with him?—put him in our boots, or land him in the gutter?"

"Dump him!" returned the individual who bore the euphonious name of Slumpkey, with a hearty oath. "Dump him!"

"That's the go," added Glicker, and then, turning to Orion, he resumed:

"Now look'ee: I don't want to kick up a fuss here, but give me that little 'un. Give her to me, I say, or I'll give ye a poke that'll make ye think yer head's got lightnin' dancin' through it!"

"Stand back!" ordered Orion. "This girl you cannot have to-night!"

"Can't, eh? By the holy poker, we'll see! Ah take that!"

But Mr. Duffy Glicker found himself slightly at fault. As he spoke he had aimed a crashing blow at the youth's head, but instead of striking as he had planned he felt something fall on his own face, and immediately afterwards something else fell upon the wet pavement. This some-else was nothing less than the doughty Mr. Glicker himself.

Bill Slumpkey gazed just long enough to assure himself that his companion had really fallen, and then he sprang upon the gold-beater like a tiger. Orion saw in an instant that the fellow had more strength than wit, and with a simple movement he passed the huge fist over his left shoulder, and at the same time, by a blow such as few men could strike, he landed Mr. Slumpkey by the side of his companion.

By this time Glicker had partially recovered, and when he realized that his mate was down he sprang to his feet and dashed at the youth again.

"Beware!" cried Orion. "I don't want to hurt you."

"I see yer play," the villain gasped, puffing the blood from his lips; and as he spoke he came on again, and again he was knocked senseless to the pavement.

Slumpkey staggered to his feet, and having gazed for a moment upon his fallen companion he uttered a fearful oath, and rushed a second time upon our hero. The youth was desirous of terminating the scene. He felt that in no way was he to blame, and he simply determined to conquer the miserable wretches at once.

"Hark ye," he cried to Slumpkey, as the latter came rushing on. "Now leave me, and you shall go in peace; but raise your hand against me again and you shall suffer. Do you mind?"

"Get out!" the bully returned. "I'll give you a taste of another game."

His intention evidently was to grasp the youth in his arms, and then crush him; but he missed his object. Orion knocked him down again, and immediately afterwards dropped Glicker for the third time. Then he turned to the little one, and taking her quickly by the hand, passed out into Broadway, and having gained a safe distance, he stopped beneath a gas-light and drew the girl up before him.

"What is your name?" he asked.

"Lizzie Milmer, sir," she replied, in a pretty tone.

"Have you got a father and mother?"

"Yes, sir; but my papa is very sick."

"Where do they live?"

"Down on the Five Points—on Little Water Street, sir."

"Well, now, will you go along with me to-night, and get some good supper, and a pair of shoes, and sleep in a good, warm bed, or will you go home?"

The poor child bowed her little head, and after awhile she looked up through gathering tears and said——

"I'll go home with you, sir, if you'll—you'll——"

"Well, speak on. Don't be afraid."

"Oh, sir—if you would only give me something for my poor, good mamma—and for my papa. Oh, sir—they're not bad people—indeed they are not. They never drink rum, nor talk wicked talk. Oh, sir——"

"Generous child!" cried Orion, pressing the little one warmly to him, "they shall be helped. They will not be frightened if you do not come home to-night, will they?"

"Not much, sir. They'll think I've got belated somewhere, as I have done before."

"Then come along with me, and in the morning I'll go down and see your parents; come you have nothing more to fear."

Thus speaking, the gold-beater turned on his way, and the child clung to him closely and fondly. Her simple understanding comprehended that she was with one in whose honor and truth she could confide, and as she pattered along the cold pavement till they could find a stage in which there was room for them, she forgot all her sorrows in the new gratitude that had sprung to life within her soul; for her thoughts were turned heavenwards as, from her childish heart, she called down blessings upon the head of her friend.


CHAPTER II.—A CATASTROPHE.

The narrow, road-like continuation of Broadway "up town," is a very different affair from Broadway "down town." Not far above Twenty-Ninth Street, on this same Broadway, stood a small frame house, neatly and tastefully arranged, situated some distance from the street, with a long garden in front.

It was a cottage-built dwelling, and bore to the beholder at once some idea of comfort and of home. Within one of the lower rooms, and close by the small centre-table above which burned a gas-light, was seated a middle-aged woman engaged in sewing. She was not over forty years of age; small and delicate in frame, with her hair still glossy and brown, and her dark blue eyes full and lustrous, and possessing yet a wondrous beauty.

No man could have gazed into that pale, melancholy face without being moved by the strange beauty that rested upon the delicate features. It was a hopeful, prayerful, subdued expression, full of gentleness and love, and beaming with soul and noble thought. There was no trace of sorrow upon the fair brow, nor yet was there any of that blithe, merry joy which we often find upon the faces of those who are contented and happy; but the look was one of perfect peace and good-will induced by prayer and resignation. There were shades upon the features a simple line upon the brow, a peculiar melancholy light of the eye, and a cast of the cheek and lip, which plainly revealed to the close student of humanity that a great sorrow had at some time fallen upon her; and though she could not forget it, nor separate it from her life, yet she so far overcame it as to be happy and peaceful. Such was Catherine Lindell—and surely she was one whom no acquaintance could help loving truly and well. She was the angel of the sick-bed to those who lay in physical pain; the harbinger of peace to those who suffered wrong; and the bright spirit of relief to those who were bowed down beneath poverty and want. From her own scanty store she could afford much, and often did she share her neighbors' want that they might be blessed from her narrow means.

The night had set in, and without it was pitchy dark. Ever and anon Mrs. Lindell would stop her needle as some noise from the street fell upon her ear, and several times she went to the window and looked out. At length, just as the little clock upon the mantel struck eight, she heard the gate opened, and in a moment more came the well-known footfall upon the flagging. She hurried to the door, and opened it just in time to admit her son. A warm kiss was exchanged, and then the latter said,——

"I trust you have not worried for me, mother."

"No, no, Orion,—I have not worried; but yet you are later than usual."

"Aye, for I have had business. See—here is a poor child for whom I have been purchasing stockings and shoes. She is a good little girl, I'm sure, and we must love her."

Without speaking, Mrs. Lindell hastened back into the sitting-room, and Orion followed her, leading little Lizzie Milmer by the hand. As soon as he sat down he related all the circumstances attending the finding of the child, omitting only the little passage-at-arms between himself and the two gentlemen from whom Lizzie fled. As he ceased speaking his mother called the child to her side and drew her upon her knee. Then she brushed back the raven hair from the open brow, and gazed into those large, dark eyes—strange eyes, they were, so dark and brilliant, when contrasted with the pale cheek and delicate features. Mrs. Lindell at once read a noble character in the little one, and her own face wore a look of affectionate sympathy.

"Tell me about your papa and mamma," she said, drawing the child to her bosom, and imprinting a kiss upon her fair brow.

"Suppose we have some supper first," interposed Orion, with a smile.

"Well—I had entirely forgotten supper," returned the mother with a light laugh. "On the whole, I think, a little food would be better than story-telling for our pretty child. The meal is all ready."

Thus speaking she arose, still holding Lizzie in her arms, and led the way to the rear apartment, where a coal fire was burning in the small range, and where the supper-table was all set. The eyes of the poor child filled with tears many times as her friends spoke so kindly to her, and gratitude was apparent in her every look. As she took a small cake, towards the close of the meal, she struggled hard with her feelings, but was finally obliged to lay the cake down, for the flood could be no longer stayed. She burst into tears, and covered her face with her hands.

"Dear Lizzie," muttered Mrs. Lindell, laying her hand upon the poor girl's head, "what is it? What's the matter?"

But the child could not speak.

"Tell me, Lizzie," urged Orion, "what makes you cry?"

For a while this renewed earnestness of love only made her weep the more, but at length she so far overcame her emotions as to be able to speak, and in a choking tone she said:

"Oh—I was wishing that my papa and mamma could be loved like you love me. Oh, they are very unhappy, and nobody loves them!"

"Nobody?" inquired the woman. "Do you think no one loves them?"

"Perhaps God loves them. Do you think he does?"

"Of course, my child. God loves all his children. But cheer up. We will love your papa and mamma."

At length Mrs. Lindell succeeded in calming the child's emotions, and when the meal was ended they returned to the front room, where Lizzie told her simple story.

She could only tell that her father was a book-binder by trade; that he had been sick for some time, and had consequently become poor. Once they had a good home, and were comfortable and happy, but now they could no longer enjoy any of the comforts of life. They only strove to keep life in their bodies.

"But what did those two men want of your mamma?" asked Mrs. Lindell, who had now gained the entire confidence of the child.

"It isn't both of them," said Lizzie, very earnestly. "It's only Duffy Glicker that wants her. I don't know exactly what it is—only I know mamma is afraid of him. He wants her to do something when my papa is dead. Oh, he is a very wicked man!"

The hostess drew the fair unfortunate upon her bosom and kissed her, and then asked her if she wouldn't like to go to bed. She said yes, and Mrs. Lindell soon prepared a little bed in her own room, into which the child was put. Then she sat down by her side and taught her a simple prayer, and sang sweetly to her until she fell asleep.

For a long time after Mrs. Lindell returned to her sitting-room she and her son talked the matter over, and they selected some few things which he was to take to the suffering ones in the morning. After this they related to each other, as was their wont, the affairs of the day, and then retired for the night.

On the following morning, Orion and his mother were early astir. The fog of the preceeding day had all gone, and the sun arose bright and clear, with the prospect of warm and pleasant weather. Breakfast was soon prepared, and then Lizzie was aroused from her deep slumbers. She smiled when she started up, and her first utterance was, that she had had a very good dream. When she was all washed clean, and her fine silken hair combed, and her dried and cleaned garments put on, she looked very pretty and sweet. She threw her arms about Mrs. Lindell's neck and kissed her, and then, while the warm tears gushed from her eyes, she murmured:

"Oh how good you are to me!"

The woman returned the kiss, and then led the way to the breakfast-table. The meal was eaten, and Orion had just arisen from the table, when a loud noise in the street attracted his attention. He heard the sound of loud voices, and saw men running down the street. Seizing his hat he rushed out, and as he reached the sidewalk he saw a span of horses coming up Broadway at a furious gallop, with a coach behind them on three wheels. He could see that there were people in the coach, and that they had not only lost all control of the horses, but of themselves as well. Many men ran out in front of the furious animals, and swung their hats and cried out, but they darted back as the infuriated horses came crashing on, and all their efforts seemed only to frighten them more. In the forward part of the coach was a woman, whose hands were clasped upon the silver rod of the dasher, and who cried aloud for help—for mercy—for God to save them! Soon a cry of horror went up from the multitude. The horses were dashing towards a post upon the roadside. On they flew—the coach, with its shattered axletree, struck the immovable obstacle—the shock came, and the girl by the dasher was hurled forward and caught upon the pole, the reins and straps strangely catching and holding her. The carriage was crushed by the concussion, and away went the horses without it.

The people now stood transfixed with horror! The ill-fated woman could no longer cry out, or if she did it was in a tone so weak that no one could hear her. That she must be instantly killed seemed apparent to all. She was fast to the tangled harness, directly between the horses, and her garments were quickly torn to shreds. Orion saw the whole at a single glance, and, under the influence of a will which no fear of earth could have swerved, he darted into the middle of the street and faced the coming horses. He measured the distance instantly, and with his body firmly braced he extended both his arms and called out boldly and authoritatively for the animals to stop. A hundred voices shouted for him to come back, but he heeded them not.

A horse knows very well when a man is afraid of him, and when he is not; and he can distinguish, too, the tone of command from the yell of fear. As the two animals saw Orion and heard his voice, they seemed to hesitate, but yet they dashed on. They appeared to believe that he would flee from before them as all others had done; but he did not, and when they came upon him, and met the calm, determined fire of his expressive eyes, and heard his tone of command, they would have stopped if they could, but their fearful impetus was not so easily to be overcome. With a quick movement, Orion grasped both the check-reins at the same time, being careful to keep between the horses, so that their feet should not strike him, and then, with an effort as wondrous in its execution as it was remarkable in its conception, he raised himself from the ground, thus bearing his whole weight upon their checked heads. They made a few spasmodic bounds after this, and then stopped. Their sides and flanks were bathed in white foam, and they trembled as though their limbs would almost fall asunder.

An instant of silence followed this astounding feat, and then the shout went up. But Orion stopped not to listen to the encomiums that were showered upon him. He called a couple of stout men to come and hold the horses, and then he hastened around to the unfortunate one whom he feared he should find dead. When he commenced to clear her from the harness he found that her arm had plunged through the breeching, while one of the tugs, or traces, had got a turn around the elbow. Thus had she been dragged by that one arm, and of course it was broken. It required but a few moments for our hero to cast off the fell lashings, and then taking the girl up in his stout arms he bore her at once into his own dwelling, almost directly in front of which the horses had been stopped. A physician—one in whom Orion had full confidence—was at hand, having been attracted by the noise, and he immediately attended upon the sufferer. There was a disposition on the part of some of the members of the crowd to rush into the house, but the youth soon managed to calm them, and having assured them that everything should be done for the woman's benefit which human care could accomplish, he persuaded them to disperse, or go and see if any one was hurt at the shattered coach. Some of the more earnest would not leave until they were assured that the girl would live; and finally, to satisfy them, the physician came out and gave them the assurance they wanted, but at the same time informed them that her safety depended upon the quietness they could preserve about her.

After this the crowd went away, and though there was still some noise in the quarter where the coach lay, yet it did not penetrate with any power into the gold-beater's cottage.

When Orion returned to the room where he had left the girl, he found her insensible, though she had seemed to be perfectly conscious when he carried her in.

"It's better as it is," said the physician; "Her left arm is broken in three places, and perhaps we can set it without any consciousness of pain on her part."

The physician required Orion's help in setting the bone, and he found it very effective, for in addition to an excellent judgment he found the youth to possess an amount of physical power which set aside all need of straps and pulleys, in bringing the bones to their places. The arm was broken once above the elbow, and twice below it, but it was set without much difficulty, and as soon as such rough splints as were at hand had been applied, the doctor turned his attention to the other injuries. There was a bruise upon the head, just over the left ear, but the skull was not at all fractured. Then there was a deep wound upon the left shoulder, and some other bruises about the body. To help to fix these Orion left his mother, and having received a further assurance from the physician that the patient was out of inevitable danger, he left the apartment.

When he reached the front room he found quite a crowd in the yard, and soon saw a gentleman and lady coming up the walk. The former limped considerably, and walked with evident pain. Orion hastened to the door to admit them, for he supposed at once that they had been inmates of the coach, and they might be the parents of the injured girl. The man was a tall, well-built person, with a proud, noble bearing, and some five-and-forty years of age. His hair, which was of a nut-brown hue, curled handsomely about his high brow, and his large, dark hazel eyes had a fire of more than ordinary intelligence and meaning. His dress and general appearance betrayed the wealthy man.

The woman was full as old as her companion, if not older, and though she possessed some traits of beauty, yet the intelligent beholder would see at a glance that she was one of those who had worn themselves down by rich food, strong wines, and unseasonable hours. She was tall and rather slim, with a proud, over-bearing look; a face very pale and wan, and wearing an expression of haughty disdain of all below her. Her garb was such as only a child of wealth could wear.

"Miss Durand was brought in here, was she not, sir?" asked the gentleman, after he had taken a seat.

"The young lady who was injured by being dragged away by the horses is here, sir," answered Orion.

"That is the one. Is she much injured?"

"Well—yes, sir; but not dangerously so. Her left arm is broken in three places, and she has received a few bruises beside."

"Poor Ellen! May I see her, dear sir?"

"Perhaps you had better not go in quite yet, sir," returned Orion. "The physician is dressing her wounds, and——"

"Ah—I understand. Yes, yes. But my wife may go in?"

"Certainly certainly, sir."

"Me?" uttered the lady, starting up from a reverie into which she had fallen while gazing on little Lizzie, who sat in one corner of the room. "Me go into the place where they are dressing wounds? Would you kill me outright?"

"No, no, Julia—I only thought you might be of some help to our poor Ellen."

"Isn't there blood running, young sir?" the woman asked of Orion.

"There is, madam," he said.

"Oh, how dreadful! Me go in and see blood! You should know my delicate constitution better, Mr. Tiverton?"

"Never mind, my dear. I wouldn't have you go in by any means, if you think it would hurt you."

"Hurt me?" echoed the lady, shuddering. "It hurts me to be so near her as I am now. She may groan. Have they set her arm yet, sir?"

"Yes, madam," answered our hero.

"And didn't she groan?"

"She was insensible then, and did not probably realize any pain."

"But they are dressing bloody wounds now, you say?"

"Yes."

"Then she may wake up and groan. Little girl—here—go in and tell Ellen not to groan if she comes to. Tell her she mustn't. Tell her I am here—Mrs. T. Oh! if she should groan it would shake my poor frame so terribly! Hurry, little girl."

Lizzie cast an inquisitive glance at Orion, and he motioned her to come to him. She did so, and he whispered in her ear that she should run up into the chamber where she slept and stay there until he called her. She had started to go, when Mrs. Tiverton—for so Orion knew her name must be—called to her, and she moved tremblingly to the lady's side.

"Who are you?" she asked, gazing fixedly into the child's face.

The woman looked so sharply and so strangely upon her that Lizzie was at first afraid, but she gradually overcame the difficulty, and would have replied properly had not the former spoken again.

"Who are you?" she asked, eagerly, gazing more earnestly than before into the thin, pale face.

At this point Orion spoke, and in a few words told the child's story.

"Oh! oh! oh!" uttered Mrs. Tiverton, in a quick scream, at the same time pushing the child from her. "From the Five Points? Mercy! You'll give me the plague! Don't come near me again! Oh!"

At this juncture a carriage stopped at the gate, and the nervous woman started to her feet.

"There is our coach," she said. "Oh, I'm so glad! Come, Mr. Tiverton, let's get away from here. We will let these people take care of Ellen, and then we can pay them."

"We do not keep a hospital here, madam," said Orion, quickly and proudly.

"But you will allow the poor girl to remain here until she can be removed with safety, sir?" urged the gentleman, earnestly and beseechingly.

"Of course we will, sir," returned the youth, kindly, for he liked the speaker's tone. "I only meant that we do not perform our holy duties for pay!"

"Ah—I understand," said Mr. Tiverton; and then approaching near enough to speak without being heard by his wife, he added:

"I will be here this afternoon, if I can walk. Or I will be here at all events. Be careful of Ellen. She is a precious being."

Orion gave a whispered assurance; and then having grasped the youth's hand warmly, Mr. Tiverton turned away and limped from the house with his wife in company, the latter giving utterance to an exclamation of satisfaction as she got clear of the humble roof.


CHAPTER III.—THE HOME OF THE DYING.

ORION stood by the window and watched the departing couple until they had been helped into the coach and driven off. When he turned he found little Lizzie, who had come down from the chamber, standing by his side and gazing wistfully up into his face.

"What is it?" he said, thinking from her look that she wished to say something, and at the same time taking her hand and smiling kindly upon her.

"That woman, sir," she uttered, with a tremulous emotion: "who is she?"

"Her name is Tiverton, my child."

"But she is very rich, isn't she?"

"I think she is."

The child bent her head and gazed down upon the floor for some moments, and at length she looked up again, and in a strange, wandering tone, she said:

"She is a very strange woman. How she looked at me! I was afraid of her. I think I have dreamed about that woman. Don't you think I have!"

Orion smiled at the curious question, but the smile quickly passed away, for there was something remarkable about the circumstance. He remembered how the woman had gazed upon the little one; and how she had called her to her side; and then how strangely she had regarded her. And now for the child to hold an impression of having seen the lady before—it was curious, to say the very least. However, it might be only some peculiar coincidence of likeness, or something of that kind, and the youth was about to dismiss the subject from his mind, when Lizzie spoke again.

"Do you think she will ever come to see me!" she asked, with simple earnestness.

"Who? Mrs. Tiverton?"

"Yes, sir."

"Of course not. Didn't you see that she was afraid of you?"

Lizzie was for a moment hurt by this remark, but she saw a smile upon Orion's face, and she knew by that that he only spoke pleasantly, and then she said, quite earnestly:

"But she needn't have been afraid, for I ain't dirty, nor am I—a——"

"Pooh! don't think of that, Lizzie. She is a very foolish woman."

As he thus spoke the thought struck him that there might be some relationship between the pale child of poverty and the pampered votary of wealth; but ere he had time to enlarge upon the idea the inner door opened, and his mother entered, the physician following shortly afterwards.

"How long before you are going, my son?" Mrs. Lindell asked.

"Well I must go soon, if you can spare me."

"I shall get along very well alone. I only wished to see you before your left. You will take the things we put up last night, and see if there is anything else you think of. Do all you can for the poor people."

"Be sure of that, my mother. And now how is our guest?"

"The doctor must tell you that, for I dare not be away long. Go as soon you are ready, and may God bless all your efforts for the poor sufferers."

Orion pressed his mother's hand, and having received and returned her kiss, she went back to the bed-room where her patient lay. That was a pledge of affection they never failed to renew whenever they parted for the day. It was a simple token of the great love they bore for each other, and they would have both been unhappy to separate without it. Orion had a good mother—one of the best on earth; and few parents were blessed with so noble, and affectionate, and faithful a son.

"There is no danger from the wounds," the doctor said, in answer to Orion's question. "No immediate, or direct danger, I mean. I found several severe contusions, and it must be some time ere she can be removed. If there is any danger it must be from the fever which I fear will ensue. However, with care, and with plenty of fresh air, I think she may come safely out from it. She has one of the finest organizations I ever saw, and possesses a constitution perfectly free from any kind of disease. She is a fine specimen of the true female development both mentally and physically. She has one of the most nobly balanced brains, and then her frame is firmly and compactly knit, without the least heaviness or masculinity."

"How old is she?"

"About nineteen."

"Do you know Mr. Tiverton?"

"Tiverton?" repeated the doctor, "Do you mean the merchant?"

"I don't know. He is wealthy, I should think. He was in the coach with his wife, and they have both been here. They came and waited until another carriage, for which they had sent, came for them."

"Ah—and they were with the girl who is hurt?"

"Yes. She must be their daughter. Mr. Tiverton would have gone in, only I told him you were engaged in dressing her wounds, and he said he would wait. He will come this afternoon."

"Was he a tall, handsome man, with a proud, noble look?"

"Yes exactly."

"Then it must have been Paul Tiverton. He is one of the wealthiest merchants in the city. I visited his wife once. She is a—a——"

"An unfortunate idiot, suffering torture in her own inordinate pride," suggested the youth, with a smile.

"Exactly. Then she displayed herself, did she?"

"Fully. She cannot have a very strong affection for her child. Or—I wont say that. She allows her whims to crush her love sometimes."

"Very likely. She is a curious woman."

"But the father has a generous heart," resumed Orion, feelingly.

"Yes—he is a good man. But you must excuse me now. I must hasten away and get some additional fixtures for that arm."

"That's right, sir. Do all you can, and when it is done I will be responsible for the payment."

"You just look out for your share, my dear friend," said the doctor, with a smile. "If you will find room and watchers, I'll look out for my end of the beam."

Orion thanked the generous physician, and then the latter left the place. In a few moments more Mrs. Lindell came out. She had come to see Lizzie before she went away.

The kind woman spoke some words of comfort, and having kissed the little girl once more, she turned to her son.

"I don't think I shall work to-day," he said. "I will go down with Lizzie, and then come home so as to be here should anything be wanted."

His mother liked this arrangement, and having renewed the assurance of his early return, he helped Lizzie on with her hood, and then taking the bundle which had been prepared he turned from the house. In a few moments a stage came along, and into it the youth lifted his charge, and then followed himself.

During the ride several well-dressed ladies took particular notice of Lizzie, and whispered together of her remarkable beauty.

"What a strange beauty," said one. "I never saw in one so young so much of subdued, calm, dignified beauty. She possesses the loveliness of maidenly development."

"Ah," thought Orion and he came very near thinking it aloud, for he had overheard the remarks, "if you knew the great experience that little heart has lived you would not wonder at the development of which you speak." And then he turned and gazed again into the face of his little companion.

Finally the stage reached the narrow passage which led to the gold-beater's court, and Orion paid his fare and alighted. He went into the shop, where he found the men all at work, Mr. Garvey having given out the metal for beating. Our hero explained all that had transpired since he left the shop on the previous night, and his employer not only readily excused him from his duty for the day, but put his hand into his pocket and took out a five-dollar bill which he bade his foreman expend for the poor people as his own judgment should dictate. Then he took up the little one and kissed her, and after this Orion led her away. They moved on to Anthony Street, down which they turned, and ere long they reached the low, filthy, pestilential locality known as the "Five Points." *

[* As this name is world-wide in its import of wretchedness and poverty, we will merely say, for the benefit of those unacquainted with the locality, that here three streets—Cross, Orange, and Anthony—come together so as to form five points. Upon this spot was once a large pond, connected with East River by a small stream, or creek. In some places this pond was forty or fifty feet deep, and it was here that the first trial was ever made with a steamboat in this country. Upon the corner of Orange and Cross streets still stands a mass of low, sunken wooden buildings that were originally built upon the edge of the pond. The place has since been filled up, but it is still low and unhealthy, though we suppose some sanitary measures might be adopted for making it better. The center of the deep pond must have been somewhere about the site now occupied by the little park, where, in the summer time, a close observer may detect something like grass attempting to raise its sickly blades above the earth.]

Yet Orion found it much improved in some respects from what it had been when he was there last before this. Where the "Old Brewery" had stood, propped up by rum-holes, and loaded with moral death, now stood the capacious brick structure known as "The Five Points Mission," within which a spirit was at work saving such poor lost ones as could be reached. Yet he saw misery and degradation enough to make him shudder. There were vice and crime enough apparent without much search, and not feeling in the mood for witnessing more scenes of this kind than he could possibly avoid, he bade Lizzie lead the way at once to her home.

"It is right here," she said, with a perceptible shudder.

"Where?" asked Orion, who had hoped that she was not obliged to live in this very sink.

She pointed to a place where a few rickety wooden steps, protected by broken balusters, led up to an open door-way, and said, "There." She spoke the word in a faint tone, and seemed to have been hurt, or pained in the pronunciation.

The building was upon the corner of Anthony and Little Water streets. The basement was occupied as a low groggery, of the worst kind; and something of its character may be known from the characteristic name it bore—it being generally known, even by its very frequenters, as "The Gate of Hell!" And God knows the name was no lie. It was true—true as the Death that reigned within! Orion just looked in as he passed the door—he saw the crowd of poor lost ones that hovered about the sulphurous flames, blinded by the fell glare, and so seared and scorched that nearly all semblance of humanity was gone. He groaned within himself. He said, half aloud, "God have mercy on them!" and then passed on. He ascended the dirty steps (the door he was to enter being exactly over the door of the groggery), following close behind the girl. A number of poor wretches, both male and female, stood around, and he saw them glare vacantly upon him, though he could not but notice that a feeble light would spring to life in their eyes as they saw the bundle he carried. As he entered the building he came directly in front of an open doorway which looked into a small, filthy apartment, upon the floor of which, among rags, dirt, and a few green, wilted corn-husks, lay three female forms, while some half-dozen nearly nude children sat near them, greedily eating the tips of the green ears which had been thrown away among the husks—eating them raw and gritty, and seeming thankful for the meal!

While the youth had been noticing this—from the three women he would have turned quickly away, but the poor little ones attracted his attention—while noticing this, his guide had disappeared. He called to her, and heard an answer from the left, He turned his eyes in that direction, but only peered into utter darkness. He could see that a narrow passage opened in that course, but he could only see some three or four feet from him.

"Where are you?" he asked.

"Here!" he heard the tiny voice reply. "Come—the floor is whole and strong."

So Orion stretched out his hands on either side, and thus groped his way along, slowly and cautiously. He trod upon dirt and mud so firmly packed down that it felt like a cemented bottom, while the foul stench that pervaded the place was almost overpowering. On he went, ever and anon speaking to Lizzie in order that he might be sure he was right, and when she answered he would follow on. At length the child opened a door upon the right hand, and the dim, ghostly light which was thus admitted seemed only to have the effect of revealing the full horror of the gloom. He moved with a quicker step now, and when he reached the door he entered. He stood within the apartment where the child and her parents lived. It was a small, narrow place, in the back, inner corner of the building, not over seven feet long by about six wide, because a small bedstead took up the whole width, and a good part of the length; and in addition to this the ceiling was so low that Orion could scarcely stand upright with his hat on. In this apartment was the bed, a small table, an old chest, one chair, a stool, and within a small niche in the chimney stood a common portable furnace, such as women use to heat their flat-irons by in summer time, in which burned a few sticks of pine kindling-wood. This was the only cooking apparatus in the place. The floor was worn through to the bottom boards in several places, but yet it was neat and clean, though the walls and ceiling, which could not be cleaned without money, were black and foul.

Upon the bed lay a young man, some thirty years of age, whose jet-black hair and large black eyes contrasted strangely with the marble-like look of the sunken face. A single glance at those features was sufficient to assure the beholder that the poor man had not long to stay in this vale of tears. That dread fiend, consumption, had set its seal upon him, and the dark angel was near at hand.

Near the head of the bed, when Orion entered, stood a woman. She was small in frame; not over seven-and-twenty years of age, and very pale and wan. Yet she was beautiful. Her features were singularly regular and symmetrical in their outline; her eyes of deep, liquid blue, and her hair of a light, golden brown almost, if not quite, a pure auburn. Her dress was clean, but scant and patched, and the visitor quickly saw that she was trying to hide her bare feet.

There was but one window to the room—a little square concern, close by the head of the bed, which overlooked a small yard in the rear. This place was home. Oh, God! and what a home! If that dying man wanted fresh air where was he to get it? Did they open the door there came in through the dark passage, arising from the dirt there and from the pest-holes beneath, a stench almost overpowering; and if they opened the window they received the miasma coming up from such putrescence in that yard as we will not describe. Yet it was there, dear reader—it was there,—and about it lived a hundred human beings into whose homes the fresh air of earth never found entrance.

And these two people were the parents of little Lizzie. It would have required no further assurance than a mere look at his face to prove that the man upon the bed was her father; and even of the light-haired mother's beauty the child bore some traces. As Lizzie entered she flew to her mother's embrace, and having received a flood of warm kisses she turned to the bed. Her father reached forth his wasted hands and drew her towards him. He could not speak aloud, but he impressed a kiss upon her fair brow, and then whispered a blessing.

In her simple language the child quickly explained where she had been, how she had fared, and why the gentleman had come. Constance Milmer heard her through, and then clasped her small, thin hands together, and in a quick, spasmodic tone she uttered:

"Oh, good sir, may the best blessings of Heaven rest upon you! Indeed, sir, you have not thrown your kindness away—upon my child, I mean."

"I am sure of that, my good woman," returned Orion, still shuddering, for he had not yet become used to the terrible wretchedness of the place. Ah! tongue and pen are inadequate to convey a living idea of the utter, squalid poverty and ghastly horrors of one of those places! "I am sure of that," our hero repeated. "I felt sure your child was worthy, and from her manner I knew she must have received some good lessons in life from her parents. I supposed you would not refuse to accept help from the hand of one who would be your friend."

The poor woman was upon the point of answering, when heavy footsteps were heard in the dark passage. They were not only heavy, but loud and clumping, with a brutal, ugly clang. Constance Milmer started back, and stood with her hands clasped, and her frame trembling at every joint.

"It is his step!" she gasped.

"Whose?" asked her husband, raising his head with difficulty from the pillow.

"Duffy Glicker's!" she whispered fearfully.

"Ha!—Tell me what that man wants. Why does he seek you?" quickly uttered Orion.

"Oh! I can not tell. He has a paper—one he got in my native town—but I know not what is in it. He—he—Oh, God! I dare not tell you!"

The youth could ask no more, for at that moment the door was opened. Little Lizzie uttered a low, wild cry, and shrank away behind her new-found friend; the mother crouched close to the bed, as though instinct still led her to the man in whom she once found protection; the dying man himself uttered a faint "God help us!" while Orion turned just in season to see Glicker and Slumpkey enter, the former with a huge bowie-knife in his great hard hand!


CHAPTER IV.—THE CONFLICT.—STORY OF A LIFE.

FOR a few moments Orion's heart beat more quickly than was its wont. His position was peculiar. Both the stout, brutal villains bore upon their faces the marks of the rough treatment they had received on the previous evening; Mr. Glicker having two black eyes, with several severe bruises, while Slumpkey had one black eye, and a deep cut upon the under lip. The youth supposed they must have been hanging around perhaps in the groggery underneath and thus tracked him and the child to the home of the woman he sought. But he was cut short in his ponderings by the foremost villain speaking.

"Aha!" he growled, in a deep, savage tone, at the same time clutching his knife more firmly, "I've found ye now. I twig'd ye a-comin' up here. P'r'aps ye'll give us another lift of your maulers, my fine cove, eh?"

For a moment all other feelings in the youth's soul were overcome by that of pure and deep disgust. He gazed into the faces of the two ruffians, and he could only see there the marks of low, heartless vice and wickedness.

"P'r'aps ye'll just take yerself out o' this now," resumed Glicker, ere the young man had made any reply. "I've got some private business here. The likes of you don't have business here. Mind that. Now go!"

Even yet Orion had not determined how he would act. He saw the wretch's knife, and he wondered if the fellow meant to use it. Perhaps he had only procured it to be used in case he had to defend himself. At length our hero turned towards Constance, at the same time being careful that the two interlopers were not wholly lost sight of.

"Mrs. Milmer," he said, in a calm tone, for his mind was about made up, "do you wish these men to remain here?"

"Oh, no! no!" she gasped. "God preserve me from them!"

"Look 'e, my fine lady," uttered Glicker, with a savage scowl, "you'd better be keerful how you swing that tongue of yourn. You know I've got something that's for your advantage as well as mine, and I only want a chance to explain it all out to ye. And I want that chance now. I seed this cove a-comin' up, and I know'd he was a-comin' here to find you, 'cause he had your young 'un with him; and I know'd he wouldn't be a-goin' nowhere else with her. Ha, ha, I s'pose ye thought ye'd got clear of me, eh? But ye haint; and what's more, ye can't. Now I want to talk with ye."

"Oh! for God's sake, spare me now!" cried the poor woman, with her hands once more clasped. "Leave me with my sick husband——"

"And yer handsome, nice young visitor, eh?" interposed Glicker, with a broad, coarse sneer.

At these words, uttered, as they were, in a tone of demoniac meaning, the soul of the youth took fire; but for the presence of the dying man, and his trembling wife, he would have stricken the wretch to the floor. But while he was endeavoring to curb his wrath, a new idea presented itself to him. He detected a few meaning glances which passed between the two villains, and he felt sure that they had come there partly to be revenged upon himself. He saw them cast a furtive look towards him, and then exchange a succession of meaning nods and winks. The moment this thought suggested itself, he felt morally certain of its truth. It would not be reasonable to suppose that two such men would suffer at his hands such punishment as they had received, without a trial at revenge when opportunity should offer. And what opportunity could they have better than the present? There he was, in a narrow room, away from the street, to which access was only to be had by the long, dark passage, and with no one near to hear any cries for help, save a few poor weak ones, whom a child might have conquered, and a set of wretches who would be sure to help his enemies if they came. That was not a locality where his friends were to be found, and a whole day might pass without one honest, generous man approaching the pestilential place.

"Come," uttered Glicker, turning upon the youth, "are ye goin'?"

Orion saw that they still stood by the door, and that Slumpkey had his fists doubled up ready for work. He had no more doubt on the subject. He had once made up his mind that he would go quietly out and call some policeman to go help him take the villains; but he was now satisfied that he was not to be allowed to do so. The fellows had a fine opportunity for vengeance, and they were going to improve it. There was no longer any doubt. The poor woman stood by the bed, still trembling fearfully, with her hands clasped, and her lips turned pale as marble; her husband had placed his thin, attenuated hands upon his brow, and was groaning painfully; while little Lizzie had left her new friend and now clung to her mother's dress, more with the spirit of one who would protect than as one who sought safety.

"Come, sir—are ye a-goin'?" growled Glicker, moving a step nearer to our hero.

"If you would have me go, why don't you move away from the door, and give me a free chance?" returned Orion.

"Oho—yer don't like the turn things 'ave took, eh?" Thus spoke Glicker, and then, while a look of Tartarean fiendishness dwelt upon his ugly face, he added:

"Ye begin to be afeard, I take it; and just let me tell ye 'at ye 've good cause for it. Ye don't go out o' this place till ye get a taste of what we're made of! To tell ye the truth, we mean to give ye such a thrashin' as ye won't forget in a hurry. And if ye outlive it you'll be lucky!"

This speech was interspersed with oaths and imprecations, which we will not inflict upon our readers; and while he spoke his teeth were ground together, and the nervous movement of his fists, and the fire of his bloated, bloodshot eyes, told that he was fearfully in earnest.

"Now look out," hissed the villain, with another brutal oath, while his companion moved to his side, "for ye 're a-goin' to ketch it! Your head ain't worth no more to you than ourn is to us, and we'll show ye that we don't take black eyes for nothin'!"

"For God's sake!" shrieked Constance Milmer, darting in before Orion, "don't take his life! Oh! don't make such a scene here! Let him go—let him go!"

"Stand back, woman!" cried Glicker; and as he spoke he caught her by the arm and hurled her back against the bed. A low, fearful cry broke from her lips, and at the same time a shriek of terror escaped from the lips of the child.

Orion Lindell was not the man to hesitate, or think of fear, after the fate was upon him. He never sought a quarrel never, and he would rather walk away than to suffer harm, if he could do so with honor; but when the pinch came, and he found no alternative left, he was calm and cool, knowing nothing of fear; and he could risk his own safety for the welfare of another as well as for himself, as we have already seen. When he saw Glicker hurl the poor woman away, he saw that the next movement would be upon himself. He knew it would be so, for the fellow's anger was now up and at work. With a quick motion the youth raised his foot and planted it with all his power in the pit of the villain's stomach. He had done this because he knew that he should have the second one to deal with instantly. Glicker gave one involuntary groan, as, with both hands clasped upon his diaphragm, he sank wholly down. Without stopping to observe further, Orion leaped forward and made one or two false passes at the head of Slumpkey. The fellow parried them with considerable skill, and seemed quite confident of an easy victory. The third pass Orion made was with the left hand—it was given moderately, on purpose that Slumpkey might ward it off without difficulty—and then, quick as thought, that same hand was passed over the villain's eyes, and in the next moment he received a blow under the left ear that felled him to the floor and just in season, too; for Glicker was getting upon his feet. Orion allowed him to rise, and then felled him as he had done the other. Immediately upon this he darted from the room, and having gained the side-walk, he had the good fortune to see two policeman standing in front of the groggery opposite the Mission. He hurried up to them, and asked them if they would apprehend the two rascals and carry them to the Tombs. They answered in the affirmative, and followed the youth to the place.

When they reached the room, they found Mr. Bill Slumpkey sitting up rubbing his neck, while the other was still upon the floor, but they soon managed to bring him to, and then the policemen wished to know who had helped our hero conquer the villains. They were at first unwilling to believe the story, but when Mrs. Milmer gave her solemn assurance that it was so, they had to believe it. One of them picked up the knife which Glicker had carried, and then asked Orion if he would help take them up.

"If there is any need, yes," returned the youth.

"Then come along. There'll be no mistake about their being locked up, for the Judge knows 'em of old."

The fellows were finally put in walking order, and though they swore quite freely and blusteringly, yet they offered no resistance. They were led by the two policemen, while Orion followed close behind, ready to meet them should they break away. When they reached the Tombs they found the Police Court in session, and ere long Messrs. Glicker and Slumpkey were sent into the back-yard, across the narrow court, into the lock-up, where doors they could not pass were shut upon them, one of the policemen giving them the cheering intelligence that they would probably be "sent over to the Island."

Having thus seen the villains disposed of, Orion hastened back to the apartment where he had left his friends. He made his way through the dark passage without much difficulty, and the door was opened for him by Lizzie, who had heard and knew his step. Constance Milmer blessed him again, while her husband fairly raised himself to a sitting posture and whispered his thanks with the tears rolling down his wan cheeks. His lungs were so far gone that he could not speak aloud, and even to whisper seemed to give him pain.

"Now," said Orion, sitting down upon the old chest, and motioning Mrs. Milmer to take a seat on the chair, "I would like to hear your story. Will you tell me something of the causes which have led to this?"

"The story is a simple one, sir," returned Constance, with a deep sigh, "and surely I have no objections to tell it to you. We have been married nine years this very month. James, my husband, was born and brought up in the city, but his parents both died when he was young, and he was put out by the man who took him, to learn the book-binder's trade. When he was free he came to our town to work, and boarded where I worked. We loved each other, and were soon married; and shortly afterwards James received the offer of good wages if he would come back to the city. We came, and for five years we lived pleasantly and were happy. At the end of that time he was taken sick, and we were soon obliged to sell some of our furniture, and move into a cheaper house. The man for whom my husband worked helped us some, but his own means were limited, and we would not ask him for help. Finally, Mr. Bradshaw—that was the binder's name—moved away, and shortly afterwards James thought he was strong enough to go at work. He found employment in a small bindery, where he remained almost a year; but he could not stand it longer. He took a severe cold—the cough became settled—and at length he came home to go back no more.

"That was a year ago last fall. Winter was upon us, and we had only twenty dollars laid by. We knew we must find a cheaper home. I went out, and at length found a single room on Anthony street, not far above here, where we moved in, selling such of our furniture as we could spare. There we lived through the winter, and when spring came our little stock of money was gone. I worked all I could, but I was very weak, and could make only a few pence a day, nearly all of which had to go for medicine for James. For that room we had to pay one dollar and a half a week. Of course we could do that no longer, and I found another room, nearer to this place, which I obtained for six shillings a week. There we remained through the summer. When autumn came again, and the weather grew damp and cold, and we had fuel to buy, I found we could keep that room no longer. We had sold every thing we could sell, even to our best clothing, for there were faint hopes that James might get well. The last thing I sold was my wedding dress. Oh, I had kept that as a sacred thing! But I had to sell it; and when I carried it up, the man thought I had stolen it!"

Here Constance stopped and put her hands to her face. The big tears tricked down through her thin fingers, and her fair bosom heaved with deep sobs. But she soon overcame the emotion, and then went on:

"Alas! even that poor room we could not keep. One day a woman told me she knew where there was a room I could have cheap. She went out with me, and brought me here. Oh, great God! how my heart sank within me as I stood within this pest-hole and gazed around. I could not think of coming here—oh, I could not! I went home, and ere long I knew that we could pay six shillings a week no longer, especially now that fuel must be purchased. I hunted everywhere, but I could find no other place for which I could pay. They told me I might have this for one dollar and twenty-five cents a month. I sat down and thought of begging! Aye—the thought was strong upon me. I would have gone to the Mission, but I knew them not, and I feared they would distrust me. But I came here. I cleaned the place as best I could, and a poor rag-picker helped me move my things. James cried like a child when he saw his new home, and after laying awake one whole night, he told me he would take a death-potion of laudanum if I would procure it. He would be a burden upon me no longer. I soon calmed his emotions, and finally we became used to the place so far as mere locality was concerned; but oh! the surrounding circumstances are dreadful. Right over the little yard we look into a den of thieves—beyond us, at the end of the passage, in the loft of the shed, lives a miserable drunken horde, while on the other side and below, and all about us, are collected the most vile and abandoned wretches that the human mind can conceive of. And then there are dark shadows upon the room itself, besides its filthy surroundings. Before we came a murder had been committed here; and there were spots of blood upon the wall. The last occupants of the place were an Italian family. The father died here of consumption. He used to be a fruit-seller, and had a little stand on the side-walk, just up in Pearl street.

"But we have lived long, though our life has been a hard one. I have searched for work, and all I can find which they will allow me to bring here, are these caps."

As she spoke she reached out to where a dozen common glazed caps lay upon the floor. They were of the ordinary black glazed stuff, lined with cheap cambric, and with a thick patent-leather visor.

"Will they not trust you with better work?" asked Orion, in surprise.

"No, sir. They fear it will be stolen."

"Stolen?"

"Yes, sir. Ah—not us—no, no. They do not fear us. But they know the people by whom we are surrounded, and they know that clothing would be stolen from us."

"And how much do you get apiece for making these?"

"One penny, sir."

"One penny?" repeated the youth, incredulously. "You do not mean that you make these—make the whole of them—for one penny each?"

"Yes, sir—that is all." *

[* A simple fact. There are honest women in this city who labor for a pittance so miserable, that the result of an evening's work would not pay for the oil burned to do it by!]

"Just Heavens!" exclaimed the visitor, as he clutched the cap in his hand as though he had the head of the owner within it, while his face burned with indignation, "the man who will do that—who will see a woman toiling for such paltry remuneration at his hands—should be hung—aye—hung! Mice and moonshine, what a scamp!"

"It is hard, sir, but I can do no better."

"But how many of them can you make in a day?"

"Sometimes, when James does not require too much of my time, I can make five. One day, and one only, I made six."

"And for whom do make them?"

She told him. It was for a man in Chatham Street.

"And," said she, "he can find plenty who would be glad to make them for that."

"Perhaps he can," return Orion, doubtingly. "So can a monarch find plenty of men and women who would eat off their fingers at his bidding rather than be put to death. But cheer up. We will see what can be done for you. Here is some clothing, and some food; and I will leave you a little money now, and then call and see you again."

The poor woman had seen too much of misery to refuse such help now, and she blessed their noble, generous friend, with tears gushing from her eyes like rain.

"Here," said Orion, "are five dollars which my employer, Mr. Garvey, gave me for you. You must use it as you think best, and in the mean time I will see what may be done for you. Don't be afraid of the money, for you shall have more when that is gone. My fellow-workmen will take pleasure in assisting me. If anything should occur that renders assistance necessary send Lizzie right up. She will know where to find me."

Constance Milmer was too full to speak; she could only bow her head and weep. Orion took the sick man by the hand—spoke a word of cheer,—then took little Lizzie in his arms and kissed her; and then, having bade the poor wife and mother to hope on, he turned from the place, with a deep, fervent prayer gushing out from his soul.


CHAPTER V.—JASPER THORNTON.—A SUSPICION.

BEFORE taking a stage for home Orion went to the shop, feeling that Mr. Garvey had a right to know how he had found the people whom he had been to visit. The men had all learned from their employer the circumstances of their foreman's adventure, and when they saw him about to report to the owner, they left their work and gathered about him. He told them all he had seen, and all he had done, and in doing so he could not well avoid an account of the encounter with the two villains whom he had met on the night before.

"By the——"

"Hold on," interrupted Orion, seeing by the speaker's expression that he was going to give utterance to a wild oath, "remember and don't swear. If you want an expletive just take mine. Say 'Mice and moonshine.'"

The man laughed, and when he had got over his merriment, he resumed:

"Well—then by the ghosts of mice and and moonshine, I'd just like to see man that could put you out of his way if you didn't choose, that's all."

"Pshaw!" returned our hero, "don't put it on any thicker."

Yet his companions would do so. They loved him, and they honored him. Though they loved him most for the noble nature that was in him, and though their respect was mostly hinged upon his virtue and honor, yet they could not but feel a peculiar love and respect in addition to all this, for the strange prowess that nature had bestowed upon him. Well did they know that he never left a friend in the lurch, and that the man who had him for a companion need fear no harm from any ordinary cause. Those men who now surrounded him knew him well, and they not only loved him, but at times they almost worshiped him. He saw that they were bound to turn all their thoughts upon what he had done, and he meant to change the current of their feelings. So he said, with much real emotion:

"Listen, boys: I have seen such things to-day as I never dreamed of before. Had a stranger told me what I have seen—had he pictured the scenes that my own eyes have this day rested upon, I should not have believed him. I could not have believed that human beings in this Christian city live as I have seen them living. I told Constance Milmer that my fellow-workmen would help her when they knew her sufferings."

"We will—that we will," cried half a dozen voices.

"By——"

"Mice and moonshine," interposed Orion.

"——Mice and moonshine! but we will, though!" resumed Fred Willet, a free-hearted beater, who was some few years older than Orion. "And I'd like to see her too."

"You shall. When I go again you shall some of you go with me, for they will feel happier to know that they have friends who care for them."

"But why have they not applied to the Mission there?" asked Mr. Garvey.

"Because they were afraid to. Had they just let either of the missionaries know their wants, they would have been helped at once; but Mrs. Milmer feared it would be looked upon as begging, and she shrank from it. But we will take care of them now, and leave the charity of the Mission for those who have no other friends."

The men were much pleased with the prospect of doing some good under the lead of their generous foreman, and after they had heard the story all through they returned to their work, while Orion went out upon Broadway and took a stage for up-town. When he reached home it was two o'clock, and while he was eating his dinner he gave his mother an account of his adventures, simply stating, with regard to the two villains, that he got a couple of policemen and had them taken.

"But what can such a man as that Duffy Glicker, as you call him, have to do with Constance Milmer?" asked the mother.

"I have thought a great deal upon that very topic," returned Orion, "and my mind has run into some very curious channels. This villain has a paper which he swears is of great consequence to her, and he wants some concessions from her. She dared not tell me what his proposition was, though I am sure I know what it must have been. I think she did not speak it, because she would not have her husband hear it."

"And what do you think it is?" asked Mrs. Lindell.

"Why," answered Orion, with a cold shudder, "he has surely proposed to the poor woman that she shall become his wife! He sees that James Milmer cannot live long, and he wishes to secure her hand against she becomes a widow. That is it, I am sure."

"And why should he do such a thing?"

"There is where my thoughts have started on such strange tracks. Surely he would not wish to secure her hand if there was not something to be gained from it. I know the fellow well enough to know that nothing on this wide earth would move him thus but the hope of gain. He has a paper which he has thus far kept sealed up from her. I have thought it might contain some secret of her life, or of the life of some one who is connected with her. Now, you remember the emotions of the lady—No, you were not here. But Mrs. Tiverton, the wealthy wife of a wealthy merchant, was very strangely affected by the appearance of little Lizzie. First she sat and gazed upon the child a long while; and then she called her to her side, and again she behaved very curiously. It was not until she found that the little one was was from the Five Points that she cast her off."

"Well," uttered his mother, as her son hesitated.

"Well," resumed Orion, "why may we not put this and that together? Mrs. Tiverton evidently found something familiar in the face of Lizzie Milmer. You know how strangely these family likenesses run sometimes."

"Yes. But was there any similarity between this lady of whom you speak, and the child?" asked Mrs. Lindell.

Orion had not thought of this before. Amid the many strange thoughts which had burdened his mind, this one—the most simple, and most direct and legitimate of all, had entirely escaped him. He was at first inclined to say that he did not know, but in a moment more a new light beamed upon his face. He started up from his chair, and clasped his hands quickly together.

"I declare, mother, I did not think of this before. But they are alike. Aye—they most surely are. Lizzie Milmer is almost the exact image of Mrs. Julia Tiverton; aye—the exact likeness! The same black hair; the same large black eyes; the same pale, moderate brow, the same finely chiseled, thin, aquiline nose; the same small mouth, and the same curling lips. Only the child has an expression of soul which the woman does not possess."

"So near?" said his mother.

"Aye—so near. Is it not strange?"

"It is, truly. But how is it with Lizzie's mother? Has she the same look?"

"Not at all," returned the youth. "Constance Milmer has light, sunny hair; deep blue eyes, and in no respect does she look like either of them."

"It is very strange," murmured Mrs. Lindell thoughtfully.

"Surely it is," added Orion; "and when I see her again I will broach the subject. I can do so easily. I will not only give her some hints about this paper, but I will also take the liberty of mentioning the remarkable likeness between her child and Mrs. Tiverton. I shall do it modestly, and without startling her. Upon my soul, I feel a great curiosity to understand this matter, for it puzzles me. It puzzles me strangely."

A while longer they conversed upon this subject, and then the youth wished to be informed more particularly concerning the state of their patient.

"She is in considerable pain," said his mother, "but she bears it nobly. She regained her senses about ten o'clock, but seemed too much confused to talk clearly; and I should not have conversed with her had she even wished to, for she was not able. The doctor came and put better splints upon her arm, and left such medicine as he wished her to take."

"Then she has not spoken at all?"

"Yes—she wished to know one thing—ah—two things: First, she asked who had saved her from death; and next, if her uncle had been here."

"Uncle?" repeated Orion.

"Yes; she called Paul Tiverton her uncle; but she said nothing about his wife."

"Ah—I guess Mrs. Tiverton hasn't much love for anybody," said Orion, with a dubious shake of the head.

"Perhaps not," returned the mother.

At this moment there came the low tinkling of a bell from the invalid's chamber, and Mrs. Lindell hastened up. The youth had not been long alone when he saw a young man coming up the walk through the front garden. The door-bell had been muffled, so Orion went to the door as soon as he saw the new-comer at hand.

"Is Miss Ellen Durand here?" the caller asked.

"There is a young lady here, sir, who was hurt this morning by being thrown from a coach and dragged off by the horses."

While Orion gave this answer he eyed the man very sharply. He had seen those features before, and there was something peculiar in the circumstances which brought them to his mind. The applicant was a young man, not over five-and-twenty; tall and quite stout—being considerably heavier than Orion; with rather hard features, but yet possessing a certain kind of dashing, free-and-easy masculine beauty. His complexion was sandy, and his hair and beard were evidently of the same hue before the barber colored them; for that they were dyed the most casual observer could have sworn. Take him all in all, he had a pretty extensive sporting look, though an air of gentility was present to soften down the mere outward appearance.

"I should like to see her," the visitor said.

"That would be impossible," returned our hero, still trying to remember where he had seen the man. "She is not able to see any one save the physician, and her nurse."

"And who is her physician?"

"Dr. Walter Stanley."

"And her nurse?"

"My mother, sir."

"Ah—yes. Will you see her soon?"

This question was not only asked in a very peculiar tone and with strong emphasis, but the speaker looked the youth's face with a sharp, dubious expression.

"Of course I shall not, at all events, not until she is better than she is now," Orion answered.

"Let's see! I suppose you are the man who saved her, are you not?"

This, too, was asked with that same look and tone; and Orion's eyes began to open to the truth. As he answered the last question in the affirmative he gazed into the man's face with a look almost of indignation, for he could see by his look, his tone, and the character of his questions, that he was the lady's lover, and that he was a little inclined to jealousy.

After this the visitor wished to know how badly the girl was hurt, and so on, all of which Orion answered to the best of his ability; and several times he put questions which palpably, nakedly aimed at the discovery of the fact whether our hero would be likely to see and converse with the ill-fated girl while she remained there; but he got no definite answer to these.

"Shall my mother tell Miss Durand who called?" asked Orion, as the fellow was about to turn away.

He hesitated a few moments, and finally took a small case from his pocket, from which he drew a card; and as he handed it to Orion, he remarked:

"You may send that to her; and also have your mother inform her that I will call again when I think she is able to see me."

Orion promised, and the visitor went away. As soon as he was gone, our hero looked at the card. It bore—"JASPER THORTON, M.D." In an instant the youth remembered all he sought. Now he knew who his customer was. Some two or three months before one of Orion's fellow-workmen, who had been in the city only a short time, and who was anxious to see the whole elephant, had been robbed of five hundred dollars in a gambling saloon on Broadway. He had gone in, and allowed himself to be induced to try a few stakes upon a faro bank. He knew that he had been plied with drugged liquor, and he knew that he had been directly robbed of his money. On the next day Mr. Garvey and Orion went with him to the saloon, and after a while Jasper Thornton came in, and the poor loser pointed him out as the man who had fleeced him; but they never got any of the money back. Henry Tweed—such was the young gold-beater's name—had no desire to prosecute, for he could not bear to come out publicly and own that he had been gambling. Yet he was not in the end so much of a loser, for the affair put him on his guard, and saved him from perhaps a worse fate. Mr. Garvey made inquiries of the keeper of the saloon concerning Thornton's character. At first the man refused to tell any thing about him, but Mr. Garvey assured him that he meant to make no further use of the knowledge, and the keeper finally told him all he asked. The gold-beater had known the keeper for some time, having been in the habit of buying much of his finest gold coin. Thus Garvey learned that Thornton was an orphan, having been left, at the age of one-and-twenty, with a fortune of over a hundred thousand dollars. He had passed through college, and also graduated at the medical school, and had received the degree of Doctor of Medicine, and been admitted to practice. Within three years from the day of his majority he had squandered every penny of his noble fortune, and was then living more by gambling than by his profession. In fact, he had very few patients, and even those were among the lowest class. Yet few people among his fashionable friends, if any, knew of his fall. Most of them supposed him still wealthy.

All this came to Orion's mind as he sat there with the card in his hand; and it was no very difficult matter for him to judge of Mr. Thornton's connection with Ellen Durand. In all probability the girl was wealthy, and he meant to win her and her gold. The very jealousy, or uneasiness, he had manifested proved that he had little faith in his own deserts. He surely feared that his lady-love would be easily won from him, by a noble, generous man.

There was some curious emotions in the youth's soul as he pondered upon this subject. He had seen enough of the girl to know that she was very beautiful, and his sympathies were all enlisted in her behalf. He experienced a pleasing emotion with the thought that he had saved her life, and he began to wonder if he should enjoy the privilege of conversing with her. He knew nothing of her—nothing at all—and yet the thought gave him pain.

But he was cut short in his reverie by the stopping of a coach at the gate, and in a few moments more he saw Paul Tiverton coming up the walk. The gentleman limped some yet, but he had evidently received but little injury.


CHAPTER VI.—A MYSTERY.

ORION felt a deep respect for Mr. Tiverton, for there was something about his look, and tone, and bearing, which, though proud, was yet true and noble. He bore the proof of honor in every lineament, and was far from being haughty or over-bearing. He was surely a man who ought to enjoy life, and yet there were shades upon his countenance that were never put there by joy or peace. At times, when all alone in his counting-house, or when by himself in his own dwelling, deep, dark clouds would come upon his brow, and for an hour at a time he would often remain bowed down in some moody thought. He was not a happy man; and yet no youth ever saw the sun of his manhood arise more brightly, or with better promise of a glorious day. But Paul Tiverton had seen dark days since then. He possessed a great heart—a noble, generous one—one that yearned for love and sympathy, and a soul that asked for joy in the companionship of other souls as pure and free as itself. In the turmoil of business a man may find food for his laboring mind, but he looks not there for social joys. If his home cannot afford him the pleasures he seeks, then where shall he find them?

Alas! Paul Tiverton found little joy in his home. Or, rather, he found but very little unalloyed. We have already seen a slight specimen of the character of his wife. She was not the woman for him. She had no sympathy for his better feelings, and as for those aspirations which lead the mind to purer, nobler thoughts, she knew nothing of them. She spent her time and attention only upon dress, and food, and drink, and visitors and visiting. Late hours were her property always, and the daytime she gave to sleep.

As the merchant entered the house he grasped Orion warmly by the hand, and having taken a seat, he asked after Ellen Durand. The youth noticed that he asked the question anxiously, as though he had great love for the injured one. Orion answered that she had recovered her senses, and that soon as his mother came out he could probably go in.

"It seems that she is not your child," said Orion, at the end of a few moments' silence.

"No," returned Tiverton. "She is no blood relative of mine at all; but yet I hold her within my very heart. She is a noble girl—a generous, pure, and faithful being. She is an orphan. Her father died when she was fifteen, and left her in my care. Her mother died when she was a mere child."

"And how old is she now?" Orion asked.

"Nineteen."

"Then, of course, if she has been kind and loving, she must be like a child to you. A pure and virtuous heart is a precious possession, sir."

The merchant gazed hard into the youth's features, and a moisture gathered in his eyes as he replied:

"Aye—you speak truly, sir. A pure and virtuous heart, alive with generous affection, is indeed a heavenly boon."

Orion still held Thornton's card in his hand, and as his eye rested upon it he fairly started with the thought which came to his mind. Here was a noble girl—a generous, confiding orphan, and perhaps a villain was deceiving her, and about to drag her down to misery. And furthermore, here was the man in whose care the girl had been trusted, and who loved her well. Was it not his duty to say something?

He had become aware of the doctor's character, and he felt it was no secret. He pondered upon it awhile, and at length he determined to speak—carefully at first—and then progress as his own judgment might dictate. He handed the card to Mr. Tiverton, saying as he did so:

"Perhaps you know that individual, sir."

The merchant took the card, and as his eye fell upon the name a cloud flitted across his face.

"Yes—I know him, sir. He has been here, has he?"

"Yes—he called a short time before you came."

"And did he see Ellen?"

"No, sir. I told him he could not see her at present."

"Right—right," uttered Tiverton with considerable satisfaction.

Orion hesitated a while, and then he proceeded:

"Pardon me, sir, but I would like to know if Mr. Thornton is waiting upon Miss Durand."

"Why—yes—I suppose so."

"And do you know anything of his character?"

"Ha! Do you?" uttered the merchant, starting quickly up as he heard the question.

"I know something, sir," returned our hero, in a low, careful tone.

"Then tell me, I pray you," said the other, earnestly. "I know that his parents were among the first people of the city, and that they left him a fortune—an independent fortune, and more too—vastly more. And I know that he is a graduate, and moves in our best circles; but after all I am not easy in view of his attentions to my ward. She has not pledged him her hand yet, though he feels certain she will. I am sure she has hesitated because she had not the fullest confidence in his honesty and truth. If you know anything concerning his character or habits I pray you let me be made acquainted with them. Do not hesitate, sir, for I assure you I would rather die now, in the very prime of my physical manhood, than live to see that sweet child come to misery and tears though the wickedness of another."

"Mr. Tiverton," returned the youth candidly, "it was this faith in Miss Durand's virtue and goodness that caused me to show you the card."

"And how gained you such faith?" asked the merchant, curiously.

"First, from the slight glimpse I had of her kind face; and, second, from the mild, noble resignation with which, according to my mother's account, she bears her misfortune. If I wanted another cause I might find it in your solicitude for her."

"You are observant, and you surely observe to some purpose," said the merchant, with a grateful smile; and then he added, "Now tell me of Jasper Thornton."

"Then listen, sir; and as I tell it I would beg of you to remember that it affords me no gratification thus to be able to speak ill of a fellow-being; that in revealing this man's character I am governed solely by the desire to save a worthy soul from contamination by an unworthy."

Mr. Tiverton signified that he appreciated the youth's feelings, and the latter proceeded:

"I shall tell you just as it happened, and then you can judge for yourself." Thereupon he went on and related how Thornton had enticed young Henry Tweed into play; how he had given him drugged liquor, and taken all his money from him. And then he related the story told by the keeper of the gaming-house. "This keeper," the youth said, "is a truthful man, and he utterly refused to reveal Thornton's circumstances and habits until he was assured Mr. Garvey would make no legal use of the information. Yes, sir—Jasper Thornton has squandered the whole of his fortune, and is now dependent upon his skill as a gamester for his livelihood."

"But he practices his profession, some?"

"Only among that class of poor lost creatures who are not yet sunk low enough to go to the dispensary."

"Just Heavens!" ejaculated the merchant, with his hands clasped, and his eyes turned upward. "Oh, kind sir, I thank you for this. I thank you most freely and warmly. The villain might have become my darling's husband. Aye—he might have done so but for this. He has represented that his money was all on deposit, and that he had not touched it yet—that he had been living on the proceeds of his practice. Oh, my loved ward is saved! But yet I should like some ocular proof of this. I should like to see him with my own eyes."

Orion pondered a few moments, and then he said:

"You shall have it. Go with me any night and I think I can show him to you, especially now that the lady is so that he can not visit her."

"But I should not like to have him know of my presence."

"That is easily fixed. There are in Chatham street several places where we can procure disguises; so we can visit the gaming saloons without the least danger of detection."

"And you will go with me to the place?"

"Certainly I will, on any evening."

"Then be assured I shall hold you to your promise."

At this juncture the door was opened, and Mrs. Lindell made her appearance. Orion at once arose, and introduced the visitor to his mother. The former arose, and having advanced and given his hand to Mrs. Lindell, he said:

"I am happy to make the acquaintance of the mother of so noble a son; and be assured that I am proud to claim the friendship of one who bases her claims to love upon her noble charity and benevolence."

Catharine Lindell gazed fixedly into the man's face, and there was a perceptible tremor in her frame.

"You are welcome," she said, in her sweet, gentle tones: "and I may say that I am happy to make the acquaintance of one in your position who is willing to recognize the claims of truth and honor. I may give you a mother's assurance that in whatever you may trust my son you shall find in him all that this same truth and honor can make him."

"There," said Orion, with a blush and smile upon his handsome face, "please say no more about me."

"You should not listen," quickly responded Tiverton, playfully. And then turning to the mother he added:

"Can I see my ward, good lady?"

"Yes, sir. She has been very anxious to see you. In fact, I should have been tempted to send for you had you not come, for the poor girl seemed so anxious that I feared it would be dangerous for her to go without seeing you,—or hearing from you, at any rate."

"Noble girl!" ejaculated the merchant fervently. "But lead the way at once."

Mrs. Lindell turned towards the door by which she had entered, and bade the gentleman follow her. Mr. Tiverton found Ellen in a very comfortable and neatly furnished apartment on the second floor, with every appearance of care and comfort about her. She made an instinctive effort to start up when she saw her guardian, but she was unable to do that, so she reached out her whole arm and smiled. She was very glad to see him, and her first words were of gratitude because he had come.

Mrs. Lindell withdrew as soon as the gentleman had found his ward, and the two friends were thus left alone together.

"You must have been very lonesome, my little Nelly," said the merchant, taking a seat by the bed.

"Oh, no; I have not been lonesome, Uncle Paul."

She always called him thus.

"Yet you wished to see me."

"Oh—yes—I wanted to see you very much; and you must come and see me every day. You will, won't you?"

"I will try to, my darling."

"Because," resumed Ellen, with a kindling eye, "it makes me feel stronger to have those I love care for me and love me, too."

The merchant kissed the hand he held, and then said:

"You must feel sorry with the thought that you are thus thrown upon the care of strangers."

The maiden reflected a moment, and then, while a peculiar shade passed over her face, she answered:

"It would be wrong to say anything which I did not feel, especially when these people have been so good. No—I think I had better be here than to be on Aunt Julia's hands. You know she is not very strong, and it might make her nervous to have me there in such a plight as I am now. Oh, these people have been very kind! Mrs. Lindell makes me feel perfectly at home. She is free and generous, and is so pleasant and good. You have not yet told them that I was wealthy?"

"No."

"And you won't, will you?"

"Of course not. But why are you so particular on this point?"

"Because they think now that I am a poor orphan,—or the good lady does—and I know she feels more happy and joyous in taking care of me than she would if she supposed I was the mistress of half a million of dollars, and meant to pay them well when I recovered."

"They must be curious people, then," said Tiverton. "But," he added, "I heard the young man say something which sounded like this when my wife was here with me. She said something about paying them if they would take good care of you, and he did not like it at all."

"Is this son a good-looking man, uncle?" asked Ellen, with a somewhat inquisitive expression.

"Why do you ask that?" returned the merchant with a smile.

"Why—because I thought I would like to know. I think I never saw a more beautiful woman, in the middle age of life, than Mrs. Lindell is."

"She is a handsome woman," said Tiverton, thoughtfully.

"Aye—she is beautiful," resumed Ellen, with enthusiasm, "What sums of money—what masses of wealth—she might obtain if she could but sell that beauty for money. How many of our votaries of fashion, who now paint and perfume, would envy her those lovely features. But they are nothing compared with the beauty—the loveliness—of her soul."

"Lindell—Lindell——" murmured the merchant; "what is her other name?"

"Catherine."

"Do you know where she came from?"

"No. I only know that she is a widow, and that she moved here and bought this house, intending to keep a few boarders. She did so a while, but finally her son assumed a position where he could make good wages, and she gave up her boarders, and now does a little sewing."

"Do you know what wages her son receives?"

"She told me twenty dollars per week."

"They can live very comfortably upon that, seeing that they have no rent to pay; but still we will find some way to help them one of these days."

"Aye—but you have not yet answered my question," said Ellen, with a smile.

"Ah—yes—about the young man, you mean?"

"Yes,"

"Did you not see him? He carried you far enough in his arms, with your heart beating against his own."

The fair maiden blushed—then smiled—and then, with a playful pat of the finger upon her guardian's face, she said:

"I was too deeply moved by the novelty of my position to notice faces then, sir. In fact, I did not feel very well."

"I should suppose not. But I will satisfy your curiosity, Nelly, as best I can. Suppose I were to tell you he is very ugly?"

"Then I should say that his goodness of heart overbalances it."

"Why—what know you of his goodness of heart?"

"I know this much," answered Ellen, with a flushed face, for her deep gratitude led her to defend her noble preserver: "On the night before I came here he saved a poor, ragged child from two great, stout, brutal men—he brought her home here and cared for her. Then he went out, and, at the risk of his own life, saved me from a terrible death. He brought me in, and having seen me in safe hands he went away and carried the child home, and made her parents happy. And now he is ready for the next case of suffering he may fall in with. I know this much."

"Well—I must say, that is more than can be said of most men. However he is not ugly-looking, at all; but, on the contrary, he is very good-looking—very good. But you may see him ere long, and then you can judge for yourself."

After some further conversation, Mr. Tiverton kissed his ward, and then arose from his seat. He had stood some moments in a thoughtful attitude, when he said, in a very careful tone:

"Perhaps Mr. Thornton may call to see you."

The color came again to Ellen's face; but she was not long in giving an answer.

"I would rather not see him while I am sick."

"Why so, darling?"

"Because I wish to possess all my strength when I next meet him. I am not fully satisfied with that man. I have seen some things in him which I do not like. During his last few visits he has been very anxious to find out how much money I possess. He has not asked the question directly, but he has asked if it was in your business, or whether I had it deposited; and when I evaded the question he not only seemed disappointed, but almost provoked, if not angry. I could see by the way in which he went at the work that he was very eager to know if I were not wealthy."

"Very well," said Tiverton, considerably relieved, "I am of your opinion with regard to his calling here, and if he comes we will have him informed that you are not well enough to see him."

The merchant thought it not best to inform her that Thornton had already been there; and having kissed her, and promised to call again on the morrow, he turned away and left the room. He saw that his visit had enlivened his ward, but still he knew that she was very low; and he could not leave until he had cautioned the hostess to be very careful of her.

Half an hour after this Orion went up to his own room on some errand for himself, and he found his mother there on her knees! Her hands were clasped, and her face was pale as death. When she saw her son she started up, and would have fled from the room had not the youth stopped her.

"In mercy's name," he gasped, "what has happened? Tell me, my mother—oh, tell me."

Mrs. Lindell started back and placed her hands upon her brow; and in this position sank down upon a chair. She remained so for some moments for a whole minute. At first her frame shook violently, but she gradually overcame the wildness of the emotion, and when she had wholly ceased trembling she arose to her feet. Her face was still very pale, and about the nether lip there were left traces of the old tremulousness. She spoke, and her voice was low and startling.

"Orion," she said, gazing fixedly into his face, "I am sorry you found me thus, for I should have entirely overcome it, with a short season of prayer. But you have seen me moved as you never saw me moved before, and as I trust you never will again. At some time I may tell you all you could wish to know; but if you love me, ask me no questions. Let this scene be forgotten."

"Forgotten?" exclaimed the youth, vacantly. And then, with more concentration of his faculties, he added, "How can I ever forget it?—How can I?"

"Then let it pass as you would the thunderbolt which had startled you. Oh, ask me no question! If you would prove your love—if you would give your poor mother the holiest boon she can ask—then question me not of what you have seen. Orion—my son—the moment is passed, never to return. Let it go. Let it be as in oblivion, and I shall bless you!"

With these words Mrs. Lindell turned and hurried from the apartment. She stopped not to hear a word—only at the door she half turned her head, and with an imploring, prayerful look she whispered:

"Remember! Oh, love me, and God shall bless you!"


CHAPTER VII.—DARO KID.—THE MERCHANT AT HOME.

IT was early morning—the sun had just risen clear and bright and the busy life of the great city was all astir; at least, where men had to labor with their hands to support themselves and families. The carts were rattling over the pavements—the milkmen were shrieking out their unearthly yells to arouse the lazy servant-girls—the pie-man was on his round—the newsboys had long had their "mornin' 'dishuns," and were now saluting the ears of pedestrians with their loud cries; while up from the piers where the Sound steamers had just arrived, crowds of people were hurrying with their carpet-bags, valises, umbrellas clutched firmly under their arms to keep them from the intruding clans of graceless runners and assiduous hackmen.

The Fall River steamer had just reached her berth near the Battery, and her passengers were flocking up into the street. The coaches and stages had picked up their loads and gone, and the crew had already commenced to break out the freight, when an old man made his way slowly up the gang-plank, and turned towards the street. He was the last passenger to leave, and his looks plainly showed that he had but just awakened from a sound sleep. In fact he had been perched away upon the top of some bales of coarse fabric, and it was not until the men had pulled down part of his bed that he was aroused. They helped him out, and having informed him that the boat was in, he made his way up to the street. Of years he might not have seen more than fifty, but his form was much bent, his hair sparse and gray, and his face very thin, wan, and sunken. His frame had once been stout and strong, and his bearing noble, but the hand of time and sore disease had made sad havoc upon him. His garb was that of a seaman, and much worn and soiled, and his only luggage consisted of a small bundle, done up in a faded cotton kerchief, which he carried in his left hand, using in his right a stout staff of some foreign wood with which he aided his tottering steps. He had given his name on board the boat as Daro Kid.

The old man moved slowly on until he came to Barclay Street, when he turned up towards Broadway. At every eating-house he came to he would stop and gaze wistfully upon the food, and then examine the face of the keeper, as though he would decide from that whether charity might be found there. He had turned into Barclay Street, and at length came to a small cellar, at the entrance to which stood a woman. He looked down and found that meals were served up there, and then he gazed into the female's face. She was far from being a neat-looking person, but yet there was something in her countenance which seemed to say that her heart was not a hard one. She asked the old man if he wanted breakfast.

"Aye, my good woman," he quickly replied, "I do want a meal of victuals, though I hardly know whether I would call it a dinner, supper, or breakfast. I have eaten nothing since yester-morn, and am faint and weak. I have no money—not a penny, nor have I much that I can sell. If you will give me a crust of bread—something with which to appease my raging hunger. I will pay you if I am ever able. I may not live to see you again, and I may live to pay you. But in God's name, give me food! I can pay thee in blessings if I have nothing else."

The woman cast her eyes over the old man's trembling form, and then, in a cheerful, kindly tone she said:

"Come down, sir. We shouldn't making a living by furnishing meals at such a price, but 'twouldn't be Christian-like to see a poor old man die of hunger when we have plenty to eat. Some man may come along to-day and pay for double what he eats. Come—I guess we'll find something."

The old man followed her down, and ere long she had placed before him a generous cut of steak, with bread, butter, potatoes, and a cup of coffee. When she had done this she went and stood off opposite him where she could see him eat.

"God bless the generous woman!" he murmured to himself, as he tasted the grateful food. She heard him, though she knew it was not meant for her ears, and a sense of satisfaction, such as the paltry price of a dozen meals could not have procured, rested within her bosom. The stranger soon consumed the food that had been placed before him, and was about to rise from the table when the woman approached him. She saw that he moved reluctantly, and she doubted if he had eaten enough.

"Won't you have something else?" she asked.

"I won't impose upon your charity, my generous friend," he returned.

"But would you eat more if you had it?"

"Yes—I should—for I am yet hungry."

"Then wait." And thus speaking the woman went away, and when she returned she bore a small tin tray, upon which was a plate of meat hash, more bread and butter, and another cup of coffee.

The old man ate all of this, and big tears stood in his eyes as he thanked his kind hostess for her bounty. She assured him that the satisfaction of seeing him enjoy the food had been pay enough for her, and at length he took up his bundle and staff and went away. He kept on until he came to Rushton's, on the corner of Barclay and Broadway, where the woman of the eating-house had informed him he would be likely to find a City Directory. He found here what he sought, and having received permission to look at the book he opened it, and spent some time in poring over its pages. Finally he closed it, and with a half-audible prayer upon his lips he turned once more into the street.


In one of these splendid residences on Fourteenth street lived the wealthy merchant, Paul Tiverton. Some years before he sold the old family estate "down town," with its wide lawn and great trees, to make room for two blocks of great stores, and had since lived where we now find him. He had found it hard to part with the old homestead, but the demand for business called urgently for the land, and as the dwellings of his neighbors had been pulled down all around him, he finally consented to sell out, which he did for a second fortune. The first floor above the basement of the merchant's present dwelling was the parlor, all thrown into one room, being only partly divided by two Moorish arches of gold and stucco. The furniture was of the most costly and sumptuous kind the carpets like soft down, and the walls hung with magnificent paintings. In the rear of these parlors was a continuation-apartment, formed by an addition to the main building, and which opened from the front room by two doors of rich stained glass. Within this latter place was Tiverton's great private secretary, and here he now sat engaged in overhauling some papers.

It was a comfortable place where the merchant had thus arranged his business matters, light and airy warm in winter, and cool in summer, and away from the noise and bustle of the street. It was here that he kept all his own private books, acting as his own clerk save when Ellen Durand came into help him. She had for some three years kept his journal for him, and often posted his accounts and took care of his most valuable papers. He had trusted her with the most important documents, and even left their arrangement oftentimes to her. For this he now felt lonesome and sad. This was the first time for a long, long while that he had sat down in that room, and opened his ponderous secretary, without having the sweet face of Ellen Durand by his side. While he sat thus one of the glass doors was opened, and a young girl entered his apartment. She was eighteen years of age; tall and straight; with black hair and eyes, a face very pale and thin, and possessing a sort of cold, selfish, haughty beauty. Such was Isabella Tiverton, the eldest child of the merchant and his wife. The father gazed up into her face; but instead of the warm smile which might have been expected from a parent to a child, he gave her a look of deep, tremulous pity.

"Pa," said the girl, coming up and placing a thin, white hand, upon which sparkled many jewels, on his shoulder, "we want some money." She spoke in a drawling, lisping tone, which well accorded with the haziness of her movements.

"Who is we!" asked the merchant, taking his daughter's hand, and smiling faintly.

"Why—ma and me."

"Oh—yes. And how much do you want?"

"Pooh!—don't ask such foolish questions. How can we tell how much we may want?"

"Let's see—you were out yesterday?"

"I was; but ma wasn't."

"Well——" And thus speaking the merchant drew forth his pocket-book and took from thence five one-hundred-dollar notes. "There," he continued, while a shade of pain passed over his face, "are five hundred dollars. I suppose that will answer."

"Yes," said Isabella, as she took the money and thrust it into her watch-pocket, "I suppose this will do. Hope you don't begrudge it to me."

"Not at all, my child. All I can ask is, that you will be careful of yourselves. I would have you remember that money alone cannot confer happiness."

"And we won't forget that this life would be a very poor thing without it," said the girl with a light, mellow laugh.

"Are you going out with the carriage?" the father asked.

"Yes."

"And will you not call upon Ellen?"

"Oh—no! Don't ask me to do that, pa. I wouldn't go in among those low people for any thing."

"Low people? And what makes them low?"

"What makes them? Why—they are poor—and live in a mean house—and work just as horses and oxen do!"

"Why, child," spoke Mr. Tiverton, somewhat sternly, and with much bitterness, "you talk very foolishly. That woman who is now nursing poor Nelly is worth more to humanity, and of more account on earth, and occupies a wider space in the love of Heaven, than a score of beings like yourself! And she is a beautiful woman, too. And her son is one of the noblest young men in this city—aye, one of the most worthy I ever knew."

"You are complimentary to your own flesh and blood," said Isabella, with a show of more than ordinary feeling.

"I cannot help it. God knows, my child, it pains me to be obliged to say so. Come—why can you not go and see Nelly? She would be very happy."

"No—I shall not. I don't care if I never see her again—there!"

"How?—Isabella?"

"I don't. You think she's better than anybody else, and you want to set her up for a pattern."

"I would like to have you copy her manners, my child."

"Oh yes—so you told her."

"How do you know I told her so?"

"Ma heard you."

"And did your mother tell you?"

"Yes, she did tell me so."

As the girl thus spoke she turned quickly away and left the apartment. Paul Tiverton gazed after her until she had disappeared, and then he rose and commenced to pace to and fro across the room.

"Oh, Julia, Julia!" he murmured, in broken accents, while his whole frame quivered with emotion, "how can you do thus? What have I done that you should thus drag me down to misery and suffering? Why will you put our own child upon the same fatal track? Alas! ye are both lost—both! both! My child has no heart left! All is bent and warped, until the soul has become a mere marble tenement, within which nothing but the thoughts and images of fashion—accursed fashion—can find a dwelling-place. Oh ye might have fashion—fashion, to your heart's content—I'd purchase it for you gladly, even though it took half my fortune, if you would only find some little time for holier, nobler thoughts! But——"

He did not conclude the sentence, for just then the door opened, and a boy entered. The merchant turned and opened his arms, and the new-comer was clasped to his bosom.

This was Paul Tiverton's son. He and Isabella were the only two children now left to the merchant and his unhappy wife. They had been blessed with others, but they had not lived. They came into the world by a mother whose own system was weak and shattered, and the seeds of disease were sown even at their birth. Conrad, the living boy, was fourteen years of age, and a single look at his pale, wan face was sufficient to show that he was not long for earth. He was tall for his age, but very slim and weak. He had a strong, clear, and grasping mind, but no physical frame to sustain it. His breast was very thin and sunken—his shoulders narrow and rounding, and his step feeble and tottering. But he had a noble head. He had his father's head, and he had his father's generous soul.

"Well, my dear boy," said the merchant, sitting down and drawing Conrad upon his knee, "how do you feel to-day?"

"I feel very well indeed, father. I have not felt so well in a long time."

But, oh! how hollow that voice sounded! The poor man noticed it, and a cold shudder passed through his frame. But he smiled, and in a cheerful tone he said:

"Ah—when the summer time comes, and you can go out into the country, and run around over the green fields, and snuff up the pure fresh air—then you will gain strength, and perhaps be as well as any one."

"Ah, father—you can not feel as I feel. I am just as sure that I shall leave you ere the coming summer is passed as I am that I now live. The chill hand is heavy upon me and I know what I say. I have watched the fading away of the body, and I have kept a clear account of the running of the sands in my glass. I know very nearly when the last beam of earth will fade, and the last sand drop. But mourn not, father. I fondly believe that you will call me to mind only with pleasing memories."

The father could not speak. He gazed a moment into the face of his boy—he heard the deep heavy breathing—and he felt how truly the loved one had spoken. He pressed him again to his bosom, and thus he remained for a long time. When he was called from the painful reverie it was by the servant's announcing that there was an old man at the door who wanted to see him.

"He is a sailor-man, and very poor," explained the servant.

"Never mind," returned Tiverton, "show him in."

And in a few moments more the bent and battle-scarred form of Daro Kid stood before the merchant.


CHAPTER VIII.—A STARTLING SCENE.

THAT old man formed a strange contrast with the sumptuous surroundings, and he seemed to realize it, for he gazed furtively about him, and trembled perceptibly—though his tremulousness may have been the result of his bodily weakness. But when his host had handed him a chair with his own hand, and with a kind smile bade him be seated, Daro seemed more at home, and began to take some rest.

"You have come to see me, I presume," said the former, speaking very plainly and mildly, and evincing not a bit of dislike to the ragged clothes.

"Your name is Paul Tiverton?"

"Yes that is my name."

"Well, sir—I did wish to see you. I have followed the sea for many years, and for many years, too, have I been absent from my native country. I have just returned—I arrived in Boston a week ago, and came on here this morning; and my only desire is to find some friend. I have made inquiries for some I left in Boston, but they have gone—all gone home to the land from whence God suffers none to return. There is one left whom I would find if she lives, and for that purpose I came here. Do you know if Aunt Rhoda Church is living?"

"Church?" repeated Tiverton. "Why—she was my wife's aunt—the sister of my wife's father."

"I understood you had married with a relative of hers, and hence I called upon you."

"Well, my good man, I cannot inform you whether she is living or not. If I remember rightly she went into the Eastern land speculation some years since—she bought a whole township, for which she paid nearly all she had of worldly goods. It turned out that her township was upon the side of a mountain, and the beautiful mill-stream which had been drawn upon the plan proved to be a low, muddy brook which ran from a soft, dangerous bog. In fact, the whole purchase proved to be a wicked snare. She went on to see if any thing could be saved, and I have not heard from her since. Perhaps my wife may have received some intelligence, however. Might I ask what relation exists between yourself and the lady in question?"

The old man hesitated ere he answered, and seemed to be somewhat troubled; and when he did speak his voice was unsteady, and far from being frank.

"She was only a friend to me in years gone by," he said. "That's all. I knew her well, and she knew me."

"Then she is no relation of yours?"

"Oh no, sir—not at all. When I was a youngster, and without friends, she gave me a home, and was very kind to me."

"Ah—well—yes, yes. My wife will be at home ere long, and she may know."

"You will not have me see any ladies, I hope," said the old man quite eagerly.

"Oh—there is no need of that if you don't wish it," the merchant returned. "I will see Mrs. T. when she comes, and let you know the result."

For some minutes after this, the little party sat in profound silence, which was at length broken by Conrad. The boy moved close to the old man's side, and gazing earnestly up into his face he said:

"You are very poor, are you not?"

"Yes, my son—I am," returned Kid, with a trembling lip; and then, after a moment's pause, while he placed his weather-browned hand upon the boy's shoulder, he added—"But my poverty is not the result of any evil on my part. While fortune has been favoring some it has been leaving others in darkness and in trouble. Once I was buoyant and gay, and dreamed not that I could ever become poor and dependent. I was strong and hopeful, and went forth boldly to battle with the events of life. I mean to be good and honest, for so I knew I should most surely succeed. A noble and virtuous mother had taught me the great lessons of the Christian's life, and I forgot them not. I could not forget them while I loved her blessed memory; and her memory I could not put from me while in all other respects I was alone on earth. Ah, my son, if you would be a happy man, never forget the lessons of a tried and loving mother——"

"Nor of a noble and generous father," whispered Conrad, evidently meaning that his parent should not hear his words.

"Nobly spoken, my boy," said the old man, with energy. "Only I lost my father before I was old enough to prove him. But it's all the same—father or mother. You won't think me over free for speaking thus, for I am an old man, and know all about it."

"No, no," said Conrad, "I love to hear you."

"Well—I was only going to say this: You see me an old worn-out man. I commenced life, as I said before, strong and hopeful; but misfortunes came. I lost those I loved, and was left alone. Then I was cast away, and for long years I was miserable and unhappy in body. But even now, with all my earthly misfortunes, I can look back and say that I have not forgotten the good lesson my mother gave me. I was never drunk; I never told a lie; I never wronged a fellow-being, and I never took the name of my Maker in vain. And now just think how much happier I am for all this. Ah, my son, if you grow up to be a man, you won't forget it. Be sure that such a boon in an old age is worth more than worldly wealth. I would not sell the consciousness that I never betrayed the dying trust of my mother for all the riches of earth."

The old man spoke all this with an honest, open-hearted simplicity which proved two things: First, that he was totally unacquainted with the cold, outer fashions of society; and, secondly, that his heart was true and faithful. Had he been versed in the common usages of society he would never have dared thus to force his moral precepts upon one so far above him in the social scale. But he had seen that in the boy's face which told him he had a generous heart to deal with, and hence he had been free and composed.

Conrad gazed a few moments into the old man's face, and then he turned away and left the room.

"I hope I have not offended the youngster," said Daro as the boy withdrew.

"Oh, no. You need have no fear of that," replied the merchant.

Ere long Conrad returned, and in his hand he bore a small purse made of common chamois leather.

"My good old friend," he said, advancing to where the visitor sat, "I know you are poor,—I think very poor. Is it not so?"

The old man trembled, and a bright tear stole out upon his heavy lids; but he did not hesitate long, though his answer was given in a tone which seemed to indicate that he had no desire to force the story of his extreme poverty upon his friends.

"I am poor," he said. "My last penny I paid for a passage on the steamer. This morning a good woman gave me a meal of victuals,——"

"Then take this," resumed Conrad, at the same time extending the purse. "Do not hesitate, for I have no use of it. It is gold, and if you use it properly it will support you some time."

"But——"

"No buts until you have taken the purse," interposed the generous boy, as Daro attempted to speak. "If you would afford me an additional item of joy for this short life you will accept my gift. I give it as one who has plenty, to one who has no need. From me to you it is but due."

The old man cast an inquisitive look into the father's face, and as the latter saw the meaning of the look he said:

"Take it, sir. My son will feel happier if you do."

So the poor man took the purse and clutched it in his hand. It was very heavy, and the contents gave forth that peculiar sound which only gold can produce. He looked upon it a moment, and then turned his gaze into the face of his boy-friend. His nether lip quivered—his whole frame trembled, and in a moment he burst into tears.

"God bless you!" he fervently ejaculated, as he reached forth one trembling hand and placed it upon the boy's head. "As true as God lives this is the first time in long years that I have held in my hands the means for the morrow's sustenance! It is a happy thought that to-morrow I shall not beg! Oh! could I work—could I even dig in the earth—I would not take this—I would leave it for some one needed it more,—but my strength of body is gone. I will not spend a penny of this without remembering the generous donor, and asking God to bless him!"

Both Conrad and his father were deeply affected by this, and surely they must have felt that they had purchased this amount of happiness, for themselves and for another, very cheaply. But before any further remark could be made the front door was heard to open, and Conrad made the remark that his mother had returned.

"As soon as my wife has removed her things," said Mr. Tiverton, "I will call upon her and make the inquiry you would have answered."

But instead of going directly to her own apartments Mrs. Tiverton threw off her bonnet and mantle in the hall, giving them in charge to her maid, and then moved towards her husband's study. Perhaps she supposed he had gone to his counting-house, for she entered the narrow apartment with a careless, fatigued air, as though she had intended to throw herself upon one of the easy sofas there. She had fairly entered, and allowed the glass door to close behind her, ere she noticed the presence of her husband, and she would have withdrawn at once had not he detained her.

"Julia," he said, "stop a moment. Here is a man who has called to make some inquiries."

"Who? This man?" cried the painted woman in disgust, as she moved as far away as possible from the poor visitor.

"Yes," returned her husband, "he has——"

"You can enjoy his company as long as you please," interrupted the woman, with a look and tone of deep disdain; "but I pray you to relieve me from the infection!"

She was about to hurry from the place, when Mr. Tiverton spoke; and there was a strange tone of command in the words that caused her to stop and turn.

"Julia," he said, sharply and sternly, "this poor man is without friends, and he has come here to try and find the only being on earth from whom he can claim that boon—and we know not that even she may be living. He wishes to find old Aunt Rhoda Church."

"He—find Aunt Rhoda?" exclaimed Mrs. Tiverton, gazing for the first time full into the old man's face.

"Yes, ma'am," returned the humble visitor. "I would like to find the good old woman. When I last saw her she—she——"

Thus far the old man had spoken in a tremulous, unsteady tone, and with his gaze fixed upon the woman's face; but he could not proceed. His voice faltered, and finally failed him. But the attention of the merchant was quickly called from him to his wife, for her manner began to be more strange and unaccountable than had been that of the former.

Mrs. Tiverton had returned the old man's gaze for a few moments, but suddenly her face grew ashen pale where the paint did not hide it, and her frame shook fearfully. She moved a step nearer to where the stranger sat, and in a faint, spasmodic tone she uttered:

"What of Rhoda Church? What is she to you? Who—who—are—you?"

The toil-worn man trembled until every joint shook, and when he spoke it was in a hoarse, agonized whisper:

"I am what you see. Alas! not what I was!"

Julia Tiverton uttered one low cry of fear and pain, and then sank down faint and powerless!

Daro Kid turned to Conrad, and while the tears streamed down his eyes, and his bent frame quivered, he asked:

"She is your mother?"

"Yes," whispered the boy, in a state of utter bewilderment.

"Here here " the old man cried, forcing the purse of gold back into the noble boy's hand, "take—it,—I can not keep it. Oh, God, I cannot! I will bless thee the same—I will pray for thee always but—but——"

The words were lost in a burst of anguish, and seizing his hat the strange man rushed from the place. Mr. Tiverton started from the side of his prostrate wife and hurried after him, overtaking him at the front door, where he had been stopped by his inability to raise the night-latch.

"Hold! hold, sir!" the merchant cried, seizing Kid by the arm and pulling him back. "Here this way. Come in here for one moment!"

As Tiverton thus spoke he seized the wire of the doorbell, which was close at hand, and when the servant girl came to answer the summons he directed her to go and attend to her mistress. After this he pulled the old man into the front parlor, and there confronted him. He was very pale, and his stout frame shook with excitement.

"Oh!" he gasped, "do not leave me until you have explained this strange scene. I have a right to ask—I have a right to know. Tell me—tell me—Oh, in God's name, I conjure you to tell me what all this means!"

The old man started back from the merchant's grasp, and with one mighty effort he claimed the raging emotions that had so wonderfully affected him.

"Paul Tiverton," he said, in a tone of mystic power, "you know not what you ask. Let me go—let me go!"

"Not until you have told me what I ask. What does all this mean? Oh, by all your hopes of help and peace on earth, and happiness hereafter, I pray you tell me!"

"You know not what you ask. Oh, I meant not to have seen her. Let me go, sir—let me go."

"Once more, old man, I ask you to tell me this secret."

Tiverton grasped Kid again by the arm as he spoke, and glared into his face like a madman. The latter seemed for a moment to be frightened; but with a strong effort he overcame the emotion, and a shade of relief passed over his face as a new thought entered his mind.

"By the powers that hold us up, old man, you must tell me," resumed the merchant, as the other hesitated. "You have no right to keep it from me. Come speak!"

"Paul Tiverton," spoke the strange man, more calmly than before, "your wife must know all you would ask. Go to her. You may command her—but you can not command me. Ask her—ask her what you will—but you need not look to me for light, for I will not, I can not speak. Listen: Were it in your power to put back the hand of death from me at this moment, I would not purchase your intervention by opening my lips to speak the story you seek. Now let me go."

"But tell me this," cried the merchant, after a moment's hesitation. "Shall I see you again?"

"Aye—if I live you shall. If you meet me not otherwise, I will come to you, for I would find Rhoda Church."

"Then you may go; but ere you do so you must take this purse. Stop. Hear me out first. You must have seen my boy's weakness upon his face. He can not live much longer. If you refuse his bounty he will be sorry, and it may injure him much, for his mind is easily operated upon. Let me assure him that you have retained his gift, and he will be happy."

"Then, sir, I will take it thankfully, and I will not forget to bless the noble giver."

Paul Tiverton passed out into the hall, and having opened the front door the old man went out. Not another word was spoken. The merchant watched the bent and feeble form as it tottered away from the door, nor could he remove his eyes from it until his strange visitor had turned the distant corner. As he stepped back into the hall he saw the maid leading his wife up the broad stairway. He caught a glimpse of her face—the paint had been all washed away—and it was as pale as death. He could not bear to question her now, and he went into the parlor and closed the door behind him, where he remained for a long time, pacing to and fro, with his head bowed, his hands clenched, and his soul stirred up to a state of agony intense, as he wondered what explanation his wife could give of the remarkable scene he had witnessed.


CHAPTER IX.—SHADOWS.

WHILE Mr. Tiverton yet paced up and down with noiseless tread upon the soft carpet he was aroused from his reverie by hearing his name pronounced in the back room, and upon going in there he found his coachman inquiring for him of his son.

"What is it, Thomas?" the merchant asked.

"Will you have the horses put up, sir?"

"Yes—Ah—no. Stop a moment. No—you may let them be. Conrad, wouldn't you like to ride up and see Nelly?"

"Yes—by all means," quickly returned the boy.

"Then let the coach be at the door, Thomas, and I will be out soon."

The coachman withdrew, and as the father and son were left alone the latter moved to his parent's side and placed his hand upon his arm.

"Did you make him take the money, father?" he asked eagerly.

"Yes, yes, my son. He took it freely."

"And what could he have meant by his strange behavior?"

"I have not the least idea, Conrad—not the least. I asked him but he would not tell me. I urged with all the power of persuasion I could command, but he would say not a word on the subject. He only bade me ask—your mother."

"It was very strange," the boy murmured, half to himself.

"Very—very," added the father. "It is beyond my power of comprehension. But I may learn it from her."

"But why should he have thrown back the money which I had given him? He seemed to have a dread of me—and it was because I was her child!"

A cold shudder crept through the stout man's frame as he heard this, and he turned away his face to hide his emotions from his child. But he put an end to the theme by bidding the boy go and prepare for the ride.

Conrad hurried away, and ere long he returned all ready to go out. His father took him by the hand, and having led him to the carriage he handed him in, and then followed himself. The fresh air was grateful to the young invalid, and the parent at length succeeded in drawing his attention away from the subject of the affair which had so lately transpired. When they reached Mrs. Lindell's cottage the good hostess admitted them to the house, and then bade them wait while she went to prepare Ellen for their coming.

The fair girl was very happy to see Conrad, and drew his head down by the side of her own, and thus they remained for some time.

"Nelly," said the boy, while his face was thus pillowed thus by the side of her own, "you must get well and come home before I go."

"Before you go?" repeated the maiden in surprise.

"Yes. You know I am going away soon."

"I did not know it, my dear brother."

"Ah, you don't understand. I speak of the long journey—the last and best journey of life—the passage from mortal to immortal."

"Hush, Conrad. Don't speak so any more. The sweet breath of spring will revive you."

"It does revive me, sweet sister, and it puts me in mind of the calm and peaceful land beyond. God has been very good to keep me through the cold winter."

"Aye—and he will keep you much longer. I shall soon get well, and then I'll come home, and we'll be very happy for a long time."

While they were thus conversing Mr. Tiverton stood apart and gazed upon them, and the expression of his face showed that deep, very deep thoughts were passing through his mind. As he gazed he could not but think that the beloved boy was fast fading away. He saw before him all he had to deeply love and cherish on earth. Those two were the only ones who were good to him, or who tried to make him happy. That wife whom he had cherished and protected, and for whose comfort his whole wealth was pledged, cared little for him. She gave him no moment of genial companionship, but only treat him as a necessary evil without which she could not keep up her establishment. He knew that her faith was not his, and that her heart never yearned for his love. And then he saw his oldest child dragged away with her, and her heart, too, warped from him, and her soul undermined and corrupted.

Oh, such thoughts came often upon him, and they gave him such pain as few can realize. There was a great and noble heart wronged and bruised; a generous, virtuous soul rent and tortured with anguish, and a worthy, deserving life-cup overrun with gall and bitterness. And amid all this he could only turn to those two before him for love and joy. In their companionship alone could he find those few flowers which shed a fragrance over his else dark pathway.

And now even this last cup was embittered. As he gazed upon the most precious jewel—most precious because it was his own flesh—he marked the hand of the destroyer laid heavily upon it. He knew that the light must soon go out—that the loved casket must fall to earth—and the jewel be snatched away forever from this home of the body.

And it is a wonder that his mind should run further on? He saw that his sweet son must soon pass away, and then his thoughts dwelt upon the beloved girl who had been so long a source of joy and comfort to him. She was growing older—she was beautiful—and ere long some favored one would come and take her away to a home of her own, where she would be mistress, and where new affections would cluster about her.

And what should he do after this? Alas! he dared not think of it. It was too dark and drear. And yet he felt that it must come. He was in the midst of this reverie when Ellen called to him, and as he approached her bedside his face brightened, and some gleam of happiness shone upon it.

Ellen Durand was yet very weak, but the doctor had assured her that if she was careful she would escape the systematic fever. His treatment had been judicious, and he had aimed to assist nature in all its legitimate functions. Instead of weakening the system with blood-letting and unnecessary opiates, thereby reducing the power of the body to resist disease, he had followed a natural course, relieving the sense of pain as much as was consistent, but not enough to deaden it. She had been informed that it would be two weeks, at the least, before she could be moved with safety, the frame having received so severe a shock that sooner exertion would be dangerous.

When the merchant came out from the sick-room and descended to the parlor, he found Mrs. Lindell seated by the window. As she did not turn to greet him he at first thought of passing on without disturbing her, but upon second thought he feared she might think he had slighted her if he did so, and he spoke.

"I find your fair charge much easier than I had expected," he said, moving toward the spot where Mrs. Lindell sat.

"Ah yes, sir," she returned, starting at the sound of his voice, and trembling slightly as she met his gaze.

But that tremulousness soon passed away, though it left her face very pale.

"Let me assure you, madam," he resumed, "that I am very thankful fortune has thrown my ward in such good hands."

Mrs. Lindell bowed her head, but she did not speak. Her lips trembled, but no words came forth. The merchant gazed hard upon her, and his own look grew more intense and earnest. Suddenly a gleam of intelligence lighted up his handsome features, and in a quick, sudden manner he said:

"Lady—pardon me—but I never noticed it before—have we not met ere this?"

Catherine Lindell cast one seeking, searching glance into the man's face, and then, in a bursting, struggling tone, she gasped——

"Excuse me, sir—but—she may—need my attendance." And with these words upon her lips she turned away and hurried from the room.

"Just heavens!" ejaculated Tiverton, with a look and tone of mingled astonishment and pain. "Can it be possible that she misunderstood me? Can she hold one single doubt of my my honor? Can she for one moment suppose that I am a villain?" He trembled as he spoke, and every look showed that he was deeply pained.

"Father," said Conrad, moving to his parent's side, "there is something strange in that woman's behavior. She watched you most curiously ere you turned full towards her. You are mistaken. I am sure, from her whole manner, that she mistook you for some other person. Of course you have never had any dealings with her."

"None that I know of, my son."

"Then rest assured that she mistook you for some one else—some one, perhaps, whom she has occasion to fear."

"And yet," murmured the merchant, half to himself, "there is something in her countenance which is familiar. I never noticed it until to-day. But now I see a face which brings back some lost memory of the past. I have surely seen her."

"Then perhaps her impression may be correct."

"What—that should lead her to fear me?"

The boy gazed in his father's face and was silent. Paul Tiverton saw the look, and he knew its import. He knew that his boy dared not say that his father might not, at some former time, have done some deed of which he had since repented. A bright, warm glow suffused the merchant's face as he answered, for he knew that he could speak a truth that would give his child peace and joy.

"Conrad," he spoke, taking his boy's hand, and gazing calmly into his face, "on all this earth there lives not a being who can say that Paul Tiverton ever did him, or her, any harm. I am not aware of one act of my whole life that can be brought against me by my fellows. There may be shortcomings and sins upon my soul, but they rest between myself and my God, and men have no affair in them. So dismiss any fear on that score, my child."

"Oh, I bless thee for this, my father!" the boy uttered, fervently and energetically, "for every new assurance of my father's worth makes me happier in the love I bear him."

The stout man bent over and imprinted a warm kiss on the brow of his generous boy, and then, having wiped a tear from his eye, he turned from the house. The carriage was waiting for them at the gate, and they jumped in and were driven off.

It was some time after Mrs. Lindell left the merchant and his son ere she went up to the chamber where Ellen Durand lay. She was not composed enough at first; but when she succeeded in becoming calm she went in, and taking up her sewing she sat down by the bedside. She had been thus some fifteen or twenty minutes before either of them spoke, but at length Ellen broke the silence. She had been gazing into her watcher's face for some minutes, and while a peculiar shade passed over her features she said:

"Mrs. Lindell, your son must be a very fearless man."

The woman started and looked up from her work.

"Ah," she replied, while a flush of generous pride suffused her face, "he fears nothing where a worthy person is in danger. He fears nothing but to do a mean or wicked action. He can not do that."

"One might know he could not," resumed the girl, with much assurance. "You never find a real noble nature prone to evil. He can not be very old."

"Only twenty-two."

"And so strong?" murmured Ellen.

"Ah, but he has always been fond of athletic sport," explained the mother: "and he had always worked hard, too. And then nature has not only given him a powerful frame, but he has never abused it by disobeying the natural laws. His life has been one of perfect temperance, both in eating and drinking."

As the widow thus spoke she chanced to cast her eye out at the window, and she saw the man whom her son pointed out as Jasper Thornton. He was conversing with Doctor Stanley, and both stood on the opposite side-walk. At first she thought of saying nothing to her charge about the fellow's presence, but as she gazed into the calm sweet features before her she could not bear the thought of having her imposed upon by a villain. Orion had told her the man's whole character, and she felt that the girl ought to know of it before he had an opportunity of working any more upon her affections. A slight tremor shook her frame as the subject first occupied her mind, but as her resolution was taken she became calm. Yet she resolved to approach the thing carefully.

"Ellen," she said, "Jasper Thornton may call to see you ere long."

The fair girl started, and it was plainly to be seen that an unpleasant sensation passed through her mind.

"I don't think I should wish to see him," she at length said, in a low, thoughtful tone.

"But you would feel very badly if, from your refusal to see him, he should break off all connection with you?"

"No, no," she quickly returned; "for then I should know what I now only suspect. It would not pain me at all."

"But you would not wish to hear anything to his disadvantage."

"If it was a direct evil of his own I would bless the one who revealed it to me; for, to you, my almost mother, I will not hesitate to say, that I have long feared he was not all that he should be, nor all that he represented himself to be."

"Then I know I may tell you," said the widow, in a tone of relief, "and when I have told you you will readily appreciate my motives. Oh, I cannot bear to look upon you, and think that you should be imposed upon by a villain. Jasper Thornton is not worth one penny! His whole fortune he has drunk and gambled away, and now, having learned many of the tricks by which the gamblers took his money from him, he uses them in robbing others. He enticed a young man who works with Orion, into play, and having half stupefied him with drugged liquor, he robbed him of several hundred dollars!"

"But he practices his medical profession some?" said Ellen very calmly.

"Yes—among the poor lost ones of our own sex!"

"I think that you would not tell me this if you did not know it."

"I could not," replied Mrs. Lindell. "Nor would I have told it had I even had it by simple second hand; but Orion knows. When his shop-mate had lost his money he went with him to the gaming house, and found Thornton there engaged in play; and it was the keener himself who gave the history of his great loss by gaming—Ah—he is coming across the street now—and towards the house."

"Then hasten down and tell him I am not strong enough to see him at present. I will see my guardian and confer with him. I should not like to accuse him, for I would not reveal the source of my information; but Mr. Tiverton can perhaps learn something for himself now that he has the cue, and then the accusation will be easy. But I thank, you my good friend, for this—I do, from my very heart."

Having heard this Mrs. Lindell went below, and answered the summons at the door. Mr. Thornton wished to know if he could see Miss Durand.

"Not now," returned the hostess. "She is not able to see you."

"And when will she be able?" asked the applicant.

"I cannot tell you, sir."

"No—I suppose not," said Thornton, with some show of vexation. "The physician just told me that the lady's particular friends might see her, if she wished it. Now will you just have the kindness to inform her that Mr. Thornton is here, and wishes to see her."

Mrs. Lindell hesitated for a moment, but a fortunate remembrance came to her assistance.

"Miss Durand has been placed under my care by Mr. Tiverton," she said, "and from him I received the express order that no one save the doctor should be admitted without his direct consent. So you see, sir, that you can not be admitted."

The fellow pleaded awhile, but the hostess was inexorable, and he finally went away, but not until he had threatened to "bring Mr. Paul Tiverton to his senses."


CHAPTER X.—RUIN! A THRILLING EPISODE.

IT was nearly dark, the sun having set, and the more brilliant stars being already visible in the heavens. Orion Lindell had done his day's work, and was preparing to close up the shop, when some one entered. He could see that it was a tall figure, and upon nearer view found it to be Mr. Tiverton. He extended his hand, and bade the merchant a "good evening," which was cordially returned.

"I have come," said Tiverton, "to keep the appointment we made touching the gambling houses. Are you at liberty this evening?"

"Yes, sir," the youth returned, "If you only wait while I write a line to my mother, informing her of the cause of my absence, I will be with you afterwards."

Orion went into the office, where he wrote a simple note, and having superscribed it, he hastened to one of the stores overhead, where there was a clerk who lived near his own dwelling. The latter promised to deliver the letter to Mrs. Lindell, and then Orion hastened back. Ere long he was ready to set out, and having locked the doors, and deposited the keys in the vault of one of the stores, he went away with the merchant. Mr. Tiverton proposed first that they should go and have some supper, which proposition suited our hero very well; so they proceeded to one of the neighboring refectories where Tiverton ordered supper for two, and when this was eaten, and the latter had settled the bill, they went to Chatham Street, and were not long in finding a place where masquerade dresses and fixtures of all kinds were to be procured. It was kept by an old Jew, who became very obsequious when he detected the tone and bearing of the wealthy merchant.

"I've got everything, shentlemens," he said, with a quaint smirk of his dried-up face. "Dare ish te poor dress, an' te rich dress,—te savage dress, an' te simple dress—te dress mit de pig viskers dat covers te whole face—an', if you pleash, te dress of te females. Anything you pleash, shentlemens."

"Let us go into some private place," said Orion, "and there we'll make a selection."

"Yash—Dish vay," returned the Jew, leading his customers along a narrow aisle, upon either side of which was piled up second-hand and shop-worn clothing.

Finally they came to a door, in the centre of which was a glass panel, with a dingy yellow curtain on the inside, and upon passing this they found themselves in a small room within which were all the conveniences for washing and dressing, though cleanliness was not one of its characteristics. All around against the walls were shelves, divided by vertical partitions into square boxes, within which were suits of all sorts, shades, qualities, and descriptions.

"Now, shentlemans, vot shall I show you? Shoost say vot you likes an' you can have it."

Mr. Tiverton selected a garb such as is usually worn by sporting gentlemen; a pair of wide-bottomed drab pants; a blue cutaway coat, with gilt buttons; a slouched hat, and black wig and beard. When he was dressed he looked into the mirror, and hardly knew himself. Just as Orion commenced to dress the Jew was called away by one of his boys, and the two were left alone, old Shylock having evidently deemed them trustworthy.

The youth had selected a dress very much like his companion's, save that he chose a wig and beard of a reddish hue, and a coat of faded mulberry. Orion had just put on the jaunty hat, and given the last touch to his luxurious beard, when his ear caught the sound of a familiar voice close at hand somewhere. He listened, and soon discovered that the voice came from beyond the middle partition, which was of thin boards.

"——sh!" he uttered; and then moving close to Tiverton he said, in a low whisper, "Jasper Thornton is in the next room. Do you not hear his voice?"

"Aye," returned the merchant. "I thought 'twas his voice. There must be another room beyond here. Ah—hark!—He is after a disguise, too. Can we not get a peep at him?"

"Let's see," said Orion; and thus speaking he moved noiselessly to the partition and began to search for some chink through which he could get a view of what was transpiring in the adjoining apartment. He searched some time in vain, and was about to give it up as a bad job, when he noticed a glimmering of light within one of the aforementioned boxes, and upon carefully removing the clothing that was in it, he found a knot-hole in one of the boards nearly an inch in diameter. He quickly moved a chair up to the place, and having got upon it, he could reach into the compartment and place his eye to the hole. He saw Jasper Thornton plainly, in the act of putting on a vest. Had he been in the very room he could not have seen all he wished, to better advantage. This other apartment was of the same size with the one our two friends occupied, and in other respects the same, save that the shelves were not divided off by partitions. The youth stood there until the villain had completed his toilet, which occupied some twenty minutes, and then he got down.

"As I live, Mr. Tiverton," he whispered, "it is most fortunate that we discovered the fellow, for we should never have known him in the disguise he has assumed. It is most perfect. Just you get up and see if you would know him."

So the merchant got up into the chair, and placed his eye to the hole. He saw Thornton, and he recognized him plainly, though he admitted that he should not have mistrusted his presence in that garb had he not possessed the clue. Just as Mr. Tiverton came down they heard the Jew coming, and Orion had time to remove the chair and replace the clothing before he entered. They saw that their own clothes were safe, and then, having placed in the Jew's hands the usual amount, they went out. Mr. Thornton was just leaving the store, and they followed him at once.

No one would have detected "Jasper Thornton, M.D.," in the garb he now wore. He had assumed the dress of a drover. His pants were of striped stuff—blue and white—and came down over a pair of thick, muddy, cowhide boots; his vest of brown cloth, square-cut, and buttoned up to the throat; the neckerchief of checked gingham, and the dickey of coarse shirting, small and dirty, and close about the neck. The hat was old, low-crowned, and broad-rimmed, while the sandy beard hung negligently from his face, and the long yellow hair ditto. He had taken the precaution to brown his hands and face with some dirty pigment, and his gait and movements were in keeping with his general appearance. It was truly fortunate that the two adventurers had thus fallen in with him, for had they not done so their evening's labor would have been fruitless.

The disguised gambler took his way down the street, and when he stopped it was at one of the hotels near the end of Park Row. He went into the bar-room, and the two adventurers followed him. He was soon joined by a friend, and after conversing awhile his friend conducted him to where sat a man who seemed to be a real drover; and such, in fact, he was. He had come from the western part of the State with a very large drove of cattle, and having sold all out was ready to return home. Orion was near enough to hear most that was said, and he heard Thornton introduced as a cattle drover from Orange County. The real drover, whose name our hero learned from the register was Barnes, seemed much pleased at the introduction, and it was easily seen that Thornton was not long in captivating him.

"I am an old hand at the business," said the villain, taking a seat by the drover's side. "I have driven cattle into the city goin' on now nigh twenty year. So, ye see I've larned the ways of the town pretty well. I s'pose you ain't very well acquainted around?"

"No," said Barnes, "I never happened to have a chance to look around much."

"That's the trouble," resumed Thornton, who had been introduced as Mr. Comeit. "A man who only comes here once in a while, and has his hands full of business, can't find time to look about him. In the evening he daren't go out for fear of getting lost."

"That's so," returned Barnes. "I've never seen but a mighty little part of the city."

"Well," returned Come-it, as though the idea had just struck him, "what's the use of stayin' here? Let's take a stroll. What say you?"

"I'm in for it," said Mr. Mat. Mayburn, who had been deputized by Thornton to hook the countryman, and who had had him in tow, ever since he came into the city.

"And so am I," chimed the unsuspecting drover.

"Then let's go. By the way, I'm kind o' thirsty—though perhaps our friend don't indulge."

"Oh yes," cried Barnes, who was not a man to lag behind. "I take a drop once in a while. Come—what'll you take?"

"I'll have a little brandy," said Thornton.

"So'll I," added Mayburn.

"Then brandy it is, for three," cried Barnes, thumping on the counter.

Thornton poured out a very stiff glass—filling his tumbler nearly full—but holding his hand over it so as to partially conceal the quantity. Barnes poured out a very light glass, for he was not much in the habit of drinking, and then filled the tumbler nearly full with water, and sweetened it. Thornton drew the drover's attention to a picture on the the wall back of them, and while the latter's eyes were thus turned he changed glasses. The brandy was pale, so the color would not tell the deception.

"My Jemima! Oh—Jerusa-lem!" gasped Barnes, having taken down about half the contents of the tumbler at the first gulp.

"What's the matter?"

"How strong! Ugh!"

"Strong?" repeated Thornton, "Why, that's the beauty of this liquor. None of yer 'toxicatin' qualities about it, though. Don't waste such glorious stuff."

Barnes drank the liquor down, and shortly afterwards the trio proceeded out of doors, our two adventurers following close upon their heels. The poor drover began to feel the inordinate horn he had taken, for his tongue soon became loose, and he tried to crack native jokes.

They crossed the Park into Broadway, and then kept on up that thoroughfare. Ere long Thornton proposed that they should go in and take a "smile." Barnes was too happy to object; but instead of going into any of the saloons on Broadway, they turned down Anthony Street, and when they stopped it was before a low, dingy looking groggery, which did not possess a very inviting appearance.

"'Taint such a nice place," said Thornton, turning to the drover, "but they've got a little of the purest old wine here that is to be found in the city. It is high, but it's worth the money. Come."

Barnes suspected nothing, and having entered the place Thornton called for more liquor.

"Look 'e, Mike," he said with a sly wink, "we want some of that best old wine of yours. Got any left?"

"Jest one bottle," replied the keeper, a short, ill-dressed, dirty looking fellow.

"Then let's have it."

Mike went into a back room, and when he returned he bore a common wine-bottle in his hand, which he placed upon the counter. The three glasses were turned out, and healths proposed all around. Barnes drank his potion off, while the other two adroitly poured theirs upon the floor.

"That's kind o' good," said the drover, smacking his lips. "It's got a real pucker to it, hasn't it?"

"Glorious—glorious," returned Thornton, smacking his lips too. And then, having thrown down three "quarters," which was the price asked by Mr. Mike for his "soothing compound," he led the way once more to the street.

They returned to Broadway, and ere long stopped again.

"Say," uttered Thornton, "up here there's a splendid hall where we can take a game of cards. What say you?"

"That's the talk," cried Barnes, whose head had begun to get along without the assistance of the brain, the subtle drug which he had imbibed with his last glass of diluted alcohol having begun to do its work. "You're a glorious fellow, ole Comeit—a glo-rious fellow, I say—I'd like to see somebody say you wasn't a glo-ri-ous fellow—a gl-glo-rious (hic) fellah—I say!"

So up-stairs they went—up one flight they found a billiard room. Barnes wanted to go in and learn to play, but his companions urged him to keep on and find a better place. Up one flight more they found a bar-room, sumptuously furnished, which the drover pronounced the "most beautifulest, unmercifulest, handsomest place" he was ever in. There were two billiard-tables in this apartment, but they were only covers—the important purposes of this floor were not visible from here.

Barnes was determined to have one more drink. He possessed one of those peculiar idiosyncrasies which call for more, and more, when the system is once under the influence of liquor, until the very power of drinking is gone. The first glass might pass very well, if moderate in quantity, but the second glass, with drinking companions, was sure drunkenness. In the present case, however, in addition to the powerful drink at the hotel, the poor man had taken a drug—or a preparation of various drugs, which did the reason-destroying work of a dozen glasses of brandy. Thornton concluded to allow him to drink once more, and after this he led him away from the bar. Upon one side of this bar was a window frame set with mirror-plates. There were four of them upon each side—but this particular one opened like a door, and gave entrance to a room beyond, where a number of men were busy about a farobank.

Thornton contrived to draw the drover's attention from the bank, and finally got him down to a card-table. The gamester knew every man in that room, but not one of them knew him in his present disguise. The cards were produced, and Barnes was asked if he knew how to play poker. He had seen it played, and had played one or two games himself for pennies.

Jasper Thornton had not been silent all this while. Far from it. He had kept his tongue running to good purpose. He had flattered the drover most carefully—talked about horses, farms, cattle and crops; denounced the evils of city life; cried out against gambling, drinking, and such like vices; and in a most captivating manner had he got hold of the poor fellow's peculiarities and then pandered to them.

"But when three old friends meet why not have a good time? We may never see each other again."—And here came in a passage of affection.—"Now we'll just have a social game—just to pass away the time—and then we'll go to the theater. What say you?"

This suited Barnes, and he went in for it at once. The cards were dealt, and the playing commenced. Thornton saw two jockeyish-looking fellows standing by one of the other tables gazing at him, but he neither knew nor cared for them. The game commenced with twenty-five cents ante, with the privilege of betting as much as they pleased. Barnes won small sums, and swore he must have "something to drink." He had it, and the play went on. By and by the drover lost ten dollars. He was determined to make that up.

Thornton dealt, and when he had thrown out the three hands the tray of hearts was upon the bottom. Having adroitly placed his thumb and middle finger upon the two outer spots he turned the pack up and revealed what appeared to be the ace. Then he laid the pack down, and the betting commenced. Barnes looked at his hand and he held four kings. He pondered upon it, and finally worked the idea through his mind that he had the best hand. Only four aces could beat his hand, and one of those aces was under the pack. He had seen it there as the dealer carelessly, as he supposed, turned it up. He looked at his four kings, and then he gazed at the pack. One ace was there. He was safe now. Now he would "go in and win."

The betting went on. Thornton "covered" the amount on the table and went a hundred dollars better. Barnes "saw" that, and went another hundred. By and by there were a thousand dollars on the board, and Mayburn had thrown up his hand. The two men by the other table drew nearer. The drover had emptied his wallet, having already put down four hundred dollars. He now unbuttoned his vest, and from his bosom he drew a large, well-filled pocket-book. He felt sure it was safe there, so he chose to carry it with him. He opened it, and Thornton's eyes gleamed with a demon fire as he saw the thick package of bank-notes each one bearing the magic "C" on one end, and "100" on the other. Mayburn passed a wad of similar notes under the table to his confederate. Thornton bet five hundred dollars next. Barnes "saw" it and went five hundred better! Thornton pretended to be fearful—he looked very doubtful—he intimated that he feared his opponent had "four high ones." Yet he wasn't going to be "bluffed." He saw the five hundred, and went five hundred more. Barnes was a little anxious now in spite of his intoxication. He looked at his hand once more—saw those four kings—and then cast his eye upon the pack where he knew the ace of hearts was. Then he covered the last stake, and—his hand trembled a little—put down a thousand! Jasper Thornton dared to trust him no further, for he had only about twelve hundred left—he had borrowed it for the occasion—and he knew that his opponent might go next time more than he could cover. So he put down the one thousand, and then "called" his antagonist's hand.

"Let's see yours first," said Barnes.

"I called," hurriedly returned Thornton. "Show your hand!"

The drover spread his cards out upon the table—four kings and a jack. Jasper Thornton then placed his by the side of them—four aces! A deep groan escaped from Barnes's lips; but in a moment more he grasped the pack and turned it up! He saw the tray! He had lost twenty-seven hundred dollars!

"Better luck next time!" cried Thornton, as he raked down the money.

"You'll win it back," said Mayburn.

"Give me some brandy!" uttered the poor man.

Barnes was determined to win his money back! Ah! that most dangerous thought of the gaming-table! "Winning back!" A poor youth loses a few dollars, and he must win it back! He does not see that he must go through the same ordeal by which he made the loss. We venture the assertion that two-thirds of all those who have been ruined at the gaming-table have suffered from trying to win back what they had lost.

"Oh!" murmurs the young clerk, "only just let me win back what I've lost, and I'll gamble no more!" And so cry both young and old—those who gamble with their own estate, and those who stake the gold they have taken from their employers!—O young man, beware of that one pitfall. If you must try your luck—if you must be a fool once—let your first loss satisfy you. Let that be to you a sure example of what must follow if you try again. Never—never think for one moment of trying to win back your first loss!

But poor Barnes went into the work. The clock struck one, and he was a ruined man! He had lost twenty-six thousand dollars!—the proceeds of nearly five hundred head of cattle! He was drunk—and yet he was sober! His frame was weak from much drink, but his mind was awakened by the terrible shock. As each thousand of his treasure had been won from him, he had taken "just one more" hand to gain it back. Brandy had been freely offered him after he was secured, and his final ruin was but the inevitable result.

Paul Tiverton drew the young gold-beater away, and a deep groan escaped his lips as he gained the street.

"Isn't it terrible?" he uttered.

"It is," Orion returned. "But hold. Here they come."

As he spoke the three men came out upon the sidewalk, and turned towards the Park. Our two adventurers were bound to follow them through now. The trio kept on until they came to the hotel where they had first met, and upon the steps Mr. Jasper Thornton took his leave.

"Keep up a good heart," he said, as he shook the poor drover by the hand. "I shall see you in the morning. You needn't think I'm going to keep all your money; but it'll be safer in my hands to-night. I'll be on hand in the morning. Good-night."

Thus speaking Thornton turned away, and Mayburn led Barnes into the hotel. But ere long the second man came out again, and rejoined his accomplice, and then they congratulated each other upon the splendid haul they had made.

"I shall stop at the Astor to-night," Orion heard Thornton say, "and there you'll find me in the morning. You'd better go up to the old place, and tell Mag that I'm out of town."

After this our two friends followed Thornton to the Jew's, and waited near at hand until he came out again. Ere long he came, in propria persona, once more looking like Jasper Thornton.

"Ah!" uttered Tiverton, as the villain went away, "that poor drover might meet him an hundred times to-morrow,—he might walk with him, and eat with him, and he would never know that he had met him before."

"True," returned Orion, with a fluttering in his tone. "But he shall know him again! I tell you, sir, Jasper Thornton shall restore every dollar he has taken from that poor man! He shall, sir! as sure as God lives he shall!"

The merchant caught his companion's hand and gazed into his face.

"Will you do it?" he asked eagerly.

"I will, sir!"

"Then God bless you. You may use my name if you see fit."

"I shall not if I can help it. I think I can do it without—though at a last resort I should like to have the right."

"You have it, my noble young friend," cried the merchant. "And be sure you call upon me and let me know the result."

Orion promised, and then they entered the Jew's place, he having agreed to remain up until they returned. They were soon back in their own garbs, and having paid old Shylock well for the use they had made of his clothing they departed; and ere they separated the merchant made his companion once more promise to inform him of the result of his noble mission as soon as possible.


CHAPTER XI.—RESTITUTION.

WHEN Orion reached his home he found his mother up, and somewhat uneasy; but when he told where he had been, and who had been with him, together with something of what he had seen, she forgot her fears in the interest she felt in the strange adventure. The youth was pleased to learn that Ellen Durand was comfortable, and having been assured that there was nothing he could do to be of use about the house, he retired. The clock struck three just as he was getting into bed.

When he awoke the sun was well up, but it was not late. He arose and ate a hearty breakfast, and then took a stage for down-town. He went into the shop and gave Mr. Garvey a full account of the transactions of the previous evening, and of course received ready permission to go and carry out the plan he had concocted. His first movement was to the hotel where he had left Mr. Barnes. When he entered the bar-room he looked around, but not finding him there he requested the clerk to show him up to his room, at the same time informing that individual that he had very important business with Mr. Barnes.

The clerk looked at the register, and having found the number of the room where the man lodged he called to an attendant and bade him show the visitor up. Our hero followed the guide up to the third floor, and was at length stopped before a door which was locked.

"Never mind," said Orion, as the servant was upon the point of knocking, "I will arouse him. You may leave me."

The man withdrew, and as soon as he was gone the youth knocked at the door.

"Who's there?" said a hoarse, faint voice from within.

"A friend," returned Orion. "Let me in at once."

The door was soon unlocked, and the youth entered. Barnes stood in the middle of the room, all dressed, and the appearance of his clothes showed conclusively that they had not been removed. He was pale and ghastly in his look, and never, in all his life, had Orion before seen such a picture of deep and utter despair. He gazed up into his visitor's face with an expression of fear, but even the presence of a stranger did not prevent him from groaning heavily. He gazed as long as he could, and then sank down upon the bedside and pressed his hand upon his aching brow.

"Who are you?" he gasped, in painful whisper.

"I trust I may prove myself a friend," returned our hero, taking a seat near the foot of the bed.

"A friend?" repeated the poor sufferer. "Oh, my soul! There are no friends in this infernal Babel!"

"Ah—you may find one before you leave it."

"And if I do—what then?" the wretched man cried, starting up from his bowed position. "No man can make me whole. But say—what are you—a—a—what did you come here for?"

"I came to warn you against getting into such company again as you picked up last night."

"Your services are not wanted, sir. I have received a lesson worth more than any you can give me. Oh! my God! what a fool I have been! All gone!—the toil of years!—home—honor—credit—everything!—Oh, oh!"

"Then all you lost last night was not your own?"

The drover started and gazed hard into his visitor's face and a tremor, wild and fearful, shook his frame.

"You—you—know what I lost?"

"Very near."

"How?—Oh, how? Have you seen either of those men?"

"Either of which men?"

"Mayburn or Comeit."

"Do you think you would recognize them if you should meet them again?"

"Should I? Ah—you may bet your life on that! I never could forget those two faces."

"And yet, sir," said Orion, "were they both to come in here at this moment you would not mistrust them. You neither know their names nor their faces. Did you ever see me before?"

"Not that I know of," returned Barnes, gazing earnestly into the youth's face.

"And yet I sat within ten feet of you for four hours last night!"

"You?" uttered the drover, incredulously. "Impossible!"

"But I did, sir. My companion and myself sat and saw you robbed of twenty-six thousand dollars!"

Mr. Barnes leaped to his feet and clasped his hands. For a moment a gleam of hope shot across his countenance, and he seemed trying to express his feelings; but gradually the emotion passed away, and with a deep groan he uttered:

"But what's the use? They've got my money, and I shall never see it again! Then they're gamblers, aren't they?"

"Yes, sir—two of the most expert in the city. Mr. Mayburn was deputized to make your acquaintance as soon as you came in with your large drove of cattle, and when you had your money all safe he was to introduce Comeit. It was planned that you should be robbed on the first day you entered this metropolis!"

"And I fell into the trap like a blind mouse!"

"Aye—and many others have done so before you. Were you to make the attempt to recover your property you could do no more than a child. In the first place you never could find the men who robbed you, for their disguise was complete. And again, you might hunt from now till doomsday and not find the place to which they took you."

"That's so," said Barnes despondingly.

"And now," resumed Orion, with more force, "tell me how you are situated, and I will try and help you."

"How do you mean?"

"I mean, how the loss of this money affects you."

"Oh! it ruins me! It takes every dollar I own,—my home—my stock—my—my—everything on earth! besides leaving me in debt ten thousand dollars to my friends. Oh! that is the hardest of all. Many of those cattle were entrusted to me by near friends who had the fullest confidence in my honor! But sir," the poor drover continued in a lower tone, and with a sudden calmness, which showed how firmly resolved he was,—"I don't think they will ever see me again without my money. If I lose all I shall give your coroner a job!"

This was spoken not in a whimsical tone, but with a firmness of moral certainty.

"Mr. Barnes," said Orion, after a moment's pause, "I wish to speak a few words of explanation, and then you shall hear all I have come to tell. I am not a frequenter of such places as you were in last night. I had a desire to follow the man who robbed you, and I did so. My purpose was to show another his true character, that he might be prevented from doing a robbery worse, in many respects, than the one he accomplished last night. Thus I became an involuntary witness to your downfall. I saw that you were honest, and meant well, but that you were not safe under the influence of liquor. You drank a tumbler full of raw rectified spirits, flavored with a little brandy, to commence with last evening. Mr. Comeit changed glasses with you when he called your attention to the picture. Next you drank a subtle concoction of exhilarating and opiated drugs!"

Barnes gazed upon the speaker with astonishment, and a deep groan, accompanied by an ejaculation of wonder, escaped his lips.

"And now," said Orion, "I mean to help you. Will you go with me and face the villain who robbed you?"

"Will I?" uttered the drover, starting once more to his feet. "Aye—that I will!"

"Then prepare to accompany me as soon as possible. I know where the man stopped through the latter part of the night, but he may get away if we are not spry."

"I won't be long," cried Barnes with energy.

Orion brushed his clothes for him, while he washed his face and head. After this they descended to the bar-room, where the drover asked for a glass of hot brandy toddy. He drank this, and it seemed to revive him a little; and then he turned and bade his friend to lead the way.

As they crossed the Park, Orion stopped at the City Hall, where he found two officers of the police department with whom he was acquainted. He explained to them the whole affair, and got him to go with them to the Astor House. They readily consented to do so, and followed him at once. When they reached the hotel our hero went to the register and learned the number of the room where Thornton stopped, and was informed that the occupant of said room had not yet come down. A waiter conducted the party to the corridor whereon the villain's apartment was located, at the end of which the two police officers stopped, while the others went on. Having been shown the number, Orion dismissed the waiter, and then knocked at the door.

"Who's there?" asked a voice from within.

"Open the door, old boy. I want to whisper in your ear," returned the youth.

"But who are you?"

"——sh! Don't speak names here."

There was a rustling of papers—very much like the sound of bank-notes, and shortly afterwards the door was opened. Orion stepped in at once, and the drover immediately followed him. The gamester was all dressed save putting on his coat, having performed his ablutions, and donned his cravat and vest. He started back aghast when he saw the drover, and for a moment he was pale as death.

"Mr. Barnes," said Orion, calmly and politely, "allow me to introduce you to Doctor Jasper Thornton."

The poor drover gazed upon the man before him like one in a dream. He could not realize that the splendid-looking gentleman was the same one who had been with him on the previous night.

Thornton quickly recognized Orion Lindell, and his first impulse was to show his anger; but he soon overcame that, and in a tone of cold politeness he said:

"May I know to what I owe the honor of this visit?"

"Certainly, sir," returned our hero, who stood with his back to the door. "My friend here, Mr. Barnes, wished very much to see you, and I offered my services for the introduction."

"And may I ask what Mr. Barnes particularly desires?" the fellow uttered, turning upon that individual. He spoke very coolly, but yet there was a perceptible twitching of the nerves about the lips.

The drover seemed at a loss what to say. He tried to find the least indication of the one who had taken his money. He did not succeed, however. The face he had seen the night before had been brown and coarse, and half covered with shaggy beard; while the face before him was very fair, and the beard of a different hue, and worn very differently, too. In fact he seemed different in every way.

"May I know the object of your visit?" cried Thornton, somewhat impatiently.

"Were you with me last night, sir?" Barnes asked hesitatingly.

"With you, sir?" uttered the villain, with well-assumed astonishment.

"Yes—a—wa'n't you with me up in that gambling house?" persued the drover, still nervously.

Thornton cast a hurried glance at our hero, and then said, in a tone of righteous indignation:

"I hardly know how to look upon this affair, sir. Are you crazy, or have you been imposed upon? With you? in a gambling house? I trust you will not repeat the insult."

Poor Barnes took a step back, and seemed confounded. He gazed first upon Thornton, and then upon his companion. Orion saw his confusion, and thought it about time to help him out. He simply motioned the drover to keep silent, and then turning to the occupant of the room, he said, in a tone and manner which admitted of but little doubt:

"Jasper Thornton, I will answer you now. I brought this man here, and I knew what I was about. He is an honest, simple man who came from the country with a very large drove of cattle. When he entered this city two villains fixed their gaze upon him, and resolved to rob him if they could. One of those men made his acquaintance at once, and from that time remained by his side and got well into his confidence. The intended victim sold his cattle, and placed the money in his pocket. Last night the two confederates met and took their victim to a gaming house, where they robbed him of twenty-six thousand dollars!"

"Well, sir," whispered Thornton, struggling hard to appear calm, "and what is all this to me?"

"I thought you might be willing to help this poor man to his money again," said Orion.

"Me, sir," gasped the villain. "Help him to his money? Ha, ha,—you are facetious—very. But," he added, gaining his senses again, and trying to appear indignant, "you will please me by leaving the room. If you have imagined that I know any of the parties who have had a hand in wronging this man, you are much mistaken."

"Before I go," resumed Orion, calm as before, "let me tell you more of the curious story. Last evening, just as night had fairly set in, a man went into the clothing store of the old Jew, at number — Chatham street, and there exchanged his own garb for that of a drover. In place of his fashionable garments he donned those which mark the man of toil and labor, and then put on a bushy wig and a large pair of false whiskers and moustache. In this garb he left the Jew's place and proceeded—it interests you, does it?"

"I am listening," returned Thornton, pale and trembling, but yet trying hard to hide his emotions.

"Well—this man turned his steps towards the hotel where Mr. Barnes stopped. He entered the bar-room, and soon met his friend, who, for the time, had assumed the name of Matthew Mayburn. This latter individual introduced him to Mr. Barnes, and a friendly chat was the result. Finally it was proposed that the two should go out and see the city. The new-comer, who gave his name as Comeit, intimated that he would like to drink, and Mr. Barnes offered to treat the pair of them. At the bar this Comeit poured out a tumbler full of brandy, and having called his victim's attention to a picture which hung behind them, he surreptitiously changed glasses, thus giving the drover the full tumbler of clear spirit and sugar. After this they walked out, and when they next stopped it was at a low den in Anthony street, where the keeper furnished three glasses of drugged liquor, one of which was drank by the victim, while the other two were thrown upon the floor. Their next stopping-place was at number — Broadway, where Barnes was taken up into a gambling hell. Here he was plied with liquor, and robbed in a most outrageous manner of all his money, the full amount of which I have already mentioned. The two gamblers cheated him in every conceivable way. They had marked cards—they stocked them when they could, and at times they would change cards beneath the table, Mayburn giving to Comeit such cards as would fill his hand, and taking worthless ones in exchange. When the poor man was thoroughly cleaned out they carried him home, promising to call upon him in the morning. Then Mr. Mayburn was directed to go up to the 'old place,' and tell 'Mag' that his companion was out of town——"

"Ha!—has——"

So spoke Jasper Thornton, as the narrative reached this point and he was very pale and excited as he did so. He evidently thought that Mayburn must have betrayed him, and hence allowed himself to utter as much as he did. But he came to his senses in a moment, and then added:

"But go on. I meant to ask if it was possible that such a——But never mind."

"I have little more to tell," resumed Orion. "He who called himself Comeit returned to the Jew's, where he got into his own garb again, and then came to this hotel, where he took a room."

Orion stopped a few moments and gazed into Thornton's face, and then he said, in a tone of such meaning and power that even Barnes was startled by it:

"Now, Jasper Thornton, restore to this man all the money you took from him! Give it back to him, sir—every dollar of it!"

"Miserable fool!" gasped the villain, "do you think you can frighten me in this way?"

"I have no wish to frighten you, sir," calmly returned the youth, "I only wish you to do what is right. You have twenty-six thousand dollars of this man's money. Give it to him, and you shall be left alone."

Thornton started up, and his face was convulsed with fear and passion.

"Out of my room!" he cried. "Leave it at once, or you shall suffer!"

"I know all about that," said the youth. "If you place a hand upon me 'twill be you who will suffer. But enough of this. Now mark me: You have your choice—Give this man his money here, and thus be free from further exposure, or go at once to the Tombs, where you will be accommodated until you can be tried!"

Jasper Thornton began to think there was more in this than he had at first supposed, yet he was not prepared to give up.

"You are mistaken in your man, sir," he said. "I hope you will put me to no more trouble."

"Your time for choosing is short," returned Orion, in the same calm, assured tone. "I have two officers at hand, and if you come to trial you will find yourself face to face with witnesses whose testimony will astonish you. Hand over the money, sir—and do it quickly, too!"

"But I haven't got the money," persisted Thornton, now cowed and alarmed.

"Then we'll see if we can find it.—Mr. Barnes, will you just step out and tell the officers they may come?"

"No! no!—stop! stop!" cried the villain. "Why will you call them in when I assure you I haven't the money?"

"That's the very reason why I will call them," exclaimed Orion, in a cool, sarcastic tone. "If you will pay the money over to this man the officers will not touch you—they shall not see you—and you shall go clear. I fancy you would not wish to be exposed just at this time, and have your name in all the papers!"

The villain sank back into his chair and for a moment he remained with his head bowed. Then he looked up, and his whole frame quivered.

"Bah!" he uttered, with the last effort of his hopes. "You are making fools of yourselves. Do you suppose I can't see through your plan? By heavens, I'll have you both up for conspiracy!"

"Very well,—Mr. Barnes, we'll waste no more time. Call in the officers!"

The drover had placed his hand upon the knob, and had started the door, when Thornton leaped to his feet.

"Hold!" he cried. "Don't ruin me!" And thus speaking he sank down again. He remained a moment with his hand upon his brow, and then he placed his hand in the breast-pocket of his coat. But he drew nothing forth.

"Oh!" he gasped, "how came you by the knowledge you have pretended to possess?"

"How?" repeated Orion, in a quick, fiery tone. "I'll tell you: I was in the Jew's store when you came in last evening. I saw you plainly—as plainly as I see you now—when you came in—when you changed your garb—and when you went away. And from that moment until this morning at nearly two, I was not out of hearing from you. I had a friend with me, and together we followed, and overlooked and overheard you. Now you know."

"Oh—fury and death!"

"Oh, no—Say mice and moonshine, for your expletives will amount to nothing more."

Orion said this with a smile, and the villain looked angry. But the youth did not hesitate longer. He took out his watch and held it up.

"Now look ye," he said, in a firm, decided tone, "I give you just fifteen seconds in which to produce that money. At the end of that time the officers will be called without fail. No movement of yours, not even the producing of the money, shall stay the hand of the law after that moment. The Tombs—the court-room—the State's Prison! Now—one—two—three—four— five—six—seven—I'm counting the seconds,—eleven——"

"Stop!" gasped the rascal, pale as death, and trembling at every joint, at the same time thrusting his hand into the pocket of his coat, which hung upon the back of his chair.

He drew forth a handful of bank-notes and threw them upon the table. They were crumpled all up in a wad, just as he had forced them in there when he heard the knock at his door. Orion bade his companion to count them. Barnes did so, and he found just fourteen thousand dollars.

"Let us have the rest!" peremptorily ordered the youth.

"But——"

"No buts! Out with the rest of that money! You brought it into this house!"

Thornton dared not hesitate. He saw that he had lost the money at any rate, and he chose to give it up thus, rather than have it taken from him by law. So he took from another pocket a large roll of notes, which he also threw upon the table.

"Ah! Here is my money—just as I lost it!" cried the drover, in joyous accents.

"It is all there, is it?"

"Yes—every dollar."

"Then we will bid you a very good morning, sir," the gold-beater said, bowing to Mr. Thornton.

"Ho!—you shall suffer for this!" the villain hissed, grinding his teeth with rage.

"Your own judgment will tell you how far you had better venture with me!" our hero returned; and thus saying he left the room, followed by Barnes.

At the end of the corridor they met the officers, to whom Orion related his success; and the party went away better pleased than they would have been had the apprehension of Thornton been necessary.

"Ah," said the youth, "I knew he would not dare to hold out when he became sure that I had him in my power." And then turning to Barnes he added:

"And now I must leave you. I trust you will profit by the experience you have thus gained.—At all events, remember this one thing: Never admit to your confidence any man in this city whom you do not know to be honest. Beware of those who seek your friendship if you know them not."

"But stop," cried the redeemed man, grasping the youth by the arm. "You shall not leave me so. You have more than saved life, honor, peace,—and the very home and joy of my friends! Here take this."

"No, no," said Orion, putting away the hand in which he saw several hundred-dollar notes.—"All I ask is, that you will not forget to help the first man you may meet who may need any assistance you can render. But hold! Not far from here there is a poor family that I found almost in a state of starvation. The husband and father is dying with consumption. I can help them in all but money. Give me something for them, and I will tell them who was the donor."

The grateful man's face brightened as he handed his preserver a hundred-dollar bill. But Orion would only take twenty dollars.

"They shall have this," he said, "and I will tell them who sent it."

"Tell them he owed it to you—and a hundred times more—but that you would not take it.—Don't praise me."

"Well," said the youth, with a smile, at the same time taking the stout drover's hand, "I'll see that it makes much happiness for those who sadly need it. Perhaps we shall meet again. If we do we shall know each other, and if we do not I am sure neither of us will forget the other."

Orion heard the happy man's blessings following him upon the air until he was fairly out of sight.


CHAPTER XII.—PASSING AWAY.

AFTER leaving Barnes, Orion's first movement was towards Murray street, where Mr. Tiverton's counting-house was. He found the merchant in, and at once related to him the events of the morning.

"I am glad—I am glad, sir," he uttered, at the same time grasping the youth's hand.

"Stop," quickly interrupted Orion. "Don't flatter me. Say I have done what you would have done had you been in a position to do it."

"I don't know about that, sir. But—I think I should. Yes—I should have saved the poor man if it had been in my power. Yet you are a noble man, and were not that your own soul must be even now full of reward for the work you have done, I might say more."

"Ah—you've hit the truth there, sir," said Orion, with a glow of pleasure. "Oh, I would not exchange the simple, heartfelt blessings of that saved man for all the wealth of this great city. I would not—indeed I would not."

"Of course you would not. One is a wealth of the soul, which abideth forever, while the other is a mere dross which a witty thief may steal. The wealth of cities is valuable, but only valuable in so far as it serves to develope and sustain this higher, nobler wealth."

Orion was pleased with the remarks of the merchant, and when he left it was with the understanding that they should meet again ere long.

As the gold-beater came out from the great counting-house he looked at his watch and found it just ten o'clock. He concluded that he would return to the shop, and if things there were so that he could leave, he would go down to the Five Points and see Mrs. Milmer. When he reached the court he found Mr. Garvey just coming out, who informed him that little Lizzie had been up after him.

"She said her father was very sick, and that he wished to see you," explained Garvey. "I told her I would send you down as soon as you came. But how about the business with Mr. Thornton?"

"It's all right," returned Orion; "and when I return I'll explain it—I'll tell you the whole story."

"That's right. Hurry off now, and we'll have the story when you come back. How is it about money?"

"I have plenty. The man for whom I have been at work gave me twenty dollars for these poor people."

Without further remark the youth turned and hurried away from the court. There was a sad, gloomy foreboding in his mind as he approached the poverty-stricken district, for something told him he was going to the bed of death. When he reached the corner groggery he looked in, and it seemed as though the same ghastly faces were there now as before. Death was written upon all he saw—death of body and death of soul! There were black and white—male and female—adults and children. As he cast his eyes towards the long, dirty bar, he saw a little girl, not more than six years of age, just paying for a bottle of gin which she had purchased—probably for a drunken mother! He could not resist the temptation to stop and look at that child. She was a bright, intelligent-looking girl, with curly flaxen hair, and large brilliant blue eyes, and the expression, even upon her tender features, was one of conscious shame. The little thing hugged the accursed bottle under her arm and started to come out. Near the door, and sitting upon an old beer barrel, was a middle-aged woman, whose shriveled, quacking form was half covered with united rags, and whose face was the very picture of the glaring, maddened idiot. She watched the child like a tigress, and as the latter came near she sprang toward—caught the bottle in her bony hand—and, with a movement almost miraculous in its quick precision, she tore out the cork and raised the vessel to her lips. The child uttered a quick cry of fear and alarm, and a stout man, who sat near by, caught the bottle from the woman's grasp. She struggled hard, but a loud laugh broke from her lips as she lost it, and in a coarse, brutal tone she boasted that she had gained a drink!

Orion could have caught the weeping child to his bosom; but he knew that to effect any good there would be beyond his power. He heard the little one cry out that her mother would beat her for having lost the liquor, and he heard the keeper order her to go home with what she had left. Just then a sailor, who looked poor and forlorn himself, called the child to him—had her bottle refilled—paid for it himself and then bade her "haul her wind out o' that quick as possible." Orion blessed that poor man in his soul, and then turned away. He wanted to see no more of life in that place. He made his way up the rickety wooden steps upon the outside of the building, being obliged to crowd up between a double row of young dirty faces, and when he reached the little hall he had the good fortune to find the door directly ahead closed, so he had not to look upon the horrors in there. He groped his way through the dismal, Tartarean passage without meeting any other obstruction than the thick darkness, and when he judged that he had reached the point where the door ought to be, stopped and rapped with his knuckles.

In a few moments the door was opened, and the sweet little face of Lizzie gleamed out upon him. The child uttered a quick cry of joy as she saw him, and took his hand at once. When he entered the narrow, den-like room he found Mrs. Milmer upon the bed, though he could not at first see her because of the clothes which were hung up between the door and the place where she lay. They were most of them bed-clothes, and very damp, giving to the room a heavy, unhealthy atmosphere. But the youth soon worked his way to the bed, and the moment he looked upon James Milmer he knew he was dying. Constance grasped his hand, and tried to speak, but tears and sobs choked her utterance. She still held the hand of her noble friend, and pressed it frantically to her lips.

"Hush!" whispered Orion, in a genial, hopeful tone. "Why should you weep thus?"

"Oh, sir!—he—is—my—James is—dying! Oh! Oh! Oh!"

"And do you weep for that! Look up." The youth spoke in a deep, calm tone, with authority, and yet with hope and peaceful meaning. "Look upon the scene he is leaving. Would ye keep him here? Say would ye hold him down in this vale of sorrow and of tears while his Saviour calls him away? Would ye bind him still longer to this bed of pain, and this home of want, while his Father in Heaven is ready to take him HOME?"

Constance Milmer gazed up, and a bright, warm light gradually broke over her face. Her eyes filled with tears anew, but they were different from those she had been shedding.

"Bless you," she murmured, still clinging to his hand. "Oh, God sent you to us! I know you are right; I ought not to mourn; but yet I cannot help it."

"You may mourn—and you may weep—as we all weep when the tender cords of the soul's holiest affections are being snapped in sunder; but mourn not with despair; weep not in misery. Our Saviour wept with his mourning sisters when one whom he had loved was dead; but he wept with a great, an abiding faith. Ah, your loved companion may soon be free from all his pains, and trials, and troubles. He is bound for that home where tears are wiped off from all faces, and where the weary are at rest. Let the thought that you have always been kind to him—that you have been loving and true—be your solace now. Ah, though the tears will flow in such an hour, yet there is joy for the true and faithful Christian."

Constance had ceased to weep, and was now gazing eagerly into the speaker's face.

"Speak on," she said, as he hesitated. "Speak on. Oh, your words are a balm to my soul—a healing to my spirit."

"I can say little more which your own mind will not call up," returned Orion, in the same calm, trusting, hopeful tone, and with a look of holy meaning upon his face. "You have only calmly to reflect to see all this as I have presented it. We know the soul of man cannot die. What we call death is but the birth of a new-born spirit. And what scene on earth can be more holy than the passing away of the worn and weary soul that holds its trusting faith in God? Oh, I should not wish to see the hard-hearted, ungodly man die. There is something dreadful in the very thought. But to witness the sweet slumber of him who falls asleep in faith and hope, amid the soul-dreams of heaven and the angels, is not dreadful—it is not even unpleasant. To be sure it is awe-inspiring, but then that awe is lost in Faith. My sister, you would not call him back, would you?"

"No, no, no," she quickly replied. "I would not. I am content. God have mercy!"

"He will!" whispered a voice.

Orion turned, and those great black eyes were fixed upon him. Oh, how changed the man was, even from when the youth had first seen him! The features were all sunken—the flesh all gone—and only those eyes, dark, brilliant, and large, still retained their fullness. The contrast was strange, and at first sight startling. The dying man called his child to his side and whispered in her ear. He could not speak aloud. She bowed her head as he spoke, and having folded her little hands, she sang, in a sweet, rich, warbling tone, and with a most melodious accent and key, these lines, which she had learned on purpose to please him:

"I would not live alway; I ask not to stay
Where storm after storm rises dark o'er the way;
The few lucid mornings that dawn on us here
Are followed by gloom, and beclouded with fear."

When she had concluded the hymn, James Milmer uttered a whispered "Amen," and his wife and Orion followed his example. After this there was a season of silence, and then Orion asked why those damp clothes were hung up in the little room.

"It is very unhealthy," he said. "It is even worse, if possible, than the pestilential atmosphere which surrounds you."

"Alas, I know it, sir," Mrs. Milmer replied, sadly; "but we must dry them."

"But there is a line suspended from yon window to the wall over the little court-way here. Why not hang them there? You could reach them all from your room."

"Ah, sir—we have tried that; but they are stolen from there."

"Stolen? But you can take them in before dark."

"Umph!" muttered Mrs. Milmer, with a dubious shake of the head, "you don't understand our neighbors here. Right over in that court, there, is a nest of thieves. They are lounging about in there all day when it is pleasant. They climb up over the fence upon the little plank walk, and steal them right before our face and eyes."

"And can you not get at them?"

"Not without going down into the street and passing through another house; and that would be too dangerous."

"Is it possible that you have thieves at once so bold and so mean?" said Orion, more in pity than in surprise.

A strange shade passed over Mrs. Milmer's face, and after a moment's thought she resumed:

"Oh, sir, you know nothing of the nature of those who surround us here. When you brought that basket of food and clothing here upon your first visit, many of these neighbors saw it. On the next day I went out to purchase some medicine. While I was gone the thieves came into this room and pulled the very sheets from off my sick, helpless husband! He clasped his hands towards them and implored; but they heeded him not. They took what they wished—left him lying naked upon the bed—and then went away. When I returned I found poor Lizzie crying as though her heart would break, and my husband lying cold and shivering, without shelter. He told me what had happened, but I could do nothing towards getting the lost things back." *

[* Let the reader bear in mind that we write only of what we know and have seen. If you would see these same things, and hear such tales of horror as we have heard, and witness such scenes of despair as we have witnessed, go with Rev. W. C. Van Meter, the assistant missionary of Five Points Mission, who is a noble, whole-souled man, true and faithful in every good word and work, and he will show you more than you would wish to see a second time, and more than even the desire to be graphic in our portraiture of city life can tempt us to transcribe upon these pages.]

Orion shuddered, and was upon the point of making a remark which, upon second thought, he hushed. His impulse was one of thankfulness that the poor woman might soon be free from the accursed place of groggeries and robbers' dens—made free by the freedom from earth of the worn spirit for the mundane tabernacle of which she now labored so incessantly. But he would not speak it.

"Is it possible that such people exist about you?" he uttered, sadly. "I knew that there were deeply-dyed villains here, but I did think that they had some little sympathy for those poor creatures whom misfortune had brought down to be neighbors with them."

"No, no," murmured Constance, with another sad shake of the head. "They seem to be without a single spark of humanity. Only the one simple feature of walking upright is theirs to distinguish them from the very brutes! It is true! Oh, sir, it is!"

"God have mercy on them!" ejaculated Lizzie, from her little stool in the corner. "Oh! mamma, they don't know what to do. They never had a good mamma to teach them the way of love and of goodness. How I wish they could be good and happy!"

"Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven!" involuntarily murmured the young gold-beater.

Just as the words had dropped from his lips James Milmer uttered a deep groan, and slowly raised his hand to his mouth. His wife handed him some drink, which he grasped eagerly, but could not drink. He wet his lips, and his appetite was gone. After this he sank down, and remained for some moments without moving. Soon there was a deep heaving of the bosom, and the dying man opened his eyes with a sudden start. He gazed eagerly around until he saw Orion, and then he made a motion as though he would have the visitor come closer to him. The youth moved at once to the bedside, and the invalid tried to speak. He opened his lips, and an internal struggle was evident, but he was too weak. His lungs were past service. When he realized that he could not speak, a dark shade passed over his features, and for an instant he seemed unhappy.

"You are going home, James," whispered our hero. "This scene of darkness and of want will soon be passed."

The poor man made one last, powerful effort, and raised himself partly up. Orion saw his wish, and he raised him to a sitting posture, placing the pillows behind him. The invalid smiled his gratitude, and then reached forth his hands towards his wife and child. They came to him, and as he placed his hands upon their heads he turned a powerful, imploring look upon the youth. Then Orion understood his meaning. He saw now what the dying man had been trying to communicate.

"I understand you," he said; "and you may be perfectly free from all care on that account. Your wife and child shall be cared for. I give you my solemn promise that they shall have a good home."

James Milmer looked the thanks he could not speak, and having kissed his loved ones he closed his eyes. Ere long there was a change upon his face—the long, heavy breathing became more labored—and the large, dark eyes were fixed upon a point near the little shelf whereon a simple picture stood against the wall. The breath now came at long intervals, each one with a deep groan or gasp, and between them the whole frame was quiet. At length these gasps came at such long intervals, that at the end of each one it seemed as though life were gone. But finally, the breast arose with a mighty effort—one long, struggling breath—and then a shade passed over the face like the shadow of a cloud sweeping across the surface of the earth. The light of the eyes died away to a leaden hue, and the struggle ceased.

Orion Lindell turned to the weeping wife, and taking both her hands in his own, he said:

"My dear friend, the storm is over—the darkness is passed. The weary spirit has found its rest, and the season of pain is gone never to return. Oh, how much better off the loved one is now!"

The poor widow wept, but her tears were warm and grateful, and a gleam of faith and hope shone through them. After Orion had waited awhile for the first burst of grief to pass away, he spoke of the funeral. Said he:

"I will call upon the missionary of the establishment close by here, and he will see to your wants in this last scene of your life in this locality. Will that suit your desires?"

She gratefully answered that it would.

Accordingly the young man went over to the Mission, and the good people there were ready and willing to do all they could, and they only felt sorry that they had not learned of the destitute condition of the family before. He left with them money enough to pay all the expenses, and they promised to attend faithfully to the work, the missionary himself offering to officiate at the funeral.

After this, Orion returned to the little room where the widow was, and having informed her of what he had done, and gained her promise that she would be governed by the plans thus projected, he gave her a sum of money sufficient to meet her present wants, and then took his leave.


On the second day after that the funeral took place—Orion attended it, and his employer came with him. Mr. Garvey was astonished at the scene of misery and want that met his gaze. He thought he knew all about life in the great city, but he had never even dreamed of such things as he saw on this occasion.

The services were concluded, and the corpse was borne away to the grave which had been procured partly through the influence of Mr. Tiverton. When the party returned, Orion accompanied Mrs. Milmer back to her wretched home. She had some things there to collect, and hoped that she might be able to leave in two days. Our hero learned from her that she was expert with the needle, understanding all the usual varieties of fine work, and he assured her that he could easily find her a good home. He knew that Mr. Tiverton would help him. Having promised to call again on the second day from that, and having gained from her a promise that if she needed any assistance she would go to the Mission, he took his leave.

For a long while after her faithful friend was gone the poor widow sat with her child clasped tightly in her arms. In spite of all her hopes, there was a dark, threatening cloud hovering over her. She had not dared to tell Orion her fears, but there was a fear present with her—a dark and heavy fear. She did not feel safe in that place!


CHAPTER XIII.—CONVALESCENCE.—A PLEASING INTERVIEW.

ELLEN DURAND had recovered from the pain of her severe wounds, and was now only kept down by weakness, or physical prostration. She had escaped a settled fever; though she was well aware that danger might follow any undue effort. Her good guardian had visited her nearly every day; and, on his last visit, finding her calm and contented, with her mind strong and unimpaired, he ventured to relate to her the scene which he and Orion had witnessed. She was not startled at all, and the merchant was most agreeably surprised upon finding that his account seemed rather to give her relief than otherwise.

"I am glad you have told me all," she said, "for now I am assured. The thoughts I have held concerning that man have been dark and dubious, but henceforth I shall have no more doubts. I knew something before. Mrs. Lindell told me what she had heard."

"Ah?" uttered Tiverton, half inquisitively, half in surprise.

"Yes," resumed Ellen. "Mr. Thornton called here and wished to see me, and then the good woman told me the story. I know why she told it: She could not bear to see me deceived by such a wretch. Yet she made herself sure that I held some doubts in my own mind ere she spoke."

"Very well," said the merchant, "I am glad you know all about it now. I am sorry—very sorry, that Jasper Thornton should have proved himself such a villain. He had every opportunity for a high and useful career. No youth ever commenced life with fairer prospects than he did. He possessed a fortune upon the bare interest of which he might have lived sumptuously all his days. He had a good education, and he had friends who would gladly have helped him in any life-plan he might have adopted had it been honorable. But he had made his own pillow—made it of thorns and thistles—and he must suffer for the consequences. It is not too late for him to pluck out those thorns now; but it would leave the case empty, and I doubt if he has the energy to refill it in a proper and legitimate way. However, all the reform in the world could not now make him fit for your husband. There are some taints which, though they should not shut a man out from sympathy and encouragement, nor yet from pure society, if they be sincerely repented of, must forever forbid his seeking an alliance with a pure and virtuous girl. We can pray for him, and even encourage him, if he will encourage himself, but we cannot admit him, as he is now, to our confidence any more."

The maiden held the same opinions, and expressed much real sorrow at the man's fall. For a while longer the conversation turned upon topics touching the strange course of Thornton, and Ellen was earnest in her praises of the generous youth who had saved the poor drover from ruin. By and by there followed a short silence, at the end of which the fair girl said:

"I have not yet seen Orion Lindell; and yet I would like to see him very much. I have asked his mother several times if her son would not come in and inform me of what was going on in the city, but she shakes her head, and says he had better not come. Do you think there would be anything at all out of the way, my dear guardian, in his sitting here and talking with me? Oh, I do want to talk with somebody nearer my own age. Mrs. Lindell is a noble woman, but her conversation is most all deep and mere matter-of-fact; and when she runs into anything imaginary it is sure to be on the philosophy of life, or else upon some moral or religious topic. I love to hear her, and I do enjoy her deep moral and religious lessons, for they are full of love and kindness; but I have often thought that I should feel happier to have some of my tedious moments enlivened by the presence of the young man who saved me. There wouldn't be anything out of the way, would there?"

Mr. Tiverton did not answer at first. He arose and walked across the room, and when he came back he sat down and bowed his head.

"What harm can there be?" the maiden earnestly asked, as she saw her guardian hesitate.

"None at all, my dear—none at all," he finally said, raising his head and smiling upon his sweet ward. "I was only pondering upon it. Had you been my own child I should not have hesitated a moment. But there can be nothing out of the way—nothing at all, I will speak with Mrs. Lindell if you wish."

"I wish you would," said Ellen.

"I will."

Not long after the merchant took his leave of the sick girl, and in the parlor he stopped to speak with the hostess.

Catherine Lindell had now so far overcome the strange emotions which had moved her on her first few interviews with the wealthy visitor, that she could converse with him very calmly, though she dared not meet his gaze, for this she could not do without trembling. Mr. Tiverton, on the other hand, could not look upon her without strange feelings, though it was beyond his power to account for them. He had seen that to question her seemed to pain her, and he had resolved to let the mystery rest, at least for the present time.

"Mrs. Lindell," he said, without stopping to take a seat, "my ward is very anxious to see your son. She has asked my opinion, and I have thought upon it carefully. I told her I could see nothing improper in it, and that I would request you to let the youth call in and sit with her a while. Of course you can have no objections."

"Of course not, sir," the woman returned; "I only wished him to remain away because I felt that the maiden's friends might not like to have him become familiar with her. I considered my trust a sacred one."

"You were right, madam—perfectly right; and very kind, too. But now your considerations must be for yourself. Ellen feels the want of some companionship from youth, and I should be pleased to have Orion make her acquaintance."

Shortly after this the merchant took his leave, and when Mrs. Lindell was left alone she bowed her head upon her hands and remained so for some minutes. When she arose she was calm, but paler than was her wont, though after she had been a short time with Ellen the color, what little she had, came back to her face.

That evening Orion returned earlier than usual, and after he had eaten his supper his mother asked him if he would like to go up and see Ellen Durand. He started as he heard the question, and for a moment he seemed to think his mother might be teasing him.

"She is very anxious to see you," explained the widow, "and has been so for some time, but I have told her that it would not do. To-day her guardian has been here, and she asked him if you might not come in and chat with her occasionally. He said yes, and requested me to let you do so. You may go in now, if you please."

"If she wishes it I will do so with pleasure," said the youth. "Will you go and see?"

"Of course," returned the mother; and thus speaking she left the room. Ere long she returned and informed her son that Miss Durand would be pleased to see him.

There was a strange fluttering of the youth's heart as he started to follow his parent, and it is not to be wondered at that it was so. He was not much used to the society of females, and beyond this the peculiar circumstances under which he was placed in relation to the girl in question were calculated to render the meeting one of more than ordinary import. He followed his mother to the room, and when he reached the bedside he was introduced to Ellen Durand. He saw a sweet, lovely face, about which clustered a profusion of brown ringlets, and which was lighted up with a genial smile that seemed to center in her deep, sparkling, hazel eyes. He had not thought of finding so beautiful a being. But the disappointment was not all on his side. The very look of the maiden clearly showed that she found a man far more noble and handsome in personal appearance than she had anticipated. This could be seen in the sudden tremulousness of her eye, and in the grateful expression that crept upon her face. One thing is sure! In all her intercourse with the other sex she had never come across a man who possessed at once the same amount of physical force, of moral courage, and of manly beauty. She gazed upon his face, beaming, as it was, with the light of a great and generous soul; and then her eye instinctively ran over his wondrous form of symmetry and physical power combined.

For a few minutes there was a spirit of restraint in their conversation, but ere long this restraint wore off, and then they entered into a dialogue of much interest, with grace and freedom. The maiden told of her parents—how they had died and left her in the care of Mr. Tiverton; and then she told how generous and kind her guardian had ever been to her. Finally she asked Orion if he had any recollection of his father.

"Oh, yes," returned the youth. "I was six years old when he died, and I can remember him very well. He was a good man, and many people were sorry when he died."

After they had thus learned each other's private history, Ellen asked Orion about the poor family he had visited at the Five Points. He commenced the narrative intending only to give a general outline of the things he had seen, but as he got into the work he became interested, and gradually he grew eloquent and affecting. He drew a faithful picture of what he had seen, and when he came to the death scene of James Milmer his fair hearer wept. He stopped as he saw this, and begged her pardon for having ventured so far.

"Oh, no, no," she cried. "Do not stop. I weep because I feel a deep sympathy for the poor people. It will not harm me. Tell me all."

So the youth went on and told the whole story, and when he had concluded Ellen said:

"I never knew there was such misery in our city before. Oh, here am I, a woman grown, and never yet have I been of the least service to my suffering fellow-creatures."

"Ah," returned Orion, with a smile, "we all may feel a wish to help poor people when we know of their sufferings, and yet not be able to do it. Peculiar circumstances threw this case in my way, or I might never have had the pleasure I now have of knowing that the prayers of the righteous are ascending to heaven in my belief."

"Perhaps so," said Ellen. "But just remember how many would have turned coldly away from the ragged, dirty girl. Ah, there are very few who are willing to sacrifice anything of personal comfort for the good of poor, suffering humanity. There are thousands who would risk their very existence to save the life of a nabob, but who would push the humble child of poverty from their path."

"I know it," added the youth, half sadly; "but still it is not really the result of direct evil in the minds of those thousands. There is a natural deference to wealth and station which leads the masses to their assistance, while poverty wears a more repulsive garb that requires direct moral force in the character of those who work for it. Many a man who possesses a good kind heart, but who at the same time has a touch of indolence and timidity, flees from the assistance of poverty simply because he lacks the courage and will to visit its homes. I believe sincerely, that there is good feeling enough in our city to relieve every case of honest poverty in it if it could only be set at work in the right direction."

Ellen admitted the truth of this, and seemed much pleased with the thoughts thus presented.

At the end of two hours Mrs. Lindell motioned to her son that her patient needed rest, and he arose to take his leave. Ellen made him promise that he would come again, and then she bade him good-night.

For some time after Orion had gone the invalid remained silent, but at length she turned towards her nurse, and in a low, earnest tone she said:

"You must be proud of your son."

The woman started, and returned the maiden's gaze.

"I am proud of him," she at length replied. "For long years he has been my only stay—my only source of joy and peace. Never, never, did a word of complaint drop from his lips, and to me he never gave one word or look that was not born of love. I have seen him deeply tried—for seven long months I once lay sick and helpless—but during all that time he had but one look for me: it was one continuous smile—one genial beaming of love, and one anxious, grateful prayer for my good. He is a noble boy, if his mother does say it."

"And such a noble look?" murmured the maiden, with a burning eye. "I never saw so handsome a man before."

"Perhaps in that respect I may only look upon him with a mother's prejudice," said Mrs. Lindell, with a smile. "We are apt to think that our own children are fair."

"But you know that your child is fair."

"Why—I will tell the truth, my dear girl," replied the widow, earnestly. "I have thought him handsome, and I have often candidly asked myself if a part of his manly beauty did not lie in my own partiality. I have wondered if other people did not see many youths every day whom they thought more handsome."

"Then let me assure you on that point," quickly uttered the maiden. "Among all the members of the other sex with whom I am acquainted I think him the handsomest one I ever met. There is no feminine beauty there—no assumed airs, nor outside show; but a calm, dignified, noble, manly beauty—full of moral power and courage, and bearing, even to the casual beholder, the assurance of a great and generous soul. Such a face and bearing as his could not be the companion of vice, nor the veil of evil. I—I—may have spoken freely—perhaps more so than I ought—but I speak to one in whom I feel that I can repose the fullest confidence. I would not have spoken thus to another."

"You have at least spoken to one who appreciates what you have said," returned the hostess gratefully.

"Has he ever enjoyed any advantages of education?" the girl asked, honestly.

"He has grasped them from his spare time. Of course he has not had the advantages which many have, but he has accomplished more in his evening studies than many accomplish even in a college. He has many friends who give him the free use of their libraries, and he makes good use of them. He reads to me from French books; and only three evenings ago Doctor Stanley got him to translate a Latin sentence for him."

"Is it possible?" uttered Ellen, in surprise; and as she spoke she seemed not quite so free as before, though the expression upon her countenance was one of pleasure and satisfaction.

Shortly after this the girl fell asleep, and Mrs. Lindell went down-stairs. She found Orion in the parlor reading. He closed his book as she entered, and having arisen and taken one or two turns across the floor, he stopped and gazed into his mother's face.

"Mother," he said, "you have enjoyed a peculiar pleasure in Miss Durand's companionship."

"I have, certainly, my son."

"She is a lovely being," the youth continued, earnestly, and with evident pride; "and she must have a mind as pure and lovely as is her face."

"She has a pure mind, I know," said the widow, with interest; "for no other mind could have borne the suffering which she has borne with such fortitude and resignation. During all the hours of pain and bodily anguish I have seen her suffer, she has only seemed grateful that she was not killed, and that she had found so good a home during her helplessness."

"I am sure she is the most beautiful girl I ever met with," resumed Orion: "the most lovely in feature and in mind."

Mrs. Lindell shook her head to herself as she turned away, for there was something peculiar and significant in this coincidence of opinion between her patient and her son. It was fortunate that she said nothing to him of what she had heard from Ellen's lips, for he had as much on his mind—perhaps on his heart—now as he could well dispose of.


CHAPTER XIV.—AN ACCOMMODATING ROBBER.

ON the morning after the funeral of her husband, Constance Milmer arose and dressed, and having washed her child, she got together such articles of food as she had at hand, and then sat down to her meal. After the frugal repast was concluded the poor woman took a seat upon the old chest, and bowed her head. She seemed to wander away into scenes long past, for, at the end of some five or ten minutes, when she raised her head and gazed upon the bed, she started with a sudden emotion, as though she had just discovered that her companion was gone!

Oh! she was very sad and lonesome, thus forsaken in that dismal home! Even though her husband had been for long months as helpless as an infant, yet his presence had seemed a sort of protection, because it kept her mind busy from fear. But now she thought of the terrible scenes by which she was surrounded, and wondered if the thieves would come to rob her. Instinctively little Lizzie crept to her mother's side and snuggled closely upon her bosom.

"Mamma," she whispered, in a low, fearful tone, "when will we go away from here?"

"As soon as we can, my dear," returned the widow, winding her arms about the child.

"Can't we go now?" the little one asked, nervously, at the same time casting her eyes timidly towards the low, dingy window. "I don't want to stay here any longer. Oh, why can't we go to where good Mr. Lindell lives? I should like to live there."

"We shall go to-morrow, Lizzie; and perhaps Mr. Lindell will find us a good home. Don't be afraid. No one will harm us now."

"Won't they, mamma?"

"No. Why do you ask?"

"Because—because—I had a bad dream."

"And what did you dream?" asked the mother, hiding her face upon her child's shoulder.

"Oh—I can't tell you. But it was about that wicked man that Mr. Lindell whipped."

"You shouldn't think of such things, Lizzie," said the poor woman, but even as she spoke she shuddered fearfully, and her look showed that she was far from being easy.

"Then I won't, mamma," cried the affectionate girl, at the same time throwing her arms about her parent's neck. "I won't say any thing that can make you feel bad; but it was a very ugly dream—and that naughty man, Duffy Glicker, looked so dreadful, too. Oh! I wish I hadn't dreamed such a dream, for then I mightn't have been afraid to stop here."

"Never mind the dream, Lizzie. I wouldn't talk about it any more."

"Why—does it frighten you, mamma?"

"It doesn't frighten me, Lizzie; but I don't like to see you so fearful."

"Well—I won't say any thing more about it."

A while longer the mother and child sat there together, and they had just arisen, and the former was upon the point of opening her chest, when a shuffling, unsteady step was heard in the dark passage, and in a few moments more a scratching sound followed, as though some one was searching for the latch. The door was soon opened, and an old hag, who had previously occupied one of the adjoining apartments, entered. She was past the middle age of life; all bloated and disfigured with rum; with features dark, dirty, and repulsive; looking for all the world like a ghoul just from some graveyard, where it had been digging up its horrid repast! She had not been in the room a minute before the atmosphere was thoroughly impregnated with the rank fumes of gin from the ghoul's breath! The frightful being took a seat upon the only chair in the room, and then gazed around upon everything she could see, her ugly, misshapen body keeping a swaying, drunken motion all the while.

Constance Milmer had seen the hag before, and had wondered if she were ever a maiden like other maidens, and she had never seen her but with a shudder. On the present occasion she gazed upon the intruder with a strange feeling of fear and dread, for there was such a perfect diabolism in her every look and form and feature, that her presence could bode nothing but evil.

"Ah-ya-ya," cried the hag, in a hoarse, munching tone, at the same time increasing the swaying of her ungainly body. "Ye've been left desolate, hain't ye?"

"We have," returned the poor widow, in a faint, quivering tone.

"Ya-a-as—so ye have. Yer man's dead an' buried, I know. I s'pose they put him in the ground where ye'll never see him again. Pooh—don't cry 'bout it. That won't do no good. There, now don't. I've come to do ye a kind turn. Jest mind that, an' stop yer cryin'. What's the use?"

The coarse allusion to her husband had caused the flood up from the widow's soul; but at the mention of a kind turn she looked up, and tried to wipe her tears away.

"Ye've got a buteful leetle girl here—I s'pose she's yourn?"

"Yes," said Constance, at the same time instinctively winding her arms about the child as she saw the gaze of the ghoul fixed upon it.

"I thought so. Now, ye must have a hard time to fetch up the leetle thing. I'll take it. Ya-ah-ah—I'll take it and make a fine leddy of it. Give me the girl, an' I'll put fine close onto her, and make her nice."

"Oh! no, no!" cried the mother, as she clasped the little one more closely to her bosom. "I could not give her up."

"But only think," urged the hag, her bleared and blood-streaked eyes gleaming fearfully upon the child, "what's the use of your takin' the poor leetle thing all over the hard world with yourself? Give her to me, an' I'll make a leddy of her. My own, dear Kate is gone. She run off an' drowned herself in a fit of ugliness. They said she had the deliric trem'les, but she didn't. She was ugly—that is what she was. You wouldn't be ugly, would ye, dear? Here—come here an' see me. Come—I'll whisper somethin' pooty in yer ear."

As the beldam thus spoke she reached out her great, dirty hands, and blinked horridly at the child. Little Lizzie uttered a low cry of fear, and hid her face in her mother's bosom.

"Oh! don't let her get me! Mamma—mamma—don't, oh, don't let her get me!"

"What—the pooty leetle thing aren't afeared of me, is she?" grumbled the hag.

"She's—she's—a—frightened easily since her father died," explained poor Constance, trembling like an aspen.

"Oho—she oughtn't to be skeered of good folks. But never mind. If she knowed what a nice, pooty leddy I'd make of her she'd come to me right off, an' put her leetle arms right around my neck. You'd better let me have her."

"Oh! don't ask me!" uttered the mother. "It would kill me to part with her."

"Well—never mind now. P'r'aps arter you've been all 'round, an' can't find no home, ye'll be glad to let me take her an' keep her a leetle while."

As the ghoul said this she cast her eyes once more over the room, and finally she took a pistol from a pocket in her dirty, tattered gown. It was a common-sized pocket pistol, with a single barrel, and seemed to be in perfect order.

"D' ye ever see a pistle?" the horrid being asked, as she held it in the palm of her hand so that the widow might see that it was a bona fide weapon.

"Ye-e-s," whispered Constance, now really frightened, for the fear shot through her mind that the hag might be crazy.

"D' ye ever see how one of 'em was fired?" she continued, at the same time grasping the pistol by the butt, and raising the hammer, thus revealing the bright yellow cap. "Yer see me pull this thing back so. D' ye mind that little click—click? That's because it's cocked. Now, ye see, 'twould be jest as easy to kill ye as 'twould to pull this leetle thing under here: that's the trigger."

"Oh—mercy!" gasped Constance, pale and trembling, and convulsively raising her hand as though she would ward off the ball. "Don't point it at me! Oh—don't!"

"Don't be afeard. Sure, it's loaded—an' it's got two lead bullets into it—an' lots of powder; but I shan't shoot it off. Only if ye was to tetch me, now; or frighten me by hollering, an' makin' a noise, I might forget myself an' shoot ye dead afore I thought. This very pistle has killed seven men! Only think of it, now. Seven men! You wouldn't want to be killed by it, I know. Of course ye wouldn't. Seven men! My eyes, what a horrid thing it must be to be killed with a pistle!"

While speaking thus, in a mumbling, half-threatening tone, her body was swaying to and fro as before, and her eyes were glaring about the room. Keeping her pistol in her hand, and pointed towards Constance, she arose from her chair and moved towards the old chest, upon which the hostess sat.

"Won't ye jest let me take a peep into that chist, my darlin'? Don't be afeared; I know this pistol is a drefful dangerous thing, but I'll be keerful."

The poor woman dared not disobey. She arose from the chest, and, pale and trembling, shrank away to the opposite side of the room. The hag proceeded to open the chest, and while she overhauled the things she found therein she kept up a sort of low, munching soliloquy. There were several articles of children's clothing, and some few pieces of fine linen, which the fond mother had kept for her child. Then there were a few articles which had belonged to her husband. There was a razor, a strop, a good brush, a pair of silk kerchiefs, and a number of little things of no account save as mementos.

"Yer a-goin' to move these things, arn't ye?"

"Yes," gasped the frightened woman.

"Then I'll help ye pack 'em up."

"No—no; I won't trouble you," uttered Constance spasmodically. "I can do it very well."

"No—but I come to help ye; an' I can't go away now without doin' somethin'. Here—one o' these sheets 'ill be jest the thing to pack up some of 'em in."

As she thus spoke the beldam pulled off both the sheets from the bed, and, having spread them out the whole size, she proceeded to place upon them the various articles of use which she had found in the chest. She took all the linen—the shaving tools, and the brush—the best of the other garments—and all the little things that could possibly be turned into money. After she had emptied the chest of all she seemed to fancy she arose and went to the narrow shelf over the little fire-place.

"Now, this flat-iron 'ill jest balance in there," she said, as she took it down and placed it with the other things on the sheets. "An' this pair o' candlesticks, too. An' this leetle thing," she added, taking down a small wine-glass, in which there was a silver spoon. This spoon she took with a sudden convulsion of face and frame.

"Why—it's rale siller, ain't it?" she cried, biting it with her teeth. "Well, now, I didn't expect this. Howsumever, it 'ill be all safe in with the rest of 'em."

After this she took down the small looking-glass which hung near the window, and then stopped. Having looked all over the room several times, she proceeded to tie up the bundle she had got packed away. Having done this, she sat down on the chair again and commenced to toy with the pistol.

"My dear, good woman," she said, "haven't ye got some money!"

Constance started as she heard this question, for she became convinced now that the hag meant to rob her. She would have fled into the street for help, but the pistol was pointed very nearly towards her, and she feared the woman might fire it.

"I have nothing more," she gasped, shaking at every joint like one with a severe ague.

"But ye must have a leetle money, my deary. Only a very leetle. Jest let me see how much ye've got. Come."

The widow hesitated, for she knew not how to answer. She could not think of giving up her money, and yet she feared the dread presence before her. Instinctively she cast her eyes towards the head of the bed, and quick as thought the gaze of the beldam turned in the same direction. The latter's perception was quick, and she read in an instant the meaning of the uneasy look upon the face of her hostess. She started up and hastened to the point towards which that look had been directed. Constance saw the movement, and, under the impulse of the moment, she sprang forward and grasped a small box which had been concealed beneath the straw bed.

"Don't do that," uttered the beldam, at the same time seizing the box and snatching it away. "Can't ye jest let me look at it?"

"Oh, don't take it away from me!" cried the poor woman in frantic tones. "Let me keep this—let me keep this!"

"Jest you stand back an' let me look into it." As the hag thus spoke she pointed the pistol towards the widow and as the latter shrank back she added:

"Now, don't make a noise, 'cause I might forget that this pistle was loaded with two bullets and lots of powder, an' snap it at ye. Only think how drefful 'twould be!"

Thus speaking she opened the box, the key being in the lock, and her eyes snapped as she saw two bank-notes and some silver. There was a dollar bill, a two-dollar bill, and nearly a dollar in change.

"Ah-ya-ya-yah!" the beldam uttered. "Now, this is nice. If I had some paper, and a pen and some ink, I'd write ye a noat—a noat, ye know, what promises to pay—'cause I want to borry this. P'r'aps I shan't be able to pay ye back afore next week. But then it don't make no odds 'bout the noat, 'cause my word is jest as good, every grain an' bit. I'll take it right in the box, an' then, ye see, when I bring it back I ken fetch box an' all."

She crowded the box into the bundle without untying it, and then running her arm through the handle formed by the knotted corners, she raised it up and moved a step towards the door. Then she turned, and while a look of horrid triumph dwelt upon her coarse face, she said:

"Only think:—Seven men!—all killed dead with this ere pistle. Mustn't it have been drefful? But then there ain't no danger to them as don't make no noise, nor holler out, nor nothin' of that sort. Now I know you'd jest as lives lend me these things are not. I don't want to borry them for only a week, and when the week's up ye can come an' git 'em. I'm a-goin' to move pooty soon, but I'll put a notis in the papers so't you'll know where to find me."

Thus speaking, she moved nearer to the door, but as she reached it, and pulled it partly open, she turned and added:

"There's one thing I came nigh forgettin' to tell ye: I ain't a-goin' right away. I'm goin' to stop in Bun Foley's room a little while, so't 'f you should happen out pooty soon I might show ye which way you'd better go. What a drefful thing it must be to be killed dead with a pistle! Only think—one don't have time hardly to think. If you should die d'ye s'pose you'd go to where yer husband is?"

"I hope so," uttered Constance, instinctively.

"Then say—I've jest thought of a plan. With this pistle I could send you arter him quick as wink. Now if you're tired of life, and would take it as a good turn to be sent into t'other world, ye can let me know without speakin' a word. Jest come out into the passage any time within half an hour, and I shall take it as a sign that ye want to die. My poor dear gal had to kill herself, but you shan't be put to that drefful strait. I should feel kind o' bad to do it for ye, but if ye will have it so, why, I shouldn't mind it. Ye'll remember the sign: only jest right out into the passage—in half an hour—'twouldn't be no use arter that, 'cause I'll be gone!"

With these words the beldam passed out and closed the door, and ere long the sound of her steps was lost in the distance.

"Mamma—mamma——"

"What, Lizzie?"

"Won't she bring back my clothes?"

"Never again!"

"What—will she keep 'em always? Won't she bring back your money?"

"No, no. She has robbed us!"

"Robbed us?" repeated the child, gazing up with a frightened look. "Oh! you won't go out into the passage, will you? You don't want to go to papa, and leave poor little Lizzie all alone, do you?"

The mother caught the child to her arms, and burst into tears, and when she could command herself sufficiently to speak, she uttered:

"No, no, darling; mamma won't leave you. Don't cry any more. The naughty, wicked woman may take what she has got, for she will not be happy. She must be very miserable. She has been a sad, wretched sinner for a great while, and only see how miserable she is now."

The child shuddered at the thought, and clung more closely to her mother's bosom. They were both trying to speak words of comfort, and yet both were weeping profusely.


CHAPTER XV.—THE ABDUCTION.

IT was not until the middle of the afternoon that Constance Milmer dared to venture out. She was not a coward, but the long months of suffering she had passed, and the toil she had undergone, had seemed to shatter her nervous system, and slight causes, which would once have only nerved her up to action, now startled her heart into a fierce palpitation, and unnerved her completely. She knew that the woman who had so boldly robbed her was a reckless, depraved being, and long indulgence at the gin-bottle might have so far undermined her reason that she would not hesitate to shoot one whom she thought was going to betray her. But at three o'clock the poor widow went out, taking Lizzie with her, for she dared not leave her child behind.

She went directly across to the Mission, where she found the missionary, and told her story. She only wanted a little food. The good man would have given her what she said she needed, but she only wanted food enough to last her till the morrow. She told the principal that her friend would come then, and she hoped he would have a good place for her. Having assured himself that the applicant needed for the present nothing but food, the missionary sent for one of the attendants, who soon brought a couple of loaves of bread, some butter, some milk, and a few slices of cold meat. All save the milk she could carry in a paper, and for that they lent her a small pitcher, which she promised to return in the morning.

"Don't you know the name of the woman who robbed you?" asked the gentleman, while Lizzie was taking a sip of the milk.

"No, sir," returned Constance. "I have seen her. She used to keep the dreadful place in the two rooms just at the head of the stairs where I live. She is the one who came near killing the poor little girl that ran away from her last winter."

"O, yes, I know now," said the missionary. "She has gone by the name of Santa Snuggins. I have seen her prowling about here several times lately. I will keep my eyes upon her."

When the poor widow and her child reached their desolate home they ate a hasty meal, and then they went at work to pack up what few things they had left. The work was not a tedious one, and all was ready before dark. As the shades of night began to gather prematurely about the dismal place Constance wished that she had asked the folks at the Mission to let her remain there over night. She was sure they would have readily consented had she asked the question, and she almost blamed herself for having neglected to do it.

And then little Lizzie seemed afraid to remain another night in the fearful place. She feared she should have some more horrid dreams.

"Never mind for that," said her mother, drawing her upon her bosom. "If nothing worse than that happens we shall be very fortunate, for after to-night we shan't have to stay here any more."

Still the woman was not so well satisfied as she tried to make her child believe. She had a strong mind to go over to the Mission and try to get lodgings there. But she put it off too long. She took too much time for consideration. Night came on, and it came quickly, too. Constance had fairly thrown on her shawl and hood to go out, and was upon the point of tying on Lizzie's little hat, when there came a blaze of light in at the window that almost blinded them for the moment. A quick cry of alarm escaped from the child's lips, and just then a clap of thunder came that made the old house tremble from roof to cellar.

Constance started up to close the window, for the wind had suddenly arisen, and came driving around the corners of the adjoining houses with cold, ungrateful power. She had hardly closed the window when the rain began to fall in great drops, and pretty soon the lightning came again.

"Must we stay now?" the child asked.

"I guess we had better," returned the mother. "It is very dark and stormy, and the Mission may be shut up."

"But I should think they would keep it open more when it stormed," argued Lizzie.

"Perhaps they do," admitted Constance. "But still we had better stay here. We shan't be troubled on such a night. You know there are sometimes very wicked men in the streets, and they ain't afraid of rain when they wish to do any wicked work. We will stay here to-night, darling."

As soon as the child was made to realize that there might be danger to her mother in venturing out she said nothing more against staying.

The lightning continued to flash at regular intervals, and the loud thunder came crashing down with quaking power. The rain pattered heavily upon the roof—for there was no room above the one the widow occupied, it being in the upper story of what had originally been built for a shed—so the great drops sounded very plainly as they fell, and the music was ghostly and dirge-like.

Ere long the mother and child were forced to get upon the bed, for the roof leaked badly, and in all other places the water came dripping down till it formed heavy pools, and then ran off in streams towards the fire-place, and into the holes in the floor. There was one small piece of candle left, and having lighted it they set it up in the mouth of a black bottle which stood upon the floor, and then the poor woman got her little worn Bible and sat down to read.

A distant clock struck the hour of nine as Constance closed the good book, and she had taken Lizzie upon her lap to pray with her, when they were both startled by hearing a heavy footfall in the passage. They listened, and it approached the door!

"Suppose it should be that wicked man!" whispered the child, fearfully.

The mother could not reply. The same thought had come to her own mind, and it filled her soul with terror.

"Blow out the light, and perhaps he won't know we are here," suggested Lizzie.

Quick as thought the widow did so, and then clasping her child closely to her bosom she awaited the result.

It was soon evident that there were two men instead of one, and that they were coming towards the door.

"Oh! they have a light!" the mother whispered, as she saw the beams through a chink of the door before which they had stopped.

Hardly had she spoken when a heavy hand was laid upon the latch; but the door was fastened upon the inside.

"Hallo, there!" cried a voice, which was at once recognized as Duffy Glicker's. "Let's come in!"

But Constance made no reply.

"Let's come in, I say," repeated the voice. "Hallo! Don't ye hear me?"

This last call was accompanied by a heavy kicking upon the door, and for a few moments afterwards all was still. The woman's heart beat fearfully, even so that the child, whose head lay upon it, could feel it.

"Now say—there's no use o' this!" cried the applicant. "We know you're in there, 'cause ye've been watched. I seed ye come over from the hypocrite's mission, and I know ye're here. So just open the door, or we'll break it down for ye! Come!"

Constance moved, but she did not arise. If she had been seen to enter—and from the fact that Glicker knew she had been over to the Mission she knew that he must have seen her—then she had little hope of escape. Yet she could not speak, nor would she let her persecutor in.

"Once more will ye open the door?"

A few moments the applicants waited, and then they applied their strength to the door. But it needed no great force to accomplish their purpose, for the only fastening was a wooden button, which flew off at the first pressure they brought to bear upon it, and on the next moment Glicker came tumbling into the room, the momentum of his body having not been more than half overcome by the resistance of the door. But he managed to regain his equilibrium without falling or losing his lantern. He was quickly followed by Bill Slumpkey, who closed the door behind him.

Poor Constance! She gazed up into the dark features of the bad man, and then instinctively covered her face with her hands.

"So I've come back, ye see," uttered Glicker, holding out his lantern so as to throw the light upon her face. "Your good kind friend didn't make much, only to get us placed under bonds to keep the peace, and to lay up a pretty pickle for himself. I've been a-watchin' of ye, my dear, and now I've come to give ye a good comfortable home."

"You will not take me from here, sir!" the widow cried, gazing up with her hands clasped.

"Why—what a creetur for choice you must be," returned the villain, with a low, grating laugh. "D'ye mean that you'd rather stay here?"

"I did not mean that. I wouldn't stay here always. I can find a good home somewhere. Oh! in Heaven's name, sir, I pray you let me alone! I can not go with you."

"Oh, but you must. I've been and got a place all fixed for ye; and 'twould be a great disappointment not to have ye come. I know'd yer husband was dead—poor man! I pity him for having to leave such a pooty wife, and I held myself off till ye'd have time to git kind o' calmed down like. But now I've come, and you must go with me. Come—git ready as soon as you can."

"But you would not force me out into such a storm as this, sir," urged the woman.

"Ha—there ye're miscalkerlated my natur, my dear. Now jest see what a tender set o' feelins I've got. I've fetched a coach for ye. What d'ye think o' that? Come—now be kind, and don't make any more fuss."

What could poor Constance do? In the morning Orion Lindell would be there, and from that time, could she reach it unharmed, she would be safe. Oh! why had she not stopped at the Mission! Had she remained there, as she might have done, this dread meeting would have been escaped! Only a few short hours between this and morning—between the storm and the haven, and yet the evil had come! Oh! could she but gain those few hours—could she but put off her enemy until the morning—she might yet be saved.

"Duffy Glicker," she cried, in a wild, beseeching tone, "let me be here till morning. Do not force me away to-night! A few hours can make no difference!"

"And what difference can that make to you?" quickly retorted the villain, with a peculiar twist of the face. "My—just look at this floor. The rain comes in here like a deluge. Of course you wouldn't want to stay here. 'T wouldn't be safe. You'd ketch cold. Come—don't bother any more, for the horses are standin' in the rain."

"Why don't you take her up an' fetch her along?" interposed Slumpkey, in a gruff, ugly tone.

"I shall just do that thing if she don't move pooty soon," responded Glicker. And then turning to the woman, he added, "Now, come, or you'll be helped. I can be decent to a woman; but I can't stand everything. Put on yer togs as soon as ye can. That's all I've got to say!"

Constance Milmer arose to her feet and moved to where her hood and shawl were hanging. She took them down, but she hesitated about putting them on. Her hands trembled, and the emotion sent the quiver through her whole frame.

"Duffy Glicker," she said, turning to the dark man, and speaking as though she was making her last effort, "Why do you hunt me thus? Why is it that you would carry me away? What purpose can you have?"

"Never you mind that now, my dear. Just git ready and come along, and at a proper time you shall know all about it."

"But tell me, sir—oh! you have some purpose—you want some concession from me. Let me know what, and I may yield at once, and then you can go your way, and let me go mine."

"Pooh! You don't know nothin' 'bout it, woman. You've got to go with me, and the sooner you git ready the quicker you'll be over it." Thus far the man spoke in a calm, half-joking tone, but here a change came over his countenance. He assumed a look of fearful import, and in a hissing tone he added. "Now jest look here: Will ye be carried down, or will ye walk? Will ye go quietly, or will ye be gagged? Will ye behave yourself, or will you have some ruffles put on your wrists? Now ye have it, plain, plump, and square; and ye'll have jest one minute to make up your mind in!"

There was no mistaking the man's meaning now. Even little Lizzie seemed to realize its full import, for she crept to her mother's side, and in a low spasmodic tone she uttered:

"Don't let him hurt you, mamma!"

Constance understood it, and her resolution was taken from that moment. She would go with him where he wished—she would obey him while he had the power to enforce; but when it should come to a point beyond that, then she would turn to her God and give to him alone her life and her honor!

As this resolution came to her soul she grew calm and collected. With a steady hand she put on her shawl and hood, and then turned to her persecutor.

"I am ready," she said.

"And ye'll go nice and quietsome, will yer?"

"I will go with you, sir!"

"But ye won't holler?"

"I shall not, sir!"

"Now ye talk. Come, my little dear," he continued, turning to Lizzie, "Ye'll have a good home now. This man 'll carry ye in his arms all nice and snug."

"But you won't take me away from my mamma," the child cried, in terror.

"In course we won't, ye little scarecrow, yer." Thus speaking he took the little one up in his arms, and then turning to his companion, he added:

"I'll go ahead with the calf, and the mother 'll be sure to follow."

And so, laughing at his own coarse joke, he went on, while Glicker followed, leading the woman by the hand. He closed the door behind him, and ere long they reached the street, where a covered coach, with two horses attached, was standing. The driver had to growl a little on account of having been kept so long in the rain, but his employer took no notice of it. Constance was helped into the carriage at once, the child having been put in before her, and while Glicker was following them to the inside, Mr. Bill Slumpkey climbed up on the outside to a seat by the driver, and in a moment more they were driven off.

Poor Constance had been longing for the hour to come which should set her free from the wretched place which she had been forced to call home; but now, as she caught the last glimpse of the old wooden stairway, as the coach turned the corner into Anthony Street, her heart sank within her, and she would have given all she possessed of worldly goods to have been back, for the dark, cheerless night, in the pestilential chamber! For from that place she could look forward to the coming of another day with a bright hope; but now she had no source of hope left, save such as the drowning man may have who grasps at straws which float about him!

The rain still fell in torrents, and ever and anon the vivid lightning flashed through the sky, followed by the crash of the thunderbolt. Constance gazed out at the window, and she saw the water in the gutters rushing on in torrents, while the pavements and the flagging-stones reflected the gas-light from their flooded surfaces. Upon the sidewalks she saw men hurrying on with quick steps, many of them wet and cold, and often she would meet an upturned face upon which she was sure she could read the spirit of envy. Envy of her because she was protected from the storm! Oh! how gladly would she have taken her child in her arms and rushed forth into the storm, with her head bared, and her bosom all exposed, could she have been free from the power of him who held where she was!

She knew that the coach had been in Chatham Street, and she believed that she was now passing down East Broadway; but beyond this she was not acquainted. When the coach turned off into a narrow street she could keep the run of her course no more. She watched eagerly for some landmarks, but the horses dashed on so swiftly that she could read none of the signs. At length, however, she saw one which she could plainly decipher, as the turning of the corner slackened the speed. It was a large sign, upon quite a small building, and read: "OLD FLY MARKET." Just here they turned to the left, and ere many moments the coach was stopped. Bill Slumpkey immediately appeared at the door and threw it open.

"Here we be," he cried, as he let down the step.

Glicker made no reply in words, but simply jumped out with the child in his arms, and having given it to his companion he turned and gave his hand to Constance. She offered no resistance, nor did she hesitate; but she got out quickly, and instinctively hurried after Slumpkey, who was conveying Lizzie up a narrow alley-way which led in from the street to a very small court beyond, where some dismal looking houses were built upon land which had been originally intended for back-yards. Duffy Glicker came quickly up with her, and took her by the hand.

"We've got most home," he said. "Come right in this way."

As he spoke Slumpkey had just thrown back a small gate, which opened the way to a little brick walk. A few yards further on they came to a short flight of wooden steps which led to a door. Here Slumpkey had to wait till his companion came up, the latter having the latch-key; but the door was soon opened, and then they passed into a small hall which would have been pitchy dark but for Glicker's lantern, the lamp of which was still lighted. Here Duffy took the lead, starting up the stairs, with Constance's hand still grasped in his own. Up to the third story he went, where he opened a door, near the back part of the building, which led to quite a respectable chamber. As soon as they were all in, the dark man turned to his prisoner.

"There," he uttered, emphatically, "isn't this better than the place I took ye from? I tell yer ye'll be comfortable here. Jest see what a nice bed ye've got. Now ye can be jest as much at home here as ye've a mind to."

Thus speaking he moved to the mantel and lighted a small spirit lamp which stood there, and then turned towards the door.

"Ye'll be perfectly safe here," he added, after Slumpkey had gone out. "I shall come and see ye as soon as I can; but whether I come or not there'll be somebody to attend to yer wants. Good night."

Constance Milmer gazed vacantly into the villain's face while he was speaking, but she made no reply. She saw him go out, and she heard him lock the door, and then she listened until she heard his footsteps die away in the distance; and when she could hear no more, save the pattering of the rain, she caught her child to her bosom and burst into tears. She wept long and deeply, and the sobs of the little one were mingled with her own. It was the innocent child that first spoke the name of God, but in a moment more the mother was upon her knees, and a solemn calmness crept o'er her spirit as she prayed.


CHAPTER XVI.—A LIVE COUNT, AND AN UNWELCOME VISITOR.

THE large parlors of Paul Tiverton's mansion were lighted, though not very brightly, Isabella having a visitor peculiarly her own. This visitor was no less a personage than the German Count, Adolphus Gerald Charlemagne Gusterhausen. An imposing name truly, but then he was a count, and counts have long names—it is customary for the scions of noble stock to represent noble ancestors. So we find the children of kings and queens with immense names. Just look at the name, or names, of the infants of Spain. The royal house of England is rather more economical in this respect, because the children outnumber the good names in the genealogical calendar; but the infant of France has a prodigious name, and so we find many other noble families equally prodigal in this respect.

Count Adolphus Gerald Charlemagne Gusterhausen was a tall, flaxen-haired man, with light gray eyes; a light beard and moustache; a very aristocratic form, and not by any means ugly or forbidding to look upon. The principal characteristic in his face was one of what is generally termed softness—not softness as applied to music, or poetry, or the human heart; but rather such softness as we find in an over-ripe cabbage, or something of that sort. In fact he possessed an intense softness when ripened into aristocracy. What he might have been in some other sphere—say with a white apron on behind a gentleman's chair at dinner—we cannot say.

Isabella Tiverton had become acquainted with the Count at a party given by a Mushroom on the Fifth Avenue. She forgot that a man who had leaped into sudden wealth from a state of comparative poverty might be easily imposed upon in the aristocratic world; and because she met people as invited guests in a palace she supposed they must be all of pure blood. Of course the proud, dark-eyed daughter of the millionaire was the observed of all observers, and even the German Count had been anxious to make her acquaintance. He had talked to her of his vast estates in Germany—of his noble family, and of the mighty deeds of his heroic ancestors. All this had pleased Isabella much, for under her mother's training she had grown up with no understanding of humanity further than what appeared in show upon the outside. She had read all the thrilling novels she could find, and had thus become charmed with the sound of noble titles. A Count was to her the very substance of greatness and of romance; and she had fairly trembled with excitement when she had whispered to herself the word, "COUNTESS!" In her escritoire were several blank notes superscribed thus: "To the Countess Isabella." "To the Honorable the Countess of Gusterhausen." "For the noble Countess." These she had written herself, just to see how the high-sounding title would look upon paper.

On the present evening the Count had been in the parlor some two hours when the reader is introduced, and we may imagine that during that time he had talked a great deal of love. But we have chosen this particular moment to look in upon the happy couple, because just then Mrs. Tiverton herself entered, all flounced and gilded and painted, as though for conquest.

"My dear Count," she uttered, as she twisted her body into the most fashionable shapes, "I could not think of allowing our beloved Isabella to monopolize your company any longer. I could not bear the thought of your going away without my seeing you."

"Ah—me dear Lady Tiverton," drawled the long-named man, slowly and aristocratically arising from his chair, "you do me honaw—you do, positively. Me deah Isabellah and I have enjoyed a very pleasant season; but youah presence ish goot. How do you find youahself dis evening?"

"As well as usual, my dear Count," returned the mother, sinking into one corner of a damask-covered tete-a-tete. "I am not strong."

"Only in beauty and loveliness," said the Count, with a prodigious twist of body and face. "Wid such weapons as dose you have powah enough. You no need de strength of de body."

"Oh, you naughty man!" cried Isabella, patting his sallow cheek with the tip of her feathered fan.

"Naughty—for what?" asked Adolphus, with a look of immense astonishment.

"To flatter us poor creatures so," answered the maiden.

"Vel—dere—I vont never again speak anoder word of trut' to de females heah. In me own faderland our ladies tink netting of being complimented for dere beauty; but here I find dem all so very modest dat dey no love to be told if dey is beautiful and lovely. Don't you always love to say a flowah ish beautiful ven you pick him off de shtem?"

"Yes," murmured Isabella.

"Den vy not I say de flowah of de sex is lovely ven I tink so, eh? How can I see——But I must shtop. My eyes is dazzled. Me heart is turned with passion."

Had a stranger chanced to drop in at that moment, he would have been frightened for fear the Count was really dying; but the women were used to that sort of thing, and they were not frightened at all. There followed a little side-play of smiles and making faces, and then the Count said, with a sudden air of importance:

"But say—have you heard dat de Prince Bernardo de Tavora had arrived in New York?"

"The Prince?" uttered Mrs. Tiverton, with interest.

"Yes."

"A prince of your country?"

"No. He ish an Etarlyn."

"An Italian?" repeated Isabella.

"Yes—one of the most noble princes of Italy. He is travelling to see the woorlt, and some voornderful fortune brought him here. He owns estates near Rome."

"What—near the great eternal city?" cried Isabella, in wonder. "Is he a powerful prince?"

"Oh—next to the king. I have known him for many years. Ven I goes to Rome I always go to his palace, and ven he comes to Germany he always stops at my castle."

"Oh!" murmured Mrs. Tiverton, with a longing, wistful look, "how happy must they be who can legitimately talk of palaces and of castles! It is not only romantic, but there is a conscious superiority in the bosom of one who looks down from the bristling battlements of a noble castle upon the host of serving-men beneath."

"You will bring the Prince here, dear Count, won't you?" cried Isabella.

"Ah—I don't know," returned Adolphus with a mysterious look. "It wouldn't be safe."

"But why not? Oh, dear, dear Count, I hope there rests not in your bosom the lingering of a painful, wicked doubt, that I could prove false to you."

"No, no, no, divine one," uttered the nobleman, with emphasis. "I am not afraid of that. Ah, no. But de Prince is not married—he hash no wife." And then turning a very significant look upon Mrs. Tiverton, he added—"Oh, it would be cruel to bring him heah—to expose him to such charms as the mother of my angel possesses—and then have him find out dat dose charms are already an odder's. Ah—'twould be too cruel!"

Julia Tiverton blushed and hung down her head, and for some moments she gazed upon the floor; but ere long she looked up again, and a faint smile stole over her face as she said:

"Oh—you wicked man! How can you trifle with me so?"

"Now—lady Tiverton—don't say so! Oh! you ish too bad. I have some love for my friend. How could I take him here, and then take him away broken-hearted. Must I do it?"

"Wretched man," said Mrs. Tiverton, softly.

"Am I wretched? Oh, don't say so? I'll bring the Prince if you bid me."

"Oh, that's right!" cried Isabella, in delight.

"I ain't afraid of you, my angel," the Count said, turning to the maiden; "because if de Prince should dare to tink of you wid love, I should just shoot him!"

Both the ladies were struck with admiration; but they declared that no duel should be fought. Isabella declared that the Count should not expose himself, and her mother would protect the Prince. But they at length gained from Adolphus the promise that he would bring the Prince with him as soon as possible. It was eleven o'clock when he arose to take his leave. He kissed the tips of the ladies' fingers, and then bowed himself out in the most approved fashion.

"Isn't he a splendid man!" uttered Isabella, as the mother and daughter re-entered the parlor.

"He is—he must be," returned Julia; "else he would not be a prince."

"Why—I meant the Count, mamma. Isn't he a splendid man?"

"Oh—ah—I see. Yes—a—yes—he is, Isabella—he is. I like him very much."

"And don't you think he improves under my teaching in his language? He will say 'ish' for is, and 'dem' for them, once in a while; but I think he learns wonderfully. Only think, marm—I the teacher of a count."

The mother said it was very funny—and then Isabella said it was not funny, but remarkable. "Marm" admitted that it was remarkable, and then went at work upon her thoughts.

"I should like to have a real social companion—one with whom I could take pleasure in conversing," she said at length. "How I should enjoy it. Mr. Tiverton is nothing to me. He cares nothing for my happiness."

Oh, Julia Tiverton, you have not mind enough to read the great soul of your husband! You know not his noble heart! You dream not of the hours of humble prayer he has spent in your behalf! You have no conception of the joy he could give you if you would but let him lift you up out of the slough into which you have lowered yourself! But no! your soul is perverse your heart cold and hard and your whole life, from the moment that you first saw Paul Tiverton at your side to the present time, has been one black, bold lie!

The females were upon the point of leaving the parlor when the door-bell was rung.

"It may be the Count, returned for something," said Isabella; and so they waited to see who it might be.

One of the kitchen girls went to the door, and the hostess heard her conversing with some one there. In a few moments the door of the parlor was opened, and the servant ushered in an old, decrepit, poorly clad woman. Both the mother and daughter started back in affright, and as the intruder threw open her old cloak they absolutely cried out with fear. She was a very old woman certainly near eighty with features all browned and sunken by exposure and time; her form bent and trembling; her sparse locks gray and matted, and her garb somewhat poor and soiled. She walked with a stout staff; and as she stood now, leaning heavily upon it, she looked the very picture of Old Age, as set down in the books.

"Julia," she spoke, in a feeble, cracked tone, "don't you know me?"

"I don't want to know you," the frightened hostess cried. "What did you come here for?"

"Julia," repeated the poor old woman, in mingled astonishment and pain, "don't you know me?"

"Why should I know you?"

"But you haven't forgot your poor old Aunt Rhoda, have you? Julia—my—child I am your poor old aunt."

Julia Tiverton turned very pale where the paint did not hide it, and her frame trembled at every joint. She knew her aunt, and she knew that her aunt had always been very kind to her; and yet she did not wish to have her remain there.

"What on earth induced you to come here at this time o' night?" the hostess at length uttered, having regained her presence of mind. "My servant must have been very stupid to let you in."

"This time of night?" repeated Aunt Rhoda, in surprise. "Why—you would not have had me remain out of doors all night while you had a large house?"

"But you can't stop here. Our room is all taken up."

"Yes," chimed in Isabella, "all our room is occupied. But you can find lodgings at any of the houses where they have signs out on the avenues." And then slipping up to her mother's side, she whispered: "Do get rid of her in some way, for mercy's sake?"

"You must go away now, old lady," Julia urged, turning once more to the visitor. "Perhaps, some time when I am at home, you can come and see me!"

"And is this Julia Tiverton?" spake the old woman, slowly and painfully. "Is this the girl who was once my little niece—my Julia Church? Oh! you wouldn't——"

"I can't stop to hear you now," cried the hostess, trembling more than before. "You ought to have known better than to come here to a fashionable house at this hour."

"But I surely might come when I saw lights burning," pleaded Aunt Rhoda.

"Do get her off!" whispered Isabella.

Ah! the mother had reasons for wishing that old woman away which the daughter did not dream of!

But the scene was broken in upon in a most summary manner. The outer door was heard to open, and in a moment more Mr. Tiverton entered the parlor! He started back in surprise upon seeing the decrepit old woman, and his wife and daughter in an apparently frightened state.

"Ah—what's all this?" he asked, after he had scanned the visitor's features.

"This old woman won't go away, pa," Isabella cried.

"Who are you?" he asked, turning towards the intruder.

"You have seen me before, Paul Tiverton," she replied, in a sad, broken tone of voice. "Many and many a time you've been upon these knees, and in these arms. Don't you remember when you used to visit at Mr. Church's, when you were a boy—a little boy not more'n so high, and Julia was a child, too?"

"What?" cried the merchant, starting forward and grasping the old woman by the hand. "Is this Aunt Rhoda?"

"Yes, Paul—I am poor old Aunt Rhoda."

"And you've been very unfortunate, haven't you?"

"Yes, sir,—but not so much so as I might have been. I have just come back from Maine, where I went to see to my business in person; and 'twas fortunate I did so, for I've saved something by it. I've saved nigh onto a thousand dollars, and have lost twelve thousand."

"Well—we won't stop to talk about business now.—But, in mercy's name, what are you standing up for?"

Thus far Mrs. Tiverton had looked on in silence, but now she had resolved to speak.

"Mr. T.," she said, moving to her husband's side, "we will send one of the servants to show this old woman to some good lodging-house—of course she cannot stop here."

"Julia Tiverton!" uttered the merchant, in astonishment, "are you in earnest?"

"Why—of course I am," she said.

"And do you mean that you would turn your poor old aunt—your own father's only sister—out of doors?"

"Don't be a fool!" cried the wife, pettishly. "You know I would find a shelter for her; but we haven't got room for her here, and you know it!"

"I know we have room for German counts, and all other trash that comes in the guise of fashion! So I think we can find room for one of our own kindred. Is it possible that you have been trying to drive this poor woman from the house?"

But he got no answer. At the mention of German counts Isabella tried to go into hysterics, but she saw her mother seemed inclined to do the same thing, and fearing that there would be no one to take care of her if she lost her senses, she concluded to keep them.

"Wretch!" gasped Mrs. Tiverton, fiercely.

"You only harm yourself, Julia," returned the husband, cooly. "You should know me better than to suppose that I would see our good old aunt leave our roof at this time."

"Then you may take care of her!" snapped out the mad wife, at the same time starting for the door. But she did not go out. She hesitated, and finally turned back. She gazed into the old woman's face, and when she spoke her whole tone and expression were changed as if by magic.

"Aunt Rhoda," she said, "you don't know how much I have to bother me; I didn't mean to be unkind. Come—come with me. Forgive me if I have wronged you. But come with me now."

She took the old woman's hand as she spoke, and led her unresistingly from the room.

"Ah—I thought my little Julia couldn't be so cruel," uttered the aunt, as she hobbled along. But little did she know that devotee of fashion, if she thought so.

As the door was closed Mr. Tiverton started across the room with a nervous, hurried step. He saw very plainly that there was something hidden. He knew too well that his wife had not been moved by any feeling of affection or gratitude—nothing under the sun could have moved her but fear! He knew this. Suddenly he stopped, and a painful light shot across his face. With this strange freak of his wife he had associated the mystic scene which had transpired upon the visit of old Daro Kid.


CHAPTER XVII.—COUNTER PLOT.

WHEN Mr. Tiverton went up-stairs he found his wife still up and alone. This was the first opportunity he had had to speak with her in private since that eventful morning on which Daro Kid called. He hesitated at first about going into her room now, but he was resolved to question her on the subject, and he knew of no better time than the present. So he entered the apartment where she sat, and took a seat near her. She gazed into his face with a sour expression, but was willing to let him speak first, seeming to expect a lecture of some sort, if one might judge from the compression of her thin lips.

"Julia," her husband said, in a low, earnest tone, "I have come to you at this time to ask you for some information touching a very peculiar subject, and I hope you will give me a candid return. You must be aware that the strange scene of the other morning has left a very troublesome tendency to surmise and doubt upon my mind. Does it not appear reasonable to you that such should be the result?"

Mrs. Tiverton made no reply; but she trembled violently, and her face was very pale. The paint was washed off now, and her pallor could not be concealed.

"I shall take your silence as an affirmative by assent, and proceed. And now mark me, Julia—I do not ask this from mere idle curiosity, but from far deeper motives, in which your own welfare has as much weight as mine. Now will you tell me what dealings you have ever had with that man who came here under the name of Daro Kid? I hardly think that is his real name."

The woman gave a keen, searching glance into her husband's face as he made this last remark, but if he had any concealed knowledge she could not detect it.

"I can not give you the information you seek, sir," she at length replied, in a low, tremulous tone.

"But you can tell me something, Julia. I only ask you to tell me what you know. You have surely seen that man before. Is it not so?"

"I could not tell, sir, I am sure," she answered, gathering more composure as she went on. "I may have seen him; but I think—there must be some mistake."

"Then you think he did not really know you? You think he mistook you for some one else?"

Mrs. Tiverton grasped at the bait too eagerly.

"Yes, yes," she quickly returned. "That is it exactly."

Now the merchant had thrown this out to see if she would not adopt it, and finding out that she did he resolved to try another experiment in an opposite direction.

"Julia Tiverton," he said, looking her directly in the face, and speaking sternly and almost menacingly, "do you dream that a few short years can so utterly have obliterated all memory of the past? Did you ever know Daro Kid when he bore another name?"

Again the wife turned pale, and her wasted frame shook more fearfully than before. She first cast one searching glance into her husband's face, but she could read nothing there, and in a moment more her gaze fell to the floor.

"I have nothing to tell, sir," the woman uttered, making one violent effort to overcome her emotions. "I know nothing, and can tell nothing."

Mr. Tiverton knew his wife well enough to know that he should gain nothing more from her. He knew when he saw that expression upon her face that even the presence of death would not move her, so he arose and turned towards the door; but ere he passed out he stopped and looked once more upon his wife.

"Julia," he said, more in sadness than in passion, "I will question you no more now. You know best the reason you have for concealment—Stop—I mean nothing that needs reply. I can see very plainly that you have things laid away in your thoughts which you will not impart to me. If you imagine that you could lose anything by trusting me you are mistaken. Confide to me anything that lies heavily now upon your mind, and, let it be what it may, you shall be the gainer thereby. Oh, Julia, you know not how I could love and cherish you if you would only confide in me, and love me in return. Let me see that I have your confidence—let me see that you are anxious for my happiness—let me see that you would make my home happy by your smiles—aye—only smile upon me as you smile upon those whom you call your friends, and with one sweep I will cast all the past away, and take you to my bosom and hold you there forever more! Oh, will you not listen!"

A softer shade crept upon the wife's face and there was a moisture in her dark eyes. The husband saw it, and for the moment a wild hope sprang to life within him. He took a step forward and held out his hands.

"Oh! Julia—my wife—I know you have a heart—you have reason—you have intelligence—love—grace—and ambition. You know how you smile upon others. Listen to me—oh, listen—and understand. You know how you smile upon those who come here to visit you—how happy you make them—and how you can interest them when you please. Can you not give to me, whose all—all of home-joys is in your keeping, the same that you can give to others who have no claims upon you. Julia—wife—love—think of it. Cannot you do it? Can you not give me those same smiles when I come to my home?—oh—how easy the task—how simple and how proper! Speak—tell me—will you not try?"

The poor, hoping, longing, prayerful man had gradually worked his way to his wife's side while he was speaking, and as he concluded he held out his hands—he held them both out—and he thought she would take them. Julia Tiverton hesitated. She knew that she held it in her power to make her husband happy—that from this moment she could secure peace and joy for herself. She knew that one word from her lips would bring that noble man upon his knees with gratitude, and secure her own honor. All this she knew, and all this passed through her mind. For one moment there was a quivering of the nether lip, and a slight convulsiveness was perceptible in the whole frame. But it was quickly gone—the spark went out from her eye—the frame became cold and rigid—the lip grew pale as it pressed upon the pearly teeth, and while a shade of mingled pain and pride passed over her face she said:

"I hoped you had gone. You only annoy me by such out-of-place propositions. I am fatigued!"

Poor Paul Tiverton! But—oh! doubly—trebly—aye—a thousand times more bitter for thee, unfeeling woman, shall be the consequences of this hour! Peace was within thy grasp, and thou didst cast it from thee! Honor would have placed its matchless diadem upon thy brow, but with that one polluted breath thou hast dimmed its brightness for ever.

The unhappy husband stood for a single instant and gazed upon his wife, and then he hurried from the apartment. When he was gone the woman started to her feet and walked to and fro across the room with quick, nervous steps.

"I could not do it," she said to herself, stopping and clasping her hands before her. "What would I be tied down within such a compass? What is Honor?—The tame, submissive state of those who fear to be free! What is Peace?—The result of implicit obedience to one's husband! What is Happiness?—The enjoyment of life at one's will!—the perfect freedom to go and come at pleasure, and own no mortal catechizer! Aye, Paul Tiverton. I know what life is, and I will enjoy it!"

But even as she spoke there was a "still, small voice" whispering in her soul that she lied! She heard it plainly—she knew its truth—she felt the lie in her heart—and she shut up the theme, and thought no more about it, save such thoughts as would force themselves in between her otherwise occupied moments; but they were quickly thrust down again, leaving no impression behind, other than a worrying sting for the while.

She did not resume her seat again; but as soon as she had disposed of the thoughts her husband's remarks had called up, she took a small waxen taper from the marble mantel, and having lighted it at the gas she left the room. A few steps brought her to the hall, and there, with a noiseless tread, she ascended the stairs to the third story. She stopped here only to listen, and then kept on still higher up. On this fourth floor there were four chambers, and in one of them poor old Rhoda Church had laid her weary limbs down to repose. Julia Tiverton moved carefully up to the door and listened. She heard the heavy breathing of the aged sleeper, and thus knew that she slept. She opened the door and entered, and having closed it behind her, she went to the bedside. She had as yet had no opportunity for private conversation with her aunt, Isabella having been in the way until the old woman had retired; but that conversation she must have, and she had come now for that purpose; so she placed her hand upon the sleeper's shoulder and administered a gentle shake; but this produced no result. She gave a smarter shake, and the wayworn woman moved heavily upon the pillow. Another—and another—and yet another; and finally Aunt Rhoda opened her eyes. She seemed frightened at first; but gradually her eyes became used to the light, and she sat up in her bed.

Half an hour after this, as Mr. Tiverton had started to go from the bathing-room to his chamber, he heard a light step upon the upper stairs. He hastened to his room, but left his door so far ajar that he could see any one who might pass. In a few moments more he saw his wife hurry by with a small lighted taper in her hand. In an instant he suspected that she had been up to the old woman's chamber. He retired to his dressing-table and sat down. He must see the aged visitor in the morning, for he had determined to draw from her, if possible, whatever she might know concerning his wife. He knew—or, at least, firmly believed—that Julia had some hidden motive for wishing to get rid of her aunt.

Paul Tiverton was not a man who would have allowed any mere spirit of curiosity to govern his movements; but in the present case he felt a deep and painful concern, and he could not rest under the vague suspicions and shapeless phantasms that were continually crowding upon his mind.

"She must have had some deep motive—some powerful reason—for going up and awakening the tired sleeper at such an hour," the merchant said to himself, as he started up from his chair. "Very likely she means that I shall not see her—she means that the woman who hold the secrets of her life shall not see me alone face to face."

Awhile he stood, with his head bowed, and his hands clasped beneath his chin, pondering upon this matter. Then he lighted a taper—just such an one as his wife had used—and having drawn on his dressing-gown he left his chamber. He descended the lower stairs to the front hall, and from thence to the basement.

Mr. Tiverton's buildings occupied three lots, his carriage-house and stable being near his dwelling. On the present occasion he made his way to a small cottage-like building, which stood between the house and the stable, being connected with both by a covered passage, where the men servants slept. The first Apartment of this cot which he entered was the harness-room, and opening out from it were two good airy bed-rooms. In one of these slept Thomas Hartley, the coachman, in whose integrity the merchant had the fullest confidence.

As Mr. Tiverton stepped into the bed-room, noiselessly, as he had supposed, Thomas started up and called out:

"Who's there?"

"It's I, Thomas."

"And who's 'I, Thomas'?"

"Come—I wish to speak with you a moment."

"Oh—ah—excuse me, sir," the coachman uttered, leaping from the bed, and rubbing his eyes. "I didn't know who it was."

"Never mind. I want to speak with you a moment. Just step this way."

They went to the harness-room, and, having closed the door, the merchant resumed:

"Now listen, for I want you to keep your eyes open. There is an old woman in the house—a very old one, all bent and tremulous. She may leave before I am up, and if she does I wish to know it. You have an alarm clock here?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then set it at—say half-past three—and after that I want you to be where you can see any one who leaves the house. Let no one see you, not even Mrs. Tiverton; but so station yourself that you can see without being seen. The woman may not go—I only fear she may."

"And you want me to stop her, do you, sir?"

"No, no, not by any means. I wish you to be sure and follow her so as to be able to let me know where she is. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir; I think I do."

"Then don't forget. Mind, I don't want her troubled in the least, for she has a perfect right to go where she pleases, only I want to know where she goes,—and I wish to know this without another soul's knowing that she has been watched. I think you can do it properly now."

The coachman promised that it should all be done correctly, and then the merchant left him, and reached his own chamber without having been observed.

When Mr. Tiverton awoke in the morning it was quite late. He arose and dressed himself, and then went down to his study, or library, where he found the morning papers. He touched a spring which connected with the bell in the harness-room, and ere long afterwards Thomas made his appearance.

"Well," said the merchant; "close the door first. Now what have you seen?"

"She's gone, sir."

"Ah—she has, eh?"

"Yes, sir. Went off just as the day was openin'—about half-past four."

"And did you see anything else?"

"My lady's maid went with her."

"Ah—yes. And did you follow them?"

"Yes, sir. I followed them clear down to Third street, and they turned into a little passage between Avenues B and C."

"On Third street, you say?"

"Yes, sir."

"But it seem to me that is a curious place to carry the woman."

"Ah—but you see, Sarah Thompson's has got some relatives there."

"That's it, is it?" returned the merchant, who had no idea before about the connections of his wife's maid.

"Yes, sir."

"And you can show me this place, can you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well—I may wish to go down there during the day. Keep this all to yourself. But stop. You were not observed, were you?"

"Oh, no, sir. I took good care of that."

"That will do. If my lady wishes for a coach to-day you may let Dennis go with her. Mind that you are to hold yourself in readiness to accompany me."

Thomas promised obedience, and then withdrew, and Mr. Tiverton sat down to his papers. At nine o'clock he ate his breakfast alone, and then went back to his library, instead of going out as was his custom. At ten o'clock he heard a footfall in the parlor, and upon opening one of the glass doors and entering he met his wife. She gave a sudden start as she saw him, for she was, in truth, somewhat frightened.

"Isn't our old aunt up yet?" the merchant asked.

The wife hesitated, but it was only for a moment.

"She must be crazy, I think," she said; "for she's gone off, no one knows where."

"Gone, has she?" returned the merchant, without manifesting much feeling. "She must have been crazy if she went away of her own accord."

"I hope you don't think anybody would have sent her off, sir," the wife retorted, quite sharply.

"I should hope not, Julia."

"Well—I should hope not, too. So we both hope alike."

Having spoken this, in a sharp, bitter tone, the woman turned and left the parlor. A dark, painful shade passed over Paul Tiverton's face, for he knew too well that his wife spoke falsely.

Oh! what must be the bitterness of that heart which is thus betrayed! What a night must gather about the soul of him who cannot even claim his wife's truth! Falsehood is dark and drear at any time; but the deliberate lie that falls from the wife's lips for the husband's ear is doubly dark, for it freezes the warm tide of love, and withers every flower of life!


CHAPTER XVIII.—DISAPPOINTMENT.—THE DAWN OF LOVE.

IT was on a Friday afternoon that Orion Lindell called at Mr. Tiverton's counting-house to see the merchant. He found that gentleman in, and at once stated to him the position in which he had left Constance Milmer and her child. He related the circumstances attending the poor book-binder's death, and the subsequent events of the funeral.

"And now," said he, "I have promised to find her some place where she can earn a livelihood. Were it not that Miss Durand is at our house I should take her there at once, and get work for her. She is an expert sewer, and I am sure I could easily find plenty for her to do, for females who are competent to do the finest of work are in demand. But at present I must make some other provision for her. She must not remain where she is. Why, sir, just listen one moment to the annoyances she is subject to there:" And thereupon the youth related the circumstances attending the stealing of the poor woman's clothes.

The merchant shuddered as he heard the strange story. He could hardly realize that such things were done.

"Ah, sir, those who do not see and hear for themselves can form no idea of the terrible life a virtuous woman is forced to lead in that pool of pestilence and sin! But I have come here to see if you could not help me in this work. If I have ventured too far—if I have intruded upon you—say so, and I will withdraw at once. But your kindness to me—the interest I have seen you manifest for a suffering fellow-creature, led me to this bold step. I hoped you might, through the assistance of some of the female members of your family, find some work for Mrs. Milmer until I could take her to my own home."

Mr. Tiverton pondered for a few moments, and then he said, while his face brightened:

"I can find just what you desire in my own house, sir. I remember now that my wife and daughter both have a great deal of fine sewing which must be done, and I think they have found no one to do it yet—in fact, I know they have not. Do you think this woman can do very nice work?"

"I know she can, sir."

"Then you can bring her directly here. But when will it be?"

"I am to call for her to-morrow."

"Then bring her here at noon to-morrow, and I will take her to my house. I will venture to assume so much responsibility. Will you do so?"

"I will, sir."

"Is this Mrs. Milmer in any way connected with your family?" the merchant asked.

"Not at all, sir. I never saw her until I carried her child home to her on the day that you first honored our humble home by your presence."

"Ah, none of that," uttered Tiverton, with a faint smile. "You wrong yourself when you claim as an honor the mere presence of one, whose only known recommendation to you is, that he represents wealth."

"I think I am right, sir," persisted Orion, "for be assured that, had I found you only the proud, stiff representative of wealth, I should never have felt as I now feel. But I would never seek to destroy that impulse in society which leads the more humble to honor wealth when it is associated with goodness. However, to answer your question, Mrs. Milmer was an utter stranger to me on that occasion; but an own sister could hardly have claimed more of my care. The story of her sufferings touched me deeply."

The merchant reached forth and grasped the youth's hand, and as he did so he said:

"If I should tell you how much I honor you it might call a blush to your face, and I won't do it. But I will help you all I can. You may bring the poor woman here, and I will see that she is provided for, for the present, at all events."

Orion thanked him for his kindness, and then took his leave, and returned to his shop.

On the following day, at eleven o'clock, he started for the Five Points. He ascended the old stairway on the outside of the house, and made his way through the long dark passage. When he came to where he supposed the door was he knocked; but he received no answer. He knocked once more, but with the same success. He at length succeeded in finding the latch, and the door was opened without difficulty. He entered the narrow apartment, but it was empty of life! The floor was covered with water, and everything looked drear and dismal. At first our hero feared something wrong had happened, but when he came to think of the water upon the floor, and remembered that it must have come through the roof during the severe storm of the night, he concluded that the poor widow had sought shelter at the Mission. She had promised him that she would go there if she wanted assistance, and he resolved to seek her there.

Orion found the clerk, and of him he inquired if Mrs. Milmer and her child were there.

"No," returned the official. "She came here yesterday afternoon and got some food, but she did not stop long."

"Food?" repeated Orion. "Had she got out of food?"

"Ah—she had a very accommodating visitor in the morning," explained the clerk. And thereupon he related the circumstances attending the visit of old Santa Snuggins, as he had heard them from the widow's own lips.

Orion was deeply moved by what he thus heard, and it was some moments ere he could speak. He not only felt sadly annoyed by the robbery, but he feared that some deep evil had since befallen his charge. The clerk could tell him nothing at all of the widow's movements since she left the Mission, so he arose and concluded to return to the old house and make inquiries there. He went up first to the room where he had seen the three drunken women. Their apartment was next to the one which had been occupied by Constance, though there was no communication between them, one being in the back part of the main house, and the other, as we have said before, only the loft of what was once a mere shed.

He knocked at the door, and it was opened by a little, old, worn-out child. Only one of the women was in, and as she saw the young man she bade him come in. His heart sank within him as he entered the accursed place, and for the moment it seemed as though the stench would overcome him. Disease was rank in the foul atmosphere, and filth lay upon the floor, clung to the walls, and even hung from the black ceiling!

"Did you know the woman who lived in the next room here?" Orion asked, as soon as he dared to open his mouth.

"I've seed her," returned the woman, in a hollow, rumbling tone of voice. "Ye mean she as had her man kick the rope jest a bit ago?"

"Yes," said Orion. "And do you know where she is now?"

The woman gazed up into her visitor's face with a sort of vacant stare, and after some moments of pondering she replied:

"Say, I s'pose ye'd like to know all ye can 'bout her, wouldn't ye?"

"Yes, of course."

"Then 'twould be worth sumth'n' to yer, wouldn't it?" added the old wretch, with a glaring twinkle of the red eyes.

Orion saw her meaning, and, hiding his disgust as well as he could, he said:

"If you can give me any information that is of use to me, I'll pay you for it."

"How much 'll yer gi' me?"

"Two shillings."

"Wal—then I suspicions 'at the 'ooman was took off last night. There was a coach, wid two hosses, come here, an' two men come up to her room—an' I heerd 'em talkin'—an' bumby they come out, and the coach was druv off. That's all I ken tell you. Now let's hev the two shill'n's."

Our hero handed her the money, and then turned from the place. He stopped upon the sidewalk only a moment to think, and then hastened up to the Tombs. He found the clerk of the Police Court, and learned that Duffy Glicker and Bill Slumpkey had been simply placed under bonds for keeping the peace. He then lodged information of what had transpired, stating that Mrs. Milmer and her child had been abducted for some villainous purpose, and that he had the best of reasons for believing that the aforementioned villains had done it. The officers promised to do what they could, and then the youth took his leave.

From the Tombs he went at once to the counting-house of the merchant, where he informed Mr. Tiverton of the unfortunate state of affairs he had found. The latter was really pained at this result, and entered at once into the spirit of Orion's plans.

"This is most strange," he said, after a pause of some moments. "Misfortune seems to claim the poor woman as a victim. But have you no idea of what this villain's plans are—what his object is—in thus abducting the poor widow?"

"I can not imagine, I am sure," the youth returned. "All I know is that he has some paper in his possession which relates to her. Once when he was pretty well under the influence of liquor he showed her the paper, and told her it contained something of great importance to her. But he would not let her see what was in it. I have sometimes imagined that he might possess some secret of hers which she would not wish to have known and that he meant to hold it over her as a means of frightening her into marrying him. She is really a handsome woman, and many a man far above Duffy Glicker would be glad to have her for a wife."

"And have you ever thought of any other meaning that this mysterious paper might have?"

"Yes," said Orion, "I have also thought it possible that Mrs. Milmer might have some money somewhere—some legacy left to her—of which she had no knowledge; and that this Glicker had by some means become possessed of the instrument containing the information. He has traveled about the country considerably, and has seen much of the world; and, for all his low, degraded villainy, I think he possesses a fair degree of shrewdness. The more I dwell upon this view of the subject the more inclined I am to think it the correct one. Glicker may have seen, during some of his wanderings about the country, a notice—or he may have heard some question—asking for information touching this woman. Then he may have claimed to know her—perhaps claimed that he was her intimate friend—and thus have gained a knowledge of the good fortune which belonged to Mrs. Milmer; and, having got information, with the documentary proof, he now seeks to gain her for a companion ere he informs her of the fact. This is mere surmise, but to me as reasonable as anything else I can think of."

"It seems not only possible," returned the merchant, "but even probable, that such might be the case. I hope, however, we may succeed in finding her before the villain accomplishes his foul purpose. What a life she would lead tied to such a wretch!"

"Dreadful!" responded Orion, with a shudder. "However, I know of nothing more that I can do for the present. I should not know which way to turn in search of the scamp; but the police will soon be on his track, I am sure; and when once they get their eyes upon him they will not be long in finding his haunt."

After a few more words of conversation, Orion promised to keep the merchant informed of important particulars as they should transpire, and left the counting-house. He returned to his shop, where he squared up the affairs of the week, and then started for home.

The Sabbath dawned bright and clear, and Ellen Durand was for the first time able to sit up. A large, easy chair was prepared, and she took her seat close by the window, where she could gaze out upon the varied life that passed up and down the thoroughfare. It was almost the first Sabbath of the season that had seen the streets perfectly dry, and the air warm and pleasant. So the carriages were constantly passing and repassing—coaches, wagons, buggies, gigs—some driven soberly and carefully, as though those who rode only sought the comforts of the trip—while others came dashing by at race-horse speed, showing that the jehus were proving the bottom of their animals. It was a lively bustling scene, though hardly in keeping with the character of the holy day.

The fair invalid gazed upon the swiftly changing panorama of humanity until she tired of it, and then she turned towards her kind nurse and asked her if Orion was in. Mrs. Lindell replied in the affirmative, and then the maiden asked if he would not come up and sit with her awhile. The mother said she was sure he would be pleased to do so; and having thus spoken she left the room.

Ere long Orion Lindell entered the chamber. Ellen greeted him warmly, and her cheeks glowed with a warmer color as he took a seat near her. Our hero had not before seen the maiden's beauty as he saw it now. Returning strength had filled out her fair cheeks; and now that she was habited in her light silken robe he could see the perfect gracefulness and symmetry of her form and feature. His own face grew brighter in its grateful expression as he gazed now upon the beautiful girl, and a strange beating of the heart told that the emotion he experienced was one deeper than mere pleasure.

After a few remarks upon the subject of the day—the weather, the open spring, the early flowers, and the whirl of life in the street—the conversation turned upon the theme of lectures. Orion spoke of one he had commenced to read in one of the city papers—a lecture which had been delivered in the city, and reported verbatim in the paper.

"Have you finished reading it?" asked Ellen.

"No," returned Orion. "I have just commenced it."

"Why not read it to me?" returned the maiden, with a wistful smile.

"I will do so with pleasure, if you wish," said the youth.

"I should be very much gratified to have you do so, I am sure; for the doctor says I must not read yet."

Orion hastened away, and soon returned with the paper in his hand. The subject of the lecture was "The True Life and the False." It was a noble production, and our hero read it in a rich, melodious tone of voice, and with an eloquence which would have surely inspired the author with gratitude could he have heard it. The theme was of Life in its high, living sense—of the Life which makes its mark, and has a deep meaning. As the reader progressed he entered warmly into the spirit of the argument, and had his face and conversation never before revealed his heart, this hour of reading would have done it. Upon his handsome face his feelings were pictured as upon a scroll, and the shades of emotion came and went as various points of moment were touched upon. The noble, generous, Christian sentiments were poured from his lips with a power of feeling and sympathy which showed how deeply they moved him; while the censures of hypocrisy and hardness of heart rolled from his tongue in shuddering accents, and called the glow of indignation to his face.

For some time after he had closed there was a profound silence, which was at length broken by the maiden.

"Oh, that is a noble composition!" she uttered, in a warm, emphatic tone; "and what a pity it is that so few understand the truths there set forth, so clearly and ably. Only think how few really know anything of the great joys of the True Life. See our hosts of humanity on the great sea, struggling for wealth, for honor, and for fame, and all the while forgetting that for the inner life they are making no provisions. Ah—the time shall surely come when they would willingly give all their worldly stores for one single hour of the Great Life they have neglected! When earth is fading from the mortal eye—when this frail tenement of clay is fast crumbling—when the friends of earth are gathered about the dying bed, and when the principle we have called life is gradually relinquishing its hold upon the spirit—then what is all this store of earthly wealth? Oh! then how triumphant the soul of him who has learned to live the TRUE LIFE!"

A tear glistened in the maiden's eye as she ceased speaking, and for the while Orion was charmed even to silence. Never before had he seen anything so lovely as that fair face appeared to him then. There was a pure, soul-given beauty, which claimed not the aid of mere form to make it sublime.

"I have often thought of these things," he at length said; "and I have even wondered that so many should look with a sort of dread upon everything pertaining to the Inner Life. The great trouble is, that so many people look upon God's laws as something awful, and upon obedience to them as something which must necessarily deprive them of much real enjoyment. They do not realize that all the divine laws are for man's highest good, and that his government is that of a loving Parent over his children. Why, think of it!" continued the youth, with a kindling eye; "how much of pure joy is lost through this failing in man. Suppose men would resolve that certain hours of each day should be devoted to the calm and peaceful study of the Great Goodness. Suppose this busy, bustling man, when he retired to the bosom of his family, would throw off the dust of the outer world, forget all its troubles and its turmoils, and devote those hours of social communion to themes of peace and love, so that his gentle partner might find true joy in his companionship and his children learn wisdom from him. But alas! they will not do it. The glare and glitter of gold—the heat and fray of outer life—the strife and turmoil of business, and the affairs of the clanging and clashing world, are constantly with them—carried into the home circle, into the social gathering, and even into the church of God. Man can not be truly happy so."

Ellen gazed up into the speaker's face with a rapt look, and her every expression told that she was charmed with what she had heard.

"Ah," she uttered, "you speak truly—very truly. I think that most of the faults which the wife has—or at least many of them—so far as faults of fashion and of society are concerned, are the result of the husband's finding no relief from outer strife in her society. When the wife finds out that her husband thinks of business, business, and nothing but business—and that the quiet calm of the home retreat is broken in upon by his troubles of the day—how can she feel that pride and satisfaction in her labors of love which she has a right to expect? I do not mean that a husband should not confer with his wife on business matters, for it is one of the highest, noblest aims of the true wife to be worthy of her companion's conduct in this respect; but I mean that he should not bring all his troubles and trials of the great conflict of earth into his family circle to the exclusion of all its legitimate comfort. I think many children are prevented from forming deep moral and religious characters simply by their habit of making home the theater of preparation only for the business and toil of outer life."

And so they talked on. When the dinner hour came, Ellen asked her companion if he would not come back and keep her company during the afternoon.

"I do not ask it as a right," she said, smiling; "but as a favor. I have been so long shut up here that your conversation is inspiring and blessed to me. I wish you would bring a good book—one that would suit the day, and at the same time be interesting."

Orion promised, and as he went away he forgot all else of life, save that he was very happy. When he had eaten his dinner he went to his small library, and having searched for a long while for the book he would take up, he at length took the Bible. He had other books of moral worth, but he could not select from them, and he though nothing would be more appropriate, or more interesting, than to read select portions of Holy Writ, and then converse upon them. When he resumed his seat by the maiden's side, and saw the bright smile which came to her face as he showed her the book, he was glad he had selected it.

The afternoon passed away calmly and happily, and when night came there were two strangely joyful souls beneath that roof. When Orion laid his head upon his pillow that night he had admitted a new emotion to his soul. It was a deep, thrilling emotion—one that found its way to every avenue of feeling, encompassing the whole heart, and sending its beams of hope away into the future, through all the years of coming life.


CHAPTER XIX.—THE PRISONERS.

CONSTANCE MILMER and her child were alone in the small chamber to which they had been confined. It was early morning, and both had been weeping. The room was a much better one than that from which they had been taken, but alas! like the gilded cage, it was all misery and anguish to them. Over the mind of the mother brooded a shapeless fear, but yet dark and terrible; and the child knew its parent was unhappy, and was hence unhappy, too. But that child had some idea of the terror, also, which was present with them, and in its little mind were fears which she would not speak. She had a dreadful phantasy working in her waking hours, and in her dreamy slumbers, that the dark, wicked man who had brought them there meant to be her father! She could not comprehend how this was to be brought about, nor had she heard the thing plainly spoken; but the thought had found its way to her mind, and the more she pondered upon it, the more sure was she that the great calamity which hung over them took that shape.

In the room was a rough lounge, covered with dingy cotton print, worn to many holes, through which the matted cotton protruded, the whole well covered with dirt and grease. Upon this the mother and child were seated, the little one being clasped to her parent's bosom. They had just wiped away their tears, and Lizzie had said that she was hungry, when a footfall was heard near the door, and ere long a woman entered with a tray in her hands. She was not an old woman, but she was far from looking like a young one, and her form, features and dress put the poor widow in mind of the locality she had left. Her face was broad and coarse, with the marks of the liquid fiend plainly drawn upon it, while its expression was ugly and sinister. Her breath smelt strongly of rum, though she had not drunk enough to make her unsteady, her morning potations having only loosened her tongue so that she said things which she might have kept to herself had she been perfectly sober. The tray had upon it two cups of coffee, a tin can of milk, some bread and butter, and a few slices of cold corned beef. The food looked clean and healthy, though the dishes might have been improved in appearance by the application of soap and water. The woman placed the tray upon the bureau, and then turned upon the inmates.

"Ho, ho!" she uttered, with that intonation peculiar to the more abrupt and fearless of Erin's daughters, "isn't ye's glad to see me wid yer breakfast, ye waitin', longin' mortals, ye? Ho! I'm Biddy Mugget, ye misfortinate creturs, ye. I've got nary a chick nor a chilt in the worlt, and I loves to feed the likes ov ye's—so fur that self-same reason did Misthur Glicker bid me look afther ye's. He knowd—bless his good, kind sowl—'at I'd be delighted to take the most ixcillent care of ye's. Now here's yer breakfast, all pipin' hot, an' I hope ye're thankful. Yes, let me tell ye, it's Biddy Mugget has seen the time she'd fall down upon her knees for the likes ov this food ye now have for nothing at all at all. Ho! bad luck to them as wouldn't be thankful for sich care."

Constance was at a loss how to take the woman. Her language was good-natured, but yet there was a look in her eye, and in her coarse features, which seemed to preclude the possibility of any goodness of heart. Still she resolved to speak.

"My good woman——"

"Arah, me leddy—don't go for to come that!" broke in Miss Mugget. "It won't be of no use. I see yer intent. Ye's aint half thankful for the fine home ye're got. Mind, it's yer mornin's male I've brought ye."

Constance shrank back, for she plainly saw that the woman had no spark of real kindness within. But not so little Lizzie. She had been so long accustomed to ugly faces, that they alone did not frighten her. It was the brutal, wicked language that struck terror to her soul. So when she heard this woman speak in such a kind tone, she thought she must have some spark of good feeling in her. Upon this impulse she rushed forward and caught her by the wrist.

"Oh, good lady," she cried, in prayerful, hopeful accents, "you won't keep my mamma in this place. You will let her go, won't you?"

"And yerself 'll stay here wid me, eh?"

"No, no," uttered the child, half frightened. "Oh no—my mamma would be very unhappy without me. Oh, do let us go!"

"Let ye go? An 'where would ye's go to, eh?"

"Oh—we have good friends."

"Aye—I'll swear to that, me fine chilt; for it's meself as knows ye's got us, the best of friends, in this very house. D'ye mind that now? Och, my swate, dear, beautiful, darlinist of all darlin' creturs, ye would'nt go for to be so cruel enthirely as to go off an' lave us to mourn for ye's. No, no, ye'll stay wid us, heart's delight—ye will. Ye won't lave us, me little peppermint, will ye's? Ah, I knew ye wouldn't. What! a swate little cretur like ye's lave Biddy Mugget? The Blessed Virgin niver heard of such a thing—niver."

The child was for the moment confounded by this harangue, but her mother called her away, and she said no more. As soon as Lizzie had left her, the woman turned again to the mother.

"Ov coorse," she said, "ye's does'nt think ov lavin' this fine place. Ye've no idea how illegantly ye'll be threated here. It'll be like a palis to ye's, and moreover, ye'll be thrated like a quane. What does ye think ov that, eh?"

"I think I shall be obliged to remain here until I am allowed to go," returned Mrs. Milmer, very calmly and quietly.

"So I think," added Miss Mugget, and with this she left the apartment, locking the door after her.

As soon as the woman was gone, Lizzie began to cry. She threw her little arms about her mother's neck, and hiding her face away in her bosom, she sobbed as though her heart would break.

"Hush—hush, my darling," whispered Constance clasping the little one to her breast. "We may get clear of this place yet. Don't think of it, my child. Only think of God, and remember that he is more powerful than these wicked people."

The child gazed up, and having wiped away the tears, she said, in an anxious, troubled tone.

"Why don't God let us go from this place, mamma, if he is so good and kind? What makes him let those wicked people keep us here?"

Constance Milmer had often asked herself just such questions as these, and once they had troubled her; but now they were clear enough to her mind. Yet she wondered if her child would comprehend her meaning if she explained.

"I fear you would not understand, my child, if I were to explain this," she at length said to the little one.

"Yes I should, mamma," Lizzie eagerly cried. "Oh, why is it? What does God keep us here for? If we try to be good, and love him, and obey him, and do just as well as we can, what does he let wicked people abuse us for?"

"Let us eat our breakfast, darling, and I'll explain to you while we are eating."

So they placed the tray upon the little light-stand which stood in the room, and after they had sat down the mother said:

"You know that God is very good and has done all that could be done for our happiness. But true happiness does not always consist in the mere outward comforts of the body. God could not govern his great world by making laws for each particular individual. Just think what a clashing—what a knotty state of things there would be if this were the case. But God has made his laws general and perfect, and if all men obeyed those laws we should all be very happy. Now don't you understand that the social nature is very necessary to our enjoyment? Don't you understand that if we had no friends—that if each person was alone and separate—living all solitary and single—we should be very miserable?"

"Yes," uttered the child earnestly.

"Well, now just see. These social laws are necessary to our happiness, and these very laws make us dependent upon each other for good and for joy. But when these laws are perverted—I mean when they are put to a bad use—when men use their social relations for evil purposes—then the very means which a good, wise God adapted for our brightest earthly blessings are turned to wrong and misery. Do you understand?"

"I think I do, mamma."

"Then you understand that a wise Being cannot make a clashing of his own laws, and were he to relieve us from the dangers of such things as we now suffer he would have to take away our social enjoyments, because while we depend upon upon others for joy we cannot expect to escape the consequences of others' wickedness. But, my child, there is a consideration above this. What would hire you to be just such a woman as the one who came in here?"

"Oh—nothing!" cried Lizzie, shuddering. "I remember what you said about the wicked woman who robbed us. Oh—I would rather die than be such a woman as that."

"Then just think, my child, how much you enjoy that they cannot. There is no suffering so bad as that which comes from a wicked heart. If we are conscious—that is, if we are sure—that we do as near right as we can, we may be happy."

Thus the mother talked to her child, and she felt all that she said. Yet there was one fear which no amount of resignation she could command would allay. When she called Duffy Glicker to mind, and thought of his fell purpose, she was only able to pray that God would save her from the curse! She knew that God worked by general laws, but yet she felt sure that he had, at particular times, intervened directly for his suffering creatures. She believed that Omniscient Power had snatched the sufferer from the dread fate which his enemy might have planned for him, and she could not help reaching forth with prayer to the same Power.

The breakfast was eaten, and the mother and child went to the window to gaze out. There were two windows, and they both overlooked a narrow passage, down into which, however, they could not see. Over against these windows, and distant only some five feet, was a dark, dirty black wall, so that the view was entirely cut off, save, indeed, one little place, where the corner of the wall could be seen, leaving about an inch of width between that and the window-casing, through which they could look upon the back of another old house, some forty feet distant. Such was the view from their windows.

The forenoon passed away, and when noon came Miss Mugget made her appearance with another tray, and another set of dishes. She brought this time a very respectable dinner, but she spoke not a word. The exhilarating effects of the gin, or rum, had passed off, and she seemed to feel rather sober. Constance had nothing to say, so the woman came and went in silence, taking away the tray she had brought in the morning, and leaving the last one.

The dinner had been eaten, and Mrs. Milmer had lain down upon the old lounge, with her child upon her bosom, when she heard a footfall upon the stairway which startled her. It was a heavy, clumping step, such as she had heard before. She started to a sitting posture and listened. The step came towards the door.

"Mamma," whispered Lizzie, trembling like an aspen, "that is he! Oh, there don't anybody else walk like that!"

Before the mother could make any reply the door was opened, and Duffy Glicker entered. He was better dressed than the poor widow had ever before seen him, but he could not hide that great, clumsy form, nor that coarse, ugly face. He bowed with mock ceremony as he came in, and took a seat before he spoke. After he had seated himself he gazed into the woman's face a few moments, and when he spoke he betrayed an evident desire to please and conciliate.

"Mrs. Milmer," he said, in as soft a tone as he could command, "I've come to tell ye the plans I've laid down for the futur'. Wouldn't ye like to hear 'em?"

"Go on, sir," she answered, with a struggle.

"Well—I've come to tell ye that I've made all the plans for us to be married; and the sooner we do it the better."

"But, sir," the widow said, as firmly and calmly as she could, "you know that I can not become your wife."

"And why not, pray?" uttered the visitor, with a slight show of impatience.

"Because I can not. My husband is but just dead, and I shall never marry again."

"But you will marry with me, my dear woman. You know you will."

"No, no, sir. I can not."

"But I say you can—and you must—and you—you—shall! I can't afford to lose you now."

Constance gazed into the man's face, and she knew that he had some hopes of gain from a marriage with her. She knew that he loved her not; and she knew too, that he would never have taken all this trouble for the mere purpose of gaining her as a companion. She felt sure that the paper which he held contained information of some fortunate circumstance which had transpired in her favor, and that the villain wished to marry with her that he might gain a share of it. So she resolved to try him on this tack.

"Duffy Glicker," she said in a calm, earnest, persuasive tone, "listen to me. I know you have some cause for wishing to make me your wife more than you have told me. Now I promise you this one thing; if there is in this world any property—any money—any goods of any kind, which by right belong to me, and which can by means come to me, they shall be all yours if you will let me go. Give me my freedom—let me go out from here, and promise me that you will never trouble me again, and all shall be yours. I will go before an attorney and make over to you everything I may have the power so to dispose of. Oh, you can ask no more! Only think: then you will gain all you wish without having the trouble of me to maintain."

"I don't know about that," said the villain, shaking his head dubiously. "You are the pootiest woman I know of, and I think I should kind o' like ye for a wife."

"But yet for a wife, merely, you would not force me to wed you. You would not want a wife who could only be miserable in the union. Would you, sir?"

"We won't say anything about that just now," the fellow replied, after a moment's hesitation. "All is—you'll be my wife."

"And will you not take the offer I have made? All, all that you can expect of property that may be mine I will freely, fully, give you."

"That mayn't be so easy, my dear. Folks might ask questions; and you mightn't be left to do as you would wish."

"But I will do as I wish!" the woman cried earnestly, for she fancied she saw something in the man's manner which seemed to indicate that he wavered; or, at least, that he considered some upon her proposition. "No one shall prevent me from doing as I have a mind to do; and I will have a mind to do all for you I can."

"Pshaw! You don't know what you're talkin' 'bout, woman. I tell ye 'at you must be my wife. What I want, and—mark ye—what I will have, can't be got in any other way. But—stop a minute," he added; and having bowed his head upon his hand, he resumed——

"P'r'aps, arter we've been married awhile, ye may git disvorsed. Arter I've been satisfied with my share of the money that we may make together, then I'll give ye up if ye say so. Now there ain't no use of your sayin' one word more; and to prove it, I'll jest inform ye that this money you can't git alone, nor can I, but both together we can fetch it. So we'll be married as soon as possible, and have the whole thing over."

At this point Constance started to her feet, and with her hands clasped she uttered——

"Duffy Glicker, I will not be your wife! No power on earth shall force me to it! You have my answer now."

For a single moment the villain felt like being angry; but there was something in the spirit of the woman he liked, and as he felt confident of his absolute power over her, he allowed himself to feel only a sort of forbearing determination. That is—he meant to let her exercise her tongue until the time for action came, though he held more ugliness in reserve than she would have wished to provoke to life.

"If it does you good," he said, "to be so pert with yer tongue, why I s'pose you'd better use it; but I tell ye the thing is fixed. May be you've seed a locomotive, on a rail-track, at full blis'm—goin' it like mad. May be you've seed a streak of lightnin' a-scootin' of it through the sky; and may be you've seed a Wall-street broker collectin' rents. Well—now, you might jest as well try to stop them three things in their course as to try to prevent this plan of mine!"

Mr. Glicker leaned back in his chair with an important look as he finished this rhetorical flourish, and under the deep sense of the effect he was sure it must have produced he could not help drawing out a very dubious looking handkerchief, with which he wiped his large red nose. Having restored his handkerchief to his pocket he arose to his feet and took his hat, and after he had put it on his head he said:

"My dear, have you any choice as to the day of our wedding?"

Constance Milmer turned a shade paler as she heard this, for it really presented more of firm purpose than all the rest the fellow had said.

"You must work as you will," she replied. "I care not when you fix the time, for you cannot make me your wife against my will."

The fellow resumed, as though the widow had not spoken, "I'd been thinkin' about havin' it come off to-morrer, but I guess I'll have to wait till the day arter. I think then we'll make a match of it. So be ready, and try to get yer mind easy on the matter. Biddy 'll take good care of ye. Mind—ye shan't want. Our little Lizzie 'ill be jest like a chick of my own. Good-bye, my dear. Look out for me, now; for when I come again somethin' 'll be done!"

With these words Duffy Glicker turned from the room, and ere long the sound of his heavy step had died away in the distance. Constance Milmer listened until she could hear it no more, and then she turned to her child and wound her arms about the slight form.

"Weep not, Lizzie," she said, in a low, hushed tone. "That man shall not harm us if I can help it. He shall not be your papa. Wait until the hour comes, and then perhaps some help may be found. I will not be his wife,—I will not! Oh, God help me!"


CHAPTER XX.—A BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT.

HAVING taken the resolution to be firm and hopeful, and to put off the terrible fear till there was no more room for escape, Constance became more calm and resigned, and her face from that time wore a brighter look.

It may seem strange that this should have resulted from such a visit, but so it was. The visit of Glicker, and his wicked, selfish plans, had inspired the poor woman with a deep feeling of indignant rebellion, and this had settled down into a spirit of firm resistance such as bore hope in its very determination. She had resolved that she would would not be the wretch's wife, even though life itself were asked in exchange for freedom from his power. Death would be far preferable to such a life, and she felt sure she could welcome the stroke if it only freed her from the terrible bonds.

Nearly an hour had passed since Glicker left, and during that time the mother and child had been together upon the lounge. Suddenly Lizzie started up, and her face wore a half-frightened look.

"What is it?" quickly uttered Constance, supposing the child had heard something.

"He didn't lock the door!"

The widow started to her feet and gazed about her as though she feared there might be some one present who could read her very thoughts. She went to the door and—opened it! For a few moments she was obliged to press her hand upon her bosom to quell the tumultuous beating of her heart. By and by she ventured to look out. She saw a narrow hall, with three other doors, apparently opening into other rooms, while in the centre, and protected by balusters on both sides, was the stairway. She listened, but she heard no sound below.

"Oh—if it were dark!" she murmured.

"You won't wait till dark," said Lizzie.

"No—for that woman will come before that.—Here,—give me your hand——"

"But your bonnet, mamma."

"Ah—yes."

She had forgotten that in her absorbing anxiety. But now that her mind had thus been called to it she went back and got her hood and light shawl, and then put on her child's hat. After this she took the little one's hand and went again to the door. She listened once more, and, hearing nothing, glided out into the hall. At first she felt an inclination to stop and listen at every step, but she knew even half a minute of time might be everything to her, and she resolved to push boldly on, only taking care to walk as noiselessly as possible. She placed her foot upon the stairs, and began to descend. Oh, horrors! how the merciless boards creaked! More lightly and carefully the fugitive trod, but this seemed only to aggravate the difficulty. The more care she used the more loudly the tell-tale things cracked and screamed.

Yet this flight was passed without bringing forth any opposition, and the widow found herself in a hall somewhat larger than the first, from which only two doors opened. But she stopped not here. Around she went, and down the next flight she started. But the creaking was awful! To Constance it seemed like a demon howling the alarm! At every step the dry, light boards snapped and snarled like a maddened cur! The sweat stood upon the poor woman's brow in great drops, for she knew that a person in any of the rooms adjoining the hall could not help hearing the noise. Yet she reached the floor of the hall. Before her was the outer door, and the key was in the lock. She moved quickly towards it her hand was upon the knob and she was upon the point of turning back the bolt, when she heard a quick, heavy step upon the stoop outside, and before she even had time to think of hiding the door was opened, and—she stood in the presence of Duffy Glicker! He started back for an instant, but a thankful expression came to his face, and in a tone far from being angry or revengeful he said:

"By the big spoon, but I am just in time, ain't I? I don't blame ye, my dear—not a bit. I was the fool. I ought to 'ave lost ye for leavin' that door unlocked. Why—I got clear 'way up into Broadway afore I thought of ye. I went into a bar-room with a friend to drink, an' says he, 'Here's hopin' that no locks may be ever turned upon us but the curlin' locks of a pretty woman's head.' Them words wa'n't half out of his mouth afore I remembered that I'd forgot the lock what held them curlin' locks for me. You'd better believe I run. I knowed that Biddy was out, and that ye might git away if ye found out my mistake. But it's all right now. So about face, and march up-stairs again. Come—I hain't got no time to spare. Up ye go!"

Poor Constance! She knew that resistance would be useless, and without a word she turned and commenced to re-ascend the stairs. It was a sad moment for her, but she displayed none of the deep feelings which dwelt within. When she reached her chamber with her child still by the hand, she entered at once, while Glicker stopped at the door.

"There," he said, "as I told ye down below, I don't blame ye, but be very sure ye won't find this chance again. Good-by."

Thus speaking he closed the door, this time locking it securely, as Constance could tell by the repeated trials he made with the knob to assure himself that all was fast, and again he went away. When his step could be no longer heard the poor woman felt like crying—it was a severe blow—the crushing of such high hopes—but she kept her resolution. With a mighty effort she kept back the tears, and taking her child to her side she said:

"We won't despair, Lizzie. We came very near getting away that time—the next we may be more fortunate."

The little one saw that her mother was calm, and she quickly checked her own tears, and ere long they seemed as resigned as before their luckless adventure.

The afternoon passed away, and evening came, but Biddy came not as had been expected. It grew dark—very dark—and the prisoners had no light. They wondered why the attendant did not come. It was nearly eight o'clock, for the night had fairly set in, when they at length heard a step upon the stairs.

"It is not her step," whispered Lizzie.

"Hark!" uttered the mother. "It is a curious step."

And so it was; but ere long the mystery was cleared up. By and by the step reached the door, and after a long trial, during which a good deal of noise was made, and some expletives were used which were far from being proper to transcribe, the key was turned in the lock—the door was opened, and Biddy Mugget with the tea-tray in her hands staggered into the apartment.

"Bad luck to the desateful stairs!" she uttered, as she set the tea-things down, "I niver seed the likes (hic) ov 'em afore. Wud ye's believe it, they's crookeder'n a thrack me brother Mick used to make home from Donnybrook. Och! be me sowl, but isn't it quare inthirely now? Miss—(hic) Miss—What wud I call y's?"

"My name is Constance Milmer," returned the widow, who saw at once that Biddy's intoxication took a jovial turn.

"It's an illigant name, an' so it is, inthirely, me darlint. An ye're a perty woman, an' so ye are. But ye's got the 'vantage (hic) o' me."

"Oh, no," returned Constance, in a tremulous tone. She trembled, for she had just embraced a new hope. She believed the woman would be communicative, and she determined to question her.

"You have plenty of company in the house, I suppose?" she said.

"Och! D'ye think so? It's there ye're mistaken, avick. Not a (hic) company, me leddy. I'm alone—all sowl alone."

"But surely you do not occupy this whole house?"

"No—not at all at all—not the whole house, but (hic) the whole of this part ov it. In the next part there's somebody else lives; but they're no company for Biddy Mugget, an' so (hic) they ain't."

"But do you mean to say, Biddy, that you have to stay here all alone through the whole night?"

"Niver a bit ov it. Doesn't Teddy an' little Phil (hic) McCarthy come round at midnight, bad luck to their dirthy sowls. They's on the railroad tendin' the thrack, where the cars run off every which way. They come home wid their dirthy throats dry as a widdy's eyes when she's all alone, an' (hic) they stale all my gin—the spalpeens!"

Constance saw that Miss Mugget was getting to be very drunk. In her dismal experience at her last home she had seen so much of drunkenness that she knew all its phases. She saw that Biddy must have been drinking during the afternoon, and that just before coming up with the tray she had taken a deep potion of her favorite beverage. This the widow knew, and she furthermore knew that the last dram was just beginning to do the finishing work. The woman had already begun to reel to and fro in her chair, and her gaze was vacant and idiotic. She seemed endeavoring to keep her eye upon her charge, but the effort was a fruitless one. Everything was floating and whirling before her, and finally all her efforts were needed to keep herself steady in what she supposed to be her revolving chair.

"Say, Biss Codstace—what's yer dabe?" she thickly uttered, at the same time trying to steady her body by clutching at the vacant air by her side, and looking in vain for the person she addressed, "didd't ye kdowt 'at 'eb (hic) biserable—a—(ic) I bead Bick Teddy Phil McCarthy—bad luck to—'ub stole every dhrapof by gid. They didd't lave me a dhrap!—Say—Biss Codstace—you—(hic)—dod't know——"

At this point Miss Mugget gave an extraordinary lurch, but as she found herself falling she started to her feet, and would have stumbled blindly upon Constance had not the latter moved quickly on one side. The bed was directly in a line with the woman's headlong course, and she fell upon it, her body reaching so far forward that she did not roll off. With considerable presence of mind, Mrs. Milmer at once started to the bedside, and with much effort succeeded in hoisting the woman on so that she lay quite comfortable. Biddy did not resist, though she was not yet quite wholly gone. Her mind still held some vague ideas of duty, for no sooner had she been thus nicely disposed of than she jumbled out:

"Look here, you Biss Codstadce BcCarthy—(hic) dod't you go off. There's (hic) a key id the door. Wodt jes' (hic) lock it?—that's a dear. Jes' take out the key whed you've locked it. Och, ye dirthy spalpeens, ye. Ye rud off wid all by gid. Git out.—Say—Teddy—Teddy—go lock 'at door—(hic) ad dod't let 'eb cobe out. Biss Codstadce (hic) is id there. If ye's go'd to—a——"

Thus ended Miss Mugget's charge. There was a deeply-drawn grunting sound, very like the snore of a grunting hog and then she commenced to sleep in right good earnest. Constance Milmer was now pale and trembling. The sudden coming of this new hope operated powerfully upon her, and it was some moments ere she could command force enough to act.

But the imprisoned woman did not long remain inactive. She believed there was no one in that part of the house, save those in her own room, and she saw not why escape should be cut off. At all events, she was quickly resolved upon the course she would pursue.

"Come, Lizzie," she whispered to her child, "we may get away this time. Don't make any more noise than you can help."

"We won't stop to eat any supper, then?" said the little one, with a longing look at the food.

"No—not here. But you may put some of those biscuit into your little pocket."

"And won't you take some, too?"

Constance had not thought of this, but the suggestion was a good one, and she at once followed out its meaning. She took all the food which Biddy had brought up, and having secured it about her she proceeded once more to put on her hood and shawl. Having done this she carefully opened her door and looked out. She went to the balusters and looked down into the lower hall,—or, rather into the utter darkness in which the lower hall was enveloped. She feared to attempt the descent in such gloom, and she finally concluded to take the lighted candle which Biddy had succeeded in bringing up on the tray.

The widow's strongest hope of success lay in the belief that there was no one in the lower part of that tenement, and if such was the case, then there could be no danger in taking the light. So she took it. She led Lizzie into the hall, and having carefully closed the door behind her she commenced to descend the stairs. She quickly found that the more carefully she trod the more noise the creaking stairs made, so she moved on more boldly, and was soon in the lower hall. The door was not locked upon the inside, the only fastening being the stout night bolt which could not be moved from without save by a proper key. Here Constance set the candle down in one corner, and having assured herself that the door could be easily opened she extinguished the light, then turned the knob, and the way to the court was open before her.

She was somewhat surprised to find it very light out of doors. The moon was some days past its first quarter, and well up in the heavens, shedding upon the benighted earth a grateful, genial effulgence. The chamber from which Mrs. Milmer had fled was hidden away from all chance of moonlight, and into the halls no windows opened save a few lights which were thickly curtained. So she came out now into a well illumined court instead of a dark one as she had supposed. As she stepped from the threshold she found herself upon a narrow platform, guarded on two sides by balusters, and from which a short flight of wooden steps led to the ground.

Taking her child by the hand the widow descended into the narrow passage-way, and a few steps brought her to the small court from which a low archway led to the street. She had discovered this arch, and had started to move towards it, when she saw a man coming in from the street, and in a moment more she detected others behind him. Her first impulse was to seek some place of concealment, but the only place she could find was the narrow passage leading to the door she had just left. By this time she could see that the coming man was none other than Duffy Glicker! With a sinking heart she sprang back to the extreme corner of the court. Close by there was a door which opened into a strange house—a house separate from the one she had left. When she reached it she saw that the door was ajar, and she was upon the point of springing into the hall when a heavy hand was laid upon her arm, and on turning round she beheld the dark face of her tyrant persecutor!

"Well, my beauty!" uttered Glicker, in breathless astonishment. "I'd like to know what this means? So you was off again, eh?"

But the poor woman could not speak. Her heart had sunk back into its grave of utter darkness, and her frame shook like the storm-handled branches of the forest tree.

"I know'd 'twas you when I fust seed ye. But say how'd ye git out?"

Still the woman made no answer.

"By the great spoon, but I'm jest in time, ain't I? Why, my dear, if I'd lost ye I should have gone right out mad. But I can't lose ye—it's impossible. Don't ye see it isn't to be that you should run away from me? But say—how'n thunder 'd ye git out?—Why don't ye answer me?"

"You'll see when you go up-stairs," groaned Constance, afraid to keep silent longer.

"Ah—I know," uttered Glicker, with an oath, and applying another one to the person of whom he spoke; "that woman's been an' got drunk agin. She swore she wouldn't do it, she did. Say—ain't Biddy Mugget drunk?"

"Yes sir she is," faintly responded the widow.

"I knew it. But come, my dear. Here's the priest come to make us man and wife. We'll soon have our job finished!"

"The priest!" gasped Constance, starting back towards the half-open door.

"Yes, darlin'—the priest. So come along. I've got all the necessary dockiments, and we'll be man and wife in a jiffy."

As Glicker thus spoke he placed his hand upon Constance's arm. She had seen one of the men who followed the villain, and he did wear the holy garb. In an instant she summoned all her strength, and, with one long, loud, wild cry for help, she broke from the ruffian's grasp and darted into the strange house. A fearful oath burst from the scoundrel's lips, and without a moment's hesitation he dashed in after her!


CHAPTER XXI.—IN SEARCH OF A SECRET.

ONE afternoon, at two o'clock, Thomas Hartley, the coachman, entered Mr. Tiverton's counting-house, and shortly afterwards he was joined by his master.

"You are on the mark, Thomas," the merchant said, as he drew on his gloves,

"You said at two o'clock, sir?"

"Yes, and I'm glad to see you so punctual. And now you are sure you can take me to the place where you saw the old woman enter?"

"Of course I can, sir."

"Then come on. I am all ready. You may walk on as fast as you please, and be sure I will keep up with you."

Having bowed in token of obedience, the coachman went out from the counting-house, and turned towards Broadway. He crossed this great thoroughfare to the Park, then over into Chatham street, keeping on to East Broadway, down here to Clinton street, into which he turned—thence keeping on to Avenue B—over into Third Street, where he stopped and turned. Having seen that his master was close behind him, he crossed over to the opposite side of the street, and then turned down towards Avenue C. Half way between the two avenues he stopped, and turned into a narrow, arched passage, that led to some dwellings on the rear lots. In this passage he stopped for the merchant to come up.

"Is this the place?" asked the latter, as he stopped by the side of his coachman.

"Yes, sir. This is where I saw Sarah bring the old woman in, and they went to that door right straight ahead there."

"You may stand here, Thomas, and I will go up and ask for the woman. Don't leave until I come back."

"No, sir. I'll be on hand if anything happens."

"Oh, there's no fear of that," returned the merchant, with a smile. And then he moved on towards the door which his man had pointed out. The small court was a dirty one, and the appearance of things in general seemed to indicate that no very respectable class of people were in the habit of frequenting the place. In fact, the whole district was infected. All up and down the street from which he had just turned, the gutters were loaded with dirt and filth, the sidewalks crusted with mud and offal, the doorways reeking with slops and grease, while the people who lounged about were in perfect harmony with the state of things which surrounded them. However, Mr. Tiverton felt no hesitation, for he knew that no one would be likely to trouble him in broad daylight, even supposing they might do such a thing at night; so he kept on to the door. There was no bell-pull in sight, and he rapped with the head of his cane. He was obliged to rap a second time ere any one came to answer him, and shortly after that a middle-aged woman, very respectably dressed, and looking honest and worthy, came to the door. Mr. Tiverton asked her if there was an old lady there named Rhoda Church.

"Yes, sir," replied the female. "You are Mr. Tiverton, aren't you?"

"That is my name," answered the merchant, somewhat surprised at her knowledge.

"Yes, sir; I thought so. My sister lives with your lady—Sarah Johnson. I suppose you know her. Won't you walk in, sir?"

"But you have not told me if the old woman was in."

"Oh—ah—I forgot," returned the sister of my lady's maid, with a smile. "She isn't in now, sir, but she will be in before dark. She's gone out to see if she can't hunt up some friends whom she is anxious to find."

"And you think she will be in by dark?"

"Yes, sir, she'll be in by that time, though she mayn't be in much before. When she went out she said she'd certainly be in by daylight-down."

The merchant pondered a few moments, and then remarked that he should probably call in the evening. And having thanked the hostess for her kindness he started to turn away. He had only taken a few steps, however, when she called him back.

"You said you was coming this evening, sir?"

"Yes," he returned, wondering what she wanted.

"Well; I only wanted to tell you to be careful. You might come here a hundred nights running and never be troubled, and then, again, ye might come only one night and get into difficulty. There's some hard cases live in this court, men and women both, and boys, too, for that matter. They have been known to knock down a man and rob him at night."

"Thank you. If I come I will be careful." And thus speaking the merchant turned away again.

When he reached the passage he said to his man:

"Thomas, what have you got to do this evening?"

"My lady and Miss Isabella go to the Opera."

"Then, I suppose, you must go with them?"

"Why, sir, I wouldn't want to trust the horses with anybody else at night."

"No; you are right. That's all. I only wanted to know. We'll go back now."

When they reached Broadway Thomas took one of the stages for home, while Mr. Tiverton returned to his counting-house. Having opened a package of private letters, which had been left during his absence, and put away such as needed no answer, and marked such directions upon the margins of the others as were necessary for his clerks, he sat down, and pondered upon the course he should pursue for the evening. He was not a coward by any means—far from it; but his soul shrank from contact with low villains, and especially contact of violence. Yet he would not have been deterred an instant from the performance of duty, even by this fear. But if he had got to expose himself to this danger—to danger of being knocked down and robbed—he chose to have some one with him; for he knew, as all who have observed know, that two men are not so liable to be attacked, even by a gang of villains, as is one.

The merchant had not pondered long before his thoughts fell upon Orion Lindell. He had no clerks whom he thought worth trusting in such an emergency as he wished to be prepared for, and as for his stout porters he cared not to bring them into his business. At first he feared it might be trespassing upon a willing heart and a good soul, to apply to the young gold-beater, for well he knew that the youth would not refuse him; but after a while he resolved to go and see him. He looked at his watch, and it was half-past three. He took the marked letters, and left them upon the desk of his head book-keeper, and then went out.

The walk to the gold-beater's place was not long; and when Mr. Tiverton reached it he found Orion engaged in weighing out gold-plate, and preparing it for the rollers. The youth was slightly startled upon seeing the merchant, but the emotion was a pleasurable one.

"My dear Orion," said Mr. Tiverton, after the first salutation had been passed, "I have come upon rather a curious business. Have you any particular engagement for this evening?"

"No, sir," the youth replied.

"Well; I will explain my business at once. In one of the narrow, dirty courts that lead out from the lower end of Third street is an old woman whom I wish very much to see. I have been there this afternoon, and she had gone out, and would not return till evening. As I was coming away, the woman with whom I had spoken informed me that if I came after dark I had better be careful, because there were some hard cases living in the court. She said there wasn't much danger, but that I had better be careful, nevertheless. Now, my coachman has an engagement for the evening, and I have come to see if you will accompany me to the place."

"I will go with pleasure, sir," answered Orion, very quickly. "Just name the hour, and I will be at your service."

"Then meet me in the reading-room of the Astor at half-past six. We will get some supper there, and then start on our walk."

The youth promised to be on hand at the appointed time, and then the merchant, with a gratified smile, left the place.

"You are fortunate," said Mr. Garvey, after the gentleman had gone.

"How so?" asked Orion, looking up at his employer.

"Why, to have the confidence and friendship of such men as that."

"I think he does feel friendly towards me," returned the young man, with a flush of pride.

"Of course he does," added Garvey. "I watched his face while he was conversing with you, and I know he respects you much. People may talk as much as they please about honest poverty, but still there is an honor in possessing the confidence and esteem of honest wealth. Money has its power, and instead of trying to hide the fact, or indiscriminately denouncing it, we had better try to turn that power into a proper channel. I am somewhat acquainted with Mr. Tiverton's family arrangements."

"Ah!" returned Orion; "have you visited him?"

"No; but I have a sister who often calls there."

"Oh," added Garvey, with a light laugh, "I am very respectably connected. My sister is the wife of a Fifth Avenue merchant. What do you think of that?"

"I think you are very fortunate; for through her you can hear all the topics of fashionable life without the torture of having to live it."

"Right, Lindell, right. By the powers of Mammon, I find my sister oftener with a camphorated napkin about her head than any other way. But she tells me that Mrs. Tiverton is not the woman for a good man's wife; and also that her daughter don't take much after her father. Say, Orion, if he had a daughter worth the trial, there'd be some chance for you to draw the bonds between the old man and yourself a little tighter, eh?"

"Pooh," uttered the youth. He meant to laugh when he spoke, but the thought of one whom the merchant loved as a daughter came to his mind, and the laugh ended in a tremulous blush.

Mr. Garvey said something about Orion's being worthy of any maiden, but the arrival of a customer put a stop to the conversation, and our hero resumed his work in silence.

At the appointed time the youth was at the Astor House. He had sent a note home to his mother, informing her that he should be absent during the evening, so that she might not be uneasy. Mr. Tiverton had ordered a private supper, and while the two were partaking of it the conversation turned upon various topics. At first the merchant had been careful not to broach any subject upon which he supposed the young man would be uninformed; but gradually, as the conversation went on, topic after topic was disposed of, and matters of more than ordinary moment worked their way upon the tapis. The youth seemed not to be aware that he was displaying any unexpected information, but calmly, and with simple dignity, he expressed his thoughts, showing not only a knowledge which his companion had not dreamed of, but also evincing a clear, subtle judgment which astonished his listener.

By and by the subject of the commercial interests of the country came up, and, in answer to some remark of the merchant's, Orion mentioned a few statistics which were entirely new to the former. Mr. Tiverton listened until he had concluded, and then asked him to go on and state the rest of the facts. The youth had become so interested in the subject that he forgot all difference of social station between himself and his companion, and entered into the requested explanation freely and frankly. He gave a concise account of the commercial operations of the United States during the five years last past; compared them with those of England and France; presented the peculiar advantages of the former, resulting from her immense internal resources; and wound up by considering one of the disadvantages our commerce had to contend with from peculiar political causes.

Mr. Tiverton was more than astonished at the wondrous display of deep knowledge and understanding he had thus witnessed. He was charmed and delighted.

"Mr. Lindell," he uttered, still gazing into his companion's face with a look of earnest admiration, "you must pardon me for my boldness, but I must ask you how you have managed to gain such stores of information on subjects of which the most of our scholars are ignorant. I freely admit, sir, that I am surprised."

For the first time Orion seemed to realize that he had been making a display of his attainments, and he was for the moment somewhat disconcerted; but he soon regained his wonted calmness, and then, while a bright smile illuminated his handsome features, he returned:

"Since you ask me the question I suppose I must answer. You may call it ambition; you may call it pride; or you may call it a commendable emulation; but when I was old enough to understand the things which I beheld about me, I saw that there were two classes of men who were really respected and honored by their fellows: there were the honorable men of wealth, and the men of high intellectual attainments. Of course, I had no hopes of gaining wealth, for my tastes lay not in that direction. I should love to have a great business on my hands if everything could be straight and clear, but I am sure I have no faculty for making such a business. Yet I saw not why I might not gain as high a stand in intellectual attainments as any one, and to that end I bent all my energies. I read all the books I owned, and then good friends gave me free access to their libraries. I have gained something already; but I am young yet, and have many advantages before me still unimproved."

"That is what I call an emulation of the most honorable and praiseworthy kind," uttered the merchant, warmly and earnestly. "And," he added, while a shade of sadness passed over his face, "it is far more safe and sure as a basis of future peace and joy than all the gold of California. Ah, money cannot furnish happiness. The humble student in his retired chamber holds the key to such soul-treasures as many a wealthy man would gladly own at the expense of all his gold. There is much joy in the merchant palaces of the great city—there is much of peace and virtue, and much of goodness and calm sunshine, in those sumptuous dwellings; but, alas! he is sadly mistaken who supposes that because a family have such a home they must be happy. Never, never, was there a more foolish envy than that which dwells in the bosom of the honest mechanic when he sighs for the wealth he sees others have. But come; this won't carry us on our journey. What! nearly eight? I had no idea it was so late. However, we'll be in time."

Thus speaking, the merchant arose from the table, and the youth followed him. They passed down to the office, where the former settled the bill, and then together they left the house. The same course was pursued which Thomas had taken in the afternoon, and, as they walked swiftly, they were not long in reaching Third street. The merchant found things very different from what they had been in the daytime. The dance-cellars were open, and up from their reeking entrances came the mingled sound of abominable fiddles, coarse songs, and bitter oaths. The low drinking houses were illuminated with tawdry show, and at every doorway, window and bulkhead, swarms of human beings were to be seen.

Our two adventurers kept close together, and walked straight on, and at length the merchant led the way into the narrow passage through which he had passed with his coachman. He found no one stirring in the court, and thus he gained the door without molestation. He knocked as before, and the same woman came to the door.

"Ah, sir," she said, "you're just in time. The old woman has been in not a bit over five minutes."

"Thank you, my good woman," returned the merchant; and as he spoke he followed her into the hall, Orion coming close behind him.

The hostess—for so she appeared to be—led the way to a small room close at hand, where sat Aunt Rhoda and a small girl. The old woman seemed somewhat startled upon beholding Mr. Tiverton, though she was in no way frightened; and when he advanced to where she sat, and extended his hand, she returned his salutation very kindly and calmly.

"Aunt Rhoda," he said, "I should like a few minutes of private conversation with you, if you have no objections."

"I have none at all," the old lady replied, gazing up through her iron-bowed spectacles with a peculiar expression of countenance.

"I suppose we can have a private room for a short time, ma'am?" the visitor said to the hostess.

"Oh, certainly, sir. Here right here this way."

Mr. Tiverton turned to his companion, and, excusing himself to him, he offered his hand to Aunt Rhoda to assist her in rising. She took it, and then hobbled along by his side to the room which the hostess had pointed out; and in a few moments more Paul Tiverton was alone with the woman who, he was sure, held a secret of more than ordinary moment to him.


CHAPTER XXII.—THE CONFERENCE.—AN UNEXPECTED ADVENTURE.

IT was some time after Mr. Tiverton took a seat in front of the old woman before he spoke. For the first time in his life he had gone away from his own home to investigate an affair connected with his domestic arrangements. He had come here to this out-of-the-way place, among people of a class separate and distinct from his own; a place surrounded by poverty and filth, and by vice and crime, to ask questions touching his own wife. For a while a sense of family pride overcame—or, at least, arose to an equality with—his anxious desire to know the secret which had been hidden from him; but when he came to remember the situation in which he was placed—when he remembered that his wife was slowly and surely working the ruin of herself and daughter, and blasting all the joys of his home, he was resolved to know the secret if he could. He gazed sharply into the deeply furrowed face before him, and he was sure that only honest sincerity dwelt there.

"Aunt Rhoda," he said, "you will surely excuse me for this visit, and for the errand I have in view, when you know how much I have suffered in the dark and dubious suspicions I have held. I feel sure you own the key to them all, and I have sought you in hopes that you will explain to me all that I desire to understand."

"But how did you know where to look for me?" the old woman asked, with the return of a puzzled look which had partly left her face while the merchant had been speaking.

Mr. Tiverton hesitated a moment, though the hesitation was hardly perceptible.

"As I hope you will be frank with me, so will I be frank with you," he replied. "I felt sure, from what I saw and heard on the evening of your visit to my house, that my wife did not wish me to see you alone; and hence I feared she might send you off before I could speak with you. Under that impression I called one of my men, and had him keep a watch over all movements at our doors. He did so. He saw you come out with Sarah Johnson, and traced you to this house. So you see, it was an easy matter for me to find you."

"Then I shall not have to explain why I left your house so unexpectedly," said Aunt Rhoda, with a faint smile, which smile, however, was so buried up in the deep, overlapping furrows that it might have been taken for a curling of the features in contempt.

"Of course I know why you left, though I should like to know if my wife told you why she wished you to do so."

"You have guessed so near it, sir, that I have no objections to telling you the facts. Julia did not wish you to see me again, so she urged me to leave her house, promising to find me in a home here as long as I would stay."

"Yes—so I thought," muttered the man, half to himself, with his head bowed. "But," he at length continued, looking up again, "I will come at once to the business I have in hand. There is some secret concerning Julia's past life which I would know. I do not seek this knowledge from mere curiosity, but from a desire to know how far I can use it in curbing her present wild and insane extravagance. You know everything connected with her early life. Will you not give me what I seek?"

"But how do you know there is any such secret?" asked the old woman.

"How do I know? Why, I am as morally sure of it as I can be of anything which my own eyes have not wholly seen. When I see a person weep I know something must have touched that heart, and so when I see a woman act as Julia has acted, I know that there must be some deep cause for it."

"But she may have wished only to be rid of my presence, and, fearing that you would insist upon my staying, she took the step she did."

"Look ye, Aunt Rhoda," uttered the merchant, quickly and promptly, "do you mean to say that there is no secret—no event of deep importance—connected with Julia's past life which I do not know? Will you look me in the face and tell me truthfully that you know of nothing such?"

"I cannot do that," replied the old woman, after a few moments of hesitation.

"I thought not. And now will you tell me what it is?"

"But may you not imagine something a great deal worse than there are grounds for imagining?"

"I cannot."

"Why, surely, the simple passage you witnessed between Julia and myself would not warrant any such suspicions."

"Ah, but I have seen other things. Not long since an old man called at my house. He came to inquire for you. When my wife saw him she gave a shriek and fainted; and he was moved as much as she. My little son had given him a purse of gold, but when he found that he was Julia's child he cast it down. I followed him to another room, and questioned him, but he would answer me nothing. He was pale and agitated, and really frantic. All I could get from him was, to go ask my wife. I did ask her, but she would tell me nothing. And now can you wonder that I have come to you?"

"But this old man?" cried Aunt Rhoda, nervously and eagerly. "Who is he?"

"I cannot tell. He asked for you—'twas to find you that he ventured into my house."

"But his name?"

"He gave it as Daro Kid."

"Kid—Kid," muttered the old woman to herself. "How old was he?"

"Well he looked very old because he had seen a hard, wearing life; but I do not believe he was much over fifty."

"Did he look like a seaman?"

"Yes, he was a seaman; and I should judge from what he said that he had been away from his home many years. He said that you were the only friend he had on earth, and even you might not live."

"Oh! where is that man now?" Aunt Rhoda asked, her frame trembling violently as she spoke.

"I do not know. I have searched for him, but to no effect."

"I must see him. His name is not Daro Kid."

"Ah—what is it?"

"Never mind. That is his own business, and I suppose, from his giving that name, that he wished his real name kept secret for the present, at least. Oh, I must see him. I have been out to-day searching for one whom I once loved, but I found nothing. I dreamed not that he was in the great city. But we can find him somewhere. Ah—could you not put an advertisement in the paper? Say something like this: 'If Daro Kid will call at such a place he shall see, or hear from, the woman for whom he was searching.' Might not something like that reach him? Oh, I do want to see him, sir. Will you not help me in it?"

"He might be found in that way," returned Mr. Tiverton, thoughtfully. "Of course he has given that same name wherever he is stopping, and he could not find a public house of any description where some daily paper is not taken. I will put such an advertisement in the Herald and Sun."

"Oh, if you will, sir, I shall be very grateful. I must find that man."

"I will," said the merchant. "And, in return," he added with an imploring look, "you will surely tell me what I ask. You will open to me this secret which is known well to you. Come—you can have no reason for keeping it from me. I have a right to know. If you would do me a favor, tell it to me."

"Do you a favor?" repeated the woman with marked emphasis. "Oh, you know not when you are well off. A favor? Go home, Paul Tiverton, and leave this secret locked up as it is. You have read of Pandora. She could not help opening the chest which contained all the ills of life. If you would be happy, let this thing rest."

"You mistake me, Aunt Rhoda," urged the merchant. "No possible information could make me more miserable or unhappy than I am now. Tell me—it will be a favor."

"But I cannot, Mr. Tiverton—I cannot. I had hoped you would not urge me. I am under a most solemn obligation not to lisp it. I could not tell you without breaking an oath as solemn as mortal can take. Now you have my situation."

"And you gave this promise to my wife?" said the merchant bitterly.

"I gave it, sir, and I cannot break it. It is not generous to push an old woman under those circumstances."

The gentleman felt this rebuke, and after a few moments of thought he said:

"Pardon me. I meant not to offend you; but I have looked forward to this meeting with much hope, and I could not hear your answer without bitter disappointment."

"Oh, fool! You know not what you say. Go home and forget this whole thing. Forget that you ever held a doubt in your bosom of your wife's perfect freedom from all evil. You will see Fra—a—a—Mr.—oh, I remember—Daro Kid. You will probably see Daro Kid. You will put in the advertisement, won't you?"

"I shall, most assuredly."

"Ah—I see; you mean to question him. But take my advice, and don't you do it."

"We won't think of that now, Aunt Rhoda. I suppose I shall get no more from you."

"Not on this point, sir."

"Then I will detain you no longer," the merchant said, at the same time rising to his feet. "Of course you will remain here?"

"Yes, sir. I shall remain here until I find some of my friends."

"Then I shall know where to send Kid if I find him."

Thus speaking he led the way to the room where he had left our hero, Aunt Rhoda following close behind him.

"I hope you have not become tired of waiting, Orion," the merchant said, as he picked up his hat.

"Not at all, sir. I had expected to wait longer."

Mr. Tiverton thanked the old lady for her kindness, and then turning to the hostess he returned her thanks for the same. She took the lamp in her hand when she saw he was going, and preceded him to the hall. Orion was the last to leave the room, and he closed the door after him. About midway in the hall the merchant stopped, and was upon the point of speaking to the hostess, when the front door, which had been ajar, was pushed violently open, and a female, with a little child dragging by the hand, came rushing in.

The woman of the house uttered a cry of fright, and Mr. Tiverton started back.

"Save me! oh, save me!" the fugitive cried, springing to Mr. Tiverton's side and gazing up into his face.

"What!" exclaimed Orion, leaping forward. "Mrs. Milmer! is this you?"

The poor woman recognized her generous protector in an instant, and with cry of hope and joy she sank down by his side.

"Who is after you?" Orion quickly asked.

"Glicker!" she gasped.

"Then fear not."

Just as these words escaped the youth's lips Mr. Duffy Glicker made his appearance in the hall. By the light of the hostess's lamp he saw the two men, and he hesitated a few moments.

"Be not alarmed, sir," our hero whispered to the merchant. "I can easily dispose of this man."

"There are more in the court," faintly uttered Constance.

With a quick movement Orion sprang forward and knocked Glicker down, and then kept on and closed and locked the door. After this he turned to the hostess and asked her if there was any means of gaining the street by the back way.

"Yes, sir," she replied. "You can go out of our kitchen door into a little yard that belongs to the house on Fourth street."

As the woman finished speaking Duffy Glicker had gained his feet, and was rubbing his head.

"Look ye," spoke Orion, approaching him. "You see you and I have met again. Now are you going to give up this woman quietly, or are you determined to have a fuss?"

The villain made no other answer than a fierce oath, and with that he clenched his fists and squared off.

"Don't be alarmed—keep perfectly quiet," the youth said to the hostess, who seemed to be frightened. "Do nothing unless you run out by the back way and start up the police."

"I'll do it," she uttered; and no sooner had she spoken than she darted off.

"The police, is it?" groaned Glicker, at the same time making a furious pass at the gold-beater's head.

"Yes," returned the latter, giving him first a slap upon the left cheek then a slight tap over the eye and then a blow upon the side of the head that felled him to the floor.

"Now, you cowardly villain," cried Orion, standing over the fallen man, "you have had opportunities enough to try your hand upon me, and you shall have no more. Lie there, sir, or I'll make you! Offer to get up and I'll knock you back again. I give you fair warning. I am not a prizefighter, and I want no scuffle with you. Lie still, I say!"

The fellow attempted to rise, and Orion simply put him back without striking him.

"Let me up," the scamp at length begged. "Let me up, and I'll go off in peace. Come—let me up, and you may have the woman in welcome."

Orion hesitated a moment ere he answered. He knew that if the the fellow was arrested both he and Mrs. Milmer would be called up as witnesses, and he hardly liked the idea, though he did want to see the rascal punished.

"If I will let you up," he said, "will you promise to clear out, and never trouble this woman again?"

"———————————!" This long dash may be imagined to represent as many oaths as you please to think of. All is, you can not think of any more horrid than the villain applied to both the youth and Constance Milmer; but he wound up, however, by promising all he had been asked to promise.

Orion was upon the point of letting him up, when the hostess returned, followed by three policemen, and at the same moment the fellows whom Glicker had left in the court began to thump upon the door. As soon as our hero saw the officers he let the villain up, and then, in as few words as possible, explained all that had happened. As the thumping upon the door began to increase the policemen went and opened it. There were three men out there. They made a movement as though they would enter when the door was first opened, but as the gleaming moonlight fell upon those significant yellow stars, the fellows turned and made a retreat that would have done credit, in point of speed, to the Shropshire Stag-hound Boy.

As soon as these doughty knights had thus raised the siege, the officers returned to the hall.

"Aha," uttered one of them, "this is you, Mr. Duffy Walker Glicker, is it?"

Mr. Glicker evidently felt uneasy.

"What is the matter with yer face?" the policeman resumed. "I'm afraid you've been up to some of your old tricks. It's only a week ago, or so, that you were put under bonds to keep the peace."

"Well—and if I was, I hain't broken it," the villain growled. "This ere cove 's been and broke the peace. 'Twan't me."

"And he came pretty nigh breaking your head, too, didn't he?"

Glicker made no reply to this, and the officers turned to the youth.

"What shall we do with him?" the leader asked.

"I am not particular about having him arrested," Orion said. "If he will only let this poor woman be in peace, he may go in welcome. It was for trying to get her away once before that he was put under bonds."

Upon consulting with Mr. Tiverton it was finally concluded that the fellow should be allowed to depart.

"But mind you," said one of the policemen, "you will be narrowly watched from this time, and if we catch you at any of your tricks again you'll suffer for it. D'ye understand?"

"Yes."

"Then go."

Thus admonished Mr. Duffy Glicker turned to depart, when Mrs. Milmer caught Orion by the arm, and, in a hurried whisper, exclaimed:

"Oh—that paper! Couldn't you get it?"

"Here! Stop a moment!" the youth cried, leaping to the door just in time to prevent Glicker from going out. "You have a paper which belongs to this woman. Give it up to her."

"I hain't got it with me," replied the villain, somewhat confused.

"Beware, sir. Give it up, or we'll have you carried to the station-house and searched!"

"Well, ye may search as much as you please; ye won't find it, for I tell you 'taint here."

"Where is it!" asked one of the policemen.

"I don't justly know now, sir; but I may find it; and if I do, I'll give it to some of ye."

"Oh, I wish you could get it," the widow whispered again to Orion, having worked her way around to where he stood. "I wish I could have it. It may tell me of things that I wish very much to know."

"But how long since you have seen it in his hands?"

"Not since I left the old home."

"Then he may not have it with him. He would not be very likely to carry it with him all the time, if it is valuable."

This seemed reasonable, and at length the fellow was allowed to depart upon the promise that he would give up the paper on the first opportunity. The officers were then thanked for their promptness, and ere long afterwards Orion and Mr. Tiverton, with the widow and her child in company, left the place. When they reached the street the merchant said to the woman:

"I promised our good friend here that I would give you a home. Our women folks have considerable sewing on hand, and I would like to know, now, if you will go home with me at once. What say you?"

The poor woman's eyes filled with tears, and after a moment's thought, she replied:

"If you want my services, sir,—if you need the work—I should be happy to go."

"Then it's all settled: for we do need it. So come on."

The party started more quickly forward after this, and pretty soon Orion took Lizzie up in his arms.

"Oh, sir—I can walk," she said.

"But you will let me carry you, if I wish?"

Yes, sir."

"Then I'll do so; for I am very happy, Lizzie. I am so glad that I have found you and your good mamma, and that you are going to have so good a home."

And he was happy; he was not alone in the feeling. No—for those big tears that rolled down the mother's cheeks, upon which the moonbeams glittered, were tears of joy. And there was much of joy, too, in that expression upon Paul Tiverton's face; though there were other feelings in his soul, alas! which, in the general gladness, he tried to hide!


CHAPTER XXIII.—THE PRINCE.—LOST! LOST!

WHILE Mr. Tiverton and Orion were on their way to the scene of their adventure, Mrs. Tiverton and Isabella were seated in the parlor awaiting the coming of the Count Adolphus Gerald Charlemagne Gusterhausen. They were both very anxious, for the daughter wished to see her lover, while the mother was moved by the hope that she might be the first private lady to entertain His Highness, the Prince Bernardo de Tavora; and she felt a sort of wish, too, that she might inspire him with a deep admiration of herself.

Poor fools! Not butterflies, but moths—moths that know no better than to fly into every flame they find, with their flimsy wings fluttering in pain, and still in and in again, while fire is in sight. Butterflies are things of joy and sunshine, but not so these two beings. They were things of night—flitting about in gas-light—sparkling only with paint and jewels, and never so apparently happy as when farthest removed from nature and sense. God's glorious sunlight was an infliction which they bore sometimes of an afternoon; but never, like the London beau, were they placed under the torturing necessity of beholding a sunrise scene. Mrs. Tiverton had been heard to say that "animals were made for sunrise; and even the lower orders of humanity are forced to be out in the early morn; but to a delicate, sensitive system the disagreeable atmosphere of morning is a miasma only to be shunned."

Such was the genius that presided over the home of an intellectual, honorable man! Yet there was one spirit in the household that shed some sunlight over the otherwise desolate sphere. Young Conrad was a source of joy to the unfortunate husband. To his bedside the merchant could go and find peace. An angel spirit pervaded the soul of the boy-invalid, and his smile was sweet and hopeful. But, alas! hopeful of earth no more! No more did the light form grace the father's place of retirement—no more was that soft, weak voice heard in the places where the day-time visitor had been wont to hear it. The dark angel had drawn near, and nearer still—the cold hand had grown heavy, and more heavy—and now the boy must make his downy couch his abiding-place all the night and all the day. Sometimes he felt the wish that his mother and sister might love him better, but never a word of that passed his lips. He only blessed them when they came, and blessed them when they were absent.

But to return to the parlor. The mother and daughter sat there, loaded with their whole substance of jewelry, and painted with more than ordinary skill and care. Isabella had been thumping out a new polka upon the piano-forte—a polka the only recommendation of which was, that in order to perform it every key of the instrument had to be slammed as nearly at the same time as possible, thus producing one glorious, ecstatic thundering of indistinguishable sound. The mother had just said, "Beau-chiful," when the tinkling of the door-bell mingled with the dying crash of the piano.

"Oh, it's them!" cried the daughter, springing to a seat upon one of the tete-a-tetes.

And so it proved, for in a few moments the Count Adolphus G. C. Gusterhausen was ushered into the apartment. Behind him came what, at first glance, might have been taken for a full-dressed orang-outang, but which was introduced as the Prince Bernardo de Tavora. He was a small specimen of the human species, with his face almost entirely covered with black hair. His beard was very thick, growing upon the cheek nearly to the bottom of the eye, and completely hiding everything below. The nose protruded like the beak of a huge bird peeping over the edge of its nest, while the small, deep-set black eyes were over-arched by shaggy brows that nearly met the crinkling hair of the head. His dress was of black throughout, and made to fit very closely, and upon it the jewelry flashed in tawdry profusion. His age might be about as easily guessed as that of a horse. His teeth appeared to be sound, and his hair not yet gray; so we may believe he was not very old.

"Aw!" he uttered, with a very Italianish shrug of the shoulders, "It do me good to be presenteed to the lar-dees of Amereka. I feel ver mooch please to mark you arquantence. I do—aw—'pon me honaw—I do."

This last was spoken with the right hand pressed hard against the left breast, and the body bent very near to a right angle, the head, however, sticking upright like the head of a turtle.

The ladies bowed and twisted themselves in a manner most excruciating, and the sweetest smiles they could command were brought out for use.

"Wheech did you say was te mad-ame?" asked the prince, gazing from the mother to the daughter, and then upon his companion.

"Dis ish Madam Tiverton," replied the count, pointing towards the hostess.

"Ah, eempossebel!" uttered the orang, gazing with well-feigned astonishment upon the lady. "You no mean mad-ame be te dame—te pareent—of te senora Isabella!"

"Yes, mon prince, 'tish verily so."

"Now, me can hardly credit te asserte-on. Ah—mad-am—is too young—to be te parent."

Mrs. Tiverton smiled and twisted more than ever; and at that moment she would have given a great deal could she have only blushed. But the color of her face was a fixed fact, which nothing but water could change. However, she was exceedingly moved by the delicate (!) flattery of the prince, and finally assured him that she was really Isabella's mother. De Tavora seemed at length willing to believe the assertion, though he still persisted that it appeared "eempossebel."

After a short time spent in commonplace remarks the Count and Isabella withdrew to the rear parlor, leaving Mrs. Tiverton and the Prince together upon the sofas, where they conversed in low, dying tones, each seeming to outvie the other in silly, nonsensical twaddle.

"If I have been correctly informed your husband is a very commonplace sort of a man," said the prince, speaking very carefully, and losing a part of his intensely foreign accent and idiom. "Mind you—I know he must be a very goot man, or he never could 'ave gained sooch a wife. But me mean he no move in our circles."

"Ah—you are right, prince," the lady replied, in a half-sad tone. "Mr. T. is not the man for one who takes pleasure in society. Alas! what should we be without society!"

"Cats—dogs—owls—bats!" cried the prince with heroic emphasis. "No'ting more. Societee is te blessing of life. Ah, what happiness if I 'ave sooch a wife."

This came out with a real groan, and Mrs. Tiverton at once felt called upon to sympathize with him.

"You must long for companionship," she said feelingly.

"Ah—I do. I have a ver few teems seen weemen dat I could 'ave loved fondly; but dey's all been marreed. What for you have husband before I come? Oh! why the fates keep no one jewel for me! If me 'ave found you free you should 'ave gone to me palace on the Arno, where te little birds sing all day, an' te seelver waters dance in te moonlight all te night. Noble damsels should 'ave anticeepated you everee wish, an' te lords an' nobles should 'ave kneeled at your feet. But alas! your beauty was not for me. I am soree—oh! ver soree!"

"Oh, cruel fate!" sighed the lady, never drawing away the hand which the orang had taken, and shrinking not away as he moved nearer to her side.

"You speak te truth, dear ladee," the prince murmured. "It be a crueel fate—ah, ver crueel! They tell me——"

"They?" interrupted Mrs. Tiverton, with a jealous tone and look.

"I mean te count. Ah, dear senora, I 'ave made no other acquaintance in dis cetee; an' I 'ave no desire to make any more. Oh, when I can no longer bask in te sweet sunlight of your smiles, ten I shall go home to me own parlese on the Arno, an' pass te rest of me tays in seclusion and sorrow. Even now I weesh I 'ave no seen you. I weesh I 'ave no looked upon you beautee, for now te arrow 'ave pierced to me 'art, and love is takeen possesse-on of me whole soul!"

"Ah, prince, you must not speak so. Indeed, you must not. I must not listen; I ought not to listen!"

"Ah, it is me fate!" cried the orang, in agony. "I 'ave made you angry! You will drive me from you?"

"Oh, no, no, no, prince. I could not do that. You are cruel!"

"But you will not let me take your fair hand again?"

"I ought not to."

"Then I must leave you," uttered the prince, who had already taken the jewelled hand, and was now pressing it against his black satin vest.

"Oh, be not cruel. Torture me not, dear prince. You were going to tell me something the count had said."

"Ah, yes," returned de Tavora, seeming to have recovered from his intense agony. "The count 'ave told me dat your husband ver seldom go veeth you anywhere."

"Alas! 'tis too true, dear prince."

"What a pitee! Me no tink it hardly right for such a man to hold te purse for his beautiful weefe."

"My husband does not hold my purse, sir," the lady returned, somewhat proudly.

"Ah," uttered the prince, with a peculiar sparkle of the eyes. "Ten you 'ave your own purse?"

"Yes, dear prince."

"You is most fortunate in dat. Ver few womeen are so happy. Though monee is no account to me, yet I know how mooch happiness te free control of it can give. I say it is no account to me. I mean dat I keep no run of it. Whether I have at this moment ten meelions, or fifteen meelions, I could not tell. My bankers know to a ducat. Ah, dese bankers are queer fellows. I don't see how the deuce they manage to keep such a run of monee. 'Pon my honor, I never could do it—nevare. I can spend it—ha, ha, ha—but I don't know where it comes from, only dat my bankers pour it out when I send for it."

"Oh, you must be happy," murmured the lady, almost enviously.

"Happee? No! I am miserabel! Of what use is it all to me? Ah, if I 'ave sooch a weefe to spend it for, den I should be happee!"

At this point Mrs. Tiverton fairly trembled. She allowed the prince to kiss her hand, and a low, deep sigh escaped from her lips!

"But," resumed the orang, in a tone and manner which might have appeared over-anxious to a careful observer, "I thought wifes could not hold property in dis countree while the husband lived."

"Oh, yes, prince. I hold my property in my own name."

"Then I 'ave learn something of dis countree which I nevare knew before. But I suppose te weefe cannot hold only so mooch?"

"As much as she can own," replied the lady.

"Say—ten thousand dollars," suggested the prince, carefully.

"Oh, I hold over a hundred thousand."

"What? Not you? You no mean dat you 'ave over a hoondred tousand dollars wheech you can draw at any moment?" exclaimed de Tavora, trying hard to hide his satisfaction.

"Yes, prince, it is even so. And thus you see that my husband is not such a thorough master of my movements, after all."

--------The facts of this case were just here: When Paul Tiverton took Julia Church for his wife she was the possessor of one hundred thousand dollars, which had been left to her by her father. At the expiration of a few years she used this fact as a source of annoyance to her husband. If he dared to hint she was needlessly extravagant, she quickly informed him that he had a hundred thousand dollars of her money. At first she only did this when he spoke to her of her extravagance—of that extravagance which looked vain and foolish—but at length, when she found how it annoyed him, she used it whenever he dared to correct her for any fault. If he hinted that she was ruining her health, she simply informed him that she "did not give him a hundred thousand dollars to pay him for chiding her." Finally, the poor man could stand it no more, and having called his wife into the parlor he handed her a small book, saying, as he did so:

"There, Julia, is your bank-book. I have this day placed in the bank, in your name, and subject alone to your draft, one hundred and thirty thousand dollars. That is the principal, and the interest for a little over four years, of all the property you ever owned to my knowledge. Now come to me for whatever you want—come freely—for I have enough, and you shall never ask me in vain. But remember from this time forth I have no money of yours!"

On that occasion the wife wept profusely, and begged that her husband would take it all back; but he knew her too well. He told her he should remember nothing of her injustice—he only wished to give her her own, and bury, if possible all cause of trouble. For a few days the wife was unhappy; but it gradually wore off, though she was never so free again in asking him for money, often getting Isabella, after she grew up, to do it for her. From her own fund she had drawn nearly all the interest, but the principal was still untouched.

Thus was Julia Tiverton situated in regard to pecuniary matters, and she had been heard to boast among a certain few that her money was where her husband could not touch it. Perhaps she thought so.

For some moments after the prince had gained this knowledge he was obliged to maintain silence in order to hide his emotion. And yet he needn't have been particular, for the foolish woman would not have discovered it. She was too deeply lost in the bewildering dazzle of the "Prince" to notice his tone or looks. Whether "in shape of a camel," or "like a weasel," or "very like a whale," it would have been all right to her. The eyes of old Polonius were not more accommodating than were hers. And her companion saw it, too.

"My dear senora," he at length said, pressing her hand still more warmly to his bosom, "I am sorree I came here."

"Sorry, prince?"

"Alas! I fear I have offended you."

"Offended? You are cruel, prince, to say so. You know you could not offend me."

"Could not?"

"You could not. My deep l—lo—respect would resist all offence."

"Ah, but if I were to tell all the love wheech you 'ave inspired in me you would spurn me from you."

"Never!"

"Nevare?"

"No. Never."

"Ah, you know not what I would ask."

Julia trembled, but she did not speak.

"Ah, you cannot dream what I would ask."

And still the poor fool trembled without speaking. Her head was bowed, and she would have looked very pale but for the paint. She felt a kiss upon her hand—she felt an arm about her waist—she felt herself drawn closely upon his bosom—and yet there was not one spark of indignation in her soul—not one! She did not even resist!

"Ah, delight of me eyes!—angel of me soul—sweet presence of purity and peace!—if me own noble parlese on the Arno could but 'ave sooch ar meestrese! Oh, what blees! You are offended."

"Wicked man!"

"There—I knew. Oh, you are angeree now."

"No, I am not angry," the idiot answered, in a tremulous whisper. "I am not angry, prince."

"Then, why am I weekeed?"

"Ah, you bend my heart as you will. Be generous, prince. Oh, do not kill me! Do not break my heart now!"

What more did that man need then? Nothing. The rod was heated, and he could fashion it when he pleased.

"Best beloved!" he cried, kissing her hand a dozen times in quick succession, "you have made me the happiest of men. But do not—oh, do not turn upon me now and crush me? Be kind—be generous. Break not me 'art now. Promise—oh, promise that you will not!"

"I would rather break my own," she murmured.

At this moment the front door was heard to open, and some one entered.

"It's my husband," said the hostess.

"What!" gasped the prince, dropping the hand he held, and leaping to a distant chair.

"Be not alarmed," said madam. "He seldom comes in here when I have company."

Yet the prince was uneasy. He seemed anxious and nervous, and every step of the man in the hall appeared to fall upon his ear with the same effect that the coming of a sheriff or constable has upon the fugitive thief.

"Hark!" uttered the hostess, as the sound of voices, low and tremulous, fell upon her ear. "He has brought some one home with him. It is a female voice."

"Ha," added de Tavora; "a female, did you say? Your husband bringing females into his house at this time of night?"

"Ah—I think I know. He told me he had engaged a poor woman to come and do some sewing."

"And do gentlemen of Senor Teevarton's position wait upon poor sewing-women to their houses?"

Julia Tiverton's eyes flashed fire. She remembered her husband had seemed to take a great interest in the poor woman—poor widow, he had called her and young, and unfortunate, too.

"But nevare mind," whispered the prince, resuming his seat by the lady's side, as the footsteps were heard descending the dining-room stairs. "Nevare mind, me own sweet love. Why should you make yourself unhappee for one who loves you not at all? Oh, tell me when I may come again. Tell me when we may once more mingle our joys, and pour out our 'arts. Oh, let it not be long!"

"Come when you please," returned the lady.

"I shall go nowhere else. I wish to see no one else."

"What!" exclaimed the count Adolphus, who had approached and overheard the last remark. "Not go anywhere else?"

"I shall not!" replied the prince, emphatically.

"But you must, your highness," pleaded Adolphus, with much apparent concern. "Oh, what will the Honorable Mr. Slymum and the Honorable Mr. Wiretug say? and what shall I tell the ladies of Governor Humfudge when they ask for you?"

"Tell them what you please," returned the prince, resignedly.

"But, your highness, it will not answer. There are the Honorable Mr. Onfence and his beautiful daughters. I told dem dat you would certainly pe dere," cried the count, just remembering that he was a German. "My cootnesh, I will pe turned out of dorsh if you shtay away. Coom, don't say so."

"Me Lord of Gusterhausen," replied the prince with immense dignity, but softening down to tones of childish sweetness as he proceeded, "I've found the sun of my existence—the moon of my long, dark night of cheerless life—the polar star of my future course. I am content. Ask me no more."

"Oh, your most noble highness, you have no right to do so. Only tink vat I musht say ven dey asks me vere you ish. And have you forgotten dot you let me make arrangements for you to visit General Keyenn?"

"I've not forgotten, count."

"Den you moosht go. My cootnesh, I should never dare to show mine fashe at Senator Knockemdown's again if I went mitout you. And then you shoost bromised me dat you would go mit me to see Congressman Shooter. Oh, you musht go."

"It's no use, my lord," the prince persisted; "I will go with you to see de shentlemens, but not to see de womens."

"But it's de voomens dat vants you mosht, your highness. Colonel Wantstobe and his wife, and his peautiful daughters, are half crazy to see you."

"Me Lord of Gusterhausen," pronounced his highness de Tavora in a tone and manner which would certainly seem to preclude the necessity of any further remark on the subject, "you have me answer. I veel go weeth you and see te honorabel shentlemens, but I veel not go to se te weemens! There is but one woman for me! but one 'art in me bosom! Me mind is made up!—Senora de Tavo—ah, pardong,—I mean Senora Tievarton—your hand. There: upon this beauteeful hand I swear that no eyes shall beam upon me—no angel bless me weeth her presence, save the fond one who has me 'art. Deo volente!"

Thus speaking, and thus holding Julia Tiverton by the hand, he gazed into her face; and he saw that she was very proud and very triumphant, and very happy. He raised the imprisoned hand to his lips, and having imprinted a kiss upon it, he turned towards the door.

"Madam," said the count, taking the hand of the hostess in turn, "you have turned the poor prince's heart. I fear me dis visit musht end only in misery for him. I wish I did not pring him."

"Hush," whispered the lady, who saw that her daughter was approaching them, "say no more."

In a few moments more the two nobles took their leave, and the mother and daughter were left alone; but it was some time before either dared to gaze into the other's face. But Isabella was the first to speak:

"Well, ma, what kind of a man is the prince?"

"Oh, he is a very fair sort of a man," answered the mother, having now succeeded in hiding her real emotions; "a very fine man—very fine."

"He looks like a perfect gentleman."

"So he is, Isabella. But what did the count have to say this evening?"

"Oh, he's set the time for our marriage, ma. It's all settled."

"When? when?" uttered the mother.

"Well, we haven't exactly set the time to a day; but then it's to be this summer; and perhaps very soon."

After this Isabella asked many questions about what the prince had said, but her mother professed not to have remembered. She said he had told her about his palace on the Arno, and so on, but she could not tell much else.

Ah, Julia Tiverton, it is a thorny pillow thou art making now! No more shall sleep to thee be sweet—no more shall peace be within thy soul! No more! no more!


CHAPTER XXIV.—A WOLF IN THE WORN ONE'S RETREAT.

ON the morning following the visit of the prince and the count, Mrs. Tiverton received word from her husband that he wished to see her in his library. It was nearly eleven o'clock, and the lady had just drunk a cup of strong coffee, which constituted her breakfast. As soon as her maid had arranged her morning toilet she went down to answer her husband's call. She found him seated at his desk, where he had been writing, and at a short distance, upon his damask lounge, were seated a female and a little girl. She gazed sharply into the female's face, as though she would read all her thoughts and feelings and character, in the look. She found that face very pale and very beautiful, and she did not like it because it bore so plainly the stamp of modest virtue. She had come to regard every face of that cast as a living rebuke to her, and she hated them. But in the present instance there was a darker thought in her mind. She wondered if her husband had not brought that woman to his home because of that beauty!

Next she turned her gaze upon the child. Ah! she could not forget that strange little face. She had just started with a wild thrill of indignation when her husband spoke.

"Julia," he said, in a mild tone, "this is the woman I spoke to you about. She is a worthy person, and an excellent seamstress."

"What know you of her worthiness?" asked the wife in a low, hushed tone.

There was a sort of breathless, grating character to this utterance which fairly startled the husband. He could not have explained it; he could not have told wherein that tone differed from many others she often assumed. But there was a difference, and a startling one, too. It was like the dread calm that comes before the fatal simoon—like the sulphuric stillness that precedes the earthquake. Nor was this all. As he gazed into her face he found a look there such as he had never seen before. She had not yet put any paint upon her cheeks, and the expression was plain and unmistakable—it was an expression that startled him more than her words had done.

"I have heard the story of her life from one who knows her well; and I assure you she is worthy," replied the merchant.

"You have brought her up from the Five Points?" the wife spoke, in that same frightful tone, and with the expression of her face yet unchanged.

"Her friend brought her up from there, Julia."

"Friend! And has she another friend?"

Mr. Tiverton began to tremble beneath the influence of that tone and look, for it was painful. Yet he betrayed no unwonted emotion.

"She has—a true, generous friend. The same who saved Ellen's life."

"Yes!—Well!" whispered the woman, patting her foot upon the soft carpet, and clutching her hands together until the blood seemed all forced into the fingers. "You might have taken her somewhere else, sir! This house—the house of your wife—is not the place for her!"

"Julia!"

"You appear to understand me, sir!"

"Julia Tiverton!" exclaimed the husband, quivering at every joint, "I hope I do not understand you!"

"But you shall, sir! You shall understand me! Was it not enough that you should bring a—a—base thing into this house at a late hour of the night, but that you must now call me to stand with her face to face? Was it not enough that you should prate to me of her youth and of her beauty, but that you must call your wife here that you may compare faces? Do you fondly cherish the opinion that you have a character so immaculate that you can wait upon your wife's young and pretty sewing-girl home at night without suspicion resting upon you?"

She had spoken just long enough for her husband to gain control of his first deep emotion; but it had required a mighty effort on his part. His heart had fallen for the moment like a lump of lead, and then bounded up again as though it would leap from its narrow prison; and even now it was beating as it had never beat since he was born. He had passed through many scenes of danger in life, and he had been placed under circumstances that had sorely tried his temper, but never before never, never had he been tried like this! Yet he had gained the mastery of his deepest passion ere he spoke, though his face was pale, and the quality of the tone belied its calmness.

"Julia," he said, "let me explain to you—stop; hear me."

His wife had made a motion to interrupt him, but there was that in his look and tone when he bade her stop, that she dared not tempt, fiend as she was.

"Not long since Orion Lindell saved this little girl from the hands of two ruffians. When he accompanied her to her home, he found her father dying of consumption, and her mother starving. He cared for them, and was their neighbor and their friend. A base wretch—a huge, overgrown villain, named Glicker—had haunted the poor mother with a paper in which he said there was something to her benefit. He wished to force her into marrying with him. Without doubt he had become possessed of a document which contained the proof of some piece of fortune belonging to her. He wished to gain her for a wife that he might possess it. It was from this wretch that the youth protected her while he could. James Milmer was this woman's husband's name. He was honest, upright, and industrious. Sickness reduced his family to want. From point to point they sank in poverty—the poor husband dying all the while—until they were forced to find a home where Orion discovered them. Soon the husband and father died. Then their young protector came to me and asked me if, in the circle of my acquaintance, I knew of one who could give employment to a good seamstress. I told him that I had heard my wife speak of wanting such assistance, and finally I told him he might bring her to my house.

"When I next heard of her, Mr. Lindell came to me with the intelligence that the poor woman had been abducted by this same villain of whom I have spoken. I told him if he could find her to bring her to my house. Last evening Mr. Lindell accompanied me to a house which stands in a small court leading out from Third Street, between Avenues B and C——"

At this point Mrs. Tiverton gave a sudden start, and the whole expression of her countenance changed as if by magic. But the husband appeared not to notice it.

----"I had seen the person whom I went there to see, and, having concluded my interview, was about to leave the house, when this poor woman came rushing into the hall, dragging her child by the hand, and crying for help. In a moment more the stout villain who had haunted her rushed in after her. He had locked her up in an adjoining house, and she had managed to make her escape from her room, and did so just in season to meet her persecutor in the court, he having come with a priest of some sort for the purpose of forcing her into the marriage bond at once. The door of the house in which we were was partly open, and she rushed in. Mr. Lindell again saved her from the villain's grasp, and then came the question of providing for her further. I asked her if she would come to my house, and work for my wife and daughter, and when I made her understand that it was not charity that I was bestowing, she said she would come. So Mr. Lindell took the child in his arms—we walked up to the Bowery—there took a stage for this place, and finally arrived here safe and sound, when I bade the young man good evening, and then entered the house with my charge. I saw by the light in the parlor that you had company, so I took the woman and her child down to the kitchen, and gave them into the care of the cook and waiter, who promised to provide for them. I then left her, and have now had her sent up here to meet you."

As the merchant ceased speaking, Mrs. Milmer arose to her feet, and, with all the power of self-control she could command, she said:

"Noble sir, I will not trespass upon your kindness farther. Let me go."

"Nay, my good woman, not yet. My wife will find you plenty of work. Be seated, be seated; you have nothing to fear."

And then, turning to the hostess, he continued:

"Now, Julia, of course you will find work for this woman, and treat her kindly."

The wife did not reply at once. Her husband spoke with such a tone of assurance that she felt sure he must have learned something of the secret she would hide from him. When he mentioned his visit to the house on the small court of Third Street, she knew that he had been to see Aunt Rhoda, and she had watched his countenance most narrowly to see if she could not assure herself from some look she might find there. She had found nothing but this calm, dignified assurance, and she feared that was the result of some information he had gained from the old woman. It was a severe moment for her. Her stubborn spirit rebelled against the thought of giving up; but she dared not stand out. When she saw that deep, calm, iron will so plainly fixed upon her husband's face, she could not bring her resolution to war openly against it. Yet there was a look of demoniac meaning upon her face as she spoke, and one who knew her well might have known that she held deep treachery in her heart.

"Well," she said, in a low, compromising tone, "if you say so, I suppose she must stop."

"And you will find her work, will you?" asked the merchant, kindly, but still with that firm, meaning tone.

"If she suits me," was the laconic reply.

"Very well. Of course we do not suppose any one would retain services that did not prove worthy. Still I trust you will be kind to your seamstress, and treat her as you would be treated if you were in her position."

"I think I should have to sink pretty low——"

Thus far the wife had spoken, when she met a look from her husband that caused her to hesitate; and after struggling a few moments with her evil emotions, she resumed——

"I suppose there is no need of my remaining here longer. Mrs.——what is her name?"

"Milmer—Constance Milmer."

"Ah—well, Mrs. Milmer can go to her room, and I will send Sarah to her with such work as I wish her to do."

Mr. Tiverton simply nodded his head, and his wife withdrew. As soon as she was gone, Constance Milmer bowed her head and burst into tears. Little Lizzie quickly threw her arms about her neck, and asked her not to cry, and then began to cry most bitterly herself. The merchant waited until the poor widow had overcome somewhat of her grief, and then he said:

"Be calm, my good woman. I am sorry you have been forced to witness the scene which has passed, but it cannot be helped now. You can see and understand as well as I. But let all this pass; forget it if you can. Try to feel as though it had never happened. And of one thing be assured—you shall lose nothing by having come here. Should anything more transpire to render your stay here unpleasant, I will see that you have another home. In short, while I live you shall not want, if I can by any means know of your circumstances. To those who know me I seldom explain my motives, but to you, who know but little of me, I will say, the feelings which move me thus to befriend you are the same as would move me in behalf of any child of misfortune; and could I, by even a thought, entertain anything to your harm, I would never again hold up my head in God's bright sunlight."

"Oh! I know you are generous and good," cried the poor woman; "I will stay and try to be happy here."

"I am glad of that—I am glad of that. Now go to the same room the girl showed you last night, and feel at home there. Do all you can, consistently with your own truth and dignity, to please my wife, and leave the rest to time."

With this the widow arose and left the room; and as soon as Mr. Tiverton was alone, he started to his feet and commenced to pace to and fro across the floor. His face was sadly worked upon, and his whole frame quivered with emotion. At last he stopped, and with his hands convulsively clasped across his breast, he uttered:

"Oh, Julia! you know not what a heart you are breaking! Is there no love in thy heart? no honor in thy soul? What have I ever done that thou shouldst turn and sting me to death! Oh! would to God the past score of years were blotted out from my memory! Julia—Julia—once you might have healed a broken heart, and brought back a soul to joy and peace! But, alas! thy power has been all for evil—all—all!"

Big tears rolled down that stout man's cheeks as he sank back into his chair, and his heart seemed bursting with grief. But he overcame the outer emotion at length, and then started for his place of business. The humble laborer who stood over the way saw the wealthy merchant as he left his sumptuous abode, and in his heart he envied the millionaire. And many others on that day did the same, for Paul Tiverton carried none of his agony upon his face, amid the busy throng.

When Mrs. Tiverton left her husband, she went to the drawing-room on the second floor, where she found Isabella seated at play with her little poodle dog.

"Why, ma—what is the matter?" the daughter asked, as she saw her mother's agitated expression.

"Matter enough," returned Mrs. T., sharply and angrily.

"Pa hasn't been saying anything about our company, has he?" the girl uttered, with some show of uneasiness.

"No—he knows better than that. But he's brought a poor, miserable, Five Points beggar here to do our sewing. She's one of your prudish, sanctimonious things, with some good looks, just calculated for a bad woman, and has a child with her. He brought that creature home with him when he came home last night, and now he says that I must employ her."

"But you won't, will you, ma?"

"Mr. T. is determined."

"Then let us be determined the other way. What! bring such a woman here to do our sewing? What has he to do with it?"

"That's what I'd like to know," the mother returned; "I don't like it. Oh! I wish you could have seen the look the degraded thing put on when I told your father that I wouldn't have her in the house."

"But did pa insist upon her staying after you had told him that?"

"Yes, he did."

"Then she must be a senseless thing to wish to remain after hearing so much. But you said she was good-looking?"

"Yes, she possesses a great deal of the low, vulgar beauty which belongs to her class."

"Perhaps she loves pa," suggested Isabella, with a mysterious look, and at the same time shaking her uncombed head in a most dubious manner.

The mother started at the remark, and the demon look came back to her face.

"I have thought of that, Isabella," she said in a hushed tone; "men are not in the habit of gallanting sewing-women about for nothing!"

"But only think, ma; did you ever know pa to trouble himself about anything of the kind before?"

"No—never."

"Then it looks rather strange to see him so anxious about this case. Do you suppose you could find another man on this street who would do such a thing?"

"No!" uttered the mother, with indignant emphasis.

"Then of course you wont give her any work?"

"I told your father I would send her some by Sarah."

"I'd send her a halter first!" uttered Isabella, with much show of temper. "Just as likely as not she's to be a spy upon our movements! I tell you, pa never would have brought that woman here just to accommodate you. Why, think of it—who ever heard of such a thing? I'll defy anybody to produce an instance where a wealthy merchant went out and hunted up a sewing-woman for his folks, and then waited upon her home at night! And, I ask you, does it look like the way pa generally treats us?"

These simple remarks served as "the last ounce upon the camel's back." Mrs. Tiverton reflected a few moments upon her daughter's words, and then she said:

"You are right, my child; we must get rid of her in some way. Oh! only to think that my husband should have dared to bring that woman here!" she continued, stamping madly upon the floor.

She was about the point of speaking further, when some new idea seemed to enter her mind, for she started up from her seat, and took several turns across the room. When she stopped, it was by the bell-pull, and having given it a nervous wrench, she returned to her seat. In a few moments Sarah Johnson made her appearance.

This maid was a shrewd, secretive-looking girl, about nineteen years of age, with a keen, cold gray eye, and a hawk-bill nose. She had been in the service of Mrs. Tiverton some years, and had won the entire confidence of that lady. She knew many of her mistress's most important secrets, but she had never been known to betray one. She entered with a quiet, unobstrusive look, and waited patiently to hear what was wanted. The confidence reposed in her did not make her bold, for she well knew that her present easy situation would be quickly lost if she assumed airs. Yet she was laying up a power which the fashionable lady might at some time find rather dangerous to her peace. And even now Mrs. Tiverton would not have dared to turn the girl away save in a kind and compromising way.

"Sit down, Sarah."

The girl took a seat, and with folded hands waited for further remark.

"Do you know a woman named Constance Milmer?" the mistress asked.

"I know there was such a woman came here last night, but I have not seen her."

"How did you know?"

"Cook told me."

"And did cook tell you how she came here?"

"Yes'm. She said master brought her down last night, and ordered her to give her some good supper, and then show her a bed."

"Yes. And now, Sarah, do you know a man by the name of Glicker?"

"Glicker?" repeated the girl, gazing fixedly into her mistress's face. "Yes'm, I know a man named Duffy Glicker."

"What sort of a man is he?"

"Why—he is a great stout man, and—a—well, some folks say he don't allers do things as church-members and upper folks do 'em."

"Yes, I understand. But do you know where he lives?"

"Part of the time he lives in the same court where my sister lives, only in another house."

"Do you see him when you go to your sister's?"

"Sometimes."

"Then I want to trust you with a very important piece of work. I think I may trust you, Sarah."

"You know you can, mem."

"Of course I do; and if you do this well you shan't be a loser by it. I wish you would go this very day and see this Glicker. Hunt him up if you can."

"Oh, I can find him, mem. I know a woman who can tell me where he is. Biddy Mugget is his housekeeper, and she allers knows where he keeps himself."

"Then find him; and ask him if he knows Constance Milmer. If he does, and would like to see her, tell him to come here. You can make some arrangement so as to have him come without being seen. Have it understood exactly at what hour he will be here, and you can be ready to receive him, and conduct him to some place where I can see him. But that we can fix afterwards—after we know he is coming. Can you do this?"

"Yes'm."

"And you can be careful?"

"Most careful, mem."

"Then you may go at once. No—stop. Yes, you may. But see, you needn't have him come here this time. You may only find him out and see if he is the one who wants Constance Milmer. Find out that much, and then tell him you'll see him again. Do you understand?"

"Yes'm—perfectly."

"Then go. But mind what I have said. Only just find out if he is the man, and have him tell you where you'll find him again."

Thus instructed, the girl left the room, and once more the mother and daughter were alone together. They looked each other in the face without shame, and even seemed to congratulate themselves upon their success thus far. Julia Tiverton could suspect wrong in the man of whom she knew anything but the most stern and uncompromising virtue, and she could plot for the ruin of one who had never done her harm! But she did not think of her own foul, wicked infidelity. She forgot that her own heart was black, and her soul the home of rank falsehood! And she must have forgotten, too, that the way of the transgressor is one only of sorrow and suffering!


CHAPTER XXV.—THE VISION.—PASSING AWAY.

WHEN Sarah Johnson returned from her visit to the house of her sister, she brought word that Duffy Glicker was the man who had known Mrs. Milmer, but that he had gone out of town, and might not return for some days. She had left word with her sister to let her know when the man came back, and also to inform Mr. Glicker that he would hear of something to his advantage by waiting to see her. The truth was Mr. Glicker had left for fear of being apprehended by the police. However, this was of no consequence to Mrs. Tiverton. She was very sorry that the man could not be at once produced, for she had determined to get rid of Constance Milmer and her child as soon as possible.

"What shall I do now?" asked Sarah, after she supposed her mistress had had plenty of time for thought.

"You have done very right," returned Mrs. Tiverton, "and we will wait awhile and see if you do not hear from Mr. Glicker."

"Yes'm," the obedient maid uttered, as she turned to leave the apartment.

"What-shall we do with the woman!" asked Isabella, after the girl had gone.

"We must wait," returned the mother, "I will watch her and bide my time. It is best to do nothing which can not be well done. Let her stay. We will send her some work when we get it ready."

"When we get it ready!" repeated Isabella, catching quickly at her mother's meaning.

"Yes, my dear—when we get it ready."

In the mean time, Mr. Tiverton had been to his counting-house, and having prepared the advertisements as he had planned, he sent them to the offices of three of the daily papers. He waited two days ere he began to look for an answer; but three, and four, and five days passed—a week—and two weeks—and yet no word from Daro Kid. At the end of the second week the merchant had the same advertisements put in again.

And during these two weeks things had gone a little differently at the merchant's dwelling from what had been anticipated. On the third day of Constance Milmer's stay there Conrad expressed a wish to see both her and her child. His father had told him about her, and all his sympathies were alive in her behalf. The poor widow entered the sick boy's chamber with a noiseless tread, but yet his quick, sensitive ear caught the presence. He turned his head, and when the visitor had reached his bedside he gazed upon her a long while in silence. His gaze was eager and intense, and his face was moved by some strange emotion.

"Kiss me," he whispered.

Constance started at the sound of that whisper. Oh, how well she knew its import! So hollow—so deep—so painful—coming as from a wide cavern where all of life was gone! It was the presence of Death that caused her to start, for she painfully remembered how he who had gone to the upper home before her used to whisper like that. But she tried to conceal her emotion from the boy, and to that end she bent down and kissed him at once: and when she raised her head a tear was trickling down her cheek. Conrad saw it, and from that moment there was a strange, mystic bond reaching forth from his soul and encircling that woman within its fold of love. After this he had little Lizzie placed by his side, and as he met her sweet, innocent smile, he clasped his thin, wasted arm about her and asked her if she would not be his little sister.

"If I could make you happy I should love to be your sister," returned the child, promptly.

"And do you think you could make me unhappy?" asked Conrad.

"I should hope not. Oh!" the child added, with a shudder, "I should be very miserable if I thought I could make anybody unhappy."

Ere long the widow sat down by the side of the bed, and with a sort of instinct, resulting from her long attendance upon her husband, she took one of the boy's hands between both her own, and began to chafe it gently and carefully. The hand felt chilly and dry at first, but gradually the woman wrought a faint glow upon it, and gave it warmth and life. And then she took the other one and did the same. Meanwhile Conrad talked with Lizzie cheerfully and happily, and finally he told her that she must be his little girl now.

"Mrs. Milmer," said the boy, after she and his father had finished a short conversation on the subject of a particular kind of medicine, "my father has told me all about you, and I wanted to see you. I don't know why it is, but since I have been so sick I love to see people who have been unfortunate, and who have borne their misfortunes meekly. Somehow the presence of those who come stoutly and strong from the great battle of life jars upon my feelings, for they have no sympathy, and seem uneasy and out of place in this chamber. And those who come from misfortune with sorrow and sufferings are worse still. These latter only moan, and groan, and seem to think it is all very wrong that one like me should be dying. They don't know anything about that inner life which grows stronger as this poor house of clay crumbles and wastes away. You lost your husband. Was he very sorry to die?"

"Not for himself, oh no! He was happy, and spoke cheerfully of passing away from earth."

"That is the way I feel."

The boy went on and conversed a while longer in the same strain; but the effect was beginning to make him weak, and his father asked him if he hadn't better be left alone.

"Perhaps I oughtn't to talk any more," he said, "but I don't like to to be left alone."

As Mr. Tiverton heard this a new thought entered his mind. Thus far Conrad's only nursing had been done by the servants, they taking turns in waiting upon him when his father was not with him. His sister occasionally sat with him a few minutes at a time; and his mother sometimes called in; but it made them "so nervous," that they could not bear it often with safety to their own constitutions.

"My boy," the merchant said, "how would you like to have Mrs. Milmer stay with you to take care of you all the time? She knows all about your sickness, for she nursed her husband for many months."

"Oh, I should like it very much," the boy quickly answered.

"And how would you like it?" Mr. Tiverton continued, to the widow.

"If I thought I could do anything to make your son comfortable I should be happy, sir."

"Then it is fixed. You may give up all other work, and devote your time to my boy. Sometimes he may want you to read to him, and sometimes he may want comfort and consolation. I feel that I may trust him safely in your hands."

Conrad shed tears of joy at this, and he now confessed what he would never hint at before. That he had been sometimes very lonesome and unhappy when he had been left all alone so long.

"It shall be so no more," the father said, with much feeling. "It shall be so no more, my son. When your mother comes, you can tell her how glad you are that you have so good a nurse."

The sick boy cast his eyes upon the poor widow as his father thus spoke, and in a moment he read the whole meaning of those words. His perceptions were keen and quick, and he knew his mother well enough to know all. His answer was quiet and ready:

"I will tell her this is my nurse."

And so Constance Milmer was duly installed into the important office. It was not until the following day that Mrs. Tiverton come to see her son. She was startled upon find the widow at his bedside, and for a moment she was wholly unable to speak.

"What is all this?" she at length uttered, in a tone far from being pleasant, and casting a look of intense hatred upon the nurse.

"Mother," the boy at once said, with a happy smile upon his pale face, and in a joyous tone, "this good woman is going to stay with me all the time, and take care of me. I asked her to be my nurse, and she said she would. Your poor boy will have some one to wait upon him now, and you will be happier to know that he is not suffering, won't you?"

Mrs. Tiverton did not answer immediately. This was something unexpected. She did love her boy—she loved him as well as she could love anything that did not directly minister to her physical happiness—and she would not do a thing at giving him pain. She knew that she neglected him, and that she had never performed a true mother's duty towards him; and as these thoughts came flitting through her mind she did what she had not done for a long, long time. She curbed her anger, and hid her real feelings.

"I am glad to see you happy, my son," she at length said, approaching his bedside and placing her dry, cold hand upon his brow.

The boy shuddered as he felt that touch, and saw the lines that were drawn across his mother's face. He knew that she was not happy—that she was not well. He saw that the hand of disease was upon her, and that she was gradually and surely riving away her heart.

The interview was not a long one. The parent felt nervous and uneasy, and the child felt unhappy. He looked in vain for one warm, kind gleam upon his mother's cold face, and in vain did he listen for one fond, loving tone from her lips. She came because she felt it a duty, and she refrained from showing the anger that was in her, because she was not yet able to bear the memory of having really, or directly, done an injury to the sufferer.

When Julia Tiverton reached her own chamber she threw herself into an easy-chair, and clenched her hands until the nails sank deeply into the palms.

"And has it come to this?" she gasped. "That hated woman his nurse! And he so happy in her care and companionship! Oh, my husband has done this so as to make sure of her remaining here! He would be happy in her companionship, too. Now I see why he spends so much time with Conrad!"

Thus it ever it is with such a mind. She knew very well—or, she would have known, had she thought—that since Mrs. Milmer had been there her husband had not spent one-third as much time with his son as before. And what was her cause of hatred towards that poor woman? She could not have told had she tried. She might have said that her husband loved her; but she would have spoken the word knowing that she spoke falsehood. Yet she did speak this, and she allowed the thought—not belief—to influence her feelings. However, it was enough for her that she had at first wished to be rid of the woman, and could not. That was sufficient to arouse the bitterness of her evil nature.

But time passed on, and while the mother was very angry and unhappy, the son was calm and joyful. He had learned to love his gentle, faithful nurse, and almost to idolize the bright-eyed little Lizzie. With a zeal and watchfulness utterly untiring did Constance watch by the bed of the fading youth, and her face wore only the sweetest smiles as she listened to his wants and ministered to them. And the more the boy loved his faithful friend the more intensely did his mother hate her. She had never cared for that sick boy, save as the fear of censure had swayed her—she had never devoted one moment to his comfort during the long, long hours of suffering—she had never spoken one word of cheer and hope;—and now that another had been found, who unobtrusively, mildly, and kindly, did the work, her jealous heart took fire, and hate ruled all her thoughts of the poor, untiring watcher.

Conrad saw it, but he said not a word. Constance saw it, and she only prayed that the proud woman might at some time know her better, and cease to hate, if she could not love.

One day, when Paul Tiverton came up to his son's room, he found the patient more feeble than usual, and far more melancholy.

"Father," he said, "come here and sit down by my side."

There was a sadness in his tone, and yet it was marked by a sort of calm, joyous hope that made it sound strangely. The sadness seemed to belong alone to the outer form the joy to the spirit within.

"What is it, my son?" the father asked, as he sat down and took one of the faded hands in his own.

"I will tell you. Listen."

As the boy thus spoke his dark hazel eye grew bright with a supernatural lustre, and a sort of halo seemed to dwell about his face, relieving its pallor, and giving it a happier cast.

"Last night," he said, in a simple, narrative-like form, "as I lay here awake, I heard soft gentle music floating about me. I turned to see if my nurse was playing upon any instrument, for I have heard from a very sweet, tuneful harmonion a combination of tunes something like what I then heard. But my nurse was sound asleep. I would have spoken to her, but I had an instinctive fear that the music would cease if I broke in upon it. When I first heard it, it seemed to be at some little distance, but now it had come nearer, and appeared to be all about me. It was not confined to any locality, but rather floated in the air, a soft succession of the sweetest sounds I ever heard. My breath was suspended, and my whole vital action stopped. My soul seemed so full with the sounds I heard, that only one sense of celestial joy pervaded my system. Again I turned towards my nurse, but she slept on. Then for the first time, came the thought that I, too, might be asleep, and only dreaming all this. I raised myself upon my elbow and gazed about me. I was in my own room—just as I am now—and all was proper about me; so I knew I must be awake."

"The music continued, floating softly, sweetly about me, in pure angelic strains, and and ever anon I fancied I heard the rustling of some fine gauze-like drapery about me. By and by the whole room seemed to be filled with the music. My soul was light as air, and swayed to and fro beneath the wondrous influence. My heart did not beat—as I said before, not a material thing of my earthly self moved—only the inner being, the essence of life, was conscious to surrounding things. Again I thought to awaken my nurse, but when I made the effort I found that my body would not move with my will. There was a sensible movement of something which seemed to have taken the place of this earthly head, but I could feel that the material frame remained all rigid and immovable. By and by the music began to assume a different air. It became sweeter and softer still, and I felt a light, grateful fanning upon my cheek and brow. Gradually the light of the gas-burner, which had been turned down to a small jet, flickered and disappeared, and at the same time a warm genial glow began to pervade the room. It came from no particular quarter, but arose upon all hands like a halo. While I strained my eyes to see if I could find any located source of this light there appeared to me forms growing out from the effulgence. They were dim and shadowy at first, but gradually they assumed perfect shapes, and I found them angelic presences smiling upon me. They were clothed in what appeared to me robes of light. At first these garments might have been taken for fabrics of burnished metal, but when I gazed more intently I found them only floating draperies of pure light. There were many of these spirit presences—I could not count them, for they floated about in circles—and then so fascinated was I by their smiles and joyful movements that I could not fix my mind upon mere numbers.

"At length one presence, more bright and lovely to me than all the rest, advanced from among his companions and floated above my bed. He seemed as one with whom I had been long familiar, yet I knew him not. His face was beautiful—all light and brilliant, as though it reflected the beams from ten thousand lamps—and one of the most heavenly smiles was upon his lips that I ever conceived of. I saw in his hand a crown—made like a wreath—and it was nothing but thorns. The stout vine was twisted and woven together, and the long, sharp thorns projected like things of torture. The presence let this crown of thorns drop from its hand, but instead of falling it floated directly over my head, and I shuddered as I saw it there, for I feared 'twould hurt me if it fell upon me. But while I watched it those thorns became buds—the buds blossomed—and finally, where I had seen the sharp points of torture were only the most beautiful flowers. At that moment—just as this transformation was complete—I heard a voice—a low, sweet, musical voice—and it said,—'Come, Conrad, and abide with us.' I looked towards the point from whence the voice had proceeded, but could see nothing save that the bright effulgence was departing. I looked to where the crown of roses had been and that was gone, I closed my eyes a moment, and when I opened them again the whole mystic scene had disappeared. The gas burned as before, and the nurse was just awakening from her sleep.

"When she had fully aroused herself she asked me if I had been singing. I told her no; and asked her why she put the question. She told me she had heard the sweetest music, while she was dozing in her chair, that she ever heard in her life. She had slept, but I had not. During all that scene I was as fully awake as I am now." *

[* We give this as taken from the lips of a boy who had been long sick, but whose mind was clearer and more active than when in health. His solemn assurance was not to be doubted, for he had lived a life of unswerving truth since his birth. His dissolution was close at hand.]

The father had listened with rapt interest to the story of this strange vision, and he remained for some moments silent after his son had done speaking.

"It is true, sir," said Constance. "I heard the music very plainly; and I thought I was dreaming; and I remember that I tried not to wake up for fear it would all go away."

"It is very strange," said the merchant.

"Oh, no!—not strange," cried Conrad. "It was very beautiful, and has imparted to my soul a blessed joy and peace. But I sent for you for two purposes: one, to tell you this; and the other, to have you see Nelly and bring her home if she can come. Oh! I want to see her very much, and if she comes not soon we shall not meet on earth. Do you think she could come and see me now? Would it hurt her much?"

"But you are not going to leave us yet, my child," the father murmured, pressing the thin, cold hand to his lips.

"Don't speak so, father. I am going very soon. I know it—I am sure of it. Even four-and-twenty hours may be too late. Do not contradict me, for I know what I say. Will not good Nelly come?"

"I think she can, my child. I will go and see her at once."

"And why won't you let me see Orion Lindell? Oh, I love that noble young man dearly. You have told me so much—and my good nurse has told me so much of him. You will bring him, won't you? Let him come with Nelly."

The merchant promised that he would; and when, shortly afterwards, he left the apartment, he hastened to his own room and wept. The only being of his own household in whom he had found joy and blessedness was passing away.


CHAPTER XXVI.—A NEW PHASE OF THE MYSTERY.

ORION LINDELL was at his anvil, swaying the ponderous hammer with heavy, regular strokes, when a man entered, whom he recognized as Mr. Tiverton's coachman. The visitor approached our hero and informed him that Mr. Tiverton was in his coach at the entrance to the court, and wished to see him. The young gold-beater stopped not to make any other preparations than simply to wash his hands, and then hastened out to the coach. He found the merchant there, and was greeted very warmly.

"Mr. Lindell," he said, "I am on my way to your house to see if Ellen can be brought to her old home. My son cannot live much longer, and he is very anxious to see her. And he also wishes to see you. Can you accompany me?"

"Your son wishes to see me?" said Orion, with surprise.

"Yes. He has heard much about you. Mrs. Milmer has told him much, and he has heard of you in other ways. He is very anxious that you should come with Ellen. How is it—can you be spared?"

"Certainly," returned the youth; and having promised to return very soon he went back to the shop.

Mr. Garvey seemed really pleased to grant his request, and ere long he was seated by the merchant's side, and was being whirled off up Broadway.

For some time not a word was spoken by either of the inmates of the coach. The merchant seemed buried in some painful reflection, while Orion trembled perceptibly beneath the influence of the thoughts that were struggling in his mind. Once he had almost spoken the first words of the idea he wished to broach, but they came not forth. He had wished for an opportunity to speak with the guardian of Ellen Durand, but upon reflection he resolved to put it off to another time. He might not receive a favorable answer, and should such be the case it would detract from the pleasure of the present visit. When he had thus settled that question in his mind he became calm and assured once more, and ere long the merchant opened a conversation which lasted until they reached the youth's house.

They found Ellen in the parlor engaged in reading. She was glad to see her good guardian, and arose to greet him.

"Ellen," said Mr. Tiverton, as soon as he had taken a seat, "I have come to carry you home."

"Home?" she uttered, faintly.

"Yes. Poor Conrad is passing away. This morning he felt that the hour of dissolution was near at hand, and he wished me to bring you to see him. He was very anxious. He wished to see both you and our good friend, Mr. Lindell. Do you feel able to go?"

"I must see Conrad—indeed I must," said Ellen. "If you drive carefully, I think it would not harm me."

"Then let us prepare at once, for my poor boy is very anxious. Where is Mrs. Lindell?"

"She is up-stairs, I think."

But as Ellen spoke the door opened, and the hostess entered. She started back as she saw the merchant, but quickly overcoming the emotion she entered the room and greeted her visitor. Again Orion witnessed that strange scene which had always followed the meeting of his mother with Mr. Tiverton. The former grew pale and agitated, while the latter gazed with rapt eagerness into her face.

But on the present occasion both seemed to overcome their mysterious emotions more easily than usual, for another matter of importance was upon the tapis.

"I have come to steal away your charge, Mrs. Lindell," the merchant said with a slight smile.

"To take her away?" exclaimed the widow, tremulously.

"Yes. My son wishes very much to see her before he dies; and he can not live long."

"Then she will come back no more," the hostess said, in a low, painful tone.

The maiden opened her lips with an energetic expression, but she did not speak. The words she would have uttered failed to come forth, and she, too, trembled.

"Of course she will visit you," said Mr. Tiverton; "although it might not be policy for her to come back at once."

"I will visit you, if I live, my dear friend," Ellen cried, earnestly. "Be assured you shall not be forgotten."

The widow seemed grateful for this, though she felt very sad at the thought of parting with one whom she had learned to love so fondly. But Orion looked all unhappiness. He felt sure that the beautiful being would come no more to see him. She might visit his mother, but that would be in the day-time while he was away at his work, and he would not see her. And as for visiting her, he had no more thoughts of intruding himself upon the company of those at the merchant's palace, than he had that she would visit him among the workmen in his shop. While his mother was helping Ellen to get ready for departing, the youth went up to his own chamber. He sank into a chair, and bowed his head upon his hands. When he again looked up there were tears upon his cheeks.

"It is past!" he murmured to himself. "The dream is over! She is going from us, and will henceforth associate with those of her own station in the social scale. Oh! she will never find a truer heart than this—never!—I wish I had not known her. I wish, when I had saved her, she had been shut out from me. Then I might have remembered a human life saved, and been happy; but now a heart is crushed and broken! Yet, sweet one, it was not thy fault. Oh, no! Thou art pure as heaven, 'Tis my misfortune!"

At this juncture the youth heard his mother's voice calling to him from below. He went to the glass, and having brushed away all traces of tears from his face, he descended and rejoined the merchant and his niece in the parlor. His mother was not there. She had kissed the maiden, and blessed her, and then left the apartment. Mr. Tiverton was very uneasy on account of her strange behavior, and it was some time ere he could appear like himself.

At length, however, Ellen was assisted to the coach, and as Orion looked back, after he had got in, he saw his mother at the front windows, with her kerchief at her eyes. He could even see her frame quiver with the deep emotion that moved her. This last may have been a fancy, but it was based upon a fact, nevertheless. He was sure that the mere departing of her lovely patient could not produce all this, for she had too much self-control for such a result. He had only seen her once before when Mr. Tiverton had visited her, and he remembered well the scene which had transpired then. Did she always suffer thus when the wealthy visitor came? Before he had stopped to ask himself concerning the propriety of such a question he had spoken it:

"Mr. Tiverton," he said, "did you ever know my mother in some earlier time?"

The merchant started with a sudden movement, and his eyes gleamed with a strange light. He had been buried in a fit of deep meditation when he was thus aroused, and it was some seconds ere he replied.

"Why do you ask me that question?" he said, gazing eagerly into the youth's face.

"I meant no harm, sir. I only——"

"I did not think of harm, I assure you," interposed the merchant as his companion hesitated. "But I only wished to know why you asked the question."

"You must be aware, sir, why I asked it."

"Aye—you allude to the emotions your good mother has betrayed in my presence.'

"I do, sir."

"I have been puzzled as much as you have. I wish you had asked her what it was that moved her so."

"I did," returned Orion, forgetting, in his anxiety, that he might be telling that which he should keep to himself.

"Ha—you did? And what was her answer?"

"It seemed to frighten her when she found that I had discovered it. I found her, just after you had left the house. She was upon her knees—her hands frantically clasped—her cheeks streaming with tears, and her whole frame quivering. When I asked her to explain she started as though I had hurt her, and—But I forgot. Pardon me, sir. I ought not to have told of this."

"Don't stop now," whispered the merchant eagerly. "You can trust me. I assure you no harm shall come from it. What did she answer when you asked why she did thus?"

"She bade me ask her no more. She caught me by the hand, and in a tone, and with a look, that fairly startled me, besought me, if I loved her, never to speak of it more. She said I must forget that I had ever seen her thus. Since then she has been more firm, but yet her emotions are too strong to be entirely concealed. As I looked back upon her just now, after I had taken my seat here in the coach, I saw her at the window bowed in tears!"

Paul Tiverton gazed some moments upon the youth with a sort of vacant stare, and with but very little change of countenance. Gradually he raised his hands until they met, and as they clasped spasmodically together a quick, deep tremor shook his frame again. Paler and paler grew his face, until the last sign of life was gone, even from the lips the eyes glared half wildly for a moment, and then their life went out. A deep groan burst from his lips, and in a moment he had fallen forward, and was caught in the stout arms of Orion!

"Mercy!" cried Ellen, starting forward. But before she could speak further the youth put her back.

"Miss Durand," he said, eagerly and imperatively, "you must not lend your aid here. Remember that you are still an invalid; or, at least, that a very slight cause might throw you back. Yet I will take your advice. He has fainted, I think."

Thus speaking Orion lifted the merchant upon the seat, and then called for the driver to stop. There was a faint throbbing of the pulse, but no breath. His name was called aloud, but without answer.

"Thomas, how long will it take you to drive home at your quickest speed?"

"Two minutes," answered the coachman.

"Then drive on. Your master has fainted."

In a moment more the spirited horses were speeding on right swiftly, but at the end of a minute the merchant began to revive. He gave a gasp—there were one or two spasmodic throes of the chest—and then the eyes were slowly opened. Orion chafed his brow and temples, and ere many moments he seemed to realize where he was, for he tried to raise his head from the youth's lap.

"Mr. Tiverton—do you know where you are?" Orion asked.

"I am very weak," he returned faintly.

"Here we are at your house. Will you try to walk?"

The coach had stopped, and as the merchant was raised to a sitting posture, he gradually came to a comprehension of things about him. Orion bade Ellen to remain where she was until they had conducted Mr. Tiverton in, and she promised that she would. The weak man was assisted from the carriage, but he could walk very well with the assistance of one, so the coachman helped him to the door, and from there, when it was opened, to the parlor. Meanwhile the gold-beater asked Ellen if he should help her to the house, and she replied—"Certainly."

"Thomas," spoke Mr. Tiverton, shaking himself, and then pressing his hand upon his brow, "say nothing of this to any one, understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"All right."

By this time Orion and Ellen had entered the parlor, and the former at once conducted his companion to a sofa, and then took her bonnet and shawl.

"Do not call any one," said the host, fearing that some of the movements were to that end. "I shall be strong in a few moments."

Thus speaking he bowed his head, and for some time he seemed lost in profound thought. At length he arose. At first his step was tottering, but gradually it became steady, and then he turned to the youthful couple and said:

"Excuse me for a few moments. Remain here and make yourself comfortable until I return." And upon this he turned and walked to the back parlor, and having thrown open one of the glass doors he entered his library, and closed the doors behind him.

"What can this mean?" said Ellen earnestly.

"You have heard all that I know," the young man replied. "I fear not to trust you with everything I understand. The sight of Mr. Tiverton affected my mother nearly the same as we have seen him affected; but she would tell me nothing. It is very strange."

"It is, surely," returned the maiden. "My guardian is a very strong man, and it must have been something wonderful that could have moved him so."

"Perhaps the sickness of his boy has shocked his nerves. And—it may be that his faintness was the result of some sudden indisposition."

"Surely that may have been the case," added Ellen.

A few moments after this, Mr. Tiverton looked into the room.

"Orion," he said, "I wish to see you a moment. You will not be uneasy for a short time, darling?"

"Oh, no," returned Ellen.

So Orion went into the library, and having closed the door the merchant motioned him to a seat.

"My dear sir," said the host, in an uneasy tone, but yet with candor and frankness, "you have seen this day what must call up strange fancies, surmises and doubts in your mind; and I am aware if I leave it thus you will look upon me only with the most dubious feelings. And yet I cannot explain. I have no right to. I am sure I now know what hitherto has appeared so strange and inexplicable to me in your mother's conduct. Of course you will believe me when I assure you that in all this mystery there is not a particle of wrong. As true as I live I would that I could reveal it all unto you. But I cannot—I must not. Were it to save my life I would not lift the veil from this hidden thing. I wish you to put confidence in me."

"I do, sir the fullest confidence," answered Orion, quickly.

"And will you not answer me a few questions?"

"Anything that is proper."

"Of course. Your mother is a widow, is she not?"

"She is, sir."

"What was her husband's name?"

"Jonathan Lindell."

The merchant gave a sudden start at his answer, but quickly proceeded:

"Where did he live?"

"In Snowville."

"How long has he been dead?"

"He died when I was six years old."

"And what is your exact age?"

"I was twenty-two on the fourteenth of last March."

Here Mr. Tiverton bowed his head and pondered awhile, and then he resumed:

"How long have you resided in the city?"

"For nine years. My mother had some little property, and she came here and purchased the house in which we now live, and began to keep boarders. In this way she supported herself and me until I was able to assure her a living from the proceeds of my labor."

"What did your mother do before she was married?"

"She was a school-teacher for several years."

"I am much obliged to you, Orion, for your kindness; and now I wish to hear from your own lips that you do not blame me for keeping the cause of my strange emotion from you."

"You need be under no apprehension on that account, sir," the youth replied, frankly. "I have the fullest confidence in your honor, as a man, and in your faith as a friend; and under the present circumstances I shall entertain some feeling of anxiety, perhaps, but no feeling of blame towards you. As I calmly reflect upon the affair I see that what my mother wished not to tell me I have no right to ask of you. Let it pass, sir. I would like to have this matter solved, but not at the expense of suffering to another."

The merchant caught the generous youth by the hand, and while the moisture gathered in his eyes he said:

"Bless you, sir—bless you. You shall not suffer from this. I am sorry you saw what you did, for he is much to blame who, of his own free will, opens to another the existence of a secret which he must not explain; but you know I acted not from choice. The time may—it must—come when you shall know all. And here, with the blessing of God upon you, let it rest. And now let us go up to the room of my son. He will be uneasy."

When they returned to the parlor they found Ellen still there upon one of the sofas, and she seemed much relieved to see them. She glanced quickly into Orion's face to see if she could find any unwonted emotion there; but she found it as calm and serene as ever.


CHAPTER XXVII.—THE LAST MISSION.

IT was near four o'clock in the afternoon when Mr. Tiverton entered the chamber of his son in company with Orion and Ellen. The sick boy recognized the gentle girl in a moment, and a joyful exclamation escaped his lips, and a sweet smile dwelt upon his face, as his old playmate bent over him and imprinted a warm kiss upon his pale brow.

"Oh—dear, good Nelly," he whispered, "I am so glad you have come!"

Ellen started and a cold shudder crept through her frame as she heard that voice. Oh, she knew too well that the dread Visitor was at hand.

"Bring a chair, sweet Nelly," he said, "and sit down here by my side. You have been very sick, too."

"Yes, Conrad, I have been very sick; but God has been very kind to me, and brought me up out of my suffering."

"And God is very kind to me, too, good Nelly. He is taking me up from my suffering. Oh, I am so glad you have come to see me before I go. But where is your good friend?"

"This is Mr. Lindell, Conrad," said Mr. Tiverton, as Orion approached the bedside.

The face of the boy brightened again as his gaze dwelt upon the handsome features of the young man, and the joy he experienced was plainly depicted upon his countenance.

"Bring a chair, sir, and sit down here by Nelly's side. You whom I have not seen before I want close to me. If I were going to stay here on earth I should want you to be my brother. You would, wouldn't you?"

"I should love to be with you and help make you happy," returned our hero, warmly and cheerfully, at the same time pressing the boy's hand. "I know I should love you."

"I love you now, Orion," responded Conrad, with a faint smile.

"How can you love one whom you have never known?"

"Ah—but I have known you. My father has told me about you; and my good nurse has told me about you; and my little darling Lizzie has really cried when telling me how kind and generous you were to her mamma and papa and herself. Oh—I wouldn't have sent for you to come and see me if I hadn't known you. And then you saved my good Nelly's life, too. I should think you would love him a great deal, Nelly."

The maiden started, and the rich blood mounted to her cheeks and temples in a flood. She did not answer at once, for she knew not what to say. Love him! Oh, little had the sick boy dreamed how deeply, how fondly she loved him. But she had never said so. Yet Conrad saw something in this silent answer. His quick eye, which had lost its grossness, and now looked down into the soul of things, read something from that blush which seemed to please him. And he saw Orion's face, too. He saw the quick tremor which shook that stout frame, and he noticed the quiver of emotion which manifested itself in his lips and eyes. He waited until he had seen enough to assure him of the truth, and then he helped his foster sister out of the trouble by continuing——

"Very few men would have dared what he dared, would they, Nelly?"

"Very few," uttered the fair girl, energetically. And as she said this, her eye sparkled, and a warm glow suffused her face. This did not escape the sick boy's notice.

"Good Orion," he said, turning to our hero, "you saved a very valuable life; do you know it?"

"Aye, Conrad, I do know it." And as the youth made this answer, the invalid noticed the deep meaning that revealed itself upon his face.

In fact, the boy had dwelt upon this theme for some days, and he had pondered much upon its various bearings. First, of Orion, he knew that he had at some risk protected little Lizzie and her mother, and he had carried joy and peace into that household. And then he knew that the generous youth had saved his own sweet Nelly's life at the risk of his own, and that, too, without knowing who or what she was, save that she was a suffering fellow-creature. And then his father had told him all about Orion's superior mental attainments, and of his attachment to his mother. And he had been told, too, by the same father, of the gentleness, the goodness, and the beauty and loveliness of that mother. From all this Conrad had learned to feel a peculiar love for the young gold-beater, and to look upon him as one of the most true and noble men of whom he had any knowledge. From this side of the subject the boy had gone over on to the other, and called up Ellen's peculiar qualifications. He knew her thoroughly. He knew that she was an angel upon earth—a blessed presence where love and sympathy were needed, and a being of gentle disposition, firm in virtue and truth, and lovely as the first blush of morning.

All this he had told to his nurse, and they had passed many pleasant hours in simply comparing the two beings. To Constance Milmer, Orion was an angel of Life and Peace, and she never tired of telling his praise. And Conrad looked upon Nelly in the same light.

"Well, now," Conrad had said, only two evenings before this present meeting, "why were not those two made for each other?"

"If they love each other I should say they were," had been the nurse's reply.

"But how can they help loving each other?" resumed the boy. "If they have come together they can't help it. I know he must love my sweet Nelly; and I know her well enough to know that she must love him. Oh, it would make me very happy to know that Nelly would have such a good companion and protector for life."

"But—ah!—Miss Durand is wealthy while Orion is poor, and she moves in a higher circle," had been the "but" of the nurse.

"Nelly is a sensible being," returned Conrad, and there was indignation in his look and tone as he spoke. "She loves Truth better than Fiction, and Honor better than Station, and Worth better than Wealth, and Intellect better than Etiquette, and a MAN much better than an ape of Fashion. That's what Nelly loves!"

"Then I am sure she must love Orion."

"I shall see."

"But," ventured the nurse, "they may love each other fondly, and yet never confess it. I have heard of such cases. Orion may be afraid to aspire to the hand of one in her situation, and of course she cannot first confess."

"We'll see. If they do love, they shall know it!"

And with this assertion, made in a meaning tone, Conrad had dropped the subject as far as conversation was concerned, and the rest of his thoughts had been kept to himself.

After the boy had gazed upon the couple awhile in silence, he turned to Nelly and asked her to come closer to him, for he had something important to say to her. Orion heard the request, and he arose and withdrew to another part of the room.

"Nelly," the warm-hearted boy commenced, his tone betraying extreme weakness, and some pain, "I shall not be with you much more.—Stop—I know what I say.—I am passing away; and among all my cares of earth there are but two that stand in advance of my care for you, and even they assume the precedence only because they stand in greater need. I mean the moral welfare—the soul's salvation—of my poor mother and sister; and the saving of my noble father's heart. Next to these comes my care for you who have been my only playmate, and my highest, chiefest source of childish joy. Oh, I want to know that you will be happy ere I leave you. There used to be a man come here to see you——"

"Hold, my brother," interrupted Ellen, with a shudder, and speaking in a whisper. "You mean Jasper Thornton?"

"Yes."

"Then speak of him no more. He is a wicked man—a low debased wretch!"

"Oh, I am glad you know it! And yet, Nelly dear, you will at some time want a companion and protector?"

"Yes," murmured the fair girl, tremulously.

"And you would not reject real worth because it came not with wealth?"

Ellen gazed into the boy's face, and she was moved most strangely when she saw the deep, earnest look of powerful interest which rested there.

"No, no," she returned with eager emphasis.

"You won't blame me, Nelly—but I love Orion Lindell, even from what little I know of him. Does he retain his goodness on acquaintance?"

"Oh, it grows deeper and deeper as you know him," Ellen replied, with a simple earnestness. "No one can know a tenth part of his real worth until they have seen him often, and conversed with him."

"And don't you love him, my own sweet Nelly? You won't be afraid to answer me that."

"Why do you ask me such a question?" the maiden returned.

"Because I want to know. It would make me happy if you answer as I think you will."

"Well," said Ellen, trembling, and smiling, and with tears starting unconsciously to her eyes, "I do love him."

"Oh! I knew you did!"

"——Sh! Don't speak so loud, Conrad dear."

"Don't be afraid."

The boy seemed to be somewhat fatigued from this, and it was some time ere he spoke again. He closed his eyes, and as his breath came and went, at long, regular intervals, pain-marks were visible on his face. At length he looked up again, and he still found Ellen by his side, holding one of his hands.

"Where is Orion?" he asked, speaking with an effort.

"Here," returned our hero, advancing lightly to the bedside.

Conrad reached forth the thin, white hand which was free, and the young man took it. The boy now lay with both Ellen and Orion by the hand. He gazed from one to the other several times with an earnest, wistful look, and finally a bright, joyful gleam shot athwart his pallid features.

"Orion," he said, with more power in his whispered tones than he had before manifested, "if I give you a sacred charge ere I fall asleep will you accept it, and be faithful in the trust?"

"How could I be otherwise?" returned the young man, in surprise.

"You could not," resumed the boy; and then, in a tone of deep solemnity, he continued—"I am going. Sweet Nelly has been mine to love and to cherish since I was old enough; and strange as it may seem, when I have looked around and studied the characters of those who have hovered about her, as wasps sometimes linger about a rose, I have shuddered for fear that in an evil moment some of the worthless ones might entrap her. I know the great secret that rests between you. Oh! if you love poor Conrad—if you would have him pass away peacefully—then do not refuse me this." As he spoke he had contrived to take the hand which had held his own into his grasp, and with a half-smiling, half-prayful look, he placed the hand of Nelly within that of Orion. A moment more he gazed upon them, and then he added—"Remember, brother Conrad did it, and it made him happy. Oh, may God bless you both!"

Pale and trembling stood the fair couple by that dying bed. The union of hands which the boy had formed was not broken. At length Ellen looked up and met the gaze of her companion. It was full of love, of tenderness, and of eager hope. A smile—a tearful, prayerful smile—lighted up his face. She gazed but a moment, and then, while the warm tears rushed forth from her eyes, she sank forward, and her head was pillowed upon Orion's bosom. He wound his arms tightly about her, and raising his streaming eyes to Heaven he murmured:

"Oh, great God, bear witness that I accept the trust! And the best energies of my life shall be devoted to the welfare of this loved being!"

A sweet, heavenly smile passed over Conrad's face, and he was upon the point of speaking, when he saw his father standing by his side.

"Father," he said quietly, "You will not object."

"You have done well, my son," Mr. Tiverton replied; "and I can only say, God bring joy and peace upon the work of your hands!"

After this there was a long silence. Ellen arose from her resting-place, and once more took Conrad's hand, while Orion walked to the window, and hid his face in his hands. He was deeply and strangely moved, and at that moment he would have given much to have been where he could have given wholly away to the wildness of his feelings. The sudden bursting in upon his soul of the holiest, highest consummation his earthly hopes could hold, had made a mere child of him, and the mingled emotions of gratitude for the boon, of hope for the future, and of sympathy for the dying boy, so stirred up the fountains of feeling, that he could not restrain the flood that burst forth.

"Are not my mother and sister coming?" the boy whispered, at length opening his eyes.

"They will be here soon," his father said; and as he spoke he turned away to hide the expression of pain that he could not suppress; for that mother and sister had been sent for nearly half an hour before.

But just as he was on the point of sending again the door was opened, and the two ladies made their appearance. Mrs. Tiverton cast a quick glance about the room, and a look of indignation dwelt upon her face as she saw Orion Lindell there; but as the deep, heavy breathing of her son fell upon her ear she turned towards him, and an expression of fear drove away all else from her countenance.

"Ah—my dear, dear mother," uttered Ellen, as the lady advanced, "I am glad to see you once more."

"Why—Ellen Durand—is this you?" the woman returned, allowing the fair girl to take two of her fingers. "Mr. Tiverton told me he was going for you; but I hardly thought you would come. You are looking very well—very well, considering the frightful siege you have passed through. Isabella here is Ellen. She has come to see Conrad."

There was a peculiar emphasis to this last expression, and it gave Ellen pain; for she saw that Mrs. Tiverton meant to insinuate that she would not have come to see any one else of the family. However, she allowed nothing of her feelings to appear upon her face, but met Isabella with a cheerful smile.

"Oh! my poor, poor boy!" the mother groaned, "you must not die! You must get well! You won't die yet, Conrad."

"Yes, mother—I am soon to leave you. But there is nothing dreadful about it."

But Mrs. Tiverton could not be persuaded of this. She persisted in declaring that it was "horrible," and "cruel," and "insupportable." Conrad bore it all until his mother burst forth with the declaration that it was "wicked" to have her boy taken from her thus!

"Oh, mother, do not speak so any more! You pain me—indeed you do. You surely would not condemn the work of your Heavenly Father. He lent me to you, and he must take his own when he will. If you love me do not speak so again."

The parent was not entirely pleased with this, and ere she had time to think—while the spark of resentment was still burning—she said:

"I suppose your nurse and your Nelly, and the rest of your visitors, talk very prettily to you, do they not?"

"Oh, yes," returned the boy, who had not the least idea that his mother could harbor an ill-feeling at such a time. "They have been a source of great consolation to me."

"Well—it's a pity your own mother couldn't be!"

"You can, mother dear. You are," cried Conrad. "My love for you is a source of joy, and your presence makes me happy."

"Yes," added the unfeeling parent, "if she only keeps her mouth shut! Well—I never was made to speak and act what I did not feel."

A cold shudder passed through the frames of all present, save Isabella, at this strange remark. Mr. Tiverton clasped his hands upon his bosom, and upon his lips dwelt the simple sentence—unspoken in words, but deeply uttered in thought—"God forgive her."

But in a moment more all thoughts were centered upon Conrad. A long, heavy gasp had escaped his lips, and with a convulsive effort he started to a sitting posture and grasped his mother by the hand! It was the first time he had been able to raise himself up like that for nearly two weeks. Mrs. Tiverton uttered a low cry of fear, for the movement frightened her; but she did not break away from the firm grasp that was laid upon her, for there was something in the strange, supernal gaze of that death-stricken face that chained her to the spot.

"My mother," the boy said, with startling energy, "when I am gone father will have only you and Bella left to love him. Be good to him—be kind—and your angel-boy will look down and bless you if he can!"

"You forget your nur——"

Whether the deep wickedness of the thought she was about to utter, or the sudden change that came over Conrad's face, prevented her from finishing the sentence cannot be known; but instead of finishing it she started back and gazed fixedly upon her boy.

"Conrad! Conrad!" cried the father, springing forward, and bending over the wasted form; for the sufferer had fallen back upon his pillow. "My boy, my boy, can not you speak to me?"

The dying one opened his eyes, and a sweet smile played upon his features as the last glimmering of the setting sun rests upon a landscape.

"Father—Nelly—Orion—Aunt Constance—little Lizzie—where are you?"

"We are all here, my darling boy."

"Mother—Bella——"

"Are here, Conrad."

"And I am—with—you—no—more!"

They were the words of a struggling spirit—and they were true. The chord was severed—the bowl broken! The night was passed—the morning had come—the morning of the Day Eternal!


CHAPTER XXVIII.—THE PLOTTERS FOR EVIL.

THE darkest hour of the season of mourning had passed—that hour which follows the return from the tomb where the casket of the loved one had been laid away. Even though the soul be gone, yet there is a strange, mystic satisfaction in cherishing that marble-like form. To gaze upon the loved face—to kiss the cold brow—to strew sweet flowers in the coffin—to re-arrange this knotted ribbon, and smooth down the white pillow—to conduct sympathizing friends into the sacred chamber and show them the hallowed form about which so much love is still clustering,—all this is comfort—the cherished one is not yet wholly lost. The mirror is still left—the tabernacle is with us, and we can gaze upon it and say: This is my beloved! But when we have borne that form away, never to gaze upon it again—then, indeed, is the loved one gone! That empty apartment is dark and drear, the echo of our footfall has a ghostly sound, and a chill, awful sensation creeps upon us. We cannot stay there. Draw the curtains and bar the door! It was his room, and he has left it! We can no more toil for him, even in death, for they have taken him away! The noise and bustle of the last sacred rite are hushed, a solemn stillness pervades the house, which is only broken by sobs and whispers, and the heart for a while sinks down cold and heavy in its narrow chamber!

Paul Tiverton still mourned, and was sad and lonely. But he had one source of comfort in the presence of Ellen Durand. When he was at home he had her with him, and but for her cheering presence he would have been wholly borne down with grief. He would go out evenings and be gone several hours, and sometimes he came home with traces of tears upon his face. On the fourth day after the funeral of Conrad the merchant told Ellen he was going into the country to be gone several days. There was something strange in his manner, and he refused to reveal the object of his journey. He informed his wife that he was going, and she told him it would do him good.

"I hope it may revive you," she said.

"I think it will," returned the husband. "But I shall not be gone long."

"What is it that calls you away?"

"Business."

"Yes—I supposed so. Of course you will come home when you get ready."

"I shall be likely to," he said; and with this he turned away. He had no difficulty in seeing that his wife was well satisfied in view of his absence, and for a while he was troubled by the thought; but he knew that she was fond of her own way, and perhaps her satisfaction only came from the feeling that she would have no restraint upon her actions.

After the merchant was gone, his wife and daughter commenced their round of visiting once more, and Ellen was left alone with Constance Milmer and little Lizzie. But she did not miss Julia and Isabella; their society had never been a source of much joy, and of late it had become more worthless than ever. She found in Mrs. Milmer, however, a genial companion, and she very quickly learned to love and esteem her. The widow had not yet received any sewing from the hostess, but Ellen had plenty which she wanted done, and as she was not yet able to sew for herself she set Constance at work for her.

And thus the time passed very pleasantly. While the widow sewed Ellen and Lizzie talked and studied, for the fair maiden had taken upon herself the task of teaching the little one how to write and cypher, and also of improving her in reading. One thing alone troubled the generous girl: She had not seen Orion to speak with him since the night on which Conrad died. The young man had attended the funeral, but of course she had enjoyed no opportunity then of speaking with him. She wondered why he did not come to see her. Could it be that he had given her up—that he would not seek the hand Conrad had so strangely bestowed upon him? She worried herself exceedingly with such thoughts, though thus far she had continued to hide them from Mrs. Milmer, notwithstanding he was often the theme of their conversation. Constance could never tire of that theme. She worshiped the noble youth, and often did she assert that the earth bore not a better man upon its bosom. And Ellen Durand was a willing listener, for she, too, almost worshiped Orion, and though she shrank from saying much herself, yet she could enjoy her companion's earnest praise of him from morning till night.

Mrs. Tiverton looked upon this friendship between Ellen and the widow with bitterness and anger. She had two reasons for this. First, she felt chagrined and mortified to think that the poor outcast should possess powers of pleasing for the virtuous girl which were denied to her. And secondly, she had not forgiven Constance for the first bitter pangs of ill-founded jealousy she had caused her, nor for having overcome her by remaining in the house after she had wished her away. She was determined that Ellen should not associate with her any more if she could help it. She dared not forbid the gentle girl from seeking the widow's society, for she dared not offend her. Ellen was wealthy, and had many warm, admiring friends who were of the first families in the city. And those friends were such as Mrs. Tiverton felt a pride in entertaining, for they belonged to a class that possessed the double claim to distinction of wealth and intellect; and she knew, too, that were Ellen away they would not honor her.

But the base woman had another plan. She knew that Ellen was sensitive where virtue was concerned, ready to shun any tainted thing as she would a viper, and she meant to operate upon this feeling.

"Ellen, my love," she said one day, as the two met alone in the library, "I am pleased to see you improving so rapidly. You have about overcome your weakness."

"Yes, Aunt Julia." She had always called her aunt.

"I thought so," resumed the hypocrite, with an expression of satisfaction. "I think you have wholly recovered."

"Very nearly so. My arm is not wholly strong yet, but otherwise I am as well as ever."

"Oh—I am very glad. Here—sit down, Nelly, dear. I want to speak with you. There."

The maiden sat down, and she also listened attentively to what the woman had to say. She knew that this frankness was all assumed, and that the sympathy was only for the occasion; and she thought within herself that Mrs. Tiverton was very foolish to suppose she could deceive her thus. But hypocrites do not know all this.

"My dear Nelly," commenced the hostess, putting on her whole stock of apparent concern and sincerity, "while you were weak and faint, and needed companionship such as I could not give you, I kept my own counsel, but I can not bear to see you imposed upon longer. You are not aware of the character of the woman whom you have taken into your confidence."

"Do you mean Constance Milmer?" asked the maiden, in surprise.

"Yes, my dear—I mean her. You do not know how much you may suffer by a continuation of your companionship with her. She is not what you suppose."

"What, Aunt Julia? I know she is poor; but surely——"

"Stop, Ellen. Her poverty does not hurt her, though I must confess that I should be chary of my intercourse with one in her social station, But this is nothing compared with her character. She is not what you think her. She is a tainted thing! She has most basely wronged me!"

"Wronged you, Aunt Julia! How?"

"With my husband's shame!"

Ellen Durand started at these words, and a pallor came upon her face. But it was only for the moment.

"Then your husband has wronged you?" she said very calmly.

"Yes, Ellen," the woman sobbed, placing her perfumed kerchief to her eyes, and trying to raise a tear. "Oh, I never meant to tell it, but I could not see you so imposed upon, my dear!"

"But why have you allowed her to remain beneath your roof?" the fair girl asked, as calmly as before.

"Oh, I could not help it! My husband would not let her go. Only think of the brazen thing! What a sunken creature! Oh, here in my own home!—beneath my own roof!—almost before my own eyes! Oh, Ellen, it has almost driven me mad!"

But Ellen had never seen any of this madness before, though she had seen from the first that she was jealous of the poor widow. She gazed upon the sobbing woman a few moments in silence, and when she spoke her voice was low, deep, and calm, her face rigid and stern, and her full, bright eye burning with an intense fire.

"Julia Tiverton," she said, scarcely above a whisper, "you should not have told me this!"

"Why not?"

"Because I wish to love and respect you!"

"What?" exclaimed Mrs. Tiverton, aghast. "Love and respect me?"

"Yes, Aunt Julia—I wish to, surely; but how shall I if you abuse me thus? You know you have not spoken the truth!"

"Ellen!"

"You know you have not," continued the noble girl, not at all moved by the woman's startled manner. "First, Constance Milmer is not such a woman as you have said. A purer minded being, or one with a soul more free from evil, I never saw. Mind you, I know her well—far better than you can possibly know her. I KNOW! And then your husband! Would you for a moment cherish the thought that any charge you could speak could make me believe him false? Oh! for shame! for shame!"

Pale as death, and quivering like a wind-tossed reed, the vanquished woman sank back in her seat. She gazed for some moments upon the young girl in silence. Gradually the color of life came back to her face, and her hands were clenched with rage.

"Ungrateful wretch!" she hissed. "Do you call me a liar to my face?"

"Hush, Aunt Julia——"

"Don't aunt me, you mean, dirty, deceitful, low-lived, two-faced thing, you!"

Ellen arose from her seat.

"That's right—go! For the love of heaven go, and don't ever let me see your hated face again! Oh! I know you, you canting, praying, hypocritical Pharisee! I know how you set yourself up as a pattern of virtue? Thank fortune I don't live by being better than other folks! Go! don't stop!"

Faint, dizzy, and frightened, Ellen hastened from the library and sought her own chamber, where she sank down upon her bed and burst into tears. But she did not allow the emotion to remain long upon her. She soon reflected upon what had passed, and when she came to remember that she had done nothing more than stern duty demanded she began to grow calm, and ere long her feelings all centered upon the one deep emotion of pity for the unfortunate woman who was cursed with such a trying disposition. She resolved that she would say nothing of this to Constance, and that the poor widow should still find in her a true and sympathizing friend.

Julia Tiverton started to her feet as soon as Ellen was gone, and for some time she remained perfectly motionless, with her hands tightly clenched, and her head thrown angrily back. She stood thus when the door that opened from the hall was pushed back, and Sarah Johnson entered.

"Well, what now?" the mistress uttered, as soon as she could command her speech.

"Duffy Glicker is here, mem," the girl whispered, having first gazed cautiously around to assure herself that she and her mistress were alone.

"Ha!" uttered the hostess, starting into new life. "Here, did you say?"

"Yes'm. Will you see him?"

"Yes. Where is he?"

"In the kitchen. Cook's gone to the baker's, and the rest are all off."

"Then bring him up here; and mind—after he is here do you stand in the hall to see that no one comes."

Sarah said "yes'm," and then left the library, and ere long returned with our old friend, Mr. Duffy Glicker, in company. The villain was dressed very well, but Mrs. Tiverton could not repress the shudder that crept over her as she saw the stout, coarse, brutal form and features of the fellow.

"I s'pose I may set down, marm," the villain said. "I walked clear 'way up here, an' I'm tired."

"Of course, sir," said the woman, with another shudder at the sound of his ugly voice.

As soon as Glicker was safely seated Sarah withdrew, and Mrs. Tiverton was alone with the servant she had engaged. She gazed into the man's face, but she could not keep it up, for she found his great bloodshot eyes fixed steadily upon her. The silence was becoming painful when the visitor broke it by the laconic remark:

"You sent for me."

"Yes, sir." The answer was low and tremulous, for Mrs. Tiverton found herself not so easy in the ruffian's presence as she had anticipated. She could harbor revenge, but this was a new phase to her. Yet she would not give up now. She remembered the scene which had transpired in that room only a few moments before, and her frame became rigid, and her eye steady even before the gaze of the bad man.

"P'r'aps ye had some business wi' me, marm."

"Yes, sir. You know Constance Milmer?"

"Ah—the young widdy, ye mean?"

"Yes."

"I know her well, marm. She's an ungrateful 'ooman, marm. I offered her a good home, and she'll beg afore she'll take it."

"Would you like to have her back again, sir?"

"Wouldn't I? Ah, ye know my feelin's as well as I know em myself. You'll give me a wife, and I'll take a troublesome piece of baggage off 'm yer hands."

Mrs. Tiverton began to think she had been very foolish.

She could not bear this man's company. She might just as well have left the business with Sarah to do, as to have taken this part to herself. In her hot haste for vengeance she had forgotten herself. She had chosen this interview because she imagined that her plans must be a secret between herself and this villain; but now she saw that Sarah must inevitably know it all. She wished she had not seen the wretch, for she was sure that she could not bear up through the scene. She did not care for that poor young woman up-stairs! She was not moved by any sympathy for her. Ah, no! She only abhorred the presence of this coarse brute. His breath soon filled the narrow apartment with rank fumes of tobacco and horrible gin, and his ugly look frightened her. It was not the gentle spirit that moved her now. It was the base coward!

"You can keep a secret," she said, trying to appear calm.

"I think I can, marm. But ye may bet yer life that I'll keep this one."

"Merciful heavens!" murmured the woman to herself, "I cannot stand this. Me—Julia Tiverton—in such company!" And then she said aloud:

"You can understand all the rest from my maid. I will confer with her, and she will see you. It will be dark in half an hour——"

"Yes, marm—and in less time."

"Never mind. In half an hour you be at the corner on the avenue below us, and on this side. Sarah will come to you."

"But shall I have the 'ooman, marm!"

"You shall."

"Thank you, marm. You shall never have cause to repent that ye guv her to me. She might 'ave fallen into hands where she'd a' fared wus."

"I understand." And thus speaking the hostess arose and opened the door so as to look into the hall. She saw Sarah and called her in.

"Sarah," she said, "get this man out some way so that no one will see him. He will be on the corner in just half an hour. You won't forget, sir."

"No, marm. Let me alone for that."

"Then show him out, Sarah, and then come back to me at once."

As soon as Mrs. Tiverton was left alone she sank down upon the sofa, and a long pent-up breath escaped from her bosom.

"What a fool I was!" she uttered to herself. "Why need I have seen that man? There was no need of it. Sarah must know all. Did I think I was going to keep anything from her? Oh, fool!"

And had she added "Demon!" she would have told the whole truth.

Ere long Sarah returned, and when she had closed the door behind her, her mistress motioned her to a seat.

"You are sure that man may be trusted?" she said eagerly.

"Oh—yes'm I He's snug wi' his blab as a bug in a rug."

"For mercy's sake, Sarah, don't use such vulgar language."

"But, mem—what can be safer than a bug in a——"

"Stop, I tell you. Simply say he'll be safe. That's enough."

"Well, you can depend upon that, mem."

"And you don't think he'll tell that he visited here, do you?"

"Oh, he'll be mum as a drum without a head, mem—depend upon that."

"He'll be silent, you mean," said the mistress, monitorially.

"Yes'm."

"Well, now we must contrive some means to get that woman out of the house."

"You just get her out of the house, and under my charge, and I'll see to the rest," returned the girl, confidently.

"That's the thing," murmured the mistress thoughtfully.

"I should think it might be studied up."

"See if you can't think of something, Sarah."

"But you'll help, if it's necessary, mem?"

"Of course."

"Then hold on. I have it. It's right here, like a flea under yer hand, only yer afraid he'll hop afore ye can git t'other hand onto him."

Mrs. Tiverton scowled at this vulgarism, but she said nothing, for she would not interrupt the current of her helper's thought.

And while that thought was working its way through the hireling's mind, and the base mistress sat looking on, eagerly waiting for some means by which to carry out her infernal scheme, the poor young widow, whose fate was thus being carved out in evil, was upon her knees thanking God for the home she had!


CHAPTER XXIX.—THE PLOT IS CONSUMMATED.

CONSTANCE had put her child to bed, and had knelt down and offered up her thanks for the blessings she enjoyed. She sat there by the side of the couch until the little one slept, and then she arose and took up her sewing and seated herself near the gas-light. She had been thus engaged some minutes when the door opened and Mrs. Tiverton entered. The young widow was startled at first, but when she saw that the hostess was calm, and even pleasant, she became more composed. It was the first time that woman had come near her room since she came to the house.

"Good evening, Mrs. Milmer," the visitor said, taking a seat where her face came into the shade of a bureau.

"Good evening, ma'am," returned the widow, with a faint smile.

It was a sweet voice, and Mrs. Tiverton was struck by it. And then that pale face was very beautiful, too. The widow was yet young—yet in her youth—only seven-and-twenty—and the deep spirit of resignation that marked her character had preserved her features from the touch of that furrowing hand which so often marks the face of the mourner. The hostess gazed for some time into that sweet face, and once she almost hesitated in the work she had on foot; but as the faint spark of sympathy went out that very beauty sharpened her vengeance.

"I suppose you will do some sewing for me?" Mrs. Tiverton said.

"Certainly, ma'am, if you wish it," returned Constance, speaking gladly, for she thought the woman was going to be her friend.

"And would you have any objection to going out this evening with my maid, and selecting a piece of fine linen, and also a piece of muslin."

"Not at all."

"Then I guess I shall have to get you to go out. Sarah knows nothing about selecting such things, and I suppose you would."

"I can not assure you that you will be suited, ma'am; but I know a good fabric from a poor one."

"Then I will venture the rest. I want a piece of linen of the finest texture you can find, and also a very fine piece of common muslin. I will give Sarah the directions for finding it, and also for obtaining it. You need only pick it out. Suppose you get ready at once and come down into the parlor. Sarah will be there."

Constance promised to be ready at once, and the hostess withdrew.

Not a thought of evil or danger passed through the poor widow's mind as she prepared for her mission. She felt pleased to think that the woman whom she had thought an enemy was coming to her now in friendship, and she even uttered a fervent blessing for her! It was but the work of a few moments for her to array herself for the walk, and having arranged all else to her satisfaction she went to the bedside and kissed her child.

"Ah, Lizzie," she murmured, as she brushed away a raven ringlet from the child's face, "we shall be happy yet."

When she reached the parlor she found Sarah there, but not the mistress.

"Shall we see the lady before we go?" she asked.

"No, I've got all the orders," returned the girl. "I know everything we've got to get."

"Very well. I am ready."

"Then let us go," said Sarah, at the same time opening the door and passing out into the hall.

When they reached the street they turned towards Broadway. As they reached the corner of the second block Sarah asked her companion if she thought it was out of character for a female to whistle.

"I'm sure I couldn't say," returned Constance, smiling. "I have heard females whistle, and I never thought any harm of it."

"Nor I neither," resumed the girl. "Now I've got a sister that thinks it is a dreadful thing for a girl to whistle. But I love to whistle."

And thereupon Miss Sarah Johnson commenced to whistle in the most approved style. She performed "The Irish Washerwoman," with a shrillness that would have done credit to a militia fifer.

"Here are some men right ahead," whispered Constance, pointing to the corner where stood a coach, and two men by the side of it.

The girl seemed to take the hint, for she stopped whistling, and said she wondered if those men heard her.

As they approached the coach one of the men went around upon the other side as though he were going away, while the other, who seemed to be the driver, mounted upon his seat. As they came alongside of the vehicle Sarah stopped.

"Can you drive us down to Stewart's?" she asked, looking up at the driver.

"Yes'm. I'm just bound down Broadway."

"What'll you ask to carry us down?"

"Two shill'n's, mum."

"We don't want to ride," whispered Constance.

"What! Walk clear way down to Stewart's?" uttered Sarah, almost indignantly. "Why, it's three miles down there."

"O, no—it can't be much over a mile."

"Jest two miles an' three quarters from this wery spot," said the driver, who had overheard the last remark.

"Mistress gave me the money to pay for our ride," pursued Sarah, "and we must do it. Stewart just shuts up in half an hour, and we'll be in a pretty mess to go home without the things. She knew we couldn't reach there by walkin'!"

By this time the driver had leaped down from his seat and thrown open the door.

"Come," he cried, "In ye go, and I'll take ye down to Stewart's jest in fifteen minutes."

"Get in," said Sarah, taking her companion by the arm and leading her towards the open door.

There was a vague fear creeping through the widow's mind, but she dared not refuse now. As she started towards the coach, with the girl's hand upon her arm, her first impulse was to have Sarah get in first; but she tried to laugh at her own fears, and with the firm resolve that she would allow no more such suspicions to enter her mind, she placed her foot upon the step and leaped lightly into the carriage. She knew that some one got in immediately behind her, and that the door was closed. She gathered up her dress, and then said:

"Let us have those windows down. It's close and sti——"

The word ended in a quick, sharp cry, for she found a stout man by her side!

"Don't make a noise, darlin'. Nobody'll hurt ye."

Oh! it was Duffy Clicker's voice.

"Help! help!—Mercy!—oh—mer——"

"Look a-here, my peppermint—that won't do," the villain uttered, clapping his broad hand over the woman's mouth. "If ye go for to make such a fuss ye'll find yourself in trouble, now I tell ye!"

Constance would have to cry out very loudly in order to make herself heard above the harsh rattle of the coach wheels; and she feared that she could gain nothing by crying out. But she was not going to give up thus.

"Let me go! Let me go, sir!" she shrieked, making a spring for the coach door, and driving her whole weight against it. But it was fast upon the outside, and she could not force it open.

Glicker caught her by the arm to draw her back, but she broke from him again, and cried out at the top of her voice for help. Faster and faster rattled on the coach; and with a fierce oath the ruffian grasped the poor woman and threw her down upon the bottom of the carriage. With another oath he placed his hand over her mouth. She struggled with all her might, but she could not move.

"I guess ye'll find it hard work to yell any more!" the villain gasped, with a whole volley of oaths. "I've got ye now, and I'll keep ye. Oh—that's right! Fuss away, you mad cat! I guess I ken hold ye."

"Oh! let me up!" groaned the poor woman, in painful accents. "I shall die down here!"

"But will ye keep quiet if I do?"

"Yes—yes—Oh, let me up! I am smothering."

Glicker loosened his hold, and then lifted the woman to a seat by his side.

"Oh! sir!" she implored, with her hands clasped, and her hair floating wildly over her shoulders, "let me go! let me go! You will not take me away! Carry me back to my child! Oh, my child! my child!"

"Yer child shall be fetched to you this very night; so don't worry about that."

By this time Constance had overcome the first wild, astounding shock, and she began to think how she had been led into this trap. Of course Mrs. Tiverton had done it! The thought was dreadful; but it was true. She knew that the proud woman had betrayed her into the hands of this wretch. This assurance came with a weakening power, and she burst into tears. She could not see whither she was being carried, nor had she yet thought of that. She only thought of the child she had left behind, and of the terrible doom which awaited her!

At the end of half an hour the coach stopped, and when the door was opened Duffy Glicker got out. He then reached in and gave his hand to Constance, but as she hesitated to take it he caught her by the arm, and the force of his grip plainly indicated that he meant to hold her against the possibility of escape.

"Come," he said. "Here we be."

She got out, and as she did so her first impulse was to cry out for help; but ere she did so she cast her eyes about her. The place was a dismal filthy one, and very narrow. It was a sort of court, with old houses on both sides, and ending against a low pile of tumble-down, fence-like structures. She turned her eyes in the opposite direction, and after a moment's look she started back with terror. She could not be mistaken. She was in that terrible, sunken locality, that bottomless pit of sin and shame—COW BAY! Directly before her were the Five Points, and she could see by the dim light, only a few rods distant, those old wooden steps up which she had once been obliged to climb in order to reach her home.

Oh, what a moment of agony was that! The presence of a horrible death would have been a joy in comparison. But she had not long for gazing about. With a rough jerk the villain drew her towards an open doorway, and she soon found herself in a dark, fulsome hall. The building was upon the right hand, and about half-way up from Anthony Street. In a few moments an old woman appeared with a candle, and at a word from Glicker she led the way up the narrow, dirty stairs.

"Come," said the wretch, giving Constance another pull, "We'll find a stoppin'-place up here somewhere."

The poor woman had thought of breaking away if she could gain the opportunity, but her conductor was on the alert for that. He held her with a tight grip, never relaxing it until he reached the room where he meant to leave her. This apartment was on the third floor, and had been reached by passing several narrow corridors. It was in the back part of the building—a small low-posted place; dirty and grim; with a filthy looking bed on one side, which occupied more than two-thirds of all the space, and only one window, a square six-lighted aperture, partly shielded with glass and partly with old clothes.

"There," uttered Glicker, as he closed the door of this room behind him, "I thought I'd jest give ye a try here. Ye might have had a better place, only ye didn't seem quite thankful enough for the other one. I guess ye'll find some tuggin' afore ye git out o' this—now mind that. But ye won't be hurt, and ye'll have plenty to eat. Good-bye."

"Hold!—stop! My child! Oh, you said——"

"She'll be here afore long. Never fear for her. And ye'll see me again afore long, too. Good-bye."

In a minute more the poor woman was alone. No—not wholly alone for as she sank down upon the rickety, dirty bed she found herself surrounded by vermin. Oh, it was horrible—horrible enough in the suffering—too horrible to tell!


Little Lizzie was aroused from a deep sleep, and the first word upon her lips was "Mamma." But no mamma was near her. It was Sarah Johnson who awoke her.

"Lizzie, Lizzie! Come—your mother wants you."

"Where is my mamma?" the child asked, starting up and gazing wildly about her.

"Get up and be dressed, and I'll tell you. Come. Don't be afraid. You'll see your mamma pretty soon."

Lizzie glided from her bed, and as soon as she could be made to understand she was informed that her mother had gone out and found a friend for whom she was going to work.

"You know Mrs. Tiverton don't love your mother," added Sarah very confidentially.

"Oh—I know she don't," replied the child, feelingly. "But I should think she might, for my mamma is a good woman."

"I know that," added Sarah, sympathetically; "but then she will never love her; and so your mamma has found a new home, where she is going to live and be very happy."

"But why didn't she take me with her?"

"Because she didn't know when she went away that she should stop.—('That's true,' the girl muttered to herself.)—But she asked to have you sent to her, and she was promised that you should be.—('And that must be true, too.')—So I thought I would come and get you."

"Did she ask you to bring me to her?"

"Yes, little darling; and I promised that I would." This was not exactly true.

"I should have thought she might have come for me herself."

"But you wouldn't have your poor mother come when she was very tired and weak."

"Oh, no."

"Well—she was. But her good friend will have a carriage for you."

Lizzie made no objections to getting ready, and ere long she suffered Sarah to lead her from the room. When they reached the street they saw a coach standing at the corner of the avenue, and towards this they went. Sarah asked the driver if he was the one who had been sent to bring the little girl to her mother, and he answered that he was.

"Then jump right in, my darling," said the maid; and as she spoke she lifted the little one into the coach.

"There—now be a good girl, and this good man will carry you right to where your mother is."

Lizzie promised that she would be very good, and then the coach door was closed. The windows were fastened up, and all made snug, so that the tiny passenger could by no manner of means fall out, and then the horses started.

When the coach reached the old house in Cow Bay, and the door was opened, Lizzie was found to be asleep. Duffy Glicker was at hand, and taking the little one in his arms he bore her up the dark stairs. She awoke on the way, and cried out with fear when she found herself being carried through such a dark place. But the man did not speak. When he reached the door of the room where he had left the widow he held the child by one hand, while with the other he turned the heavy key, and in a moment more he passed in.

"There, my dear—I told ye I'd fetch her."

This was all the villain said, and having thus spoken he turned and left the room.

For some moments Lizzie gazed around upon the place in silence. Her breath, even, seemed suspended. A tallow candle burned upon the little old table, and its dim, sickly rays struggled into all parts of the narrow place. She stood in the center of the unoccupied space, and when she had seen all she bounded forward, and with a deep groan sank upon her mother's bosom.

Neither of them could speak, for neither wished to give utterance to the deep anguish that moved within. They could only cling more closely to each other's bosoms, and weep and sob, and silently pray!


CHAPTER XXX.—LOVE'S BATTLE.

WHILE Constance Milmer was being dragged away from the asylum which friendship had furnished, Orion Lindell sat in the parlor of his mother's dwelling buried in deep thought.

"You are foolish, very foolish, my son, to cherish these feelings. I would either have the matter cleared up; and that, too, by my own energy, or I should cast the thought from me at once. I do not believe Ellen Durand ever sent the messages you received."

The youth gazed up as his mother thus spoke, and in a doubting tone he said:

"I know that Ellen must have been at home when I called, and surely none other would dare to send me such a message. Do you suppose that any one else in that house would dare thus repeatedly to answer for her? You must be aware that when a person in these upper walks of life wishes not to be seen, she simply says, 'Not at home.'"

"I know it, Orion; but under these circumstances you have a right to see Ellen Durand. And as God lives and reigns I do not believe that she knows you have been to see her."

"Do you think so, mother?"

"I know it!" was the parent's prompt reply. "Go there at once. Demand to see Miss Durand. If they tell you she is not at home, inform them that you know better. If they tell you you cannot see her, make your way boldly to the parlor, and tell them there you stay until you see the young lady! I know Ellen too well to believe this. The woman who could go for long weeks without once visiting her because she was beneath the roof of the humble would not hesitate to turn a member of the hated household from her door. Go—go—and demand your right. Return not to me until you have seen Ellen Durand!"

Any one who had seen the mother, and heard her, as she thus spoke, would have wondered no more that the son was high-spirited and bold.

"I will go," he said.

"Ay—at once, my son. Mind you—I say not that Ellen Durand will accept your hand now that she is free. She may have done that, as many would have done it under like circumstances, to please a dying loved one. But see her, and satisfy yourself. I cannot bear to see you thus any more."

Orion spoke not another word, but arising from his chair he imprinted a kiss upon his mother's cheek, and then passed out into the hall, where he put on his hat and overcoat. In a few moments more he was in a stage riding down Broadway. At the corner of Fourteenth Street he got out, and with quick, firm steps he walked to the merchant's house. It was not far from eight o'clock; the air was clear and cold, and the stars bright. He hesitated a moment at the foot of the brown stone steps, but it was not from any disposition to give up the work he had started to do—it was only to gather his senses more firmly upon the single point he had first to overcome, and to quell a slight trepidation that would agitate his bosom.

With a firm step he ascended to the door and rang the bell. The summons was answered by one of the kitchen girls.

"I would like to see Miss Ellen Durand," the youth said.

"She is not in, sir." This answer was given with a palpable effort.

"Are you sure?" asked Orion, looking sternly into the girl's face.

"Why ov coorse I be."

"Look ye, Miss Durand must be in."

"No, sir."

"When did she leave?"

"She went—I—a—don't know—didn't see her."

At this point the youth pushed the servant back and stepped boldly into the hall.

"Now go and tell Miss Durand that I am here!" he said in a commanding tone. "I must see her—a human life may depend upon it. Will you call her?"

"I'll go an' call me misthress, ye dirthy blackguard, ye!" the indignant domestic replied, slamming to the front door and sailing away.

Orion stood in the hall, awaiting the appearance of the hostess, or whomsoever might come, when the door of the library opened, and Thomas Hartly, the coachman, came out with a heavy bundle under his arm. This man not only knew the gold-beater, but he also knew how much his master respected him, and how brave and stout of heart he was. Like all others of his class he felt a peculiar reverence for the man of good disposition whose physical prowess was superior.

"Thomas," said our hero, the moment the coachman made his appearance, "do you know if Miss Durand is in?"

"Yes, sir."

"You are sure of it, are you?"

"Why? sir, she's in the library at this blessed moment, and," pursued the accommodating fellow, casting his eyes quickly and furtively about him, and at the same time lowering his voice to a whisper, "I think she's writin' a letter to you. But I mustn't stop, for I've got to get the nine o'clock train for Newark."

"Is Mr. Tiverton there?"

"He will be in the morning."

And with this Thomas disappeared. The youth hesitated for a few moments, for he was not sure about the propriety of appearing in Ellen's presence unannounced. She was writing a letter to him! Perhaps she was informing him that he need not call for her any more. It could not be possible that the very kitchen girls would thus dare to deny her presence if she did not countenance it. His first impulse was to proceed at once to the library door and knock. But upon reflection he hesitated. If her letter—and that she was writing one to him he took for granted—contained a request for him to discontinue his visits, then he would not wish to see her now; but if, on the contrary, it was favorable, he would call again.

But his ponderings were brought to a termination by the appearance of Mrs. Tiverton coming down the front stairs. He moved back a step towards the door, and there calmly awaited the woman's approach. He could see by the strong light of the hall chandelier that her face was pale and strongly worked upon by passion.

"What do you want here, sir?" she abruptly asked, as she reached the hall floor.

"I came to see Miss Durand, ma'am," replied Orion, with perfect calmness and politeness.

"And did not the servant tell you she was not at home?"

Mrs. Tiverton had not the slightest suspicion that Ellen was in the library, or she would not have spoken so loudly.

"She did tell me that Miss Durand was not in, but I feared she might be mistaken."

"You did, did you?" uttered the hostess, with mingled anger and contempt. "You are making yourself very free to come into a gentleman's house and assume control over its inmates! Do you imagine that I bring up my servants to lie?"

"I did not imagine anything, madam!" replied Orion, with as little of bitterness as he could possibly display, "I have thus been refused admittance four times, and I did not think it possible that one who was barely convalescent would be away so much."

"Oh, you didn't, eh?" retorted Mrs Tiverton, with more of sarcasm than she had before shown. "You thought you'd force yourself upon the young lady, did you. You could not take a hint. You want a kick. Must a sensitive, proud-spirited girl, of high standing, be forced to herd with clowns simply because circumstances beyond her control threw her upon their care for a while? If she wishes to be rid of your presence must she be forced to meet you face to face, and tell you so? She has some feeling, and does not wish to have the task imposed upon her of directly sending away one to whom she may owe something of gratitude. Do not turn that gratitude to hate?"

"Then she does not wish to see me," said the youth in a tremulous, fearful tone; for he could not even suspect that the fashionable, proud woman before him would tell a base falsehood.

"Of course she does not. She will send you the pay for your services, but——"

"Stop, madam!" gasped the now stricken youth, struggling with all his might to hide the wild anguish that had fallen upon him. "Say no more. Be assured I never would have come here had I dreamed of this. Tell her not to send us money. Tell her that even the presence of death as our peril would not induce us to touch it! Tell her—tell her—a—may God bless her ever——"

With this last sentence bursting in spasmodic tones from his lips, he turned away. He had reached the door, and had his hand upon the silver knob, when he heard a rushing, smothered sound behind him, and his name pronounced in quick, frightened tones. He turned and beheld Ellen Durand rushing towards him, with her arms outstretched, and her hair floating over her neck and shoulders.

"Orion! Orion!" she cried, eagerly but faintly, "Stop! stop—speak with me! Only one word—Orion!"

For a few moments Mrs. Tiverton stood like one paralyzed, but as soon as she could command herself she turned upon Ellen, and, assuming all the authority of an angry mistress, she exclaimed:

"Ellen, go to your room at once. Not one word here. Go to your room, I say!"

"Julia Tiverton!" the indignant girl returned, her dark eyes flashing, and her full bosom swelling with internal emotion, "I have been an unwilling listener to your remarks, and I should be false to every principle of honor and integrity did I allow them to go uncontradicted!"

"Ungrateful girl!" the hostess cried, stamping her foot upon the floor, "either go to your room or leave the house! I will not have a traitor beneath my roof! Remember—I am mistress here."

"But you would not prevent me from speaking with a friend?" said Ellen, her whole tone and manner changing as she spoke—her indignation disappearing, and a look of calm resignation taking its place.

"Not a word with this fellow in my house!" the woman answered, not quite so angrily, but with more of high authority.

"Aunt Julia, you would not turn me from your roof merely because I persisted in speaking with one to whom I owe so much?"

Ellen spoke beseechingly, with her hands clasped, and her eyes fixed calmly upon the woman she addressed. Mrs. Tiverton evidently supposed she was conquered, for she assumed a haughtiness which savored strongly of conscious power.

"Go to your room at once, and obey me as you ought, and you may still find your home with us. But trample upon my authority in the least, and you must do it elsewhere." And then turning to Orion, she added: "Mr.—a—what's-your name, you can leave the house at once, sir."

"One moment—stop just a moment," interposed Ellen; "let me understand you. You will not allow me to have a private interview with this gentleman here?"

"No. I hope you understand how."

"I do," the fair girl replied, calmly and with dignity. And then, turning to the youth, she continued:

"Orion, wait for me a few moments. I will get my hat and mantle, and go with you. I know your mother's roof will shelter me."

With these words the noble girl started up the stairs, leaving Mrs. Tiverton like one thunderstruck. The hostess had miscalculated the maiden's character. She had not dreamed of the firmness and power that dwelt in the soul of the orphan. In her immense self-importance she had supposed that the threat to turn her out would quell her at once. As soon as she could recover herself sufficiently, she darted up after the offended ward. But Ellen Durand had no word of concession to speak.

"No, Julia Tiverton," she said, as the woman urged her to stay, "not for all you possess would I remain here for another night! Oh! I did not dream how you were abusing the confidence I reposed in you. I did not—I could not believe that you would have so cruelly imposed upon me! No, no—I can not stay. You love me not. Hold—for the sake of sacred truth do not profess a love you do not feel. I am not happy here."

"But your guardian will be very angry, Ellen."

"Not when he knows the truth. Adieu. God give you all mercy and love!"

Julia Tiverton called upon the fair girl, but she called in vain. Ellen had prepared to depart, and she descended to the hall at once.

"Ellen! Ellen! do not leave me thus. Your guardian will be very angry. Come back, you are disgracing yourself!—Are you going? Are you determined, stubborn girl?—Then go!—go! But mind you—you never put your foot in this house again!"

Orion had just turned to the door, and half opened it, when the bell was rung. But he did not hesitate. He threw it wide open. And there, upon the landing-step, stood Doctor Jasper Thornton!

"Ah, Miss Durand," the new-comer stammered, "are you going out?"

"I am, sir," the fair girl replied, instinctively clutching Orion's arm.

This caused Thornton to look into her companion's face, and a vengeful, savage expression tortured his features as he recognized the young gold-beater. He had cause to both fear and hate that youth. For some moments he was wholly unable to speak. Thus to see the girl whom he hoped to win for a wife in familiar companionship with the man who best knew all his wickedness, and who had so promptly thwarted him in the heaviest scheme of gain he had ever planned, was galling and agonizing in the extreme.

But Ellen stopped not for further remark. With a slight movement she drew Orion away, and ere long they were in the street. With quick steps they hurried on to Broadway, where they found a stage all ready for them. There were other passengers present, so they spoke not a word until they reached their destination.

It was with a strangely fluttering heart that Orion conducted Ellen up the long graveled walk; and when he entered the hall he met his mother. For a moment he was undecided how to act, but his judgment came quickly to his assistance, and placing his hand upon his parent's arm, he said, in a low whisper:

"Mother, Ellen has come home with me. Let us be alone a few moments—only a few moments. I have not spoken with her yet."

Mrs. Lindell at once withdrew, without even waiting to welcome the fair girl, and Orion conducted his companion into the parlor, where the gas was burning dimly, the jet not having been wholly turned on. For a short time after they had been seated a dead silence ensued. But the youth was not long in resolving upon his course.

"Ellen," he said, calmly, but with some tremulousness in his tone, "I will tell you plainly and frankly why I came to see you this evening. I had called there three times before, but the only answer I could obtain was, that you were not at home. This evening I was resolved to see you, for I felt sure that the servants had lied to me. You will not wonder that the fear came to me. You will not wonder that the fear came to me—vaguely, it is true—that you might know of the fact. And yet I could not believe it. You heard what Mrs. Tiverton said. Her assertion came nigh fixing the dreadful belief in my mind. But, thank God! the shaft was arrested ere it sank home."

Here the youth hesitated a while, but as the maiden did not speak, he went on:

"And now I will tell you the object of my visit. You remember the scene that transpired at the bedside of the dying boy. You know the meaning of it. I know your deep love for that angel child. I know you would rather have lost much of your personal comfort than to have seen him suffer. Under such circumstances there may have been nothing binding in all that has passed between us. One word more and you will know my full meaning. At your wish we stand as we did before the event to which I have alluded—with no bond, no pledge, no vow. I have now told you all."

For some seconds after the youth had ceased speaking, the fair girl gazed down upon the floor in silence. There was a glow upon her cheek, and a slight tremulousness in her frame. At length she looked up, and in a frank, calm tone she said:

"Ere I can answer you I must know your own feelings."

"And do you ask me to tell them?"

"Yes."

"Then," returned the young man, "I must say that to lose you—to lose the fond hopes that have clustered about my deep, abiding love for you would be like tearing out my very heart. God grant that the blow may not come. You may find wealthier suitors, and you may find those who can carry you to a more sumptuous home; but you can not find one who loves you more fervently, or who will more faithfully cherish and protect you. Now answer me as your own heart shall dictate."

"Orion Lindell," spoke the fair girl, tremblingly, but with a noble, generous frankness, "I did love poor Conrad, and I would not willingly have wounded his feelings; but even to please him I could not have planted a dagger in the bosom of another. And you wrong that boy's memory if you hold the thought even, that he could have done as he did had he not known what he was doing. No, no! ere he did that simple, yet important deed, he knew that I loved you with my whole soul, and with my whole mind, and—and—that——"

She did not finish the sentence, for she had arisen to her feet as she spoke, and Orion had done the same. The youth moved forward; he opened his arms—a joyous, happy glow beamed upon his handsome features—and, in the next moment, Ellen's broken utterances was swallowed up in a low, ecstatic sob of joy, as she sank upon his bosom.

"So opens the bright daytime of hope—so rises the glorious sun of my manhood! Oh, Ellen, Ellen—my own sweet, cherished love, God give me strength to serve him well in this great joy!"

The generous girl looked up through her happy tears, and in broken accents she murmured:

"From the moment when first I heard thy name I have loved thee; and since that hour on which I saw thy heart, and mind, and—I will own it—thy noble face, I have worn thine image next my heart, with such emotions as she alone can feel who bears in her bosom a love which no fate of earth can sunder."

At this moment the door opened, and Catherine Lindell entered. She could wait no longer. She had seen her beloved boy suffer so much that she felt eager to know the result. Ellen was the first to speak. With outstretched arms she hastened forward, and while the joyous tears started down her cheeks afresh, she uttered:

"Mother—dear mother—oh! you will not reject a daughter who loves you truly and well, and who, if she lives, will find one of her chiefest joys in ministering to thy peace and comfort!"

"Blessed being!" ejaculated the widow, with streaming eyes. "Oh, I am happy now!"

A few moments they remained clasped in each other's arms, and then the mother continued, gazing into the maiden's face:

"And it was all false, dear Ellen? You didn't send my boy away?"

"Send him away, mother? Oh! if you could know how I sorrowed because I thought he did not come. Ah—they were very cruel to deceive us so. They told me he had not come."

But there was no more sorrow now. In all the great city there were not three happier beings. Only upon the widow's face there would ever and anon come a strange shade as she saw the wilder joy of the youthful pair; and once she turned away her face to hide a tear which was not the offspring of her present happiness.


CHAPTER XXXI.—MORE PLOTTING.—BARTERED SOULS.

WE left Jasper Thornton, M.D., standing in the hall with Mrs. Tiverton. It was some moments after Orion and Ellen had gone ere either of them spoke. Mrs. Tiverton seemed too much moved by what had transpired to turn her thoughts at once to another topic, while the doctor hesitated because he feared the woman might have learned of his shortcomings; and so deeply impressed was he with this fear that he was upon the point of turning away in silence, and he would have gone had not the hostess detained him.

"Mr. Thornton," she said, with traces of her bitter feelings still upon her face and in her voice, "will you not walk into the parlor?"

"Certainly, madam," returned the doctor, with a graceful bow, and a most expressive smile.

After they had reached the parlor, and had become seated, another silence ensued which, as before, was broken by madam.

"My dear friend," she commenced, "you have this evening witnessed the behavior of one of the most ungrateful girls that ever lived."

The manner and tone of the lady's address assured Thornton that she either knew nothing of his villainy, or, if she did, that she winked at it. So he proceeded with his usual amount of self-assurance.

"I have witnessed a very curious, and, to me, inexplicable scene," he said. "What does it mean?"

"Why, sir it simply means this. That dolt of a gold-beater—I believe that his business—at all events he is a low, grovelling mechanic—came here to visit Miss Durand—in the capacity of a lover! Only think of it!"

"Outrageous!" responded the doctor.

"Aye—he comes here to visit—at my house!—Oh, the presuming puppy!"

"Miserable cur!" chimed Thornton.

"He came thinking, I suppose, that he could make this house the scene of his love-making! But he found his mistake. Had he come to visit some piece of baggage in the kitchen I might not have minded it, but to have such a fellow making himself at home in my parlors, and with a member of my family—it was a little too much. Why, what would people have said?"

"Sure enough," uttered the visitor. "But what was the meaning of Miss Durand's going off with him?"

"Ah, there's the pinch. I told her she could not entertain the fellow in my house; and thereupon she told the young clown to wait for her and she would go with him to his own home. She hurried off to her room and got ready. I followed her and endeavored to explain to her how she was bringing disgrace and ruin upon herself, but she would not listen. She went as you have seen."

"And do you think she really loves that fellow?—that she will marry him?" asked Thornton.

"I fear so. She seems to be perfectly insane. I hope it may not be so. And yet I have no grounds for the hope save through some effort by other parties."

As Mrs. Tiverton thus spoke she looked sharply into her companion's face, and after a few moments' silence she added:

"I think the thing might be stopped. If I am not mistaken you cherish some love for the girl?"

"Ah, madam—a deep and abiding love."

"And you would make her your wife?"

"My whole heart is hers; and my only hopes of happiness in the future are centered upon her. If I lose her I lose my all."

"They why can you not present this young gold-beater to her in some light that may shock her? Can you not pick a quarrel with him, and get him to fight you?"

"Perhaps so," said Thornton, rather dubiously.

"Look ye," resumed madam, with sudden energy, "if you can in any way get rid of the fellow I will do all I can towards bestowing Ellen's fair hand upon you. Now I should suppose you might set your wits at work."

"I will," cried the scamp, with eagerness. "I'll have him in a trap from which he cannot escape so easily."

"Then do so at once," urged Mrs. Tiverton. "Let not another day elapse ere you have concocted some plan."

Thornton bowed his head, and folded his hands upon his knees, and thus he remained for nearly a minute in profound thought. When he raised his eyes again to madam's face, there was a wicked light upon his sensual features.

"I have it," he said with an emphatic clap of the hands. "The police are making preparations to descend upon a notorious house of shame and iniquity. They may do it to-morrow night. But, at all events, I can find out when they will do it, and I will contrive some means to have Mr. Orion Lindell there. It is a low, degraded place—the abode of thieves and gamblers, but mostly inhabited by the sunken and lost of the female sex. I think I can easily have the fellow decoyed to that place. I can know the exact hour on which the police will make their descent—they will do it quite early in the evening, before the thieves go out upon their midnight labors—and having learned this I can easily have the rest fixed."

"How?" asked madam.

"Why, you know this gold-beater makes great pretense to philanthropy, and I shall take advantage of that. I can hire one of those females to waylay him, and tell him a piteous story of suffering and want—tell him about a dying husband and starving children, and all kind of stuff, you know—and you may be assured he'll go home with her; and I'll see that she will contrive it so that he will be in her chamber just about the time the police come upon them. Let him be caught in such a position, and all his explanations for innocence will only make him appear the more ridiculous."

"Excellent! Excellent!" said Mrs. Tiverton. "But tell me," she added, rather dubiously, "how can you find one of those females? What excuse can one in your position make for seeking such a place?"

"Ah—a—ahem—a—I can tell them—you see—I can profess that I have been sent to visit some sick person. I can make some excuse."

Mr. Jasper Thornton's intimate acquaintance with so many of that class rather tended to embarrass him for the moment, but the lady did not notice anything out of the way.

At this point the door-bell was rung, and pretty soon one of the servants opened the door of the parlor and beckoned to her mistress. Madam at once arose and went to the hall.

"The count and his friend have come," the attendant whispered.

"Ah—show them into the library at once, and tell them I will be with them in a moment."

As Mrs. Tiverton thus spoke she turned again towards the doctor, and when she had heard the library door close upon her new visitors, she said:

"Mr. Thornton, you will have to excuse me, but I wish to hear from you as soon as you have made a step towards the consummation so devoutly wished for."

"Aye," returned the doctor, with a smile; "and, to quote from the glorious poet, with whose genius your own remark shows you to be familiar, let me say—'If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly.' And, now, good madam, I'll at once to the work. This very evening, ere I sleep, I'll know the intended movements of the police, and also find some witty Magdalen who will help me."

"Do so, and be assured that you shall have my assistance for the rest."

"Thank you. Good evening."

"Good evening, sir. I shall be at home to you at any time between the hours of six and nine in the evening."

Mr. Thornton took his leave, and ere long afterwards the Count Adolphus Gerald Charlemagne Gusterhausen, and the Prince Bernardo de Tavora, together with Isabella, who had joined them in the library, met the hostess in the parlor. After a few words of greeting and a few passages upon general topics, the Count and Isabella made their way to the back parlor, thus leaving the Prince and Madam once more alone together.

We will not transcribe the long and sickening dialogue of love and flattery which followed. Mrs. Tiverton seemed to be entirely fascinated by the manner and conversation of the prince, and he saw very plainly that she was as soft as wax in his hands. Several hours had worn away, and the clock was upon the stroke of midnight. Mrs. Tiverton and her companion were upon one of the small tete-a-tetes her head upon his shoulder, and his arm about her waist.

"My dearest love," whispered de Tavora, "how shall I live? Oh! would to God me have navare seen you! My heart is gone—my soul is takeen capteve, Ah? I must die in torture eef you no have compasshong! Oh do not keel me—do not!"

"Kill you, prince! Alas? how hard a fate! My own life is as worthless without you!"

"Then why not live? Why not keep both our hearts, me own divinity?"

"Prince?"

"I mean—let us be happee."

"Alas! how?"

"Can you not see!"

"Tell me," murmured madam, hiding her face upon his bosom.

"Since you command me I vil speak: You be not so tied to your husband but 'at you can snap te bonds. Go with me! Oh! fly—fly with me to me own palace on the Tiber, or to me other palace on te Arno. Do. Oh, my soul's mistress—me heart's enslaver—do! You will save me."

"And could you go to your native country at once?" asked madam tremulously.

"Yes—yes—at once—right away. Oh! come! Tell me that you weel be mine!"

"I must think of it, prince. I cannot tell you at once. Wait till another time."

"But will you tell me te next time we meet?"

"Ye—yes—I will."

"Oh, bliss—bliss—bliss! I know you will not kill me—I know you will not. We will be happee yet."

"We must be," murmured madam, allowing the prince to kiss her upon the cheek.

"I may have to send on to my banker in Rome for money to bear my expenses. I have given so much in charity since I have been here that I have nearly emptied my purse. Ah—twenty thousand dollars don't go a great ways when you let your charity run away with you. However—my banker will send it on, so we shan't be detained long."

"Dear prince—say nothing more on that topic. I have enough; and until we reach your palace we shall have plenty for use. Ah—that is—if I—oh, prince! you have wholly enslaved me."

"Blessed creachur! Divine Julia! We will be happee!"

Mrs. Tiverton lifted her head from her companion's shoulder, for she heard Isabella coming. A few minutes were spent in a sort of light, playful badinage, and then the gentlemen took their leave.

"Oh, mother," uttered Isabella some time after they two were left alone, "I must give the count my hand soon. He can not wait; nor can I. He wishes to be married at once."

"Well—then let it be so," returned the mother.

"But father? Oh, what a blind thing he is! He will not consent to my wedding the count. He is prejudiced against him."

"I know he is, my darling. But let that make no difference. You have my consent, and if I can not control my own child I'd like to know who shall?"

"Oh—I love the count, ma."

"And well you may, Bella. He is a fine man, and not only has wealth, but a title."

And thus the poor, foolish creatures were selling themselves to that dark, terrible power which lies in wait at the doors of faithless souls!


CHAPTER XXXII.—CLICKER PLAYS A TRUMP, AND SHOWS HIS HAND; BUT IS SLIGHTLY ASTONISHED UPON BEHOLDING THE HAND OF HIS ADVERSARY.

ONE long dreary night did poor Constance and her child pass in that terrible chamber. They could not sleep save by short naps caught amid pain and agony. Little Lizzie slept the most, for her mother folded her to her bosom and kept away the phlebotomizing marauders. Shortly after midnight the light went out, and from that time the agony was intense. But daylight came at length, and the tiny intruders disappeared. The sun arose, and the morning hours passed away, and no one came with food. Yet this was no source of disappointment at present, for neither the mother nor the child felt any appetite for material nourishment. Their souls were alone and hungered.

They had heard a distant clock strike the hour up to nine, and just upon the stroke of the latter little Lizzie, all worn and fatigued, threw himself upon the miserable bed. As she did so, she remarked that something hard under the quilt hurt her. Constance went to remove it, and making search she found some solid substance within the old, dirty straw-tick. She placed her hand within the aperture which had been left for filling, or stirring up the straw, and found two solid, heavy substances. She drew them forth and found them to be a five-barrelled pistol and a small powder-flask! At first she was startled, for the immediate thought was, that Glicker had left them there for his own use; but upon reflection she saw that this was not all probable, for he would not have left them in the place of all others where they would be most sure to find them.

The pistol was one of Colt's patent "revolvers" with the single barrel and five chambers. It was a small one and in excellent order. Upon examining the flask it was found to contain powder at one end, where there was a small "charger," and at the other end, which was flat, two chambers, with spring covers, in one of which were bullets, and in the other percussion caps.

Mrs. Milmer understood the use of this, for her husband once owned one which had been presented to him by a friend. She examined the weapon thoroughly, and found the chambers all charged with powder and ball. She could easily see the bullets, and upon removing the caps she saw the powder in the tubes.

"What will you do with it, mamma?" asked Lizzie.

Constance started, and a quick tremor shook her frame.

"I will keep it!" she whispered. And as she spoke she thrust it away beneath the bosom of her dress, and then put the flask in her pocket.

She suppose that the weapon must have been left there by some lodger—perhaps by some poor fellow who had come up drunk, and hidden his pistol so carefully that when he became sober he could not find it. However, that mattered little to the present possessor. She had found it, and with her eyes raised towards heaven, she prayed to God that she might preserve her honor unsullied!

The hour of ten had been struck—and some fifteen minutes passed—when the mother and child were startled by the sounds of footsteps upon the stairs. They knew the leading step—the step of him who came in advance—too well.

"It is he!" moaned Lizzie, sinking upon her mother's bosom.

"I know it, my child," the parent returned, in a tone of cold, rigid calmness. It was the voice of despair—the utterance of one who had given up all hope, and whose soul held only one firm purpose. "I know it," she repeated. "It is Duffy Glicker. I shall ask no more favors at his hands. Let him come. He may do as he pleases so long as he only fashions suffering and vexation for the body. But beyond that—O God, give me power and strength!" She instinctively placed her hand upon her bosom as she spoke—upon the spot where the loaded pistol lay!

In a moment more the door of her room was unbarred and opened, and Duffy Glicker entered, followed by Mr. Bill Slumpkey and another man whose face had one of those cold-blooded looks peculiar to a certain class of lawyers who hover about the "Tombs," ready to filch from any poor culprit all they can get. They are to our regular attorneys what the mock-auctioneer is to the commission merchant,—or what the lowest pawnbroker is to the Wall-street banker. They are a set of sharks who hang about that sea of moral death ever ready to catch the first poor victim that may fall into their hand. They force themselves upon the unfortunate male or female who may have been apprehended for petty crime, and under pledge of legal assistance they obtain all the money they can, and then disappear to be seen no more, until a new victim is found.

It was such a man as this who followed Glicker and Slumpkey into the widow's presence. When they had all three entered, Glicker closed the door, and then turned towards his victim. His face wore a determined look, and the most casual observer would have seen that he meant not to be thwarted.

"Now, my dear Constance," he said, with a peculiar mixture of ugliness, firmness, and irony in his tone; "I have come to put a clincher on to our business. This man is a reg'lar lawyer and justice, and his word is just as good as all the priests' in the world. He's got a reg'lar marriage certifiket, and he'll put us through in short order. So now just stand up here alongside o' me, and have the business done. Come—we wont have no cryin' nor sniffin' at this heat. We've just about enough o' that already."

Constance spoke not a word in reply—only she whispered to her child to fear not, and then she arose and stood by Duffy Glicker's side.

"Eh?" uttered the brute, gazing into her calm, pale face, "yu're easy, ain't ye! Ye mean to be good now, don't ye?"

"I must obey where I can not help myself," she replied firmly.

"By the big boat, but she's the most sensible woman I've seen this long while," uttered the shark.

"She's been learnin' of me," said Glicker. "But come—go ahead."

Thus appealed to, the shark advanced and drew a paper from his breast-pocket which proved to be a regular form of marriage contract duly filled up and signed by the proper city authority. Having read it the lawyer proceeded with the ceremony. He asked Glicker if he would take "this woman" to be his true and lawful wife—if he would cleave unto her, and so on—to all of which the bridegroom unhesitatingly responded "Yes."

Next the same questions were put to Constance, and when it came to her turn to answer she as unhesitatingly answered, "I will not."

"Eh?" exclaimed Shark.

"It don't make no difference," quickly rejoined Glicker. "I thought you know'd women better. Don't they allers say no when they mean yes?"

"To be sure they does. I forgot." And thereupon he proceeded with the ceremony, and in a very few moments he gave utterance to the magic words: "I now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Glicker—Husband and Wife—married according to the laws of the State!"

"There, you beauty!" cried the newly made husband, "ain't that job done up in quick order, eh? You ain't Constance Milmer, no more. You're Constance Glicker, now. And I hope you'll behave yourself so 't I can treat ye kindly. And to commence with, I'm going to take ye out o' this room and put ye into a better one—one 'at I had vacated a purpose for ye. D'ye mind that? Don't I begin to show that I can take care of a good wife?"

"Wife, sir?" said Constance, calmly and coolly. "You know I am not your wife."

"Well—you've got a funny way of lookin' at things, I must confess. Haint the justice just made us man and wife, I'd like to ask ye?"

"It takes two to make that bargain, sir. You know I am not your wife. I shall obey you in all things becoming a servant while you hold power over me; but you will not claim any of the duties of a wife at my hands!"

"Egad, Duffy," whispered the shark, at the same time poking the brute under the ribs with his thumb, "I reckon you've got a tartar there."

"We'll see!" uttered Glicker, with an oath, as he saw both the shark and Slumpkey smiling. "We'll see about that. Here—here's your pay for this job—and I'm much obliged. Only mind you this: If Duffy Glicker's 'got a tartar,' you may jest make up your mind that the tartar's got her master."

"Oh—I don't doubt that—good bye."

"Good bye," said Glicker, and as he thus spoke, both the shark and Bill Slumpkey left the room.

"Now, my dear, what d'ye think of it?" the villain asked, turning towards Constance, and gazing fixedly into her face.

"You spoke of taking me to a better room, sir," she returned, hiding all inward emotion.

"Aye—but not if you're goin' to be bad again."

"If I cannot use my tongue what shall I do?" the widow laconically replied.

"Sure enough," said Duffy, who was somewhat misled by this answer. "But ye'd better be keerful who ye swing yer tongue afore. Talk to me, but don't never show any more of that old Adam afore others. D'ye mind that?"

"Yes, sir."

"I guess you'll come to it by and by—so you may foller me. No—stop. I guess I may as well take yer hand. There—now come along."

Constance gave him her hand without hesitation, and having extended the other to her child, she was led from the room, Glicker descended one flight of stairs to the second floor, and here he turned towards the rear of the house, and finally reached a chamber which was quite respectable for the place in which it was located. It was a square room, with an old faded carpet upon the floor; paper curtains at the windows; three very decent chairs; a wash-stand, pitcher and bowl; a dressing-table and glass; and a very comfortable looking bed.

"There," said Duffy, as he closed the door of this room behind him, "the woman as has lived in this room has gone off without payin' her rent—so the landlady told me—and I've took it for a little while; but if you're good you won't have to stay here long anyhow. I'll find a better place. I shouldn't want to live here myself."

Constance hesitated some time ere she made a reply to this. She wished much to know what was the secret of the paper her captor held, and she feared that if she allowed herself to make him angry he wouldn't tell her.

"Mr. Glicker," she said, being obliged to exercise all her powers of self-control to speak the words she had planned to speak, without betraying her deep indignation, "now that the ceremony has been performed, I suppose you have no objections to telling me, or showing me, what is in that paper you have so often spoken to me about?"

"Oh—no—I've no objections now. I'll let ye see the dockiment if ye'll promise to let me have it back jest as safe and whole as I give it to ye."

"I do promise it, sir."

"But 'll you swear it?"

"Yes," returned Constance, eagerly, "I swear it most solemnly. Let me see it, and when I have read it you shall have it back as safe and fair as when I took it."

"Then I'll let you see it, my dear. It's a kind of a funny thing, and 'll put ye in mind of some kind o' funny idees. Here it is."

As the fellow spoke he took from his breast-pocket a brown paper parcel, and having opened it he drew forth a properly folded document which he handed to Constance. She took it with a trembling hand, and having unfolded it she glanced her eyes hurriedly over its face. It was a fairly written thing, drawn up by an attorney, and signed by a second party. It contained a deposition, sworn to by the deponent, witnessed by another, and given under the hand and in the presence of a duly authorized justice.

Constance commenced to read it. For a few moments only an eager look pervaded her features; but gradually she grew pale, and her breath seemed hushed. Suddenly she gave a quick start, as though something had stung her, and with a low, agonizing cry she dropped the paper and clasped her hand over her eyes.

"Eh?" said Glicker, stooping and taking up the paper, "What's the row now? Does if tetch you so deep?"

Constance gazed up with a pale, frightened look, and in a fearful tone she whispered——

"Oh! Is that true?"

"Why—in course 'tis."

"But how came you by it?"

"Wal—seein' 's how how 't the ceremony's been performed, I don't mind tellin' ye the whole story. Ye see in my travels, not over a hundred years ago—and may be not much over a year ago—I came 'to the sweet, pooty little village of Willowdale. I s'pose you know where that is?"

"Yes," uttered Constance, breathlessly.

"Wal—when I came to that place I stopped awhile. One day I was in the bar-room of the tavern, and some folks was talkin' about Constance Bertram. One man said the old lawyer had a paper for her. I think he said a poor widder, named—a——"

"Gilmore?" suggested Constance.

"Ah—yes—that's it. Gilmore. Yes. He said a woman named Gilmore left it, when she was a-dyin', with the old lawyer for Constance Bertram when she grow'd up. But she'd grow'd up and gone, and now the old lawyer wanted to find her and give her the paper. By'm by one feller says—'The gal married a book-binder named Milmer, and moved to New York.' Then, dy'ye see, I know'd 'twas you, and I jest told 'em I know'd ye like a book—that I lived right close alongside of ye. 'Pon that they said as how I'd better go and see the old lawyer; and I went the next day and seed the old feller; and the upshot of it all was, that he gave me this paper, and I promised that I'd give it to you."

"And why didn't you keep your promise, sir?"

"Why didn't I? I'd like to know if I didn't. I didn't say when I'd give it to ye—jest mind that. I only said you should have it. I kind o' thought I had a right to open it considerin' 'at I was takin' it to ye for nothin'; and when I'd opened it, and read it, I kind o' tho't as how there was an openin' for jest about such a child as I was. And now I've found it. I knew yer husband couldn't live a great while—though I must say, he hung on most unaccountably. Howsumever, I hain't lost nothin' by waitin'. It's all right now, accordin' to my calkilations."

Poor Constance saw it all now. She could understand the whole of the villain's plan, and it was a shrewd one for one so evil. She gazed a few moments into the man's face after he had done speaking, and then, with a deep groan, she bowed her head, and covered her face with her hands.

"I must be goin' now," said Glicker, "but I'll be back this evening."

"This evening!" cried Constance, in startling tones, at the same time leaping to her feet.

"Of course this evening, my dear. D'ye s'pose I'm a goin' to leave my own wife alone all night?"

"I am not your wife, Duffy Glicker!" the widow uttered, her eye flashing, and her bosom heaving. "Do not come near me!"

There was something so strangely, so almost supernaturally earnest in this appeal, that for a moment even the hardened villain was staggered; but quickly rallying, he exclaimed:

"You're crazy. Of course I'll come."

"No, no, no, Duffy Glicker—don't come!"

"But I tell you I shall!"

"Not to remain all night?"

"Why—what else should I come for? I tell ye, you're my wife!"

"Hold, sir. Listen to me!" spoke the now majestic looking woman, in a deep, hushed voice: "Do not come to me with that intent. I would not—have the blood of a human being on my hands!"

"Pshaw! Ye don't mean that ye'll kill yourself."

"No. Another will die if he persists in his fiendish purpose?"

"Oho—ye mean me?"

"Yes."

Mr. Glicker did not feel the total unconcern he tried to show.

"Go 'way with yer nonsense. I shall come!"

Constance drew the pistol from her bosom, and having moved quickly to the corner of the apartment she cocked it.

"Duffy Glicker," she said, in a cold, stern voice, her face and form looking more like a draped statue of marble than like a living being; "this weapon is loaded, and I know how to use it. For the love of God do not force me to the bloody work!"

"Eh?" gasped the villain, turning pale, and trembling, "you wouldn't shoot me. I know you wouldn't."

"Duffy Glicker," the woman pronounced, in a tone and with a look that would have startled a sterner man than he who stood before her, "you know I am not your wife. There is no law in this broad land that can hold a wife who refuses the bonds. I am not a wife. I am an honest, virtuous woman, holding the bright jewel of my soul's chastity above even my own poor life. Yet I cannot willingly die while this little child must be left friendless. So you will not think I hold your life above mine honor. No!—ere stain shall come upon me—ere a mother's shame shall fall as an inheritance to my child—a shame that could but cling to her like a pest—like a plague-spot—I'd set free from the earth the souls of a hecatomb as such as you! God bear me witness that I speak the truth!"

During this speech, which had been spoken with an almost mystic power, Constance had stood with her right arm extended; the pistol clenched firmly in her grasp; and its muzzle in a direct line with the villain's face. He looked in vain for one sign of trembling. Like a statue still she stood, with an iron determination stamped upon every feature, and her eyes gleaming like orbs of fire. Glicker gazed upon her a full minute in silence, and finally he said:

"We'll have you cooled down, me fine lady. Jest let me tell you there's mor'n one way to quiet such as you. I want you to bear that in mind."

Constance made no answer. She only gazed fixedly into the man's face, and kept the deadly weapon aimed at his head.

The doughty fellow could stand it no longer, and with a volley of bitter curses he turned from the apartment. At the door he looked back, but the pistol was still aimed directly at him, and he passed out. Had he come back two minutes later he might have secured the pistol, for when Constance had heard her door bolted, and the villain's steps die away in the distance, she sank down faint and powerless. This terrible season of strange excitement had come upon a frame already worn by suffering and sorrow!


CHAPTER XXXIII.—HOW THORNTON'S PLOT WORKED.

ORION LINDELL remained with Mr. Garvey some time after the other workmen had left the shop, for the purpose of making an estimate on the price of a large lot of foil which a dental establishment had ordered. After this was done the owner remarked that he had an engagement, and Orion was left to close and secure the shutters and doors. It was near eight o'clock when he left the shop, and it was his intention to proceed at once towards home; but at the entrance to the court he found a female sobbing most piteously. She was leaning against one of the walls, with her head bowed, and her face partly covered with her hands.

"What is the matter, my good woman?" the youth asked, stopping in front of the apparent sufferer.

"Oh, sir! My poor husband, sir! My poor children, sir!—My poor poor oh! oh!"

"But what ails your husband and children?"

"He is dying, sir!—and my poor children are starving, sir?"

As the female looked up Orion could see by the light of the gas that she was quite young and very good looking, though her beauty was of a suspicious character. However, he could not turn away and leave her thus, so he asked her where her home was.

"It's only just down in Anthony Street a little way, sir. Oh! if you would go with me, and see if anything can be done for my poor husband, I will bless you!"

Orion could not resist this appeal, and bidding the woman lead the way he started to follow after her. They were not long in reaching Anthony Street, and having turned down this, a very few moments brought them to the shores of the Five Points. The woman turned to the left, into that pit known as "Cow Bay," and when she stopped it was before a door upon the right hand as they faced up the "Bay." She had a latch-key in her possession, by means of which she gained entrance. From the cellars music and dancing sent forth a crazy din, and the mingled howls and songs of the drunken ones helped to fill up the measure of horrors. But our hero was not obliged to listen long to this. The door was soon opened, and as they passed into the hall they were met by a young girl who had a lamp in her hand.

"Why, Peggy—is this you?" uttered the young girl. "We thought you had cleared out, and mother was going to let your room——"

At this point they woman contrived to stop the girl's tongue, and for some moments they conversed in a low whisper. Finally the latter gave up her light to the former, and then turned away. After this the woman bade Orion follow her up-stairs. The youth hesitated. He had seen enough to excite his suspicions.

"Only up one floor higher, sir. Oh—you won't leave me now!" urged the female. "They thought I would desert my husband and children. Ah—they didn't know me."

Orion at length started to follow her up. At the end of the second-floor hall they came to a door which was bolted upon the outside.

"I wonder what they took so much pains to fasten this door for?" the woman muttered, apparently to herself, as she drew back the bolt. "They didn't think they could lock the fleas in, did they?"

Thus speaking the door was thrown open, and as the guide entered she started back a pace, and gave utterance to an exclamation of disappointment, for she saw before her a mother and child.

"Here's a pretty go!" the new-comer said, gazing into the face of the woman who occupied the room.

But the person thus addressed made no answer, and the visitor proceeded;

"Betty said her mother had let this place to one of her men, but she didn't tell me there was anybody here. She said Glicker's woman was higher up. Who are ye? Are ye Glicker's gal?"

The occupant of the chamber was upon the point of answering, when she chanced to cast her eyes over her interlocutor's shoulder, and as she did so she saw a face which she was sure she knew. The light was dim and uncertain, but there could be no mistake in those handsome, manly features. She started to her feet and took a step forward.

"Constance Milmer?" cried Orion, bounding forward and grasping her by the hand. "Do I find you here? It is Constance!"

"Oh, God be praised!" the poor widow ejaculated, at the same time leaning heavily upon her faithful friend. "It is I—it is poor Constance!"

"But how in mercy's name came you here?" the youth asked in astonishment.

"Oh, let us flee from this place! Save me once more, and I will tell you all about it. Here—here is a pistol. It is loaded—every barrel. Take it."

Orion took the weapon, and then turned to the woman who had guided him thither.

"Look ye, woman," he uttered, sternly and authoritatively, "what means all this? Why did you bring me here?"

"I didn't know that these folks were here, sir."

"But where are your husband and children, of whom you told me?"

"They ain't here, that's certain," returned the woman with a sort of bold air.

"Your husband and children?" interposed Constance, gazing into the speaker's face; "you know you never had either, Peggy Warling."

"How do you know?"

"Because I have known you several years, and I know that you have always been alone so far as kindred is concerned."

"Oho—now I know ye. You are the poor book-binder's widder, what used to hire a room of old Ma'am Dottinton."

"You are right, Peggy; and you know we have helped you often. Ah—you promised me once that you would reform and do evil no more. Oh, you are not happy thus!"

Peggy Warling—for such was the girl's name—now recognized Constance fully, and she remembered, too, many acts of kindness which the good woman had done for her.

"Oh—it's no use," she cried. "I can't be good if I want to. Everybody knows I'm a tainted thing, and the virtuous shun me."

"No, no, Peggy. Resolve to reform, and you can do so. If you can do no better, then go somewhere where you are not known."

"We won't talk about that now. But say you are Duffy Glicker's wife, ain't you!"

"No—I am not! He came here with a miserable wretch from among those sharks that hang around the Tombs, and the outer ceremony was partly performed. But I utterly refused to accede to a thing, and plainly told them no when they asked me the questions. No, Peggy, I am not his wife. Oh, you will not prevent me from leaving this place!"

"Me prevent you? No—not a bit of it."

"Will you not tell me why you brought me here?" asked Orion, at the same time placing his hand upon the poor girl's shoulder.

Peggy hesitated. She did not wish to carry her plans any farther, nor did she like to confess the secret of her movements thus far; but finally Constance prevailed upon her to speak.

"He is a noble young man whom you have thus deceived, and I do not believe that your course is the result of any evil of own concocting," said Constance.

"Indeed it is not," Peggy quickly replied. "There's villains in broadcloth as well as in rags. Doctor Jasper Thornton hired me to get the young man here.—But—say we'd better be moving out of this. The police will be here before long. Come—I guess we can get out without being seen. I'll tell you all about it when we get away from here."

Thus speaking Peggy Warling led the way to the door, Orion, Constance and little Lizzie followed close behind her. They reached the lower hall without difficulty, and with noiseless steps they made their way to the sidewalk. Once here they hurried out to Anthony Street, and ere many moments they were in Broadway.

"Now," said Peggy, "I'll tell ye all about it. The police are going—Ah—there they go now. See 'em?"

Orion and Constance looked towards the head of the street, up which they had just come, and saw some dozen men just turning down towards the Five Points.

"Them's 'um," resumed Peggy. "They're going to make a descent upon that house where we were. Thornton knew it, and he wanted to have this man there in time to be found in a room with me. And I think they'd have done it if we hadn't met you as we did."

"But you would have been apprehended, too," remarked Orion.

"Aye—and I could have afforded it. Mind you, I didn't undertake the work for nothing. However, it wasn't my fault that the game was broke up; and I don't think my conscience'll trouble me for having exposed such a villain as Jasper Thornton."

"But what could have been the fellow's meaning in this?" said the youth, in a puzzled mood.

"Isn't there a girl somewhere that he'd like to turn against you?" queried Peggy.

"Ah I see now," said our hero, with compressed lips. "I see now."

"I'm glad you do," responded the repentant girl; and then, in a hurried tone she added, "But I must go now. You'd better seek some place of safety as soon as possible. Good bye."

"Hold—stop. You will not leave us so," cried Orion. "I would help you if you will let me."

"You help the likes of me?" cried Peggy, in quick, startling tones. "Perhaps you may, but not now. If the time ever comes when I want it I'll find you. Good night!"

And with these words the poor lost one turned and fled from them.

"It's no use to try to stop her," said Constance, as Orion made a motion to that effect. "She's a strange being. James and I have tried to help her. She's got a good heart, but a long course of sin and shame has buried it up."

"Then let us turn towards our home. You will go with me to my own house, and you shall be safe there. And there is one beneath our roof who will be glad to see you."

"Who?"

"Ellen Durand."

"She?—Sweet, pure, good Ellen! Is she there?"

"Yes. Come—let us have no hesitation. If you would make me happy, then come without a murmur."

With big tears rolling down her cheeks the poor widow started on by her protector's side. As soon as she became calm they stopped a stage, and got into it. As they passed Fourteenth Street Lizzie, who had been gazing out at the windows, gave a low cry, and as her mother followed with her the direction pointed out by her child, she saw Duffy Glicker just turning into the wide fashionable street! A low groan escaped from her lips, and her hand was pressed upon her heart to quell its tumultuous beatings. The scene had brought back to her mind the terrible secret of that strange paper which the villain held. Orion saw plainly that she was deeply moved, but he asked her no questions, for there were strangers in the stage.

At length they were set down at the gate of the young gold-beater's home, and ere long they were in the comfortable parlor. Ellen was the first to embrace the poor widow, and next Mrs. Lindell was introduced. Little Lizzie was kissed a dozen times, and finally the party became seated. Ellen was very anxious to know why and how and Constance had left Mrs. Tiverton's; so the saved one related all that had occurred, from the coming of Mrs. Tiverton to ask her to go out with Sarah Johnson to the coming of Orion and Peggy Warling to her prison room. She told all but the secret of the paper.

Various remarks were made upon the conduct of Mrs. Tiverton, though there was but one opinion touching her character. After this Ellen explained to Constance how she had left Mrs. Tiverton's on the same evening.

"And," she added, "while I was wondering how you were getting along without me you were as far off as I was, though your companionship, saving our darling Lizzie, was not quite so pleasant as mine."

"But tell us," said Orion, "have you not yet seen that paper which Duffy Glicker holds?"

"Yes, sir," replied Constance, turning pale, and trembling like an aspen. "But if you care for me ask me nothing touching it to-night. At some time I may tell you all; but not now!"

Of course her friends would not oppress her with questions after this, and ere long the conversation took a general turn, and for the while all troubles seemed forgotten.


CHAPTER XXXIV.—ASTOUNDING DEVELOPMENTS.

PAUL TIVERTON had returned from his journey. He came into the city on the morning which saw the illegal marriage ceremony between Duffy Glicker and Constance Milmer, and he now, in the evening, sat in his library at the very time that was witnessing the flight of Constance from her prison. When he reached his counting-house that morning he found a note there from old Aunt Rhoda, informing him that Daro Kid was with her. She had found him in the street, and had taken him home. The merchant at once dispatched a note by his faithful coachman, in which he asked them if they would call upon him at his house, if he would send his carriage for them in the evening. Answer came back that they would, for they needed his assistance.

So Mr. Tiverton now sat in his library awaiting the coming of the two old people. He was not so hale and hearty looking as when we last saw him. His face was pale, and there were lines of care and trouble upon his brow. Clouds flitted across his features as he sat in thought, and even a casual observer would have seen that he was unhappy. He had seen his wife a few moments since his return, but their meeting had been cold and formal. He had found both Ellen and Mrs. Milmer gone, and he asked Julia what it meant. She simply informed him that the latter had been sent away because she was not wanted, and that the former had gone of her own accord.

"Of her own accord?" was the husband's reply. "How was that? Where is she?"

"I don't know, I'm sure, unless she's herding again with the gold-beater's crew." And with this reply the woman had left him.

At length the carriage came, and Thomas conducted Daro Kid and Aunt Rhoda into the library. The merchant greeted them kindly, though he would hardly have recognized Kid had he met him in the street. Under Aunt Rhoda's care he had assumed a new dress; and rest and friendship had served to restore much of his native grace and vigor. He now looked like a hale and hearty man of about fifty, with a face of much comeliness, and a manly bearing. In short, he was a generous, intelligent, good-looking man—his hair rather gray for one of his years, and some deep lines upon the open brow, but still he bore them well.

The old lady was past reviving. Four-score years had bent her form so that it could not be made erect, and the hand of Time had furrowed her face so that no amount of health could make it smooth again. Yet she was hale and hearty, and seemed fond of life.

"My friends," said the merchant, after the usual salutations had passed, and something of a silence had followed, "I have sent for you because I wished to see you very much. Since first I held the suspicions which——"

At this point Mr. Tiverton stopped, for he heard the door of the front parlor open, and some one enter. He arose and drew aside one of the heavy crimson curtains that hung over the windows or glass doors which communicated with the back parlor, and he was not a little surprised to see Mr. Duffy Glicker! But he was more surprised still upon seeing his wife enter immediately behind him. He dropped the curtain and sank back into his chair. At first he thought of trying to get rid of his company, for he knew that every word which his wife and her strange companion spoke, if in an ordinary key, could be heard by them. But the plan was impracticable. He wished to know himself what was going on; and when he came to remember that his two companions knew already more of his wife's early life than he did, he concluded to let matters take their own course.

"Well, sir," uttered Mrs. Tiverton, as soon as she had closed the door behind her, and taken a seat, "to what am I indebted for this visit?"

"Why, mum," returned Glicker, speaking in a tone which might have been heard beyond where the merchant sat, "I come to see yer on a pertickeler business. Yer know the poor widder I took away from here for ye?"

"You mean Mrs. Milmer."

"Yes, mum."

"I know that I sent her away, sir."

"Yes an' ye know, too, that ye got me to take her off."

"There is no need, sir, of reminding me of that fact again."

"Of course not, mum. But, ye see, I've done more'n that for ye."

"More than that, sir?"

"Ye-es, mum. I've been and married the woman."

"Have you?"

"Yes, mum."

"Then I hope you've got a good wife."

"I hope so, too, mum. But I've been wantin' to get her for a wife a long time. Perhaps ye know'd I had a bit of paper that concerned the widder somewhat."

"I think I have heard something about such a thing sir. But what is all this to me?"

"That's what I'm comin' at directly, mum; and I s'pose the quicker the better."

"You have spoken the truth this time, sir; and I would thank you to come at the pith of your business at once."

"Well, mum—I will."

At this point Glicker rubbed his hands in a sort of nervous manner, and gazed down upon the floor as though he had lost part of his errand. At length, however, he looked up, and in a careful tone he said:

"I s'pose Mr. Tiverton wasn't yer fust husband, was he?"

The woman started half up from her chair, and then, trembling like an aspen, she sank back and gasped for breath.

"What do you mean, sir?" she finally succeeded in saying.

"Why—I mean just what I says: Paul Tiverton wasn't yer fust husband!"

"Sir—would you insult me?"

"Oh, no, my fine leddy. But don't git into a passion. You'll find afore I get through that I'm willin' to help ye. Now I must take it for granted that you had another husband afore ye was married to Paul Tiverton. Ain't I right?"

Mrs. Tiverton struggled hard with herself, for both fear and rage were working mightily within her. She would have had the fellow whipped from the house, but she knew that he must possess some secret of hers, and she dared not let him leave her with feelings of revenge.

And there was another, too, who sat pale and trembling—another upon whose soul these words of the villain fell with terrible power. Paul Tiverton sat with his hands tightly clasped upon his knees and listened. He could not help listening now.

"Well, sir," at length spoke the hostess, "and what if that be true?"

"Why—the next thing was, ye had a child afore ever ye was married to Paul Tiverton!"

Again the woman started half up from her seat, but sank trembling back again.

"What do you know of all this, sir?" she finally asked in spasmodic tones.

"Why, mum—I know ye had a husband named Frank Bertram, and that ye had a child—a little girl!"

"Aye, sir," said Julia Tiverton, regaining her power of self-control by a mighty effort, "I did. My husband was lost at sea, and my child died while it was yet a babe."

"How old did it live to be?"

"A little over two years."

"But what makes you think the child died?"

"What makes me think?" repeated the woman, with a frightened look, "I know it died!"

"But how do you know?"

Mrs. Tiverton was so far in bondage to her fears now that she dared do no other way than to answer him. She dreamed not that her husband was at home. She had heard the carriage go away early in the evening, and she supposed he went in it. She did not hear it when it returned. And then the heavy curtains of the library prevented the rays of the gas-light from being detected from the parlor.

"My child was left with an old aunt of mine, and when I went out to see it, she told me 'twas dead."

"That aunt was Rhoda Church, wasn't it? Old Aunt Rhoda, that lived out in Willowdale?"

"Yes."

"Wal—now—s'pose I should tell ye yer child didn't die?"

"'Twould be false?" cried the woman, energetically. "She did die?"

"But I say she didn't die! She is still alive—and well and hearty, too!"

"Alive!" gasped he whom we have known as Daro Kid, folding his hands towards heaven. "O great God, I thank thee!"

Paul Tiverton sat like a marble statue now. He was past trembling.

"Impossible!" shrieked Mrs. Tiverton, starting up from her chair.

"It is true, mum—every word of it. Your daughter—that was born afore ye married with Paul Tiverton—is alive and well; and, what's more, she's my wife! Now ye know the whole!"

"It's false! all, all false!" the woman gasped, sinking back into her seat.

"Wal—ef yer stick to it, then I must show ye the dockiments," said Glicker, with a provoking, business-like coolness. "Here jest read this."

As he thus spoke he handed to her the same paper which he had shown Constance. She opened it, and commenced to read. It was a deposition from Rhoda Church to Constance Bertram, drawn up in legal form, and duly sworn to before a justice. It had been placed in the care of Mrs. Ann Gilmore, who was therein directed to give it to Constance when she should become of age. It commenced by informing Constance that she had been deceived concerning her parentage.

"Your mother," it went on, "was my niece. She came to live with me while her parents went to Europe. While with me she fell in love with a young sailor, named Frank Bertram, and married him. After this Frank went to sea, and during one of his voyages you were born. He came home and saw you and remained with you and your mother nearly three months. At the end of this time he went to sea again, this voyage shipping as captain of a ship, and bound for the East Indies. About six months after he had gone we received intelligence that his ship was cast away and all hands lost. It was now nearly three years since your mother's parents left, and you were two years old. When your mother learned that her parents were on their way home she was fearful that they would be very angry if they knew of the love marriage she had contracted, and as she felt sure her husband was dead, she resolved to hide the fact from them. To this end she got me to take her child and promise to keep it as my own, and never to lisp a word of her marriage. I argued with her, but her fear of fashionable odium overcame the mother's love, and she would not listen. When she went away to join her parents I resolved that she should never see her child again. I may have been wrong, but I was indignant at one who could thus forsake her own child, and I kept my resolution. When she came, some months later, and wished to see little Constance I told her the child was dead. (I meant dead to her.) If I did wrong God forgive me; but I was angry with the heartless thing, and had no compassion on her. Alas! my heart was softened, but too late. Your mother soon became the wife of a wealthy young merchant, named Paul Tiverton, and he thought her what she professed to be—a maiden. She still lives,—a shooting-star in the fashionable sky—a false stone in the diadem of humanity. God have mercy on her! If the time should ever come when you are in trouble or in want—for you will not get this until your mind and judgment are well developed—you will find your own mother in Mrs. JULIA TIVERTON, the wife of Paul Tiverton, Esq."

After this the paper went on to give an account of why the deponent was called away, and so on, and ended by asking forgiveness for all the concealment she had used.

Julia Tiverton read the missive through, and then, with a deep groan, she sank back in her chair, and the paper dropped from her hands. Glicker hastened to pick it up, and after he had done so he said:

"Now what d'ye think of it, mum?"

"Oh, sir?" the miserable woman gasped, "what do you mean to do with this information?"

"I don't know as I 'dzactly understand you, mum."

"I mean, what use do you mean to make of this?"

"Oh—ah—yes, yes. I see now. Wal—I s'pose you'd like to have me speak right out?"

"Certainly, sir."

"Wal—then—ye see me and Constance ain't very well off in the world, and seem' how't she's your darter, why—I didn't know but what, for the sake of keepin' this thing mum, ye'd kind o' help us a mite?"

"You want money?"

"Ye—as—yass that's about as good as anything for the complaint we've got."

"And how much will hire you to keep this thing a profound secret?"

"That ain't jest 'dzactly the way I'd looked at it in. I'd kind o' thought as how't would be better to pay me—that is, to pay your darter and her husband—so much a month—say a hundred dollars a month."

"I will do it, sir. I will do it readily if you will promise in return to keep this thing a profound secret."

"I will, mum."

Mrs. Tiverton drew forth her purse, and took therefrom a number of bank-notes which she looked over, and then handed them to Glicker. He took them with a sparkling eye, and having placed them in his wallet he arose from his chair.

"I s'pose there ain't no need of my stoppin' any longer," he said.

"Not in the least."

And with this Glicker went out into the hall, and madam followed him. In a few moments the latter returned and sank down upon one of the tete-a-tetes.

"Oh, great God of heaven!" she groaned, with her hands clasped, and her face as rigid as marble, "and thus I find a child! She has been beneath this very roof, and I treated her like a dog? She found a home here, and I turned her out, and gave her into the hands of a villain! But it can not be helped now. 'Twas not my fault. No—no. 'Twas the fault of her who lied to me, and told me my child was dead! But never mind. These accursed scenes are not much longer for me. Oh—a brighter sky shall be spread above me, and a fairer land bear my footsteps. Let him hold his secret, or let him blab it, 'tis all one to me. Yet I hope he will be silent awhile."

At this moment Paul Tiverton uttered a deep groan. He could not have helped it had his life depended upon its suppression. It was an agonizing groan, and the grief that gave it birth was bitter and poignant. It was not what he had wholly heard from Duffy Glicker that caused this: it was partly those words she had spoken to herself. He felt sure he knew their meaning. He knew she had received the visits of a soi-disant prince, and what should she mean by "a brighter sky" and "a fairer land" if not the supposed home of that supposed prince! The groan was a bursting forth of agony from all these things, and it startled Mrs. Tiverton as though she had heard the report of a cannon in her house. She sprang to her feet and hurried from the room, and ere many minutes Sarah Johnson came and looked into the library. The merchant heard her coming, and he arose and stood by the door so that she could not see who was in the apartment, for he mistrusted her errand at once. She merely said she had come to see if the light was safe, not knowing that any one was there. Mr. T. very politely bowed her out, and turned towards his guests.

"Now, sir," said Daro Kid—but whom we must hereafter know by his right name, Frank Bertram—"you know all."

"Aye, sir," added Aunt Rhoda, "you now know all you have asked me to reveal. The truth can be no longer hidden."

"And you, sir," whispered the merchant, turning to Bertram, "were Julia's first husband?"

"Yes," returned the storm-beaten man. "In the first flush of my manly pride I married her; and she was then a maiden just blushing into womanhood—only eighteen. I loved her—oh! I loved her well—and I am sure she loved me."

"Aye—in the wildness of romantic folly she did," interposed the old woman.

"But how were you preserved? What occasioned the story of your loss?" asked Tiverton.

"My ship was cast away, sir, upon one of the South Pacific islands, and I alone of all the crew was saved. I was taken by the natives; and as I saved many tools and other things from the wreck, which they knew I understood, they kept me to use them, and also to induct others into their use. Only two weeks after this an American bark touched at the island, and I was carried off and hidden in the interior. They told the crew of the bark that all hands had been lost, but they would give up nothing of what had been found except the papers. So of course the news of my loss came direct to America. I was kept upon that island, as a slave, nearly twenty-four years. At the end of that time I managed to break from the prison into which they had thrown me during the visit of an English man-o'-war, and thus I got clear. The captain of the ship gave me protection at once, and with him I sailed to Portsmouth. As soon as possible I made my way to Liverpool, where I fell in with a merchant from this city, for whom I once sailed as mate. I asked him if he knew anything of my wife. When I told him she was once Julia Church, the daughter of Jacob Church, the wealthy merchant, he informed me she had married with Paul Tiverton, and he was sure she professed to be a maiden. From this I knew that our child must either be dead or else given away; for she could not have passed herself off as a girl unless her offspring was out of the way.

"On my way home from Liverpool, I resolved to change my name, because I had no desire to make a general flare-up by having your family to know there was a first husband living. In short, I did not wish to have Julia know that I was living. When I reached here, my first movement was to call upon you, for I had hoped thus to find if Aunt Rhoda was living, and if so, where. You remember the meeting. After that I went out to Willowdale, where I found that the old lady had gone to the State of Maine, and that my child had grown up and married a man named Milmer, and then moved to the city. Then I returned, and while searching in vain for my child, I fell in with good Aunt Rhoda. Still we could not find poor Constance. But we have found her now—or, what is the same, we have a clew to her. Oh, God be merciful unto her!"

"We shall easily find her, sir," said the merchant. "She is a noble woman, and I am sure she will meet with no harm at the hands of the man who holds her. She is too stern and fixed in her resolutions of Right to be overcome by him. You will find her pure in life, or else free from earth."

"Isn't it strange?" murmured Aunt Rhoda, deeply affected; "only think, 'twas her own daughter who came to Julia's house, and that she turned out upon the mercy of a villain. Oh! God's ways are wonderful!"

"They are indeed!" responded the merchant.

There were more explanations. The old lady told all about how she gave Constance to the widow Gilmore when she started for Maine, and also gave a full account of the paper she left, and all she wrote in it. And then Bertram gave a more full account of his adventures among the Indians. It was late when the trio separated, and as they did so, each had a God's blessing for the others. Bertram and Aunt Rhoda were to remain beneath the merchant's roof for the present.

When Paul Tiverton stood alone in his chamber, he clasped his hands and raised them towards heaven:

"Oh, God! have mercy on her!" he murmured, while the hot tears started from his eyes. "This thing ought never to have been. Forgive her!—Forgive me!"

And with these words he sank down upon a chair, and covered his face with his hands. Once he arose, and was upon the point of seeking his wife—to forgive her all. But he feared that cold repulse which he had so often met before, and he remained where he was. Ah—he did not then think that he would never see that wife again!


CHAPTER XXXV.—THE LAST BLOW IS STRICKEN!

JULIA TIVERTON waited until she knew that her husband had retired. She had received from her maid the information that he had been in the library when the latter went down, and hence the wife knew that her great life-secret was known to her companion. But she seemed not at all frightened. All expression of fear was gone from her face, and in its place had come a look of iron will—of firm purpose. She had seen her daughter leave the house early in the evening, in company with the Count of Gusterhausen, and she knew that Isabella would never come back save as a wife! And yet, when her husband had asked her where his child was, she had told him she had simply gone out to spend the evening with a few female friends!

As soon as Madam was sure her husband had retired, she went to her dressing-case and took therefrom an ebony casket. It was very heavy, for it contained all her jewelry. And she had much of it. Few women in the great city had more. She had one set of diamonds—a tiara, brooch, necklace, and ring—worth eighty thousand dollars. And there was some gold in that casket, too; and also some bank-notes. Aye—there were bank-notes to the amount of one hundred and twenty-eight thousand dollars! She had that day drawn out all her money from the bank!

Having secured this, and then taken a large bundle of her most costly clothing, such as laces, velvet, satin, and so on, she glided noiselessly down into the parlor, where she lighted the gas, and then opened one of the upper blinds, or shutters. When this was done she sat down upon a sofa, and for the first time there was a tremulousness in her frame. But it did not continue long, for in a very few moments after the stream of light was let out into the street some one rapped three times upon the window, with what appeared to be a stick. The woman started up and listened. In a moment more the signal was repeated, only there were four raps instead of three. With a noiseless tread and movement Mrs. Tiverton went and opened the front door, and on the next instant she was in the embrace of the Prince Bernardo de Tavora.

"My life! you are ready!" he uttered, kissing her cheek.

"All ready," she whispered. "Are you?"

"Yes. The carriage is around the corner. Come, let us lose no time."

The woman hastened back, and having thrown on her shawl and hat, and secured the casket, she picked up her bundle and rejoined the waiting Prince.

"Eh?" he said, as he took the bundle. "What's dis? You no come back? You be mine for always?"

"Yes, dear Prince!"

"Oh, sunlight of my soul!—darling of my life!—sweet, dear, angelic, cherub, delight!"

"——Sh! not so loud, my love. Let us go."

"And the money?"

"Is all here, dear Prince,"

"Enough to carry us over to my palace on the Arno?"

"In money and jewels I have two hundred and fifty thousand dollars."

"Oh! charmer—stealer of my soul—keeper of my heart and life—you shall keep all that for charity. While you live upon my bounty you shall bestow that upon the needy peasants, and they shall rise up and call you blessed!"

"Oh, delightful!" murmured Julia.

With this they descended the steps, the woman having first turned off the gas, and in a few moments they reached the coach which was in waiting at the next corner. Julia Tiverton was handed in, and when the Prince had taken a seat by her side, the horses were started off at a swift pace, and the faithless, guilty woman knew that she was leaving her home, never to return to it again in the flesh! Yet she did not weep, nor did she appear sorrowful. She clung closely to the apology for a man who accompanied her, and rested her head upon his shoulder.

When the coach stopped it was before a house in Twenty-Third Street. It was midnight, and yet the parlors of this house were lighted, though there was no sound of revelry from within. The Prince assisted Mrs. Tiverton to alight, and then conducted her to the door, where they were soon admitted by a black servant.

Within the parlor were some half-dozen persons, all intimate friends of the merchant's wife. The owner of the house was a young man who had been left by his parents with a large fortune, and who was now contriving to spend it as fast as possible. He and his wife were present; also a "fast" young justice; a female friend of the hostess, and the Count of Gusterhausen and Isabella. They all arose as the Prince and madam entered, and when the salutations had passed around, the Count proposed that the ceremony should go on.

"Yes," said Mrs. Tiverton; "let it go on at once."

Blushing and trembling Isabella Tiverton was led forward, and with the Count by her side the ceremony commenced. The justice made them man and wife. Isabella had cast off her father's name forever—and she thought she was going to be happy! Not a pang was in her heart—not a sting in her conscience—only once she half-wished, or at least wondered, if she would not have been happier if she could have felt that her father's consent had been given to this union.

As soon as the marriage had been concluded the object of the meeting was gained, and after drinking a few glasses of wine the company prepared to separate.

"My child," said Mrs. Tiverton—and her voice trembled some as she spoke—"you will go to your hotel to-night, and—and—when will you come home?"

"When you say, mother."

"Come when you please. You need not fear to tell your father that you are married. You may come to-morrow."

"Very well," said the new-made wife. "To-morrow the Count and myself will call upon you?"

As Isabella was about to turn away, her coach having been announced, her mother caught her by the hand.

"My child—Isabella," she uttered, spasmodically—"God bless and keep you. Should anything happen that you don't see me to-morrow; or—or—if you don't see me for some time—you won't forget me. You'll pray for me. You'll remember me!"

"Why—ma—what makes you speak so strangely?"

"Strangely, my child? It's nothing—only—only—the thought that you are married—that you are no longer to be with me as a companion—moved me."

"Oh—is that all," returned the young bride, with a light, faint laugh. "Don't feel sad, ma—I shall see you often."

With this the light-headed, empty-hearted bride was led away to her carriage, and for a few moments the mother was left standing alone. And during these few moments there were some strange thoughts and feelings in her soul. She felt sure she should never see her child again—unless, indeed, the Count should take her to Germany, and then bring her on a visit to Rome or Florence! But her thoughts were soon broken in upon by the Prince, who came to inform her that his coach was ready. She prepared herself in a few moments, and was then led out. She found her bundle safe as she had left it. The casket she had kept in her own possession.

"Whither shall we go, dear Prince?" she asked, as she stood upon the sidewalk.

"We will go to a hotel, now, and in the morning start for Philadelphia," returned the Prince.

The lady assented to this, and having taken their seats within the carriage they were whirled off to one of the "down-town" hotels. And over them, for the present, we must drop the curtain. Thus far we have only seen the heartless toying of the faithless wife. God forbid that beyond this her deeds should be dragged into the light!


On the following day Mr. Tiverton was just preparing to go out with Bertram and Aunt Rhoda, when a coach stopped before the door, and going to the front parlor window he saw the Count Adolphus Gusterhausen alight, followed by his daughter Isabella. In a few moments more they were in the parlor.

"Ah—Mr. Tiverton," said the Count, bowing and twisting his body into all the fashionable shapes he could think of, "Allow me, sir, to introduce—aw—mine wife."

"YOUR WIFE, sir!" gasped the merchant, starting back.

"Yes, sir. We were married last evening."

"LAST EVENING!" repeated the astounded man, hardly able to credit the evidence of his own sense. "Last evening! And have you been away all night, Isabella?"

"Yes, pa," murmured the wife, clinging to her Count. "We are married. Oh! you will forgive me!"

"Married! His wife! Oh, God have mercy! But say—did your mother know of this?"

"Yes, pa. She gave me her consent. Where is she?"

"She must be in her chamber. I have not seen her this morning. But hold I will send for her."

Thus speaking Mr. Tiverton rang the bell, and in a few moments Sarah Johnson answered the summons.

"Sarah—go and tell your mistress I wish to see her in the parlor."

"She's gone, sir," replied the girl.

"Gone?—gone where?"

"I don't know, sir. She went away last night with somebody, and hain't been back since. All her jewelry is gone, and all of her best things, sir!"

"Well!—well!" gasped the terror-stricken man. "What else do you know?"

"Only that she went yesterday and drawed all her money out of the bank, sir; and was busy all day in fixin' up her things."

"Isabella," spoke the father in a hushed whisper, "Was your mother present at your marriage last evening?"

"Yes, sir," the daughter replied, now frightened herself,

"And who was there with her?"

Isabella hesitated.

"Tell me, my child—who was with her?"

"The Prince!"

Paul Tiverton staggered back to a sofa, and sank down. He covered his face with his hands and groaned aloud.

"Let me go up to her room," said Isabella.

"Go," replied the father.

She went. She found it as Sarah had said. All the jewelry was gone, and also the most valuable of her less bulky clothing. On the dressing-case she found a folded and sealed note, directed to herself. She broke it open, and read it; and under the first impulse of her disappointment and ill-feeling, in consequence of her mother's having gone off and left her thus, she carried the missive down and gave it to her father. He opened it, and read as follows:

ISABELLA—When you get this I shall be far from you. You will not blame me for the steps I have taken. You know I could not live happily with your father. He is not suited to my tastes and feelings. But I have found one who is. Oh! you know the Prince is a splendid man. He loves me very much. His love for me is a passion. He is poetical and romantic; and I know he will make me happy. We shall go to Italy—that land of love and sunshine, where my life will pass away in pleasure and love. Oh, the Prince has charmed me, and I have charmed him. I fly to embrace him and rest upon his bosom. If you go to Germany with your own dear Count, he may take you to Italy, and we shall meet. Will it not be delightful thus to meet in that land of poetry and bliss?

But I must draw to a close. You may tell your father, if you please, where I am gone; but tell him it will be useless to search for me. I do not blame him, because I know his nature would not let him assimilate to me.

Good bye, Isabella, and may you be happy in your new relation. I must subscribe myself as I am hereafter to be known, for my old name I must put off. So—as the happy wife of the man whom I adore,

I subscribe myself your friend and mother,

JULIA DE TAVORA, Princess.

Paul Tiverton read the letter through, and as it fell from his hands, he bowed his head, and remained for some moments motionless. Had he been alone he would have wept; but he controlled himself; and as soon as he dared to trust his speech he arose to his feet.

"Isabella," he said, "you ask my forgiveness. I grant it fully and freely; and whenever misfortune may come—when the hour arrives that shall see you in want of love or friendship, then come to me, and a father's arms shall be open to receive you, and a father's heart to love you as ever. But never come here again with this thing whom you call husband!"

"Sir!" exclaimed the Count, starting to his feet.

"Be easy," returned the merchant, casting upon the popinjay a look of ineffable contempt. "I should dislike to have my daughter's husband horsewhipped from the house——"

"Sir!"

"——which will be most assuredly done if you offer me one word of your insolence!"

Adolphus G. C. Gusterhausen seemed rather fearful of tempting the merchant further, for he sank back into his chair, muttering as he did so:

"You are my wife's father. That protects you."

"And, now, my child," resumed Tiverton, turning to his daughter, "since you have taken to yourself a husband I suppose you must cleave to him—at least, while you wish. You know what I have said. Your husband will never cross my threshold again! You shall be welcome at any time."

"But her portion, sir—her marriage portion!" murmured the Count.

"She must look to her husband for support while she lives with him, sir," coolly returned the merchant. "As for you, sir—you may from this time forward rest assured that not one penny of my money shall find its way to your purse!"

"No?" gasped the Count.

"Not a penny, sir!"

"Dunder and blixen!"

"You understand me, sir!"

"Dear Count," whimpered Isabella, turning to her husband, "you know you have money enough. You did not marry me for my money. Oh, do not let pa think you are mercenary!"

"Then let us go," said the disappointed husband, taking his wife by the hand.

Isabella turned toward her father, and for a moment she hesitated.

"I have said all I can say," spoke Mr. Tiverton. "You have chosen your own pillow, and you must lie upon it if you will. Yet—there is one thing more I will say: if you wish I will have you freed from these bonds at once."

"How, sir! I'd like to know how you'll separate a man and wife?" cried the Count.

"Never you mind, sir; only be assured I could do it much more easily than you can remember to speak like a German!"

"Let us go, my wife," the Count said, turning away to hide his confusion. He could not bear the keen gaze of the man before him. He felt uneasy and unsafe, for he had a dim fear that the merchant could see beneath the outer guise he wore.

"I will remain with my husband," said Isabella. There was a spice of bitterness in her tone, and a cloud upon her brow; but she turned away, and was soon in her carriage once more.

It was severe struggle for that father. He would have clasped his child to his bosom, and bestowed upon her of his wealth; but he saw that she had a lesson to learn, and he was confident that she would soon learn it.

After they were gone—the Count and Isabella—Mr. Tiverton saw the note upon the carpet where he had dropped it. He picked it up and put it in his pocket, and then went into the library, where he had left Bertram and Aunt Rhoda.

"My friends," he said, "I can not go out with you as I had hoped. But it will make no difference. You can go out to Broadway—it is only a few steps—and there take a stage, and ask the driver to set you you down at number——. It is well up-town, but you will be left at the door. If Orion Lindell is not in you will find his mother and my ward, and they will either send for the young man, or have you remain until he returns. I know of no one in the city who can help you in finding poor Constance better than he can. And there is one errand I wish you to do for me. No. Stop—I will write a note."

Thus speaking, the merchant sat down before the great walnut secretary and wrote a short note which he folded and sealed, and then directed to Ellen Durand.

"There," he said, arising and handing the note to Aunt Rhoda, "will you give that to Ellen?"

The old lady promised that she would, and then Mr. Tiverton waited upon them to the door, and having once more directed them how to proceed, they departed.

Just as the merchant turned back into the hall, he met his coachman, who informed him that the horses were ready to be harnessed.

"I shall not want them, Thomas. And—look you—tell the servants that I am home to no one save Ellen Durand or Orion Lindell. To all others I am not at home."

After this, Paul Tiverton sought his library once more; and having bolted the doors, he sank down upon the long couch. He drew forth that fatal letter, and read it once more; and then, with his head bowed, and his hands clasped tightly over his face, he burst into tears.

"Oh, Julia! Julia!" he groaned, "thou hast stricken the last blow; and from this time forth thy grave is digged! And thou hast done it! Poor ignorant Julia! Oh! thou wert forced upon me——"

The sentence was cut short, for he would not speak the words that had arisen in his thoughts. He remembered how Julia Church had been forced upon him, and how she had schemed to obtain his hand. And the thoughts came now with peculiar power.


There is one more scene which we must crowd into this chapter.

At the very hour on which Julia Tiverton was riding away towards the hotel with the Prince, Duffy Glicker entered the house in Cow Bay, where he had left his prisoners. He had a small, dark lantern, which we have seen him use before, and also a latch-key to the door. He entered, and in the hall he pulled off his boots.

"If I can get up without makin' any noise," he said to himself, "I may catch her afore she can grab that pistol of her'n."

And with this intent he crept up-stairs, as noiselessly as possible. When he had reached the door of the chamber where he had left his prize, he was not a little astonished to find the bolts—one at the top and one at the bottom—both drawn. Yet he opened it as easily as possible, and glided in. His first look at the bed revealed the fact that it was empty. He gazed all around, but his prisoners were not there. In a fury he dashed out of the chamber, and started for the basement in search of the landlady. When he reached the hall he found two men there, whom he had not seen on entering, and whom he would gladly have avoided now—for they were policemen.

"Ah—this is Mr. Glicker, I believe," said one of them.

"Yes," returned the villain; "and I want to find Marm Golden."

"We will take you to the very place where she is stopping, sir," rejoined one of the officers, and at the same time taking from his pocket a pair of handcuffs. "Come—no waste of time, now. The woman who kept this place and all her people are in the Tombs, and you must go with us."

Glicker hesitated a moment, and then seemed inclined to resist; but he soon came to his senses, and allowed the ornaments to be placed on his wrists.

"Now where is my wife?" he asked, when this was done.

"Who was your wife?" asked one of the police.

"The woman that was in the right-hand back room on the next floor."

"Oh—Mrs. Milmer, you mean?—She that used to live over Crown's groggery, and lost her husband there?"

"Yes—only she's Mrs. Glicker now."

"Well—I guess she's free by this time. I saw Peggy Warling not long since, and she told me the whole story. She took a young fellow named Lindell up there—a gold-beater, I think he is——"

"Aye—and a Duffy Glicker beater, too, I reckon," added the second policeman, with a laugh.

The villain swore terribly when he found that Orion Lindell had again thwarted him; but the officers soon put a stop to his cursing, and then led him off towards the Tombs.

"Won't you tell me now the young rat found out that the widder was there?" asked the prisoner on the way.

"He didn't know it until he reached the room," returned the officer. "An enemy of his sought to harm him, and to that end hired Peg Warling to entice him to her room, and have him there about the time we came down upon the house. But, you see, it all turned out the other way. Peg used to use that room, so she took Lindell there. You see it now."

Glicker saw it very plainly, and once more the officers were obliged to stop him from cursing and swearing.


CHAPTER XXXVI.—REUNION.—THE STRICKEN.

MRS. LINDELL sat in her comfortable parlor, and with her were Ellen Durand, Constance Milmer, and little Lizzie. They were very happy, though their joy was calm and subdued. Constance had been telling over again some of the fearful scenes through which she had passed, and was just speaking of Orion's nobleness of heart for the hundredth time, when one of the stages stopped at the gate, and in a moment more a middle-aged, or elderly, man and an old woman got out. As they started up the walk towards the house Mrs. Lindell arose and went to the door to meet them. They were Frank Bertram and Aunt Rhoda.

"Is this Mrs. Lindell's house?" asked the former, as they reached the door-stone.

"It is—and that is my name," returned the mistress. "Won't you walk in?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Bertram. "Mr. Tiverton sent us up here. We wanted to see your son. But we'll tell you all about it when we get set down."

Mrs. Lindell conducted them at once to the parlor, and offered them seats. Constance and Ellen arose and bowed very politely, and the former was about to resume her seat when something in the face and form of the old woman arrested her attention.

Constance was eight years of age when she was left by Aunt Rhoda; and from eight to twenty-seven is quite a change. But Aunt Rhoda was sixty when she went away; and from sixty to eighty-three had not been so much of a change but the eye of Constance caught familiar features.

The young widow moved forward, and tremblingly laid her hand upon the old woman's shoulder.

"Pardon me," she whispered, much agitated; "but tell me if I am deceived. Is not this Rhoda Church?"

"That is my name," the aged female answered, gazing sharply into her interlocutor's face.

"And don't you know me, grandmother? Don't you remember your little Constance?"

"What!" screamed the old lady, fairly leaping from the floor, and then grasping Constance by both shoulders. "You my little Constance? You are! You are! Oho—I know ye now! Constance—my own darling!—oh, I know ye now!"

"And we meet once more here on earth!" murmured the young widow, while the warm tears streamed down her cheeks.

"Meet, you said?" cried Aunt Rhoda, absolutely dancing up and down like a pleased child. "What once more? Ha, ha, ha,—and somebody else meets, too. Aye—SOMEBODY ELSE meets, too! Frank Bertram, come here! Come here, I tell ye! It's yer own child!—your own flesh and blood!—yer own darling—yer own little Constance! Oho! here's your father, my love!"

Constance turned, and she saw a noble-faced man—a man in the prime of life, upon whose brow were lines of care, and upon whose head was premature frost. His arms were half-opened, leaving a broad, full, manly breast exposed, while down his browned cheeks big tears were rolling. In an instant all the mighty love of her heart went forth to that man, and had she know him for long years her affection could not have been more firmly set upon him.

"Constance—my child!"

So spoke the wanderer, and the word that came back in reply was the sweetest word that ever dropped its fragrance upon his soul:

"Father!"

And while those two remained for some moments clasped in each other's embrace, Aunt Rhoda set at defiance all the laws of old age and decrepitude by dancing about the room in a manner that was wondrous to behold.

"Why—they told us you was in the power of a wicked man," said the old woman, after Constance and her father had resumed their seats.

"So I was," answered the happy daughter, wiping the streaming tears from her cheeks; "but Mr. Lindell set me free."

"Mr. Lindell?" uttered Aunt Rhoda, with some surprise. "Why, if what Mr. Tiverton tells us is true the young man must have a sort of—what is it ye calls this stuff that draws needles, and nails, and such things?"

"Magnetism," suggested Ellen.

"Yes—that is it. I should think he'd got a magne-tic attraction towards ye."

"It would seem so," returned Constance. "But," she added, with a devout look and tone, "I think God has been very kind."

"So he has," murmured Bertram warmly.

After this there was a long pause. Constance trembled violently, for a question had arisen to her lips which came from a fearful source—fearful to her, and she felt, fearful to others. She turned to Aunt Rhoda, and in a convulsive whisper she asked:

"My mother! have you seen her?"

"Not this time, Constance. But I saw her before. Think of her no more. Try to feel that she is dead."

"Aye," murmured Bertram. "Try to think she died when you were a babe, my child,"

"Her mother!" uttered Ellen, starting forward just as Bertram had clasped little Lizzie to his bosom, and placing her hand upon the old woman's shoulder, "Tell me! oh! tell me!"

"Don't you guess?"

"Yes—but I dare not speak it!"

"Then you are right. The woman whom Paul Tiverton married, supposing her to be a maiden, was then the mother of a living child. But mind you—she thought her first husband dead."

"His wife!" murmured Mrs. Lindell, pale and trembling. "His wife the mother of Constance, and a wife already when he married her!"

"Yes," answered Rhoda.

The hostess clasped her hands over her heart and started to her feet. She was pale as death, and trembled violently; and without another word she tottered from the room.

At this juncture Aunt Rhoda remembered the note she had from the merchant for Ellen, and taking it from her pocket she handed it to her. The fair girl broke the seal, and recognized the handwriting of her guardian, but it was a tremulous, nervous scrawl for his pen, and she thought she saw tear-marks upon the paper. It read as follows:

MY OWN DEAR ELLEN:—When you get this come to me at once. I am alone—all alone! Oh! if you love me, come. Come as soon as you can. From thy smile, at least, the joy is not gone. Come and let me see it. You will come, I know you will.

TIVERTON.

Ellen read this over the second time, and tears started from her eyes as she folded it up. A dim glimmering of the truth broke in upon her. She arose and left the room. She found Mrs. Lindell in the kitchen weeping.

"What is it?" she asked, throwing her arms about the widow's neck. "Why do you weep?"

"You must not ask me. Let it pass. If you love me, strive to forget that you found me thus."

"I will, my dear friend—I will. I will not be gone long—at least without coming to see you!"

"Where are you going?"

"To Mr. Tiverton. He has sent for me. He is unhappy, I know. Oh! he is a noble man!—one of the best—one of the most pure and generous-hearted men that ever lived on earth. I must go at once; but you shall hear from me."

"Very well, Ellen. Go—and may the blessing and care of God go with you!"

"Thank you," murmured the fair girl, once more winding her arms about the woman's neck and kissing her. "And those old people," she added, after she had wiped away her tears—"they will remain till Orion comes."

"Certainly—and as much longer as they please. I shall love them."

After this Ellen prepared for her departure as soon as possible, and having bade her hostess to inform Orion where she had gone, and also promised the others that she should soon see them again, she kissed Constance and little Lizzie, and then left the house, and took the first stage that came along.

When she reached her guardian's house she rang the bell, and Sarah Johnson answered the summons.

"Oh—my dear, good, kind lady," cried Sarah, "I'm so glad to see you."

"Is Mr. Tiverton in?" the young lady asked, not a little puzzled to account for this sudden change in Sarah's manner—for my lady's maid had always followed in the wake of her mistress, and treated the fair ward rather coolly.

"He is, my dear, good lady. I'll go and call him at once."

"No—tell me where he is."

The girl hesitated a moment, for she evidently had a desire to witness the meeting between her master and Ellen. But she soon concluded that if she would have the least hope of retaining her place she must now obey readily the one who might possibly take the head of the establishment. So she informed the caller that the merchant was in the library.

Ellen waited to hear no more, but proceeding at once to the door of the library, she gave a light rap.

"Who is it?" said a voice from within.

Surely that could not be Paul Tiverton's voice! At least, so thought Ellen. She had not seen him since his return from the country, and she hesitated ere she could possibly convince herself that it was his voice she had heard. However, she placed her hand upon the knob; but she found the door fast.

"Who is it?" repeated the voice.

It could not be Paul Tiverton's voice.

"I wish to see——"

But Ellen was not permitted to finish the sentence, for at the first sound of her voice the inmate sprang to the door and threw it open.

"Ellen! Ellen! Oh, my own sweet Nelly!—you have come to see me!" He caught her in his arms as he spoke, and pressed her to his bosom. She felt warm tears dropping upon her shoulder, and when she gazed up she found him weeping.

"My dear, dear, generous guardian," she cried, "what has happened?"

"Sit down—sit down, Ellen," he said, resuming his own seat, and wiping the tears from his face. "Did you learn nothing from either of those people who came up there?"

"Yes—I did."

"And how much?"

"That Mr. Bertram was Aunt Julia's first——"

"Call her aunt no more, Ellen!"

"Well, sir—I learned that he was her first husband, and that Constance Milmer was her own child."

"Aye—so much you have learned—but no more?"

"No more, my guardian."

"And did you know that poor Constance had again been taken by the villain who has so long persecuted her?"

"Yes, sir—I knew that she was taken. But she has been rescued."

"Rescued? Do you know it?"

"I do. I left her at Mrs. Lindell's when I came away."

"Oh, thank God for that!" devoutly ejaculated the merchant. "At Mrs. Lindell's, you say?"

"Yes, sir."

"And how was she saved?"

"Orion did it."

"Orion? By the power of truth, but he is one of nature's kings! But how did he do it."

Ellen related all the circumstances as she had heard them from both Orion and Constance. She told the plot of Jasper Thornton—how he had sent Peggy Warling to entice Orion to seeming shame, and how it had all turned out for real good.

"So Mr. Thornton begins to be jealous, does he? But he'll soon run his race. And now tell me one more thing, Ellen. Do you know how the poor widow was thrown into that man's power?"

"If you would know, I can tell you, sir."

"I would know, Ellen."

"Then I must tell you a tale of wrong in which Mrs. Tiverton acted a leading part."

"Go on," said the merchant, with a shudder.

So the fair girl went on and related all the circumstances attending Mrs. Milmer's being enticed into the villain's power.

Mr. Tiverton pondered awhile in silence, and then gazed once more into his companion's face.

"There's one more thing I would know," he said. "I would know why, and how, you left this house?"

And thereupon Ellen told the story of Orion's repulsion from the house, and her own interviews with the lady.

"Alas! and is it possible that she has been so cruel!" the unhappy man groaned, with his hands clasped. "I knew she was cruel to me, but I dreamed not that she was so hard-hearted. Oh! I could bear—but I have something more to tell you. Here read this. It was found upon her dressing-case this morning."

As the merchant spoke he took the note from his pocket—the note which Isabella had given him—and having clutched it in his hand a moment as though fearful of letting it go, he handed it to Ellen. She took it and read it—she read it once—then wept—and then read it again; and when she had read it the second time she handed it back to her guardian. He gazed into her face, but did not speak. The silence was becoming painful when Ellen spoke:

"My dear guardian,"—and she arose and threw her arms about his neck—"you must not weep any more."

"Oh, Ellen!—I could bear the grief—I could bear it and be content; but oh, the shame!—the shame, Ellen, which must cling to her name, and overshadow me with its darkness!"

"No, no, my good guardian. Those who know you—who know you well—those who are your friends—must know the character of the faithless woman; and as sure as God rules over us you will have their sympathy and esteem. Those who will feel differently are such as you need not care for. Will you not think of it in this light?"

"Bless you, Nelly! bless you!" cried the stricken man, earnestly. "I knew you would give me comfort. Oh, it was—it is—a dark path for me!"

"I know it must be, guardian; but still remember that the sensible and truthful will honor you as ever, and as you bear yourself before the world so will its people judge you. Show them a firm, stern front, and they will bow before you. Let them see that you are stricken and crushed, and they will laugh and jeer."

"I know you speak the truth, my darling."

"I think I do, guardian. But tell me—Who is this Prince?"

"A needy adventurer who has by some means discovered that my wife had some money of her own, and who has contrived to put himself in a way to obtain it. I am sure it is so."

"And Isabella—where is she?"

"Gone! She was married last night to that miserable swindler who has been so long about palming himself off for a Count! Her mother was present at the ceremony, and after it was concluded rode away with her Prince! Isabella came here this forenoon with her husband. He had the face to ask for her marriage portion; but I assured him that he should never have one penny of mine. Oh, it was a hard blow! Hard—hard—very hard! I wanted to keep my child—I wished to save her—I wished to give her money; but too well I knew that every shilling given to her would only go to the pocket of the swindler, and I would not do it. I knew that she needed a lesson; and she will surely receive it—stern and harsh. I told her that my door should be ever open to her—that my heart should be always hers, and ever ready to embrace her with its love. It was hard to see her go, but I could not help it! She will come back, I feel sure of it."

"I think she will," returned Ellen.

"And now, Ellen, darling, you will not leave me. You will stay with me awhile. Let Orion come when he can. Let him come every evening. Say that you will not leave me. Oh! I should be very miserable all alone."

"I will stop, guardian."

The stout man pressed the fair girl once more to his bosom, and while the tears streamed down his cheeks anew he blessed her over and over again.


CHAPTER XXXVII.—A RECORD.

THE summer time came, with its warm breath and genial sunshine, and the life of the great city rolled on as ever. Paul Tiverton was to be found daily in his counting-house, and the tide of wealth was setting in upon him strongly—more strongly than ever before. Before the world he was cold and stern, bearing his great calamity with dignity; and few people who came in contact with him dreamed of the tender, affectionate heart that beat in his bosom. But at his house—in the society of his faithful ward—he was another being. His love shone forth brightly, and the fountain of his feelings was not checked: Ellen sang for him, and read for him, and in many little ways did she contrive to please and entertain him. He loved that generous girl with the whole love of his great soul, and, with one exception, he never seemed so happy as when she was by his side. That exception was, when Orion Lindell was there with her. The young gold-beater came often to visit them, and the love and esteem which the wealthy merchant seemed to feel for him was as strange as it was deep and abiding.

Months had rolled away; the last breath of the summer time was fanning the bursting ear and the blushing fruit; and yet no word had been heard from the fugitive wife, nor from the lost daughter. Their names were never mentioned by the merchant, save to God when he prayed, and if, when out in the world, a friend chanced to ask of them, his only answer was a sad shake of the head, accompanied by a look which plainly implored that nothing more might be said on the subject. He knew not whether they lived on earth or in the world of spirits.

One thing was plain to Ellen Durand. She knew that the loss of the wife and daughter was not all that weighed heavily upon her guardian's mind. She thought at times that there was something which lay far deeper in his soul than his present bereavement. Once he had inadvertently made some allusion to his strange visit to the country—the visit he made just before the calamity fell upon him. He spoke of it during one of his melancholy fits, and said enough to convince his ward that about that visit there were deep and important memories clinging. But he stopped as soon as he remembered what he was saying, and turned away to hide the the tears that started to his eyes. Yet Ellen asked no questions. She saw there was something which he wished to keep to himself, and she never showed that she had noticed any thing unusual.

Though Orion came so often to the merchant's house, yet the latter never returned the visits. The youth had often invited him to call, but his only answer was a faint, unhappy smile, and a shake of the head.

At the home of Orion and his mother room had been made for Frank Bertram, Aunt Rhoda, Constance and her child. Constance found plenty of sewing to do, and as she preferred to be busy she found pleasure in earning her own livelihood. Aunt Rhoda had money enough to pay her way very comfortably, and as for Bertram he accepted a handsome sum which came to him through the hand of Orion. He knew well that Tiverton sent it, but he did not refuse it.

Mr. Duffy Glicker was sent over to the "Island," and came very near making his escape on the third day after his imprisonment. He broke from his cell and gained the water, but he was taken again by some of the officers in a boat. The bath proved a fatal one for him. A severe cold came upon him—fever set in—and he died; and when, a few days afterwards, Orion carried home a paper containing an account of his death, Constance wore a new smile of peace upon her sweet face, for she had not ceased to fear that man until she heard of his departure from earth.

And there was one other occurrence during that summertime which deserves notice. One Saturday evening a number of gamesters were assembled in the very room where we saw poor Barnes fleeced out of his money. The brandy bottle passed freely, and money changed hands rapidly. At length a dispute rose. Mat Mayburn accused Jasper Thornton of hiding cards about his person, and thus making up an unfair hand. Thornton denied the charge. The lie was given and returned—blows followed—and finally Mayburn drew a knife. Those who saw the movement caught his hand, but not before he had stricken one blow upon his adversary. Thornton cried out that he was stabbed, and as soon as Mayburn could be secured the wounded man was led away. A physician was sent for, who was informed that the stab had been received in a street affray. The wound was a bad one, the knife having entered between the third and fourth ribs, on the right side, and perforated the lung.

The poor man lingered along several days, and finally died in intense agony. Both Orion and Ellen shuddered when they heard of his death, but they could not sorrow. They knew that the world was better off without him, and that he could not be more miserable in death than he had been in life.

Mr. Garvey, the man for whom Orion worked, and who had been for some years a widower, having lost his wife within a year of his marriage, had paid several visits to the home of his young foreman. Gradually his visits became more frequent, and finally he and Constance used to walk out together. Ah, he loved the beautiful young widow—loved her truly and fondly. Not only did he see that she was lovely in face and form; but he found that her heart was pure, and her soul elevated and noble. He confessed his love—he offered her his heart and his hand—and upon his bosom, with warm tears rolling down her cheeks, she returned his love, and gave herself up to his keeping, once more to be a wife—aye, and a happy, joyous wife.

One evening—it was the last day of summer—as Mr. Tiverton and Ellen sat in the library, the postman brought a letter for the merchant which was handed in by one of the servants. He opened it, and as he read on a fearful tremor shook his frame. When he had finished it a deep groan escaped from his lips, and for some moments he remained with his head bowed, and the letter hanging by his side. By and by he read it over again, and then handed it to Ellen.

"Read it," he said in a convulsive whisper.

The fair girl took it and read as follows:

NEW ORLEANS, AUG. 16th, 18—

MR. PAUL TIVERTON: Dear Sir—There is a woman here, lying sick with fever, and general prostration, who says she is your wife. She wishes to see you very much. She is now at our hospital, and everything in our power will be done for her. We found her in the street, weak and faint, but she will not tell us how she came so, though from another source I think we have learned the truth. I took her to the hospital, and have assumed the responsibility of her charge. Yours very truly,

SERGEANT L. COMSTOCK.

When Ellen read this she folded it up and handed it back to her guardian.

"What will you do?" she asked.

"I shall go at once," the merchant replied. "There is a steamer ready to sail now for Mobile. She leaves to-morrow. I shall go out in her."

"Do you know this Mr. Comstock?"

"Yes. He is one of my old customers. He buys largely of me every year. I shall go at once. I must be ready to-night."

Preparations were made, and at ten o'clock on the following day Paul Tiverton was on board the steamer. At half-past ten he shook hands with Orion, and promised to write as soon as he got there.

Time passed on, and Ellen Durand was sole mistress of the great house. She had company part of the time, and very often some of her female friends remained with her over night. At length she received a letter from her guardian, and going away to the library and shutting herself in, she broke the seal and read as follows:

NEW ORLEANS, SEPT. 20th, 18—.

MY OWN DEAR NELLY:—I reached this far-off city safely and in good season. Of my experience in other matters I will tell you in person; but herein I must write what I fear I could not tell. When I reached this place I found that Julia had been dead over two weeks. It was she, alas! and she had been poor and miserable! Her clothing was left—the same that she wore away from home. The fellow who brought her away—who represented himself as a prince—proved to be a Mississippi gambler of the most desperate character. He took her to this place, and having got all her money and jewels from her he deserted her. I think he has gone to Cuba. He will never come here again, as the authorities are anxious to apprehend him. His real name is Bernard Tavora. Without money, and a total stranger in a strange land, poor Julia wandered forth into the streets, and sank down faint and weary upon the sidewalk! The place of her lowly rest chanced to be in front of my friend's store, and he took her up and carried her to the hospital, where she was cared for as well as could be. But her frame was too much shattered to withstand the shock. She sank to sleep in the embrace of death three days after Comstock mailed his letter. I visited the place where her remains were placed, and have caused a marble slab, with her simple name, and the motto—"REST IN PEACE," inscribed thereon.

I feel better now. I would rather know that she rests as she does than to think that she was still living in shame and infamy. She has passed away—she is gone now—and henceforth I shall try to feel that she never lived. I am strong and well, and shall return by the first steamer.

You may show this to Orion, and leave him free to use the information as his own judgment shall dictate. Yet show it to no one else.

Your true friend,

And loving guardian,

PAUL TIVERTON.

Ellen wept profusely over this letter. There were tear-marks upon it, and the whole tone was, to her, that of a man who was struggling to overcome a great sorrow. That very evening Orion came, and she gave him the letter to read. He read it, and as he handed it back he said:

"Oh, I thank God that he is free! He will be himself once more now that he knows her fate. The dread uncertainty which has hung upon him has seemed to keep his soul in darkness, and his heart bowed down with fear."

"So it has," returned Ellen. "And yet," she added, with a strange look into her lover's face, "this is not all that has troubled him. There is something else—I am as sure of it as I can be of any thing which my own senses have not recognized. Oh, I wish I could know what it is!"

Orion did not answer in words. He bowed his head, and a tremor shook his frame. He had more reason to feel earnestly the power of that strange secret, than had his companion. But the conversation was soon changed, for the fair girl saw that her lover wished not to speak upon the subject she had broached.

Time still passed on, and at length Paul Tiverton returned to his home. He found Ellen in the library when he entered, and when she saw him she sprang forward and sank upon his bosom. The meeting was a joyous one, and the merchant seemed very happy.

Once more Paul Tiverton went about his business; and though in some respects he was happy, there was a dark cloud often upon his brow.

One evening, as he and Ellen sat alone together, the latter said, after having gazed for some time into his troubled face:

"My dear guardian, why will you not tell me what it is that affects you so?"

The merchant started, and a crimson flush overspread his face, which was quickly followed by an ashen pallor.

"Nothing—nothing," he whispered.

"Ah—but there is something," returned the generous girl, arising and placing her arms about his neck. "Come—tell me your secret. I may help you."

"Oh, my child—my Ellen—you know not what you ask. Say no more. The time is coming when all shall be revealed. It is not far distant. Wait, Nelly dear, wait, and in due time you shall know all. Will you not be satisfied?"

"Yes, my guardian."

And she was satisfied to wait, though she still prayed that ere long she might know the strange secret which she was assured lay so heavily upon the good man's soul!


CHAPTER XXXVIII.—A STORY OF THE PAST.

IT was evening, and Orion Lindell and his mother sat alone together in their comfortable parlor. Frank Bertram and Aunt Rhoda had gone to pay a visit to Constance, who had, as the reader knows, assumed the control of the domestic concerns of Mr. Garvey's household. The night was cold and blustering, for the first snow of winter lay upon the earth.

"My mother," spoke Orion, who had dropped his book upon his lap, and had been for some moments gazing upon her without her knowledge, "why will you not tell me why you are thus cast down and sorrowful?"

"Me?—sorrowful?" uttered the mother starting quickly at the sound of her son's voice.

"Aye—do not deny it. I can see. Oh, why will you not tell me? I am suffering, though until now I have not complained. But I can not bear it any longer. I can not bear to see you thus. You are growing more pale and thin day by day. The rose is fading from your cheek, and the light from your eye. Of late you have grown sad and melancholy, and I can see that a worm is gnawing at your heart. Will you not entrust your secret to me?"

"My secret, Orion?"

"Aye. Is there not one weighing heavily upon you?"

"My son," the woman said, after a short pause, and as she spoke there was a faint smile upon her still beautiful face, "you overrate my melancholy."

"Ah, mother, you but deceive yourself if you think so. I can see; and it is my great love that gives me vision."

"Oh!" murmured Mrs. Lindell, resting her head upon the bosom of her son, who had taken a seat near her; "I know you love me, and would tell you all you ought to know——"

She was going on to speak further when they heard a stage stop at the gate, and when Orion went to the window and looked out he saw a gentleman and lady coming up to the door. He went at once to admit them, and he was not a little surprised upon recognizing Mr. Tiverton and Ellen Durand. He waited upon them to the parlor, and when they had saluted the hostess they took seats near the stove.

"This is an unexpected visit," said Orion, gazing first upon Ellen, and then upon the merchant.

"Yes," returned the maiden, who saw that her guardian would not reply. "But we thought—a—my guardian wished—to visit you."

There was something strange in this hesitation of one who was always so plain-spoken, and Orion looked puzzled. He glanced at his mother, and saw that she was pale and trembling. It was all strange. It was the first time that the merchant had been at their house since he took Ellen away.

There followed a long silence, and when it was becoming painful Paul Tiverton spoke:

"Mrs. Lindell," he said, in a low, hushed tone, "I have come this evening to—to—tell you a simple story of life."

"No, no—not here!—not now!"

"Yes," added the merchant. "Let it be here; let it be now. These two whom we love so well, have a right to hear it. Listen to me. I shall be brief, for it is a simple, truthful story, and needs not many words."

As he thus spoke, he wiped a tear from his eye, and by a powerful effort quelled the emotions that were shaking his frame. Mrs. Lindell sat now like one in a trance. The tremor had left her as if by a miracle, and every nerve and muscle seemed in repose for some mighty effort.

"What I have to say is this," commenced Paul Tiverton, in a low, hushed tone, but which gained power as he went on. "My parents were very wealthy, and my father was very proud of station and name. My mother was a mild, good woman, and from her lips and example I learned those great lessons of life which fit the heart for the enjoyment of true blessings. At the age of nineteen I went to C—— —— and entered the college in that town. Three years after that I became acquainted with a young girl who was a teacher in one of the schools of the place. She was only seventeen, but yet wholly a woman, and as beautiful as the first blush of a summer's morn. I loved her with the whole love of my soul, and when I had confessed it, and she had acknowledged a reciprocal affection, I was happy. I spent many of my evenings in her society, and I need not tell you how joyous those bright-winged moments were. At length I talked with her of marriage. I told her of my father's proud spirit, and informed her that he would never consent to the union. But I assured her his casting me off would not change my plans with regard to our union in the least. And I also told her that I felt sure my mother would be able in time to overcome his objections. I had seen my mother, and when I had told her my story of love she said she would not advise me against my future peace. All this I told to my love, and then I persuaded her to become my wife, but to keep the matter a secret, at least till my term at college expired, which then had only four months to run. I assured her that as soon as I was free from my class I would own her to all the world as my wife. And more—I told her to speak the word—to utter the wish—and even then the marriage should be public. But she loved me too well to oppose me in a single wish. I gained the necessary certificates, and we were married.

"Four months of pure and unalloyed joy followed. My preceptors loved me for my orderly and studious behavior, and for having directly quelled many turmoils among the other students. I told them all, and they blamed me not.

"I must now relate some things which I knew not until years afterwards, but as they come in regular sequence I will relate them as they occurred, and not as they came to my knowledge.

"I said I passed four months of pure happiness. Oh, it was pure and blessed! As I became more and more acquainted with my young wife I found new charms of mind and new treasures of soul. I told her often, and I told her with truth, that not for all the wealth of all the fathers in the world would I have given her up. No—her presence—her smile and gentle counsel would have lightened the sweetest toil. But a blow came. One of the preceptors—a mean, sordid wretch, in hopes of gain, went to my father and told him the whole story. When the term of my college life had expired my father sent for me to come to him. He did not lisp that he knew of my marriage; but he had planned to send me to the East Indies in one of his ships. At first I refused to go; but he—insisted he said that there was business which I must attend to, and that he would turn me from his door if I thus early commenced to thwart his most important plans. What could I do? I had to go. I hastened out to where I had left my wife and told her all. She bade me by all means to go. I shall never forget the words she used at that time. Said she: 'I should fail indeed to show my love if I could urge you to remain here to the sundering of the ties between father and son. Go, Paul—go—and only promise that you will not forget to love and cherish me in your heart!' I pressed the noble, generous being to my bosom, and wept long and painfully. I promised that I would come to her as soon as I returned, and that then I would give her to the world as my wife, let the consequence be what they might. She said she had enough to support her while I was gone. Yet I gave her five hundred dollars, and told her to use it for little things which would minister to her comfort and peace."

Here the merchant stopped and wiped the streaming tears from his eyes, and Orion and Ellen did the same. Mrs. Lindell had not wept. Rigid as marble she sat, her face as pale as death, and her hands both clasped over her heart.

"I left her and went away. I was gone to India over two years, for my father had intrusted me with much business. I wrote her many letters, but I got none in return—not one!"

At this point Mrs. Lindell gave a sudden start; but in a moment more she was as rigid as before.

"When I came home my father called me into his private room, and there told me that he had discovered the secret of my marriage. I was going on to tell him that I owned the fact, and should thenceforth claim her as my wife, when he stopped me by informing me that there was no need of further remark. He told me my wife was dead—that she had been dead over a year! Oh, my soul! what a blow was that! I staggered back against the wall, and a dizziness came over me. I rushed out into the cool air, and for some hours I remained alone in the garden. On the next day I started for the town of C—— ——, where the college was, to see if I could learn any thing of my wife's family. But my search was fruitless. She had come from a distant town where she was engaged as a teacher there, and none knew where it was. When I had searched two whole days in vain I returned to my home, where my mother tried to give me comfort. My father laughed at first at my folly, as he termed it; and when he found that the agony of my soul was too deep to be removed in that way he became kind and obliging, and tried to convince me that it was foolish to mourn longer for one who was lost to me.

"At length my father took me into the counting-house, and by degrees I became calm and reconciled. But I was not happy. The greatest joy of my life had been snatched from me—the deepest cup of bliss broken—the strongest chord of my heart snapped in sunder, and the one great hope of the future dashed to the earth. Time passed on. Two years had flown since my return from India, and at the end of that time my father spoke to me of marriage. One of his most intimate friends—Mr. Church—had a daughter whom he was anxious I should wed. Mr. Church and his wife had then lately returned from a visit to Europe, and they were anxious—very anxious—that I should become the husband of their daughter. I saw her—she was pretty and entertaining; but, like all others of her sex, I could only respect and esteem her, I had no heart to give. That heart lay broken and bleeding still upon the supposed grave of her whom I still deeply and devoutly loved in cherished memory. Yet I allowed myself to be persuaded into the marriage. I told Julia Church that I could respect and esteem her, but that love was beyond my power. I told her that I had loved once—that my love was borne away to the land of the hereafter, and that I could never love again. And still she took me. I had supposed she would turn from me upon this. I had held in my soul a firm faith that when I offered her my hand and fortune without my heart she would reject them both. But I was disappointed. She wanted the station which my wealth could give, and to gain it she inflicted herself upon me. I could not retract now. Under the impression I have mentioned I had told my own parents and hers that I would marry her if she would accept me after knowing me well.

"We were married; but we were never happy. Yet we had a sumptuous home, and people envied us. In four years after that my father died, and I became the possessor of his whole vast fortune, save a portion which was left for my mother's use. At the end of ten years my mother lay upon her death-bed. When she knew she was dying she called me to her bedside and took my hand. She said she had a secret upon her mind which she could not carry with her to the grave. And thereupon she told me a story which came nigh snatching away my reason forever. She told me that she and my father had deceived me—that the young wife I had married in my early manhood was not dead as they had told me—or, at least, that they had no knowledge of her death. My father had gone out there and found where she lived, and given to her the false intelligence that I had been lost at sea. He saw her uncle, with whom she lived, and begged of him to persuade her to give up his son's name. Her parents were both dead, and as she found a home now with her mother's brother she consequently felt somewhat bound to obey him. My father gave to this uncle four thousand dollars for the poor young wife's use, and obtained from him an assurance that she should change her name. After this my father made arrangements with the Postmaster at C—— ——, where my letters would be directed, to have them all intercepted and forwarded to him at New York.

"All was now settled, and the plot was secure. None of my letters could reach their proper destination, and my wife supposed me dead indeed. And my mother told me, too, that my wife had a child—a boy—whom she cherished and loved. When she had told me all she begged of me to forgive her for the part she had acted against me. She assured me that it was not her wish; but that my father had assured her that by such means alone could she prevent her son from being cast out. She could not bear the thought of that, and she consented to help carry out the cruel plot.

"I did not answer her then—I could not. I rushed from the house, and once more sought that same spot in the garden where I had cooled my feverish brow twelve years before. Oh, I can not tell you what I suffered! They came and told me my mother was dying, and I went back to her room. I forgave her, and she blessed me. After she was dead I sank very low. My sufferings were so intense that once I thought of death by my own hands! Aye—I thought of it seriously. But I owe my life to my children. Had it not been for the two little ones who clung to me I should surely have gone! People thought—and my wife thought—that that long fit of physical prostration and deep sorrow was in consequence of the death of my mother. I let them think so, and I was glad they did.

"When I got strong again I had thoughts of hunting up my wife—my heart's wife. But when I came to remember that if I found her alive it could only make her miserable, I gave up the idea.

"And so I have lived on, I can not tell you how. Much of my sorrow you know. The second wife—the one who was forced upon me—has gone from earth, and I feel that I never knew her. I never deceived her—never. She knew from the first that I had no heart to give her, and full well, too, she knew that she had no heart, no love for me. The blow of her flight came heavily because of its shame; but I would not have called her back. God be merciful unto her."

Here the merchant stopped and wiped the tears from his cheeks. Orion and Ellen were breathless with eager, wild suspense, while Mrs. Lindell sat as before, save that she was laboring heavily to keep back the fearful tumult of her soul.


CHAPTER XXXIX.—CONCLUSION.

FOR some moments Mr. Tiverton struggled with his feelings, and finally he resumed:

"At length fortune, in her strangeness of freaks, brought me to this house. At first I saw a sweet, pleasant face; but the name which the owner of that face bore prevented me from seeing more. Again I came, and that face, sweeter and more heavenly than before, gave me a fearful shock, for it put me in mind of one whom I had loved with the whole unbroken love of my manhood's long, dark years. Finally I came to take my ward away, and Orion went with me. He asked me a question which led to a dialogue of more than mortal import. From him I learned that his mother was once a school-teacher—that she taught in C—— ——, and that her home was in Snowville. He told me more—he told me enough to open the mighty secret to my mind."

At this point the speaker arose and took a step forward, and, trembling at every joint, with big tears starting down his cheeks, he added:

"Catharine—my wife—my own loved one—my fondly remembered, ever worshipped wife, will you not once more find your rest upon this bosom? Oh! speak to me—one word——"

With a low, quick cry of joy the woman arose to her feet and tottered forward.

"Paul—Paul—my——"

The utterance was lost in sobs, and on the next moment the husband and wife—long, long separated, but now, in the noontide of life, restored to love and to joy—were clasped in each other's embrace. Ellen Durand gazed a moment upon the scene, and then, utterly powerless from anxiety and excitement, she sank forward upon her lover's bosom. Orion hardly knew what he did, or what he saw. There was a wild, whirling flood of startled joy in his soul, and he could only clasp Ellen in his embrace and weep till his tears flowed like a stream.

And thus was the last great mystery solved. When all became calm once more, Catharine told how she had suffered—she told how she had taken her uncle's name, and how she always brought her boy up to believe that that uncle was his father. But she could not tell much; when she referred to those scenes in the past her feelings overcame her, and tears and sobs choked her utterance.

"And thou—thou whom I have loved from the moment when I first saw thee—art my own son—my own, my own!" the stout man murmured, as he held Orion to his bosom.

There are seasons when great joy pains the heart, as high floods may stop the huge wheel upon which a thousand spindles depend for motion. And so it was in the present case. In that humble room—humble before the world, but rich before God—rich in love and good-will, in virtue and peace—the joy was wild and frantic. For one long hour Catharine lay weeping like a child upon the bosom of her restored husband, while the only utterance that broke the air were prayers of gratitude and blessings.


Paul Tiverton had no more to conceal. One evening his large parlors were thronged with his friends—with those who were tried and true; but few men had more. When all were assembled—when the spacious apartments were full—the merchant led forward a beautiful woman by the hand. She had just made her appearance from the library, and a murmur of admiration ran around through the multitude as they dwelt for the first time on the well-developed loveliness of the stranger.

Ah—Catharine had changed during the few short weeks that had elapsed since the sacred reunion. The rose had returned upon her cheeks; the warm, genial light had come back to her eye, and over her whole face the generous flush of health and happiness was apparent. Her dress was of pure white satin, and a single rose blossomed upon her bosom, while a tiara of pearls rested upon her dark brown hair.

As soon as all was hushed Mr. Tiverton commenced the story of his early life. He told all—all save the single fact of his father's falsehood—leaving his auditors to infer that his parents really believed his young wife dead. And when he had given them the strange tale he wiped his eyes, as did all the others, for all had wept—and then he added:

"And now, under the circumstances I have presented, I have deemed it proper that the ceremony of that hour long agone should be repeated. God has given me the wife of my heart, and men shall not say she is not legally mine. And you will see that I am not alone. This is my son—my own, loved child."

As the father thus spoke, Orion came forward leading Ellen by the hand.

"Why—look at him," cried an enthusiastic old merchant, rubbing his hands with delight. "Wouldn't ye know they were father and son? Aren't they alike as two silver dollars from the same mint, only a few years' difference in the date of the coin?"

And the old man spoke truly. They were alike—the same manly form; the same frank face; the same fair, curling hair, and the same stamps of comeliness.

But the ceremony was soon performed—the father and son had each a wife to love and to honor; and God knows they were worthy of it.

They were worthy of the wives; and, oh! those wives were worthy of the deepest love the human heart can bear.

At a late hour the party broke up, and many a man went to his home that night wishing that there were Catharine Tivertons or Ellen Durands enough for all who needed them.

And Time still rolled on. At the mansion of the merchant lived the father and son, and their happy, blessed wives. Orion had been admitted as a partner with his parent, and he was not long in proving himself worthy of the place, and of the trust it involved. Mr. Garvey lost a valuable foreman, but he complained not. He was only too happy to be admitted to the friendship and confidence of the merchant and his son. He and his wife often visited at the house of our hero, and though he honored and esteemed those who lived there, yet he did not envy them—oh, far from it, for in his own pure and faithful Constance he had found a wife worth more than all the world beside to him, and even little Lizzie was a treasure in herself. Aye—and had she not been a child of a strong mind she might have been spoiled, for she was petted at home and at the house of the merchant she was petted more still. But she had been severely schooled in adversity, and she bore her honors meekly, and never for one moment forgot that she was a little child, and that she should be thankful to God and to her generous friends of earth.

Frank Bertram accepted a handsome sum from Mr. Tiverton, and opened a store on his own account, in which he did a thriving business. As for Aunt Rhoda, she led a sort of migratory life, part of the time stopping with Mr. Tiverton, and the other part with Constance.

When Orion left the gold-beater's shop Henry Tweed was made foreman in his place. Henry had ever been a faithful, steady man since Orion saved him from the gaming-table, and just at the time he assumed his new position in the shop he took to himself a wife. One day Orion came in and asked him to go and take a ride. They went out and entered a stage, and when they were set down it was in front of the neat, pretty cottage-house where our hero had so long found a home.

"Henry," said Orion, with a beaming smile, "you have taken a wife, and I doubt not you would rather keep house than to board out."

"Yes—oh, yes—only decent rents are so enormous."

"Well—here is this house of mine. It is furnished throughout—furnished well. It is in good repair in a good neighborhood, and, withal, a pretty place. I will let you have it cheap."

"How cheap?" asked Henry, eagerly.

"Here—here is the deed of the whole—made over to you. Take it in token of the love I bear you; and all I ask in return is your assurance that the dear old house shall still continue to be the abode of honor, of peace, and of love."

It was some moments ere Henry Tweed could comprehend the meaning of all this; but when he understood that the house was his—all his, with the land, the furniture, and the beautiful trees and shrubs, he burst into tears, and it was a long time ere he could speak a word. But he gave the promise, and thus far he has kept it.


It was a cold, blustering night in the month of December. A year had passed away since the marriage of Orion and his father, and thus far such joy had been theirs as can be experienced alone by the pure in heart and the honest and upright in soul.

Paul Tiverton sat upon one of the sofas in his large parlor, near the well-filled grate, and Catherine was by his side with his head drawn upon her bosom, her fingers working lovingly round the ringlets of his hair. At the piano sat Ellen, playing a sweet, plaintive air, while in the centre stood Orion, tossing in his strong hands a boy-baby some three months of age. Look at him as he stands there—tall, erect, and proud; with his noble head thrown back, and a bright smile playing upon his handsome face. It is his boy!—his, his—and as he tosses it up, and calls it in wild notes of joy and pride and love, Ellen ever and anon turns her head with a nervous look, for her mother's heart is tender, and she does not at the moment remember how strong and sure are those hands that thus bear aloft her darling treasure.

The notes of the piano were just dying away, and the elder Mr. Tiverton had just started up from the bosom of his faithful, loving wife with a remark upon his lips touching the severity of the storm without, when the door-bell was rung.

In a few moments more one of the servants put her head in at the door and informed Mr. Tiverton that there was a woman in the hall who wished to see him.

"Then send her in here at once," the merchant replied. "Do not keep a female standing out there in the cold."

Directly afterwards a female form entered the parlor. Her garments were tattered and torn, and covered with snow. With slow, trembling steps she advanced to the centre of the outer parlor, and there she stopped. She was surely very poor and very miserable, for as she stopped a deep sob broke from her lips.

"Did you wish to see me?" asked Paul Tiverton, advancing to meet her.

But she spoke not, nor did she raise her head. She stood trembling there, with her thin, purple hands clasped over her bosom, while the snow, which was shaken from her miserable garments by the quaking of the wasted frame, fell to the rich carpet and melted into tears.

"Did you seek me, my good woman?" the merchant asked, louder than before.

The figure raised its head the light gleamed upon a pallid, deathly face and only one word dropped from her lips. That word was "FATHER!"

As this magic word escaped her, she would have fallen to the floor had not the merchant caught her in his arms.

"Isabella!—my child! My poor, poor child!"

"You will not drive me out into the storm again?" the miserable woman murmured.

"Drive you out? Have you not come back to me? Have you not come back to claim your native home?"

"Can you take me back? Can you ever love me again?"

"But have you come to find a home?"

"To beg for charity!—to find a home if you can forgive me and love me again!"

"Forgive thee? Love thee again?" cried the stout man, clasping the storm-beaten form to his bosom. "Oh! God knows I have forgiven you from the first, and that my heart has never for one moment ceased to hold you in love, and in its most earnest prayers. Isabella—my child—my heart is open for you—and thou art once more at home. God be praised for his goodness in thus giving me back my child!"

In a few moments more Isabella found herself surrounded by friends, each anxious to minister to her comfort. Her wet and tattered garments were taken from her, and having led her to the library, Catharine and Ellen soon had her ensconced in warm, dry clothing, and thus she was led back to the parlor, where some warm wine was given to her, and some food.

Alas! poor Isabella! she had suffered, indeed! She was wasted and worn, and her soul had been long dark and drear. When she was able she told her sad story. She told how the count had turned out to be a villain—how he had taken her to Charleston, South Carolina—how he had got from her all her jewelry and money, and then deserted her! Then she told how her child was born—how it lived a few short weeks and then died—and how she had lain for long months sick and weak, almost unto death. And next she told of starting to find her home—how she had begged her way at every station, and how she had often fallen weak and powerless on the toilsome journey.

"But," she cried, while a brighter glow rested for an instant upon her sunken features, and lighted up her dim eye, "save the first act of my disobedience to my good father's wish, and the deep sorrows that have come upon me from it, there is no shame with me. I come to you an erring, repentant child, but before God and my father I am not tainted!"

In turn Isabella was informed of the strange events that had transpired during her absence, and there was no spark of jealousy in her bosom. She commenced to love them all that very night, and as time has passed on, and she has known them better, she loves them more and more.

Ay!—Isabella was just commencing to live the True Life. In the life of the soul—in that life whence springs the fountains of those sweet waters that give growth and vigor to the purer and nobler flowers of humanity—she was an infant, just learning the first rudiments of Joy and Peace.

And over them all in that Christian home the Angel of Sweet Content keeps its ceaseless vigil. They still live and move in our midst; and though they all have seen much of trial and sorrow, yet they are able to thank God for the blessings they enjoy, and to show to their friends that even upon this poor earth the pure in heart may gain a foretaste of Heaven!


THE END

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