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Joyce's Investments - A Story for Girls
by Fannie E. Newberry
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"Indeed?"

"Yes. Murfree died an hour or two ago, and has left papers that tell the whole story, and exonerate Lozcoski."

"How glad I am!"

"I knew you would be. There are other things, too. When can I see you?"

"Let me see. I have news, too. Lucy has broken down at last, and begged me, all tears and softness, to take her to see poor Nate. We are going in the morning at 8.15. But that would be too early for you?"

"Not at all. And you and Lucy can't go alone to the jail. If you will allow me——"

"How if I command you?" merrily.

"Then I can do nothing but obey."

"Well, then, I do. We'll take the same train, won't we—that 8.15?"

"Yes, of course."

"Good-night, then."

"Good-night—till morning."

He distinguished a funny little sound, like a suppressed giggle, and in a clear, final tone came a last "Good-night, my friend!"

Then he heard her receiver click in its socket, and the decided tinkle of the bell shut him off. But he did not care. He was still her "friend." He would be with her all to-morrow. His interests and hers were identical, and nobody should interfere without a struggle on his part.

Not that he meant anything overt, or aggressive. Only he would make himself so necessary she could not do without him.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

VISITING THE SHUT-INS.

Poor Nate fretted in confinement, but not for his own sake. He simply ignored his surroundings, not deigning to complain, or scarcely to notice; but sought every opportunity to ask eagerly after the welfare of Lucy and her little family. He overwhelmed Mr. Barrington with questions, somewhat to the bewilderment of the old gentleman, who could not distinctly grasp the idea that Nate was self-constituted protector in place of the man he was accused of murdering.

He flung his eager queries at Mr. Dalton, and more gently pelted Joyce; and the one or two "boys," who had been admitted to his cell, departed with the dazed consciousness that, instead of finding out "all about it" from Nate, as had been their intention, he had kept them busy telling insignificant home events, until they were pumped dry of every drop of knowledge they possessed.

But when the door opened that gray morning, and a little figure swathed in black came slowly in, Nate scarcely moved. He sat still on his bunk, staring at her till she threw back the long veil, and said reproachfully,

"Nate!"

"Is it really you, Lucy?" he asked, slowly rising and making a step forward. "I never see you like this. I most thought 'twas your ghost. Set down, child. 'Tain't much of a place, but——" He drew out the one chair they allowed him in the narrow cell, and, as he placed it, Lucy caught his rough hand between her own.

"Nate, aren't you glad to see me?" she cried, fresh tears springing to her already overtaxed eyes.

He looked down at her, nodded gravely, and then laughed a little.

"Why, in course I'm glad, Lucy! You know that without tellin', don't ye? I ain't much on talkin', Lucy, but you know me."

Lucy stayed as long as they would let her, while Joyce and George sat on a stone bench in the corridor. The visit seemed short to them, but the turnkey was impatient long before the half-hour was up, feeling himself de trop all around. After the strangeness wore off, something of the old natural friendliness came back into Nate's manner, and Lucy's tears ceased to flow, as her tongue wagged ever more cheerfully.

They talked entirely about the little home-doings—Tilly's streak of facility in washing dishes without breakage; Rufie's month's record in school; the big baby's latest attempt at the English vocabulary; and the little baby's first tooth. Lucy told, too, of Joyce's kindness and constant oversight, and of Dalton's promise that her father's pay should not be stopped this quarter at least. Scarcely a word of the tragedy between them, or of the trial before Nate.

Just as she was leaving, however, she said timidly, "Shall I come in to it, Nate—the trial, you know?"

"Guess likely you'll have to, my girl. You'll be a witness, you see."

"Oh, will I, Nate? And for you? I'll try to help you all I can!"

"Well, no! I guess it's t'other side'll call you, Lucy. But don't you mind. Just tell the truth and shame the devil! Them lawyers is a tricky pack, and they know how to mix a fellow up, till he don't know crystal from frit. But don't you worrit! The truth's stronger'n the whole pack of 'em, and that's what I'm a-restin' on. You tell the truth as you b'lieve it, whether it's for me or agin' me, child, and it's all I'll ask o' you."

"Nate, I saw you didn't try to hit pa when you had the stick and was right over him, but you'll own up you was awful mad?"

"Yes, I was: and for the first minute I was murderin' mad, 'count o' you. I'll own that. But, you seen when I got it under me and was leadin' him off peaceable, didn't you? I slipp'd back'ard and flung up my arms, and then the thing struck wrong. You couldn't think I meant that blow, Lucy?"

"No, I know you didn't. I see it all, now. I was so scared then I couldn't think, but——"

"Time's up, miss," said the officer resolutely, and Lucy hurried out, scarcely waiting to shake hands while the others merely gave Nate a smile and word through the barred door.

They knew from his face it was all he needed to-day.

* * * * *

When Leon heard about the Pole who had shipped for a short time on the "Terror," he listened to the talk of him with interest, and asked permission to accompany Joyce and her manager at their next interview. By the time the four (for Camille was of the party, too) made their call at the jail, the faces of the two more frequent visitors were pretty well known there. Lozcoski, now well fed, and filled with hope and comfort, through the communications of the interpreter, was not the same man who had burst his way into the Social-house a few weeks ago. His staring eyes had softened, his hollow cheeks rounded out, his prison-cut hair could not mat now, and through his clean-shaven lips white teeth gleamed smilingly at times. The wolf had vanished, and the man was now installed in the body that needed only refinement and thought to make it comely.

The minute Leon entered, alone, leaving the rest outside, he rose quickly and gave the naval salute—the inside of the hand to the temple held palm forward—of a U. S. man-of-war's-man to his superior officer. He had recognized the young lieutenant at once. This pleased Leon Bonnivel, and he entered into brisk conversation with him, through the interpreter, soon becoming convinced that the man told the truth about his service and its ending. Thus the chain of evidence which was to free an honest, but unfortunate man, grew link by link, and Joyce formed the clasp which held all together.

She was allowed to enter after awhile, and the Pole's face lighted almost into rapture at sight of her. He knew what she had done for him, and he felt that no ikon of his hut in the old country had ever seemed more beautiful, or more worthy of his honor. He would have knelt to her readily enough, but that his few months in America had taught him that such demonstrations were not admissible on democratic soil. So he merely stood in awkward adoration, and beamed upon her.

She spoke a few kind words, telling him his discharge papers would soon be ready and that he was then to report for work in Littleton, if he so desired, and was turning away when, after a quickly-spoken sentence by Lozcoski, the interpreter said explanatorily,

"He bids me thank you, lady, and give you the blessing of a man at peace with his God. And he asks, where is your young husband that he may thank him, also."

"My husband!" stammered Joyce, while Leon turned sharply to gaze at her flushing cheeks. "Wh—what does he mean? I have no husband."

The interpreter, trying to control his smiles, explained, and the Pole, after a disconcerted expression had crossed his face, smiled blandly also and, spreading out both hands, spoke again.

"He begs the lady's pardon," said the interpreter. "It was her betrothed that he meant. The young man who is boss at the Works. He thought you were married, rather than betrothed, ma'am. But he is glad to ask blessings on your future union."

What could Joyce say? To keep on explaining and protesting would be ridiculous, and it suddenly flashed across her mind that the mistake was natural. As this Lozcoski had seen them together in close companionship, and intimate counsel, he had a right to believe what he did. Such personal business relations, without marriage or betrothal, nearly as sacred and irrevocable, would be an impossibility between two of their age and social standing in his own country.

So she simply bowed her head, accepted the murmured blessings of the grateful prisoner, and hurried out, leaving the animated lexicon she had hired—all one broad smile of intelligence now—to interpret her actions as best he could.



CHAPTER XXIX.

A DREAM ENDED.

Joyce could only hope nothing had been heard in the corridor, but her first surreptitious glance was not consolatory. Camille, with an expression oddly commingled of mirth and petulance, was intensely busy with her glove-fastening, while the broad back of George Dalton, who was apparently as busy gazing from a barred window against a stone wall, had a most uncanny look of intelligence about it. As for the sheriff—he did not try to conceal the grin with which he looked at that back, and then at Joyce, who would have given a large slice of her fortune for a sheltering veil to cover her face, just then. As the party marched out into the open air there was an appearance of constraint about them. Camille kept persistently at her brother's side, and Joyce was forced to follow with George. He tried so hard to look non-committal that he only succeeded in looking thoroughly cross, and Leon was shut within himself, evidently dazed, but trying to think the thing out.

The tension did not loosen as they made their way to the great depot, just in time to board the earlier of the "dinner trains," at 5.13. But, as they passed in, Joyce circumvented any further such pairing off by calmly seating herself by Camille, and leaving the young men to adjust themselves as they would.

Few realize the many disagreeable trifles that accompany the movements of any notable personage. Joyce was often pointed out as the great heiress, who had eschewed city society to manage her business affairs in person, and Leon's air, even in civilian dress, was observable. Many eyes were turned upon the little party, who were presently seated near together in the train, and Joyce broke the spell of rigidity by leaning over to Leon and remarking, sotto voce,

"If you had only worn your uniform everybody would have stared. Now I think there are as many as three who have not noticed us. Is there no way of stirring up those three?"

His ready laughter answered her sally, and the strain was relieved.

But when they reached the home station Dalton proved that he was not lacking in tact, at least. Carelessly assuming that Joyce was thoroughly well escorted, he bade the trio a cheerful good-night on the platform, and struck off for his own home, without even a backward glance.

Leon nodded approvingly, all to himself.

"The fellow has self-control, anyhow," he thought, as he offered an arm to Joyce and laughingly bade Camille follow in their wake, like a good child—for the walks were narrow.

Arrived at the knoll, Joyce would not accept their invitation in to dinner, declaring she dare not so disappoint her own cook, who would be awaiting her. Neither would the brother and sister accept of her counter-invitation, saying that they had more than a cook to disappoint; namely, their mother, So they went their separate ways, but lights streamed across from window to window, like cables of trust and friendship.

It had not been an easy thing for Leon to see his mother alone in a household which made her its center and circumference, but that evening, when she retired to her room, he followed close upon her steps.

"Mayn't I come in, mother?" he asked, after tapping lightly. "I want an old-fashioned good-night talk."

She welcomed him eagerly.

"Find the best chair, dear, and draw it up by me, here. I do so enjoy this little grate on cool nights! I can feel the warmth, and imagine the light, while it all fills me with comfort and peace."

"In a minute, mother. Let me tramp about a little, first. I like to try my sea-legs on a stretch of thick carpet, occasionally. Besides, I want to look around. How snug and handsome you are here! That toilet-table is really sumptuous, and these fine etchings show off well against that soft flesh tint on the walls. Mother, you have found a good son in Larry!"

"A dear, good son, Leon. But his means are not so large as his heart. This room is mostly Joyce's gift, you know. When she gave the house she insisted on personally superintending the fittings of this room. I told her it was useless to waste beauty on me, but she said no surroundings could quite suit me, except a certain kind, and she claimed to understand that style better than any one else. She is doing for us all the time."

"She could not be other than generous—but how she has changed, mother!"

"Changed! Do you think so?"

"How could I help thinking so? I left her a shrinking, clinging child. I find her a self-poised, queenly woman. Do you remember how I used to plan to protect and defend her? I was to earn money for her and you, and to ward off all trouble from you both. It was my youthful inspiration. I return to find she needs neither money, position, protection, nor devotion. She has all, and more, than she desires. A defender would be an absurdity! All she can require now is a—manager."

His mother turned about in her chair with a distressed look.

"Leon, your tone is not bitter, but your words are."

"No, indeed! I am merely stating facts. To be bitter would be foolish. But I see it all, mother."

"Oh, Leon, it breaks my heart!"

"I feared it would, and that is why I want to talk with you." He came closer and drew up a chair. She caught his hand and held it in a close clasp. "The strange thing is, it does not break my heart at all."

He brought out each word with deliberate emphasis. Madame Bonnivel felt her blindness then as never in her life before. Oh, to be able to search his eyes, to look down into his very soul! Would he deliberately deceive his mother, to save her pain? Yet the touch of his hand was cool and calm.

"I thought you loved my Joyce!" she cried sharply, her nerves at a tension.

"I do. I always have. I always shall. And I admire her in addition, now. She is a noble, remarkable girl. But she is a duchess, a queen, and she is as absorbed in her little kingdom as any German countess in her petty domain. Its ways and doings are of supreme importance to her, and other things do not count. It is right enough she should feel so, and she will lead a useful life. But how could it ever accord with mine? She is Lady Bountiful, and rules through love and wisdom. I am officer on a man-of-war, and command with sternness and inflexibility, never bending to coaxing or cajolery. Her ambition is to serve and uplift; mine to hold down with a steady hand, that my men may do my bidding like intelligent machines. We both may do good in our spheres, but we would inevitably pull apart, if we tried to unite them. Could I take the place of prime minister to my lady, and content myself with carrying out her orders, and expending her money? I would die first!" He sprang up and began walking about again, his voice deepening as he progressed with his subject. "Imagine me examining her books at the works, or pottering about on errands of mercy among her glass-blowers! I, who can daily tread the magnificent decks of the 'Terror,' and lead my squad on engineering feats that stir every drop of blood in my body to pride over our glorious achievements! Dearest mother, it wouldn't do."

"But, if she loves you, she would give this all up——"

"And go with me? She couldn't, mother. You know that. There is no place for women on a war-ship."

"No, but you have furloughs occasionally. She might live here, just the same——"

"With Dalton for her manager? No, thank you, mother! I am not such an idiot as that."

"But Leon! Leon! It has been my dream for years."

"And, like most dreams, is but a dissolving view. Let us hope this dream may dissolve into a scene of deeper reality, which shall far exceed the vision. You are safely anchored here beside her, and in all love and fealty she is, and will be, your daughter. I shall always feel safe and happy to know she is beside you. But the currents of my life run in broader channels. The tide floats me far out into stirring, trying scenes. I should mope myself to death here. I should hate and despise my inaction!"

"Leon, how your voice thrills! You love your work?"

"I never knew how much till now. I tell you, frankly, I returned expecting to marry Joyce, if she would have me. I am glad to understand that she most assuredly would not. I cannot tell you how suffocatingly small seems the life of a private citizen of small means on shore. My pay is little enough, we know, and I can never expect anything beyond a fair living. But what is that to me? I am backed by a government that gives me assurance, standing, power, wherever I may be. I have for friends and associates the brave and honorable, the world over. I am as proud of my ship as other men of beautiful estates, and as fond of my brave men as others of their children. I do love Joyce, even as I willingly relinquish her, but I know even she could not make up to me for all I would give up in marrying her, and resigning my commission. I see it as plainly as if inspired. Our ways must lie apart!"

"Leon, I see arguments are useless, and I will not plead for Joyce, even with my own son."

"The pleading would have to be on the other side, dearest. Remember, she does not love me."

"She did, and she would, but for this fortune and this work! Her father always came between us in life; his accursed money must separate us now—go, Leon! My soul is bitter within me. I shall be unjust and wicked, if I say one word more."

He went slowly, reluctantly, looking back at her pale, drawn face in an anguish of pity. He knew that, brave as he had been, he had not made her wound the less. The dream of her life was ended.



CHAPTER XXX.

A RAILROAD WEDDING.

There was a sudden outbreak of wild enthusiasm as the verdict was given, quickly checked by the court's gavel, then all craned their necks while in a few kind words, the judge congratulated and dismissed the prisoner. Then counsel and friends gathered about Nate with outstretched hands, till his arm ached with the constant pumping, and his tongue was tied with the excitement and confusion. To steady himself he kept his eyes mostly on a little black figure, some distance away. It was close by the side of Miss Lavillotte, but its face never turned from watching him; and he knew that, from the hour the young girl had stood bravely in court and exonerated him from all blame, she had put the sad past behind her and accepted a brighter, happier future. He was only longing, now, to reach her side, but even with Dalton's efforts it was almost impossible to make their way through the press. Somehow, Nate's friends seemed to spring up from everywhere, to-day. Each official, from jailer to judge, had learned to like him, the newspaper men were his staunch allies, and the jurors had a fellow-feeling for him.

He had clung to the clean, unvarnished truth in dogged fashion, and had so impressed all by his simple story, in which he seemed only trying to tell facts, no matter how they bore upon himself, that even the prosecutor was out of conceit with his side of the case.

So the gratulatory crowd gathered thickly about him, and the little group of home-friends had to wait long before he could reach them, near the private door by the clerk's desk.

Lucy, trembling all over, caught his hand as soon as she could reach it, and fairly pulled him from the court-room. "Let's get out of this!" she whispered excitedly. "I can't breathe here. Oh, Nate, to think you are safe and it's all over. Thank God! Thank God!"

"Come," said Dalton to Joyce, who stood hesitantly, not sure there was no more to attend to, "the carriage is below and we've just time to make our train. We can say all our says in there."

He took Joyce's arm with an odd mixture of tenderness, deference, and authority, while the others followed their rapid pace. Once inside the closed vehicle, Nate seemed less excited than any of them, speaking in the same slow, even tones he always used. When Lucy, clinging to his hand, would break out, "Oh, isn't it good—isn't it too good, Nate?" he would only smile and look down at her with a tender,

"Why, yes, Lucy, it's good, but not too good, as I see. It's right, that's all. I didn't need shutting up, and I'm glad I didn't get sentenced that way. 'Twould 'a' come tough on you and the youngsters."

"I expect there'll be something of a demonstration, Nate," said the manager. "I had West 'phone the verdict to Littleton, and tell the boys to lay off the rest of the day. They'll be crazy, I presume! I know you don't care for such things, but you'll have to put up with being a hero just this once."

"Hope they won't do nothin' rash 'round them railroad tracks," said Nate, a bit anxiously. "The boys sometimes forgits theirselves when they gets to celebratin'. They don't mean nothin', but they forgits. Who'd you leave the babbies with, Lucy?"

"They're all going to be in school till three, for the teacher said Rufie might bring even the little baby to the kindergarten. Then Marry's out of the office, and she'll keep 'em till we get there at half-past four. She won't let nothing happen."

"Well, I'd 'a' been satisfied just to go home and set down and eat my supper, but never mind," sighed Nate in wistful fashion. "Folks is cur'ous about such things. Just because a man don't git sent up for what he didn't do can't make a hero outen him, as I see. But it's nice of you all to care." He looked at Joyce, sitting opposite with Dalton, he and Lucy having been given the back seat together, and a smile played about his lips and eyes, crinkling the kindly muscles into radiating lines of sunshine. "I've had lots o' thoughts, Miss Lav'lotte, since I've been shut up, and I guess I've worked out something. It's a master place for workin' out things in your mind—a jail is."

"Is it, Nate? And what have you worked out, now?"

"Well, just this. First, it did seem queer that a handsome young lady just livin' on in our town, and no blood relation to nobody, should take such an int'rust in Lucy and me, to say nothin' of other folks. Ev'ry time 't you'd come, or send other folks to me, I kept askin' inside o' me, 'Now, what does that mean? What is it to her, anyhow?' Then, kinder sudden like, it come to me once that ev'ry single one o' the good things what's been the makin' o' Littleton begun to come along just about when you fetched up there. And when I'd figured on that a while, and remembered how you and the boss here was allays consultin' together, and how you seemed to feel jest 's if you'd got stock in us, somehow, it come to me all of a heap."

"What came to you?" asked Joyce, her brilliant eyes flashing a laughing glance towards her seat-mate.

"Why, that they mightn't be any young Early after all, and that 'twas jest possible—mind, I don't say as I've got all the twists and turns of it—but that you might, somehow or other, stand fer him. You couldn't be him, bein' a girl, of course, but stand fer him. Don't they have proxers, or sponsors, or some such things in law, Mr. Dalton?"

That gentleman laughed heartily, and Joyce joined in with a merry peal. Even Lucy and Nate helped the chorus, though somewhat perfunctorily, not knowing just what they were laughing at.

"How is it, Miss Lavillotte, are you standing sponsor for any one?" queried Dalton, as soon as he could get his voice.

"I hope not!" she laughed in return.

"Well," put in Nate, looking from one to the other, "it seems funny to you, I see; but if I ain't much mistooken I've heered the boss, here, talk about young Early more'n once. So they must be something to it, of course."

"There!" said Joyce. "You are convicted, Mr. Dalton. Can you set yourself right?"

"I can, if I may."

"Well, do by all means, then."

"Well, Nate, I began by first being deceived myself; then, being fairly launched in deception, I went on cheating others. There never was a young Early! No man is living by that name, that we know."

Nate looked dazed, and Lucy craned forward anxiously. "Who does own the Works, then?" she cried. "Can't we go on living in our pretty houses, and having the nice new ways? Who built the school, and the church, and the Social-house?"

"Do you like the new, so much better than the old, way, Lucy? You have had great sorrows since these changes, child."

Joyce leaned forward to the girl, kindly.

"I know, but if it had come before! How dreadful hungry and wretched we'd have been! And how would it have gone with Nate? Do you s'pose they'd ever 'a' cleared him, if they hadn't knowed he had rich friends? Oh, I can't bear to think of it before! It's like the diff'runce between being out in the cold and wet, with nobody to care, and being inside by the fire, with ev'rybody good-natured. It's easier with the work, and with the children, and with ev'rybody. There's lots of times, now, when I couldn't help singin', only I'm ashamed to. And 'tisn't me only, but Marry, and Rache, and the youngsters, and all. It's like summer, come to stay."

"Dear Lucy!" said Joyce. "You put it very pleasantly, I'm sure. But here we are at the station—explanations later!" and the bustle of making a train just about to start drew their attention elsewhere.

Once within it, they could not find seats together, and perhaps neither couple was disturbed because thus separated. George Dalton bent towards Joyce, and said:

"So you are going to give it all away?"

"No, George, I expect you to do that. Just tell them plainly and simply who I am, and what are our plans for the future. It is better not to keep it longer when the—it—is so near."

"How you shy at the word, Joyce! There are two or three with the same meaning to select from, you know—wedding, nup——"

"Sh-h! George. Some one will hear you."

"And suppose they do. Are you ashamed of it? I am not. I can't even hear one of those words without a thrill of happiness. And it isn't all for ourselves, either, dearest. There is a great work before us, and many are interested. To spend our lives together, doing for those who have been my friends ever since I was a poor, hard-working, lonely little fellow—Ah! Joyce, it is a pleasant outlook!"

He turned to the window with softened eyes, and Joyce, through some strange entangling of the thought threads, suddenly remembered her last interview with Leon before he returned to the "Terror," nearly a month ago. His ardent, dominant nature had struck her as never before, while he talked glowingly of his life, his work, his ambitions. "He will make a magnificent man!" she had thought then. "Brave, resolute, a born ruler of men. But there is one idea he has not caught, by which my life is now controlled—that the one who really ministers must have something of the servant in his make-up. We 'stoop to conquer' in humanitarianism, as well as in other love. And Leon could not stoop. We are both masterful in a way, but his mastery would overpower mine, and crush it out. I could not be free to live as I have chosen, if he had any control over me, and yet, strangely enough, I once believed I owed all my ideas of helpfulness to him. I know, now, it was the dear mother who informed my mind, while Leon controlled my fancy."

She was lost in her musings as the train shrieked out its on-coming call to the little one-room station-house, at Littleton. From the window they could see that the whole town seemed to be gathered about its doors. The platform, tracks, and surrounding buildings were black with people. As the brakes were put on, lessening their speed and the roar of the train, cheer after cheer reached them from without. The air was full of waving caps, handkerchiefs, and aprons. Now they could begin to distinguish separate groups and faces. Mrs. Hemphill, in the midst of her little brood, shook the gingham skirts of the baby in her arms, and old Mother Flaherty waggled her wide Irish border and waved her cane, in utter abandon. Dan and Rachel, standing together, looked fairly radiant; even Marie was there on her tricycle, with Babette and Gus keeping guard over her, while Lucy's children, crowding near, were shouting themselves hoarse. Every one was on hand. Close by, the cobbler, having somewhere picked up a shoe to mend, waved it frantically by its leather string. Joyce's own carriage, with Gilbert proudly controlling the restive horses, was drawn up beside the platform, and on its seat, reckless of danger, stood Camille waving the dust-cloth in utter forgetfulness of what she had in her hand. In close proximity stood Dorette, and by Dr. Browne's side, in his shambling old buggy, sat Madame Bonnivel, directing the demonstrations of Dodo, on her lap. Nate looked at Lucy an instant.

"Say, child," he said in a hesitant tone, "it's a shame to think I'm nobody but just Nate, when they've made such a fuss! Be we goin' to git married, or ain't we? I s'pose we ought to, if I'm goin' to look after you and the babbies, and it seems as if 'twould sorter pay 'em for their trouble if we'd let 'em know it, or something. Folks allays likes to hear about weddin's. Say, why don't we just go along and git married right now? Might as well, and then they'd sure be satisfied. I see the preacher a-standin' there, clost to thet ole maid of Miss Lav'lotte's, and if you say so—"

"But, Nate, I ain't dressed up! That is, not bridy, you know."

He looked down at her—such a mite in her black swathings!—and smiled.

"You ain't nothin' but a child, Lucy, and I'll have to be husband and father, both. But I'll look after you close, dear, and be good to the babbies. Come, I guess we'd better. Your clo'es is all right."

Waves of cheers greeted Nate as he stepped outside, with Lucy in tow. The crowd surged forward toward the platform, but he waved them back.

"Hello, boys!" he cried, raising his voice. "This is nice of you, but jest hold up a minute, please. We're goin' to have a weddin'—Lucy and me—'fore we all go home. Come, Lucy!"

He caught her hand in a firmer grip, and struggled toward the minister, his countenance strong in its intensity of purpose. Lucy's blossom face, that had been growing rounder and rosier every day, shone out like a vision of hope against the long black veil, which streamed behind her like a background of cloud floating away into the past. The crowd, eagerly watching, was silent with astonishment, and the young divinity student, taken thus unaware, looked really pale under his excitement. But he was a man of strong calibre and spirituality, with quickened sympathies, and that insight into human nature which some people name magnetism. He knew Lucy's story and Nate's. He felt this marriage was, under all the circumstances, right and best. Baring his head reverently, he stepped forward and raised his right hand. A solemn hush fell upon all. After a short invocation, which steadied his own nerves, and attuned all to the solemnity of the occasion, he put the momentous questions in his most impressive manner, and Nate and Lucy made their vows, the whole population of Littleton serving as witnesses. The instant the blessing was pronounced upon the wedded pair, Nate spoke up in a firm, loud voice—

"Now, friends, let's all go home and git our suppers. If you're so tired as I be you'll need 'em. Come, Lucy, the babbies are fretting, and there's Tilly tryin' to git to us. Come on!"

The crowd, laughing and crying, parted to let them through, Joyce and George, still quite dazed, staring with the rest. Camille's voice aroused them.

"Did you ever see anything so matter-of-fact! How he did take the wind out of our sails! Well, let's go home, as he says. Dr. Browne has run off with mother, but she wants you both—George and Joyce—to come home with me to dinner."

"Wait!" cried Joyce, suddenly finding her tongue. She beckoned to Dalton, spoke a hurried word or two, and in a trice Nate, Lucy, and the Hapgood children, down to the little baby, were packed into the carriage, and Gilbert bidden to drive them home for the wedding journey.

Then she waved them adieu, and turned to her friend and betrothed—

"Come, Camille; come, George, we three can walk!"

THE END.



* * * * *

A. L. Burt's Catalogue of Books for Young People by Popular Writers. 52-58 Duane Street, New York



BOOKS FOR GIRLS.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. By Lewis Carroll.

"From first to last, almost without exception, this story is delightfully droll, humorous and illustrated in harmony with the story."—New York Express.

Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. By Lewis Carroll.

"A delight alike to the young people and their elders, extremely funny both in text and illustrations."—Boston Express.

Little Lucy's Wonderful Globe. By Charlotte M. Yonge.

"This story is unique among tales intended for children, alike for pleasant instruction, quaintness of humor, gentle pathos, and the subtlety with which lessons moral and otherwise are conveyed to children, and perhaps to their seniors as well."—The Spectator.

Joan's Adventures at the North Pole and Elsewhere. By Alice Corkran.

"Wonderful as the adventures of Joan are, it must be admitted that they are very naturally worked out and very plausibly presented. Altogether this is an excellent story for girls."—Saturday Review.

Count Up the Sunny Days: A Story for Girls and Boys. By C. A. Jones.

"An unusually good children's story."—Glasgow Herald.

The Dove in the Eagle's Nest. By Charlotte M. Yonge.

"Among all the modern writers we believe Miss Yonge first, not in genius, but in this, that she employs her great abilities for a high and noble purpose. We know of few modern writers whose works may be so safely commended as hers."—Cleveland Times.

Jan of the Windmill. A Story of the Plains. By Mrs. J. H. Ewing.

"Never has Mrs. Ewing published a more charming volume, and that is saying a very great deal. From the first to the last the book overflows with the strange knowledge of child-nature which so rarely survives childhood; and moreover, with inexhaustible quiet humor, which is never anything but innocent and well-bred, never priggish, and never clumsy."—Academy.

A Sweet Girl Graduate. By L. T. Meade.

"One of this popular author's best. The characters are well imagined and drawn. The story moves with plenty of spirit and the interest does not flag until the end too quickly comes."—Providence Journal.

Six to Sixteen: A Story for Girls. By Juliana Horatia Ewing.

"There is no doubt as to the good quality and attractiveness of 'Six to Sixteen.' The book is one which would enrich any girl's book shelf."—St. James' Gazette.

The Palace Beautiful: A Story for Girls. By L. T. Meade.

"A bright and interesting story. The many admirers of Mrs. L. T. Meade in this country will be delighted with the 'Palace Beautiful' for more reasons than one. It is a charming book for girls."—New York Recorder.

A World of Girls: The Story of a School. By L. T. Meade.

"One of those wholesome stories which it does one good to read. It will afford pure delight to numerous readers. This book should be on every girl's book shelf."—Boston Home Journal.

The Lady of the Forest: A Story for Girls. By L. T. Meade.

"This story is written in the author's well-known, fresh and easy style. All girls fond of reading will be charmed by this well-written story. It is told with the author's customary grace and spirit."—Boston Times.

At the Back of the North Wind. By George Macdonald.

"A very pretty story, with much of the freshness and vigor of Mr. Macdonald's earlier work.... It is a sweet, earnest, and wholesome fairy story, and the quaint native humor is delightful. A most delightful volume for young readers."—Philadelphia Times.

The Water Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby. By Charles Kingsley.

"The strength of his work, as well as its peculiar charms, consist in his description of the experiences of a youth with life under water in the luxuriant wealth of which he revels with all the ardor of a poetical nature."—New York Tribune.

Our Bessie. By Rosa N. Carey.

"One of the most entertaining stories of the season, full of vigorous action, and strong in character-painting. Elder girls will be charmed with it, and adults may read its pages with profit."—The Teachers' Aid.

Wild Kitty. A Story of Middleton School. By L. T. Meade.

"Kitty is a true heroine—warm-hearted, self-sacrificing, and, as all good women nowadays are, largely touched with the enthusiasm of humanity. One of the most attractive gift books of the season."—The Academy.

A Young Mutineer. A Story for Girls. By L. T. Meade.

"One of Mrs. Meade's charming books for girls, narrated in that simple and picturesque style which marks the authoress as one of the first among writers for young people."—The Spectator.

Sue and I. By Mrs. O'Reilly.

"A thoroughly delightful book, full of sound wisdom as well as fun."—Athenaeum.

The Princess and the Goblin. A Fairy Story. By George Macdonald.

"If a child once begins this book, it will get so deeply interested in it that when bedtime comes it will altogether forget the moral, and will weary its parents with importunities for just a few minutes more to see how everything ends."—Saturday Review.

Pythia's Pupils: A Story of a School. By Eva Hartner.

"This story of the doings of several bright school girls is sure to interest girl readers. Among many good stories for girls this is undoubtedly one of the very best."—Teachers' Aid.

A Story of a Short Life. By Juliana Horatia Ewing.

"The book is one we can heartily recommend, for it is not only bright and interesting, but also pure and healthy in tone and teaching."—Courier.

The Sleepy King. A Fairy Tale. By Aubrey Hopwood And Seymour Hicks.

"Wonderful as the adventures of Bluebell are, it must be admitted that they are very naturally worked out and very plausibly presented. Altogether this is an excellent story for girls."—Saturday Review.

Two Little Waifs. By Mrs. Molesworth.

"Mrs. Molesworth's delightful story of 'Two Little Waifs' will charm all the small people who find it in their stockings. It relates the adventures of two lovable English children lost in Paris, and is just wonderful enough to pleasantly wring the youthful heart."—New York Tribune.

Adventures in Toyland. By Edith King Hall.

"The author is such a bright, cheery writer, that her stories are always acceptable to all who are not confirmed cynics, and her record of the adventures is as entertaining and enjoyable as we might expect."—Boston Courier.

Adventures in Wallypug Land. By G. E. Farrow.

"These adventures are simply inimitable, and will delight boys and girls of mature age, as well as their juniors. No happier combination of author and artist than this volume presents could be found to furnish healthy amusement to the young folks. The book is an artistic one in every sense."—Toronto Mail.

Fussbudget's Folks. A Story for Young Girls. By Anna F. Burnham.

"Mrs. Burnham has a rare gift for composing stories for children. With a light, yet forcible touch, she paints sweet and artless, yet natural and strong, characters."—Congregationalist.

Mixed Pickles. A Story for Girls. By Mrs. E. M. Field.

"It is, in its way, a little classic, of which the real beauty and pathos can hardly be appreciated by young people. It is not too much to say of the story that it is perfect of its kind."—Good Literature.

Miss Mouse and Her Boys. A Story for Girls. By Mrs. Molesworth.

"Mrs. Molesworth's books are cheery, wholesome, and particularly well adapted to refined life. It is safe to add that she is the best English prose writer for children. A new volume from Mrs. Molesworth is always a treat."—The Beacon.

Gilly Flower. A Story for Girls. By the author of "Miss Toosey's Mission."

"Jill is a little guardian angel to three lively brothers who tease and play with her.... Her unconscious goodness brings right thoughts and resolves to several persons who come into contact with her. There is no goodiness in this tale, but its influence is of the best kind."—Literary World.

The Chaplet of Pearls; or, The White and Black Ribaumont. By Charlotte M. Yonge.

"Full of spirit and life, so well sustained throughout that grown-up readers may enjoy it as much as children. It is one of the best books of the season."—Guardian.

Naughty Miss Bunny: Her Tricks and Troubles. By Clara Mulholland.

"The naughty child is positively delightful. Papas should not omit the book from their list of juvenile presents."—Land and Water.

Meg's Friend. By Alice Corkran.

"One of Miss Corkran's charming books for girls, narrated in that simple and picturesque style which marks the authoress as one of the first among writers for young people."—The Spectator.

Averil. By Rosa N. Carey.

"A charming story for young folks. Averil is a delightful creature—piquant, tender, and true—and her varying fortunes are perfectly realistic."—World.

Aunt Diana. By Rosa N. Carey.

"An excellent story, the interest being sustained from first to last. This is, both in its intention and the way the story is told, one of the best books of its kind which has come before us this year."—Saturday Review.

Little Sunshine's Holiday: A Picture from Life. By Miss Mulock.

"This is a pretty narrative of child life, describing the simple doings and sayings of a very charming and rather precocious child. This is a delightful book for young people."—Gazette.

Esther's Charge. A Story for Girls. By Ellen Everett Green.

"... This is a story showing in a charming way how one little girl's jealousy and bad temper were conquered; one of the best, most suggestive and improving of the Christmas juveniles."—New York Tribune.

Fairy Land of Science. By Arabella B. Buckley.

"We can highly recommend it; not only for the valuable information it gives on the special subjects to which it is dedicated, but also as a book teaching natural sciences in an interesting way. A fascinating little volume, which will make friends in every household in which there are children."—Daily News.

Merle's Crusade. By Rosa N. Carey.

"Among the books for young people we have seen nothing more unique than this book. Like all of this author's stories it will please young readers by the very attractive and charming style in which it is written."—Journal.

Birdie: A Tale of Child Life. By H. L. Childe-Pemberton.

"The story is quaint and simple, but there is a freshness about it that makes one hear again the ringing laugh and the cheery shout of children at play which charmed his earlier years."—New York Express.

The Days of Bruce: A Story from Scottish History. By Grace Aguilar.

"There is a delightful freshness, sincerity and vivacity about all of Grace Aguilar's stories which cannot fail to win the interest and admiration of every lover of good reading."—Boston Beacon.

Three Bright Girls: A Story of Chance and Mischance. By Annie E. Armstrong.

"The charm of the story lies in the cheery helpfulness of spirit developed in the girls by their changed circumstances; while the author finds a pleasant ending to all their happy makeshifts. The story is charmingly told, and the book can be warmly recommended as a present for girls."—Standard.

Giannetta: A Girl's Story of Herself. By Rosa Mulholland.

"Extremely well told and full of interest. Giannetta is a true heroine—warm-hearted, self-sacrificing, and, as all good women nowadays are, largely touched with enthusiasm of humanity. The illustrations are unusually good. One of the most attractive gift books of the season."—The Academy.

Margery Merton's Girlhood. By Alice Corkran.

"The experiences of an orphan girl who in infancy is left by her father to the care of an elderly aunt residing near Paris. The accounts of the various persons who have an after influence on the story are singularly vivid. There is a subtle attraction about the book which will make it a great favorite with thoughtful girls."—Saturday Review.

Under False Colors: A Story from Two Girls' Lives. By Sarah Doudney.

"Sarah Doudney has no superior as a writer of high-toned stories—pure in style, original in conception, and with skillfully wrought out plots; but we have seen nothing equal in dramatic energy to this book."—Christian Leader.

Down the Snow Stairs; or, From Good-night to Good-morning. By Alice Corkran.

"Among all the Christmas volumes which the year has brought to our table this one stands out facile princeps—a gem of the first water, bearing upon every one of its pages the signet mark of genius.... All is told with such simplicity and perfect naturalness that the dream appears to be a solid reality. It is indeed a Little Pilgrim's Progress."—Christian Leader.

The Tapestry Room: A Child's Romance. By Mrs. Molesworth

"Mrs. Molesworth is a charming painter of the nature and ways of children; and she has done good service in giving us this charming juvenile which will delight the young people."—Athenaeum, London.

Little Miss Peggy: Only a Nursery Story. By Mrs. Molesworth.

Mrs. Molesworth's children are finished studies. A joyous earnest spirit pervades her work, and her sympathy is unbounded. She loves them with her whole heart, while she lays bare their little minds, and expresses their foibles, their faults, their virtues, their inward struggles, their conception of duty, and their instinctive knowledge of the right and wrong of things. She knows their characters, she understands their wants, and she desires to help them.

Polly: A New Fashioned Girl. By L. T. Meade.

Few authors have achieved a popularity equal to Mrs. Meade as a Writer of stories for young girls. Her characters are living beings of flesh and blood, not lay figures of conventional type. Into the trials and crosses, and everyday experiences, the reader enters at once with zest and hearty sympathy. While Mrs. Meade always writes with a high moral purpose, her lessons of life, purity and nobility of character are rather inculcated by example than intruded as sermons.

One of a Covey. By the author of "Miss Toosey's Mission."

"Full of spirit and life, so well sustained throughout that grown-up readers may enjoy it as much as children. This 'Covey' consists of the twelve children of a hard-pressed Dr. Partridge out of which is chosen a little girl to be adopted by a spoiled, fine lady. We have rarely read a story for boys and girls with greater pleasure. One of the chief characters would not have disgraced Dickens' pen."—Literary World.

The Little Princess of Tower Hill. By L. T. Meade.

"This is one of the prettiest books for children published, as pretty as a pond-lily, and quite as fragrant. Nothing could be imagined more attractive to young people than such a combination of fresh pages and fair pictures; and while children will rejoice over it—which is much better than crying for it—it is a book that can be read with pleasure even by older boys and girls."—Boston Advertiser.

THE END

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