By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Queenie Hetherton
Author: Holmes, Mary J.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Queenie Hetherton" ***


    Hetherton, Page 217._

                           Queenie Hetherton


                             MARY J. HOLMES

          As published in the NEW YORK WEEKLY, Vol. 35, No. 31


                        G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY
                    PUBLISHERS             NEW YORK

                          COPYRIGHT, 1880, BY
                             STREET & SMITH

                          COPYRIGHT, 1883, BY
                             DANIEL HOLMES

                        (_All rights reserved_)

                          COPYRIGHT, 1908, BY
                             DANIEL HOLMES

 _Queenie Hetherton._

                          MRS. JULIE P. SMITH,
                          OF HARTFORD, CONN.,
                              IN MEMORY OF
                         THE NEW ENGLAND HILLS.

 BROCKPORT, _June, 1883_.


                 I. Introducing some of the Characters     7
                II. Introducing more of the Characters    15
               III. Mr. Beresford and Phil                25
                IV. The Investigation                     30
                 V. Phil Interviews his Grandmother       37
                VI. Getting ready for Reinette            44
               VII. On the Sea                            53
              VIII. Reinette Arrives                      64
                IX. Reinette at Home                      82
                 X. The Two Reinettes                     87
                XI. On the Rocks                          99
               XII. Reinette and Mr. Beresford           107
              XIII. Those People                         116
               XIV. Reinette and Phil                    126
                XV. Down by the Sea                      140
               XVI. Margery La Rue                       144
              XVII. Queenie and Margery                  152
             XVIII. Old Letters                          163
               XIX. The Little Lady of Hetherton         176
                XX. Arrivals in Merrivale                184
               XXI. The Dinner                           192
              XXII. Margery and the People               197
             XXIII. Perfecting themselves in French      202
              XXIV. “I love you, Queenie”                206
               XXV. Phil’s Wooing                        213
              XXVI. Phil goes Away                       223
             XXVII. How Queenie bore the News            227
            XXVIII. Mrs. La Rue’s Resolution             233
              XXIX. Letters from Mentone                 240
               XXX. Trying to read the Page              250
              XXXI. The Interview                        257
             XXXII. Christine                            261
            XXXIII. Reinette’s Interview with Margery    272
             XXXIV. Reinette’s Interview with Christine  278
              XXXV. Margery and her Mother               289
             XXXVI. Margery’s Illness                    296
            XXXVII. The Letter                           312
           XXXVIII. Mourning for Phil                    320
             XXXIX. Tina                                 333
                XL. The Letters                          337
               XLI. Queenie Learns the Truth             344
              XLII. Christine’s Story                    355
             XLIII. The Sisters                          369
              XLIV. The Explosion                        376
               XLV. Magnolia Park                        392
              XLVI. At the St. James                     400
             XLVII. The Yellow Fever                     411
            XLVIII. The Occupant of No. 40               420
              XLIX. Sister Christine                     430
                 L. Phil’s Story                         438
                LI. Conclusion                           448

                           QUEENIE HETHERTON.

                               CHAPTER I.

The morning mail for Merrivale had just arrived, and the postmaster was
distributing the letters. Col. Rossiter, who lived in the large stone
house on the Knoll, had two; one from his wife, who, with his two
daughters, was spending the summer at Martha’s Vineyard, and one from
his son Philip, a young graduate from Harvard, who had been off on a
yachting excursion, and was coming home for a few days before joining
his mother and sisters at the sea-side. There was also one for Mrs.
Lydia Ann Ferguson, who lived on Cottage Row, and was the fashionable
dressmaker of the town. Mr. Arthur Beresford, the only practicing lawyer
in Merrivale, had six, five of which he read hastily, as he stood in the
post-office door, and then for a moment studied the superscription of
the other, which was soiled and travel-worn, and bore a foreign

“From Mr. Hetherton,” he said, to himself. “What can he want, I wonder?”
and opening the letter, he read as follows:

  “HOTEL MEURICE, PARIS, June 10th, 18—.


  “_Dear Sir_:—You will undoubtedly be surprised to hear that I am
  coming home. Once I expected to live and die abroad, but recently,
  with my failing health, there has come over me an intense longing to
  see America once more.

  “After an absence of nearly twenty-three years, it will seem almost as
  strange to me as to my daughter Reinette, who has never been in an
  English-speaking country. She is as anxious to come as I am, and we
  have engaged passage on the Russia, which sails from Liverpool the
  25th. I have no idea whether the old house is habitable or not. All
  important changes and repairs I prefer to make myself, after Reinette
  has decided what she wants; but, if possible, I wish you to have a few
  rooms made comfortable for us. The large chamber which looks toward
  the town and the river I design for Reinette, and will you see that it
  is made pretty and attractive. If I remember rightly, there used to be
  in it a mahogany bedstead older than I am. Remove it, and substitute
  something light and airy in its place. Reinette does not like
  mahogany. Put simple muslin curtains at the windows, and have nothing
  but matting on the floors; Reinette detests carpets. And if you know
  of a pair of fine carriage horses and a lady’s saddle pony, have them
  ready for inspection, and if they suit Reinette I will take them. If
  you chance to hear of a trusty, middle-aged woman suitable for a
  housekeeper at Hetherton Place, retain her until Reinette can see her;
  and please have the conservatory and garden full of flowers. Reinette
  is passionately fond of flowers—fond, in fact, of everything bright
  and pretty. She has just come in, and says tell you to be sure and get
  her some cats and dogs, so I suppose you must do it; but, for Heaven’s
  sake, don’t fill the house with them—two or three will answer. I can’t
  abide them myself. Reinette is waiting for me to go to dinner, and I
  must close. Shall telegraph to you from New York as soon as the vessel
  arrives, and shall follow on first train.

                                      “Truly,       FREDERICK HETHERTON.

  “Spare no money to make the place comfortable.”

Arthur Beresford’s face was a puzzle as he read this letter from one
whose business agent and lawyer he merely was, and whom he scarcely
remembered at all except as a dashing, handsome young man, whom
everybody called fast, and whom some called a _scamp_.

“Cool, upon my word!” he thought, as he folded the letter and returned
it to his pocket. “A nice little job he has given me to do. Clean the
house; air Miss Reinette’s bed-chamber; move the old worm-eaten
furniture, and substitute something light and cheerful which Reinette
will like; put muslin curtains to her windows; get up a lot of horses
for her inspection; fill the garden with flowers, where there’s nothing
but nettles and weeds growing now; and, to crown all, hunt up a
menagerie of dogs and cats, when, if there is one animal more than
another of which I have a mortal terror, it is a cat. And this Reinette
is passionately fond of them. Who is she, any way? I never heard before
that Mr. Hetherton had a daughter; neither, I am sure, did the Rossiters
or Fergusons. Mrs. Peggy would be ready enough to talk of her Paris
granddaughter if she had one. But we shall see. Mr. Hetherton’s letter
has been delayed. He sails the 25th. That is day after to-morrow, so I
have no time to lose, if I get everything done, cats and all. I wish he
had given the job to somebody else. Phil Rossiter, now, is just the chap
to see it through. He’d know exactly how to loop the curtains back,
while as for _cats_ I have actually seen the fellow fondling one in his
arms. Ugh!” and the young lawyer made an impatient gesture with his
hands, as if shaking off an imaginary cat.

Just at this point in his soliloquy, Colonel Rossiter, who had been
leisurely reading his two letters inside the office, came out, and
remembering that he was a connection by marriage with the Hethertons,
Mr. Beresford detained him for a moment by laying a hand on his arm, and
thus making him stand still while he read the letter to him, and asked
what he thought of it.

“Think?” returned the colonel, trying to get away from his companion, “I
don’t think anything; I’m in too great a hurry to think—a very great
hurry, Mr. Beresford, and you must excuse me from taking an active part
in anything. I really have not the time. Fred. Hetherton has a right to
come home if he wants to—a perfect right. I never liked him much—a
stuck-up chap, who thought the Lord made the world for the special use
of the Hethertons, and not a Rossiter in it. No, no; I’m in too great a
hurry to think whether I ever heard of a daughter or not—impression that
I didn’t; but he might have forty, you know. Go to the Fergusons; they
are sure to be posted, and so is Phil, my son. By the way, he’s coming
home on next train. Consult him; he’s just the one, he’s nothing else to
do, more’s the pity. And, now, really, Mr. Beresford, you must let me
go. I’ve spent a most uncommon length of time talking with you and I bid
you good-morning.”

And so saying, the colonel, who among his many peculiarities numbered
that of being always in a hurry, though he really had nothing to do,
started toward home at a rapid pace, as if resolved to make up for the
time he had lost in unnecessary talk.

Mr. Beresford looked after him a moment, and then, remembering what he
had said of Philip, decided to defer his visit to Hetherton Place until
he had seen the young man.

Two hours later, the Boston train stopped at the station, and Phil
Rossiter came up the long hill at his usual rapid, swinging gait,
attracting a good deal of attention in his handsome yachting-dress,
which became him so well. The first person to accost him was his aunt,
Mrs. Ferguson, who insisted upon his stopping for a moment, as she had a
favor to ask of him. Phil was the best natured fellow in the world, and
accustomed to have favors asked of him, but he was tired, and hot, and
in a hurry to reach the quiet and coolness of his own home, which was
far pleasanter, and more suited to his taste than the close, stuffy
apartment into which Mrs. Ferguson led him, and where his cousin sat
working on a customer’s dress.

Anna Ferguson, who had been called for her mother, but had long ago
discarded Lydia as too old-fashioned, and adopted the name of Anna, was
eighteen, and a blue-eyed, yellow-haired blonde, who would have been
very pretty but for the constant smirk about her mouth, and the affected
air she always assumed in the presence of her superiors. Even with Phil
she was never quite at her ease, and she began at once to apologize for
her hair, which was in crimping-pins, and for her appearance generally.

“Ma never ought to have asked you into the work-room, and me in such a
plight,” she said. But Phil assured her that he did not mind the
work-room, and did not care for crimping-pins—he’d seen bushels of them,
he presumed. But what did his aunt want? he was in something of a hurry
to get home, as his father was expecting him, and would wonder at his

Phil knew he was stretching the truth a little, for it was not at all
likely his father would give him a thought until he saw him, but any
excuse would answer to get away from the Fergusons, with whom at heart
he had little sympathy.

What Mrs. Ferguson wanted was to know if he had ever heard his mother or
sisters speak of a dressmaker at Martha’s Vineyard, a Miss Margery La
Rue, who was a Frenchwoman, and who had written to Mrs. Ferguson, asking
if she wished to sell out her business, and if it would pay for a
first-class dressmaker to come to Merrivale.

“Here’s her letter, read it for yourself if you can,” Mrs. Ferguson
said. “Anny and me found it hard work to make it out, the writing is so

Philip took the letter, which was written in that fine, peculiar hand
common to the French, and which was a little difficult at first to
decipher. But the language was in good English and well expressed, and
the writer, Miss Margery La Rue, late from Paris, wished to know if
there was an opening for a dressmaker in Merrivale, and if Mrs. Ferguson
wished to sell out, as Miss La Rue had been told she did.

“I wish to mercy ma _would_ get out of the hateful business and take
that horrid sign out of her window. I’d split it up quick for kindlings.
I’m always ashamed when I see it,” Miss Anna said, petulantly, for she
was foolish enough and weak enough to ascribe all her fancied slights to
the fact that her mother was a dressmaker and had a sign in her window.

Mrs. Ferguson, however, did not share in this feeling, and reprimanded
her ambitious daughter sharply, while Philip, who knew how sore she was
upon the point, asked her if she really thought she would be any better
with the obnoxious sign gone and her mother out of business.

“Of course _I_ wouldn’t be any better. I’m just as good as anybody now,”
Miss Anna retorted, with a toss of her head. “But you know as well as I,
that folks don’t think so, and ma and I are not invited a quarter of the
time just because we work for a living. Even your sisters Ethel and
Grace would not notice me if I wasn’t their cousin. As it is, they feel
obliged to pay me some attention. I hate the whole thing, and I hope I
shall live to see the day when I can go to the sea-side, and wear
handsome dresses and diamonds, and have a girl to wash the dishes and
wait on me. There’s the bell, now: somebody to get some work done, of
course,” and Anna flounced out of the room to wait upon a customer,
while her mother asked Philip again if he had ever heard his sisters
speak of Miss La Rue.

Philip never had, but promised to inquire when he went to the Vineyard,
as he intended doing in a few days. Then, not caring for a second
encounter with his cousin, he went out of the side door and escaped into
the street, breathing freer in the open air and wondering why Anna need
always to bother him about being slighted because she was poor, as if
that made any difference.

Mr. Beresford was the next to accost Phil, and as the Hetherton business
was uppermost in his mind, he walked home with the young man and opened
the subject at once by telling him of the letter and asking if he had
ever heard of Reinette Hetherton.

“Reinette Hetherton—Reinette,” Philip repeated. “No, never; but that’s a
pretty name, and means ‘little queen.’ I wonder what kind of a craft she
is? Frenchy, of course, and I hate the French. She must be my cousin,
too, as I have never heard that Mr. Hetherton married a second time.
When will she be here?”

Phil was interested in the girl at once, but Mr. Beresford, who was
several years older, was more interested in the numerous arrangements he
was to make for her reception. They had reached the Knoll by this time,
and were met in the hall by the colonel, who did not manifest the least
annoyance because of Mr. Beresford’s presence, but on the contrary
seemed glad to have him there, as it relieved him from any prolonged
stay with his son.

“Eh, Phil, glad to see you,” he said. “Hope you had a pleasant time;”
then, in an absent kind of way, with a wave of his hand, “make yourself
at home. You are quite welcome, I am sure; both of you,” bowing to Mr.
Beresford. “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I will leave you. Shall see
you at lunch time, good-morning, gentlemen;” and with another very
courtly bow, he walked rapidly away to the greenhouse, where he was
watching the development of a new kind of bean found in Florida the
previous winter.

Left to themselves the two young men resumed their conversation
concerning Reinette Hetherton, and Mr. Beresford showed Phil her
father’s letter.

“Upon my word,” said Phil, “one would suppose this Reinette to be a very
queen, the way her father defers to her. Everything must bend to her
wishes; bedstead, matting, flowers, housekeeper, horses, and cats and
dogs; that’s rich; but I’ll take the last job off your hands. I know of
a whole litter of young puppies which I’ll have in readiness for her,
besides half a dozen or more cats.”

“Yes, thank you. I am sure I shall be glad to be rid of the cat
business,” said Mr. Beresford, “but tell me, please, about Mrs.
Hetherton, Reinette’s mother, I was too much of a boy when she went
away, and you, of course, were a mere child, but you must have heard of
her from your mother. They were sisters, I think.”

“Half sisters,” Philip replied. “My grandfather Ferguson was twice
married, and mother was the child of his first wife. Grandma Ferguson,
as most everybody calls her, is only my step-grandmother, and Mrs.
Hetherton was her daughter Margaret, and, as I’ve heard, the most
beautiful girl in Merrivale. It was her beauty which attracted Mr.
Hetherton, and I imagine it was a love match, for he was proud as
Lucifer and very rich, while she was poor and—and—well, she was a
Ferguson,” and Philip changed color a little as he said this: then, as
Mr. Beresford looked curiously at him he added, laughingly, “Not that I
am in the least ashamed of my relatives. They do not affect me one whit.
I am just what I am, and a cart load of Fergusons can’t hurt me, though
I’ll confess that grandma and aunt Lydia do try me at times, but wait
and see what Miss Reinette thinks of them. When are you going over to
investigate the place, and would you like me to go with you?”

Nothing could suit Mr. Beresford better, for though he was several years
older than Phil, the two were fast friends, and later in the day, when
it was beginning to grow cool, they rode together toward “Hetherton
Place,” which had been tenantless since the death of General Hetherton,
ten or twelve years before.

                              CHAPTER II.

Hetherton Place was nearly a mile distant from the village, and on the
side of a hill, the ascent of which was so gradual that on reaching the
top one was always surprised to find himself so far above the
surrounding country, of which there were most delightful views. Turn
which way you would the eye was met with lovely landscape pictures of
grassy meadows and plains, of wooded hill-sides, sloping down to the
river’s brink and stretching away to the sandy shores of the ponds or
little lakes, which, when the morning sun was shining on them, sparkled
like so many diamonds, in the sunny valley of Merrivale, where our story

Merrivale was not a very large or very stirring town, for its sons and
daughters had a habit of turning their backs upon the old home and
seeking their fortunes in the larger cities or in the West, where nature
seems to be kinder and more considerate to her children, in that her
harvests there yield richer stores with less of that toil of the hands
and sweat of the brow so necessary among the rocky hills of New England.
There were no factories in Merrivale, for the waters of the
lazily-flowing Chicopee were insufficient for that, but there were
shoe-shops there, and the men who worked in them lived mostly in small,
neat houses on Cottage Row, or on the new streets which were gradually
creeping down the hill to the river and the railroad track, over which
almost every hour of the day heavily-laden trains went rolling on to the

Years and years ago, when the Indians still lurked in the woods around
Merrivale, and bears were hunted on Wachuset Mt., and the howl of the
wolf was sometimes heard in the marshy swamp around old Cranberry Pond,
the entire town, it is said, was owned by the Hethertons, who traced
their ancestry in a direct line back as far as the Norman conquest.
Theirs of course was the bluest blood in Merrivale, and theirs the
heaviest purse, but purses will grow light in time, and blood grow weak
as well, and the Hetherton race had died out one by one, until, so far
as anybody knew, there was but a single member remaining, and he as good
as dead, for any good he did to the people of Merrivale. For nearly
twenty-three years Frederick Hetherton had lived abroad, and during that
time, with one exception, he had never communicated with a single
individual except his lawyers, the Beresfords—first Henry, the elder,
who had been his friend and colleague, and, after his death, with
Arthur, who succeeded to his brother’s business.

When Frederick first came home from college he was a dashing, handsome
young man, with something very fascinating in his voice and manner; but
to the young girls of Merrivale he was like the moon to the humble brook
on which it shines, but always looks down. They could watch, and admire,
and look up to him from a distance, but never hope for anything like an
intimate recognition, for the Hethertons held themselves so high that
very few were admitted to the charmed circle of their acquaintance.

Mrs. Hetherton, Frederick’s mother, had come from the vicinity of
Tallahassee, and with the best blood of Florida in her veins, was, if
possible, more exclusive than her husband, and labored assiduously to
instill her notions into the mind of her son.

After her death, however, whether it was that he found life at Hetherton
Place too lonely, or that he missed her counsels and instructions, he
was oftener with the young people of Merrivale; and rumors were at last
afloat of frequent meetings between the heir of Hetherton and Margaret
Ferguson, whose father was a stone mason, but a perfectly honest,
upright, and respectable man, and whose mother was then familiarly known
in the community as the Aunt Peggy who sold root beer and gingerbread in
the summer time, and Boston brown bread and baked beans in the winter.

During Mrs. Hetherton’s life-time her carriage had occasionally stopped
before the shop door while she bartered with Peggy for buns and cakes,
but anything like social intercourse with the Fergusons the lady would
have spurned with contempt.

Great, therefore, was her astonishment when Col. Paul Rossiter, who had
been educated at West Point, and whom, in a way, she acknowledged as her
equal, fell in love with and married Mary Ferguson, who was the child of
her father’s first marriage, and in no way related to Peggy, and who was
quite as well educated as most of the girls in town, and far prettier
than any of them. The Fergusons were all good-looking, and Mary’s
dazzling complexion and soft blue eyes caught the fancy of Col. Rossiter
the first time he reined his horse in front of the shop where root beer
and gingerbread were sold.

Col. Rossiter at the time was thirty-five or more, and had never evinced
the slightest interest in any one of the opposite sex. Indeed, he rather
shunned the society of ladies and was looked upon, by them as a very
peculiar and misanthropical person. He belonged to a good family, was an
orphan and rich, and had no one’s wishes to consult but his own; and so,
after that first call at Peggy’s establishment, when Mary entertained
and waited upon him, it was remarked that he seemed very fond of root
beer, and that it took him some time to drink it, for his chestnut mare
was often tied before the shop door for half an hour or more, while he
sat in the little room where Mary was busy with the shoes she stitched,
or _closed_, as they called it, for the large shop near by. At last the
gossip reached Mrs. Hetherton, whose guest the colonel was, and who felt
it her duty to remonstrate seriously with the gentleman. The colonel
listened to her in a dazed kind of way, until she said, although no harm
would come to _him_, he certainly could not wish to damage the girl’s
good name by attentions which were not honorable.

Then he roused up, and without a word of reply, started for town, and
entering Peggy’s shop, strode on to the back room, where Mary sat with
her gingham apron on and her hands besmeared with the shoemaker’s wax
she was obliged to use in her work. They were, nevertheless, very pretty
hands, small, and white, and dimpled, and the colonel took them both
between his own, and before the astonished girl knew what he was about,
he asked her to be his wife, and told her how happy he would make her,
provided she would forsake all her family connections and cleave only
unto him.

“I do not mean that you are never to see them,” he said, “but anything
like intimacy would be very undesirable, for there would be a great
difference between your position as my wife and theirs, and——”

He did not finish the sentence, for Mary had disengaged her hands from
his by this time, and he always insisted that she struck at him, as she
rose from her seat and, with flashing eyes, looked him straight in the
face, while she said:

“Thank you, Col. Rossiter. You have said enough for me to understand you
fully. You may be proud, but I am prouder still, and I decline your
offer, which, the way you made it, was more an insult than an honor. I
know I am poor, and that father is only a day laborer, but a better,
truer, worthier man never lived, and I hate you for thinking to make me
ashamed of him; while his wife, though not my mother, has always been
kind to me, and I will never turn my back upon her, never! The man who
marries me will marry my family too, or at least, will recognize them. I
wish you good-morning, sir,” and she walked from the room with all the
hauteur of an offended duchess, leaving the crest-fallen colonel alone,
and very much bewildered and uncertain as to what had happened.

It came to him at last that he was refused by Mary Ferguson, the girl
who stitched shoes for a living, and whose stepmother made and sold root

“Is the girl crazy?” he asked himself, as he precipitately left the
house. “Does she know what she is doing to refuse me, who would have
made her lady! and she says she hates me, because I will not marry her
family. Well, well, it’s my first experience at love-making, and I think
it will be my last.”

But it was not, for Mary Ferguson’s blue eyes had played the very
mischief with the colonel’s heart-strings, and he could not give her up,
and the next day he told her so in a letter of three pages, which she
promptly returned to him, with the words:

“The man who marries me must recognize my family.”

A week went by, and then the colonel sent his love a letter of six
pages, in which he capitulated generally. Not only would he recognize
the family, but in proof thereof, he would buy the large stone house
called the Knoll, which was at present unoccupied, and he had heard was
for sale. Here they would live, in the summer at least, and during the
winter she might like Boston for a change, but he would not insist upon
anything which did not meet her approval. All he wanted was herself, and
that he must have.

This was a concession, and Mary, who, while standing by her family, had
not been insensible to the good fortune offered her, surrendered, and in
less than a month was Mrs. Colonel Rossiter, and mistress of the
handsome stone house, where her father was always made welcome, and her
stepmother treated with kindness and consideration.

We have dwelt thus long upon the wooing and wedding of the colonel,
because the Rossiters and Fergusons have as much to do with this story
as the Hethertons, and because the marriage of Mary Ferguson was the
means of bringing about another marriage, without which Reinette, our
dainty little queen, could never have been the heroine of this romance.
Mary would hardly have been human if her sudden elevation to riches and
rank had not affected her somewhat. It did affect her to a certain
extent, though the villagers, who watched her curiously, agreed that it
did not turn her head, and that she fitted wonderfully well in her new

“Acts for all the world as if she was born to that grandness, and ain’t
an atom ashamed of me nuther,” Mrs. Peggy said, never once suspecting
that Mrs. Rossiter, as she mingled more and more in her husband’s world,
did sometimes shiver, and grow cold and faint at her old-fashioned ways
and modes of speech.

As for the father he enjoyed to the full seeing his daughter a lady, but
laughed at her endeavors to change and polish him.

“’Tain’t no use, Mollie,” he would say. “You can’t make a whistle of a
pig’s tail, and you can’t make a gentleman of me. My hard old hands have
worked too long in stone and mortar to be cramped up in gloves or to
handle them wide forks of yourn. I shall allus eat with my knife; it
comes nateral-like and easy, and shall drink my tea in my sasser. But I
like to see you go through with the jimcracks, and think you orter, if
the colonel wants you to. You allus had the makin’ of a lady, even when
your hands, where the diamonds is now, was cut and soiled with hard
waxed ends, and nobody’ll think the wus of you, unless it’s some
low-minded, jealous person who, when they see you in your best silk
gownd may say how you was once poor as you could be, and closed nigger
shoes for a livin’. That’s human nater, and don’t amount to nothin’.
But, Mollie, though you can’t lift Peggy nor me, there’s your sister
Margaret growin’ up as pretty and smart a gal as there is in Merrivale.
You can give her a hist if you will, and mebby she’ll make as good a
match as you. She’s the prettiest creetur I ever see.”

And in this John Ferguson was right, for Margaret was even more
beautiful than her sister Mary. To the same dazzling purity of
complexion, and large, lustrous blue eyes, she added a sweetness of
expression and a softness of manner and speech unusual in one who had
seen so little of the world. Mrs. Rossiter, who was allowed to do
whatever she pleased, acted upon her father’s suggestion and had her
sister often with her, and took her to Boston for a winter, and to
Saratoga for a season, and it was in the Rossiter carriage that
Frederick Hetherton first remarked the fresh, lovely young face which
was to be his destiny. He might, and probably had, seen it before in
church, or in the shop where he occasionally went for beer, but it had
never struck him just as it did, when, framed in the pretty bonnet, with
the blue ribbons vieing with the deeper, clearer blue of the large
bright eyes which flashed a smile on him as he involuntarily lifted his

Fred Hetherton was very fond of pretty faces, and it was whispered that
he did not always follow them for good, and there were rumors afloat of
large sums of money paid by his father for some of his love affairs,
but, however that might be, his intentions were always strictly
honorable with regard to Margaret Ferguson. At first his pride rebelled
a little, for he was quite as proud as any of the Hethertons, and he
shrank from Aunt Peggy more than Mr. Rossiter had done. But Margaret’s
beauty overcame every scruple at last, and when his father, who had
heard something of it in town, asked him if it were true that he was
running after old Ferguson’s daughter, he answered boldly, “Yes, and I
intend to make her my wife.”

A terrible scene ensued, and words were spoken which should never have
passed between father and son, and the next day Fred Hetherton was
missing from his home and Margaret Ferguson was missing from hers, and
two days later Aunt Peggy went over to Hetherton Place and claimed
relationship with its owner by virtue of a letter just received from her
daughter who said she was married the previous day, and signed herself
“Margaret Hetherton.” Then the father swore his biggest oaths, said his
son was his no longer, that he was glad his wife had died before she
knew of the disgrace, and ended by turning Peggy from his door and
bidding her never dare claim acquaintance with him, much less
relationship. What he wrote to his son in reply to a letter received
from him announcing his marriage no one ever knew, but the result of it
was that Frederick determined to go abroad at once, and wrote his father
to that effect, adding that with the fortune left him by his mother he
could live in luxury in Europe, and asked no odds of any one. This was
true, and Mr. Hetherton had no redress, but walked the floors of his
great lonely rooms foaming with rage and gnashing his teeth, while the
Fergusons were crying over the letter sent to them by Margaret, who was
then in New York, and who wrote of their intended departure for Europe.

She was very happy, she said, though she should like to come home for a
few days and bid them good-by, but Frederick would not allow it. She
would write them often, and never, never forget them. Then came a few
lines written on shipboard, and a few more from Paris, telling of
homesickness, of Frederick’s kindness, and the pearls and blue silk
dress he had bought her. Then followed an interval of silence, and when
Margaret wrote again a change seemed to have come over her, and her
letters were stilted and constrained like those of a person writing
under restraint, but showed signs of culture and improvement. She was
still in Paris, and had masters in French and music and dancing, but of
her husband she said very little, except that he was well, and once that
he had gone to Switzerland with a party of French and English, leaving
her alone with a waiting-maid whom she described as a paragon of

To this letter Mrs. Rossiter replied, asking her sister if she were
really content and happy, but there came no response, and nothing more
was heard from Margaret until she wrote of failing health and that she
was going to Italy to see what a milder climate would do for her. Weeks
and weeks went by, and then Mr. Hetherton himself wrote to Mr. Ferguson
as follows:

                                    “GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, May 15th, 18—.

  “_Mr. Ferguson._—Your daughter Margaret died suddenly of consumption
  in Rome, the 20th of last month, and was buried in the Protestant
  burying ground.

                                                         “F. HETHERTON.”

Nothing could be colder or more unsatisfactory than were these brief
lines to the sorrowing parents, to whom it would have been some comfort
to know how their daughter died, and who was with her at the last, and
if she had a thought or word for the friends across the water, who would
never see her again. But this solace was denied them, for though Mrs.
Rossiter wrote twice to the old address of Mr. Hetherton in Paris, she
never received a reply, and the years passed on, and the history of poor
Margaret’s short married life and death was still shrouded in mystery
and gloom, when General Hetherton died without a will; and, as a
matter-of-course, his property went to his only child, who, so far as
the people knew, had never sent him a line since he went abroad.

Upon the elder Mr. Beresford, who had been the general’s legal adviser,
devolved the duty of hunting up the heir, who was found living in Paris
and who wrote to Mr. Beresford, asking him to take charge of the estate
and remit to him semi-annually whatever income there might be accruing
from it. The house itself was to be shut up, as Frederick wrote that he
cared little if the old rookery rotted to the ground. He never should go
back to live in it: never return to America at all, but he would neither
have it sold or rented, he said. And so it stood empty year after year,
and the damp and mold gathered upon the roof, and the boys made the
windows a target for stones and brick-bats, and the swallows built their
nests in the wide-mouthed chimneys, and, with the bats and owls flew
unmolested through the rooms, where once the aristocratic Mrs. Hetherton
trailed her velvet gowns; and the superstitious ones of Merrivale said
the place was haunted and avoided it after nightfall, and over the whole
place there brooded an air of desolation and decay.

Then the elder Beresford died, and Arthur, who was many years younger,
succeeded him in business and took charge of the Hetherton estate, and
twice each year wrote formal letters to Mr. Hetherton, who sent back
letters just as formal and brief, and never vouchsafed a word of
information concerning himself or anything pertaining to his life in
France, notwithstanding that Mrs. Rossiter once sent a note in Mr.
Beresford’s letter, asking about her sister’s death, but to this there
was no reply, except the message that she died in Rome as he had
informed her family at the time.

Thus it is not strange that the letter to Mr. Beresford announcing his
return to America, and speaking of his daughter, was both a surprise and
revelation, for no one had ever dreamed there was a child born to poor
Margaret before her death. In fact, the Fergusons themselves had almost
forgotten the existence of Mr. Hetherton, and had ceased to speak of
him, though John, who had now been dead four years or more had talked
much in his last sickness of Margaret, and had said to his wife:

“Something tells me you will yet be brought very near to her. I don’t
know exactly how, but in some way she’ll come back to you; not Maggie
herself perhaps, but something; it is not clear quite.”

And now at last she was coming back in the person of a daughter, but
grandma Ferguson did not know it yet. Only Mr. Beresford and Philip held
the secret, for Col. Rossiter counted for nothing, and these two were
driving toward Hetherton Place on the warm June afternoon of the day
when our story opens.

                              CHAPTER III.
                        MR. BERESFORD AND PHIL.

Scarcely any two men could be more unlike each other than the two who
walked slowly through the Hetherton grounds, commenting on the
neglected, ruinous condition everywhere apparent, and the vast amount of
labor necessary to restore the park and garden to anything like beauty
or order.

Mr. Beresford, as the elder, will naturally sit first for his
photograph. In age he was probably not more than thirty-five, though he
looked and appeared somewhat older than that. He had received a
first-class education at Yale, and when he entered the law he devoted
himself to it with an energy and assiduity which, had he lived in a
larger town than Merrivale, would have placed him at the head of his
profession. There was no half way work with him. Whatever he did, he did
with all his might, and his services were much sought after by people in
the towns around Merrivale, so that he was always occupied and busy.

In stature he was medium size for a man, but finely formed, with a head
set erect and square upon his shoulders, and crowned with a profusion of
dark brown hair, which curled slightly around his forehead. His
complexion was dark, and his eyes those round, bright, restless eyes
which make you uncomfortable when fixed upon you, because they seem to
be reading your inmost secrets and weighing all your thoughts and

Belonging to one of the oldest and best families in the country, he was
proud of his blood and proud of his name—foolishly proud, too, in many
things, for had he been Anna Ferguson, that sign in her mother’s window
would have annoyed him even more then it did the young lady herself,
while the memory of the beer and the gingerbread once sold by her
grandmother, and the cellar walls and chimneys built by her grandfather,
would have driven him nearly frantic. Indeed, it was a wonder to him how
Phil Rossiter could endure the Fergusons, whom he considered wholly
vulgar and second-class. And yet, Arthur Beresford was a man of sterling
qualities, and one whom everybody respected and liked, though not as
they liked Phil Rossiter—good-natured, easy-going, indolent Phil, who,
though always ready to help whenever his services were needed, had never
been known to apply himself for any length of time to a single useful

Business he had none; employment none; but for this useless life his
mother was, perhaps, more in fault than he, for she was virtually the
moving power of the family, or, as the villagers termed it, “the man of
the house.”

Always peculiar, Col. Rossiter had grown more and more peculiar and
absent-minded with every year of his married life, and as a natural
consequence his wife, whose character was stronger than his, had
developed into a self-reliant, independent woman, who managed her
husband and his affairs admirably, and for the most part let her
children manage themselves. Especially was this the case with Phil, who
was her idol, and whom she rather encouraged in his idleness. There was
money enough, she reasoned, for the colonel was one of those fortunate
men in whose hands everything turns to gold, and there was no need for
Phil to apply himself to business for several years at least. By and by
when he came to marry, it might be well enough to have some profession,
but at present she liked him near her ready to do her bidding, and no
queen ever received more homage, or a mother more love, than did Mrs.
Rossiter from her son. For her sake he would do anything, dare anything,
or endure anything, even to the Fergusons, and that was saying a great
deal, for they were not a family whose society he could enjoy. But his
mother was a Ferguson, and he was bound to stand by them, and if the
vulgarity of Mrs. Lydia, his Uncle Tom’s wife, or the silly affectation
of his cousin Anna, ever made him shudder, he never gave a sign, but
bore up bravely and proudly, secure in his own position as a Rossiter
and a gentleman.

To his grandmother he was always attentive and kind. She was not his own
blood relation, he reasoned, and she was old, and so he allowed her to
pet and fondle him to such an extent as sometimes to fill him with
disgust. Only once had he rebelled, and that when a boy of ten.
“Granny’s baby,” she sometimes called him, and this sobriquet had been
adopted by his schoolfellows, who made his life so great a burden that
at last on one occasion, when she said to him as she patted his young,
fresh face, “Yes, he is granny’s baby,” he revolted openly, and turning
fiercely upon her, exclaimed:

“You just hush up, old woman, I’ve had enough of that. I ain’t your
baby. I’m ten years old, and wear roundabouts, and I’ll be darned if
I’ll be called baby any longer.”

She never called him so again, or kissed him either, until the night
three years later when he was going away to school next day. And then
she did not offer it herself. She said good-by to him at his father’s
house, and went back to her own home, where she had lived alone since
her husband’s death, and which seemed lonelier to her than ever, because
on the morrow Phil would be gone. Phil was her idol, her pride, and his
daily visits had made much of the sunshine of her life, and as she
undressed herself for bed, and then went to wind the tall clock in the
kitchen corner, the tears rolled down her face and dropped upon the
floor. She was a little deaf, and standing with her back to the street
door she neither saw nor heard anything until she felt a pair of arms
close tightly around her neck, and Phil’s lips were pressed against

“For the dear Lord’s sake how you scart me. What on airth brought you
here!” she exclaimed, turning toward him with her nightcap border flying
back, and her tallow candle in her hand.

Phil was half crying, too, as he replied:

“I could not go away without kissing you once more, and having you kiss
me. You haven’t done so since that time I got so plaguy mad and called
you names. I’ve cried about it fifty times, I’ll bet. I want you to
forgive it, and kiss me, too. I’m awful sorry granny.”

The pet name for her in his babyhood, and which he had long since
discarded, dropped from his lips naturally now, and putting down her
candle the old lady took him in her arms and nearly strangled him as she

“Forgive you, Phil? Of course I will, with all my heart, and kiss you,
too. Any woman, young or old, would like to kiss a mouth like yours.”

We do not believe our readers will like Philip Rossiter the less for
this little incident, or because even in his young manhood he had a
mouth which any woman, young or old, might like to kiss. A handsome
mouth it was, with full red lips which always seemed just ready to break
into a merry, saucy laugh, but which you felt intuitively had never been
polluted by an oath, or vulgar word, or low insinuation against any one.
In thought, and word, and deed, he was as pure as any girl, and held all
women in the utmost respect, because his mother was a woman.

At the time our story opens Phil was twenty-five years old, though from
the delicacy of his complexion he looked younger, and might easily have
passed for twenty-one. Tall, willowy, and graceful in figure, he was,
like all the Ferguson race, blue-eyed and fair, with a profusion of soft
brown hair, which curled just enough to save it from stiffness. People
called him handsome, with his frank, open, boyish face and winning smile
but he hated himself for it, as a handsome man was an abomination, he
thought, and he had times of hating himself generally, because of that
natural distaste to application of any kind, which kept him from being
what he felt sure he was capable of being if he could but rouse himself
to action. Had he been a woman, he would have made a capital dressmaker,
for he knew all the details of a lady’s dress, from the arrangement of
her hair to the fit of her boot, and could detect at a glance any
incongruity in color, and style, and make-up. To his sisters he was
invaluable as a critic, and no article which he condemned was ever worn
again. It was strange, considering how unlike to each other they were,
that Phil and Mr. Beresford should be such friends, but each understood
perfectly the peculiarities of the other, and each sought the other’s
society continually. With Mr. Beresford the fact that Phil was a
Rossiter covered a multitude of sins, while more democratic Phil cared
but little who Mr. Beresford’s family were, but liked the lawyer for
himself, and spent a great deal of time in his office, where he once
actually begun the study of law, but gave it up as soon as a party of
his college friends asked him to join an excursion to the Adirondacks,
and he never resumed it again.

                              CHAPTER IV.
                           THE INVESTIGATION.

“Well, this is a jolly place for the kind of girl I fancy Miss Reinette
to be,” Phil said, as he strolled through the grounds, putting aside
with his cane the weeds, and shrubs, and creeping vines, which choked
not only the flower-beds, but even the walks themselves.

Everywhere were marks of ruin and decay, and the house seemed worse than
all the rest, it was so damp and gloomy, with doors off their hinges,
floors half rotted away, and the glass gone from most of the lower

“Seems like some old haunted castle, and I actually feel my flesh creep,
don’t you?” Phil said to his companion, as they went through room after
room below, and then ascended the broad staircase to the floor above.

“Suppose we first take the room intended for Miss Reinette?” Mr.
Beresford suggested, and they bent their steps at once toward the large
chamber with the bay-window overlooking the town and the country for
miles and miles away.

As they stepped across the threshold both men involuntarily took off the
hats they had worn during their investigation below. Perhaps neither of
them was conscious of the act, or that it was a tribute of respect to
the unknown Reinette, who was in the thoughts of both as they stood in
the great silent, gloomy room, from which the light was excluded by the
heavy shutters which had withstood the ravages of time. This had
evidently been the guest chamber during the life of Mrs. Hetherton, and
the furniture was of solid mahogany and of the most massive kind, while
the faded hangings around the high-post bed were of the heaviest silken
damask. But the atmosphere was close and stifling, and Mr. Beresford
drew back a step or two while Phil pressed on until he ran against the
sharp corner of the bureau and uttered a little cry of pain.

“For Heaven’s sake come out of this,” Mr. Beresford exclaimed. “Let’s
give the whole thing up, and let Mr. Hetherton fix his own old rookery.
We can never make it decent.”

“Just hold on a minute,” said Phil, making his way to a window, “wait
till I let in a little air and light. There,” he continued, as he opened
window after window and pushed back the heavy shutters, one of which
dropped from the hinges to the ground. “There, that is better, and does
not smell so like an old cheese cupboard, and look, Beresford, just see
what a magnificent view. Ten villages, as I live, and almost as many
ponds, and the river, and the hills, with old Wachusett in the

It was indeed a lovely landscape spread out before them, and Phil, who
had an artist’s eye for the beautiful, enjoyed it to the full, and
declared it as fine as anything he had seen in Switzerland, where he
went once with his father just before he entered college. Mr. Beresford
was, however, too much absorbed in the duties devolving upon him to care
for views, and Phil himself soon came back to the room and examined it
minutely, from the carpet, molding on the floor, to the rotten hangings
on the bed, which he began at last to pull down, thereby raising a cloud
of dust, from which Mr. Beresford beat a hasty retreat.

“I tell you what,” he said, “it’s of no kind of use. I shall wash my
hands of the entire job, and let Miss Reinette arrange her own room.”

“Nonsense! you won’t do any such thing,” said Phil. “It’s not so very
terrible, though I must confess it’s a sweet-looking boudoir for a
French lady to come to, but it can be fixed easy enough. I’ll help. I
can see the end from the beginning. First, we’ll have two or three
strong women. I know where they are. I’ll get ’em. Then we’ll pitch
every identical old dud out of the window and make a good bonfire—that
falls naturally to the boys. Then we, or rather, the women, will go at
the room, hammer and tongs, with soap, and sand, and water, and burnt
feathers, if necessary. Then we’ll get a glazier and have new
window-lights put in, and a painter with paint-pot and brush, and a
paperer to cover the walls with—let me see, what shade will suit her
complexion, I wonder. Is she skim-milky, with tow hair, like the
Fergusons generally, or is she dark, like the Hethertons, do you

“I’m sure I don’t know or care whether she is like a Dutch doll or black
as a nigger. I only wish she would stay in France, where she belongs,”
growled Mr. Beresford, very hot and very sweaty, and a good deal soiled
with the dust from the bed-curtains which Phil had shaken so vigorously.

“Take it cool, old fellow,” returned Phil. “You’ll be head and ears in
love, and go down on your knees to her in less than a month.”

“She’ll be the first woman I ever went on my knees to,” said Mr.
Beresford, while Phil continued:

“Reinette is light, of course; there never was a Ferguson yet who had
not a complexion like a cheese, so we will have the paper a soft, creamy
tint, of some intricate pattern, which she can study at her leisure,
mornings when she is awake and does not wish to get up. That settles the
paper, and now for the furniture—something light—oak, of course, and
real oak, no sham for the queen. Mosquito net—coarse, white lace,
trimmed with blue, for blondes and blue always go together. So, we’ll
loop the muslin window curtains back with blue, and have some blue and
white what do you call ’em, Beresford—those square things the girls are
always making for backs of chairs, and bureaus, and cushions; you know
what I mean?”

“No I don’t. I’m not a fool to know all the paraphernalia of a girl’s
bed-chamber,” said Mr. Beresford, while Phil replied, with imperturbable
good nature:

“Neither am I a fool because I can no more enter a room without knowing
every article and color in it, and whether they harmonize or not, than
you can help hearing of a projected law-suit without wondering if you
shall have a hand in it; _chacun à son goût_, my good fellow. You see I
am beginning to air my French, as I dare say this little French queen
speaks atrocious English. Do you understand French, Beresford?”

“Scarcely a word, and I am glad I do not. English is good enough for
me,” said Mr. Beresford, thinking to himself, however, that he would
privately get out his grammar and French reader, and brush up his
knowledge of the language, for if the foreigner, in whom he was
beginning to feel a great deal of interest, really could not speak
English readily, it would never do to give so much advantage to
handsome, winning Phil, who startled him with the exclamation:

“I’ve got it! _Tidies!_—that’s what I mean. Blue and white tidies on the
bureau, with little fancy scent-bottles standing round—new-mown hay
jockey-club, eau-decologne, the very best that Mrs. Maria Ferina Regina
can make; and _soap_! By Jove! she shall have the very last cake of the
box I got in Vienna nine years ago; I keep it in the drawer with my
shirts, and collars, and things, for perfumery; but I’ve got to give it
up now. Not but Miss Reinette will bring out a cart load, but I wish her
to know that we Americans have foreign soap sometimes, as well as she.
Then, there’s powder; I must get sister Ethel to give me some of

“Powder! What _do_ you mean?” Mr. Beresford asked, in unfeigned
surprise; and Philip replied:

“Now, Beresford, are you putting on, or what? Is it possible you have
lived to be forty years old——”

“Only thirty-five,” interrupted Mr. Beresford, and Phil continued:

“Well, thirty-five, then. Have you lived to be thirty-five, and don’t
know that every grand lady has a little powder-pot and puff-ball on her
dressing bureau, just to touch her skin and make it feel better when
she’s moist. Some of it costs as high as three dollars a package—that’s
the kind Reinette must have. You ought to have some, too. It would
improve that spot where the dust of the Hethertons has settled under
your nose. There—don’t rub it with your hands; you make it worse than
ever. We must hunt round for some water to wash your face before we go
back to town. But let’s furnish this room with matting, which we quite
forgot, and a willow chair in the bay-window, and a work-table, and
another chair close by, with the cat and kittens. That will make the
picture complete, and if she is not satisfied, why, then she’s hard to
suit. I’ll make this room my special charge; you needn’t bother about it
at all. I was going right down to the Vineyard, but shall wait to greet
my cousin. And now, come on, and let’s investigate the rest of the old
hut, while there is daylight to do it in.”

Mr. Beresford was not at all loth to leave the close room which smelled
so musty and damp, but which really seemed in a better state of
preservation than other parts of the house. Everything had gone to
decay, and but for Phil he would have been utterly discouraged, and
abandoned all attempts to restore the place to anything like a habitable
condition. Phil was all enthusiasm, and knew exactly what ought to be
done, and in his zeal offered to see to nearly everything, provided his
friend did not limit him as to means. This Mr. Beresford promised not to
do. Money should be forthcoming even if a hundred workmen were employed,
as Phil seemed to think there must be, the time was so short, and they
would like to have things decent at least for Miss Reinette, of whom
they talked and speculated as they rode back to town. Was she pretty,
they wondered, and the decision was, that as all young girls have a
certain amount of prettiness, she probably was not an exception; yes,
she was pretty, unquestionably, and Frenchy, and spoiled, and a blonde,
Phil said, for no one with a drop of Ferguson blood in his veins was
ever anything but that, and the young man spoke impatiently, for he was
thinking of his own lilies and roses, and fair hair which he affected to

“Of course she is _petite_,” Mr. Beresford said, but Phil did not agree
with him.

He was himself six feet; his mother was tall, his cousin Anna was tall.
All the Fergusons were tall, and the young men bet a soft hat on the
subject of Reinette’s height. They were getting very much interested in
the young lady, nor was their interest at all diminished when, as they
reached the village, they called at the post-office and found a letter
from her, which, though sent by the same steamer with her father’s had
not reached Merrivale until that evening. The handwriting was very
small, but very plain and pretty; the letter was very short and ran as

                                         “HOTEL MEURICE, PARIS, June ——.

  “MR. ARTHUR BERESFORD.—Dear Sir: I have just discovered that papa has
  told you among other things to have a _little_ saddle pony in
  readiness for me. Now I will not have a pony. I detest a little horse
  as much as I do a little woman, and I must have a great tall horse,
  who will carry me grandly and high. The biggest and grandest you can

                                       “Truly,      REINETTE HETHERTON.”

It almost seemed to the young men that they held the unknown Reinette by
the hand, so near did this letter bring her to them, and such insight
into her character did it give them.

“She has a mind of her own and means to exercise it,” said Mr.
Beresford, while Phil, intent upon the soft hat, said:

“You will lose your bet, old fellow. Nobody but an Amazon would insist
upon a great tall horse. It is just as I told you. She is five feet
eleven at least. I want a _nice_ hat, and if you don’t object, I’ll pick
it out myself, and send you the bill.”

“I was just thinking of doing the same by you, for only a wee little
creature would want a tall horse to carry her grandly and high,” said
Mr. Beresford, still studying the gilt-edged sheet of note paper, where
there lingered a faint delicate perfume which miles of travel by land
and sea had not quite destroyed.

“_Ah bien, nous verrons_,” said Phil: then, bidding good-night to his
friend, he walked away humming softly an old French song, of which Mr.
Beresford caught the words, “_Ma petite reine_.”

“Confound the boy,” he said to himself. “He’s better up in French than I
am, and that will never do.”

Arrived at his rooms, Arthur Beresford’s first act after putting
Reinette’s letter carefully away, was to hunt up his long-neglected
Ollendorf, over which he pondered for two hours or more, with only this
result, that his head was full of all sorts of useless and nonsensical
phrases, and that even in his dreams he kept repeating over and over
again, “_Avez vous mon chapeau? Oui, monsieur, je l’ai._”

                               CHAPTER V.

After leaving Mr. Beresford Phil concluded, before going home, to call
on his grandmother and ask if she had ever heard of a granddaughter in
France. The house of grandma Ferguson, as she was now universally
called, was the same low, old-fashioned brown building under the poplar
trees where she had sold gingerbread and beer in the days when Paul
Rossiter and Fred Hetherton came wooing her two daughters, Mary and
Margaret. In her youth grandma Ferguson had been a tall, slender,
well-formed girl, with a face which always won a second glance from
every one who saw it. In fact, it was her pretty face which attracted
honest John Ferguson when he was looking for some one to be a mother to
his little girl. Margaret Martin was her real name, but everybody called
her Peggy, and everybody liked her, she was so thoroughly kind-hearted
and good-natured, and ready to sacrifice herself in every and any cause.
But her family was against her. Her father was coarse and low, and a
drunkard, and her brothers were coarser and lower still, and the most
notorious fighters in town, while her mother was a shiftless, gossipy,
jealous woman, who would rather receive charity at any time than work,
and who always grumbled at the charity when given. But against Peggy’s
reputation not a whisper had ever been breathed. She was loud-talking,
boisterous, and ignorant, and a Martin but perfectly honest,
straightforward, and trusty, and from the day John Ferguson, the thrifty
stonemason took her to his home to look after his house and child her
fortune was made, for in less than six months she became his wife. As
Mrs. John Ferguson she was somewhat different from Peggy Martin, and
tried, not without success, to lower her voice and soften her manners;
but her frightful grammar remained unchanged, and her slang was noted
for its originality and force. But she was a good mother, and wife, and
neighbor, and after her father and mother died, and her fighting
brothers emigrated to California, she shook the Martin dust from her
skirts and mounted several rounds higher on the ladder of
respectability. But she did not get into society until some years after
the Rossiters were established in the great house on the Knoll. Her
faithful John was under the sod, and the beer sign gone from the window
of the low brown house where she lived in comfort and ease, with a
colored servant Axie, who was very serviceable to her indulgent
mistress, making her bread, and pies, and caps, and frequently
correcting her grammar, for Axie knew more of books than Mrs. Peggy.

To Mrs. Rossiter Grandma Ferguson was a care and sometimes a trouble: to
the young ladies, Ethel and Grace, she was an annoyance and a
mortification, both from her manners and her showy style of dress, while
to Phil, who did not care in the least how she talked or how she
dressed, she was a source of amusement, and he frequently spent hours in
her neat, quiet sitting-room, or out on the shaded back porch where he
found her on the evening of his return from Hetherton Place. With
increasing years Grandma Ferguson had lost the slight, willowy figure of
her girlhood, and had reached a size when she refused to be weighed. So
saucy Phil set her down at two hundred and fifty, and laughed at her
form, which he said he could not encircle with both his long arms. All
delicacy of feature and complexion had departed, and with her round red
face and three chins she might well have passed for some fat old English
or German dowager, especially when attired in her royal purple moire
antique, which she always called her _morey_ with a long heavy gold
chain around her neck, and her best lace cap with mountains of pink bows
upon it. Mrs. Ferguson was fond of dress, and as purple and pink were
her favorite colors, she sometimes presented a rather grotesque
appearance. But on the night when Phil sought her, she had laid aside
all superfluities and her silvery hair shone smooth and glossy in the
soft moonlight, while her plain calico wrapper looked cool and
comfortable and partially concealed her rotund form.

“For the massy’s sake,” she said, as Phil’s tall figure bent under the
door-way and came swiftly to her side, “what brung you here so late, and
why hain’t you come afore? I was round to your Aunt Lyddy Ann’s this
afternoon, and she told me you was to home, so I made a strawb’ry
short-cake for tea, hopin’ you’d happen in. There’s a piece cold in the
buttry now if you want it.”

Phil declined the short-cake, and sitting down by his grandmother told
her of Mr. Hetherton’s letter, and asked if she had ever heard of a

Mrs. Ferguson was a good deal startled and surprised, or, as she
expressed it afterward to Reinette herself, “she was that beat that a
feller might have knocked her down with a straw.” That there was
somewhere in the world a child of her beautiful young daughter who died
so far away, was a great shock to her, and, for an instant, she stared
blankly at Phil, as if not quite comprehending him. Then she began:

“Fred Hetherton coming back after so many years, and bringin’ a darter
with him! My Maggie’s girl! That’s very strange, and makes me think of
what your gran’ther said afore he died. Seems as if he had second sight
or somethin’, which ain’t to be wondered at when you remember that he
was born with a vail over his face, and could allus tell things. He said
that, in some way, Maggie would come back to me, and she is comin’: but
it’s queer I never hearn of a baby when Maggie died. Still, it’s like
that sneak of a Fred Hetherton to keep it from us. We wasn’t good enough
to know there was a child. But, thank the Lord, there’s as much Ferguson
in her as Hetherton, and he can’t help that. I never could abide him,
even when he came skulkin’ after Maggie, and whistlin’ for her to come
out. At fust I was afraid he didn’t mean fair with her, and I told him
if he harmed a hair of her head I’d shoot him as I would a dog. There’s
fight, you know, in the Martins!”

And the old lady’s eyes blazed with all the fire of her two scape-grace
brothers, once the prize-fighters of the country.

“What were the particulars of the marriage and her death? I’ve heard, of
course, but did not pay much attention, as I knew nothing of Reinette,”
said Phil; and Mrs. Ferguson replied:

“’Twas a runaway match, for old Mr. Hetherton rode such a high hoss that
Fred was most afraid of his life, and so they run away—the more fools
they—and he took her to Europe, and that’s the last I ever seen of her,
or hearn of her either, as you may say. It’s true she writ sometimes,
but her letters was short, and not satisfyin’ at all—seemed as if she
was afraid to tell us she was lonesome for us at home, or wanted to see
us. She had a new blue silk gown, and cassimere shawl, and string of
pearls, and a waitin’-maid, and she said a good deal about them, but
nothin’ of Fred, after a spell, whether he was kind or not. He never
writ, nor took no more notice of us than if we was dogs, till there came
a letter from him sayin’ she had died suddenly at Rome and was buried in
the Protestant grave-yard. He was in Switzerland then, I believe,
skylarkin’ round, for he was always a great rambler, and we didn’t know
jestly where to direct letters; but your mother writ and writ to the old
place in Paris, and never got no answer, and at last she gin it up. When
old man Hetherton died, Fred had to write about business, but never a
word to us.”

“It’s very singular he did not tell you about the little girl,”
suggested Phil; and Mrs. Ferguson replied:

“No ’tain’t. He wouldn’t of let us know if there had been a hundred
babies. He’d be more likely to keep whist, for fear we’d lay some claim
to her, and we as good as he any day, if he wasn’t quite so rich. Why,
there never was a likelier gal than your mother, even when she closed
boots for a livin’; and there ain’t a grander lady now in the land than
she is.”

“I don’t know about the grand,” said Phil, “but I know there is not a
better woman in the world than my mother, or a handsomer either, when
she’s dressed in her velvet, and laces, and diamonds. I wish you could
see her once.”

“I wish to gracious I could,” returned Mrs. Ferguson. “Why don’t she
never put on her best clothes here and let us see ’em once, and not
allus wear them plain black silks, and browns, and grays?”

“Merrivale is hardly the place for velvets and diamonds,” said Phil.
“There is seldom any occasion for them, and mother does not think it
good taste to make a display.”

“No, I s’pose not,” grandma replied; “but mabby Rennet will take me with
her to Washington, or Saratoga, or the sea-side, and then I can see it
all. And they needn’t be ashamed of me nuther. There’s my purple
_morey_, and upon a pinch I can have another new silk. Rennet will find
her granny has clothes!”

Phil did not usually wince at anything his grandmother said, but now a
cold sweat broke out a over him as he thought of her at the sea-side
arrayed in her _purple morey_, which made her look fatter and coarser
than ever, with the bright pink ribbons or blue feather in her cap. What
would Reinette say to such a figure, and what would Reinette think of
her any way? He was accustomed to her; he knew all the good there was in
her; but Reinette, with her French ideas, was different, and he found
himself seeing with Reinette’s eyes and hearing with Reinette’s ears,
and blushing with shame for the good old lady, who went on talking about
her new granddaughter, whom she sometimes called _Rennet_, and sometimes
_Runnet_, but never by her right name.

At last Phil could bear it no longer, and said:

“Grandma, isn’t it just as easy to say Reinette as Rennet? Do you know
what a rennet is?”

“No, what is it?” she asked, and he replied:

“It is what farmers put in milk to make cheese curd.”

“Bless the boy!” and Mrs. Ferguson laughed till the tears rolled down
her fat cheeks. “Bless the boy, that’s _runnet_; as if I didn’t know
_runnet_—I, that lived with a farmer three summers, and made cheese
every day.”

“No matter; it is spelled _rennet_, and I do not believe my cousin would
care to be called that. We want to please her, you know,” said Phil, and
his grandmother replied:

“To be sure we do, and we must make quite a time when she fust lands
here. Your mother and the gals will come home, of course.”

“Perhaps so. I shall write them about it,” said Phil, and his
grandmother continued: “We must get up a percession to meet her, in your
father’s carriage, and a hired hack, and our best clothes. I’ll see
Lyddy Ann to-morrow about fixin’ me somethin’ to wear. Now I think on’t,
Lyddy Ann talks of sellin’ out her business—so she told me this
afternoon. Did you know it?”

“I knew some one had written her on the subject, but not that she had
decided to sell,” was Phil’s reply, and his grandmother said:

“She hain’t, exactly; but Anny’s puttin’ her up to it, thinkin’ she’ll
be thought more on if her mother is not a dressmaker, and that sign is
out of the winder. Silly critter! She gets that from the Rices, and they
was nothin’ extra—I know ’em root and branch. I tell you I’m as much
thought on as if I hadn’t sold gingerbread and beer; but Anny says I’m
only noticed on account of the Rossiters—that folks dassent slight Miss
Rossiter’s mother, and mabby that’s so.”

How dreadful her conversation was to Phil, who wondered if she had
always talked in this way, and if nothing could be done to tone her down
a little before Reinette came. Nothing, he finally decided, and then
proceeded to tell her what changes Mr. Beresford contemplated making at
Hetherton Place, and what Mr. Hetherton had written of his daughter’s
tastes with reference to cats, and asked if she could help him there.

“That’s the Martin blood in her,” said Mrs. Ferguson. “We are desput
fond of cats, but I can’t let her have old Blue, who has lived with me
this ten years, but there’s Speckle, with three as lovely Malta kittens
as you ever see. They torment me most to death killin’ chickens and
tearing up the flower-beds. Rennet can have them and welcome.”

It was _Rennet_ again, and Phil let it pass, feeling that to change an
old lady like his grandmother was as impossible as to change the order
of the seasons, and hoping his cousin would have sense enough to
overlook the grammar, and the slang, and prize her for the genuine good
there was in her. As it was now getting very late Phil at last said
good-night and walked toward home thinking constantly of Reinette,
wondering how he should like her, and wondering more how she would like

                              CHAPTER VI.
                      GETTING READY FOR REINETTE.

Within two days it was known all over Merrivale that Frederick Hetherton
was coming home and was to bring with him a daughter of whose existence
no one in town had ever heard, and within three days thirty workmen were
busy at Hetherton Place trying to restore the house and grounds to
something like their former appearance. Nominally Mr. Beresford was the
superintendent, but Phil was really the head, the one who thought of
everything and saw to everything, and to whom every one finally went for
advice. He had written to his mother and sisters telling them of the
expected arrival, and asking if they would not come home for a few days
to receive Reinette, who would naturally feel more at her ease with them
than with the Fergusons.

To this letter his sister Ethel replied, expressing her astonishment
that there should be a cousin of whom she had never heard, and saying
they should be very glad to be in Merrivale to receive her, but that her
mother was suffering from a sudden and acute attack of muscular
rheumatism, and required the constant care both of herself and her
sister Grace, so it would be impossible for them to leave her.

“Mother is very anxious to have father here; because she thinks he can
lift her better than any one else,” Ethel wrote in conclusion, “but she
says perhaps he ought to stay and welcome Miss Hetherton; he must do as
he thinks best.”

This letter Phil showed to his father, of course, and as Col. Rossiter
was not particularly interested, either in Frederick Hetherton or his
daughter, and as it was very obnoxious to have Grandma Ferguson coming
to him every day as she did to discuss the _percession_ which ought to
go up to meet the strangers, he started at once for the sea-side, and as
Mr. Beresford was confined to the house with a severe influenza and sore
throat Phil was left to stem the tide alone. But he was equal the
emergency and enjoyed it immensely. Every day was spent at Hetherton
Place, except on the occasions when he made journeys to Springfield or
Worcester in quest of articles which could not be found in Merrivale. It
was astonishing to Mr. Beresford, to whom daily reports were made, how
much Phil knew about the furnishing of a house. Nothing was forgotten
from a box of starch and pepper up to blankets, and spreads, and
easy-chairs. Phil seemed to be everywhere at the same time, and by his
own enthusiasm spurred on the men to do double the work they would
otherwise have done. He superintended everything in the grounds, in the
garden, and in the house, where he frequently worked with his own hands.
He cut the paper and the border for Reinette’s bed-chamber, put down the
matting himself, looped the muslin curtains with knots of blue ribbon,
and from his own room at the Knoll brought a few choice pictures to hang
upon the walls. He asked no advice of any one, and was deaf to all the
hints his cousin Anna gave him with regard to what she thought was
proper in the furnishing of a house. But when toward the last she
insisted upon going to Hetherton Place, he consented and took her
himself in his light open buggy.

Anna was never happier than when seen by the villagers in company with
Phil, or with any of the Rossiters of whose relationship to herself she
was very proud, parading it always before strangers when she thought
there was any likelihood of its working good for herself. Like her
grandmother she thought a great deal of dress, and on this occasion she
was very dashingly arrayed with streamers on her hat nearly a yard long,
her dress tied back so tight that she could scarcely walk, her fan
swinging from her side, a black lace scarf which came almost to her
feet, and a white silk parasol which her mother had bought in Boston at
an enormous price. Anna was very much in love with her parasol, and very
angry with Phil for telling her it was more suitable for the city than
for the country. She liked city things, she said, and if the Merrivale
people were so far behind the times as not to tolerate a white silk
parasol she meant to educate them. So she flaunted her parasol on all
occasions and held it airily over her head as she rode to Hetherton
Place with Phil, and was very soft, and gentle and talkative, and told
him of a schoolmate of hers who had just been married, and made a
splendid match, only some might object to it, as the parties were _own
cousins_, not half, but _own_? For her part she saw nothing out of the
way if they were suited. Did Phil think it wrong for cousins to marry
each other?

Yes, Phil thought it decidedly wicked, and he urged his pony into a pace
which drowned the rest of Miss Anna’s remarks on the subject of cousins

Arrived at Hetherton Place, the young lady criticised things generally
with an unsparing tongue. Every thing was so simple and plain,
especially in Reinette’s room. Of course it was pleasant, and neat, and
cool, and airy, but why did Phil get matting for the floor, and that
light, cheap-looking furniture. There was a lovely pattern of Brussels
carpeting at Enfair’s for a dollar fifty a yard and a high black walnut
bedstead and dressing bureau at Trumbull’s; and why didn’t he get a
wardrobe with a looking-glass door, so Reinette could see the _bottom_
of her dresses. Then she inspected the pictures, and asked where he
found those dark-looking photographs, and that woman in the clouds with
her eyes rolled up, and so many children around her. Why didn’t he get
those lovely pictures, “Wide Awake” and “Fast Asleep?” They would
brighten up the room so much!

Phil bit his lips, but maintained a very grave face while he explained
to the young lady that what she called photographs were fine steel
engravings, which he found in Frankfort, one a landscape after Claude
Lorraine, and the other a moonlight scene on the Rhine, near Bingen,
with the Mouse Tower and Ehrenfels in sight, while the woman with her
eyes rolled up was an oil copy of Murillo’s great picture, the gem of
the Louvre.

Anna Ferguson had been to boarding-school two or three quarters, and had
botanies, and physiologies, and algebras laid away on the book-shelf at
home; but for all that she was a very ignorant young lady, and guiltless
of any knowledge of the Louvre or Murillo and Claude Lorraine. But she
liked to appear learned, and had a way of pretending to know many things
which she did not know; and now she hastened to cover her mistake by
pretending to examine the pictures more closely, and saying, “Oh, yes, I
see; lovely, aren’t they? and so well done! Why, Mr. Beresford, you
here!” and she turned suddenly toward the door, which Arthur Beresford
was just entering.

He was much better, and had ridden over to Hetherton Place with a friend
who was going a few miles farther, and, hearing voices up stairs, had
come at once to Reinette’s room, where he found Phil and Anna.

Just then a workman called Phil away, and Mr. Beresford was left alone
with Anna, who was even better pleased to be with him than with her
cousin, and who assumed her prettiest, most coquettish manners in order
to attract the grave lawyer, whose cue she at once followed, praising
the arrangement of the room generally, and finally calling his attention
to the pictures, one of which, she said, was drawn by Mr. Lorraine, and
the other by—she could not quite remember whom, but—the oil painting was
the portrait of Murillo, whose hands and hair she thought so lovely.
That came from _Loo_, in France, but the engravings were from somewhere
in Kentucky—Frankfort, she believed.

Mr. Beresford was disgusted, as he always was with Anna, but did not try
to enlighten her, and, as Phil soon joined them, they went over the rest
of the house together. Only the upper and lower halls, the dining-room,
the library, Mr. Hetherton’s and Reinette’s bedchambers, the kitchen and
servants’ rooms had been renovated, and these were all in comfortable
living order, with new matting on the floors, fresh paint and whitewash
everywhere, and furniture enough to make it seem homelike and cozy. But
it was in the grounds that the most wonderful change had been wrought,
and Mr. Beresford could scarcely credit the evidence of his eyes when he
saw what had been done. Weeds and obnoxious plants dug up by the roots;
gravel walks cleaned and raked; quantities of fresh green sod where the
grass had been almost dead; masses of potted flowers here and there upon
the lawn and in the flower-garden; while the conservatory, which opened
from the dining-room, was partly filled with rare exotics which Phil had
ordered from Springfield.

In its palmy days Hetherton had been one of the finest places in the
country, and, with some of its beauty restored, it looked very pleasant
and inviting that summer afternoon; and Anna felt a pang of envy of her
more fortunate cousin, for whom all these preparations were made, and of
whom Phil talked so much. Anna was beginning to be jealous of Reinette,
and, as she rode home with Phil, she asked him if he supposed he would
make as much fuss for her if she were coming to Merrivale.

“Why, yes,” he answered her, “under the same circumstances I should, of

“Yes, that’s just the point,” she retorted. “Under the same
circumstances, which means if I were rich like her, and belonged to the
Hethertons. I tell you what, Phil, ‘Money makes the mare go,’ and though
this girl is not one whit better than I am, whose mother is a dressmaker
and whose father keeps a one-horse grocery, you and that stuck-up
Beresford, whom I hate because he is stuck-up, would run your legs off
for her, when you, or at least he, would hardly notice me. You have to,
because you are my cousin, but if you were not you would be just as bad
as Beresford. Wouldn’t you now?”

Phil did not care to argue with his cousin, whose jealous nature he
understood perfectly, so he merely laughed at her fancies and tried to
divert her mind by asking her where she thought he could find a blue
silk spread to lay on the foot of the bed in Reinette’s chamber.

Anna did not know, but promised to make it her business to inquire, and
also to see that some pots of ivies were sent to Hetherton Place before
the guests arrived.

The ruse had succeeded, and Miss Anna, who felt that she was deferred
to, was in a much better frame of mind when she was at last set down at
her mother’s door. She found her grandmother in the sitting-room, and at
once recounted to her all she had seen at Hetherton Place, and how she
was to send over some ivies and hunt up a blue silk quilt for Reinette’s

“A blue silk bed-quilt this swelterin’ weather? What under the sun does
she want of that?” grandma asked, and Anna explained that Cousin Ethel
had a pink silk quilt because her room was pink, and Cousin Grace had
blue because her room was blue. It was a fashion, that was all.

“Fiddlesticks on the fashion!” her grandmother replied. “Better save the
money for something else. If Rennet must have an extra comforter,
there’s that patch-work quilt, herrin’-bone pattern, which her mother
pieced when she was ten years old. It took the prize at the cattle show,
and I’ve kep’ it ever sense as a sort of memoir. If Rennet is any kind
of a girl she’ll think a sight on’t because it was her mother’s work. I
shall send it over with the cat and kittens.”

“Cat and kittens! What do you mean?” Anna asked, in unfeigned surprise,
and her grandmother explained that Rennet’s father had written she was
very fond of cats, and Phil wanted some for her, and she was going to
give her Speckle and the Maltas.

Anna, who was above such weaknesses as a love for cats, sniffed
contemptuously, and thought her cousin must be a very silly, childish
person; “but then grandma,” she added, “you may as well call her by her
right name, which isn’t Rennet, but _Reinette_, with the accent on the
last syllable.”

“Oh, yes, I forgot,” said grandma. “Phil told me not to call her Rennet,
but what’s the difference? I mean to do my duty by her, and show Fred
Hetherton that I know what is what. We must all go up in percession to
meet ’em, and, then, go with ’em to the house, and your mother is goin’
to fix me a new cap in case we stay to tea, and if it ain’t too hot I
shall wear my _morey_, and if it is, I guess I’ll wear that pinkish
sprigged muslin with my _lammy_ shawl, and you, Anny, must wear your
best clothes, for we don’t want ’em to think we are _back-woodsy_.”

There was no danger of Anna’s wearing anything but her best clothes, and
for the next three days she busied herself with thinking what was most
becoming to her, deciding at last upon white muslin and a blue sash,
with her long lace scarf fastened with a blush-rose, her white chip hat
faced with blue and turned up on one side, with a cream-colored feather
drooping down the back. This she thought would be altogether _au fait_,
and sure to impress Reinette with the fact that she was somebody.

Anna was getting quite interested in her new cousin, with whom she meant
to stand well; and though she said the contrary, she was really glad
that Ethel and Grace Rossiter were both absent, thus leaving her to
represent alone the young-ladyhood of the family.

Such was the state of affairs on the morning when the paper announced
that the Russia had reached New York the previous afternoon—a piece of
news which, though expected, threw Mr. Beresford, and Phil, and the
Fergusons into a state of great excitement.

Fortunately, however, everything at Hetherton Place was in readiness for
the strangers. The rooms were all in perfect order; a responsible and
respectable woman in the person of a Mrs. Jerry, had been found for
housekeeper, and with her daughter Sarah installed in the kitchen. Two
beautiful horses, with a carriage to match, were standing in the stable,
awaiting the approval of Miss Reinette; while in another stall a
milk-white steed, tall and large, was pawing and champing, as if
impatient for the coming of the mistress he was to carry so grandly and
high. Chained in his kennel to keep him from running away to the home he
had not yet forgotten, was a noble Newfoundland dog, which Phil had
bought at a great price in West Merrivale, and whose name was King.
Could Phil have had his way, he would have bought a litter of puppies,
too, for the young lady; but Mr. Beresford interfered, insisting that
one dog like King was enough to satisfy any reasonable woman. If Miss
Hetherton wanted puppies, let her get them herself. So Phil gave them
up, but brought over Speckle and the three Maltas, and these were
tolerably well domesticated, and had taken very kindly to the stuffed
easy-chair which stood in Reinette’s window. The blue silk quilt had
been found in Worcester, and Grandma Ferguson had sent over the
“herrin’-bone” which Margaret pieced when ten years old, and which had
taken the prize at the “Cattle show.” This Mrs. Jerry had promised
faithfully to put on _Rennet’s_ bed, and to call the young lady’s
attention to it as her mother’s handiwork.

And so all things were ready, and Grandma Ferguson’s sprigged muslin,
and _lammy_ shawl, and new lace cap were laid out upon the bed when Phil
came with the news that the ship had arrived, and that in all
probability, they should soon get a telegram from Mr. Hetherton himself.

This was early in the morning, and as the hours crept on, Mr. Beresford
and Phil hovered about the telegraph office, until at last the message
came flashing along the wires, and the operator wrote it down, and, with
a white, scared face, handed it to Mr. Beresford, who, with a whiter
face and a look of horror in his eyes, read the following:

                                                “NEW YORK, July ——, 18—.

  “_To Mr. Arthur Beresford_:

  “Papa is dead. He died just before the ship touched the shore, and I
  am all alone with Pierre. But every body is so kind, and everything
  has been done, and we take the ten o’clock train for Merrivale, Pierre
  and I and poor dead papa. Please meet us at the station, and don’t
  take papa to his old home. I could not bear to have him there dead. I
  should see him always and hate the place forever; so bury him at once.
  Pierre says that will be better. I trust everything to you.

                                                   “REINETTE HETHERTON.”

                              CHAPTER VII.
                              ON THE SEA.

The Russia was steaming slowly up the harbor to her moorings on the
Jersey side of the Hudson, and her upper deck was crowded with
passengers, some straining their eyes to catch the first sight of
familiar forms among the crowd waiting for them on shore, and others to
whom every thing was strange, looking eagerly from side to side at the
world so new to them. Standing apart from the rest, with her hands
locked tightly together, her head thrown back, and a long blue vail
twisted around her sailor hat, was a young girl with a figure so slight
that at first you might have mistaken her for a child of fourteen, but
when she turned more fully toward you, you would have seen that she was
a girl of twenty summers or more, whose face you would look at once, and
twice, and then comeback to study it again and wonder what there was in
it to fascinate and charm you so. Beautiful in the strict sense of the
word it was not, for if you dissected the features one by one there was
much to find fault with. The forehead was low, the nose was short and
inclined to an upward turn, as was the upper lip, and the complexion was
dark, while the cheeks had lost something of their roundness during the
passage, which, though made in summer, had not been altogether smooth
and free from storm.

During the first three days Reinette had been very sick, and Pierre, her
father’s attendant, had carried her on deck, and wrapped her in blankets
and furs, and watched over and cared for her as if she had been a queen.
Then, when the rain came dashing down and the great green waves broke
over the lower deck, and she refused to return to the close cabin and
said she liked to watch the ocean in a fury, because it made her think
of herself in some of her moods, he staid by her and covered her with
his own rubber cloak and held an umbrella over her head until the wind
took it from him and turning it wrong side out, carried it far out to
sea, where it rode like a feather on the waves, while Reinette laughed
merrily to see it dance up and down until it was lost to sight. Others
than Pierre were interested in and kind to the little French girl, whose
father had kept his berth from the time he came on board at Liverpool.

It was whispered about that he was a millionaire, and that Reinette was
his only child, and heiress of his vast fortune; and as such things go
for a great deal on shipboard as well as elsewhere, this of itself was
sufficient to interest the passengers in Reinette, who, as soon as she
was able, danced about the ship like the merry, lighthearted creature
she was, now jabbering with Pierre in his native tongue, and sometimes
holding fierce altercations with him, now watching the sailors at their
work, and not unfrequently joining her own clear, bird-like voice in the
songs they sung, and again amusing some fretful, restless child, whose
tired mother blessed her for the respite, and thought her the sweetest
type of girlhood she had ever seen. Everybody liked her, and, after a
little, everybody called her beautiful, she was so bright and sparkling,
with the rich, warm color in her cheeks, her pretty little mouth always
breaking out in exclamations of surprise or bursts of laughter, her long
eyelashes and heavy brows, her black, wavy hair, which in some lights
had in it a tinge of golden brown, as if it had been often kissed by the
warm suns of Southern France, and, more than all, her large, dark,
brilliant eyes which flashed upon you so suddenly and so swiftly as
almost to blind and bewilder you with their brightness. Taken as a
whole, Reinette Hetherton was a girl, who, once seen, could never be
forgotten; she was so sunny, and sweet, and willful, and piquant, and
charming every way; and the passengers on the Russia, who were mostly
middle-aged people, petted, and admired, and sympathized with her, too,
when, with the trace of tears in her beautiful eyes, she came from her
father’s bedside and reported him no better.

For months his health had been failing, and he had hoped the sea voyage
would restore him somewhat; but he was growing steadily worse, though as
yet there was no shadow of fear in Reinette’s heart; she was only sad
and sorry for him, and staid with him whenever he would let her.
Generally, however, he would send her away after a few passionate hugs
and kisses, and inquiries as to how he was feeling. She must get all the
sea air she could, he said, for he wanted her to be bright and fresh
when he presented her to his friends in America.

“Not that I have many friends there,” he said, smiling a little
bitterly. “It has been so many years, and so much has happened, since I
left home, that I doubt if any remember or care for me; but they will
forgive me, perhaps, for the sake of you, my daughter,” and he stroked
fondly the long silken curls which Reinette wore bound at the back of
her head, and looked lovingly into the eyes meeting his so tenderly.

Then he sent her away, and turning in his narrow berth, thought again,
as he had thought many times, of all the sin and evil doing he had
heaped up against himself and others since the day he last saw his
native land. Many and terribly bitter were the thoughts crowding his
brain and filling him with remorse, as he lay there day after day, and
knew that with each turn of the noisy screw he was nearing the home
where there was not a friend to welcome him.

“But once there,” he said to himself, “once back in the old place, I’ll
begin life anew. I’ll make friends even of my enemies for the sake of my
darling; oh, Queenie, my child, there is so much I would undo for
you—for you—to whom the greatest wrong of all has been done, and you so
unconscious of it. Would you kiss me as you do? Would you love me as you
do, if you knew all the dark past as I know it? Oh, my child! my child!”
and, covering his face with his hands, the sick man sobbed aloud.

“If I live to get there,” was now the burden of his thoughts; but could
he live he asked himself, as, day by day, he felt he was growing weaker,
and counted the rapid heart-beats and saw the streaks of blood upon the
napkin his faithful Pierre held to his lips after a paroxysm of

The desire for life was stronger within him now than it had been in
years; but the candle was burned out; there was only the snuff
remaining, and when at last the scent of the land breeze was borne
through his open window, and Reinette came rushing in to tell him they
were entering the harbor, and she had _seen_ America, he knew the hand
of death was on him, and that the only shore he should ever reach would
be the boundless shore of eternity, which was looming up so black before
him. But he would let Reinette be happy as long as possible, and so he
sent her from him, and then with a low moan, he cried:

“Pity me, oh, God! I have so much need to be forgiven.”

In his gayest, most reckless moods, with his skeptical companions round
him jeering at all that was sacred and holy, he had said there was no
God, that the Bible was only an old woman’s fable, but he had never
quite believed it, and now, with death measuring his life by
heart-beats, he knew there was a God and a hereafter by the stings of
his own conscience, and the first prayer uttered in years fell from his
white lips. Oh, how many and how great were the sins which came back to
him as he thought of his wasted life, remembering his mother dead so
long ago; his father, too, whose last words to him had been a curse; and
the beautiful Margaret, whom for a short period he had loved with a love
so impetuous that in a few short months it had burned itself out and
left only poisonous ashes where the fierce passion had been. How gentle,
and patient, and forgiving she was, and how basely he had requited her
faithfulness and love.

“Oh, Margaret,” he whispered, “I am so sorry, and if I could undo the
past I would.”

Then, as another phantom, darker, more terrible than all the others
flitted before his mind, he shivered as with a chill, while the great
drops of sweat came out upon his forehead, and the palms of his hands
which he clasped so tightly together, were dripping with perspiration.
And while he lay there alone suffering the torments of remorse he could
hear the rapid movements of the sailors and the excited crowd on deck
watching for the shore. And Reinette, he knew, was with them, looking
eagerly upon the new world which recently he had tried to teach her to
love as her future home.

“Home—America,” he murmured; “I must see it again!” and, regardless of
consequences, he got out of his berth, and, tottering to his window,
looked out upon the beautiful bay, and saw in the distance the city,
which had grown so much since he last looked upon it.

But the exertion was too great for him, and, dizzy and faint, he crept
back to his bed, where he lay unconscious for a moment; then rousing
himself, and alarmed by the terrible feeling stealing over him so fast,
he called aloud for Reinette.

The call was heard by Pierre, who was never far away, and who came at
once, greatly alarmed by the pallor in his master’s face and the flecks
of blood upon the lips and chin.

To go for Reinette was the work of an instant, and like a frightened
deer, she bounded down the stairway to her father’s side, and in her
impetuosity almost threw herself upon him. But he motioned her back, and

“Not so close; you take my breath away. Pierre,” he added faintly as his
valet started for the physician, “don’t go for him; it’s too late now. I
am dying; nothing can help me, and I must not be disturbed. I must be
alone with Queenie. Stand outside till I call.”

The frightened Pierre obeyed, and then Reinette was alone with her dying
father. She knew he was dying, but the awful suddenness stunned her so
completely that she could only gaze at him in a stupefied kind of way,
as his eyes were fixed so earnestly upon her.

“Little Queenie,” he said, using the pet name he always gave her, “kneel
down beside me and hold my hands in yours while I tell you something I
ought to have told you long ago.”

She obeyed, and, covering his cold hands with kisses, whispered:

“Yes, father, I am waiting.”

But if he heard, he did not answer at once; and when at last he spoke,
it was with difficulty, and like one who labors for breath. His mind,
too, seemed wandering, and he said:

“I can’t tell, but if it ever comes to you, promise you will forgive me.
I have loved you so much, my darling oh, my darling, promise while I can
hear you!”

“Yes, father, I promise,” Reinette replied, knowing nothing to what she
pledged herself, thinking nothing except of the white face on the
pillow, where the sign of death was written.

“Queenie, are you here?” the voice said again, and she replied, “Yes,
father,” while he continued: “I meant to have told you when we reached
New York, but cannot now, I am too weak. It is too late, forever too
late. Oh Queenie—oh, Margaret, forgive!”

“Is it of mother you wish to tell me?” Reinette asked bending forward
eagerly, and fixing her great dark eyes upon him.

“Your mother, child—your mother. Yes—no—don’t speak that name aloud.
We’ve left _her_ way over there, or I thought we had. That’s why I was
going home—to get away from it, and—if——Queenie, where are you? I can’t
see you, child. You are surely here? You are listening?”

“Yes, yes, father, I am here. I am listening,” and the girl’s rigid face
and fixed, wide-open eyes showed how intently she was listening.

“Yes, child, that’s right; listen so close that nobody else can hear. We
are all alone?”

“Yes, father, all alone; only Pierre is outside, and he understands
English so little. What is it, father? What are you going to tell me?”

There was silence for a moment, while Mr. Hetherton regarded his
daughter fixedly, and with an expression in his eyes which made her
uneasy and half afraid of him.

“What is it?” he said, at last. “I don’t know; it comes and goes, as she
did. Ah! now I have it: Queenie, remember how much I love you, and if
you ever meet your mother, remember it was my fault, and do not blame
her too much.”

“Oh, poor father! his mind is wandering,” Reinette thought; but she said
to him, soothingly: “Mother is dead; she died in Rome when I was born.”

Again the eyes regarded her wistfully as the dying man replied:

“Yes, I know; but she’s here, or she was over there in the corner just
now, laughing at my pain. Oh, Queenie! do the torments of the lost begin
before they die? I’m sorry—oh, I am so sorry! It’s too late now—too
late. I can’t think how it was, or tell you if I could.”

He was quiet a moment, and seemed to be himself again, as his hands
caressed the shining hair of the head bowed down so near to him.

“Too late, Queenie. I ought to have told you before, but it’s my nature
to put off; and now when they claim you in Merrivale, accept it; try to
like everybody and be pleased with everything. America is very different
from France. Trust Mr. Beresford; he is my friend. He comes of a good
race. Tell him everything. Go to him for everything necessary, but don’t
trouble any one when you can help yourself. Don’t cry before people; it
bothers and distresses them. Be a woman; learn to care for yourself.
Govern your temper; nobody will bear with it as I have. Be patient with
Pierre—and—and—Queenie, child, where are you? It’s getting so dark. I
can’t see you anywhere, nor feel you either. Have you left me, too? and
Margaret is gone now.”

“No, no; I’m here!” Reinette cried, in an agony of fear; and her father

“Remember, when it comes to you, as it may, that you promised to

“Yes, father. I don’t know what you mean, but if I ever do, I’ll forgive
everything—everything, and love you just the same, forever and ever,”
Reinette said to him; and the cold, clammy hands upon her head pressed
harder in token that he had heard. But that was the only response for a
moment, when he said again, and this time in a whisper, with heavy,
labored breath:

“One thing more comes to my mind. There will be letters for me—some on
business, and possibly some others, and you must let no one see them if
there is any thing in them the world ought not to know. Promise

“I promise,” Reinette said, frightened at the strange look in his face
and his evident eagerness for her reply.

“God bless you, darling! Keep your promise and never try to find—”

He did not say what or whom, but lay perfectly quiet while overhead on
deck the trampling of feet was more hurried and noisy, and the ship gave
a little lurch as if hitting against something which resisted its force
and set it to rocking again. The motion threw Reinette backward and when
she gathered herself up and turned toward the white face upon the
pillow, she uttered a wild cry in French:

“Oh Pierre, Pierre, come quickly, father is dead!” and tottering toward
the door she fell heavily against the tall custom-house officer just
entering the state-room.

He had come on board to do his duty; had seen the bustling little
Frenchman speak hurriedly to the young girl on deck; had seen her dart
away, and fancied she cast a frightened look at him. When others came to
declare the contents of their trunks she had not been with them.

“Secreting her goods and chattels, no doubt,” he thought, and made his
way to the state-room, where he stood appalled in the awful presence of

Reinette might have had the wealth of all Paris in her trunks and
carried it safely off, for her boxes were not molested, and both
passengers, ship’s crew, and officers vied with each other in their care
for and attention to this young girl, whose father lay dead in his
berth, and who was all alone in a foreign country. Understanding but
little of the language, and terrified half out of his wits at the sight
of death, Pierre was almost worse than useless, and could do nothing but
crouch at his mistress’ feet, and holding her hands in his, gaze into
her face in dumb despair, as if asking what they were to do next.

“Children, both of them. We must take it in hand ourselves,” the captain
said to his mate, and he did take it in hand, and saw that Reinette was
made comfortable at the Astor, and that the body was made ready for

When asked if she had friends or relatives expecting her, Reinette

“No, papa was all I had. There’s only Pierre now, and Mr. Beresford,
papa’s agent. I am to trust him with everything.”

Later, when something was said to her of telegraphing to Mr. Beresford
to come for her, she answered, promptly:

“No, that would make unnecessary trouble, and father said I was not to
do that. Pierre and I can go alone. I have traveled a great deal, and
when papa was sick in Germany and Pierre could not understand, I talked
to the guards and the porters. I know what to do.”

And on the pale face there was a resolute, self-reliant look, which was
in part born of this terrible shock and partly the habit of Reinette’s

“To-morrow morning I will telegraph,” she added. “You see us to the
right train, and I can do the rest, I can find the way. I have been
studying it up.”

And she showed him Appleton’s Railway Guide, to which she had fled as to
a friend.

Since leaving the ship she had not shed a tear in the presence of any
one, but the anguish in her dry bright eyes, and the drawn, set look
about her mouth told how hard it was for her to force back the wild cry
which was constantly forcing itself to her lips. Her father, to whom in
life her slightest wish had been a law had said to her, “Don’t trouble
people, nor cry if you can help it. Be a woman;” and now his wish was a
law to her, which she would obey if she broke her heart in doing it. She
did not seem at all like the airy, merry-hearted, laughing girl she had
been on shipboard, but like a woman with a woman’s will and a woman’s
capacity to act. That she could go to Merrivale alone she was perfectly
sure, and she convinced the captain of it, and then with a voice which
shook a little, she said:

“Mr. Beresford will meet me, of course, at the station, and some others,
perhaps. I don’t quite know the ways of this country. Will they bury him
at once do you think, or take him somewhere first?”

The captain understood her meaning and replied by asking if she had
friends—relatives—in Merrivale.

“None,” she said. “Nobody but Mr. Beresford, father’s friend and

“But you have a house—a home—to which you are going?”

“Yes, the home where father lived when a boy, and which he was so
anxious to see once more,” Reinette said, and the captain replied:

“Naturally, then, they will take your father there for a day or two, and
then give him a grand funeral, with——”

“They won’t; they sha’n’t,” interrupted Reinette, her eyes blazing with
determination. “I won’t have a grand funeral, with all the peasantry and
their carts joining in it. Neither will I have him carried to the old
home. I could not bear to see him there dead. I should hate the place
always, and see him everywhere. He is my own darling father to do with
as I like. Pierre says I’m my own mistress, and I shall telegraph Mr.
Beresford to-morrow that father must be buried from the station, and I
shall make him do it.”

She was very decided and imperious, and the captain let her have her
way, and sent off for her next morning the long telegram which she had
written, regardless of expense, and which so startled the people in
Merrivale and changed their plans so summarily.

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                           REINETTE ARRIVES.

Mr. Beresford, to whom the telegram was addressed, read it first,
feeling as if the ground was moving from under his feet, and leaving a
chasm he did not know how to span.

“What is it?” Phil asked, as he saw how white Mr. Beresford grew, and
how the hand which held the telegram shook.

“Read for yourself,” Mr. Beresford said, passing the paper to Phil, to
whose eyes the hot tears sprang quickly, and whose heart went out to the
desolate young girl, alone in a strange land, with her dead father
beside her.

“If I had known it last night I would have gone to her,” he said, “but
it’s too late now for that. All we can do is to make it as easy for her
as possible. Beresford, you see to the grave in the Hetherton lot, and
that the hearse is at the station to meet the body, and I’ll notify them
at the house not to go on with the big dinner they are getting up, and
I’ll tell grandmother that her flounced muslin and pink ribbons will not
be needed to-day.”

Shocked and horrified as he was, Phil could not refrain from a little
pleasantry at the expense of the dress and cap which grandma Ferguson
was intending to wear “to the doin’s,” as she termed it. That she should
accompany her son-in-law and granddaughter home to dinner she did not
for a moment doubt, and her dress and cap and “lammy” shawl were ready
when Phil came with the news, which so shocked her that for a moment she
did not speak, and when at last she found her voice her first remark was
wholly characteristic and like her.

“Fred Hetherton dead! Sarves him right, the stuck-up critter! But I am
sorry for the girl, and we’ll give him a big funeral jest on her

But Phil explained that Mr. Hetherton was to be buried from the station,
as Reinette would not have the body taken to Hetherton Place.

“’Fraid of sperrits, most likely,” said Mrs. Ferguson, thinking to
herself that _now_ she should spend a great deal of time with her
granddaughter who would be lonely in her great house.

Then, as her eye fell upon her muslin dress and lace cap, her thoughts
took another channel. Out of respect to Reinette, who would of course be
clad in the deepest mourning she could find in New York, she and her
daughter-in-law, Mrs. Tom, and Anna, must at least wear black when they
first met her. “Not that she cared for Fred Hetherton,” she said, “who
had thought no more of her than he did of a squaw. But Margaret’s girl
was different,” and in spite of Phil’s protest against the absurdity of
the thing, the old lady bustled off in the hot sun to consult with Mrs.
Lydia. The news of Mr. Hetherton’s death had preceded her, and she had
only to plunge into business at once, and insist that a bombazine which
she had never worn since she left off her widow’s weeds, and which was
now much too small for her, should be let out and made longer, and fixed
generally, and she talked so fast and so decidedly that Mrs. Tom, who
never had any positive opinions of her own, and who liked to please her
mother-in-law because of the money she was supposed to hold in store for
Anna, was compelled to take her apprentice from a piece of work promised
for the next day, and put her upon the bombazine which grandma had
brought with her. Against mourning for herself, however, Miss Anna
stoutly rebelled. She had tried the effect of the Swiss muslin the
lovely lace scarf, the blush-rose and white parasol, and was not to be
persuaded to abandon it, she said, for “forty dead Hethertons.” So the
young lady was suffered to do as she liked, but the entire village was
ransacked after shawls, and vails, and bonnets, for the two Mrs.
Fergusons, who were to go up in the Rossiter carriage and appear as
sorry and miserable as the deepest black could make them. Mr. Tom
Ferguson, of whom scarcely anything has been said, and who was a plain,
quiet, second-class grocer, and as obstinate in some matters as a mule,
refused to have any thing to do with the affair.

“Fred Hetherton had never spoken to or looked at him when a boy, and he
shouldn’t go after him now,” he said. “He should stay at home and mind
his own business, and let Phil and the women folks run the funeral.”

This resolution Anna in her secret heart thought a very sensible one. If
possible she was more ashamed of her father than of the sign in her
mother’s window; and she would far rather that handsome stylish Phil
should ride with her then her old-fashioned father, whom Reinette was
sure to take for a peasant. But when the carriage came round for the
mourning party Phil was not in it; nor did the coachman know where his
young master was; his orders were to drive the ladies to the station,
and that was all he knew, and Anna, always suspicious, felt like
striking him because of the insolent look in his face when she bade him
dismount from his box and open the carriage door for them.

“He would not dare treat her Aunt Rossiter and cousins like that;
neither would Phil have left them to go up alone,” she thought, as she
took her seat poutingly, wondering where Phil was, and if he would keep
aloof from them at the station, just to show Reinette that he recognized
the difference between himself and his relatives.

And while she thought thus jealously of Phil, he, with the perspiration
standing in great drops upon his face, and with his cuffs pulled up from
his white wrists, was working like a beaver in the “Hetherton lot,”
which Mr. Beresford, on his return from selecting the site for the
grave, had reported “a perfect swamp of briers and weeds.” It would
never answer, Phil said, to let Reinette tear her dress on briers, and
get her feet entangled in weeds. Something must be done, although there
was but little time in which to do it, and he began to hunt about for
some man to help him: but no one was to be found, while even the sexton
was busy with the grave of a town pauper who was to be buried that

Phil was very tired, for he had been busy since the arrival of
Reinette’s telegram at his grandmother’s, his Aunt Lydia’s, his own
home, and at Hetherton Place, where he filled the rooms with flowers
brought from the Knoll gardens and conservatory and with the beautiful
pond lilies which he went himself upon the river to procure. The most of
these he arranged in Reinette’s chamber, for there was a great pity in
Phil’s heart for the young girl whose home-coming would be so sad. Of
himself, or how he would impress Reinette, he never but once thought,
and that when, chancing to pass the mirror, he caught sight of his hat,
which was rather the worse for wear.

“I certainly must honor my cousin with a new hat, for this is
unpardonably shabby,” he thought, and remembering his bet with Arthur
Beresford, and how sure he was to win, he went into a hatter’s on his
return to town, and selecting a soft felt, which was very becoming, and
added to his jaunty appearance, he had it charged to his friend, and
then went in quest of some laborer to take with him to the grave-yard.

But there was none to be found, and so he set off alone with hoe and
rake, and sickle, and waged so vigorous a warfare upon the weeds, and
grass, and briers, that the lot, though far from being presentable, was
soon greatly changed in its appearance. But Phil had miscalculated the
time, and while pruning the willows which drooped over Mrs. Hetherton’s
grave, he suddenly heard in the distance the whistle of the train not
over a mile away.

To drop his knife, don his coat, and wipe the blood from a bramble
scratch on his hand, was the work of an instant, and then Phil went
flying across the fields the shortest way to the station, racing with
the locomotive speeding so swiftly across the meadows by the river-side
until it reached the station, where a crowd of people was collected, and
where grandma and Mrs. Lydia waited in their black, and Anna in her
white, while Mr. Beresford, who had come up in his own carriage, stood
apart from them, nervous and expectant, and wondering where Phil could
be—poor Phil! tumbling over stone walls, bounding over fences, and
leaping over bogs in his great haste to be there, and only stopping to
breathe when he rolled suddenly down a bank and was obliged to pick
himself and his hat up, and wipe the dirt from his pants and rub his
grazed ankle. Then he went on, but the train had deposited its freight,
living and dead, and shot away under the bridge, leaving upon the
platform a young girl with a white, scared face, and great bright black
eyes, which flashed upon the staring crowd glances of wonder and

It was an exquisite little figure, with grace in every movement; but the
crape which Grandma Ferguson had expected to see upon it was not there.
Indeed, it had never occurred to Reinette that mourning was needed to
tell of the bitter pain at her heart; and she wore the same gray camel’s
hair which had done duty on shipboard, and which, though very plain,
fitted her so admirably, and was so unmistakably stylish and Parisian,
that Anna began at once to think how she would copy it. Reinette’s
sailor hat was the color of her dress, and twisted around it and then
tied under her chin was a long blue veil, while her gloves were of
embroidered Lisle thread, and came far up under the deep white cuff,
which was worn outside her closely fitting sleeve.

All this Anna noted at a single glance, as she did the dainty little
boot, which the short dress made so visible.

“She isn’t in black; you might have saved yourself all that bother,”
Anna said, under her breath, while her grandmother was thinking the same
thing and sighing regretfully for the cool muslin lying at home, while
she was sweating at every pore in her heavy bombazine.

But she meant well, and secure in this consciousness, she pressed
forward to welcome and embrace her grandchild, just as Mr. Beresford
stepped up to the young lady.

The crowd of people had confused and bewildered Reinette, and, for an
instant she had thought of nothing but the box which was being lifted
from the car, and which Pierre, half crazed himself, was superintending,
while he jabbered first his unintelligible French, and then his scarcely
more intelligible English. But when the box was carefully put down and
the train had started, she threw rapid glances around her in quest of
the only one on whom she felt she had any claim, Mr. Beresford, her
father’s friend and agent who was looking at her, curiously, and
thinking at first that though very stylish she certainly was not
handsome. But when, in their rapid sweep, the dark eyes fell upon him
and seemed to rest there inquiringly he began to change his mind; and as
the Ferguson party were evidently waiting for him to make the first
advance, and Phil was not there, he walked up to her, and offering her
his hand, said, in his well-bred, gentlemanly way.

“Miss Hetherton, I believe?”

In Reinette’s mind Mr. Beresford had always seemed a gray-haired,
middle-aged man, as old or older than her father, and she had no idea
that this young, good-looking stranger, with the handsome teeth and
pleasant smile and voice, was he; so she withheld her hand from his
offered one, and stepping back a little, said in perfect English, but
with a very pretty foreign accent:

“I am looking for Mr. Beresford, please; do you know him?—is he here?”

It was such a sweet, musical voice, and had in it something so timid and
appealing that Mr. Beresford felt his pulses quicken as they had never
done before.

“I am Mr. Beresford,” he replied, and the lightning glance which the
bright eyes flashed into his face almost blinded him, for Reinette’s
eyes were wonderful for their brilliancy and continually varying
expression, and few men ever stood unmoved before them.

“Mr. Arthur Beresford? Are you Mr. Arthur, father’s friend?” she asked:

“Yes, Mr. Arthur, your father’s friend,” and again his hand was extended
toward her.

Reinette had kept up her composure ever since the moment when she knew
her father was dead, and had even tried to seem cheerful on the train
and had talked of the places they were passing to some people who had
been on the Russia with her, and were on their way to their home in
Boston, but at sight of Mr. Beresford, her father’s friend, whom she was
to trust with everything, her forced calmness gave way, and she broke
down entirely. Taking both his hands in hers, she bent her face over
them and sobbed like a little child.

It was a very novel position in which the grave bachelor Beresford found
himself—a girl crying on his hands, with all those people looking on;
and still he rather liked it, for there was something very touching in
the way those fingers clung to his, and in his confusion he was not
quite sure that he did not press them a little, but before he could
think what to say or do Grandma Ferguson stood close to him, and as
Reinette lifted her head a pair of arms was thrown around her neck, and
a voice which her patrician ears detected at once as untrained and
uneducated, exclaimed:

“My dear Rennet, I am so glad to see my daughter’s girl.”

With a motion as swift and graceful as the motions of a kitten, Reinette
freed herself from the smothering embrace, and the eyes, in which the
tears were still shining, blazed with astonishment and indignation at
the liberty taken by this strange woman, whose _tout ensemble_ she took
in at a glance, and who said again, “My dear child, I am so sorry for

“Madam, I don’t understand you,” Reinette replied, drawing nearer to Mr.
Beresford, and holding faster to his hand, as if for protection and

Neither did grandma understand, but Mr. Beresford did, and knew that the
existence of the Fergusons was wholly unknown to Reinette, who, as if to
breathe more freely, untied the blue veil, and taking it from her neck
and hat, stood like a hunted creature at bay; while Mrs. Ferguson,
nothing abashed, and simply thinking the girl might be a little deaf,
raised her voice and said:

“I am your grandmarm—your mother’s mother; and this,” turning to her
daughter-in-law, “is your A’nt Lyddy Ann—your Uncle Tom’s wife; and this
one,” nodding to Anna, who understood the state of things better than
her grandmother, and was hot with resentment and anger, “this is your
Cousin Anny.”

Releasing her hand from Mr. Beresford’s, Reinette, with dexterous
rapidity, wrenched off her gloves, as if they, like the veil, were
burdensome; and Anna, who hated her own long, slim fingers, with the
needle-pricks upon them, saw, with a pang of envy, how soft and small,
and white were her cousin’s hands, with the dimples at the joints, and
the costly jewels shining on them.

Mrs. Lydia, who felt quite overawed in the presence of this foreign
girl, did not speak, but courtesied straight up and down; while Anna put
on a show of cordiality, and, offering her hand, made a most profound
bow, as she said:

“I am glad, Cousin Reinette, to make your acquaintance, and you are very
welcome to America.”

“Thanks,” murmured Reinette in her soft, foreign accent, just as Grandma
Ferguson spoke again:

“And this is another cousin, Philip Rossiter—your A’nt Mary’s boy.”

Phil had come at last, and stood looking over his grandmother’s shoulder
at the new arrival. His face was very red with his recent exercise, and
a little soiled by the hands which had come in contact with fences and
walls, and bogs, and then wiped the perspiration from it, so that he was
not quite as jaunty and handsome as usual. At a glance he had seen how
matters stood. Miss Reinette did not take kindly to her new relatives,
if indeed she believed they were her relatives at all. Miss Reinette was
neither an Amazon nor a blonde; she was petite and a brunette. He had
lost his bet; the new hat he wore so airily was not his, but Mr.
Beresford’s, and quick as thought he snatched it from his head and
exchanged with his friend, just as he was presented to Reinette as
_another cousin_.

Instantly the large, bright black eyes darted toward him a perplexed,
wondering look, but aside from that there was no response to the lifting
of Phil’s old hat. Another cousin was the straw too many, and Reinette
fairly gasped as she involuntarily said to herself in French, “I believe
I shall die;” then, taking the sailor hat from her head, she fanned
herself furiously, while the look of a hunted, worried creature deepened
on her dark, flushed face and shone in her flashing eyes.

Just then Pierre came to the rescue, and said something to her in his
own language, whereupon she turned swiftly to Mr. Beresford and said:

“You received my telegram? You will bury him straight from here?”

“Yes,” he answered, “and I believe every thing is ready. Shall I take
you to your carriage?”

“Yes, yes! Oh, do!” she replied, and placing her hat on her head again,
she took his arm, and Anna always insisted that she held her skirts back
as with the air of a grand duchess, she walked past them to the
carriage, the door of which the coachman held open with as much respect
as if she had been a queen.

Reinette must have guessed the intention of her new relatives to ride
with her, for she said, rapidly and low, to Mr. Beresford:

“You go with me, of course, and Pierre; he loved father; he is nearer to
me now than any one in the wide world.”

“Why, yes; only I think your relatives—your grandmother will naturally
expect to accompany you,” Mr. Beresford answered, and Reinette said

“My relatives! my grandmother! Mr. Beresford, father said I was to ask
you everything. Are they my grandmother? Tell me true.”

Mr. Beresford could not repress a smile at the way she put the question,
in her vehemence, but he answered her very low and cautiously, as the
Ferguson party was close behind:

“I think they are.”

Then, as a sudden idea flashed upon him, he continued:

“Was your father twice married?”

“No, never, never!”

“Tell me, then, please, your mother’s name?”

“Margaret Ferguson, and she died in Rome, when I was born.”

He had her in the carriage by this time, and her eyes were looking
straight into his as he began:

“If your mother was Margaret Ferguson, and died in Rome, I am afraid——”

He did not go on, for something in the black eyes stopped him suddenly,
and warned him that if these people were indeed her relatives she would
suffer no insinuations against them. She was like Phil in that respect;
what was hers she would defend, and, when Mrs. Ferguson’s red face
appeared at the door, Reinette moved to the other side of the seat, and

“Here, grandmother, sit by me, please.”

She had acknowledged her by name, at least, and Reinette felt better,
and only clenched her hands hard as Mrs. Lydia and Anna disposed of
themselves on the soft cushions opposite, the young lady stepping on and
tearing her long lace scarf.

“You didn’t orter wear it. Such jimcracks ain’t for funerals. Rennet
hain’t got on none,” grandma said, while Anna frowned insolently, and
Reinette looked on and shivered, and held her hands tighter together,
and thought how dreadful it all was, and how it could be that these
people belonged to her, who at heart was the veriest aristocrat ever

Phil did not come near her, but kept close to Mr. Beresford’s carriage,
and to Pierre, to whom he spoke in French, thereby so delighting the old
man that he began to jabber so rapidly and gesticulate so vehemently
that Phil lost the thread entirely, and shook his head in token that he
did not understand. Without exactly knowing why, Phil felt uncomfortable
and ashamed, and the Ferguson blood had never seemed so distasteful to
him as now. Reinette had seen them first, and so ignored him, and he did
not like it at all. Had there been no step-grandmother, nor aunt, nor
Cousin Anna, he could have come up by himself, he thought, in his
father’s handsome carriage, with the high-stepping bays, and the
coachman, who, without the aid of livery, looked so respectable and
dignified upon the box, and it would all have been so different. But now
he felt slighted and overlooked, and shabby, and there was a soiled spot
on the knee of his pants, and his hands were cut with briers and dirty,
too, and there was nothing airy or exquisite about him as he entered Mr.
Beresford’s barouche with that gentleman and Pierre, and followed the
other carriage where Reinette sat, silent and motionless, with her blue
veil tied closely over her face as if to hide it from the eyes opposite
scanning her so curiously.

Never once did she look from the carriage window, or evince the
slightest interest in any thing around her, and when, as they reached
the village and turned into the main street, Mrs. Ferguson motioned with
her hand to the right, and said:

“There, Rennet—way down there under them popple trees is the house where
I live, and where your mother was born,” she never turned her head, or
gave a sign that she heard; only the hands locked so tightly together,
worked a little more nervously, and there was an involuntary shrug of
her shoulders, which Anna resented hotly.

At last, as the silence became unbearable to grandma, she said to

“I s’pose you don’t remember your mother.”

Reinette shook her head, and grandma continued:

“How old was you when she died?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t know how old you was when your mother died? That’s curis. Didn’t
your father never tell you?”

“No, madam.”

“Wall, now. Don’t you think that’s singular?” and grandma looked at her
daughter-in-law and Anna, the latter of whom seized the opportunity to
spit out her venom, and said:

“Not singular at all, and if I’s you, grandma, I wouldn’t bother
Reinette with troublesome questions, for I’ve no idea that she ever
heard of us until to-day, let alone her knowing how old she was when her
mother died.”

Anna spoke spitefully, and had the satisfaction of seeing the black eyes
under the thin veil unclose and flash at her just once, while grandma

“Never heard of us till to-day! Never heard she had a grandmother! Be
you crazy, Anny? Do you s’pose her father never told her of her mother’s
folks? Rennet, do you hear that? I hope you can contradict it.”

Thus appealed to Reinette roused herself, and in a voice choking with
sobs, said:

“Oh, please—don’t worry me now; by and by I can talk with you, but
now—oh, father, father, why did you die and leave me here alone.”

The sob was a wailing, heart-broken cry, and the little hands were
upraised and beat the air in a paroxysm of nervous pain for an instant,
then dropped helplessly, and Reinette never moved again until they
turned into the cemetery and stopped before the Hetherton lot. Then she
started, and throwing back her veil, said, hurriedly:

“What is it? Are we there?”

Grandma Ferguson, who, since Reinette’s pitiful outburst, had been
crying softly to herself, wiped her eyes and said:

“Yes, darling, this is the Hetherton lot. It has been left to run down
this many a year, but will look better by and by. Hadn’t you better stay
in the carriage? You can if you want to.”

“No, no, oh, no. I must be with father,” Reinette replied, and opening
the door herself, she sprang to the ground, and was first at the open
grave, where she stood immovable until they began to lower the body.
Then she exclaimed:

“Oh, are there no flowers for him? Did no one bring a flower, when he
loved them so much?” and her eyes flashed rebukingly upon those who had
brought no flowers for the dead man.

Then she was quiet again until there was a creaking sound in the ropes
and the coffin slipped a little, when, with a cry of alarm, she sprang
forward and bent over the grave as if to see that no harm was coming to
her father. There was danger in her position, and Phil went quickly to
her side, and laying his hand on her shoulder, said to her, very gently:

“Please stand farther back. There is quicksand here, and the earth might

She never looked at him, but she stepped backward a few paces and did
not move again until the grave was filled, and her father—he who had so
longed to come home that he might begin anew and make amends in part for
his past life—was hidden forever from sight with all the dark catalogue
of his sins unconfessed save as he had whispered them into the ear of
the Most High when death sat on his pillow and counted his heart-beats.

Meanwhile Phil, with his usual forethought, had interviewed his
grandmother in an aside and suggested to her that as Reinette would
undoubtedly prefer going alone with Mr. Beresford to her new home, the
ladies should return to town in the carriage of the latter and call on
his cousin the following day.

Grandma, whose heart was set upon going to Hetherton Place, where she
had not been since she was turned from its door by its enraged master,
would have demurred at this arrangement were it not that her heavy crape
was weighing her down, and making her long for the coolness of her own
house and her thin “muslin.” As it was, she made no objection, and when
it was time to go, she went to Reinette and said:

“Phil thinks you’d ruther be alone the fust night home, and I guess he’s
right, so if you’ll excuse your A’nt Liddy, and me and Anny, we’ll come
early to-morrow and see you, and have a long talk about your mother.
Good-by, and Heaven bless you, child.”

While she was speaking Reinette looked steadily in her face, and
something in its expression attracted more than it repelled her. It was
a good, kind, honest face, and had seen her mother, and Reinette’s lip
quivered as she held out her hand and said:

“Thank you, it will be better so; good-by.”

There was another up and down courtesy from Mrs. Lydia, another cold,
stately bow from Miss Anna, whose turned-up hat, cream feather, blue
sash, and long lace scarf, Reinette noted a second time, and then the
ladies walked to the Beresford carriage, where Phil was waiting for

“Well, we’ve seen the great sight. Pray, what do you think of her?” Anna
asked him when they left the cemetery and turned into the highway.

Phil did not like the tone of her voice, and was on his guard at once.

“I’ve not seen enough of her yet to have an opinion,” he said; “nor can
she appear herself. She is in great trouble, and all alone in a strange
country. We must make every allowance for her.”

“Yes, of course; I knew you’d stand up for her, just because she’s a
Hetherton and rich,” Anna replied. “For my part, I hate her!”

This was Anna’s favorite expression if she did not like a person, and
she went on:

“If we had been the lowest people living she could not have shown more
contempt for us. I know she had never heard of a soul of us till to-day,
and I just wish you could have seen her when grandma claimed her as a
grandchild. Where were you, Phil? What was keeping you?”

He explained where he was, and she continued:

“You might have spared yourself the trouble. I don’t believe she’ll
thank you. She just threw her head back and stared at grandma in such an
impertinent way that I wanted to box her ears, especially when she said
so haughtily, ‘Madam, I don’t understand you.’ She might have added,
‘and I don’t believe you either; my mother never came from such stock.’
That’s what she meant, and what her eyes and voice expressed. I don’t
believe she looked at ma or me, though she did just touch the tips of my
fingers. She had taken off her veil at grandma, and torn off her gloves
for us—cotton, they were, too; and when you came, and grandma said,
‘Here’s another cousin,’ she snatched off her sailor hat and fanned
herself rapidly, as if you were the straw too many. Yes, I hate her, and
I think her just as homely as she can be, with her turn-up nose and lip.
She’s as black, too, as the ace of spades, and those great, big, staring
eyes are as insolent and proud as they can be, but I dare say you and
Mr. Beresford are both in love with her.”

Phil did not care to discuss the matter with his unreasonable cousin,
who rattled on until the carriage stopped at Mrs. Ferguson’s door. Glad
of the chance to escape from Anna’s tirade, Phil said he would walk
home, and so the carriage drove on, leaving him standing by the gate
with his grandmother, who said:

“Such a tongue as Anny’s got!—hung in the middle, I do believe. She must
git it from the Rices, for the Fergusons ain’t an atom backbity. Of
course Rennet ain’t exactly what I thought Margaret’s girl would be,
but—then—everything is strange and new to her. She’s all Hetherton, and
the very image of the old lady, Fred’s mother. But you and I’ll stand by
her Phil. Poor little lonesome critter! how I pity her, alone in that
great house, with her father dead in the grave-yard, and her mother dead
over the seas!”

There were tears in grandma’s eyes, and Phil felt a lump in his own
throat as he walked rapidly away, repeating her words to himself.

“Poor little girl! Alone in that great house, with her father dead in
the grave-yard, and her mother dead over the sea.”

Phil was still a little sore and disappointed. He had made no impression
upon Reinette, except it were one of disgust. And everything had turned
out so differently from what he had hoped. Even Reinette was wholly
different from his idea of her. The tall Amazon, with pink and white
complexion and yellow hair, had proved to be a wee little creature, with
dark eyes, and hair, and face, but still with something indescribably
bewitching and graceful, in every turn of her head and motion of her
body, while the clear, bell-like tones of her voice, with its pretty
accent, rang continually in his ears, and he began to envy Mr. Beresford
the pleasure of having her all to himself for an indefinite length of

What would she say to him? Would she talk like any girl, and ask him
“who the Fergusons were,” and who “the long-legged spooney with the
dirty face and hands and the grass stains on his pants?” Phil had
reached home by this time, and had seen in the glass that his personal
appearance was not as prepossessing as it might be.

“Upon my word,” he said, as he contemplated himself in the mirror, “I am
a beauty. Look at that streak of dirt upon my forehead, and that spot on
my nose, and that blood stain under my eye, and, to crown all,
Beresford’s old hat. I look for all the world like a prizefighter, I who
fancied there was something so _distingue_ and high-toney about me that
Reinette would see it at once, and she never even bowed to me, but said
she felt like dying.”

Here the ludicrousness of the whole affair came over Phil so forcibly
that he burst into a loud, merry laugh, which was like thunder on a
sultry day. It cleared the atmosphere, and Phil was himself again, or
would be after the long ride on horseback which he determined to take
into the country.

Calling John the stable-boy he bade him saddle Pluto, his riding horse,
and was soon galloping off at a furious rate, going eastward first until
he came to a fork in the road, where he turned and rode in the direction
of Hetherton Place. He had no intention of stopping there—no expectation
of seeing Reinette, unless Providence should interfere. But Providence
did not interfere, and he saw no sign of human life about the house.

The windows of Reinette’s chamber were open and in one of them sat Mrs.
Speckle, the cat, evidently absorbed in something going on inside—the
gambols of her three kittens, perhaps.

The Rossiter carriage was not in the yard, and by that token Phil knew
that Mr. Beresford must have returned to town, and that he had missed
meeting him by having made the circuit of what was called the Flatiron.

Phil did not quite understand why he felt glad to know that his friend
had not made a long stay with Reinette, but he _was_ glad, and rode on
quite cheerfully for three or four miles, when he turned and came back
more slowly, reaching Hetherton just as the sun was setting.

As before, everything was quiet, and no one was to be seen until he came
opposite a great ledge of rocks on the hill-side higher up than the
house itself and commanding a still better view of the surrounding
country. This ledge, which covered quite a space of ground and was in
some places as level as the floor, presented in other sections a broken,
uneven appearance, like a succession of little rooms, and one niche in
particular was called the “Lady’s Chair” from its peculiar formation of
seat, sides and back. Here with the fading sunlight falling upon it, sat
a little figure in gray with the blue veil twisted round the hat, and
the hands folded together and lying upon the lap, reminding Phil of that
picture of Evangeline sitting by the river and watching the distant
boat. Pierre was kneeling upon the rock beside his mistress, and
stretched at her feet was the watch-dog, King, with whom she had already
made friends. The three made a very pretty picture far up the hill-side
with the western sky behind them, and Phil, without knowing whether he
was seen or not, involuntarily raised his hat. But the courtesy was not
acknowledged, and he bit his lip with vexation as he galloped rapidly on
thinking to himself:

“Hang the girl, I believe Anna is half right. She is proud as Lucifer,
and means to cut us all. Well, let her. Maybe she’ll find some day that
a Rossiter is quite as good as a Hetherton!”

In Phil’s estimation Reinette was not altogether a success, but then he
did not know her.

                              CHAPTER IX.
                           REINETTE AT HOME.

When Phil envied Mr. Beresford his opportunity for being alone with
Reinette and listening to her conversation, he made a mistake, for
during the first of the drive from the cemetery to Hetherton Place, she
scarcely spoke to him, but sat with closed eyes and locked hands,
leaning back in a corner of the carriage, as motionless as if she had
been asleep. Once, however, when they were crossing the river, she
looked out and asked:

“Isn’t this the Chicopee?” and on being told it was, she said to Pierre,
in French:

“This is the river, Pierre, where papa used to gather the pond lilies
when he was a boy. It empties into the Connecticut as the Seine does
into the sea. You know you looked it out on the map for me.”

Pierre nodded, and Reinette, although she now kept her eyes open, did
not speak again until they reached the long hill which wound up to the
house Then, as she saw to her left a lovely little sheet of water
sparkling in the sunlight, she started up, exclaiming:

“That must be Lake Petit, where father used to keep his boat, the Waif.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Beresford, surprised at her knowledge of the
neighborhood. “Your grandmother, Mrs. Hetherton, called it Lake Petit, I
believe, but to most of the people here it is the Mill Pond.”

Reinette shrugged her shoulders, and asked:

“Isn’t it on papa’s land?”

“Yes, it belongs to the Hetherton estate,” was the reply, and she
continued, in a decisive tone:

“Then it is never any more to be Mill Pond. It is Lake Petit forever.”

They were half way up the hill by this time, and as one after another
views of the surrounding country greeted Reinette’s wondering gaze, her
delight knew no bounds, and, forgetting for a moment the load of pain at
her heart, she gave vent to her delight in true girlish fashion,
uttering little screams of surprise and gladness, and occasionally
seizing Pierre by the shoulder and shaking him to make him see what she
was seeing, and appreciate it, too.

“It’s better than Switzerland, better than France—better than anything!
I like America,” she cried, but Pierre shook his head, and gave a sigh
for “La Belle France,” the best country in the world, where he wished he
had staid, he said, adhering to his opinion in spite of all his mistress
could say.

Mr. Beresford could not understand them, but he knew that some
altercation was going on between them, and was astonished to see the
different expressions which passed in an instant over Reinette’s face,
and how beautiful she grew as the bright color came and went, and she
sparkled, and flashed, and laughed, and frowned, and shook up the stupid
Pierre all in the same breath. They were driving up to the house by this
time, and the moment the carriage stopped she sprang to the ground and
began to look about her, gesticulating rapidly, and talking now in
French and now in English, now to Mr. Beresford and now to Pierre, who
was almost as excited as she was. The chateau, as she called it, was so
much larger than she supposed, and the grounds more pretentious, and
“Oh, the flowers!” she cried, darting in among them like a little
humming-bird, and filling her hands with the sweet summer pinks, which
she pressed to her lips and kissed as if they had been living things and
sharers of her joy.

“The flowers are the same everywhere, and I love them so much, and the
world is so bright just like a picture, up here where it is so high; so
near Heaven, and I am so happy,” she exclaimed, as she hopped about;
then suddenly as a cloud passes over the sun on an April day, a shadow
came over her face and great tears rolled down her cheeks as, turning to
Mr. Beresford, she said, “What must you think of me to be so gay, and he
dead over in the grave-yard? But it is one part of me; there are two
natures in me you see, and I can’t help it, though all the time I’m
missing him so much, and there’s a pain in my heart and a lump in my
throat till it feels as if it would burst. And still I must love the
brightness even though it’s all dark where he lies alone. Oh, father, if
you, too were here!”

She was sobbing bitterly, and Pierre was crying too, even while he tried
to comfort her. Suddenly at something he said her sobbing ceased, and
dashing the tears from her eyes she smiled brightly at Mr. Beresford and

“Forgive me, do, for troubling you with an exhibition of my grief. I
forgot myself. Father told me not to cry before people, and I will not
again. Come, let us go into the chateau; it looks so cool and inviting
with the doors and windows open and the muslin curtains blowing in and
out, and the scent of clover and new hay everywhere. The world is very
beautiful, and I mean to be happy.”

During this scene in the grounds Mrs. Jerry, the housekeeper, had been
inspecting the little lady from behind the kitchen blinds, and now, as
the party entered the wide hall, she came forward to meet her in her
neat calico dress and clean linen collar, with her hair combed smoothly
back from her frank, open brow. She knew she was there on trial, subject
to Miss Reinette’s fancy, and as she liked the place, and was desirous
of keeping it, she naturally felt some anxiety with regard to the
impression she should make upon the girl. She was not long kept in
suspense, for something in her face attracted Reinette at once, and
without the least hauteur in her manner she went forward with
outstretched hands, and said:

“Mrs. Jerry, I am so glad you are here, I know I shall like you, and you
must like me in all my moods, for I am not always alike. There are two
of me, one good and one bad—though I mean to shut the bad one out of
doors in this my new home. And now, please, take these flowers and put
them in water for me. I don’t wish any one to show me over the house.”

Turning now to Mr. Beresford she said,

“I’d rather find my way alone and guess which is my room and which was
meant for him,”—here her lip began to quiver, but she kept up bravely
and went on: “You will come and see me to-morrow, and I shall ask you so
many things. Father said I was to trust you and go to you for
everything. By and by, though, I shall take care of myself. And now,
good-by till to-morrow afternoon.”

She gave him her hand, and he had no alternative but to go, although he
would so gladly have lingered longer, so deeply interested was he
already in this strange girl with the two natures, one proud, cold,
scornful, and passionate; the other gentle, and soft, and sweet as the
flowers she loved so dearly. He might have been more interested still
had he seen her standing in the door with the great tears drooping from
her long eyelashes as she watched him going down the hill and felt that
now, indeed, she was alone in her desolation with her new life all
before her.

“I like him because he was father’s friend, and because he seems a
gentleman,” she thought; and then as she remembered _those other people_
who had claimed her for their own, and who were not like Mr. Beresford,
she shuddered and felt her other self mastering her again.

Just then Mrs. Jerry appeared, asking if she could do anything for her,
and if she would not like to go to her room.

“No, no—go away!” Reinette answered, almost angrily; “I want nothing but
to be let alone. I can find my way. I must work it out myself.”

So Mrs. Jerry went back to the kitchen, and Pierre, who knew the first
approaches of his mistress’ moods, sat down upon the grass quietly
waiting the progress of events.

Reinette’s face was very white, and as was usual when she was trying to
repress her feelings, her hands were locked together as she stood
looking about her at the trees under which her father had played when a
boy, and the honeysuckle which grew over the trellis-work and which must
have blossomed for him, and more than all at his initials cut by himself
on the door-post. Then with a little smothered cry she turned suddenly,
and ran up stairs to the room which she had heard described so often,
and which at a glance she knew was hers.

                               CHAPTER X.
                           THE TWO REINETTES.

“Oh, how lovely it is!” she cried, as she entered the room and took it
all in as rapidly as Phil himself could have done. “What perfect taste
Mr. Beresford must have!” she continued. “It is just as I would have it,
except the blue ribbons, which do not suit my black face. But I can soon
change them, and then everything will be faultless; and—oh—oh—the cats!”
she screamed, as she caught sight of Mrs. Speckle, who, with her three
children, was purring contentedly in the cushioned arm-chair by the
window. “_Cats!_ and I love them so much; he has remembered everything!”
and bounding across the floor, Reinette knelt by the chair and buried
her face in the soft fur of the kittens, who, true to their feline
instincts, recognized in her a friend, and began at once to pat her neck
and ears with their velvety paws, while Mrs. Speckle, feeling a little
crowded, vacated the chair and seated herself upon the window-stool,
where Phil saw her when he rode by.

The sight of the cats carried Reinette back to the day when her father
had written his directions to Mr. Beresford and she had made
suggestions. How careful he had been to remember all her likes and
dislikes, and how pale and tired he had looked after the letter was
finished, and how unjust and thoughtless she had been to feel aggrieved
because he said he was not able to drive with her in the Bois de
Boulogne after dinner was over. And now he was dead, and she was alone
in a strange new world, with only Mr. Beresford for a friend, unless it
were _those people_ who claimed her for a relative—_those people_ of
whom she had never heard, and against whom she rebelled with all the
strong force of her imperious nature. She had not had time to consider
the matter seriously; but now, alone in her own room, with the doors
shut between her and the outside world, it rose before her in all its
magnitude, and for a time drove every other feeling from her. The proud
aristocratic part of her nature was in the ascendant, and battled
fiercely against her better self.

Was it possible, she thought, that the loud-voiced old lady, who used
such dreadful grammar and called her _Rennet_, and the Aunt Lyddy Ann,
who looked like a bar-maid, and the tall, showily-dressed Anna, with the
yellow plume, the cheap lace scarf, and the loud hat, such as only the
common girls of Paris wore—were really the relatives of her beautiful
mother, who she had always supposed was an Englishwoman, and whom she
had cherished in her heart as everything that was pure, and lovely, and
refined! Her father had said of her once:

“I never knew my wife to be guilty of a single unlady-like act, and I
should be glad, my daughter, if you were half as gentle and gracious of
manner as she was.”

It is true she had never been able to learn anything definite of her
mother’s family, for her father, when questioned, had either answered
evasively, or not at all. Once he had said to her, decidedly:

“There are reasons why I do not care to talk of your mother’s family and
it is quite as well that you remain in ignorance. Mrs. Hetherton was
everything that a perfect lady should be. You must be satisfied with
that, and never trouble me again about your mother’s antecedents.”

He had seemed very much excited, and there was a strange look on his
face, as he walked the _salon_, which frightened Reinette a little; and
still she persisted so far as to say:

“I am sure mother was an Englishwoman, by her picture.”

“Be satisfied then that you know so much, and don’t seek for more
knowledge. Whatever her friends were, they are nothing to me; they can
be nothing to you. So never mention them again.”

And she never did; but she almost worshiped the beautiful face, which
had been painted on ivory in Paris when her mother was a bride and had
rooms at the Hotel Meurice. It was a fair, lovely face, with hair of
golden brown, and great tender eyes of lustrous blue, with a tinge of
sadness in them, as there was also in the expression around the sweet
mouth just breaking into a smile. The dress was of heavy creamy satin,
with pearls upon the neck and arms, and on the wavy hair. A refined
aristocratic face, Reinette thought it, and in spite of her father’s
evident dislike of her mother’s friends, she never for an instant had
thought of them as other than fully her equals in position and social
standing. Probably there had been some quarrel which had resulted in
lasting enmity, or her mother might have been the daughter of some
nobleman, and eloped with the young American, thus incurring the
life-long displeasure of her family. This last was Reinette’s pet
theory, and she had more than once resolved that when she was her own
mistress she would seek her mother’s friends, never doubting that she
should find them fully equal to the Hethertons, who, her father said,
had in their veins the best blood of the land.

Everything pertaining to her mother was guarded by Reinette with great
fidelity, and in the box where her favorite treasures were hidden away
was a long, bright tress of hair and a few faded flowers, tied together
with a bit of blue ribbon, to which was attached a piece of paper, with
the words, “My mother’s hair, cut from her head after she was dead, and
some of the flowers she held in her hands when she lay in her coffin.”

Among Reinette’s books there was also an old copy of “The Lady of the
Lake,” on the fly-leaf of which was written in a very pretty hand.
“Margaret, From her sister Mary. Christmas, 18—.” This was the only link
between herself and her mother’s family which Reinette possessed, and
she built upon it a multitude of theories with regard to the Aunt Mary
whom she meant some time to find, and whom she always saw clad in
velvet, jewels, and old laces, with possibly a coronet on her brow.

Such were Reinette’s ideas of her mother’s friends, which her father had
suffered her to cherish, only smiling faintly at some of her extravagant
speculations, but never contradicting them. And now, in place of lords,
and ladies, and English nobility, to have _these people_ thrust upon
her, this grandmother, and aunt, and cousin, with unmistakable marks of
vulgarity stamped upon them, was too much, and for a time the proud,
sensitive girl rebelled against it with all the fierceness of her
nature, while, mingled with her bitter humiliation was a better and
deeper feeling, which hurt her far more than the mortification of
knowing that she was not what she had believed herself to be. Her
father, whom she had so loved, and honored, and believed in, had not
dealt fairly with her.

Why had he not told her the truth, especially after he knew they were
coming to America, and that she must certainly know it some time?

“If he had told me, if he had said a kind word of them, I should have
been prepared for it, and loved them, just because they were mother’s
people. Oh, father, whatever your motive may have been, you did me a
grievous wrong,” she said, and into her eyes there crept a look of
resentment toward the father who had kept this secret from her.

Then, as her thoughts went backward to the state-room where he died, and
the words he said to her, she cried out:

“I understand now what he meant, and what I was to forgive. He meant to
have told me before, he said; he was sorry he had not. Yes, father, I
see. While we were in France there was no need for me to know, and when
we started for America it was hard to confess it to me, and destroy my
beautiful air castles filled with a line of ancestry nobler, better,
even, than the Hethertons, and so you put it off, as you did everything
unpleasant, as long as possible. You were going to tell me when you
reached New York, but before we were there you were dead, and I was left
to meet it alone. Oh, father, I promised to forgive and love you just
the same, and I will, I do—but it’s very, very hard on me, and I must
fight it out and cast the demon from me before I meet one of them

And in truth Reinette did seem to be fighting with some foe as she stood
in the center of the room, her face as white as ashes, her tearless eyes
flashing fire, and her hands beating the air more rapidly and fiercely
than they had done when in the carriage her grandmother questioned her
of her knowledge of her mother. That was a feeble effort compared to
what she was doing now as she flew about the room striking out here and
there as if at some tangible object, and sometimes clutching at the long
curls floating over her shoulders. It was a singular sight and not
strange at all that Mrs. Speckle, from her seat in the window, looked
curiously at the young girl acting more like a mad than a sane woman,
and at the three kittens upon the floor, who, fancying all these
gyrations were for their benefit, jumped and scampered, and spit, and
pulled at Reinette’s feet and dress in true feline delight.

Suddenly the door opened cautiously and Pierre looked in, saying,

“Please, Miss Reinette, wouldn’t you come out of it quicker if you was
to _shake me_ a bit. I shouldn’t mind it if you didn’t use your nails,
and would let my hair alone. There isn’t much of it left, you know!”

Pierre had not lived in his master’s family fourteen years without
understanding his mistress thoroughly, and that in his heart he
worshipped her was proof that he had found far more good in her than
bad. He knew just how kind, and loving, and self-sacrificing she was,
and how she had cared for him when he had the fever in Rome, and her
father was away in Palestine. In spite of the remonstrances of friends
she had stood by him night and day, for weeks because he missed her when
she was absent and called for her in his delirium. It did not matter
that the gayeties of the carnival were in progress and that rare
facilities were offered her for seeing them. She turned her back on them
all and staid by the sick man who needed her, and who, the physicians
said, owed his life to her nursing and constant care. Pierre had never
forgotten it any more than he had forgotten the time when, in a fit of
anger she had pounced upon his back like a cat and scratched, and bit,
and pulled his hair until he shook her off and held her till her passion
had subsided. Her father had punished her severely, and she had never
behaved so badly since, though she sometimes shook Pierre furiously, for
by contact with some living thing which resisted her she could conquer
herself more readily, she said; and when there was no one near whom she
dared touch she occasionally gave vent to her excitement by whirling
round in circles and beating the air with her hands. Pierre knew this
peculiarity, and when he came to the door and heard the tempest within,
he offered himself at once as a kind of breaker for the storm to beat
against. But Reinette did not need him. The battle was nearly over, for
at its height, when it seemed to her that she could not lose one grain
of respect for her father for having thus deceived her—could not
exchange the ideal friends of her mother for _these people_ so different
from herself, there came suddenly before her mind a fair, handsome face,
with eyes as tender and pitiful as those of a woman, and yet with
something strong and masterful in their expression as they smiled a
welcome upon her.

It was when she was most bewildered and confounded by the unknown
relations claiming her that somebody had said, “This is another cousin;”
but in her excitement she had scarcely heeded it, and made no response
when the young man’s hat was lifted politely by way of a greeting.

It was the same young man, she was sure, who had held her back from the
open grave, and spoken to her in a voice which she recognized at once as
belonging to her class. Reinette laid great stress upon the human voice,
insisting that by it she could tell how much of real culture or natural,
inborn refinement its owner possessed. The sharp, loud voices of the
Fergusons, with their peculiar intonation, had grated upon her nerves,
but the well-modulated, well-trained tones of the young man had fallen
on her ear like a strain of music among jarring discords.

Who was he? Not the brother, surely, of that tall blonde with the yellow
plume and long lace scarf. That was impossible; and yet some one had
said, “Here is another cousin,” and he had acknowledged it with a smile,
which came to her now like sunshine breaking through a rift of clouds
and clearing up the sky.

“Oh! if he only were my cousin, I could bear it so much better,” she
thought, just as Pierre came in, offering himself as a victim, provided
she spared his hair, of which he had so little.

The whole thing was so unexpected and droll that it quieted Reinette at
once, and, sitting down in a chair, she laughed and cried alternately
for a moment; then dashing her tears away and taking the kittens upon
her lap, she bade the old man sit down beside her, as there was
something she wished to ask him.

“Pierre,” she began, “it was right nice in you to offer yourself a
victim to my fury; and, had you come sooner, I might have shaken you a
little, for when I’m fighting with my other self I always like to feel
something in my power—something which stands for that other girl I’m
trying to conquer, and I was half tempted to take one of these little
kittens and wreak my temper on that, but I didn’t, and I am glad, and I
am going to govern myself hereafter, for I must be a woman now and not a

“Yes, miss, that’s very good,” Pierre said, wondering how he should like
his little mistress if she were always as mild and gentle as she seemed
now, without any fire or spirit at all.

“Pierre,” Reinette continued, “how long have you lived with us?”

“Fourteen years come Christmas.”

“I thought so; and did you know papa before you came to us?” she asked,
and he replied:

“No, miss: only as I had heard of him as the rich American, who lived so
extravagantly at the Hotel Meurice, and had such a handsome chateau in
the country.”

“Yes, Chateau des Fleurs. It was lovely, and I was so happy there. Then,
of course, you never saw my mother.”

“Never,” said Pierre, and Reinette continued:

“And did you never hear anything of her from strangers? Did you never
hear where she came from, where papa found her?”

“I heard from you that she was very beautiful and good, and died at Rome
when you were born, and I think you told me she was English. Surely
_you_ would know about your own mother;” and Pierre looked curiously at
his young mistress, who colored painfully and beat the matting with her

Reinette was hesitating as to how much she would tell Pierre, for it
hurt her to confess to any one how little she really knew of her
mother’s antecedents, so wholly silent and non-committal had her father
been on the subject. At last, deciding that she must be frank with
Pierre if she wished him to be so with her, she said:

“Pierre, you are all I have left of the life in France, and I must tell
you everything. There was always a mystery about mamma which I could not
solve, and all I know of her was her name, Margaret Ferguson, and that
papa loved her so much that he could not bear to talk of her, and all I
know besides the name I guessed, and now I am afraid I did not guess
right. I have never met anybody who had seen her but papa, except the
nurse Christine Bodine, who was with her when she died, and who brought
me to Paris. She, too, left me when I was a year or so old, and I have
not seen her since, and it made father very angry if I ever spoke of
her. She was not a nice woman, he said, and he did not wish me to
mention her name. Do you know anything of her?”

“What was the name, please?” Pierre asked, and Reinette replied:

“Christine Bodine, and if living now she must be forty or more. Mother
would be forty-three.”

“I don’t know where she is, and I never saw her,” said Pierre, “but the
name brings something to my mind. Years ago, a dozen or more, when we
were staying at Chateau des Fleurs, I went with monsieur to Paris—to the
office of Monsieur Polignie, a kind of broker or money agent in town,
and your father gave him a note or check of 1250 francs to be sent to
Mademoiselle Christine Bodine. I remember the name perfectly, Christine
Bodine, because it rhymed, and I said it to myself two or three times,
but who she was or where she lived I didn’t know; only master’s face was
very dark, and he was silent and gloomy all day, and I thought maybe
Mademoiselle Bodine was some woman to whom he had to pay money, whether
he liked it or not. You know many fine gentlemen in Paris do that.”

He saw that she did not understand him, and though he might have told
her that her father had not always been the spotless man which she
believed him to be, he would not do it, preferring that she should be
happy in her ignorance.

“I remember that day so well,” he continued, “your father bought you a
big wax doll in the Palais Royal, and although you were in bed when we
returned to the chateau, he had you up to give it to you, and fondled
and caressed you more than usual, as if making up for something.”

Reinette’s eyes were full of tears at these reminiscences of Pierre’s,
but she forced them back, and said:

“You have no idea where Christine is now?”

“None whatever, but I think monsieur heard from her or of her when we
were in Liverpool waiting to sail. You remember that several letters
were forwarded to him, and one excited him very much. I was in the room
when he read it, and heard him say something in English which I think
was a _swear_, and I know he said something angry about Christine, for I
understood that plain. He was very white and weak all day, and that
night asked you if you would feel very badly to turn back to Paris and
not go to America after all. You remember it, don’t you?”

Reinette did remember it, though at the time she had laid little or no
stress upon it, thinking it a mere idle remark, as her father was
naturally changeable. Now she could recall how sick and sad he had
looked, and how much he had talked of France and she could see, or
thought she could, that had she been willing, he would have gone back so

Surely there could have been nothing in a letter from Christine, which
should make him angry or wish to go back. Pierre did not understand
English well; it was easy for him to blunder, though he had not done so
in the name “Christine Bodine” to whom her father had sent money. Why
had he done so, and where was Christine now?

Turning to Pierre, she said:

“This money agent, Polignie, is still in Paris?”

“Yes, miss, I think so.”

“And you know his address?”

“I know where we went that day your father paid the money, but he may
have moved since many times.”

“No matter. He must be well known: a letter will find him, and I shall
write and ask for Christine Bodine, for I mean to find her if I cross
the ocean to do it. She knew mother, and I must know something of her
too, for—oh, Pierre, my brain is all in a whirl with what has happened
to-day; but I can’t tell you in here, I feel so smothered when I think
of it. Let’s go to that ledge of rocks yonder on the hill-side. We must
see the sun set from there, and maybe we can see poor papa’s grave.”

She put on her hat and preceded Pierre down the stairs and through the
dining-room, where she found Mrs. Jerry arranging a very dainty-looking

“Supper will be ready very soon,” Mrs. Jerry said, suggesting that her
young mistress wait till it was served, as the muffins would all be
cold. But Reinette was not hungry, she said, and Mrs. Jerry must eat the
muffins herself. By and by she would perhaps have some toast and tea in
her room; she would tell Mrs. Jerry when she wanted it, and she flashed
upon the woman a smile so sweet and winning that it disarmed her at once
of the resentment she might otherwise have felt because her nice supper
was slighted and she must keep up the kitchen fire in order to have
toast and tea whenever it should suit the young lady’s fancy.

Meanwhile Reinette went on her way, through the back yard toward the
ledge of rocks, when suddenly she heard a pitiful whine, and, turning,
saw the dog tugging at his chain to get away. In an instant she was at
his side, with her arms round his neck, while she cried:

“Look, Pierre, what a noble fellow he is! Why do they keep him tied up?
I mean to set him free.”

And she was about to do so, when the coachman, who was watching her at a
little distance, called out:

“Miss Hetherton, you must not do that. He is strange here, and will run
home. He has done so twice already.”

“Who are you?” Reinette asked, rather haughtily, and he replied:

“I am Stevens, and take care of the horses. Maybe you would like to see
them; they are real beauties.”

“Yes, when I unchain the dog,” Reinette replied. “He’ll not run from me;
I can tame him. What’s his name?”

“King,” said Stevens; and taking the dog’s face between her hands, and
looking straight, into his eyes, Reinette said:

“Mr. Doggie, you are my king, and I am your queen. You must not run away
from me. I’ll take such good care of you, and love you so much; and in
proof thereof I give you your liberty.”

She slipped the chain from his neck, and, with a joyful bark, King
sprang upon her, licking her face and hands in token of his grateful
allegiance. Every brute recognized a friend in Reinette, and King was
not an exception, and kept close to her side as she went toward the
stables to see the horses, which Stevens led out for her inspection.

First, the splendid bays, Jupiter and Juno, with which she could find no
fault, unless it were that Juno carried her head a trifle higher than
Jupiter, and might be freer in the harness. She could not quite decide
until she saw them on the road, she said; and then she turned to the
milk-white steed, her saddle pony, with which she was perfectly
delighted; she was so white and clean, and tall and gentle, and ate
grass from her hand, and followed her about as readily as King himself.

“What’s her name?” she asked.

And on Stevens replying that he did not know, she said:

“Then she shall be Margery, after the dearest friend I ever had except
papa. She was so fair, and beautiful, and tall, and I loved her so much.
Oh, Margery!” she continued, laying her hand upon the neck of her steed;
“where are you now, and do you know how sad and lonely your little
Queenie is?”

There was a shadow on Reinette’s bright face, but it quickly passed
away; and sending the horses back to their stalls, she went, with Pierre
and King, toward the ledge of rocks on the grassy hill-side.

                              CHAPTER XI.
                             ON THE ROCKS.

It was very pleasant on the ledge of rocks, with the soft, rose-tinted
glow of the summer sunset in the western sky, and the long line of
wooded hills and grassy meadows stretching away to north, and south, and
east, as far as the eye could reach. Through a deep cut to the westward
a train of cars was coming swiftly into view, while over the tops of the
pine trees, to the east, wreaths of smoke were curling, heralding the
approach of another train, for Merrivale was on the great thoroughfare
between Boston and Albany. At the foot of the hill the waters of Lake
Petit lay like a bit of silvery moonlight amid the green fields around
it, while further to the left another lake or pond was seen, with the
Chicopee winding its slow course through strips of meadow land and green
pastures, where the cows fed through the day and from which there now
came a faint tinkle of bells as they were driven slowly home. Everything
was quiet, and calm, and peaceful, and Reinette felt quiet and peaceful,
too, as she seated herself in the “Lady’s Chair” and scanned the lovely
landscape spread out below her.

“America is beautiful,” she said to Pierre, who stood at her side; “and
I should be so happy in papa’s old home, if only he were here. And I
mean to be happy, as it is, for I know he would wish it to be so, and I
understand now what he meant when he said such strange things to me just
before he died. He was preparing me for a surprise—a—a—Pierre—” and
forcing down a great sob, Reinette began rapidly, “Pierre, did you
notice those people—those ladies, I mean, who came to meet me at the

“Yes,” said Pierre; “they rode with you to the grave. I thought, maybe,
they were the servants of the house: who were they, mademoiselle?”

“Servants,” and the dark eyes flashed angrily, for if they were hers—her
flesh and blood—nobody must speak against them. “Servants! Pierre, you
are an idiot!”

“Yes, mademoiselle,” the old man answered, humbly, and Reinette

“You don’t yet understand how different everything is in America. There
is no nobility here—no aristocracy like what we have in Europe. Your
son, if you had one born here, might be the President, for all of his
birth. It’s worth and education which make nobility here, with, perhaps,
a little bit of money, and, Pierre, those ladies—mind you, _ladies_—whom
you thought servants, were my own grandmother, and aunt, and cousin, my
mother’s relatives.”

“_Mon Dieu!_” dropped involuntarily from the old man’s lips, as he
looked searchingly at his mistress for an instant, and then dropped his
eyes meekly as he met her threatening gaze.

“Yes I do not quite know how it is, or why papa never told me of them;
some family quarrel most likely,” Reinette continued. “He tried to tell
me when he was dying. He said there was something he must explain;
something he ought to have told me, and this was it. My mother was
American and not English, as I supposed, and these are her relatives and
mine, and it’s nice to find friends where one did not expect them.”

“Yes, mademoiselle, very nice,” Pierre said with a nod of assent,
though, knowing the proud little lady as he did, he knew perfectly well
how hotly she was rebelling against these new friends, and how it was
her great pride which prompted her to exalt them in his estimation if

But it was not for him to express any opinion, so he remained silent,
while Reinette went on:

“Mother’s own blood relations, who can tell me all about her, though I
mean to find Christine Bodine just the same, and hear what she has to
say of mamma. Pierre, there was another cousin at the station—a young
man, with such a fair, winning face and perfect manners. He was at the
grave, too. You must have seen him. He was a gentleman, I am sure.”

“Yes, mademoiselle,” and Pierre brightened at once. “He is quite the
gentleman, the nobility, the aristocracy, like Monsieur Hetherton. He
rode with Monsieur Beresford and myself, and spoke to me in my own
tongue; not as you talk it, but fair, very fair, though he did not
understand me so well.”

Pierre was growing eloquent on the subject of Phil, and Reinette was
greatly interested, and asked numberless questions concerning him.

“What was his name? What did Mr. Beresford call him, and what did he

“He asked much of you,” Pierre replied, “and once there was something
like tears in his eyes when I told him how sad you were, but seems like
he was ashamed to have the other one see him, for he pulled his hat down
over his eyes, and said something about it in English which made them
both laugh, he and the other gentleman who called him _Pill_.”

“_Pill!_” Reinette repeated. “What a name. You could not have

But Pierre insisted that he did; it was _Pill_, and nothing else; and as
at that moment Phil himself rode by, the old man pointed him out to
Reinette just after the bow, which she did not see, and consequently
could not return; but she watched him as far as she could see him,
admiring his figure, admiring his horse, and wondering how it could be
that he was so different from _those other people_, as she mentally
designated the Fergusons, whom, try as she would, she could not accept
willingly as her mother’s friends. If she could find Christine Bodine,
she could solve all doubts on the subject; and she meant to find her, if
that were possible, and set herself about it at once—to-morrow, perhaps,
for there was no time to be lost. If Christine had, as Pierre believed,
been a pensioner of her father’s, and if he had heard from her at
Liverpool, then of course she was living, and through the Messrs.
Polignie she could trace her, and perhaps bring her to America to live
with her, as something to keep fresh in mind her past life, now so
completely gone from her.

Thus thinking, she walked back to the house just as it was growing dark,
and Mrs. Jerry was beginning to feel some anxiety with regard to the tea
and toast, and the time they would be called for.

Reinette’s long fast, and the fatigue and excitement of the day were
beginning to tell upon her, and after forcing herself to swallow a few
mouthfuls of the food which the good woman pressed upon her, she
announced her intention of retiring to her room.

Mrs. Jerry carried up the wax candles, which she lighted herself, and
after setting them upon the table and seeing that everything was in
order, she stood a moment, smoothing the hem of her white apron, as if
there was something she had to say. She had promised Grandma Ferguson to
call Reinette’s attention to the patch-work spread, quilted
“herrin’-bone” and which, as the work of a young girl, had taken the
prize at the Southbridge Fair, but she did not quite know how to do it.
“Herrin’-bone” quilts did not seem to be in perfect accord with this
little foreign girl, who, though so plainly dressed, and so friendly and
gracious of manner, bore unmistakable marks of the highest grade of
aristocracy. Like the most of her class, Mrs. Jerry held such people in
great esteem, and as something quite different from herself, whose
father had worked side by side, many a day, in plaster and mortar, with
honest John Ferguson, and she could not understand how one like Reinette
Hetherton could care for a patch-work quilt, even if her mother had
pieced it in years gone by. But she had promised, and must keep her
word, and laying her hands upon it, and pulling it more distinctly into
view, she began:

“I promised your grandmother to tell you about this bed-quilt, which
’pears kind of out of place in here, but she sent it over—the old lady
did—thinkin’ you’d be pleased to know that your mother did it when she
was a little girl, and that many of them is pieces of her own gowns she
used to wear. I remember her myself with this one on; it was her Sunday
frock, and she looked so pretty in it;” and Mrs. Jerry touched a square
of the blue and white checked calico which had once formed a part of
Margaret Ferguson’s best dress.

“I don’t think I quite understand you,” said Reinette, who was wholly
ignorant of that strange fashion of cutting cloth in bits for the sake
of sewing them up again.

But one idea was perfectly clear to her. Mrs. Jerry had seen her mother,
and her great dark eyes were full of eager inquiry as she continued:

“You have seen mother; you knew her when she was a little girl; knew her
for certain and true?”

There was still a doubt—a rebelling in Reinette’s mind against the new
relatives, but Mrs. Jerry knew nothing of it, nor guessed that Reinette
was not fully acquainted with all the particulars of her mother’s early
life and marriage.

“Yes,” she answered, “Margaret Ferguson and I was about the same age;
mabby I am two years or so the oldest; but we went to school together
and was in the same class, only she was always at the head and I mostly
at the foot, and we picked huckleberries together many a time out in old
General Hetherton’s lot, never dreaming that she would one day marry Mr.
Fred. I beg your pardon, your father I meant,” she added hastily, as she
met the proud flash of Reinette’s eyes, and understood that to speak of
her father as _Fred_ was an indignity not to be tolerated.

But for this slip of the tongue Reinette might have questioned her
further of her mother, but she could not do it now, though she returned
to the bed-quilt and managed to get a tolerably clear comprehension with
regard to it. “Made every stitch of it and I warrant she pricked herself
over it many a time,” Mrs. Jerry said, and being fairly launched on her
subject she was going on rapidly when Reinette suddenly interrupted her

“Yes, yes, I know: I see; mother did it. Mother’s hands have touched it;
and now go away, please, quick, and leave me alone.”

She pointed to the door, and Mrs. Jerry went swiftly out, half
frightened at the look in the young girl’s eyes as she bade her leave
the room.

“It must be true; everybody and everything confirms it, and I have lost
my ideal mother,” Reinette whispered to herself as she closed the door
after Mrs. Jerry.

Yes, she had lost her ideal mother, but the loss had not been without
its gain, and Reinette felt that this was so as she knelt in her anguish
by the bedside and laid her hot, tear-stained cheek against the coarse
fabric which had been her mother’s work.

“Mother’s dear hands have touched it,” she said, “and that brings her so
near to me that I almost feel as if she were here herself. Oh, mother,
did your hands ever touch your baby, or did you die before you saw me?
Nobody ever told me. Why was father so silent, so proud? I would have
loved these people for her sake, and I will love them now in time. But
it is all so strange, and mother’s girlhood was so different from what I
have fancied it to be.”

Then, remembering what Mrs. Jerry had said of the bits of calico, she
brought the candle close to the bed and examined the pieces carefully,
especially the blue and white one in which Mrs. Jerry had said her
mother had looked so prettily. It was delicate in color and in pattern,
but to Reinette, who had never in her life worn anything coarser than
the fine French cambrics, it seemed too common a fabric for the picture
she held in her heart of her mother. It did not at all match the lovely
pearls she kept so sacredly among her treasures. Her trunks and boxes
had been brought from the station, and in one of them were the pearls.

Unlocking the box, Reinette took out the exquisite necklace, bracelets,
and ear-rings which her father told her her mother had worn to a ball,
where she had been noted as the most beautiful woman present.

Taking them now to the bedside, she laid them upon the squares of blue
and tried to picture to herself the beautiful woman in creamy white
satin who had worn them and the girl who had picked berries with Mrs.
Jerry, and worn the dress of blue.

“Pearls and calico! There is a great gulf between them,” she thought,
“but no greater than the distance between my old life and the new, which
I must live bravely and well.”

Then, returning the pearls to their casket, with a feeling that now she
should never wear them, she undressed herself rapidly, for her head was
beginning to ache, and throwing herself upon the bed drew the patch-work
quilt over her, caressing it as if it had been a living thing, and
whispering, softly:

“Dear mother, I do not love you one whit the less because you once
picked berries in father’s fields and wore the cotton gown, and you seem
near to me to-night, as if your arms were round me, and you were pitying
your desolate little girl, who has nobody to pity her, nobody to love
her, nobody to pray for her now, and she so wretched and bad.”

Poor little Reinette was mistaken when she thought there was no one to
pity or pray for her now, for across the river, over the hill, and under
the poplar trees, a light was still burning in the chamber where Grandma
Ferguson knelt, in her short night-gown and wide frilled cap, and prayed
for Margaret’s child, that God would comfort her and have her in his
keeping, while at the Knoll, Phil was thinking of the great sad eyes
which, though they had flashed only one look at him, haunted him
persistently, they were so full of pathos and pain.

“Poor little girl,” he said, “alone in a new country, with such a lot of
us whom she never heard of thrust upon her. I pity her by Jove!”

                              CHAPTER XII.
                      REINETTE AND MR. BERESFORD.

Reinette slept heavily that first night in her new home—so heavily, that
the robins had sung their first song, and the July sun had dried the
dew-drops on the greensward and flowers before she awoke, with a very
vague perception as to where she was, or what had happened to her.
Through the window which she had left open came the warm summer air,
sweet with the scent of clover and the newly-mown hay, which a farmer’s
boy was turning briskly, not far from the house. And Reinette, who was
keenly alive to everything fresh and beautiful, inhaled the delicious
perfume and felt instinctively how much of freshness and beauty she was
losing. But when she rose and, going to the window, threw back the
shutters and looked for an instant at the lovely picture of the
Merrivale hills and valleys spread out before her, a sharp cutting pain
across her forehead and in her eyes warned her that her old enemy, the
nervous headache, was upon her in full force, and there was nothing for
her that day but pain and suffering in the solitude of her room. Then,
as she remembered what Mrs. Ferguson had said of an early visit, for the
sake of “talking over things,” she shuddered, and grew cold and faint,
and thought, with that strange feeling of incredulity to which she

“If I were only positive and sure, beyond a doubt that mother did once
pick huckleberries with Mrs. Jerry, and wear the cotton gown, I could
bear everything so much better. Mr. Beresford knows all about it; he
will tell me, and I must see him first, for _those people_ will not be
long in coming to pay their respects. I’ll send Pierre immediately with
a note asking him to come to me as soon as possible.”

What Reinette willed to do she did at once, and in spite of the blinding
pain in her head, she opened her desk and wrote as follows;

  “MR. BERESFORD:—I must see you. Come without delay.

                                                        MISS HETHERTON.”

This done, she attempted to dress, but finding an elaborate toilet too
much for her, she contented herself with a cool, white cambric wrapper,
with rows of lace and embroidery down the front, and bows of delicate
pink ribbon on the pockets and sleeves. Over this she threw a dainty
Parisian jacket or sacque of the same hue, letting her dark wavy hair
fall loosely down her back. She always wore it so when she had a
headache, and she made a most beautiful and striking picture for Mrs.
Jerry to contemplate when, in answer to her ring, that lady presented
herself at the door to know what her mistress would have. Like most
women, Mrs. Jerry had a hundred remedies for the headache, but Reinette
wished for none of them. Nothing was of any avail until the pain ran its
course, which it usually did in twenty-four hours, and all she asked was
to be left in quiet in the library below, where she proposed going to
wait for Mr. Beresford, whom Pierre found in his office and with him
Phil Rossiter, the two talking together of the young lady at Hetherton
Place and comparing their impressions of her.

“Not so very pretty, but bright and agreeable, with a will of her own,”
Mr. Beresford said, guardedly, remembering what Phil had predicted with
regard to the immediate surrender of his heart to the foreigner.

“Yes, and proud as Lucifer, too, or I’m mistaken,” answered Phil. “Why,
I really believe she means to ride over us all. Odd, though, that she’d
never heard of a soul of us. That snob of a Hetherton must have been a
queer chap.”

At this moment Pierre appeared in the door, bowing and gesticulating,
and jabbering unintelligibly as he handed the note to Mr. Beresford, who
read it aloud, while Phil said laughingly, though in reality he secretly
felt aggrieved;

“You see, it is you for whom she has sent. She does not care for me.”

Strangely enough, notwithstanding his imperfect knowledge of English,
Pierre understood the last part of Phil’s speech, and his gestures were
more vehement than ever as he assured Phil that he was mistaken. Miss
Reinette cared for him very much indeed, and had asked much about him,
and noticed him at the grave, and when he went by on horseback. It was
business alone which had prompted her to send for monsieur; later she
would be most happy to see young monsieur, her cousin.

Phil could not follow the old man readily, but he thought he made out
that Reinette had sent this message to him, or something like it, and he
changed his mind about starting for Martha’s Vineyard that afternoon, as
he had half resolved to do. He would see Reinette first, and hear her
speak to him face to face.

“Tell her I shall be there some time to-day,” he said to his more
fortunate friend, the lawyer, who, nothing loth to meet the glance of
Reinette’s bright eyes once more, was soon riding rapidly toward
Hetherton Place.

Reinette’s head was worse than it had been earlier in the morning, but
she insisted upon seeing Mr. Beresford, who was admitted at once to the
room, which Mrs. Jerry had made as dark as possible, but which was still
light enough for him to distinguish distinctly the little figure in pink
and white, reclining in the easy-chair, with masses of long dark hair
rippling down its back, and a wet napkin upon the forehead, partially
concealing the eyes, which nevertheless, flashed a welcome upon him as
he came in, feeling a little abashed in the presence of this foreign
girl in her pretty dishabille, with her loose wide sleeves showing her
round, white arms to her elbows, and her little high-heeled
pink-rosetted slippers resting on the footstool. She, on the contrary,
was as composed and unconscious as if he had been a block of wood,
instead of a man, with all a man’s impulse to worship and admire.

“Oh, Mr. Beresford,” she began, offering him one wet hand, while with
the other she took the napkin from her head, and, dipping it in the bowl
of water on the stand beside her, wrung it lightly and replaced it on
her forehead, letting a little of the fringe hang over her eyes while
drops of water ran down her face and fell from the end of her nose. “Oh,
Mr. Beresford, it was so kind in you to come so soon when you must have
so much to do, but you see I could not wait, even though I have this
headache. Mrs. Jerry said it was hardly the thing to receive you in this
way, but a girl with the headache cannot be expected to dress as for a
dinner, and I can’t bear my hair bound up, though I might fix it a
little,” and with a dexterous, quick movement, Reinette took the whole
mass of wavy hair in her hand, and giving it a twist and a sweep
backward, wet the napkin again, and spatting it down on her forehead,
went on:

“I must see you this morning, because father said I was to ask you every
thing—trust you with everything—and I want to know—I want you to tell
me—those peo—those ladies—my grandmother said she was coming to-day to
talk over matters, and how can I talk if I don’t know what to say?”

Mr. Beresford was sure he didn’t know, and she continued:

“It may seem strange to you, who did not know father intimately, to knew
how little he talked of his affairs to any one. Even with regard to
mother, he was very reticent, and never told me anything, except that
she died in Rome, when I was born, and that her name was Margaret
Ferguson. I always thought she was English, and built many castles about
her and her relatives, and so, you see, I was a little surprised
yesterday when they claimed me—such a number of them, it seemed. Were
there many?”

“Only three,” Mr. Beresford replied, knowing that she had no reference
to Phil when she talked of “_those people_.”

“Yes, three,” she continued, “and I fear I was not as gracious as I
might have been, for I was so astonished to be claimed when I did not
know for sure that I had a relative in the world. Mr. Beresford, would
you mind telling me all you know about my mother? Did she ever live in
Merrivale? Did father find her here? Did she pick huckleberries with
Mrs. Jerry, and cut up bits of calico for the sake of sewing them
together again?”

The napkin went into the water with a great splash, and then back to her
forehead as she said this, but her eyes were fixed on Mr. Beresford,
who, not knowing what she meant by the bits of calico, said he did not,
but continued, laughingly:

“I dare say she did pick berries; for almost every girl born in
Merrivale does so at some period of her life.”

“Then she _was_ born here, and you have seen her, and there is no
mistake, and these people, they are—they are my grandmother?”

This was the second time Reinette had put her questions in this form,
and this time Mr. Beresford laughed heartily, as he replied:

“Yes, they _are_ your grandmother decidedly; but,” he added, more
quietly, “it is strange your father never told you.”

“Not strange at all if you knew him,” Reinette said, resolved that no
blame should attach to her father. “But tell me,” she went on, “tell me
all about it—the marriage, I mean, and who are the Fergusons—nice
people, of course, or my mother would not have been one. Who are they,
Mr. Beresford?”

The lawyer could not look that proud, high-bred girl in the face and
tell her of Peggy Ferguson’s beer shop under the elms, of the Martins,
or of the wonder and surprise when Fred Hetherton made Margaret Ferguson
his wife. But he dwelt upon the honesty and respectability of John
Ferguson, and the great beauty of his daughter Margaret, whose
loveliness had attracted the heir of the Hethertons.

Reinette saw he was evading her questions, and with an impatient stamp
of her little slipper, she said:

“Mr. Beresford, you are keeping things from me, and I will not bear it.
If there is anything wrong about the Fergusons I wish to know it. Not
that I shall turn against them,” she said, with a flash in her eyes
which made her visitor wince. “They are mother’s people, and if they are
thieves and robbers I am a thief and robber, too. I see by your face
that there _is_ something—that you don’t fancy these people of mine, but
I tell you I do. If they are _mine_ they are _mine_, and I won’t hear a
word against them!”

What a strange contradictory creature she was, one moment insisting that
he must tell her something, if there was any thing to tell, and the next
warning him that she would not listen to a word. What could he do but
stare wonderingly at her, as, dropping the napkin into the bowl of
water, she leaned back in her chair and holding him with her bright
eyes, said, imperiously:

“I am waiting, go on; father made a _mesalliance_, I suppose.”

“Yes, that’s about the fact of the case,” Mr. Beresford replied, feeling
compelled to speak out. “Your mother’s family did not stand as high
socially as your father’s. They were poor, while Mr. Hetherton, your
grandfather, was rich, and that makes a difference, you know.”

“No, I didn’t,” she replied. “I thought nothing made a difference in
America, if you behaved yourself. But go on. How poor were they? Did
they beg? What did they do?”

The look in her eyes brought the answer promptly:

“Your grandfather built chimneys and laid cellar walls.”

“Well, that’s dirty, sticky, nasty work, but no disgrace—people must
have chimneys and cellar walls, and I’ve no doubt he built them well.
What did _she_ do—grandmother, I mean? Was she a bar-maid?”

She had almost hit it, but not quite, and Mr. Beresford replied:

“She sold gingerbread and beer; kept a kind of baker’s shop.”

Reinette drew a quick, gasping breath, put the wet napkin again on her
head without wringing it at all, and said:

“Yes, I see—I understand. They were unfortunate enough to be born poor;
they did what they could to get their living; but that is nothing
against them; that is no reason why you should despise them. They are
mine, and I won’t have it, I say.”

“My dear Miss Hetherton,” Mr. Beresford began, puzzled to know how to
treat this capricious creature, “what _can_ you mean? I do not despise

“Yes, you do,” she answered; “I see it in your face. I saw it there
yesterday when they claimed me. But I won’t have it; they are mine. Who
was that young man with them? Why don’t you tell me about him, and not
of _them_ all the time? _He_ is not a Ferguson, sure?”

No, Phil was not a Ferguson, and Mr. Beresford launched at once into
praise of Phil, and the Rossiters generally, dwelling at length upon
their handsome house at the Knoll, the high position they held in both
town and country, the accomplishments of the young ladies, Ethel and
Grace, the sweetness and dignity of Mrs. Rossiter, and, lastly, Phil
himself, the best-hearted, most popular fellow in the world, with the
most exquisite taste in everything, as was shown in what he had done to
make Hetherton Place attractive.

It was strange how Reinette’s whole attitude and expression changed as
she listened. The Rossiters were more to her liking than the Fergusons,
and she became as soft and gentle as a purring kitten, forgetting in her
interest to wipe the drops of water from her face, as the napkin made
frequent journeys to the bowl and back.

Mr. Beresford felt that he deserved a great deal of credit for thus
extolling Phil, feeling, as he did, a horrible pang of jealousy when he
saw the bright, eager face flush, and the dark eyes light up with
pleasure and expectancy.

“And cousin Philip will call on me soon—to-day, I hope. I am so anxious
to see him. It is so nice to have a real flesh and blood cousin, to whom
I can talk more freely even than to you. Tell him, please, how I want to
see him,” she said; and again a pang, like the cut of a knife, thrilled
Mr. Beresford’s nerves, as he felt that his kingdom was slipping away.

Reinette was growing tired, and as there was no necessity to prolong the
interview longer, she gave a little wave of her hand toward the door,
and said:

“Thank you, Mr. Beresford; that is all I care to ask you now. You will,
of course, continue to look after me as you did after papa until I am of
age, and then I shall look after myself. Until then I wish you to see to
everything, only stipulating that you let me have all the money I want,
and I give you warning that I shall ask for a great deal. I mean to make
this place the loveliest spot in the world. You accept, of course? You
will be my agent, or guardian, or whatever you choose to call it but you
must let me do exactly as I please, or you will find me troublesome.”

She smiled up at him very brightly, while he bowed his acceptance,
thinking to himself that he might sometimes find it hard to deal with
this spoilt girl who warned him so prettily, and yet so determinedly,
that she must have her way.

“I will serve you to the best of my ability,” he said, “and if I am to
look after your interests it is necessary that I fully understand how
much your father died possessed of, and where it is invested. I know, of
course, about affairs in this country, but he must have had money, and
perhaps lands, abroad. Do you know? Did he have any box where he kept
his papers; and will you let me have that box as soon as possible; not
to-day, of course, but soon?”

For an instant Reinette looked at him fixedly, while the remembrance of
what her father had said to her with regard to letters which might come
to him flashed upon her, and with the instincts of a woman who scents
danger there came to her mind the thought that if there were letters no
one must read, there might be papers which no eye but hers must see. She
would look them over first before intrusting them to the care of any
one, and if there were a secret in her father’s past life, only she
would know it.

“Yes,” she said at last, “there are papers—many of them—in a tin box,
and when you come again I will give them to you. Father had houses in
Paris, and Avignon, too, I think. Pierre knows more of that than I do.
Ask him anything you please. But hush! Isn’t that a carriage driving up
to the door? It may be cousin Philip. I hope so. I am quite sure of it;
and now go, please, and send Mrs. Jerry or Susan to me. I must do
something with all this hair, or he’ll think me a guy;” and gathering
her long, heavy hair in a mass she twisted it into a large flat coil,
which she fastened at the back of her head with a gold arrow taken from
her morning jacket.

It was not very complimentary to Mr. Beresford to know that while she
was willing to receive him _en dishabille_, as if he had been a block,
the moment Phil came she was at once alive to all the proprieties of her
personal appearance. Nor was it very gratifying to be thus summarily
dismissed to make way for another, and that other the fascinating,
good-for-nothing Phil, whom every woman worshipped; but there was no
help for it, and bidding good-morning to the little lady who was
standing before the mirror with her back to him, fixing her hair, he
went out in the hall to meet—not Phil, but Grandma Ferguson and Anna.
They had entered without ringing, and as Mr. Beresford opened the door
of the library grandma caught sight of Reinette, and went unannounced,
into her presence.

                             CHAPTER XIII.
                             THOSE PEOPLE.

With a little start of surprise and disappointment, Reinette recognized
her visitors, and for an instant her annoyance showed itself upon her
face, and then she recovered herself, and went forward to meet them with
far more cordiality in her manner than she had evinced toward them the
previous day.

“Good-morning, Rennet,” grandma began. “I meant to have come earlier, so
as to have a good long visit before noon, for I sha’n’t stay to dinner
to-day. We are going to have green peas from my own garden, and they’d
spile if kept till to-morrow. Oh, my sakes, how hot I am!” and settling
herself in the chair Reinette had vacated, the good lady untied her
bonnet-strings, took off her purple gloves, and fanned herself rapidly
with the huge palm-leaf she carried. “Please open one of them blinds,”
she continued; “it’s darker than a pocket here, and I want to see
Margaret’s girl by daylight.”

Reinette complied with her request, and then for the first time Mrs.
Ferguson noticed the bowl of water, and the dark rings about Reinette’s

“Why, what’s the matter?” she asked. “Got the headache? Oh, I’m so
sorry. You take it from your mother. She never could go nowhere, without
comin’ home with sick headache. ’Twas her bile that was out of kilter,
and you look bilious. Better take some blue mass, or else sulphur and
molasses, and drink horehound tea. That’ll cleanse your blood.”

As she listened Reinette began to grow rebellious again, and she could
have screamed with disgust at what she knew was well meant, but what
seemed to her the height of vulgarity. Sinking into a chair, with her
back to the window, and her visitors in front where she could see them
distinctly, she scanned them closely; but said very little to them.

“She evidently cares nothing for us,” Anna thought, and she was
beginning to feel angry and resentful, when Mrs. Jerry looked in, and
seeing Mrs. Ferguson exclaimed:

“Just the one I wanted. I’m making some currant jam, and wish you’d come
to the kitchen a minute.”

Mrs. Ferguson went out at once, and, left to themselves, the two girls
began to talk, Reinette asking numberless questions by the way of
drawing her cousin out and judging what she was. It did not take long
for her to learn that Anna had been for three quarters to a young
ladies’ seminary in Worcester, that she had studied algebra, geometry,
astronomy, chemistry, physiology, botany, rhetoric, zoology, English
literature, German and French; she had dabbled a little in water-colors,
had taken lessons on the piano, and sometimes played the melodeon in
Sunday school.

“Dear me,” said Reinette, drawing a long breath, “how learned you must
be. I have never studied half those things. I hate mathematics, and
rhetoric, and geology, and literature, and you are posted in them all.
But tell me, now you are through school, what do you do? Merrivale is a
small place; there cannot be much to occupy one outside. What do you do
all day, when it rains, for instance, and you can’t go out? and when you
first came from school; time must have hung heavily then.”

Reinette had no particular object in asking so many questions; she only
wished to make talk, and she had no suspicion of the effect her words
had upon Anna, who turned scarlet, and hesitated a moment; then,
thinking to herself, “It don’t matter; I may as well spit it out,” she

“Reinette, you will know some time how I live, and so I’ll tell you
myself, and let you judge whether my life is a happy one. You know of
course that we are poor. I don’t mean that we have not enough to eat and
wear, but we _work_ for a living, and that in America makes quite as
much difference as it does in Europe. Father keeps a small grocery and
mother is a dressmaker and, talk as you please of the nobility of labor,
and that ‘a man’s a man for a’ that,’ the man must have money and the
woman, too; and there are lots of girls in town no better than I am,
with not half as good an education, who look down upon me because my
mother makes their dresses, and I help her sometimes. You ask what I did
when I first came from school. I’ll tell you. Mother was very busy, for
there was a grand wedding in progress to which I was not bidden, but I
had to work on the dresses, and take some of them home, and when I rang
the front door-bell at Sue Granger’s, I was told by an impudent
house-maid to step round to the side door as her lady had visitors in
the parlor, and it was no place to receive parcels. I tell you I was
mad, and I’ve never carried a budget since, and never will; and I shall
be so glad if we ever get out of the business, for I hate it, and I am
just as good as Sue Granger, whose mother they say once worked in a
cotton mill. Thank goodness, I am not as low as that. There’s good blood
in my veins, too, if I am poor. The Rices (mother was a Rice) are highly
connected with some of the best families in the State. Governor Rice is
a distant relative of mine, and the Fergusons are well enough.”

Here Anna paused to take breath, and Reinette, who had listened to her
wonderingly, said:

“And do your cousins, Ethel and Grace, share your opinions?”

“Of course not. Why should they? Aren’t they big bugs, Colonel
Rossiter’s daughters? Don’t they go to Saratoga, and Newport, and
Florida, and the sea-side, and have a maid, and drive their carriage,
and live in a big house? Such people can never understand why girls like
me feel as I do. Ethel and Grace laugh at me, and say I am just as good
as they are; and so I am, though the world don’t think so. Their mother
used to stitch shoes for the shop when a girl, and sell gingerbread
across the counter sometimes, just as your mother did. You know,
perhaps, that Grandma Ferguson kept a kind of baker’s shop.”

Reinette flushed to the roots of her hair as she replied;

“Yes, I know, but I supposed one’s respectability depended upon
himself—his conduct, I mean, rather than what he does for a living—if
the business is honest and justifiable.”

“There’s where you are grandly mistaken,” said Anna. “One’s position
depends upon how much money he has, or how many influential friends. Is
my Aunt Mary any better than when she stitched shoes and sold
gingerbread? Of course not. She’s John Ferguson’s daughter just the
same; but she’s rich now. She is Mrs. Colonel Rossiter, and looked up
to, and admired, and run after by the whole town, while ma and I are
just tolerated because of our relationship to her. ‘Who is that
stylish-looking girl?’ I once heard a stranger say to Sue Granger, who
replied: ‘That’s Anna Ferguson; her mother is a dressmaker,’ and that
settled it. The stranger—a stuck-up piece from Boston—cared nothing for
a girl whose mother made dresses for a living. Sometimes I get so mad I
hate everything and everybody.”

Here Anna stopped a moment, and Reinette scanned her very closely from
her head to her feet, deciding, mentally that she was good-looking, and
had about her a certain style which strangers would naturally remark,
even though it was rather fast than refined. But she was not a lady,
either by nature or education, and Reinette, who, in some things was
far-seeing for her years, saw readily the difficulty under which her
cousin labored. She was not naturally refined, but on the contrary,
vulgar and suspicious, and jealous of those who occupied a position
above her; and while she took pains with her person, and affected a
certain haughtiness of manner, her language was decidedly second-class
and frequently interlarded with slang and harsh denunciations of the
very people whose favor she wished to gain.

While Reinette was thinking all this, Anna began again:

“I wish mother would sell out and take that odious sign from our front
window; we can live without dressmaking, but I’ve given it up. She had a
chance a few weeks ago. A Frenchwoman from Martha’s Vineyard wrote,
asking her terms, which she put so high that Miss La Rue declined, and
so that fell through.”

“What did you call the woman?” Reinette asked, rousing up suddenly from
her reclining posture and looking earnestly at Anna, who replied:

“Miss Margery La Rue, from Martha’s Vineyard. She has done some work, I
believe for my cousins, who think highly of her, and suggested her
buying out ma’s business. Why, how excited you seem! Do you know her?”
she asked, as Reinette sprang up quickly, her cheeks flushing, her eyes
sparkling, and her whole appearance indicative of pleasurable surprise.

“Margery La Rue,” she repeated. “The name is the same, and she is
French, too, you say, but it cannot be my Margery, for the last I heard
from her she was in Nice, and talked of going to Rome, but it is
singular that there should be two dressmakers of the same name. What do
you know of her? Is she old or young?”

“I know nothing except the name,” Anna said, astonished at her cousin’s
interest in and evident liking for a mere dressmaker. “Is your Miss La
Rue young, and was she your friend?” she asked, and Reinette replied:

“Yes, she was my friend—the dearest I ever had, and the only one, I may
say, except papa, and she is beautiful, too; she has the loveliest face
I ever saw—sweet and spirituelle as one of Murillo’s Madonnas, with soft
blue eyes, and sunny hair.”

“But how came you so intimate with her, and she only a dressmaker?” Anna

“It is too long a story to tell you now,” Reinette replied. “I have
known her since I was a child. I never thought anything about her being
a dressmaker. She is educated, and refined, and good, and true, with not
a single low instinct in her nature, and that, I think, is what
constitutes a lady rather than money or what one does for a living.”

Anna shrugged her shoulders incredulously. In her own estimation she was
refined and educated, and yet she was not recognized as a lady by those
to whose notice she aspired; but she made no reply, and Reinette

“I shall take steps at once to ascertain if this Miss La Rue you speak
of is my Margery, and if she is, and it is merely a matter of money
which keeps her from accepting your mother’s offer, I think I can make
_two_ people happy; you first, if taking that sign from your window will
do it, and myself, by bringing her here where I can see her every day,
if I wish to.”

Before Anna could reply, Grandma Ferguson came in, puffing with
exercise, and apologizing for her long absence.

“I didn’t mean to be gone more’n a minit,” she said, “but Mrs. Jerry
offered to show me all over the house, and I kinder wanted to see it, as
it’s my fust chance. The last, and I may say the only time I was ever
here, I was turned out o’ door afore I could look about me.”

“Turned out of doors! For what, and by whom?” Reinette asked, in
astonishment, and grandma replied:

“Turned out by your Granther Hetherton, because I came over to tell him
his son Fred had run off with your mother. Why, Rennet, child, what’s
the matter! you are white as a sheet,” she continued, as with a long
gasp for breath Reinette clasped both hands to her forehead and leaned
helplessly back in her chair.

“It’s nothing,” she said faintly, “only the pain in my head has come
back again. What you told me was so dreadful—my mother ran off with my
father! What for? Why, were they not married at home? Was there any

“Reason? No,” grandma returned. “There was a nice big room back of the
shop, and if it was good enough for Paul Rossiter to be married in, and
for your father to spark your mother in, as he did many a time, it was
good enough for him to be married in. But no; he was afeard, mabby, that
he should have to notice some of us, who he thought no more on than so
much dirt, and so he ran off with her to New York and got married, and
then started for Europe, and I’ve never seen her sence. But surely,
Rennet you must have known something about it, though Anny here, and
Phil too—that’s Miss Rossiter’s son—will have it that you never heard of
us till yesterday, and so never knew who your mother was. Is that so?”

It was a direct question and hurt Reinette cruelly suffering as she was
both mentally and physically. The wet napkin was again applied to her
throbbing temples, and then, in a voice full of anguish, and yet with
something defiant in its tone, she said rapidly, like one who wishes to
have a disagreeable task ended:

“No, I did not know who my mother was; father never told me.”

“That’s smart, but just like him,” grandma interposed; but Reinette
stopped her short, and said:

“Hush, grandma! I will not hear my father blamed for anything. He may
have acted hastily and foolishly when he was young, but he was the
dearest and best of fathers to me. He did not talk much, ever, and never
of his private affairs, and since I know—that—that—he ran away with my
mother, I am not surprised that he did not tell me who she was or
anything of her early life. He knew it would pain me, and so he let me
think her an English woman, as I always did——”

“Yes, but when you started for America a body would s’pose he would have
told. He knew you’d have to see us then and know,” grandma said, and
Reinette replied:

“Yes, and he meant to tell me when we reached New York. He had a habit
of putting off things, and he put that off, and when he was dying on the
ship he tried to tell me so hard. I know now what he meant when he said:
‘When it comes to you forgive me and love me just the same;’ and I do—I
will—and I’ll stand by father through everything;” and Reinette’s eyes,
where the great tears were standing, fairly blazed, as she defended her
dead father; and her grandma cried, too, a little, but her animosity
toward the Hethertons was so great and this silence of her son-in law
seemed so like a fresh insult, that she was ready to fire up in an
instant, and when Reinette said to her, “It is very painful for me to
hear it, and still I wish you to tell me all I ought to know of mother
and father both. Why did you say they ran away?” she began as far back
as the first time her daughter Margaret handed Fred Hetherton a glass of
beer across the counter, and in her own peculiar way, told the story of
the courtship and marriage, ending with a graphic description of her
call on Gen. Hetherton, who turned her from his house, and bade her
never enter it again.

“And I never have till to-day,” she said, “when I wouldn’t wonder if
he’d stir in his coffin if he knew I was here, seein’ he felt so much
above me. If I’d been a man, I b’lieve I’d a horse-whipped him, for
there’s fight in my make-up. My two brothers, Jim and Will Martin, were
the prize-fighters of the town, and could lick any two men
single-handed. They are dead now, both on ’em—died in the war, fightin’
for their country, and I s’pose it’s better so than if they’d lived to
do wus.”

“Yes, oh, yes,” Reinette said, faintly, neither knowing what she said or
what she meant, knowing only that every nerve was quivering with
excitement and pain, and that she felt half crazed and stunned with all
she had heard of the father and mother she had held so high.

Nothing had been omitted, and she knew all about the beer and the
gingerbread her grandmother sold,—the shoes her mother closed,—the
berries she had picked to buy the blue chintz gown—the pride of the
Hethertons and the inexcusable silence of her father with regard to her
mother’s death and her own existence. There was nothing more to tell,
and Reinette could not have heard it, if there had been. Proud and
high-spirited as she was, she felt completely crushed and humiliated,
and as if she could never face the world again. And yet in what she had
heard there was nothing derogatory to her mother’s character, or her
father’s either for that matter. Only it was so different from what she
had believed. By and by, when she could reason more calmly, she would
feel differently and see it from a different standpoint, but now she
felt as if she should scream outright if her visitors staid another
minute, and she was glad when, reminded by the twelve o’clock whistle of
her green peas cooking at home, grandma arose to go. She had had no
intentions of wounding Reinette, but she had no sensitiveness herself,
no delicacy of feeling, no refinement, and could not understand how
crushed, degraded, and heart-broken Reinette felt as she fled up the
stairs to her own room, and throwing herself upon the bed sobbed and
moaned in a paroxysm of grief and despair.

“And _these people_ are mine,” she said; “they belong to me, who was
once so proud of my blood. Prizefighters, and brewers, and bakers, and
mercy knows what, in place of the dukes and duchesses I had pictured to
myself! Why did father bring me here, when he had kept the knowledge of
them from me so long, or at least why did he not tell me of them? It is
dreadful, and I hope I may never see one of them again.”

Just then her ear caught the sound of horse’s feet galloping into the
yard, and starting up from her crouching position among the pillows and
pushing back her heavy hair from her forehead, Reinette listened
intently, feeling intuitively that she knew who the rider was, and
experiencing a thrill of joy when, a few moments later, Pierre brought
her a card with the name of “Phil Rossiter” engraved upon it. Taking the
bit of pasteboard in her hand she examined it critically, and
pronouncing it _au fait_ in every respect, announced her intention of
going down to meet her cousin.

“But, mademoiselle, your dress, your hair; monsieur is a gentleman,”
Pierre said; but Reinette cared nothing for her dress then—nothing for
her hair, which had again fallen over her shoulders.

Gathering it up in masses at the back of her head, and letting a few
tresses fall upon her neck, she wrapped her pink sacque a little more
closely around her, and went hurriedly down to the library where Phil
was waiting for her.

                              CHAPTER XIV.
                           REINETTE AND PHIL.

He was gotten up after the most approved manner of a young man of
leisure and taste. From his short, cut-away coat to the tip of his boots
everything was faultless, and his fair, handsome face impressed you with
the idea that he was fresh from a perfumed bath, as, with his soft hat
under his arm, he stood leaning on the mantel and looking curiously
about the room. _She_, in pink and white dishabille, a good deal tumbled
and mussed, her hair just ready to fall down her back, her cheeks
flushed and her eyelids swollen and red, showed plainly the wear and
tear of the last few days. And still there was a great eagerness in her
face, and her eyes were very bright as she stood an instant on the
threshold looking intently at Phil, as if deciding what manner of man he
was. Something in the expression of his face which won all hearts to
trust him, won her as well, and when he stepped forward to meet her, she
went swiftly to him, and laying her head upon his bosom as naturally as
if he had been her brother, sobbed like a child.

“Oh, Philip, oh, cousin, I am so glad you have come at last,” she said.
“Why didn’t you come sooner, come first of all, before—those—before
my—Oh, I am so glad to see you and find you just like my father!”

Phil did not quite know whether he felt complimented or not to be
likened to her father, but to say that he was astonished faintly
portrays his state of mind at the novel position in which he found
himself. Although warm-hearted and affectionate he was not naturally
very demonstrative, or if he were, that part of his nature had never
been called into action, except by his grandmother. His sisters were
very fond and proud of him, but they never caressed or petted him as
some only brothers are petted, and only kissed him when parting with
him, or after a long absence. As to the other girls of his acquaintance,
his lips had never touched theirs since the days of his boyhood when he
played the old-time games in the school-house on the common, nor had he
held a girl’s hand in his except in the dance, and when assisting her to
the carriage or her horse; and here was this stranger, whom till
yesterday he had never seen, sobbing in his arms, with his hands clasped
in hers and her face bent over them so that he could feel the touch of
her burning cheek, and the great tears as they wet his imprisoned
fingers. And with that queer perversity of man’s nature Phil liked it,
and drew her closer to him, and felt his own eyes moisten, and his voice
tremble as he said gently and pityingly, as women are wont to speak:

“Poor little Reinette, I am so sorry for you, for I know how you have
suffered: and you have the headache, too, grandmother told me. She was
here this morning. I hope you liked her. She is the kindest-hearted
woman in the world.”

“Yes,” came faintly from the neighborhood of his hands, where Reinette’s
face was hidden for an instant longer; then, freeing herself from him
and stepping backward, she looked at him fixedly, until all the tears
left her eyes, which twinkled mischievously as she burst into a merry
laugh, and said: “No, I will be honest with you, Philip, and let you
know just how bad I am. I didn’t like her! Oh, I know you are horrified
and hate me, and think me awful,” she continued, as she sank into an
easy-chair, and plunging the napkin into the bowl of water still
standing there, spread it upon her head. “But you can’t understand how
sudden it all is to me, who never knew I had a relative in America,
unless it were some distant one on father’s side, and who, had I been
told that I was first cousin to Queen Victoria, would not have been
surprised, but rather have thought her majesty honored by the
connection, so proud was I of my fancied blood. And to be told all

“What have you been told?” Phil asked, and she replied:

“Everything, I am sure, or if there _is_ anything more I never wish to
hear it. I know about the chimneys and the cellar walls, the gingerbread
and the beer, and closing shoes, though what that is, I can’t even
guess, and the runaway match, worse than all the rest unless it be those
dreadful men who fought each other like beasts. What were their names? I
cannot remember.”

“You mean Uncle Tim and Uncle Will Martin,” Phil said, calling the men
uncle for the first time in his life, although there was not a drop of
their blood in his veins.

But he would not hint that he was not as much a Martin as herself.

“You mean Uncle Tim and Uncle Will, grandmother’s brothers; they were
only great uncles, and had the good taste to get killed in the war. They
can’t hurt you.”

“I know that, but something hurts me cruelly,” Reinette replied,
clenching her hands together. “And you don’t know how much I hate it
all—hate everybody—and want to fight and tear somebody’s hair; that
would relieve me, but it would not rid me of these dreadful people.”

She looked like a little fury as she beat her hands in the air, and
forgetting that they were strangers, Phil said to her:

“You surprise me, Reinette, by taking so strange a view of the matter.
Can you not understand that in America, where we boast of our democracy,
there is no such commodity as blood, or if there is, it is so diluted
and mixed that the original element is hard to find. It does not matter
so much who you are, or who your parents were, as it does what you are

             “‘Honor and shame from no condition rise,
             Act well your part, there all the honor lies.’

“That used to be written for me in my copy-book at school, and I puzzled
my brain over it to know what it meant, understanding at last that it
was another version of that part of the church catechism which tells us
to do our duty in that state of life to which God has called us.”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean by talking poetry and catechism to
me,” Reinette said, tartly, and Phil replied:

“I mean that you should look on the brighter side and not hate us all
because we chance to be your relatives and not rebel so hotly and want
to fight and tear somebody’s hair because, instead of being the
granddaughter of a duchess, you prove to be the granddaughter of—of a

“Who calls me _Rennet_, and talks such dreadful grammar, and wears
purple gloves,” interrupted Reinette, with a half-laugh in her eyes,
where the great tears were shining.

Phil smiled a little, for the purple gloves, into which Grandma Ferguson
persisted in squeezing her coarse red hands, shocked his fastidious
taste sorely, but he was bent upon defending her, and he replied:

“Yes, I know all that; grandma is peculiar and old-fashioned, but she
does not harm you, as Reinette Hetherton, one whit. She never had a
chance to learn; circumstances have been against her. She had to work
all her early life, and she did it well, and is one of the kindest old
ladies in the world, and some day you will appreciate her and think
yourself fortunate to have so good a grandmother, and you’ll get used to
us all.”

“I _never_ shall,” Reinette replied, “never can get used to these
people. You know I don’t mean you, for you are not like them, though I
do think it very mean in you to stand there lecturing me so, when I
wanted you to come to me so badly, and thought you would comfort me and
smooth the trouble away, and instead of that you have done nothing but
scold me ever since you’ve been here, and nobody ever dared to do that
before but father, and you know how awfully my head is aching, and
you’ve made it ten times worse. I am disappointed in you, Philip
Rossiter; and I meant to like you so much. But you don’t like me, I see
it in your face, and you are a Ferguson, too, and I hate you—there!”

As she talked Reinette half rose from her chair, and in her excitement
upset the bowl of water, which went plashing over the floor. Then,
sinking back into her seat, she began to cry piteously as Phil had never
heard a girl cry before. Crossing swiftly to her side he knelt down
before her, and taking her flushed, tear-stained face between both his
hands, kissed her upon her forehead and lips, while he tried to comfort
her, assuring her that he was not scolding her, he was only defending
his friends, that he was sorry for her, and did like her very much.

“Please forgive me, Reinette,” he said, “and let us be friends, for I
assure you I like you.”

“Then don’t call me Reinette,” she said. “Father always called me
Queenie, and so did Margery, and they are the only people I ever loved,
or who ever loved me. Call me Queenie, if you love me, Philip.”

“Queenie, then, it is—for by Jove, I do love you; and you must call me
Phil, if you love me, and so we seal the compact,” the young man said,
touching again the sweet, girlish lips, which this time kissed him back
without the least hesitancy or token of consciousness.

And so they made it up, these cousins who had quarreled on the occasion
of their first interview; and Phil picked up the bits of broken china
and the napkin, and wiped up the water with his handkerchief, and told
her he could cure her headache by rubbing, just as he often cured his
mother’s. And Queenie, as he ever after called her, grew as soft and
gentle as a kitten, and, leaning her head upon the back of her chair,
submitted to the rubbing and manipulations of her forehead until the
pain actually ceased, for there was a wonderful mesmeric power in Phil’s
hands, and he threw his whole soul into the task, and worked like a
professional, talking learnedly of negative and positive conditions, and
feeling sorry when his cousin declared the pain gone, and asked him to
throw open the blinds and let in the light, and then sit down where she
could look at him.

There was perfect harmony between them now, and for an hour or more they
talked together, and Reinette told Phil everything she could think of
with regard to her past life, and asked him numberless questions
concerning his own family and the Fergusons generally.

“I am ashamed of myself,” she said, “and I am going to reform—going to
cultivate the Fergusons, though I don’t believe I can ever do much with
Anna. What ails her, Phil, to be so bitter against everybody? Are they
so very poor?”

“Not at all,” said Phil. “Uncle Tom—that’s her father—is a good, honest,
hard-working man, odd as Dick’s hat-band, and something of a codger, who
wears leather strings in his shoes, and never says his soul is his own
in the presence of his wife and daughter; but he is perfectly
respectable, though he doesn’t go to church much on Sundays, and always
calls my mother ‘Miss Rossiter,’ though she’s his half-sister.”

“What?” and Reinette looked up quickly. “Aren’t we own cousins, and
isn’t your mother my own aunt?”

“No,” Phil answered reluctantly; then, thinking she would rather hear
the truth from him than from any one else, he told her of his
grandfather’s two wives, one of whom was his grandmother and one hers.

“And so the Martins and the prize-fighters are not one bit yours; they
are all mine,” Reinette said, the tears rushing to her eyes again.

“Nonsense, Queenie; that doesn’t matter a bit. Remember what I told you;
blood does not count in this country. Nobody will think less of you
because of those fighters, or fancy you want to knock him down.”

“But I feel sometimes as if I could; that must be the Martin in me,”
Reinette said, laughingly; and then she spoke again of Anna, who Phil
said was too sensitive, and jealous, and ready to suspect a slight where
none was intended.

“But once give her a chance,” he added, “and she would ride over
everybody’s head, and snub working people worse than she thinks she is
snubbed because her mother makes dresses.”

This allusion to dressmaking reminded Reinette of what Anna had said
with regard to Miss La Rue who had proposed buying her mother’s
business, and she questioned Phil of her, but he knew nothing, and
Reinette continued:

“Oh, if it only were my Margery, I should be so happy. You don’t know
how I love her; she is so sweet, and good, and beautiful. I’ve known her
since we were little girls at school together. It was a private English
school in Paris, where I was a boarder, and she a day scholar at half
rate, because they were poor. I never saw Mrs. La Rue but once or twice,
and she is not at all like Margery. She had been a hair-dresser at one
time, I think. Oh, if this Miss La Rue should prove to be my friend!
When will you see her? When are you going to the Vineyard?”

Phil could not tell. He had intended going at once, but since coming to
Hetherton Place he had changed his mind, for there was something in this
willful, capricious sparkling girl which attracted him more than all the
gaieties of the Sea View House, and he said it was uncertain when he
should go to the Vineyard—probably not for two weeks or more.

“Oh, I am so sorry,” Reinette said frankly, “for I do want to know about
Margery; but then,” she added, with equal frankness, “it is real nice to
have you here, where I can see you every day. We must be great friends,
Phil, and you must like me in all my moods; like me when I want to tear
your eyes out just the same as when I would tear mine out to serve you.
Will you promise, Phil?”

“Yes,” was his reply, as he took in his the hand she offered him,
feeling strongly tempted to touch again the girlish lips which pouted so
prettily as she looked up at him.

One taste of those lips had intoxicated him as wine intoxicates the
drunkard; but there was a womanly dignity now in Reinette’s manner which
kept him at a distance, while she went on to tell him of her good
intentions. She was going to cultivate the Fergusons, especially her
grandmother, and she should commence by calling there that very
afternoon, and Phil must go with her. She would order an early dinner,
at half-past four, to which Phil should stay, and then they would take a
gallop together into town.

“You have nothing to do but to stay with me. Your business will not
suffer?” she asked; and coloring at this allusion to his business, Phil
replied that it would _not_ suffer very much from an absence of half a
day or so, and that he was at her disposal.

“Then I’ll interview Mrs. Jerry, and have dinner on the big piazza which
overlooks the river, and the meadows. That will make it seem some like
Chateau des Fleurs, where we ate out doors half the time,” she said, as
she disappeared from the room in quest of Mrs. Jerry who heard with
astonishment that dinner was to be served upon the north piazza instead
of in the dining-room.

But a few hours’ experience had taught her that Miss Hetherton’s ways
were not at all the ways to which she had been accustomed, and so she
assented without a word, while Reinette went next to her room and
transformed herself from an invalid in a wrapper into a most stylish and
elegant young lady.

How lovely she was, in her dress of dark-blue silk with a Valenciennes
sleeveless jacket, such as was then fashionable, her hair arranged in
heavy curls, which were fastened at the back of her head with a scarlet
ribbon, while a knot of the same ribbon was worn at her throat.

Phil had thought her bewitching in her wrapper, with the wet napkin on
her head, but when she tripped into the room in her new attire he
started with surprise at the transformation. There was a bright flush on
her cheeks, and her eyes shone like stars as they flashed smile after
smile upon him, until he became so dazed and bewildered that he scarcely
knew what he was doing. She had her sun-hat in her hand, and led him out
into the grounds, where she told him of the improvements she meant to
make, and asked what he thought of them.

She should not change the general appearance of the house, she said. She
should only add one or two bay-windows and balconies, and enlarge the
north piazza, as she wished the rooms to remain as they were when her
father lived there, but the park was to undergo a great change, and be
modeled, as far as possible, after the park at Chateau des Fleurs. There
were to be winding walks, and terraces, and plateaus of flowers, and
fountains, and statuary gleaming among the evergreens, and clumps of
cedar trimmed and arranged into a labyrinth of little rooms, with seats
and tables in them, and lamps suspended from the branches. But the
crowning glory of the whole was to be a rustic summer-house, large
enough to accommodate three or four sets of dancers, when she gave an
outdoor _fete_, and to seat at least forty people at a breakfast or
dinner. Her ideas were on a most magnificent scale, and Phil listened to
her breathlessly till she had finished, and then asked if she had any
idea how much this would cost.

“A heap of money, of course,” she said, arching her eyebrows and nose a
little, as she scented disapprobation; “but what of that? Father had a
great deal of money, I know, and never denied me anything. What is money
for, except to spend and let other people have a good time? I mean to
fill the house with company, summer and winter, and make life one grand
holiday for them, and you must stay here most of the time and help me
see to things, or would that interfere too much with your business—your

This was the second time she had alluded to his business, and Phil’s
cheeks were scarlet, and he was conscious of a feeling of shame in the
presence of this active, energetic girl, who took it for granted that he
must have some business—some profession. He could not tell her that he
had none, and had she pressed the point, would have fallen back upon
that two months’ trial in Mr. Beresford’s law office, when he started to
have a profession; but fortunately for him the dinner was announced, and
they went together to the north piazza, where Reinette presided at one
end of the table, and he at the other.

“It was quite like housekeeping,” Reinette said, and she made Phil
promise to dine with her every day when he was in town.

“Not always here,” she said, “but around in different places—under the
trees, and in my new summer-house, which must be built directly, and
every where.”

She was the fiercest kind of a radical, always seeking something new,
and Phil felt intuitively that to follow her would be to lead a busy,
fatiguing life, but he was ready for it; ready for anything; ready to
jump into Lake Petit, if she said so, he thought, a little later, when
he saw her in her riding habit, mounted upon the snow-white Margery, who
held her neck so high, and stepped along so proudly, as if conscious of
the graceful burden she bore. Reinette was a fine horsewoman, and sat
the saddle and handled the reins perfectly, and she and Phil made quite
a sensation as they galloped into town, with King in close attendance,
for Reinette had insisted that he should accompany them as a kind of

Their first call was upon Mr. Beresford, who came out and stood by
Reinette’s horse as he talked to her, marveling at the change in this
sparkling, brilliant creature, so different from the tear-stained
swollen-eyed girl he had seen in the morning. She told him of her plans
for improvements, which she meant to begin immediately, and which Phil
had said would cost at least two thousand dollars, but that did not
matter. When she wanted a thing, she wanted it, and would Mr. Beresford
give her the money at once, as she had only two or three hundred dollars
in her purse at home. She talked as if gold grew on bushes, and Mr.
Beresford listened to her aghast, for unless he advanced it himself,
there were not two thousand dollars for her in his possession. The
repairs at Hetherton Place had already cost enormously, and there were
still debts waiting to be paid. Mr. Hetherton’s death would of course
retard matters a little, but it was impossible to refuse the eager,
winsome girl, whose eyes looked so straight into his own, and he
promised to give her what she asked for, and said he had already written
to Paris to Messrs. Polignie & Co., who he believed had charge of her
father’s foreign business, adding that he should like the papers as soon
as possible.

Reinette said he should have them the next day, and added:

“I, too, am going to write to Messrs. Polignie, to inquire for my old
nurse, Christine Bodine. She knew mother, and I mean to find her if she
is alive.

“Not that it matters much, as there is no doubt that my mother was
Margaret Ferguson,” she said to Phil, as they rode off, “and I am
getting quite reconciled to it now that I know you. Would you mind,” and
she dropped her voice a little, “would you mind showing me the chimneys
and _cellar_ walls our grandfather built? and the beer shop where mother
sewed the pieces of cloth together, and those shoes and things?”

Phil could not show her the chimneys John Ferguson had built, for though
there were those in the town who often pointed them out when Mrs.
Rossiter, his daughter drove by in her handsome carriage, _he_ didn’t
know where they were, but he could show her the beer shop, as she termed
it, though it bore no traces now of what it used to be. It was long and
low, like many of the old New England houses, but it looked deliciously
cool and pleasant under the tall elms, with its plats of grass and its
sweet, old-fashioned flowers in full bloom. Grandma Ferguson, too, in
her clean calico dress and white apron, with her hair combed smoothly
back, made a different picture from what she did in the morning, with
her wide ribbons and purple gloves. She was delighted to see them, and
took Reinette all over the house, from the parlor where she said Paul
Rossiter and Fred Hetherton had courted their wives, to the room where
Reinette’s mother used to sleep when she was a girl, and where the
high-post bed she occupied, and the chair she used to sit in, were still

“Mary—that’s Miss Rossiter—wanted me to git some new furniture,” she
said, as they stood in the quiet room, “and I could afford it as well as
not, for your gran’ther left me pretty well off, with what Mary does for
me; but somehow it makes Margaret seem nigher to me to have the things
she used to handle, and so I keep ’em, and sometimes when I’m lonesome
for the days that are gone, and for my girl that is dead, I come up here
and sit awhile and think I can see her just as she used to look when I
waked her in the mornin’, and she lay there on that piller smilin’ at me
like a fresh young rose, with her hair fallin’ over her pretty eyes; and
then I cry and wish I had her back, though I know she’s so happy now,
and some day I shall see her again, if I’m good, and I do try to do the
best that I know how. Poor Maggie, dear little Maggie, dead way over the

Grandma was talking more to herself than to Reinette, and the great
tears were dropping from her dim old eyes, and her rough, red hands were
tenderly patting the pillows, where she had so often seen the dear head
of the child “dead way over the seas.” But to Reinette there was now no
redness, or roughness about the hands, no coarseness about the woman,
for all such minor things were forgotten in that moment of perfect
accord and sympathy, and Reinette’s tears fell like rain as she bent
over the hands which had touched her mother.

“Blessed child,” grandma said, “I thank my God for sending you to me,
and that you are good and true, like Margaret.”

This was too much for the conscious-smitten Reinette, who burst out

“I’m not good; I’m not true; I’m bad and wicked as I can be, and I am
going to confess it all here in mother’s room, hoping she can hear me,
and know how sorry I am. I was proud and hot, and felt like fighting
yesterday when I met you all, because it was so sudden, so different;
and this morning I rebelled again, and wanted to scream, but I’ll never
do so again, and I am going to make you so happy; and now, please, go
away and leave me for a little while.”

Grandma Ferguson understood her in part, and went out, leaving the girl
alone in the low, humble room, which had been Margaret’s. Kneeling by
the bed, and burying her face in the pillows, Reinette sobbed like a
child as she asked forgiveness for all her proud rebellion against the
grandmother whom in her heart she knew to be kind and loving. The prayer
did her good, and as hers was an April nature, she was as bright and
playful as a kitten when she went down the steep, narrow stairs, and
bidding her grandmother good-night, mounted her horse and started with
Phil for Mrs. Lydia Ferguson’s. They found that lady very hot and
nervous over a dress which must be finished that night, and on which
Anna was working very unwillingly. Through an open door Reinette caught
a glimpse of a disorderly supper-table, at which a man was sitting in
his shirt sleeves, regaling himself with fried cakes and raw onions.

“Come, father,” Mrs. Lydia called, in a loud, shrill voice, “here’s
Reinette, your niece. Reinette, this is your Uncle Tom, who is said to
look enough like your mother to have been her twin.”

His face was pleasant, and his manner was kindly, as he shook hands with
Reinette, and said he was glad to see her, and told her that she favored
the Hethertons more than the Fergusons, but Reinette saw that he
belonged to an entirely different world from her own, and when they were
going over the house at the Knoll, she said to Phil that she felt as if
she were backsliding awfully.

“Isn’t there a couplet,” she asked, “which runs thus:

            “‘The de’il when sick a saint would be,
            But when he got well, the de’il a saint was he.’

“Now I am just like that. Over at grandmother’s I felt as if I never
could be bad again; and I never will to grandmother. I shall make her
caps and fix her dresses, and coax her not to wear purple gloves, or
call me Rennet. But O, Phil, shall I be so wicked that I can never go to
Heaven if I don’t rave over those other people? They are so different
from anything I ever saw before. Now, _this_ suits me; this is more like
Chateau des Fleurs,” she said, as she followed Phil through the house
until they came to his room, where, on the table, he found a telegram
from his father, which was as follows:

  “Come to us at once as I must go to Boston on business, and your
  mother needs you.

                                                        “PAUL ROSSITER.”

He read it aloud to Reinette, who exclaimed:

“I am so sorry, for now I shall be alone, and I meant to have you with
me every day.”

Phil was sorry, too, for the dark-eyed French girl had made sad havoc
with his heart during the few hours he had known her. But there was no
help for it; he must go to his mother, and the next morning, when the
Springfield train, bound for Boston, left Merrivale, Phil was in it on
his way to Martha’s Vineyard.

                              CHAPTER XV.
                            DOWN BY THE SEA.

Mrs. Rossiter occupied the handsomest rooms at the Sea View House, and
on the morning of Phil’s arrival she lay on her couch by the open
window, occasionally looking out upon the water, but mostly with her
eyes fixed fondly upon her handsome boy, who sat by her side, fanning
himself with his soft hat, and answering the numerous questions of his
sisters, concerning Reinette, their new cousin, whose existence had
taken them so by surprise. How did she look? What was she like? What did
she wear? What did she say, and who was to live with her in that great
lonely house?

“Don’t hurry a chap so!” said Phil. “There’s a lot to tell, and I’d
better begin at the beginning.”

So he described first the arrival at the station, where grandma and Aunt
Lydia were waiting in their weeds, and Anna was gorgeous in her white
muslin and long lace scarf, while he flourished with a dirty face and
torn, soiled pants.

“Oh, if you could have seen her face when we were presented to her as
her ‘_cousins_, and her _uncles_, and her _aunts_!’ I tell you it was
rich. I never saw such eyes in a human being’s head as those which
flashed first upon one and then upon another of her new relations.”

“Do you really mean she had never heard of us at all?” both Ethel and
Grace asked in the same breath, and Phil replied by telling them
everything which had transpired since Reinette’s arrival up to the time
he had left her at her own door, dwelling at length upon her sparkling
beauty, which he said might not perhaps be called beauty in the strict
sense of the word. Some might think her too small and too dark, while
others would object to her forehead as too low, and her nose as a little
too _retrousse_, but to Phil, who had seen the rich warm color come and
go on her clear olive cheeks, who had seen her dark eyes flash, and
sparkle, and dance until her whole person seemed to shine and glow like
some rare diamond, she was supremely beautiful, and he dwelt upon her
loveliness and piquancy, and freshness, while his mother and sisters
listened breathlessly, but not so breathlessly as the girl in the
adjoining room, who sat making some changes in a dress Miss Ethel was to
wear that night to a hop in the hotel.

The door between the two rooms was only slightly ajar, and Margery La
Rue had not heard a word of the conversation between the brother and
sisters until her ear caught the name of Reinette, followed soon by
Hetherton and Paris. Then the work dropped from her hands, and a sudden
pallor crept into her cheeks, which ordinarily were like the sweet roses
of June.

“Reinette; Reinette Hetherton,” she whispered. “Is there another name
like that in all the world? Is it my Reinette, my Queenie, the dearest,
best friend I ever had? Impossible, for what can she be doing here in
America, in Merrivale, where I have thought to go!”

There was a death-like faintness in the heart of this girl, whose
whispered words were in French, and were scarcely words so softly were
they spoken.

“Reinette, Reinette!” she repeated, as with clasped hands, and head bent
forward in the attitude of intense listening, she heard the whole story
Phil told, and laughed a little to herself at the ludicrous description
of the Fergusons, and the impression they made upon the stranger. “I can
imagine just how cold and haughty, and proud she grew, and how those
great eyes blazed with scorn and incredulity, if it is my Reinette he
means,” she thought; “but it cannot be. There is some mistake.” Then as
the name Queenie was spoken she half rose to her feet and laid both
hands upon her mouth to force back the glad cry which sprang to her
lips. There could be no longer a doubt. This foreigner, this girl from
France, this cousin of the Rossiters, this near relation of the
Fergusons, whoever they might be, was _her_ Queenie, her _darling_, whom
she loved with such devotion as few women have ever inspired in another.
How she longed to rush into the next room and pour out question after
question concerning her friend; but this she could not do; she was only
a seamstress and must remain quiet, for the present at least, for she
did not know how the Rossiters would like her to claim acquaintance and
friendship with their kinswoman. So she resumed her work while the talk
in the next room flowed on, always of Queenie, as they called her
because Phil did, and in whom the mother and sisters were so greatly
interested. They had intended stopping at the sea-side for the summer,
but now they spoke of an earlier return to Merrivale on Queenie’s
account, a plan of which Phil highly approved, for he would far rather
be at home than there, especially as his mother was improving daily.

“And Anna? How is she?” Ethel asked. “Does she take kindly to our
cousin, or is she jealous of her, as of us?”

This mention of Anna reminded Phil of the Miss La Rue, who had written
to his aunt, and in whose identity with her friend, Queenie had been so
much interested.

“By the way,” he said, “there’s a dressmaker here somewhere, a Margery
La Rue, from Paris, whom Queenie thinks she knows, and over whom she
goes into rhapsodies. Do you know her, and is she the person who wrote
to Aunt Lydia with regard to her business?”

A warning “sh-sh” came from both the young ladies, with a nod toward the
slightly open door, indicating that the person inquired for was there.
Then the voices were lowered and the door was shut, and the wonder and
interest increased as Ethel and Grace heard all which Reinette had said
of their dressmaker, whose taste and skill they esteemed so highly that
they had suggested her going to Merrivale, but did not then know that
she had written to their aunt, for the girl was very reticent concerning
herself and her business, and only spoke when she was spoken to.

“It is very strange that she should know our cousin so well,” Ethel
said. “I mean to sound her on the subject, and hear what she has to
say,” and as it was time for Mrs. Rossiter to take her airing in her
invalid chair the conference broke up, and on pretext of seeing to her
dress Ethel went into the room where Margery now sat sewing as quietly
and composedly as if she had never heard of Queenie Hetherton.

                              CHAPTER XVI.
                            MARGERY LA RUE.

She was a tall, beautiful blonde, with reddish golden hair, and lustrous
blue eyes shaded with long curling eyelashes and heavy eyebrows, which
made them seem darker than they really were. The features were finely
cut and perfectly regular, and the whole face and figure were of that
refined, delicate, type supposed to belong mostly to the upper classes
in whose veins the purest of patrician blood is flowing. She said she
was twenty-one, but she seemed older on account of that air of
independence and self-reliance habitual to persons accustomed to care
and think for themselves. She had come to America the April previous and
stopped at Martha’s Vineyard with her mother, who was short, and stout,
and dark, but rather prepossessing in her manner, with more signs of
culture and education than is usual with the ordinary type of French
woman. In her girlhood she must have been very pretty and attractive,
with her bright complexion and large black eyes, which had not yet lost
their brilliancy, though there was in them a sad thoughtful expression,
as if she were continually haunted with some bitter memory.

Margery had been introduced to the Misses Rossiter by a friend from
Boston who had employed her in Paris, but occupied as they were with
their mother and the gay world around them, they had hardly thought
whether she were unusually pretty or not, until Phil electrified them
with the news that she was the friend of their cousin, who said she was

“I will look at her now for myself,” Ethel thought, as she entered the
room where Margery sat sewing, with a deep flush on her cheek and a
bright, eager look in the blue eyes lifted respectfully but inquiringly
to the face of her employer.

During the last ten minutes Margery’s thoughts had been traveling back
over the past to the early days of her childhood, when her home was on
the upper floor of a high dwelling in the Rue St. Honore, where her days
were passed in loneliness, except for the companionship of a cat and her
playthings, of which she had a great abundance. Her parents were poor,
and her mother was busy all day at a hair-dresser’s, going out early and
coming home late, while her father worked she did not know where, and
sometimes it entered her little active brain that perhaps he did not
work at all, for on the days when she went to walk, as she occasionally
did, with the woman who had the floor below, and who looked after and
was kind to the lonely little girl in the attic, she often saw him
lounging and drinking at a third-class cafe which they passed when her
friend, Lisette Vertueil, had clothes to carry to her patrons, for
Lisette was a laundress, and washed for many of the upper class.
Sometimes, too, Margery heard her mother reproach her father for his
indolence and thriftlessness, and then there was always a quarrel, into
which her name was dragged, though in what way she could not tell. She
only knew that after these quarrels her mother was, if possible, kinder
to her than before—and said her prayers oftener in a little closet off
from the living room. Her father, too, was kind to her in his rough,
off-hand way, but she did not love him as she did her pretty mother, and
when at last he died, her grief for him though violent at first was very
short-lived and soon forgotten, as the griefs of children are.

Among the patrons of Lisette Vertueil was Mr. Hetherton, the reputed
millionaire, whose elegant carriage and horses sometimes stood on the
St. Honore while his housekeeper talked to Lisette of the garments she
had brought to be washed for her little mistress, Miss Reinette—garments
dainty enough for a princess to wear, and which Lisette took great pride
in showing to her neighbors, as a kind of advertisement for herself.

One morning when Margery was spending an hour or two with the laundress,
helping to fold the clothes preparatory to being sent home, Lisette had
shown her the lovely embroidered dresses, and told her of the little
black-eyed girl who occasionally came there with her maid, and seemed so
much like a playful kitten, in her quick, varying moods.

“Oh, how I wish I was rich like her, and had such lovely dresses, and
how I’d like to see her! Do you think she’d come up to our room, if you
asked her?” Margery said, and Lisette replied that she did not know but
would try what she could do.

Accordingly, the next time Reinette came to the laundry, in her scarlet
hood and cloak, trimmed with white ermine and lined with quilted satin,
Lisette told her of the little girl who lived on the floor above, and
who was alone all day, with only her doll and cat to talk to, and who
would like to see her.

The cat and doll attracted Reinette quite as much as the little girl,
and with the permission of her maid, she was soon climbing the steep,
narrow, but perfectly clean stairway which lead to Numero 40. Mr. La Rue
had been home to lunch that day, and Margery, though scarcely nine years
old, was clearing away the remnants of their plain repast, and brushing
up the hearth, when the door was pushed softly open, and a pair of
bright, laughing eyes looking at her from under the scarlet and ermine,
and a sweet bird-like voice said:

“Please, Margie, may I come in? I am Reinette Hetherton—Queenie, papa
calls me, and I like that best. Lisette said you lived up here all alone
with only the cat. Where is she? I don’t see her.”

Margery was standing before the fire, broom in hand, with a long-sleeved
apron on, which came to her feet and concealed her dress entirely, while
her hair was hidden in a cap she always wore at her work. At the sound
of Reinette’s voice she started suddenly, and dropping her broom, gazed
open-mouthed at the vision of loveliness addressing her so familiarly.
The mention of the cat struck a chord of sympathy, and she replied at

“She isn’t _she_; she’s _he_, and his name is _Jacques_. There he is,
under father’s chair,” and the two girls bumped their heads together as
they both stooped at the same moment to capture the cat, who was soon
purring in Reinette’s lap, as she sat before the fire, with Margery on
the floor beside her, admiring her bright face and beautiful dress.

“I’ve nothing half so pretty as this,” Margery said, despondingly, as
she touched the scarlet cloak. “My best coat is plaid, and I only wear
it on Sundays.”

“Oh my!” Reinette replied, with a great air of self-importance, “I have
three more. One is velvet, lined with rose color, which I wear to
church, and when I drive with papa in the _Bois_. Do you ever go there,
or on the _Champs d’Elysees_?”

“I walk there sometimes on Sundays with mother, but I was never in a
real carriage in my life,” was Margery’s reply, and Reinette rejoined:

“Then you shall be. I’ll make Celine—that’s my maid—take us this very
afternoon. There’ll be a crowd, and it will be such fun! But why do you
wear that big apron and cap?—they disfigure you so.”

Margery blushed and explained that she wore them to keep her clothes
clean; then, divesting herself of the obnoxious garments, she shook down
her rippling hair, and stood before Reinette, who exclaimed:

“How sweet you are, with that bright sunny hair and those lovely blue
eyes! I wish mine were blue. I hate ’em—the nasty old things, so black
and so vixenish, Celine says, when I am mad, as I am more than half the
time. But tell me, do you really live here all alone with the cat?”

“Oh no.” And in a few words Margery explained her mode of life, which to
the pampered child of luxury seemed desolate in the extreme.

“Oh, that’s dreadful!” she said; “and I am so sorry for you! You ought
to see our apartments at the Hotel Meurice. They are just lovely! and
Chateau des Fleurs our country home, is prettier than the Tuilleries—the
grounds are, I mean—and most as pretty as Versailles.”

Margery listened with rapt attention to Reinette’s description of her
beautiful home, and then, as she said her father was an American, she
suddenly interrupted her with:

“Can you speak English?”

“Of course I can,” said Reinette. “I always speak it with papa, who
wishes me to know it as well as French. Mamma was English, and died at
Rome when I was born, and I go to an English school, and when papa is
away, as he is a great deal, I board at the school, and have such fun,
because they don’t dare touch me, papa is so rich.”

“Oh, if I could only speak English! Mother wishes me to learn it, and
says I shall by and by, when she can afford it. She speaks it a little,”
Margery said; and, after a moment, Reinette replied:

“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. Papa has more money than he knows
what to do with, and I mean to tease him till he gives me some for you,
and you shall go to that school with me.”

“Oh, I shall be so glad, and I’ll tell mother to-night!” Margery
exclaimed, feeling unbounded faith in Reinette’s ability to accomplish

Nor was her faith at all shaken when, a few minutes later Reinette’s
smart maid Celine came up the stairs after her little mistress, who
horrified her with the announcement that she meant to take her new
friend for a drive in the Champs d’Elysees.

“I shall; I will,” she said, as Celine protested against it. “I like
her, and she’s never been in a carriage in her life, and she stays here
all day with the cat, and washes the dishes, and she’s going to ride
with me, and I’ll spit and bite, if you don’t let her.”

Celine knew better than to oppose the imperious child when in this mood,
and besides, there was something very winning and attractive in the
bright-haired, blue-eyed little girl, whose dress, though plain, was
becoming and faultlessly clean. She certainly was no ordinary child, and
that beautiful face would not disgrace the carriage. So Celine
consented, and with joy beaming in every feature Margery brought out her
plaid cloak and hood, which presented so striking a contrast to the rich
scarlet one of Reinette that she drew back at once, and with quivering
lip said to Celine:

“I must not go. I am so shabby beside her. She would be ashamed, and
that I could not bear. Oh I wish I was she and she me, just for
once—wish I could wear a scarlet cloak and see how it seemed.”

“You shall!” Reinette cried, with great tears in her eyes. “You shall
know how it seems. We’ll make believe you are papa’s little girl, and I
am Margery,” and before Celine could divine her intention, she was
removing her dainty scarlet cloak and hood, and putting them on Margery,
who was too much astonished to resist, but stood perfectly still, while
Reinette wrapped the ermine, and satin, and merino around her, and put
the plaid cloak and hood upon herself. “Oh, how lovely you are,” she
said, gazing admiringly at Margery, “and how ugly I am in this plaid.
Nobody will know but what you are really Queenie Hetherton, and I am
Margery,” and she dragged the child down the stairs, and out into the
street, where at a corner the Hetherton carriage was waiting.

Reinette gave Margery the seat of honor, and then sat down beside her,
looking somewhat like a dowdy bit of humanity in the plain plaid cloak,
with the large hood hiding her face. But she enjoyed it immensely,
playing that she was Margery, and bade the coachman drive straight to
the Champs d’Elysees.

It was a lovely winter afternoon, and all the Americans and English,
with many of the Parisians, were out, making the Champs d’Elysees and
the Bois beyond seem like a brilliant procession of gayly-dressed people
and splendid equipages. And among the latter none was handsomer or more
noticeable than the fine bays and elegant carriage of Mr. Hetherton, in
which Margery sat making believe that she was Queenie, and enjoying it
as much as if she had really been the daughter of the millionaire,
instead of humble Margery La Rue, whose mother was a hair-dresser, and
whose father was a nothing.

How happy she was, and how in after years that winter when she rode in
the Champs d’Elysees in borrowed plumes, stood out before her as the
bright spot in her life from which dated all the sunshine and all the
sorrow, too, which ever came to her. Nor was it hard for her to go back
to the humble lodgings—to give up the scarlet cloak and be _Margery_
again, for she had so much now to think of; so much to tell her mother,
whom she found waiting at the head of the narrow stairs, with a white,
scared look on her face, and an eager, wistful expression in her eyes
which seemed to look past Margery, down the dark stairway, as if in
quest of some one else.

“Oh mother,” Margery cried, “you are home early to-night, and I am so
happy. Heaven can never be any brighter than this afternoon has been to
me, playing that I was Mr. Hetherton’s little girl, and wearing her
scarlet cloak.”

She was in the room by this time, taking off her own plaid coat, which
she had put on in the court below, and talking so fast that she did not
see the pallor on her mother’s face, or how tightly her hands clinched
on the back of a chair as she stood looking at her.

Mrs. La Rue had been dismissed by her employer earlier than usual, and
finding Margery gone, had been to Lisette’s room to make inquiries for

“Are you sick?” Lisette asked, as Mrs. La Rue dropped suddenly into a
chair when she heard where Margery had gone and with whom. “You look as
if you had seen a ghost.”

Making an excuse that she was tired, and not feeling quite as well as
usual, Mrs. La Rue soon went back to her own apartment, and kneeling
down by the wooden chair before the fire, cried bitterly, as people only
cry when some great wrong done in the past, or some terrible memory
which they had thought dead and buried forever, rises suddenly from the
grave and confronts them with all the olden horror.

“Reinette and Margery together, side by side!” she said. “Oh, if I could
see it—see _her_; but no, I have promised, and I must keep my vow. I
dare not break it.”

For a long time she lay with her head upon the chair, and then
remembering that Margery would soon be coming home and must not find her
thus, she arose, and wiping the tear stains from her face, busied
herself with preparations for the evening meal until she heard upon the
stairs the bounding step which always sent a thrill of joy to her heart,
and in a moment Margery came in with her blue eyes shining like stars
and her cheeks glowing with excitement, as she talked of the wonderful
things she had seen, and of Queenie, “who,” she said, “acted as if I was
just as good as she, and her father so rich, too, with such a lovely
chateau, and she was like a picture, as she sat talking to me on this
hard old chair,” and she indicated the one by which her mother had
knelt, and on which the tears were scarcely yet dried.

“_This_ one? Did she sit on _this one_?” Mrs. La Rue asked, eagerly,
laying her hand caressingly on the chair where Queenie Hetherton had sat
and talked to Margery.

“And what is the very best of all,” Margery continued, “she goes to an
English school, and when I told her how much I wanted to learn English,
she said she’d tease her father for the money to pay for me, too; and
she knew she’d get it, for he gives her every thing she wants. Oh, I do
hope he will. I mean to ask God to-night to make him. Lisette says I
must ask for what I want, and Jesus will hear and answer. Do you think
he will? Does He answer you?”

“Oh, Margery, Margery, I never pray. I am too wicked, too bad. God would
not hear _me_, but he will you: so pray, child, pray,” Mrs. La Rue
replied, and seizing the little girl she hugged her passionately, and
raining kisses upon her forehead and lips, released her as suddenly, and
turned quickly away to hide her anguish from her.

                             CHAPTER XVII.
                          QUEENIE AND MARGERY.

That evening Mr. Hetherton sat in his handsome _salon_ at the Hotel
Meurice, smoking his after-dinner cigar, and occasionally reading a page
or two in the book on the table beside him. He was a very handsome man
in his middle age—handsomer even than he had been in his youth, for
there was about him now a style and elegance of manner which attracted
attention from every one. And yet he was not popular, and had no
intimate friends. He was too reserved and uncommunicative for that, and
people called him proud, and haughty, and misanthropical. That he was
not happy was evident from the shadow always on his face—the shadow it
would seem of remorse, as if some haunting memory were ever present with
him, marring every joy. Even Reinette, whom he idolized, had no power to
chase away that brooding shadow; on the contrary, a close observer would
have said that it was darkest when she caressed him most, and when her
manner was most bewitching. Sometimes when she climbed into his lap,
and, winding her arms around his neck, laid her soft, warm cheek against
his, and told him he was the best and dearest father in the world, and
asked him of her mother who died, he would spring up suddenly, and
pushing her from him, exclaim, as he walked rapidly up and down the

“Child, you don’t know what you are saying. I am not good. I am very far
from being good, but she was—my Margaret. Oh, Queenie, be like her if
you can!”

On these occasions Queenie would go away into a corner, and with her
bright, curious eyes watch him till the mood was over, and then stealing
up to him again would nestle closer to him and half-timidly stroke his
forehead and hair with her little hand and tell him no matter how bad he
was she loved him just the same and should forever and ever. Queenie was
his idol, the sun of his existence, and he lavished upon her all the
love of which a strong nature is capable. She could do anything with
him, and take any liberty, and as he sat alone in his room he was not
greatly surprised when the door opened softly and a pair of roguish
black eyes looked in upon him for an instant—then a little white-robed
figure in its night toilet crossed the floor swiftly, and springing into
his lap began to pat his face, and kiss his lips, and write words upon
his forehead for him to guess. This was one of the child’s favorite
pastimes since she had learned to write, and she had great fun with her
father making him guess the words she traced upon his brow. But he could
not do it now until she helped him to the first three letters, when he
made out the name of Margery, and felt himself grow suddenly faint and
cold, for that was the pet name he had sometimes given his wife in the
early days of their acquaintance and married life. But how did Queenie
know it? How came she by that name which burned into his forehead like
letters of fire and carried him back to the meadows, and hills, and
shadowy woods of Merrivale, where a blue-eyed, golden-haired girl had
walked with him hand in hand, and whom he had called Margery?

“Guess now what is her name and who she is?” Queenie said, holding his
face between her hands, and looking straight into his eyes.

“Margery is the name,” he said, and his voice trembled a little. “But
who is she?”

And then the story came out of the little girl who lived all day with
the cat on the top floor of a tenement house, in Rue St. Honore, and who
wanted so badly to go to school, but could not because her mother was
poor and had no money to send her.

“But you have,” Queenie continued; “you have more than you know what to
do with, people say, and I want you to give me some for her, because I
like her—I don’t know why exactly, only I do, and did the first minute I
saw her. I felt as if I wanted to hug her hard—as if she belonged to me;
and you’ll do it, papa, I know you will! You’ll send little Margery La
Rue to the same school with me.”

Mr. Hetherton did not reply to this, but asked numerous questions
concerning his daughter’s acquaintance with Margery La Rue, whose mother
was a hair-dresser, and expressed his displeasure with Celine for having
taken her to such places.

“You are never to go there again, under any circumstances,” he said, and
Reinette replied, promptly:

“Yes, I shall. I’ll run away every day and go there, and to worse
places, too. I will go the _Jardin_, if you don’t give me the money for
Margery, but if you do I will promise never to go there again—only
Celine shall go for her to ride with me. I am bound to do that!”

And so she gained her point, and the next day Celine was sent to Lisette
to make inquiries concerning Mrs. La Rue. As these proved satisfactory,
arrangements were made with the principal of the English school to
receive little Margery as a day pupil at half pay, in consideration of
her performing some menial service in the school-room by way of dusting
the desks and putting the books in order after school was over.

Queenie was delighted, and from the day when Margery became a pupil in
the English school, she was her avowed champion, and stood by her
always, and fought for her sometimes when a few of the French girls
sneered at her position as duster of their books.

Naturally quick to learn, and easier to retain than Queenie, as Margery
always called her, she soon outstripped her in all their studies, and
was of great service in helping her to master her lessons, and acquit
herself with a tolerable degree of credit.

But for Margery, who would go patiently over the lesson time after time
with her indolent friend, Queenie would often have been in disgrace, for
she was not particularly fond of books, and lacked the application
necessary to a thorough scholar. Once, when she had committed a grave
misdemeanor which had been strictly forbidden on pain of heavy
punishment, Margery was suspected and found guilty, and though she knew
Queenie to be the culprit, she did not speak, but stood up bravely to
receive the chastisement which was to be administered in the presence of
the whole school, and was to be unusually severe as a warning to others.
Margery was very pale as she took her place upon the platform, and held
out her beautiful white arm and hand to the master, and her blue eyes
glanced just once wistfully and pleadingly toward the corner where
Queenie sat, her own eyes shut, and her fists clenched tightly together
until the first blow fell upon the innocent Margery. Then swift as
lightning she went to the rescue, and before the astounded master knew
what she was doing she had wrested the ruler from him, and hurling it
across the room sprang into a chair, and had him by the collar, and even
by the hair, while she cried out:

“You vile, nasty man, don’t you touch Margery again. If you do I will
pull every hair out of your head. You might have known she didn’t do it.
It was _I_, and I am _nastier_ and _viler_ than you, for I kept still
just because I was afraid to be hurt, and let her bear it for me. _I_ am
the guilty one. _I_ did it, and she knew it and never told. Beat me to a
pumice if you want to. I deserve it:” and jumping from the chair and
crossing the floor, Queenie picked up the ruler, and giving it to the
master, held out her little fat hand for the punishment she merited. But
by this time the entire school had become demoralized, as it were, and
the pupils thronged around their bewildered teacher, begging him to
spare Queenie, who became almost as much a heroine as Margery, because
that, notwithstanding her cowardice at the first, she had at the last
shown so much genuine moral courage and nobleness.

Queenie wrote the whole transaction to her father, who was in Norway,
and asked that as a recompense to Margery she be invited to spend the
summer vacation at Chateau des Fleurs, where Queenie was going with
Celine. To this Mr. Hetherton consented, and all the long, bright days
of summer Margery was at Chateau des Fleurs, which seemed to her like
Paradise. Nothing could exceed Queenie’s devotion to her from that time
onward, and when at eighteen she left school, Queenie stood by her
still, and found her a situation as governess in an English family who
lived in Geneva, and when, after a few months, Margery said she did not
like the life of a governess, as it deprived her of all her independence
of action, and made her a mere block, subjecting her to insults from the
sons of the house and guests of the family, Reinette, who knew her
perfect taste in everything pertaining to a lady’s toilet, and the skill
with which she fitted her own dresses, suggested that she should try
dressmaking as an experiment, without the formality of regularly
learning the trade, which would take so much valuable time. So Margery
set up as an amateur in the pleasant apartments in Rue de la Paix, where
Mrs. La Rue had lived since the death of her husband, which occurred
during Margery’s second year in school.

It would seem that Mr. La Rue, with his indolent habits, had been a
great draft upon his wife’s earnings, for, after he died, there was a
perceptible change in her manner of living. Money was more plenty, and
everything was on a larger, freer scale, so that Margery’s home was a
very comfortable one, especially after her wonderful skill in fitting,
and perfect taste in trimming, and, more than all, the patronage of Miss
Hetherton, began to attract people to her rooms. Now, as in her school
days, Queenie was her good angel, and brought her more work, and paid
her more money than any four of her other customers.

Once, and only once, did Reinette meet Mrs. La Rue, who seemed rather to
avoid than to seek her, and that was on an occasion when she came in
from the country unexpectedly, and found Margery busy with a lady in the

“Tell her I am Miss Hetherton, and that I will wait,” Reinette said to
the small, dark woman whom she found in the reception-room, and whom she
mistook for an upper servant or housekeeper.

“Miss Hetherton! Margery’s Reinette!” the woman exclaimed, turning
quickly and coming close to the young lady, whose pride rebelled at once
at this familiarity, and who assumed her haughtiest, most freezing
manner, as she replied:

“Yes, I am Miss Hetherton. Tell your mistress I am here, at once.”

All the blood rushed to Mrs. La Rue’s face, and her voice shook as she

“She is my daughter, and I am Mrs. La Rue. I beg your pardon if I seemed
rude, but you have been so kind to Margery, and I have so wished to see

“Deliver my message first,” Reinette, said, with the air of a princess,
for the woman’s manner displeased her and she could see no reason why
she should stand there staring so fixedly at her with that strange look
in her glittering eyes as of one insane.

At this command Mrs. La Rue turned to leave the room, but ere she went
she laid her hand on Reinette’s tenderly, caressingly, as we touch the
hands of those we love, and said:

“Excuse me, but I _must_ touch you once, must thank you.” So saying she
left the room and did not return, nor did Reinette ever see her again,
except on one occasion when she was driving with Margery in the Bois de
Boulogne, and passed her, sitting upon a bench beneath a shade tree. The
recognition was mutual, but Reinette did not return her slight nod, or
pretend to see her at all.

This was in October, and not long afterwards Margery startled Reinette
by telling her that she was going for a winter to Nice, and possibly to

“Mother has not seemed herself for several weeks,” she said, “and I
think she needs a change of air; besides, I am most anxious to see

And so, two weeks later, the friends bade each other good-by, and after
one or two letters had passed between them, the correspondence suddenly
closed on Margery’s side, and the two friends knew nothing more of each
other’s whereabouts, until each was startled to hear that the other was
in America.

Such was in part the history of Margery up to the day when Miss Ethel
Rossiter entered the room where she was sewing, and after moving about a
little and inspecting the trimming of her dress, began hesitatingly:

“By the way, Miss La Rue, my brother has been telling us about our
cousin, Miss Reinette Hetherton, who has just come from Europe, and who
says she knew a Margery La Rue in Paris. Is it possible she means you?”

“Yes, oh, yes!” and Margery’s face was all aglow with excitement as she
looked quickly up. “Yes, Miss Rossiter; you must excuse me, but the door
was open, and I could not help hearing some things your brother said—he
talked so loud; and I know it is my Queenie. I always called her that
because she bade me do so. She is the dearest friend I ever had, and I
have loved her since that wintry afternoon when she brought so much
sunshine into my life—when she came into our humble home, in her scarlet
and rich ermine, and sat down on the hard old chair, and acted as if I
were her equal. And she has been my good angel ever since. She persuaded
her father to send me to the English school where she was a pupil. She
got me a situation as governess, and when I rebelled against the
confinement and the degradation—she persuaded me to take up dressmaking,
for which I had a talent, and encouraged and stood by me, and brought me
more work than any ten of my other customers. Oh, I would die for
Queenie Hetherton!”

Margery had talked rapidly, and her blue eyes were almost black in her
eagerness and excitement, while Ethel listened to her intently, and
thought how beautiful she was, and wondered, too, when or where she had
seen a face like the face of this fair French girl, whose accent was so
pretty, and whose manners were so perfect.

“And she is your cousin,” Margery said: “that is strange, for I always
understood that her mother was an English woman.”

Ethel colored a little, and replied:

“Yes, her mother and mine were sisters. Mr. Hetherton’s old home was in
Merrivale. Did you ever see him?”

“Once, on horseback, in the Bois. I was driving with his daughter, and
she made him stop and speak to us. He was very fine-looking and
gentlemanly, but I thought him proud and reserved, and I believe he had
that name in Paris.”

Mrs. Rossiter had returned by this time, and entering the room, joined
in the conversation, asking many questions of the Hethertons and their
life in Paris and at Chateau des Fleurs, which Margery described as a
perfect palace of beauty and art.

“Is Reinette pretty?” Grace asked, and Margery replied:

“You might not think her so when she is quiet and her features in
repose, but when she is excited and animated, she sparkles, and glows,
and flashes, and shines, as if there were a blaze of light encircling
her, and then she is more beautiful than anything I ever looked upon,
and she takes your breath away with her brilliancy and brightness.”

“You must have heard her speak often of her mother, my sister,” Mrs.
Rossiter said, and Margery replied.

“Yes, many times; and at Chateau des Fleurs there was a lovely portrait
of Mrs. Hetherton, taken in creamy white satin, with pearls on her neck
and in her wavy hair. She must have been beautiful. There is a
resemblance, I see, between you all and that portrait.”

“Do you know where that portrait is now?” Mrs. Rossiter asked; and
Margery replied by telling her that, nearly six years before, Chateau
des Fleurs was burned, with all there was in it, and she believed there
was now no portrait of Mrs. Hetherton in the family.

It seemed so strange to the Rossiters that this foreigner should know so
much more than themselves of the Hethertons, and for a long time they
continued to ply her with questions concerning the new cousin whom they
had never seen.

After a time Phil came sauntering into the room in his usual indolent,
easy manner, and was presented to Margery, whose blue eyes scanned him
curiously and questioningly. She had heard enough of his conversation to
guess that he was already far gone in love with Queenie, and she was
anxious to know what manner of man he was. Something in his manner and
the expression of his face fascinated her strangely, while he, in turn,
was equally drawn toward her; and when at last her work was done and she
started for home, he exclaimed, under his breath, as he watched her
going down the street:

“By Jove, Ethel, if I had never seen Queenie, I should say this
dressmaker of yours was the loveliest woman I ever saw. Look at that
figure, and the way she carries her head. I don’t wonder Queenie raves
over her; such eyes, and hair, and complexion I never saw.”

Meanwhile Margery was walking rapidly toward the cottage where she and
her mother had rooms.

“Oh, mother,” she began, as she took off her hat and scarf and began to
arrange her hair before the little mirror, “I have such news to-day!
Queenie—Miss Hetherton—is here!”

“Here! Reinette Hetherton here! and her father!” Mrs. La Rue exclaimed,
springing to her feet as suddenly as if a bullet had pierced her.

But Margery’s back was toward her, and she did not see how agitated she
was, or how deathly white she grew at the reply.

“Her father died on shipboard just as they reached New York, and Queenie
is all alone in Merrivale.”

“Mr. Hetherton dead!” Mrs. La Rue repeated, as she dropped back into her
chair, while the hot blood surged for a moment to her face and then left
it pallid and gray as the face of a corpse.

Something unnatural in the tone of her voice attracted Margery, who
turned to look at her.

“Why, mother, what is it? Are you sick?” she cried, crossing swiftly to
her and passing her arm around her as she leaned back heavily in the

“I have been very dizzy-like all the morning. It is nothing: it will
soon pass off,” Mrs. La Rue replied.

But when Margery insisted that she should lie down and be quiet, she did
not refuse, but suffered her daughter to lead her to the lounge and
bring her the hartshorn and camphor.

“Cover me up, Margery,” she said, as a shiver like an ague chill ran
through her veins. “I’m so cold. There, that will do; and now sit down
beside me, and let me hold your hand while you tell me of your friend
and her father, and how he died, and who told you. It will interest me,
may be, and make me forget my bad feelings.”

So Margery sat down beside her, and took the hot hand which held hers
with a grasp which was sometimes actually painful as the narrative
proceeded, and Margery told all she had heard from the Rossiters.

“And to think, her mother was an American, and that the Rossiters are
her cousins, and her father’s old home is Merrivale, where I thought of
going! Oh, if I could only go there now!” Margery said; but her mother
did not express surprise at anything.

On the contrary, a more suspicious person than Margery would have said
that the story was not new to her, for she occasionally asked some
question which showed some knowledge of Queenie’s antecedents. But this
Margery did not observe. She only thought her mother a little strange
and sick, and was glad when her closed eyes and perfectly motionless
figure indicated that she was sleeping.

Covering her a little more closely and dropping the shade so that the
light should not disturb her, she stole softly out, leaving the wretched
woman alone with herself. She was not asleep, and clenching her hands
together so that the nails left their impress in her flesh, she

“Dead! Frederick Hetherton dead! and does that release me from my vow?
Do I wish to be released? No, oh, no, a thousand times no! And yet when
she was talking to me I felt as if I must scream it out. Oh, Margery;
oh, my daughter, my daughter! _Dead!_ And will his face haunt me as hers
has—the sweet face of her who trusted me so? There surely is a hell, and
I have been in it this many a year! Margery! Margery!”

“Did you call me, mother? I thought I heard my name,” Margery said,
opening the door and looking into the room.

“No, no; go away. You waken me when I want to sleep,” Mrs. La Rue said
almost angrily, for the sight of that beautiful young face, and the
sound of that voice nearly made her mad; so Margery went away again, and
left her mother alone to fight the demon of remorse, which the news of
Frederick Hetherton’s death had aroused within her.

                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                              OLD LETTERS.

Reinette was up and at her window on the morning when Phil left
Merrivale, and had his seat been on the opposite side of the car from
what it was, and had his powers of vision been long enough, and strong
enough, he might have seen a pair of little white plump hands waving
kisses and goodbyes to him as the train shot under the bridge, round the
curve, and off into the swamps and plains of East Merrivale.

“I shall miss him so much,” Reinette thought. “He is just the nicest
kind of a boy cousin a girl ever had. We can go all lengths without the
slightest danger of falling in love, for that would be impossible.
Falling in love means getting married, and I have been educated too much
like a Roman Catholic ever to marry my cousin. I would as soon marry my
brother if I had one. I think it wicked, disgusting! So, Mr. Phil, I am
going to have just the best time flirting with you that ever a girl had.
But what shall I do while you are gone? Mr. Beresford is nice, but I
can’t flirt with him. He is too old and dignified, and has such a way of
looking you down.”

This mental allusion to Mr. Beresford reminded Reinette that he was to
come that day for any papers of her father’s which she had in her
possession, and that she must look them over first. Ringing for Pierre,
she bade him bring her the small black trunk or box in which her
father’s private papers were kept. Pierre obeyed, and was about leaving
the room when Reinette bade him bring a lighted lamp and set it upon the
hearth of the open fire-place.

“I may wish to burn some of them,” she said.

The lamp was brought and lighted, and then Queenie began her task,
selecting first all the legal-looking documents which she knew must
pertain strictly to her father’s business. A few of these were in
English and related to affairs in America, but the most were in French,
and pertained to matters in France and Switzerland, where her father
held property. These Queenie knew Mr. Beresford could not decipher
without her help, and so she went carefully over each document, finding
nothing objectionable—nothing which a stranger might not see—nothing
mysterious to her, though one paper might seem so to others. It was
dated about twenty years before, and was evidently a copy of what was
intended as an order setting apart a certain amount of money, the
interest to be paid semi-annually to one Christine Bodine in return for
services rendered: the principal was placed in the hands of Messrs.
Polignie, with instructions to pay the interest as therein provided to
the party named, who, in case of Mr. Hetherton’s death, was to receive
the whole unless orders to the contrary should be previously given. This
paper Reinette read two or three times, wondering what were the services
for which her old nurse received this annuity, and thinking, too, that
here was a chance to find her. The money must have been paid, if she
were living, and through the Messrs. Polignie she could trace her and
bring her to America.

“I ought to have some such person living with me, I suppose,” she said,
“and I hate a maid always in my room and in my way.”

The business papers disposed of and laid away for Mr. Beresford’s
inspection, Queenie turned next to the letters, of which there were not
very many. Some from Mr. Beresford on business—one from her father’s
mother, Mrs. General Hetherton, written to him when he was at Harvard,
and showing that the writer was a lady in every thought and feeling, and
one from herself, written to her father when he was in Algiers, and she
only ten years old. It was a perfect child’s letter, full of details of
life at the English school, and of Margery, who was with her there.

“Queenie’s first letter to me,” was written on the label, and the worn
paper showed that it had been often read by the fond, proud father.

Over this Reinette’s tears fell in torrents, for it told how much she
had been loved, by the man whose hand she seemed to touch as she sorted
the letters he had held so often.

Putting aside the envelope which bore her childish superscription, she
took up next a packet, which, to her aristocratic instincts, seemed out
of place with those other papers, in which there lingered still a faint
odor of the costly perfume her father always used.

There were three letters inclosed in one large envelope, on which was
written “Papers pertaining to the Avignon business.” Queenie knew her
father had once owned some houses in Avignon, and taking first the
largest letter in the package, she studied it carefully, noting that the
paper was cheap, the handwriting cramped, and Chateau des Fleurs, to
which it was directed, spelled wrong. “This is not business—it is a
letter which by mistake papa must have put in the wrong place, for it
looks _coarse_, it feels _coarse_, and it smells _coarse_,” Queenie
said, elevating her little nose as she caught a whiff of something very
different from the delicate perfumery pervading the other papers. “Who
sent this to papa, and what is it about?” were the questions which
passed rapidly through her mind, as she held the worn, soiled missive
between her thumb and fingers, and inspected it curiously.

Once something prompted her to put it away from her sight, and never
seek to know its contents. But woman’s curiosity overcame every scruple,
and she at last drew the letter itself from the envelope. It was quite a
large sheet, such as Reinette knew ladies seldom used, and the four
pages were closely written over, while there seemed to be something
inside which added to its bulk.

Turning first to the last page, Queenie glanced at the signature, and
saw the two words “From Tina,” but saw no more, for the something
inside, which, slipping down, dropped upon her hand, around which it
coiled like a living thing, with a grasp of recognition. It was a tress
of long, blue-black hair, with just a tendency to wave perceptible all
through it.

Shaking it off as if it had been a snake, Queenie’s cheek paled a moment
with a sensation she could not define, and then crimsoned with shame and
resentment; resentment for the dead mother, who, she felt, had in some
way been wronged, and shame for the dead father to whom some other woman
had dared to write, and send a lock of hair.

“Who is this _Tina_?” she said, with a hot gleam of anger in her black
eyes, “and how dare she send this to my father—the bold, bad creature! I
hate her, with her vile black hair” and she ground her little high heel
upon the unconscious tress of hair, as if it had been Tina herself upon
whom she was trampling. “I’ll burn it,” she said at last, “but I’ll
never touch it again.”

And reaching for the tongs which stood upon the hearth, she took up the
offending hair and held it in the lamp, watching it with a grim feeling
of satisfaction, and yet with a sense of pain, as it hissed, and
reddened, and charred in the flame, and writhed and twisted as if it had
been something human from which the life was going out.

Through the open window a breath of the sweet summer air came stealing
in, and catching up a bit of the burnt, crisped hair carried it to
Queenie’s white morning wrapper, where it clung tenaciously until she
shook it off as if it had been pollution.

“Tina!” she exclaimed again. “Who I’d like to know is Tina?” Then
remembering the surest way to find out who she was, was to read the
letter, she took it up again, but hesitated a moment as if held back by
some unseen influence; hesitated as we sometimes hesitate when standing
on the threshold of some great crisis or danger in our lives. “If it is
bad,” she said, “I do not wish to think ill of him. Oh, father, it
_isn’t_ bad: it _must not_ be bad;” and the hot tears came fast, as the
daughter who had believed her father so pure and good turned at last to
the first page to see what was written there.

It was dated at Marseilles twenty years before, and began:

“Dear Mr. Hetherton, are you wondering why you do not hear from your
little Tina?—”

“Miss Hetherton, your grandmother is here asking for you,” came from the
door outside at which Pierre stood knocking, and starting, as if caught
in some guilty act, Reinette put the letter back in its envelope, and
went down to meet her grandmother, who had come over for what she called
a “real sit down visit,” and brought her work with her.

There was nothing now left for Reinette but to leave the letters and
devote herself to her guest, who staid to lunch, so that it was not
until afternoon that Queenie found an opportunity to resume the work of
the morning. Meanwhile her thoughts had been busy, and over and over
again she had repeated to herself the words, “Your little Tina,” until
they had assumed for her a new and entirely different meaning from the
one she had given them in the first moment of her discovery. There might
be—nay, there was no shame attaching to them—no shame in that blue-black
tress of hair which she could feel curling around her fingers still, and
see as it hissed and writhed in the flame. The letter was written
_after_ her mother’s death. Her father was human—was like other men—and
his fancy had been caught by some dark-haired girl of the lower class
who called herself his “Little Tina;” she had undoubtedly bewitched him
for a time, so that he might have thought to make her his wife. His
first marriage was what they called a _mesalliance_; and here Queenie
felt her cheeks flush hotly as if a wrong was done to her mother, but
she meant none; she was trying to defend her father; to save his memory
from any evil doing. If he stooped once, he might again, and the last
time _Tina_ was the object. He had meant honorably by her always, and
tiring of her after a little had broken with her, as was often done by
the best of men. Of all this Queenie thought as she talked with her
grandmother, answering her numberless questions of her life in France,
and her plans for the future; and by the time the good lady was gone and
she free to go back to her work, she had changed her mind with regard to
Tina’s letters, and a strange feeling of pity for the unknown girl had
taken possession of her, making her shrink from reading her words of
love, if they were innocent and pure, as she fain would believe them to
be for the sake of her dead father; and if they were not innocent and
pure, “I do not wish to know it. I should hate him—hate him always in
his grave!” she said, as she picked up the letter and resolutely put it
back in the envelope with the other two.

Once she thought to burn them, as she had the hair and thus put
temptation away forever; but as often as she held them toward the lamp
she had lighted again, as often something checked her, until a kind of
superstitious conviction took possession of her that she _must not_ burn
those letters written by “Little Tina.”

“But I will never, never read them,” she said; and dropping on her
knees, with the package held tightly in her hand, she registered a vow,
that so long as she lived she would not seek to know what the letters
contained unless circumstances should arise which would make the reading
of them a necessity.

This last condition came to her mind she hardly knew how or why, for she
had no idea that any circumstances could arise which would make the
reading of the letters necessary.

Searching through her trunks and drawers, she found four paper boxes of
different sizes, and putting the envelope in the smallest of them,
placed that in the next larger size, and so on, writing upon the cover
of the last one. “To be burned without opening in case of my death.”
Then tying the lid securely with a strong cord, she mounted upon a
chair, and placed the package upon the highest shelf of the closet,
where neither she nor any one could see it.

“There, little black-haired Tina,” she said, as she came down from the
chair and out into her chamber, “your secret, if you had one with my
father, is safe—not for _your_ sake, though, you blue-black-haired
jade!” and Queenie set her foot down viciously: “not for your sake, but
for father’s, who might have been silly enough to be caught by your
pretty face, and to be flattered by you, for, of course, you ran after
him, and widowers are fools, I’ve heard say.”

Having thus settled the unknown Tina, and dismissed her from her mind
for the time being at least, Queenie went back to the remaining package
in the box—the one tied with a blue ribbon, and labeled “Margaret’s

“Mother’s,” she said, softly, with a quick, gasping breath; “and now I
shall know something of her at last;” and she kissed tenderly the
time-worn envelope which held her mother’s letters.

There were not many of them, and they had been written at long
intervals, and only in answer to the husband’s, it would seem, for she
complained in one that he waited so long before replying to her. Queenie
felt no compunctions in reading these; they were something which
belonged to her and she went through them rapidly, with burning cheeks,
and eyes so full of tears at times that she could scarcely see the
delicate handwriting, so different from that other, the blue-black
haired Tina’s as she mentally designated her. And as Queenie read, there
came over her a feeling of resentment and anger toward the dead father,
who, she felt sure, had often grieved and neglected the young wife, who,
though she made no complaint, wrote so sadly and dejectedly, and begged
him to come home, and not stay so long in those far-off lands, with
people whom Margaret evidently did not like.

“Dear Frederick,” she wrote from Rome, “please come to me; I am so
lonely without you, and the days are so long, with only Christine for
company, for I seldom go out except to drive on the Pincian or Campagna,
and so see scarcely see any one. Christine is a great comfort to me, and
anticipates my wishes almost before I know that I have them myself. She
is as faithful and tender as if she were my mother, instead of maid, and
if I should die you must always be kind to her for what she has been to
me. But oh, I do so long for you, and I think I could make you very
happy. You used to love me in dear old Merrivale. How often I dream of
home and the shadowy woods by the pond where we used to walk together,
and the moonlight sails on the river when we rowed in among the white
lilies, and you said I was lovelier and sweeter than they. You loved me
then; do you love me now as well? I have sometimes feared you did not;
feared something had come between us which was weaning you from me.
Don’t let it, Frederick; put it away from you, whatever it may be, and
let me be your Queen, your Daisy, your Margery again; for I do love you,
my husband, more than you can guess, and I want your love now when I am
so sick, and tired, and lonely. Christine is waiting to post this for
me, and so I must close with a kiss right there where I make the star
(*.) Put your lips there, Frederick, where mine have been and then we
shall have kissed each other. Truly, lovingly, and longingly, your
tired, sick Margery.”

“Margery? That was, then her pet name, the name I like the best in all
the world, because of my Margery,” Queenie cried, as her tears fell fast
upon the letter, which seemed to her like a voice from the dead. “Poor
mother, you were not so very happy, were you? Why did you die? If I only
had you now, how I would love and pet you,” she said, as she
passionately kissed the place which her mother’s lips had touched, and
her father’s, too, she hoped, for how could he resist that touching
appeal? He must have loved the writer of that letter, and yet there was
a cloud between the husband and wife which cast its shadow over their
child and made her weep bitterly as she wondered what it was which had
crept in between her father and his tired, sick Margery.

“Was it the blue-black haired Tina;” she said, as she clenched her fists
together, and then beat the air with them, as she would have beaten the
blue-black-haired Tina had she been there with her. “Poor mother,” she
said again, “so tired and sick, with no one to care for her but
Christine, who was so good to her. I know now why father settled that
money on her; it was because she was so kind and faithful to mother, who
knows now, perhaps, that father did love her more than she thought; for
he did, I am sure he did; and he loved me, too, and I believed him so
noble and true. Oh, father, father, forgive me, but I have lost
something. I cannot put it in words—I don’t know what I mean,” and
stooping over the package which held her mother’s letters, Reinette
cried out loud, with a bitter sense of something lost from her father’s
memory which had been very sweet to her. “Oh, how much has happened
since I came to America, and how long it seems, and how old I feel, and
there is no one to tell it to—no one to talk with about it.”

Just then there was a second knock at the door, and Pierre announced Mr.
Beresford waiting in the library. He was a prompt, business man, and had
come for the papers, Reinette knew, and, bathing her flushed cheeks, and
crumpling her wavy hair more than it was already crumpled, she went down
to meet him, taking the papers with her, and trying to seem natural and
gay, as if no tress of blue-black hair had been burned in her room, no
letters from Tina were hidden away in her closet, and no sting when she
thought of her father was hurting her cruelly.

Queenie was a perfect little actress, and her face was bright with
smiles as she entered the room and greeted Mr. Beresford, who, being a
close observer, saw that something had been agitating her, and guessed
that it was the examining of her father’s papers, which naturally would
bring back her sorrow so freshly. There was a great pity in his heart
for this lonely girl, and his manner was very sympathetic and gentle as
he took the box from her and said:

“I am afraid this has been too much for you.”

Instantly the great tears gathered in her eyes, but did not fall, and
only made her all the sweeter and prettier, as she sat down beside him
and said:

“I must read some of them over for you, for I don’t believe you
understand French very well, do you?”

“Not at all,” he replied, glad to be thought ignorant of even the
monosyllable _oui_, if by this means he could sit close to her and watch
her dimpled hands sorting out the papers, and hear her silvery,
bird-like voice, with its soft accent, translating what was written in
them into English.

Especial pains did she take to make him understand about the money paid
to Christine Bodine, and _why_ it was paid.

“She was so kind to mother, who requested him to care for her. I’ve been
reading all about it in mother’s letters to him,” she said, without
lifting her eyes to his face, for in spite of herself and her avowed
confidence in her father’s honor, there was in her heart a feeling of
degradation when she remembered Tina, as if the shame, if shame there
were, was in some way attaching to her, and robbing her of some of her

But Mr. Beresford had no suspicion of Tina, and only thought how lovely
Queenie was and what a remarkable talent for understanding business she
developed, as they went over the papers together and formed a pretty
fair estimate of the value of the Hetherton estate.

“Why there is over half a million, if all this is good,” she said,
looking up at him with pleased surprise. “And I am so glad, for I like a
great deal of money. I have always had it, and should not know what to
do without it. I want a great deal for myself, and more for other
people. I am going to give grandma some, because—well,” and Queenie
hesitated a little, “because I was mean to her at the station when she
claimed me; and I’m going to give some to Aunt Lydia, so she can afford
to sell out her business which is so obnoxious to Anna, and if that girl
down at the Vineyard proves to be my Margery, I shall give her money to
buy Aunt Lydia out, and then I shall have her all to myself, and you’ll
be falling in love with her—remember that! You’ll be in love with
Margery La Rue the second time you see her!”

“Margery La Rue! Who is she?” Mr. Beresford asked; and then came the
story of Margery, mixed with so extravagant praises of the young lady
that Mr. Beresford began to feel an interest in her, although the idea
of falling in love with her was simply preposterous.

Sensible as he was, Mr. Beresford had a great deal of foolish pride, and
would have scouted the thought of a dressmaker ever becoming Mrs. Arthur
Beresford. That lady was to be more like this dark-eyed fairy beside
him, who chattered on, telling him what she meant to do with her half
million, which it seemed was literally burning her fingers. She would
give some to everybody who was poor and needed it, some to all the
missionaries and churches, and even some to him, if he was ever
straitened and wanted it.

Mr. Beresford smiled, and thanked her, and said he would remember her
offer; and then she added:

“I will give some to Phil _now_, if he wants it, to carry on his
business. Does it take much money, Mr. Beresford? What is his
business—his profession? I do not think I know.”

“I don’t think he has any,” Mr. Beresford replied; and Reinette

“No business! no profession! That’s bad! Every young man ought to do
something, father used to say. Pray, what _does_ Phil do! How does he
pass his time?”

“By making himself generally useful and agreeable,” Mr. Beresford said,
and in his voice there was a tinge of irony, which Queenie detected at
once, and instantly flamed up in defense of her cousin.

“Of course he makes himself useful and agreeable—more agreeable than any
person I ever saw. I have only known him a day or two, and yet I like
him better than anybody in the world except Margery.”

“Phil ought to feel complimented with your opinion which, I assure you,
is well merited,” Mr. Beresford said, while a horrid feeling of jealousy
took possession of him.

Why would girls always prefer an indolent, easy-going, good-for-nothing
chap like Phil Rossiter, to an active, energetic, throughgoing man like
himself? Not that he had heretofore been troubled by what the girls
preferred, for he cared nothing for them in the abstract; but this
restless, sparkling French girl was different, and he felt every nerve
in his body thrill with a strange feeling of ecstasy when at parting she
laid her, soft warm hand on his, and looking up at him with her bright,
earnest eyes, said to him:

“Now you will write at once to Messrs. Polignie and inquire about
Christine; and I shall write, too; for I must find her and bring her
here to live with me. Grandma says I ought to have somebody—some
middle-aged, respectable woman, as a kind of guardian—but, ugh! I hate

“Oh, I hope not!” Mr. Beresford said, laughingly, managing to retain the
hand laid in his so naturally. “In one sense I am your guardian, and I
hope you don’t hate me.”

“Certainly not,” Reinette said. “I think you are very nice. You are
father’s friend, and he said I must like you, and tell you everything,
and I do like you ever so much, though not the way I do Phil. I like him
because he’s so good and funny, and my cousin, and—well, because he is

“Happy Phil! I wish I was good and funny, and your cousin!” Mr.
Beresford said, as he bade her good-afternoon and rode away.

“I hope he is not falling in love with me, for that would be dreadful. I
wouldn’t marry him any sooner than I would Phil. He is too old, and
dignified, and poky,” Reinette thought, as she watched him going down
the hill, while he was mentally registering a vow to enter the lists and
compete with the young man who was so much liked because he was _Phil_.

                              CHAPTER XIX.
                     THE LITTLE LADY OF HETHERTON.

Within a week after Phil’s departure the whole town was full of her, and
rumor said she was running a wild career with no one to advise or check
her except Mr. Beresford, who seemed as crazy as herself. Everybody
thought her wonderfully bright, and fresh, and pretty, but her ways
astonished the sober people of Merrivale, who, nevertheless, were
greatly interested and amused with watching her as she developed phase
after phase of her variable nature—visiting Mr. Beresford at his office
two or three times a day, ostensibly to translate foreign letters and
papers for him, but really, it was said by the gossips, to see the man
himself; galloping off miles and miles into the country on her spirited
horse, with the little old Frenchman in attendance; worrying Mrs. Jerry
by having chocolate in her room in the morning, breakfasting at twelve,
dining at six, with as much ceremony as if a dozen people were seated at
the table instead of one lone girl, who sometimes never touched the
dishes prepared with so much care—dining, too, in all sorts of places as
the fancy took her; on the north piazza, and on the south piazza; giving
her money away by the hundreds to the Fergusons, and by the tens, and
fives, and ones to anybody asking for it; sinking a little fortune on
the grounds at Hetherton Place, which she was entirely metamorphosing,
with fifteen or twenty men at work there all the time, while she
superintended them, and gave them lemonade or root beer two or three
times a day, as an incentive to swifter labor.

Such was the state of affairs when Phil, improving the very first
opportunity for leave of absence, came back to Merrivale. It was 10 A.M.
when he reached the station, and exactly half-past ten to a minute when
he found himself at Hetherton Place, his hand locked in that of Queenie,
who in her big garden hat, with trowel, and pruning-knife, led him all
over the grounds, where the fifteen men were at work, pointing out her
improvements, and asking what he thought of them. And Phil, who had
promised his mother to check his cousin if he found her going on
recklessly, as they had heard from Anna, proved a very flunky, and
instead of checking her, entered heart and soul into her plans, and even
made suggestions as to how they could be improved. So useful, in fact,
did he make himself, and so much skill and taste did he display, that
Queenie forgot entirely to chide him for his lack of a profession.
Indeed, she was rather glad than otherwise that he had no profession, as
it left him free to be with her all the time and to become at last the
superintendent of the whole, with this difference, however, that while
he directed the men, Queenie directed him and made him her very slave.

Queenie never shrank from anything, but plunged her white hands into the
dirt up to her wrists, while Phil took off his coat and worked patiently
at her side, transplanting a rose-bush or geranium to one place in the
morning, and in the evening to another, if so the fancy took his
mistress. She could not always tell where she wanted a thing until she
studied the effect of certain positions, and then, if she did not like
it, if it did not harmonize with the picture she was forming, it must be
moved, she said. And so the moving and changing went on, and people
marveled to see how rapidly what had first seemed chaos and confusion
began to assume proportions until the grounds bade fair to become more
beautiful and artistic than any place which had ever been seen in the
county. What had been done before Queenie’s arrival was for the most
part unchanged, but the remainder of the grounds were entirely
overturned. The plateau and summer-house, on which Queenie had set her
heart, were made, and the terraces, and the new walks, and the pasture
land, west of the house, was robbed of its greensward for turf to cover
the terraces and plateau, which were watered twice each day until the
well and cisterns gave out, and then the heavens, as if in sympathy with
the work, poured out plentiful showers, and so, not withstanding that it
was summer, the turf, and the shrubs, and the vines, and flowers were
kept green and fresh, and scarcely stopped their growing. Everything
went beautifully Queenie said, as she issued her orders, and, busy as a
bee, worked from morning till night, with Phil always in attendance,
while even Mr. Beresford at last caught the fever, and went himself into
the business of planting and transplanting, and working in the dirt.
_The Hetherton gardeners_ the people called the two young men, Phil
being the head and Mr. Beresford the _sub_; but little did they care for
the merry-making, so long as that bright, sparkling girl worked with
them, and then at night rewarded them with a bouquet, which she fastened
to their button-holes, standing up on tiptoe to do it, and looking up at
them with eyes which nearly drove them crazy.

Nor was Hetherton Place the only spot where Queenie was busy. A few days
after Phil went to the sea-shore there had come to her a letter from
Margery, who wrote:

  “MY DARLING QUEENIE.—You do not know how surprised and delighted I was
  to hear that you were in America, or how sorry I was to hear of your
  loss. You must be so lonely and sad, alone in a strange country. What
  is Merrivale like? and do you think it would be a good place for me?
  Is it not funny that I had thought to go there, and have actually
  written to a Mrs. Ferguson, who turns out to be your aunt? But she
  asks more for her business than I feel able to pay, and so the plan
  has been abandoned for the present. But I must see you, and,
  remembering all your kindness in the years past, you will not think me
  intrusive when I tell you, that before the summer is gone I am coming
  to Merrivale, just to look into your dear eyes again, and see if you
  are changed. I like your aunt and cousins; they are genuine ladies,
  and I am glad they belong to you.”

The first thing Queenie did after reading this letter, was to mount her
horse and gallop in hot haste to the village, where she astonished Mrs.
Lydia Ferguson by offering her more for her business than she had
demanded of Miss La Rue.

“It is my Margery—my friend, and I am going to have her here, if I turn
my own house into a dressmaker’s shop,” she said, and she talked so
fast, and gesticulated so rapidly, that Mrs. Lydia grew quite
bewildered, but managed to comprehend that a price was offered her which
would be well for her to accept, as it might never be offered her again.

Anna, too, was all eagerness to “get out of the vile thing and be
somebody,” as she expressed it, and so the bargain was closed, and Mrs.
Lydia was to retire at once into the privacy and respectability of
private life; the obnoxious sign was to be taken from the front window,
and Miss Anna was to be merely the daughter of a grocer which she
considered quite an ascent in the social scale.

Mrs. Lydia did not wish to sell her house, nor Queenie to buy it.

She had heard there was a charming little cottage on Maple Avenue, for
sale, and she swooped down upon the owner like a hurricane, asking him
what his terms were, and if he would vacate at once.

“You see I wish to get him out immediately, for I mean to make it just
like a palace for Margery,” she said to her grandmother, who tried to
restrain the reckless girl, telling her she was going on at a ruinous
rate, and that, of herself she could not transact business, until she
was of age.

“But Mr. Beresford can transact it for me, and I shall have it,” she
said; and she took Mr. Beresford by storm and compelled him to make an
arrangement whereby the cottage and her aunt’s business came into her
possession. Then she wrote to her friend:

  “YOU DEAR OLD DARLING MARGERY:—I do know just how surprised and glad
  you were to hear that I was in America, for wasn’t I just as glad to
  know that you were near me when I thought you in Nice or Italy. Why
  didn’t you answer my letter, you naughty girl? I wrote you six and
  only had two in return. It is just like a story, isn’t it—our being
  together in America? And, Margie, my grandmother is not that English
  duchess I used to talk so much about, but a real, live Yankee woman,
  of the very _Yankee-est_ kind, red, and fat, and good, and calls me
  _Rennet_, and wears purple gloves—or she did till I coaxed her into
  some black ones, which she thinks are not very dressy. And you will
  like her ever so much, and you are coming to Merrivale to live at
  once, now, right away. So, pack up your things as soon as you read
  this. I have bought that business for you of Mrs. Ferguson, who is my
  aunt, or rather the wife of my mother’s brother; and she has a
  daughter Anna, who is my cousin, and very _stunning_ and _swell_. That
  last is _slang_, which I have learned in America of Phil, who is
  another cousin, and a Ferguson, too: or rather his mother was, which
  is the same thing. There are a great many Fergusons, you see; but then
  there are Fergusons and Fergusons. But you will learn all this when
  you come. I have a pretty little cottage engaged, with a bit of fresh
  greensward in front, and the loveliest old-fashioned garden at the
  side, with June pinks, and roses, and tiger-lilies, and a nice bed of
  _tansy_, I like tansy, don’t you? There was a patch of it at dear old
  Chateau des Fleurs. Then there are two front rooms for the work, and a
  sitting and dining-room back, with the kitchen, and three chambers
  communicating with each other. One of these I shall fit up with blue
  for you; it will just suit your lovely complexion and eyes; the other
  is scarlet, for your mother, who is dark; and the third—well, that is
  to be mine when I stay with you nights, as I intend doing often. But I
  can’t have the same color as your mother, so I shall take pink, which
  will make me look just like a—a—_nigger_. That’s another word I caught
  from Phil. I wish he would come back. Tell him so, please.

  “And now, Margery, come as soon as you can. And don’t be silly about
  my buying the cottage and business for you. It is only a little bit of
  payment on the big sum I owe you for that sacrifice you were ready to
  make for me. How well I remember that day, and how plainly I can see
  you now, as you went up to the master, with your face as white as
  paper, and your eyes so pitiful and appealing as they looked at me,
  and yet so full of love. And I, the coward, shut my eyes, and clenched
  my fists, and said to myself just as fast as I could, ‘Nasty beast!
  nasty beast!’ till the first blow fell, which hurt me more than it did
  you, for it cut right into my conscience, and there has been a little
  smart there ever since, while your dear hand is just as white and fair
  as if that vile old man’s ferrule had never reddened and wounded it.
  Splendid old Margery! I want to hug you this minute!

  “And—oh, Margie, don’t think I have forgotten papa, because I have not
  said more of him; for I haven’t, and there is a thought of him and a
  little moan in my heart for him all the time. No matter what I am
  doing, or how gay I seem, I never forget that he is dead, and that
  there is nobody to love me now but you, who seem so near to me,
  because you knew of the old life at home now gone forever. Answer at
  once, and say when I may expect you.”

To this letter Margery replied within a few days, thanking Queenie for
her generous interest, but saying she could not accept so much from her;
she should come to Merrivale with her mother as soon as they could
arrange matters where they were, but she should insist upon paying rent
for the cottage, and also upon paying for the business.

“I can do that in a short time,” she wrote, “if I have work, and I shall
be happier to be independent even of you, my darling. Besides I do not
think the Rossiters and Fergusons would like you to do so much for a
stranger. I am nothing to them, you know, except their dressmaker—”

“I think her a very sensible girl. I could not respect her, if she were
willing to receive so much from you,” Mr. Beresford said when Queenie
read him Margery’s letter; whereupon Queenie flew into a passion, and
said he did not understand—did not appreciate the nature of the
friendship between herself and Margery; adding that she should never
tell Margery how much she paid her Aunt Lydia, and that she would never
take any rent and she should furnish the house herself.

And she did, and, with Phil to help her after he came, she accomplished
more at the cottage and at Hetherton Place than any ten ordinary women
could have accomplished in the same length of time. Every day she
managed to spend two or three hours at the cottage, which, with plenty
of money and perfect taste, was soon transformed into a little gem of a
house. It is true there was nothing expensive in it in the way of
furniture, except the upright Steinway, which Queenie insisted upon; but
everything was so well chosen and so artistically arranged, that the
whole effect was like a lovely picture, and the villagers went to see
it, and wondered what this Margery could be that Miss Hetherton was
doing so much for her.

“She is only a dressmaker, after all,” Miss Anna said, with a toss of
her head, as she sat in what had been her mother’s work-room
entertaining a visitor and discussing the expected Margery.

Anna had lost no time in removing the sign from the window, and had even
carried out her threat of splitting and burning it up, thinking thus to
wipe out a past which she foolishly thought had been a disgrace, because
of her mother’s honest labor. The work-room, too, had been dismantled of
everything pertaining to the obnoxious dressmaking, and Mrs. Lydia,
deprived of her occupation, found the time hanging heavily upon her
hands, for she had no taste for housekeeping, and could not at once
interest herself in it. Besides, she missed the excitement of the people
coming in and going out, and missed the gossip they brought, and almost
every hour of her life repented that to gratify her daughter she had
been persuaded to retire from business and set up for a lady.

Anna, on the contrary, enjoyed it immensely, and held her head a good
deal higher, and frizzed her hair more than ever, and wore her best
dresses every day, and spoke slightingly of Margery La Rue as only a
dressmaker, and told half a dozen of the neighbors, confidentially, that
she thought her cousin Reinette fast and queer, though she supposed it
was the French of her, to go on, as she did, with Phil and Mr.
Beresford, both of whom were making fools of themselves. For her part
she could see nothing attractive in her whatever, except that she was
bright, and witty, and small, and tall men, as a rule, liked little
women. To Queenie herself, however, she was sweetness itself, and as the
latter never heard of her ill-natured remarks, there was a show of
friendship between the two girls, and Anna was frequently at Hetherton
Place, where the envy of her nature found ample food to feed upon, as
she contrasted Reinette’s surroundings with her own.

                              CHAPTER XX.
                         ARRIVALS IN MERRIVALE.

For three or four years Merrivale had boasted of a weekly paper, and in
the column of “Personals” the citizens read one Thursday morning that
the Rossiters were coming home on Friday, and that Mrs. and Miss La Rue,
the French ladies who were to succeed Mrs. Ferguson in her business,
were also expected on that day. Everybody was glad the Rossiters were
coming, for Merrivale was always gayer when they were home, as they were
hospitable people, and entertained a great deal of company. Usually they
brought guests with them, but this time no one was coming, Phil said,
except a cousin of his father’s—an old bachelor, who rejoiced in the
highsounding name of Lord Seymour Rossiter, though to do him justice, he
usually signed himself Major L. S. Rossiter, as he had once been in the
army. He was very rich, Phil said, and rather good-looking, and he
laughingly bade Queenie be prepared to surrender at once to his charms.
But Queenie cared little for Lord Rossiter or any other lord just then.
All her thoughts and interests were centered in the one fact that
Margery was coming, and she spent the whole of Friday morning at the
cottage, seeing that everything was in readiness, and literally filling
it with flowers from her garden and greenhouse.

“I wish her to have a good first impression,” she said to Phil, who was
with her as she inspected the rooms for the last time before going home
to the early dinner she had ordered that day, so as to be at the station
in time.

The train was due at six o’clock, and, a few minutes before the hour,
the Rossiter carriage with Phil in it, and the Hetherton carriage with
Reinette in it, drew up side by side at the rear of the depot.

Reinette was full of excitement and expectation, and made a most lovely
picture in her black dress of some soft, gauzy material, with knots of
double-faced scarlet and cream ribbons twisted in with the bows and
loops of satin—a scarlet tip on her black hat, and a mass of white
illusion wound round it, and fastened beneath her chin.

Phil thought her perfectly charming as she walked restlessly up and down
the platform, waiting for the first sound which should herald the
approaching train. It came at last—a low whistle in the distance,
growing gradually louder and shriller, until the train shot under the
bridge, and the great engine puffed and groaned a moment before the
station, and then went on its way, leaving two distinct groups of people
to be stared at by the lookers-on. One, the Rossiters and a middle-aged
man, dressed in the extreme of fashion, with eye glasses on his nose and
a little slender cane in his hand, which he twisted nervously, while,
with the other members of his party, he looked curiously at the second
group farther down the platform—the three French ladies, who spoke their
native tongue so volubly, and were so demonstrative and expressive in
their gestures and tones. Mrs. La Rue was in black, with a strange
expression on her face and in her eyes, as she watched the two young

The moment Margery alighted, Reinette had precipitated herself into her
arms, exclaiming:

“You dear old Margie! you have come at last;” while kiss after kiss was
showered upon the girl, whose golden hair gleamed brightly in the
sunlight, and whose blue eyes were full of tears as she returned the

Suddenly remembering Mrs. La Rue, Queenie turned toward her, and,
offering her hand very cordially, utterly ignored the fact that she had
ever seen her before by saying:

“I think you are Mrs. La Rue, and I am happy to meet you, because you
bring me Margie.”

“Thanks. You are very kind,” Mrs. La Rue replied, with a tone which a
stranger might have thought cold and constrained but for the face, which
had something eager and almost hungry in its expression, as the great
black eyes were riveted upon Queenie whose hand the woman held in a
tight clasp until it was wrenched away, as the girl turned next to the

“Wait, Margie,” she said, in passing. “Our carriage is here, and I am
going to take you to your new home.”

Then hurrying on she went up to her aunt, and cousins, and the major,
who had been watching her curiously, and mentally commenting upon her.

“Quite too much sentiment and gush for me. I like more manner; more
dignity,” he thought, while Mrs. Rossiter saw only her sister’s child,
and Ethel and Grace felt a little disappointed with regard to the
beauty, of which they had heard so much.

But when she came toward them, her head erect, her cheeks flushed, and
eyes shining like diamonds and seeming almost to speak as they danced,
and laughed, and sparkled, they changed their minds, and when the great
tears came with a rush, as she threw herself into Mrs. Rossiter’s arms,
exclaiming, “Oh auntie, I am going to love you so much, and you must
love me with all my faults, for I have neither father nor mother, now,”
they espoused her cause at once, and never for a moment wavered in their
allegiance to her. Giving each of them a hand, and kissing them warmly,
she said, laughingly: “You are all alike, aren’t you? tall and fair, and
blue-eyed—so different from me, who am nothing but a little black

“That’s the Ferguson of us,” Phil said, with a meaning smile, which
brought a flush to his sister’s cheeks, and made Queenie laugh, as she

“I wish I were a Ferguson then, if that would make me white.”

“A deuced pretty girl, after all,” the Major thought, as she beamed on
him her brightest smile when Phil introduced her, and then the parties
separated. And returning to Margery, Queenie led her in triumph to the
carriage, while Mrs. La Rue followed after them.

Her black gauze vail was drawn closely over her face, but both girls
caught a sound like a suppressed sigh, and turning to her, Margery said:

“I believe mother is homesick, and pining for France she seems so low

“Oh, I hope not. America is a great deal better than France, and
Merrivale is best of all,” Queenie said, glancing at Mrs. La Rue, and
noting for the first time how pale and tired she looked, noticing, too,
that she was all in black, though not exactly in mourning.

“She has lost some friend, perhaps,” she thought, and then chatted on
with Margery, unmindful of the woman who leaned wearily back among the
soft cushions of the luxurious carriage.

Of what was she thinking?—the tired, sad woman, as the carriage wound up
the hill, across the common, past the church where Margaret Ferguson
used to say her prayers, and past the yellowish-brown house which
Queenie pointed out as her Aunt Lydia’s, and where, on the door-step
Anna sat fanning herself, rejoicing that she was now a grocer’s
daughter. It would be hard to fathom her thoughts, which were straying
far back over the broad gulf which lay between the present and the days
of her girlhood. And yet nothing escaped her, from Anna Ferguson on the
door-step to the handsome house and grounds at the Knoll, which Queenie
said was her Aunt Rossiter’s house; but when at last the cottage was
reached, and she alighted from the carriage, she was so weak and faint
that Margery led her into the house, and even Queenie was alarmed at the
death-like pallor of her face, and stood by her while Margery hunted
through her bags for some restorative.

“You are very tired, aren’t you?” Queenie said, kindly, to her, at the
same time laying her hand gently upon her head, for her bonnet had been

At the touch of those cool, slender fingers and the sound of the pitying
voice Mrs. La Rue gave way entirely, and grasping both Queenie’s hands,
covered them with tears and kisses; as she said:

“Forgive me, Queenie, and let me call you once by that pet name; let me
thank you for all you have done for us—for Margery and me. God bless
you, Queenie! God bless you!”

“Mother, mother, you frighten Miss Hetherton!” Margery said, coming
quickly forward, and guessing from the expression of Queenie’s face,
that so much demonstration was distasteful to her. “You are tired and
nervous; let me take you up stairs,” she continued as she led the
unresisting woman to her room, where she made her lie down upon the
couch, and then went back to Queenie, who was standing in the door-way
and beating her little foot impatiently, as she thought:

“I wonder what makes that woman act so? The first time I ever saw her
she stared at me as if she would eat me up; and just now there was
positively something frightful in her eyes as they looked up at me; I do
not believe I like her.”

Just here Margery appeared, apologizing for her mother, who, she said
was wholly overcome with all Queenie’s kindness to them.

“Yes, I know. I do it for _you_,” Queenie said, a little petulantly, for
she did not care at all if Margery knew of her aversion to her mother.

It was time now for her to go if she would see her cousins, and
promising Margery to look in upon her in the morning and bring her a
pile of dresses which needed repairing, she entered her carriage, and
was driven to the Knoll, where the family were just sitting down to

Taking a seat with them, Queenie talked and laughed, and sparkled, and
shone, until the room seemed full of her, and the bewildered major could
have sworn there were twenty pairs of eyes flashing upon him instead of
one, while Ethel and Grace held their breath and watched her as the
expression of her bright face changed with every new gesture of her
hands and turn of her head.

“She is so bright and beautiful, and different from anything we ever
saw,” they thought, while Mrs. Rossiter, though no less fascinated than
her daughters, was conscious of a feeling of disappointment because she
could discover no resemblance to her sister in her sister’s child. She
was unmistakably a Hetherton, though with another look in her dark face
and wonderful eyes which puzzled Mrs. Rossiter as she sat watching her
with constantly increasing interest, and listening to her gay bad-Phil
and the major, the latter of whom seemed half afraid of her, and was
evidently ill at ease when her eyes lighted upon him.

Supper being over Reinette arose to go, saying to her aunt and cousins:

“I shall expect you to dine with me to-morrow at six o’clock. It is to
be a family party, but Major Rossiter is included in the invitation. I
am going now to ask grandma and Aunt Lydia. Will you go with me, Phil?”

They found Grandma Ferguson weeding her flower borders in front of her
house, with her cap and collar off, and her spotted calico dress open at
the throat.

“It is too hot to be harnessed up with fixin’s,” she said, and when
Reinette, who did not like the looks of her neck, suggested that a
collar or ruffle did not greatly add to one’s discomfort in warm weather
and gave a finish to one’s dress, she replied: “Law, child, it don’t
matter an atom what I wear. Everybody knows Peggy Ferguson.” Reinette
gave a little deprecating shrug and then delivered her invitation, which
was accepted at once, grandma saying, “She could come early so as to
have a good visit before dinner, though she presumed Mary and the gals
wouldn’t be there till the last minit.”

Reinette gave another expressive shrug, and drove next to her Aunt
Lydia’s, where she found that lady seated in the parlor with a tired
look on her face as if doing nothing did not agree with her, while Anna
was drumming the old worn-out piano which, having been second-hand when
it was bought, was something dreadful to hear.

“Oh, Phil, you here?” she said turning on the musicstool. “I was going
by and by to see the girls. I hope they are well. Who was that
dandyish-looking old man with them, sitting up as straight as a ramrod,
with eyeglasses on his nose? Have they picked up a beau somewhere?”

Phil explained that the dandyish-looking old man was his father’s
cousin, Major Lord Seymour Rossiter, from New York, where he had for
twenty years occupied the same rooms at the same hotel.

“Oh, yes, I’ve heard of him; rich as a Jew, and an old bach,” Anna said.
“Yes, I’ll come to dinner, Queenie, and mother too, I suppose, but I’ve
no idea you’ll get father there—he doesn’t like visiting much.”

In her heart Reinette cared but little whether her uncle came or not.
His presence would add nothing to her dinner; but something in Anna’s
manner awoke within her a spirit of opposition, and sent her to the
grocery where her Uncle Tom sold codfish, and molasses, and eggs, and
where she found him in his shirt sleeves, seated upon a barrel outside
the door, smoking a tobacco pipe. He did not get up, nor stop his
smoking, except as he was obliged to take his pipe from his mouth while
he talked to Reinette, who gave him the invitation, and urged his
acceptance as warmly as if the success of her dinner depended upon it.

“He was much obliged to her,” he said but he didn’t think he should go.
He wasn’t used to the quality, and hadn’t eaten a meal of victuals
outside his own house in years except at Thanksgivin’ time when he had
to go to his mother’s.

“And that is just the reason you will come to-morrow,” Queenie said,
coaxingly. “It is my first family party, and you will not be so uncivil
as to refuse. I shall expect you without fail,” and with a smile and
flash of her eyes, which stirred even staid Tom Ferguson a little,
Reinette drove away, saying to Phil, who was going to ride home with her
and then walk back to the Knoll: “I hope he _will_ come, for I could see
that Anna did not wish him to. Such airs as she has taken on since she
split up that sign and quit the business, as she terms it! Does she
suppose it is what one does which makes a lady? Oh, Phil, why is there
such a difference between people of the same blood? There’s your mother,
as cultivated and refined as if she had been born a princess, and
there’s Anna and grandma, and Uncle Tom. Is it American democracy? If
so, I am afraid I don’t like it;” and, leaning back in the carriage,
Queenie looked very sober, while Phil said good-humoredly:

“In rebellion against the Fergusons again, I see. It will never do to go
against your family; blood is blood, and there’s no getting rid of it or
of _us_.”

“I have no wish to be rid of you, but I may as well confess it, I do
wish mother had been somebody besides a Ferguson,” Reinette replied;
then added, laughingly: “Don’t think me a monster—I can’t help the
feeling; it was born in me, and father fostered it; but I am trying to
overcome it, you see, for haven’t I invited them all to dinner? You must
come early, Phil—very early, so as to help me through.”

Phil promised, and as they had reached Hetherton Place by this time, and
it was beginning to grow dark, he bade her good-night, and walked
rapidly back to the Knoll.

                              CHAPTER XXI.
                              THE DINNER.

True to her promise, Reinette drove round to see Margery the next
morning, and carried a pile of dresses which scarcely needed a stitch,
but which she insisted should be changed, as she knew Margery needed
work. She found her friend well and delighted with the cottage, which
suited her in every particular. Mrs. La Rue, too, was very calm and
quiet, and only spoke to Reinette when spoken to, until the latter, in
speaking of Hetherton Place and how lonely she was there at times,
especially in the evening, when Phil was not with her, said:

“I am going to hunt up my old nurse, who was with mother when she died.
She is alive, I am sure, and somewhere in England or France. I shall
have her come to live with me.”

Mrs. La Rue was standing with her back to Reinette, picking the dead
leaves from a pot of carnations, but she turned suddenly, and facing the
girl, said quickly:

“Better leave the nurse where she is; you will be happier without her.”

“I don’t know why you should say that,” Reinette retorted, in a tone
which showed her irritation that Mrs. La Rue should presume to dictate;
“you certainly can know nothing of Christine Bodine.”

“Of course not, but I know that old nurses do not often add to the
happiness of young ladies like you, so leave her alone; do not try to
find her,” Mrs. La Rue replied, and there was a ring in her voice like a
note of fear which Reinette would have detected had she been at all

But she was only resentful and answered proudly, “I shall certainly find
her if I can,” then with a few directions to Margery with regard to the
dresses, she drove away to order some necessary articles for her dinner,
which she meant to make a success. As the new summer-house on the
plateau was not yet completed, the table was laid on the broad piazza
overlooking the river and town beyond, and everything was in readiness
by the time Grandma Ferguson arrived, for true to her promise, she came
early, and in her _sprigged muslin_ and lavender ribbons, was fanning
herself in the large rocking-chair just as the clock was striking four.
She had tried, she said, to bring _Lyddy Ann_ and Anna with her, but
Anna had got some highfalutin’ notions about not goin’ till the last
minit; and so she presumed she wouldn’t come till the last gun was
fired, but if she’s Reinette she wouldn’t wait for her.

Miss Anna was really putting on a great many airs and talking etiquette
to her mother and grandmother until both were nearly crazy. She had been
to the Knoll that morning to call upon her cousins, both of whom were
struck with the accession of dignity and stiffness in her manner, but
never dreamed that the splitting up of the sign had anything to do with
it; they attributed it rather to the new and pretty muslin the young
lady wore and the presence of Major Rossiter, who was presented to her,
and who, with a freak of fancy most accountable, surrendered to her at
once. The major was fifty, and bald and gray, and near-sighted and
peculiar, and though he admired pretty women, he had never been known to
pay one more attention than was required of him as a gentleman. He had
thought his cousins, Ethel and Grace, very attractive and lady-like and
sweet, while Reinette had taken his breath away with her flash and
sparkle, but neither of the three had ever moved him as he was moved by
Anna’s stately manner when she gave him the tips of her fingers and
bowed so ceremoniously to him. The major liked a woman to be quiet and
dignified, and Anna’s stiffness suited him, and he walked home with her
and sat for half an hour in the parlor and talked with her of Europe,
which she hoped one day to see, and sympathized with her when she
deplored most eloquently the fate which tied her down to a little
country place like Merrivale, when she was by nature fitted to enjoy so
much. But poverty was a hard master and ruled its subjects with an iron
rod, she said, and there were tears in the blue eyes which looked up at
the major, who felt a great pity for and interest in this girl so
gifted, so dignified, and so pretty, for he thought her all these, and
said to her at parting that he hoped to see her later in the day at
Hetherton Place, where he was going with the Rossiters.

After the major left her Anna sat down to think, and the result of the
thinking was that though Major Rossiter was old, and tiresome, and
fidgety, and not at all like Mr. Beresford or Phil, he was rich and
evidently pleased with her, and she resolved that nothing should be
lacking on her part to increase his interest in her, and make him
believe that whatever her surroundings were, she was superior to them
and worthy to stand in the high places of the land. She was ashamed of
her father and mother, especially the former, and when at noon he asked
what time the dinner was to come off, she felt a fear lest he might be
intending to go as he was. Reinette’s eyes and manner when she gave the
invitation had done their work with him.

“I really b’lieve the girl wants me to come, odd and homespun as I am,”
he thought, and he made up his mind to do so, and Anna felt a cold sweat
oozing out from her finger tips, as she wondered what Major Lord
Rossiter would think of him.

“Are you sure you will enjoy it?” she said. “You know how long it is
since you have been anywhere, and Reinette is very particular how her
guests comport themselves—foolishly so, perhaps. You cannot eat in your
shirt sleeves there, no matter how warm you may be.”

“Who in thunder said I would eat in my shirt sleeves,” Mr. Ferguson
said, doggedly, feeling intuitively that his daughter did not wish him
to go, and feeling also determined that he would.

And so it happened that simultaneously with the major, in his elegant
dinner costume, with his white neck-tie and button-hole bouquet, came
honest Tom Ferguson, in the suit he had worn to church for at least six
years or more, and which was anything but stylish and fashionable. But
Tom was not a fashionable man, and made no pretense of being other than
he was, but he did not eat in his shirt sleeves or commit any marked
blunders at the dinner table, where six or seven courses were served,
with Pierre as chief waiter and engineer. Reinette was an admirable
hostess, and so managed to make her incongruous guests feel at home,
that the dinner was a great success, and the fastidious major, who was
seated far away from both grandma and Tom, did not think the less of
Anna because of any shortcomings in her father or mother, though he knew
they were not like the people of his world. But the Rossiters were, and
they were Anna’s relations, and she was refined and cultivated, if her
parents were not, he thought, for the glamour of love at first sight was
over and round him, and Anna was very pretty in her white muslin dress,
and very quiet and lady-like, he thought, and when, after the dinner was
over, he walked with her upon one of the finished terraces and saw how
well she carried herself and how small and delicately-shaped were her
hands and feet—for he was one to notice all these things—he began
vaguely to wonder how old she was and what his bachelor friends at the
club would say if he should present her to them as his wife. The major
was unquestionably attacked with a disease, the slightest symptoms of
which he had never before had in his life, and when at last it was time
for the guests to leave, and the Hetherton carriage came round to take
Grandma Ferguson and Mrs. Lydia and Anna home, he suggested to the
latter that she walk with him, as there was a moon and the night was

If there was anything Anna detested it was walking over a dusty dirt
road in slippers, and she wore that day a dainty pair with heels so high
that her ankles were in danger of turning over with every step. But
slippers and dusty highways weighed as nothing against a walk with Major
Rossiter down the winding hill, between hedges of sweet-brier and alder,
and across the long causeway where the beeches and maples nearly met
overhead, and the river wound like a silver thread through the green
meadows to the westward. Such a walk would be very romantic, and Anna
meant to take it if she spoiled a dozen pairs of slippers. So she
acceded to the major’s proposition, and the two started together for
home, while Phil looked curiously after them and said in an aside to
Queenie: “The old chap is hard hit, and if I’m not mistaken, Anna will
be my Lady Rossiter, and then won’t we second-class mortals catch it.”

                             CHAPTER XXII.
                        MARGERY AND THE PEOPLE.

Margery was a success in Merrivale as a dressmaker, at least. Mrs. Lydia
had done very well, it is true. Her work was always neatly finished and
her prices satisfactory, but she never went farther from home than
Springfield or Worcester, so that there was a sameness and stiffness in
her styles wholly unlike the beautiful garments which came from
Margery’s skillful hands, no two of which were alike, and each one of
which seemed prettier and newer than its predecessor, so that in less
than two weeks her rooms were full of work, and her three girls busy
from morning till night, and she had even proposed to Miss Anna to help
her a few hours each day during the busy season. But Anna spurned the
proposition with contempt, saying her days of working for people and
being snubbed by them on account of it were over.

When Queenie heard of this she laughed merrily, and went herself into
Margery’s workshop and trimmed Hattie Granger’s wedding-dress with her
own hands and promised to make every stitch of Anna’s should she succeed
in capturing the major, as she seemed likely to do; but Anna answered
that her wedding-dress, if she ever had one, would not be made in the
country, and so that point was settled.

From the first Margery’s great beauty attracted unusual attention but
upon no one did it produce so great an effect as upon Grandma Ferguson,
who first saw the girl the Sunday after her arrival in Merrivale.
Reinette had told the sexton to give Miss and Mrs. La Rue a seat with
her in the Hetherton pew, describing the two ladies to him so there
could be no mistaking them. But Margery came alone, and whether it was
that the old sexton’s mind was intent upon a short woman in black, or
whether something about Margery herself carried him back to the Sundays
of long ago, when a girlish figure used to glide up the aisle to John
Ferguson’s pew, he made a mistake and Grandma Ferguson had just settled
herself on her cushion and adjusted her wide skirts about her, when a
rustling sound caught her ear, and turning her head she saw a face which
made her start suddenly with a great throb of something like fear as a
tall young girl, simply but elegantly attired in black silk and white
chip bonnet, with a wreath of lilacs around it, took a seat beside her.
Mrs. Rossiter had seen something in the French girl’s face which puzzled
and bewildered her. And grandma saw it, too, and defined it at once, and
drew a long breath as she gazed at the face so like the face of her
Margaret dead over the sea. Who was she, grandma asked herself and
forgot to say her prayers or listen to the sermon, as she wondered and
watched. Others had seen only a likeness to Margaret Ferguson, but the
mother who could never forget saw more than that; she saw her dead child
repeated in this beautiful young girl, who grew restless and nervous
under the scrutiny of the eyes she knew were fastened so constantly upon
her, and was glad when the sermon was over and she could thus escape

Reinette, who occupied the Hetherton pew, had turned once, and seeing
where Margery was, had nodded to her, and the moment church was over she
came down the aisle, tossing her head airily, and with the strange
witchery and magnetism of her smile and wonderful eyes, throwing into
the shade the fair blonde whose beauty had been noted by the people as
something remarkable. And how unlike they were to each other,
golden-haired, blue-eyed, rose-tinted Margery, so tall, and quiet, and
self-possessed, and dark-haired, dark-eyed, dark-faced Reinette, petite
and playful, and restless as a bird, with a flash in her brilliant eyes,
before which even Margery’s charms were, for the time, forgotten.

“Who is she, Rennet?” grandma whispered, catching her granddaughter’s
arm as she came near, and pointing toward Margery. “Who is she, with a
face so like your mother’s that for a minute I thought it was my
Margaret come back again.”

“Like my mother? Oh, I am so glad, for now I shall love her more than
ever,” Reinette replied; then, touching Margery, she presented her to
her grandmother, saying, as she did so: “She thinks you look like my
mother, and perhaps you do, for I am sure you are more like a Ferguson
than I am.”

The next day grandma went to the cottage, ostensibly to make some
inquiries with regard to a dress, but really to see again the girl who
was so like her daughter, and who was very kind and gentle with her, and
said to her so sweetly:

“I am glad if I am like Mrs. Hetherton, for she was Reinette’s mother,
and I am sure you will like me for it. I want people to like me.”

And in this wish Margery was gratified, for from the first she became
very popular and took her place among the best young ladies in town. For
this she was in part indebted to Reinette, who insisted that she should
be noticed, and who, if she saw any signs of rebellion or indifference
on the part of the people, opened her batteries upon the delinquents,
and brought them to terms at once.

When the grounds were completed at Hetherton Place, she gave a garden
party to which all the desirable people in Merrivale were bidden. It was
in honor of Margery, she said, and she treated the young girl as a
subject would treat a queen, and made so much of her, and talked of her
so much, that Mr. Beresford said to her as they were standing a little
apart from the others, and she was asking if he ever saw any one as
beautiful as Margery:

“Yes, she is very pretty and graceful and all that, but she cannot have
had the training which you did. Her early associates must have been very
different from yours, and I am somewhat surprised at your violent fancy
for her.”

Then Reinette turned upon him hotly, and he never forgot the look of
scorn in her blazing eyes, as she said:

“I know perfectly well what you mean, Mr. Beresford, and I despise you
for it. Because Margery _works_—earns her own living—is a
dressmaker—you, and people like you, look down upon her from your lofty
platform of position and social standing, and I hate you for it; yes, I
do, for how are you better than she, I’d like to know. Aren’t you just
as anxious for a case to work up as she for a dress to make, and what’s
the difference, except that you are a _man_ and she a _woman_, and so
the more to be commended, because she is willing to take care of herself
instead of folding her hands in idleness. I tell you, Mr. Beresford, you
must do better, or I’ll never speak to you again. There’s Margery now,
over there by the summer-house, talking with Major Rossiter, and looking
awfully bored. Go and get her away, and dance with her. See, they are
just forming a quadrille there in the summer-house;” and she pointed to
the large, fanciful structure on the plateau, which, with its
manycolored lights, was much like the gay restaurants on the Champs
d’Elysees in Paris. Indeed the whole affair bore a strong resemblance to
the outdoor fetes in France, and the grounds seemed like fairy-land,
with the flowers, and flags, and arches, and colored lights, and groups
of gayly-dressed people wandering up and down the broad walks and on the
grassy terraces, or dancing in the summer-house, near which the band was

Mr. Beresford never danced; he was too dignified for that, but he
carried Margery away from the major, and walked with her through the
grounds, and wondered at her refinement and lady-like manners, which
seemed so natural to her. Mr. Beresford was an aristocrat of the deepest
dye, and believed implicitly in family and blood, and as Margery had
neither, he was puzzled, and bewildered, and greatly interested in her,
and thought hers the most beautiful face he had ever seen, excepting
Reinette’s, which stood out distinct among all the faces in the world.

Reinette was at her best that night, and like some bright bird flitted
here and there among her guests, saying the right word to the right
person, and doing the right thing in the right place, and so managing,
that when at a late hour the festivity was at an end, and her guests
came to say good-by, it was no fashionable lie, but the truth they spoke
when they assured her that evening had been the most enjoyable of their
lives, and one never to be forgotten.

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

That was what Mr. Beresford and Phil were said to be doing during the
weeks when they went every day to Hetherton Place, Phil, who had nothing
to do, riding over early every morning, and Mr. Beresford, who had a
great deal to do, going in the evening, or as early in the afternoon as
he could get away from his office. It was not unusual for the two to
meet on the causeway, Phil coming from and Mr. Beresford going to the
little lady, who bewitched and intoxicated them both, though in a very
different way. With Phil, her cousin, she laughed, and played, and
flirted, and quarreled—hot, bitter quarrels sometimes—in which she
always had the better of Phil, inasmuch as her command of language was
greater, and her rapid gestures added point to her sarcasm. But if her
anger was the hotter and fiercer, she was always the first to make
overtures for a reconciliation; the first to confess herself in error,
and she did it so prettily and sweetly, and purred around Phil so like a
loving kitten, that he thought the making up worth all the quarreling,
and rather provoked the latter than tried to avoid it.

Sometimes, when she was more than usually unreasonable and aggravating,
Phil would absent himself from Hetherton Place for two or three days,
knowing well that in the end Pierre would come to him with a note from
Queenie begging him to return, and chiding him for his foolishness in
laying to heart anything she had said.

“You know I do not mean a word of it, and it’s just my awful temper
which gets the mastery, and I think you hateful to bother me by staying
away when you know how poky it is here without you,” she would write,
and within an hour Phil would be at her side again, basking in the
sunlight of her charms, and growing every day more and more infatuated
with the girl, whose eyes were just as bright, and whose smile was just
as sweet and alluring, when, later on, Mr. Beresford came, more in love,
if possible, than Phil, but with a different way of showing it.

Queenie was morally certain that he was either in love with her or would
be soon; and she was always a little shy of him, and never allowed the
conversation to approach anything like love-making; and if he praised a
particular dress and said it was becoming, as he sometimes did, she
never wore it again for him, but when she knew he was coming, donned
some old-fashioned gown in which she fancied herself hideous.

“If Mr. Beresford would be foolish, it should not be from any fault of
hers,” she thought, never dreaming that if she arrayed herself in a bag
he would still have thought her charming, provided her eyes and mouth
were visible.

Ostensibly Mr. Beresford’s relations with her were of a purely business
nature; for in managing so large an estate there was much to be talked
about, and Queenie would know everything, especially with regard to
foreign matters.

There were many letters from France, and these she read to Mr.
Beresford, who, with Phil’s help, might have made them out: but he
brought them religiously to Queenie, who had insisted upon it with a
persistence which surprised him, and insisted, too, upon receiving them
from him with the seals unbroken and reading them first herself. She had
not forgotten her father’s dying injunction: “If letters come to me from
France burn them unread.”

No letters had come to him from any source, proving that he had no
friends who cared to know of his welfare: but with a woman’s subtle
intuition, heightened by actual knowledge, Queenie knew there was
something somewhere which she was to ward off if possible, and, as it
might come in some business letter, she made it a condition that all
documents should be brought to her first. As yet, however, everything
had been open and clear, and Queenie was beginning to think her fears
groundless, when Mr. Beresford brought her one day a letter from Messrs.
Polignie & Co., who, among other things, wrote that the money invested
with them for the benefit of a certain Christine Bodine had been paid by
them to her agent, who had been empowered by her to receive the same.
The name of the agent was given, and enclosed was his receipt, and then
M. Polignie wrote:

“For reasons which may or may not be just, I would not advise the young
lady to continue her search for this woman Bodine, whom we shall make no
effort to find nor shall we answer Miss Hetherton’s letter with regard
to her, unless greatly pressed to do so.”

Reinette was white to her lips as she read this, with Mr. Beresford
sitting by and watching her, but she uttered no sound She merely took a
pencil from the table, and on a slip of paper wrote the name and address
of Christine’s agent, which she put into her pocket; then, still keeping
the letter from Mr. Beresford, she scratched out every word concerning
Christine so effectually that it would be impossible for any one to
decipher it, much less Mr. Beresford, whose knowledge of the language
was so imperfect.

“Miss Hetherton! what are you doing? You may be erasing something very
important for me to know. Stop, instantly! You have no business thus to
mutilate a letter which does not belong to you,” he cried, growing more
and more in earnest, and even irritable, as she paid no heed to him, but
went coolly on with her erasures.

“It is my business,” she answered, at last, and her voice was low and
strange. “It is my business, and no one’s else. It has nothing to do
with you. It only concerned me. You can have your letter now; they have
paid my nurse’s agent and sent you his receipt.”

She handed him the letter, which, as it was written in an unusually
hurried manner, he could not read, and so she read it to him,
unconsciously laying a good deal of stress upon the fact that Christine
had been paid, and that there was an end of that.

“You see they do not tell you where she is,” she said, trying to speak
naturally, though there was a kind of defiant tone in her voice. “And
you need not make any further inquiries. I might not like her, and if I
brought her here I should feel obliged to keep her.”

She looked straight at Mr. Beresford, who nodded assent to what she
said, but was not wholly deceived. That the erasure had something to do
with Christine he was certain, and, with his curiosity roused by
Reinette’s excited manner, he resolved to ascertain for himself who and
what the woman was. He, too, had the address of her authorized agent,
and the mail for New York which left Merrivale next day carried two
letters, one in English and one in French, directed to M. Jean Albrech,
Mentone, France, and in the one written in French was a note for
_Christine Bodine_, in whom Reinette had implicit faith as a true, good
woman, notwithstanding what the Messrs. Polignie had insinuated against
her. They were vile, suspicious people, Reinette said to herself, who,
because her father paid money to a poor woman, thought she must be bad.
They did not know, as she did, how kind and faithful Christine had been
to her mother, who asked that she should be rewarded and cared for, and
this was the way her father had done it. Thus Queenie reasoned and tried
to reassure herself, but for days there was a shadow on her bright face
and a dull pain in her heart as she wondered what the mystery could be
concerning the woman Bodine.

But Queenie could not be unhappy long, and in visiting Margery as she
did every day, and calling upon her cousins at the Knoll, and watching
what had become a decided flirtation or rather genuine love affair
between Major Rossiter and Anna, she recovered her spirits, and resuming
her old, fascinating manner with Mr. Beresford and Phil, drove them both
to the point of seeking to know their fate, whether for good or evil.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.
                         “I LOVE YOU, QUEENIE.”

Mr. Beresford was the first to say it. As he did not often see Phil and
Queenie together, except in company with Grace and Ethel, or Anna, he
had no reason to know how much they were to each other, or he might not
have been as confident of success as he was when at last he made up his
mind to speak and know the worst or best there was to know. It had been
his boast that no woman living could affect his happiness one way or the
other. As a general thing he did not believe in them; that is, did not
believe them real, or worth the love so many strong, sensible men wasted
upon them.

But the little, bright-eyed French girl had torn down all his
fortifications, and he did believe in her, and wanted her for his own,
as he had never wanted anything before in his life. She was so fresh, so
original, so piquant, so different from any one he had ever seen. Ethel
and Grace Rossiter were sweet and lady-like, but they never affected
him, while Margery La Rue was, he acknowledged, the most beautiful girl
he had ever seen.

Everybody conceded that, and Mr. Beresford was not an exception to the

Since the night when Reinette berated him so soundly for what she
thought his lack of appreciation for Miss La Rue, he had called upon her
a few times, and felt a growing interest in her, as he saw how pure and
sweet she was, with an inborn delicacy and refinement of manner seldom
found in persons of her class, for she never tried to hide the fact that
her mother was a hair-dresser in Paris, and her father a nothing.

This, of itself, would have been a terrible obstacle in Mr. Beresford’s
way had he been greatly interested in Margery. Her family was against
her, but with Queenie it was different, and he loved her as men of his
mature age usually love when the grand passion seizes them for the first
time, and he told her so one night when they sat together upon the ledge
of rocks which overlooked the town and the river wandering through it.

Reinette had quarreled with Phil that day—hotly and fiercely quarreled,
and had told him to go away and never come near her again, for she did
not like him, and thought big cousins bores any way. And Phil had
answered back, and said he was quite ready to go, and glad to be rid of
such a termagant, and that she need not expect him to put himself in the
way of her temper again, even though she wrote him a hundred notes of

Then Phil went away and slammed the door after him, and was soon riding
rapidly down the hill, while Queenie from her window watched him,
wondering if she had offended him past all reconciliation, and what her
life would be without patient, good-for-nothing Phil to come and go at
her nod.

And then she wondered if it was true, as he had said, that she was
vixenish and _catty_ (those were the terms he had used), and if others
thought so too—Mr. Beresford, for instance, who was so different from
Phil, and of whom she was a little afraid. She had never treated him
with such bursts of temper as she had Phil, but she had been hot and
imperious in her manner toward him when he did not please her, and with
Phil’s words, “You are a vixen and a termagant,” ringing in her ears,
she resolved to be very gracious to Mr. Beresford when he came that
evening, as he was sure to do. Every claw should be sheathed, and if she
were a cat, she would be a very gentle, purring one, and she wore the
dress she knew Mr. Beresford liked, and put knots of scarlet ribbon here
and there, and was altogether lovely when he came, earlier than usual,
and this time without any papers or foreign letters for her to read.
There was nothing to do but talk, and Queenie was very soft and gentle,
and acquiesced readily in his proposition that they walk out to the
ledge of rocks, which was her favorite seat.

The early October night was warm and still, and the young moon hung in
the western sky giving a pale silvery light to everything, and falling
upon the dark hair and bright, glowing face of the young girl who was
full of life and animation, and talked, and laughed, and coquetted with
her companion until he could restrain himself no longer, and catching
her suddenly in his arms, he said to her:

“Queenie, I love you, and want you for my wife; I have loved you, I
believe, since the moment I first saw you at the station, and you clung
to me as your father’s friend, whom you were to trust with everything.
So trust yourself to me; let me have a right to call you mine. I have
lived many years with no thought or care for womankind, and such men
love all the more when at last their heart is touched. Surely, surely,
Queenie, you will not tell me no.”

This last was said in a tone which had in it something of fear, for
Queenie had wrenched herself from him, and standing a little apart was
looking fixedly at him with wide-open, wondering eyes as if asking what
he meant.

“Say, Queenie,” he continued, “you will let me love you. You will be my

“No, never, never! Always your friend but never your wife,” she said,
and her voice rang out clear and full as if the answer were decisive. “I
am sorry,” she began very gently as she saw how he staggered back as if
smitten with a sudden blow, “I am sorry that you care for me this way;
sorry if I have encouraged you. I thought you knew me better than that.
I have laughed, and talked, and flirted with you, just as I have with
Phil, but with no intention to make you love me. Forgive me, Mr.
Beresford, if I have misled you. I cannot be your wife. I have no love
for you.”

He knew she was in earnest, quite as much by the expression of her face
as by her words, and for a moment he felt bewildered and stunned with
his sense of loss and pain which was all the greater because he had
expected a different answer from her. Not expected her to say yes at
once, for that was not her nature. She would tease him, and maybe laugh
at him, and call him old, as she had sometimes done, when he was
conscious of trying to act young. She would assume all these coquettish
manners which he thought so charming, and then in the end she would lay
her little hands in his, and answer in her saucy way:

“You can have me if you really want me, but you will get a bad bargain.”

This, or something like it, was what he had fondly imagined, and alas,
the result was so different. The little hands he had expected to be laid
in his were locked firmly together, and the girl stood up erect and
dignified before him, with no coquetry in her manner, or even shyness,
as she gave him her answer which hurt him so cruelly. He was not one to
beg and plead as a younger, more impetuous man might have done, and so
the blow hurt him worse and made him shiver with a cold, faint feeling
as he looked at her for a moment, while she looked back as curiously at
him, seeing something in his face which awoke within her a feeling of
great pity for him.

“Oh, Mr. Beresford,” she said, coming a little nearer to him. “Don’t
look at me like that. Don’t care for me so much—I am not worth it. I
should not make you happy, I am so high-tempered, and passionate, and
bad, and say things you never would forget. Nobody could forget them but
Phil, and he has sworn never to do it again. Only to-day he called me a
vixen and a termagant, and left me in hot anger, and if I can make him
feel like that, what could I not do to you, who are so different—so much
more matter-of-fact.”

The mention of Phil was unfortunate, and awoke in Mr. Beresford a
feeling of bitter jealousy which made him say things he would have given
worlds to unsay when it was too late to do so.

“Phil!” he repeated, sneeringly. “Yes, I see; I understand; Phil is my
rival, and I might have known it. Women always prefer idlers like him,
who have—” he stopped suddenly, checked by the expression of the black
eyes confronting him so steadily, and growing so fierce and bright, as
the girl said:

“Well, go on. You did not finish. You said ‘idlers like him, who have—’
Have what? I insist upon knowing what you mean. What is it Phil has
which you have not?”

Her tone and manner made him angry, and he answered at last:

“He has plenty of time at his disposal to make love to you; he has
nothing else to do, and women like men with no aim, no object in life;
nothing to do but to play the Sardanapalus.”

“Mr. Beresford,” and Reinette’s eyes blazed with scorn, “I did not dream
you were so mean—so dastardly. Idler as you say he is, Phil Rossiter
would cut his tongue out sooner than it should say a word against you,
his friend, were you a thousand times his rival; and you, in your
foolish jealousy, accuse him of wearing women’s dresses, and spinning,

“Queenie, I did nothing of the sort,” Mr. Beresford said, interrupting
her, and she continued:

“Yes, you did. You likened him to Sardanapalus, which is the same thing,
and I hate you for it!”

“Not more than I hate myself,” Mr. Beresford said, for he was beginning
to be very much ashamed of the weakness which prompted him to speak
against Phil Rossiter, whom he liked so much. “Forgive me, Queenie; it
was unmanly—cowardly in me to attack my rival, and nothing but cruel
disappointment and bitter pain could have induced me to do it. Phil is
my friend, and the most unselfish, kind-hearted fellow in the whole
world. Can you forgive me for saying aught against him?”

Queenie knew he was in earnest, and, as ready to forgive as to take
offense, she answered at once:

“Yes, I know you did not mean it; you could not. Phil may be an _idler_,
I rather think he is, but he is so noble, so good, so unselfish, and
bears with me as no one else ever could. But, Mr. Beresford, you are
mistaken. Phil is not your rival, and it was no thought of him which led
me to refuse you. He is my cousin, and if I loved him ever so much, I
could no more marry him than I could my brother, if I had one. I am
enough of a Roman Catholic to think such a marriage unnatural and
wicked. I could not do it, and I have no desire to—no love for him that
way. Why, I would sooner marry you than Phil; upon my word, I would.”

She had forgiven him, and he knew it, and hope rose suddenly within him,
and taking her hands in his, and holding them tightly there, he began

“Oh, Queenie, you give me new life, new hope, for if Phil is not my
rival, you may come in time to think of me, not now, not for a year,
perhaps, or more, but some time, when you have learned how much I love
you. Promise me that you will try. Put me on trial for a year, during
which time I will not bother you with love-making. I’ll be your staid
old guardian, nothing more. Will you—will you think of it a year!”

“Of what use would that be,” she said, “when at the end of the year I
should think just the same?”

“But you might not,” he replied. “At least give me that chance; give me
one ray of sunlight, for without it the world will be very dreary. I
shall put myself on probation whether you will or not.”

She did not answer him, but stood looking off across the moon-lit
meadows with a troubled look in her dark eyes which he could not fathom.
At last releasing her hands from his, she said, with a little shiver:

“It is growing cold. I must go in now, and you must go home, and never
speak to me again as you have to-night.”

“Not until a year, and then if no other love has come between us, I
shall tell you again that I love you,” he said, and she replied:

“A year is a long time, and so much may happen to us both.”

It did seem long to her, but to him, who was so much older, it seemed as
nothing, if at the end he could hope to win the girl who walked so
silently by his side until the house was reached, where he said
good-night to her and then rode back to town, feeling, in spite of her
assertion to the contrary, that there was a grain of hope for him, if he
would bide his time patiently, and feeling, too, a great remorse and
hatred for himself for what he had said of Phil.

                              CHAPTER XXV.
                             PHIL’S WOOING.

When Phil left Reinette so suddenly he was full of resentment, for she
had been unusually unreasonable and exasperating, and he meant what he
said when he told her he would not come to her again if she wrote him a
hundred notes of apology. She had called him a bore, and a spooney, and
a Miss Nancy, and he did not know what else; and his anger continued all
through the day and night when he lay awake thinking of her, and how she
looked with the great tears standing in her flashing eyes as she bade
him leave her and never come again.

“And I won’t, by Jove!” he said, as he was dressing himself in the
morning; but when breakfast was over, and he had sat for an hour or more
with his mother and sisters he began to feel terribly _ennuied_, and to
wonder why Grace and Ethel would be so dull and tame, and take so much
interest in their worsteds, as if their lives depended upon having the
right shades of wool in their roses.

They were nice girls, of course, he thought, but quite commonplace and
old-maidish, and he was puzzled to know how he should dispose of his
time, now that he could not go to Reinette. It had been his custom to
ride over to Hetherton Place quite early in the day, and stay until late
in the afternoon, but that was over now; he was never going there again,
and life had rather a dreary lookout for Phil when he at last left the
house and sauntered slowly toward Mr. Beresford’s office.

The lawyer was busy, but he greeted Phil even more cordially than usual,
for there was in his heart a feeling of keen regret for having allowed
himself to say aught against the young man whom he really liked so much,
and who, it seemed to him, looked rather sober and abstracted, as he
seated himself near the window and began idly to turn the leaves of a
law book. The mail was just in, and among Mr. Beresford’s letters was
one from his uncle, in New York, who wrote asking if his nephew, knew of
any honest, trusty, winning young man who would like to go out to India
for a year or more on business for the firm. Tact, and patience, and
suavity of manner were the essential qualifications, he wrote, and to a
person possessed of these, the firm would pay a liberal salary. On many
accounts he preferred a man from the country, and so had written to his
nephew first.

Mr. Beresford read the letter carefully, then glanced at Phil, and asked
himself whether it were not a desire to remove a possible rival from his
way, which prompted him to think him just the man for the place. Phil
was trusty and winning, with any amount of tact and perseverance if once
roused to action. The post would suit him exactly; and deciding at last
that he was not wholly selfish in the matter, Mr. Beresford handed him
the letter, saying:

“Here is something which may interest you, and possibly you may like the

Phil read the letter through, and his first impulse was that he would
go. He should enjoy the voyage immensely, for he liked the sea, and he
should enjoy the new life, too, only—and Phil gave a little gasping
breath, as he thought of going away where he could not even see
Reinette. Of course, she would never be to him what she had been, but it
would be some pleasure to see her come in and go out of his father’s
house, and to watch her in the street, and hear occasionally the sound
of her voice, and all this would be impossible in India. And still the
chance to do something, which he had so longed for at times, was too
good to be lightly thrown away, and he said to Mr. Beresford:

“I am half inclined to go; at all events, I will see what father says,
and let you know to-night.”

“_Bon jour, Monsieur Rossiter_,” fell suddenly on Phil’s ear, and
turning, he saw Pierre, who handed him a dainty note, and waited while
he read it.

It was dated at “Hetherton Place, 9 o’clock A.M., and read as follows:

                                                             “DEAR PHIL:

  “What a simpleton you must be to think I was in earnest when I told
  you to go and never come back again. I know I tried you awfully and so
  you did me, and you called me such dreadful names—a _vixen_, a
  _virago_, a _cat_, and a _termagant_, and the dear knows what, and I
  called you a _bore_, and a _spooney_, and said I hated you, but, Phil,
  I do not, and I am just as lonesome without you as I can be, and last
  night, after I went to my room, I cried real hard, and said to myself,
  ‘I am sorry, Phil,’ and I am, and want you to forgive me, and come
  right over here with Pierre and stay to lunch. I have ordered broiled
  chicken, with pop-overs and maple sirup. You know you can eat a dozen.
  I shall be out on the rocks, and see you when you come down the hill,
  and I will tie my pocket-handkerchief to my parasol and wave it for a
  signal. And now you will come, won’t you, and we will make it up, and
  never, never fight again?

                                  “Your repentant

Phil Rossiter was not the man to withstand an appeal like this, and, as
he read it, India and everything else was forgotten in his intense
desire to fly to the girl waiting for him.

Mr. Beresford saw Pierre hand him the note, knew it was from Reinette,
and watched him as he read it, while his color came and went like that
of some young schoolgirl, and he was not greatly surprised when Phil
said to him, as he rose to leave the office:

“By the way, I’ve been thinking it over, and I don’t believe I care to
go to India; it is too far away. There is Will Granger—just the fellow
they want, and he needs money badly; offer it to him.”

Phil was in the street by this time, and ten minutes later he was
galloping toward Hetherton Place and the girl whose signal he saw as she
waved it aloft to let him know she was there. And Phil rode hard and
fast until he was at her side, sitting just where Mr. Beresford had
stood the night before and asked her to be his wife.

How sweet and lovely she was with that air of shyness and penitence! for
she was very sorry for what had passed, and very glad to have Phil back;
and she gave him both her hands, and offered no resistance when he
kissed them more than once, and held them while he talked to her, and
asked if she did not think him weak and silly to come the minute she
sent for him.

“No, I don’t,” she said; “I knew you would come back, just as I knew I
should send for you. It is useless for us to try to live apart, for what
would the world be to either of us without the other?”

“Nothing, Queenie, nothing,” Phil said, eagerly, as he drew her down
beside him and passed his arm around her waist, while the light of a new
hope and joy shone all over his face.

Phil had long ago told himself that he loved Queenie with more than a
cousin’s love, and had only been deterred from telling her so by her
fitful moods, sometimes all sunshine, sometimes all storm. But now he
surely might speak with the full assurance of a favorable answer, for
what but this could her manner mean, and her assertion that they could
not live apart. She loved him, he was certain; and with his arm around
her, he began rapidly and impetuously to tell her how inexpressibly dear
she was to him, and to speak of the future when she would be his wife,
as if everything were understood and settled between them.

“We will never quarrel then, will we, darling?” he said. “I should not
like to see a frown on my wife’s face, and know it was meant for me, and
I will be so good and loving that you will not wish to call me a bore,
and send me away from you. And we will be married at once. You need a
husband to care for you, and there is no reason why we should wait a
day. I will tell mother to-night, and she will be so glad, and so will
Ethel and Grace, for they all love you dearly. Why don’t you speak to
me, Queenie?” he said, as she did not answer him, but sat like one dead
to all sense of speech or hearing. “Why, Queenie, what is the matter?
How white you are,” he continued, as he stooped at last to look into the
face, which was pale as ashes, with an expression of pain, and even
horror, upon it, which he could not understand.

“Oh, Phil, you have killed me,” Queenie said, at last, as she released
herself from him and moved to another rock, where she sat down and
looked at him with eyes from which the hot tears were falling like rain.

“Killed you, Queenie!” Phil cried. “How could I kill you by telling you
that I loved you, when you must have known it already? Surely, surely,
you have not been deceiving me all this time—not been leading me on to
believe you loved me, just as I love you, only to mock me at the last?
That would be cruel, indeed.”

And this he said because of something in her face and eyes which filled
him with dread and fear.

“Oh, Phil,” Queenie replied, beating the air with her hands, as she
always did when excited, “if my conscience reproved me one whit, and
said I had purposely misled you for my own amusement, I would drown
myself in Lake Petit, but I have not, I certainly have not. I thought——”

“You thought,” Phil interrupted her, as she hesitated a moment—“thought
what? That I was a stock—a stone to be unmoved by your beauty and
sweetness, and—I will say it—your wiles and witcheries, which, if they
meant nothing, were damnable, to say the least, and prove you to be the
most heartless coquette that ever breathed. Girls do not usually write
notes to men such as you have written me, begging them to come back, and
then, when they go, receive them as you have received me, without
meaning something, and if you do not mean marriage, may I ask what you
do mean?”

He spoke bitterly, but not at all as he had ever spoken to her before
when his temper and hers were at their height. It was the outraged,
insulted man, not the passionate boy speaking to her now, and Queenie
recognized the difference, and shivered from head to foot, as she
crouched down on her knees beside him and sobbed:

“Listen to me, Phil, before you judge so harshly, and believe me, as I
hope for heaven, I never tried to make you love me this way. You are my
cousin—my blood relation; our mothers were sisters, and I have been
taught that such unions were wicked, unnatural, such as God disapproves
and curses.”

“You are not a Roman Catholic?” Phil said, quickly, and she replied:

“No, but I had much of that teaching in my childhood, at home in France,
and this is one of the things which took deep root in my mind. I had a
governess who married her own cousin in spite of everything, and two of
her children were idiots, while the third was deaf and dumb, and when
the poor mother knew that, she drowned herself in the Seine. Phil, I
would no sooner marry my cousin than I would my brother, if I had one,
and I looked upon you as a brother, and loved you as such, and thought
you understood. Surely, you cannot think me so brazen-faced and bold as
to treat you as I have, with a view to making you want me for your wife.
I am sorry, Phil, so sorry, and I wish I had never crossed the sea, for
I can never be your wife—never! My whole nature revolts against it, the
same as if you were my brother, and I know that all is over between
us—that we can never be to each other again what we have been in the
past. You will come here no more as you have come, and the days will be
so long without you, Phil, and, worse than all, you will perhaps think
always that I meant to deceive you; but I didn’t. Oh, I didn’t, and you
must believe it and forgive me! Will you?”

She was still kneeling before him, her white face upturned to his, and
every muscle quivering with anguish, as she thus importuned him. He
could not resist her, and stooping down he kissed the quivering lips,
but did not say he forgave her; he asked, instead: “If I were not your
cousin, could you marry me?”

“I don’t know, Phil. You see, I never thought about you in that way. I
might, perhaps, in time, but I could not now, for you are like a
brother, and I must go back to the beginning and build up a new kind of
love for you; and then, Phil, I should wish you to be a little different
from what you are now. Girls do not generally marry men who have—”

Here Queenie stopped suddenly, appalled at her own temerity, but Phil
bade her go on in a tone she must obey, and she went on, and said:

“Who have nothing to do but amuse themselves and others. It is all very
nice in cousins and brothers to know how to run our sewing-machines and
how our dresses should be trimmed and ought to hang, but we wish our
husbands to be different from that; wish them to have some aim in
life—some occupation, and you have none. You have never done anything
toward earning your own living. Your father is rich, it is true, and
able to support you, but it is more manly to support one’s self—don’t
you think so?”

She spoke very gently, but every word was a sting, and hurt Phil, if
possible, more than her rejection of him had done.

“Yes, I see,” he answered bitterly. “You think me a lazy dog, whom
people generally despise, and so I am, but it is very hard to hear it
from you, Queenie; hard to know that I have neither your love nor your
respect, when, fool that I was, I believed I had both.”

“And so you have, Phil; so you have,” Reinette said, eagerly, touched by
the grieved, hopeless expression of his face, which was not at all like
Phil’s face, usually so bright and happy. “You have both my love and
respect—love as a sister—for neither Ethel nor Grace can love you better
than I do, in a certain way, and I respect and esteem you as the
kindest, and best, and most unselfish Phil in all the world. Don’t,
Phil, oh, don’t cry!” she continued, in a tone of agonized entreaty, as
the great tears, which he could not restrain, rolled down his white
face, which was convulsed with pain. “If you cry like that, I shall wish
I were dead, and I almost wish so now,” she added, frightened by the
storm of sobs and tears to which he at last gave vent.

She was still kneeling by him, and she crept down closer to him, and
took his hands from his face, where he had put them, and wiped his tears
away, while her own fell fast as she tried to comfort him and could not,
for in only one way could she do that, and, with her view of the matter
that was impossible. On that point she was as firm and conscientious as
the most rigid Roman Catholic. To marry her cousin would be wicked, and
so there was no hope for him in that way; but may be she could comfort
him in another, and she said, at last:

“Phil, I can never marry you; that is just as impossible as for your
sister to do it, but I can promise never to marry any one else. That
would not be hard, for I do not believe I shall ever see any one for
whom I care as I do for you; and, if you wish it, I’ll swear to remain
single for your sake forever. Shall I?”

“No, Queenie; no. I am not so selfish as that,” he said. “You ought to
marry; you need a husband here at Hetherton Place—somebody with energy
and will, and not an effeminate idler like me.”

He was still smarting from the hurt of her last objection to him, and he
went on:

“Whether you marry or not cannot affect me, for I am going away—going to
do something and be a man, whom you will never taunt again with his
laziness and sloth.”

“Oh, Phil, you misunderstood me! I did not taunt you. I only told you
that girls would rather their lovers had some occupation. It was not a
taunt at all. Forgive me, Phil. I am so sorry—oh, so sorry for this
morning’s work, when I meant to be so happy!”

Phil had risen to his feet, and she had risen, too, and stood looking up
at him with an expression which, if it was not born of love, was near of
kin to it, and nearly maddened Phil.

“Queenie,” he began, laying his hands upon her shoulders and looking
fixedly into her eyes, “do you mean to send me away with no word of
hope?—mean that you cannot be my wife?”

“Yes, Phil; I mean it. I can never be your wife; because I am your
cousin, and because I do not love you in that way,” she said.

And Phil knew she meant it, and was conscious of a death-like sickness
stealing over and mastering him, and making him sit down again upon the
rock, while every thing grew dark around him, and Queenie’s voice seemed
a long way off, as she spoke to him in affrighted tones, and asked if he
were fainting.

He did not faint, though it was some minutes before he was himself again
and arose to say good-by. There was no question of lunch, no thought of
broiled chicken and pop-overs, for both were past caring for such things
now, and only remembered that in some sense, this good-by was forever.

She thought he would, of course, come to Hetherton Place
again—to-morrow, perhaps—but not as he had come heretofore; not as in
the old happy days; not as the Phil with whom she could play and
coquette, but more as a stranger; more like Mr. Beresford before he
troubled her with his tale of love.

He knew he should not come again to-morrow, nor for many, many
to-morrows—never, perhaps; for there was danger in that far-off eastern
land to which he now meant to go. Possibly his grave was there waiting
for him, or he might tarry years and years, until the bright, beautiful
girl standing before him had grown old and gray with the cares of life.
And so, to him, it was good-by forever; but he would not tell her so. He
would wait and write his farewell. But he must kiss her once, for the
sake of all she had been to him, and that he had hoped she would be. He
was a tall young man of six feet and she a wee little girl, whom he
could take in his arms as he would a child; and he took her in his arms,
and kissed her forehead and lips, and said to her:

“Remember, Queenie, whatever comes, my love for you will remain
unchanged; for it was not the love of a day or a year, but love till
death, and after, too, if such a thing can be. Good-by! I’m going now.”

And he went swiftly from her, while she watched him with a throbbing
heart; and neither of them guessed just where or how they would meet

                             CHAPTER XXVI.
                            PHIL GOES AWAY.

Mr. Beresford was alone in his office when Phil came in after his return
from Hetherton Place, and asked, abruptly:

“Have you seen Will Granger about going to India?”

“Not yet; no, I thought I would wait till to-night,” Mr. Beresford
replied, and Phil continued:

“Don’t see him, then; I will take the place. Write so to your uncle at
once, or perhaps I had better write myself.”

Something in the tone of his voice made Mr. Beresford turn quickly and
look at him.

“Why, Phil,” he said, “what ails you? What has happened to make you look
so white and strange?”

“Nothing,” Phil answered—“that is, nothing of any consequence to any one
but myself.” Then, moved by a sudden impulse to tell somebody, Phil
burst out: “Beresford, I can trust you, I know, for you have always been
my friend.”

“Yes,” faltered Mr. Beresford, thinking remorsefully of what he said to
Reinette, and wondering if Phil would think that friendly, if he knew.

“I must tell somebody—talk to somebody, or go crazy,” Phil continued.
“The fact is, I have made a fool of myself and been _rejected_, as I

“You rejected! By whom?” Mr. Beresford asked, although he felt that he
knew perfectly well what the answer would be.

“By Reinette, of course. What other woman is there on the face of the
earth whose no is worth caring for? I asked her to be my wife, and she
refused, and made me know she meant it; and now I am going to India, for
I cannot stay here.”

“What reason did she give for her refusal?” Mr. Beresford asked, feeling
like a guilty hypocrite, and Phil replied:

“She had three reasons, each of them good and sufficient in her own
mind. First, she did not love me in _that way_, as she expressed it;
second, I am her cousin, and, with her Roman Catholic notions, it is an
unpardonable sin to marry one’s cousin; and third, she could not marry a
man with no aim, no occupation, no business except to loop up dresses
and run a sewing-machine. That’s what she said, or something like it,
and that hurt me worst of all, for it made me feel so small, so
contemptible: and, after she said it, I knew how impossible it was for
her even to respect such a dawdling, effeminate Sardanapalus as I must
appear to her.”

At the mention of Sardanapalus Mr. Beresford started, for that was the
name he had used when speaking of Phil to Reinette. Had she told him? It
was not likely, else he had never come there with his confidence, which
seemed so like a stab to the conscience-stricken man, who at last could
bear it no longer, and as Phil went on with his story, showing in all he
said how implicitly he trusted him, he burst out:

“Stop, Phil, stop a minute, while I make a confession to you, and then
you will not think me so much your friend, though Heaven knows I am, and
that there is no man living I like as well. But, Phil, I went back on
you once, and in a moment of weakness said things for which I blush. I,
too, have offered myself to Reinette Hetherton.”

“You! When?” Phil exclaimed, and Mr. Beresford replied:

“Only last night, and when she refused me, and said she did not love me,
I accused you of being my rival, and in my mad jealousy said things of
you which only a coward could have said of his friend. I sneered at your
idle, aimless life, and said that women generally preferred a
Sardanapalus to energetic, strong men, or something like that.”

“_You_ said this of _me_ to Reinette, and I thought you my friend! I
would never have served you so,” Phil said, and in his eyes there was an
expression which hurt Mr. Beresford cruelly, and made him think of the
wounded Cæsar when he cried out, “_Et tu, Brute!_”

“Yes, I said it, Phil, but I took it all back, and made what amends I
could. Queenie will tell you so if you ask her. She flew in my face like
a yellow-jacket, and defended you bravely. Forgive me, Phil; I am
greatly ashamed of myself.”

He offered his hand to the young man, in whose eyes tears were shining,
but who did not refuse to take it, though he was still smarting under
this new pain.

“I can forgive you,” he said, with a faint smile, “because Queenie
defended me, but it is very hard to bear. You say she refused _you_ and
gave you no hope?” Mr. Beresford thought of the year’s probation he had
insisted upon, and spoke of it to Phil, but added:

“She told me, however, that it was useless, for at the end of the time
her answer would be the same, so you see there is no hope for me
either;” and this he said because he saw how utterly crushed and
heart-broken Phil was, and he would not add to his pain by confessing
that away down in his heart there _was_ a shadowy hope that Queenie
might change her mind, especially with Phil away, for he was going. He
had made up his mind to that, and before returning home he wrote himself
to the firm in New York, accepting the situation, and saying he would be
in the city the next evening, as he wished for a few days before sailing
in which to post himself with reference to the business.

“But why go to-morrow? There is no such haste necessary,” Mr. Beresford
said, when he heard the contents of the letter, and Phil replied:

“I must go before I see her again; the sight of her might unman me and
make me give it up.”

So the letter was sent, and when Phil went home to dinner at night he
startled his family by telling them that he was going to India for a
year, and possibly longer.

“To India!” both mother and sisters exclaimed, and then Phil explained
it to them.

The former opposed the plan with all her strength, for life without Phil
would be nothing to the mother who loved him so much. Mr. Rossiter, on
the contrary, approved it. It was no way for a young man to hang on to
his mother’s apron strings all his days, he said; Phil ought to do
something for himself. This was only a repetition of the old story of
idleness and ease, and confirmed Phil in his purpose. He would make
something of himself—would show that he was capable of higher occupation
than devising trimming for dresses and running a sewing-machine. He was
very sore on the subject of the sewing-machine, and very reticent all
through the dinner, and when it was over excused himself to his sisters,
saying he had letters to write and some few matters which must be
attended to. It was very sudden to them all—his going away—but, as he
said, he was his own master and must act for himself, and when his
mother tried to persuade him to give it up, he answered:

“No, I have staid with you too long. You are the best and dearest mother
in the world, but you have done wrong not to send me away before this,
and make me stay away, too. I should have been more of a man among men.
I see it now, and must take the first chance offered me. A year is not
very long, and I shall write to you every week.”

So Mrs. Rossiter gave it up, and busied herself with various
preparations for his comfort, and said she should go to New York to see
him off, and tried to seem cheerful and happy, and tried, with his
sisters, to fathom the cloud which overshadowed his face, and made him
so unlike himself. What had happened to him, and was Reinette in any way
connected with it? They thought so, and when in the morning he said he
was going to bid his grandmother and Anna good-by, and they asked if he
were not going to see Reinette, too, and he answered: “I saw her
yesterday, but give her this letter when I am gone,” they were sure of
it, and for the first time since they had known her, they felt a little
vexed with the girl, who even then was watching from her window for the
rider coming over the river, across the causeway, and up the long hill
as he would not come again, for when, later in the day, the express
train for New York stopped at West Merrivale, it carried him along
toward the new life which was to have an aim and occupation.

                             CHAPTER XXVII.
                       HOW QUEENIE BORE THE NEWS.

She saw the long train as it came across the plains from East
Merrivale—saw it shoot under the bridge, past the station, and glide
swiftly on by the river-side until it was lost to view in the deep cut
by the old gold-mine, and remembered that afterward she heard the
whistle as the train stopped at West Merrivale a few minutes and then
went speeding on to the West But she never dreamed that it carried with
it a young man whose face was pale as ashes as he sat with folded arms,
and hat pulled over his eyes, seeing nothing of what was passing around
him, and thinking only of her, listening even then for the sound of his
horse’s feet coming up the hill. For Queenie felt sure he would come
back to her, and that in some way they would make it up, and resume
their old, delightful relations with each other. And she watched for him
all day long, and was beginning to get restless and impatient, when,
about sunset, the Rossiter carriage came slowly up the hill and into the

In a trice Queenie was at the door, feeling certain that the recreant
Phil had driven over with his sisters, as he sometimes did. But only
Ethel and Grace were there, and it struck Queenie that there was
something a little strange in their manner, while Grace had evidently
been crying.

“I am so glad you have come!” she said, as she led the way into the
house. “I have been so lonely to-day, with not a person to see me except
the major and Anna, who were here a few moments this morning, and who
are so absorbed in each other as to be of no account to any one else. I
do believe he is in earnest, and means to marry her; and then won’t we
have to bow to my Lady Rossiter! Where’s Phil, and why has not he been
here to-day?”

“Phil has gone; you surely knew that, or, at least, that he was going;
he was here yesterday,” Ethel said; and in her voice there was a
hardness, as if her cousin were trifling with her thus to ask for her

But she knew better when she saw how white Queenie grew, as she repeated
after her:

“Gone, and I knew of his going! You are mistaken; I know nothing. Where
has he gone?”

“To India!” Ethel said.

And then Reinette grasped the chair near which she was standing with
both hands, and leaning heavily upon it, asked, in a half whisper, for
something was choking her so that she could not speak aloud:

“To India! For what? And how long will he be gone?”

As rapidly as possible Ethel told all she knew of a matter which had
taken them so by surprise, and which had so affected her mother that she
was sick in bed.

For a moment Queenie did not speak, but stood staring at Ethel, who,
sure that she was in fault, went pitilessly on:

“We thought you had something to do with it; that you sent him away, for
it was after he came from here yesterday that he decided to go; he had
given it up before.”

“I sent him away!—sent him to India to die, as he will! No, no; I did
not do that,” Queenie cried, piteously. “I said I could not marry him,
and he my cousin; and I could not, any more than you could marry him, he
being your brother. But I did not think he’d go away. Oh! what shall we
do without Phil?”

Reinette was sobbing passionately, and Ethel and Grace were crying with
her, for Phil had made the happiness of their lives, and without him
they were very desolate.

“Did he speak of me?” Queenie asked, at last. “Did he leave no word? no
message? no good-by?”

“He left this for you,” Ethel said, passing the letter to Queenie, who
clutched it eagerly, but would not read it there with the sisters
looking on. That they blamed her, and held her responsible for Phil’s
India trip, she was certain, and she felt glad when they at last said
good-night, and left her to herself and her letter—Phil’s letter—which
she read in the privacy of her room, and which nearly broke her heart.

“Dear Queenie,” he began, “I am going away—for a year certainly, and
perhaps, forever, for men of my habits, who have never been accustomed
to hardships of any kind, die easily in that hot climate.”

“Oh-h!” and Reinette groaned bitterly, as she thought, “Why did Phil say
what will make me feel like his murderer, if he should die out there.”

Then she read on:

“I am going to India on business for a firm in New York, of which Mr.
Beresford’s uncle is the head. The salary is good, and the duties such
as I can perform, and so I am going. Mr. Beresford made me the offer
this morning, and with my usual indolence I declined it, but I did not
then know your opinion of me; did not know how you despised me for my
effeminacy and laziness. Queenie, I do believe that hurt me more than
your refusal of me. I might live without your love, perhaps, but not
without your respect, and so I am going to begin life anew, with some
aim, some occupation, and you shall never taunt me again with my
idleness. But oh, Queenie, how I love you, and how I long to hold you in
my arms as my own darling. It is a strange power which you have over us
men—a power to hold us at your will by one glance of your eyes, or toss
of your head. Other faces may be more beautiful than yours; some would
say that Margery La Rue’s was one of them, but there is something about
you more attractive than mere regularity of feature or purity of
complexion, and men go down before it as I have done, body and soul,
with no hope or wish for anything else, if you must be denied me. May
you never know how my heart is aching as I write this, my farewell to
you; and yet to have known and loved you is the dearest thing in life,
and the memory of you will help to make me a man. I know you will be
sorry when I am gone, and miss me everywhere, but you will get
accustomed to it in time. Some one else will take my place; and, just
here, although I do not pretend to be so good or unselfish that it does
not cost me a pang to do it I would say a word for Mr. Beresford. He
knows why I go away, for I told him, and like the splendid fellow he is,
he confessed what he said of me to you, and asked my pardon for it, and
I forgave him, and you must do so, too, and not be hot, and rash, and
bitter against him, as something tells me you may be, when you know I am
gone, and that possibly Mr. Beresford suggested to you the words which
made me go. He told me of your refusal of himself, but he hopes time may
change you; and if it does—oh, my darling, how can I say it, loving you
as I do?—if it does, don’t worry and tease him, but deal with him
honestly and openly, as a true woman should deal with a true, honest
man. And now, good-by, and if it is forever—if I never come back
again—remember that I love you always, always! and I shall carry your
image with me wherever I go, and so, in fancy, I put my arms around you
and hold you for a moment as my own, and kiss your dear face, feeling
sure that if it were really so, that I was saying good-by to you forever
and you knew it, you would kiss me back once at least, in token of all
we have been to each other.”

“Oh, Phil, Phil, yes, a thousand times would I kiss you, if you were
back again! and I am so sorry for the nasty words I said about your
idleness,” Reinette cried, as, with Phil’s letter clutched tightly in
her hand, she lay upon her face sobbing bitterly, and wondering what
life was worth to her now, that Phil was gone.

“I couldn’t marry him, I couldn’t, for he is my cousin!” she said; “and
I do not love him that way, but he was so much to me, how can I live
without him?”

And then there began to creep into her heart hot, resentful feelings
toward Mr. Beresford, who had put it into her mind to taunt Phil with
his idleness.

“I hate him—I hate him!” she said, stamping her little feet by way of
emphasis, but when she remembered that Phil had forgiven him, and still
held him as his friend, and wished her to do so, she grew more calm and
less resentful toward him, but declined to see him, when, next morning,
he rode over to Hetherton Place and asked for her.

“Tell him I am sick,” she said to Pierre, “and can see no one, unless it
is Margery. Ask him, please, to call at her door, and tell her to come
to me, for I am in great trouble.”

With a suspicion as to the nature of Queenie’s trouble, Mr. Beresford
rode back to town and delivered the message to Margery, who went at once
to her friend and tried to comfort her. But Queenie refused to be
comforted. Phil was gone, and what was there now for her?

“You can bring him back. The ship does not sail for some days you say,
and a word from you will change his mind,” Margery said, caressing the
bowed head resting on her lap.

“Do you think—do you believe he would come back, if I were to write and
beg him?” Queenie asked, quickly, lifting up her tear-stained face.

“I’ve no doubt of it,” Margery said; “but, darling, if you do that he
will have a right to expect you to marry him. Sending for him to come
back would mean nothing else, nor would anything else satisfy him.”

“Then he must go,” Queenie answered, with a rain of tears. “I cannot
marry my cousin; that is a part of my religion. It would be hideous to
do it. Phil must go; but my whole life goes with him. Oh, Phil, I am
nothing, nothing without you. Why were you so silly as to fall in love
and so spoil everything?”

That night, as Margery sat with her mother over their tea talking of
Queenie, Mrs. La Rue said to her;

“If Mr. Rossiter were not her cousin, do you think she would marry him?”

“I have no doubt of it,” Margery replied. “She fancies she does not love
him _in that way_, as she expresses it, but if the obstacle of
cousinship were removed, I believe she would feel differently. Poor
little girl, she is so cast down and wretched, thinking she has driven
him away to die, as she declares he will.”

Mrs. La Rue had listened intently to all Margery told her of Reinette’s
distress, and there were tears in her eyes as she cleared away the tea
things, and busied herself with her household cares.

“Poor little girl,” she whispered to herself. “Would her love for him
outweigh everything—everything, I wonder? Is it mightier than her

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.
                       MRS. LA RUE’S RESOLUTION.

There was a worn, tired look on Mrs. La Rue’s face next morning, which
she accounted for by saying she had not slept well, and that her head
was aching. A walk in the crisp autumn air would do her good, she said;
and soon after breakfast she left the house, and started toward
Hetherton Place. Twice on the causeway she sat down to rest, and once on
the bank by the side of the road which led up the long hill. Here she
sat for a long time, with her head bowed upon her knees, while she
seemed to be absorbed in painful, and even agonized reflection, for she
rocked to and fro, and whispered occasionally to herself. In the
distance there was the sound of wheels—some one was coming; and not
caring to be seen, she arose, and climbing the low stone wall, went up
the steep hill-side to the ledge of rocks, where Phil had sat with
Queenie and heard his doom. It was the first time Mrs. La Rue had ever
been there, and for a moment she stood transfixed with surprise and
delight at the lovely view before her. In the clear autumn air objects
were visible for miles and miles away, but it was not so much at the
distant landscape she gazed as at the scene directly about her—at the
broad, rich acres of Hetherton Place, stretching away to the westward,
and southward, and eastward, and embracing some of the most valuable
land in Merrivale; at the house itself, standing there on the heights so
stately and grand, with aristocracy and blood showing themselves from
every casement and door-post; and lastly, at the beautiful grounds, so
like the parks of some of the old chateaus in France, with their
terraces, and winding walks, and pieces of statuary gleaming here and
there among the evergreens.

“A goodly heritage truly,” the woman said. “And would she give it all
for love? God only knows, and I can only know by trying. If she will see
me, I must go forward; if she refuses, I shall take it as a sign that I
must forevermore keep silent.”

Thus deciding, she walked quickly across the fields, and soon stood
ringing at the door, which was opened by Pierre himself.

“Miss Hetherton was still in her room,” he said, “but he would take any
message madame chose to give him;” and his manner showed plainly the
great distance he felt there was between his mistress and the woman who,
he knew, was born in the same rank of life as himself.

“Tell her Margery’s mother is here, and very anxious to see her,” Mrs.
La Rue said; and with a bow, Pierre departed, leaving her alone in the

He had not asked her to sit down, but she felt too faint and tremulous
to stand, and, sinking into a chair, leaned her head against the
hat-stand, and shutting her eyes, waited as people wait for some great
shock or blow which they know is inevitable. How long Pierre was gone
she could not guess, for she was lost to all consciousness of time, and
was only roused when he laid his hand upon her shoulder and demanded
what was the matter, and if she were sick. Then she looked up, and
showed him a face so white, so full of pain, and dread, and horror, that
he asked her again what was the matter.

“Nothing, nothing,” she answered, sharply. “Tell me what did she say?
Will she see me?”

“She bade me tell you she could not see you, but if your errand was very
particular or concerned Miss Margery, you were to give it to me,” Pierre
replied, and in an instant the whole aspect of the woman changed, the
deathly pallor left her face, and the look of dread and anguish was
succeeded by one of intense relief as she exclaimed:

“Thank God! thank God! for I could not have borne it. I could not have
done it at the last, and now I know it is not required of me. I have no
errand, no message; good-morning,” and she darted from the door, while
Pierre looked wonderingly after her, saying to himself, “I believe the
woman is crazy.”

And in good truth insanity would best describe Mrs. La Rue’s condition
of mind as she sped down the winding hills and across the causeway,
until the bridge was reached, and then she paused, and leaning far over
the railing looked wistfully down into the depths below, as if that
watery bed would be most grateful to her. Suicide was something of which
Mrs. La Rue had thought more than once. It was the phantom which at
times haunted her day and night, and now it looked over her shoulder and

“Why not end it now and forever? Better to die than live to ruin that
young life, and know yourself loathed and despised by the creature you
love best. Sometime in your fits of conscientiousness you will tell, as
you were tempted to do just now, and then——”

Mrs. La Rue gave a long, gasping shudder as she thought, “What then?”
and leaned still farther over the parapet beneath which the waters of
the Chicopee were flowing so sluggishly.

“Yes, better die before I am left to tell and see the love in Margery’s
face turn to bitter hatred. Oh, Margery, my child. Mine, by all that is
sacred! I cannot die and go away from her forever, for if there be a
hereafter, as she believes, we should never meet again. Her destiny
would be Heaven, and mine blackness and darkness of despair, where the
worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched! She read me that last
night, little dreaming that I carry about with me the worm which dieth
not, and have carried it so many years, and oh, how it does gnaw and
gnaw at times, until I am tempted to shriek out the dreadful thing. Oh,
God, forgive me, and help me to hold my tongue, and keep the love of

She had drawn back from the railing by this time and, gathering her
shawl around her, she started for home, where she found Margery in the
reception-room alone, busily engaged on a dark-blue silk, which Anna
Ferguson had deigned to give her to make, and for which she was in a
hurry. She had been there that morning to see about it, and had found a
great deal of fault with some trimming which she had ordered herself,
and had insisted that the dress must be finished by twelve o’clock, as
she was going with Major Lord Rossiter to West Merrivale to see a
base-ball match on the Common.

“The match does not come off until four,” Margery said, “and if you can
give me till half-past two I shall be so glad.”

But Miss Anna was decided; she must have it at twelve, or not at all,
and when Margery asked if she would send for it, as the girl who usually
took parcels home was sick, she answered promptly;

“No, it is not my business to do that.”

And Margery bore the girl’s insolence quietly, and promised that the
dress should be done, and put aside Mrs. Col. Markham’s work to do it,
because she knew Mrs. Markham was a lady and would not insult her if she
chanced to be disappointed. But she felt the ill-bred girl’s
impertinence keenly, and her cheeks were unusually red, and her lips
very white, when her mother entered the room, and, bending over her,
kissed her with a great, glad tenderness as we kiss one restored to us
from the gates of death.

“You look tired and worried, _ma petite_,” she said, “and you are
working so fast. I thought that dress was not to be finished till

“Nor was it,” Margery answered, “but Miss Ferguson has been here and
insists upon having it at twelve, and she was so overbearing, and found
so much fault, and made me feel so keenly that I was only her
dressmaker, that I am a little upset, even though I know she is not
worth a moment’s disquietude.”

“Poor Margery! It is to the caprices of such people as she that you are
subjected because you are poor,” Mrs. La Rue said, caressing the golden
head bent so low over Anna’s navy-blue, on the sleeve of which a great
tear came near falling. “You ought to be rich, like Miss Hetherton. You
would be happier in her place, would you not, my child?”

“No, mother,” and Margery’s beautiful blue eyes looked frankly up into
her mother’s face. “I should like money, of course, but I am very happy
as I am except when people like Anna insult me and try to make me feel
the immeasurable distance there is between themselves and a dressmaker.
I like my profession, for it is as much one as that of the artist or
musician, and if I were rich as Queenie I do believe I should still make
dresses for the love of it. So, mother mine, don’t bother about me. I am
very happy—happier far, just now, than Queenie, who, though she may have
riches in abundance, has no mother to love her, and care for her, and
pet her, as I have.”

“Oh, Margery, child, you do love me, then you are glad I am your mother,
unlike you as I am?” Mrs. La Rue cried in a voice which was like a sob
of pain, and made Margery look wonderingly at her, as she said:

“Why, mother, how strangely you act this morning. Of course I am glad
you are my mother—the dearest and kindest a girl ever had. I cannot
remember the time when you would not and did not sacrifice everything
for me, and why should I not love you?”

“You should, you ought,” Mrs. La Rue replied, “only you are so different
from me that sometimes when I think how refined and lady-like you are,
and then remember what I am—an uneducated peasant woman—I feel that I am
an obstacle in your way, and that you must feel it, too, and wish you
were some one else—somebody like Miss Hetherton—but you don’t, Margery,
you don’t.”

“Of course I don’t,” Margery answered, laughingly, “for if I were Miss
Hetherton, don’t you see, Anna would be my cousin, and that would be
worse than a hundred peasant women; so, little mother, don’t distress
yourself or bother me any more, for my Lady Anna must have her dress by
twelve, and it is nearly eleven now.”

Taking the girl’s lovely face between her hands Mrs. La Rue kissed it
fondly, and then left the room, while Margery wondered what had happened
to excite her so. Such moods, or states of mind, in her mother were not
unusual, and since coming to Merrivale they had been more frequent than
ever, so Margery was accustomed to them, and ascribed them to a
naturally morbid temperament, combined with a low, nervous state of

“I wonder why she asks me so often if I love her and am happy? Maybe I
do not show her my affection enough. I am not demonstrative, like her;
there’s very little of the French gush in me. I am more like the cold
Americans, but I mean to do better and pet her more, poor, dear mother,
she is so fond and proud of me,” Margery thought, as she kept on with
her work, while her mother busied herself in the kitchen, preparing the
cup of nice hot tea and slice of cream toast which at twelve she carried
to her daughter, who could not stop for a regular meal.

The navy-blue was at a point now where no one could touch it but
herself, and she worked steadily on until after one, when Anna again
appeared, asking imperiously why the dress was not sent at twelve, as
she ordered.

“Because it was not done,” Margery replied, adding, “It is a great deal
of work to change all that trimming as you desired.”

“It ought not to have been made that way in the first place,” Anna
rejoined, and then continued, “I must have it by two at the latest, and
will you bring it yourself, so as to try it on me and see if it hangs

“Yes, I’ll bring it,” Margery said, and an hour later she was trudging
along Cottage Row with a bundle almost as large as herself, for the
dress had many plaitings, and puffs, and bows, and must not be crushed
by crowding into a small space.

But Margery did not feel one whit degraded or abased, even though she
met Mr. Beresford fade to face, and saw his surprise at the size of the
bundle. Mr. Beresford was the only man who had ever interested Margery
in the least, and she often wondered why she should feel her blood stir
a little more quickly when she saw him. He was so proud, and dignified,
and reserved, though always a gentleman and courteous to her, and now he
lifted his hat very politely, and, with a pleasant smile, passed on,
thinking to himself how beautiful the French girl was, and what a pity,
too, that she had not been born in the higher ranks of life, with such
people as the Rossiters, and Hethertons, and Beresfords.

Miss Anna was waiting impatiently, and all ready to step into her dress,
which fitted her perfectly, and was so becoming, and gave her so much
style that she condescended to be very gracious and familiar, and as she
looked at herself in the glass, she said:

“Why, _La Rue_, you are a brick; how lovely it is! I have not a word of
fault to find!”

“I am glad if it suits you. Good-afternoon, Miss Ferguson,” Margery
said, quietly, and then walked away, while Anna thought:

“If she were a grand duchess she could not be more airy. I wonder who
she thinks she is, any way? Queenie has just spoiled her with so much
attention, and she only a dressmaker!”

                             CHAPTER XXIX.
                         LETTERS FROM MENTONE.

Whether we are sorry or glad, time never stops for us, but the days
and nights go on and on, until at last we wonder that so long a period
has elapsed since the joy or sorrow came which marked a
never-to-be-forgotten point in our lives.

And so it was with Queenie; she could not be as wretched and
disconsolate always as she was during the first days of Phil’s absence.
She was of too light and buoyant a temperament for that, and after a
little she woke to the fact that life had still much happiness in store
for her, even though Phil could not share it with her. She had received
a few words from him written just before the steamer sailed—words which
made her cry as if her heart would break, but which were very precious
to her because of their assurance that whatever might befall the writer
she would always be his queen, his love, whose image was engraven on his
heart forever.

And Queenie had answered the note, for it was nothing more, and filled
four sheets with her passionate longings for the _naughty boy_, as she
called him, who was not satisfied to be her cousin, but must needs seek
to be her lover, and so had made her life miserable.

This letter was sent to Rome, for Phil was to take the overland route to
India and visit the Imperial City on the way. He had promised to write
from every point where he stopped, and so he did not seem so very far
away, and Queenie grew brighter and gayer, and consented to see Mr.
Beresford, whom she had persistently ignored, and after rating him
soundly for the part he had had in sending Phil away, she became very
gracious to him, for Phil had forgiven him, and she must do so, too, and
she rode with him one day after his fast horse, and was so bright, and
coquettish, and bewitching, that Mr. Beresford forgot himself, and in
lifting her from the carriage held her hand tighter in his than was at
all necessary. But Queenie withdrew it quickly, and with her usual
frankness, said:

“You are not to squeeze my hand that way, Mr. Beresford, or think
because I rode with you, that you are on _probation_, as you call it,
for you are not. I am not trying to reconsider, and never shall.”

This state of things was not very hopeful for Mr. Beresford, who,
nevertheless, drove away more in love than ever with the little lady of
Hetherton, who, after he was gone, went to her room, where she found on
her dressing-table a letter which Pierre had brought from the office
during her absence. It was a foreign letter, postmarked at Mentone,
France. Reinette’s first exclamation was:

“From the agent. Now I shall hear from Christine.”

This was the thing of all others which she had greatly desired, but now
that it seemed to be within her grasp, she waited and loitered a little,
and took off her hat, and shawl, and gloves, and laid them carefully
away, and picked a few dead leaves from a pot of geraniums in the
window, before breaking the seal. And even then she hesitated with a
strangely nervous feeling, as if from fear that the letter might contain
something she would be happier not to know—something her father would
have withheld from her, had he been there with her.

“But no,” she said at last, “how foolish I am. Christine was faithful to
my mother, and father pensioned her for it, as he ought to do, and those
vile, evil-minded Polignies thought there was harm in it. They did not
know my father, or what stuff the Hethertons are made of. So saying, she
opened the letter and read:

                                         “MENTONE, France, Oct. 18, 18—.

  “_To Miss Hetherton, of Merrivale_,

                                        _Worcester Co., Mass., U. S. A._

  “My employer, M. Albrech, is gone away for a few days, and told me to
  open his letters, and, if necessary, answer them for him. So when
  yours and Monsieur’s came, I opened and read; that is, read yours, but
  Monsieur’s was in English, and it took a long time for me to make out
  that it meant the same as yours, and asked information of one
  Christine Bodine, pensioner of M. Hetherton, deceased.”

“That was Mr. Beresford who sent him an English letter. What business
has _he_ to pry into my affairs?” Reinette exclaimed, and her cheeks
were scarlet, and her breath came hurriedly, and then seemed to cease
altogether, as she read on:

  “I could not remember any one by that name, but there is a certain
  _Madame Henri La Rue_, to whom, by reference to M. Albrech’s books, I
  find that moneys were paid regularly by Messrs. Polignie & Co., Paris,
  for a M. Hetherton, until last summer, when the entire principal was
  sent to Madame La Rue, at ‘Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass, U. S.
  A.,’ where it seems she is living, though whether she is the person
  you are wishing to find I do not know. Your billet to Christine Bodine
  I will keep until M. Albrech returns, and if he knows the woman he
  will forward it.

                         “Hoping my letter is satisfactory, I am
                                     “Your obedient servant,
                                                         “LOUIS ARNAUD.”

“Madame Henri La Rue, Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. U. S. A.,”
Reinette kept repeating to herself, while a feeling of terror took
possession of her, and made her for a moment powerless to move or reason
clearly. “Who is this Madame La Rue, and where have I seen her?” she
asked herself in a bewildered kind of way, and then at last it came to
her who Mrs. La Rue was, and where she had seen her.

“Margery’s mother! Christine Bodine! impossible!” she cried, reading
Louis Arnaud’s letter again and again, while her thoughts went backward,
and with lightning rapidity gathered up every incident connected with
Mrs. La Rue which had seemed strange to her, and made her dislike the
woman for her unwarrantable familiarity.

As distinctly as if it were but yesterday she recalled their first
meeting in Paris in Margery’s receiving-room, when Mrs. La Rue had
stared at her so, and seemed so strange and queer; and since then she
had so often offended with what appeared like over-gratitude for
kindness shown to Margery.

“And all the time when I was talking of my nurse and my desire to find
her, she knew she was Christine and made no sign,” Queenie said; “and
once she bade me stop searching for her, as finding her might bring more
pain than pleasure. What does she mean, and why does she not wish me to
know who she is? Was there anything wrong about her—No, no, no!” and
Reinette almost shrieked as she said the emphatic “no’s.” “Mother
trusted her; mother loved her. I have it in her own words written to
papa. ‘Christine is faithful and tender as if she were my mother,
instead of my maid; and if I should die, you must always be kind to her
for what she has been to me,’ she wrote, and that’s why he sent her the
money. But why has she never told me? What has she done? What is she?
Yes, she was right. It is more pain than pleasure to find her; but if
she had only told me who she was, it would have been such joy to know
she was Margery’s mother—my Margery still, thank God, for she has had no
part in this concealment. She has no suspicion that Christine Bodine and
her mother are one and the same.”

This mention of Margery helped Reinette, and the pain in her heart was
not quite so heavy, or her resentment toward Mrs. La Rue so great. She
was Margery’s mother, and whatever happened, Reinette would stand by the
girl whom she loved so much.

                  *       *       *       *       *

“Please, mademoiselle, have you heard the bell; it has rung three times,
and dinner is growing cold,” Pierre said, putting his head in at the
door; and then Reinette roused herself to find that it was getting dark,
for the November twilight was fast creeping into the room.

“Yes, Pierre, I know; I am not coming—I am not hungry. Tell them to
clear the table,” she said, abstractedly; and then, as Pierre looked
inquiringly at her she continued: “Pierre, come here, and shut the door,
and come close to me, so no one can hear. Pierre, I’ve found Christine

“You have found her? Where?” Pierre said, looking wonderingly at his
young mistress, whose white face and excited manner puzzled and alarmed

“Here, Pierre, in Merrivale. While I was searching for her across the
water she was here, not a mile away, and never told me. Pierre, Mrs. La
Rue is or was Christine Bodine!”

“_Mon Dieu_,” Pierre ejaculated, with a shrug of his shoulders and a
rapid movement of his hands, “Madame La Rue Christine Bodine! I am very
much, yes, I suppose I am very much astonished!”

But he was not. He had never shared Reinette’s implicit faith in
Christine, and he put things together rapidly, and to himself he

“Yes, madame is Christine. I am not surprised;” but to Reinette he said,
“Who told you? There must be some mistake, madame surely would never
have kept silent so long.”

“There _is_ no mistake. I can trust you, Pierre, and I begin to feel as
if you were the only one I can trust. Everything and everybody is
slipping away from me. This is the letter from the agent in Mentone, who
paid her the money for Messrs. Polignie in Paris. You know you were in
their office once with father and saw him give his check for twelve
hundred and fifty francs to be sent to her. Read the letter, Pierre, and
you will know all I do.”

She handed it to him, and striking a light he read it through, while
Reinette watched him narrowly to see what effect it had upon him. But
aside from frequent ejaculations of surprise he made no comment, and
just then the dinner-bell rang again, this time long and loud as if the
ringer were growing impatient.

“Oh, that dreadful bell,” Reinette exclaimed, putting her hands to her
ears to shut out the sound. “Will they never stop ringing it, or
understand that I am not coming? Go, Pierre, and tell them to clear the
table away; tell them I am sick and tired, and wish to be let alone;
tell them anything to keep them away from me. No body must come to-night
but you. Go quick, before they ring again, or Mrs. Jerry comes herself.
She must not know what we do.”

Thus entreated Pierre departed with the message to Mrs. Jerry, and then
went back to Reinette who sat with her hands clasped tightly together
and a look on her white face which puzzled him, for he did not know that
she was bravely fighting down a suspicion to harbor which would be to
dishonor her father in his grave.

“Pierre,” she said, lifting her dry, heavy eyes appealingly to him, and
speaking like a sick child which wants to be petted; “Pierre, I am
strangely shaken by this news, because I do not understand why Christine
should wish to hide her identity from me, when she knew how I wanted to
find her. It looks as if there was something which she wished to keep
from me—something wrong in her life after she left us—and was married to
M. La Rue. I had so much faith in and love for her, and now—oh, Pierre,
it makes me cold, and sick, and faint. Forget that I am a woman; try and
fancy me a little girl again, as I was when you first came to Chateau
des Fleurs, and take me up and carry me to the couch. I could not walk
there to save my life, for the strength has all gone from my body.”

Pierre had carried her in his arms many a time in the years gone by, and
now he took her up gently, and laying her upon the couch, brought a
pillow for her, and fixed it under her head, and covered her with her
shawl, and put fresh coal on the grate, for the November night was cold
and chill, and outside the first snow of the season was beginning to

“Now sit down by me, Pierre,” she continued “and rub my hands, they are
so numb and lifeless, and let me talk to you of the olden time, when we
lived in the country and were so very happy.”

“Yes, mademoiselle,” Pierre said sitting down beside her and rubbing and
chafing the limp white fingers which seemed to have no vitality in them.

“Pierre,” she began, “we were so happy when papa was alive; he was so
good. He was always kind to you, was he not?”

“Yes, always.”

“And he was good to everybody, Pierre?”

“Yes everybody.”

“And—and—you were with him in places where he would be under less
restraint than when with me, and you think he had as few faults as most
men, I am sure?”

“He had not a single fault,” Pierre said, emphatically, lying easily and
unhesitatingly, thinking the end justified the means.

He knew now that Reinette was wishing to be reassured of her father’s
truth and honor, and though he had but little faith that his late master
had possessed either of those virtues to an overwhelming degree, he
could not say so to the daughter; he would sooner tell her a hundred
lies, and take his chance of being forgiven by and by.

“Thank you, Pierre,” she said. “You make me so happy. I like to think of
father as a good, true, honest man; and I believe Christine was good.”

“Did the servants at Chateau des Fleurs ever mention her as other than a
nice woman?”

“They never mentioned her at all. I never heard her name except from you
and monsieur, and from him only twice—once in the office of Messrs.
Polignie, and once in Liverpool.”

“Yes, Pierre,” Reinette said, with a quick, gasping breath, “I am sure
Christine is a good woman. My mother trusted her and bade father be kind
to her always. I have it in a letter written before she died, and when
Christine was with her. Mrs. La Rue is a good woman.”

She kept asserting this as if she feared Pierre might doubt the fact,
but if he did, he gave no sign, and merely replied:

“She must be good to be the mother of Miss Margery.”

“Yes, Pierre,” and Reinette roused herself up, and pushing her heavy
hair back from her face, said, joyfully: “I see it now; I understand why
she has not told me. She did not wish Margery or me to know that she
once served in the capacity of my nurse, lest she should feel
humiliated, and I, with my abominable pride, might think less of her;
that is it, I am sure.”

“Unquestionably,” Pierre said, ready to assent to anything his young
mistress might suggest, no matter how absurd.

“And, Pierre,” she continued, “I shall, of course, tell Mrs. La Rue that
I know who she is, but it is not necessary that all the world should
know. We need tell no one else.”

“No, mademoiselle; but what of Monsieur Beresford? He wrote to M.
Albrech, too; he will get an answer; he will know.”

“Of course,” Queenie said, impatiently. “But I can trust him. I shall
tell him to keep silent; and now leave me, and do not let Mrs. Jerry, or
any one, come near me. I am tired, and shall soon retire.”

So Pierre left her alone with her thoughts, which kept her awake the
most of the night, and the next morning found her suffering with one of
her head-aches, and unable to leave her bed. It was a stormy November
day, and the wind blew in gusts over the hill, and drove before it
clouds of snow, which was drifting down from the gray sky in great white
feathery masses, but bad as was the day, it did not prevent Mr.
Beresford from riding over to Hetherton Place, where he was met by
Pierre with the message that Miss Hetherton had the headache, and could
not see him. Mr. Beresford seemed disappointed, and was about turning
away from the door, when he said, as if it had just occurred to him:

“By the way, do you know if Miss Hetherton received any letters from
France yesterday?”

“She did receive one,” Pierre said, looking straight at the lawyer, and
feeling sure that he, too, had heard from Mentone, and knew the secret
of Christine Bodine.

And he was right, for the same mail which brought the letter to Reinette
had also in it one for Mr. Beresford from Mentone. It was a curious
compound of English and French, which took Mr. Beresford nearly two
hours to decipher. But he managed it at last with the help of grammar
and dictionary, and had a tolerably accurate knowledge of its contents,
which surprised and confounded him almost as much as Queenie’s letter
had confounded her. But in his letter were a few words, or rather
insinuations, which were omitted in Queenie’s and which affected him
more than all the rest, and threw a flood of light upon Mrs. La Rue’s
reason for keeping her identity with Christine Bodine a secret from
Reinette. Did Queenie know what he knew or suspected, Mr. Beresford
wondered, and if so, how did she take it? What would she do? A burning,
intense desire seized the usually calm, sober lawyer to have these
questions answered. He must see Reinette and judge from her face how
much she knew, and so he went to Hetherton Place. But Queenie would not
see him. She was sick, and she had received a letter from France. So
much he learned, and he rode back to his office, where, for the
remainder of the day, he seemed in a most abstracted frame of mind,
paying but little attention to his clients, who had never seen him so
absent-minded and grave before, and wondered of what he was thinking.
Not of them and their business, but of Reinette and the change her
coming to Merrivale had made in his hitherto quiet life. How she had
turned everything upside down. It was like a romance whose pages he was
reading, and now a fresh leaf had been turned which he wished to
decipher, and since he could not see Reinette he must seek help in
another quarter, and he, who had always been noted for minding his own
business better than any man in Merrivale, waited impatiently for
evening, when he meant to begin the new chapter.

                              CHAPTER XXX.
                        TRYING TO READ THE PAGE.

The night set in dark and stormy even for November and the wind howled
dismally through the tall elms which grew upon the common, while both
sleet and rain were falling pitilessly, when Mr. Beresford left his
office, equipped for an evening call. He was going to see Margery La
Rue, whom he found alone, as her mother had retired to her room with a
toothache and swollen face. Margery let him in herself, and looked fully
the surprise she felt when she saw who her visitor was. It was not so
much that he should come that night as that he should come at all which
astonished the young girl, who, with a woman’s intuition, had read the
proud man pretty accurately, and guessed that persons like her, whose
bread was earned by their own hands, had not much attraction for him.
But it was his early training, which was at fault, and not the real
heart of the man himself. His mother had seldom done so much for herself
as to arrange her own hair, and when her immense fortune slipped away
from her, and left her comparatively poor, and compelled her sons, two
as noble boys as ever called a woman mother, to choose professions and
care for themselves, she could not bear the change, and with a feeling
that she would rather die than live and work, she died, and very few
mourned for her. With such a mother and a long line of ancestry on her
side, as proud and exclusive as herself, it is not strange that Mr.
Beresford should have imbibed some notions not altogether consistent
with democratic institutions. He thought a great deal of family and
blood, and though he was always polite and courteous to Margery when
they met, he had unconsciously made her feel the gulf between them, and
she had good cause to gaze on him wonderingly as she opened the door,
and held it open a moment as if expecting him to give her some message
from Queenie, as he had done when Phil went away. Laughing
good-humoredly as he stepped past her into the hall, he said:

“I am coming in, you see, though I do not wonder that a call on such a
wild night as this surprises you. But it is the weather which brings me
here. I believe I have had the blues or something to-day, and need to
talk to some one, and as Phil is gone, and Reinette is sick, I have come
to call on you. I hope I am not unwelcome.”

He was talking rather strangely, and not at all in a strain
complimentary to Margery, who, nevertheless, passed it off pleasantly,
and said, with her pretty accent, which struck Mr. Beresford with a
degree of newness.

“Thank you, Mr. Beresford; I surely ought to feel honored to be No. 3.
Let me see; you said that as Mr. Rossiter was gone, and Reinette sick,
you were reduced to the alternative of coming here to be rid of the
blues. Is that it? or have my French ears misinterpreted your English

“That is the way it sounded, I will admit,” Mr. Beresford replied, “but
I am a bungler anyway, so please consider that I have made you number
one, for really I have been intending to call for some time.”

He took the seat she offered him, and moved it a little more in front of
her, where he could look directly at her as she bent over her work,
which, with his permission, she had resumed, and which, as it was a
sacque for Miss Anna, must be finished as soon as possible.

How graceful every motion was, and how well her dress of black cashmere,
with soft lace ruffles at her throat and sleeves, became her, and how
very beautiful she was both in face and form, with her golden hair
rippling over her finely shaped head, her dazzling complexion, her
perfectly regular features, and, more than all, her large, clear, sunny
blue eyes, veiled by long, fringed lashes, and shaded by eyebrows so
heavy and black, that they seemed almost out of place with that hair of
golden hue. But they gave her a novel and _distingue_ look, and added to
her beauty, which, now that he was studying her, struck Mr. Beresford as
something remarkable, and made his eyes linger on the fair face with
more admiration even than curiosity. But the likeness he sought for was
not there, unless it were in the occasional toss of the head on one
side—the significant shrug of the shoulders, or gestures of the
hands—and something in the tone of the voice when it grew very earnest
as she talked to him of Reinette, who was not like her in the least. In
feature and complexion, Margery was the handsomer of the two. Mr.
Beresford confessed that to himself with a kind of jealous pang, as if,
in some way, a wrong were done the dark-faced, dark-eyed Queenie, who,
put side by side with Margery La Rue, would, nevertheless, win every
time, and make people see only herself, with her wonderful sparkle, and
brightness, which threw everything else into the shade. Queenie was the
diamond, and Margery the pearl, and they were not at all alike, and Mr.
Beresford felt puzzled, and inclined to believe the agent in Mentone a
slanderer, especially after he had talked with Margery awhile, of her

“You have known Reinette a long time?” he said and she replied:

“Yes, a long time—ever since we were little girls—though it seems but
yesterday since she climbed the narrow, winding stairs up to that low
room, where I staid all day long with no company but the cat, and
nothing besides my playthings to amuse me, except to look down into the
narrow street below, the Rue St. Honore, and watch the carts, and
carriages, and people as they passed, and wonder when mother would come
home, and if she would bring me, as she sometimes did, a bon-bon, or a
white, tender _croissant_, which I liked so much better for my supper
than our dark, sour bread.”

“Yes,” Mr. Beresford said, leaning forward and listening eagerly to what
Margery was telling him of her early life, and wondering a little that
she should be so communicative.

“Most girls would try to conceal the fact that they had once known such
poverty,” he thought, but he did not know Margery La Rue, or guess that
it was in part her pride which made her talk as she was talking.

She was naturally reserved and reticent with regard to herself, but to
him, whose value of birth, and blood, and family connections she rightly
guessed, she would speak openly, and show him that it was something more
than a mere dressmaker—a sewing-woman—whom he was honoring with his
society, and in whom he was interested in spite of himself. She divined
that readily, by the kindling of his eyes when they met hers as she
talked, and by some of those subtle influences by which a woman knows
that the man she is talking with is entertained and pleased with herself
as well as with what she is saying.

So, when he said to her, with a kind of pity in his tone, “And you were
so desolate as that when Reinette found you?” she answered:

“Yes, more desolate than you can guess—you who have never known what
poverty means in a large city like Paris. But I was not unhappy,
either,” she added, quickly. “I had too much love and petting from my
mother for that. I was only lonely in her absence; for she worked at a
hair-dresser’s and was gone all day, and I kept the house and got the
meals for father till he died.”

“Your father—yes,” Mr. Beresford repeated. “What was he, what did he do,
and when did he die?”

He seemed very eager in his questionings, and mistaking his meaning
altogether, Margery’s cheeks flushed, but her voice was steady and clear
as she replied:

“I do not know that he did anything. I think it is a fashion in France
more than here for the women to work and the men to take their ease. At
all events, father had no regular occupation that I know of. Sometimes
he acted as guide to strangers, for he could speak a little English, and
sometimes he was employed for a few days as waiter at some of the Duval
restaurants, and once he took mother and me there to dine. That is the
white day of my life, as connected with him. Reinette heard of me from
old Lisette, the laundress, who lived on the floor below, and she came
up to our humble room in her scarlet cloak and hood trimmed with ermine,
and filled it with glory at once. You know what a halo of brightness
seems to encircle her, and affect everything around her. And how she did
sparkle and glow, and light up the whole room, as she sat there in that
hard wooden chair with me standing awkwardly by, in my coarse
high-necked working apron, with broom in hand, and gazing at her as if
she had been a being from another sphere.”

How rapid and excitedly she talked, gesticulating with her hands, which
were as small and white as those of any lady, and how large and bright
her blue eyes grew, as she described that first interview with Reinette
so vividly that Mr. Beresford could see the low room, far up the winding
stairs, the humble furniture, the bare floor, the smoldering fire on the
hearth, the wooden chair, the dark-eyed little girl in scarlet and
ermine who sat there with the captured cat in her lap, talking to
another child quite as beautiful as herself, though of another type of
beauty, and clad in the coarse garments of the poor. He could see it all
so plainly, and forgetting for a time why he was there, he listened
still more intently, while Margery went on to tell him of the Champs
d’Elysees, where she wore the scarlet cloak and played she was Mr.
Hetherton’s little girl, while Queenie sat demurely at her side, clad in
homely garments, and making believe that she was Margery La Rue, whose
home was up the winding stairs in the Rue St. Honore.

“I think that one act bound me to her forever,” Margery said, “though it
was the beginning of many make-believes and many deeds of kindness, for
through Queenie’s influence her father paid my expenses in part at the
English school which she attended, and where I learned to speak your
language and all I know besides, and after that she stood my fast friend
in everything and treated me more like a sister than an inferior, as I
am, by birth and social position. I think her love has never failed me
since the day she first came to me and brought the glorious sunlight
with her. So, do you wonder that I love her? I would lay down my life
for her, if need be—would sacrifice everything for her, and I sometimes
wish that I might have the chance to show how much I love her, and would
endure for her sake.”

Margery paused here, and with clasped hands, and eyes which had in them
a rapt, far-away look, seemed almost to see looming on the horizon not
far in the distance the something for which she longed, and which, when
it came, would test her as few women have ever been tested in their love
for another.

It was not possible that the dark shadow touched her now, although it
was so near, and yet she shivered a little and drew a long breath as she
at last came back to the present and turned her eyes upon Mr. Beresford,
who said to her:

“Did you even see Queenie’s father?—did you know him, I mean—you or your

“No, neither of us,” Margery answered promptly. “I saw him once when
Queenie and I were riding in the Bois, and she made him come and speak
to me, but I did not like him much. He impressed me as one very proud
and haughty, who only endured me for Queenie’s sake. He was
fine-looking, though, and his manners were very elegant. Did you know
him, Mr. Beresford?”

“Scarcely at all, as I was a mere boy when he went away, but I have
heard much of him from the villagers; he was not very popular, I
imagine,” Mr. Beresford replied, and then the conversation drifted into
other channels, and they talked of Phil and Anna, and her engagement
with the major, which was generally understood, but nothing more was
said of Margery’s early life.

Mr. Beresford had not succeeded in reading the page just as he had
expected to read it, and was a good deal puzzled and perplexed when, at
rather a late hour, he said good-night to Margery, and went back to his
rooms at the hotel, with his mind full of what she had told him of her
life as connected with Reinette Hetherton, and full too with thoughts of
herself, and after he had retired to his bed, and a feeling of
drowsiness began to steal over him, there came to him another face than
Queenie’s—a fairer face, with golden hair and eyes of blue—and in his
troubled dreams the face hid Queenie’s from him, and a voice with more
of a foreign accent than Queenie’s was sounding in his ears.

It was very late when he awoke, with a confused vision of black eyes and
blue eyes dancing before him, and hastily dressing himself and
swallowing his breakfast, he started for his office, where to his
surprise he found Reinette Hetherton waiting for him.

                             CHAPTER XXXI.
                             THE INTERVIEW.

Reinette had thought and thought till her head seemed bursting with the
effort to solve the mystery of her nurse’s silence. Had she done
anything that she was ashamed to tell, and if so what was it, and did it
concern any one but herself?

“No, I will not believe it,” she said more than once, with a striking
out of her hand as if thrusting something aside. “I will not believe it.
There is some good reason for her conduct which she can give me, and I
am going to her to know the truth, but the world will not be as
charitable as I and will say bad things of her, no doubt. So to the
world she must remain Mrs. La Rue, and nobody will ever know that she is
Christine, except Mr. Beresford, who, of course, knows it now, for Louis
Arnaud has written to him, no doubt. But I can trust him, and I shall
ask him to keep the knowledge to himself.”

After this decision Reinette grew calmer; the violent throbbing in her
temples ceased, and she slept comparatively well that night. But though
the morning found her stronger and better, she felt nervous and
unstrung, and shrunk with a great dread from confronting Mrs. La Rue and
wringing her secret from her, if secret there were to wring.

“I am so hurt and disappointed,” she thought, as she dressed herself for
her calls. “I have loved Christine so much, and wanted so to find her,
and now she is this woman whom, for some unaccountable reason, I never
liked, though she is Margery’s mother and greatly superior to her class.
There surely is something wrong and I am going to find it out.”

The waiting for Mr. Beresford seemed a long time to the excited girl,
though in reality it was not more than ten minutes from the time she
entered the office before she was closeted with the lawyer in his
private room, where he received his clients who came to him on special
business. And Reinette’s was very special, or at least very private, and
when the door was closed she plunged into it at once, by saying:

“Mr. Beresford, you have written to Monsieur Albrech, in Mentone, and
asked about Christine Bodine.”

She did not put it interrogatively, but as an assertion, and blushing
guiltily, the lawyer replied:

“Yes, I did write to him, asking information of the woman’s whereabouts.
You were so anxious to find her, you know.”

“Hush!” Queenie said, pouring the full scorn of her blazing eyes upon
him. “Do not try to excuse yourself in that way. It was curiosity rather
than a desire to serve me which prompted you to write, and you have had
your reward. Louis Arnaud, Monsieur Albrech’s clerk, has answered your

“Yes, he has,” Mr. Beresford replied, and Reinette continued:

“I know it. I have one from him, too. Here it is, and I will read it to

She drew the letter from her pocket, and read it through in a clear,
steady voice, as if its contents were just what she had expected.

“You are not surprised, of course,” she said, when she had finished. “He
told you that Christine was Mrs. La Rue. Where is the letter, and how
did you make it out?”

“It was written partly in English and partly in French, so I did pretty
well,” Mr. Beresford replied, and she continued:

“Did he write you anything more than he did me? I have a right to know
if there is any reason why she should have kept herself from me in this
manner. Show me the letter, Mr. Beresford.”

Mr. Beresford knew she would persist in her demand until something was
done to quiet her, and, going into the adjoining room where a fire was
burning in the grate, he took Louis Arnaud’s letter from his pocket and
threw it into the fire; then, making a feint of hunting through
pigeon-holes and on the table where piles of paper lay, he asked his
clerk, so loud that Reinette could distinctly hear him, if he had seen a
certain letter which he described. The clerk had not, but was finally
driven to admitting that he might have torn it up that morning with
other letters of no importance. He was reprimanded for his carelessness,
and then Mr. Beresford returned to Reinette, feeling like a hypocrite,
but thinking the end justified the means. But Queenie was not deceived,
and with a smile which had much bitterness in it, she said to him before
he could speak:

“Do not trouble yourself with more deception. Your clerk never destroyed
that letter, for you are not the man to leave it lying round. It is safe
somewhere, as you know, and you do not wish to show it to me. There was
something in it which you will not tell me. But no matter; I am going to
Christine, and she cannot keep from me why she has made no sign that she
was my old nurse, when she knew how much I wished to find her.”

“Possibly she feared you might not think as much of Margery, if you knew
she was your nurse’s daughter,” Mr. Beresford said, and Reinette

“I have thought of that, but she should have known me better than to
think anything could change my love for Margery. Perhaps she displeased
papa after mother died, and he dismissed her for it, but paid her money
all the same, because mother wished it. That would explain why father
never was willing to talk to me about her, and always said he did not
know where she was.”

“You used to question him of her, then?” Mr. Beresford said, and
Reinette answered:

“Yes; and he would tell me nothing. Evidently he did not like her, but I
knew how strong his prejudices were if once he took a dislike to one,
and so I attached no importance to them.”

“How long did she live with you as your nurse after your mother’s
death?” Mr. Beresford asked, and Reinette replied:

“I do not know; a year or so, I think, though all my knowledge of that
part of my life seems to be a blank; and where was Margery then?”

She put this question more to herself than to Mr. Beresford, who,
nevertheless, replied:

“Perhaps Christine was married unknown to your father, who, when he
found it out, was angry, as it took a valuable nurse from his child.”

“Yes, yes, thank you,” Reinette, said, eagerly. “It was something of
that nature, no doubt, and you lawyers are shrewd enough to see it,
while I might have groped in the dark forever. I am glad you thought of
that, and Mr. Beresford, you must tell no one what you heard from Louis
Arnaud. There are many suspicious people in the world who would say hard
things of Christine and—possibly—connect the trouble in some way
with—with—father—and I will not have his name coupled with hers in any
way. My father was a gentleman and a Hetherton.”

Mr. Beresford bowed an acquiescence to the fact that her father was a
gentleman and a Hetherton. And if there was any merit in being the
latter, she certainly was a very fair representative of it as she stood
up so proud and calm, and uttered her protest against her father’s name
being mixed with that of Christine Bodine.

“I am going there now,” she said, adjusting her shawl and drawing on her
gloves, “and when I see you again I shall know everything there is to
know of Christine Bodine.”

Mr. Beresford felt a little doubtful on that subject, but said nothing,
and going with her to her carriage helped her in, and then in a very
thoughtful mood returned to his office, wondering what would be the
result of that call on Christine Bodine.

                             CHAPTER XXXII.

It was more than a toothache and swollen face which had ailed Mrs. La
Rue, and sent her to her room on that night when Mr. Beresford called
upon Margery. She had a toothache, it is true, and was suffering from
the effects of a severe cold, under cover of which she hid the terrible
pain which was making her sick with nervous apprehension lest, at last,
she was to be confronted by the girl whom she feared and shrank from
more than from all the world beside, unless it was Margery, her dearly
loved, beautiful child, who had brought her the letter which affected
her so strangely. It had been forwarded from Oak Bluffs, and postmarked
originally at Mentone, and it read as follows:

  “MADAME LA RUE.—Inclosed find a note from Miss Hetherton, who has
  written asking your whereabouts and that this might be forwarded to
  you. In my absence, my clerk, Louis Arnaud, took charge of my business
  letters, and, it seems, answered the young lady, telling her your
  address. Had I been home this would not have occurred, but it cannot
  now be helped. Hoping no great harm will come of it, I am

                                           “Your ob’t servant,
                                                           “M. ALBRECH.”

This letter Margery had taken from the office, and wondered in a vague
kind of way what it contained, and why M. Albrech had written to her
mother again, when she had supposed her business relations with him
finished. Since the time when Margery first learned to write, it had
been a distinctly understood thing that both she and her mother were to
respect each other’s correspondence, and Margery would as soon have
broken the seal of a letter directed to a stranger as to her mother,
consequently she had never known just what was in the letters which had
passed between Mrs. La Rue and M. Albrech, of Mentone. She had always
known since her father’s death that her mother had at stated times
received a certain amount of money from some source unknown to her; and
she knew, too, that latterly the annuity had ceased, because, as her
mother said, the person who paid it was dead. That the sum was very
small she had been made to believe, and her mother had told her once,
when she asked what became of it, that it was safely invested in stocks
and bonds in Paris, and was to be kept for her as a dowry when she was
married, or to be used before if absolutely necessary.

“But who gives it to you?” Margery had once inquired, and her mother had

“A gentleman in Paris, whose wife was very fond of me. I was her maid
first, and after she died took care of her child.”

And Margery, wholly unsuspicious, accepted this explanation as all there
was to tell, and received the impression somehow that the gentleman’s
name was Polignie, and never dreamed of the guilt, and sin, and terrible
remorse which haunted her mother so continually, and had made her grow
old so fast. Margery could remember her when she was bright and pretty,
with a sparkle in her dark eyes and a bloom upon her cheeks, which now
were sunken and pale, while her long, black hair was streaked with gray,
and within the last few months had been rapidly growing white. She had
brought the Mentone letter, and given it to her mother without so much
as looking at her, and thus she failed to see how white she was as she
took the letter and went to her room to read it alone.

“Probably it has something to do with my money,” she thought, seeking to
reassure herself as she broke the seal and opened the envelope from
which Queenie’s note dropped into her lap.

Picking it up she read the address: “Christine Bodine, care of M.
Albrech,” and recognizing the handwriting, which she had often seen on
notes sent to her daughter by Reinette, she gave a low, gasping cry,
while for a moment everything around her grew black, and she could
neither see nor hear for the great fear overmastering her.

“Tracked at last,” she whispered, as she tried to read what M. Albrech
had written, and could not for the blur before her eyes.

For months Mrs. La Rue’s remedy for nervousness had been morphine, which
she took in constantly increasing doses, and she had resort to it now,
and, swallowing half a grain, grew calm at last, and read her agent’s
letter; and then picking up the dainty note with Reinette’s monogram
upon the seal, kissed it passionately, and cried over it as if it had
been some living creature instead of a bit of perfumed paper, on which
these lines were written:

                                                       “HETHERTON PLACE,
                           “MERRIVALE, Worcester Co., Mass., U. S. A.

  “MY DEAR CHRISTINE:—Have you forgotten the little baby you used to
  bear in your arms years ago, in Paris and at Chateau des Fleurs?
  Little Queenie they called me, though my real name was Reinette, and I
  am the daughter of Mrs. Frederick Hetherton, who died in Rome, and to
  whom you were so kind. I have it in mother’s letter written to father,
  in which she tells him how good and true you were to her and bade him
  always be kind to you for her sake. And I think he tried to be, for I
  have ascertained that he set apart a certain amount of money for you,
  which was all very well, though I should have shown my gratitude in an
  altogether different way. I might have given you money if you needed
  it, but I should also have made you come home to us, and should have
  loved and petted you because you knew my mother, and were so good to
  her. And that is what I wish to do now.

  “Papa is dead, as you perhaps know. He died on the ship before we
  reached New York, and I am living alone at Hetherton Place, his old
  home, which is almost as lovely as Chateau des Fleurs, with a much
  finer view. Christine, did you know my mother was an American? She
  was, and her home was here in Merrivale, where my father found her and
  where I have a host of relatives on her side. But still I am very,
  very lonely, and I want you to come and live with me in America. I
  will try and make you so happy, and you will seem to bring me nearer
  to my mother, for you will tell me of her; what she did and what she
  said of me the few days she had me before she died. I am sure to love
  you because she did, and in her first letters to her mother and sister
  after she reached Paris she spoke of her good Christine, who was so
  much to her.

  “You see I am writing on the assumption that you have no other ties. I
  always think of you as my dear old nurse, Christine, whom I sometimes
  fancy I can remember. Did you not come to me once in the Bois when
  another nurse had charge of me, and kiss, and cry over me, and give me
  a quantity of bon-bons? Some such scene comes up to me from the misty
  past, and you had such bright black eyes and so much color in your
  cheeks, and looked so pretty. Was that you, and why did you not stay
  with me always? Write immediately and answer all these questions, and
  tell me you will come to your loving


Oh, how the wretched woman writhed as she read this letter, with thuds
of pain beating in her heart, and her eyes dim with burning tears. It
was so kind, so affectionate in its tone, and so familiar too; so unlike
what Reinette’s manner toward her had been.

“Queenie, my darling, would you write to me thus if you knew?” she
moaned, as she rocked to and fro in her anguish, while at her work below
Margery sat singing a little song she had learned in the Tabernacle at
Oak Bluffs:

                     “There is rest for the weary,
                     There is rest for you.”

“Rest for the weary,” Mrs. La Rue repeated, as the clear, sweet tones
floated up to her. “And I am weary, oh! so weary; but there is no rest
for me, except in death, which some say is a long dreamless rest, and
that I can have so soon, for my friend is always near me,” and she
glanced toward the shelf where stood a vial of laudanum to which she had
resort when morphine did not avail to quiet her and bring forgetfulness.
“But I must see Margery once more,” she thought. “I must kiss her again,
and hear her call me mother.”

It was nearly time now for the evening meal, and summoning all her
strength and calmness, Mrs. La Rue went down stairs, and under cover of
the fast-increasing darkness, managed so well that Margery suspected
nothing, and attributed her mother’s pallor and weakness to the
neuralgia from which she was suffering.

“I am going to bed early to-night,” Mrs. La Rue said, when supper was
over, and the table cleared away. “I am feeling quite ill.”

Then Margery looked at her closely, and asked if it was anything more
than neuralgia which ailed her. Was there bad news in the letter?

“No—yes; but nothing I can now explain,” Mrs. La Rue replied; then going
up to her daughter, she kissed her twice, and said: “Good-night, my
darling. Do not speak to me when you come up to bed; I may be asleep.”

Margery kissed her back, with no thought of what was in the mind of the
miserable woman as she slowly climbed the stairs, and, going to her
room, shut the door, and taking down her _friend_, poured out what was
to give her forgetfulness and rest. Drop by drop the dark liquid fell
into the glass, until there were forty drops in all, and she held it to
the light, and looked at it, and smiled as she thought of the morrow,
when she would be deaf to Margery’s call, and deaf to Queenie’s
reproaches, if she should come, as she might do now at any time.

“But I shall be gone from it forever, and Margery will think it an
overdose taken accidentally to ease the pain. Yes, this is better than
the river; and yet I am so hot and feverish that the cold water would be
grateful to me, and this is just the night for such a deed, only Margery
then would know I meant it, and I must not lose her respect. I must
carry that with me at least. No, to sleep and never waken is the best.
So, Margery, darling, and Queenie, too, good-by!”

She raised the glass to her lips just as the door-bell rang a loud,
clanging peal, which made her start so violently that the glass dropped
from her trembling hand, and the poison was spilled on the floor.

It was Mr. Beresford who rang, and Christine heard him speaking to
Margery in the hall. The sound of their voices quieted her and for the
time turned her from her terrible resolve. “I will not die to-night; I
will wait,” she said as she cleared away all traces of the broken glass,
and then, undressing herself, went to bed, but not to sleep, for her
thoughts were busy with the past, when she was young and innocent, and
first entered the service of Margaret Hetherton. She could not remember
her father who died when she was two years old. Her mother had kept a
cheap French _pension_ in the suburbs of Paris, and Christine had often
assisted in waiting upon the guests who frequented the house. As she was
very pretty and bright and piquant she naturally attracted a good deal
of attention, and sometimes words were said to her which she knew were
insults, and which she repelled with scorn for she was then honest and
pure as a child, and would have shrunk with horror from the future had
it been shown to her. At the age of eighteen her mother died and she was
left alone without money or employment. It was then that she saw an
advertisement in the morning paper to the effect that a waiting-maid was
wanted by a young American lady, who could be seen at the Hotel Meurice
every day for a week between the hours of twelve and two. As the terms
offered were unusually liberal she resolved to apply for the situation,
notwithstanding that she had had no experience.

At the appointed hour she presented herself to Margaret, who was
reclining upon a white satin couch, while partly behind her Mr.
Hetherton stood with folded arms, and a critical look upon his face.

Accustomed as he was to the world, he saw at a glance that Christine
Bodine knew nothing of the habits of a fine lady, such as he meant his
wife to be, now that she was removed from the Fergusons, a thought of
whom made him shudder. Indeed, the girl, when questioned for references,
and the address of her last employer, acknowledged freely that she had
no references, and had never served as maid.

“But I can learn,” she said; “and I will serve madame so faithfully. I
should so like you to try me,” and she looked imploringly at Margaret,
who saw something in the girl which pleased her.

She was so young, and very pretty and plain in her dress, and looked so
good and trusty that her heart warmed toward her. References were
nothing to her, and turning to her husband she said, in a low tone:

“Oh, Frederick, I like her so much. I am sure she will suit. Let us take

But Frederick demurred, urging that she had no style, no appearance of a

“But she is good, I am sure, and I want her,” the young wife pleaded,
and Christine was retained, and entered upon her duties the next day.

How peaceful, and happy, and innocent those first few months spent in
Mrs. Hetherton’s service seemed to Christine now as she looked back upon
them, and how sweet, and kind, and patient her mistress had always been
with her, treating her more as an equal and a friend than as a servant,
and thereby frequently calling down upon herself sharp reproofs from her
husband, who did not approve of her familiarity with a maid. It showed
at once a low-born taste, he said, and he wished his wife to conquer all
such feelings, and, forgetting the past, remember that she was now Mrs.
Frederick Hetherton, of Paris. But Margaret could not forget the past,
or cease to pine for the dear ones at home, the plain, old-fashioned
mother, whose ways she knew were homespun in the extreme, and not at all
like the elegant manners of her proud husband, but who, nevertheless,
was her mother, for whom she cried every day of her life. Laying her
head on the lap of her faithful Christine she would sob out her
homesickness, and talk by the hour of Merrivale and its people, until
Christine knew every rock and crag, and winding brook in the pleasant
New England town, and knew pretty well what the Fergusons were, and how
they stood in Merrivale.

They were of mutual benefit to each other—this mistress and maid, for
while Christine anticipated every wish of Margaret, waiting upon her as
if she had been a duchess, and teaching her the French language as well
as the German, of which she had some knowledge. Margaret in turn taught
her a little English, and during the many weeks when she was alone and
her husband away with his friends, she gave her lessons in history, and
geography, and arithmetic, so that Christine, who was apt and bright,
became a much better scholar than was common to persons of her class,
and astonished her mistress with her rapid improvement. Even Mr.
Hetherton began to notice her at last and marvel at the change in her,
and when he was home he often found himself lingering longer in his
wife’s apartments when Christine was there, with her saucy smile, her
bright eyes, and her pretty way of saying things. Without any motive
except that she wished to please him because he was madame’s husband she
made herself necessary to him, and, carefully studying his wishes,
ministered to him with the alacrity of a slave, and when he offered her
money for extra services she refused to take it, and said that what she
did was done for love of him and madame, who trusted and clung to the
girl with a love which made the poor woman shiver with remorseful pain,
as she remembered it now, when the sins of the past were confronting her
so fearfully, and making her almost shriek aloud, as she recalled those
days in Rome, when the husband was seeking his own pleasure, while the
wife grew paler and thinner each day, and yet strove so hard to keep up,
by talking of the great happiness in store for her, and surprise for
him, if all went well with her, and she lived through the trial awaiting

“Frederick is so fond of children, and he will be so happy and surprised
when he hears of it. I am glad I did not tell him,” she said, when at
last the waiting and suspense were over, and a little girl baby was
pillowed on her arm.

Christine could see that baby now, and feel the touch of its soft hands,
and see the white, worn face upon the pillow, and the great blue eyes
which followed her so wistfully and questioningly, and at last had in
them a look of terror and dread, as the days went by and no strength
came to the feeble limbs, or vitality to the nerves. She was dying, and
she knew it at last, and throwing herself into Christine’s arms, she
sobbed like a little child.

“It is hard to die,” she said, “when I am so young and have so much to
live for, now baby is born. And home is so far away, and mother, too,
and Frederick—where is he, Christine? He ought to be here, and I so sick
and lonely.”

Christine knew that very well, and her tears fell like rain upon the
golden head resting upon her bosom, while she tried to comfort the young
mother, who was so surely passing away.

“Monsieur must come soon,” she said; “and then madame will be better,
and we shall go back to Chateau des Fleurs and be so happy there.”

But Margaret knew better. She would never go to Chateau des Fleurs—never
see her husband again, and that grieved her the most, for all his
neglect and coldness had not killed her love, and she longed for him now
so much when she lay dying in Rome, with only her baby and Christine
with her—Christine, to whom she said “God bless you, and reward you
according to your kindness and faithfulness to me!”

Margaret had meant it for a blessing, but it was really a curse, and it
had followed Christine ever since, until now, when her sin was finding
her out, and making her writhe with anguish and fear.

“And yet I was kind to her,” she whispered; “and she died in my arms,
with her head upon my breast, and she kissed me twice upon my lips; one
was for me, she said, and one for the baby when she was old enough to
know. Ah, me, those kisses! how they burn like fire! and I am burning,
too—burning! Is there a hell, I wonder, and is it worse than the torment
I am enduring?”

Her mind was disordered, and she raved incoherently of Rome, and Chateau
des Fleurs; and Paris, and Margaret, and Reinette, until she was utterly
exhausted, and growing quiet, at last fell into a sleep so deep that she
did not hear Margery when she let Mr. Beresford out and came up to her

“Poor mother, she is resting sweetly, and I hope will be better
to-morrow,” Margery said, as she bent over the sleeping woman, whose
face looked so white, and worn, and pinched.

The next morning, however, Mrs. La Rue did not attempt to get up. She
was too weak and sick, she said, and should keep her bed all day. “And
Margery,” she added, with quivering lip and a pleading tone, “don’t let
any one in here, will you, if they come asking for me? Not any one;
promise, Margery.”

“No, mother, no one shall disturb you,” Margery said, soothingly, “and
fortunately I have not much work on hand to-day, and can stay with you a
great deal. I must finish Miss Ferguson’s sacque, and that is all. Now
try to sleep again. I can’t have such a woeful-looking, pale-faced
little mother on my hands. I shall have to send her off and get another

She spoke playfully, but every word was a stab to the miserable woman,
who said again:

“Remember, Margery, nobody is to come up here.”

“No, mother, nobody. You are safer than the old bishop in his castle on
the Rhine, for the rats did reach him there, and not so much as a mouse
shall harm you here, so _au revoir_,” and with a kiss—the last—the very
last, she would ever give as she gave that, she ran down stairs just as
a carriage stopped at the gate and Reinette came rapidly up the walk.

                            CHAPTER XXXIII.

Reinette did not ring, but entered unannounced, like one who had but one
thought, one purpose, and was resolved to carry it out with as little
ceremony as possible. It was fortunate for all parties that this was
Margery’s dull season, and there were no girls there with prying eyes
and curious ears to listen, for Reinette was greatly excited now that
the moment drew near when she could confront Christine, and she plunged
at once into business by saying to Margery, “Where is your mother? I
have come to see her.”

“Mother is sick,” Margery replied; “she is very nervous and cannot see
any one. I am sorry, but you will have to wait. Maybe I can do as well,”
she continued, looking wonderingly at Queenie, who, utterly disregarding
what she said, had started for the stairs.

“No, you will not do as well. I must see her; it is very important and I
cannot wait,” Queenie said, still advancing toward the stairs, while
Margery put herself between them and her friend, whose strange conduct
surprised her so much.

“But you cannot see her. I promised no one should disturb her,” she said
again, and now she laid her hand on Queenie’s shoulder to detain her,
for Queenie’s foot was on the first stair and she looked resolute enough
to storm a fortress as she persisted in her determination to go up.

But not less resolute than her own was the face which confronted her as
Margery roused up and said in a voice Queenie had never heard from her
before: “Miss Hetherton! You astonish me. I tell you mother is sick and
cannot be disturbed. You must not go up.”

“And I tell you I _must_. I have important news from Mentone, which
concerns your mother and me, and I must see her.”

“What news?” Margery asked, thinking suddenly of the letter her mother
had received from Mentone the previous night, and experiencing a vague
feeling of fear and dread of some impending evil. “What news have you
heard which concerns my mother?” she repeated, looking steadily at

Reinette hesitated a moment, kept silent by something in Margery’s face,
but when she said for the third time, “Tell me what news you have
received from France,” she replied: “Margery, it shall never make any
difference between us, but your mother is Christine Bodine, whom I have
been trying to find.”

“My mother Christine Bodine! Impossible! She was Marie La Mille,”
Margery gasped, as she clutched Reinette’s shoulder with a grip which
was painful.

“I have it from her agent in Mentone, who has received money for her at
different times from Messrs. Polignie in Paris—money my father deposited
for her with them years ago. Now let me go! I _must_ see her!” Queenie
said, darting up the stairs, no longer restrained by Margery, who had
let her pass without further protest.

Clasping her hand to her head as if smitten with a blow, Margery
staggered back, and leaning against the wall for support, tried to think
what it all meant, while her mind traveled rapidly back over the past,
gathering up a thread here and there, until she had no doubt that what
Queenie had told her was true. Her mother _was_ Christine Bodine. But
why this concealment? What was she hiding? What had she done?

Margery’s first impulse was to hurry to her mother’s room, where there
was already the sound of excited voices, her mother’s and Queenie’s
blended together, as each strove to be heard, and once she caught her
own name, as if her mother were calling her to come.

Then she did start, and was half way up the stairs, when the door-bell
rang violently—a sharp, imperious ring, which she recognized as Anna
Ferguson’s. She was expecting that young lady, and knowing that however
fierce a storm might be blowing, she must keep it from the world, she
calmed herself with a tremendous effort, and opening the door to Anna,
listened patiently for several minutes, while the girl examined her
sacque and said it would do very well, only the price was too high.

“Ma never asked anything like that for a common sacque.”

“Very well. Pay me what you like,” Margery said, anxious to be rid of
her customer, who had asked, in her supercilious way:

“Isn’t that Queenie up stairs? And isn’t she talking pretty loud for a
well-bred person?”

“Oh, will she never go?” Margery thought, just as the bell pealed a
second time, and Grandma Ferguson came in, bringing a bundle almost as
large as herself, and entering at once into full details of what she
wished to have made, and how.

“I s’pose Anny is goin’ to be married,” she said, looking hard at her
granddaughter, “though she hain’t noticed me enough to tell me so, right
out; but everybody’s talkin’ it, and I thought I might as well have a
new silk gown. My _moiry antique_ is pretty well whipped out, and a nice
silk is allus handy. I got brown—a nice shade, I call it,” and she
unrolled a silk of excellent quality, but of a yellowish brown, which
would be very unbecoming to her.

“Oh, grandma, why didn’t you get black instead of that horrid
snuff-color?” Anna said, contemptuously, as she glanced at the silk, and
then went out, leaving the old lady a good deal crest-fallen, and a
little doubtful with regard to the dress she had lately thought so

Margery soothed her as well as she could, and heard her suggestions, and
took her measure, and showed her some new fashion-plates, and did it all
with her ears turned to her mother’s room where the talk was still going
on, now low and earnest and almost pleading, and again so high and
excited, that grandma asked if that was not _Rennet’s_ voice and what
she was talking so loud for. Then Margery excused herself for a moment
and ran up stairs to her mother’s room, the door of which was ajar, and
that accounted for the distinctness with which the sound of voices was
borne to the parlor below.

Mrs. La Rue had risen from her bed and put on a dressing-gown which
Reinette was buttoning for her while she was trying to bind her long,
loose hair into a knot behind. Her face was white as ashes, and in her
eyes there was a hunted look, as of one pursued to the last extremity.
But when she saw Margery, their expression suddenly changed, and
thrusting out both hands, she cried: “Oh, Margery, go away; this is no
place for you.”

Advancing into the room and closing the door, Margery said in a low,
firm tone of voice: “Miss Hetherton, I don’t know what all this is
about, but mother is too weak and sick to be thus excited. Will you
leave her until a fitter time?”

“Don’t call me Miss Hetherton, as if you were angry at me,” Reinette
replied without looking up from buttoning Mrs. La Rue’s dressing-gown.
“I cannot go now. Your mother knew my mother and is going to tell me
about her. She is Christine Bodine.”

“Yes, I am Christine. God pity me,” the miserable woman exclaimed, and
over Margery’s face there swept a look of unutterable pain and

She had said to herself that this which Reinette had told her was true;
that her mother _was_ Christine, and still there had been a faint hope
that there might be some mistake; but there was none; her mother had
declared it herself, and with a low cry she turned away, saying as she
did so: “There are people in the parlor, and your voices are sometimes
louder than you suppose, and though they cannot understand you, they
will know you are excited and that there is trouble of some kind. Speak
lower; do. If this thing I hear be true we surely need not tell it to
the world; we can keep it to ourselves.”

“Yes, Margery, that is what I mean to do,” Queenie said, while Mrs. La
Rue exclaimed, with a ring of joy in her voice as if some unexpected
relief had come to her: “Yes, yes, we need not tell; we will not tell;
we will keep the secret forever.”

“But you must tell me all you know about my mother,” Queenie said, while
Margery went down stairs, for the bell was ringing again and Grandma
Ferguson was growing impatient of waiting to know if she should trim her
brown silk with velvet or fringe.

This time it was Mrs. Rossiter and her daughters, and into Margery’s
mind there flashed the thought, “Are all the Fergusons coming here
to-day, and what would they say if they knew who my mother was?” But
they did not know or dream of the exciting interview in the room above,
where Reinette questioned so rapidly and impatiently the woman who
almost crouched at her feet in her abasement and answered amid tears and
sobs. The Rossiters had merely come to ask when Miss La Rue could do
some work for them, and they left very soon taking grandma with them, to
the great relief of Margery, who locked the door upon them, determined
that no one else should enter until Reinette was gone and she knew
herself why the truth had been withheld from her.

Up stairs the talk was still going on, though the voices now were low
and quiet as if the storm was over: but would the interview never end?
would Reinette never leave her free to go to her mother herself and
demand an explanation? Slowly, as it seemed, the hour hands crept on
until it was twelve o’clock, and then at last a door opened and shut,
and Queenie came down the stairs, her eyes red with weeping, but with a
look of content upon her face which surprised Margery a little.

“She cannot be very angry with mother,” she thought and her heart began
to grow lighter as Queenie came up to her, and putting her arms around
her neck, said to her:

“Margie, it makes you seem nearer to me, now that I know your mother was
my nurse, and I love you more than ever. But how white you are, and your
hands are like lumps of ice. Are you sick?” she continued, as she looked
with alarm at Margery’s face, which was as white as ashes.

“Not sick, but a good deal upset with what I have heard,” Margery
replied; “but tell me,” she continued, “what does mother say? Why has
she never told you who she was?”

“She says it was for your sake; that she feared lest I might think less
of you if I knew you were the daughter of my former nurse,” Queenie
replied, and looking earnestly at her, Margery asked:

“And you believe this to be the only reason, don’t you?”

“No, I do not,” Queenie answered, promptly. “It is true in part, no
doubt, but there is something she did not tell me, and which I am
resolved to find out. But I did not tell her so, she seemed so scared—so
like a frightened child. Margery, I believe your mother is more than
half crazy.”

“Yes, yes,” and Margery caught eagerly at the suggestion. “You are
right; she is crazy. I can see it now, and that will account for much
which seems so strange. Oh, Queenie, be patient; be merciful. Remember,
she is my mother.”

“And my nurse,” Queenie rejoined. “She was with my mother when I was
born and when she died. I shall not wrong her; do not fear me,” and
Queenie’s lips touched Margery’s in token that through her no harm
should come to the poor woman who, in the chamber above, sat in a low
chair rocking to and fro, with a sickening dread of the moment when she
must stand face to face with Margery and meet the glance of those clear,
blue eyes which might read the story she had not told Reinette.

                             CHAPTER XXXIV.

When Reinette went up the stairs to Mrs. La Rue’s room, she had no
definite plan of action; indeed, she had no plan at all, except to
confront and confound the woman who had deceived her so long, and whom
she found sitting up in bed with so terrified a look on her face, that
she stood an instant on the threshold gazing at her ere she plunged
impetuously into the business which had brought her there. Secure in
Margery’s promise that no one should disturb her, Mrs. La Rue had grown
comparatively quiet, and was just falling off to sleep when she was
roused by the sound of carriage wheels stopping at the gate, and a
moment after she heard Reinette’s voice speaking earnestly to Margery,
and felt that the hour she had dreaded so long had come at last.
Reinette had heard from Mentone and had come for an explanation.

“Fool, that I did not end it all last night, when I had the nerve to do
it,” she said, as, starting up in bed, she listened until footsteps came
up the stairs, and Reinette Hetherton stood looking at her.

But not long; the girl was in too great haste to wait, and advancing to
the bedside she began: “Christine, you see I know you; I have found you
at last; traced you through Messrs. Polignie to your agent in Mentone,
whose clerk put me on your track; so, there can be no mistake. You are
Christine Bodine, my old nurse, whom I have so wished to find; and you
knew I wished it all the time, and did not tell me who you were. Why did
you treat me so, Christine? What is your excuse? You have one, of

She spoke so rapidly, pouring out question after question, that for a
minute Mrs. La Rue was stunned and answered nothing, but sat staring
blankly at her, like one in a dream. At last, however, her lips moved,
and she said, faintly: “Yes, I am Christine, and I don’t know why I
didn’t tell you.”

“You don’t know why you didn’t tell me? That is very strange,” Reinette
replied. “If there is nothing to conceal, if all your dealings with my
parents were honorable and upright, I see no reason for hiding from me
the fact that you were once my nurse. Christine, I did not come to
quarrel with you,” and Reinette’s voice softened a little. “I have loved
you too much for that, but I have come to hear about my mother. You were
with her when she died. You nursed me when I was a baby. You know what
mother said to me and of me. She loved you, Christine, and trusted you.
I have it in a letter written to my father before she died, when he was
away in Russia or Austria. And that is why he paid you money, was it
not, Christine?”

She was looking fixedly at the woman on whose white face blood-red spots
were beginning to show, and who answered falteringly:

“Yes, that is why he gave me the money. Oh, Reinette, leave me; go away;
don’t try to unearth the past. There are things you should not
know—things I cannot tell. God help me. I wish I had died before I ever
saw your face.”

She looked so pale and death-like that Reinette bent anxiously over her,
and bringing the camphor bathed her forehead, and held it to her
nostrils until she was better, and raising herself from the pillows upon
which she had fallen, she said:

“I cannot lie here. I feel that I am smothering. I must get up, while I
talk to you, but oh, you’ll be so sorry. You’ll wish you had never come.
Bring me my wrapper there on the chair, and my woolen shawl, for I am
shivering with cold.”

Her teeth were chattering, and her lips were blue and pinched as Queenie
brought the wrapper and helped her put it on, kneeling on the floor to
button it herself, and occasionally speaking soothingly to her, though
her own heart was beating rapidly with a dread of what she might hear.
Then it was that Margery appeared on the scene, and by suggesting that
no one but themselves need know what had so long been hidden, changed
Mrs. La Rue’s intentions altogether. For a few brief moments there had
been in her mind a resolve to make a clean breast of it, and to tell the
truth, and then when that was done, she would kill herself, and so
escape the storm sure to follow her revelations.

“Better die,” she thought, “than live to be questioned and suspected by
the Rossiters, and Fergusons, and everybody, as I should be if they knew
I was Christine.”

But when the idea was suggested that only Margery and Reinette need
know, she changed her mind, and in what she would now tell the latter,
there was to be a deep, dark gulf bridged over in silence.

“Help me to my chair. I am very, very weak,” she said to Reinette, when
Margery had gone.

Reinette complied with her request, and leading her to a chair placed
her gently in it, and drew the shawl closer around her. At this little
act of attention Christine broke down entirely, and throwing her arms
around Reinette, sobbed out:

“Oh, my darling, my baby whom I nursed. I have so longed to hold you in
my arms as I held you years ago. Reinette, Reinette, kiss
me—because—because—I am—Christine.”

It was not in Reinette’s nature to resist such an appeal, and she kissed
the poor trembling woman twice, and then drawing a chair to her side
spoke very softly to her, and said:

“Now tell me.”

“Tell you what, child? What do you wish most to know?” Christine asked,
and Reinette replied:

“About my mother. You are the first I have ever seen who knew her after
she was Mrs. Hetherton. I have heard what she was when a girl—the
sweetest, loveliest creature, they say, with eyes like the summer sky,
and a face so fair and pure, and I wish to hear from beginning to end
all you know about her, and when you saw her first, and where, and about
her death in Rome, when I was born, and only you there to care for
either of us.”

“Would you mind holding my hand while I tell you of my first days with
Mrs. Hetherton?” Christine said, and Reinette took the cold, clammy hand
between both of hers and rubbed and chafed it as tenderly as Margery
herself would have done.

She was beginning to feel very kindly toward this woman who had known
her mother; the insinuations in Messrs. Polignie’s letter were forgotten
for the time, and she saw before her only one who had cared for her when
an infant and had seen her mother die.

“Begin,” she said, “I am impatient to hear.”

And so Christine began, and told her of the advertisement for a waiting
maid, which she had answered in person; told her of the handsome rooms
at the Hotel Meurice, and of the beautiful young lady who was so kind to
her, and made her more a companion than a maid, notwithstanding that her
proud husband frequently protested against it and talked of bad taste,
which sometimes made madame cry.

“And did she tell you of Merrivale and her old home? Did you know she
was an American?” Queenie asked, and Mrs. La Rue replied:

“Yes, she told me all about her home and Merrivale, and I was familiar
with every rock, and hill, and tree, I think, especially the elms upon
the common, and the poplars near her home. She was so fond of Merrivale
and her friends, and used often to cry for the mother so far away.”

“Was she very homesick?” Reinette asked, and Mrs. La Rue answered her:

“At times, yes, when monsieur was away with his associates, or staid out
so late nights, as he sometimes did.”

Reinette’s breath came quickly for a moment, and her voice shook as she
asked, very low, as if afraid some one might hear:

“Was not father kind to her always?”

“If beautiful dresses and jewelry, and horses and carriages, and plenty
of money means kindness, then he was kind, for she had all these in
profusion, but what she wanted most she did not have, and that was her
husband’s society,” Mrs. La Rue said, and then Reinette drew back a
little haughtily and answered:

“Christine, you did not like my father. I see that in all you say, but
he was very dear to me, and I loved him so much! You were prejudiced
against him, but I insist upon your going on just the same and telling
me everything. Why did she not have his society? Where and how did he
pass his time, if not with her? He loved her, I am sure. You know he
did. You know he loved my mother.”

She kept asserting this, for there was an expression on Mrs. La Rue’s
face which she could not understand and which did not quite please her.

“He was very proud of her beauty, and in his way fond of her, but I do
not think it was in Monsieur Hetherton’s nature to love any one long.
Her habits did not suit him; his did not suit her; she breakfasted at
nine; he breakfasted at eleven in his room, and frequently dined out,
returning generally to see her dressed for the opera or concert, and
dictating about her toilet until we were both at our wits’ end. Her
tastes were too simple for him. He wished her to wear velvet and satin,
and diamonds and pearls, while she would have liked plain muslin gowns
and a quiet home in the country, with hens, and chickens, and pets. She
was very happy at Chateau des Fleurs, and would have been happier if
monsieur had staid more with her, but he was much in Paris, and
Switzerland, and Nice, and so we were alone a great deal, and she taught
me many things and was very kind to me.”

“But why did not my father stay with her more?” Reinette asked, and Mrs.
La Rue replied: “He was fond of travel, and hunting, and racing, and had
many gentlemen friends there, whose influence was not good, and he
complained that Chateau des Fleurs was lonely. If he only had a child—a
son—he could bear it, he said; but as it was, the place was unendurable,
and so he staid away weeks at a time, while your mother pined and
drooped like some fair lily which had neither water nor sunshine.”

“Oh, this is very dreadful,” Queenie said, with a choking sob. “I am
glad grandma will never know what you have told me. But go on and tell
me the rest. I insist upon knowing the whole.”

So Mrs. La Rue told of the weeks and weeks which her mistress passed
alone at Chateau des Fleurs, while Mr. Hetherton was seeking his
pleasure elsewhere; of his great desire for a son to bear his name; of
Mrs. Hetherton’s failing health and removal at last to Southern France,
and then, as the season advanced, to Rome; of the great joy which came
to her so unexpectedly and which she purposely kept from her husband,
wishing to surprise him when he joined her in Rome, as he promised to
do; of the weary weeks of waiting, hoping against hope, for he was
always coming in a few days at the most and never came; and then of a
girl baby’s birth sooner than it was expected, and the scene which
followed, when the young wife died, with her little girl clasped to her
bosom and her own head pillowed on Christine’s arm.

Here Christine stopped suddenly and covering her face with her hands
sobbed hysterically as she recalled that scene, while Reinette, too,
cried as she had never cried before for the dying mother in Rome, who
had held her babe to the very last and prayed that God would bless it
and have it in his keeping and make it a comfort and a joy to the
husband and father, who was far away, joining in a midnight revel where
wine, and cards, and women, such as Margaret Ferguson never knew, formed
a conspicuous part.

“Her baby was a great comfort to her,” Mrs. La Rue said, when she could
speak, “and she would have it where she could feel its little hands upon
her face, even after blindness came upon her, and she could no longer
see. The English physician had been in, and told me she probably would
not last the night through, and that I must have some one with me. But
she said, ‘No; Christine and baby are all I want,’ and when he was gone
she made me sit by her, while she talked, as she had done many a time,
of her home over the sea, of her sister, and her mother, to whom she
sent messages. I remember her very words. ‘Tell them,’ she said, ‘that I
have never ceased to love them, and to long for them with such longing
as only homesick creatures know, and if I have seemed neglectful, and
have not written as I ought it was because—I couldn’t. I can’t explain,
only I love them so much; and now if I could lay my head on mother’s
lap, as I did when I was a little girl, and it ached as it is aching
now, I should die more willingly. Dear old mother! poor old father! with
his hard, brown hands, which have worked so hard for me—God bless them,
and comfort them, when they hear I am dead!’”

“Oh, Christine!” Reinette sobbed, “grandma ought to know this—she and
Aunt Mary, too. They have never heard one word of her last days, for
father only wrote that she was dead, and did not even tell them of my
birth. I ought to tell my grandmother; she will be so glad to know.”

“No, no! oh, no! better not. You said you would not!” Christine
exclaimed in terror. “It would lead to so much talk—so many questions
about your father, and—Reinette, forgive me—but his record was not the
fairest. Even you, his daughter, would not like to see its blackest

Reinette’s face was crimson with shame and resentment, and in her eye
was that peculiar gleam which so bewildered and confounded those on whom
it fell. The fair structure she had built about her father’s memory was
tottering to atoms, but she would struggle bravely to keep it together
as long as possible, and she replied:

“If there were pages so black in father’s life, do not show them to me,
lest I should say you told me falsely. He was my father, and I loved him
so dearly. He was kind to me always—and I will stand by him forever. But
you have not finished. I want to know just how mother died.”

So Christine went on and told of the long hours when the dying woman lay
with her baby clasped to her bosom, and her head pillowed on the strong
arm of her maid, who held her thus until the darkness was passed and the
early dawn of the mild spring morning began to creep into the room, when
Margaret roused a little, and said:

“It is almost over, Christine. I am going home to Jesus, whose arms
are around me so that I am not afraid. Tell them at home I was so
happy, and death had no terror for me. Tell them I seem to hear the
children singing as they used to sing in the old church in Merrivale,
and the summer wind blows in and out, and brings the perfume of the
pond lilies with it, and the river flows on and on amid the green
meadows—away—away—just as I am floating so quietly out upon the sea of
eternity, where the lilies are fairer and sweeter than those which
lift their white heads to the sunshine in the ponds of Merrivale. And
now, Christine, place my baby so I can kiss her once more, for sight
and strength have failed me.”

The child’s face was lifted to the pale lips which kissed it tenderly,
and then, just as the warm Italian sunshine lighted up the distant dome
of St. Peter’s with a blaze of gold, and all over the great city, and
far out upon the Campagna the morning was warm and bright, the young
mother lay dead in the silent room, with only her servant and baby with

There was a fresh burst of tears and sobs from Reinette as she listened
to the story, and when it was ended she threw her arms around her
nurse’s neck and nearly strangled her with kisses, as she said:

“I can forgive you everything now that I know how good and true you were
to my mother.”

With something like a moan Christine freed herself from the girl, and
went rapidly on:

“I did not know just where your father was, for he was never long in the
same place, and as we could not wait to hear from him, and I did not
know what to do, strangers took the matter in hand and buried her in the
Protestant grave-yard at Rome, where you father has never been since.”

“And I?” Reinette said. “You took me to him?”

“Yes, I took you to Chateau des Fleurs,” Christine replied, while her
face grew scarlet and then turned ashen pale, and Queenie never dreamed
of the chasm which she leaped in silence, or of the bitter remorse which
brought those livid spots to the face of Christine, who did not look at
her now, but shut her eyes and leaned wearily back in her chair.

“I am so weak, and talking all this tires me so,” she said; but Reinette
was not satisfied, and her next question was:

“What did father say when he first saw me?”

Christine did not reply to this, but sat with her hands locked together,
and a look upon her face as if she was living over some painful scene.

“Tell me; how did he act? What did he say?” Reinette repeated, and then,
with a smile full of irony and bitterness Christine answered:

“He _swore_ because you were not a boy!”

“Oh-h! this is terrible,” Reinette exclaimed, as her face grew very red.

But she was too proud to let her nurse see how she was pained, and she

“Yes, I can understand how a man like him would be disappointed if he
wanted a son very much; but he loved me afterward. I am sure of that.
How long did you stay with me at Chateau des Fleurs, and why did you
leave? Was it M. La Rue?”

“Yes, I was married to Monsieur La Rue and had to leave, but I saw you
sometimes when you were a little child, playing in the grounds of the

“I remember it—a woman came one day when I was with my nurse and kissed
and cried over me, and gave me some bon-bons; and that was you,”
Reinette said and Mrs. La Rue assented, while Reinette continued:

“And you lived all the time in Paris, and never let me know or brought
Margery to see me; and, oh, Christine when I found her up in that room
that day and she told you of me, did you know then who I was?”

“Yes, I knew,” was the reply, and Reinette went on:

“You knew, and never tried to see me? That is very strange. And did
father know, when Margery was at school with me, and afterward at the
chateau? Did he know she was your daughter?” “No, it would have made him
very angry,” Christine replied, “and lest he should find it out I took
her to Southern France and tried to cut off all intercourse between you.
Her letters to you I did not post and yours to her I withheld. You
remember you did not hear from her for months.” “Yes, I remember,”
Reinette replied. “We talked about it and wondered where the letters
went, but we never suspected you, and I must say I think it was a very
mean thing for you to do. Father would not have been angry. Why should
he, Christine?” and Reinette grew more earnest in her manner. “You may
as well tell me the truth, for I am resolved to wring it from you, and I
will not tell Margery either. You had done something to displease my
father; now, what was it? I insist upon knowing.”

“Nothing, nothing,” Christine gasped. “He was very proud, and I knew he
would not like you to be too intimate with people like us; that is

“And was that the reason why after he was dead and you met me here you
kept silent? Were you afraid I, too, was proud, and would think less of
Margery, if I knew.”

“Yes, yes; you have guessed it,” Mrs. La Rue said, quickly, as if
relieved that Reinette had put so good a reason into her mind.

She was very tired, and had borne so much that it seemed to her she
could bear no more, and clasping her hands to her head, she said,

“Leave me now, please; there is nothing more to tell, and I am so tired
and sick, and—and—there is Margery yet to see. Oh, Miss Hetherton, make
it easy as you can to Margery. Don’t let her think ill of me. I could
not bear that. I would rather have the bad opinion of the whole world
than hers. She is so good, so true, and hates deception so much. Go now,
and leave me to myself. I believe—I think—yes, I am sure I am going

Reinette looked at her in surprise.

“There is something else,” she thought, “something behind, which she has
not told, and I mean to know what it is; but I will leave her now,” and
taking Christine’s hot hands in hers she said, very kindly, “Good-by,
Christine; I am going, but another time you will tell me more of my

Then pressing her hand to her lips she ran down the stairs to Margery,
who was waiting anxiously for her, and who for the first time in her
life was glad when Reinette said good-by and left her alone to seek her

                             CHAPTER XXXV.
                        MARGERY AND HER MOTHER.

For a full quarter of an hour after Reinette’s departure Margery sat
motionless, with her head bent down, thinking of all the incidents of
her past life as connected with her mother, and recalling here and there
certain acts which, viewed in the new light shed upon them, seemed both
plain and mysterious. Buzzing through Margery’s brain, and almost
driving her mad, was the same suspicion which had at times so disturbed
Reinette, but, like Reinette, she fought it down. But not for the dead
man whose costly monument was gleaming cold and white in the grave-yard
of Merrivale. He was nothing to her, save as the father of her friend,
who, for his daughter’s sake, had been kind to her so far as money was
concerned. But it was for the woman up stairs, her mother, that her
heart was aching so, and the hot blood pouring so swiftly through her
veins. To lose faith in her whom she had believed so good, and who had
taught her always that truth and purity were more to be prized than all
the wealth in the world, would be terrible. And yet that mother’s life
had for years been one of concealment, for which she could see no
excuse. That given to Queenie was not the true reason. There was
something else, “and I must know what it is,” she thought, “even if it
kills me.”

Starting to her feet at last, and forgetting how weak and sick her
mother was, she went half way up the stairs and called:

“Mother, will you come down, or shall I come up?”

The voice was not the same which Mrs. La Rue knew as Margery’s. There
was a hardness and sternness in it which boded no good to her, and a
mortal terror took possession of her as she thought:

“My hour has come. She will wring it from me. Well, no matter. It will
be better for her, perhaps.”

“Say, mother, will you come down, or shall I come up?” came again from
Margery, and this time Mrs. La Rue replied:

“Oh, Margery, Margery! not yet—not yet! Spare me a little longer. I have
been so tried and worried. I am not quite right in my head; wait awhile
before you come, dear Margery.”

There was a world of pathos in those two words—“dear Margery”—pathos and
pleading both, as if the mother were asking mercy from her child. And
Margery recognized the meaning, but her heart did not soften or relent.
Indeed, she could not understand herself, or define the strange feeling
which had taken possession of her and was urging her on to know what it
was her mother had hidden so long and so successfully.

But she did not then go up; she waited awhile, and going to the kitchen,
prepared a tempting dinner, which she arranged upon a tray, and then
took to the room, where Mrs. La Rue still sat just as Reinette had left
her, her face as white as marble, her eyes blood-shot and dim, and her
whole attitude that of a guilty culprit awaiting its punishment.

And she was awaiting hers, and when the first blow came in the person of
Margery bringing her the nicely-prepared dinner, she seemed to shrivel
up in her chair, and her head dropped upon her breast. But she did not
speak, and when Margery drew a little table to her side, and placing the
tray upon it, poured out her tea and held it to her lips, she swallowed
it mechanically, as she did the food pressed upon her. At last, however,
she could take no more, and putting up her hand, she made a gesture of
dissent, and whispered faintly:


How sick and old, and crushed she looked! But for this Margery would not
spare her; and when, after taking the dinner away, she returned to her
mother, and sat down where Queenie had sat, she said:

“Now, tell me.”

“Tell you what?” Mrs. La Rue asked, and Margery replied.

“Tell me the whole truth, every word of it, as you did not tell it to

“What did I tell her?” Mrs. La Rue said, in a bewildered kind of way, as
if the events of the last few hours were really a blank to her.

“You told her you were Christine Bodine, her former nurse,” Margery
began, and her mother interrupted her with:

“And I am, Margery; that was the truth. I was Christine Marie La Mille
Bodine; but I dropped the first name and the last, and for years was
only Marie La Mille.”

“Yes, I know,” Margery returned. “You deceived me with regard to your
name, and you kept your identity a secret from Reinette when you knew
how much she wished to find you, and you gave her as a reason that you
feared lest she would think less of me if she knew I was the child of
one who had once served her mother.”

“Yes, that’s it—that’s it, Margie!” Mrs. La Rue gasped, as she clutched
the skirt of Margery’s gown and rubbed it caressingly.

“Mother,” Margery said, and her voice was low and stern, “that excuse
might do for Queenie, but not for me, who knows all our past life. There
is something you are keeping from me, and which I must know. What is it?
Why were you afraid to let Queenie know who you were?”

“There is nothing—nothing—believe me, Margie, nothing,” Mrs. La Rue
said, still caressing the gown, as if she would thus appease her
daughter, who continued:

“Yes, there is something; there has been a _something_ always since I
can remember. I see it now—your fits of abstraction, your moods of
melancholy, amounting almost to insanity, and which have increased in
frequency since we came to America and met Reinette. The money you
received at stated times was from her father, was it not?”

“Ye-es,” came in a whisper from Mrs. La Rue’s white lips, and Margery
went on:

“You must then have always known his whereabouts. When we lived in
Paris, and father was alive you knew that Mr. Hetherton was there in the
city, too; and did you ever see him?”

“Never—never! He would have spurned me like a dog,” Mrs. La Rue
answered, energetically, and Margery continued:

“But you knew he was there, and when Queenie came to me that day when I
wore her scarlet cloak and she my faded plaid, you knew who she was, and
did not speak?”

“Yes, I knew who she was, and did not speak,” moaned Mrs. La Rue, and
Margery went on:

“And when I was at school with her, and her father paid the bills, and
when I visited her at the chateau, you knew, and did not tell me. But
did you tell my father? Did he know who Queenie was?—know of Mr.

“No, he did not,” Mrs. La Rue replied, “nor was it necessary. I was a
faithful wife to him, and there was no need for him to know.”

“Mother,” Margery began, after a moment’s pause, “why did you wish to
hide from Queenie who you were? I have a right to know. I am your
daughter, and if there has been any wrong I can share it with you. I
would rather know the exact truth than think the horrible things I may
think, if you do not tell me. Why did you take another name than your
own, and why did you not reveal your self to Queenie, but leave her to
grope in the dark for what she so much wished to find? Tell me. I insist
upon knowing.”

Driven to the last extremity, and forgetting herself in her distress,
Mrs. La Rue replied:

“I had sworn not to do it; had taken a solemn vow never to let Queenie
know who I was.”

“Had made a vow? Had sworn not to do it? Who made you swear? Who
required that vow from you? Was it Mr. Hetherton?” Margery asked, and
her mother replied:

“Yes, Mr. Hetherton; curse him in his grave! He has been my ruin. I was
so happy and innocent until I knew him. He wrung the vow from me: he
paid me money to keep it; he——”

She stopped here, appalled by the look on Margery’s face—a look which
made her cower and tremble as she had never trembled and cowered before.

Wrenching her dress away from the hands which still held it, and drawing
herself back, Margery demanded:

“Tell me what you mean? You have said strange things to me, mother. You
have talked of ruin, and innocence, and money paid for silence, and as
your daughter I have a right to know what you mean. And you must tell
me, too, before I look on Queenie’s face again. What is it, mother? What
was the secret between you and Mr. Hetherton? What have you done, which
you would hide from me? Speak, and I will forgive you, even if it brings
disgrace to me. If you do not tell, and suffer me to live on with these
horrid suspicions torturing me to madness, I can never touch your hand
again in love, or think of you as I have done.”

She had risen from her chair, and stood with folded arms looking down
upon the wretched woman, who moaned:

“Do not, Margie, do not drive me to tell, for the telling will involve
so much—so much! Some will be disgraced and others benefited; do not
make me tell, please do not.”

She stretched her arms toward Margery, who stood immovable as a rock,
and said, with a hard ring in her voice:

“Disgrace to me, I suppose. Well, I can bear that better than suspense
and uncertainty.”

“No, Margie, not disgrace to you, thank Heaven! not disgrace to you in
the way you think,” Mrs. La Rue cried.

And with this horrid fear lifted from her mind, Margery came nearer to
her mother, and said:

“If there is no disgrace for me, then tell me at once what it is. I
shall never leave this room till I know.”

“Then listen.”

And raising herself erect in her chair, while the blood came surging
back to her face, and her eyes flashed with the fire of a maniac, Mrs.
La Rue continued:

“Listen; but sit down first. The story is long, and you will need all
your strength before it is through. Sit down,” and she pointed to a
chair, into which Margery sank mechanically, while a strange, prickling
sensation ran through her frame, and she felt a sickening dread of what
she was to hear.

“I am ready,” she said; but her voice was the fainter now of the two,
for her mother’s was calm and steady as she commenced the story, which
she told in all its details, beginning at the day when she first saw Mr.
Hetherton’s advertisement for a waiting-maid for his wife.

For a time the story was pleasant enough to listen to, for Mrs. La Rue
dwelt at length upon the goodness and sweetness of her mistress, who
trusted her so implicitly; but at last there came a change, and
Margery’s eyes grew dark with horror and pain, and her cheek paled, as
she listened to a tale which curdled the blood in her veins and seemed
turning her into stone.

Without the sleety rain was beating in gusts against the windows, and
the wind, which had risen since noon, roared down the chimney and shook
every loosened blind and casement, but was unheard by the young girl,
who, with a face like the faces of the dead and hands locked so tightly
together that the blood came through the flesh where the nails were
pressing, sat immovable, listening to the story told her by the woman,
whose eyes were closed as she talked, and whose words flowed on so
rapidly as if to utter them were a relief and eased the terrible remorse
which had gnawed at her heart so long.

Had she looked at the girl before her she might have paused, for there
was something awful in the expression of Margery’s face as she listened,
until the story was ended, when, with a cry like one in mortal pain, she
threw up both her hands and fell heavily to the floor, while purple
spots came out upon her face, and the white froth, flecked with blood,
oozed from her livid lips.

Margery knew the secret of Christine Bodine!

                             CHAPTER XXXVI.
                           MARGERY’S ILLNESS.

When Reinette left the cottage that morning she drove to the office of
Mr. Beresford, to whom she communicated the result of her interview with
Mrs. La Rue, telling him the reason given by the woman for her silence,
and professing to believe it.

“It was very foolish in her, of course,” she said, “for, if possible, I
love Margery the better now that I know who her mother is, but there is
no accounting for the fancies of some people. Christine seems very much
broken, and does not wish to be questioned, as she would be by grandma
and Aunt Mary if they knew what we do, so we must keep our own counsel.
I can trust you, Mr. Beresford.”

The lawyer bowed and looked searchingly at her to see if no other
thought had been suggested to her by her interview with Christine. But
if there had she gave no sign of it, and her face was very bright and
cheerful as she said good-by and was driven home, where she sat down to
write to Phil, who had left Rome and was journeying on toward India,
where she was to direct her letter.

It was four o’clock by the time the long letter was finished, and as the
rain by this time had ceased, and there was a prospect of fair weather,
Reinette determined to take the letter to the office herself and then
call upon her grandmother, and possibly upon Mrs. La Rue.

Christine’s pale face had haunted her all the afternoon, and she longed
to see her again and assure her of her faith in and love for her.

Depositing her letter in the office, and bowing to Mr. Beresford, who
happened to be passing in the street, she drove next to her
grandmother’s, but was told by the girl that Mrs. Ferguson had gone to
see Miss La Rue more than an hour ago, and had not yet returned.

“Very well, I will go there, too,” Reinette said, and her carriage was
soon drawing up before the cottage where the doctor’s gig was standing.

“Dr. Nichols here? Mrs. La Rue must be worse. I am glad I came,”
Reinette thought, as she went rapidly up the walk and entered

“How is Mrs. La Rue, and where is Margery?” she asked of a woman whom
she met in the hall, and whom she recognized as a neighbor.

“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? Margery has had an apoplectic fit,
and is dying,” was the woman’s reply, and with a shriek of terror and
surprise Reinette fled past her up the stairs to Margery’s room, where
she paused a moment on the threshold to take in the scene which met her
astonished view.

By the window, which was raised to admit the air, the doctor stood, with
a grave, troubled look, while near him sat Mrs. La Rue, with a face
which might have been cut from stone, so rigid and immovable was every
feature, while her eyes, deep-set in her head, with dark circles around
them, seemed like coals of fire as they turned upon Reinette, who
shuddered with fear at their awful expression. At sight of her the
woman’s lips moved, but made no sound—only her fingers pointed to the
bed where Margery lay breathing heavily, but with no other sign to show
that she was living. She looked like one dying, and had looked thus
since the moment she fell to the floor at the end of her mother’s story.

For a few moments Mrs. La Rue had been as helpless and almost as
insensible as her daughter; then, rousing herself with a great effort,
she knelt beside the unconscious girl, and lifting her head covered the
white face with kisses and tears, and called upon her by every tender
epithet to open her eyes and speak, if only to curse the one who had
wrought so much harm. But Margery’s ears were deaf alike to words of
love or pleading, and she lay so still, and looked so awful, with that
bloody froth about her lips, that, at last, in wild affright, her mother
called for help, and the woman who lived next door was startled by a
succession of cries, each louder than the preceding, and which came
apparently from Mrs. La Rue’s cottage. Entering at a rear door, and
following the direction of the sounds, she came to the chamber where
Margery still lay upon the floor, with her mother bending over her and
shrieking for aid. To lift Margery up and carry her to bed, and send for
a physician, was the woman’s first work, and then she tried what she
could do to restore the insensible girl, who only moaned faintly in
token that she knew what was passing around her. When questioned by the
physician, who was greatly puzzled by the case, Mrs. La Rue said that
Margery had not seemed well for some time—had overworked, she thought,
and that she had fallen suddenly from her chair while talking to her
after dinner. This was all the explanation she would give, and, more
perplexed than he had ever been in his life, the physician bent his
energies to help the young girl who, it seemed, even to him, was dying,
for the most powerful restoratives and stimulants failed to produce any
effect, or to move so much as an eyelid.

It was just then that Grandma Ferguson came in. She had remembered some
directions with regard to the brown silk, which she had failed to give
in the morning, and had come again to see about it. Finding no one
below, and hearing the sound of voices above, she called at the foot of
the stairs:

“Mrs. La Rue! Mrs. La Rue! Where be you all?”

“Hush! Margery is very sick,” the neighbor, whose name was Mrs. Whiting,
answered, going to the head of the stairs, and putting her finger to her

At the sound of Mrs. Ferguson’s voice a tremor seemed to creep all over
Margery, whose head moved a little and whose eyes partly unclosed as the
old lady entered the room, and, in great concern, asked what was the

“I mistrusted something ailed her this mornin’,” she said, “for she did
not appear nateral at all, and her hands was just like ice. Have you
tried a mustard paste the whole length of her backbone? My Margaret
sometimes had such faintin’ spells, and that always brought her to.”

Grandma was standing at the foot of the bed as she talked, and when she
mentioned her daughter Margaret, Margery’s eyes unclosed again, and her
lips moved as if she would speak. Then she was quiet, and did not stir
again until Reinette came in, and at sight of her sprang forward

“Oh! what is it? what is it? Margery, Margery! What has happened to

At the sound of her voice the same tremor which had run through
Margery’s frame when Grandma Ferguson came in, returned, and this time
with greater intensity. There was a faint, moaning cry, which sounded
like “Queenie, oh, Queenie!” and, stepping forward, the physician said:

“Speak to her again, Miss Hetherton. She seems to know you, and we must
rouse her, or she will die.”

Thus importuned, Reinette knelt beside her friend, covering her face and
hand with kisses, and saying to her, softly:

“Dear Margery, do you know me? I am Queenie. Speak to me, if you can,
and tell me what is the matter? What made you sick so suddenly?”

“No, no! oh, no! Go away! I cannot bear it! You hurt!” Margery said, as
she tried to disengage her hand from Reinette. And those were the only
words she spoke for several days, during which she lay perfectly still,
never moving hand or foot, but apparently conscious most of the time of
what was passing around her, and always seeming happier when Grandma
Ferguson was with her, and agitated when Reinette came in with her
caresses and words of sympathy and love.

It was a most singular case, and greatly puzzled the physician, who said
once to Reinette:

“It seems like some mental shock more than a bodily ailment. Do you know
if anything has happened to disturb her, which, added to over-fatigue,
might produce this utter and sudden prostration?”

Queenie hesitated a moment, and then replied:

“She did hear something which surprised her greatly, but I should hardly
think it sufficient to affect her so much.”

“Temperaments differ,” the doctor replied, while Queenie thought to

“Can it be possible that Margery takes it so to heart, and does she fear
that it will make any difference in my love for her? It shall not, and I
will prove it to her.”

After this Queenie took up her abode, for the time being, at the
cottage, of which she was really the head, for Mrs. La Rue did nothing
but sit by Margery and watch her with a pertinacity and earnestness
which annoyed the sick girl, when she came to realize what was passing
around her, and made her try to escape the steady gaze of those strange
eyes always watching her.

“Do not look at me,” she said at last one day. “Move back, please, where
I cannot see you.”

Without a word Mrs. La Rue moved back into the shadow, but did not leave
the room, except at intervals to eat and sleep, and thus the whole
charge of the cottage fell upon Reinette, who developed a wonderful
talent for housekeeping, and saw to everything. Much of her time,
however, was passed with Margery, on whom she lavished so much love that
her caresses seemed at times to worry the sick girl, who would moan a
little and shrink away from her.

“What is it, Margie, darling? Do I tire you?” Reinette asked her, one
day, when they were alone for a few moments, and Margery had seemed
uneasy and restless.

For a moment Margery did not answer, but lay with her eyes shut while
the great tears rolled down her cheeks; then, suddenly raising herself
in bed, she threw her arms around Reinette’s neck and sobbed:

“Oh, Queenie, Queenie, you do not know, I cannot tell you how much I
love you, more than I ever did before, and yet I am so sorry; but you
will love me always, whatever happens, won’t you?”

“Why, yes, Margery. What can happen, and why shouldn’t I love you?”
Queenie asked, as she held the beautiful golden head against her bosom,
and kissed the quivering lips. “Margery,” she continued, “do you feel so
badly because of your mother’s silence! She has explained it to me, and
I am satisfied. Don’t let that trouble you anymore. No others beside
ourselves need know who she is, and thus all talk and comment will be

“I know, I know,” Margery replied, “but, Queenie, you told me you
believed there was something else-some other reason, and you meant to
write to France; do you mean it still? Will you try to find it out?”

“Yes, I think so,” Queenie answered, “just for my own curiosity. I shall
make no bad use of it. I shall not harm you.”

“No, no; you must not seek to know,” Margery exclaimed, with energy.
“There _was_ something, Queenie. I have wrung it from her. She did right
to keep silent. She ought not to have spoken. And Queenie, if you love
me, promise me you will never try to find it out—never write to anyone
in France. Promise, or I shall certainly die.”

She had disengaged herself from Queenie’s embrace, but was sitting
upright in bed, with a look upon her face like one who is really losing
her senses. It startled Reinette, who answered unhesitatingly:

“I promise. I will not write to any one in France, but may be you will
tell me some time. Will you, Margery?”

“Never—never, so help me Heaven!” was the emphatic reply, as Margery
fell back among her pillows wholly exhausted.

For a moment Reinette stood looking curiously at her; then seating
herself upon the side of the bed, and taking Margery’s hand, she said:

“You make me half repent my promise made without stopping to consider,
for my curiosity is very great. But I shall keep it, do not fear; only
tell me this—was it anything very dreadful which your mother did?”

“Yes,” Margery replied, “it was _very_ dreadful—it would make you hate
her and me, too, if you knew. Don’t talk to me or any one about it.
Don’t mention it again.”

“But tell me one thing more,” Queenie persisted; “I have a right to
know. Was my father involved in it?”

She held her breath for the answer, and looked earnestly at Margery,
whose eyes grew larger and brighter, and whose face was scarlet as she
answered at last:

“At first he was, but for the last, the thing for which I blame mother
most, he was not to blame.”

“Thank God for that,” Queenie exclaimed joyfully, while her tears fell
in torrents. “Oh, Margery, you don’t know what a load you have taken
from me—a load I did not mean any one should ever suspect,
because—because—Margery, I don’t mind telling you—I’ve had some dreadful
thoughts about Christine. Forgive me, Margery, do,” she continued, as
she saw a strange look leap into her friend’s eyes, a look which she
construed into one of resentment toward her for having harbored a
suspicion of her mother, but which arose from a widely different reason,
and was born of bitter shame and a great pity for herself.

“I’ve nothing to forgive, at least in you,” Margery said, as she covered
Queenie’s hands with kisses and tears, which fell so fast and so long
that Queenie became alarmed, and tried to comfort and quiet her.

“Don’t, Margie, don’t,” she said; “it distresses me to see you so
disturbed. If father was not to blame I do not care for the rest, but I
could not bear to lose faith in him whom I have loved and honored so

“You never shall, darling; never, never,” Margery exclaimed, and
Reinette little dreamed how much the girl was thrusting from her, or how
terrible was the temptation which for one brief instant almost overcame

But she put it down, and in her heart registered a far more solemn vow
than her lips had uttered that never, through any instrumentality of
hers, should Queenie know what she knew and what had affected her so
powerfully, taking away all her strength and seemingly all her vitality
so that she did not rally or take the slightest interest in anything
about her.

At last the physician said Margery must have a change and then Reinette
insisted upon taking her to Hetherton Place.

“She will be so quiet there, with nothing to excite her, and I shall
take care of her all alone. You, I suppose, will have to stay here and
see to the cottage,” she said to Mrs. La Rue, who assented in silence,
for she knew that her presence was a constant source of pain and
excitement to Margery, who undoubtedly would improve more rapidly away
from her.

But she doubted if Hetherton Place was the spot to take her, and Margery
doubted, too, but Queenie carried her point, and bore her off in
triumph, leaving Mrs. La Rue alone in the cottage to combat her remorse
and misery as best she could. Everything which love could devise or
money do was done to make Margery happy at Hetherton Place. The
sitting-room and sleeping-room across the hall from Reinette’s, which
were to have been Mr. Hetherton’s, were given to her, and all the rarest
flowers in the greenhouse were brought to beautify them. And there the
two girls took their meals, and sat and talked, or rather Queenie
talked, while Margery listened, with her hands folded listlessly
together, and her eyes oftentimes shut, while around her mouth there was
a firm, set expression, as if she were constantly fighting something
back, rather than listening to Reinette, who chatted gayly on, telling
how delightful it seemed to have Margery there, and how she wished she
could keep her always.

“You ought to have just such a home as this. It suits you better than
the cottage, where it is work, work all the time, for people who are
some of them small enough to think you beneath them because you earn
your own living,” she said, one afternoon when they sat in the gathering
darkness, with no light in the room, save that which came from the fire
in the grate. “Yes,” Reinette continued, “I do believe you would make a
fitter mistress of Hetherton Place than I do. You are always so quiet,
and dignified, and lady-like, while I am hot and impulsive, and do and
say things which shock my high-bred cousins, Ethel and Grace.”

Margery did not reply, but she was glad her companion could not see the
pallor which by the faint, sick feeling at her heart, she knew was
spreading over her face. Just then lights were brought in by Pierre, and
in a moment the supper which the girls took together at that hour
appeared, and was arranged upon a little round table, which was drawn
near to Margery’s easy-chair.

“This is so nice,” Queenie said, “and carries me back to Chateau des
Fleurs, when we were little girls, and used to play at make believe. Do
you remember it, Margie?”

“Yes, yes; I remember; I have forgotten nothing connected with you,”
Margery replied, and Queenie went on:

“I made believe so much that you were I, and I was you, that I used at
times to feel as if it were real, and that my rightful home was up in
Number Forty, in the Rue St. Honore. And once I dreamed that I was
actually there, alone with the cat, and had to sweep the floor and wash
the dishes as you used to do.”

“And how did you like it?” Margery asked.

“How did I like it?” Queenie repeated, “I did not like it at all. I
rebelled against it with all my might. I thought I was wearing the apron
which you wore the first time I ever saw you, and I dreamed I wrenched
it off and tore it into shreds, and was going to throw myself out of the
window, when my maid woke me and asked what was the matter that I cried
out so in my sleep. I told her I was Margery La Rue, living in Rue St.
Honore, and wearing coarse clothes, and she could not pacify me till she
brought my prettiest dress, and showed it to me, with my turquoise ring,
papa’s last present. That made me Reinette Hetherton again, and I grew
calm and quiet. It was very foolish in me, was it not?”

Margery did not answer at once, but sat looking at her friend, while the
drops of perspiration stood thickly on her forehead and about her mouth,
and at last attracted Queenie’s notice.

“What is it, Margery?” she said. “Are you too warm? Let me put a screen
between you and the fire.”

The screen was brought, and, wiping the drops of sweat away, Margery
rallied and tried to seem cheerful and natural, though all the time
there was a terrible pain tugging at her heart as she kept whispering to
herself, “God help me to keep my vow.”

That evening Mr. Beresford called, and was admitted to Margery’s
sitting-room. He had not seen her before since her illness, though he
had sent to inquire for her several times, and had heard various reports
with regard to the cause of her sudden attack. He had heard that she had
dropped to the floor in a fit, and had been taken up for dead, and that
overwork and loss of sleep was the cause assigned. But, shrewd and
far-seeing as he was, Mr. Beresford did not believe in the overwork and
loss of sleep. As nearly as he could calculate, the fainting fit had
come on about two hours after Reinette’s interview with Mrs. La Rue.

There had been ample time for Margery to see her mother and demand an
explanation, and that an explanation had been made different from the
one given to Reinette he did not doubt; and he was curious to see the
girl who was beginning to interest him so much.

The mother had confessed to her daughter he was sure; but how would the
daughter bear it and what would be her attitude toward Reinette, and
what would the latter say or do if she knew what he suspected, and what
he fully believed, after he had been a few moments in the room and
detected the new expression on Margery’s face; the new light and
ineffable tenderness in her eyes when they rested on Queenie. And yet
there was something in those eyes and in Margery’s manner which baffled
the keen-witted lawyer, who was accustomed to study the human face and
learn what he wished to know by its varying expressions.

There was nothing about Margery indicative of humiliation or shame. On
the contrary, it seemed to him that there was in her manner a certain
reassurance and dignity he had never noticed before, and he studied her
curiously and wondered if after all he was mistaken and the insinuations
of the clerk in Mentone false. How inexpressibly sweet and lovely
Margery was, with just enough of the invalid about her to make her
interesting and Mr. Beresford found it difficult to decide which of the
two girls pleased and fascinated him more, Queenie or Margery. Both were
very lovely, and he was so much interested and attracted that it was
very late when he at last said good-night to the two young ladies,
telling Reinette he was going to write the next day to Phil, who must be
in India by this time.

For two weeks longer Margery remained at Hetherton Place; but though
everything was done for her comfort that love could devise, she did not
seem happy, neither did her strength come back to her, as Queenie had
hoped it would. It was very rarely that she ever laughed, even at
Queenie’s liveliest sallies, and there was upon her white face a look of
inexpressible sadness, as if there were a heavy pain in her heart, of
which she could not speak. To Reinette she was all sweetness and love,
and her eyes would follow the gay young girl as she flitted about the
house, with an expression in them which it was hard to fathom or
explain, it was so full of tenderness, and pity, too, if it were
possible to connect that word with a creature as bright and
merry-hearted as Queenie Hetherton was then. Toward Mrs. La Rue, who
came occasionally to see her, her manner was constrained, though always
kind and considerate. But something had come between the mother and her
daughter—something which even Queenie noticed and commented on to
Margery, with her usual frankness.

“Your mother acts as if she were afraid of you,” she said to Margery one
day, after Mrs. La Rue had been and gone. “She actually seemed to start
every time you spoke to her, and she watched you as I have seen some
naughty child watch its mother to see if it was forgiven and taken again
into favor. I hope, Margery, you are not too hard upon her because of
that concealment from me. _I_ have forgiven it, and nearly forgotten it,
and surely her own daughter ought to be more lenient than a stranger.”

Reinette was pleading for Mrs. La Rue, and as she went on, Margery burst
into a passionate fit of weeping.

“Thank you, Queenie,” she said, when she could speak—“thank you so much.
I must have been hard toward mother if even you noticed it; but it shall
be so no longer. Poor mother! I think she is not altogether right in her

The next time Mrs. La Rue came to Hetherton Place she had no cause to
complain of her reception, for Margery’s manner toward her was that of a
dutiful and affectionate child, and when Mrs. La Rue asked:

“Are you never coming home to me again, Margery?” she answered her:

“Yes; to-morrow, or next day sure. I have left you too long already.”

“And are you going to stay—always—just the same?” was Mrs. La Rue’s next
question, to which Margery replied:

“Yes; stay with you just the same, and try to make you happy.”

They were alone in Margery’s room when this conversation took place, and
when Margery said what she did, Mrs. La Rue sank down on the floor at
her feet, and clasping her knees, cried, piteously:

“Oh, Margie! my child, my child! God will bless you for what you are
doing. Oh, if I could undo it all, I would suffer torture for years and
years. My noble Margie, there are few in the world like you.”

And she spoke truly; for there have been few like Margery La Rue, who,
knowing what she knew, could, for the love of one little dark-eyed girl,
keep silence, and, resolutely turning her back upon all the luxury and
ease of Hetherton Place, return to her far less pretentious home and
take up the burden of life again—take up the piles of work awaiting her,
for her patrons knew her worth, and would go nowhere else as long as
there was a prospect of her ultimate recovery. Even Anna Ferguson had
kept her work for Margery, and had postponed her wedding that her bridal
dress might be made by the skillful fingers of the French girl, who at
last fixed the day for her return to her own home.

Reinette would fain have kept her longer, but Margery was firm in her
determination. She had been at Hetherton Place nearly three weeks, and
had grown so accustomed to the ease, and luxury, and elegance about her
that the life seemed to belong to her, and was far more to her taste
than the hard work at the cottage—the _stitch_, _stitch_, _stitch_, from
morning till night for people, who looked down upon her even while they
acknowledged her great superiority to the persons of her class. It was
hard to leave it all, hard to leave Queenie and——this she confessed to
herself secretly—hard to lose the opportunity of seeing Mr. Beresford,
who had been at the house so often, and in whom she knew she was
beginning to feel a deep interest.

He spent his last evening with them, and, at Queenie’s earnest
solicitation, Margery played and sang for him, while he listened amazed
as the clear tones of her rich, musical voice floated through the rooms,
and her white hands fingered the keys as deftly and skillfully as
Queenie’s could have done.

That Margery could sing and play was a revelation to Mr. Beresford, who
stood by her side, and turned the leaves for her.

“You have given me a great pleasure,” he said, when she at last left the
piano and resumed her seat by the fire. “This is a surprise to me. I did
not suppose——”

He did not finish the sentence, but stopped awkwardly, while Margery,
who understood his meaning perfectly, finished it for him.

“You did not suppose,” she said, laughingly, “that one of my class could
have any accomplishments save those of the needle, and it _is_
surprising. But I owe it all to Queenie. You remember I told you it was
through her influence with her father that I was sent to one of the best
schools in Paris. I think I have naturally a taste for music, and so
made greater proficiency in that than in anything else. If I have
pleased you with my playing I am glad, but you must thank Queenie for

“Yes,” Mr. Beresford answered, thoughtfully, looking curiously at each
of the young girls, and trying to decide which was the more attractive
of the two.

Queenie always bewildered, and intoxicated, and bewitched him, and made
him feel very small, and as if in some way he had made himself
ridiculous, and she was laughing at him with her wonderful eyes, while
Margery, on the contrary, soothed, and quieted, and rested him, and, by
her gentle deference of manner, and evident respect for whatever he
said, flattered his self-love, and put him in good humor with himself,
and during his ride home that night he found himself thinking more of
her sweet face, and of the blue eyes which had looked so shyly into his,
than of Reinette’s sparkling, brilliant beauty, which seemed to grow
more brilliant and sparkling every day.

He had said to Margery that he was glad she was to return to town on the
morrow, and that he hoped to hear her sing again very soon. And as he
talked to her he kept in his the hand which he had taken when he arose
to say good-night, and which was very cold, and trembled perceptibly as
it lay in his broad, warm palm. Was it Margery’s fancy, or was there a
slight pressure of her fingers, as he released them—a touch different
from that of a mere acquaintance, and which sent through her frame a
thrill of joy which surprised and bewildered her.

It was not all fancy she was sure, and for hours she lay awake, feeling
again the clasp of Mr. Beresford’s hand and seeing the look in his eyes
when they rested upon her.

“If he knew! Oh! _if he knew!_” was the smothered cry in her heart, as
she bravely fought back the temptation assailing her so sorely, and
vowed again that through her he should never know what might bring him
nearer to her if there was that in his heart which she suspected.

Next morning Margery was later than usual, for she lingered long over
her toilet, taking, as it were, a regretful leave of all the articles of
luxury with which her room was filled. The white cashmere dressing-gown,
with the pink satin lining, which Queenie had made her use, and the
dainty slippers which matched them, were laid away for the last time.
She should never more wear such garments as these, for probably she
should not again be a guest at Hetherton Place. It would not be well for
her to be there often, for after three weeks’ experience of a life so
different from her own, there came over her for a moment a sense of
loathing for her work, a horrid feeling of loneliness and homesickness,
as she remembered the cottage, which she knew was so much prettier and
pleasanter than any home she had ever known. But it was not like
Hetherton Place, and for a moment Margery’s weaker nature held her in
bondage, and her tears fell like rain as she went from one thing to
another, softly whispering her farewell.

Queenie was going to the village with her immediately after breakfast,
and the carriage was waiting for them now, she knew, for she heard it
when it came to the door, and she had heard, too, the sound of horses
feet coming rapidly into the yard, and looking from her window, had seen
David, Mr. Rossiter’s man dismounting from his steed which had evidently
been ridden very hard.

Going down to the dining-room at last she saw Reinette standing near the
conservatory with an open letter clutched in both hands, her head thrown
back, disclosing a face which seemed frozen with horror, and her whole
attitude that of one suddenly smitten with catalepsy. At the sound of
footsteps, however, she moved a little, and when Margery went to her,
asking what was the matter, she held the letter toward her, and
whispered faintly:

“Read it.”

                            CHAPTER XXXVII.
                              THE LETTER.

Phil’s last letter had been addressed to his mother from Rome, and in it
he had written that he was to start for India the next day with a young
man whose acquaintance he had made on the voyage from New York to Havre,
and who had persuaded him to go for a week or two to Madras, where his
father was living. Since that time nothing had been heard from Phil,
until the young man whose name was William Mather, wrote from Madras, as

  “MR. AND MRS. ROSSITER:—_Respected Friends_: I do not think I am an
  entire stranger to you, for I am very sure your son Philip wrote of me
  to you in some of his letters. We were together in the same ship,
  occupied the same state-room, and, as we were of the same age, and had
  many tastes and ideas in common, we soon became fast friends. I have
  never met a person whom I liked so much upon a short acquaintance as I
  did Philip Rossiter. He was so genial, so kind, so unselfish, and let
  me say, with no detriment to him as a man, so like a gentle, tender
  woman in his manner toward every one, that not to like him was

  “My parents are American by birth, but I was born in Madras, where my
  father has lived for many years. Seeing in your son a true artist’s
  love and appreciation for everything beautiful, both in nature and
  art, I was anxious for him to see my home, which I may say is one of
  the most beautiful places in Madras. So I begged him to accompany me
  thither before going on to Calcutta, and he at last consented. I was
  the more anxious for this as he did not seem quite well; indeed, he
  was far from being well, although his disease, if he had any, was more
  mental than physical. Frequently during the voyage he would go away by
  himself and sit for hours looking out upon the sea, with a look of
  deep sadness on his face, as if brooding over some hidden grief, and
  once in his sleep, when he was more than usually restless, he spoke
  the name _Queenie_—whom he said he had lost, but in his waking hours
  he never mentioned her. I think, however, that he wrote to her from my
  father’s house at the same time he wrote to you. Probably you have
  received his letter ere this. He was delighted with my home, and
  during the few days he was with us improved both in health and
  spirits. He was very fond of the water, and as I have a pretty
  sailing-boat and a trusty man to manage it, we spent many hours upon
  the bay, going out one morning fifteen or twenty miles along the coast
  to a spot where my father has some gardens and a villa. Here we spent
  the day, and it was after sunset when we started to return, full of
  anticipated pleasure in the long sail upon the waters, which at first
  were so calm and quiet. Gradually, however, there came a change, and a
  dark cloud which, when we started, we had observed in the west, but
  thought nothing of, increased in size and blackness and spread itself
  over the whole heavens, while fearful gusts of wind, which seemed to
  blow from every quarter, tossed and rocked our boat as if it had been
  a feather. I think now that Jack, our man, must have drank a little
  too much at the villa, for he seemed very nervous and uncertain, and
  as the storm of wind increased, and in spite of all our efforts
  carried us out to sea instead of toward the coast, which we tried to
  gain, he lost his self-possession entirely and when there came a gust
  stronger than any previous one, he gave a loud cry and a sudden
  spring, and then we were struggling in the angry water with the boat
  bottom side up beside us.

  “I seized your son’s arm, and with my other hand managed to get a hold
  upon the boat, which Mr. Rossiter and Jack also grasped, and there in
  the darkness of that awful night we clung for hours, constantly
  drifting farther and farther away from the shore, for the gale was
  blowing from the land, and we had no power to stem it. Far in the
  distance we saw the lights of vessels struggling with the tempest, but
  we had no means of attracting the attention of the crew, and our
  condition seemed hopeless, unless we could hold on until morning, when
  we might be discovered and picked up. For myself, I felt that I could
  endure it, but I feared for my friend. He was breathing very heavily,
  and I knew his strength was failing him, besides his position was not
  so easy as mine, as he had a smoother surface to cling to.”

  “‘If you can get nearer to me,’ I said, ‘I can support you with one
  hand. Suppose you try it.’

  “He made a desperate effort to reach me, while I held my hand toward
  him, and then—oh, how can I tell you the rest—there came a great wave
  and washed him away.

  “I heard a wild cry above the storm, and by the lightning’s gleam I
  caught one glimpse of his white face as it went down forever. Of what
  followed, I am scarcely conscious, and wonder how I was enabled to
  keep my hold with Jack upon the boat until the storm subsided, and the
  early dawn broke over the still angry waves, when we were rescued from
  our perilous situation by a small craft going on to Madras. I cannot
  express to you my grief, or tell to you my great sorrow. May God pity
  you and help you to bear your loss. If there is a _Queenie_ in whom
  your son was interested, and you know her, tell her I am certain that,
  whether waking or sleeping, she was always in the mind of my dear
  friend, and that a thought of her was undoubtedly with him when he
  sank to rise no more. Indeed, I am sure of it, for his last cry which
  I heard distinctly, was for her, and Queenie was the word he uttered
  just before death froze the name upon his lips. You can tell her this,
  or not, as you see fit.

  “Again assuring you of my heartfelt sympathy,

                        “I am, yours, most respectfully,
                                                    “WILLIAM J. MATHER.”

And this was the letter the Rossiters had received and read, and wept
over—the mother going from one fainting fit into another, and refusing
to be comforted, because her son Philip was not. And then they sent it
to Queenie, who read it with such bitter anguish as few have ever known,
for in her heart she felt that with her cruel words and taunts she had
sent him to his death. She was his murderer, and she felt as if turning
into stone as she finished the letter and stood clutching it tightly,
with no power to move or even to cry out. It was like that dreadful
phase of nightmare when the senses are alive to what is passing around
one, but the strength to stir is gone. There was a choking sensation in
her throat, as if her heart had leaped suddenly into her mouth, and if
she could she would have torn the collar from her neck in order to
breathe more freely.

When Margery came in she rallied sufficiently to pass the letter to her,
and that broke the spell and set her free from the bands which had bound
her so firmly. At first no words of comfort came to Margery’s lips. She
could only put her arms around her friend, and, leading her to her room,
make her lie down, while she stood over her and rubbed her hands and
bathed her face, which though white as marble, was hot to the touch,
like faces burning with fever.

“You won’t go? You will not leave me?” she said to Margery, who replied:

“Of course I shall not leave you. You staid with me, and I must stay
with you.”

Later in the day Mr. Beresford, who had heard the dreadful news, came to
Hetherton Place, bringing the letter which poor Phil had written to
Queenie from Madras, and which, together with one for his mother, had
come in the same mail which brought the news of his death.

When Queenie heard he was below asking for her she started from her
pillow, where she had lain perfectly motionless for hours, and said to

“Yes, I will see him. I must vent these horrible feelings on some one,
or I shall go crazy! Show him up at once.”

Years ago Margery had seen Queenie in what she called her “moods,” when
her evil spirit had the ascendant, and she fought and struck at anything
within her reach, but of late these fits had been of rare occurrence,
and so she was astonished, on her return to the room with Mr. Beresford,
to see the girl standing erect in the middle of the floor, her nostrils
dilated and her eyes blazing, as they flashed upon Mr. Beresford, whose
heart was full of sorrow for his loss, and who went toward her to offer
his sympathy. But Queenie repelled him with a fierce gesture of both
hands, striking into the air as if she would have struck him had he been
within her reach.

“Don’t speak to me, Arthur Beresford,” she cried, and there was
something awful in the tone of her voice. “Don’t come near me, or I may
do you harm. I am not myself to-day, I’m that _other_ one you have never
seen. I know what you are here for without your telling me. You have
come to talk to me of Phil, to say you are sorry for me, sorry he is
dead, but I will not hear it. You, of all men, shall not speak his name
to me, guilty as you are of his death. _I_ sent him away. _I_ murdered
him, but you were the first cause; you suggested to me the cruel words I
said to him, and which no man could hear and not go away. You talked of
_Sardanapalus_, and effeminacy, and weakness, and lack of occupation,
and every word was a sneer, because, coward that you were, you thought
to raise yourself by lowering him, and fool that I was, when he came to
me and told me of a love such as you are incapable of feeling, I spurned
him and cast your words into his teeth and made him loathe and despise
himself and made him go away, to seek the _occupation_, to build up the
_manhood_ you said he lacked; and now he is dead, drowned in those far
off eastern waters, my Phil, my love, my darling. I am not ashamed to
say it now. There is nothing unmaidenly in the confession that I love
him as few men have ever been loved, and I wish I had told him so that
night upon the rocks; I wish I had trampled down that scruple of
cousinship which looks to me now so small. But I did not, I broke his
heart, and saw it breaking, too; I knew it by the awful look upon his
face, not a look of disappointment only; he could have borne that; few
men, if any, die of love alone; but there was on his face a look of
unutterable shame and humiliation as if all the manliness of his nature
had been insulted by my taunts of his womanish habits and ways. Oh,
Phil, my love, my love; if he could know how my heart is aching for him
and will ache on forever until I find him again somewhere in the other
world! Don’t speak to me” she continued, as Mr. Beresford tried to say
something. “I tell you I am dangerous in these moods, and the sight of
you who are the first cause of my anguish, makes me beside myself. You
talked some nonsense once about waiting for my love. I told you then it
could not be. I tell it to you now a thousand times more strongly. I
would rather be Phil’s wife for one second than to be yours through all
eternity. Oh, Phil, my love, if I could die and join him; but life is
strong within me and I am young and must live on and on for years and
years with that death-cry always sounding in my ears as it sounded that
awful night when he went down beneath the waters with my name upon his
lips. Where was I that I did not hear it, and know that he was dying? If
I had heard it I believe I, too, should have died and joined him on his
journey through the shades of death. But there was no signal; I did not
hear him call, and laughed on as I shall never laugh again, for how can
I be happy with Phil dead in the sea?”

She was beginning to soften; the mood was passing off, and though her
face was pale as ashes, the glitter was gone from her eyes, which turned
at last toward Margery, who had looked on in utter astonishment.

“Oh, Margie, Margie, help me. I don’t know what I have been saying. I
think I must be crazy,” she said, as she stretched her arms towards
Margery, who went to her at once, and leading her to the couch made her
lie down while she soothed and quieted her until a faint color came back
to her face, and her heart-beats were not so rapid and loud.

Across the room by the window Mr. Beresford was still standing, with a
troubled look upon his face, and seeing him Queenie called him to her,
and putting her icy hand in his, said to him very gently:

“Forgive me if I have wounded you. I am not myself when these moods are
upon me. I don’t know what I said, for my heart is with Phil, and Phil
is in the sea. Now go away, please, and leave me alone with Margie.”

Mr. Beresford bowed, and pressing the hand he held, said, in a choking

“God bless you, Queenie, and comfort you, and forgive me if anything I
said was instrumental in sending Phil away. He was the dearest friend I
ever had, the one I liked the best and enjoyed the most, and I never
shall forget him or cease to mourn for him. Good-by, Queenie;
good-afternoon, Miss La Rue.”

He bowed himself from the room, and was soon riding slowly homeward,
with sad thoughts in his heart of the friend he had lost and who seemed
to be so near him that more than once he started and looked around as if
expecting to meet Phil’s pleasant face and hear his well-remembered
laugh. Mr. Beresford belonged to that class of men, who, without exactly
saying there is no God and no hereafter, still doubt it in their hearts,
and by trying to explain everything on scientific principles, throw a
vail over the religion they were taught to hold so sacred in their
childhood. But death had never touched him very closely, or borne away
that for which he mourned with a very keen or lasting sense of loss and
pain. His father had died when he was a boy, and though his mother lived
till he was a well-grown youth, she had not attached him very strongly
to her. He had been very proud of her as an elegant, fashionable woman
who sometimes came in her lovely party dress to look at him before going
out to some place of amusement, but he had never known what it was to be
petted and caressed, and when she died his sorrow was neither deep nor
lasting, and in his maturer manhood, when the seeds of skepticism were
taking root, he could think without a pang that possibly there was
beyond this life no place where loved ones meet again and friendships
are renewed; nothing but oblivion—a long, dreamless sleep.

But now that Phil was dead—Phil, who had been so much to him—Phil, whom
he loved far better than the cold, unsympathetic elder brother who had
died years ago, he felt a bitter sense of loss, and pain, and
loneliness, and as he rode slowly home in the gathering twilight of that
wintry afternoon, and thought of that bright young life and active mind
so suddenly blotted out of existence, if his theory was true, he
suddenly cried aloud:

“It cannot be; Phil is not gone from me forever. Somewhere we must meet
again. Death could only stupefy, not quench, all that vitality. There is
something beyond; there is a rallying point, a world where we shall meet
those whom we have loved and lost. And Phil is there, and some day I
shall find him. Thank God for that hope—thank God there is a hereafter.”

                            CHAPTER XXXVIII.
                           MOURNING FOR PHIL.

It was very bitter and deep, and all the more so because the blow had
fallen so suddenly, without a note of warning. At the Knoll there was a
small and select dinner party the evening the letter came. Some friends
from Boston were visiting in the house, and Mrs. Rossiter had invited a
few of the villagers to meet them, and in her evening dress of claret
velvet, with diamonds in her ears and at her throat, she looked as
lovely and almost as young as in her early girlhood when she won the
heart of the grave and silent Paul Rossiter. Dinner had been over some
little time, and she was standing with her guests in the drawing-room
when the fatal letter was brought to her. She saw it was from Madras,
and that the handwriting was a stranger’s; and though it was directed to
her husband, who immediately after dinner had wandered off to his
conservatories, where he spent most of his time, she opened it
unhesitatingly, feeling sure that it contained tidings of her son, and
feeling, too, with that subtle intuition which so often precedes
dreadful news, that the tidings were not good. But she was not prepared
to hear that Phil was dead; and when she read that he would never return
to her again, she gave one long, agonizing shriek, and dropped upon the
floor in a faint so nearly resembling death that for a little while they
feared she was really dead. Fortunately the family physician was among
the guests, and so relief was immediate, or she might never have
returned to consciousness, so terrible was the shock to her nervous
system. For hours she passed from one fainting fit into another, and
when these were over lay in a kind of semi-stupor, moaning at intervals:

“Oh, my boy! my Phil, my darling—dead—gone from me forever—my boy, my

If Mrs. Rossiter had a weakness it was her love for her son. Phil had
been her idol, and if her husband and both her daughters had lain dead
at her feet and Phil had been spared to her, she would not have felt so
badly as she did now when she still had husband and daughters, but Phil
was not. Nothing availed to soothe or quiet her, and the house which had
heretofore been so bright and cheerful, and full of gayety, became a
house of sorrow and gloom. The servants trod softly through the silent
halls, and spoke only in whispers to each other, while Ethel and Grace,
with traces of bitter weeping upon their fair, sweet faces, sat from
morning till night with folded hands looking hopelessly at each other as
if paralyzed by the awful calamity which had fallen upon them. They were
of no use to their mother, who lay in her darkened room, refusing to see
any one except her husband, whom she kept constantly with her, and who
gave no sign of what he thought or felt. Quiet, patient all enduring, he
sat by his wife’s bedside and listened to her moans, and did what she
bade him do; left her when she said so; returned to her when she sent
for him, and if he felt pain or grief himself uttered no word, and never
mentioned Philip’s name.

Of Mr. Rossiter we have said comparatively nothing, as he has but little
to do with the story, except as the father of Phil. He was a very
peculiar man—silent, unsocial, undemonstrative, and, save for his love
and admiration for his wife, apparently indifferent to everything except
his four conservatories, and what they contained. Had he been poor and
obliged to earn his own living he would unquestionably have been a
gardener, so fond was he of flowers and plants of every kind. He had
walked miles through the tangled glades of Florida, hunting for some new
specimens of ferns or pitcher-plants, and his greenhouses were full of
exotics from every clime. Here, and in the room adjoining, where he kept
his catalogues and books of pressed leaves and flowers, he spent most of
his time, and if beguiled away from his favorites for a few moments he
was always in a hurry to return to them. It was in one of his
conservatories that the news of his son’s death reached him. After
dinner was over he had asked his gentlemen guests to go with him and see
a new kind of fern, gathered the previous autumn in some of the
neighboring swamps, and he was talking most eloquently of its nature and
habits when his wife’s shriek reached him, and the next moment a servant
rushed in, exclaiming:

“Oh sir, come quick, Mrs. Rossiter has fainted, and Mr. Philip is

“Drowned! My son drowned! Did you say Philip was dead? It will go hard
with his poor mother,” he said very calmly, as he put the pot of ferns
carefully back in its place.

But the hands which held the pot trembled, and the palms were wet with
great drops of sweat, as he went slowly to the room where his wife lay
in a swoon. He was a small man, and weak, too, it would seem, but it was
he who lifted the fainting woman up and bore her to her chamber and
loosened her dress, and took the diamonds from her throat and ears, and
the flowers from her hair, as quickly and skillfully as her daughters
could have done. There was a good deal of Phil in his nature, and he
showed it in his womanly and quiet manner at the sick bed.

“Poor Mary, I am so sorry for you,” he said, and pressed his lips to the
forehead of his wife, who clung to him as a child in pain clings to its

But there were no tears in his eyes, as the days passed by, no change in
his manner, as he went about his usual vocations and watered his ferns
and tended his orchids and picked off the dead leaves from the roses and
carnations, and smoked the lilies and roses on which insects were

“Where have you been so long?” his wife asked him once, when he came to
her after an absence of more than an hour.

“Been watering my ferns,” was his reply, and with a half reproachful sob
his wife continued:

“Oh, Paul, how can you care for such things with Philip dead?”

“I don’t know, Mary” he answered, apologetically. “I am sorry if I have
done anything out of character; the little things seem so glad for the
water, and if I was to let every fern, and orchid, and pitcher-plant
die, it would not bring Philip back.”

Had he then no feeling, no sorrow for his son? Mrs. Rossiter almost
thought so; but that night waking suddenly from a quiet sleep, she
missed him from her side and raising herself in bed, saw him across the
room by the window, where the moonlight was streaming in, kneeling upon
the floor with his face buried in a pillow he had lain upon a chair, the
better to smother the sobs which seemed almost to rend his soul from his
body, they were so deep and pitiful.

“Phil, Phil, my boy, how can I live without him? I was so proud of him
and loved him so much. Oh, Phil, they think me cold and callous, because
I cannot talk and moan as others do, but God knows my bitter pain. God
help me, and Mary, too. Poor Mary, who was his mother, and loved him,
maybe, more than I did. God comfort her and help her to bear, no matter
what I suffer.”

This was what Mrs. Rossiter heard, and in a moment she was beside the
prostrate man—her arms were around his neck, and his bowed head was laid
against her bosom, while she kissed his quivering lips again and again,
as she said to him:

“Forgive me, Paul, if I have been so selfish in my own grief as not to
see how you, too, have suffered. Phil was our own boy, Paul; we loved
him together, we will mourn for him together, and comfort each other,
and love each other better because we have lost him.”

Then Paul Rossiter broke down and cried as few men ever cry, and sobbed
till it seemed as if his heart would break, while his wife, now the
stronger and calmer of the two, supported him, and tried to comfort him.
There was perfect accord and confidence between the husband and wife
after that, and Mrs. Rossiter roused herself to something like
cheerfulness and interest in the world about her for the sake of the man
who, except to her, never mentioned Philip’s name, but who grew old and
gray and bent so fast and sometimes even forgot to water his ferns and
let them dry and wither in their pots, where they might have died but
for his wife, who took charge of them herself, and gave them the care
they needed.

Like their father, Ethel and Grace were very quiet in their grief, which
was not the less acute for that. A thought of Phil was always in their
hearts, though they never spoke of him voluntarily, and always changed
the conversation as soon as possible when his name was mentioned. But
oh, how they missed him everywhere: missed his quick, springing step
upon the walk as he came in, bright, and fresh, and gay, from doing
nothing—his cheery whistle, or snatches of song, or his playful
badinage, and all the thousand little acts by which a good, kind brother
can make himself beloved. If they could have seen him dead—if his body
could have been brought home and buried in quiet Merrivale, under the
shadows of the pines, where they could have kept his grave bright with
flowers and watered it with their tears—it would have been some solace
for their pain. But alas! he had no grave, no resting-place, save those
deep, dark Eastern waters, and who could tell what horrid monster of the
deep might have torn and mangled his manly form ere it reached the
bottom of the sea! It was too horrible to think of; and the faces of his
mother and sisters grew whiter and thinner each day, for each day they
missed more and more the young man who had been the sunlight of their

Poor Grandma Ferguson, too, was completely prostrated at first with the
suddenness of the blow, and could only sit and cry like a little child
for the boy whom she had loved so dearly, and who had always been kind
and affectionate to her.

“No matter if I ain’t nothin’ but a homespun, uneddicated critter; he
never acted an atom ashamed of me, and when he had some high young city
bucks visitin’ him he allus brought ’em to see me and get some of my
strawberry short-cake or mince pies,” she said to a neighbor who was
trying to comfort her. “He never sassed me but once, and then he was a
boy, and didn’t know no better, and he was sorry, too,” she said; and
she went on to relate the circumstances of his coming to her the night
before he went away to school, and asking her forgiveness for the rude
words he had said to her, when she kissed him and called him her baby.

He was her only grandson, and her heart was very sore and full of pain;
and, laying aside her brown silk dress, which she had thought to wear at
Anna’s wedding, she clothed herself in deepest black, and thought and
talked of nothing but her boy, her Phil, “drownded in the Ingies.”

As for Anna, she cried herself into a sick headache the first day, and
declined to see the major, when he called. But she received him the next
day, and was a good deal comforted by the beautiful necklace and pendant
of onyx and pearls he brought to her with a view to assuage her grief,
which was not very lasting. She liked Phil well enough, and his sudden
death was a great shock to her, but she liked the major better, or,
rather, she liked the costly presents he made her, and the position he
would give her when she became his wife, as she expected to do in a few
weeks. The grand wedding, however, which she was intending to have, must
now be given up; and this, perhaps, added a little to her sorrow and
regret for Phil’s untimely end.

Outside of his family, too, there was deep mourning for the young man
who had been so popular with every one, and of whom it was said that he
had not a single enemy. But nowhere was there a heart so full of pain
and remorse as at Hetherton Place where Queenie shut herself in her room
and refused to see any one except Margery and Pierre.

She had read with a fresh burst of anguish Phil’s letter written her
from Madras—a letter full of tenderness and love, showing how he kept
her still in his heart as the dearest, sweetest memory of his life, and
at the close containing a few words of passionate entreaty that she
would overcome her scruples, and bid him come back to her by and by.

“Not now,” he wrote, “not while I am the shiftless, aimless block you
were right to despise, but after I have shown that there is something in
me besides a love of indolence and feminine occupations, will you
reconsider, Queenie, and see if you cannot love me?”

“Yes, Phil, oh, Phil!” Queenie cried, as she finished reading this
letter, which she covered with her kisses, and then kept under her
pillow where she could find it readily when the fancy took her to read

Everything Phil had given her or helped to make, was brought to her
chamber where she could see it, for she refused to go down stairs, but
stayed constantly in her own room, sometimes pacing restlessly to and
fro, but often lying down with her face to the wall and her eyes open
day and night, for she could neither sleep nor cry, and her head seemed
bursting with its pressure of blood and pain.

“If I _could_ cry,” she said once to Margery, as she pressed her hands
to her throbbing temples, “it would loosen the tightness in my throat
and about my heart, but I cannot, and I am so tired, and sick, and
faint, I shall never cry again or sleep.”

And it would almost seem as if she spoke the truth, for no tears came to
cool her burning eyelids, and her eyes grew larger and brighter each
day, while sleep such as she once had known had deserted her entirely.
They gave her bromide, and morphine, and chloral in heavy doses, but
these only procured for her snatches of troubled sleep which were quite
as exhausting as wakefulness for she always saw before her that dark
waste of waters, with the white face of her lover upturned to the
pitiless sky, and heard always that wild cry for her who had been his
evil star. Every morning the family at the Knoll sent to inquire for
her, and every evening Mr. Beresford rode over to Hetherton Place to ask
how she was. And sometimes he staid for half an hour or more, and talked
with Margery, not always of the sick girl, or Phil, but of things for
which each had a liking and sympathy—of pictures, and statuary, and
books—and Mr. Beresford was surprised and delighted to find how
intelligent Margery was, and how much she knew of the literature of
other countries than France.

“I always had a fancy for everything English or American, particularly
the latter,” she said to Mr. Beresford, one evening when they had been
discussing English and American authors, and he had expressed his
surprise that a French girl should be so well posted.

“You like our country, then?” he said. “Did you ever wish you were part
or whole American instead of French?” and he shot a curious glance at
her to see what effect his question would have upon her.

For an instant her cheeks were scarlet, and then she turned very white
about her lips, and her voice was not quite steady as she replied, “I
pray God to make me content in that station to which he has called me,
and if he has willed it that I should be French, then French I will
remain forever.”

It was a strange answer, and seemed made more to herself than to Mr.
Beresford, who felt more certain than ever that Margery knew what he
suspected, and was bravely keeping it to herself, for fear of wounding
and humiliating Queenie. What a noble woman she seemed to him, and how
fast the interest he felt in her ripened into a liking during the days
when he went nightly to Hetherton Place, ostensibly to ask after
Queenie, but really for the sake of a few minutes’ talk with Margery La
Rue, who was fast learning to watch for his coming, and to feel her
pulses quicken when he came, and taking her hand in his, held it there
while he put the usual round of questions with regard to Queenie and
herself, appearing at last almost as much interested in her welfare as
in Queenie’s.

It was the dawning of a new life for Margery, this feeling, that Mr.
Beresford, the proudest man in Merrivale, found delight in her society
and loved to linger at her side. It made everything else so easy, and
her life was not one of perfect rest, for Queenie did not improve as the
days went on, and to soothe, and quiet, and minister to her was not an
easy matter. She could _not_ sleep, and the physician who attended her
was beginning to fear for her reason, when she one day said to Margery,
“Where is your mother? Why has she never been to see me? Doesn’t she
care for me any more?”

“She cares very much,” Margery replied, “and she has been here several
times to ask for you, but as you would not see your cousins or
grandmother, she did not suppose you would see her. Will you see my

“Yes, send for her,” was Queenie’s answer, and Pierre was dispatched to
Mrs. La Rue, with the message that Miss Hetherton was anxious to see

And so Mrs. La Rue went to Hetherton Place, and up to the room where
Queenie sat in her easy-chair, with her face so pale and pinched, and
her eyes so large and bright, that the impulsive Frenchwoman uttered a
cry of alarm, and going to her, threw her arms around her, and cried,
“Oh, Queenie, my child, that I should find you so changed.”

“Yes, Christine,” Queenie replied, freeing herself from the stifling
embrace, “I suppose I am changed. I feel it myself, and believe I shall
die if I do not sleep. I have not slept a good sleep since I heard Phil
was dead, and I have sent for you to hold me in your arms, just as you
must have done when I was a baby, after mother died. Sing me the old
lullabies you used to sing me then, and maybe I shall sleep. I feel as
if I should—there is such a heaviness about my lids and pressure on my
brain. Take me, Christine. Play I am a baby again. I can’t be very heavy
now,” and she smiled a faint, shadowy smile, as she put up her arms to
the woman who took her up so gladly and covered the wan face with kisses
and tears, while she murmured words of pity and endearment.

“There, that will do—it wearies me,” Queenie said, and she laid her
tired head upon Christine’s shoulder and closed her heavy eyelids. “Rock
me to sleep, Christine, as you did at _Chateau des Fleurs_,” she
whispered, faintly, and, sitting down in the chair, Christine rocked the
poor little girl, and sang to her, in a low, sad voice, a lullaby of
France, such as she used to sing when, as now, the dark curly head was
pillowed on her breast.

Attracted by the sound, Margery stole softly to the door and looked in,
but Christine motioned her away and went on with her song of “Mother
Mary, guard my child,” until nature, which had resisted every exertion
and every drug, however powerful, gradually began to yield—the head
pressed more heavily, the rigid nerves softened, a slight moisture
showed itself under the hair upon the forehead, and the eyes, which had
been so wild and bright, were closed in slumber.

Queenie was asleep at last, and when Margery came again to the door of
the room and saw the closed eyes and the parted lips, from which the
breath came easily and regularly, she exclaimed:

“Thank God, she sleeps at last. You have saved her life—or, at least,
her reason; but let me help you lay her down. She is too heavy for you
to hold, and you are not strong.”

“No, no,” Mrs. La Rue answered, almost fiercely. “No, no, I will not
give her up, now that I have her in my arms. I am not tired. I do not
feel her weight any more than I did when she was a baby, and if I did,
think you I would not do it all the same—I who have so longed to hold
her as I do now. Go away, Margie, and leave us alone again.”

So Margery went away a second time, and busied herself below with some
work she had been persuaded to take, and which was a part of Anna’s
bridal trousseau, for that young lady had insisted upon her making the
traveling dress, which was all there was now to finish of the elaborate
and expensive wardrobe for which, it was said, the major’s money paid.

And while Margery worked in the sitting-room below, Mrs. La Rue sat in
the chamber above, holding the sleeping girl, until her limbs were
cramped, and numb—and ached with intolerable pain, while rings of fire
danced before her eyes, and in her ears there was a humming sound, and a
fullness in her head, as if all the blood of her body had centered
there. And still she did not move, lest she should awaken the sleeper,
but sat as motionless as a figure carved from stone, sometimes shutting
her tired eyes, and again fixing them with a steady gaze upon the
upturned face resting on her arm.

Two hours had gone by, and Mrs. La Rue was beginning to feel that her
strength was failing her, when Queenie at last awoke, and said, very
sweetly and kindly:

“I have been asleep, I am sure, and I feel so much better. How good in
you, Christine, to hold me so long. It must have tired you very much.
Thank you, dear old Christine!”

And taking the pallid face between both her hands, Queenie kissed it
lovingly, thereby paying the tired woman for her two hours’ endurance.

Queenie was much better after that long sleep. The spell which bound her
so relentlessly was broken, and she improved steadily both in health and
spirits, but would let neither Mrs. La Rue nor Margery leave her.

“I shall sink right back again into that dreadful nervousness if you go
away,” she said. “I need you both to keep me up—Margery to cheer me by
day, and Christine to soothe me to sleep at night, when the world is the
blackest, and Phil’s dead face seems so close to mine that I can almost
feel its icy touch, and can hear his bitter cry for me. Only Christine’s
song can drown that cry, which, I think, will haunt me forever.”

So the two women stayed, Margery busying herself with the work which her
former customers persisted in bringing to her as soon as they heard she
was free to do anything of that sort, and Christine devoting herself to
Queenie, to whom she talked of the days when she first entered the
service of Mrs. Hetherton in Paris. Reinette was never tired of hearing
of her mother, and the same story had to be told many times ere she was

“It brings her so near to me to hear all this,” she said to Christine,
one evening when they sat together by the firelight in Queenie’s room,
and Christine had been describing a dress which her mistress wore to a
grand ball at which dukes and duchesses were present. “I like to think
of her in that lovely dress, and she was happy, too, I am sure, though
you have sometimes talked as if she were not. I know my father loved her
very much, though he might not have shown it before you. Men are
different from women. Did he never pet her in your presence?”

“Oh, yes, sometimes, and called her his little _Daisy_—that was his pet
name for her,” Christine replied, and Reinette rejoined:

“Daisy is such a sweet name. I wish it were mine, though Queenie does
very well. I like pet names so much. Did you ever have one? I hardly
know what could be made of Christine.”

Mrs. La Rue was gazing steadily into the fire, and did not at once
reply, and when at last she did, she said, “I have been called Tina.”

“_Tina_,” Reinette exclaimed, starting suddenly, while like a flash of
lightning there shot through her brain the memory of the long black
tress she had burned and the letter whose writer had signed herself
Tina. “_Who_ used to call you _Tina_?” she demanded. “Was it your

Not a muscle of Christine’s face moved, nor did her voice tremble in the
least, as she replied:

“Yes; there was more sentiment in his nature than any one would suppose
from seeing him. He was very fond of me at times.”

Just then Pierre came in bringing candles and a tray with his mistress’
supper upon it, and the conversation was brought to a close, nor was it
resumed again, for after tea Margery came up and sat with Reinette and
her mother until the latter asked to be excused, and retired to her

                             CHAPTER XXXIX.

Reinette kept saying the name over to herself after Margery left her,
and when at last she was in bed it repeated itself again and again in
her brain, while a horrible suspicion, the exact nature of which she
could not define, was forcing itself into her mind. To sleep was
impossible, and with all her old wakefulness upon her, she tossed
restlessly from side to side until she heard the clock strike one.

“I cannot lie here,” she said, and putting on her dressing-gown she drew
her chair to the grate where the fire which Pierre had replenished just
before she retired was burning, and with her face buried in her hands,
began to think such thoughts as made the drops of perspiration stand
thickly upon her forehead and about her lips.

“Who was the Tina who wrote to my father?” she asked herself.

Not Christine; that would be too horrible. Christine had been her
mother’s maid, and it was not like a proud man like Frederick Hetherton
to think of such as she. There were other Tinas in the world. The writer
of the letter was some bright-eyed, bright-faced girl of humble origin,
who had caught her father’s fancy for a few days and been flattered by a
kind word from him, and possibly, he was for the moment more interested
in her than he ought to have been. That was all; and she was foolish to
be so disquieted.

Thus Queenie reasoned, or tried to, but all the time a terrible fear was
tugging at her heart, and she was living over again that dreadful death
scene on the ship when her father made her swear to forgive him whatever
might come to her knowledge. She had thought at first that he meant her
American relations, of whom he had never told her, and she had forgiven
that long ago. Then came the mystery concerning Christine and her
concealment of her identity, but Reinette had recovered from that and
still there was a nameless terror at her heart, as she sat alone in her
room while the clock struck the hours two and three, and the fire in the
grate grew lower, and the winter night seemed to grow thicker and colder
around her.

At last, when she could keep still no longer, she arose, and pacing the
room hurriedly, beat the air with her hands, as she was wont to do under
great excitement.

“What is it I fear?” she asked herself. “What is it I suspect? Let me
put it into words, and see if it sounds so very dreadful. I suspect that
Christine Bodine, in her girlhood—when, I dare say, she was rather
pretty and piquant, after mother died made herself very necessary to my
father and attracted him more than she ought to have done. Such people
are very ambitious, and susceptible, too; and if my father was at all
familiar in his manner toward her, she probably was flattered at once,
and maybe cheated herself, into the belief that he would marry her, when
such an idea never existed in his brain. She probably wrote to him, and
he answered and at last made her see how mistaken she was in supposing
he could ever think of her after having known my mother. And then, by
way of amends, he settled that money upon her. Yes, that is probably the
fact of the case,” she continued, and the tightness around her heart
gave way. She could breathe more freely, and her hands ceased to beat
the air, until like lightning there flashed into her mind:

“But where was Mr. La Rue, and where was Margery, when Christine wrote
those letters to my father? Christine told me she was married soon after
mother died, and that father was angry about it, as it took her from me.
Oh, if I only knew the truth—and I can know it, in part, at least, by
reading those letters which I hid away, swearing never to touch them,
unless circumstances should seem to make it necessary; and it is
necessary, I am sure. I must know the truth, or lose my mind. I am so
unsettled since poor Phil died, and to brood over this will make me
crazy in time. Yes, I must know who was the _Tina_ who wrote those
letters to father.”

Reinette had reached a decision; and, lighting her candle, she opened
the door of the closet where she had hidden the letters months before.
There was the box on the upper shelf just where she had left it, and
where she could not reach it without a chair. This she brought from her
room, and stepping into it, stood a moment looking at the box, while a
feeling of terror began to take possession of her, and she felt as if
the dead hand of her father were clutching her arm and holding her back.

“I do not believe I will do it,” she said, as she came down from the
chair with a sense of that dead hand’s touch still upon her arm. “It
seems just as if father were speaking to me and bidding me let the
letters alone. I wish I had burned them when I found them, and then I
should not be tempted. And why not burn them now, and so put it out of
my reach to read them?” she continued, as she stood shivering before the
hearth and listening to the storm which was beginning to beat against
the windows.

February was coming in with gusts of snow and the shrieks of the wild
north wind, which swept furiously past the house, and seemed to Reinette
to have in it a sound of human sobbing. She thought of her father in the
quiet grave-yard in Merrivale, with the tall pine overhanging his
grave—of her mother, far off in Rome, where the violets and daisies
blossom all the year round—and of Phil, asleep beneath the Eastern
waters, with nothing to mark his grave, and her heart ached with a
keener pain than she had ever felt before as she stood in her slippers
and dressing-gown and shivered in the cold, gray, winter night. And
always above everything else the name of _Tina_ was in her mind, with a
burning desire to solve the mystery and know who _Tina_ was, and what
she had been to Mr. Hetherton.

“I may as well burn them first as last,” she thought, and going again to
the closet and mounting upon the chair she took the box from the shelf,
and carrying it to the fire sat down upon the floor and began to open

There were four boxes in all, one within another, and Queenie opened
each one till she came to the last and smallest, where lay the envelope
containing the letters.

“There can be no harm in glancing at the handwriting, and then if I ever
see Christine’s, as I sometime may, I shall know if they are the same,”
she thought, and took out the yellow, time-worn package, which seemed to
her so different from anything pertaining to herself or to her

Looking at the outside begat an intense longing to know what was
inside—to have her doubts confirmed or scattered to the winds, and at
last she made a desperate resolve, and jerking her arm, which it seemed
to her the dead hand still held firmly, she said, aloud:

“I shall read these letters now, though a thousand dead hands hold me.”

Queenie felt herself growing very calm as she said this, and though
outward the storm raged with greater fury, and the sobbing of the wind
was wilder and louder than before, she neither heeded nor heard it, for
she had opened the letters, and selecting that which bore date farthest
back, began to read. And as she read, she forgot how cold she was—forgot
that the fire was going out—forgot the fearful storm which shook the
solid foundations of the great house, and screamed like so many demons
past the windows—forget even that Phil was dead in the Indian sea, so
horrible were the sensations crowding upon her and overmastering every
thought and feeling save the one dreadful conviction that _now_ she knew
who Tina was, and that the knowledge paralyzed for the time every other

                              CHAPTER XL.
                              THE LETTERS.

They were written at different times, with an interval of some months
between two of them—but all were dated at Marseilles, where the writer
seemed to be living in lodgings, for in the first letter she said: “The
rooms suit me exactly, and are very pleasant and a constant reminder of
your kindness. I have found a trusty woman to stay with me, and if I
could see you oftener I should be quite content, only I never can forget
the sweet lady who died in my arms, believing in me as the best of
servants. What would she say if she knew how soon I took her place in
your affection? Sometimes I think she is here in the room watching me,
and then I am afraid, and rush into the street until the terror is

“That was Christine, sure, for mother died in her arms,” Reinette
whispered, faintly, while a prickly sensation was in every nerve, and
her lips quivered convulsively.

And still she read on, taking next the second letter, the one which had
contained the lock of hair, and which was written two or three months
after the first. Evidently Mr. Hetherton had been in Marseilles and seen
the writer, for she spoke of his recent visit and the great pleasure it
had given her. It was in this letter that she called herself _his little
Tina_, and had written: “I have been sick most of the time since you
were here, and that is why I did not answer your letter at once. You
were so kind to me and treated me with so much tenderness that I cannot
help believing you mean to make me your wife before the world just as
you said you made me your wife before Heaven. But why put it off any
longer? Can you not bring a clergyman here, and not wait till people
call me a bad woman, which God knows I never meant to be. Oh, if you
would take me to Chateau des Fleurs as your wife. I would be your very
slave and make up to you in love and fidelity what I lack in culture.
You say I am very pretty. You praised my eyes and hair when you were
here, and so I send you a lock of the latter, and hope it will sometimes
remind you of your little Tina.”

“That’s the tress I burned,” Queenie whispered, feeling as if she, too,
were burning and writhing on live coals just as the lock of blue-black
hair had writhed and hissed in the flame.

But there was still another letter, and she read it, while every hair of
her head seemed to stand on end, and instead of burning with heat she
shook with cold, as she devoured the contents, which threw such a flood
of light upon what had gone before, and which she had not suspected. She
had read enough to make her hate Christine, and almost hate her father,
who, she felt, was most to blame, but she had no suspicion of the real
state of things until she began to read the third letter, which showed
great physical weakness on the part of the writer.

“Dear Mr. Hetherton,” it began, “I have been so sick that the old woman
who attends me thought I should die, but I am better now, though still
so weak as scarcely to be able to hold my pen. But I must tell you of my
dear little girl who was born two weeks ago, and who now lies sleeping
at my side.”

“_What!_” Reinette exclaimed, aloud, clasping both hands to her forehead
as if a heavy blow had fallen there. “What does she say? A little girl
born in Marseilles—that was—_Margery_.”

She could scarcely articulate the last word, for her tongue was thick
and parched, and in her ears was a sound like the roar of the wind

“Oh, oh!” she cried, throwing up her hands as if in quest of some
support; then they dropped helplessly at her side, and she fell forward
upon her face, with the blood gushing from her nose and staining her
dressing-gown. How long she lay thus, she did not know, for since the
clock struck three she had taken no note of time, but when she came to
herself the cold gray of the early dawn was stealing into the room, and
far away in the vicinity of the kitchen she heard the sound of some one
stirring. The fire was out, and the candle was out, and she was cold,
and stiff, and bewildered, and could not at first remember what had
happened. But it came back to her with the rustling of the letter she
still held in her hand—came with a terrible pain, which made her cry out
faintly as she staggered to her feet, and lighted another candle, for
she had not finished the letter yet. But she finished it at last and
laid it with the others, while there swept over her a feeling of
delight, mingled with the horror she had at first experienced.

_Margery_ was that little girl born in Marseilles, and whom Christine
was sure Mr. Hetherton would love, because he was so fond of children.

“Yes, that was Margery,” she said, “and if so, she is my sister. Does
she know, I wonder? Did Christine tell her the day she was so suddenly
taken ill, and is that the reason she has seemed so different since?
seemed to shun me at times as if afraid of me? Yes, she knows, and I
shall tell her that I know, too, and that I love her better than ever.
She is not to blame. No one can censure her, or cast a slight upon her,
for she is _my sister_, and I shall proclaim her as such, and bring her
to live with me, and share my fortune with her, and make her take her
father’s name. But Christine must not stay. I could not endure to see
her every day, and be thus reminded of all I had lost in losing faith in
my father. Christine must go. She was false to _mother_, false to _me_;
and where was I when she was living in Marseilles? She could not have
cared for me long after mother died. I do not believe she ever took me
to Chateau des Fleurs, or ever was my nurse, as I have supposed. I have
wasted too much love on her, but I know her now, and shall deal with her

Such, in substance, were Reinette’s thoughts as she sat shivering in the
cold, cheerless room, while the morning light crept in at the windows,
and she could see herself distinctly in the glass upon the mantel.

It was a very white, haggard face which looked at her from the mirror,
and the eyes almost frightened her with their expression. About her
mouth and on the front of her dress were spots of blood which had
dropped from her nose while she was unconscious, and which added to her
unnatural appearance. The stains upon her face she washed away; and
exchanging her dressing-gown for a fresh one, crept into bed, for she
was very cold and dizzy and faint, while, in spite of the wild
excitement under which she was laboring, there was stealing over her a
heavy stupor which she could not throw off, and when at the usual hour
Pierre came to make her fire, he found her sleeping so soundly that he
went softly out and left her alone. An hour later, Margery looked in,
but Queenie was still asleep, nor did she waken when, as cautiously as
possible, a fire was kindled in the grate to make the room more
comfortable, for the morning was bitterly cold, and the frost lay
thickly upon the windows. Margery could not see Queenie’s face, as it
was turned toward the wall, and so she had no suspicion of the frightful
storm which had swept over the young girl during the night. The letters
still lay upon the table, and Margery saw them there, but did not touch
them or dream what they contained, and after putting the room a little
to rights she went quietly out, leaving her friend to sleep until the
clock struck ten. Then, with a start, Queenie awoke, and opening her
eyes, looked about her with that vague sense of misery and pain we have
all felt at some period of our lives, when the first thought on waking
was, “Why is it I feel so badly?”

To Queenie it came very soon why she felt so badly, and with a moan she
hid her face in her pillow, while something like a cry escaped her as
she whispered:

“I thought him so good and true, and now I know him to have been so bad.
He was false to mother, false to Christine, and doubly false to Margery,
whom he repudiated and disowned. Why did he not bring her home like a
man when I first told him of her? Why did he not say to me, ‘Queenie, I
have done a great wrong which many people in this country think of no
consequence, but which, nevertheless, is a sin, for which I am sorry and
would make amends. Little Margery La Rue is your sister, and I wish to
bring her home to live with you and share equally with you as if no
cloud hung over her birth. Will you let her come, Queenie?’ Oh, if he
had done this I should have taken her so gladly, and been spared all
this pain. Oh, father, father, you have dealt most cruelly with both
your children, Margery and me!”

Queenie had risen by this time and was making her toilet, for she meant
to appear as natural as possible to Mrs. La Rue and Margery until the
moment came for her to speak and know every particular of her sister’s
birth. While she was dressing Margery came to the door, but it was
locked, and Queenie called to her:

“Excuse me, Margie, if I do not let you in. I am not quite dressed, but
shall come down very soon.”

She was very white when she did at last go down to the dining-room, and
Margery noticed it and said: “Are you sick this morning? You are as pale
as ashes, and there are dark circles around your eyes. Oh, Queenie, I am
so sorry for you;” and thinking only of Phil as the cause of Queenie’s
pale face and hollow eyes, Margery drew her head down upon her arm and
smoothed the shining hair caressingly.

Then Queenie came nearer crying that she had since she first heard Phil
was dead. Grasping Margery’s hand she sobbed hysterically for a moment,
though no tears came to cool her aching eyeballs.

“I must not give way,” she said, “for I have a great deal to do to-day.
Where is your mother, Margie? I must see her. Find her, please, and
bring her here; or no, we will go into the library. No one will disturb
us there, and we must be alone. Call your mother, Margie, I cannot

What did it mean, and why was Queenie so strange this morning, like one
unsettled in her mind? Margie asked herself, as she went in quest of her
mother, to whom she gave Queenie’s message.

“What can she want with me, I wonder?” Mrs. La Rue thought, as she went
to the library, where she found Reinette curled up in a large
easy-chair, which she did no more than half fill.

Her head was leaning against the cushioned back, and her face looked
very white and wan, while her eyes wore a peculiar expression as they
fixed themselves on Mrs. La Rue. It was the same chair and the same
position Queenie had occupied on the occasion of her first interview
with Phil, who had stood leaning his elbow upon the mantel while he
looked at her curiously. Something brought that day back to Queenie’s
mind, and a sob which was more for the dead Phil than for the secret she
held escaped her as she bade good-morning to Mrs. La Rue, who said:

“What is it, _Petite_?”

This was the name Mrs. La Rue had often applied to her during the last
few days, and Queenie had liked it heretofore, but now she shuddered and
shrank away, and when Mrs. La Rue laid her hand upon her head and asked
if it ached, she cried out:

“Don’t touch me, or come near me. I don’t know whether my head aches or
not. But my heart is aching with a pang to which physical pain is
nothing. Christine, I have lost all faith in you—faith in father—faith
in everything. I know the whole now—_you_ are _Tina_, the shame-faced,
who wrote those letters to my father and sent him a lock of your hair!”

                              CHAPTER XLI
                       QUEENIE LEARNS THE TRUTH.

This was not at all the way in which Queenie had intended to commence.
She was going to come to it gradually, or, as she had expressed it to
herself, “hunt Christine down.” But when she saw her, her hot,
passionate temper rose up at once, and she blurted out what she knew and
then waited the result. It was different from what she anticipated. She
had expected Christine to crouch at once at her feet and, cowering
before her, confess her guilt and sue for pity and pardon.

But Christine did nothing of the sort. Quiet and gentle as she usually
seemed, there was still in her a fierce fiery spirit, which, when
roused, was something akin to the demon which ruled Queenie in her
moods. When charged with being Christine Bodine she was worn in mind and
body, and had shown only nervousness and agitation, for Queenie had not
approached her then as she did now. There was no disgust, no hatred, in
her manner when she said: “You are Christine, my old nurse.” She had
merely been excited and reproachful; but _now_ she was angry, and
attacked the woman with so much bitterness, and shrunk away from her
with so much loathing that Christine was roused to defend herself,
though at first she was stricken dumb when she heard of the letters
which she remembered so well, and which would tell what she had kept so

Standing but a few feet from Queenie she gazed at her a moment, with a
pallid face, on which all the worst emotions of her nature were visible.
And when at last she spoke, it was not in the low, half-deprecating,
apologetic voice habitual to her, but the tone was loud and clear, and
defiant, in which she said:

“What letters have you seen, and where did you find them?”

Her manner, so different from what had been expected, made Queenie still
more angry, and she replied with all the sternness and dignity it was
possible for her to assume:

“It does not matter to you where I found them. It is sufficient that I
_have_ found them, and know your barefaced treachery, and how you must
have deceived my mother who trusted you so implicitly, and who died,
believing you to be good, and honest, and true to her, when all the time
you were vile and low. You knew when you held her dying head upon your
bosom what you were at heart, and yet you dared lay your hands on her
dead form, dared care for her baby, and kiss it with lips which never
shall meet mine again, and then you wrote to my father and called
yourself his _little Tina_, as if you really supposed he could care for
you! Men like him never love women like you, and my father was not an
exception. He cast you off as we do a worn-out garment; he hated the
thoughts of you, hated himself, and repented so bitterly.

“I see it all now, and understand his remorse on shipboard before he
died. He was thinking of the past, and his thoughts were like a
scorpion, stinging him to madness and making him long to confess to me
the wrong he had done. But he could not, weak as he was then and worn;
he could not tell me, when he knew how much I loved and honored him, but
he made me promise solemnly to forgive him if I ever found it out, and I
promised, and I’ll keep the promise, too, though just now, I feel hard
and bitter toward him, and were he living I should rebel against him so
hotly and say I never could forgive him, as I never can you, whom I
loved and respected, but whom I now know to be false in everything. You
have made me believe a lie, from first to last, until I can credit
nothing you have told me, and am ready to doubt if your name is really
La Rue, or if that man were your husband.”

“He _was_ my husband. I never deceived you there,” Christine exclaimed.

“But he was not Margery’s father,” Reinette continued, holding her
breath for the answer, which did not come at once.

While she had been talking so rapidly, Christine had stood rigid and
immovable, with a strange look upon her face and a gleam in her eyes
such as mad people sometimes wear when they are becoming dangerous.
Queenie’s sudden and unexpected attack had so confounded and bewildered
Christine that she felt her brain reeling, and was conscious of a
feeling as if she were losing control of herself and should not long be
responsible for what she said. When Queenie spoke of M. La Rue as one
who possibly was not her husband, she roused in her own defense and
answered; but at Queenie’s next question she hesitated, while the blood
came surging into her face, which was almost purple in spots, before she

“_No_, he was _not_ Margery’s father,” and the woman’s voice was hard
and pitiless, while the gleam in her eye was wilder and more like a
maniac as she went on:

“Queenie Hetherton, if you drive me too far I may say what I shall be
sorry for and what you will be sorry to hear. The worm will turn when
trodden upon, and a miserable wretch like me will not be pressed too
sorely without trying to defend herself. I am wicked and sinful, it is
true; but in one sense I was not false to Mrs. Hetherton, and God knows
what I have suffered—knows of the years of anguish and remorse when I
would have so gladly undone the past if I could; but it was too late.
You have found those letters, it seems. Your father was foolish to keep
them; he ought to have burned them, as I did his; but—but—the fact that
he did not tells me he cared more for me than I supposed—that in his
proud heart there was something which bound him to me lowly born as I
am,” and over Christine’s face as she said this there came a smile of
pleasure and gratification in the thought that Frederick Hetherton had
kept her letters, even though they had failed to produce any result.

The look made Queenie angrier than she had been before, for she
interpreted it aright, and her pride rose up against it.

“My father never cared for you,” she said. “It was only a fancy, which
would never have existed at all if you had not tried to attract him.”

“It is false!” Mrs. La Rue exclaimed, taking a step forward, with
flashing eyes, before which even Queenie quailed. “It is false. I did
_not_ try to attract him at first, but he noticed and talked to and
flattered me until my head he turned and I thought all things possible.
The wrong was on his side. I was not bad nor had a thought of badness in
my heart, and you, Queenie, of all others, should not speak to me as you
have done. Margery did not, and hers is the greater wrong.”

“Then you have told Margery!” Reinette exclaimed, and before Mrs. La Rue
could answer, Margery herself came to the door asking:

“Did you call me, Queenie? I thought I heard my name.”

“No, no,” Mrs. La Rue almost screamed, as she turned like a tigress upon
Margery. “Go away, I tell you, go away. I am losing my senses, and with
you both standing here, and Queenie talking to me as she has talked, I
shall tell what I have sworn not to tell. Go away, Margery—go!”

But Margery did not move except to advance a little farther into the
room, where she stood, with a blanched cheek and wondering, frightened
eyes, gazing first at her mother and then at Queenie, who stretched her
arms toward her and, with quivering lips and a voice full of unutterable
pathos and love, said:

“You are my _sister_. Come to me.”

But Margery did not move, and her face grew whiter and more death-like,
as she whispered to her mother:

“What does she mean? Have you told her? Does she know it all, and still
call me _sister_?”

“Hush, Margie. No, she does not know it all,” Mrs. La Rue replied; and,
sinking into a chair and bowing her head upon her hands, Margery

“Thank God for that! Oh, Queenie, I don’t know what you know or how you
learned it; but if you love me, if you care for your own happiness, seek
to know no more. Let the matter end here. If you believe I am your
sister, love me as such; I shall be content with that.”

She did not look up, but sat with her head bowed down as if with grief
or shame. Queenie thought it the latter, and crossed the room to where
Margery sat, and, kneeling beside her, wound both arms around her neck
and said:

“Margie, I know you are my father’s child, and I love you so dearly that
this shall make no difference with me. You were not to blame, my
darling. You had no part in the wrong; it was my father, may God forgive
him, and this woman, who I am sorry to say is your mother, and whom I
cannot forgive.”

“This woman!” and Christine’s voice rang out awfully clear and distinct,
as she threw her arm toward the two girls. “Say no more of _this woman_,
nor pity Margery because she is her mother; Margery’s parentage is as
good as yours. Yes, better—better, Queenie Hetherton, for she is
Frederick Hetherton’s _own_ child, and you—”

She did not finish the sentence, for, with a wild cry, Margery put
Queenie’s clinging arms from her neck, and rushing to Christine, laid
her hand upon her lips.

“Mother, mother,” she cried, in a voice of intense entreaty, “are you
mad? Have you forgotten your vow, your promise to me? Will you kill
Queenie outright?”

“Kill her? No. She is not the kind which such things kill,” Christine
answered, fiercely, as she pushed Margery from her. “You ask if I am
crazy. Yes, and well I may be—I, who have kept this horrible secret for
so many years. Twenty and more—twenty and more; kept it since you were
born. How old are you, Margery? How long since you were born in Rome?
There’s a buzzing in my brain, and I do not quite remember.”

She was softening a little, and taking advantage of this Margery took
her hand to lead her from the room, saying very gently. “Poor mother,
you are not right to-day. Come with me and rest; and you, Queenie, don’t
mind anything she may have said. She is not responsible when she is this

“But I do mind,” Queenie said, stepping before the door through which
Margery would have passed. “I _do_ mind, and I cannot forget. Christine
has said strange things to and of me—things she must explain. If you are
Frederick Hetherton’s own child, as she affirms, and were born at Rome,
_who am I_?”

“I tell you she is not in her right mind, and you are not to believe
what she says,” Margery replied, trying to put Queenie aside, so that
she might lead her mother from the room.

But Queenie kept her place by the door, against which she leaned
heavily, while her breath came in quick gasps, and her voice was
unsteady as she said again, and this time to Christine, whose eyes were
fastened upon her, holding her by a strange spell she could not resist.

“Tell me, Christine, as you hope for pardon hereafter when you stand
with me face to face with God, is Margery my sister?”

“Yes, Margery is your sister,” Mrs. La Rue replied, still holding
Queenie with her awful eyes. “Margery is your sister—your father’s

“My father’s own lawful child?” was the next question, and then Margery
cried out, “Oh, mother, have pity; remember all it involves!”

“Hush, Margery. Be still, and let me know the worst,” Reinette said,
lifting her hand with the manner of one who would be obeyed at any cost.
“Tell me, Christine,” she continued, “Is Margery the lawful child of
Frederick Hetherton?”

“Yes, she is.”

“And was she born in Rome?”

“Yes, she was born in Rome, and her mother was Margaret Ferguson,”
Christine replied, without the slightest quaver in her voice or change
of expression in her pitiless face.

Margery had released her hold of the woman’s arm and sank upon the
floor, where she sat with her knees drawn up, her arms encircling them,
her head resting upon them, and her whole body trembling as with an ague
chill. She had done all she could to avert the calamity. She had tried
to save Queenie from the blow which she knew would fall so crushingly,
and she had failed. Her mother was a maniac for the time being, and was
doing what she had sworn never to do. She was telling Queenie, and
Margery was powerless to prevent it.

“Margaret Ferguson’s daughter!” Queenie repeated in a whisper, which,
low as it was, sounded distinctly through the room, and told how the
young girl’s heart was wrung with a mortal fear as she continued: “then
who am I, and who are you?”

For a moment there was a death-like silence in the room, for Christine,
half crazed though she was, shrank from declaring what she knew would be
the bitterest dreg in all the bitter cup. How could she tell the truth
to that young girl who had been so proud of her blood and of her birth,
and who even in her pain, when every limb was quivering with nervous
dread and excitement, stood up so erect before her like one born to
command. But she must do it now; she had gone too far to recede—had told
too much not to tell the whole, and when Queenie asked again, “who am I,
and who are you?” she answered, “_I am your mother_;” but she said it
very softly and low, for her heart was full of a great pity for the
girl, over whose face there came that pallid, grayish look which comes
upon the face of the dying when the death pang is hard to bear, and who
writhed a moment in agony as the insect writhes when put upon the coals.

She was still looking fixedly at Christine, though she did not see her,
for there was a blackness before her wide-open, staring eyes, and in her
ears there was a sound like the roar of many waters, when the skies
overhead are angry and dark. For a second the scene around her had
vanished away. She did not see Margery upon the floor, with her arms
still encircling her knees and her head bowed upon them—did not see the
woman standing so near to her, and who had spoken those terrible words,
but strangely enough saw the far-off Indian sea and Phil’s white face as
it sank beneath the waves with a wild cry for her upon his lips.
Mechanically she put up her hand to brush that vision away, and then the
present came back to her with all its horror so much worse than the
death of Phil had been, and she remembered the words Christine had
spoken, “I am your mother!”

“My-my-my-m-mo-th-er,” she tried to say when she could speak, but the
words died away upon her white, quivering lips in a kind of babbling
sound, which was succeeded by a hysterical laugh so nearly resembling
imbecility that Margery looked up, and a cold shudder curdled her blood
as she saw the face from which all resemblance to Queenie had vanished,
and on which that ghastly, meaningless laugh was still visible.

Struggling to her feet she wound her arm around Queenie, saying to her
mother, as she did so:

“You have destroyed her intellect. You have made her an imbecile.”

But Margery was mistaken. Queenie’s mind was not destroyed, though for
many hours she remained in that condition, when her reason seemed to be
tottering and her white lips had no power to frame the words she wished
to say. They did not send for a physician, though it was Christine’s
wish to do so; but Margery said:

“No, we will not parade this secret before the world. I can bring her to
herself if any one can, and when I do I shall, if possible, persuade her
that it is all a delusion of her brain—that she did not hear aright. Oh,
why did you tell her? Why did you break your promise?”

“Because I was angry, was crazy, and did not know what I said,”
Christine replied. “Her manner toward me provoked me more than her
words, and roused in me a demon which would not be quieted, and so I
told her all; and I am glad, for now I carry no dreadful secret to make
my days so full of pain and my nights one long black horror. I have told
the truth, and can call her my daughter now—my child—for she is my own
flesh and blood—the little black-haired creature which lay in my arms
and flashed her bright eyes on me—on _me_—her mother.”

And as she said this, Mrs. La Rue’s face glowed with excitement and her
eyes shone with all the fire of her fresh girlhood when Frederick
Hetherton had told her she was pretty. Margery had been dear to her as
her own life, which she would at any time have given for the girl whom
she had so wronged: but with her confession there had swept over her a
great wave of motherly love and tenderness for the poor little girl who,
in her own room, whither Margery had taken her, sat in the great
easy-chair, motionless as a stone, with her hands lying helplessly upon
her lap, and her eyes, from which all the sparkle and brightness were
gone, looking always from the window across the snow-clad hills and
meadows to the spot where the tall evergreens marked the burial-place of
the dead. Sometimes Margery went and spoke to her. But Queenie did not
answer until late in the afternoon, when Margery came and stood between
her and the window. Then she said, entreatingly:

“Move away, please. I am looking over to where father lies, and thinking
of all he said to me before he died. Oh, Margie,” and the poor little
white face quivered and the voice was very sad and piteous, “Is a lie to
the dead worse than a lie to the living? I told him I would forgive him,
whatever it was, and I cannot, I cannot, and my heart is so bitter and
hard toward him and _her_, and all the world except _you_. Oh, Margie,
Margie, you will not turn against me? You will love me just a little, I
could not help it, and I love you so much. I would have stood by _you_
in the face of the whole world; stand by me, Margie, will you?”

She was looking at Margery with her heavy, pleading eyes, and her hands
were lifted in supplication as she spoke, while her voice told how
abased and humiliated she felt. In a moment Margery knelt beside her and
was covering the hands with tears and kisses as she said: “Queenie,
Queenie, my love, my darling, will I stand by you? Will I love you? As
well ask if the sun will rise again as to question my love for you, _my
sister_. It is very sweet to call you thus, even though a shadow lies
over us now; but that will pass away. There is brightness beyond and
happiness, too—and, Queenie, you must not believe all mother said. She
is not in her right senses.

“She knows it now, and wonders at herself. You may believe I am your
sister, but not the rest—the part which touched you the

“Hush, Margery,” Queenie said, withdrawing her hands from Margery and
leaning back wearily in her chair. “You cannot deceive me. _I_ am that
child born in Marseilles. Margaret Ferguson was your mother; Christine
Bodine is mine.”

Here a shudder ran through Queenie’s frame so long and deep that her
teeth chattered as if she were seized with a chill, and both her hands
and lips were purple with cold.

After a pause she continued:

“I think the hardest part of all is losing faith in father. I cannot
forgive him, though I promised him I would. If he had left me in
obscurity, where I belonged, it would have been better; but now the fall
has crushed me utterly. And, Margery, what of you? How came you in that
position—you, the lawful daughter of the house, while I, was raised to
such a giddy height of prosperity that in my foolish pride I held myself
better than the most of mankind? Why was it? Do you know?”

“Yes,” Margery replied; “but it will be better for mother to tell you.”

“Mother! Do you call her that still?” Queenie asked, and her voice
expressed all the bitter scorn which she then felt for the woman who had
so injured her.

“Yes, I call her mother still,” Margery answered, softly. “She is all
the mother I have ever known, she was more sinned against than sinning.
She did not understand what she was doing. She is not a bad woman. Our
father was the most in fault, for she was young and ignorant and foolish
enough to believe that she was his wife. She is purer far than many a
woman of to-day who stands high in society, and before whom the world
bows down because of her position.”

Margery was pleading for the woman who had done the greater wrong to
her, and Queenie listened wonderingly, while there came back to her some
words her father had said to her when dying: “If you find your mother,
remember I was more to blame than she.” She _had_ found her, but she
could not at once forgive her, but she said at last: “Where is she,
Margie? Ask her to come up.”

                             CHAPTER XLII.
                           CHRISTINE’S STORY.

Margery found her mother in the library standing by the window, with
that gloomy abstracted look upon her face which she had so often seen
there before she learned the cause and knew of the keen remorse always
gnawing at her heart-strings and making her life so wretched. Christine
had done the worst she could do to Queenie. She had told her the truth;
and though a great burden was lifted from her, and in one sense she felt
freer and happier than she had felt in years, she was weighed down with
a sense of remorse and regret, and filled with a dread of the future.
That Queenie could ever love, or even respect her, was impossible,
reared as she had been in a very hot-bed of pride and aristocracy, and
taught from her infancy that such as Christine Bodine were creatures of
an entirely different grade from herself.

“She may compel herself to be civil to me,” Christine thought, “though I
ought not to hope for that; but if she only knew how much I love her and
how the affection, smothered so long, has grown since I confessed myself
her mother, she would forgive me, perhaps.”

“Mother,” Margery said just here, and with a start Christine turned
toward her; “Mother, Queenie wishes to see you. Will you go to her now?”

“Yes,” Mrs. La Rue replied, in a frightened voice, for there swept over
her a great fear of the girl to whom she must tell her story, and
grasping Margery’s arm she whispered, “Does she hate me? Will she scorn
me? Will she make me feel that I am but the dust beneath her feet? Oh,
Margie, go with me. I cannot meet her alone. She is so hot, so
imperious, so proud, so different from you, who have never reproached
me, except for her sake. Come, Margie, you must go, too; and if she is
too hard upon me, say a word for me, will you, Margie?”

She was like a child shrinking from the rod, and Margery’s heart ached
for the woman who clung to her nervously as they went up the stairs
together to Queenie’s room. Pierre had been there before them, full of
concern for his young mistress, whose sudden and strange illness he did
not understand.

As they entered, Queenie lifted her eyes to them, but made no sign of
recognition to Christine, who, like some guilty culprit, sank into a
chair, where she sat shaking in every limb.

After the first glance at her, Queenie shut her eyes and said languidly
and slowly, as if speaking were wearisome, “I wish you to tell me of
Margery and myself; tell me why she was deserted and left to live in the
Rue St. Honore, while I was taken to Chateau des Fleurs and treated as
the daughter of the house. That is all.”

While Queenie talked she did not once look at Christine, but sat with
her eyes closed and her whole attitude one of extreme weariness. But she
heard Margery as she was stealing from the room and called her to come

“You must stay with me, Margery,” she said, “I want to hold your hand so
that I can feel there is something left when all else slips from me.”

So Margery came back and sitting down by Queenie took one of the hot,
feverish hands in hers, and caressed it occasionally as Christine told
her story.

“I must commence at a period prior to Margery’s birth,” she said, “or I
cannot make you understand how ignorant of the world I was when I
entered Mrs. Hetherton’s employ, and how innocent and unsuspecting too.
And when Monsieur began to notice me, and speak to me pleasantly, and
tell me what a good girl I was I thought nothing of it, but redoubled my
efforts to please him. But when he flattered me and said I was more a
lady than many a one who wore her diamonds and pearls, I was angry and
told him he must never speak to me like that again; and he did not,
though he was always very kind and polite, and I felt intuitively that
he respected me as one superior to my class, and admired me, too, for I
was pretty then, with ways something like Queenie’s.”

There was a slight sound like a moan from Queenie, and Christine

“That he could ever think of me for a wife never entered my brain till I
sat by my dying mistress and heard her say, ‘I am so glad, for Frederick
has wanted a child so much, and a daughter will make him very happy, and
keep me in his mind. Christine, it may be very foolish in me, but I do
not like to think that Frederick will marry again—that another woman
will take my place, and possibly be loved more than I have been, and now
that he has a little daughter to care for, there is not so much danger
of it. He will be satisfied with little Margery, he will call her by
that name. I have told him so in the letter which you will give to him.
Stay with him, Christine, and be a comfort to him, you and Margery.’
These were nearly the last words she said to me, for in less than an
hour she was dead, and I was alone with her baby in my arms, and the
horrible temptation to which I afterwards yielded kept suggesting itself
to me, making me shudder and grow faint as I reflected what a monster I
was to harbor such a thought for an instant. And still it recurred to me
over and over again until it did not seem so very dreadful, and I began
to consider it seriously, as something which might be done. I was not
then the simple peasant girl I had been when I first entered my
mistress’ service. The familiarity with which she had treated me, the
evident liking of my master whom I could influence at times more readily
even than his wife, the notice I received from strangers, especially
Americans who frequently mistook me for Mrs. Hetherton’s companion,
rather than her maid, had turned my head and made me discontented with
my position. I wanted to be a lady, and as I sat with Margery in my
arms, the devil whispered to me that now was my opportunity to try for
something higher, and test the power I knew I held over my master. He
had made one misalliance—he might make another. If he was very proud he
was very susceptible too—he liked to be cared for and petted, and I, who
understood him so well, would make myself so necessary to him that he
could not live without me, and would perhaps make me his wife at last.
Thus I reasoned when suddenly it occurred to me that the baby was an
obstacle in my way. He was passionately fond of children, and a daughter
in his house would change everything. My mistress had said so, and I
believed it. With the baby at Chateau des Fleurs I could never hope to
be more than nurse and maid, as I was now. And then Satan told me to
hide the child for a time, till I saw what I could do with the father.
If I succeeded I would tell him the truth, and brave his anger, for I
should still be his wife. If I failed I would send his daughter to him
with the letter my mistress entrusted to me, and in which she told him
of its birth and the name she had given it. In any event I did not mean
to hide Margie forever, but I did not know then how one sin leads to
another or what a hard master is the evil one when you give yourself to
him as I did, for I resolved at last to do the wicked thing which was
comparatively easy. Of Margery’s expected birth Monsieur knew nothing,
for his wife had purposely kept it from him to make the surprise and
pleasure greater. He had not seen her in some months, and would have no
suspicion of the existence of the little girl. We had lived very quietly
in Rome, and few knew or cared for the young mother who died alone with
me. But when she was dead strangers kindly came forward and when they
heard that Mr. Hetherton was away in Austria or Russia, I did not know
which, they took the matter in hand and buried her in the Protestant
burying ground, but left me to do what I pleased with the baby, which I
took to Paris, to an old woman whom I had known for years, and to whom I
entrusted it, telling her it was mine, and hiring her to care for it
until I was in a position to claim it. She asked me no questions, for
the gold I paid her was a conclusive argument in my favor and would, I
knew, insure kind care for the child.

“My next step was to go to Chateau des Fleurs to await the coming of my
master, for I had written him from Rome, telling him of his wife’s
death, and my intention to return to the Chateau with whatever effects
she left in my care. The letter was some time in finding him; but on its
receipt, he hastened home at once, and for a day or two seemed crushed
with grief and remorse. Then for a short time he drank hard and deeply,
and kept his room, where bottle after bottle of wine and brandy was
sent, and in his drunkenness he was more like a brute than a man.

“This drunken revel was succeeded by an illness of several weeks’
duration, during which I nursed him with the utmost care, playing my
part so well that the result came sooner than I anticipated, but was not
what I desired. I must be his wife or nothing, and at last weakened
bodily and mentally by disease and the brandy he drank in so large
quantities he promised to make me his wife on condition that I kept it a
secret until he chose to tell of it himself. As there was no Protestant
clergyman near Chateau des Fleurs he said we would marry ourselves, and
he made me believe that by joining hands and promising to take each
other for man and wife after the manner of the English Prayer Book, we
should really become so. ‘Such things were common in America,’ he said,
‘when a priest was not easy of access.’ Of course, when it was
convenient this private ceremony, though perfectly legal, must be
repeated in public, and this he swore solemnly should be done, and I
trusted him and went blind-folded to my ruin, but innocent—oh, Queenie,
as innocent as you are to-day.”

“Yes,” Queenie rejoined, with a look of unutterable anguish upon her
face, for now she had lost all faith in and respect for her father, but
as yet had no relenting towards the poor deceived mother. “Yes, go on.”

Christine flushed a little as she went on rapidly: “I believe I was his
wife and wished to remain at the Chateau, but he would not hear to me.
‘We must go to Marseilles,’ he said, and thither he went, and he hired a
suite of rooms for me, but did not remain there himself, though he came
often to see me, and treated me with kindness and consideration, but did
not bring the clergyman as he had promised to do. ‘He had not met one of
the right sort,’ he said, and there was no haste as I was really his
wife. And so matters went on until a great fear took possession of me
that all was not right, and then you were born, and when you were three
or four weeks old he came to me and seemed to love you so much, and was
so kind to me that I begged him on my knees to acknowledge me to the
world, and take me with him to Chateau des Fleurs. Then it was that he
undeceived me and told me how I had been duped, and did it as coolly as
if to ruin an innocent girl was nothing but pastime for gentlemen like
him, and he laughed at me for taking it as I did, for at first I raved
like a mad woman, but it did no good.

“‘Christine,’ he said, ‘you must be very weak to suppose for a moment
that I was in earnest, or that you could ever live at Chateau des Fleurs
as other than a servant. Men of my stamp do not marry girls like you, or
in fact marry at all in our sober senses. I will admit that I am far
more to blame than you, but you can never be my wife, though I will care
for the child. It is lonely at Chateau des Fleurs; a baby’s voice and
baby’s prattle will make it more endurable. I have wanted a child so
much, and if Margaret had left me one I should never have done what I

“You will not believe me if I tell you that when I heard this my first
impulse was to fall at his feet and tell him of the little girl in
Paris, thoughts of whom had haunted me continually, making me sometimes
cry out with pain and remorse. But I had gone too far to confess. He
would never have forgiven me, and all my ambitious dreams for my own
child would have come to naught. I had no hope for myself; his imperious
manner and cold, disdainful words crushed all that; but there arose in
me an intense desire to see _you_ a lady, and I begged him to take you,
whatever he might do with me, and he consented at last, but bade me stay
where I was until I heard from him again. He wished to make some change
in his household, he said, for if he took you home it would be as the
child of his dead wife. I was only the nurse, who might or might not be
retained; it would depend upon myself.

“Then he left me, and I knew I was no more to him than a cast-off
garment, of which he was tired, and that in whatever arrangements he
might make, no thought for me or my comfort would actuate him; and in my
anguish I felt that my punishment was greater than I could bear, and I
even thought to kill myself and you too. But a thought of little Margery
prevented me. Somebody must care for her, and so I lived on and waited
and hoped the time might come when I could restore her to her rights.

“On quitting Marseilles your father went to Chateau des Fleurs, and, on
one pretext or another, dismissed all the servants in his employ,
filling their places with strangers, who knew nothing of his past life,
and who readily believed him when he told them of his wife who had died
in Rome, and of his little daughter whom he was soon to bring home. A
huge nursery, which communicated with his apartments, was fitted up with
every possible luxury. And then he bade me come; and I took you to him
as his lawful child, while I was only the head nurse—for he hired
another woman to look after you, giving me the post of looking after

“I remember so well the day I took you to the Chateau and waited for his
coming, but waited in vain, for though he knew I was in the house, he
kept aloof from me and took his dinner, and read his paper, and smoked
his cigar, and then at last he sauntered into the nursery with that air
of elegant indifference and superiority so natural to him. I had not
seen him since his visit to Marseilles, when you were a few weeks old;
but he simply bade me good-evening, and asked if I had found everything
in readiness. Then he walked up to the cradle, and when you raised your
little hands toward him as if asking him to take you, he lifted you in
his arms, kissed your lips, and laying your head upon his shoulder said:
‘My daughter, my heiress, Reinette Hetherton.’

“I knew he had adopted you as his own. But I was only your hired nurse,
who was entitled to consideration in the household because I had been
the trusted maid of his wife. This raised me somewhat above my
fellow-servants, who treated me with a great deal of respect, and asked
me many questions concerning my late mistress and Mr. Hetherton, who
puzzled them with his cold, quiet, haughty manner.

“With your advent at the Chateau all his former habits were changed, and
he seldom left home except to go to Paris, where he never stayed more
than a day or two. All his old associates were dropped, and few ever
came to see him. And yet he did not seem to be lonely, so great was his
love for you. From the moment he took you in his arms and kissed you, he
was perfectly devoted to you, and had you brought to him in the library
every night after his dinner was over. I generally took you to him
myself, but he never noticed me by a word or look, and this so enraged
me that I spoke out to him at last, and threatened to go away and take
you with me, if he continued to treat me with so much contempt.

“‘You can do so to-morrow, if you like, I shall be glad to have you,’
was his reply, and I knew that he meant it.

“But my desire to see you a lady was stronger than my resentment, and so
I stayed, content to be trodden down, if by that means you might rise.
But those foolish words of mine sealed my fate, for from that time I
think he began to plan how to be rid of me. The sight of me was
distasteful to him, and when you were about a year and a half old, we
had a bitter quarrel, which ended in a final separation; but I could not
take you from all the luxury with which you were surrounded, and when he
offered to settle upon me a certain sum of money if I would go away
quietly, and promise solemnly, never to come near you, or let you know
that I was your mother, I consented, and left you at Chateau des Fleurs
the acknowledged and petted child of the house.

“How well I remember you, Queenie, as I saw you for the last time in
your embroidered white dress, with coral clasps at your neck, and your
hands full of flowers, which you offered to me when I bent over you,
crying as if my heart would break. You were so beautiful and bright, and
I loved you so much, that for a moment I was tempted to break my vow,
and, defying my cruel master, publish to the whole world my wrongs, and,
if possible, carry you off in triumph. But when I remembered the home to
which I must take you, and how different all your future life would be,
I abandoned the project, and left you there in the sunshine, with wealth
and luxury all around you, and went out into the darkness, where only
toil and poverty awaited me, with a constant sense of my wrong and the
sin I had committed in hiding Margery.”

Here Christine paused, and with closed eyes and clenched fists seemed to
be living over again the scenes she had described, while Reinette raised
herself from her reclining position in the chair, and winding her arms
tightly around Margery’s neck, rested her cheek upon the bowed head, and

“Well, Christine, you have let me see one side of the picture, have
shown me myself, surrounded with riches and love, and sunshine and
flowers, to which I had no right. Now show me the other side; take me to
the garret where Margie, to whom belonged the sunshine and the flowers,
was struggling with cold and hunger, and shrinking it may be, from harsh
words and cruel blows.”

“No, Queenie, never,” Margery exclaimed. “Never hunger or cold or blows
or harsh words. The woman who cared for me was always kind, and my
childhood was a happy one, for I knew no other life, and the children of
poverty are as much pleased with a toy which costs a penny as are the
children of the rich with one which costs many francs; and after mother
came and took me to live with her, I was very happy, for if she
defrauded me of my birthright, she made it up in love and tender care.”

Margery’s generous defense of the woman who had wronged her so deeply,
touched Queenie, and her voice was softer and her manner less imperious
as she continued: “I know she loved you, Margie—know she has been kind
to you, and I thank her for it; but I wish to hear about it all the
same—wish to know where you lived, and how, after she left Chateau des
Fleurs and went back to you. Tell me, please,” and she turned to
Christine: “tell me of Margie when she was a baby.”

Christine was quick to detect the change in Queenie’s voice and manner,
and her face was brighter as she replied: “After I left you I went to
Paris, to Florine’s apartments, where I found a healthy, beautiful
child, whom no one could see and not love. My heart was very sore and
full of a great longing for my own baby girl left at Chateau des Fleurs,
and when she toddled to my side and put up her sweet lips to be kissed,
as was a habit of hers, I took her in my arms and into my heart and made
a solemn vow to be true to her and never let her feel the want of a
mother’s love. I told her to call me mamma, and the name came prettily
from her lips. I was younger and better looking than Florine, and she
took to me readily, and slept in my arms and cried when I left her to
look for lodgings and employment. I found both: the first with a
hair-dresser in Rue de Richelieu, and the second on the upper floor of
number —— Rue St. Honore, where you came to us one day and changed
Margery’s whole life. Had I chosen to use the money your father paid me
annually, we might have lived in much better style, but I shrank from
touching more of it than it was absolutely necessary, and took pleasure
in supporting her by my own hard labor. I would lay the money by for her
until she married, if she ever did, or until she needed it more, I
thought; and should she marry now she would not go empty-handed to her
husband, for there are many thousand dollars invested for her in France.

“How I toiled and slaved for her, and how I loved her as time went on
and she grew more and more into my heart; loved her so much, in fact,
that your image gradually began to fade, and I could think of you
without a pang. I saw you occasionally—once in the grounds at the
Chateau, where I came upon you with your nurse, and several times in the
streets of Paris, after your father brought you there. I used to take
Margery out upon the Champs d’Elysees on fine afternoons when the
streets were full of people driving out to the Bois, and hiring a chair
I would hold her in my lap and watch for your father to pass. Though not
the most showy—for his taste was too good for that—Mr. Hetherton’s
turn-out was the most elegant and probably the most expensive of all the
private carriages in Paris, while his splendid thoroughbreds were the
talk of the city. I always watched anxiously for him, and when he
appeared, sitting up so proud and erect, with that look of haughty
indifference and selfishness on his face, and with you beside him on the
cushions, clad in dainty apparel, I used to hold little Margery tightly
to my heart and bite my lips till the blood almost forced itself through
the skin, so fearful was I lest I should shriek out the truth so loudly
that he would hear it above the roll of the wheels and the tramp of the
horses’ hoofs. Something impelled me strongly to hold you high in my
arms, and, making him see you, say to him: ‘This is your lawful
daughter, the child of your wife who died in Rome. Her place is there
beside you, and not far up in the tenement house on the Rue St. Honore.’

“But it was too late now to confess, so I let you go by in all your
splendor, and if at night I kissed Margery more tenderly than usual and
held her closer to me as I undressed her for bed, it was by way of
atonement for the great wrong I was doing her.

“It was about this time that I fell in with Gustave La Rue, who offered
me marriage. He was a good-natured easy-going man, who would never
trouble me much with questions concerning the past, provided I made his
home comfortable and his life easy, and so I married him, and gave
Margery his name, and said to strangers that she was his daughter. He
was fond of children and always kind to her, and never pressed me hard
with regard to her parentage but once, and then I swore to him that she
was not my child; but he did not believe me, though he never suspected
the truth.”

“And when I went to your room in the Rue St. Honore, you knew I was
Margery’s sister?” Queenie said; and Christine replied:

“Yes, and kissed the chair you sat upon, and in my poor blind way
thanked God for sending you there, and thanked him again when, through
your influence, Margery was placed at the same school with you, and her
education paid for by the man who never suspected the truth, or even
knew that the little girl in whom his daughter was so interested was
anything to me until her education was finished and she was a grown
young lady, then he learned it accidentally and was very angry and bade
me keep you apart, lest in some way you should learn who I was.

“It was then that the idea of emigrating to America was suggested to my
mind by some ladies for whom Margery had worked, and who gave such
glowing accounts of the country and the prospects for dressmaking that I
began to consider the matter seriously, and finally made up my mind to
go, without communicating with Mr. Hetherton upon the subject. I wrote
him, however, from Oak Bluffs, and directed to the old address in Paris,
but possibly he never received my letter.”

“Yes, he did; I am sure he did,” Queenie exclaimed. “There were letters
forwarded to him at Liverpool, and one of them made him very angry,
Pierre told me. He was present when papa read it, and after that he was
very nervous and excited, and suggested to me that we give up America
and go back to Paris. But I would not listen. I made him come, and he
died on the voyage, and you were the cause of his death. He dreaded
meeting you here, and the dread and the remorse killed him. Oh, papa—I
can see him so plain as his eyes followed me, and he made me promise to
forgive him if something ever came to my knowledge, and I promised; but
it is so hard. Oh, Margie, if it were not for you, I could not keep my
promise, and I don’t know as I can at all, he was so bad—if all she says
is true. It would have been better to have left me in Marseilles where I
was born—left me to poverty and want—for then I should have known
nothing better, and might have been as happy as the girls I have seen
dancing on the street for the amusement of the crowd. But now, to fall
so far—it makes me dizzy, and sick, and dazed, and there’s a buzzing in
my head, and a feeling as if I were crazed and could not understand it
at all.”

She was very white, with a drawn look about her lips, which alarmed
Margery, who bent over her and said:

“You have heard enough. There can be nothing more to tell which will
interest you. Mother must go out now, and leave you to rest.”

“Yes, yes, Margie; tell her to go; I am so tired and sick,” Queenie
whispered, and without a word Christine left the room, and the two girls
were alone.

                             CHAPTER XLIII.
                              THE SISTERS.

For a moment Queenie sat with her head dropped and her eyes closed;
then, opening them suddenly and fixing them upon Margery, who knelt
beside her, she said, “It is very dreadful, Margie, and I feel as if
turned into stone. Oh, if I could cry; but I cannot, even though I know
that everything is gone from me that I loved the most. Phil is
dead—Phil, who would have stood by me even in this disgrace. He would
have come to me and said, ‘Dear little Queenie, I love you just the
same, and want you for my wife,’ and with him I might in time have been
happy; but now there is nothing left to me, neither lover, friends, nor
name, and that last hurts the worst and makes me so desolate; no name,
no friends, not a single relative in the world except—except that woman,
and _she_ is my mother!”

Queenie said the last word with a choking sob, while Margery kissed and
rubbed her hands which were cold as ice and lay helplessly upon her lap.

“You forget that you have _me_—forget that I am your _sister_—that
whatever sorrow comes to you must be shared by me,” Margery said, and
Queenie replied, “No, I don’t forget that. It is the only thing which
keeps me from dying outright. Oh, Margie, you do not know how foolishly
proud I was when I believed myself Queenie Hetherton—proud of my
position, proud of my blood. And—I will confess it all to you who stand
just where I thought I stood, I was so wicked and so proud that I
rebelled against my mother’s family—rebelled against the Fergusons, and
though I tried to do my duty and tried to be kind and friendly,
especially to grandma, I never came in contact with her, or with any of
Uncle Tom’s family, that I did not feel the little shivers run over me,
and a shrinking away from them and their manner of speaking and acting.
I could not help this feeling, though I hated myself cordially for it,
and told myself many times that I was no better than they, and still in
my heart I fancied I was infinitely their superior—_I_, who had no right
to be born. Once I knelt in the room I supposed was my mother’s, and
prayed God to make me like the woman below stairs, whom I thought so
coarse and vulgar—asked Him to humble me in any way, if that was what I
needed to subdue my pride, but little did I dream the time would come
when that prayer would be so terribly answered—when I would give my life
to know the Fergusons were mine as I then believed them to be. Oh, if I
could have the old days back again; if I could waken from this and find
it a dream, but I never can. I am not Reinette Hetherton, I am nobody. I
have neither name, nor friends, nor position, nor home; oh Margie,
Margie, I had not thought of _that_ before;” and Queenie bounded to her
feet so suddenly that Margery was thrown backward upon the floor, where
she sat staring blankly at the girl who it seemed to her had actually
lost her mind.

She was walking rapidly across the floor, beating the air with her
hands. There were blood-red spots on her cheeks, and her eyes shone with
a strange, unnatural light as they flashed first upon one object, and
then upon another, and finally rested upon Margery, before whom she
stopped and said in a whisper:

“Do not you know it? Do not you see that I am an outcast, a beggar, a
trespasser where I have no claim? Frederick Hetherton’s unlawful child
has no right to a penny of his money. _You_ are his heiress; _you_ are
his daughter, and I only an intruder, who have lived for years on what
was not my own, and have, perhaps, sometimes felt that I was very good
to give to you what was already yours, for _you_ are Miss Hetherton, and
_I_ am Reinette—Bodine!”

Her lips quivered as she repeated the name, and her whole manner showed
how hateful was the sound of it to her. But Margery scarcely noticed
that, so intent was she on what had gone before. Springing to her feet,
and winding her arm around Queenie, she held her fast, while she said:

“What folly is this! What injustice to me! I do not pretend not to
understand you, for I do. You are excited now, and insane enough to
think that you have no right to Frederick Hetherton’s money because you
are the child of Christine Bodine, whom you so despise. She is _not_ a
bad woman; the badness was on the other side. That ceremony which she
thought true _was_ true to her and in the sight of Heaven, so far as she
was concerned, though it might not stand the test of the law. But in
either case you are father’s child as much as I am, and it was his wish
that you should be his heir. He knew nothing of _me_, never dreamed of
my existence, and, Queenie, the world need not know what we do. I would
far rather remain Margaret La Rue forever than meet what we must meet
should the truth be known. Stay as you are, here in your home, for it is
yours, and, if you like, I will stay with you, and the secret of your
birth shall be buried forever.”

“No, Margie,” Queenie said, disengaging herself from her sister’s
embrace. “I have no right here, and I cannot stay; not a penny of all my
father’s wealth is mine. You say truly that he did not dream of your
existence; but if he had—if at the last moment of his life he had known
that somewhere in the world there was a daughter lawfully his own, he
would have repudiated me, and flown to you.

“I knew him, and you did not, and you cannot understand how proud he
was. I knew he was more to blame than Christine if she tells the truth,
and I can never forgive him, even if I did promise to do so, and I can
never forgive her for hiding you, whom father would have loved so much,
while I should never have been born.

“And yet he loved me, I am sure; but, had he known of you, all would
have been changed, just as I shall change it now. He would have sent me
away—not penniless, it was not his nature to do that; he provided for
Christine, and would have made provision for me—but sent me from him
just the same and taken his lawful daughter home, and after you are
established here as Miss Hetherton, I shall go away—where, I do not
know—but somewhere in the world there is a place for Pierre and me, and
we shall go together. I cannot stay here with that mark upon me. I feel
it now burning into my flesh, and know it is written all over me in
letters of fire, which all the waters in the world cannot wash out.
Truly, the sins of the parents are visited upon the children, and I am
suffering so terribly—oh, Margie, it does ache so hard, so hard!” and
with a gasping sob Queenie sank into her chair, where she sat writhing
like one in agony.

For a moment Margery regarded her intently, then kneeling before her
again and taking the hot, quivering hands in hers said to her: “Queenie,
do you think _I_ have forgotten the day when you came to me, a little,
lonely girl, clad in garments so coarse that just to have worn them a
moment would have roughened the delicate skin of one who, like you, had
known only the scarlet, and ermine, and purple of life. And yet you did
not shrink from me. You looked into my eyes with a look I have never
forgotten. You touched my soiled hands with your soft, white, dimpled
fingers, and the touch lingers there yet. You took the scarlet and
ermine from your shoulders and put them upon me, and brought down heaven
to me as nearly as it can be brought to us here upon earth. And now,
when this great sorrow has come upon you, when it may be that I stand in
the place you have held so long, when the scarlet and ermine are mine,
will you not let me give it back to you as you once gave it to me, or at
least share it with me—that is, supposing mother’s statement is proved
to be true?”

“Proved to be true!” Queenie said. “What do you mean by that?”

“I mean this,” Margery replied, “The world will not accept the story as
readily as you have done. There will have to be proof, I think, that _I_
was born at Rome and that Margaret Ferguson was my mother.”

“Do _you_ doubt it, Margie?” Queenie asked, fixing her eyes searchingly
upon her sister, who at last slowly answered, “No.”

“Neither do I,” was Queenie’s quick rejoinder. “I _know_ it is
true—_know_ I am Christine’s daughter by the resemblance I bear to her,
just as I know you are a Ferguson by the blue in your eyes and the
golden hue of your hair, so like them all, so like to Phil. Oh, Phil! if
I could go to him and tell him of my pain.”

There was silence a few moments between the two girls, and it was
Queenie who spoke first again.

“Go away now, Margie. My head is not quite straight. Go, and leave me
awhile to myself.”

Margery obeyed, thinking that Queenie wished to rest, but such was not
her intention, and no sooner was she alone than she arose, and, bolting
her door, went to her writing-desk, and taking out several sheets of
paper began to write the story which Christine had told her. This done,
she took the three letters which she had found among her father’s
papers, signed “Tina,” and inclosing the whole in an envelope, directed
it to Mr. Beresford. Then, ringing her bell, she asked that Pierre
should be sent to her. The old man obeyed the summons at once, for he
was very anxious about his young mistress and the sickness which had
come so suddenly upon her. Stepping into the room, he made his bow, and
then stood before her in his usual attitude of deference and respect,
his head bent forward and his hands clasped, awaiting her orders.

“Sit down, Pierre,” Queenie said. “You need not stand before me now. I
have something to tell you, and the sooner I tell it, the better. A
dreadful thing has come to light—a dreadful wrong been done to Margery.
She is not Miss La Rue. She is that baby born at Rome. She is Margaret
Ferguson’s daughter, and I am—am—nobody! My father was Frederick
Hetherton, and my mother is Christine Bodine, and they were never
legally married. Do you understand me, Pierre?”

He did understand her, and the shock made him reel forward and grasp the
back of a chair, to which he held, while he stood staring at his
mistress as if to assure himself of her sanity.

“_It is true_,” she continued, as she met his questioning look of
wonder, and then, very rapidly, she told him how it had come to her
knowledge, and what she meant to do.

“I will never believe it,” was Pierre’s emphatic reply, when he could
speak at all. “It is a lie she told, the bad woman.”

And yet in Pierre’s heart there was a growing fear that what he had
heard might be true, but even if it were, it should make no difference
with him. He would stand by Queenie against the whole world. Where she
went he would go, where she died, he would die, her faithful slave to
the last. It did not matter to him whether she were a Hetherton or a
Bodine, she was his sovereign, his queen, and he told her so, with many
gestures and ejaculations, some of which were far from being
complimentary to “_La femme Bodine_,” as he called her.

“I knew I was sure of you,” Queenie said to him, “and after a little we
will go away from here and find a home somewhere, and I shall learn to
work and take care of myself, and you, too, if necessary.”

Pierre shrugged his shoulders significantly at the idea of being taken
care of by this little girl who had been reared so tenderly. Queenie
noticed the gesture, though she did not seem to, and went on:

“I have written to Mr. Beresford, who will know just what to do, and
early to-morrow morning you must take it to him. Say nothing to Miss
Margery or any one, but come to my door, quietly, as soon as you are up.
I shall be waiting for you. And now go: it is getting late, and I am
very tired.”

Pierre obeyed and left her in a most bewildered state of mind, scarcely
knowing what he had heard, and not at all able to realize its import.
True to his promise, he was at Queenie’s door the next morning before
either Margery or her mother were astir, and received the package for
Mr. Beresford, and a second and smaller one for Grandma Ferguson. This
last Queenie had written after Peirre left her the previous night, and
she bade him deliver it.

“There will be no answer to either; at least none for you,” she said,
and with a nod that he understood, Pierre hastened away to throw the
bomb-shell at the feet of Mr. Beresford and Grandma Ferguson.

                             CHAPTER XLIV.
                             THE EXPLOSION.

Early as it was, Mr. Beresford was at his office. He had an important
suit pending in the court which involved much thought and research, and
he was hunting up certain points bearing upon it when Pierre came in,
and with a simple “_Bon jour, monsieur_,” laid the package upon the
table and departed in the direction of Grandma Ferguson’s. Mr. Beresford
recognized Queenie’s handwriting, and thinking she had probably sent him
some business papers of her father’s, which she had overlooked, he laid
it aside for a time and went on with his own matters, so that it was an
hour or more, and the one-horse sleigh which Grandma Ferguson had hired
to carry her to Hetherton Place had driven rapidly past the door before
he took the package in his hand and opened it. The three yellow,
time-worn letters which Queenie had inclosed first met his eye, and he
examined them curiously, noting that they were dated in Marseilles many
years ago; but as they were written in French it would take him some
time to decipher them, so he put them down and took up Queenie’s letter,
which he read through rapidly, feeling when it was finished so benumbed
and bewildered that he walked several times across the floor of his
office, and then went out into the open air to shake off the nightmare
which oppressed his faculties and made his brain so dizzy. Then,
returning to the letter, he read it again, weighing carefully every
word, and jumping at conclusions, rejecting this statement as
improbable, and that as impossible and saying to himself as Pierre had
done, “I do not believe it.” He had long ago suspected that Queenie and
Margery might be _sisters_, but not in this way. Anon, however, a doubt
stole into his mind that it might be true, and this doubt was succeeded
by another, and another, until there were great drops of sweat upon the
lawyer’s face, and an intense pity in his heart as he thought of Queenie
and all she would have to suffer.

“Poor little Queenie; so proud and so high-spirited; she cannot bear it,
and I shall do all I can to prove the story false,” he said; and then
suddenly there swept over him another thought which made him reel in his
chair, while the sweat-drops on his forehead and about his lips grew
larger and thicker. “If the tale were true, then Margery was the
daughter of the house; Margery was Miss Hetherton, of Hetherton Place,

He did not allow himself to think any further, but, throwing out his
hands, with a fierce gesture, he exclaimed, “Get thee gone, Satan! Is
this a time to indulge in low, mean, selfish feelings? Were Margery a
thousand times a Hetherton, she would be no sweeter or lovelier than she
has seemed to me as Margery La Rue, nor will Queenie be one whit the
worse for this stain upon her birth, if stain there be, which I doubt;
at all events I will leave no stone unturned to prove the truth or
falsity of this Bodine woman’s statement. If I could only read her
letters I might find something on which to base a conclusion.”

Taking up the letter which bore date the furthest back, he began to
decipher it slowly and carefully, succeeding better than he had
anticipated, and when it was finished he possessed a pretty accurate
knowledge of its contents. Then he took the second and the third, and
went through with them both, while the conviction deepened in his mind
that there was something in the story which would bear investigation.

“I must see Queenie at once,” he said, “and Mrs. La Rue also, and hear
from her if she has any other proof to offer, than her mere statement
and these letters, which she may or may not have written.”

Ordering his horse and giving some directions to his clerk in case
clients called, he was soon riding rapidly toward Hetherton Place where
Grandma Ferguson had been for more than an hour. Pierre had found the
good woman seated at her breakfast-table, arrayed in her usual morning
costume, a short, wine-colored stuff skirt, and a loose woolen sacque,
with no collar on her neck or cap on her head. But her white hair was
combed smoothly back and twisted into a little knot, and her face shone
with content and satisfaction as she drank her coffee from her saucer or
soaked her fried cake in it.

With his usual polite bow, Pierre handed the package to her, and then,
departed without a word.

“Mrs. John Ferguson, Present,” grandma read aloud. “What did Rennet want
to put _present_ on for, I wonder, and how finefied she writes. I don’t
believe I can make it out at all, the letters are so small and Frenchy,”
and tearing off the envelope she tried in vain to decipher the contents
of the letter.

Queenie had written it under great excitement, and her handwriting,
always puzzling to grandma, was more illegible than usual.

“Here, Axie, read it for me; ’tain’t likely there’s any secret,” grandma
said, and taking the paper in her hands, Axie began to read what Queenie
had written.

It was as follows:


  “You must let me call you that just this once, though you are _not_ my
  grandmother. A dreadful thing has been done, and kept secret until
  yesterday, when I found it out, and it almost killed me. I am _not_
  the baby born at Rome; Margery is that baby; Margery is your
  grandchild, and I am nobody. I am the daughter of Frederick Hetherton
  and Mrs. La Rue, who was Christine Bodine, my old nurse. She has told
  me all the deception, and her hiding Margery from her father, who did
  not know of her existence. It is terrible—and I was so proud and hot
  tempered, and so bad to you sometimes, and now I’d give the world if
  you were really my grandmother.

  “Come as soon as you can and see Margery and question Mrs. La Rue


“Not her gra’ma! _I_ not her gra’ma! Who then is her gra’ma, I’d like to
know?” Grandma Ferguson exclaimed, when Axie read the first lines of the

But Axie did not answer. Her quick eye had gone rapidly on, and with an
ejaculation of surprise, she read what Queenie had written, while her
mistress turned white as ashes, and could only whisper her incredulity.

“_Rennet_ not mine! not Margery’s child! No, no, I cannot believe that,”
she said, and a sense of pain began to rise in her heart at the thought
of losing in this way the little dark-eyed girl who had crept into her
love in spite of her wilful, imperious ways. “Read it again, Axie,” she
continued; “You did not get it right before. Rennet never said no such
thing, unless she’s crazy. Yes, that’s it,” and grandma’s face
brightened, and her voice was more cheery. “Fretting for Phil has driven
her out of her mind. She hain’t slep’, nor cried, nor et sence he died.
I shall go over there at once, and do you run as fast as you can to the
livery after a hoss and sleigh.”

And so within an hour after Pierre delivered Queenie’s letter to Grandma
Ferguson she was alighting at the door of Hetherton Place. Margery, who
knew nothing of Pierre’s journey to the village, opened the door to the
old lady, whose first exclamation was:

“How is she, and when did the spell come on her?”

“Do you mean Reinette, and how did you know anything ailed her?” Margery
asked, and grandma replied:

“How do I know? Didn’t that Frenchman fetch me a letter from her this
mornin’, in which she said she wasn’t my granddarter, and that——”

Here grandma stopped, struck by the likeness to her daughter which had
so impressed her the first time she saw Margery. She had paid no
attention to the assertion in Reinette’s letter that Margery was her
granddaughter, but now, as she looked into the blue eyes confronting her
so steadily, she saw there something which awoke within her a strange
feeling of kinship and love, and she continued with a faltering voice:
“She said that you was Margaret’s girl. Be you Margery? Be you my

“I don’t know, the story seems so incredible,” Margery replied, but she
took the hands extended toward her in her own, and covered them with
kisses, as she continued: “If I am Margery Hetherton, it is very hard on
Queenie, and you must love her just the same—love her better if

“Yes, yes,” grandma replied. “Nothing shall change my love for her.
Where is she? Let me go to her at once.”

Queenie, who was lying on the lounge, must have been almost asleep, for
she heard nothing until a hand was laid gently upon her head, and a
voice full of love and pity said to her:

“_Rennet! poor little Rennet!_”

Then she started up, with a low cry, caused partly by surprise and
partly by the sharp pain which seemed to pass from her heart to her head
and to force to the surface the tears which had been so long pent up,
and which now fell like rain. She had never before heard her grandmother
call her “Rennet” without a feeling of irritation, or, as she had
expressed it to Phil, without a “jerking of her elbows,” but now, as the
familiar sound fell on her ears, there swept over her such a feeling of
anguish, and regret, and intense longing for what she had lost, that the
fountain of tears was broken up, and for some minutes she lay in the
motherly arms held out to her, and cried so hard and piteously that Mrs.
Ferguson became alarmed at last, and tried to soothe and quiet her. But
Reinette could not be quieted.

“Let me cry,” she said; “it does me good. You know I have not shed a
tear before since poor Phil died, and I guess I am crying more for him
than for my lost birthright—my——”

“Hush, Rennet;” grandma interrupted. “I don’t know what you mean—don’t
want to know—and if there is anything, my advice is, keep it to
yourself. I took you to my heart as my own that fust day I saw you at
the train, a little scart thing among so many strangers. I loved you
then; I’ve loved you ever sence, and allus will, no matter who you be.”

“Don’t you hurt me so!” Queenie cried with a keen pang of remorse, as
she remembered how she had once rebelled against this woman, and refused
to acknowledge her claim to relationship until it was proved beyond her
power to gainsay it.

And now she would have given the world to have called her “grandmother,”
and known that it was true.

“I don’t deserve your love,” she said. “I have been so wicked, and have
vexed you so many times, but, after Margery, you are dearer to me now
than any living creature, though I am not your grandchild—Margery is
that; Margery is the baby born at Rome and hidden away from her father.
Mrs. La Rue has told us all about it. _She_ is my mother.”

Queenie spoke very low, and a flush stained her cheeks, where the tears
were still falling though not so fast as at first. She was growing a
little calmer and more composed, and was beginning to tell Mrs. Ferguson
what she had heard, when Mr. Beresford was announced. To Margery, he had
said, “Queenie has written me a strange story. Do you know anything
about it?”

“Yes,” Margery answered, with a quivering lip, “I heard mother tell

“And was that the first you knew of it?” he asked, scrutinizing her

“No,” she said, hesitatingly, as if the confession were a pain. “I knew
it a few weeks ago——”

“When you were sick, and you kept it to yourself for her sake,” Mr.
Beresford interrupted her. “You are a brave girl, Margery. Few would
have done what you have.”

“If they loved Queenie as I do they would,” she said. “Oh, Mr.
Beresford, if it should be true, can we not keep it to ourselves? Need
the world know it?”

“If it depended upon you and me, it might be done,” he replied. “But I
am afraid we could not manage Queenie. She seems determined to do you
justice. Where is she, and can I see her?”

                  *       *       *       *       *

“Yes, let him come at once. I wish to have it over,” Queenie said, when
told that Mr. Beresford was in the house and had asked for her.

She heard him coming, and rising to her feet and brushing her tears away
she stood erect, with the old, proud look flashing in her eyes, for she
would not allow this man, who had once asked her to be his wife, to see
how utterly crushed and humiliated she was. But when she caught sight of
his face, so full of pity, and sympathy, and concern for her, she broke
down utterly and cried harder even than she had done when grandma had
called her Rennet. It was a perfect storm of sobs and tears, and Mr.
Beresford, who had never witnessed anything like it, felt the moisture
gathering in his own eyes as he looked at the little figure writhing in
such pain.

“You must excuse me, for I cannot help it,” she said, when she could
speak. “It is not this alone which affects me so. It is everything. The
death scene on the ship, when father’s strange words foreshadowed this
which has come upon me, and the loss of Phil, who would have stood by me
in the face of everything.”

“And do you not think I will do that, Queenie?” Mr. Beresford said,
sitting down beside her and taking her hot hands in his as naturally as
if he had been her brother or her lover.

And as he looked upon her, so broken, and crushed, and helpless, and yet
so sweet and lovely withal, there swept over him again something of the
same feeling which had prompted him to ask her to be his wife that night
upon the rocks. True it was that recently he had learned to think of
another face very different from the white, tear-stained one before him.
But there was a great pity in his heart for the girl who had so dazzled,
and bewildered, and bewitched him—a desire to comfort and reassure her,
and he felt tempted to take her in his arms and soothe her as he would
have soothed a little child. Grandma Ferguson had left the room as he
came in, and the two were alone altogether, and Queenie’s eyes, in which
great tears were shining, were fixed upon him, and Queenie’s lips he had
once so longed to kiss were quivering in a grieved kind of way, and
Queenie’s hands were in his, and so it is not so very strange that for a
moment he forgot the face he had thought fairer than the one which he
finally took between his two hands and held, while he said:

“Queenie, you do wrong to talk as if anything for which you are not
responsible can make a difference with your friends—with me, who once
hoped to be more than your friend. Queenie, I asked you once to be my
wife, when you stood upon a dizzy height of prosperity and now I ask you
again when misfortune seems to be overtaking you. Will you be mine,
Queenie, and let me shield you from the storm and prove to you that I
have loved you for yourself rather than for your surroundings?”

Queenie’s face was a study, as she drew it away from his encircling
hands, and from sheer weakness and exhaustion lay wearily down upon the
pillows of the lounge while she looked at him long and earnestly. Never
before had Mr. Beresford seen so sweet, so soft and so womanly an
expression in the dark eyes as he saw there now, and never had she
seemed more desirable than she did when she answered him at last:

“I thank you so much, Mr. Beresford, for what you have said. It has done
me a great deal of good, for if you can like me for myself alone there
may be others who will do the same, and my life will not be quite so
dreary. I will do you the justice to say that I believe you are in
earnest now and mean what you say, but you are mistaken in the feeling
which prompts you. It is pity for me, not love. But I thank you just the
same, though I cannot accept your offer. When Phil went down beneath the
waves my heart went with him, never to return. And you, Mr. Beresford,
are destined for another. I know it; I have seen it, and am so glad. She
is worthy of you, and was worthy before accident revealed that in
everything she was your equal. And you will be so happy together
sometime when it is all settled, as it must be at once. Send for Mrs. La
Rue and hear her story; or rather, go to her. I could not listen to it
again. She will convince you of the truth of what she says, and you must
fix whatever there is to fix, so that Margery will have justice done her
as Mr. Hetherton’s daughter. Don’t let a thought of me interfere with
her rights. And now go to Mrs. La Rue.”

She waved him from her with her old air of authority and he had no
alternative but to obey, and wishing her good-morning he went below
stairs to seek an interview with Mrs. La Rue.

As they had no suspicion of what had happened, it was a mere accident
which sent the Rossiters to Hetherton Place that morning, and Mr.
Beresford found them in the library with Grandma Ferguson, who had told
them what she knew, and thrown them into a wild state of surprise and

“Oh, Mr. Beresford,” Ethel said, going up to him as he entered the room,
“is it true that Reinette is not our cousin?”

“I do not know,” he replied; “I am going to question Mrs. La Rue. Shall
I have her in here and let you hear what she has to say?”

“Yes, let her come,” Mrs. Rossiter said; and in a few minutes Mrs. La
Rue entered the room, calmer and more collected than she had been in

She had told the truth to Queenie. The worst was over. She could meet
anything now; and at Mr. Beresford’s request she began her story, which
she repeated in a straightforward manner, never once crossing herself or
hesitating in the least, except when some strong emotion overcame her as
she spoke of Margery and the day Queenie came to her in the Rue St.
Honore. No one could doubt that she was telling the truth, and Mr.
Beresford did not doubt her, but he said to her when she had finished:

“Have you no other proof than your mere assertion of facts?”

“Yes,” she replied; “I can give you the name of the pension in Rome
where Mrs. Hetherton died, and of the physician who attended her, and
the clergyman who buried her. These gentlemen, if living, will testify
to the fact that she left an infant daughter, whom I took away with me.
Then, old Florine is still alive in Paris, and will show that I brought
Margery to her and took her away at such a date, while Jacques Berdotte
and his wife Jeanne, in Marseilles, can tell you that they served me
when Queenie was born; and I doubt not they will remember the American
gentleman who came to see me, and to whom I went when I left their
house. I think they are both alive. You can write and see. I have also
Mr. Hetherton’s last letter, written me from Paris when I was in the
south of France, and he had heard that the girl Margery, in whom Queenie
was so much interested, was my daughter. That will prove that Queenie is
my child; and after that you surely will believe me without the letter
which my mistress wrote to her husband not long before she died, and in
which she speaks of her blue-eyed, golden-haired baby, whom she hopes he
will love because it is so much like her. I did not destroy that letter,
though tempted to do so many times.”

She talked rapidly, and every word carried fresh conviction to Mrs.
Rossiter, who was eager to see Margery and claim her as her sister’s
child. Of the meeting between Margery and her newly-found friends it is
not my purpose to speak, except to say that at its close there was not
in the minds of either a shadow of doubt as to the tie between them.

But amid their joy there was a keen pang of regret and pain for the
little, desolate girl up stairs, who, when at last they went to her,
received them at first with a calm, stony face and dry eyes, which
seemed to flash defiance at any pity they might feel for her, but who
finally broke down in a storm of sobs and tears, and, laying her head on
Mrs. Rossiter’s lap, begged her not to despise her for what she could
not help.

“If I could die, I would,” she said, “but I cannot. I am young, and life
seems so lonely to me now, when once the days were too short for all I
had to enjoy. Oh, why has God so dealt with me?”

It was hard to answer that question, or explain why to this young girl,
whose life had been so full of sunshine, so much wretchedness should
have come. Anna Ferguson said it was to punish her for her pride, and
that it served her right for having felt above them all. Miss Anna heard
the news with a wonderful degree of equanimity. She was not greatly
surprised, she said, for she had always thought Reinette different from
other young girls, and now she knew it was the bad blood there was in
her. She pitied her, of course, and should go over and see her, but
Reinette could not expect people to treat Christine Bodine’s daughter
just as they had treated Miss Hetherton.

This was the ground Anna took, but she met with no support from any one.
On the contrary, the utmost sympathy was felt for Reinette when the
story was known. Never before had Merrivale been so excited as it was
now, for men, women, and children did nothing but talk of the affair
from morning till night, and Margery, whom they all knew so well and had
seen so many times, became as great an object of curiosity as the Queen
of England would have been had she passed through the town.

To Margery this notoriety and scrutiny were exceedingly distasteful. She
had fought the story of her birth as long as possible; had said that it
could not be true, even after Mr. Beresford, in whose judgment she
relied so much, had told her to believe it without other proof than he
had gathered from Mrs. La Rue. Of course he was bound to obtain all the
evidence possible, both from Rome and France, and this he had taken
steps to do; and had suggested the possibility that the ceremony, which
Christine had said took place at Chateau des Fleurs might be valid in
France and thus legitimize Queenie. But there had been no witnesses, and
Mr. Hetherton had never in any way acknowledged Christine as his wife.
There could be no doubt on the subject, and Margery alone was the
heiress of Hetherton Place. He called her Miss Hetherton, now, whenever
he addressed her, as did the other people in town, and there always came
an increase of color to Margery’s cheek when she heard the name and
thought of the little heart-broken girl who had shut herself up in her
room and refused to see those of her former acquaintance, who, prompted
partly by curiosity, and partly by genuine sympathy, came to assure her
of their continued friendship and esteem.

“It is very kind in them, and I thank them so much; but I cannot see
them yet,” she would say, when Margery brought her the message.

And disappointed in their desire to see Reinette, the curious and
meddlesome ones turned their attention to Mrs. La Rue, but she, too,
avoided and baffled them; she had returned to the cottage in town, where
she remained perfectly quiet, seeing no one and talking with no one
except Margery and Mr. Beresford, to the latter of whom, as a lawyer,
she was always communicative, giving him any information he wished for,
and aiding him materially in procuring the proof, which, though he
deemed it superfluous, he was desirous to obtain. To others she had said
all she ever meant to say, and on the subject of her past life, her lips
were sealed forever. Silent, cold, and impassive, she moved about her
house, with no look of human interest on her white, stony face, except
when Margery came, as she did every day, with news of Queenie. Then the
pale cheek would flush for a moment and the heavy eyes light up with
eager expectancy as she asked the same question. “Has she mentioned me

“No, not yet,” was always Margery’s answer, and then the color would
fade away and the lips shut tightly together as if in pain, but no word
of protest ever passed them, or complaint that she was not justly dealt
with by the girl whose life she had blighted.

It was Grandma Ferguson who stayed constantly with Queenie during the
first few days after the story was known, and it was wonderful to see
the love and confidence between them. With Queenie the feeling was
almost idolatrous which she felt for the woman whose coarse speech and
common ways had once been so obnoxious to her, but to whom she now clung
with more than a child’s fondness for its mother. On her bended knees,
with her head in grandma’s lap, she had confessed all the past, even to
her rebellious feelings on that day when she stood on the platform at
the station and was claimed by relatives of whom she had never heard.

“I was so wicked and proud,” she said, “for I thought myself equal to
the greatest lady in Europe, and I hated the way you spoke to me—hated
everything about you and went on hating it, especially the purple gloves
and moire antique, which made my elbows jerk, they so offended my eye.”

And grandma forgave the beautiful little sinner, and stroked the glossy,
black hair, and told her not to mind, but get up and wipe her tears
away, and be comforted.

“I ain’t an atom like you,” she said, “and never could be if I tried
ever so hard. ’Taint the purple gloves, neither, nor the _mory antique_,
which makes the difference: it is my whole make-up from the beginnin’.
Some vessels is coarse, and some is fine. Some is jugs, and some is
china, and I am a jug of the roughest kind, but I love you, Queenie, and
will stick to you through thick and thin.”

Then they talked together of Queenie’s future, and where she would go
when she left Merrivale, as she was resolved upon doing, for a time at

“I may come back to Margery after awhile,” she said, “but now I must go
where no one knows me, and pities me. I will _not_ be pitied, and so I
must go away.”

“Then why not go to that place in Florida where your Gra’ma Hetherton
used to live,” Mrs. Ferguson suggested. “I’ve heard it was a fine place
where they once kept a hundred niggers, though it must be awfully run
down now.”

“You mean Magnolia Park,” Queenie rejoined. “It is near Tallahassee. I
have heard my father speak of it. He used to go there when a boy, and he
told me what a grand old house it was, standing in the midst of a grove
of magnolias, with rooms enough to accommodate twenty or thirty guests.
Yes, I should like to go there. I should like to see Florida. Pierre
will go with me, and it will cost us but little to live.”

“And let me give you that little,” grandma said. “I’ve money in the
bank, laid up for Anny; but now she’s goin’ to marry so rich, she does
not need it. Let me give you a thousand dollars to start on, and when
that’s gone, you shall have more unless you are ready to come home, as
you most likely will be.”

The Florida plan struck Queenie very favorably. She had heard from her
father of Magnolia Park, where Mrs. Hetherton had lived before her
marriage, and knowing nothing of the dilapidated condition of the house,
or the many difficulties to be met and overcome before she could be even
comfortable there, she was anxious to go at once, and broached the
subject to Margery, who naturally opposed it with all her powers. It was
her wish that Queenie should remain at Hetherton Place, and share
equally with her in their father’s home and fortune.

But this Queenie would not do. After a time she might feel differently,
she said, but now she must go away, and as Magnolia Park could not be of
any great value to Margery she was willing to accept so much and go
there to live. So Mr. Beresford was consulted and questioned with regard
to the place, of which they knew very little. Originally it was a fine
plantation, with at least a hundred negroes upon it, but these were
scattered by the war, and since that time, or rather since he had done
business for Mr. Hetherton, the farm had been let to different parties,
who took the house furnished as it was when the last of Mrs. Hetherton’s
relations left it, and who were not supposed to have had any particular
care for it. Now, however, it was untenanted, and only a few acres of
the best land were rented to a man whose plantation adjoined it. It
might be habitable, and it might not, but his advice was that Queenie
stay in Merrivale, as it was getting near the last of February and not
at all the time for going to Florida.

But Queenie argued differently. March was the month when many tourists
flitted to the South, she said. She would have plenty of time to get
acclimated before summer, and she seemed so anxious and excited, and
determined that a consultation was held between Mr. Beresford, Grandma
Ferguson, and Margery, which resulted in the decision that as soon as
the necessary arrangements could be made, Queenie should leave Merrivale
for Magnolia Park, accompanied by Pierre and Axie, Mrs. Ferguson’s
colored girl, who was trusty and efficient, and delighted with the
prospect of a change from the monotonous life in Merrivale. This giving
up of Axie, who had lived with her so many years, was grandma’s own
proposition, which she strenuously insisted upon, saying, when Queenie
remonstrated, that it would not be for long, as they’d soon get enough
of that heathenish land of niggers and sand, and be back to the North

The last week in February was fixed upon for Queenie’s departure, and
the day before she left, the Hetherton carriage drove through the
village to the cottage, where Mrs. La Rue was living alone. From it
Queenie alighted, and entering unannounced remained there for half an
hour or more. But of that interview nothing was ever known, except this:
When, next day Margery called at the cottage and reported that Queenie
had gone, Mrs. La Rue said, with a quivering lip and trembling voice:

“She kissed me and called me mother.”

                              CHAPTER XLV.
                             MAGNOLIA PARK.

Thirty years before our story opens, Magnolia Park was one of the finest
places in middle Florida. But after the death of Mrs. Hetherton, who had
been born and married there, and who spent a part of every winter in her
old home, there was no one left to care particularly for it, as Mr.
Hetherton had lands enough of his own to look after. So the place began
to go down, and when the war swept like a wave of fire over the South,
it was left tenantless and unprotected save by an old negro, Uncle Sim,
and his wife, Aunt Judy, who lived in the whitewashed cabin on the
grounds, paying no heed to the rumors of freedom which reached them from
time to time, as the terrible conflict between brother and brother went
on. They were as free as they ever wished to be, they said, and all they
asked was to be let alone and left to die on the old place. So they
staid, and did their best to guard the house of which they were so
proud, and which, at two different times, was made a kind of hotel for
the soldiery, who were scouring the country. A night and a day the Boys
in Blue halted there, carrying off whatever they conveniently could of
the many valuable articles with which the house was furnished, and one
of them, an officer, having a hand-to-hand fight with old Judy, who
tried to wrench from him a pair of silver candlesticks he was stuffing
in his pockets. He took away the candlesticks and also a black eye and a
bloody nose which Aunt Judy had given him as a memento of his stay at
Magnolia Park.

A week later, and a party of the Boys in Gray swooped down upon the
place and spent the night in the house and fed on Judy’s corn cakes and
bacon, and killed Uncle Sim’s big turkey, and turned the once handsome
rooms into barracks, but were prevented from committing as extensive
depredations as their predecessors had done simply because, aside from
the six-legged piano on which they pounded Dixie vigorously, and the
massive bedsteads and chairs and tables, there was little or nothing to
steal. Warned by the lesson learned from their first visitors, Sim and
Judy had dug a deep hole at the side of their cabin, and lining it with
blankets had filled it with the remaining valuables of the house; then,
covering them with another heavy blanket, they heaped dirt and sand upon
them, and built over the spot a rude hen-house, where several motherly
hens brooded over their young chickens. After this Sim and Judy lived in
comparative ease until the war was over and peace and quiet reigned once
more in Florida. Then the premises were let to a young Kentuckian, who
soon grew tired of his bargain, and gave it up, and the house was empty

When Mr. Beresford first took charge of the Hetherton estate, he wrote
to Frederick, asking why he did not sell the Florida lands, which
yielded him nothing. But this Frederick would not do. Magnolia Park had
been his mother’s home, and a place where, as a boy, he had been very
happy; and, as he could afford to keep it, he wrote to that effect to
Mr. Beresford, telling him to let it if he could, and if not, to let it
alone. So Mr. Beresford let it alone, except when some one wished to
rent a few acres of the land, which was the case when Reinette decided
to go there. Then he wrote to the man whose plantation adjoined Magnolia
Park, telling him that a daughter of the late Mr. Hetherton was about to
visit Florida, and asking him to see that a few of the rooms were made
comfortable for her. Unfortunately this letter was miscarried or lost,
so that Reinette’s arrival was wholly unexpected, and produced the
utmost consternation in the whitewashed cabin, where Uncle Sim and Judy
were taking their evening meal, and feeding the four dogs hanging around

Queenie had traveled night and day until she reached the station at
Tallahassee, where she took a carriage for Magnolia Park, a distance of
two or three miles. The day was drawing to a close, and the sun was just
setting when they turned off from the highway into the road, which wound
through the fields for a quarter of a mile or more up to the house.

“Dat’s ’em; dat’s the place,” said the driver, whose name was Boston,
and he pointed to a huge wooden building standing upon a little rise of
ground and surrounded by tall magnolias.

Once it must have been a little paradise, but now it was stripped of all
its glory, and stood there desolate and dreary, with the paint all
washed from its walls and the lights broken from the lower windows,
while here and there a door was gone, and the shutters hung by one
hinge, or swung loosely in the wind.

Involuntarily Queenie held out her hand to Axie, who took it in her
strong palm, and said, encouragingly:

“It may be better inside. Anyway, I can soon fix it up, and the
situation is lovely.”

Attracted by the sound of wheels, the four dogs now came rushing down
the road, barking so furiously that Queenie turned pale with fright, and
clung closer to Axie. But when the noisy pack saw Boston, whom they
knew, their barking changed into whines of recognition, which brought
Uncle Sim and Aunt Judy round the corner of the house, where the latter
stopped, and with her hands on her fat hips eyed the strangers

“Somebody gwine to visit Miss Strong, most likely; but why did Boston
fetch ’em here?” she thought.

But when Queenie alighted, and going up to her told her that she was
Miss Hetherton, granddaughter of Miss Lucy Marshall, who used to live at
Magnolia Park, and that she had come to stay, her consternation knew no
bounds, and while dropping a courtesy to Queenie, and saying to her,
“An’ sho’ you’re welcome, miss,” she was thinking to herself, “For de
dea’ Lord’s sake, whatever ’ll I do wid sich quality as dis, and whar
’ll I put her? There ain’t a room in de whole house fit for a nigger or
a cracker to sleep in. An’ she’s de real stuff dat ladies is made of.
Can’t cheat dis chile.”

“Honey,” she said at last to Queenie, who was looking ruefully around
her. “I’s no whar to ax you to sit down jes dis minute but in my cabin,
whar I done scoured the flo’ dis blessed day. If I had known you’re
comin’ I’d done somethin’.”

Queenie explained that a letter had been sent to some one announcing her
expected visit, and added, with a little shiver, “Let me go to your
cabin. I am very tired and chilly.”

So Aunt Judy led the way to her quarters, which were as neat and clean
as soap and water and her strong hands could make them. A pine knot was
blazing on the hearth, diffusing a delightful degree of light and warmth
through the room, and Queenie felt better and less desolate than when
standing outside in the chill twilight, which had succeeded the warm
spring day. Before entering the cabin, Axie, accompanied by Sim and
Judy, made the tour of the house, deciding at once that to pass the
night in that damp, cheerless place, was utterly impossible. Queenie
might have gone to town and staid at a hotel until something like
decency and cleanliness was restored to a few of the rooms, but Boston
had left, and there was no alternative but to sleep in Judy’s cabin.
This, however, Queenie did not mind. Reared as she had been in France,
she had none of the American prejudice against the African race, and ate
her hot corncake which Aunt Judy baked for her, and drank her coffee
from Judy’s cups, with almost as keen a relish, as she had ever dined at
the Meurice. Once, indeed, as she remembered Chateau des Fleurs, and
Hetherton Place, and then glanced at her humble surrounding there came a
great lump in her throat, and her hands involuntarily struck the air as
if to thrust something from her. But she meant to be very brave, and
when at last she was lifted by Aunt Judy into the clean, comfortable
bed, which had been made for her upon the low kitchen table, she fell
asleep almost immediately, and knew nothing more until the morning sun
was shining in at the open door, and she heard Axie and Judy outside
consulting together about the propriety of waking her.

Greatly refreshed with her night’s rest Queenie felt better and decided
that the place was not so bad, after all; but a close inspection of the
premises after breakfast convinced her that, for the present at least,
she must seek quarters elsewhere. Rooms there were in abundance, and
furniture, but everything had gone to decay; everything was moldy and
worm-eaten, and smelled of rats, and must and foul air. And still, as
Axie said, there were great capabilities in the place, and with a little
time and money, and a great deal of hard work, a portion of the house
could be made not only habitable, but very comfortable and attractive.
Meantime, Queenie must go away, for it was impossible for her to stay
there while the renovating process was going on. But where to go was a
question which troubled Queenie not a little, until Aunt Judy suggested
an idea to her by saying, “Thar’s Jacksonville on de river. Why not go
thar a spell? Heaps of de gentry from de Noff is thar, and a sight of
mighty fine dresses at dem grand hotels. Jacksonville is a mighty big
city—bigger dan New York, I reckon.”

Queenie had heard of Jacksonville, and she at once seized upon Judy’s
suggestion as something practicable. She would go to that winter
Saratoga of the South and see what it was like. Possibly she might be
amused with what she saw, and so the pain at her heart be lessened a
little. She would go that very day, she said, for she was full of a
burning restlessness and desire for change. But Judy, who knew something
of the running of the trains, told her it was then too late; she must
wait until the next day, and pass another night upon the kitchen table.
From this, however Queenie was saved, for, while they were speaking,
they caught the sound of wheels, and, shading her eyes with her hands,
Aunt Judy saw entering the park a carriage with a lady in it. “Dar’s
Miss Strong from de Homestead,” she exclaimed. “She’s de ole Govenor’s
darter and de fustest lady in dese parts. Got a head full of brains, and
writes for all de papers in de land. She be comen here, sho’-nuf.” And
Judy was right, for Boston had stopped at the Homestead the previous
night, and had told of the young lady—Miss Hetherton—whom he had brought
to Magnolia Park. Mrs. Strong remembered well the tall, handsome boy,
Frederick Hetherton, who, when she was a child, had passed a winter at
the Park, which was then one of the finest places in the State. She
remembered, too, the stately lady, his mother, who had more than once
dined at the Homestead, and she had no doubt that the young girl of whom
Boston told her, was the granddaughter of that lady, and daughter of the
boy Frederick. But why had she come to Magnolia Park so late in the
season, and how was she to exist, even for a day, in that dilapidated,
forsaken spot?

“I will go to see her at once and bring her home with me,” was Mrs.
Strong’s first thought, upon which she acted immediately.

Introducing herself to Queenie, who advanced to meet her as she
descended from her carriage, she said:

“If I mistake not, you are the daughter of Frederick Hetherton, whom I
knew when I was a little girl. Though several years older than myself,
he was very kind to me, and I have spent hours with him under the shadow
of these trees and those in the grounds of my own home.”

The mention of her father by one who had seen and known him brought the
hot tears at once to Queenie’s eyes, but she dashed them aside, and
explaining that Frederick Hetherton was her father, she led Mrs. Strong
into the house, and sitting down beside her, answered as well as she
could the questions which her visitor put to her concerning her home in
Paris and her father’s sad death on shipboard.

“I had heard something of this before,” Mrs. Strong said to her, “for
the lawyer who has charge of your father’s affairs at the North wrote to
a friend of mine who is supposed to look after the estate, that it now
belonged to a young lady, the only direct heir of the Hethertons. It is
rather a sorry place for a young girl to come to, but I suppose you do
not intend remaining here long.”

“Yes; always; I have no other home,” Queenie replied, and her voice was
choked with tears which she fought bravely back.

Mrs. Strong was a kind-hearted, far-seeing woman, and as she studied
this girl, scarcely older than her own daughter Nina, whom she somewhat
resembled, she felt strangely drawn toward her, and felt, too, that over
her young life some terrible storm had swept.

“I will not ask her what it is,” she thought, “but I’ll be a friend to
her, as I should wish some woman to befriend my Nina were she here alone
with those strange attendants.”

Then she said:

“I think I heard that Mr. Hetherton’s wife died in Rome, years ago. It
must have been at your birth.”

For a moment Queenie sat as rigid as if turned into stone, her fists
clinched, and her eyes staring at Mrs. Strong, who looked at her
wonderingly. Then a tremor ran through her frame, and she shook from
head to foot.

“Oh, I can’t bear it! I can’t bear it!” she cried, at last. “My head
will burst if I keep it. I must tell you the truth; you seem so good and
kind, and I want a friend so much. Mother did not die in Rome—that was
Margery’s mother; mine is still alive, and I had no right to be born.”

Then, amid bursts of tears and broken sobs, Queenie told her story from
beginning to end—from Chateau des Fleurs down to Magnolia Park, where
she had come to hide from all who had ever known her. Had Queenie tried,
she could not have found a more sympathizing listener to her recital,
and when it was finished, Mrs. Strong’s tears flowed almost as freely as
her own, as she took the young girl in her arms, and kissing her
lovingly, tried to comfort and reassure her, while at the same time she
administered a little reproof.

“I think you should have staid with Margery,” she said; “but since you
are here, we will do the best we can for you. And now you must go home
with me and stay until some of these rooms are made comfortable for

But to this Queenie objected. She had a great desire to see
Jacksonville, she said, and was going there for two weeks or more.

“Jacksonville, and alone,” Mrs Strong repeated, and Queenie replied that
Axie was going with her to see her settled, and then leave her with
Pierre, while she returned to the Park to superintend the renovating

“There can be no harm in that, can there?” she asked, and Mrs. Strong

“Oh, no, it is not an unheard-of thing for ladies to be at the hotel
alone, but I think they usually have some acquaintances there, and you
have none. If, however, you insist upon going, I shall write to the
proprietor of the St. James to have a care over you, and also to some
friends of mine, residents in town, whose attentions and friendship will
be of great service to you, and shield you from the curious, gossiping
ones who are to be found everywhere, and especially at large hotels.
_Cats_, I call them, for they partake largely of the nature of that
treacherous animal, smooth and purring if you stroke them the right way,
but biting and scratching if you do not. There are plenty of them at the
St. James, I dare say, but I think I can keep you from their claws, if
you will go. Possibly the change may do you good. It will amuse you, at
all events. But you must spend to-day and to-night with me; and
to-morrow, if you still insist, you can take the train for

To this plan Queenie assented, and spent the day and night at Mrs.
Strong’s, and the next morning started with Pierre and Axie for the St.
James Hotel.

                             CHAPTER XLVI.
                           AT THE ST. JAMES.

It was too late in the season for guests to be coming from the North,
but the increasing heat of the warm spring days was driving the people
from points up the river, so that Jacksonville was full of visitors, and
the St. James was crowded when Reinette arrived there in the train from

“A small room will suit me; I do not care for a very expensive one,” she
said, timidly, as she stood before the clerk’s desk, with Pierre and
Axie on either side of her.

But the only vacant room in the house was one on the third floor front,
and of this Queenie took possession, glad to escape for a time at least
from the curious eyes which she felt were turned upon her. In all large
hotels where the guests mingle freely together at table d’hote and in a
common parlor, there is necessarily a good deal of gossip, and talk, and
speculation with regard to strangers, especially if the latter chance to
be at all out of the common order. And to this rule the St. James was
not an exception. As Mrs. Strong had said, it had its cats, as what
hotel has not? Idle, listless cats, who lead an aimless life, with
nothing to do but scratch and tear each other, sometimes with claws
unsheathed, but oftener with velvet paws and purring notes, and dark
insinuations, which are far more dangerous, inasmuch as they cannot be
met and combatted openly. Cliques, too, there were, the members of
which, after criticising and talking each other up, turned their
attention to any new-comers unfortunate enough to differ from the
ordinary type of women, and Queenie was one of these. Everybody was
interested in her. Everybody turned to look after her as she walked
through the hall, or entered or left the dining-room, and many sought
the books for information. But “Miss Hetherton, Merrivale, Mass.,” told
them nothing definite of the dark-faced little girl in black, who sat
apart from them all, with a strange expression in the brilliant eyes,
which swept the room so often and so rapidly, and which had in them a
far-off look of weariness and pain rather than any particular interest
in what was passing around her. Then one of the ladies tried Pierre. But
at the first alarm the old man conveniently forgot every word of English
he had ever known, and jabbered in his native tongue so rapidly that his
interlocutor turned from him in dismay and opened her batteries upon
Axie, whom she encountered in the hall. But Axie, too, was
non-committal, or mostly so. Miss Hetherton was French and had always
lived in Paris until quite recently, when she came to Merrivale, the old
home of her father, who died upon the voyage, leaving her alone.
Magnolia Park, near Tallahassee, belonged to the Hetherton estates, and
thither the young lady had come for a change of air and scene, but
finding that the place was a good deal run down and needed some repairs,
she had decided to spend a little time at the St. James while they were
being made.

This was Axie’s explanation, which was wholly satisfactory, and as it
was repeated with sundry additions, all in Queenie’s favor, she was
indorsed at once, and had she chosen, she might have been a belle and
headed every clique in the house. But Queenie was far too sad and her
heart was too full of pain to care for flattery, and yet in a way she
was interested and amused with what she saw of life at the St. James,
and liked to sit alone by herself in a quiet corner of the great parlor
and watch the people around her—the devotees of whist, who night after
night sat at the same table, with the same people, and usually with the
same result; the dancers, who occasionally varied the monotony with a
quadrille or a waltz; and the knots of lookers-on gathered here and
there in groups, and whispering their confidences to each other. It was
all very new and very strange to Queenie, who had never seen anything
like it, and she was beginning to forget in part her great sorrow in the
scenes around her, when an unexpected arrival brought the past back to
her in all its bitterness, and made her shrink more than ever from
intercourse with strangers. This arrival was none other than that of
Mistress Anna Rossiter, _nee_ Anna Ferguson, who had been three weeks a
bride, and after _doing_ Washington, as she expressed it, had resolved
to see a little of Florida life before the season was fairly over and
the Northerners gone home.

Miss Anna’s wedding had been a very quiet one, owing to poor Phil’s
recent death, and only a few of the villagers had been honored with an
invitation; but those so honored had been among the first in town—the
Grangers, and Markhams, and Marshalls, against whom Anna had once
rebelled so hotly because of fancied slights and indignities. It was now
her turn to hold up her head, she thought: she was to be Mrs. Lord
Seymour Rossiter, with a house in New York, and another on the Hudson if
she liked. She was to have a maid, and diamonds, and her carriage, and
servants in livery, for she liked those long coats and yellow boots, she
said, and she meant to have her women servants wear caps, as she was
told they did abroad.

Anna was very happy. The old days of dressmaking and drudgery were over.
No more pricked red fingers for her, no more bundles to be carried home
to those who bade her ring at the side instead of the front door.

All that was past and gone. The sign which had once so annoyed her was
split and burned. It was hers now to _snub_ instead of being snubbed,
and so she began by slighting the very ones who had been kind to her,
but whom she did not consider worthy of her notice in the days of her
prosperity. She should begin her new life as she could hold out, and she
would not have Tom, Dick, and Harry hanging to her skirts, she said, and
she put aside the friends with whom she had been in the habit of
associating intimately, and invited only those with whom it could
scarcely be said she had ever been recognized as an equal. Margery was,
of course, one of the guests, for she was now Miss Hetherton, of
Hetherton Place, and it was an honor to claim her as a relation.

Mrs. La Rue was wholly ignored. A woman of her reputation, whose life
had been a lie, had no right to expect civilities from the people she
had deceived, Anna argued, and Mrs. La Rue’s name was omitted from the

But the intended slight failed to touch the sad, remorseful woman, who
now lived quite alone at the cottage, having resisted all Margery’s
entreaties that she should make her home at Hetherton Place. Since her
confession, and especially since Queenie’s departure for the South, she
had fallen into a sad and silent mood, shrinking from every one, and
preferring to live entirely alone, as solitude was best suited to such
as she. And so she scarcely gave a thought to the wedding which took
place one afternoon in the best room of Tom Ferguson’s house, with only
the _elite_ of Merrivale looking on and commenting upon the airs of the
bride and the childish delight of the bridegroom, who did not attempt to
conceal his joy, but rubbed his hands in the exuberance of delight and
kissed the bride many times the moment she was pronounced his wife.

There was a short trip to New York, and a long one to Washington, where
Anna created a great sensation with her satins, and velvets, and
diamonds, which she wore on all occasions. She had sold her youth and
beauty for gold, and she meant to reap the full price of her charms.
Every day she blossomed out in a new costume, with jewelry to match, and
as she was really pretty, and could be very gracious when she tried,
Mrs. Lord Seymour Rossiter, became the rage and was flattered, and
admired, and complimented to her heart’s content, and mentioned in the
papers as the most _distingue_ and lovely woman in Washington—notices
which she read with great satisfaction at the breakfast-table every
morning, and then passed to her husband, with the remark:

“How perfectly absurd! Did you ever read such nonsense?”

Anna was growing very fast, and talked of her relations, the Rossiters,
and the Hethertons, and enjoyed herself immensely in her handsome suite
of rooms at the Riggs House, where she would have spent a longer time,
but for a letter received from Grandma Ferguson, which threw her into a
wild state of alarm and apprehension. The good old lady had long wished
to visit Washington and see the _doin’s_, she wrote, and “she couldn’t
have a better time than when Anna was there to go round with her and
show her the _elephant_. So, she’d about made up her mind to pick up and
start, as her clothes were all nice and new, and Anna might expect her
any day, and had better engage a room at once. A small one on the top
floor would answer, as she did not mean to spend all her money on rooms,
and she could just as well take some of her meals at a restaurant as

“Oh-h!” and Anna fairly gasped as she read this letter, which she found
lying by her plate one morning, when she came down to breakfast alone
after a brilliant party, of which she had been the belle. “Oh-h!” and
the cold sweat oozed from every pore as she thought of her grandmother
swooping down upon her, and with her brown silk, and purple gloves, and
pink ribbons, and dreadful grammar, demolishing the fair structure of
blood, and family, and position, which she had secured for herself.

Knowing her grandmother as she did, she felt certain that she would
come, if some decisive step were not taken to prevent it. And Anna took
the decisive step, and turning her back upon the fresh fields of glory
she had meant to win in Washington, she telegraphed immediately to her
grandmother that she should leave the city that day, but said nothing of
her destination.

“She would not mind following me to Europe, if she knew I was going
there—the vulgar old thing!” she thought, with an indignant toss of
fine-ladyism. “I will not have her spoiling everything. I am done with
the old, hateful life. I am Mrs. Lord Seymour Rossiter and mistress of
my own actions.”

So she sent the telegram and then sought her husband, who had
breakfasted before her and was reading his paper in his room.

“Dearest,” she said, laying her hand caressingly upon his head, “I am so
tired of Washington, where they say such silly things of me. Such a
nonsensical article as there is in the paper this morning about the
young and beautiful Mrs. Rossiter, whose sweet, fresh face and charming
manners please every one, and whose dress is a marvel of taste and
elegance. Why, they even estimated the value of my diamonds. I am sick
of it all; it makes one so common; and then I know they would say the
same of the next new-comer, if her dress was richer than mine. These
reports are insufferable. Let’s go away—to-night; go to Florida for a
week or two: it is not too late, and I don’t mind hot weather in the
least. We shall be more quiet there, and I shall see more of _you_. Now,
with the driving, and dressing, and calling, I scarcely have a bit of
your company.”

She was in his lap by this time and her fingers were lifting deftly his
scant hair and fixing it over his bald spot. Whatever Anna might lack
she knew how to manage her husband, who, throwing down his paper and
encircling her slender waist, said to her:

“Sick of it, are you, Pussy? Why, I thought you liked it immensely:
women generally do; but it shows your good sense not to want to be
stared at and written up by a lot of snipper-snappers. But for heaven’s
sake don’t go to Florida! You will roast alive.”

The major had once been to St. Augustine in the days before the war, and
it made him tired to think of the long, wearisome journey by land and
the still worse trip by sea. But Anna’s heart was set upon Florida, and
she carried her point and left Washington that night with her three
trunks and maid, who had been found in New York, and on whom Mrs. Anna
called for the most trivial service, even to the picking up of her
handkerchief, which it would seem she sometimes dropped on purpose, for
the sake of showing her authority. Anna was very proud of her position
and proud of her name, so out of the common order of names. _Lord
Seymour Rossiter_ had a sound of nobility in it, and she persuaded her
husband to leave off the _Mr._ when he registered at hotels, “just to
try the effect,” she said. And so “Lord Seymour Rossiter, lady, and
maid,” was the record in the book at the St. James, which the bridal
pair reached one evening about nine o’clock.

Of course such a registry attracted attention and comment, and before
ten o’clock half the people in the parlor heard that a real live lord
and lady had arrived, and great was the interest in and the curiosity to
see them.

And Anna bore herself like a grand duchess, and had all the airs of
twenty titled ladies, when next morning she stepped out of the elevator
into the broad hall, the train of her blue morning dress sweeping far
behind her, and a soft, fleecy white shawl wrapped gracefully and
negligently around her. She knew she was creating a sensation, and her
voice, never very low, was pitched a little higher as she asked the
clerk if he had no private parlors—no sitting-rooms attached to the
bedrooms. The clerk was very sorry, but there were no suites of rooms,
he said; they were seldom called for, as the guests generally preferred
sitting in the parlor, and hall, and upon the piazzas.

“Yes, but _I_ do not,” Anna replied, in her most supercilious tone; “and
I think it very strange that a hotel like this should have no suites of
rooms; but possibly you can obviate that difficulty by giving us an
extra room. I should like the one adjoining mine. It will not be much
trouble to take out the bed and convert it into a parlor.”

She spoke as if the thing were settled, and was moving away, when the
clerk stopped her by saying:

“But, madam, it is impossible to give you No. —, as it is already
occupied by Miss Hetherton.”

“Miss Hetherton! What Miss Hetherton, pray?” and Anna’s voice lost the
lady-like tone to which she had been trying to bring it since her
accession of dignity.

Quietly turning the pages of the book back to a previous date, the clerk
pointed to the entry, “Miss Hetherton, Merrivale, Mass.,” while Anna
repeated, scornfully:

“‘Miss Hetherton, Merrivale Mass.!’ Is she here, and alone?” while the
elevating of her eyebrows, and the significant shrug of her shoulders
expressed more than her words.

“You know the lady, then?” the clerk ventured to say; for, in spite of
Anna’s diamonds and airs, there was something about her which told him
he could take more liberty with her than with many another guest of far
less pretension.

“Know her? Yes; but I did not expect to find her here,” Anna answered,
and then swept on toward the dining-room door, where her husband was
waiting for her.

Everybody looked up as she entered the room, and many whispers and many
glances were exchanged as she passed on to her seat, which was quite at
the end of the long hall; and so acute is the Yankee perception of the
true and the false, the washed metal and the real, that even before she
had been settled in her chair by her attentive husband, the verdict
passed upon her by those for whose opinion she would care the most was,
“Not a genuine lady, whatever her rank may be.” There was too much show
and arrogance about her, and the diamonds in her ears, and, more than
all, the heavy cross and chain she wore, were sadly out of place at the

Meanwhile another guest had entered the dining-room, a graceful little
figure, clad in black, which was, however, relieved by plain linen
collar and cuffs, and a cream-colored rose at the throat, which
wonderfully heightened the effect and made Queenie an object to be
looked after as she moved up the hall, the color deepening in her cheeks
and her brilliant eyes lifted occasionally and flashing a look of
recognition upon those she knew. Her seat was at the same table with
Mistress Anna, who was never so startled in her life as she was when a
hand was laid familiarly upon her shoulder and a voice she recognized
said to her:

“Oh, Anna, are you here? I am so glad to see you!”

And Queenie was glad, for, though she had never liked Anna Ferguson
much, the unexpected meeting with her in far-off Florida, where all were
strangers, made her seem very near to the desolate, heart-sick girl, who
could have fallen upon her neck and kissed her for the something in her
face which brought the dead Phil to mind.

But Anna’s manner was not provocative of any such demonstrations. She
was not glad to see Queenie, for like all low, mean natures, she was
ready to suspect others of what she knew she would do in similar
circumstances, and when she learned that Queenie was in the hotel her
first thought was that now her antecedents, of which she was so much
ashamed, would be known, either from Queenie or Axie, neither of whom
had much cause to love her, and thus the castle she had built for
herself would be demolished.

And this was the reason why her manner toward Queenie was so cold and
constrained, and even haughty, that the young girl felt repelled and
wounded, and the hot blood mounted to her face and then left it deadly
pale, as she took her seat at the table directly opposite Anna, who
scarcely spoke to her again, except to ask some commonplace question or
to remark upon the weather.

This little scene, however, was noticed by those sitting near, and the
conclusion reached that the new-comer meant to slight Miss Hetherton;
but it did not harm her one whit, for her sad, sweet face and quiet
dignity of manner had won upon the guests, while, owing to Mrs. Strong’s
influence, some of the best and first people in town had called upon
her, so that her standing was assured, and Anna’s coldness could not
matter, but it hurt her cruelly to be thus treated, when she was longing
so much for sympathy, and she could scarcely restrain her tears until
breakfast was over, and in the privacy of her room she could indulge her
grief, with no one to see her but Axie, who learned at last the cause of
her grief.

Axie was not a girl of many words, but there was a look in her black
eyes which boded no good to Mrs. Anna, and, before the day was over,
every one in the hotel at all interested in the matter knew exactly who
Mrs. Lord Seymour Rossiter was and where she came from, and that at
home, to use Axie’s words, “she was of no kind o’ count side of Miss

So Anna’s star began to wane almost before it had risen, or would have
done so but for her perseverance and push, which oftentimes compelled
attention where it might not otherwise have been given. She was pretty,
and fast, and rich, and this gained her favor with a certain class, and
especially with the young men, with whom she was very popular. Night
after night, while her husband played at whist or euchre in the
gentlemen’s room, she danced and flirted in the parlors, and wore her
handsome dresses and diamonds, and furnished the _cats_ with no end of
gossip, and flattered herself that at last she was happy. With a woman’s
ready wit she soon discovered that she had made a mistake with regard to
Queenie, and so she changed her tactics and tried to be very gracious to
her, but Queenie did not need her patronage. She had scores of friends,
and the days passed pleasantly and rapidly away. Axie had returned to
the Park soon after Anna’s arrival, and wrote her mistress at last that
the house would be ready for her within a week, and at the end of that
time Queenie left the Hotel with Pierre, and went to begin a new life in
a home as unlike everything she had ever known as it well could be.

                             CHAPTER XLVII.
                           THE YELLOW FEVER.

It was very hot in Florida that summer, but it suited Queenie, who, like
some tropical plant, seemed to thrive under the burning sun which
affected even the negroes, accustomed to it as they were. Physically she
had never been better than she was at Magnolia Park, or prettier either,
for the bright color had crept back to her cheeks and her eyes had in
them a look of softness and humility, while the expression of her face
was ineffably sweet and gentle like the faces of some of the Madonnas.
She had suffered terribly, and the fierce storm through which she had
passed had left its marks upon her so that she would never again be
quite the same dashing, impetuous girl she once had been. Margery wrote
to her often,—long letters full of tenderness and affection, and
entreaties for her to return to the home which was not the same without

From Grace and Ethel Rossiter she also heard frequently, and their
letters touched her closely, as they always addressed her as their
cousin, ignoring altogether the terrible thing which had separated her
from them. Once in speaking of Margery Ethel said: “She is very lonely
at Hetherton Place, though we go there often, and Mr. Beresford, we
hear, is there every day.”

This was underscored, and conveyed to Queenie’s mind just the meaning
Ethel meant it to convey. Mr. Beresford was daily growing more and more
interested in Margery, and Queenie rejoiced that it was so. She was so
glad for Margery to be happy in a good man’s love, though her own sun
had set in deepest gloom, and there was a ceaseless moan in her heart
for poor Phil, while the load of humiliation which had come so suddenly
upon her seemed sometimes greater than she could bear.

“If I only had something to do which would make me forget myself a
little I should be happier,” she thought, as morning after morning she
awoke to the same monotonous round of duties, or, rather, occupation of
trying to kill the time.

She had no real duties, for everything pertaining to the household
arrangements was managed by Aunt Judy, who petted her young mistress as
if she had been a queen, while both Pierre and Axie, watched vigilantly
to anticipate every want before it was framed in words.

Mrs. Strong was absent on her plantation near Lake Jackson, and thus
Queenie was left almost entirely alone and free to let her morbid
fancies feed upon themselves. She _did_ need something to do, and at
last the something came, though in a very different form from what she
would have chosen had it been hers to choose.

As the summer advanced it grew hotter and hotter until the nights were
like the days, and there came no breath of air to relieve the dreadful
heat. There were rumors of sunstroke here and there, and talk of the
sickness which must ensue if the state of things continued. And still in
middle Florida it was comparatively healthy, and the air was free from
malaria; but farther to the north, where a city spread itself over miles
of territory, an ominous cloud was gathering. Once before the town had
been scourged as with the plague, and the terror-stricken inhabitants
had fled to the country for refuge from the pestilence, which oftentimes
overtook them on the road and claimed them for its victims. And now it
was coming again—was lurking in the corners of the lanes and alleys,
where poverty and filth held high carnival—was breathed in the poisonous
air which brooded over the doomed city like a pall, until at last it was
_there_, and men spoke the awful word to each other in whispers, while
their voices shook with fear and their hearts sank as they remembered
the past and thought of the possible future. The _yellow fever_ was in
their midst, and though as yet confined to the poorer classes and the
unfrequented parts of the city, the people knew too well that, like fire
applied to cotton, it would spread until there was no house however
grand, or spot however exclusive, which its shadow would not reach, its
horrid presence threaten. The city was doomed, and as the days went by
and the disease and danger grew, and the death roll increased, and men
who walked the streets to-day were dead to-morrow, a panic seized upon
the terror-stricken inhabitants, who fled before the horror as those who
live on a frontier in time of war flee from the rapidly advancing enemy.
Then it was, when the city was almost deserted, that the cry went up for
help for the sick and the dying. And the North heard that cry as well as
the South, and poured out her treasures with a most liberal hand, and
“help for Memphis” was the watchword everywhere. Physicians were wanted,
with nurses for the sick and deserted ones, and this demand it was which
tried to the very quick the courage of those on whom it was made.

It was an easy matter to give of one’s substance to the needy, to drop
the money into the boxes placed everywhere for that purpose, but to take
one’s life in his hands and go into the very jaws of death, where the
air was full of infection and the very flowers seemed to exhale a deadly
poison, was a different thing. But there were hundreds of brave men and
women who, from the New England hills, and the prairies of the West, and
the pine glades of the South, went to the rescue, and by their noble
heroism proved themselves more Christ-like than human. In her far-off
Florida home Queenie heard the cry for help, and to herself she said:

“Here is something for me to do. Here is my chance, and I’ll take it.”

Had she known just what yellow fever was, she might have hesitated ere
she made her decision, or having made it, might have drawn back from it
at the frantic entreaties of Pierre, who, when she communicated her
intention to him, fell upon his knees and with blanched face and
chattering teeth begged her not to go where there was certain death for
them both, for his place was with her: if she went, he must go also.
Axie, too, tried to dissuade her from her purpose, but Queenie would not

“I am not afraid,” she said. “I shall not take the fever. I never catch
things as some people do. I sat three hours once with a servant who had
the small-pox, and who died two hours after, and I did not take it.
Somebody must go, and I have nobody to care much if I should die. Nobody
but Margery, and she would say I was doing right. So pack my trunk, like
a good, brave girl, for I must be off to-morrow. Something which I
cannot resist is calling me to Memphis. What it is I cannot tell, but I
must go.”

And so the next night the northern train for Savannah took in it Pierre
and Queenie, bound for the fever-smitten city where the people were
dying so fast and help was sorely needed. By some strange coincidence
while Queenie was making up her mind to _go_ to Memphis, Christine La
Rue was already there. She, too, had heard the cry for help, and it
roused her from the state bordering on insanity into which she was

“I am going,” she said, to Margery, “for I feel that I can do some good.
I am not a bad nurse, and if I can save one life or ease one dying
pillow, maybe it will atone to God for some of my misdeeds. I am not
afraid of the fever, and if I should take it and die, better so than end
my own life, as I am often tempted to do.”

Her mind was made up, and Margery did not oppose her, but promised her
plenty of money in case it should be needed. And so the mother and the
daughter were bound for the same work—the one to have something to do,
the other to atone. It was a fancy of Mrs. La Rue to assume the gray
dress of a lay sister, as she felt freer and safer in this garb, and
could go where she pleased. It was not her wish to be hampered by any
restrictions; and when the physicians saw how efficient and fearless she
was, they let her take her own course and do as she liked.

_Sister Christine_ was the name by which she was known, and many a poor
dying wretch blessed her with his last breath, and commended to her care
some loved one struggling in the next room, perhaps, with the dread
destroyer. Money Christine had in plenty, for Margery kept her supplied,
and it was spent like water where it was of any avail, so that Sister
Christine became a power in the desolated city, and was known in every
street and alley of the town. Queenie had written to Margery of her
intentions, and with a cry of horror on her lips Margery read the letter
and then telegraphed to Christine:

“Queenie is or will be there. Find her at once and send her away.
_Queenie must not die._”

There was a faint smile about Christine’s lips as she read the dispatch,
and then whispered to herself, “No, Queenie must not die,” while her
pulse quickened a little as she thought what happiness it would be to
nurse the fever-tossed girl, should she be stricken down, and bring her
back to life and health.

“I’ll find her, if she is here, and keep a watch over her,” she said;
and two days after they met together high up in a tenement house, where,
in a dark, close room, two negro children lay dead, and the mother was

Queenie was doing her work bravely and well, seeking out the worst
cases, and by her sweetness and tenderness almost bringing back the life
after it had gone out. Always attended by Pierre, who carried with him
every disinfectant of which he had ever heard, she went fearlessly from
place to place where she was needed most, but found frequently that
_Sister Christine_ had been there before her. Naturally she felt some
curiosity with regard to this mysterious person, whose praises were on
every lip, and also a great desire to see her.

“If she could impart to me some of her skill, I might do more good and
save more lives,” she said to Pierre, and there was a thought of the
woman in her heart as she bent over the dying negress, wiping the black
vomit from her lips and the sweat-drops from her brow. “_She_ might have
saved her, perhaps,” she said, just as the door opened and the gray
sister came in.

Far gone as was the poor colored woman, she still had enough of sight
and sense to recognize the new-comer, and something like a cry of joy
escaped her as she managed to say:

“Sister Christine!”

In an instant Queenie sprang to her feet, and mother and daughter stood
confronting each other for a moment, neither speaking, but each looking
into the other’s eyes with an eager questioning look. In Christine’s
there was love, and tenderness, and anxiety and fear, all blended
together, while in Queenie’s there was great surprise and something like
gladness, too. She was the first to speak.

“Christine,” she said, “Sister Christine they call you, though I never
dreamed it was you, how came you here, and when?”

Christine told her how and when, and then repeated Margery’s message—to
find her and send her away.

“She says Queenie must not die, and I say so, too. Will you go before it
is too late?” she asked, and Queenie answered her:

“No, my place is here, and I am glad you are here, too. It makes me feel
safer and stronger.”

“Oh, Queenie, Queenie, God bless you for saying even so much,” and the
woman who had stood undaunted by many a death-bed trembled like a leaf
as she snatched Queenie’s hand to her lips, and then went swiftly from
the room, where her services were no longer needed, for while she was
speaking the negress was dead.

That night a telegram went to Margery: “She will not go away, and she
_shall not die_.”

So there was nothing for Margery to do but pray earnestly and
unceasingly for the young girl who seemed to bear a charmed life, so
fearlessly did she meet every peril and overcome every difficulty.
Almost as popular as Sister Christine, she was hailed with delight
everywhere, and more than one owed his recovery to her timely aid. At
last, however, she began to flag a little, and was not quite as strong
to endure as she had been. There were about her no symptoms of the
fever; she was only tired and worn, she said to Pierre, as she sat in
her room one evening. The day had been damp and sultry, and the night
had closed in with rain and fog, while the air was heavy as if laden
with noxious vapors. Queenie had thrown off her street dress and put on
a comfortable wrapper, when there came a quick, sharp ring, and Pierre
brought her a note, or rather a bit of paper torn from a pocket tablet,
and on which was written in French:

  “Come immediately to No. 40, —— street. You are needed there.


The handwriting was very uneven, as if penned in great excitement, and
as Queenie looked at it there swept over her an undefinable apprehension
of something, she could not tell what—a feeling that this call from
Christine on such a night was no ordinary call, and the need no ordinary

“I believe I am growing nervous myself, and that will never do,” she
thought, as she felt a faintness stealing over her and a kind of chill
creeping through her veins communicated, she believed, by the message
she had received.

Never before had Christine sent for her, but, on the contrary, had
always tried to shield and spare her as much as possible from fatigue or
exposure; but this “Come, you are needed,” was imperative, and, with
trembling hands and a strange sinking from what she was to do, she
donned her usual every-day attire, and with Pierre started for No. 40.
It was a private hotel, which had remained free from infection until
within a day or two, when the fever had suddenly broken out in its most
malignant form. Two of the inmates had already died, one the wife of the
proprietor, who with his guests had fled in dismay, leaving behind a
young man who had come to the city the previous day, and who was now
lying senseless in an upper chamber, where Christine had found him,
burning with fever and raving with delirium. It was a very bad case,
aggravated by nervous excitement and fatigue; but she had done for him
what she could, and then had sent for Queenie, whom she met on the
landing outside the sick-room, and to whom she explained why she had
sent for her.

“He is very sick,” she said, “and needs the closest watching, and I know
of no one who would be as faithful as you, for I must be elsewhere
to-night. This weather has increased the danger tenfold, and there is no
telling where it will end.”

Then she gave some minute directions with regard to the treatment of the
patient who, she said, was sleeping, and must be allowed to sleep as
long as possible. She seemed greatly excited as she talked, and there
was a glitter in her eyes, and occasionally an incoherency in her manner
of expressing herself, especially with regard to the sick man, which
made Queenie look curiously at her, wondering if she were altogether in
her right mind. When all had been said which was necessary to say
Christine still stood irresolute, as it were, looking fixedly at
Queenie; then, with a sudden, upward movement of her arms, she wound
them around the young girl’s neck, and kissing her forehead, said:

“God bless you, my child, and keep you, and all those whom you love,
from harm.”

There were bright red spots upon her cheeks, but the lips which touched
Queenie were cold as ice, as was the hand which accidentally brushed
Queenie’s cheek. Ordinarily Queenie would have resented this liberty,
but she did not now. She was too much excited to resent any thing, and
she was so glad afterward that it was so—glad that she had some thought
and care for Christine, to whom she said, as she felt her lips and hand:

“How cold you are, and why do you tremble so? You surely must be ill.
Don’t go out to-night; there must be plenty of vacant rooms here. Stay
and rest yourself. We cannot let you die.”

She had one of Christine’s cold hands in her own, chafing and rubbing it
as she spoke, but when she said, so kindly, “We cannot let you die,” the
woman drew it away suddenly, and bursting into a paroxysm of tears,

“Better so; better for me to die; but for you, oh! Queenie, you must
live—you and——Oh, my child, summon all your strength and courage; you
will need it. There is hard work ahead for you. Do you think you can
meet it?”

Queenie did not know what the woman meant, but she was greatly moved and
agitated, and shook from head to foot with a nameless terror.

“You, too, are cold are trembling, and that will never do. Drink this,”
Christine said, pouring from a flask which she always carried with her a
quantity of brandy, and offering it to Queenie, who swallowed it in one

The brandy steadied her nerves, and after standing a moment watching
Christine as she went slowly down the stairs, holding to the banisters,
like one suffering from great physical weakness, she turned toward the
door of the sick-room, and opening it softly, went in.

                            CHAPTER XLVIII.
                        THE OCCUPANT OF NO. 40.

It was a large, handsome room, but it seemed gloomy and cheerless now,
with only a night-lamp burning on the table, casting weird shadows here
and there, and only partially revealing the form upon the bed of a tall
young man, who lay with his face turned from the light and half buried
in the pillow. Outside the counterpane one arm and hand were lying, and
Queenie noticed that the latter was white and shapely as a woman’s, and
noticed, too, the mass of light brown, slightly curling hair, which
clustered around the sick man’s head and sent an indescribable thrill
through her veins, as of something familiar. The man was young, she
knew, though she had not seen his face, and dared not see it lest she
should disturb him.

“Let him sleep; it will do him good and keep back the dreadful vomit,”
Christine had said, and not for worlds would Queenie disobey her. She
held a human life in her keeping, and with her finger on her lip to
Pierre, who crouched almost at her feet, she seated herself in an
arm-chair just where she could see the outline of the figure upon the
bed, and there for hours she sat and watched, and listened to the
irregular breathing, while every kind of wild fancy danced through her
brain, and her limbs began at last to feel prickly and numb, and a sense
of cold and faintness to steal over her.

The air in the room was hot and oppressive though the windows were
opened wide. Outside, the rain was falling heavily, and the sky as black
as ink; there was no sound to break the awful stillness, except the
occasional tread of some physician or nurse on duty, or the crash of
distant wheels, whose meaning Queenie understood full well, shuddering
as she thought of the rapid burials which the peril made necessary, and
remembering what she had read of the great plague in London, where the
death-cart rolled nightly through the street, while the dreadful cry was

“Bring out your dead; bring out your dead.”

The words kept repeating themselves over and over in Queenie’s mind
until her brain became confused; the present faded away into the far-off
past, and she was one of those weary watchers in London, listening to
the cry:

“Bring out your dead.”

And she was bringing hers—was carrying the young man whose long limbs
dragged upon the floor, and whose head drooped upon her shoulder, while
his dead face, not yet cold, touched hers with a caressing motion which
brought with it a thought of poor Phil, lying beneath the Indian waters.

It was a horrid nightmare, and Queenie struggled with it a moment, and
then awoke with a cry of Phil upon her lips—a cry so loud that the
sleeper upon the bed started a little, and moaned, and said something
indistinctly, and moved uneasily, then settled again into slumber, and
all was quiet as ever.

But Queenie stood erect upon her feet, rigid as a piece of marble, and
almost as white, while her eyes, which seemed to Pierre to shoot out
gleams of fire, were turned wildly toward the form lying so motionless
across the room, with the white, shapely hand still outside the
counterpane, and the light brown wavy hair upon the pillow. He had
spoken—had called a name, which the excited girl had recognized as her
own. She could _not_ be mistaken. In answer to her cry for _Phil_ the
fever patient had aroused a little and responded:


She was sure of it. He might not have meant _her_, it is true. There
were other Queenies in the world, no doubt, but he had called her
name—this man, who in her dream she was carrying to the death-cart, and
who might perhaps, go there when the morning dawned.

There was a clock upon the mantel, and Queenie saw that it was half-past
two. The early summer morning would soon break, and then she would see
the face of this stranger who had called for Queenie, and whose head and
hair were so like her lost Phil’s that, as she looked, with straining,
eager eyes, and whirling brain, it seemed to her at last that it was
Phil himself—Phil, drowned and dead, perhaps, but still Phil, come back
to her in some incomprehensible manner, just to mock her a moment, and
then to be snatched away again forever. But she would see him first
distinctly, would know if it were a phantom or a reality lying there
upon the bed within her reach, for she had advanced a few steps forward,
and could have touched the head upon the pillow.

“Pierre,” she said, at last, when she could endure the suspense no
longer—“Pierre,” and her voice sounded to herself like the echo of
something a thousand miles away, “am I going mad, or is that—is that—”
and she pointed to the tall form on the bed.

Not comprehending her in the least, Pierre stared at her, with a great
fear that her mind was really unsettled by all the terrible scenes
through which she had passed.

“Is it what?” he asked, coming to her side, and she replied:

“Bring the light. I must see the face of this young man. I cannot wait
till morning.”

“But, mademoiselle,” Pierre remonstrated, “think of the danger to him.
Christine’s orders were to let him sleep; he was not to be disturbed.”

“Nor shall I disturb him; but I shall see him. Bring the light!” Queenie
said, peremptorily, as she moved to the other side of the bed, toward
which the sick man’s face was turned.

Carefully pushing down the pillow, so as to bring the features more
distinctly to view, Queenie stood for one brief instant gazing upon
them; then, turning to Pierre, she whispered:

“Nearer, Pierre; hold the lamp a little nearer, please.”

He obeyed her, and as the full rays of the light fell upon the white,
pinched face of the sleeper, Queenie threw her arms high in the air,
and, in a voice Pierre would never have recognized as hers, cried out:

“Oh, Pierre, Pierre! _it is—it is—my Phil_—come back to me again!
Christine! Christine! come, and help!”

It was a loud, wailing cry, and the next moment Queenie lay across the
foot of the bed, where she had fallen in a death-like swoon, while over
her bent Christine. She had not left the house at all, but had sat
below, waiting for some such denouement when the truth should become
known to Queenie.

Christine had found the young man late the previous afternoon, and
recognized him at once, experiencing such a shock as had set every nerve
quivering, and made her feel that at last her own strength was giving
way. To save him for Queenie was her great desire, and, with a prayer on
her lips, and a prayer in her heart, she worked as she had never worked
before to allay the burning fever and quiet his disordered mind.

Once, during a lucid interval, he looked into her face, and knew her.

“Christine,” he said, faintly, “where is Queenie? I came to find her.
Don’t let me die till I have seen her.”

“Queenie is here. I will send for her at once. Do not be afraid; I will
not let you die. Your case is not very bad,” Christine replied, speaking
thus emphatically and against her own convictions, because she saw how
frightened he was himself, and knew that this would only augment the
disease and lessen his chances for recovery.

“Keep very quiet, and I’ll soon have you well,” she said, and Phil did
whatever she bade him do, though his mind began to wander again, and he
talked constantly of Queenie, whom he had come to find.

At last, however, he fell away to sleep, and then it was that Christine
sent for Queenie, and establishing her in the room, went out into the
adjoining chamber and waited, knowing that sooner or later she would be
needed. All through the weary hours which preceded Queenie’s cry for
help she sat alone in the darkness, alternately shaking with cold and
burning with fever, while in her heart was a feeling amounting to
certainty that her work was done, that the deadly faintness stealing
over her at intervals, and making her so sick and weak, was a precursor
of the end. But she must live long enough to save Philip Rossiter, and
give him back to Queenie, who might think more kindly of her when she
was gone. So she fought back her symptoms bravely, and rubbed her cold,
damp face when it was the coldest, and then leaned far out of the open
window into the falling rain when it was the hottest.

And thus the time passed on until her quick ear caught the sound of
voices and footsteps in the sick-room, and she heard Queenie’s wild cry
for _her_ as if in that hour of peril she was the one person in all the
world of whom there was need. Queenie had turned to her at last as the
child turns to its mother in peril, and with swift feet Christine went
to the rescue, and almost before Pierre knew she was there, she had the
unconscious girl in her arms and was bearing her into the room, where
for hours she had waited so patiently. Fixing her in a safe and upright
position upon a cushion, she ran back to Phil, who, she knew, must be
her first and principal care.

When Queenie’s shriek echoed through the room so near to him, he had
roused from his sleep, and was moaning and talking to himself, without,
apparently, any real consciousness as to where he was. But Christine’s
soothing hands, and the medicine she administered quieted him, and
leaving him in Pierre’s care, she went back to Queenie, who was
recovering from her swoon.

“Tell me,” she gasped, when she was able to speak, “Was it a dream, or
was it Phil? Tell me, Christine, is it Phil, and will he die?”

“It is Phil,” Christine replied, “saved from the sea, I know not how,
only that he is here, that he came seeking for you, and I found him with
the fever, late yesterday afternoon, and did for him what I could. Then
I sent for you, and the rest you know. Only be quiet now. I do not think
he will die.”

“Oh, save him, save him, and you shall have my love forever. I have been
cold and proud, but I will be so no longer if you give me back my Phil,”
Queenie said, with choking sobs, as she knelt at Christine’s feet and
clasped the hem of her dress.

“I will do what I can,” Christine replied, while again through every
nerve throbbed the old, sick feeling which she could not put aside, even
in her exquisite joy that Queenie might at last be won.

“Too late; it has come too late,” she thought to herself, while to
Queenie she said: “I must go to him now, for what I do must be done
quickly. A few hours later and it will be too late.”

So they went together to the sick-room, where Phil lay with his face
turned more fully to the light and showing distinctly how pinched and
pallid it was. Had Queenie’s own life depended upon it, she could not
have forborne going up to him and softly kissing his pale forehead; then
she knelt down beside him, and so close to him that her dark hair
touched the curls of light brown as she buried her face in her hands,
and Christine knew that she was praying earnestly that he might be
spared to her. At last, just as the dawn was breaking and the first gray
of the morning was stealing into the room, he moved as if about to
waken, and with a quick, imperative movement of her hand Christine put
Queenie behind her, saying as she did so: “He must not see you yet. Keep
out of his sight till I tell you to come.”

Fearful lest she should attract his attention if she left the room,
Queenie crouched upon the floor, close beside the bed, and waited with a
throbbing heart for the moment when she might speak and claim her love.
Phil was better; the long sleep had done him good, but there was a
drowsiness over him still, and he only opened his eyes a moment, and,
seeing Christine bending over him, smiled gratefully upon her, and said:

“You are so good to me.”

Then he took the draught she gave him and slept again, this time quietly
and sweetly as a child, while Queenie sat upon the floor, fearing to
move or stir lest she should disturb him. Slowly the minutes dragged on
until at last it was quite light in the room. The heavy rain had ceased;
the dense fog had lifted, and the air which came in at the window was
cool and pure, and seemed to have in it something of life and

“The weather has changed, thank God,” Christine murmured, while Queenie,
too, whispered, “Thank God! thank God!”

Phil must have felt the change, for he breathed more naturally and there
came a faint color to his lips, and at last, just as a ray of sunlight
stole into the room and danced upon the wall above his head, he woke to
perfect consciousness, and, stretching his hand toward Christine said:

“You have saved my life and I thank you; but for you I should have died
when the dreadful sickness came. How long have I been here, and where is
Queenie? I dreamed she was here.”

As the tones of the voice she had never expected to hear again fell upon
her ear Queenie could no longer restrain herself, but springing up, she
bent over Phil and said:

“I am here—Phil, _my love, my darling_, and nothing shall part us again.
I am _not_ your cousin, and I can love you now.”

She was kneeling beside him, with one arm under his neck, while with the
other hand she caressed his face, and kissing him passionately

“O, Phil, I thought you were dead, and it broke my heart, for I did love
you all the time, and I found it out when it was too late and you were
gone, and I mourned for you so much, and all the brightness went out
from my life; but it will come back again with you, my darling! my

Her tears were falling like rain upon his face, and her voice was choked
with sobs, as she made this avowal of her love, without a shadow of
shame or feeling that she was doing anything unmaidenly. Phil was
_hers_. Nothing could change that, or his love for her. She was as sure
of him as she was that she breathed, and she had no hesitancy in pouring
out the full measure of her affection for him. Both Christine and Pierre
had stolen from the room, leaving the lovers alone in that first
blissful moment of their reunion. For a time Phil lay perfectly still
and took her caresses and kisses in silence. Then summoning all his
strength, he wound his arms around the little girl, and hugging her
close to him whispered:

“Heaven can scarcely be better than this. Oh, Queenie! my darling! my

He was very weak, and Queenie saw it, and drawing herself from him said:

“You must not talk any more now. You must get well, and then I can hear
it all—where you have been and why you are not dead. Oh, Phil, it was so
horrible—everything which has happened to me since you went away. I am
nobody—_nobody_, Phil; no name, no right to be born, and I was once so
proud. Did they tell you, Phil? Do you know _who_ I am?”

“Yes, they told me; I know, poor little Queenie,” Phil replied, with a
tighter clasp of the hand which lay in his.

She did not ask him if it would make any difference with his love. She
knew it would not. She had always felt sure of Phil; he was hers for
ever, and the old joy began to come back, and the old light sparkled in
her eyes, which shone like stars as she went on:

“It was so dreadful when I found it out, and I wanted to die, because
you, too, were dead, or I thought you were, and I used to whisper to you
in the dark nights, when I could not sleep, and I thought maybe you
would come and let me know in some way that you were sorry for me. Where
were you, Phil, when I was wanting you so much?”

“Very, very far away, but I cannot tell you now,” said Phil, knowing
himself that he must not talk longer then; but he would not let her
leave him; he wanted her there beside him, where he could touch her
hands, and look into her face and beaming eyes, which dazzled and
bewildered him with their brightness.

So Queenie sat by him all that morning, seldom speaking to him, but
often bending over him to kiss his forehead or hands, and occasionally

“Dear Phil, and I am so glad—so happy. Nothing will ever trouble me

“Not even the Fergusons?” Phil answered her once, with his old, teasing
smile, which made him so like the Phil of other days that Queenie
laughed aloud, and, shaking her head gayly, said:

“No, not even grandma’s purple gloves can ever worry me again. Oh, Phil,
I have repented so bitterly of all my pride, and I shall never, never be
so any more—shall never be angry with you, or any one, or indulge in one
of my moods! I wish I could make you understand how changed I am, for I
see you do not quite believe me.”

Nor did he, though he smiled lovingly upon her, and lifting his hand
feebly smoothed her fair round cheek, where her blushes were burning so
brightly. He knew that Queenie could not change her nature any more than
the leopard can change his spots—knew that at times she would be the
same little willful, imperious girl she had always been, defying his
authority and setting at naught his wishes. And he would not have her
otherwise if he could; he should not know her if the claws were always
sheathed and she was gentle and sweet as she was now. Loving and true
she would always be, and so repentant when her moods were over that it
would be well worth his while to bear with them occasionally, as he was
sure to have to do. But he did not tell her so; he did not tell her
anything, for he was too weak to talk, so he only looked his love and
happiness through his eyes, which rested constantly upon her face, until
at last even that became to him as something seen through a mist, not
altogether real, and he again fell into a quiet sleep, with his hand
resting in Queenie’s.

                             CHAPTER XLIX.
                           SISTER CHRISTINE.

So absorbed had Queenie been with Phil that she had failed to notice
anything which was passing around her, or to think of anything except
her great happiness. She knew that some time during the morning Pierre
had brought her coffee and rolls, which he had managed to find somewhere
near, he said, and which he made her eat. He had also given her some
orders with regard to Phil’s medicines, saying that Madame La Rue bade
him do so, and to say that Miss Hetherton must be very particular not to
forget. And Queenie had not forgotten that, though all else was a blank
to her until Phil went to sleep, and she sat watching him and wondering
by what strange chance the sea had given up its dead and restored him to
her. Then, as she heard a city clock strike eleven, she began to think
how fast the hours had sped, and to wonder a little at Christine’s
prolonged absence from the room. And still that did not surprise her
much, for she naturally supposed she had gone to some other sick bed,
where she was needed more than there with Phil.

“There is a great deal of good in her, and I must always be kind to her
because of what she has done for Phil,” she thought, and she felt glad
that all the old bitterness and resentment were gone, and that although
she could not think of Christine as her mother, she could think of her
quietly and calmly as of one who, if she had greatly sinned, had also
greatly suffered for the sin and was trying to atone. “Phil and I will
take care of her, though she cannot, of course, live with us. She will
not expect that;” she thought, and her mind was busy with castles of the
future, when Pierre looked in again just for an instant, and seeing Phil
asleep, shut the door at once and went out again before she could ask
him a question.

But in the glimpse she got of him, it seemed to her that there was an
unusual look of concern upon his face, while through the open door she
caught a faint sound of voices in the distance, and footsteps hurrying
here and there. What was it? she asked herself, and felt tempted to go
out and see, but Phil’s hand was clasping hers and she would not free
herself from it lest she should awaken him. So she still sat on till the
clock struck twelve and the hum of voices was occasionally borne to her
ears by the opening of some door further up the hall. There was somebody
in the other part of the house besides Pierre—somebody sick, too;
judging from the sounds, and she grew so nervous at last and curious
upon the subject, that she gradually withdrew her hand from Phil’s, and
rising softly was about to leave the room, when Pierre looked in again,
and this time she could not be mistaken with regard to the expression on
his face, which was very pale and troubled as it looked wistfully at

“What is it, Pierre?” she asked in a whisper, going close to him and
observing that he stood against the door as if to keep her from passing.
“Whose voices do I hear, and is any one sick? I was just coming to
ascertain. Let me pass, please.”

“No, no, mademoiselle. Don’t come. She said you were not to know. We are
doing all we can for her.” Pierre cried, in great alarm, thus letting
out the secret he had been told to keep.

“Do all you can for her? For whom? Who is it that is sick, and said I
must not know?” Queenie asked, as she put the old man aside, and opening
the door, drew him with her into the hall. “Now tell me the truth,” she
continued. “Is some one sick whom I ought to see? Is it—Christine?”

“Yes,” he answered, “it is Madame Christine, and she is very bad. She
will die, the doctor fears, but she said you must not know. You must not
leave Mr. Rossiter for her and she sent me many times to see how he

Pierre was right, for in a small room at the end of the hall Christine
La Rue was dying. She who had braved so much and borne so much and
passed through so many dangers unscathed, had at last succumbed to the
terrible disease which she knew was creeping upon her, when she sent for
Queenie to share her vigils by Phil’s bedside.

“I must not give up yet; I must endure and bear until he is out of
danger. I must save him for her sake,” she thought, and fought down with
a desperate courage and iron will the horrid sensations stealing over
her so fast and making her sometimes almost beside herself with
dizziness and languor.

But when the crisis was past and she felt sure Phil was safe, she could
endure it no longer, and with one long, lingering look at Queenie, whom
she felt she should never see again, she started for her own lodgings.

“I can die there alone and so trouble no one,” she thought, as she made
her way to the staircase.

But on the first landing her strength failed her and she fell upon the
floor, where she lay, or rather sat in a half upright position, leaning
against the wall with her face in her hands, until a voice roused her
and she looked up to see a man standing before her and asking who she
was and why she was there. It was the proprietor of the house, who,
ashamed of his cowardice, had returned and going first through the rooms
below where everything was as he had left it, started to ascend the
stair to the chambers above, when he came upon Christine, whom he had
often seen on her errands of mercy, but whom he did not recognize until
she looked up and spoke to him. Then he knew her, and exclaimed:

“Sister Christine! What are you doing here, and what is the matter with

“I am sick—I have the fever,” she replied; “and if you are afraid, leave
me at once.”

He was mortally afraid, but he was not so unmanly as to leave a woman
like Christine to die uncared for at the head of his own staircase, and
helping her to the nearest room where there was a bed, he started for a
physician. Meeting in the lower hall with Pierre, who had been out for
Queenie’s coffee, and who explained to him that his house held another
patient, he told him of Christine and where she was, bidding him look
after her until help came from some other quarter.

But Christine was past all human aid. The disease had attacked her in
its worst form, and she knew she should not live to see another sun
setting. She was very calm, however, and only anxious for Queenie and

“They must not be disturbed—they must not know,” she said to Pierre, to
whom she gave some orders concerning Phil’s medicines, which Pierre took
to his mistress.

“Don’t tell her I am sick; don’t let her know until I am dead. Then tell
her I was so glad to die and leave her free, and that I loved her so
much, and am so sorry for the past,” she said to Pierre, who, half
distracted with all he was passing through, wrung his hands nervously,
and promised all she required.

But when Queenie began to suspect, and insisted upon knowing the truth,
he told her, adding, as he saw her about to dart away from him toward
Christine’s room:

“You better not go there; she does not need you. One of the sisters is
with her, and she said you must stay with monsieur. All her anxiety is
for him and you—none for herself. She seems so glad to die!”

He might as well have talked to the wind for all the heed Queenie gave
him. Bidding him sit by Phil until he awoke, and then come for her if
she was needed, she went quickly to the room where Christine lay, with
death stamped on every lineament of her face, but with a calm peaceful
expression upon it, which told that she was glad for the end so fast

When Queenie entered, her eyes were closed, but they opened quickly, and
a smile of joy and surprise broke over her face, when Queenie exclaimed:

“Oh, Christine, you are sick, and you did not let me know it, or I
should have come before!”

For an instant Christine’s lips quivered in a pitiful kind of way; then
the great tears rolled down her cheeks as she whispered faintly:

“I _am_ sick—I am dying; but I did not want you to know. I wished to
spare you and him. How is he now?”

Queenie explained that he was sleeping quietly, and that she believed
all danger had passed. Then, sitting down by the bedside, she took the
hot, burning hands in hers, and rubbed and bathed them as carefully and
gently as if they had been Phil’s, instead of this woman’s, toward whom
she had felt so bitter and resentful. All that was gone now, and she was
conscious of a strange feeling stirring within her as she sat and met
the dying eyes fixed upon her with so much yearning tenderness and love.
This woman was her mother. Nothing could change that; and whatever her
faults had been, she was a good woman now, Queenie believed; and, as the
dim eyes met hers so constantly and appealingly, she bent close to the
pillow, and said:

“_Mother_, I am sorry I was so unforgiving and hard. It came so
suddenly. Forgive me if you can.”

A low, pitiful cry was Christine’s only answer for a moment, and then
she said:

“I have nothing to forgive; the wrong was all my own, and I deserved
your scorn. But oh, Queenie, my child, you can never know how I was
deceived, or how wholly I trusted your father whom I loved so much, and
after I had kept Margery’s birth a secret, I must go on concealing.
There was no other way. He would have murdered me, or left me to starve
with you. Oh, Margery. Margery, my other child! and, Queenie, you will
not mind if I say my dearest child, for she has been all the world to
me. Tell her so, Queenie; tell her I blessed her with my last breath,
and loved her with all my strength, and soul, and might. She is so
sweet, so good, so true! God bless her, and make her perfectly happy!”

During this conversation, which was carried on in French, the sister
whom the physician had sent to attend Christine stood looking on
wonderingly, and never dreaming of the relationship between the two. She
was, however, anxious lest so much talking and excitement should be
injurious to her patient, and she said so to Queenie, who replied:

“Yes, you are right. I should try to quiet her now. If you will be kind
enough to look after the young man in No. 40, I will stay with Sister
Christine. She wishes it to be so. She was my nurse in France. I knew

Queenie hesitated a moment, and then added:

“Knew her daughter. She was talking of her to me.”

This satisfied the woman, who, bowing assent, went from the room,
leaving the two alone.

For a time Christine lay perfectly still, with her eyes closed, but her
lips were constantly moving, and Queenie knew that she was praying, for
she caught the words:

“Forgive for Christ’s sake, who forgave the thief at the very last

And all the while Queenie held the hot hands in hers and occasionally
smoothed the gray hair back from the pale brow where the sweat of death
was gathering so fast. At last Christine opened her eyes and looked
fixedly at Queenie, who said to her very gently:

“What is it? Do you wish to tell me something?”

“Yes,” the dying woman answered, faintly. “I hope I am forgiven, and
that I shall find rest beyond the grave. I used to pray so much in the
cottage when I was alone—pray sometimes all night with my face on the
cold floor. But the peace I asked for would not come. There was always a
horror of blackness before me until I came here, when the darkness has
been clearing, and now there is peace and joy, for I feel that God
forgives me all my sin, and you, my child, have forgiven me too, and
called me _mother_, and Phil is alive and safe. I’ve nothing more to
live for, and I am so glad to die.”

She talked but little after that, and when she did speak her mind was
wandering in the past, now at Chateau des Fleurs, now in Rome, where she
watched by her mistress’ bedside, but mostly in Marseilles, where her
baby was born, “her darling little girl baby,” whom she bade Queenie be
kind to when she was gone. Then she talked of Margery and Paris, and the
apartments in the Rue St. Honore, until her voice was only a whisper,
and Queenie could not distinguish a word. She was dying very fast, and
just at the last, before her life went out forever, Queenie bent over
her, and kissing her softly, whispered:

“Mother, do you know that I am here—Queenie—your little girl?”

“Yes, yes,” she gasped, and a look of unutterable love and satisfaction
shone in the eyes which looked up at Queenie. “_I know_ you are
Queenie—the baby born at Marseilles—my own—and you kiss me and call me
_mother_. God bless you, my child, and make you very happy. I am glad
for your sake that I am going away. Good-by, my darling, good-by!”

She never spoke again, though it was an hour or more before Queenie
loosed her hold of the hand which clung so tightly to hers, and closing
the eyes which looked at her to the last, smoothed the bed-clothes
decently, and then going out to Pierre, who was waiting in the hall,
told him that all was over.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Sister Christine was dead, and there was mourning for her in the city
where she was so well known, and where her kindness and gentleness and
courage had won her so many friends, some of whom followed her remains
to their last resting-place, and wept for her as one long known and well
beloved. Every respect which it was possible under the circumstances to
pay her was paid to her. Many gathered about the grave where they buried
her, just after the sun setting on the same day of her death. It was
Queenie who prepared her for the coffin, suffering no other hands to
touch her but her own.

“She nursed me when I was a baby, and I must care for her now,” she said
to Sister Agatha, when she remonstrated with her and offered to take the
task from her hands.

And to Queenie it was a mournful pleasure thus to care for the woman who
had been her mother, and who, she felt, was truly good and repentant at
the last.

“I am glad I feel so kindly toward her—glad I called her mother,” she
thought, and was conscious of a keen pain in her heart as she looked
upon the white dead face on which suffering and remorse had left their

Notwithstanding the hour and her own fatigue, Queenie was among the
number who stood by the open grave where all that was mortal of
Christine was buried, and she would not leave until the grave was filled
and all the work was done. Then, taking Pierre’s arm, she went back to
the hotel, and going to Phil’s room laid her tired head upon the hands
he stretched toward her and cried bitterly, while Phil soothed and
caressed her until she grew quiet and could tell him all the particulars
of Christine’s death.

“There was much that was noble and good in her,” she said, “and had she
lived I would have tried to do right, and with you to help and encourage
me I might have succeeded.”

“Yes,” Phil answered her, “I am sure you would; but it is better for her
to be at rest.”

And Phil was right; for had Christine lived she could only have been a
source of unhappiness to Queenie, who, with the best of intentions,
could never fully have received her as a mother. God knew best, and took
to himself the weary woman, who had been more sinned against than
sinning, and whose memory was held in the hearts of those whose lives
she had been instrumental in saving as the memory of a saint.

                               CHAPTER L.
                             PHIL’S STORY.

He did not tell it until two days after Christine’s burial, for Queenie
would not listen to him until she felt that he was past all possible
danger of a relapse. Then, with her head leaning upon his arm and his
hand clasped in hers, she heard how he had escaped from death on that
night when the boat was capsized and he found himself struggling for
life in the angry waters.

“My friend wrote you,” he said, “how the accident occurred and how for
hours we clung to the boat, which was being drawn rapidly out to sea.
For a time I kept up bravely, though for myself I cared but little to
live, life was so dark and hopeless to me then. But I remembered my
mother, who would mourn for me, and made every possible exertion to hold
on. When we were capsized I struck my head just over the temple upon
some iron surface of the boat, and I know now that the blow was of
itself almost sufficient to cause my death. As it was, I felt stunned
and bewildered and my strength was fast failing me when my friend bade
me try and reach him, as he thought he could help me. I remember
reaching out one hand toward him, while I tried to change my position,
but my foot was caught in something which, when I lost my hold and
floated away from the boat, was also detached and floated with me. It
was the grating from the bottom of the boat, and it proved my salvation,
for, as I came to the surface after sinking once beneath the waters, I
caught at it and clung to it desperately, while the waves carried me far
away from my companion, who, seeing me go down, naturally supposed I
must be drowned. Indeed, I do not myself know how I was saved, or had
the strength to endure the horrors of that night and hold to my frail
support as I did.

“At last daylight broke over the waters, and a small vessel, bound for
the southern coast of Africa, passed near me as I floated. I had then no
power to signal them, my arms were so cramped and numb, but one of the
sailors spied me, and a boat was at once lowered and sent to my rescue.
How they got me on board I do not know, for all sense forsook me from
the moment I felt a hand laid upon my shoulder, and when next I awoke to
a consciousness of anything, I was lying in a close berth, and a dark
face was bending over me, speaking in a language I could not comprehend.
But the voice was kind, and the face a good-natured one, and I remember
thinking that I should be cared for until I reached some point where I
could make myself understood. My head was paining me dreadfully, and was
probably the cause of the weeks and months of partial insanity which
followed. I had taken a frightful cold, a burning fever set in, and for
days I raved like a madman, they told me afterward and made several
attempts to throw myself into the sea. It was useless for them to ask me
anything, as their language was gibberish to me, as mine was to them.
But _one_ word they learned perfectly—it was on my lips so
constantly—and that was your name. No matter what they said to me, I
always answered Queenie, until every officer and common sailor in the
boat knew the name, and could say it as well as I, though they little
dreamed who the Queenie was I talked about so constantly.”

“Oh, Phil!” Queenie cried, with streaming eyes; “and _I_ was mourning
for _you_, and thinking you were dead, and was so sorry for having sent
you away. Can you ever forgive me, Phil, for all I have made you

His answer, not given in words, was quite satisfactory, and then he went

“They thought at last it must be my own name, and called me Queenie
whenever they addressed me or spoke of me. The voyage was rather long,
owing to adverse winds and the bad condition of the ship, but they
reached their destination at last, and gave me at once into the charge
of some English who were living there. But these could get no
satisfaction from me with regard to my home, or friends, or name. I had
fallen into a weak, half-imbecile, frame of mind, and was very taciturn
and reserved, refusing sometimes to talk at all, though always, when I
did speak, begging them to carry me home. At intervals I suffered
greatly in my head, and even now at times, if I touch the spot upon my
temple where I received the blow, I experience a sensation like an
electric shock, showing that the injury I received was a most serious

“And so the time wore on, and, as I was perfectly harmless, I was
allowed to do as I pleased, and gradually, as I grew stronger in health,
my mind regained its balance, and I was able to recall the past, or
rather to remember up to the time when I was in the water holding to the
grating of the boat. Everything else was a blank, and is so to me now. I
have no recollection whatever of the voyage to Zanguibar, or of the
months which followed my arrival there, and it was some little time
before I could comprehend my position, or realize how long it was since
I was at Madras and started with my friend on the excursion which ended
so disastrously. My first act was to write at once to my father, who, I
naturally supposed, must think me dead, but the letter was probably
miscarried or lost, for it never reached him.

“At last a chance came for me to leave the coast, and I availed myself
of it. An English sailing vessel, bound for Liverpool, took me on board,
but, as if I were a second Jonah, we encountered heavy seas and violent
storms, so that we were double the usual length of time in reaching
Liverpool, where I took a steamer for New York, where I landed just a
week before you found me here. Not wishing to shock my family, as I knew
they would be shocked if they had never received my letter, I
telegraphed to Mr. Beresford that I should be home on the next train
from New York. The news took him as much by surprise as if one of the
dead bodies in the grave-yard had walked in upon him, and I have been
told that all Merrivale was wild with excitement, and that Uncle Tom,
usually so quiet and undemonstrative, went himself and rang the
fire-bell, to call the people out so as to tell them the news. I really
believe the entire town was at the station to meet me when the train
came in, and had I permitted it some of the men would have carried me in
their arms up the hill to my very door, where Ethel and Grace and
grandma were waiting to receive me. Mother was in bed, going from one
fainting fit to another, and father was with her trying to quiet her.
Poor old father, I used to think he cared more for his ferns and his
flowers than for his children, but I have changed my mind, and never
shall forget the expression of his face when he met me at the door, and,
leading me to my mother, said to her, so tenderly:

“Here he is, Mary—here is our boy. Now please don’t faint again.
‘Praised be God.’

“To me he never spoke a word for full five minutes, but sat smoothing
and patting my hands, and rubbing with his handkerchief a speck of dirt
from my coat sleeve, while he looked at me so lovingly, with the great
tears in his eyes and his lips quivering with his emotions. He has grown
old so fast within the last few months. His hair is quite gray, and he
stoops when he walks, though I do believe he was straighter when I came
away, and younger, too, in looks. I did not know my friends were so fond
of a good-for-nothing like me. It was almost worth my while to go and be
drowned for the sake of all the petting I had at home the few days I
remained there. But one thing was wanting. _You_ did not come to meet
me, and I wondered at it, for I think I had half expected to see your
face among the very first to welcome me, and I felt disappointed and a
little hurt at its absence. I did not know but you were Mr. Beresford’s
wife, and though the thought that it might be so hurt me cruelly, I had
made up my mind to hide the hurt and make the best of the inevitable. It
would be some comfort to see you, even if you belonged to another, and
all the time I was receiving the welcome congratulations of my friends,
I was thinking of and watching for you. But you did not appear, and no
one mentioned your name until late in the evening, when Ethel asked me
to go with her for a walk in the garden before retiring, and then she
told me the strangest story I ever heard of you and Margery, who, it
seems, is my cousin, while you——”

He paused a moment, while Queenie turned very white, and with a long,
gasping breath, said, faintly:

“Yes, Phil, I know what I am. Don’t remind me please.”

“Queenie,” and Phil drew the trembling girl closer to him, and stroking
her bowed head continued: “Do you for a moment suppose that I have ever
given the accident of your birth a thought, except to be glad, with a
gladness I cannot express, that you are _not_ my cousin? And when Ethel
told me of your grief at my supposed death, and the love you were not
then ashamed to confess for me, I felt that I must fly to you at once,
and only my mother’s weak condition and her entreaties for me to wait a
little kept me from doing so. She and my sisters thought you were in
Florida, for Margery had kept your secret, as you wished, and had not
told them of your rash plan of coming here into this atmosphere of
infection and death. But she told me when I went next day to see her,
and told me, too, of all the remorse, and pain, and bitter humiliation
you had endured; and, better than all the rest, of the perfect trust and
faith you had in me—that were I living a hundred Christines could make
no difference with me, and she was right. I would have called that woman
mother for your sake had she lived, and treated her with as much respect
as if she had been Margaret Ferguson instead of Christine Bodine. My
_cousin_ Margery I adopted at once. She is a noble woman, and so true to
you. By the way, I fancy that Mr. Beresford visits Hetherton Place quite
as often as he used to do in the days when I was so horridly jealous of
him, and you played with us both as the cat plays with the mouse it has
captured. And I am glad, for the match is every way suitable. Beresford
is a noble fellow—a little too proud, perhaps, in some respects, and a
trifle peculiar, too; but Margery will cure all that, and I would rather
see him master of Hetherton Place than any one I know, if Margery must
be its mistress. She wishes you to return and live with her; but of that
by and by. When she told me where you were, my heart gave a great throb
of terror for you, and I resolved to start at once and take you away if
I should find you alive. I had a mortal fear of the fever, and this, I
think, added to my mental excitement and the low state of my health,
made me more liable to take it, as I did almost immediately, for I was
sick and unable to leave my bed the very first morning after my arrival,
and before I had time to inquire for you. You know how Christine found
me and saved my life, for but for her I should most surely have died.

“And now, Queenie, I have been talking with the physician, who says I
must leave the city at once if I would recover my strength, and he
advises a stay of a few weeks in some quiet, cool spot among the
mountains of Tennessee, where I shall grow strong and lazy again. You
know that is my strong point—laziness.”

He looked a little quizzically at her, but she paid no attention. She
only said:

“I think that would be so nice. Have you decided upon the place?”

He told her of a little spot which the physician had recommended, where
the air was pure and the water good, and then continued:

“But I cannot go alone; it would be so poky and forlorn, with nobody I
know. I must have a nurse to look after me and keep me straight. Will
you go with me, Queenie?” he said, looking earnestly into the eyes which
met his so innocently, as, without a blush, Queenie answered:

“Of course I’ll go with you, Phil. Did you think I would let you go

She was so guileless and unsuspecting of evil that it seemed almost a
pity to open her eyes and show her that the world is not always
charitable in its construction of acts, however innocent in
themselves—that Mrs. Grundy is a great stickler for the proprieties, and
that for a young girl to go alone to a hotel or boarding-house as nurse
to a young man in no way related to her would make every hair of that
venerable lady’s head stand upright with horror. But Phil must do it,
both for her sake and by way of accomplishing the end he had in view. So
he said to her:

“I knew you would go with me; but, Queenie, do you know that for Queenie
_Hetherton_ to go to the mountains as a nurse to a great long-legged,
rather fast-looking fellow like Phil Rossiter, would be to compromise
herself sadly in the estimation of some people.”

I doubt if Queenie quite comprehended him, for she looked at him
wonderingly, and said:

“I don’t know what you mean by my being compromised. I think it is an
ugly word, and not at all one you should use with reference to myself,
as if I should not always behave like a lady, whether I was taking care
of you among the mountains, or here in Memphis, as I am doing now.”

She was getting a little excited, and her eyes shone with the gleam Phil
remembered so well and rather liked to provoke.

“Yes, I know,” he said, “but don’t you remember what you told me of the
_cats_ at the St. James, who used to spy upon the young people and make
remarks about them? Well there are _cats_ everywhere, and they would
find us out in the mountains, and however quiet and modest you might be,
they would set up a dreadful caterwauling because you were with me, and
not at all related to me. They would tear you in pieces, till you had
not a shred of reputation left. Do you understand now that as Queenie
Hetherton you cannot go with me?”

“No, I don’t understand,” she answered wrathfully, “and I think it mean
in you to ask me first if I will go, and then, when I say yes, to talk
to me about _cats_, and compromise and reputation, as if I were bad, and
immodest, and every sort of a thing. No, Phil, I didn’t expect this from
you; I must say I did not, and I don’t like it, and I don’t like you
either—_there!_ and I won’t stay here any longer to hear such dreadful

For one who had pledged herself never to lose her temper again under any
circumstances, Queenie was a good deal excited, as she wrenched her hand
from Phil’s and flounced from the room, leaving him to chuckle over her
anger, which he had anticipated, and which he felt sure would result in
her doing just as he wished her to do. And he was right in his
calculations, for, after the lapse of an hour or two, during which
Pierre had brought him his lunch, the little lady appeared in a most
repentant frame of mind, and standing by him, with her hand on his
shoulder, said:

“I am sorry, Phil, I was so angry with you. I did not think I ever
should be again, but you did rouse me so with your _cats_, and
_compromising_, and all that, after you had asked me to go. But I see
you were right. It would not be proper at all, and people would be sure
to talk. But you must take Pierre. I should feel safer about you, and
can do very well without him. I know the way to Florida, and shall start
to-morrow, for if it is improper for me to take care of you in the
mountains, it is improper here, now you are so much better; so I am
going back to Magnolia Park. But, Phil,” and Queenie’s voice began to
tremble, “you’ll come there next winter, won’t you? You, and Ethel, and
Grace, and Margery? That will make it quite proper and conventional, and
it is so lonely there.”

She was crying by this time, and Phil, who, as she was talking, had
stolen his arm around her, drew her down upon his knee and, brushing
away her tears, said:

“Yes, darling, if you are in Florida next winter, or next week, I shall
be there, too; for in the words of Naomi, ‘Where thou goest I shall go,’
whether to the mountains or to the moon, and, as the mountains suit me
best just now, what say you to going there at once?”

“But I thought you said I wasn’t to go—that it would be very
disreputable, or some other dreadful word like that? I don’t understand
you at all,” Queenie said, hotly, and Phil replied:

“You are an innocent chick, that’s a fact, and cannot see through a
millstone. I said that as Queenie _Hetherton_ you must not go scurriping
round the world with a yellow-haired chap of the period like me; but as
Queenie Rossiter, my wife, you will be a matron _sans reproche_.”

“_Your wife_, Phil!” Queenie exclaimed, starting suddenly and trying to
free herself from him. But he held her fast, and answered:

“Yes, my wife, and why not? You are bound to be that some time, and why
wait any longer? We can be married here to-night or to-morrow, if you
please, with Pierre and our landlord for witnesses, and we shall be as
firmly tied as if all Merrivale were present at the ceremony. You do not
care for bride-maids, and flowers, and flummery. I am sure Anna
exhausted all that. And to me you are sweeter and fairer in this black
dress, which was put on for me, than you would be in all the white satin
robes and laces in the world. Shall it be so, love? Will you marry me
to-morrow, and at once start for Tennessee?”

Queenie did not care for satins, or laces or bridal favors, but to be
married so suddenly, and in such an informal manner, shocked her at
first, and Phil had some little difficulty in getting her consent. But
it was won at last. A desire to be with him, to go where he went, and
have him to herself, prevailed over every other feeling, and early the
next morning, with Pierre, and their landlord, and the sister who had
cared for poor Christine as witnesses, Queenie and Phil were married,
their wedding a great contrast to what Queenie had thought her wedding
would be. But she was very, very happy, and Pierre thought he had never
see his young mistress one-half so beautiful as she was in her simple
black dress, with only bands of white linen at her throat and wrists,
and the brightness of a great happiness in her face and in her brilliant
eyes. She was Phil’s at last. The joy she had thought never could be
hers had come to her, greater far than she had ever dreamed, and in her
happiness all the sad past was forgotten, and she could think of
Christine without a pang.

“Next fall we will come here again, and place a tablet at mother’s
grave,” she said to Phil, and by the name she gave the dead he knew that
the old bitterness was gone, and that Queenie was content.

They took the first train for Brierstone, a quiet, lovely spot among the
mountains of Tennessee, where, in the cool, bracing air, Phil felt
himself growing stronger every hour, and where the bright color came
back to Queenie’s cheeks, and the old sparkle to the eyes which had shed
so many bitter tears since the day when the news first came to her of
the lover drowned in the Indian waters.

                              CHAPTER LI.

As soon as they were located in their new quarters at the farm-house,
which they had chosen in preference to the hotel, Phil sent the
following telegram to his mother:

  “Queenie and I were married two days ago, and are spending our
  honey-moon at Brierstone. Margery will explain.


Margery’s little phaeton, which she had bought for her own use, was
standing before the Knoll, where she was calling, and where Grandma
Ferguson was spending the afternoon with her step-daughter, when the
telegram was received, and thus the parties most interested had the news
at the same time. And they were not greatly surprised, except at the
place from which the telegram was sent. How came Phil in Tennessee, when
they supposed him to be in Florida? It was Margery who explained to
them, then, what she had purposely withheld for the sake of sparing them
the anxiety they would have felt had they known that not only was
Queenie in the midst of the yellow fever at Memphis, but that Phil was
going there, too. Queenie had written her immediately after Christine’s
death, and had told her of Phil’s illness, but added that he was past
all danger, and there was no cause for alarm. Margery had wept in
silence over the sad end of one whom she had loved as a mother, even
after she knew the true story of her parentage. But, like Phil, she felt
that it was better so, that by dying as she did Christine had atoned for
the past even to Queenie, who must necessarily be happier with her dead
than she could have been with her living. That Phil should have taken
the fever so soon filled Margery with dismay lest he might have a
relapse, or Queenie be smitten down, and her errand to the Knoll that
afternoon was to tell her cousins, Ethel and Grace, the truth, and with
them devise some means of getting the two away from the plague-smitten
town. She had told them of Christine’s death, but did not say how she
received her information, and they were wondering why they did not hear
from Phil, who must have been some days at Magnolia Park, when his
telegram was brought in, and they heard for the first time that Queenie
had been a nurse in Memphis, and of her falling in with Phil through
Christine, but for whom he would have died. For a few moments they
almost felt as if he were dead, and Mrs. Rossiter’s face was very white
as she listened to Queenie’s letter, which Margery read, and in which
were so many assurances of his safety that her fears gradually subsided
and she could at last speak calmly of his marriage, of which she was
very glad. It was sure to take place some time, she knew, and as Queenie
ought to be with him during his convalescence, they could not have
managed better than they did. But she was not willing to have them
remain away from her any longer; they must come home at once, and she
wrote to that effect to Phil, welcoming Queenie as a daughter whom she
already loved, and insisting upon their immediate return to Merrivale.
This letter Phil received in the heyday of his first married days, when
he was perfectly happy with Queenie, who was as sweet, and loving, and
gentle as a new bride well could be.

“Only think, I have not had a single tantrum yet, and we have been
married two whole weeks,” she said to Phil on the day when he received
his mother’s letter, to which she did not take kindly. “Do not let us
go,” she said, nestling close to him, and laying her head on his arm. “I
am having such a nice time here with you all to myself, where I can act
just as silly as I please. Do not go home just yet. I shall not be half
as good there as I am here.”

So Phil wrote his mother not to expect him for a few weeks, as the
mountain air was doing him a great deal of good, and he was growing
stronger every day. The same mail which took this letter to Mrs.
Rossiter carried one to Margery from Queenie, who wrote in raptures of
her happiness as Phil’s wife, and begged Margery to come to Brierstone
and see for herself.

“There is such a pleasant chamber right across the hall from mine, which
you can have,” she wrote, “and I want you here so much to see how happy
we are, and how good I am getting to be.”

And so one day early in September Margery came to Brierstone and took
possession of the large, pleasant chamber opposite Queenie’s, into whose
happiness and plans she entered heart and soul; and ten days after her
arrival Mr. Beresford came to escort her home. It was a settled thing
now, the marriage between Mr. Beresford and Margery, and the four talked
the matter over together and decided some things to which, without Mr.
Beresford and Phil, Queenie would never have consented. It was Margery’s
wish that Queenie should share equally with her in their father’s
estate. And as this was also the wish of Mr. Beresford, while Phil
himself said he saw no objection to it, and that it was probably what
Mr. Hetherton would wish, could he speak to them, Queenie consented and
found herself an heiress again, with money enough to support herself and
Phil, even if he had no _business_ or occupation. They talked that over,
too, and Phil asked Queenie what she wished him to do.

“The only time I ever tried in earnest to do anything I came near losing
my life,” he said, “and so now I’ll let you decide for me. Shall I turn
lawyer, or preacher, or dressmaker? I really have more talent for the
latter than for anything else. I might, with a little practice, be a
second Worth; or I should make a pretty good salesman of laces and silks
in some dry-goods store. So which shall it be—preacher, dressmaker, or
clerk? I am bound to earn my own living in some way.”

“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” Queenie answered, warmly. “A dressmaker
or clerk! What nonsense! You are too indolent to be either; for, as a
clerk, you would want to sit down most of the time, and dressmaking
would give you a pain in your side. So you are going to be a _farmer_ at
Magnolia Park, which needs some one to bring it up. With money, and
time, and care it can be made one of the finest places in Florida. Mr.
Johnson, who lives on the adjoining plantation, told me so, and there
are plenty of negroes to be hired; only they must have an overseer, to
direct them.”

“So I am to have no higher occupation than that of a negro overseer!
Truly the mighty have fallen!” Phil said, laughingly, but well pleased
on the whole with the prospect before him.

He liked nothing better than superintending outdoor work, and with
Queenie believed that in a little time he could make Magnolia Park a
second Chateau des Fleurs, if indeed he did not convert it into
something like the famous Kew Gardens in England. It was to be their
home proper, where all their winters were to be passed; but the summers
were to be spent at the North, sometimes at Hetherton Place, sometimes
at the Knoll, or wherever their fancy might lead them.

Thus they settled their future, and when Mr. Beresford and Margery went
back to Merrivale the latter part of September, Phil and Queenie went
with them, and were received with great rejoicings by the Rossiters and
by the people generally, while even Mrs. _Lord Seymour Rossiter_, who
was boarding for a few weeks at the hotel, drove down to the station to
meet them in her elegant new carriage, which, with its thoroughbreds and
its brass-buttoned driver, was making quite a sensation in Merrivale.

Anna was very happy in her prosperity, and very gracious to Queenie, who
could afford to forget the slights put upon her at the St. James when
she was lonely and sad, and was ready to accept all good the gods
provided for her.

It was late in November when Phil and Queenie started at last for their
Florida home, where, during the holidays, they were joined by Margery,
and where a little later Mr. Beresford came to claim the hand of his
bride, for Margery was to be married at Magnolia Park, and the ceremony
took place quietly one January evening, when the air was as soft and
mild as the air of June at the North, and the young moon looked down
upon the newly wedded pair. There was a short visit to the St. James,
where Margery and Queenie reigned triumphant as belles for a few weeks,
and then won fresh laurels at St. Augustine and Palatka. By this time
Mr. Beresford’s business necessitated his return to the North, but as
Phil had no business except to oversee the negroes, and as these did not
need overseeing then, he and Queenie tarried longer, and together
explored the Ocklawaha and the upper St. John’s, and fired at
alligators, and camped out for two or three days on the Indian River,
and hunted, and fished, and were almost as happy as were the first pair
in Eden before the serpent entered there.

All this was good for Phil, whose constitution had received a great
shock from his long illness in Africa, and who thus gained strength and
vigor for the new life before him—that of improving and bringing up
Magnolia Park, which had so long run to waste.

It is more than two years now since Queenie and Phil were married, and
last winter they were at Hetherton Place, where a second Queenie
Hetherton lay in its cradle and opened its big blue eyes wonderingly at
the little lady who bent over it so rapturously, and called herself its
“auntie.” Queenie has no children, but she seems so much a child
herself, and looks so small beside her tall husband, who can pick her up
and sit her on his shoulder, or, as he says, “put her in his pocket,”
that a baby would look oddly in her arms. Bright, mirthful, and variable
as the April sunshine, she goes on her way, happy in the love which has
crowned her so completely, and not a shadow crosses her pathway, except
when she remembers the past, which at one time held so much bitterness
for her. Then for a moment her eyes grow darker, and with a sigh she
says, “The worst of all was losing faith in father.”

There is a tall monument to his memory in Merrivale, and a smaller, less
pretentious one marks the grave of Christine in Memphis, erected “by her
daughters.” This was Margery’s idea, “for,” she said to Queenie, “she
was to all intents and purposes my mother—the only one I ever knew.”

Mrs. Lord Seymour Rossiter has been in Europe more than eighteen months,
and has seen every thing worth seeing, and has gotten as far on her
journey home as London, where she is stopping at the Grand Hotel, and
has a _suite_ of rooms, and a French maid, and a German nurse for the
little Paul born a year ago in Florence, and who is never to speak a
word of English until he has mastered both German and French. Major
Rossiter is there, too, and plays whist, and smokes, and reads the
papers, and goes to his banker’s, and talks to his valet whom he
employs, he scarcely knows why, except that Anna wishes him to do so.

Anna is very stylish, and grand, and _foreign_, and is high up in art,
and castles, and ruins and knows all about Claude Lorraine and Murillo.
She breakfasts in bed and lunches at two, and drives from five to six in
Hyde Park, where her haughty face, and showy dress, and elegant turn-out
attract almost as much attention as does the princess herself. Yesterday
afternoon I paid my penny for a chair, and sitting down watched the gay
pageant as it went by, and saw her in it, the gayest of them all, with
her red parasol over her head and her white poodle dog in her lap. And
when I thought of her past, and of Queenie and Margery, whose lives had
been so full of romance, I said to myself: “Truly, there are events in
real life stranger far than any recorded in fiction.”

And so, with the summer rain falling softly upon the flowers and shrubs
beneath my window, and the sun trying to break through the clouds which
hang so darkly over England’s great metropolis, I finish this story of

  LONDON, _July, 1880_.

                                THE END.


        _The famous John Henry Books. Over 550,000 Copies sold._


  By =Hugh McHugh=. “Every page is as catchy as a bar from a popular

  “The slang is as correct, original and smart as the newest handshake
    from London.

  “In the lottery of humorous books ‘John Henry’ seems to approximate
    the capital prize.”—_N. Y. Journal._

  “All who have laughed over ‘Billy Baxter’ will heartily enjoy this
    book.”—_The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer._ Illustrations by
    =Albert Hencke=. Cloth bound, 75 cents.


  By the author of “John Henry,” etc. This is the second of the “John
    Henry” books and quickly followed its predecessor along the high
    road of success. The story of “At the Races” has already grown to be
    a Classic in Slang. It is brimful of human nature, and is amusing in
    the highest degree. Illustrated by =McKee Barclay=. Attractively
    bound, 75 cents.


  By the author of “John Henry.” A bright, new story by =Hugh McHugh=,
    detailing the adventures of his widely known hero, who, after a
    spirited courtship, is married and tries to settle down. His efforts
    along these lines are detailed with much humor. This will be one
    continuous story. Illustrated by =Gordon H. Grant=. Attractively
    bound, 75 cents.


  By the author of “John Henry.” This new “John Henry” is a complete
    story in seven chapters, further portraying the fortunes and
    misfortunes of John Henry, Clara Jane, Uncle Peter, Bunch, Aunt
    Martha and Tacks. Illustrations by =Gordon H. Grant=. Cloth bound,
    75 cents.


  By the author of “John Henry.” “Out for the Coin” is another
    “Crackerjack Volume of Comedy” in which John Henry and his
    delightful friends find a new field for their stirring and amusing
    adventures. Illustrated from drawings by =Gordon H. Grant=. Cloth,
    gilt top, 75 cents.


  By the author of “John Henry.” “‘I Need the Money,’ the sixth of the
    ‘Hugh McHugh’ books, is capital like its fellows. The laugh lies
    beneath the bewildering fantastics of slang. It cannot be analyzed,
    for really there is nothing tangible to account for the laugh save
    the surprise of the delightful argot.”—_San Francisco Call._
    Illustrations by =Gordon H. Grant=. Cloth, gilt top, 75 cents.


  By the author of “John Henry.” “‘I’m from Missouri’ presents John
    Henry as campaign manager for ‘Uncle Pete,’ who is running for mayor
    against ‘Uncle William,’ backed by ‘Bunch,’ The reappearance of
    these well-known characters brings joy to the hearts of the
    laughter-loving public, and as a political satirist the author wins
    out once more.”—_Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer._
    Illustrations by =Gordon H. Grant=. Cloth bound, gilt top, 75 cents.


  By the author of “John Henry.” “To read ‘You Can Search Me’ is to
    laugh continuously. The amusing adventures of John Henry and his
    friend Bunch make as funny a book as George V. Hobart has written.
    The author’s ingenuity in getting these two characters into
    difficulties, and his facility for getting them out, is refreshing
    and should be read to be appreciated.”—_Boston Herald._
    Illustrations by =Gordon H. Grant=. Cloth bound, gilt top, 75 cents.


  By the author of “John Henry.” “John Henry is still swinging cheerily
    down the Lane of Laughter, sharing his smiles and his good nature
    with his thousands upon thousands of friends. John Henry’s
    latest—number nine in the series of immensely popular books—is
    called ‘Get Next,’ and it contains some of the most intensely
    mirth-provoking monologues this humorist has devised up to
    date.”—_Nashville American._ Illustrations by =Gordon H. Grant=.
    Cloth bound, gilt top, 75 cents.


  By =Mary J. Holmes=. “In this novel, Mrs. Holmes’ last work, she has
    shown that wonderful versatility of talent for which she is
    distinguished. No matter where she takes us, whether among the
    high-born or the lowly, North or South, East or West, she seems
    perfectly at home, and makes her readers feel so. When you have
    finished “The Abandoned Farm” you will feel that without leaving
    your home you have had a delightful summer outing.”—_Nashville
    American._ Cloth bound. $1.00.


  By =Mary J. Holmes=. “Whoever open the pages of ‘The Cromptons’ will
    find in it the elements which have made popular this author’s thirty
    odd stories and carried her name, a household word, to millions of
    readers.”—_Nashville American._

  “Her novels circulate by the hundreds of thousands, and her name is
    conjured with where the literary aristocrats are never heard
    of.”—_Rochester Herald._ Handsomely bound in cloth, $1.00.


  By =Cyrus Townsend Brady=. Among the many books which Doctor Brady has
    written, none have received a more enthusiastic welcome than those
    which have the Civil War for a background. This book is destined to
    take a high rank among his other brilliant productions, and is
    illuminated here and there by telling bits of personal description
    of such men as Lincoln, Grant, Sheridan, Lee, Jackson, and the whole
    book is pervaded by a delightful and refreshing humor. Color
    illustrations by =J. N. Marchand=. 12mo, cloth bound, $1.50.


  By =Marietta Holley=. Samantha and her party visit Hawaii,
    Philippines, India, China, Egypt, the Holy Land, as well as the
    European countries, Samantha describing each country and its
    inhabitants, meeting prominent people, and having queer and
    laughable adventures in all of them. The book—_the best of all of
    Miss Holley’s works_—is full of humorous and pathetic incidents,
    but, as in all this author’s books, the main interest is in the wise
    and witty conversation of _Josiah Allen’s Wife_. Illustrated, 8vo,
    cloth bound, $1.50.


  By =Josiah Allen’s Wife (Marietta Holley)=. The warm welcome given to
    Miss Holley’s books the world over has been accorded to this one of
    her best productions. It is full of the same deft mixture of wit and
    pathos, eloquence and common sense, which has given her an enviable
    place among the writers of to-day. Samantha describes, with her
    customary fidelity and eloquence, the wonders and glories of the
    great Exposition. She and Josiah meet many prominent people, and
    have numberless mirth-provoking adventures. Illustrated, 8vo, cloth
    bound, $1.50.

 THE SECRET PASSAGE, a Detective Story

  By =Fergus Hume=. “Fully as interesting as his former books, and keeps
    one guessing to the end. The story begins with the murder of an old
    lady, with no apparent cause for the crime, and in unraveling the
    mystery the author is very clever in hiding the real criminal. A
    pleasing romance runs through the book, which adds to the
    interest.”—_Albany Evening Journal._ 12mo, cloth bound, $1.25.


  By =Noah Lott=. “A terrible thing in the form of a literary torpedo
    which is launched for hilarious purposes only, inaccurate in every
    particular, containing copious etymological derivations and other
    useless things. It is one of the cleverest, most scintillating
    little bunches of foolishness that has appeared in many moons. There
    is not a dull page in the book.”—_New Orleans Picayune._
    Illustrated, 12mo, cloth bound, 75 cents.


  By =Paul West= and =W. W. Denslow=. “Belongs to the same class of
    books for children with ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘The Wizard of
    Oz.’ Get the big, handsome book, where Paul West tells all about it,
    and W. W. Denslow has illustrated the story with a whole book full
    of the funniest colored pictures that will keep the eyes big and
    round with surprise and the sides shaking with laughter.”—_Cleveland
    Plaindealer._ Illustrated, 4to, cloth bound, $1.50.


  The old classic story, illustrated by =W. W. Denslow=. Here is the
    best Christmas story ever told. The man is yet to be born who can
    write anything to supersede what has made St. Nicholas and his tiny
    reindeer living and breathing realities to millions of children
    throughout the world.

  Embellished, as it is, with the whimsical humor of Mr. Denslow’s
    inimitable drawings, produced in colors by the most beautiful
    printing, it will eclipse all other juvenile picture books of the
    year. A large quarto, handsomely bound in cloth or illuminated board
    cover, $1.50.

 DENSLOW’S ONE RING CIRCUS, and Other Stories, containing:

                        One Ring Circus,
                        5 Little Pigs,
                        Tom Thumb,
                        ABC Book,
                        Jack and the Bean-stalk.

  The six, bound in cloth, decorative cover, $1.25.

 DENSLOW’S HUMPTY DUMPTY, and Other Stories, containing:

                        Humpty Dumpty,
                        Little Red Riding Hood,
                        The Three Bears,
                        Mary had a Little Lamb,
                        Old Mother Hubbard,
                        House that Jack Built.

  The six, bound in cloth, decorative cover, $1.25.

 DENSLOW’S SCARECROW AND THE TIN-MAN, and Other Stories, containing:

                       Scarecrow and the Tin-Man,
                       Simple Simon,
                       Mother Goose ABC Book,
                       Barnyard Circus,
                       Animal Fair,
                       Three Little Kittens.

  The six in one volume, bound in cloth, $1.25.


  The above 18 titles are also published in paper covers, 25 cents each,
    or mounted linen, 50 cents each.

 THE INTERNATIONAL SPY, Secret History of the Russo-Japanese War

  By =Allen Upward (“Monsieur A. V.”)=. In circles of diplomatic
    intrigue, accidents do not happen. It was the recognition of this
    little-known fact that gave Monsieur A. V. his opportunity to become
    the Sherlock Holmes of international diplomacy—the man in the
    confidence of the monarchs of Europe, who interprets the occurrences
    of the Underground History of the World. The book is filled from
    opening to ending with entrancing mystery. Illustrations by =F. X.
    Chamberlin=. 12mo, cloth bound, $1.50.

 REAL BOYS, Being the Doings of Plupy, Beany, Pewt, Puzzy, Whack, Bug,
    Skinny, Chick, Pop, Pile, and Some of the Girls

  By =Judge Henry A. Shute=. Author of “The Real Diary of a Real Boy,”
    “Sequil,” etc. “This book is well named. Judge Shute, who will be
    remembered for his ‘Diary of a Real Boy’ and ‘Sequil,’ writes very
    happily of life in a New Hampshire village forty years ago, and men
    who are fortunate in not forgetting their own boyhood days will
    enjoy many a hearty laugh as the pages are turned.”—_Newark Evening
    News._ Embellished with nearly 40 illustrations, 12mo, cloth bound.

 A MASTER OF FORTUNE, Being Further Adventures of “Captain Kettle”

  By =Cutcliffe Hyne=. “It has the dash and tinge of reality that makes
    you feel as if you were in the midst of it all.” _Detroit Free

  “The many readers who followed with bated breath the wild adventures
    of Captain Kettle in the book named for him, will welcome Cutcliffe
    Hyne’s new collection of tales dealing with that remarkable sea dog.
    The volume is well called ‘A Master of Fortune.’”—_Philadelphia

  “Nobody who has followed the gallant sailor—diminutive, but oh, my!—in
    his previous adventures around the earth, is going to miss this
    red-hot volume of marvelous exploits.”—_N. Y. World._ Illustrated.
    Cloth bound, $1.50.


  By =Mrs. C. F. Moritz= and =Adele Kahn=. A modern and complete
    household cook-book such as this is, since cooking has come to be a
    science no less than an art, must find a welcome, and become the
    most popular cook-book of all the many now published.

  “It can hardly be realized that there is anything worth eating that
    its receipt cannot be found in this volume. This volume has been
    carefully compiled, and contains not only the receipts for an
    elaborate menu, but also the modest ones have been considered.”
    _Book and Newsdealer._ Bound in oil cloth, for kitchen use, $1.50.

 ECCENTRICITIES OF GENIUS, Memories of Famous Men and Women of the
    Platform and Stage

  By =Major J. B. Pond=. These biographical sketches of notable Orators,
    Preachers, and Lecturers, descriptive of the personal traits of
    character of the many noted persons who have publicly appeared under
    the management of Major Pond, are thrillingly and forcibly told. A
    magnificent octavo volume containing nearly one hundred half-tone
    portrait illustrations. Cloth bound, $3.50.

 UNDER A LUCKY STAR, a New Book on Astrology

  By =Charlotte Abell Walker=. Tells what occupation to adopt, and what
    line of life to follow, what associates and partners to choose, how
    to recognize the possibilities and limitations of our friends and
    ourselves, and of other important matters to human life, including
    suggestions on marriage, being mainly culled from the minds of
    ancient and modern philosophers. Illustrated, cloth bound, $1.50.


  From the Pinkerton Archives. By =Cleveland Moffet=. The absorbing
    stories told here by Mr. Moffet are statements of actual facts
    repeated without exaggeration or false coloring. The author, by the
    help of the Pinkerton Agency, has given the inside history of famous
    cases which the general public only know of through newspaper
    accounts. Cloth bound, 75 cents.


  By =Charles Farrar Browne=. With a biographical sketch of the author
    by =Melville D. Landon=. The present edition is of a work which has
    been for more than thirty years prominently before the public, and
    which may be justly said to have maintained a standard character. It
    is issued because of a demand for a _better edition_ than has ever
    been published.

  In order to supply this acknowledged want, the publishers have
    enlarged and perfected this edition by adding some matters not
    heretofore published in book form.

  A large 12mo, printed from new electroplates, with 28 full-page
    illustrations, and photogravure portrait of the author, handsomely
    bound in cloth, gilt top, $2.00.


  By =Cutcliffe Hyne=. The best sea story since the days of Marryat.
    Captain Kettle is a devil-may-care sea dog, half pirate and half
    preacher. The author carries him through many hairbreadth escapes
    and makes him a character that will live long in the annals of
    fiction. The success of this book is marvelous. Over 80,000 copies
    have been sold. Illustrated. Cloth bound, $1.50.

 A SPECKLED BIRD. (100th Thousand)

  By =Augusta Evans Wilson=. “How absolutely sweet and clean and
    wholesome is the atmosphere of the story! It could not be anything
    else and come from her pen.”—_Brooklyn Eagle._

  “Will be read with avidity by the multitude, because it lays
    bare the great emotions that appeal to universal human
    sympathy.”—_Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer._ 12mo, cloth
    bound, $1.50.

 NORMAN HOLT, a Story of the Army of the Cumberland

  By =General (Capt.) Charles King=. “No more charming historic war
    story has ever been written. It is Captain King’s best, and bearing,
    as it does, on the great battle of Mission Ridge, although the story
    is woven in fiction, it adds an invaluable record of that gigantic
    contest between the two great armies.

  “The characters are real, their emotions natural, and the romance that
    is interwoven is delightful. It is wholesome and one of General
    King’s best, if not his best, book.”—_N. Y. Journal._

  “From the first chapter to the last page the interest of the reader
    never fags. General King has written no more brilliant or stirring
    novel than ‘Norman Holt.’”—_N. Y. Press._ Illustrated, cloth bound,

 THE IRON BRIGADE, a Story of the Army of the Potomac. (Fourth Edition)

  By =General Charles King=. Illustrations by =R. F. Zogbaum=. In
    choosing the subject of this story General King has taken one of the
    most gallant and heroic organizations of the Civil War, and woven
    around it many intensely interesting historic scenes. Sketches of
    Lincoln, Stanton, Grant, Meade and other prominent characters of the
    time lend much to the holding power of the story. Illustrated. Cloth
    bound, $1.50.


  By =Harris Burland=. “In the way of exciting fiction there could be
    nothing more discreetly sensational than this story. It fairly
    bristles with wonderful incidents in which a woman who has betrayed
    a lover, dishonest for her sake, is pursued relentlessly by her
    victim. Those who like their fiction well spiced with stirring and
    surprising incident will appreciate this remarkable story.”—_Boston
    Budget and Beacon._ Illustrated, 12mo, cloth bound, $1.50.


  By =Fergus Hume=. The _Nashville American_ says: “It has an attraction
    that borders on fascination. This story is in Fergus Hume’s best
    style, and is particularly noted for the ingenuity of its
    construction and skill of working out details.” 12mo, cloth bound,


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in
 2. Retained archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.
 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.
 4. Enclosed bold font in =equals=.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Queenie Hetherton" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.