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Title: Partners - A Novel.
Author: Werner, E., 1838-1918
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 "Partners - A Novel." ***

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Transcriber's Notes:
   1. Page scan source:
      http://books.google.com/books?id=WO0BAAAAQAAJ&dq

   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



                          _At every Library_.

                               LUCREZIA.

                               _A STORY_.

                          By MRS. COMYNS CARR,

            _Author of_ "_North Italian Folk_," "_A Story of
                            Autumn_," _&c_.


                           *   *   *   *   *
                            1 Vol. 10s. 6d.
                           *   *   *   *   *


                 REMINGTON & CO., 134, New Bond St., W.


                         _Of all Booksellers_.



                               PARTNERS.


                                A Novel.



                                   BY

                               E. WERNER.

        AUTHOR OF "SUCCESS AND HOW HE WON IT," "UNDER A CHARM,"
                "RIVEN BONDS," "NO SURRENDER," &c., &c.



                           *   *   *   *   *
                     _TRANSLATED BY H. G. GODWIN_.
                           *   *   *   *   *



                                London:
                           REMINGTON AND CO.,
                          New Bond Street, W.
                               *   *   *
                                 1882.

                        [_All Rights Reserved_.]



                               PARTNERS.



                               CHAPTER I.


It was afternoon on a sunny spring day. The profound Sabbath rest and
stillness which found no place in the incessant turmoil of the great
commercial seaport reigned the more undisturbed around a country house
which lay beyond the great sea of buildings near the shore, and whose
park-like grounds stretched down to the water. It was one of those
imposing, elegantly and luxuriously appointed villas which rich
townspeople usually inhabit when they wish to live secure from street
noises and confusion, and yet would be able to reach the town without
great loss of time. In the drawing-room, whose French windows opened
upon the garden terrace, were a lady and gentleman engaged in an eager
and obviously earnest conversation. The cheeks of the young lady glowed
in hot excitement, and she struggled visibly with hardly repressed
tears, while the gentleman appeared perfectly indifferent and unmoved.
He was a man of middle age, but with already completely grey hair, and
grave, cold features; his whole appearance betokened the business man.
The calm and cool indifference of his manner was not lost for a moment
in the most exciting conversation, and even his mode of speaking was
dry and businesslike, without a trace of any warmer feeling.

"Really, Jessie," said he, "I am weary of this constant repetition of
the old lamentations. As your guardian and relative I have undertaken
the care of your future, and I should have thought the future which I
lay before you acceptable enough. But such a silly, romantic, girlish
head will never be able to judge what is for its own happiness."

The silly, romantic, girlish head was at least not deficient in grace.
Without being regularly beautiful, the fair head, the delicate, but
very expressive features, and the rather languishing blue eyes, had
something uncommonly attractive.

At this moment, however, the youthful countenance bore the expression
of passionate excitement, and the same excitement trembled in her voice
when she replied--

"My happiness! What you call by that name, Uncle Sandow, lies
immeasurably far from what is happiness to me."

"Will you, perhaps, tell me what misty and fantastic idea you connect
with the word?" said Sandow, in a sarcastic tone. "Happiness is a
brilliant position in life, in the midst of wealth, at the side of a
husband who, under all circumstances, can be a support to you. That is
offered to you with the hand of a man"--

"Whom I don't even know," interrupted Jessie.

"But whose acquaintance you will make within an hour. Besides, my
brother is no stranger to you, even if you have not yet actually seen
him. According to his portrait, his exterior leaves nothing to be
wished for, and you have declared that no other inclination binds you.
Why, then, this obstinate struggle against a union for which Gustave is
already prepared?"

"Just because he was so quickly prepared for it. I cannot--I will not
confide my future to a man who does not for a moment hesitate to give
up his chosen calling, his already brilliant career, because the
prospect of a wealthy match is held out to him."

Sandow shrugged his shoulders.

"There again are the exaggerated ideas with which your German education
has imbued you, and without which you were quite sentimental enough.
Chosen calling! Brilliant career! You seem to have a very exalted idea
of the position of a German journalist. Gustave's pen is admired and
sought for so long as the whim of the public and the present political
tendency last. Sooner or later that will come to an end, and then
good-bye to his brilliant career. Here in America independence, riches,
and the coveted post of head of a great commercial house, are offered
to him. He would be worse than a fool to throw that up in order to
continue to write leading articles."

"That is a matter of taste, and I assure you, Uncle Sandow, it would be
quite immaterial to me whom you might choose as a partner if you would
not draw me within the circle of your business calculations."

"I do it in your own interest. You know it was the dearest wish of your
late father to keep your fortune in the business. He ever hoped that
his place there would be filled by his son-in-law. It was not granted
to him to see this himself."

"No," said Jessie, softly, "for he never had the heart to force me as
you do now."

Sandow made an impatient movement.

"What exaggerated expressions are these! I do not think of forcing you,
but I require with the greatest decision that you should listen to
reason, and not cast aside the idea of this union without farther
consideration, merely because it does not agree with your romantic
ideas. You are nineteen, and must now think of marriage. Ideal
marriages, such as you dream of, do not exist. To every one who woos
you your fortune is the great attraction. The days of disinterested
love are long past, and when one or another plays such a comedy with
you it is only more surely to squander your money afterwards. It is
important that you should make that perfectly clear to yourself, or the
inevitable disappointments may be too hard for you."

An incredible heartlessness lay in the icy calm with which he reckoned
all this up in the ears of his ward, and reduced the step on which
depended all the dreams, illusions, all the future hopes of the young
girl, to a flavourless calculation, of which the factor was her
fortune.

Jessie's lip trembled painfully at this merciless exposition, for the
air of infallibility with which it was pronounced showed her that
Sandow really expressed his inmost convictions. Had she not already
learnt what it meant to be a good match, and to thus enchain the
selfishness and calculations of every man with whom she came in
contact? Even her guardian saw and respected in her only the heiress, a
bitter thought for a young creature whose heart longed passionately for
happiness and love.

"Here you need not fear this," continued Sandow, who looked on her
silence as a kind of assent. "This marriage offers you both similar
advantages. With your hand Gustave receives a fortune and a high
position in the commercial world here; through him you retain an
interest in your father's business, and have the certainty that your
wealth will be controlled and increased by your husband. The thing is
so clear and simple that I cannot really comprehend your obstinate
resistance, particularly as you have interested yourself formerly about
Gustave, and you have always read his articles with the greatest
enthusiasm."

"Because I believed in the writer of them; because I did not imagine it
possible that all this glowing love of country, all this enthusiasm for
the great and beautiful, could be only phrases to be cast to the winds
as soon as it appeared advantageous to do so."

"These knights of the quill are accustomed to fine expressions," said
Sandow slightingly. "It is a business matter. It would be hard upon
them if they must match word and deed. Gustave has written as his
situation and the tendency of the day demanded, and now he acts as
reason requires. If he did not he would be useless to me as a partner.
And now let us end the discussion. I do not urge you to decide either
to-day or to-morrow, but await nevertheless with certainty your assent
to my wishes."

"Never!" cried Jessie, flaming out. "To belong to a man who sees in me
merely a paragraph in a business contract; to an egoist who sacrifices
to his material gain all that is holy and dear to others! Never!
Never!"

Sandow took little or no notice of this passionate outburst. If Jessie
had been his daughter he would have simply commanded and forced her to
follow his wishes, but he knew too well the limits of his power as
guardian to attempt anything of the kind here. He knew besides that his
long-accustomed and dreaded authority was of itself a kind of
compulsion to the girl, and was determined to employ it.

"We will leave the subject now," said he, rising. "I am going to the
station, and expect in an hour to present my brother to you. You will
condescend in the first place to learn to know him, and everything else
will follow in time. Good-bye."

With this he left the room, and the carriage, which had been waiting
for him, rolled from the door.

Jessie remained alone, and now, when she felt herself no longer under
the ban of those cold, hard eyes, the long-repressed tears burst forth.
The girl plainly did not belong to those energetic natures which set
will against will. In these tears she betrayed all the weakness of a
character accustomed to be directed and led, and which, in the first
struggle to which it must arm itself, feels its own impotence.

It was, indeed, the first struggle of her life. Reared in the happiest
circumstances, sheltered by the love of the tenderest parents, pain had
first approached her when her mother died, and two years after her
father followed his wife to the grave. In his will, Sandow, the friend
and partner of many years, was named guardian of the orphan girl, and
her pecuniary interests could have been placed in no better hands.

But Jessie had never succeeded in forming a real attachment to her
uncle, though she had known him from her childhood. He was a near
relation of her mother's, and like her a native of Germany. More than
twelve years before he had come almost destitute to America, and had
sought and found a situation in her father's business. They said
misfortunes and bitter experiences had driven him from Europe. What
these really had been Jessie could never learn, for even her parents
seemed only partially informed on the subject, and Sandow himself never
alluded to it.

In the beginning he had been placed in a subordinate position in the
office merely out of consideration for him as a connection, but he soon
developed such a restless activity, such prudence and energy, that he
speedily won for himself a place second only to the chief himself, and
when a threatened business crisis was turned aside only through his
timely and energetic action, he was promoted to a share in the concern,
which under his guidance soon made quite a new departure. A succession
of bold and fortunate speculations raised the, till then, modest firm
to the position of the first in the town, and the new chief managed to
employ so successfully the weight which this good-fortune gave him that
he became almost sole ruler, and at all events possessed the first and
decisive voice in any question of importance.

In this way Sandow had become in a comparatively short time a wealthy
man. As he was alone, he resided as before in the house of his
relations, but in spite of this domestic intercourse of many years'
duration, and in spite also of the community of interests, he had never
become really united with them. His cold, harsh manner closed the way
to any nearer approach; he recognised nothing but business interests
and incessant labour, and never sought rest or relaxation in the family
circle; indeed, these were things which for him appeared to have no
existence.

Jessie's father made no opposition to his partner taking the greater
portion of the work and anxiety off his own shoulders, being himself
more inclined to social enjoyment, to an easy family life. Since he met
Sandow's wishes on this point the relations between the two men had
always been most harmonious, though they may have arisen in the first
place more out of mutual necessity than real friendship.

Now the management of the young heiress's possessions lay in Sandow's
hands alone, and he soon extended his rights so far as to wish to
control also her future. With the same inconsiderate selfishness which
all his undertakings displayed, he wove the plan of a marriage between
his ward and his brother, and was as much surprised as displeased when
his scheme, which was unconditionally accepted on the one side, found
decided opposition on the other. However, he paid little attention to
this opposition, and was firmly convinced that the girl, who till now
had shown neither strength nor inclination for independent action,
would also, in this respect, follow his wishes.

The hour destined for the journey to and from the station had nearly
elapsed when the carriage again drew up at the door, and immediately
after the two gentlemen appeared in the drawing-room where Jessie still
sat.

Sandow did not appear in the least agitated at again meeting his
brother after a separation of so many years. His manner was as unmoved,
his tone as cool as usual, as he presented Mr. Gustave Sandow to Miss
Jessie Clifford. The new arrival approached the young lady with a
polite bow.

"May I also reckon on a friendly reception from you, Miss Clifford? I
come as a stranger indeed, but I bring you a greeting from the land
which was your mother's. Let this be my introduction to you."

That sounded not only kindly, but friendly, almost warm. Jessie looked
up with surprise, but the searching, piercing look which met hers
chilled her again directly, for it recalled to her the cause of their
acquaintance. She replied with cool civility--

"I hope you had a pleasant voyage, Mr. Sandow."

"Remarkably so. We had the calmest sea, the most agreeable passage, and
also during my land journey the weather has been most delightful."

"That is why you have protracted it so long, I suppose," said Sandow,
joining in the conversation. "You have wandered about the country in
every direction like a tourist. We expected you a fortnight ago."

"Well, one ought to learn to know the country and the people," rejoined
Gustave. "Did you wish me to come direct here?"

"Not exactly. I quite understand your staying in the large towns. It is
always an advantage to be personally acquainted with one's commercial
correspondents. Unfortunately I have no time for it, but I certainly
provided you with plenty of letters of introduction. What is it--a
telegram?"

The last words were addressed to a servant who had entered behind the
two gentlemen, and who now offered him a telegram which had just
arrived.

While Gustave and Miss Clifford exchanged the first general remarks,
the elder brother opened the telegram, glanced over it, and then,
turning to the other two, said--

"I must leave you for half an hour; a matter of business which demands
immediate attention."

"To-day! Sunday?" asked Gustave. "Do you, then, never allow yourself a
moment's rest?"

"Why should I? Something might then be neglected. On Sunday, when the
offices are closed, I have the most pressing business sent out here.
You looked up Jenkins and Co. in New York, Gustave? The telegram comes
from them. I shall speak about it to you later. Meanwhile, I leave you
in Jessie's company; so good-bye."

He folded the telegram together and went.



                              CHAPTER II.


The younger brother looked after him with an air of the most profound
astonishment.

"Well! one does not seem in danger of being spoiled by excessive
brotherly love," he remarked drily, turning towards Jessie.

"You must know your brother to a certain extent," she answered simply,
accustomed to see business take precedence of everything.

"Certainly! but in Europe he was a little more considerate. I thought I
had a claim on, at least, the first hour after my arrival."

"You must be tired after your journey," said Jessie, seeking for some
excuse for avoiding this equally unexpected and undesired
_tête-à-tête_. "Your rooms are ready if you would, perhaps"--

"Thanks, no!" interrupted Gustave; "I am not in the least tired, and
have really every cause to be grateful to Jenkins and Co. for procuring
me the pleasure of your company."

With that he drew a chair towards him, and sat down opposite to her.
But neither his serene and careless air, nor his prepossessing
appearance, succeeded in thawing the cold reserve of the young lady.
She was not surprised to find him considerably younger than her
guardian, as she knew he was the child of a second marriage. The elder
brother was, indeed, already past middle age, while the younger was
scarcely over thirty. On the whole, his exterior was exactly that
represented in the picture which hung in his brother's study. A
powerful, manly figure, agreeable, intelligent features, dark hair and
beard, and lively, sparkling dark eyes, which were distinctly fine and
expressive. But it was just those eyes which displeased Jessie, for she
felt instinctively that her whole character was being put to the proof
by them. The same observant glance which had met hers in the first
moment of their acquaintance rested steadily on her countenance. Mr.
Sandow, junior, was openly examining her, as the first paragraph of the
business contract clearly entitled him to do, and that was amply
sufficient to awake the most decided opposition in the mind of the
young lady. He began the conversation by remarking--

"I am unfortunately quite unacquainted with your home. I come, an
inexperienced European, as if fallen from the clouds into the new
world, and count upon your friendly support."

"I think you will find the help of your brother better, and more to be
relied on, than any I might venture to give."

"No doubt, as far as business affairs are concerned. Under all other
circumstances, however, he seems to me rather unapproachable, and then
there are some subjects with which I should like to make myself
acquainted by the way."

By the way! Yes, just so, by the way, so should a marriage be
considered a life-long bond which others are accustomed to regard as
the highest and holiest. The "inexperienced European" seemed to look on
life quite from his brother's point of view, and to consider such
relations as merely of secondary importance.

"But no doubt they are entirely business affairs which bring you here,"
said Jessie, not without irony. "As far as I know, you intend to enter
our firm?"

"Certainly! My brother has made that an indispensable condition."

"Condition! Were you not, then, free to act as you chose, Mr. Sandow?
But I forgot; no doubt it concerns the inheritance of your brother's
fortune."

The stab struck home; that was seen in the sudden flash of the dark
eyes, but it produced no other effect, for Gustave replied with the
most delightful candour--

"Quite right; the inheritance. It really was in jeopardy had I
declined. My brother was quite capable of leaving the whole of his
means to a philanthropical institution had I not obeyed his wishes."

Jessie hardly knew whether to be more surprised or annoyed at the
openness with which this man acknowledged that he had come to America
merely for the sake of the money. And this he declared before the woman
whose hand and fortune were both destined for him, and in whom
annoyance at last gained the upper hand as she replied--

"Till now I did not know that calculation was so well understood in
Germany."

"Oh! thank God at last we are becoming a practical people," said
Gustave, with unalterable composure. "We have been long about it, but
now we are making undeniable progress. You seem to consider it a
reproach, Miss Clifford!"

"No; but I learnt to look on the land to which my mother belonged, and
which she taught me to regard as a second home, from quite another
side."

"From the ideal side probably. Now I will not deny that this also
exists; but, on the whole, people are now sweeping away the ideal from
amongst us. There are only a few who still acknowledge it in word or
deed."

"Just on that account should the few gather round their threatened
colours, and venture life and blood for their sake!"

The phrase sounded rather peculiar in the mouth of a young girl, but
she was plainly understood. Again the dark eyes flashed, but this time
in unconcealed surprise.

"Ah! how flattering! A quotation from one of my own articles! You know
them then?"

"The journal with which you are connected is one of the greatest
political importance," said Jessie coolly. "It has always been read in
our house. But just because I know your articles, does it surprise me
that you were able to release yourself so easily and completely from
all the bonds which held you to your native country."

"You mean the duties to which I am bound by my connection with the
journal!" remarked Gustave. "There were certainly difficulties, but
they have been arranged according to my wishes. One journalist more or
less in Germany makes no difference, and my pen has been long since
replaced by another, and, no doubt, a better one."

Jessie pressed her lips together. This wilful misunderstanding angered
her inexpressibly, and she was still more annoyed at the persevering
gaze, which yet had nothing obtrusive, but strove to conceal itself
under the appearance of an animated conversation. In spite of this
Jessie had the sensation that her whole character was being thoroughly
studied, and this drove her by degrees from her reserve into a state of
irritation entirely foreign to her disposition.

"I did not know I had such an attentive reader on this side the ocean,"
Gustave continued, in the most amiable manner. "Since I have learnt the
fact, I should like to beg for your criticism. You have declared
already that you love my home like a second fatherland. May I, then,
reckon on your sympathy for all that my pen describes?"

"You have given up your literary career," remarked Jessie, "for a more
advantageous one."

"Yes; I yielded to the force of circumstances. That does not seem to be
judged favourably, but perhaps the author finds more grace in your eyes
than the future partner in the firm of Clifford and Company."

"At all events, I can admire the ease with which the one has been
metamorphosed into the other."

It was an annihilating look which accompanied the words, but Gustave
Sandow was not to be so easily annihilated. He bore the look calmly,
and his reply betrayed even a certain humour, which increased the
growing irritation of the young lady.

"The criticism is not a favourable one, I see. But that is just the
reason why I must hear it. You must not withhold your bad opinion from
me, Miss Clifford. I insist upon knowing my sentence."

"Without reserve?"

"Quite without reserve."

"Well, then, Mr. Sandow, I declare openly to you that I have read with
the fullest sympathy and admiration everything which came from your
pen, till the moment when you accepted your brother's proposal. I
should never have thought it possible. I thought that anyone who
devoted himself so entirely to his country as you did, who fought so
energetically for its rights, who summoned others so stirringly to
their duties, must also abide by the colours to which he had sworn
fealty, and dare not forsake them for mere fortune's sake. I could not
believe that the pen from which flowed such glowing words should serve
for the future to write figures, and only figures; that the undaunted
champion should of his own free-will throw down his weapons, and quit
the lists, to take a comfortable seat at the office desk. I doubted the
possibility till the moment of your arrival, and that I must at last
believe it--that is the bitterest disappointment of my life!"

Jessie felt herself to be drawn on by her excitement to insult the man
who sat before her, but she cared not for that. She saw in him only the
adversary, only the importunate suitor, whom she would keep at a
distance cost what it might. Let him feel in the first hour how deeply
she despised his selfishness, then there would be no room to doubt how
she felt about the marriage scheme, and she was safe from his wooing.
But he did not appear very sensitive to insult, for he maintained the
most perfect composure.

"Miss Clifford, for a merchant's daughter, and the sleeping partner in
a great mercantile house, you appear to nourish very disrespectful
ideas of accounts and the office desk," said he, with revolting
indifference. "My brother would be shocked. I feel myself extremely
flattered that my modest pen has had the power of awakening so much
interest, and as to the disappointment, I do not give up the hope of at
last succeeding in bringing you to a better opinion of my performances
at the office desk."

Jessie made no reply. She completely lost her self-control at this way
of turning affront into compliment, and at the smiling calm with which
the man[oe]uvre was carried out.

Fortunately at this moment the door opened, and Sandow entered.

"The telegrams are sent off," said he. "Now I am again at your
disposal. I suppose dinner will soon be ready, Jessie?"

"I have still some necessary orders to give, which I will do at once."

And hastily, as if taking to flight before the new arrival, but not
without casting on him another glance of contempt, she left the room.

"Well, what do you think of Jessie?" said Sandow, as soon as the
brothers were alone; "and what progress have you made with her?"

"Progress! Surely, Frank, you did not quite expect me to make her a
proposal of marriage at the first interview!"

"But at least you might lead the way to it."

"The way has opened most successfully," Gustave assured him. "We have
already had a most lively dispute."

"Dispute! What do you mean?" and Sandow, who had seated himself near
his brother, looked up as if he could hardly believe his ears. "Is that
the way you begin your courtship?"

"Why not? At least it prevents indifference. That I certainly need not
fear from Miss Clifford. She is prejudiced against me to the highest
degree, and looks upon my leaving my country at your call as a kind of
treachery against it."

"Yes, the girl has her head full of romantic ideas," said Sandow
angrily. "That is owing to the sentimental, high-flown education she
received from her mother. Clifford could not be induced to oppose it,
although otherwise his understanding was healthy enough. He idolized
his only daughter, and thought her everything that is good and
beautiful. You will have to contend with these exaggerated ideas when
Jessie is your wife."

Around Gustave Sandow's lips played a half ironical smile as he
replied--

"Do you, then, think it is a settled thing that she will become my
wife? At present I seem to have the most brilliant prospects of
refusal."

"Stupid girlish whims! nothing more. She has taken it into her head
that marriage must be preceded by a love romance. But you"--and here
Sandow's eyes rested on his brother's handsome person--"it need not be
difficult for you to gain ground with her, and my authority will do the
rest. Jessie is far too dependent a character not to be led at last."

"Well, I have not seen any symptoms of this dependence myself,"
remarked Gustave drily. "Miss Clifford was tolerably energetic when she
gave me the flattering information that my acquaintance was one of the
bitterest disappointments of her life."

Sandow wrinkled his forehead.

"She told you that!"

"Literally, and accompanied the speech with the necessary air of
dislike and contempt. She is a quite peculiar mixture of maidenly
reserve and genuine American self-consciousness. In our country a young
girl would hardly have read a total stranger such a lecture."

"Oh! no; Jessie is thoroughly German," said Sandow. "She is the living
image of her mother, and has not a single trait of her American father.
But never mind that now. Let us come to the point. I never felt any
doubt as to your acceptance of my proposal; that it has taken place so
quickly and unreservedly is very agreeable to me, since it proves that,
in spite of all your idealistic scribbling, you have managed to
preserve a clear, cool head capable of making a calculation, which is
just what is wanted here. Jessie is in every respect a brilliant match,
such as you would scarcely have found under other circumstances. For
me, the first recommendation of the plan is that it will keep
Clifford's money in the firm. Our interests are therefore identical,
and I hope we shall be satisfied with each other."

"I hope so too," said Gustave laconically.

The purely business view taken by his brother of the projected marriage
seemed to surprise him as little as the judgment on his scribbling hurt
him.

"The arrangement, then, remains as settled in our letters," continued
Sandow. "For the present you enter the office as a volunteer in order
to learn your new calling. That is not difficult for anyone gifted with
the necessary education and intelligence. All beyond requires merely
habit and practice. As soon as your engagement with Jessie is openly
announced, you will have a share in the business. So don't delay your
explanation too long. As an heiress, Jessie is naturally much run
after, and in little more than a year she will be of age. Besides, at
the present moment I have some large undertakings in view, and must be
certain of complete control over the whole capital."

"And therefore Miss Clifford and I must marry," added Gustave. "One
sees that you are accustomed to make the most of a fortunate
conjuncture, whether of men or dollars."

There was a touch of mockery in these words, but Sandow did not appear
to notice it. In his reply lay the same icy indifference which he had
displayed in his conversation with Jessie.

"One must reckon with men as with figures; in that lies the whole
secret of success. At all events, you have every reason to thank the
present conjuncture. Besides all the other advantages, it secures my
money to you. You know I have no other relative or heir."

"No other! Really?" asked Gustave in a peculiar tone, while he gazed
fixedly at his brother.

"No!"

In that one short word what unbounded severity and determination!

"Then you have not altered your views. I thought that now years have
rolled by you might have learnt to look differently on the past."

"Silence!" interrupted Sandow. "Name it not! The past has no existence,
shall have no existence for me. I buried it when I left Europe for
ever."

"And the recollection of it too!"

"Certainly! and I will not have it recalled by others. You have already
attempted it several times in your letters, and I imagined my dislike
to the subject had been shown plainly enough. Why do you always return
to it? Is it to distress me, or"--here he fixed a threatening,
penetrating look on his brother--"does some scheme lie at the bottom of
this persistency?"

Gustave shrugged his shoulders slightly.

"Why should you think that? I asked in my own interests. Since the
question of inheritance is now before us, you can easily understand the
motive."

"Decidedly. You have become uncommonly practical I see, and it is much
better for you to have become so without paying the heavy price for
your experience which mine has cost me."

Gustave became suddenly serious, and laid his hand on his brother's
arm.

"Yes, Frank, a heavy price it must indeed have been, since it has made
you another man. I do not find a single trace of what you were at
home."

Sandow laughed bitterly.

"No, thank God! there is not much left of the soft-hearted fool who
lived for every one, who trusted every one, and in the end must pay the
price of his blind faith like a criminal. Whenever that blind
confidence has cost a man, as it has me, honour, happiness, nay,
existence itself, he will for the future manage his affairs after a
different fashion. But now, not another word of the past. I have cast
it from me; let it rest."

"Dinner is ready," announced a servant, throwing open the door.

The brothers rose; the turn the conversation had taken made any
interruption welcome to both. They entered the adjoining dining-room,
where Jessie already awaited them. Gustave had in a moment regained his
usual manner. He approached the young lady and offered her his arm as
if nothing in the world had come between them.

"Miss Clifford, I have the honour to introduce myself as a volunteer in
the house of Clifford and Company. I may, therefore, now regard you as
my second chief, and respectfully offer you my humble services."

And without paying any attention to the frigid manner of his second
chief, he took the arm which Jessie did not dare to refuse, and led her
to the table.



                              CHAPTER III.


The house of Clifford, as already hinted, was one of the most important
in the town. The numerous staff of clerks and attendants, and the
constant activity which reigned there, betrayed even to a stranger the
importance of the great mercantile house, whose head, indeed, held a
most conspicuous place in the commercial world. Gustave Sandow, who,
though now holding the modest post of a volunteer, was destined later
to share that dignity, had now entered on his new calling, but showed
so far very little enthusiasm for it. His brother noticed with great
displeasure that he looked on the whole thing as a kind of
entertainment with which he amused himself, and of which the chief
attraction was its novelty. He allowed little indeed to be seen of the
austere dignity of the future partner, while he made extensive use of
his freedom as a volunteer. The various objects of interest in the
town, its environs, its society, seemed far more attractive to him than
his brother's office. The latter remarked on it in his usual sharp
manner, and requested that more interest might be shown in business
matters.

Gustave acknowledged in every respect the justice of his brother's
observations, but continued as regularly to do what pleased him best,
and offered to all reproaches the declaration that at present he was
only a guest, and must be allowed to make himself at home in his new
surroundings.

Between himself and Miss Clifford had arisen a curious, half
antagonistic, half confidential relation. On the whole they were always
prepared for war, and Jessie did her best to maintain that state of
affairs. But it was difficult enough, for her adversary displayed such
unwearying politeness and amiability as left her few occasions for the
contrary. The certainly not very flattering estimate of his character
which had been forced upon him in the very first hour of their
acquaintanceship had obviously affected him very little. On his side he
was full of attentions, with which he managed to mingle very adroitly
the friendly confidence of a household companion, and Jessie saw with
horror the courtship from which she had considered herself entirely
free deliberately unfolded before her.

It was morning, about a week after the arrival of the new acquaintance.
Breakfast was just over. Gustave was giving Miss Clifford a sketch of
some of his travelling experiences, which he did with such sparkling
animation and such vivid colouring as enchained Jessie's attention
against her will.

Sandow, on the other hand, was occupied in looking for some business
papers in his pocket-book, and listened only with half an ear.

When his brother had finished, he said satirically--

"One would really believe that you had undertaken the journey merely to
find materials for some future article on the political or artistic
views entertained here. Landscape, architecture, national life, you
have lost no opportunities of studying, but the business you should
have made the main interest is scarcely alluded to. You certainly went
everywhere that my introductions would take you, but seem only to have
dined with the firms and talked about politics afterwards."

"You surely did not expect us to take our business to table with us!"
cried Gustave. "That is a pleasure which only you provide for your
guests. I believe you would hail it as a most blessed discovery if
eating and sleeping could be dispensed with altogether. What an
incalculable gain in hours of business for much-tormented mankind!"

Jessie cast a half terrified glance at her guardian. She knew that this
was a very tender point with him. Gustave knew it too, yet every day he
ventured on such remarks to his face. He understood most perfectly how
to parry the masterful and sometimes offensive manner of his brother,
so that he never allowed himself to appear corrected or in any way
subordinate.

Sandow, whose strength did not lie in repartee, generally quitted the
field when he began in that tone of mockery. So he now rose, and,
closing his pocket-book, sarcastically replied--

"Well, you certainly do not belong to the much-tormented class; you
take your life easily enough. But I want to speak to you for a few
minutes in my room before we go to the office. It concerns the New York
affair."

"I will come immediately," returned his brother, who, however, remained
calmly seated while the other left the room, and then, turning to
Jessie, asked--

"Have you ever seen such a business maniac as my brother, Miss
Clifford? At breakfast he makes business notes, at dinner he reads the
money article, and I am convinced that he speculates in his dreams."

"Yes, he possesses a most untiring activity," replied Jessie, "and he
looks for the same thing in other people. You should not keep him
waiting, for I am sure he wants to speak to you particularly."

Gustave paid not the least attention to this broad hint to depart.

"It concerns Jenkins and Co. That agreeable firm actually besieges us
with letters and telegrams respecting a common speculation. I am not at
all in a hurry to talk about it, and my brother is very considerate
when he knows I am with you."

That was unquestionably the case. For various reasons Sandow favoured
in every way the growing intimacy between his brother and his ward, and
even would go so far as to forgive a want of punctuality occasionally.

The hint to this effect was, however, very ungraciously received by the
young lady. She thought best to maintain perfect silence.

"Besides that, I have a great desire to speak to you alone," continued
Gustave. "For several days I have sought an opportunity in vain."

An icy, long-drawn "Indeed!" was the only reply.

So really after an acquaintanceship of scarcely a week, this man dared
to approach her with his proposals, in spite of her distant demeanour,
her plainly shown aversion. In spite of all he would try to complete
the business contract which gave him the hand of the rich heiress, and
still worse, with an easy assurance as if undeniably in the right.

"I have a petition to offer," he began afresh, "a petition which, by
granting you will make me for ever your debtor."

Miss Clifford looked as if carved out of stone, and her manner left no
doubt that she had not the slightest intention of placing him "for ever
in her debt." She summoned all her energies together to meet the
approaching emergency with the necessary decision.

Gustave paid not the least attention to her, and continued with his
usual genial smile--

"It concerns a young countrywoman of mine!"

"A--young countrywoman?" repeated Jessie, astonished to the last degree
at the unexpected turn which the conversation had taken.

"Yes, a young German who came over in the same ship with me. She was
going quite alone to a relative in New York, who had offered the orphan
a home with him. On landing, however, she learnt that he had died a few
days before, and the poor child found herself quite unprotected and
forsaken in the New World."

"You took charge of her," remarked Jessie, with a certain sharpness.

"Certainly; I took her to a German family, where she could be received
for a few days. But she cannot stay there long, and it must be a very
difficult thing for a girl of scarcely sixteen, and without an
introduction, to find a situation as governess or companion. Here in
this town it might be more feasible, especially if a well-known house
such as yours undertook to introduce her. My petition is this, will you
receive this young girl for a few weeks as a guest till something may
be found for her?"

Generally Jessie was only too ready to help whenever it lay in her
power, and a countrywoman of her mother's had naturally every claim
upon her sympathy, but the side from which the demand came caused it to
fill her with the darkest suspicions. In her eyes Gustave Sandow was
not the man to help any fellow-creature from pure philanthropy. Such an
egoist must certainly have other motives for his actions, and she
returned a very cautious answer.

"This takes me quite by surprise. I am to receive a total stranger,
who, as you acknowledge, is entirely destitute of introductions?"

"I undertake the responsibility," cried Gustave eagerly. "Any security
you can desire I will give."

"Oh, indeed!"

A light began to dawn upon her. She saw the dreaded offer vanish into
the distance. A way of escape which she had never thought of suddenly
opened before her.

"You seem to know your protégée very thoroughly, Mr. Sandow, and to
take an extraordinary interest in her."

"Certainly I do. Towards an orphan that is the duty of every
Christian."

"I was not aware that you were such a good Christian," said Jessie,
with unconcealed irony.

"Then, Miss Clifford, you have misunderstood me in that as in so many
other respects. Where humanity is concerned my opinions are in the
highest degree Christian," declared Sandow solemnly.

Jessie's lips curled scornfully at the word "humanity," but the thing
began to interest her, so she asked--

"Then you wish for an invitation to our house for"--

"Miss Frida Palm, that is her name."

"I will speak to my guardian about it, and if he is willing"--

"Oh! pray do not; that is just what I am most anxious to avoid,"
interrupted Gustave. "I do not wish my brother to know anything of my
appeal to you. Would it not be possible to give out that Miss Palm is a
protégée of your own, recommended by some New York acquaintance, and
whom you have agreed to receive? The suggestion is rather singular, I
see that in your manner, so I place myself and my petition entirely in
your hands."

Jessie's manner certainly showed how surprised she was. She bent on the
speaker a long, searching look.

"Indeed, a very extraordinary demand. You really ask that we should
literally perform a comedy, in order that you may gain a point with my
guardian! With what object?"

"Certainly with no bad object, even if for the present that must remain
my secret."

"Your secret is not hard to guess, at least for me," said Jessie
sarcastically, but still with a feeling of intense relief at the turn
things had taken. "Only acknowledge openly that your interest in this
young lady is a much deeper and more serious one than appears, and that
you have a decided object to gain in bringing her here."

Apparently overwhelmed, Gustave drooped his head.

"I acknowledge it."

"And for more than one reason you fear that your brother will be
opposed to this interest."

"I allow that too."

"Therefore Miss Palm is to appear unacknowledged in our house, that,
through her personal qualities she may gain sympathy and consideration,
until you may venture to declare the truth."

"Miss Clifford, you have incredible penetration," said Gustave, in the
tone of deepest admiration. "It is quite impossible to hide anything
from you. Now that you have so completely seen through me, may I reckon
on your support?"

The young lady assumed a very dignified manner.

"I have never yet condescended to an untruth, and would never do it
if"--

She stopped, and a passing blush tinged her cheek.

"If it were not for certain plans of my brother's," added Gustave. "You
do not agree with them; that I saw on the day of my arrival. But just
on that account you need not fear that I have any doubt as to the
reasons of your confederacy. They are certainly not flattering to me,
but in this instance decidedly advantageous."

"Advantageous!" echoed Jessie, in a contemptuous tone. "Quite right;
that is sufficient for you. You fear a breach with your brother if you
make a choice without his consent, and, as far as I know him, this
would be the case since your choice has fallen on a poor and friendless
orphan. It is certainly advantageous if you try to gain your end by
circuitous means. But how much more manly it would be to go to your
brother and openly declare your love, bidding defiance to his anger.
But on such points our ideas are quite opposed. Let Miss Palm know that
I shall expect her. She can start immediately on receiving your
letter."

"That is not at all necessary," replied Gustave calmly. "I have already
written to her; she is on her way, and this afternoon will arrive
here."

This was rather too strong for Jessie. She looked at the daring visitor
with disdain.

"So that was already decided. You are very considerate, Mr. Sandow."

"I reckoned on your good heart," he assured her, with a deep bow.

"You reckoned far more on your brother's plans, which have, half
against my will, made me your confederate. So be it then. I will do my
best to afford you the advantage of maintaining a good understanding
with your brother. As soon as your fiancée arrives, bring her to me,
and for the present she shall pass as my protégée."

And, with a very cold and distant bow, Jessie swept from the room.

Gustave looked after her with a very peculiar smile on his lips.

"Every inch contempt! But it suits her splendidly. Certainly I play a
very pitiful part in the story; that, however, is nothing; if Frida can
only make good her footing in the house, that is the point."

In her room Jessie walked about in violent excitement. She was really
rejoiced that the dreaded suitor should in this way prove himself
perfectly harmless, and that he himself lent a hand to the destruction
of the hated marriage scheme; but that did not in the least diminish
her indignation at the selfishness and avarice of the man who had
displayed anew all the meanness of his character. Yet he loved, this
man, and apparently truly and disinterestedly. Just on the way to the
wealthy, unloved bride, whom his brother had so carefully selected for
him, a young, forsaken, unprotected orphan had succeeded in awakening a
real affection in his heart. What hindered him, then, from introducing
his chosen bride to his brother? And if Sandow really showed himself
obstinate and unreasonable, he might then return with her to Germany.
He had occupied an independent position there, which would be
immediately open to him again, and which would permit him to marry
without the consent of his brother. But then his chance of that
brother's wealth would be in jeopardy, and at any price that rich
inheritance must be secured. Therefore the affianced bride must be
content to play the part of a stranger, all kinds of underhand modes of
gaining his end would be attempted, and a regular intrigue set on foot
in order to wheedle the rich brother to consent, and if, in spite of
all, he persisted in a decided refusal--and Jessie knew that her
guardian, who always measured men by the length of their purses, would
never welcome a poor sister-in-law--then, no doubt, the daring champion
of the Ideal would choose the money, and leave the bride in the lurch,
as he had already deserted his profession.

Jessie's frank and open disposition rose in rebellion against the part
forced on her; yet she felt it necessary to forward this union by every
means in her power. She would at any cost avoid a serious struggle with
her guardian. It was to a certain extent an act of necessity if she
agreed to the proposal. Should they really succeed in gaining Sandow's
consent then the threatening storm would pass completely away.

It was remarkable that the one thing in Gustave's favour--his evident
capacity for true love--was also the one thing most obnoxious to
Jessie. She had so bitterly reproached him for yielding so
unresistingly to the business calculations of his brother, and now,
when she learnt that in his heart he had thwarted, and wished entirely
to defeat those plans, she was more prejudiced against him than ever.
She was thoroughly convinced that this man was only worthy of contempt,
and that she felt sure of always, and under all circumstances,
bestowing upon him.



                              CHAPTER IV.


Meanwhile Gustave Sandow had mounted to the higher story, where were
situated his brother's private apartments.

"I began to think you would not condescend to come at all," was the
remark, delivered in his sharpest and most unpleasant tone, with which
he greeted the dilatory Gustave.

"I was talking to Miss Clifford," replied Gustave, as if fully aware
that that fact would completely justify him. "It was impossible to
break off our interesting conversation sooner."

The allusion did not fail of its effect. The projected marriage was too
important to Sandow, and his ward's disinclination to it, too well
known to him, to allow him to throw the slightest hindrance in the way
of his brother's courtship. He therefore replied more graciously--

"I suppose it was one of your usual altercations; you amuse yourselves
with this continual wrangling; but I do not find that you make much
progress with Jessie. She is more reserved than ever towards you."

"Frank, you cannot judge of my progress,", said Gustave, with an
injured air. "It is considerable I assure you."

"We will hope so," replied Sandow, significantly, "and now to business.
I want to talk to you of the affair, which I, and some business friends
in New York contemplate taking in hand together. Jenkins tells me he
has already spoken of it to you, and yesterday I gave you the
correspondence to look over, so you must now be pretty well up in the
subject."

"Decidedly I am."

Gustave had all at once become serious, and the answer rang quite
differently from his usual cheerful, careless tone. Sandow took no
notice of the change, but continued--

"You know we possess in the West large districts which are not yet
settled. The purchase was to be made under extremely advantageous
circumstances; but the extent of territory was so enormous that Jenkins
was not able to complete it with his own means alone. He therefore
applied to me and won me over to his views. We were fortunate in
obtaining the land for a very moderate sum, and what now concerns us is
to have it occupied advantageously. This can only be done by
colonisation, and German colonisation in particular seems most
suitable. We have prepared all the necessary notices, and intend now to
begin seriously."

"Only one question," said Gustave, interrupting the dry business-like
narration. "Have you any personal knowledge of your possessions?"

"Why, I should not undertake such an extensive business without full
information. Naturally I know all about it."

"So do I," said Gustave laconically.

Sandow started and drew back a step.

"You! How? When? Is it possible?"

"Certainly, and in the most simple manner. Mr. Jenkins, whom I looked
up in New York at your express wish, explained to me when the
conversation fell on this subject, that you reckoned greatly on me, or
rather on my pen. I therefore held it necessary to make myself
thoroughly acquainted with the whole affair. That was really the cause
of my late arrival, and of my 'pleasure tour,' as you called it. Before
all, I wished to know where my country people were to be sent."

Sandow knitted his brows gloomily.

"All this trouble was quite superfluous. We are not in the habit of
going to work in such a circumstantial manner. But what seems to me
very remarkable is, that you should have been here a whole week without
giving me the slightest hint of your journey. But never mind. We
certainly reckon much on you and your literary connections. Our agents
will do their best, but that is not enough. People have become very
suspicious about agents, and the outlay has been too great to let us
run any risks. Our great wish is that one of the great influential
German papers which stands above all suspicion of a puff, should open
the subject in our interest. It is true that you are no longer on the
staff of the _K--sche Zeitung_; but they regret having lost you, and
would gladly receive your contributions from America. A series of
articles written in your eloquent and brilliant style would secure our
success, and if you use your other literary connections skilfully so as
to make the thing widely known, there is no doubt that in a few years a
great German emigration will take place."

Gustave had listened in silence without offering the least
interruption; but now he raised his eyes and fixed them earnestly on
his brother's face.

"You forget one trifle, which is that your territory is totally unfit
for colonisation. The land lies as unfavourably as possible, the
climate is in the highest degree unhealthy, indeed, in some seasons
deadly. The soil is unproductive, and to the most gigantic efforts
returns only the smallest results. All the aids of skilful cultivation
are utterly wasted, and the few settlers who are scattered here and
there are sunk in sickness and misery. They are exposed, utterly
defenceless, to the rigour of the most cruel elements, and those who
might follow them from Europe would share the same fate."

Sandow listened with ever-growing surprise, and at first words failed
him, at last he exclaimed angrily--

"What absurd exaggerations! Who has put such ideas into your head, and
how can an utter stranger judge of such circumstances? What can you
know of it?"

"I have made the strictest inquiries on the spot. My information is
authentic."

"Nonsense! And if it were what have I to do with it? Do you think that
you, who have scarcely been a week in the counting-house, can give me
instructions in the management of my speculations?"

"Certainly not! But when such a speculation costs the life and health
of thousands we are accustomed to call it by a different name."

"By what name?" asked Sandow, threateningly, advancing close to his
brother.

Gustave would not be intimidated, but replied firmly--

"Knavery!"

"Gustave!" cried Sandow furiously, "you dare"--

"Naturally that word applies only to Mr. Jenkins. The remarkable
attention with which that honourable personage received me, the
constant sounding of my praises, the popularity of my name, and the
brilliant success of my pen, which were to work wonders here as they
had done at home--all this roused my suspicions and induced me to
undertake the journey. You don't know the place, Frank, or at all
events have only glanced superficially at it. But now that I have
opened your eyes you will seek for the proof of my assertions, and let
the whole thing drop."

Sandow did not seem much disposed to profit by the means of escape
which his brother offered to him.

"Who says I shall?" asked he harshly. "Do you think I can give up
without an effort the hundreds of thousands already invested there,
merely because you have some sentimental objections to urge. The land
is as good or as bad as in many other districts, and the immigrants
have to struggle with climate and soil everywhere. These difficulties
will be easily overcome by perseverance. It would not be the first
German colony which had flourished under most unfavourable
circumstances."

"After hundreds and thousands had been ruined! That is enriching
foreign soil with German blood at too great a cost."

Sandow bit his lips; he evidently controlled himself with difficulty,
and his voice was hoarse and stifled as he replied.

"What business had you to go there on your own account? Such
exaggerated conscientiousness is here quite misplaced, and also quite
useless. And if I did not accept Jenkins' offer there are plenty of
others who would; and I must acknowledge that he applied to me first."

"First to you--a German--that was certainly a sign of remarkable
respect from an American."

It was singular that the same man who a quarter of an hour before, had
shown himself so anxious to conceal the choice of his heart from his
austere brother, since it might displease him, now boldly defied him,
under circumstances in which he could not be so profoundly interested.
Sandow, though ignorant of his conversation with Jessie, was astonished
to the highest degree at this conduct.

"You seem to be now playing the part of moral hero," said he with
bitter sarcasm; "that does not suit very well with the extremely
material motives which brought you here. You should have first made
things clear to yourself. If you want a share in my house you must set
its interest before everything, and in that interest I require you to
write this article, and take care that it appears in a suitable place.
Do you hear, Gustave? Under any circumstances you will do that!"

"To bring my countrymen here to rot in that swamp of fever and misery!
No."

"Consider the subject well before you give such a decided refusal,"
warned Sandow with an icy calm, under which lay a half-concealed
threat. "It is the first demand I make on you; if you fail me now, any
future accommodation is impossible. It is quite in my power to draw
back from the proposed arrangement; think of that!"

"Frank, you would not force me"--

"I force you to nothing; I only explain to you that we part if you
persist in your refusal. If you are prepared for the consequences, well
and good. I hold to my conditions."

He bent over his writing table, and took from it some papers which he
placed in his pocket-book. Gustave stood silently by, his eyes fixed on
the floor, a dark cloud on his brow.

"Just at the moment when Frida is on her way here," murmured he.
"Impossible. I cannot sacrifice that."

"Well?" asked Sandow, turning to him.

"Give me time for consideration. The thing has come so suddenly, so
unexpectedly. I will think it over."

The elder brother was quite contented with this partial submission; he
had certainly not doubted that his threat would produce its effect.

"Good! a week sooner or later does not matter. I hope you will have
sense to see that one must act according to circumstances. But come
now, it is high time that we were at the office. And once more,
Gustave, give yourself up to my guidance for the future, and undertake
no more extravagances like this journey. You see, it only gives rise to
differences between us, and increases the difficulties of your
position."

"Decidedly," said Gustave, half aloud, while he prepared to follow his
brother. "My position is tolerably difficult, worse than I had
anticipated."

It was afternoon of the same day, and Jessie awaited with some anxiety
and a great deal of curiosity the arrival of the young visitor. Gustave
had told her in the morning that he should try to leave business
earlier than usual, in order to meet Miss Palm at the station, and
bring her to the house before his brother came home. At the appointed
hour, then, he entered the drawing-room, leading a young girl.

"Miss Frida Palm," said he, introducing her. "My protégée, from this
moment _our_ protégée, since you are so good as to afford her an asylum
in your house."

Jessie felt painfully impressed by this mode of introduction. So he did
not even venture to introduce the girl to her as his betrothed.
"Protégée," that was a word open to so many interpretations. He
intended evidently to leave himself a means of retreat, should his
brother show himself unyielding. Miss Clifford pitied with her whole
heart the young creature who had given herself to such an egoist, and
consequently her reception was warmer than she had at first intended.

"You are very welcome, Miss Palm," said she kindly; "I have heard all
about you, and you may confide yourself to me without fear. I am not
accustomed to neglect my protégées."

The "I" was slightly but distinctly accented, but he, at whom the
remark was directed, remained, alas, totally unmoved. He seemed
extremely pleased that his plan had succeeded, and the young stranger
replied in a low, rather trembling voice--

"You are very kind, Miss Clifford, and I only hope that I may deserve
your goodness."

Jessie placed her visitor beside her, and while the usual remarks on
the weather, her journey, and arrival were made, she took the
opportunity of examining her more closely. She was certainly a very
young girl, almost a child, who had evidently scarcely reached her
sixteenth year, but the delicate childish features bore an expression
of seriousness and decision, astonishing at such an age. The large,
dark eyes generally rested on the ground, but when they were raised for
a moment, they gave a glance full of shyness and restraint which suited
ill with the energetic features. The dark hair was simply drawn back
from her face, and the deep mourning dress made the young stranger
appear even paler than she naturally was.

"You are an orphan?" asked Jessie, with a glance at the dress.

"I lost my mother six months ago," was the short, touching answer.

That touched a kindred string in Jessie's bosom. She still mourned too
for her beloved parents, and by the recollection came an expression of
pain in her face.

"In that our fates are alike. I am an orphan too, and it is only a year
since my father was torn from me. Yours is, no doubt, much longer
dead."

The girl's lips trembled, and she replied almost inaudibly--

"In my childhood. I scarcely knew him."

"Poor child," said Jessie, with overflowing sympathy. "It must indeed
be sad to stand so alone and desolate in the world."

"Oh! I am not desolate. I have found a protector, the noblest and best
of men!"

In these words lay a truly affecting devotion, and the look which at
the same moment was cast upon Gustave, betrayed an almost enthusiastic
gratitude; the latter, however, received it all with enraging
indifference, with the air of a sultan, as Jessie angrily considered.
He appeared to look upon it as a richly deserved compliment, and
replied in his usual jesting manner--

"You see, Miss Clifford, what my reputation with Frida is. I should be
happy if you would come round to this opinion too, which, alas, I dare
not hope."

Jessie ignored this remark. To her the manner in which he received the
devotion of his future wife, and treated it as a subject for jesting
was quite revolting, and she returned to Miss Palm.

"At present I must welcome you alone. You do not yet know my guardian,
but in a short time you will meet him, and I hope with all my heart
that you will succeed in gaining his sympathy."

Frida made no reply; she looked in the same timid manner at the
speaker, and then dumbly at the ground. Jessie was rather surprised at
this strange reception of her kindly meant words, but Gustave joined in
the conversation, with the remark--

"At first you must have great consideration for Frida. It will be
difficult for her to accustom herself to her new surroundings, and the
part which she is forced to play in the house oppresses and terrifies
her."

"Forced at your desire!" Jessie could not refrain from adding.

"Yes, that cannot now be altered. At all events she knows the
conditions, and also that there is no other way of reaching our end.
Frida, you confide entirely in me, don't you?"

Instead of answering, Frida stretched her hand towards him, with an
expression which would have excused any lover for pressing the little
hand to his lips. But this one calmly held it in his own, nodded
protectingly, and said--

"I was sure of it."

"I will do all in my power to relieve what is painful in your
position," said Jessie, reassuringly. "And now may I keep you with me?"

"We had better wait till to-morrow," said Gustave. "It would very much
surprise my brother to find a complete stranger, of whose arrival he
had not even been warned, established as a member of his household.
That might at once arouse his suspicions. It would be better for Frida
to return to the hotel where I stopped with her and left her things. In
the course of the evening some opportunity of speaking of her is sure
to arise, and then the removal can be effected without any trouble."

Jessie was annoyed at the suggestion, in proportion as she recognized
its justice.

"You are incredibly prudent, Mr. Sandow! I really admire all these
precautions, and this clever calculation of all possible emergencies."

Gustave bowed as if he had really received a compliment.

"Yes, yes, Frida," said he, in reply to the look of surprise with which
the girl listened to this perpetual bickering. "Miss Clifford and I
have an excessive mutual admiration. You see already, what great
respect we show each other. But now it is time to start, or my brother
will surprise us here."

Frida rose obediently. Jessie felt a deep sympathy with the poor girl
who resigned herself so completely to the selfish plans of her lover,
and bade her a hearty farewell.

Gustave accompanied Miss Palm to the carriage, which waited to take her
back to the hotel; but just as they were descending the steps a second
carriage drove up, and Sandow, whose office hours were now over,
stepped out.

"My brother," said Gustave in a low voice.

Miss Palm must have stood greatly in awe of this terrible brother, for
she suddenly turned deadly pale, and made an involuntary movement as if
to fly, while the arm which rested in her companion's trembled
violently.

"Frida!" said the latter, in an earnest, reproachful tone.

Frida struggled for composure, but her timidity this time was not the
cause of her agitation. It was not the look of a startled dove which
met the new arrival, but one in which lay gloomy, almost wild
resistance, and the energetic side of her nature was shown so
distinctly in her features that it seemed as if she were rather
beginning a struggle with a dreaded enemy than trying to conciliate
him.

Sandow had meanwhile entered, and met the pair face to face in the
vestibule. He bowed slightly, but seemed surprised to see his brother
accompanied by a perfect stranger.

Frida returned the greeting, but instead of stopping hastened anxiously
forwards, and thus prevented the possibility of an introduction.

Gustave saw that it would be useless to try to effect it, so placed her
in the carriage, closed the door, and directed the coachman to the
hotel.

"Who is that girl?" asked Sandow, who had waited for his brother.

"A certain Miss Palm," said he lightly, "an acquaintance of Miss
Clifford's."

"And to whom you act as cavalier."

"Not at all; my service is paid to Miss Clifford. At her wish, I
fetched the young lady, in whom she is much interested, from the
station, and brought her here. You know I left the office earlier than
usual."

"Ah, indeed! Are you already on such good terms with Jessie that she
entrusts you with such commissions?" said Sandow, much gratified to
find his brother had made such decided progress, while they re-ascended
the stairs and walked along the corridor together.

As they entered the drawing-room, Gustave took the thing promptly in
hand.

"My brother has already seen your protégée, Miss Clifford," he began.
"We met him in the hall."

"Who is this new acquaintance, Jessie?" asked Sandow, with an interest
not usual to him. "I have heard nothing about her."

Jessie felt now, when the moment for the first equivocation had
arrived, the whole weight of the responsibility she had undertaken;
however, she had gone too far to be able to draw back. She returned
hesitatingly,

"She is a young German, who has been strongly recommended to me from
New York. She has come here to look for a situation as companion, and I
thought--I wished"--

"Yes, you have gone pretty far," interrupted Gustave. "This Miss Palm
seems to have taken your sympathies by storm; just think, Frank, Miss
Clifford has offered her her own house, and seriously intends to give
her to us for a companion."

Jessie cast an indignant glance at him, but was obliged to accept the
proffered help.

"I have certainly invited Miss Palm for a few weeks," she said. "At
least, if you have no objection, Uncle Sandow."

"I," said the latter absently, while his eyes already sought the
evening papers, which lay on the table on the garden terrace. "You
know, I never interfere in your domestic concerns. No doubt you would
like a companion for a time, and if this young girl has been well
recommended, pray arrange the affair as you like."

With this he stepped on to the terrace and seized the newspaper.

"I saw that I must come to your help, Miss Clifford," said Gustave
aside to Jessie. "You are evidently very inexperienced in deception."

"You seem to think it a reproach," said Jessie, in a voice equally low,
but trembling with anger. "Certainly I have not yet brought the art to
such perfection as you have."

"Oh! that will come in time," said Gustave encouragingly. "When you are
in difficulties that way, only turn to me. I am quite at home there."

"Gustave, have you read the evening papers yet?" came from Sandow on
the terrace. "The German Exchange is very lively; prices are rising
considerably. Here is your own journal; you will find a notice of it."

"Ah! prices are rising? really?" asked Gustave, stepping on to the
terrace and taking the German paper which his brother offered him.

Sandow immediately buried himself in another sheet, and so did not see
the air of sovereign contempt with which Gustave turned over the page
containing the money article, and bestowed his whole attention upon the
leading article, which was upon the political situation.

Jessie followed him with her eyes, and, as she beheld him bending so
eagerly over what she supposed to be the money article, she curled her
lip contemptuously, and thought--

"That poor, poor child! What will be her lot at the side of such an
egoist?"



                               CHAPTER V.


Gustave's scheme, which was imagined and carried out with equal skill,
had now been realized. The entrance of the young stranger into the
family took place the next day, but so easily and naturally was it
managed, that Sandow had not the faintest suspicion of anything
unusual. But Frida was, and remained, a stranger in the strange house,
however hard and determined the struggle to appear at ease, and to show
her gratitude for the protection afforded her. Perhaps the unaccustomed
splendour of her surroundings oppressed her, for unquestionably they
stood out in sharpest contrast to her former life. She remained silent
and self-contained, and all the kindness with which Jessie received her
did not succeed in thawing her shy reserve.

Miss Clifford tried in vain to learn more of the family circumstances
and former life of the girl; Frida seemed purposely to avoid any such
conversations, and even the warm and freely displayed sympathy of the
other failed to draw from her one word of confidence. That naturally
tended to estrange Jessie, especially as she soon discovered that the
stranger by no means belonged to those gentle natures which tremble
away from all that is strange or painful. On the contrary, Frida often
unconsciously betrayed a very energetic will, a repressed but profound
passion. And yet this slavish subjection and obedience to another's
will; it was incomprehensible.

Gustave played his part far more successfully. He showed himself in his
brother's presence polite, but with the politeness of a perfect
stranger. Not a word, not the slightest sign, betrayed any mental
understanding, or even suggested a closer acquaintance than appeared;
never for one moment did he lose his self-control. He seemed still more
agreeable and high-spirited than ever, and all Jessie's attempts to
make him feel her contempt met with such a ready sarcasm that she
invariably quitted the field.

Sandow himself took little notice of Frida. Generally he showed little
attention or interest in household matters. The greater part of the day
was passed in town at the office, and the morning and evening hours,
which were spent in the villa, instead of being dedicated to relaxation
or amusement, were devoted to business occupations in his own rooms.

He saw Frida only at table, and treated her with careless civility, and
on her side there was no approach to a closer acquaintance, though she
was there precisely with that object. But either she possessed no skill
in that direction, or her obedience failed just where it was needed to
fulfil her task. At all events, she and the man in whose house she was
living were as strange to each other at the end of a week as they had
been on her first arrival.

The two gentlemen had just returned from town, and the whole party were
seated at table. Gustave, who as usual bore the chief weight of the
conversation, was amusing the ladies by describing in the most
enjoyable manner, a scene which had taken place in the office during
the afternoon. Sandow, who could not endure anything which concerned
business to be turned into ridicule, put in a few contradictory
remarks, but his brother continued to entertain his listeners with an
account of the certainly comical misunderstanding.

"I assure you it was incomparable, the excitement of this zealous agent
of Jenkins and Co., who had come at full speed from New York, and
persisted in taking me for a would-be settler, thirsting for a farm. He
would have dragged mo by force to the other end of the world, that I
might be made the happy possessor of a piece of land, and looked the
picture of despair when my brother entered and put an end to the
misunderstanding."

"You brought it on yourself," said Sandow angrily. "You drove the man
so into a corner with your endless questions that it was only natural
that he should fall into the mistake."

"Do I look like an intending farmer?" cried Gustave. "It is the first
time in my life that any one has discovered in me an enthusiasm for
spade and hoe. It would be, at all events, a fresh field of activity
which I might attempt. I am only afraid that I should be worth still
less there than at the office."

"That would be difficult," said Sandow drily, but his brother only
laughed at the implication, and observed to Miss Clifford that it was
really incomprehensible how little recognition his valuable services at
the desk received from any quarter.

Frida had become attentive during the last dialogue. Usually she never
joined uninvited in the conversation, but this time she listened with
breathless interest, and then turned to Gustave with the question--

"Jenkins and Co., the great firm in New York which is now sending out
advertisements and agents for the German emigration?"

"Quite right, Miss Palm," said Gustave. "Is the firm known to you?"

"Not to me; I was only a few weeks in New York, but it was often spoken
of in the German family where I lived. People spoke of it with much
doubt, and considered it a misfortune that Jenkins should have drawn
this also within the circle of his speculations."

"Why? Does he not bear a good reputation?" asked Gustave, with apparent
indifference.

"That must be the case. They say he is the most unprincipled
speculator, and has become rich through all kinds of dishonourable
means, and would not for a moment hesitate to sacrifice to his avarice
the welfare of all who confide in him."

Jessie sat in painful confusion while listening to this unsuspecting
remark. However ignorant she might be of the business affairs, she was
aware, from many allusions, that her guardian had commercial
intercourse with this firm.

Sandow bit his lip, and was about to turn the conversation, when his
brother said emphatically--

"You must have been misinformed, Miss Palm. Jenkins and Co. belong to
our business circle; indeed, we have done business with them for
years."

Frida turned pale. It was not embarrassment, but perfect horror that
her features expressed, as if she could not, would not, believe what
she had just heard.

Now Sandow took up the conversation, and said in his sharpest tone--

"You see, Miss Palm, how painful it may be when one believes such evil
reports, and repeats them too. My brother is quite right. Mr. Jenkins
is, and has long been, a business friend of mine."

"Then I beg pardon; I had no idea of it," said Frida softly, but her
pallor became more deadly, and suddenly she opened wide and full her
dark eyes on the man before whom she had always shyly sunk them.

There was something singular in these great dark eyes, something like a
fearful doubt, an anxious question, and Sandow seemed to feel it, the
proud, stiff-necked merchant, who bore no opposition, and had crushed
to the ground all the efforts of his brother; he could not support this
look. He turned hastily away, seized his glass, and emptied it at a
draught.

A painful silence, which lasted some moments, followed. Jessie tried at
last to start another subject, and Gustave supported her to the best of
his ability, but the attempt flagged.

Sandow appeared unable to master his vexation. Frida sat speechless,
and looked at her plate. It was a relief to all when the meal was over.
The ladies left the room, and Gustave was just following them when his
brother called him back.

"What do you really think of this Miss Palm?"

"That is hard to say. I have not spoken much with her; she seems very
shy and reserved."

"To judge by her appearance certainly, but I do not believe in it. In
her eyes lies something far removed from shyness. Singular eyes! I have
seen them distinctly to-day for the first time, and try in vain to
remember where I have met them before. The girl has only just come to
America?"

 "About a month ago, I heard from Miss Clifford."

"I remember Jessie told me so. And yet there is something familiar in
those features, though I cannot recall what it is."

Gustave examined closely the expression of his brother's face, while
with apparent carelessness he replied--

"Perhaps it is a passing likeness which you observe."

"Likeness--with whom?" asked Sandow earnestly, while he supported his
head on his hand, and lost in deepest meditation looked before him.

All at once he arose, and, as if angry with himself at such involuntary
interest, said--

"Her remark at dinner was singularly wanting in tact."

"She was certainly quite innocent of any ill intention. She could have
had no suspicion of your connection with Jenkins, or she would have
been silent. She just repeated what she had heard. You see what a
reputation your 'friend' bears."

Sandow shrugged his shoulders contemptuously.

"With whom? With a few sentimental Germans, who have brought their
narrow, provincial ideas from Europe with them, and are determined not
to see that our commerce rests on quite other grounds. Whoever will be
successful here must dare; and quite differently from in Europe, where
people are still swayed by trivial circumstances. Clifford was one of
the anxious and timid ones. I have had hard work enough to drive him
forwards. Hence, up to the time of my arrival, he lived in very
moderate circumstances; it was only when the guidance of the business
fell into my hands that he became a rich man, and the firm entered the
ranks of the best in the town. But while we are speaking of Jenkins,
you have now had ample time to consider my request, and I await your
final answer."

"Then you are still determined to undertake the thing in conjunction
with Jenkins?"

"Certainly! Do you suppose that my opinion varies from day to day, or
that childish chatter such as we have just heard could make me change?"

"No, I do not suppose so, but that is just why it seemed strange to me
that such 'childish gossip' should oblige you to cast down your eyes."

"Gustave, take care!" cried Sandow, his growing passion hardly
repressed. "I bear more from you than from anyone else, but this affair
will positively separate us. I saw at a glance that you caused the
misunderstanding with the agent on purpose to learn how far his
instructions went, and I know, too, to whom the remark was directed
with which you reproved Miss Palm. But you will gain nothing of me by
such means. What I have once decided to do, that I will do, cost what
it may, and for the last time I give you the choice; but, if you refuse
me your assistance"--

"You are mistaken," interrupted Gustave. "Some days ago I wrote to the
_K--che Zeitung_ and asked for room for a long article on the subject;
naturally they will be glad to have one from my pen. Most likely it
will appear next month."

Sandow was speechless. This quite unexpected submission astonished him
greatly, and with a certain amount of suspicion he asked--

"You will let me see the article before you send it?"

"Certainly; you shall read it word for word."

The clouds began to disappear from Sandow's brow.

"I am glad, very glad. It would have been very painful to me if a
refusal on your part had led to a breach between us."

"On my account, or on that of the Clifford's money?" asked Gustave,
with overflowing bitterness.

"Jessie's fortune is not endangered by this speculation," said Sandow,
shortly and emphatically. "It is principally placed in very good
securities, and Clifford stated expressly in his will that his
daughter's inheritance should not be risked in any speculation before
she came of age or married. If it will soothe your tender conscience, I
can assure you that your future wife has not the slightest interest in
this affair. I have gone into it at my own risk, and stand to win or
lose alone."

He rose to go. Gustave rose too.

"One more question, Frank. You have gone very heavily into this
speculation?"

"With half of all I possess! You see its success is most important to
me; therefore I am very glad that we are at last agreed. I repeat, that
sort of petty morality won't answer at the present day; sooner or later
you will see that for yourself."

"With the half of all he possesses!" murmured Gustave, following the
speaker. "That is bad, very bad! Here we must go to work with the
greatest caution!"



                              CHAPTER VI.


When the brothers entered the drawing-room they found it deserted, but
Frida stood outside on the terrace. She could not have heard them
approach, for as Sandow passed out at the French window she turned
hastily round, and the traces of tears were clearly seen. She rapidly
passed her handkerchief over her face, but it was impossible to conceal
her emotion. It was not usual with the merchant to display much
consideration for the feelings of others, but here he could easily
connect the girl's distress with the painful conversation at the
dinner-table, and in a sudden accession of sympathy he tried to help
her through her trouble.

"You need not be so anxious to hide your tears, Miss Palm," said he.
"Here in a strange country you feel home-sick, I am sure."

He seemed to have touched the right chord, for in the trembling tone
with which Frida replied lay the plainest proof of its truth.

"Yes, an inexpressible home-sickness!"

"Naturally, you have been such a short time here," said Sandow,
carelessly. "All Germans feel that at first, but it soon passes away.
If one is lucky in the New World one is glad to forget old times, and
in the end rejoices at having turned one's back on them. Do not look so
shocked, as if I had said something monstrous. I speak from my own
experience."

Frida certainly had looked shocked. Her eyes, yet moist with tears,
shot forth a glance of scorn and dislike as she hastily cried--

"You cannot be serious, Mr. Sandow. I shall forget, give up my country,
even the recollection of it? Never, never!"

Sandow looked rather surprised at this passionate protest from the
quiet girl; round his lips played a half contemptuous, half pitiful
smile as he replied--

"I reckon you well disposed to learn that. The misfortune of most
Germans here is that they hold so fast to the past, that the present
and future are allowed to glide away unnoticed. Home-sickness is one of
those sickly, affected sentiments which are sometimes considered as
poetic and interesting, while in real life they are only hindrances.
Whoever will get on here must keep his head clear and his eyes open, in
order to seize and profit by every chance. You are compelled by
circumstances to seek for a living here, and this weak longing and
dreaming will not help you in that."

Hard and heartless though these words might sound, they were spoken
with perfect sincerity. The unfortunate remark about his business
friend, which might have been expected to irritate and embitter the
merchant, seemed, on the contrary, to have awakened an interest in the
girl, whom till then he had scarcely observed.

Frida gave no spoken contradiction to the lesson he condescended to
give her, and which chilled her inmost heart. But her questioning,
reproachful look said enough, and these serious, dark eyes seemed to
produce an extraordinary effect on the usually unimpressionable man.
This time he did not avoid the look, but bore it unflinchingly.
Suddenly his voice took involuntarily a milder tone, and he said--

"You are still young, Miss Palm, very young, far too young to wander
about the world alone. Was there, then, no one in your native land who
could offer you a shelter?"

"No, no one!" came almost inaudibly from the lips of the girl.

"Of course--you are an orphan. I heard that from my niece. And the
relation who invited you to New York died while you were on your way
there?"

The slight inclination of the head which Frida made might be
interpreted in the affirmative, but a burning blush overspread her
face, and her eyes sought the ground.

"That is really very sad. How was it possible to find a proper refuge
in New York, where you were quite a stranger?"

The flush on the girl's cheeks became still deeper.

"My fellow-travellers took charge of me," she answered hesitatingly.
"They took me to a countryman, the pastor of a German church, where I
was most kindly received."

"And this gentleman recommended you to my niece. I know her mother had
numerous connections in New York, with some of whom Jessie keeps up a
correspondence. She feels such warm sympathy for you, that you need
have no anxiety for the future. With the recommendation of Miss
Clifford, it will not be difficult to find a suitable place."

Frida appeared as unpractised in falsehood as Jessie. With the latter
she had not been obliged to use the deception which was necessary in
speaking to the master of the house. Jessie had from the first been
acquainted with circumstances which must be carefully concealed from
Sandow, even now when he began to display some interest in her. But the
manner of the girl showed how hard her part was. Sandow knew her shy
and taciturn, but this obstinate silence appeared to annoy him.

As he received no reply, he turned abruptly away, and went into the
garden. Frida drew a long breath, as if released from some burden, and
returned to the drawing-room. Here she was met by Gustave, who, though
remaining in the background, and apparently quite indifferent to the
conversation, had, in reality, not lost a word of it.

"Listen to me, Frida, I am not at all satisfied with you," he began in
a tone of reproof. "What was the object of your coming here? What do
you mean by avoiding my brother at every opportunity, actually running
away from him? You make no attempt at a nearer acquaintance; the rare
moments when he is approachable are allowed to pass unused by, and you
maintain complete silence when he speaks to you. I have smoothed the
way for you, and now you must try to walk in it alone."

 Frida had listened to this lecture in silence; but now she drew
herself up and said hastily--

"I cannot!"

"What can you not do?"

"Keep the promise which I made to you. You know you half forced it from
me. Against my will am I here, against my will have I undertaken to
play the part to which you have condemned me. But I cannot carry it
through, it is beyond my strength. Let me go home again, here I can do
no good."

"Indeed?" cried Gustave angrily. "That is a brilliant idea. For this
have I crossed the sea with you, and made deadly enemies of my
publisher and the editor, who were determined not to let me go. For
this I sit patiently at the office desk under the weight of Miss
Clifford's supreme contempt, and all that Miss Frida may declare, once
for all, 'I will stay no longer.' But it won't do. Surely you are not
going to cast away your arms after the struggle of one week. On the
contrary, I must request that you will stay and carry out what we have
begun."

The girl's dark eyes rested sadly and earnestly on the speaker, as if
reproving his careless tone.

"Do not call me ungrateful! I know what I owe you, what you have done
for me; but the task is harder than I had thought. I can feel no
affection for this cold, hard man, and he will never feel any for me,
of that I have the strongest conviction. Had I once seen a kindly
glance in his eyes, once heard a cordial word from his lips, I might
have drawn nearer to him; but this frigid character, that nothing can
warm, nothing can break through, drives me ever farther and farther
away."

Instead of replying, Gustave took her hand, and drew her beside him on
the sofa.

"Have I ever said that the task would be easy?" he asked. "It is hard
enough, harder than I could have believed, but not impossible. With
this shy avoidance of him, you will certainly attain nothing. You must
grapple with the foe; he is so strongly mailed that he can only be
taken by storm."

"I cannot!" cried Frida passionately. "I tell you that no voice within
me speaks for him, and if I can neither give nor receive love, what
shall I do here? Steal my way into a home and fortune. You cannot wish
that, and if you did, I would refuse both, were they offered to me with
the heartless indifference with which he permitted me a refuge in his
house."

With the last words she sprang from her seat. Gustave quietly drew her
down again.

"Now you are getting beyond all bounds, and the end will be an
obstinate refusal. If I did not know from whom you take that wilful
obstinacy, that passionate temper which lies under all your outward
reserve, I would give you another sort of lecture. But these faults are
hereditary, it is no use fighting against them."

The girl seized his hand and held it in both her own, as she
entreated--

"Let me away, let me go home again, I beg, I beg! What does it matter
if I am poor. I can work. I am young, and you will not desert me.
Thousands are in the same position, and must struggle with life
themselves. I will rather a thousand times do that than beg for a
recognition which is withheld from me. I only followed your wishes,
when you brought me to your brother; I need neither him nor his
riches."

"But he needs you," said Gustave impressively. "And he needs your love
more than you believe."

The girl's lips trembled with a bitter smile.

"There you are certainly wrong! I know little of the world or of men;
but I know very well that Mr. Sandow neither needs nor wishes for love.
He loves nothing in the world, not Jessie, who has grown up under his
eyes almost like a daughter of his own; not you, his own brother. I
have seen only too plainly how far he is from you both. He knows
nothing but the desire for wealth, for gain, and yet he is rich enough.
Is it true, really true, that he is connected with this Jenkins, that
such a man belongs to his friends?"

"Child, you understand nothing about that," said Gustave, evasively.
"Whoever, like my brother, has seen all the hopes of his life
shattered, whose every blessing has become a curse, every pleasure a
disappointment, either sinks utterly under such a catastrophe, or he
leaves his former self entirely behind, and goes on his way another
man. I know what he was twelve years ago, and what was then living in
him cannot be quite dead. You shall awaken it, you shall at all events
try, and that is why I have brought you here."

The deep earnestness with which these words were spoken, did not fail
of their effect on Frida; but she said, with a shake of the head--

"I am, and must remain a stranger to him. You have yourself forbidden
me to let him suspect anything of our circumstances."

"Certainly I have, for if he now discovered the truth he would most
likely repulse you with the utmost harshness; your obstinacy is equal
to his, and thus all would be lost. But at least you must approach him.
As yet you have scarcely spoken together. No voice rises in your heart,
you say. But it must rise in you, in him, and it will rise when you
have learnt to stand face to face together."

"I will try!" said Frida, with a deep sigh. "But if I fail, if I only
meet with harshness and suspicion"--

"You must remember that he is a man much sinned against," interrupted
Gustave, "so much, that he has a right to look with mistrust and
suspicion on all, and to draw back where another would lovingly open
wide his arms. You are innocent, you suffer for the faults of others;
but all the weight, poor child, falls on you."

The girl made no reply, but two hot tears rolled down her cheeks, while
she rested her head on the speaker's shoulder. He stroked her forehead
softly and soothingly.

"Poor child! Yes, it is hard, at your age, when all should be joy and
sunshine, to be already so deeply plunged in hatred and disunion, in
the whole misery of human life. It has been hard enough to me to reveal
all this to you; but it entered with such force into your life that it
was imperative for you to know it. And my Frida does not belong to the
weak and vacillating, she has something of the energy, and, alas,
something of the hardness of a certain other nature. So bravely
forwards, we must conquer in the end!"

Frida dried her tears and forced a smile.

"You are right! I am so ungrateful and stubborn towards you, who have
done so much for me! You are"--

"The best and noblest of men"--interrupted Gustave, "naturally I am,
and it is very extraordinary that Miss Clifford will not recognise my
perfections, though you have so touchingly assured her of them. But now
go out in the air for a few minutes. You look flushed and tearful, and
you must do away with these signs of excitement. Meanwhile, I will wait
here for Jessie. We have not had one dispute to-day, and a wrangle has
become one of the necessities of life to me, which I cannot do
without."

Frida obeyed. She left the drawing-room, crossed the terrace, and
descended into the garden. Slowly she walked through the beautiful
park-like grounds, which stretched down to the shore, and on which the
whole skill of the landscape gardener had been spent; but the spot she
sought, lay in the most distant part of the garden. It was a simple
bench, shaded by two mighty trees; it afforded an unlimited view over
the sea, and from the first day, had become the favourite retreat of
the young stranger. The fresh sea wind cooled Frida's heated cheeks,
and swept the traces of tears from her face, but the shade on her brow
defied all its efforts. This shade grew only darker and deeper, while
she, lost in distant dreams, watched the play of the waves which broke
upon the beach.

The garden was not so deserted as it seemed, for at no great distance
voices might be heard. Just by the iron railing which enclosed the
domain of the villa, stood Sandow with the gardener, and inspected the
addition, which in the last few days, had been made to the grounds.

The gardener directed, with ill-concealed pride, his attention to the
work, which was really planned and carried out with great taste and
skill, but the master of the house did not display much interest in it.
He cast a careless glance over it, with a few cool words expressed his
satisfaction, and went again on his way towards the house. Thus he
passed the bench where Frida sat.

"Is that you, Miss Palm? You have chosen the most retired spot in the
whole garden for your retreat."

"But also the most beautiful! The view of the sea is so magnificent?"

"That is a matter of taste," said Sandow. "For me that eternal rolling
up and down has a deadly monotony. I could not long endure it."

He said this in passing, and was on the point of leaving her. She would
probably have left his remark unanswered, and the conversation would
have ended there, but Gustave's warning bore fruit. She did not
preserve that shy silence as usual, but replied in a tone of which the
deep emotion forced a recognition.

"I love the sea so dearly--and--even if you ridicule me, Mr. Sandow,--I
cannot forget that my home lies there, beyond those waves."

Sandow did not appear disposed for ridicule. He stood still, his eyes
followed involuntarily the direction she pointed out, and then rested
earnestly and musingly on Frida's face, as if he sought something
there.

It was a misty and rather gloomy afternoon. The clouds hung heavy with
rain over the scene, and the usually unbounded view over the sunny blue
waves, was to-day, confined and veiled. One could scarcely see a
hundred steps away; farther out lay thick fog on the sea, and the
restlessly moving flood enlightened by no ray of sunshine, showed a
dark grey tint, which gave it an almost oppressive air of gloom.

Restlessly rolled on the waves, and burst with a hiss into white foam
on the sand of the shore. Far out in the fog sounded the roaring of the
distant ocean, and two gulls took their slow flight over the waves and
vanished in the mist. Frida's eyes followed them dreamily, and she
started violently when Sandow, who till now had preserved silence,
suddenly asked--

"What was the name of the clergyman with whom you lived in New York?"

"Pastor Hagen."

"And there you heard those remarks about Jenkins and Co.?"

"Yes, Mr. Sandow."

Frida seemed about to add something, but the abruptness with which the
last question was uttered closed her lips.

"I might have supposed so. These clerical gentlemen with their
extravagant views of morality, are always ready with a sentence of
damnation, when a thing does not exactly fit their measure. From the
pulpit it is much easier to look down on a sinful world, than it is to
us who must live and struggle in the midst of it. These gentlemen
should for a moment try what it is, they would soon lose some of their
virtuous calm and Christian spotlessness, but they would learn to judge
better of other things of which now they understand absolutely
nothing."

The bitter sarcasm of these last words would perhaps have terrified
another, but Frida's spirit rose energetically against it.

"Pastor Hagen is mildness and consideration itself," with a blaze of
indignation. "Certainly he will never condemn anyone unjustly. It was
the first and only time that I heard a harsh judgment from his lips,
and I know that only care for the dangerous position of his countrymen
drew it from him."

"Does that perhaps mean that he is right?" asked Sandow sharply, while
almost threateningly he advanced a step nearer.

"I do not know. I am quite strange and unknown to all. But you, Mr.
Sandow, are acquainted with this man, you must know"--

She dared not complete the sentence, for she felt that every additional
word might be an insult, and so indeed Sandow seemed to take it. The
milder tone in which he had begun the conversation, disappeared in the
wonted cold severity as he returned--

"At all events, I am much surprised to hear how the name and reputation
of a great firm can be slandered in certain circles. You are still
almost a child, Miss Palm, and it is easy to imagine, but understand
nothing of, such things. You cannot know how influential the name of
Jenkins and Co. is in the commercial world. But those who allow
themselves such freedom in their slander should consider that and
beware."

This refutation sounded dry enough, but not convincing. Of the power
and influence of the man no one had doubted, only that his influence
was injurious. Frida of course had no idea of the nature of the
connection between the two houses, but even the mention of the two
names together had deeply shocked her.

"You are angry with me for my imprudent expressions about your friend,"
she said. "I repeated unsuspectingly what I had heard, and Pastor
Hagen's remarks only referred to the danger with which such
undertakings threaten our emigrants. He has daily in New York before
his eyes the proof of how deeply such things affect the weal or woe of
thousands. You cannot know that the interests of your banking-house lie
certainly far removed from such speculations."

"Now how is it that you are so sure of it?" asked Sandow jestingly, but
the jest seemed somewhat forced. The dialogue began to disturb him, yet
he made no effort to break it off; there was something in it which
charmed and enchained him against his will.

Frida emerged more and more from her reserve. The subject interested
her in the highest degree, and her voice trembled with deep emotion as
she replied--

"I have once, only once, seen such a picture of misery, but it has made
an indelible impression on me. While I was in New York, a number of
emigrants came to us, Germans, who some years ago had gone to the Far
West, and were now returning. They had, doubtless, listened too readily
to the representations of the unscrupulous agents, and had lost
everything in those pathless woods. There they had left, sacrificed to
the climate, many of their nearest and dearest; there they had left
their means, their hopes, their courage--all! The German pastor who had
warned them before and whom they had not credited, must now advise them
and procure them the means of returning to their native land. It was
terrible to see these, once so courageous and strong, now so utterly
broken down and despairing, and to hear their lamentations. I shall
never forget it!"

As if overpowered by the recollection, she laid her hand upon her eyes.
Sandow replied not one word. He had turned away and looked grave and
motionless out into the mist. Immovable, as if chained to the spot, he
listened to every word which came with ever-increasing passion and
excitement from the youthful lips.

"I saw myself, on board the steamer which brought also hundreds of
emigrants here, how much anxiety and care such a ship carries, how many
hopes and fears. Happiness is seldom the cause which forces them to
leave their home. With so many it is the last hope, the last attempt to
create a new home for themselves out here. And then to think that all
their hopes fail, all their toil and labour is lost, that they must be
ruined because one man will enrich himself, because there are men who,
on purpose, with the fullest knowledge send their brothers into misery,
to make a gain out of their destruction. I should never have believed
it possible had I not myself seen it and heard it from those who
returned!"

She stopped, started at the deadly pallor which overspread the face of
the man who still stood motionless before her. His features remained
firm and inflexible as ever, no feeling betrayed itself there, but
every drop of blood seemed to have forsaken those features, whose fixed
expression had something unearthly in it. He did not see the anxious
questioning look of the girl, her sudden silence seemed first to
restore him to consciousness. With an abrupt movement he drew himself
up, and passed his hand over his brow.

"One must acknowledge that you stand bravely by your countrymen," said
he. His voice sounded dull and heavy, as if every word were produced by
a strong effort.

"So would you if you had an opportunity for doing so," returned Frida,
with perfect assurance. "You would cast the whole weight of your name
and position into the scale against such undertakings, and certainly
you could do far more than an unknown clergyman, whose own duties leave
him so little time, and who has already so much distress and misery to
alleviate in his own parish. Mr. Sandow," with suddenly awakening
confidence, she drew a step nearer to him, "really I did not mean to
affront you by those heedless words. It is quite possible that report
has wronged the man, or that Pastor Hagen has been deceived. You do not
believe it, I can see from your emotion, and you must know him best?"

He was certainly agitated, this man whose hand so convulsively grasped
the back of the bench, as if he would crush the carved wood with his
fingers, so agitated that some moments passed before he regained full
control over his voice.

"We have fallen upon a very disagreeable topic," said he at last
turning away. "I should never have believed that the timid, quiet
child, who during the week spent in my house, scarcely dared to raise
her eyes or open her lips, would blaze out so passionately when
strangers' interests were concerned. Why have you never shown this side
before?"

"I dared not. I feared so much"--

Frida said no more, but her eyes which were raised half confidently,
half timidly to his, expressed what the lips could not, and she was
understood.

"Whom did you fear? Was it me?"

"Yes," she replied with a deep breath. "I feared you dreadfully till
this moment."

"But you should not fear me, child!" In Sandow's voice was a tone
silent for many years and grown quite strange, but which spoke of
rising warmth and softness. "No doubt I seem cold and stern to you, and
so I am in the business world, but towards the young guest who has
sought shelter in my house I would not be so. Do not for the future
avoid me as you have done. You must not be afraid of me?"

He stretched his hand out to her, but Frida hesitated to take it. She
became alternately red and pale, some stormy, hardly repressed feeling
seemed bursting from her control. Suddenly Jessie's voice was heard
from the terrace. Growing anxious at the long absence of the young
visitor she called her name. Frida sprang up.

"Miss Clifford calls me, I must go to her. Thank you, Mr. Sandow, I
will not be afraid of you again?"

And hastily, before he could prevent her, she pressed her lips to the
offered hand, and fled away through the shrubbery.

With great astonishment Sandow looked after her. A singular girl! What
did it mean, this strange mixture of shyness and confidence, of blazing
passion and such power of self-repression? It was a riddle to him, but
just with this unexpected, contradictory character, Frida succeeded in
what the cleverest calculations could not have done--in awaking a deep
and abiding interest in the heart of a man generally so cold and
indifferent.

He had indeed every reason to be irritated and annoyed "with the
fanciful girl, with her exaggerated ideas," but through his irritation
another feeling forced its way, the same which he experienced when he
first looked into these dark childish eyes, and of which he could
scarcely say whether it caused him pain or pleasure.

He forgot, perhaps, for the first time in his life, that his study, and
his writing table laden with important letters awaited him. Slowly he
sank on to the bench and gazed at the restless rolling sea.

"A deadly monotony" he had said, of this eternal motion. The taste for
the beauties of nature had long ago died out in him, like so many other
tastes, but the words of the just concluded conversation still rang in
his ears. Truly; on the other side of this heaving ocean lay his native
land, his home. Sandow had not thought of it for years. What was home
to him? He had been long estranged from it, he clung with all the roots
of his present life to the land he could thank for what he was. The
past lay as far distant from him as the unseen coast of home, yonder in
the mist.

The proud rich merchant, whose name was known in every quarter of the
globe, who was accustomed to reckon with hundreds of thousands,
certainly looked back with contemptuous pity on the past, on the narrow
life of a subordinate official in a provincial German town. How close
and confined was then the horizon of his life, how wearily must he then
struggle to make both ends of his paltry salary meet, till at last,
after long hoping and waiting, he reached a position which allowed him
to establish his modest household. And yet how that poor narrow life
had been beautified and ennobled by the sunshine of love and happiness
which was shed around it.

A young and beautiful wife, a blooming child, the present full of
sunshine, the future full of joyful hopes and dreams, he needed nothing
more, his whole life was overflowing with happiness, but what a fearful
end to all that joy!

An old friend of Sandow's, who had grown up with him, who had shared
his boyish amusements, and later had accompanied him to the university,
returned, after a long absence, to his native town. He was well-off and
independent, and his life was dimmed by no cares for the morrow, unlike
his friend; who, however, received him with open arms and led him to
his home. And then began one of those domestic tragedies which are
often concealed for years, till at last some catastrophe brings them to
light.

The blinded man suspected not that his wife's heart was estranged from
him, that treachery spun its webs around him under his own roof. His
love, his confidence, firm as if founded on a rock, helped to blind
him, and when his eyes were at last opened, it was too late, he saw his
happiness and honour lying in ruin before him. Almost driven mad by
despair, he lost self-control and struck the destroyer of his happiness
to the ground.

Fate had at least preserved him from that last misery,
blood-guiltiness. Although severely injured, the traitor recovered
slowly, but Sandow had to pay the penalty of his deed by an
imprisonment of many a weary year. Though Right was unquestionably on
his side, the letter of the law sentenced him, and that sentence
destroyed his whole existence.

His situation was naturally lost, his official career closed. She, who
had once been his wife, had after the necessary separation had taken
place, given her hand to the man for whose sake she had betrayed her
husband, and whose name she now bore. And the one thing left to him,
the one thing the law allowed to the desolate man, that he himself put
from him. He had learnt to doubt all, all that he had once considered
pure and true, he now looked on as lying deception; thus he believed no
more in his paternal rights, and refused to recognise the little being
which had once been the joy of his heart.

He left it to the mother without even seeing it again. Under these
circumstances it was impossible to contemplate returning to his native
town.

Only America was open to him, that refuge of so many shattered
existences. Despairing of himself and of the world, poor and with the
prison stain upon his brow, he went there, but it was the turning point
in his life. There he rose from deepest misery to riches and splendour.

From that time success had remained true to Frank Sandow. Whatever he
ventured brought the richest returns, and soon he found only too much
pleasure in these ventures. He dragged the quiet and timorous Clifford
with him into the boldest and fool-hardiest speculations, and, as since
his death, the reins had been entirely in his own hands, he could now
brook no control.

There was something almost terrible in this restless, unceasing, hunt
for gain in a man, who heaped up riches, but had no one for whom to
gather them. But man must have something to cling to, something to give
an aim and object to his life, and when the nobler good is lost, it is
often the demon of gold which makes itself lord of the empty shrine.

Thus Sandow had fallen a victim. This demon spurred him ever forwards
to new gains, drove him from one wild speculation to another, and led
him to place his all on a single card. But it made him also insensible
of every joy of life, to peace or happiness.

The chief of the great American banking house had indeed won for
himself an imposing position, but his countenance showed only furrows
of care, only the traces of feverish excitement; of peace and happiness
there was no sign there.

The mist over the sea had grown thicker and spread farther and farther.
Like dusky visions it floated to the land, and out of it rolled and
burst the gloomy billows. The wind which now arose in its full might,
drove them more strongly and violently on the strand. They came no more
with a light splash, but roared and foamed on the beach. Threateningly
they rushed to the feet of the lonely man, who darkly, and as if lost
in thought, looked down on them. It was as if every wave repeated the
words he had just heard, and that out of the fog arose the pictures
they had called up before him.

Singular! What Gustave's energetic representations could not produce,
this childish chatter had succeeded in doing. The earnest warnings of
his brother had brought no effect on the merchant, he cast them off
contemptuously as "sentimental notions," as the "ideas of a novice,"
and finally silenced him with a threat.

He had long been unaccustomed to take the weal and woe of others into
consideration in his calculations. "One must reckon with men as with
figures!" That was the principle of his life, and the foundation of his
riches. Even in this speculation which had been proposed to him by his
correspondent, he had reckoned with them, and it had not once occurred
to him that men's lives should be thought of too. And now an
inexperienced child, who had no idea of the effect her words could
produce, had dared to speak thus to him. The words worked and fermented
in him, he could not tear the thoughts from him.

"How much care and anxiety such a ship bears, how many hopes and
fears!" Sandow had experienced that too, he too had landed here with
his shattered hopes, with the last despairing attempt to begin a new
life here. Success had come to him, friends and relations had held out
a helping hand to him. Without that, he also might have succumbed.

But still came hundreds of ships, and the thousands that they carried
had made also their last venture, gazed also fearfully around for any
helping hand which might be stretched out to them. There was still room
for many here, and the New World might look more benevolently on them
than the Old.

But, whoever seized the hand which Jenkins and Co. stretched out to
them, went to their ruin. And there was room for so many in that
district, where famine and fever awaited them. They had bought that
enormous territory for a song, and must at any price people it, to
pocket the hoped-for enormous gain. There were really men who sent
their brothers to destruction to enrich themselves.

Sandow sprang suddenly up. He would tear himself from these thoughts,
which seemed burnt into his memory, from these words, which haunted him
like spectres. He could endure the monotonous roar of the sea no
longer, and the mist lay like a heavy weight upon his breast. It
literally hunted him from the place and into the house. But it was in
vain that he locked himself into his room, that he buried himself in
letters and despatches. Outside the sea roared and rolled, and
something within him arose and struggled upwards--upwards--something
which had lain asleep for years, and at last awoke--his conscience!



                              CHAPTER VII.


Jessie sat in the garden and drew, and opposite to her in the arbour
sat Gustave Sandow. He had just returned from town, where he had
occupied himself about everything imaginable, except, alas! the one
thing which was expected from the future head of the house of Clifford.
He had not even set his foot within the counting-house. For there were
so many other things to attend to. First he had visited a rich banker
in the town, who had just received from Europe a costly painting on
which he wished Gustave's opinion. As both owner and critic were alike
eager on the subject, the inspection extended itself over the whole,
tolerably valuable picture gallery of the banker, and occupied several
hours.

After that, both gentlemen drove to a great meeting on some town
interests, and at which Mr. Sandow, jun., was an eager and interested
listener.

In conclusion, he had a small private meeting which some gentlemen of
the press had called together in honour of their former colleague. The
state of affairs in Germany and America was here thoroughly examined,
and meanwhile it had become so late, that Gustave considered it quite
unnecessary to visit his brother's office. He preferred driving direct
to the villa to keep the ladies company.

After such a thoroughly satisfactory day's work, he thought himself
justified in satisfying the craving of his heart, which could only
happen when he, at least once a day, had a wrangle with Miss Clifford.
With this intention he rapidly sought and found her.

During the last few weeks a noticeable change had taken place in
Jessie. Some secret trouble, which she did not perhaps acknowledge to
herself, cast a shade over the lovely face, which looked paler and more
serious than before, and round the mouth, too, lay a half bitter, half
painful line which was formerly not there. The presence of Gustave was
clearly not likely to cheer her, for she avoided looking at him, and
earnestly continued her drawing, while, to all his remarks, she
returned only short and unconnected replies.

But it was not so easy to frighten Gustave away. When all his attempts
at conversation failed he rose and bent over the half-finished drawing,
which he examined with a critical eye.

"A very pretty subject! It promises much, but you must entirely change
the perspective, Miss Clifford, it is quite wrong."

At last that produced the intended effect. Jessie raised her head, and
looked indignantly at the uncalled adviser.

"You don't draw yourself, Mr. Sandow, I believe?"

"No, but I criticise."

"So I see. Nevertheless you will permit me to retain my perspective as
it is, until a real artist has convinced me of its errors."

Gustave calmly took his seat again.

"Just as you please! I propose that we should call in Frida as arbiter.
She has remarkable talent for drawing, and it has been cultivated with
the greatest care."

"Frida?" repeated Jessie, letting her pencil rest, "I wanted to speak
to you about her. She seems really to have nearly gained her end, for
my guardian's interest in her increases day by day. For my part, this
is rather perplexing, considering the indifference with which he
treated her at first, but Frida must have found out how to get the
right side of him, for suddenly he displayed so deep an interest in her
as I had not conceived possible with his dry cold nature. Already he
cannot bear to miss her. He shows unmistakable displeasure if the
possibility of her departure is spoken of, and this morning, without
the slightest remark on my side, he proposed to me that she should
remain here permanently as my companion."

"Did he really propose that?" cried Gustave eagerly. "That is more, far
more, than I had yet dared to hope. Certainly we are not far from our
goal!"

"I think so too, and therefore it will soon be time to release the poor
child from the painful and humiliating position in which she is. Here
she is regarded as a total stranger, while she really stands in the
closest connection with you; and is forced to keep up a constant
succession of deceptions. I often see, at some harmless remark of my
uncle's which she is obliged to avoid, how the blood flies to her
cheeks, how the part she is forced to play embarrasses and distresses
her. I fear she will not be able to endure it much longer."

"She must!" declared Gustave. "I know that it is hard for her, and
sometimes she tries to rebel, but I understand already how to manage
her."

Between Miss Clifford's delicate brows appeared a deep frown of
displeasure.

"I acknowledge, Mr. Sandow, that your tone and your whole manner of
treating Frida are quite incomprehensible to me. You treat her
completely as a child that must obey implicitly your higher will, and
seem quite to forget that she must take a place at your side some day."

"She must first be educated for it," said Gustave condescendingly. "At
present she is scarcely sixteen, and I am thirty, therefore the child
must look on me with respect."

"So it seems! I should expect something more from my future husband,
than that he should set himself up as an object of my respect."

"Yes, Miss Clifford, that is quite different. No one would permit
himself such a tone towards you."

"I suppose my fortune gives me a claim to more consideration. With the
poor dependent orphan, whom one elevates to one's own position, any
manner is permitted."

The remark sounded so bitter that Gustave noticed it, and cast a
questioning glance at the young lady.

"Do you think that Frida belongs to those natures which allow
themselves to be thus elevated?"

"No; I think her very proud, and far more courageous than is usual at
her age. Just on that account is this unquestioning docility
incomprehensible."

"Yes. I am rather successful in training," acknowledged Gustave. "But
as to your proposition, to tell the whole to my brother immediately,
that is impossible. You don't know my brother; his obstinacy is by no
means conquered, and would return doubly strong if he discovered our
plot. The moment that he learnt that I had brought Frida here with a
decided purpose, his anger would burst forth, and he would send us both
back across the ocean."

"That would indeed be a misfortune, for then the advantage of the whole
intrigue would be lost."

Jessie must indeed have been irritated before she allowed the hateful
word "intrigue" to pass her lips, but it slipped out, and Gustave quite
accepted it.

"Quite right; that is what I fear, and it would never do to jeopardise
it thus, now my heart is set on remaining here."

There was a peculiar light in his eyes at the last words. Jessie did
not see it; she had bent again over her drawing, and worked away with
renewed zeal, but the pencil trembled in her hand, and the strokes
became hasty and uncertain. Gustave watched her for a while; at last he
rose again.

"No, Miss Clifford, it really will not do to treat the perspective like
that. Permit me one moment."

And without further ceremony, he took the pencil from her hand, and
began to alter the drawing. Jessie was about to make a violent protest,
but she quickly saw that the pencil was in a very practised hand, and
that a few powerful strokes entirely corrected the error.

"You declared you could not draw," said she, wavering between anger and
surprise.

"Oh! It is only a little _dilletante_ performance, which I do not
venture to call talent. Only enough to enable me to criticise. Here,
Miss Clifford."

He returned the leaf to her. Jessie looked silently at it and then at
him.

"I really admire your versatility, of which you have just given me a
proof. You are everything imaginable, Mr. Sandow! Politician,
journalist, artist.--"

"And merchant," said Gustave, completing the sentence. "Yes, I am a
sort of universal genius, but share alas, the fate of all geniuses; I
am not recognised by my contemporaries."

His half-ironical inclination showed that for the moment he looked upon
her as representing his contemporaries. Jessie made no reply, but began
to collect her drawing materials.

"It is quite chilly. I ought to go in. Pray do not disturb yourself; I
will send the servant to fetch my things," and declining with a motion
of her hand any assistance from him, she took the drawing from the
table, and left the summer-house.

Gustave shook his head as he looked after her.

"I seem really to have fallen into disgrace; the last few weeks she has
been quite changed. I would rather hear the most violent attack on my
selfishness and want of thought than this cool and measured bitterness.
I fear it is high time for me to tell all the truth, and yet I dare not
risk Frida's future by so doing. A premature catastrophe would spoil
all."

At that moment a carriage drove past the villa. It was Sandow returning
from business. He came direct to the garden.

"Here already!" was the short greeting he bestowed on his brother.
"Where are the ladies?"

"Miss Clifford has just left me."

"And Miss Palm?"

"I suppose she is on the beach. I have not seen her since my return."

Sandow's eyes impatiently sought the farther part of the garden. He
seemed disappointed that Frida had not come to meet him as usual.

"I have not seen you since this morning," he remarked with temper. "You
certainly asked leave on account of pressing business, still I expected
to see you in the office later. What kind of business can you have
which occupies a whole day?"

"Well, first I was with Henderson, the banker."

"Ah! About the new loan which is being raised in M----. I am glad that
you have seen him yourself."

"Naturally about the loan," said Gustave, who did not scruple to leave
his brother in error about his business proceedings, though in his
wanderings through the picture gallery there had been no mention of the
projected loan. "And then there was some talk about private affairs.
When Mrs. Henderson was last here she saw our young country woman, and
is quite charmed with her. It is remarkable what an effect this still,
timid child produces on every one. From their first meeting, Miss
Clifford, too, became one of her warmest friends."

"The child is not so quiet and shy as you imagine," said Sandow, whose
eyes continued to look towards the shore. "Beneath that reserve is a
deeply emotional, a quite uncommon nature. I never suspected it till
accident revealed it to me."

"And since then, you, too, belong to the conquered. Really, Frank, I
scarcely know you again. You treat this young girl, this almost total
stranger, with a consideration, one might almost say a tenderness, of
which your only and highly deserving brother has never been able to
boast."

Sandow had seated himself, and thoughtfully supported his head on his
hand.

"There is something so fresh, so untouched, in such a young creature.
Against one's will it recalls one's own youthful days. She still clings
so fast to her enthusiastic ideas, to her dreams of happiness to come,
and cannot understand that the outer world should look on things under
such a different aspect. Foolish, childish ideas, which will fall away
of themselves in the rough school of the world, but while one listens
to them all one's lost beliefs by degrees revive again."

Again his voice had that peculiar softened tone, which those even who
best knew the merchant had never heard from his lips, and which seemed
like an echo from some older, happier time. Frida must indeed have
understood how to touch the right chord as no one before had done, for
the very qualities, which in Jessie were regarded as sentimentality and
exaggeration, had here found their way to the stern, cold heart of
the man. Gustave felt this contradiction, and said, with a touch of
satire--

"But all that should not be new to you. You have lived all these years
in Clifford's family, and Jessie has grown up under your eyes."

"Jessie was always her parents' idolized darling," replied Sandow,
coldly. "Love and happiness were literally showered upon her, and
whoever did not treat her with flattery and tenderness, as myself for
example, was feared and avoided by her. I have always been a stranger
to this fair-haired, soft and petted child, and since she has been
grown up, we have become still more distant. But this Frida with her
wilful reserve, which we must overcome before reaching the real nature,
has nothing weak and wavering about her. When once the somewhat
forbidding crust has been broken through, strength and life are found
beneath. I like such natures, perhaps because I feel something kindred
in them, and sometimes I am surprised, almost startled, to hear from
the lips of that girl, remarks and ideas almost identical with what
were mine at the same age."

Gustave made no reply, but he closely examined his brother's
countenance. The latter felt this, and, as if ashamed of the warmer
feeling he had allowed himself to display, immediately stopped, and
resumed his usual cold business tone and manner.

"You might at least have come to the office for a few hours. There are
things of importance going on, and another letter from Jenkins has
arrived. He presses for the fulfilment of your promise with regard to
the _K--che Zeitung_, and it is certainly high time. You must have
written your article long since."

"I had not supposed there was any hurry," said Gustave. "For some weeks
you have not even mentioned the subject."

"There were so many preparations to make. I have kept up an active
correspondence with New York on the subject."

"Which you have not allowed me to see as you did the former letters."

"Then it was necessary for you to learn all particulars. This time it
concerned very unpleasant difficulties which I alone must arrange."

"I know; you have tried to release yourself from the whole thing!"

Sandow sprang up, and looked at his brother with the same air of
speechless astonishment, as formerly when he heard of the journey to
the much talked of possessions.

"I! Who has betrayed that to you?"

"No one, but many signs led me to suppose so, and now I see that I was
not mistaken in my supposition."

Sandow looked darkly and suspiciously at his brother, who stood before
him with perfect composure.

"You have really a dangerous power of observation! With you one must be
perpetually under control, and even then is not safe in his inmost
thoughts. Well yes, then, I did wish to withdraw. On closer examination
the speculation did not seem so favourable, did not promise half the
profit we had at first believed. I tried to release myself from the
obligation, or to induce someone else to take my place, but have not
been successful. Jenkins stands by the completion of our bargain, and I
have now pledged myself completely. Nothing remains but to promptly
carry out the first agreement."

He brought out these disjointed remarks with nervous haste, and
meanwhile played with his pocket-book which he had drawn out. His whole
manner displayed a violent, hardly suppressed excitement. Gustave did
not appear to notice it, but replied with calm decision--

"Now there must be some means of freeing oneself from such a bargain."

"No; for the sums which I have already sunk in this undertaking bind my
hands. I stand the chance of losing all, if I withdraw now. Jenkins is
just the man to hold me fast, and to use every letter of the contract
against me, as soon as our interests cease to go hand in hand. So the
thing must take its course.--Ah! Miss Frida, at last you allow us a
glimpse of you."

The last words, which sounded like a sigh of relief, were directed to
the girl who now appeared in the arbour. During the last weeks Frida
had also altered, but the change took a different form, than with
Jessie. The childish face formerly so pale had now a rosy tinge, the
dark eyes were still grave, but they had lost that troubled look. They
sparkled with glad surprise when they beheld the master of the house,
whom Frida immediately approached with frank confidingness.

"Are you home already, Mr. Sandow? I did not know, or I should have
come long ago, but"--she looked at the serious faces of the two men,
and made a movement as if to leave them--"I am afraid I disturb you."

"Not at all," said Sandow quickly. "We were only debating on some
business matters, and I am glad to make an end of the discussion. Stay
here!"

He threw his pocket-book on the table and stretched out his hand. The
cold, stern man, whose austere manner had never softened even in the
family circle, seemed at this moment another being. The few weeks must
have wrought a great change in him.

Gustave greeted Frida in the polite but formal manner, which he always
showed to her in the presence of his brother.

"I have a message and an invitation for you, Miss Palm," said he. "Mrs.
Henderson would like to see you soon, in order to talk farther with you
over the arrangement which has been already mentioned."

"What arrangement is that?" asked Sandow, becoming suddenly attentive.

Frida cast a startled and questioning look at Gustave, and replied with
some uncertainty--

"Mrs. Henderson's companion is leaving, and the situation has been
offered to me. I had better"--

"You will not accept it," interrupted Sandow with decision. Vexation
was audible in his voice. "Why this haste? There must be other and
better places to be found."

"The banker's family is one of the first in the town," remarked
Gustave.

"And Mrs. Henderson one of the most insupportable women, who torments
her entire household with her nerves and whims, and her companion is a
perfect victim to them. No, Miss Frida, give up the idea. I will on no
account agree to your taking this situation."

An almost imperceptible but triumphant smile played round Gustave's
lips.

Frida stood speechless, her eyes on the ground; all the old awkwardness
seemed to have returned with these words.

Sandow misunderstood her silence. He looked searchingly at her, and
then continued more slowly--

"Of course I do not wish to control your wishes. If you want to leave
us"--

"No! no!" cried Frida, so passionately that Gustave was obliged to make
a warning sign to her, to remind her of the necessity of self-control.

She quickly collected herself, and said with a trembling voice--

"I am so much afraid of being tiresome to Miss Clifford."

"That is a foolish idea," said Sandow reprovingly. "Tiresome to us! My
niece will soon convince you of the contrary. She will make you a
better offer than Mrs. Henderson's. Jessie is far too much alone, and
needs a companion; it is not good for a young girl to be quite without
one of her own sex. Will you be this companion, Frida? Will you stay
altogether with us?"

The girl raised her eyes to him; they were wet with tears, and there
was something in them which looked like a prayer for forgiveness.

"If you agree to it, Mr. Sandow, I will gratefully accept Miss
Clifford's kindness, but only if you wish me to remain."

Over Sandow's face flashed a smile, slight, but it brightened like a
ray of sunshine the dark, stern features.

"Am I, then, such a dreaded power in the house? Jessie has, then,
already spoken of this project, and you feared my refusal. No, no,
child! My niece is perfectly free to do as she pleases, and I will
immediately talk the thing over with her, and settle it once for all.
Mrs. Henderson shall learn to-morrow morning that she must look for
another companion."

He rose, and waving her a slight, but friendly greeting, left the
arbour.

Scarcely was he out of hearing when Gustave approached the girl.

"He is afraid that the Hendersons will kidnap you from him, and hastens
to make sure of you!" said he triumphantly. "Why do you look so
terrified? Do you think I shall hand you over to Mrs. Henderson, who
to-day certainly gave me the message to you, but who really deserves
the character my brother has given her. I was obliged to learn how he
would look on the idea of your leaving. He was quite beside himself
about it. Bravo, child! You have managed your affairs capitally, and
now, instead of the censure I first heaped upon you, must declare that
I am thoroughly satisfied with you."

Frida paid no attention to the eulogy. Her eyes followed Sandow, who
was just disappearing behind the shrubbery. Now she turned and said--

"I can deceive him no longer. As long as he was hard and cold I might
have done it; now, the falsehood crushes me to the earth!"

"Cast the whole responsibility on me," said Gustave encouragingly. "I
have placed you in this position, have woven the 'intrigue,' as Miss
Clifford so flatteringly expresses it; I will also bear the
responsibility when the moment for explanation comes. But now the
watchword is 'forward!' and we must not fail for a moment. When we are
so near our aim, we must persevere. Think of that, and promise me that
you will endure to the end."

Frida drooped her head; she did not refuse, but neither did she give
the required promise.

Gustave continued in a serious tone--

"Jessie, too, urges me to a declaration, and, I see, cannot comprehend
my hesitation. She does not understand the circumstances, but believes
that you are a stranger to her guardian, who has won his affection, and
to whom he would gladly open his arms. But we"--here he seized Frida's
hand, and grasped it firmly in his own--"we know better, my poor child!
We know that you have to struggle with a gloomy hatred which has
already poisoned his life, and has rooted itself so firmly in that life
that a few kind words cannot banish it. I struggled for your rights
when my brother left Europe, have tried again and again, and have thus
learnt how deeply grafted in him is this miserable idea. You must
become still more to him if it is entirely to be torn from him. Can you
think that without the most urgent necessity I would lay such a yoke
upon you?"

"Oh, no, certainly not! I will obey you in everything, only it is so
hard to lie."

"Not to me!" declared Gustave. "I would never have believed that the
Jesuitical principle, 'the end justifies the means,' could have been
such a perfect antidote to all the pricks of conscience. I lie with a
kind of peace of mind, or rather with a conscious sublimity. But you
need not take a pattern by me. It is by no means necessary that a child
like you should have attained such a height of objectivity. On the
contrary, falsehood must and should be difficult to you, and it gives
me the greatest satisfaction to know that such is the case."

"But Jessie," said Frida, "may I not at least take her into our
confidence? She has been so kind, so affectionate to me, a stranger,
has opened her arms as if to a sister"--

"To get rid of me!" interrupted Gustave. "Yes, that is why she received
you with open arms. In order to escape my wooing she would have
deceived the very old gentleman himself, if he would have delivered her
from the unwelcome suitor. No, no, Jessie is out of the question. It is
my special delight to be despised by her, and I must enjoy it a little
while longer."

"Because the whole thing is only play to you," said Frida
reproachfully, "but she suffers from it."

"Who? Jessie? Not at all. She is in the highest degree shocked at my
wickedness, and I must give myself the one little satisfaction of
leaving her still this sentiment."

"You are mistaken; it gives her bitter pain to be obliged to judge you
so. I know how she has wept over it."

Gustave sprang up as if electrified.

"Is that true? Have you really seen it? She has wept?"

Frida looked with unmeasured surprise at his beaming face.

"And you are glad of it. Can you really blame her if she has a mistaken
opinion of you when you have caused that mistake? Can you be so
revengeful as to torment her for it?"

"Oh! the wisdom of sixteen years!" cried Gustave, bursting into
irrepressible laughter. "You will defend your friend against me, will
you?--against me? You are indeed very wise for your years, my little
Frida, but of such things you understand nothing, and, indeed, it is
not necessary. You can still wait a couple of years. But now tell me
all about it! When did Jessie weep? What did she cry for? How do you
know that the tears concerned me? Tell me, tell me, or I shall die of
impatience!"

His face indeed betrayed the highest excitement, and he seemed actually
to devour the words from the girl's lips. Frida seemed certainly to
know nothing of such things, for she looked astonished to the last
degree, but yielded at last to his urgency.

"Jessie asked me seriously a short time ago if I would really entrust
my whole future to such an egoist as you. I defended you, awkwardly
enough, as I dared not betray you, and was obliged to submit to all the
reproaches heaped on you."

"And then?" asked Gustave breathlessly, "and then?"

"Then, in the midst of the conversation, Jessie suddenly burst into
tears, and cried--'You are blind, Frida; you persist in your blindness,
and yet I have only your happiness in view! You don't know what
dreadful pain it gives me to have to place this man in such a light
before you, or what I would give if he stood as pure and high in my
eyes as in yours!' And then she rushed away and locked herself in her
room. But I know that she cried for hours."

"That is incomparable, heavenly news!" cried Gustave, in fullest
delight. "Child, you do not know how cleverly you have observed. Come,
I must give you a kiss for it!"

And with that he seized the girl in his arms and kissed her heartily on
both cheeks.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


A shadow fell on the entrance of the arbour--there stood Sandow, who
had returned to fetch his forgotten pocket-book, and thus became a
witness of the scene.

For a moment he stood speechless and motionless, then he approached and
cried, with the greatest indignation--

"Gustave!--Miss Palm!"

The girl started violently, even Gustave turned pale as he released
her. The catastrophe which at any price he would yet delay, had burst,
he saw that at a glance; now he must stand firm.

"What is all this?" asked Sandow, measuring his brother with blazing
eyes. "How dare you treat thus a young girl under the shelter of my
house, and you, Miss Palm, how could you permit such conduct? It could
not be agreeable to you? And yet there seems already a thorough
understanding!"

Frida made no attempt to reply to the bitter reproaches heaped upon
her. She looked at Gustave as if she expected him to defend her. He had
already collected himself, and said impressively to his brother--

"Listen to me, you are in error, and I will explain all to you."

"It needs no explanation," interrupted Sandow. "I have seen what you
have been guilty of, and you will not try to deny the evidence of my
own eyes. I always thought you frivolous, but not so dishonourable, but
that you have, almost under the eyes of Jessie, your promised bride"--

"Frank, stop there!" cried Gustave, with such determination that
Sandow, although trembling with rage, was silent. "I cannot allow this,
my self-sacrifice will not go so far as that. Frida, come to me. You
see that we must speak. He must learn the truth."

Frida obeyed. She came to his side, and he laid his arm protectingly
round her. Sandow looked bewildered from one to the other. The affair
was unintelligible to him, he had clearly no presentiment of the truth.

"You wrong me by your accusations," said Gustave, "and you wrong Frida
too. If I kissed her I had a right to do so. She has been my charge
from her earliest youth. The poor forsaken child was neglected by
everyone who ought to have protected and sheltered her. I was the only
one who recognised the right of kindred. I have used that right, and
can support my actions by it."

It was astonishing how deeply earnest the voice of the irrepressible
jester had become. At the first words a terrible presentiment seemed to
seize Sandow. Every tinge of colour left his face, he became paler and
paler, and with his eyes fixed on Frida, he repeated in a tuneless and
mechanical voice--

"Your right of kindred? What--what do you mean?"

Gustave raised the head of the girl, which leant on his shoulder, and
turned the face full towards his brother.

"If you have not yet guessed, then read it in this face, perhaps it
will now be clear to you. What likeness is it that you have remembered
there. I have certainly deceived you, been forced to deceive you since
you thrust every possibility of an understanding from you. Then I
seized the only means, and brought Frida to you. I thought you would by
degrees learn to comprehend the feeling which warmed your half-frozen
heart, I thought it must at last dawn upon you, that the stranger who
attracted you so powerfully had a right to your love. That is now
impossible, the discovery has come too suddenly and unexpectedly, but
look at those features, they are your own. For long years you have
suffered under a dark and gloomy illusion, and have punished a
guiltless child for the guilt of the mother. You awake at last and open
your arms to her--to your own, your neglected child."

A long oppressive silence followed these words. Sandow staggered, and
for a moment it seemed as if he would give way altogether, but he stood
upright. His face worked terribly, and his breast rose and fell quickly
with the gasping breath, but he spoke no word.

"Come, Frida!" said Gustave gently, "come to your father, you see he
waits for you."

He drew her forwards and would have led her to her father, but he had
now regained his power of speech. He made a movement as if to thrust
her from him, and hoarse and roughly cried--

"Back! So easy a victory you need not expect. Now I see through the
whole comedy."

"Comedy!" repeated Gustave, deeply hurt. "Frank, in such a moment can
you speak thus."

"And what else is it?" broke out Sandow. "What else do you call that
miserable jugglery which you have carried on behind by back? So, for
weeks past I have been surrounded in my own house, with lies and
deceit. And even Jessie has joined you; without her help it would have
been impossible. All have conspired against me. You," he turned to
Frida as if he would pour all his rage and scorn upon her devoted head,
but he encountered the girl's eyes, and the words died on his lips.

He was silent for some moments, and then continued with the bitterest
contempt--

"No doubt they described to you in very enticing colours the benefit of
having a father from whom you might inherit wealth, and who could give
you a brilliant position in life. That is why you have stolen into my
house with lies. But what I swore when I left Europe that I stand by. I
have no child, will have none, were the law ten times to adjudge me
one. Go back over the sea to whence you came. I will not be the victim
of deceit."

"That is what I feared," said Gustave, half aloud. "Frida," he stepped
quickly to her, "now you must rouse the feelings of a father. You see
he will not listen to me; to you he must, and will listen. Speak, then,
at all events open your lips, do you not feel what hangs on this
moment?"

But Frida spoke not, and did not open her lips, which were convulsively
pressed together. She was deadly pale, and in her face was the same
expression of hard, settled obstinacy which disfigured her father's
countenance.

"Let me alone, Uncle Gustave," she replied, "I cannot entreat now, and
if my life depended on it, I could not. I will only tell my father I am
innocent of the 'deceit' with which he reproaches me."

The delicate form was suddenly drawn up to its full height, the dark
eyes blazed, and the deeply injured feelings burst forth, passionately
overflowing all bounds, like a stream which can no longer be
controlled.

"You need not repulse me so harshly, I should have gone in the moment
when it became clear to me that the one thing I sought here--my
father's heart--was denied me. I have never known a parent's love. My
mother was estranged from me, of my father I only knew that he lived on
this side the Atlantic, and had cast me off because he hated my mother.
I came against my will, because I neither knew nor loved you. I only
feared you. I came because my uncle said that you were lonely and
embittered, and in spite of your wealth had no happiness in life; that
you needed love, and that I alone could give it to you. By those means
he forced me to follow him, in spite of my opposition, and by those
means has he ever prevented me when I begged to return home. But now he
will not wish to detain me, and if he did, I would tear myself away.
Keep your wealth, father, that which you think has brought me to you.
It has brought no blessing to you; I knew it long ago, and hear it
again in your words. If you were poor and desolate I would try to love
you, now I cannot. I will leave you within the hour!"

The unmeasured violence with which these words were spoken, or rather
with which they rushed from Frida's lips had something terrible in it,
but it also betrayed something which produced a more powerful effect
than all the prayers and petitions could have done--the resemblance
between the father and the daughter.

In the ordinary course of life the resemblance between the girl of
sixteen and the already grey-haired man might have disappeared, or only
have been remarkable occasionally; here, in the moment of highest
excitement, it found such overwhelming, such convincing expression,
that every doubt vanished on the spot.

Sandow must have seen it whether he would or not. Those were his eyes,
which flamed before him, that was his voice which rang in his ears,
that was his own dark, unbending obstinacy which now turned against
himself. Trait by trait he saw himself reproduced in his daughter. The
voice of blood and nature spoke so loud and convincingly that even the
long treasured illusion of the father began to yield.

Frida turned to her uncle.

"In an hour I shall be ready to start! Forgive me, Uncle Gustave, that
I have so badly carried out all your teaching, that I have rendered
useless all your self-sacrifice, but I cannot do otherwise!"

She threw herself wildly on his breast, but only for a moment, then she
tore herself away, fled past her father, and rushed like a hunted thing
through the garden towards the house.

As Sandow saw his daughter in his brother's arms, he made a movement as
if to tear her away, but his hand fell powerless by his side, and he
sank as if crushed upon a seat, and buried his face in his hands.

Gustave, on his side, made no attempt to detain his niece. He stood
quietly there with folded arms and watched his brother. At last he
asked--

"Do you believe it now?"

Sandow raised himself; he tried to reply, but the words failed him, and
no sound came from his lips.

"I thought this encounter must have convinced you," continued Gustave.
"The likeness is really startling. You are reflected in your child as
in a mirror. Frank, if you do not believe this testimony I have indeed
lost all hope."

Sandow passed his hand over his brow, bedewed with cold sweat, and
looked towards the house, where Frida had long since vanished.

"Call her back!" said he, hoarsely.

"That would be labour in vain, she would not listen to me. Would you
return if you had been so driven away? Frida is her father's daughter,
she will not approach you again--you must fetch her yourself."

Again silence, but this only lasted for a minute, then Sandow rose,
slowly and hesitatingly, but he rose. Gustave laid his hand upon his
arm.

"One word, Frank, before you go. Frida knows of the past only what she
was compelled to know, not one syllable more. She does not dream _why_
you have driven her away, nor what fearful suspicion has kept her all
these years from her father's heart. I could not bring myself to reveal
that to the child. She believes that you hated her mother because she
was unhappy in her marriage with you, left you and married another man,
and that this hatred has descended upon her. This reason satisfied her,
she asked for no other, so let it remain. I think you will understand
that I could not let your daughter look into the depth of your domestic
misery, and concealed the worst from her. If you do not mention it she
need never learn it."

"I--thank you!"

The elder brother seized the hand of the younger, the latter returned
the pressure heartily and firmly. Then Sandow turned and went rapidly
away.

"He is going to her," said Gustave, with a sigh of relief. "God be
thanked; now they can arrange the rest together."



                              CHAPTER IX.


Frida had fled to her own room in the upper floor of the villa. Another
might have given way to tears, or have poured out her heart to the
sympathizing Jessie; this girl did neither; but with restless haste
made the preparations for her journey.

The harsh repulse of her father, which burnt like fire into her soul,
left her only one thought. Away out of this house from which he wished
to drive her, away as quick as possible.

Frida had drawn out her travelling trunk, which still stood in the
corner of the apartment, and collected her things together. She did it
silently, tearlessly, but with a stormy haste, as if she would escape
some misfortune. She knelt before the open box and was in the act of
laying her dresses in it, when a step sounded outside. It must be her
uncle who was looking for her, she knew that he would come to her, and
would beg him to take her to an hotel. There they could arrange about
her return home. She would be docile, obedient in everything, only he
must not attempt to keep her longer here. The steps came nearer, the
door opened, and on the threshold stood--her father!

Frida trembled violently, the shawl which she held in her hand fell to
the ground, and she stood as if rooted to the spot.

Sandow entered and shut the door; he looked at the open box and the
things scattered around.

"You are going?"

"Yes."

Question and answer were alike short and abrupt. It seemed as if the
gulf between father and daughter would again open wide. Sandow was
silent for a few moments, he visibly struggled with himself; at last he
said--

"Come to me, Frida!"

She rose slowly, stood a moment as if undecided, and then approached
slowly, till she stood close before her father. He put his arm round
her, and with the other hand raised her head. Bending over her he
examined line by line, feature by feature, and his eyes seemed
literally to pierce into her countenance. The old suspicion arose once
more, and for the last time, but it vanished by degrees, as the father
saw his own features reproduced in his child.

A deep, deep sigh burst from Sandow's breast, and the half anxiously
seeking, half threatening look, melted into tears, which fell hot and
heavy on Frida's brow.

"Just now I gave you great pain," said he, "but do you think it was
easy to me to drive from me the one thing that could give me joy.
Gustave is right; it has been a terrible delusion, may it be forgotten
for ever. My child," his voice broke in deepest emotion, "will you love
your father?"

A joyful cry burst from the daughter's lips. At this tone, the first
which seemed really to come from the heart, vanished the bitterness of
the last hour, vanished also the recollection of the long years of
separation and estrangement.

Frida threw both arms round her father's neck, and as he pressed her
with a burst of tenderness to his breast, they both felt that the
gloomy shadow which had so long separated them, had vanished for ever!



                               CHAPTER X.


Meanwhile Gustave had also returned slowly to the house. As he entered
the drawing-room, Jessie came to him full of uneasiness.

"Mr. Sandow, pray, pray tell me what has happened. Ten minutes ago
Frida rushed into my room, threw her arms round my neck, and wished me
good-bye. She seemed quite beside herself, and declared that she must
go, she could not stay another hour, would answer no questions, but
referred me to you for all explanations. What has happened?"

Gustave shrugged his shoulders.

"What I feared, if the discovery could not be postponed. An accident
betrayed our secret to my brother, and we were obliged to confess the
truth. His auger at the deception burst forth with great violence, and
was poured unsparingly upon us both. Frida could not support this, she
declared she would go at once, and now is, most probably, making the
necessary preparations for her journey."

"And you are not with her!" cried Jessie. "You have not protected and
supported her! Can you leave her alone at such a moment? Go to her!"

"I should only be in the way," declared Gustave, with a composure which
appeared to Miss Clifford as the height of selfishness. "What remains
to be done Frida must fight out alone. I may, at last, be allowed to
think of myself."

His eyes, which rested on Jessie's face, beamed again as when Frida had
made a certain revelation to him. Lost in this gaze, he quite forgot
that his words must give rise to fresh misunderstanding, and this
indeed happened in fullest measure.

"All this while you have only thought too much of yourself!" replied
Jessie, her excitement rising, "but if there is one spark of love in
your breast, you must feel that your place is at the side of your
betrothed bride."

Gustave smiled, and stepped close to the indignant girl, while he said
impressively--

"Frida is not, and has never been, betrothed to me."

"Not betrothed to you?"

"No; if you remember, it was expressly as my _protégée_ I introduced
her. It was you, Miss Clifford, who took the other connection for
granted, and I left you in your error. But now, when I have ceased to
play the part of protector, I may acknowledge to you that my
inclinations were directed to quite another quarter."

He bent over her hand, and pressed a passionate kiss upon it, which
amply explained his words, but the game which he had so boldly carried
on was now to be revenged on him. He had too long played the part of
the heartless egoist, and must now do penance.

Jessie snatched her hand away with the greatest indignation.

"Mr. Sandow, you are going too far! So now, when my guardian repulses
Frida, when you see the impossibility of gaining his consent, you dare
to approach me! You even venture to deny your bride before me, and to
give the whole thing out as a farce. That is really too much!"

"But Miss Clifford--for heaven's sake!" cried Gustave, now seriously
disturbed.

She would not allow him to speak, but continued, as if beside herself--

"I knew long ago, when you laid such stress upon the word _protégée_,
that you were leaving a way of escape open. If Frida and fortune could
both be won, well and good; if only fortune, Frida must go. There would
still remain the heiress, who in the first place was intended for you,
and this heiress you would secure while the forsaken, deceived girl was
still under our roof. I have already experienced bitter disappointment
with respect to your character, but such disgraceful disregard of truth
and good faith I had not expected, even from you!"

A flood of tears choked her voice. Gustave tried prayers, entreaties,
explanations; all were in vain. She hurried into the adjoining room,
and when he tried to follow her she drew the bolt inside. Directly
after he heard her leave that room also by another door, so that his
words could no longer reach her. Left thus in the lurch, Gustave began
to give vent to his anger.

"This is really too bad! This is what I have gained by sacrificing
myself to the interests of others! My brother bursts upon me raging and
storming because I give a caress to my own niece, and now I am treated
like a criminal because I am too indifferent to her. Really, I ought to
have taken Jessie into our confidence. This comes of too great a supply
of high spirits. The thing amused me, and she--now she cries like one
in the depths of despair. Now perhaps I may wait till tomorrow without
her reappearing, and the misunderstanding should be brought to an end
at once."

Despairingly he stamped with his foot, when suddenly a voice behind him
said--

"I beg pardon--but I was directed here."

Gustave started and looked round. At the principal entrance of the
drawing-room stood a stranger, a little man with a round face, who,
bowing politely, said--

"Have I the honour of addressing the head of the house of Clifford?" He
looked rather nervous, for Gustave's violent pantomime had not escaped
him. "I have been to the office, and was there told that Mr. Sandow had
already left. As my business is very urgent, I have been obliged to
follow him out here."

"My brother is not visible," said Gustave irritably, for this
interruption was in the highest degree unwelcome at such a moment. "He
has important business in hand, and cannot be disturbed."

At the word "brother" the little gentleman bowed still more profoundly,
and approaching with a confidential air, said--

"Mr. Gustave Sandow! the great German journalist! I am deeply rejoiced
that fortune has permitted me to make the acquaintance of such a
celebrity, a celebrity whose value is thoroughly appreciated by our
firm."

"What do you want?" asked Gustave, with a look which clearly expressed
a burning desire to show the admirer of his greatness to the door.

"I am an agent of Jenkins and Co.," explained the stranger, with an air
of great self-satisfaction. "I arrived here today with a number of
emigrants, and found myself obliged to call upon our honoured
correspondent here. Since Mr. Sandow cannot be disturbed, perhaps I may
make my statement to you."

Now Gustave's sorely tried patience was at an end. At a moment of such
anxiety to receive an agent of Jenkins and Co. was beyond his power. He
turned with great want of politeness to the bearer of the hated name--

"I can receive no communications intended for my brother. Bring your
news to-morrow to the counting-house. I would"--here he suddenly
dropped the English in which he had spoken to the American, and
relieved his mind with a few strong German curses. "I wish the devil
would take Jenkins and Co. with all their agents to their accursed
place in the West, that the consequences of their philanthropical
speculation might fall on their own heads."

With this he quitted the room by another door, leaving the astonished
agent dumb with horror. For a few minutes he looked at the door by
which Gustave had vanished with a bewildered mien. He had not
understood the words of the German objurgations, but so much was clear
to him that the "great German journalist" had not expressed very
benevolent wishes with regard to himself and his Company. What should
he do? The elder Mr. Sandow invisible, and the younger--

The little gentleman shook his head thoughtfully, and said to himself--

"Remarkable people, these German journalists! They are so nervous, so
excited, one might almost say raving mad. When one pays them a
compliment they answer by insult. Our gentlemen of the press are much
more polite when people talk of their fame."



                              CHAPTER XI.


Jessie had locked herself in her own room, and there gave full course
to her tears. Never in her life had she felt so profoundly unhappy, so
despairing, as at this hour. Now she felt how her whole heart clung to
this man, whom cost what it might she would drive from her.

Long ago, while he still lived in Germany, she had treasured a secret
interest in her guardian's brother. She did not know him, but his pen
wove an invisible bond between them. With what glowing eagerness had
she read his articles; with what enthusiasm had she followed the
flights of his idealism. She felt a community of ideas between them on
all points of thought and sentiment, and by degrees he became a sort of
ideal to her. And now the idealist had come--to falsify his whole past
by yielding himself to his brother's sordid speculations. Then he
concealed the best feelings of his heart from a cowardly fear of losing
that brother's wealth; he heaped intrigue on intrigue to secure the
coveted riches, then denied his bride rather than risk the fortune, and
again courted the heiress. The most miserable selfishness, the most
paltry calculations, were the mainsprings of his actions. Jessie hated
and despised him with all her soul, but that she was forced to do so,
that it was precisely this man whom she must despise, tore her very
heart.

She had thrown herself on her couch, and buried her face in the
cushions, smothering there her sobs, when suddenly she heard her name
called, and springing up, she was startled to see Gustave Sandow
standing in the middle of the room. She passionately cried--

"Mr. Sandow, how do you come here? I thought"--

"Yes, you bolted the drawing-room door," interrupted Gustave, "and you
ordered your maid to admit no one, but in spite of bolts and lady's
maid I am here. I must speak to you; it is necessary for your sake as
well as mine."

"But I will not listen!" cried Jessie, with a vain attempt at
self-control.

"But I will be heard!" replied Gustave. "At first I thought of sending
Frida as a mediator, but soon gave up the idea. It would have taken too
long. She is still with her father."

"With whom?"

"With her father--my brother!" Jessie stood as if petrified. The
revelation was so sudden that she could not at first realize it, till
Gustave said--

"May I now justify myself?"

Then through her soul flashed hope and happiness. She allowed him to
take her hand and to lead her to the sofa, and even to place himself
beside her.

"I have a confession to make to you, Miss Clifford," he began, "and to
make all clear to you I must go far back into my brother's past life.
By-and-bye, I may do it at greater length, but now I will only tell you
enough to justify myself."

He detained her hand in his, and Jessie left it unresistingly there.
She began to believe in the possibility of justification.

"My brother's domestic life was one of bitter experience. An apparently
happy wedded life ended in a terrible discovery. He found himself
betrayed by his wife and his dearest friend, and the circumstances of
the discovery were such that with his domestic happiness fell also his
outward prosperity. He neither would nor could remain longer at home,
and went to America, where your parents received him. But in Germany he
had left his daughter, his only child, who at that time was almost an
infant. In his hatred, his bitterness against all, he would not
acknowledge the child; it remained with the mother, who after the
necessary divorce had married that man."

He paused a moment. Jessie listened in breathless anticipation;
over her pale, tear-stained face crept a slight flush, as Gustave
continued--

"I was then at the university, and had no means of supporting Frida,
and all my representations in her behalf were fruitless. But I have
never forsaken my little niece. The poor child had a comfortless youth
in that family where her very presence was a rock of offence. Endured
against his will by her step-father, treated by her own mother with
indifference, nay, almost with aversion, she stood a stranger among her
step-brothers and sisters, and with every year more keenly felt her
loneliness. As soon as my means permitted, I assumed the rights of an
uncle, which were certainly readily granted me, and extricated my niece
from these surroundings. I placed her at school, where she remained
till her mother's death. That death broke the bond which caused
constant bitterness to my brother, and now I determined to come to
America and fight for her rights, cost what it might."

"And that was your reason for coming to America?" said Jessie, timidly.

"That alone! I had already made an attempt by letter, but was most
harshly repulsed by Frank. He threatened to break off all
correspondence with me if I ever touched on the subject again. So then
I placed all my hopes on the effect of Frida's own presence, but it at
first seemed impossible to carry out this plan. I could not allow a
young girl like that to cross the sea alone, and if she had appeared in
my company my brother would have instantly had his suspicions roused.
Then the death of your father, Miss Clifford, obliged him to think of a
new partner, and his thoughts turned to me. Under ordinary
circumstances the invitation to cast overboard my fatherland, my
calling, and my independence, yes, the very heart and soul of my former
life, for the sake of material interests, would have met with the most
decided refusal; now it seemed like a sign from heaven itself. I
apparently yielded, and started with Frida. She remained in New York
while I viewed the field of action, and then introduced her under an
assumed name into her father's house. You know what followed. The
discovery has cost a last but severe struggle. There was a scene, which
threatened to destroy all, but at last the father's heart awoke in my
brother's bosom, and now he is reconciled with his child!"

Jessie sat with eyes cast down and glowing cheeks while she listened to
this recital, which took one thorn after another from her breast. It
seemed to her as if she herself were released from a gloomy oppression,
now that the veil which so long had covered the "egoist" had fallen.

"Yes, Miss Clifford, now it is all up with the inheritance," said
Gustave mischievously. "It was indeed offered to me, and I have had a
hard fight for it, but only in the interest of the rightful heiress.
Unfortunately, I must also resign the honour of becoming a partner in
the house of Clifford. The editor and staff of the _K--sche Zeitung_
have bound me by a solemn oath as soon as my leave of absence is at an
end; and in the long run indeed 'keeping accounts' does not appeal
very strongly to me. I shall take up my old colours again, which,
by-the-bye, I have not so shamefully deserted as you supposed. Do you
still find my presence at the office desk so contemptible an action?"

Jessie looked at him, ashamed, confused, yet with a feeling of intense
happiness--

"I have wronged you, Mr. Sandow; it was certainly your own fault,
but--I beg your pardon?"

She could not offer him her hand, for he had never released it, but he
pressed a kiss upon it which this time was quite patiently endured.

"I have for weeks past rejoiced at the thought of this explanation,"
said he, laughing. "Do you think I would have endured my brother's
arbitrary manner and your contempt even for an hour, had I not been
certain of your petition at the end?"

"And Frida is really only your adopted child?" asked Jessie, with a
throbbing heart, which could not be controlled. "You do not love her?"

"Frida is my dear niece, and I am her venerated uncle, with that our
mutual relation is exhausted. Now that she has found her father, I am
become superfluous as an object of respect. But now that we are on the
subject of love, Jessie, I have one question to put to you."

The question seemed to be guessed, for Jessie's face was bathed in
blushes. She dared not look up, but that was also unnecessary, for
Gustave was already at her feet, so she was compelled to look down at
him, as he, with warmest devotion, whispered--

"My dearest, my beloved Jessie, it is now my turn to beg your pardon. I
have intrigued, I have lied even to you, that cannot be denied, but I
have also suffered for it, for you have compelled me to hear some
bitter strictures. But one thing has remained real and true in me since
our first meeting--the feeling which awoke in me when I first saw those
blue eyes! So you must be gracious to me!"

Jessie seemed certainly inclined to grace, that the blue eyes said
before the lips could express it. He sprang up full of passionate joy,
and the pardon was confirmed in every point, indeed, no necessary
formalities were omitted.

Half an hour later the two entered Frida's room, where Sandow still sat
with his daughter. Gustave had drawn Jessie's hand within his arm, and
now solemnly led her to his brother.

"Frank," said he, "in your inconsiderate plan was one sensible
idea--indeed a very sensible one--yes, my little Frida, do not make
such astonished eyes at your uncle and your future aunt--these are
things which you do not understand; with our mutual penetration we have
discovered that one sensible idea, and now introduce ourselves to you
as an engaged couple."



                              CHAPTER XII.


It was the next morning. After breakfast the two brothers had withdrawn
to the study of the elder one, and were alone there. Sandow sat at the
writing-table; on his countenance lay an expression which for long
years had never dwelt there, a shimmer of the happiness of former days,
but his brow was still clouded as he spoke to his brother, who leant
against the window opposite to him.

"Then you will really forsake me and carry Jessie off to Germany? I
hoped that when Clifford's daughter should belong to you, you would
also become his successor in business, and thus fulfil his dearest
wish. You need not on that account give up your pen altogether, the
real weight of business will rest as before on my shoulders. Our press
is mightier and more influential than yours, here you would find a
freer and wider field than in our native land. Consider it!"

"It requires no consideration," said Gustave with decision. "I can only
give my whole interest and energy to one occupation. Merchant and
_litterateur_; that won't do! Were the intellectual horizon here ten
times as wide, every chord of my heart is bound to my home, I can only
there work and create. And then we should never do as partners. For a
few weeks I could wear the mask of a subordinate and be silent to all,
for on Frida's account I wished to prevent a breach. But now Frank! I
must tell you plainly that your business practice, your whole system,
would render it impossible for us ever to get on together. It led you
to a close union with Jenkins--in that lies your condemnation."

Sandow did not spring up, as at such a declaration he would certainly
have done before, but his brow took a deeper shade.

"You look at things from one point of view and I from another. Your
calling gives you perfect liberty in act and thought, I stand amidst
all kinds of antagonistic interest, and cannot always choose my means.
I wish"--he paused a moment, and then overcoming himself continued--"I
wish I had not entered on this partnership with Jenkins. But it has
happened, and I cannot extricate myself."

"Can you really not? Is there no way out of it?"

"I have told you that hundreds of thousands are invested in this
affair, and run the risk of losing all if it does not succeed, or if I
withdraw from it."

"But you must withdraw whatever the loss may be!"

Sandow looked at him as if he did not believe his ears.

"At the risk of such a loss? Are you serious? Have you any idea of what
such a sum means? I have done what I could, I have made the attempt to
separate from Jenkins, to my injury--for he has become more obstinate
in consequence. In his last letter he asked with ill-concealed
suspicion, if I really required my money, since I appeared so anxious
to withdraw my capital. He seems to suspect losses on my side, perhaps
doubts my credit, and for a merchant that is the most dangerous thing
that can happen. I must enter upon the thing with redoubled energy if I
would repair such an imprudence."

"Yesterday I gave you your child," said Gustave earnestly, "and I
believe that in her you have won more than you will lose here. For
Frida's sake I hoped you would withdraw from a speculation which
hinders you from meeting your daughter's eyes."

Sandow turned quickly away, but his voice had the old harsh sound as he
replied--

"Just for Frida's sake! Shall I impoverish my newly-found child? Shall
I rob her of the half of her fortune?"

"She will have enough in the other half, and I do not believe that the
whole will bring a blessing, when it is retained at such a price."

"Silence! You understand nothing about it. A retreat at any risk, such
as you suggest is an impossibility, so not another word on the subject!
Naturally, I release you from your promise, for, knowing you as I do
now, I am sure that you have never written the articles."

"The first is long since ready," replied Gustave coldly. "It will
certainly be also the last, one such will suffice. I intended showing
you the MSS. to-day. Here it is."

He drew some pages of writing from his pocket, and offered them to his
brother, who took them hesitatingly, and looked questioning and
doubtfully at him.

"Read," said Gustave simply.

 Sandow began to read, at first slowly, but with, ever-increasing
haste. He turned over the leaves with a trembling hand, and glanced
over them. His face grew darker, and breaking off in the midst he threw
the manuscript violently on the table.

"Are you out of your mind! You have written, you will publish that! It
is terrible what you there expose to the world!"

Gustave drew himself up to his full height, and stepped up close to his
brother.

"Terrible! indeed it is! And the most terrible part is, that all these
things are true. I have been on the spot, and can pledge my honour for
every word that I have written there. Draw back, Frank, while there is
yet time. This article, appearing in the _K--sche Zeitung_, repeated
throughout the entire German press, cannot fail in its working. The
Consulate, the Ministry will be obliged to notice it. They will take
care that no one falls unwarned into the hands of Jenkin's and Co."

"You are very proud of the wonderful effect of your pen!" cried Sandow
beside himself. "You seem to have forgotten that I am an equal
shareholder with Jenkins, and that when you describe the place in such
revolting colours, every word is directed against the wealth and honour
of your brother. You will not only ruin me by this, but represent me as
a scoundrel in the eyes of all the world."

"No. I shall not do that, for you will separate yourself altogether
from this rascally company, and I shall add, that my brother, who had
unwittingly become involved in this speculation, retreated from it at a
great pecuniary sacrifice, as soon as his eyes were opened to the
enormity of the proceeding. Declare this openly to the man, if you fear
that merely withdrawing will be injurious to your credit. The truth,
here too, is the best."

"And you think that Jenkins would believe me, the merchant, the head of
the house of Clifford, guilty of such an insane trick. He would simply
believe I had lost my senses."

"It is possible, for since this honourable personage has no conscience
himself, he would not understand its existence in anyone else.
Nevertheless, you must try every means."

Sandow walked wildly up and down the room for a few minutes, at last he
stopped and said with gasping breath--

"You do not know what it is to seize a wasp's nest. In Europe you would
at least be safe from their stings, while I must remain here open to
all. Jenkins would never forgive me if my name were attached to any
such revelations. He is influential enough to set against me all who
are concerned in it, and they are counted by hundreds. You do not know
the iron ring of interest which surrounds and binds us together. One
hangs on the other, one supports the other. Woe to him who tears
himself away and offers battle to his former companions. They all swear
to destroy him. His credit is undermined, his plans crossed, he himself
calumniated and harassed till he is ruined. Just now I could not
support such attacks. Jessie's money will be lost to the firm, this
speculation has weakened my own means to the last degree; should it
fail, for me it will be the beginning of ruin. I speak as unreservedly
to you as you have to me, and now go and publish your discovery to all
the world!"

He paused, overwhelmed with excitement; Gustave looked darkly before
him, his brow, too, bore the marks of deep and anxious care.

"I did not think that you were so surrounded and entangled on every
side. That comes from this execrable system of business! Well then"--he
laid his hand upon the paper--"destroy this, I will not write it again.
I am silent when you assure me that my words will be your ruin. But the
consequences are on your head! You must answer for every human life
which is lost in that den of fever."

"Gustave, you are killing me!" groaned Sandow sinking into a chair.

The door was gently opened and the servant announced that the carriage
which usually conveyed the two gentlemen to town was at the door.
Gustave signed to the man to withdraw, and then bending over his
brother said--

"You cannot now come to a decision. You must be calm. Let me go alone
to the office to-day and represent you there. You are terribly agitated
and excited, too much came on you yesterday."

Sandow made a mute sign of assent, he might well feel that he was not
in a condition to show his ordinary calm business demeanour to his
subordinates. But when his brother was already at the door, he suddenly
started up,

"One thing--not a word to Frida! Don't bring her into the field against
me, or you drive me to extremities."

"Be tranquil, I should not have ventured that," said Gustave with
great emphasis. "It would estrange the scarcely won heart of your
child--perhaps for ever. Good-bye Frank."

About an hour later Frida entered her father's room, where he was still
pacing restlessly up and down. She started when she saw him, for his
countenance betrayed something of the struggle of the past hours. He
tried indeed to conceal his agitation, and avoided giving a direct
reply to the anxious inquiries of his daughter, but still she saw that
he was devoured by feverish anxiety. The girl was still too much a
stranger to venture on forcing his confidence by prayers and
entreaties, but she looked with secret dread at the gloomy shadow which
brooded over the brow, where nothing but joy and pardon should have
been seen.

Suddenly Gustave entered with Jessie; he appeared to have just returned
from town, for he still held his hat and gloves; he had, however, been
scarcely an hour absent.

"I have brought Jessie with me," he said in his usual cheerful manner,
"and since Frida is also here, we can hold another family council in
your room. You are surprised to see me again so soon, Frank. I wished
to relieve you of all business affairs to-day, but have been compelled
to come to you for a decision. At the office I found some emigrants who
would not be satisfied without seeing you, and as you were not coming
to town today, I have brought them out here."

"Yes, Gustave brought them out in his own carriage," said Jessie who
had been rather astonished at seeing her future husband drive up to the
door, with some homely peasants in the elegant equipage belonging to
their house.

"They are Germans, fellow-countrymen, indeed they are from our own
little native place," added Gustave quickly. "They might not have been
able to find their way here alone, so I considered it best to bring
them."

"That was quite unnecessary," said Sandow uneasily, and displeased at
what he foresaw would be a last and decisive attack. "The thing could
have waited till to-morrow. What have I personally to do with the
wanderers? They can receive every information at the office. You have
really brought them all here?"

"Yes all, excepting the agent of Jenkins and Co. He was here yesterday
with the object of speaking to you; I put him off till this morning,
and arrived just in time to rescue these people from him; for he seemed
resolved not to let them go till he had given them the fullest
particulars. You will of course receive them; I promised them
positively an interview with you."

And without leaving his brother time to refuse, he opened the door of
the adjoining room, and invited the men who were waiting there to
enter. The two girls were about to retire when they found a business
interview was to take place, but Gustave held Jessie's arm fast, and
said softly but impressively to her and his niece--

"Stay, both of you. I want you, but particularly Frida!"

Meanwhile the strangers had entered. There were three men, robust
country folk, with sunburnt faces and toil-hardened hands. The eldest,
a man of middle age, appeared highly respectable in manner and dress.
The two others were younger and looked more necessitous. They stood
awkwardly near the door, while their leader made a few steps forward.

"There is my brother," said Gustave, directing their attention to him.
"Speak quite freely and fearlessly to him. Under the present
circumstances, he only can give you the best advice."

"God be with you, Mr. Sandow!" began the leader, with the touching
German salutation, usual in his province, and with a strong, harsh
provincial accent. "We are thankful to find Germans here, with whom we
can speak an honest word. At your office where we at first sought you,
we were ordered here and there, and were quite bewildered, till
fortunately your brother appeared. He immediately took our part, and
has been very rough with the agent who would not let us see you. But he
was right then, for long ago we lost all confidence in the whole band."

Sandow rose; he felt the storm approach, and cast a threatening,
reproachful glance at the brother who had thus entangled him. But the
merchant well knew that he must not allow the strangers to have any
idea of his position, but must preserve his usual business air. He
asked--

"What do you want with me, and what am I to advise you upon?"

The peasant looked at his two companions as if he expected them to
speak, but as they remained silent and made energetic signs for him to
continue, he alone replied--

"We have fallen into a horrible trap, and know no way out of it. Before
leaving Germany we were recommended to Jenkins and Company, and on
arriving in New York were received by their agent. They promised us a
mine of wealth, and at their office one seemed to believe that in the
far west lay an earthly paradise. But on the way here we accidentally
met a few Germans, who had been several years in America, and they told
another tale. They bade us beware of this Jenkins and his western
paradise. He was a regular cutthroat, and had already brought many to
misery. We should all be ruined in his forests, and what all his other
fine things might be. Then we felt stunned! The agent, who was
travelling in another compartment, was furious when we plainly told him
what we had heard, but as I said before, we had lost all confidence in
him, and wished to consider the thing again before we travelled so many
more hundred miles westward."

Gustave, who stood beside Jessie, listened with apparent calm. She
looked rather frightened; she did not know all the circumstances, but
could easily feel that this meant more than an ordinary business
affair.

Frida, on the other hand, listened with breathless excitement to the
words which bore such singular resemblance to those which, weeks ago,
she had spoken to her father. But what could he have to do with this
emigration scheme?

"We were directed to your bank, Mr. Sandow," continued the man, "for
the signing the contract and payment for the land. We heard in the
neighbourhood that you were a German, and indeed out of our own
province. Then I called together the others and said, 'Children, now
there is no more difficulty; we will go to our countryman and lay the
thing before him. He is a German, so will, no doubt, have a conscience,
and will not send his fellow-countrymen to their destruction!'"

If Sandow had not before realised to the full extent, what a sin
his speculation was, he learnt it in this hour, and the simple,
true-hearted words of the peasant burnt into his soul, as the bitterest
reproaches could not have done.

It was torture that he endured, but the worst was to come. Frida crept
to his side. He did not look at her at that moment, he could not, but
he felt the anxious, imploring look, and the trembling of the hand
which clasped his own.

"Now it is your turn to speak," said the man, turning half angrily to
his companions, who had entirely left the management of the affair to
him. "You, too, have wives and children, and have spent your last penny
on the journey. Yes, Mr. Sandow, there are poor devils among us who
have nothing but their strong arms, and can count on nothing but their
labour. Some of us are certainly better off, and so we thought one
could help the other in the new colony. There are about eighty of us,
besides a dozen children, and for the poor little ones it would indeed
be bad if things over there are as we have been told. So give us
advice, _Herr Landsmann_! If you say to us, 'Go,' then in God's name we
shall start early to-morrow, and hope for the best. It will be God
Himself who has brought us to you, and we shall thank Him from the
bottom of our hearts."

Sandow leant heavily on the table which stood before him. Only by
exerting the utmost force of will was he able to appear collected. Only
Gustave knew what was raging in his heart, and he now decided to break
the long and painful pause which had followed the last words.

"Have no fear!" he cried. "You see my brother has himself a child, an
only daughter, and thus he knows what the life and health of your
little ones is to you. His advice can be implicitly followed. Now,
Frank, what do you advise our countrymen to do?"

Sandow looked at the three men, whose eyes rested anxiously, yet
confidingly, on his face, then at his daughter, and suddenly standing
erect, he cried--

"Do not go there!"

The men started back, and looked at each other, and then at the
merchant, who had given them this strange advice.

"But you are connected with this company?" cried the one, and the
others confirmed his words. "Yes, indeed, you are one of them!"

"In this affair I have been deceived myself," explained Sandow. "It is
only lately that I have learnt exactly the nature of the land, of which
I am certainly one of the owners, and I know that it is not suited for
colonization. I will, therefore, make no contract with you, as I intend
to withdraw from my obligations and give up the whole undertaking."

The Germans had no suspicion what a sacrifice their countryman had made
for them, or at what price their rescue had been bought. They looked
quite helpless and despairing, and their leader said with startled
manner--

"This is an abominable business? We Lave made and paid for this long
journey, and here we are in America. We cannot return, we must not
proceed; we are betrayed and sold in a strange country. Mr. Sandow, you
must advise us again, you mean well by us that we can see, or you would
not deal such a blow at your own interest. Tell us what to do?"

A heavy, troubled breath came from the breast of the merchant. Nothing
was spared him to the last detail, but he had gone too far to retreat.

"Go to the German Consul in this town," he replied, "and lay your case
before him. As far as I know there is a German company in New York,
which has also undertaken the colonization of the West, and which is
under the special protection of our Consulate. Their possessions are
not extremely distant from the original object of your journey, the
route is almost the same. More particulars you will learn of the Consul
himself; you may place implicit confidence in him, and he will assist
you by every means in his power."

The faces of the poor men cleared wonderfully at this intelligence.

"Thank God! there is some escape for us!" said the leader. "We will
start immediately so as to lose no time, and we are much indebted to
you, sir, and to the young gentleman here. It is brave of you to retire
from this swindling affair, as though you would not say so, we can see
that it is a great loss to you. May God reward you for what you have
done for us, and for our wives and children!"

He offered his hand to the merchant, who took it mechanically, and the
words of farewell with which he released the people were just as
spiritless.

But Gustave shook them all heartily by the hand, and rang the bell
violently to summon a servant, whom he ordered to accompany them to the
German Consulate and only to leave them at the door.

When they were gone, Sandow threw himself into a chair; and the
agitation which had been so sternly repressed now claimed its rights;
he appeared crushed beneath it.

"Father, for God's sake what is the matter?" cried Frida, throwing her
arms round him, but now Gustave re-entered, his face actually beaming
with triumph.

"Let him be, Frida, it will pass. You have indeed right to be proud of
your father! Frank, from the moment when our countrymen stood before
you, I was certain that you would in the end warn them against your own
speculation, but that you would have recommended them to the other
company, against which Jenkins quite lately published a most violent
article in the _New York Revolver Press_, that I did not hope, and for
that I must shake you by the hand?"

But Sandow waved him and his proffered hand away, and pressed his
daughter to his breast. A bitter expression rested on his lips as he
said--

"You don't know what Gustave has done to you, my child, nor what this
hour may yet cost to your father. From to-day Jenkins will be my most
unyielding enemy, and will never rest from attacking me. I have placed
myself only too entirely in his hands."

"Throw the whole thing over and come with us to Germany," cried
Gustave. "Why should you allow yourself to be tormented and harassed
by these honourable New Yorkers, when you could live happy and
comfortably in your native land. When Jessie is married there will be
an end of the name of Clifford, why not also wind up the firm. Of
course you will lose by withdrawing from the thing, but for German
ideas you are still rich enough, and there is plenty of room for
activity at home."

"What are you proposing to me!" exclaimed Sandow, irritably.

"Just what you proposed to me when you called me here. I think the best
way is to turn the thing completely round. Look how Frida's face lights
up at the thought of home! Naturally she will never again leave her
father, wherever he may be, but it may be your lot to see her die of
home-sickness some day."

Gustave had cleverly set the most efficacious spring in motion. Sandow
gave a startled look at his daughter, whose eyes certainly beamed when
her home was mentioned, and who now resignedly drooped her head.

"Come, Jessie," said Gustave, taking the arm of his betrothed, "we will
leave them alone. I must explain all this to you, for I see that you
only half comprehend it, and besides I feel an urgent necessity to be
again admired by you. Yesterday you did me an extraordinary amount of
good."

He led her away, and father and daughter remained alone. Frida required
no explanation, he had long ago divined the circumstances, and clinging
close to her father, she said with the deepest affection--

"I knew very well when we were standing that time by the sea that you
could never send any one into misery!"

Sandow looked long and deeply into the dark eyes, which now beamed with
love and admiration. It was the first time he did so, without reading a
reproach in them, and he felt as if redeemed to a new life.

"No, my child!" said he softly, "I could not do it, and now whatever
may come, we will bear it together."

Meanwhile Gustave and Jessie strolled arm-in-arm through the garden,
but at first their talk was very serious. He told her all, screening
his brother as much as possible, whom he represented as the victim of a
deception which had only just become clear to him. When he had
finished, Jessie said eagerly--

"Gustave, even if my money had been mixed up with this, it is
unnecessary to say that we will leave it to the uncontrolled management
of your brother as long as he wants it."

"Your money has never been concerned in it," Gustave informed her.
"Whatever Frank may be as a speculator, as a guardian, he is
conscientiousness itself. He has respected your father's will to the
fullest extent. You are and remain still an heiress, Jessie, but in
spite of that uncomfortable peculiarity, I am resolved to marry you,
and in four weeks, too."

"That is impossible," protested Jessie. "There are so many things to
order and prepare. You must see yourself that the time is too short."

"I see nothing of the kind," declared Gustave. "The business part my
brother will arrange, everything can be settled within the time named.
In your America everything is done at express speed, speculation,
fortune-making, even living and dying. I do not find this custom
unpleasant since it can be extended even to marrying, and as your
future tyrant I require you to become my wife in four weeks."

Jessie did not appear to dread this tyranny too much, but after some
discussion she, smiling and blushing, consented, when her lover said--

"At least I can stand by my brother when the first storm breaks, and it
will not be long before it does. At the Consulate, of course, all the
particulars will be learnt, and by the evening they will have spread
through the whole town. That amiable agent, the admirer of my literary
fame, will first tear his hair, and then send telegram upon telegram to
New York. I wish I could see how Jenkins and Co. breathe fire and
flame, and wish me in the lowest depths of hell. With God's help I hope
to renew that pleasure whenever my articles appear. They shall learn to
know the pen they wished to buy."

"But do you think really that my guardian can release himself from
these obligations?" asked Jessie.

"He must, at any price! After the events of to-day there is no choice
left him, and he is business man enough to save all that is possible.
Jenkins will certainly make his life a misery to him, so much the
better! Then he will be obliged to turn his eyes towards Germany, and
we shall win him back. He will never return to his old fever for
speculation, and here there is so much temptation to it. The ice is now
broken, and Frida has so much of the charm of novelty about her that we
may confidently leave the rest to her. I pledge my word on it, in a few
years she will bring her father home to us!"

They had unconsciously reached the shore, and now stood by the bench
where Frida had sat on that memorable evening. Before them lay the sea,
bathed in sunshine.

Gustave pointed across it, while he put his arm round his future wife.

"There lies my native land, Jessie! In a few weeks it will also be your
home, as it was the home of your own mother, and as such you will learn
to love it. What my brother declared this morning may be true--that
here the intellectual field too, is wider and freer than with us, that
one rises more rapidly here, and wields a mightier power, even with the
pen. With us just now, our first duty is to hold high our flag in the
midst of the hottest fight, and to defend it with the whole strength of
our lives. But that I will do joyfully and with all my heart, and ask
no other reward than that my Jessie, my beloved wife, shall be
contented with her egoist."



                                THE END.



                           *   *   *   *   *
          Printed by Remington & Co., 134, New Bond Street, W.





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