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'Lena Rivers
by Mary J. Holmes
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"Come, cheer up, Miss Douglass; I cannot suffer you to be so sad," said Mr. Wilbur, placing himself by Nellie, and thoughtlessly throwing his arm across the back of the seat, while at the same time he bent playfully forward to peep under her bonnet.

And Nellie did look up, smiling through her tears, but she did not observe the flashing eyes which watched her through the window at the rear of the car. Always restless and impatient of confinement, John Jr. had come out for a moment upon the platform, ostensibly to take the air, but really to see if it were possible to get a glimpse of Nellie. She was sitting not far from the door, and he looked in, just in time to witness Mr. Wilbur's action, which he of course construed just as his jealousy dictated.

"Confounded fool!" thought he. "I wouldn't hug Nellie in the cars in good broad daylight, even if I was married to her!"

And returning to his seat; he wondered which was the silliest, "for Nellie to run off with Mr. Wilbur, or for himself to run after her. Six of one and half a dozen of the other, I reckon," said he; at the same time wrapping himself in his shawl, he feigned sleep at every station, for the sake of retaining his entire seat, and sometimes if the crowd was great, going so far as to snore loudly!

And thus they proceeded onward, Nellie never suspecting the close espionage kept upon her by John Jr., who once in the night, at a crowded depot, passed so closely to her that he felt her warm breath on his cheek. And when, on the morning of the 15th, she sailed, she little thought who it was that followed her down to the water's edge, standing on the last spot where she had stood, and watching with a swelling heart the vessel which bore her away.

"I'm nothing better than a walking dead man, now," said he, as he, retraced his steps back to his hotel. "Nellie's gone, and with her all for which I lived, for she's the only girl except 'Lena who isn't a libel on the sex—or, yes—there's Anna—does as well as she knows how—and there's Mabel, a little simpleton, to be sure, but amiable and good-natured, and on the whole, as smart as they'll average. 'Twas kind in her, anyway, to offer to pay 'Lena's music bills."

And with these reflections, John Jr. sought out the men whom he had come to see, transacted his business, and then started for home, where he found his mother in unusually good spirits. Matters thus far had succeeded even beyond her most sanguine expectations. Nellie was gone to Europe, and the rest she fancied would be easy. 'Lena, too, was gone, but the result of this was not what she had hoped. Durward had been at Maple Grove but once since 'Lena left, while she had heard of his being in Frankfort several times.

"Something must be done"—her favorite expression and in her difficulty she determined to call upon Mrs. Graham, whom she had not seen since Christmas. "It is quite time she knew about the gray pony, as well as other matters," thought she, and ordering the carriage, she set out one morning for Woodlawn, intending to spend the day if she found its mistress amiably disposed, which was not always the case.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE VISIT.

Mrs. Graham reclined upon a softly-cushioned sofa, her tasteful lace morning-cap half falling from her head, and her rich cashmere gown flowing open, so as to reveal the flounced cambric skirt which her sewing-girl had sat up till midnight to finish. A pair of delicate French slippers pinched rather than graced her fat feet, one of which angrily beat the carpet, as if keeping time to its mistress' thoughts. Nervous and uncomfortable was the lady of Woodlawn this morning, for she had just passed through a little conjugal scene with her husband, whom she had called a brute, lamenting the dispensation of Providence which took from her "her beloved Sir Arthur, who always thought whatever she said was right," and ending by throwing herself in the most theatrical manner upon the sofa in the parlor, where, with both her blood and temper at a boiling heat, she lay, when her waiting-maid, but recently purchased, announced the approach of a carriage.

"Mercy," exclaimed the distressed lady, "whose is it? I hope no one will ask for me."

"Reckon how it's Marster Livingstone's carriage, 'case thar's Tom on the box," answered the girl, who had her own private reason for knowing Tom at any distance.

"Mrs. Livingstone, I'll venture to say," groaned Mrs. Graham, burying her lace cap and flaxen hair still farther in the silken cushions. "Just because I stopped there a few days last summer, she thinks she must run here every week; and there's no way of escaping her. Do shut that blind; it lets in so much light. There, would you think I'd been crying?"

"Lor, no," returned the stupid servant, "Lor, no; I should sooner think your eyes and face were swelled with pisen."

"The Lord help me," exclaimed Mrs. Graham, "you don't begin to know as much as poor Charlotte did. She was a jewel, and I don't see anything what she wanted to die for, just as I had got her well trained; but that's all the thanks I ever get for my goodness. Now go quick, and tell her I've got an excruciating headache."

"If you please, miss," said the girl, trying in vain to master the big word, "if you please, give me somethin' shorter, 'case I done forgit that ar, sartin'."

"Fool! Idiot!" exclaimed Mrs. Graham, hurling, for want of something better, one of her satin slippers at the woolly head, which dodged out of the door in time to avoid it.

"Is your mistress at home?" asked Mrs. Livingstone, and Martha, uncertain what answer she was to make, replied, "Yes—no—I dun know, 'case she done driv me out afore I know'd whether she was at home or not."

"Martha, show the lady this way," called out Mrs. Graham, who was listening. "Ah, Mrs. Livingstone, is it you. I'm glad to see you," said she, half rising and shading her swollen eyes with her hand, as if the least effort were painful. "You must excuse my dishabille, for I am suffering from a bad headache, and when Martha said some one had come, I thought at first I could not see them, but you are always welcome. How have you been this long time, and why have you neglected me so, when you know how I must feel the change from Louisville, where I was constantly in society, to this dreary neighborhood?" and the lady lay back upon the sofa, exhausted with and astonished at her own eloquence.

Mrs. Livingstone was quite delighted with her friend's unusual cordiality, and seating herself in the large easy-chair, began to make herself very agreeable, offering to bathe Mrs. Graham's aching head, which kind offer the lady declined, bethinking herself of sundry gray hairs, which a close inspection would single out from among her flaxen tresses.

"Are your family all well?" she asked; to which Mrs. Livingstone replied that they were, at the same time speaking of her extreme loneliness since Mabel left them.

"Ah, you mean the little dark-eyed brunette, whom I saw with you at my party. She was a nice-looking girl—showed that she came of a good family. I think everything of that. I believe I'd rather Durward would marry a poor aristocrat, than a wealthy plebeian—one whose family were low and obscure."

Mrs. Livingstone wondered what she thought of her family, the Livingstones. The Richards' blood she knew was good, but the Nichols' was rather doubtful. Still, she would for once make the best of it, so she hastened to say that few American ladies were so fortunate as Mrs. Graham had been in marrying a noble man. "In this country we have no nobility, you know," said she, "and any one who gets rich and into good society, is classed with the first."

"Yes, I know," returned Mrs. Graham, "but in my mind there's a great difference. Now, Mr. Graham's ancestors boast of the best blood of South Carolina, while my family, everybody knows, was one of the first in Virginia, so if Durward had been Mr. Graham's son instead of Sir Arthur's, I should be just as proud of him, just as particular whom he married."

"Certainly," answered Mrs. Livingstone, a little piqued, for there was something in Mrs. Graham's manner which annoyed her—"certainly—I understand you. I neither married a nobleman, nor one of the best bloods of South Carolina, and still I should not be willing for my son to marry—let me see—well, say 'Lena Rivers."

"'Lena Rivers !" repeated Mrs. Graham—"why, I would not suffer Durward to look at her, if I could help it. She's of a horridly low family on both sides, as I am told."

This was a home thrust which Mrs. Livingstone could not endure quietly, and as she had no wish to defend the royalty of a family which she herself despised, she determined to avenge the insult by making her companion as uncomfortable as possible. So she said, "Perhaps you are not aware that your son's attentions to this same 'Lena Rivers, are becoming somewhat marked."

"No, I was not aware of it," and the greenish-gray eyes fastened inquiringly upon Mrs. Livingstone, who continued: "It is nevertheless true, and as I can appreciate your feelings, I thought it might not be out of place for me to warn you."

"Thank you," returned Mrs. Graham, now raising herself upon her elbow, "Thank you—-but do you know anything positive? What has Durward done?"

"'Lena is in Frankfort now, at Mr. Douglass's," answered Mrs. Livingstone, "and your son is in the constant habit of visiting there; besides that, he invited her to ride with him when they all went to Frankfort—'Lena upon the gray pony which your husband gave her as a Christmas present."

Mrs. Livingstone had touched the right spot. 'Twas the first intimation of Vesta which Mrs. Graham had received, and now sitting bolt upright, she demanded what Mrs. Livingstone meant. "My husband give 'Lena Rivers a pony! Harry Graham do such a thing! It can't be possible. There must be some mistake."

"I think not," returned Mrs. Livingstone. "Your son came over with it, saying 'it was a present from his father, who sent it, together with his compliments.'"

Back among her cushions tumbled Mrs. Graham, moaning, groaning, and pronouncing herself wholly heart-broken. "I knew he was bad," said she, "but I never dreamed it had come to this. And I might have known it, too, for from the moment he first saw that girl, he has acted like a crazy creature. Talks about her in his sleep—wants me to adopt her—keeps his eyes on her every minute when he's where she is; and to crown all, without consulting me, his lawful wife, he has made her a present, which must have cost more than a hundred dollars! And she accepted it—the vixen!"

"That's the worst feature in the case," said Mrs. Livingstone. "I have always been suspicious of 'Lena, knowing what her mother was, but I must confess I did not think her quite so presumptuous as to accept so costly a present from a gentleman, and a married one, too. But she has a peculiar way of making them think what she does is right, and neither my husband nor John Jr. can see any impropriety in her keeping Vesta. Carrie wouldn't have done such a thing."

"Indeed she wouldn't. She is too well-bred for that," said Mrs. Graham, who had been completely won by Carrie's soft speeches and fawning manner.

This compliment to her daughter pleased Mrs. Livingstone, who straightway proceeded to build Carrie up still higher, by pulling 'Lena down. Accordingly, every little thing which she could remember, and many which she could not, were told in an aggravated manner, until quite a case was made out, and 'Lena would never have recognized herself in the artful, designing creature which her aunt kindly pictured her to be.

"Of course," said she, "if you ever repeat this, you will not use my name, for as she is my husband's niece it will not look well in me to be proclaiming her vices, except in cases where I think it my duty."

Mrs. Graham was too much absorbed in her own reflections to make a reply, and as Mrs. Livingstone saw that her company was hardly desired, she soon arose to go, asking Mrs. Graham "why she did not oftener visit Maple Grove."

When Mrs. Graham felt uncomfortable, she liked to make others so, too, and to her friend's question she answered, "I may as well be plain as not, and to tell you the truth, I should enjoy visiting you very much, were it not for one thing. That mother of yours——"

"Of my husband's," interrupted Mrs. Livingstone and Mrs. Graham continued just where she left off.

"Annoys me exceedingly, by eternally tracing in me a resemblance to some down-east creature or other—what is her name—Sco—Sco—Scovandyke; yes, that's it—Scovandyke. Of course it's not pleasant for me to be told every time I meet your mother——"

"Mr. Livingstone's mother," again interrupted the lady.

"That I look like some of her acquaintances, for I contend that families of high birth bear with them marks which cannot be mistaken."

"Certainly, certainly," said Mrs. Livingstone, adding, that "she was herself continually annoyed by Mrs. Nichols's vulgarity, but her husband insisted that she should come to the table, so what could she do?"

And mutually troubled, the one about her husband, and the other about her husband's mother, the two amiable ladies parted.

Scarcely was Mrs. Livingstone gone when Mr. Graham entered the room, finding his wife, who had heard his footsteps, in violent hysterics. He had seen her so too often to be alarmed, and was about to pull the bellrope, when she found voice to bid him desist, saying it was himself who was killing her by inches, and that the sooner she was dead, the better she supposed he would like it. "But, for my sake," she added, in a kind of howl, between crying and scolding, "do try to behave yourself during the short time I have to live, and not go to giving away ponies, and mercy knows what."

Now, Mr. Graham was not conscious of having looked at a lady, except through the window, for many days, and when his wife first attacked him, he was at a great loss to understand; but as she proceeded it all became plain, and on the whole, he felt glad that the worst was over. He would not acknowledge, even to himself, that he was afraid of his wife, still he had a little rather she would not always know what he did. He supposed, as a matter of course, that she would, earlier or later, hear of his present to 'Lena, and he well knew that such an event would surely be followed by a storm, but after what had taken place between them that morning, he did not expect so much feeling, for he had thought her wrath nearly expended. But Mrs. Graham was capable of great things—as she proved on this occasion, taunting her husband with his preference for 'Lena, accusing him of loving her better than he did herself, and asking him plainly, if it were not so.

"Say," she continued, stamping her foot (the one without a slipper), "say—I will be answered. Don't you like 'Lena better than you do me?"

Mr. Graham was provoked beyond endurance, and to the twice repeated question, he at length replied, "God knows I've far more reason to love her than I have you." At the same moment he left the room, in time to avoid a sight of the collapsed state into which his horrified wife who did not expect such an answer, had fallen.

"Can I tell her? oh, dare I tell her?" he thought, as he wiped the drops of perspiration from his brow, and groaned in the bitterness of his spirit. Terribly was he expiating his fault, but at last he grew calmer, and cowardice (for he was cowardly, else he had never been what he was) whispered, "Wait yet awhile. Anything for domestic peace."

So the secret was buried still deeper in his bosom, he never thinking how his conduct would in the end injure the young girl, dearer to him far than his own life. While he sat thus alone in his room, and as his wife lay upon her sofa, Durward entered the parlor and began good-humoredly to rally his mother upon her wobegone face, asking what was the matter now.

"Oh, you poor boy, you," she sobbed, "you'll soon have no mother to go to, but you must attribute my death wholly to your stepfather, who alone will be to blame for making you an orphan!"

Durward knew his mother well, and he thought he knew his father too, and while he respected him, he blamed her for the unreasonable whims of which he was becoming weary. He knew there had been a jar in the morning, but he had supposed that settled, and now, when he found his mother ten times worse than ever, he felt half vexed, and said, "Do be a woman mother, and not give way to such fancies. I really wonder father shows as much patience with you as he does, for you make our home very unpleasant; and really," he continued, in a laughing tone, "if this goes on much longer, I shall, in self-defense, get me a wife and horns of my own."

"And if report is true, that wife will be 'Lena Rivers," said Mrs. Graham, in order to try him.

"Very likely—I can't tell what may be," was his answer; to which Mrs. Graham replied, "that it would be extremely pleasant to marry a bride with whom one's father was in love."

"How ridiculous!" Durward exclaimed. "As though my father cared aught for 'Lena, except to admire her for her beauty and agreeable manners."

"But, he's acknowledged it. He's just told me, 'God knew he loved her better than he did me.' What do you think of that?"

"Did Mr. Graham say that?" asked Durward, looking his mother directly in her face.

"Yes he did, not fifteen minutes before you came in, and it's not a secret either. Others know it and talk about it. Think of his giving her that pony."

Durward was taken by surprise. Knowing none of the circumstances, he felt deeply pained at his father's remark. He had always supposed he liked 'Lena, and he was glad of it, too, but to love her more than his own wife, was a different thing, and for the first time in his life Durward distrusted his father. Still, 'Lena was not to blame; there was comfort in that, and that very afternoon found him again at her side, admiring her more and more, and learning each time he saw her to love her better. And she—she dared not confess to herself how dear he was to her—she dared not hope her affection was returned. She could not think of the disappointment the future might bring, so she lived on the present, waiting anxiously for his coming, and striving hard to do the things which she thought would please him best.

True to her promise, Mabel had commenced giving her instructions upon the piano, and they were in the midst of their first lesson, when who should walk in, but Monsieur Du Pont, bowing, and saying "he had been hired by von nice gentleman, to give Mademoiselle Rivers lessons in musique."

'Lena immediately thought of her uncle, who had once proposed her sharing in the instructions of her cousin, but who, as usual, was overruled by his wife.

"'Twas my uncle, was it not?" she asked of Du Pont, who replied, "I promised not to tell. He say, though, he connected with mademoiselle."

And 'Lena, thinking it was of course Mr. Livingstone, who, on his wife's account, wished it a secret, readily consented to receive Du Pont as a teacher in place of Mabel, who still expressed her willingness to assist her whenever it was necessary. Naturally fond of music, 'Lena's improvement was rapid, and when she found how gratified Durward appeared, she redoubled her exertions, practicing always five, and sometimes six hours a day.



CHAPTER XX.

A FATHER'S LOVE.

When it was known at Maple Grove that 'Lena was taking lessons of Du Pont, it was naturally supposed that Mabel, as she had first proposed, paid the bills.

"Mighty kind in her, and no mistake," said John Jr., throwing aside the stump of a cigar which he had been smoking, and thinking to himself that "Mabel was a nice girl, after all."

The next day, finding the time hang heavily upon his hands, he suddenly wondered why he had never thought to call upon 'Lena. "To be sure, I'll feel awfully to go where Nellie used to be, and know she is not there, but it's lonesomer than a graveyard here, and I'm bound to do something."

So saying, he mounted Firelock and started off, followed by no regrets from his mother or sisters, for since Nellie went away he had been intolerably cross and fault-finding. He found a servant in the door, so he was saved the trouble of ringing, and entering unannounced, walked noiselessly to the parlor-door, which was ajar. 'Lena, as usual, sat at the piano, wholly absorbed, while over her bent Mabel, who was assisting her in the lesson, speaking encouragingly, and patiently helping her through all the difficult places. Mabel's health was improved since first we saw her, and though she was still plain—ugly, many would say—there was something pleasing in her face, and in the expression of her black, eyes, which looked down so kindly upon 'Lena. John Jr. noticed it, and never before had Mabel appeared to so good advantage to him as she did at that moment, as he watched her through the open door.

At last the lesson was finished, and rising up, 'Lena said, "I know I should never learn if it were not for you," at the same time winding her arm about Mabel's neck and kissing her glowing cheek.

"Let me have a share of that," exclaimed John Jr., stepping forward and clasping both the girls in his arms ere they were aware of his presence.

With a gay laugh they shook him off, and 'Lena, leading him to the sofa, sat down beside him, asking numerous questions about home and her grandmother. John answered them all, and then, oh how he longed to ask if there had come any tidings of the absent one; but he would not—she had left him of her own accord, and he had sworn never to inquire for her. So he sat gazing dreamily upon her piano, the chair she used to occupy and the books she used to read, until 'Lena, either divining his thoughts, or fancying he would wish to know, said, "We've not heard from Nellie since she left us."

"You didn't expect to, so soon, I suppose," was John's indifferent reply.

"Why, no, not unless they chanced to speak a ship. I wish they'd taken a steamer instead of a sailing vessel," said 'Lena.

"I suppose Mr. Wilbur had an eye upon the long, cosy chats he could have with Nellie, looking out upon the sea," was John's answer, while Mabel quickly rejoined, that "he had chosen a sailing vessel solely on Mary's account."

In the midst of their conversation, the door-bell rang; and a moment after, Durward was ushered into the parlor. "He was in town on business," he said, "and thought he would call."

Scarcely had he taken his seat, when again the door opened, this time admitting Mr. Graham, who was returning from Louisville, and had also found it convenient to call. Involuntarily Durward glanced toward 'Lena, but her face was as calm and unruffled as if the visitor had been her uncle.

"All right there," thought he, and withdrawing his eyes from her, he fixed them upon his father, who he fancied seemed somewhat disconcerted when he saw him there. Mentally blaming himself for the distrust which he felt rising within him, he still determined to watch, and judge for himself how far his mother's suspicions were correct. Taking up a book which lay near, he pretended to be reading, while all the time his thoughts were elsewhere. It was 'Lena's lesson-day, and erelong Du Pont came in, appearing both pleased and surprised when he saw Mr. Graham.

"I hope you don't expect me to expose my ignorance before all these people," said 'Lena, as Du Pont motioned her to the stool.

"Suppose we adjourn to another room," said Mabel, leading the way and followed by John Jr. only.

Durward at first thought of leaving also, and arose to do so, but on observing that his father showed no intention of going, he resumed his seat and book, poring over the latter as intently as if it had not been wrong side up!

"Does monsieur incline to stay," asked Du Pont, as Mr. Graham took his station at the end of the piano.

"Certainly," answered Mr. Graham, "unless Miss Rivers insists upon my leaving, which I am sure she would not do if she knew how much interest I take in her progress."

So, during the entire lesson, Mr. Graham stood there, his eyes fixed upon 'Lena with a look which puzzled Durward, who from behind his book was watching him. Admiration, affection, pity and remorse, all seemed mingled in the expression of his face, and as Durward watched, he felt that there was a something which he could not fathom.

"I never knew he was so fond of music," thought he—"I mean to put him to the test."

Accordingly, when Du Pont was gone, he asked Mabel, who he knew was an excellent pianist, to favor him with one of her very best pieces—"something lively and new which will wake us up," said he.

Mabel would greatly have preferred remaining with John Jr., but she was habitually polite, always playing when invited, and now taking her seat at the piano, she brought out sounds far different from those of a new performer. But Mr. Graham, if he heard it, did not heed it, his eyes and ears being alone for 'Lena. Seating himself near her, he commenced talking to her in an undertone, apparently oblivious to everything else around him, and it was not until Durward twice asked how he liked Mabel's playing, that he heard a note. Then, starting up and going toward the instrument, he said, "Ah, yes, that was a fine march, ('twas the 'Rainbow Schottish,' then new,) please repeat it, or something just like it!"

Durward bit his lip, while Mabel, in perfect good humor, dashed off into a spirited quickstep, receiving but little attention from Mr. Graham, who seemed in a strange mood to-day, scribbling upon a piece of white paper which lay upon the piano, and of which Durward managed to get possession, finding thereon the name, "Helena Nichols," to which was added that of "Rivers," the Nichols being crossed out. It would seem as if both father and son were determined each to outstay the other, for hour after hour went by and neither spoke of leaving, although John Jr. had been gone some time. At last, as the sun was setting, Durward arose to go, asking if his father contemplated spending the night; "and if so," said he, with a meaning in his manner, "where shall I tell my mother I left you?"

This roused Mr. Graham, who said he was only waiting for his son to start, adding, that "he could not find it in his heart to tear him away from two so agreeable ladies, for he well remembered the weakness of his own youth."

"In your second youth, now, I fancy," thought Durward, watching him as he bade 'Lena and Mabel goodbye, and not failing to see how much longer he held the hand of the former than he did of the latter.

"Does she see as I do, or not?" thought he, as he took the hand his father dropped, and looked earnestly into the clear, brown eyes, which returned his inquiring glance with one open and innocent as a little child.

"All right here," again thought Durward, slightly pressing the soft, warm hand he held in his own, and smiling down upon her when he saw how quickly that pressure brought the tell-tale blood to her cheek.

* * * * *

"Durward," said Mr. Graham, after they were out of the city, "I have a request to make of you."

"Well."

The answer was very short and it was several minutes ere Mr. Graham again spoke.

"You know your mother as well as I do——"

"Well."

Another silence, and Mr. Graham continued; "You know how groundlessly jealous she is of me—and it may be just as well for her not to know that——"

Here he paused, and Durward finished the sentence for him.

"Just as well for her not to know that you've spent the afternoon with 'Lena Rivers; is that it?"

"That's it—yes—yes"—answered Mr. Graham, adding, ere Durward had time to utter the angry words which he felt rising within him, "I wish you'd marry 'Lena."

This was so sudden—so different from anything which Durward had expected, that he was taken quite by surprise, and it was some little time ere he answered,

"Perhaps I shall."

"I wish you would," continued Mr. Graham, "I'd willingly give every dollar I'm worth for the privilege of calling her my daughter."

Durward was confounded, and knew not what to think. If his father had an undue regard for 'Lena, why should he wish to see her the wife of another, and that other his son? Was it his better and nobler nature struggling to save her from evil, which prompted the wish? Durward hoped so—he believed so; and the confidence which had so recently been shaken was fully restored, when, by the light of the hall lamp at home, he saw how white and almost ghostly was the face which, ere they entered the drawing-room, turned imploringly upon him, asking him "to be careful."

Mrs. Graham had been in a fit of the sulks ever since the morning of Mrs. Livingstone's call, and now, though she had not seen her husband for several days, she merely held out her hand, turning her head, meantime, and replying to his questions in a low, quiet kind of a much-injured-woman way, as provoking as it was uncalled for.

* * * * *

"Father's suggestion was a good one," thought Durward, when he had retired to rest. "'Lena is too beautiful to be alone in the world. I will propose to her at once, and she will thus be out of danger."

But what should he do with her? Should he bring her there to Woodlawn, where scarcely a day passed without some domestic storm? No, his home should be full of sunlight, of music and flowers, where no angry word or darkening frown could ever find entrance; and thus dreaming of a blissful future, when 'Lena should be his bride, he fell asleep.



CHAPTER XXI.

JOEL SLOCUM.

In this chapter it may not be out of place to introduce an individual who, though not a very important personage, is still in some degree connected with our story. On the night when Durward and his father were riding home from Frankfort, the family at Maple Grove, with the exception of grandma, were as usual assembled in the parlor. John Jr. had returned, and purposely telling his mother and Carrie whom he had left with 'Lena, had succeeded in putting them both into an uncomfortable humor, the latter secretly lamenting the mistake which she had committed in suffering 'Lena to stay with Mabel. But it could not be remedied now. There was no good reason for calling her home, and the lady broke at least three cambric-needles in her vigorous jerks at the handkerchief she was hemming.

A heavy tread upon the piazza, a loud ring of the bell, and Carrie straightened up, thinking it might possibly be Durward, who had called on his way home, but the voice was strange, and rather impatiently she waited.

"Does Mr. John Livingstone live here?" asked the stranger of the negro who answered the summons.

"Yes, sir," answered the servant, eyeing the new comer askance.

"And is old Miss Nichols and Helleny to hum?"

The negro grinned, answering in the affirmative, and asking the young man to walk in.

"Wall, guess I will," said he, advancing a few steps toward the parlor door. Then suddenly halting, he added, more to himself than to the negro, "Darned if I don't go the hull figger, and send in my card as they do to Boston."

So saying, he drew from his pocket an embossed card, and bending his knee for a table, he wrote with sundry nourishes, "Mr. Joel Slocum, Esq., Slocumville, Massachusetts."

"There, hand that to your boss," said he, "and tell him I'm out in the entry." At the same time he stepped before the hat-stand, rubbing up his oily hair, and thinking "Mr. Joel Slocum would make an impression anywhere."

"Who is it, Ben ?" whispered Carrie.

"Dunno, miss," said the negro, passing the card to his master, and waiting in silence for his orders.

"Mr. Joel Slocum, Esq., Slocumville, Massachusetts," slowly read Mr. Livingstone, wondering where he had heard that name before.

"Who?" simultaneously asked Carrie and Anna, while their mother looked wonderingly up.

Instantly John Jr. remembered 'Lena's love-letter, and anticipating fun, exclaimed, "Show him in, Ben—show him in."

While Ben is showing him in, we will introduce him more fully to our readers, promising that the picture is not overdrawn, but such as we saw it in our native state. Joel belonged to that extreme class of Yankees with which we sometimes, though not often meet. Brought up among the New England mountains, he was almost wholly ignorant of what really belonged to good manners, fancying that he knew everything, and sneering at those of his acquaintance who, being of a more quiet turn of mind, were content to settle down in the home of their fathers, caring little or nothing for the world without. But as for him, "he was bound," he said, "to see the elephant, and if his brothers were green enough to stay tied to their mother's apron strings, they might do it, but he wouldn't. No, sir! he was going to make something of himself."

To effect this, about two years before the time of which we are speaking, he went to Boston to learn the art of daguerreotype-taking, in which he really did seem to excel, returning home with some money, a great deal of vanity, and a strong propensity to boast of what he had seen. Recollections of 'Lena, his early, and, as he sentimentally expressed it, "his undying, all-enduring" love, still haunted him, and at last he determined upon a tour to Kentucky, purchasing for the occasion a rather fantastic suit, consisting of greenish pants, blue coat, red vest, and yellow neck-handkerchief. These he laid carefully by in his trunk until he reached Lexington, where he intended stopping for a time, hanging out a naming sign, which announced his presence and capabilities.

After spending a few days in the city, endeavoring to impress its inhabitants with a sense of his consequence, and mentally styling them all "Know Nothings," be-cause they did not seem to be more affected, he one afternoon donned his best suit, and started for Mr. Livingstone's, thinking he should create a sensation there, for wasn't he as good as anybody? Didn't he learn his trade in Boston, the very center and source of all the isms of the day, and ought not Mr. Livingstone to feel proud of such a guest, and wouldn't 'Lena stare when she saw him so much improved from what he was when they picked checkerberries together?

With this comfortable opinion of himself, it is not at all probable that he felt any misgivings when Ben ushered him at once into the presence of Mr. Livingstone's family, who stared at him in unfeigned astonishment. Nothing daunted, he went through with the five changes of a bow, which he had learned at a dancing-school, bringing himself up finally in front of Mr. Livingstone, and exclaiming,

"How-dy-do?—Mr. Livingstone, I 's'pose, it comes more natural to say cousin John, I've heard Miss Nichols and Aunt Nancy talk of you since I was knee high, and seems as how you must be related. How is the old lady, and Helleny, too? I don't see 'em here, though I thought, at fust, this might be her," nodding to Anna.

Mr. Livingstone was confounded, while his wife had strong intentions of ordering the intruder from the room, but John Jr. had no such idea. He liked the fun, and now coming forward, said, "Mr. Slocum, as your card indicates, allow me the pleasure of presenting you to my mother—and sisters," at the same time ringing the bell, he ordered a servant to go for his grandmother.

"Ah, ladies, how-dy-do? Hope you are well till we are better acquainted," said Joel, bowing low, and shaking out the folds of his red silk handkerchief, strongly perfumed with peppermint.

Mrs. Livingstone did not even nod, Carrie but slightly, while Anna said, "Good-evening, Mr. Slocum."

Quickly observing Mrs. Livingstone's silence, Joel turned to John Jr., saying, "Don't believe she heard you—deaf, mebby?"

John Jr. nodded, and at that moment grandma appeared, in a great flurry to know who wanted to see her.

Instantly seizing her hand, Joel exclaimed, "Now Aunt Martha, if this ain't good for sore eyes. How do you do ?"

"Pretty well, pretty well," she returned, "but you've got the better of me, for I don't know more'n the dead who you be."

"Now how you talk," said Joel. "If this don't beat all my fust wife's relations. Why, I should have known you if I'd met you in a porridge-pot. But then, I s'pose I've altered for the better since I see you. Don't you remember Joel Slocum, that used to have kind of a snickerin' notion after Helleny?"

"Why-ee, I guess I do," answered grandma, again seizing his hand. "Where did you come from, and why didn't your Aunt Nancy come with you?

"'Tilda, this is Nancy Scovandyke's sister's boy. Caroline and Anny, this is Joel; you've heard tell of him."

"I've been introduced, thank you," said Joel, taking a seat near Carrie, who haughtily gathered up the ample folds of her dress, lest it should be polluted.

"Bashful critter, but she'll get over it by the time she's seen as much of the world as I have," soliloquized Joel; at the same time thinking to make some advances, he hitched a little nearer, and taking hold of a strip of embroidery on which she was engaged, he said, "Now, du tell, if they've got to workin' with floss way down here. Waste of time, I tell 'em, this makin' holes for the sake of sewin' 'em up. But law!" he added, as he saw the deepening scowl on Carrie's face, "wimmin may jest as well by putterin' about that as anything else, for their time ain't nothin' moren' an old settin' hen's."

This speech called forth the first loud roar in which John Jr. had indulged since Nellie went away, and now settling back in his chair, he gave vent to his feelings in peals of laughter, in which Joel also joined, thinking he'd said something smart. When at last he'd finished laughing, he thought again of 'Lena, and turning to Mrs. Livingstone, asked where she was, raising his voice to a high key on account of her supposed deafness.

"Did you speak to me?" asked the lady, with a look which she meant should annihilate him, and in a still louder tone Joel repeated his question, asking Anna, aside, if her mother had ever tried "McAllister's All-Healing Ointment," for her deafness, saying it had "nighly cured his grandmother when she was several years older than Mrs. Livingstone."

"Much obliged for your prescription, which, fortunately, I do not need," said Mrs. Livingstone, angrily, while Joel thought, "how strange it was that deaf people would always hear in the wrong time!"

"Mother don't seem inclined to answer your question concerning 'Lena," said John Jr., "so I will do it for her. She is in Frankfort, taking music lessons. You used to know her, I believe."

"Lud, yes! I chased her once with a streaked snake, and if she didn't put 'er through, then I'm no 'Judge. Takin' music lessons, is she? I'd give a fo' pence to hear her play."

"Are you fond of music?" asked John Jr., in hopes of what followed.

"Wall, I wouldn't wonder much if I was," answered Joel, taking a tuning-fork from his pocket and striking it upon the table. "I've kep' singin' school one term, besides leadin' the Methodis' choir in Slocumville: so I orto know a little somethin' about it."

"Perhaps you play, and if so, we'd like to hear you," continued John Jr., in spite of the deprecating glance cast upon him by Carrie.

"Not such a dreadful sight," answered Joel, sauntering toward the piano and drumming a part of "Auld Lang Syne." "Not such a dreadful sight, but I guess these girls do. Come, girls, play us a jig, won't you?"

"Go, Cad, it won't hurt you," whispered John, but Carrie was immovable, and at last, Anna, who entered more into her brother's spirit, took her seat at the instrument, asking what he would have.

"Oh, give us 'Money Musk,' 'Hail Columby,' 'Old Zip Coon,' or anything to raise a feller's ideas."

Fortunately, Anna's forte lay in playing old music, which she preferred to more modern pieces, and, Joel was soon beating time to the lively strains of "Money Musk."

"Wall, I declare," said he, when it was ended, "I don't see but what you Kentucky gals play most as well as they do to hum. I didn't s'pose many on you ever seen a pianner. Come," turning to Carrie, "less see what you can do. Mebby you'll beat her all holler," and he offered his hand to Carrie, who rather petulantly said she "must be excused."

"Oh, get out," he continued. "You needn't feel so bashful, for I shan't criticise you very hard. I know how to feel fer new beginners."

"Have you been to supper, Mr. Slocum ?" asked Mr. Livingstone, pitying Carrie, and wishing to put an end to the performance.

"No, I hain't, and I'm hungrier than a bear," answered Joel, whereupon Mrs. Nichols, thinking he was her guest, arose, saying she would see that he had some.

When both were gone to the dining-room, Mrs. Livingstone's wrath boiled over.

"That's what comes of harboring your relatives," said she, looking indignantly upon her husband, and adding that she hoped "the insolent fellow did not intend staying all night, for if he did he couldn't."

"Do you propose turning him into the street?" asked Mr. Livingstone, looking up from his paper.

"I don't propose anything, except that he won't stay in my house, and you needn't ask him."

"I hardly think an invitation is necessary, for I presume he expects to stay," returned Mr. Livingstone; while John Jr. rejoined, "Of course he does, and if mother doesn't find him a room, I shall take him in with me, besides going to Frankfort with him to-morrow."

This was enough, for Mrs. Livingstone would do almost anything rather than have her son seen in the city with that specimen. Accordingly, when the hour for retiring arrived, she ordered Corinda to show him into the "east chamber," a room used for her common kind of visitors, but which Joel pronounced "as neat as a fiddle."

The next morning he announced his intention of visiting Frankfort, proposing to grandma that she should accompany him, and she was about making up her mind to do so, when 'Lena and Mabel both appeared in the yard. They had come out for a ride, they said, and finding the morning so fine, had extended their excursion as far as Maple Grove, sending their servant back to tell where they were going. With his usual assurance, Joel advanced toward 'Lena, greeting her tenderly, and whispering in her ear that "he found she was greatly improved as well as himself," while 'Lena wondered in what the improvement consisted. She had formerly known him as a great, overgrown, good-natured boy, and now she saw him a "conceited gawky." Still, her manner was friendly toward him, for he had come from her old home, had breathed the air of her native hills, and she well remembered how, years ago, he had with her planted and watered the flowers which he told her were still growing at her mother's grave.

And yet there was something about her which puzzled Joel, who felt that the difference between them was great. He was disappointed, and the declaration which he had fully intended making was left until another time, when, as he thought, "he shouldn't be so confounded shy of her." His quarters, too, at Maple Grove were not the most pleasant, for no one noticed him except grandma and John Jr., and with the conviction that "the Kentuckians didn't know what politeness meant," he ordered his horse after dinner, and started back to Lexington, inviting all the family to call and "set for their picters," saying that "seein' 'twas them, he'd take 'em for half price."

As he was leaving the piazza, he turned back, and drawing a large, square case from his pocket, passed it to 'Lena, saying it was a daguerreotype of her mountain home, which he had taken on purpose for her, forgetting to give it to her until that minute. The look of joy which lighted up 'Lena's face made Joel almost repent of not having said to her what he intended to, but thinking he would wait till next time, he started off, his heart considerably lightened by her warm thanks for his thoughtfulness.



CHAPTER XXII.

THE DAGUERREOTYPE.

"Look, grandmother!—a picture of our old home. Isn't it natural?" exclaimed Lena, as she ran back to the parlor.

Yes, it was natural, and the old lady's tears gushed forth the moment she looked upon it. There was the well, the garden, the gate partially open, the barn in the rear, now half fallen down, the curtain of the west window rolled up as it was wont to be, while on the doorstep, basking in the warm sunshine, lay a cat, which Mrs. Nichols' declared was hers.

"John ought to see this," said she, wiping the tears from her eyes, and turning towards the door, which at that moment opened, admitting her son, together with Mr. Graham, who had accidentally called. "Look here, John," said she, calling him to her side—"Do you remember this?"

The deep flush which mounted to John's brow, showed that he did, and his mother, passing it toward Mr. Graham, continued: "It is our old home in Massachusetts. There's the room where John and Helleny both were born, and where Helleny and her father died. Oh, it seems but yesterday since she died, and they carried her out of this door, and down the road, there—do you see?"

This question, was addressed to Mr. Graham, who, whether he saw or not, made no answer, but walked to the window and looked out, upon the prospect beyond, which for him had no attractions then. The sight of that daguerreotype had stirred up many bitter memories, and for some time he stood gazing vacantly through the window, and thinking—who shall say of what? It would seem that the daguerreotype possessed a strong fascination for him, for after it had been duly examined and laid down, he took it in his hand, inspecting it minutely, asking where it was taken, and if it would be possible to procure a similar one.

"I have a fancy for such scenes," said he, "and would like to have just such a picture. Mr. Slocum is stopping in Lexington, you say. He can take one from this, I suppose. I mean to see him;" and with his usual good-morning, he departed.

Two weeks from this time Durward again went down to Frankfort, determining, if a favorable opportunity presented itself, to offer 'Lena his heart and fortune.

He found her alone, Mabel having gone out to spend the day. For a time they conversed together on indifferent topics, each one of which was entirely foreign from that which lay nearest Durward's heart. At last the conversation turned upon Joel Slocum, of whose visit Durward had heard.

"I really think, 'Lena," said he, laughingly, "that you ought to patronize the poor fellow, who has come all this distance for the sake of seeing you. Suppose you have your daguerreotype taken for me, will you?"

Durward was in earnest, but with a playful shake of her brown curls, 'Lena answered lightly, "Oh, no, no. I have never had my picture taken in my life, and I shan't begin with Joel."

"Never had it taken!" repeated Durward, in some surprise.

"No, never," said 'Lena, and Durward continued drawing her nearer to him, "It is time you had, then. So have it taken for me. I mean what I say," he continued, as he met the glance of her merry eyes. "There is nothing I should prize more than your miniature, except, indeed the original, which you will not refuse me, when I ask it, will you?"

'Lena's mirth was all gone—she knew he was in earnest now. She felt it in the pressure of his arm, which encircled her waist; she saw it in his eye, and heard it in the tones of his voice. But what should she say? Closer he drew her to his side; she felt his breath upon her cheek; and an inaudible answer trembled on her lips, when noiselessly through the door came Mr. Graham, starting when he saw their position, and offering to withdraw if he was intruding. 'Lena was surprised and excited, and springing up, she laid her hand upon his arm as he was about to leave the room, bidding him stay and saying he was always welcome there.

So he stayed, and with the first frown upon his brow which 'Lena had ever seen, Durward left—left without receiving an answer to his question, or even referring to it again, though 'Lena accompanied him to the door, half dreading, yet hoping, he would repeat it. But he did not, and wishing her much pleasure in his father's company, he walked away, writing in his heart bitter things against him, not her. On his way home he fell in with Du Pont, who, Frenchman-like, had taken a little too much wine, and was very talkative.

"Vous just come from Mademoiselle Rivers," said he. "She be von fine girl. What relation be she to Monsieur Graham?"

"None whatever. Why do you ask?"

"Because he pay her musique lessons and——"

Here Du Pont suddenly remembered his promise, so he kept back Mr. Graham's assertion that he was a near relative, adding in its place, that "he thought probable he related; but you no tell," said he, "for Monsieur bid me keep secret and I forgot."

Here, having reached a cross-road, they parted, and again Durward wrote down bitter things against his father, for what could be his object in wishing it kept a secret that he was paying for 'Lena's lessons, or why did he pay for them at all—and did 'Lena know it? He thought not, and for a time longer was she blameless in his eyes.

On reaching home he found both the parlor and drawing-room deserted, and upon inquiry learned that his mother was in her own room. Something, he could hardly tell what, prompted him to knock for admission, which being granted, he entered, finding her unusually pale, with the trace of tears still upon her cheek. This of itself was so common an occurrence, that he would hardly have observed it had not there been about her a look of unfeigned distress which he had seldom seen before.

"What's the matter, mother?" said he, advancing toward her; "What has happened to trouble you?"

Without any reply, Mrs. Graham placed in his hand a richly-cased daguerreotype, and laying her head upon the table, sobbed aloud. A moment Durward stood transfixed to the spot, for on opening the case, the fair, beautiful face of 'Lena Rivers looked smilingly out upon him!

"Where did you get this, mother?—how came you by it?" he asked, and she answered, that in looking through her husband's private drawer, the key of which she had accidentally found in his vest pocket, she had come upon it, together with a curl of soft chestnut-brown hair which she threw across Durward's finger, and from which he recoiled as from a viper's touch.

For several minutes not a word was spoken by either, and then Mrs. Graham, looking him in the face, said, "You recognize that countenance, of course?"

"I do," he replied, in a voice husky with emotion, for Durward was terribly moved.

Twice had 'Lena asserted that never in her life had her daguerreotype been taken, and yet he held it in his hands; there was no mistaking it—the same broad, open brow—the same full, red lips—the same smile—and more than all, the same clustering ringlets, though arranged a little differently from what she usually wore them, the hair on the picture being combed smoothly over the forehead, while 'Lena's was generally brushed up after the style of the prevailing fashion. Had Durward examined minutely, he might have found other points of difference, but he did not think of that. A look had convinced him that 'twas 'Lena—his 'Lena, he had fondly hoped to call her. But that was over now—she had deceived him—told him a deliberate falsehood—refused him her daguerreotype and given it to his father, whose secrecy concerning it indicated something wrong. His faith was shaken, and yet for the sake of what she had been to him, he would spare her good name. He could not bear to hear the world breathe aught against her, for possibly she might be innocent; but no, there was no mistaking the falsehood, and Durward groaned in bitterness as he handed the picture to his mother, bidding her return it where she found it. Mrs. Graham had never seen her son thus moved, and obeying him, she placed her hand upon his arm, asking, "why he was so affected—what she was to him?"

"Everything, everything," said he, laying his face upon the table. "'Lena Rivers was all the world to me. I loved her as I shall never love again."

And then, without withholding a thing, Durward told his mother all—how he had that very morning gone to Frankfort with the intention of offering 'Lena his hand—how he had partially done so, when they were interrupted by the entrance of a visitor, he did not say whom.

"Thank heaven for your escape. I can bear your father's conduct, if it is the means of saving you from her," exclaimed Mrs. Graham, while her son continued: "And now, mother, I have a request to make of you—a request which you must grant. I have loved 'Lena too well to cease from loving her so soon. And though I can never again think to make her my wife, I will not hear her name lightly spoken by the world, who must never know what we do. Promise me, mother, to keep secret whatever you may know against her."

"Do you think me bereft of my senses," asked Mrs. Graham petulantly, "that I should wish to proclaim my affairs to every one?"

"No, no, mother," he answered, "but you are easily excited, and say things you had better not. Mrs. Livingstone bears 'Lena no good will, you know, and sometimes when she is speaking disparagingly of her, you may be thrown off your guard, and tell what you know. But this must not be. Promise me, mother, will you?"

Durward was very pale, and the drops of sweat stood thickly about his mouth as he asked this of his mother who, mentally congratulating herself upon her son's escape, promised what he asked, at the same time repeating to him all that she heard from Mrs. Livingstone concerning 'Lena, until Durward interrupted her with, "Stop, stop, I've heard enough. Nothing which Mrs. Livingstone could say would have weighed a straw, but the conviction of my own eyes and ears have undeceived me, and henceforth 'Lena and I are as strangers."

Nothing could please Mrs. Graham better, for the idea of her son's marrying a poor, unknown girl, was dreadful, and though she felt indignant toward her husband so peculiar was her nature that she would not have had matters otherwise if she could and when Durward, who disliked scenes, suggested the propriety of her not speaking to his father on the subject at present he assented, saying that it would be more easy for her to refrain, as she was intending to start for Louisville on the morrow.

"I've been contemplating a visit there for some time and before Mr. Graham left home this morning, I had decided to go," said she, at the same time proposing that Durward should accompany her.

To this consented willingly, for in the first shock of his disappointment, a change of place and scene was what he most desired. The hot blood of the south, which burned in his veins, seemed all on fire, and he felt that he could not, for the present, at least be daily associated with his stepfather. An absence of several days, he thought, might have the effect of calming him down. It was accordingly decided that he should on the morrow, start with her for Louisville, to be gone two weeks; and with this understanding they parted, Durward going to his own chamber, there to review the past and strive, if possible, to efface from his heart every memory of 'Lena, whom he had loved so well. But 'twas all in vain; he could not so soon forget her and far into the hours of night he sat alone striving to frame some excuse for her conduct. The fact that his father possessed her daguerreotype might possibly be explained, without throwing censure upon her; but the falsehood—never; and with the firm conviction that she was lost to him forever, he at last retired to rest, just as the clock in the ball below proclaimed the hour of midnight.

Meantime, Mrs. Graham was pondering in her own mind the probable result of a letter which, in the heat of passion, she had that day dispatched to 'Lena, accusing her of "marring the domestic peace of a hitherto happy family," and while she cast some reflections upon her birth, commanding her never, under any circumstances, "to venture into her presence!"

This cruel letter had been sent to the office before Durward's return, and as she well knew how much he would disapprove of it, she resolved not to tell him, secretly hoping 'Lena would keep her own counsel. "Base creature!" said she, "to give my husband her likeness—but he shall never see it again;" and with stealthy step she advanced toward the secret drawer, which she again opened, and taking from it both daguerreotype and ringlet, locked it, replacing the key in the pocket where she found it. Then seizing the long, bright curl, she hurled it into the glowing grate, shuddering as she did so, and trembling, as if she really knew a wrong had been done to the dead.

Opening the case, she looked once more upon the hated features, which now seemed to regard her mournfully, as if reproaching her for what she had done. No part of the dress was visible—nothing except the head and neck, which was uncovered, and over which fell the chestnut curls, whose companion so recently lay seething and scorching on the burning coals.

There was a footstep without—her husband had returned—and quick as thought was the daguerreotype concealed, while Mrs. Graham, forcing down her emotion, took up a book, which she seemed to be intently reading when her husband entered. After addressing to her a few commonplace remarks, all of which she answered civilly, he went to the wardrobe, and on pretense of looking for his knife, which, he said he believed he left in his vest pocket, he took out the key, and then carelessly proceeded to unlock his private drawer, his wife watching him the while, and keenly enjoying his look of consternation when he saw that his treasure was gone. Again and again was his drawer searched, but all to no purpose, and casting an anxious glance toward his wife, whose face, for a wonder, betrayed no secret, he commenced walking the floor in a very perturbed state of mind, his wife exulting in his discomfiture, and thinking herself amply avenged for all that she had endured.

At last he spoke, telling her of a letter which he had that day received from South Carolina, containing the news of the death of a distant relative, who had left him some property. "It is not necessary for me to be there in person," said he, "but still I should like to visit my old home once more. What do you think of it?"

"Go, by all means," said she, glad of anything which would place distance between him and 'Lena. "No one can attend to your business one-half as well as yourself. When will you start if you go?"

"Immediately—before your return from Louisville—unless you wish to accompany me."

"I'm afraid I should be an incumbrance, and would rather not," said she, in a way which puzzled him, causing him to wonder what had come over her.

"You can do as you choose," said he, "but I should be glad of your company."

"No, I thank you," was her laconic reply, as she, in turn, wondered what had come over him.

The next morning the carriage came up to the door to convey Mrs. Graham and Durward to Frankfort. The latter was purposely late, and he did not see his father until he came down, traveling-bag in hand, to enter the carriage. Then Mr. Graham asked, in some surprise, "where he was going?"

"With my mother to Louisville, sir," answered Durward, stiffly. "I am not willing she should travel alone, if you are;" and he sprang into the carriage, ordering the coachman to drive off ere another word could be spoken.

"Gone, when I had nerved myself to tell him everything!—my usual luck!" mused Mr. Graham, as he returned to the house, and sure of no prying eyes, recommenced his search for the daguerreotype, which was nowhere to be found. Could she have found it? Impossible! for it was not in her jealous nature to have held her peace; and again he sought for it, but all to no purpose, and finally thinking he must have taken it with him and lost it, he gave it up, mourning more for the loss of the curl, which could never, never be replaced, while the picture might be found.

"Why do I live so?" thought he, as he nervously paced the room. "My life is one of continual fear and anxiety, but it shall be so no longer. I'll tell her all when she returns. I'll brave the world, dare her displeasure, take 'Lena home, and be a man."

Satisfied with this resolution, and nothing doubting that he should keep it, he started for Versailles, where he had an engagement with a gentleman who transacted business for him in Lexington.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE LETTER AND ITS EFFECT.

Mabel had gone out, and 'Lena sat alone in the little room adjoining the parlor which Mr. Douglass termed his library, but which Nellie had fitted up for a private sewing-room. It was 'Lena's favorite resort when she wished to be alone, and as Mabel was this morning absent, she had retired thither, not to work, but to think—to recall every word and look of Durward's, to wonder when and how he would repeat the question, the answer to which had been prevented by Mr. Graham.

Many and blissful were her emotions as she sat there, wondering if it were not a bright dream, from which she would too soon awaken, for could it be that one so noble, so good, and so much sought for as Durward Bellmont had chosen her, of all others, to be his bride? Yes, it must be so, for he was not one to say or act what he did not mean; he would come that day and repeat what he had said before; and she blushed as she thought what her answer would be.

There was a knock on the door, and a servant entered, bringing her a letter, which she eagerly seized, thinking it was from him. But 'twas not his writing, though bearing the post-mark of Versailles. Hastily she broke the seal, and glancing at the signature, turned pale, for it was "Lucy Graham," his mother, who had written, but for what, she could not guess. A moment more and she fell back on the sofa, white and rigid as a piece of marble. 'Twas a cruel and insulting letter, containing many dark insinuations, which she, being wholly innocent; could not understand. She knew indeed, that Mr. Graham had presented her with Vesta, but was there anything wrong in that? She did not think so, else she had never taken her. Her uncle, her cousin, and Durward, all three approved of her accepting it, the latter coming with it himself—so it could not be that; and for a long time Lena wept passionately, resolving one moment to answer the letter as it deserved determining, the next, to go herself and see Mrs. Graham face to face; and then concluding to treat it with silent contempt, trusting that Durward would erelong appear and make it all plain between them.

At last, about five o'clock, Mabel returned, bringing the intelligence that Mrs. Graham was in the city, at the Weisiger House, where she was going to remain until the morrow. She had met with an accident, which prevented her arrival in Frankfort until the train which she was desirous of taking had left.

"Is her husband with her?" asked 'Lena, to which Mabel replied, that she understood she was alone.

"Then I'll see her and know what she means," thought 'Lena, trembling, even then, at the idea of venturing into the presence of the cold, haughty woman.

* * * * * *

Supper was over at the Weisiger House, and in a handsome private parlor Mrs. Graham lay, half asleep, upon the sofa, while in the dressing-room adjoining Durward sat, trying to frame a letter which should tell poor 'Lena that their intimacy was forever at an end. For hours, and until the last gleam of daylight had faded away, he had sat by the window, watching each youthful form which passed up and, down the busy street, hoping to catch a glimpse of her who once had made his world. But his watch was in vain, and now he had sat down to write, throwing aside sheet after sheet, as he thought its beginning too cold, too harsh, or too affectionate. He was about making up his mind not to write at all, but to let matters take their course, when a knock at his mother's door, and the announcement that a lady wished to see her arrested his attention.

"Somebody want to see me? Just show her up," said Mrs. Graham, smoothing down her flaxen hair, and wiping from between her eyes a spot of powder which the opposite mirror revealed.

In a moment the visitor entered—a slight, girlish form, whose features were partially hidden from view by a heavy lace veil, which was thrown over her satin hood. A single glance convinced Mrs. Graham that it was a lady, a well-bred lady, who stood before her, and very politely she bade her be seated.

Rather haughtily the proffered chair was declined, while the veil was thrown aside, disclosing to the astonished gaze of Mrs. Graham the face of 'Lena Rivers, which was unnaturally pale, while her dark eyes grew darker with the intensity of her feelings.

"'Lena Rivers! why came you here?" she asked, while at the mention of that name Durward started to his feet, but quickly resumed his seat, listening with indescribable emotions to the sound of a voice which made every nerve quiver with pain.

"You ask me why I am here, madam," said 'Lena. "I came to seek an explanation from you—to know of what I am accused—to ask why you wrote me that insulting letter—me, an orphan girl, alone and unprotected in the world, and who never knowingly harmed you or yours."

"Never harmed me or mine!" scornfully repeated Mrs. Graham. "Don't add falsehood to your other sins—though, if you'll lie to my son, you of course will to me, his mother."

"Explain yourself, madam, if you please," exclaimed 'Lena, her olden temper beginning to get the advantage of her.

"And what if I do not please?" sneeringly asked Mrs. Graham.

"Then I will compel you to do so, for my good name is all I have, and it shall not be wrested from me without an effort on my part to preserve it," answered 'Lena.

"Perhaps you expect my husband to stand by you and help you. I am sure it would be very ungentlemanly in him to desert you, now," said Mrs. Graham, her manner conveying far more meaning than her words.

'Lena trembled from head to foot, and her voice was hardly distinct as she replied, "Will you explain yourself, or will you not? What have I done, that you should treat me thus?"

"Done? Done enough, I should think! Haven't you whiled him away from me with your artful manners? Has he ever been the same man since he saw you? Hasn't he talked of you in his sleep? made you most valuable presents which a true woman would have refused? and in return, haven't you bestowed upon him your daguerreotype, together with a lock of your hair, on which you no doubt pride yourself, but which to me and my son seem like so many coiling serpents?"

'Lena had sat down. She could stand no longer, and burying her face in her hands, she waited until Mrs. Graham had finished. Then, lifting up her head, she replied in a voice far more husky than the one in which she before had spoken—"You accuse me wrongfully, Mrs. Graham, for as I hope for heaven, I never entertained a feeling for your husband which I would not have done for my own father, and indeed, he has seemed to me more like a parent than a friend——"

"Because you fancied he might some day be one, I dare say," interrupted Mrs. Graham.

'Lena paid no attention to this sarcastic remark, but continued: "I know I accepted Vesta, but I never dreamed it was wrong, and if it was, I will make amends by immediately returning her, for much as I love her, I shall never use her again."

"But the daguerreotype?" interrupted Mrs. Graham, anxious to reach that point. "What have you to say about the daguerreotype? Perhaps you will presume to deny that, too."

Durward had arisen, and now in the doorway watched 'Lena, whose dark brown eyes flashed fire as she answered, "It is false, madam. You know it is false. I never yet have had my picture taken."

"But he has it in his possession; how do you account for that?"

"Again I repeat, that is false!" said 'Lena, while Mrs. Graham, strengthened by the presence of her son, answered, "I can prove it, miss."

"I defy you to do so," said 'Lena, strong in her own innocence.

"Shall I show it to her, Durward," asked Mrs. Graham, and 'Lena, turning suddenly round, became for the first time conscious of his presence.

With a cry of anguish she stretched her arms imploringly toward him, asking him, in piteous tones, to save her from his mother. Durward would almost have laid down his life to prove her innocent, but he felt that could not be. So he made her no reply, and in his eye she read that he, too, was deceived. With a low, wailing moan she again covered her face with her hands, while Mrs. Graham repeated her question, "Shall I show it to her?"

Durward was not aware that she had it in her possession, and he answered, "Why do you ask, when you know you cannot do so?"

Oh, how joyfully 'Lena started up; he did not believe it, after all, and if ever a look was expressive of gratitude, that was which she gave to Durward, who returned her no answering glance, save one of pity; and again that wailing cry smote painfully on his ear. Taking the case from her pocket, Mrs. Graham advanced toward 'Lena, saying, "Here, see for yourself, and then deny it if you can."

But 'Lena had no power to take it. Her faculties seemed benumbed and Durward, who, with folded arms and clouded brow stood leaning against the mantel, construed her hesitation into guilt, which dreaded to be convicted.

"Why don't you take it?" persisted Mrs. Graham. "You defied me to prove it, and here it is. I found it in my husband's private drawer, together with one of those long curls, which last I burned out of my sight."

Durward shuddered, while 'Lena involuntarily thought of the mass of wavy tresses which they had told her clustered around her mother's face, as she lay in her narrow coffin. Why thought she of her mother then? Was it because they were so strangely alike, that any allusion to her own personal appearance always reminded her of her lost parent? Perhaps so. But to return to our story 'Lena would have sworn that the likeness was not hers, and still an undefined dread crept over her, preventing her from moving.

"You seem so unwilling to be convinced, allow me to assist you," said Mrs. Graham, at the same time unclasping the case and holding to view the picture, on which with wondering eyes, 'Lena gazed in astonishment.

"It is I—it is; but oh, heaven, how came he by it?" she gasped, and the next moment she fell fainting at Durward's feet.

In an instant he was bending over her, his mother exclaiming, "Pray, don't touch her—she does it for effect."

But he knew better. He knew there was no feigning the corpse-like pallor of that face, and pushing his mother aside, he took the unconscious girl in his arms, and bearing her to the sofa, laid her gently upon it, removing her hand and smoothing back from her cold brow the thick, clustering curls which his mother had designated as "coiling serpents."

"Do not ring and expose her to the idle gaze of servants," said he, to his mother, who had seized the bell-rope. "Bring some water from your bedroom, and we will take charge of her ourselves."

There was something commanding in the tones of his voice, and Mrs. Graham, now really alarmed at the deathly appearance of 'Lena, hastened to obey. When he was alone, Durward bent down, imprinting upon the white lips a burning kiss—the first he had ever given her. In his heart he believed her unworthy of his love, and yet she had never seemed one-half so dear to him as at that moment, when she lay there before him helpless as an infant, and all unmindful of the caresses which he lavished upon her. "If it were indeed death;" he thought, "and it had come upon her while yet she was innocent, I could have borne it, but now I would I had never seen her;" and the tears which fell like rain upon her cheek, were not unworthy of the strong man who shed them. The cold water with which they profusely bathed her face and neck, restored her, and then Durward, who could bear the scene no longer, glided silently into the next room.

When he was gone, Mrs. Graham, who seemed bent upon tormenting 'Lena, asked "what she thought about it now?"

"Please don't speak to me again, for I am very, very wretched," said 'Lena softly, while Mrs. Graham continued: "Have you nothing to offer in explanation?"

"Nothing, nothing—it is a dark mystery to me, and I wish that I was dead," answered 'Lena, sobbing passionately.

"Better wish to live and repent," said Mrs. Graham, beginning to read her a long sermon on her duty, to which 'Lena paid no attention, and the moment she felt that she could walk, she arose to go.

The moon was shining brightly, and as Mr. Douglass lived not far away, Mrs. Graham did not deem an escort necessary. But Durward thought differently. He could not walk with her side by side, as he had often done before, but he would follow at a distance, to see that no harm came near her. There was no danger of his being discovered, for 'Lena was too much absorbed in her own wretchedness to heed aught about her, and in silence he walked behind her until he saw the door of Mr. Douglass's house close upon her. Then feeling that there was an inseparable barrier between them, he returned to his hotel, where he found his mother exulting over the downfall of one whom, for some reason, she had always disliked.

"Didn't she look confounded, though, when I showed her the picture?" said she; to which Durward replied, by asking "when and why she sent the letter."

"I did it because I was a mind to, and I am not sorry for it, either," was Mrs. Graham's crusty answer, whereupon the conversation was dropped, and as if by a tacit agreement, the subject was not again resumed during their stay in Louisville.

* * * * * *

It would be impossible to describe 'Lena's emotion as she returned to the house. Twice in the hall was she obliged to grasp at the banister to keep from falling, and knowing that such excessive agitation would be remarked, she seated herself upon the stairs until she felt composed enough to enter the parlor. Fortunately, Mabel was alone, and so absorbed in the fortunes of "Uncle True and little Gerty," as scarcely to notice 'Lena at all. Once, indeed, as she sat before the grate so motionless and still, Mabel looked up, and observing how white she was, asked what was the matter.

"A bad headache," answered 'Lena, at the same time announcing her intention of retiring.

"Alone in her room, her feelings gave way, and none save those who like her have suffered, can conceive of her anguish, as prostrate upon the floor she lay, her long silken curls falling about her white face, which looked ghastly and haggard by the moonlight that fell softly about her, as if to soothe her woe.

"What is it," she cried aloud—"this dark mystery, which I cannot explain."

The next moment she thought of Mr. Graham. He could explain it—he must explain it. She would go to him the next day, asking him what it meant. She felt sure that he could make it plain, for suspicious as matters looked, she exculpated him from any wrong intention toward her. Still she could not sleep, and when the gray morning light crept in, it found her too much exhausted to rise.

For several days she kept her room, carefully attended by Mabel and her grandmother, who, at the first intimation of her illness, hastened down to nurse her. Every day did 'Lena ask of Mr. Douglass if Mr. Graham had been in the city, saying that the first time he came she wished to see him. Days, however, went by, and nothing was seen or heard from him, until at last John Jr.; who visited her daily, casually informed her that Mr. Graham had been unexpectedly called away to South Carolina. A distant relative of his had died, bequeathing him a large property, which made it necessary for him to go there immediately; so without waiting for the return of his wife, he had started off, leaving Woodlawn alone.

"Gone to South Carolina!" exclaimed 'Lena. "When will he return?"

"Nobody knows. He's away from home more than half the time, just as I should be if Mrs. Graham were my wife," answered John Jr., at the same time playfully remarking that 'Lena need not look so blank, as it was not Durward who had gone so far.

For an instant 'Lena resolved to tell him everything and ask him what to do, but knowing how impetuous he was when at all excited, she finally decided to keep her own secret, determining, however, to write to Mr. Graham, as soon as she was able. Just before John Jr. left her, she called him to her side, asking him if he would do her the favor of seeing that Vesta was sent back to Woodlawn, as she did not wish for her any longer.

"What the plague is that for—has mother been raising a row?" asked John Jr., and 'Lena replied, "No, no, your mother has nothing to do with it. I only want Vesta taken home. I cannot at present tell you why, but I have a good reason, and some time, perhaps, I'll explain. You'll do it, won't you?"

With the determination of questioning Durward as to what had happened, John Jr. promised, and when Mrs. Graham and her son returned from Louisville, they found Vesta safely stabled with their other horses, while the saddle with its tiny slipper hung upon a beam, and seemingly looked down with reproach upon Durward, who turned away with a bitter pang as he thought of the morning when he first took it to Maple Grove.

The next day was dark and rainy, precluding all outdoor exercise, and weary, sad, and spiritless, Durward repaired to the library, where, for an hour or more, he sat musing dreamily of the past—of the morning, years ago, when first he met the little girl who had since grown so strongly into his love, and over whom so dark a shadow had fallen. A heavy knock at the door, and in a moment John Jr. appeared, with dripping garments and a slightly scowling face. There was a faint resemblance between him and 'Lena, manifest in the soft, curling hair and dark, lustrous eyes. Durward had observed it before—he thought of it now—and glad to see any one who bore the least resemblance to her, he started up, exclaiming, "Why, Livingstone, the very one of all the world I am glad to see."

John made no reply, but shaking the rain-drops from his overcoat, which he carelessly threw upon the floor, he took a chair opposite the grate, and looking Durward fully in the face, said, "I've come over, Bellmont, to ask you a few plain, unvarnished questions, which I believe you will answer truthfully. Am I right?"

"Certainly, sir—go on," was Durward's reply.

"Well, then, to begin, are you and 'Lena engaged?"

"No, sir."

"Have you been engaged?"

"No, sir."

"Do you ever expect to be engaged?"

"No, sir."

"Have you quarreled?"

"No, sir."

"Do you know why she wished to have Vesta sent home?"

"I suppose I do."

"Will you tell me?"

"No, sir," said Durward, determined, for 'Lena's sake, that no one should wring from him the secret.

John Jr. arose, jammed both hands into his pockets—walked to the window—made faces at the weather—walked back to the grate—made faces at that—kicked it—and then turning to Durward, said, "There's the old Nick to pay, somewhere."

Nothing from Durward, who only felt bound to answer direct questions.

"I tell you, there's the old Nick to pay, somewhere," continued John, raising his voice. "I knew it all the while 'Lena was sick. I read it in her face when I told her Mr. Graham had gone south——"

A faint sickness gathered around Durward's heart, and John Jr. proceeded: "She wouldn't tell me, and I've come to you for information. Will you give it to me?"

"No, sir," said Durward. "The nature of our trouble is known only to ourselves and one other individual, and I shall never divulge the secret."

"Is that other individual my mother?"

"No, sir."

"Is it Cad?"

"No, sir."

"Had they any agency in the matter?"

"None, whatever, that I know of."

"Then I'm on the wrong track, and may as well go home," said John Jr., starting for the door, where he stopped, while he added, "If, Bellmont, I ever do hear of your having misled me in this matter——" He did not finish the sentence in words, but playfully producing a revolver, he departed. The next moment he was dashing across the lawn, the mud flying in every direction, and himself thinking how useless it was to try to unravel a love quarrel.

In the meantime, 'Lena waited impatiently for an answer to the letter which she had sent to Mr. Graham, but day after day glided by, and still no tidings came. At last, as if everything had conspired against her, she heard that he was lying dangerously ill of a fever at Havana, whither he had gone in quest of an individual whose presence was necessary in the settlement of the estate.

The letter which brought this intelligence to Mrs. Graham, also contained a request that she would come to him immediately, and within a few days after its receipt, she started for Cuba, together with Durward, who went without again seeing 'Lena.

They found him better than they expected. The danger was past, but he was still too weak to move himself, and the physician said it would be many weeks ere he was able to travel. This rather pleased Mrs. Graham than otherwise. She was fond of change, and had often desired to visit Havana, so now that she was there, she made the best of it, and for once in her life enacted the part of a faithful, affectionate wife.

Often, during intervals of mental aberration, Mr. Graham spoke of "Helena," imploring her forgiveness for his leaving her so long, and promising to return. Sometimes he spoke of her as being dead, and in piteous accents he would ask of Durward to bring him back his "beautiful 'Lena," who was sleeping far away among the New England mountains.

One day when the servant, as usual, came in with their letters, he brought one directed to Mr. Graham, which had been forwarded from Charleston, and which bore the post-marks of several places, it having been sent hither and thither, ere it reached its place of destination. It was mailed at Frankfort, Kentucky, and in the superscription Durward readily recognized the handwriting of 'Lena.

"Worse and worse," thought he, now fully assured of her worthlessness.

For a moment he felt tempted to break the seal, but from this act he instinctively shrank, thinking that whatever it might contain, it was not for him to read it. But what should he do with it? Must he give it to his mother who already had as much as she could bear? No, 'twas not best for her to know aught about it, and as the surest means of preventing its doing further trouble, he destroyed it—burned it to ashes—repenting the next moment of the deed, wishing he had read it, and feeling not that he had wronged the dead, as his mother did when she burned the chestnut curl, but as if he had done a wrong to 'Lena.

In the course of two months he went back to Woodlawn, leaving his father and mother to travel leisurely from place to place, as the still feeble state of the former would admit. 'Lena, who had returned from Frankfort, trembled lest he should come to Maple Grove, but he seemed equally desirous of avoiding a meeting, and after lingering about Woodlawn for several days, he suddenly departed for Louisville, where, for a time, we leave him, while we follow the fortunes of others connected with our story.



CHAPTER XXIV.

JOHN JR. AND MABEL.

Time and absence had gradually softened John Jr.'s feelings toward Nellie. She was not married to Mr. Wilbur—possibly she never would be—and if on her return to America he found her the same, he would lose no time in seeing her, and, if possible, secure her to himself. Such was the tenor of his thoughts, as on one bright morning in June he took his way to Lexington, whither he was going on business for his father. Before leaving the city, he rode down to the depot, as was his usual custom, reaching there just as the cars bound for Frankfort were rolling away. Upon the platform of the rear car stood an acquaintance of his, who called out, "Halloo, Livingstone, have you heard the news?"

"News, no. What news?" asked John Jr., following after the fast moving train.

"Bob Wilbur and Nellie Douglass are married," screamed the young man, who, having really heard of Mr. Wilbur's marriage, supposed it must of course be with Nellie.

John Jr. had no doubt of it, and for a moment his heart fainted beneath the sudden blow. But he was not one to yield long to despair, and soon recovering from the first shock, he raved in uncontrollable fury, denouncing Nellie as worthless, fickle, and good for nothing, mentally wishing her much joy with her husband, who in the same breath he hoped "would break his confounded neck," and ending his tirade by solemnly vowing to offer himself to the first girl he met, whether black or white!

Full of this resolution he put spurs to Firelock and sped away over the turnpike, looking neither to the right nor the left, lest a chance should offer for the fulfillment of his vow. It was the dusk of evening when he reached home, and giving his horse into the care of a servant, he walked with rapid strides into the parlor, starting back as he saw Mabel Ross, who, for a few days past, had been visiting at Maple Grove.

"There's no backing out," thought he. "It's my destiny, and I'll meet it like a man. Nellie spited me, and I'll let her know how good it feels."

"Mabel," said he, advancing toward her, "will you marry me? Say yes or no quick."

This was not quite the kind of wooing which Mabel had expected. 'Twas not what she read of in novels, but then it was in keeping with the rest of John Jr.'s conduct, and very frankly and naturally she answered "Yes."

"Very well," said he, beginning to feel better already, and turning to leave the room—"Very well, you fix the day, and arrange it all yourself, only let it be very soon, for now I've made up my mind, I'm in a mighty hurry."

Mabel laughed, and hardly knowing whether he were in earnest or not, asked "if she should speak to the minister, too."

"Yes, no," said he. "Just tell mother, and she'll fix it all right. Will you?"

And he walked away, feeling nothing, thinking nothing, except that he was engaged. Engaged! The very idea seemed to add new dignity to him, while it invested Mabel with a charm she had not hitherto possessed. John Jr. liked everything that belonged to him exclusively, and Mabel now was his—his wife she would be—and when next he met her in the drawing-room, his manner toward her was unusually kind, attracting the attention of his mother, who wondered at the change. One after another the family retired, until there was no one left in the parlor except Mabel and Mrs. Livingstone, who, as her husband chanced to be absent, had invited her young visitor to share her room. When they were alone, Mabel, with many blushes and a few tears, told of all that had occurred, except, indeed, of John's manner of proposing, which she thought best not to confide to a third person.

Eagerly Mrs. Livingstone listened, mentally congratulating herself upon the completion of her plan without her further interference, wondering the while how it had been so suddenly brought about, and half trembling lest it should prove a failure after all. So when Mabel spoke of John Jr.'s wish that the marriage should be consummated immediately, she replied, "Certainly—by all means. There is no necessity for delay. You can marry at once, and get ready afterwards. It is now the last of June. I had thought of going to Saratoga in July, and a bride is just the thing to give eclat to our party."

"But," answered Mabel, who hardly fancied a wedding without all the usual preparations, which she felt she should enjoy so much, "I cannot think of being married until October, when Nellie perhaps will be here."

Nellie's return was what Mrs. Livingstone dreaded, and very ingeniously she set herself at work to put aside Mabel's objections, succeeding so far that the young girl promised compliance with whatever she should think proper. The next morning, as John Jr. was passing through the hall, she called him into her room, delicately broaching the subject of his engagement, saying she knew he could not help loving a girl possessed of so many excellent qualities as Mabel Ross. Very patiently John Jr. heard her until she came to speak of love. Then, in much louder tones than newly engaged men are apt to speak of their betrothed, he exclaimed, "Love! Fudge! If you think I'm marrying Mabel for love, you are greatly mistaken, I like her, but love is out of the question."

"Pray what are you marrying her for? Her property?"

"Property!" repeated John, with a sneer, "I've seen the effect of marrying for property, and I trust I'm not despicable enough to try it for myself. No, madam, I'm not marrying her for money—but to spite Nellie Douglass, if you must know the reason. I've loved her as I shall never again love womankind, but she cheated me. She's married to Robert Wilbur, and now I've too much spirit to have her think I care. If she can marry, so can I—she isn't the only girl in the world—and when I heard what she had done, I vowed I'd offer myself to the first female I saw. As good or bad luck would have it, 'twas Mabel, who you know said yes, of course, for I verily believe she likes me far better than I deserve. What kind of a husband I shall make, the Lord only knows, but I'm in for it. My word is passed, and the sooner you get us tied together the better, but for heaven's sake, don't go to making a great parade. Mabel has no particular home. She's here now, and why not let the ceremony take place here. But fix it to suit yourselves, only don't let me hear you talking about it, for fear I'll get sick of the whole thing."

This was exactly what Mrs. Livingstone desired. She had the day before been to Frankfort herself, learning from Mrs. Atkins of Mr. Wilbur's marriage with the English girl. She knew her son was deceived, and it was highly necessary that he should continue so. She felt sure that neither her daughters, Mabel, nor 'Lena knew of Mr. Wilbur's marriage, and she resolved they should not. It was summer, and as many of their city friends had left Frankfort for places of fashionable resort, they received but few calls; and by keeping them at home until the wedding was over, she trusted that all would be safe in that quarter. Durward, too, was fortunately absent, so she only had to deal with Mabel and John Jr. The first of these she approached very carefully, casually telling her of Mr. Wilbur's marriage, and then hastily adding, "But pray don't speak of it to any one, as there are special reasons why it should not at present be discussed. Sometime I may tell you the reason."

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