Home
  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 | HTML | PDF ]

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: Edna's Sacrifice and Other Stories
Author: Baden, Frances Henshaw, -1911
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Edna's Sacrifice and Other Stories" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

STORIES***


EDNA'S SACRIFICE, AND OTHER STORIES

by

FRANCES HENSHAW BADEN



CONTENTS

   EDNA'S SACRIFICE

   WHO WAS THE THIEF?

   THE GHOST

   THE TWO BROTHERS

   WHAT HE LEFT



EDNA'S SACRIFICE


It was a cold night in September. For three days the rain had fallen
almost unceasingly. It had been impossible for us to get out; and no
visitors had been in. Everything looked dreary enough, and we felt so,
truly. Of course the stoves were not prepared for use; and this night
we (that is, Nell, Floy, Aunt Edna, and myself) were huddled in the
corners of the sofa and arm-chairs, wrapped in our shawls. We were at
our wits' end for something to while the hours away. We had read
everything that was readable; played until we fancied the piano sent
forth a wail of complaint, and begged for rest; were at the backgammon
board until our arms ached; and I had given imitations of celebrated
actresses, until I was hoarse, and Nell declared I was in danger of
being sued for scandal. What more could we do? To dispel the
drowsiness that was stealing over me, I got up, walked up and down the
floor, and then drew up the blind, and gazed out into the deserted
street. Not a footfall to be heard, neither man's nor beast's; nothing
but patter, patter, patter. At length, after standing fully fifteen
minutes--oh, joyful sound!--a coming footstep, firm and quick. My
first thought was that those steps would stop at our door. But,
directly after, I felt that very improbable, for who was there that
_would_ come such a night? Papa was up north with mamma; Nell and
Floy were visiting Aunt Edna and me, the only ones home, save the
servants. Neither of us had as yet a lover so devoted or so demented
as to come out, if he had anywhere to _stay in_.

On and past went the steps. Turning away, I drew down the blind, and
said: "Some one must be ill, and that was the doctor, surely: for no
one else would go out, only those from direst necessity sent."

A deep sigh escaped Aunt Edna's lips, and although partially shaded by
her hand, I could see the shadow on the beautiful face had deepened.

Why my aunt had never married was a mystery to me, for she was lovable
in every way, and must have been very beautiful in her youth.
Thirty-six she would be next May-day, she had told me. Thirty-six
seemed to me, just sixteen, a very great many years to have lived. But
aunt always was young to us; and the hint of her being an old maid was
always resented, very decidedly, by all her nieces.

"Aunt Edna," I said, "tell us a story--a love-story, please."

"Oh, little one, you have read _so_ many! And what can I tell you
more?" she answered, gently.

"Oh, aunty, I want a _true_ story! Do, darling aunty, tell us your
own. Tell us why you are blessing our home with your presence, instead
of that of some noble man, for noble he must have been to have won
your heart, and--hush-sh! Yes, yes; I know something about somebody,
and I must know all. Do, please!"

I plead on. I always could do more with Aunt Edna than any one else. I
was named for her, and many called me like her--"only not nearly so
pretty" was always added.

At last she consented, saying:

"Dear girls, to only one before have I given my entire confidence,
and that was my mother. I scarce know why I have yielded to your
persuasions, little Edna, save that this night, with its gloom and
rain, carries me back long years, and my heart seems to join its
pleading with yours, yearning to cast forth some of its fulness, and
perchance find relief by pouring into your loving heart its own
sorrows. But, darling, I would not cast my shadow over your fair brow,
even for a brief time."

With her hand still shading her face, Aunt Edna began:

"Just such a night as this, eighteen years ago, dear child, my fate
was decided. The daughter of my mother's dearest friend had been with
us about a year. Dearly we all loved the gentle child, for scarcely
more than child she was--only sixteen. My mother had taken her from
the cold, lifeless form of her mother into her own warm, loving heart,
and she became to me as a sister. So fair and frail she was! We all
watched her with the tenderest care, guarding her from all that could
chill her sensitive nature or wound the already saddened heart. Lilly
was her name. Oh, what a delicate white lily she was when we first
brought her to our home; but after a while she was won from her
sorrow, and grew into a maiden of great beauty. Still, with
child-like, winning ways.

"Great wells of love were in her blue eyes--violet hue _he_ called
them. Often I wondered if any one's gaze would linger on my dark eyes
when hers were near? Her pale golden hair was pushed off her broad
forehead and fell in heavy waves far down below her graceful shoulders
and over her black dress. Small delicately-formed features, a
complexion so fair and clear that it seemed transparent. In her blue
eyes there was always such a sad, wistful look; this, and the gentle
smile that ever hovered about her lips, gave an expression of mingled
sweetness and sorrow that was very touching. You may imagine now how
beautiful she was.

"Her mother had passed from earth during the absence of Lilly's
father. Across the ocean the sorrowful tidings were born to him. He
was a naval officer. Lilly was counting the days ere she should see
him. The good news had come, that soon he would be with her. At last
the day arrived, but oh! what a terrible sorrow it brought. When her
heart was almost bursting with joy, expecting every moment to be
clasped in those dear arms--a telegraphic despatch was handed in.
Eagerly she caught it, tore it open, read--and fell lifeless to the
floor.

"Oh! the fearful, crushing words. We read, not of his coming to Lilly,
but of his going to her, his wife, in heaven. Yes, truly an orphan the
poor girl was then.

"In vain proved all efforts to restore her to consciousness. Several
times, when she had before fainted, mother was the only physician
needed. But that night she shook her head and said:

"'We must have a doctor, and quickly.'

"It was a terrible night. Our doctor was very remote. Your father
suggested another, near by.

"Dr.----, well, never mind his name. Your father said he had lately
known him, and liked him much.

"Through the storm he came, and by his skilful treatment Lilly was
soon restored to consciousness, but not to health. A low nervous fever
set in, and many days we watched with fearful hearts. Ah! during those
days I learned to look too eagerly for the doctor's coming. Indeed, he
made his way into the hearts of all in our home. After the dreaded
crisis had passed, and we knew that Lilly would be spared to us, the
doctor told mother he should have to prescribe for me. I had grown
pale, from confinement in the sick-room, and he must take me for a
drive, that the fresh air should bring the roses back to my cheeks.
Willingly mother consented. After that I often went. When Lilly was
able to come down-stairs, this greatest pleasure of my life then was
divided with her. One afternoon I stood on the porch with her, waiting
while the doctor arranged something about the harness.

"'Oh! _how_ I wish it was my time to go!' she whispered.

"'Well, darling, it shall be your time. I can go to-morrow. Run, get
your hat and wraps,' I said, really glad to give any additional
pleasure to this child of many sorrows.

"'No, no, that would not be fair. And, Edna, don't you know that
_to-morrow_ I would be so sorry if I went to-day? I do not mean to be
selfish, but, oh, indeed I cannot help it! I am wishing _every time_
to go. Not that I care for a ride--' She hesitated, flushed, and
whispered: 'I like to be with my doctor. Don't you, Edna? Oh! I wish
he was my father, or brother, or cousin--just to be with us all the
time, you know.'

"Just then the doctor came for me, and I had to leave her. As we drove
off I looked back and kissed my hand to her, saying:

"'Dear little thing! I wish she was going with us.'

"'I do not,' the doctor surprised me by saying.

"I raised my eyes inquiringly to his. In those beautiful, earnest eyes
I saw something that made me profoundly happy. I could not speak.
After a moment he added:

"'She is a beautiful, winning child, and I enjoy her company. But when
with her, I feel as if it was my duty to devote myself entirely to
her--in a word, to take care of her, or, I should say, to care for
_her_ only. And this afternoon, of all others, I do not feel like
having Lilly with us.'

"That afternoon was one of the happiest of my life. Although not a
word of love passed his lips. I knew it filled his heart, and was for
me. He told me of his home, his relatives, his past life. Of his
mother he said:

"'When you know her, you will love her dearly.'

"He seemed to be sure that I should know her. And then--ah, well, I
thought so too, then.

"Lilly was waiting for us when we returned. He chided her for being
out so late. It was quite dark. Tears filled her eyes as she raised
them to his and said:

"'Don't be angry. I could not help watching. Oh, why did you stay _so_
long? I thought you would never come back. I was afraid something had
happened--that the horse had run away, or--'

"'Angry I could not be with you, little one. But I don't want you to
get sick again. Come, now, smile away your tears and fears! Your
friend is safe and with you again,' the doctor answered.

"Taking her hand, he led her into the parlor.

"He had not understood the cause of her tears. Only for him she
watched and wept.

"'_Do_ stay,' she plead, when her doctor was going.

"He told her he could not, then; there was another call he must make,
but would return after a while.

"She counted the minutes, until she should see him again. Never
concealing from any of us how dearly she loved him. She was truly as
guileless as a child of six years.

"From the first of her acquaintance with him, she had declared 'her
doctor' was like her father. Mother, too, admitted the resemblance was
very decided.

"This it was, I think, that first made him so dear to her.

"Several times, after the doctor returned that evening, I saw he
sought opportunity to speak to me, unheard by others. But Lilly was
always near.

"Ah! it was better so. Better that from his _own_ lips I heard not
those words he would have spoken. Doubly hard would have been the
trial. Oh, that night when he said, 'good-by!' He slipped in my hand a
little roll of paper. As Lilly still stood at the window, watching as
long as she could see him, I stole away to open the paper. Then, for a
while, I forgot Lilly, aye, forgot everything, in my great happiness.
He loved me! On my finger sparkled the beautiful diamond--my
engagement ring--to be worn on the morrow, 'if I could return his
love,' he said.

"Quickly I hid my treasures away, his note, and the ring--Lilly was
coming.

"She was not yet strong, and soon tired. I helped her to get off her
clothes, and as she kissed me good-night, she said:

"'I wish we had a picture of him--don't you?'

"'Who, dear?' I asked.

"'My doctor! Who else? You tease. You _knew_ well enough,' she
answered, as she nestled her pretty head closer to mine.

"Soon she was sleeping and dreaming of him. Sweet dreams at first I
knew they were; for soft smiles flitted over her face.

"I could not sleep. A great fear stole in upon my happiness. Did not
Lilly love him too? How would she receive the news which soon must
reach her? Was her love such as mine? Such as is given to but one
alone? Or only as a brother did she love him? I must _know_ how it
was. Heaven grant that joy for one would not bring sorrow to the
other, I prayed. I had not long to wait. Her dreams became troubled.
Her lips quivered and trembled, and then with a cry of agony she
started up.

"'Gone, gone, gone!' she sobbed.

"It was many minutes ere I succeeded in calming and making her
understand 'twas but a dream.

"'Oh! but _so_ real, so _dreadfully_ real. I thought he did not care
for me. That he had gone and left me, and they told me he was
married!'

"Telling this, she began to sob again.

"'Lilly, dear, tell me truly--tell your sister, your very best
friend--how it is you love your doctor?' I asked.

"'How?' she returned. 'Oh, Edna, more than all the world! He is all
that I have lost and more; and if he should die, or I should lose him,
I would not wish to live. I _could_ not live. He loves me a little,
does he not, Edna?'

"I could not reply. Just then there was a terrible struggle going on
in my heart. _That_ must be ended, the victory won ere I could speak.
She waited for my answer and then said, eagerly:

"'Oh, speak, _do!_ What _are_ you thinking about?'

"Pressing back the sigh--back and far down into the poor heart--I gave
her the sweet, and kept the bitter part, when I could answer.

"'Yes, dear, I _do_ think he loves you a little now, and will,
by-and-by, love you dearly. God grant he may!'

"'Oh, you darling Edna! You have made me so happy!' she cried, kissing
me; and still caressing me she fell asleep.

"Next morning I enclosed the ring, with only these words:

     "'Forgive if I cause you sorrow, and believe me your true
     friend. I return the ring that I am not _free_ to accept.'

"I intended that my reply should mislead him, when I wrote that I was
not free, and thus to crush any hope that might linger in his heart.
While at breakfast that morning, we received a telegram that grandma
was extremely ill, and wanted me. Thus, fate seemed to forward my
plans. I had thought to go away for a while, I told mother all. How
her dear heart ached for me! Yet she dared not say aught against my
decision. She took charge of the note for the doctor, and by noon I
was on my journey. Two years passed ere I returned home. Mother wrote
me but little news of either Lilly or her doctor after the first
letter, telling that my note was a severe shock and great
disappointment. Three or four months elapsed before grandma was strong
enough for me to leave her. An opportunity at that time presented for
my going to Europe. I wanted such an entire change, and gladly
accepted. Frequently came letters from Lilly. For many months they
were filled with doubts and anxiety; but after a while came happier
and shorter ones. Ah, she had only time to be with him, and to think
in his absence of his coming again.

"When I was beginning to tire of all the wonders and grandeur of the
old world, and nothing would still the longing for home, the tidings
came they were married, Lilly and her doctor, and gone to his Western
home to take charge of the patients of his uncle, who had retired from
practice. Then I hastened back, and ever since, dear girls, I have
been contented, finding much happiness in trying to contribute to that
of those so dear. Now, little Edna, you have my only love-story, its
beginning and ending."

"But, aunty, do tell me his name," I said. "Indeed, it is not merely
idle curiosity. I just feel as if I must know it--that it is for
something very important. Now you need not smile. I'm very earnest,
and I shall not sleep until I know. I really felt a presentiment that
if I knew his name it might in some way effect the conclusion of the
story."

"Well, my child, I may as well tell you. Dr. Graham it was--Percy
Graham," Aunt Edna answered, low.

"Ah! did I not tell you? It was not curiosity. Listen, aunty mine.
While you were away last winter, papa received a paper from St. Louis;
he handed it to me, pointing to an announcement. But I will run get
it. He told me to show it to you, and I forgot. I did not dream of all
this."

From my scrap-book I brought the slip, and Aunt Edna read:

     "DIED.--Suddenly, of heart disease, on the morning of the
     15th, Lilly, wife of Doctor Percy Graham, in the 34th year
     of her age."

Aunt Edna remained holding the paper, without speaking, for some
minutes; then, handing it back to me, she said, softly, as if talking
to her friend:

"_Dear_ Lilly! Thank heaven, I gave to _you_ the _best_ I had to give,
and caused you nought but happiness. God is merciful! Had _he_ been
taken, and you left, how _could_ we have comforted you?" And then,
turning to me, she said: "Nearly a year it is since Lilly went to
heaven. 'Tis strange I have not heard of this."

"'Tis strange from him you have not heard," I thought; "and stranger
still 'twill be if he comes not when the year is over. For surely he
_must_ know that you are free--" But I kept my thoughts, and soon
after kissed aunty good-night.

One month passed, and the year was out. And somebody was in our
parlor, making arrangements to carry away Aunt Edna. I knew it was he,
when he met me at the hall door, and said:

"Edna--Miss Linden! _can_ it be?"

"Yes and no, sir--both--Edna Linden; but, Doctor Graham, not _your_
Edna. You will find her in the parlor," I answered, saucily, glad and
sorry, both, at his coming.

Ah, she welcomed him with profound joy, I know. He knew all; papa had
told him. And if he loved the beautiful girl, he then worshipped that
noble woman.

"Thank God! Mine at last!" I heard him say, with fervent joy, as I
passed the door, an hour after.

How beautiful she was, when, a few weeks after, she became his very
own. I stood beside her and drew off her glove. How happy he looked as
he placed the heavy gold circlet on her finger! How proudly he bore
her down the crowded church aisle!

Ah, little Lilly was no doubt his dear and cherished wife. But _this_
one, 'twas plain to see was the one love of his life.



WHO WAS THE THIEF?


Fred Loring's toilet was at length completed, and turning from the
glass, he said:

"Well, I'm off now, Nellie. Good-by."

"At last! Excuse me, Fred, but just now quietness is more desirable
than your society. It is impossible to get baby to sleep while you are
flying about the room. She sees you, and wants to get to you,"
answered Nellie.

"All right. I'll get out of the way. By-by, baby."

And kissing the little one, Fred hurried out.

Ten or fifteen minutes passed. Baby was quiet at last, almost asleep,
when the door opened, and in rushed Fred again. And up started baby,
with a shout of welcome. An impatient look came into Nellie's eyes,
and the tone to her words:

"Oh, Fred, I had almost gotten her to sleep. And now see! And I am so
tired. What has brought you back so soon?

"Well, well, I'm sorry. But I left my revolver behind. I guess she'll
soon be quiet again," Fred said, unlocking the drawer and taking out
his revolver.

"Fred, I declare I never _did_ see such a man. You cannot leave the
house without being armed. Do you forget there is a law against
carrying concealed weapons?"

"I _remember_ to be on my guard, and prepared to defend myself if it
be necessary. Every day we read accounts of persons being robbed,
knocked down, and such like. I tell you, Nellie, _sensible_ persons go
armed always."

"Perhaps, Fred. But I think the nervous and suspicious persons are
more likely to. Indeed, I never like to see you carrying off your
revolver. I'm in constant fear of something dreadful happening."

"But never in dread of any one murdering and robbing me. Of course
not!" Fred snapped forth.

"Oh, Fred! You are so quick and suspicious of every one, that my great
fear is you'll hurt the wrong person some time!" said Nellie, with a
really anxious look on her pretty face.

"Indeed I am not aware of ever having gotten hold of the wrong person.
I think you are calling on your imagination for facts, Mrs. Loring!"
Fred said angrily.

"Now, Fred, to defend myself I shall have to point to facts. Do you
forget catching hold of poor old Uncle Tom, and choking him so he
could not explain he was carrying the clothes to his wife to wash,
instead of being a thief, as you supposed? And--"

"And will I ever forget your handing me over to a policeman, for
having attempted to pick your pocket in the streetcar?" exclaimed a
bright, merry-looking girl, who entered the room during Nellie's
attempt to defend herself from Fred's accusation.

"Oh, Fan, don't, for mercy's sake, I cry quarter. Two at a time is
more than I can stand. And besides, I had hoped that you would not
have exposed that miserable mistake!" Fred said, with a reproachful
look.

"I intended to keep the secret. But really, Fred, I've been almost
dying to have a good laugh with Nellie over it. And to-night the
opportunity was too tempting to resist."

"Mercy, Fan! If you tell Nellie, I'll never hear the last of it."

"Oh, I must. It is too late to recede. Nellie will imagine it worse,
if possible, than it really is. But I'll not prolong your agony. I'll
be as brief as possible," said Fannie.

And amidst the cries of "Don't! don't!" and "Yes, do, do!" Fannie
began.

"The day I reached here, just as I came out of the depot, I spied my
beloved and respected cousin Fred entering the street car. I hurried
up, and got in immediately after him. Even if my veil had been raised
I could hardly have expected him to know me, as I have changed much in
five years. As it was, my face was completely hidden. The car was much
crowded, many standing--I next behind Fred. I was well laden with lots
of little packages, so the idea struck me to drop a few into Fred's
overcoat pockets. Without discovery I put what I washed into one, and
was about slipping my porte-monnaie into the other, when my hand was
caught with such a grip that I screamed right out. At the same time
Fred exclaimed, 'Here is a pickpocket!' And of course there was a
policeman there, as none was needed. I was too frightened to speak for
an instant. At length I found voice enough to say to the officer, who
was making his way toward me, 'The gentleman will find he is mistaken
in a moment.'

"After the first fright, I was really amused, notwithstanding the
mortifying situation. By that time Fred had drawn forth my
porte-monnaie. Nodding to the policeman, he said:

"'An old dodge. Putting into my pocket what she has taken from some
one else. Has any one here lost this?' he asked, holding up my
porte-monnaie.

"No one claimed it. I managed to get off my veil then, that I had
been tugging at. I had gotten a lady in the depot to tie it tightly
behind, as it was blowing a perfect gale when I arrived. All eyes were
on me then, of course. And the officer, not recognizing an old
offender, and not a very guilty-looking young one, hesitated. I looked
eagerly at Fred, to see if he would not recognize me, but he did not.
There was a very embarrassing pause then, that had to be ended; so I
said, not trying to restrain my smiles:

"'If you will open that porte-monnaie, Mr. Loring, you will see my
card. I thought my acquaintance would justify my loading you with some
of my bundles. If you will notice, your other pocket is full.'

"Every one waited eagerly the result. Quickly Fred did my bidding. You
may imagine his look, when he exclaimed:

"'Fannie Loring! Bless my soul, coz, can you ever forgive me? But how
could I know you? I've not seen you since you were a child.'

"There was a shout of laughter heard then, in which Fred and I joined.
But Fred's was not a very hearty laugh; and I think he was glad to get
out of that car, for he made me walk at least three times as far as
ever you and I walk when we leave the car."

Nellie was almost convulsed with laughter, which baby seemed to enjoy
very much. And Fred exclaimed:

"It was not half as bad as you have made it out, Fan. And just for a
punishment for your laughing so, Nellie, I hope baby will not go to
sleep for hours. I'm off now."

Merry rippling laughter followed him. And Fred ran down the stairs,
and out of the house, almost hoping somebody might attempt to rob, or
murder him even, so that his revolver might prove of great avail, and
thus silence Nellie, who was ever talking about what she called his
suspicious nature, when it was only necessary caution, he thought.

Soon baby was sleeping soundly, notwithstanding Fred's wish to the
contrary. And Nellie, putting her into the crib, went to the bureau to
arrange her hair.

"Why, Fred has gone without his watch!" she exclaimed. "I don't think
he ever did that in his life before. I wonder he has not been back
again before this!"

The hours passed swiftly by. Fannie, with her merry heart, fully
compensating Nellie for Fred's absence. Eleven o'clock came before
they imagined it near so late. And just then they heard the hall door
close, and a moment after Fred entered the room, and in an excited
voice exclaimed:

"Now, ladies, perhaps you will admit the good of carrying a revolver,
when I tell you that to-night I have been robbed."

"Robbed!" exclaimed Nellie and Fannie simultaneously.

"Yes, robbed. But I did not stay so, many minutes, thanks to my
revolver! Listen, and I'll tell you all about it. On my way home I
turned Gray's corner into Fourteenth street. You know how dark and
dismal it is about there--no lights. Well, as I turned, a fellow came
rushing along, knocked against and nearly sent me down. And saying
quickly, 'Excuse me, sir,' hurried on. I suspected what it was--a
dodge they have when relieving a man of his watch or pocket-book. I
hastened to feel for my watch. It was gone."

"Why, Fred, your watch--"

"Stop! Don't interrupt me. Wait until I've done."

The girls exchanged looks--mirthful first, anxious after.

"In a second I was after him. Presenting my revolver, I bade him hand
me the watch. He resisted. I covered him with my pistol, and spoke
again in a tone which convinced him I was in a dangerous mood.

"'Hand me that watch.'

"Out it came; and without taking a second look at me, he left. And
thanks to my little beauty here," tapping his revolver, "I am home
again, no worse off than when I started. Now, what say you?"

"Oh, Fred! Oh, my dear, what have you done? Oh, you have robbed that
man of his watch! Yours is on the bureau. You left it home," Nellie
cried, in a voice of real agitation.

"What? No! Surely not!" exclaimed Fred, growing very red, and starting
toward the bureau.

Fannie handed to Fred his own watch, at the same time fairly shaking
with the laughter she had tried so hard to suppress.

"Oh, Fred, forgive me. I'm only human; I must laugh or die."

Peal after peal came from the merry girl, who could not restrain
herself, although Nellie looked so reproachfully, and Fred really
angrily at her; the former saying:

"Indeed, Fannie, I'm too much frightened to laugh."

Fred was too mortified to say another word for some time. At length,
turning to Fannie, who had grown a little quiet, he snappishly said:

"Pray, don't stop! I'm very happy to afford you so much amusement."

Of course Fannie began anew; and Nellie trying to stop her by looks
and motions, asked:

"What shall you do, Fred?"

"It is not a matter of such vital importance that you need look so
worried, Nellie. I'll go to the police head-quarters, explain the
matter, and leave the watch. That will be the end of it," said Fred,
trying to assume a light, careless tone.

Nellie hoped it might be the end of it; but still fearful of
something unpleasant, asked:

"Is it too late to-night to go, Fred?"

"Certainly it is," Fred answered.

Seeing Nellie's face still retain its anxious and frightened
expression, Fred broke out laughing himself, saying:

"You look as much frightened, Nell, as I imagine that man looked when
I went for his watch."

Next morning Fred was longer than usual getting off from home, and all
Nellie's urging haste seemed to have the tendency to retard instead of
accelerating his motions. But at last, to her great relief, he was
off. After getting a few rods from home, he drew forth the stolen
watch, and found of course it had run down. Having no key to fit it,
he approached a jewelry store, intending to have it wound up. He had
failed to notice the very particular attention with which a policeman
was regarding him. Just as he was about to enter the store, he was
tapped on the shoulder. Turning, he beheld the officer, a total
stranger to Fred, so he knew it was not a bit of use to explain the
case to him. So to attract as little notice as possible, he walked
quietly along with his not very agreeable companion until they reached
the police head-quarters.

There he began his explanation. All were strange faces around him, on
which he saw unmistakable signs of merriment when he said it was "a
mistake." And to his immense surprise, after he had handed over the
dreadful watch, and was turning to leave, he was made to understand he
was a _prisoner_--the accusation, "Robbery and assault, with intent to
kill!"

He sank on the bench for a moment, so overwhelmed with surprise and
mortification that he could with difficulty collect his senses enough
to know what to do. Just then a gentleman entered, and said to an
officer near:

"I was surprised to hear you had caught the rascal so speedily. Where
is the scoundrel? What does he say?"

"That it was all a _mistake!_" answered the officer, with a very
significant smile. "There he is," pointing to Fred.

"Of course--the villain! And if I had been so unfortunate as not to
have had a watch to hand over, he would have murdered and robbed me of
what I might have of any value. The murderous rascal!--Ah! how are
you, Loring? You here!" advancing and shaking Fred's hand cordially,
and continuing, "Show me that cut-throat! Which is he?"

The expression on Fred's countenance may possibly be imagined, but I
cannot describe it. And when, in answer to the call, "Prisoner, stand
up," he arose, his friend's--the plaintiff's--surprise was stupendous
for a moment; and then breaking into a hearty chuckle, he exclaimed:

"Of course _now_ I know it was a mistake."

The dignity of the place was forgotten by all then, and never was such
a shout of laughter heard before within those walls. But Fred could
not join in it, to save him. He had too lately stood in the place of
an individual bearing quite too many opprobrious epithets, to feel
very light-hearted.

He returned home to relieve Nellie's mind, telling her it was all
settled--she need have now no more anxiety about it. But he never told
her how it was settled. One thing, however, she noticed--he was not so
fond of his revolver's companionship as he used to be. And once she
heard him say:

"If the law was more strenuous with regard to the carrying of
concealed weapons, there would be fewer criminal indictments."



THE GHOST


Peeping through the leaves of the vine-covered bower, and watching
eagerly the path through the woods, was a beautiful little maiden. An
anxious look was in her deep blue eyes, as pressing her hands over her
heart, as if to stop its heavy beating, she said:

"Oh, why does he not come? How long a time! If he had good news, I
know he would come quicker. Oh, I have not a mite of hope!"

The pretty lips quivered then, and she stepped back, and sank on the
mossy seat.

A moment after a sound, slight as the dropping of leaves, caught her
ear. She sprang up, and for an instant a bright light shone in her
eyes, but quickly died away, as the slow, heavy step came nearer,
bringing to sight a tall, noble-looking young man, whose face, if less
stern, would have been very handsome.

Without speaking, he clasped her outstretched hand and drew her within
his arms, shaking his head sadly.

"I felt it was so, or you would have come sooner," the maiden said,
resting her head against his shoulder.

"I had little, if any, hope, Susie. I went this last time because you
bade me to."

"What did father say, Frank?"

"Over and over the same old story of having, since your babyhood,
intended you to be the wife of his friend's son. Oh, if I were
wealthier, it would be all right, I know," Frank said, his dark eyes
flashing.

"Don't talk so, dear, please. I do not like to hear you impute a wrong
motive to my father. I will never, never listen for one moment to any
words of love from George Forrester, or any other man but you, Frank.
So you may be sure, if papa will not let me marry you, I will never
marry at all," Susie said, her eyes full of tears, looking up to his.

"Susie, I have made three appeals to your father during the year past;
each time finding him, if possible, more determined to oppose our
happiness. I will _never_ humiliate myself again, and he will _never_
yield. Now what will you do?"

"Wait, hope and pray. I can do nothing more," Susie answered, in a
tearful voice.

"Yes, Susie, darling, you can, and secure our immediate happiness. You
can come with me, be my own true wife, love."

"No--no--_no_. I _can_not. I should not secure our happiness. I should
be miserable, and make you so."

"_Then_ I have nothing more to hope for. He will not give you to me,
and you will not come. Oh, Susie, how can you send me off? You know
you are all the world to me! If I lose you, I lose everything. I am
alone in the world. There are many loved ones to comfort your father,
until he comes to his better nature and calls you back to his heart.
Susie, am I to leave you forever?"

The beautiful dark eyes were looking into his, filled with so much
love. How could she resist?

"No--no. I shall die, if you leave me--never to come again! Oh, what
_am_ I to do? I love you better than my own life, Frank, indeed I do!
But, father--oh, how can I desert him? He loves me more than the
other children. I am the oldest, his first child, and so like what
mother was. That is _why_ he loves me so. And now _she_ has gone, I
_should_ stay--"

"And break your heart and mine, too, Susie?"

"If I thought, Frank, you would not mind it very long--"

"You would give me up! And, in time, get into your father's way of
thinking, and end by marrying the man he wants you to," Frank said,
withdrawing his arm and turning away with a great sigh.

"Oh, Frank, how _can_ you talk to me so?"

"Well, Susie, it is useless prolonging our sorrow. I had better say
good-by, and go forever."

"No, no, Frank, dear love. Oh! what am I to do?"

"Be happy, my own, and make me so. Be my wife before I return to W---.
Go with me. Susie, your mother loved me. I know, if here, she would
plead for me."

"Yes, she loved you, and perhaps in her blessed home she will pity me,
and win for me forgiveness, alike from heavenly as earthly father, if
longer my heart cannot resist my love," Susie sobbed, dropping her
golden head on her lover's bosom and promising all he wished.

"The last night at home," she said. "On the morrow I must go forth, to
return no more, the loving, dutiful child. Should he ever consent to
have me come back, I can never be again what I once was to his heart.
I shall have broken the trust he held in me," Susie moaned.

Tenderly the brother and sister were ministered to, her hand resting
on each little head, as their lisping voices followed hers in the
evening prayer. Willie and Emma arose, their demure faces lifted to
receive the good-night kiss. But Rosie, the two-and-a-half-year baby,
the dying mother's sacred charge, wound her tiny arms about the elder
sister, and with baby-like perversity hung on, lisping:

"Now Susu pay, too. _Pease_, Susu. Do!"

The baby plead; and Susie, raising her eyes to Rosie's, felt mother,
not far away, but near, _very_ near, and pleading through her child.

The sunny head was dropped again, and Susie prayed--even as Rosie had
begged her. Prayed for guidance to the better way.

Three pair of little pattering feet were resting. Three rosy faces
pressed the downy pillow, and Susie's evening task was done.

Gently she stole away.

"I will go to father myself, to-night. I will plead with him until he
must yield," Susie said, as cautiously closing, the door of the
nursery she entered her own room.

The evening was oppressive, and Susie's black dress became very
uncomfortable. Flitting about, guided by the moonbeams, she sought for
something of lighter texture. The mourning robe was laid aside, and a
dress, white and fleecy, wrapped her slender form. The clustering
ringlets were smoothed back, and rolled in a heavy coil high on the
back of her head.

"Now I will go down. Father will be alone at this hour, and--" She
paused, raised her sweet eyes upward, and clasping her hands she
murmured, "Mother in heaven, plead for me."

Noiselessly she opened the door and glanced into the room. Her father
sat with his back toward her, leaning on a table over which were
scattered books and papers. In his hand he held the picture of her
mother. She drew back a little, still, however, standing within the
door. She dared not interrupt the sacred privacy of the hour. The
rustle of her garments, light as it was, must have caught his ear, for
his bowed head was raised.

"Mary! my wife! my own!" he cried, starting forward, with extended
arms. "Thank God for granting me one glimpse of you again!"

Susie, awed and trembling, raised her eyes to see clothed as in life,
the same sweet, gentle face, the rippling hair, caught back from the
smooth, clear brow.

"Mother!" she breathed forth.

The room was lighted only by the moonbeams; but the vision was plainly
seen. Another eager glance, and Susie stole away to her own room, and
sank almost fainting into her mother's chair. A little while, and
grown calmer, she opened her eyes, to see again, directly in front of
her, the same vision.

She started forward, stretching out her arms, and calling softly,
"Mother."

Nearer--nearer she drew, until, face to face, she stood beside the
large mirror in front of which she had seated herself.

Unwittingly in one of her mother's dresses she had robed herself, and
gathered her curls in the manner her mother was accustomed to.

"How very, very like her I am! Yes, now I know: father saw me in the
mirror opposite which I stood. Well, I will not break his sweet
delusion. I meant it not, Heaven knows. Oh, if mother could only come
to him--in dreams, perhaps--to plead for me! I cannot desert him, I
cannot; I _dare_ not! But Frank--oh, how can I give him up! I will
give up neither, but clinging to both loved ones, will trust to Heaven
for a happy decision."

With this determination she sank to sleep, sweet and undisturbed.

Early next morning, as usual, she was in the breakfast-room,
ministering to the little ones clustering around her. The father's
frown had lost its accustomed sternness, as he stood regarding his
eldest child. A gentle, sympathetic light was in his eyes as they
rested on the sweet face grown older, much, in those days of anxious
care. How matronly she looked! So patiently listening to, and
answering every wish of the little ones.

At last they were all satisfied; and Susie seeing, as she thought, her
father deeply interested in the morning paper, stole away to the
trysting-place.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I cannot leave him, Frank. _Indeed, I never_ can without his blessing
resting on me. No, no!" she cried, as she saw the disappointed and
stern expression of her lover's face, "I have tried, in vain, to make
my mind up to it. How can I give up either? loving you both so well."

"You have trifled with me, Susie; you have broken your promise, too.
You will, most likely, never see me after this morning, if I go from
you. Are you determined?"

"Yes, dear, dear Frank, I am determined not to go unless father
blesses and bids me go. I will trust my happiness to him, and God, who
ruleth all things," Susie answered, looking very sorrowful,
notwithstanding her faith.

"Then, good-by."

She raised her face, pale and pleading, to his:

"Kiss me good-by, Frank, and say, 'God bless me,' please," she
whispered.

He did as she pleaded, but there was an injured air in his manner. As
he parted from her, she sprang after him, crying:

"Forgive me, Frank, if I have wounded you. Know that to me it is
worse. One little parting look of love, darling!"

"Oh, Susie, how can you?" He pressed her again to his heart, looked
lovingly enough: but his eyes, as plain as words could, repeated
Tennyson's lines:

     "Trust me all in all,
      Or not at all."

And, determined to make one more appeal, he said:

"Susie, darling! love! trust me for happiness. You will never repent
it. Come!"

"No, no. Go!"

He turned off quickly, angrily then; and Susie sank, sobbing, on the
grass.

"My daughter!"

She raised her eyes, heavy with tears. Beside her, with a sad but kind
and gentle face, her father stood. With him, a puzzled, doubtful
expression on his features, her lover.

"Oh, Frank, I am so--so glad to see you again!" she cried, with as
much joy beaming in her eyes as though their parting had been for
years.

"Yes; as it is so very long since you saw him last!" her father said,
with a pleasant smile.

"I feared it would be for years, perhaps forever," Susie said, in a
low voice, anxiously regarding her father, and longing to beg an
immediate explanation of her lover's return.

"My daughter, what did you intend to do after sending off this young
man? Be a dutiful child, and wed as I wish you?"

"Never, never, father! I intend to be dutiful only so far as not
wedding against your wishes, that is all--to leave the future to God,
only praying constantly that some blessed influence may be sent to
change your mind and heart," Susie answered, raising her eyes to his,
filled with earnest determination.

"Your prayers must have commenced already, my child. Some influence
hath surely been sent--some blessed influence, I truly believe. Yes,
my child, you will wed to please your father. Here, Frank, take her. I
ought to scold you for trying to coax her from me. I heard it all this
morning. But I forgive you for her sake, and bless you, too, boy, for
the sake of the one in heaven who loved you. There, there, daughter,
don't choke me with your kisses. Take her off, Frank, and make her
happy. She is a good child, and will make a true and loving wife. God
bless you both, my children!"

And so ended Susie's intended elopement.



THE TWO BROTHERS


"Ah here we are!" said pleasant voice, as the driver, having jumped
from his seat, opened the carriage door.

"Yes, sir, I think so. This is the street and number--244 or 246,
which did you say?"

"'Pon my word, I've forgotten, and lost the card," answered the
pleasant voice.

"The name, sir? I'll inquire."

"Never mind. I'll take a look at both houses, and see if I cannot
decide. I'm earlier than expected, so I can look well before they come
out to welcome me. Just dump my luggage down on the sidewalk, and make
off for another job," said the old gentleman, handing the fare to the
man, who soon after drove off.

"Well, here are two cottages alike, and very unlike, too. This one is
Charley's home, I know. Why? Because it is newly painted. The fencing
all in perfect order. The grounds, although very limited, are prettily
fixed up. Flowers and vines--ah, I like the looks of this place! And
I'm sure I'm right in fixing it in my mind as Charley's. Some
don't-carish fellow lives there--loves his pipe, cigars and wine, may
be, better than his home, wife and children. Dear, dear! how those
blinds are suffering for a coat of paint! A few dollars would make
that fence all right. How different that entrance would look with a
little rustic seat like this one! I wonder that fellow does not notice
how much he might improve his place, if he only did as Charley. But
here comes the servant. I'll get her to let me in."

"Rather sooner than you expected me, ain't it? Folks not up yet? Just
go back and open the door, my girl; let me in, and then tell Mr.
Charles Mayfield that his uncle has come!"

"Oh, sir, you mistake! It is _next_ door Mr. Charles Mayfield lives,"
answered the girl.

"Next door? No; _you_ mistake, surely. My nephew Charley can't live
there!"

"Yes, sir. But his--" What the girl was going to say was stopped by a
jovial voice in the next door, calling out: "Uncle, here! How are
you?" And a moment more the pleasant old gentleman was caught by both
hands and drawn along to the next house. His nephew Charley saying:
"I'm so delighted to see you! Come in!"

Into the parlor he was carried, and seated in a very comfortable
arm-chair. The interior was more inviting than the outside. It told
very plainly that the wife did her duty toward making everything as
nice as possible; in a word, making the best of her means.

A very short time after a sweet-faced little woman entered, and was
presented by Charley, saying:

"Here is your niece, uncle."

The old gentleman received her welcome greeting by a return of real
affection. His heart warmed immediately to his nephew's wife. She bore
the traces of beauty which had been chased away by an over-amount of
care, the uncle very soon felt sure. There was an unmistakable look of
weariness and anxiety in her eyes.

Very soon Nellie, as Charley called her, excused herself, and went
out, saying she had a very inexperienced servant, and had to oversee
and assist her in her work.

Breakfast was announced, which was one that Uncle Hiram enjoyed,
notwithstanding the feeling which was uppermost in his mind, that the
strong, fragrant coffee, the delicate rolls, and the steak which was
cooked just as it should be, in a word, all that was so nice, was the
result of Nellie's skilful hands. And she looked so tired and heated
when she sat down to do the honors of her table. Again Uncle Hiram
noticed that constantly her eyes wandered from the table to a door
which entered the next room, which was partially opened. Her ear
seemed strained to catch every sound. At length a little, feeble wail
told the cause of her anxiety.

"Will you excuse me a moment, uncle?" she asked, and continued: "Our
babe was quite sick all night, and I feel anxious about her."

A moment or so after Nellie withdrew, the servant came in, bringing a
fresh supply of hot rolls. Then Uncle Hiram had a chance of seeing the
help Nellie had with her many duties--a half-grown girl.

"Inexperienced, truly, inefficient and insufficient," said the kind
old man to himself; and he made a note of that on the tablets of his
heart.

Soon Nellie came back, looking much relieved, and said, smiling:

"She seems much better this morning. How these little ones fill our
heart with anxiety! I was up with her all night!"

Down went another note on Uncle Hiram's tablets. Awake all night with
a sick baby, and up cooking breakfast in the morning! No wonder her
youth and beauty have been chased away, poor, weary, over-worked
mother!

"Who lives next door, Charley?" asked his uncle, after they had
withdrawn from the breakfast-room.

"Why, I have a surprise for you--Henry lives there."

"Henry! Henry who?"

"Why, Henry Mayfield, my brother."

"No! Why, the last time I heard from him he was in St. Louis."

"Well, he is here now, and has been for five months. His wife's
relatives are all here. And so he having been offered a position in
the same firm with me, accepted it. We agreed to keep it as a pleasant
little surprise for you."

"Well, I'm glad of it."

Just as Uncle Hiram said so the object of their conversation came in.

Henry Mayfield was not the jovial, merry fellow that Charley was, and
not likely to be so generally a favorite. But there was an earnestness
and determination in his bearing that inspired respect immediately.

"Come, uncle! Go in with me to see my wife and little ones," said
Henry, after sitting and talking a while. "We have a half hour yet
before business requires us, and then, if you like, we will go down
town together."

Henry's parlor, into which he ushered his uncle, was furnished better
than his brother's; but still it was not so prettily arranged--the
"woman's touch" was not so plainly visible. Immediately Henry's wife
came in to welcome her husband's uncle.

She was a bright little woman, not near so delicately featured as
Nellie; but with a youthful, well-preserved look, an easy, quiet,
peaceful air about her that made Uncle Hiram feel quite sure, if he
stayed her guest a month, it would not put her out a bit. If any extra
care or worry came, it was not to her. Some one else's mind and hands
would have to overcome any difficulties.

"Henry, dear, have our boy brought in to see his uncle," she said.

"Ah, ha!" thought Uncle Hiram, "I see--the shoulders best able to bear
the burden of family cares have it. Just as it should be!"

A few moments, and the baby-boy was brought in by the nurse and
presented to the uncle. Baby, like his mother, looked happy and
healthy.

When they were about leaving for down town, Uncle Hiram heard Henry
say:

"Ada, please order the cook to delay dinner an hour to-day. I've
business which will delay me so long."

"Very well," was the smiling reply.

"A cook and a nurse. That is why Ada looks so calm, healthy and happy.
_Just_ as it _should_ be. Poor little, patient, over-worked Nellie! I
_wonder_ how it is, both having equal means. I must find out what the
trouble is," said Uncle Hiram to himself.

Now, Charley was not a drinking man, his uncle felt sure. He knew,
indeed, that when he first grew to manhood he had vowed never to touch
rum in any form.

The dinner at Charley's was better, if possible, than the breakfast.
It was a real treat to the old bachelor, whose life was spent in a
boarding-house, to partake of such good, healthy fare as Nellie gave
him. But always he felt like partaking of it under protest.
Nellie--little, weary, tired Nellie--ever filled his mind and heart.
At dinner Charley brought forth his _ale_, declaring it to be "the
very best in town." And after dinner his cigars, "none finer to be
found," he said.

Now, Uncle Hiram could partake of both without serious disadvantage
either to his health or purse. But caring very little for either, he
seldom used them. During the evening several gentlemen friends came in
to call on Charley's uncle, and again ale and cigars were put out.

Uncle Hiram went to calculating. Ale, fifty cents, at least, that day;
sometimes less, sometimes more. Make the average half as
much--twenty-five cents. Cigars always as much; frequently, as _that_
day, treble the amount. In a month it would sum up, to the very
lowest, fifteen dollars. And who could tell how much more? What would
not that money, worse than lost, have secured for Charley's wife and
children?

Rest, health, peace and length of days, most likely.

Now, Uncle Hiram knew well enough how it was Charley did not have
things beautiful without and around his premises, and why Nellie's
weary mind and tired hands could not have help and rest.

But, next, he must find out how it was that with Henry things were so
very different.

The following day Uncle Hiram dined with Henry. Everything was
excellent and well cooked; and Ada sat at the head of the table, with
an easy, quiet grace, which perfectly relieved Uncle Hiram's mind from
any care for her. He knew very well Ada's husband sought in every way
to relieve her of all unnecessary care and anxiety. After dinner came
tea and coffee--nothing more. When they retired from the table Henry
said:

"Uncle, would you like a cigar or pipe? I'll get you one in a few
moments, if you say so."

"And will you join me?" asked his uncle.

"I do not use either. I care not for the weed, and think it better not
to cultivate a taste," answered Henry.

"You are right, my boy--and how about wine or ale?"

"Nothing of the kind, uncle."

"Total abstinence, is it, Henry?"

"Yes, sir."

"I knew you were a temperate man, as is Charley. But he takes his
ale, I notice," said Uncle Hiram.

"Yes, I wish he did not; a man has no idea how such little things, as
he thinks them, draw upon his purse."

"I know, I know!" said Uncle Hiram. And he no longer wondered at the
difference in Charley's and Henry's style of living. And so he had a
good talk with Charley, and showed him how Henry, with the same
salary, could keep two servants and beautify his home, and he not be
able "to keep his head above water," to use his own expression.

"Yes, my boy, the cause is just this--the difference between
_temperance_ and _total_ abstinence. You'll try it now, will you not,
for your wife's sake?" said Uncle Hiram.

"Indeed I will, sir, and with many thanks to you for opening my eyes,"
answered Charley, who really loved his wife, but was thoughtless, and
never for a moment had considered himself at all responsible for
Nellie's failing health, strength and beauty.

When Uncle Hiram's next visit was made, he saw, before he entered the
house, that Charley had kept his word. And when Nellie's joyous
greeting was sounding in his ear he knew then that all was "just as it
should be" with Nellie, as well as Ada. And the grateful little wife
knew to whom she was indebted for the happy change, and blessed Uncle
Hiram for it.



WHAT HE LEFT


     "I know not of the truth, d'ye see,
     I tell the tale as 'twas told to me."

Mark Brownson was dying, slowly, but surely, so the physician told his
wife, and advised that if he had any business to settle, it should not
be delayed.

"He is sinking, and even now I see his mind is, at times, a little
clouded. However, I suppose there is nothing of importance that he
should consider," said the doctor.

"He has made no will," said Mrs. Brownson,

"Is that necessary? I did not know--"

"I think it is very necessary, doctor, for his children's welfare. Not
that I think it at all likely there can be any contest about what Mr.
Brownson has. Yet to provide against any future troubles, it would be
prudent, I think."

The good doctor assented, but looked much surprised.

And well he might. No one imagined old Mark Brownson had anything to
will. But he was a very eccentric man; and the economical style of his
establishment was likely one of his notions.

"Are you suffering much pain now, Mark?" asked Mrs. Brownson, a few
moments after, when she was seated at her husband's bedside.

"Yes, yes; give me my composing draught--the opium--anything to
relieve me," answered the suffering man.

His wife obeyed, and after his groaning and restlessness had ceased,
she said:

"I want to talk to you, Mark. Can you listen now?"

A nodded assent gave her permission to proceed.

"Do you not think it would be as well for you to express your wishes
with regard to the disposition of your stocks and other effects? You
may outlive me, Mark, and this thing not be necessary, still I think
it better to attend to such business," said Mrs. Brownson, closely
watching the effect her words might have on the sufferer.

She had feared possibly they might shock him severely, but depending
much on the favorable influence of the opiate, she had ventured on the
business she considered so important.

A look of satisfaction replaced the anxiety of a moment before. She
had no longer cause for fear. Calmly Mark Brownson heard her
suggestion, and said, in a feeble voice:

"What have I to will?"

"Why, dear, you forget. Your long sickness and the opium--no wonder!
There is the stock in the 'Liverpool Steamship Company,' and that in
the 'Australian Mining Company.' Surely you have not forgotten your
large amount in our State bonds? And how much you have in 'Fire and
Life Insurance stock' I cannot just remember now. However, by
reference to the papers I can tell."

Again she watched her husband's face. It only expressed a rather
puzzled brain, as though he was trying to remember.

"You have such papers? I cannot think," he said.

"Don't try to, dear. It is not necessary. I will just look over your
papers, and make a statement; and when I read them over to you in
presence of the lawyer, you can assent. You wish an equal division
between myself and our daughters, I know. Is it not so?"

"Yes, yes. You are always right," murmured her husband.

"There, dear, go to sleep now. Some time when you are easy we will fix
this," said Mrs. Brownson.

And the next day, at an hour when she knew her husband's mind was best
prepared, a lawyer was summoned, and a statement of stocks and bonds
to the amount of two hundred thousand dollars placed before him, and
Mark Brownson expressed his wish to have an equal division of his
effects made between his wife and two children.

The will was made, and duly signed and witnessed by two of the nearest
neighbors and the only domestic, a worthy woman who had been with Mrs.
Brownson for many years.

A few days more, and Mark Brownson had passed from earth.

Many wondered at the very quiet and unostentatious style of the last
services for him; but the widow had said:

"In death it shall be with him as he always preferred in life."

And then when all was over, and the summer months were coming, Mrs.
Brownson sold out the modest little establishment, and, with her
daughters and their faithful servant, went to board by the seashore,
at a very fashionable resort; but, of course, not to mingle in the gay
festivities of the season, only to recruit her health, which was very
much impared by long attention to her suffering husband, and to have
the girls escape the heat and dust of the city.

A few days after they were settled in their new abode, Mrs. Brownson
said to her attendant:

"Margaret, you were very much surprised by hearing Mr. Brownson's
will."

"Oh, yes, ma'am, indeed I was."

"Well, Margaret, I do not wish you to mention anything about it down
here. Mr. Brownson, you know, never let it be known to the world. And
so it must be for the present. I do not wish my daughters to be
married for anything but their own good qualities. They are good and
beautiful enough to marry well, without having any other inducements
for suitors. Now, Margaret, you know just how I feel, and what I
mean?" said the anxious mother.

"Certainly I do! And I feel as much concerned about my beautiful young
ladies as you do, ma'am. Never fear but I will look out for their
interest," answered the worthy woman.

And to do as she said, to the best of her understanding, Margaret set
out for a walk on the beach, with some of the other servants and their
escorts, the waiters from the hotel. And before the next noon it was
well known what a good chance there was for two young men to win as
beautiful wives as ever were seen, to say nothing of the other greater
attractions.

And very soon the sisters, Maud and May, were objects of universal
observation. Yet it was very difficult to get an introduction, the
young gentlemen all found; for the widow kept the beautiful girls very
much secluded.

Numberless were the delicate attentions paid them, in the way of
bouquets, books, and so on, sent by Margaret; and several cards to
Mrs. Brownson, with the request for an introduction, accompanied by
references--among which came those of Vernon Wadsworth and Harry
Bennett.

The first one Mrs. Brownson knew well by reputation. He was a young
physician of very fine promise, and, being of one of the best
families in the State, she considered him worthy of her attention. The
other, she had heard since her arrival there, was the possessor of a
very fair amount of worldly goods, the life-long accumulation of an
old miser uncle. So, from the many aspirants, Mrs. Brownson selected
these two to present to her daughters.

Just at this time, Doctor Alton, Mrs. Brownson's friend and the
physician who had attended her husband, arrived at the sea-shore; and
through him, without any more trouble or waiting the mother's
pleasure, young Doctor Wadsworth obtained an introduction, and
presented his friend, Bennett.

And although both of these young men did their best to keep back all
others by various manoeuvres, many more became acquainted with the
lovely sisters, who soon, much to their own surprise, became decidedly
the belles of that resort.

Carefully Mrs. Brownson had guarded her secret from her girls,
fearing, perhaps, it would have a prejudicial effect, changing their
sweet, unassuming manner, which was one of their greatest charms; or,
perhaps, for other motives best known to herself.

Although Doctor Wadsworth and young Bennett very much feared the
approach of other suitors, it was quite needless, for the girls were
best pleased with the first who had sought them and drawn them forth
from their seclusion.

The older one, Maud, a brilliant brunette, received with undisguised
pleasure the devoted attention of Harry Bennett; while gentle little
May, so fair and timid, always greeted the handsome doctor by a rosy
flush suffusing her beautiful face; and then, from a shy, quick glance
from the eyes, that had drooped at his approach, he would see the glad
light that told how welcome his coming was.

"We must win them, now, doctor; you see how much they are admired and
sought here. What will it be when they are out of their mourning robes
and in the gayeties of the city? This is our best chance. What say
you?" asked young Bennett, a fortnight after their introduction.

"Say! That the very idea of even losing _sight_ of that gentle,
beautiful May for a day, fills my heart with misgiving and great
anxiety. I tell you, I began this affair rather in fun--"

"You mean _after funds_, perhaps!" interrupted Bennett.

A flush suffused Doctor Wadsworth's face for an instant, and he
answered:

"Well, I'll admit that is not at all objectionable; but really, now
that I know May Brownson, I would not be willing to resign her to
another man, even if she had not a dollar in the world."

There was an expression about Harry Bennett's mouth that looked as if
his lips wanted to say: "I don't believe you"--only they did not just
dare to. Harry Bennett was as much in love as he could be with any one
other than himself, still he was not going to leap without looking.
So, after learning a little more than he had already heard from
Margaret, he was called, very urgently, to the city. After an absence
of only two days he was back again, and stated to Doctor Wadsworth his
knowledge of Mark Brownson's possessions. That evening Mrs. Brownson
received proposals for both of her daughters.

She must consider the matter, and consult with her friends, the
prudent mother thought and said to the anxious suitors.

This made them each more determined to secure the prize.

"Dear May, plead with your mother for me!" said the ardent young
doctor.

"Mamma will consent after a while," answered the gentle girl.

"After a while! Why not now? I am going away next month for a long
time. I cannot leave you, May. Would you wish me to?"

May turned pale at the thought, and raised her pleading eyes to her
mother.

It was enough. Doctor Wadsworth had used the surest weapon. A
separation was dreaded by both mother and daughter, and each for
different reasons. And then it was an easier thing for Harry Bennett
to obtain the mother's consent, to claim his love at the same time.

Mrs. Brownson, after giving her consent, requested a private interview
with her prospective sons-in-law. The girls were sent from the room,
and then Mrs. Brownson said:

"I have thought possibly, gentlemen, that a very foolish rumor may
have reached your ears respecting the wealth possessed by my
daughters, and that--excuse me, but I must allude to it--this may in a
measure have influenced your selecting them from the many young girls
here--"

"Oh, madam!" both men exclaimed simultaneously.

"If I tell you they have nothing but their pure hearts and loving
natures, will you not be disappointed?"

"No, madam. How can you judge me so?" exclaimed both.

"I am glad it is so. I would not have you marry my daughters under
false impressions."

"When May is mine, I shall think I have secured the most valuable
fortune any man can have," said the doctor, with a really honest look
in his eyes.

"When Maud is mine, I shall _know_ I have secured _all_ I would wish,"
added Harry Bennett, with rather a sly twinkle in his eyes.

And so it was agreed that they should be united there, and after a
very private wedding leave for an extensive bridal tour.

"The old fox! Is she not a sly one? She thought to throw us off, I do
believe. But _I_ am as bright as she," said Harry Bennett, after the
interview.

"Really, Bennett, that is not a very respectful way of speaking of the
mother of your promised wife," replied Doctor Wadsworth.

"Well, no; you are right. But just to think of her talking so to us!"
answered Harry, with an air of injured pride.

The ceremony was over. After an acquaintance of less than six weeks,
Doctor Wadsworth and Harry Bennett had won their wives.

And while the brides had retired to change their dress for the
travelling-suit, the happy young husbands requested to speak a moment
with their mother-in-law.

"Indeed _you_ must speak; I will not," said Doctor Wadsworth, in a low
tone, as he closed the door, and with Bennett approached Mrs.
Brownson.

After a moment's hesitation, Harry Bennett said:

"Now, Mrs. Brownson, that we have proved our sincerity and real love
for your daughters, there is no reason for any longer concealment."

"About what, sir?" asked his mother-in-law.

"Come, my dear madam; this is entirely useless. You have tried and
proved us. Now to business."

"Really, Mr. Bennett, I am at a loss to understand you! Will you
please to be explicit?"

"Well, madam, then I must tell you that I am perfectly well aware that
my wife is entitled to the one-third of two hundred thousand dollars
left by her father. Now, my dear madam, we are going on a very long
and expensive trip, and may need more than I have in ready money.
Now, that is just the whole truth," said Harry, who had gotten over
his slight embarrassment, and then spoke in a very business sort of
manner.

Not so Doctor Wadsworth; he seemed very much mortified, and looked as
if he wished he was away from that scene.

"Mr. Bennett, I spoke to you about this report, and told you how false
it was, did I not?"

"Oh, yes, madam; but you see--"

"You still believe this, even when I again tell you that neither I nor
my daughters have a dollar in the world beyond the small amount I have
now from the sale of my household effects? I assure you, sir, I speak
the truth," said Mrs. Brownson, in a tone and manner that would have
enforced belief.

But Harry Bennett said, triumphantly:

"Madam, I have seen Mr. Brownson's will."

"_That_ will, my dear sir, is not worth the paper it is written on.
Mr. Brownson was out of his _head_, and _imagined_ he was possessed of
that sum in bonds and stock. If you can find any such possession, no
one would welcome it more gladly than I. You can readily prove the
truth."

Harry Bennett gazed bewildered from his mother-in-law to Doctor
Wadsworth, and then said in a low voice, as if to himself:

"Caught and caged."

"And I am glad of it," exclaimed the doctor, who was truly glad of
anything to end that very embarrassing interview. "Come, Bennett, we
must arrange our trip to suit the extent of our purse, and be happy
with the prizes we have won."

"Well, madam, I must say that the old gentleman's will _was_ worth
something. For I'll own up now, it helped very much to secure you
_one_ very nice young man for your son. I'll speak a word for him,
although he has been _done up to a very Brown son!_ I'm ready now,
Wadsworth, and we won't shorten our trip one mile; for _I've_ got a
fortune, thanks to my old uncle. Yes, and _another_, I'll have to
admit (there she is now), thanks to her father's will."

Mrs. Brownson could not resist a smile. She had no misgivings about
her children's future happiness. If they had not already secured their
husbands' affection, she knew they would soon; for who could help
loving such lovely girls!





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Edna's Sacrifice and Other Stories" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home