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´╗┐Title: Marguerite Verne; Or, Scenes from Canadian Life
Author: Armour, Rebecca Agatha
Language: English
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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 "Marguerite Verne; Or, Scenes from Canadian Life" ***

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MARGUERITE VERNE;

OR:

SCENES FROM CANADIAN LIFE.

BY

RE. AGATHA ARMOUR.



CHAPTER I.

NEW YEAR'S EVE.


  "Every one for his own.
   The night is starry and cold, my friend,
   And the New Year blithe and bold, my friend
   Comes up to take his own."--_Tennyson_.

New Year's Eve in the fair city of St. John, that queenly little
city which sits upon her rocky throne overlooking the broad expanse
of bay at her feet.

Reader, we do not wish to weary you with the known, but love for our
own dear New Brunswick is surely sufficient apology.

It is one of the feelings of human nature to be possessed with a
desire to worship the great and titled, to become enamoured with
those appendages, which are the symbols of social distinction. Let
us consider how we, as a people, are privileged. Is there any
grander title this side of Heaven than found in these words, "I am a
British subject," and next "I am a New Brunswicker"? You who have
travelled have often felt your hearts rebound when listening to the
eulogiums passed upon our country and its gifted sons through the
medium of the pulpit, the platform and the press. "He is a New
Brunswick boy." Ah, those words are sufficient to inspire us with
thoughts ennobling, grand and elevating. There are to be found
growlers in every clime, and it is only such that will desert their
fatherland and seek refuge under foreign skies. We have liberty,
right, education, refinement and culture in our midst; we have a
good government, noble reforms, and all advantages to make us good
and happy. Then let us cherish every right and institution which
makes our beloved New Brunswick the pride of its loyal people. It is
such feeling which prompts this work, and if the different scenes
throughout the province which we will endeavor to portray, the
usages of society, custom, &c., and the few characters introduced
from real life, meet your approbation, our highest expectation will
be realized.

Now back to our fair city.

On this New Year's Eve the moon was holding high carnival. Wrapped
in a costume of silvery radiance, she was displaying her charms to
the busy throng beneath with all the coquetry she could summon, to
her aid, darting quick glances at youths and maidens, and by
covert smiles bringing even the middle-aged man of business to her
feet. The air is also influenced by her wooing, and is inclined to
be less severe than some hours earlier. Floods of light are
radiating King Square, giving even to its leafless trees a charm
of softness and effect. Pedestrians are going to and fro, while
several halt in the vicinity of the fountain to smoke their pipes
and discuss the news of the day. Presently a quick step is heard
approaching, and a trim little figure greets us, wrapped in a
fur-lined cloak, which, despite its ungainliness, cannot conceal
the grace of the wearer. As the maiden casts a passing glance we
are impressed by the sweet purity of her face--a face that will
stamp its image upon more than one heart, and leave memories that
cannot be forgotten.

Such was Marguerite Verne as we now attempt to introduce her in the
fond hope that others will see her as we do.

"Marguerite," exclaimed the child who had overtaken her as she
reached the pavement in front of the Royal Hotel, "Marguerite I am
tired running, I thought I never would get up to you. Golly, how you
do streak along!"

"Charlie Verne, you naughty boy," returned the girl as she
confronted her pet brother, his childish face aglow with the late
exercise, "I thought you were going to keep house with Winnie?'

"So I was," said the boy, eyeing his sister closely to watch the
effect of his speech, "but the Listers have arrived and I had to run
and tell you."

At this announcement Marguerite Verne could scarce repress a hearty
laugh and her large, deep violet eyes sparkled, and from their
changing expressions exhibited such variety of shade that one would
scarce venture to say which was the original one.

A deeper tinge now rested upon the purely oval cheek as the girl
returned the recognition of a thoughtful-looking young man who had
the air and manner of one possessed with more common sense than
generally falls to the lot of the young men courted by the _creme
de la creme_.

"Miss Verne, I see that you too are bent upon enjoying this glorious
evening; the old year is going out in all its serenity."

"Yes indeed, Mr. Lawson; the old year is dying with all the true
greatness that characterizes its life; it has left nothing undone,
and if we have failed to garner up its hours sacredly, to us--not
it--we lay the blame."

"True indeed; but how little do we think of those lessons until they
are beyond reach. We make grand resolutions on each New Year, but
how often do they go to the winds ere the first week has passed
around."

Phillip Lawson's words took an earnest tone and his manner was
earnest also. His rich, deep voice found its way far down in the
maiden's heart; but she would not allow herself to think so. She
would not acknowledge to herself that the restless emotions within
her heart were other than a passing thought to a very dear friend!
She must not see that Phillip Lawson, in his gifted, manly
character, was her hero of all that was good and true, and that his
was the nature by which she tested others.

As the foregoing remarks turned into a lengthy conversation
Marguerite scarcely heeded that Trinity chimed out the hour of nine
when the trio turned their steps homeward, Master Charlie forming an
advance guard, and making the air resound with all the hilarity at
his command when he came in friendly contact with some of his
"fellers" as he expressed himself.

When Marguerite bade good night to her companion and stood for a
moment in the hallway watching the retreating figure, we will not
disclose her thoughts, but will follow her to the drawing-room,
where "the Listers" are marshalled _en masse_ awaiting her
return.

"Marguerite, you darling!" exclaimed the eldest Miss Lister rushing
forward and embracing the former in a manner that was more
demonstrative than conventional, but was accepted with the best of
grace, notwithstanding there was to be a repetition four times in
succession.

Mrs. Lister was a distant cousin of Mr. Verne, and having six
marriageable daughters on hand, had recourse to much diplomacy in
the way of matrimonial speculations. For several years she had been
in the habit of spending the New Year with the Verne family, each
year adding one more eligible, until she has now the happy six.

It had ever been the boast of Mrs. Lister that she had attended
boarding school, and carried off several prizes for her classic
ability; and in order to establish the fact, had named her six
daughters after six of the Muses. Clio, the eldest, inherited the
largest part of her mother's ability.

The former often regretted that three unruly boys came to interrupt
the succession of the classic nine.

But all this addition of inspiration at this festive season did not
_inspire_ the Verne family with any such high-toned sentiments
as might have been expected.

"Marguerite Verne," explained the haughty Evelyn, the imperious
first-born of the family, "you are enough to drive anyone
distracted! How can you submit so tamely to being bored to death by
such pests? Indeed, Aunt Hester with all her wisdom is preferable to
that empty headed woman and her muses."

Marguerite had retired to her own room. She was sitting at a small
ebony writing desk, jotting down a few thoughts in her diary When
her sister entered, but now arose and drew forth a luxurious
arm-chair for the imperious beauty to recline in.

"If worrying myself to death would do me any good, I might try it
too, Evelyn; but as it does not, I try to make the best of it."

"There you are again, with your philosophical ideas. I must expect
nothing else from one who cares so little for the opinions of
others, and lives only in sight of all the old half-crazed poets and
fanatics of the Dark Ages."

Marguerite durst not look toward the speaker, lest her quizzical
expression might heap further assault upon her; so she sat quietly
regarding a favorite print that hung over the mantelshelf. After a
few moments silence, Evelyn drew herself up haughtily and arose to
go, when Marguerite felt a rising sensation in her throat, and
instantly rushed into her sister's arms. "Eve, dearest, I know you
are disappointed in not going out this evening, and I am sorry; can
you not believe me?"

Evelyn Verne was a beauty--beautiful as an houri, imperial as
Cleopatra, but merciless as a De Medicis. She was a true woman of
the world; self was the only shrine at which she worshipped; and if
indeed she could feel a momentary sympathetic chord, surely
Marguerite was the cause. The piercing black eyes send forth a flash
that is electrifying, then fix themselves upon her companion. She is
perhaps struggling between pride and duty, and it costs her a heavy
sacrifice. As she gazes upon that sweet, soulful face she is almost
tempted to become a nobler and better being; but the world has too
heavy a hold upon her, and slightly pressing a kiss upon
Marguerite's cheek, she takes leave without saying another word. As
the latter listens to the rustle of the silken train through the
spacious hall and stairway, she heaves a deep sigh, and once more
seats herself beside her desk. On the pages of the little book she
pens thoughts worthy of such a soul, and worthy of the memorable
eve--worthy of the dying moments of the year which had been her
friend, her comforter and her hope. She could look back without many
regrets. The hours had not been misspent, and she could say: "Old
Year, I used you well. Now that you are nearly gone I will not
regret, but try, with God's help, to welcome in your child."

Marguerite sat thus while the clock struck twelve, when she buried
her face in her hands and remained in thoughtful silence--a feeling
too reverential for words, as something too sacred for intruding
upon.

And now the New Year had been welcomed in. The moon, in all her
majesty, witnessed the solemn pageant; and unseen choristers wafted
the tidings from pole to pole.

"Another year," murmured Marguerite, as she gently raised the
casement and looked out upon the beauty of the scene. Queen Square,
studded with tributes to the Loyalists, was peaceful as the grave.
Beyond was the calm, blue water of the harbor; while here and there
a white sail upon its bosom added to the effect. Peace reigns over
the city, and the lights have at last disappeared from the Verne
mansion. Let us take the liberty to mention a few facts that may be
necessary ere we proceed further.

The Vernes belonged to a genteel and respectable family. They did
not lay claim to an aristocratic ancestry, but for generations could
reckon on a spirit of proud independence and honest worth. Mr. Verne
was a man of honor and sound principles in every sense of the word;
and he always tried to inculcate those principles in the minds of
his children. If he daily saw in his first-born traits of character
which he openly condemned and censured, there stood in bold relief
upon his heart the pure, high and noble character of his delicate
Marguerite. Nor was he to be disappointed in the younger scions of
the family. Fred. Verne was a noble, manly boy of fifteen, and gave
promise of being a good and upright citizen; while the precocious
Charlie, despite the daily amount of spoiling received in the
domestic circle, was a clever little fellow, as ready with an answer
as he was ready for his daily supply of chocolate caramels.

Mr. Verne had married when very young, and was still in the prime of
manhood. He was not handsome; but an intelligent, open countenance
was the most pleasing attraction in his face. One could look upon
him the second time without a feeling of dislike or even
indifference.

But there is another important personage of whom we must make
mention--the mistress of the Verne mansion. She is, to say it in as
few words as possible, an out-and-out woman of the world--one who
never says or does anything without considering what will be the
world's opinion of her, and one who never says or does anything
unless there be some selfish motive at the bottom of it; one who
lives only for the gratification of her own selfish ends, so far as
her friends and family are concerned, and whose chief delight is
show, display and social greatness.

It may be said that when Mr. Verne married his child-wife, who had
been petted and spoiled by her elders, he made much allowance for
her daily short-comings, and fondly hoped that he might bend the
impulsive nature to his will; but when he saw the great mistake he
had made, he calmly bowed his head in submission to the decrees of
fate, and labored more diligently to set a good example before his
children. When vainly remonstrating with his wife, upon the
increasing gaiety into which she plunged so wildly, he always found
encouragement from the sympathetic Marguerite; and when retired from
the noise and din of the drawing-room, his favorite amusement was a
game of chess, with the latter for partner. It was then that
Marguerite's deep violet eyes would sparkle and her face glow with
enthusiasm, as she followed her father through the mazes of the
game, and her clear silvery laughter had more charm than the
ravishing strains of the most brilliant fantasia.

Surrounded by the _elite_ of the city of St. John, Evelyn Verne
was courted by the rich, the gay and the distinguished. It was the
sole end of Mrs. Verne's existence that her daughters should make
grand matches. For this purpose she entered upon a career which we
intend to pursue through all its straight and crooked paths, hoping
in the sequel to impart the sad but profitable lesson!



CHAPTER II.

SUNNYBANK.


Sunnybank, the stately residence of the Vernes, is indeed an
imposing structure. Its towering form and massive appearance mark it
as one of the noblest piles in St. John. Its costly windows,
reflecting all the colors of the rainbow; its solid brick walls,
stone pillars and grand entrance, bespeak it the home of wealth and
affluence. Even the solid brick pavement leading from the main
gateway to the terrace marks the substantial tone of the edifice,
and impresses one with the stability of its owner. And the statuary,
seen from the highway, denotes the taste displayed in the vestibule,
with its floor of tesselated pavement, echoing to the tread of
footsteps as the corridors of some grand old cathedral.

It is now our privilege to be introduced to the interior, and we
make good use of our opportunity while mingling with its guests.

On this clear wintry evening as we are ushered into the Verne
drawing-room with its beautifully-frescoed wall and rare painting a
pretty sight is presented to our view. Seated at the piano is
Marguerite, who is singing a quaint little ballad for the benefit of
a company of children gathered at her feet. She is evidently their
queen, as the sly glances at the happy-faced maiden are ever
increasing to be repaid by the sweetest of smiles. Evelyn Verne
appeared in a heavy garnet silk with bodice and draperies of the
same shade in velvet. Her elbow sleeves reveal arms that would
rival in miniature those of the master-piece of Phidias--the
Pallas Athena--which graced the Parthenon in by-gone ages.
Her hair, of purplish blackness, gives effect to the creamy tints
of her complexion, and heightens the damask tinge of the
beautifully-rounded cheeks. One glance at this magnificent looking
form and you are victimized by her charms; you cast a side glance
towards the childish-looking girl at the piano, and you will only
pronounce her passing fair. Beauty is beauty, and will charm while
the world goes on, and while we are endowed with that sense which,
in general, has outweighed all others; but in most cases we are,
in the end, taught that the beauty of the soul will wear until time
is no more, and the beauty that fades is a thing of the past!

"Evelyn, dearest, if Paris had now to decide between the goddesses,
he certainly would have awarded you the golden apple," exclaimed the
first muse, who never let an opportunity slip to display her
knowledge of mythology.

"What nonsense you talk, Clio!" returned Evelyn, whose heightened
color betrayed the insincerity of her speech.

Urania Lister, "the Fifth Muse," as Fred. Verne had dubbed her, now
entered from the conservatory, and throwing aside a scarlet wrap,
also joined in the conversation. She was a slight creature, with
some pretension to good looks; but there was a sort of languor in
her manner that disappointed one ere she had uttered half a dozen
sentences. In order to sustain the character her name suggested, she
was continually soaring into immensity of space and deducing
celestial problems for the uninitiated _habitant_ of this lower
sphere. It was when Urania had taken one of her upper flights into
empyrean air that the fond mother would exclaim: "If Galileo were
alive to-day I believe he could get ideas from my dear Urania."

But to return to the drawing-room.

The children have been dismissed to their homes, and Charlie
consigned to the limits of his own apartments. A slight bustle is
heard in the hall, and presently two visitors are duly announced by
a servant in waiting. A smile of satisfaction beamed on the
countenance of the anxious Mrs. Lister as she eyed the two young
gentlemen on their being introduced to her three daughters, and in
less time than it would be possible to conceive, she was
consummating two brilliant matches for the ancient-looking Clio and
the celestial Urania.

Be it said for this lady's benefit, and by way of explanation, she
had consigned three of the muses to "dear papa," and kept the three
most eligible under the shadow of her wing.

While the devoted parent is weaving all manner of bright visions,
she resolves that practice be not sacrificed to theory, and
commences by a skilful contrivance to expatiate upon the ability and
goodness of her offspring.

Montague Arnold is indeed an expert in all that concerns society
through its labyrinthine phases. Not a look or tone but he has
thoroughly studied, and ere he is many moments in an individual's
society can accommodate his pliable nature to every demand. His
physique is striking, his face handsome, his manner engaging, and he
is reputed to be wealthy. His family connections are desirable, and
he has education, accomplishment, and the benefit of a lengthened
tour on the continent.

What then is to debar such an one from entry into the best social
circle the city affords?

Will we overstep the bounds of charity and describe a scene in which
Montague Arnold and his companion, Hubert Tracy, played a
conspicuous part a few hours previous? Ah, no! "Tell it not in
Gath!" Let them be happy while they may.

Of Hubert Tracy we might have a more favorable opinion. There is
still upon his broad, fair forehead a trace of manliness and honor,
but there is about the lower part of his youthful looking face a
lack of determination that threatens to mark him as a victim for the
wary and dissipated man of the world.

Conversation had now become general, while music and games filled up
the intervals.

Evelyn Verne was indeed the object upon whom Mr. Arnold lavished his
attentions--a fact not overlooked by Mrs. Lister. Hubert Tracy was
devoting himself to the Muses, and occasionally venturing a glance
at Marguerite, who took much interest in the younger members of the
circle, and seemed happy in her devotedness to brother Fred, and his
chum, silently engaged over a game of chess. Mrs. Verne smiled,
chatted and listened to each as opportunity served, and looked with
fond delight upon the imperious Evelyn, who, by a series of
coquettish manoeuvres, held her admirer in chains apparently ready
to be put to any test for her sake.

"This new beau of Eve's is in earnest, and there is no chance for my
dear Urania. Well, well! men do not appreciate a girl of such
heavenly ideas as my celestial-minded daughter, and they throw
themselves away upon a pretty face without an ounce of brains." Poor
Mrs. Lister had murmured these sentences after the events of the
evening had transpired and she was enjoying the privacy of her own
room. She always expressed her thoughts to herself, as she judged
best never to let her dear girls know that she felt anxious for
their settlement in life.

A few mornings later while the family lingered over the late
breakfast in the handsomely-furnished morning-room, with its
delicate tints of mauve and gold, the conversation turned upon the
gossip of the preceding days. Miss Verne had not sufficiently
recruited from the dissipation attendant upon a large assemblage,
given by a lady friend in honor of some relative who had arrived
from Ottawa. She was inclined to be resentful and petulant, and
found fault with everything, from the delicious hot coffee and
tempting rolls to the generous sunbeam that danced in at the
opposite window, and it increased her anger so that she could
scarcely restrain herself in the presence of her guests.

"You are somewhat uncharitable this morning, my dear," was the only
reproof of Mrs. Verne, while she sought to cover her annoyance in a
marked attention towards the others at the table.

"Indeed, Miss Marguerite; it will be a long time before I shall tell
as many lies for you again. I was really ashamed, for they all knew
that they were broad falsehoods," exclaimed Miss Verne, casting an
angry glance at her sister, who sat between her mother and Mrs.
Lister, looking the very picture of contentment and good nature.

"I am sorry, Eve, that you committed any grievous sins on my
account, for it was a very unnecessary thing to do."

"Unnecessary! Be careful, my dear little Madge, or I will out with
the whole truth; and if I do not bring the blushes to your cheek my
name is not Evelyn Verne."

"Come, come, girls--never mind more talk now," said Mrs. Verne,
rising from her seat, and motioning them to withdraw, at the same
time trying to conceal a look of displeasure that had contracted
into a dark frown.

Mrs. Verne was a woman not to be trifled with. She had a look of one
born to command, and well each member of her family was aware of the
fact. She was a handsome woman, of proud and dignified presence,
high-tempered, and in many instances unreasonable, her opinions
being strengthened by the force of circumstances, and very seldom on
the side of right. On this morning in question she was inclined to
feel somewhat ruffled at Marguerite, rather than the aggressor.
Miss Verne had thrown out a hint that was more effective than a
well-timed speech of polished oratory, and well she knew it.

"Such a ridiculous thing to think of," repeated the haughty mistress
with emphasis, as she swept from room to room giving orders to each
domestic, and arranging and rearranging matters to meet her own
taste and convenience. The pretty crimson cashmere morning robe,
with relief of creamy lace, hung in graceful folds and set off Mrs.
Verne's form to advantage; and as you looked upon her then and
thought how she must have looked more than twenty years in the past,
you could not blame Mr. Verne for seeking her to grace his luxurious
and beautiful home.

Evelyn Verne has picked up a very sensational novel and is
languishing on a divan of crimson velvet and old gold plush, with a
drapery of beautiful design which she had thrown aside. One arm is
gracefully curved around her head, while the other clasps the book,
and in contrast with the rich hue of oriental costume resembles that
of polished ivory.

The passage being read is certainly pleasing--yes, rapturous--for a
current of an electrifying nature suffuses the slightly-pale cheeks
and delicate lips, and again Evelyn Verne wears a beauty that is
fatal in its effects. While the latter is engaged in this selfish
manner we hasten to a somewhat odd-looking apartment, which, from
its confused array of books, playthings, fishing-tackle, hammocks,
old guns, powder-horns, costumes that had assisted in personating
pages and courtiers, and also many other articles of less
pretensions, might be taken for a veritable curiosity-shop. A
central figure gives interest to the surroundings and prompts our
curiosity to watch the proceedings.

The mischievous smile upon Marguerite Verne's face is of sufficient
proof that she is engaged in a pleasant occupation. She has pressed
two of the Misses Lister into willing service, and they are a happy
group.

"What will this make, Madge?" yelled Charlie, with as much as his
lungs had capacity, holding up an old green velvet tunic with
enormous supply of tinsel.

"I'll go as Coeur de Lion, and wear it," exclaimed little Ned
Bertram, snatching the precious article from the other.

"Nonsense, children!" cried Marguerite, who, with her companions,
laughed long and heartily at the ludicrous representation of the
"knight of the black plume."

Considerable time had been spent in bringing these would-be heroes
to any decision as to their respective characters. Ned wished to be
Richard the Third, and Charlie that of Richmond and repeat the
triumphs of Bosworth; but meeting such obstinate opposition from
their council, turned their attention to "something commoner,"
as Ned expressed himself. After several hours intermingled with
side-splitting laughter and grave discussion, a fair representation
of Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday was produced, while Marguerite
and her friends received more compliments from the young aspirants
than the most gallant cavalier of the sixteenth century ever paid to
the queen of love and beauty. But the last remark was a deep thrust
from the innocent and unconscious boy.

"You darling old Madge! I am going to tell Mr. Lawson you got us up,
and I am sure we will get the prize. And I bet you I'll not forget
to put a word in for you too, Miss Marguerite, and mind you Mr.
Lawson don't consider me no small account."

The manner in which this twelve-year-old urchin got off the speech
had a telling effect. His air of importance brought a burst of
laughter, but it could scarcely hide the blushes that played
hide-and-seek on the girl's face--which fact fortunately escaped the
notice of the Listers.

The long-looked-for hour has arrived, and Crusoe and Friday emerge
from their "den," as Miss Verne contemptuously designated the
curiosity-shop. On this occasion Marguerite remains at home. Her
constitution is rather delicate, and owing to a slight cold and
throat irritation it is deemed advisable to exercise caution.

"I am sorry that you will not have your papa's company this evening.
There is to be a meeting of the Board. There is always something
going on."

"Don't mind me, mamma. Please bear in mind I am good company for
myself. I remember once reading a passage in some book which said
that all the pleasure we derived had its source in ourselves, and
not in external objects. I often think of it and believe it to be
true."

"What a sensible, but conceited girl!" exclaimed the proud matron as
she kissed Marguerite, and sallied forth to chaperone the Misses
Lister and their loquacious mamma.

"You dear old room, I'm with you once again," said the girl in half
dramatic tones, as she drew her favorite arm-chair near the grate
and sat down, not to read but to weave bright, golden dreams--fit
task for a sweet maiden of eighteen summers--with a quaint
simplicity of manner that is more captivating than all the wily
manoeuvres that coquetry can devise. Were there any pretty pictures
in those dreams? Yes. But those that gave the most pleasure she
tried hard to shut out from her sight and with a gentle sigh
murmured "it can never be."

Sweet Marguerite! Has she her "concealments" too?



CHAPTER III.

A NOBLE CHARACTER.


In Phillip Lawson, a young lawyer of more than average ability, is
realized Pope's definition of an honest man--"the noblest work of
God." Those who think that all lawyers are a set of unscrupulous and
unprincipled men are sadly mistaken. There are in our midst men of
the legal profession who follow the paths of high-souled honor and
integrity with as unerring coarse as the magnet the north pole.

But it is in a special sense we wish to speak.

Phillip Lawson is sitting at his desk in one of the upstair
apartments of a large building not many rods from "the Chambers."
His office is not inviting in its appearance--no luxurious
leather-upholstered arm-chairs, Brussels carpeting--nothing to
suggest ease or even comfort. Stamped upon every inch of space
enclosed within those four bare walls we fancy we can almost see the
words "up-hill work! up-hill work"!--and look toward the young
aspirant to see if he is in the least disheartened thereby. But our
friend receives us with a gracious smile and extends his hand in a
manner that is hearty and genuine. Even the tone of his voice is
assuring, and we listen, wrapt in admiration, forgetful that we are
trespassing upon his generosity. But we must first introduce you
personally to the subject of our remarks, that you may form your own
impression:

Phillip Lawson is not handsome. His large irregular features are not
in keeping with the proportions we call classic, nor is the sallow
complexion any improvement; but despite these facts, there is indeed
much that is attractive in Mr. Lawson's face. His gray eyes have a
tender sympathetic look--tender as that of a woman; his brows have
the reflection of genius as they are being knitted over some
intricate and perplexing law points at issue; and the look of
benevolence expressed in the lips, mouth, and chin, impart a tone of
self-respect and dignity which, united with culture and refinement,
make our legal friend an ornament to the profession.

Nor is it when office hours are over that Mr. Lawson's labors are
ended. His services are freely given to many societies. Old and
young, rich and poor, can testify to the fact.

Yet he does not rest here. Many an hour the midnight oil has burned
low as this thoughtful student sat poring over pile upon pile of
some old work as he kept up his never-flagging research, or penned
his thoughts with marvellous rapidity.

As anyone appears to better advantage in a neat, cosy little
library, with a bright fire burning in the grate, than in a
cheerless, dim and prosy den, called by way of courtesy, an
"office," we thus look in upon the young man of books and letters.
Phillip Lawson has just returned from a meeting in connexion with
his church, and judging from his haggard looks, has had a busy day.
His bright-eyed little sister has made her appearance at his elbow,
and has placed upon the pretty five-o'clock table a cup of coffee
and some of her own making of tea-cakes.

"Lottie, you silly little puss, why did you go to such trouble?"
asked the admiring brother, as he took the little hands in his and
looked into the piquant face for answer.

"Just as if I am going to let you work yourself to death and starve
you into the bargain! Oh, no, my big brother, I am too selfish to
keep you for myself to do any such thing; so go now and take the
coffee while it is hot, else I shall have to bring more."

Lottie Lawson shook her head with all the determination of a miss of
fourteen, and emphasized the fact by settling herself very cosily
into a low seat to see that every cake is disposed of to her
satisfaction.

"Have you anything to tell me, little one? You know I can talk and
eat at the same time," said Phillip, sipping his coffee with the
_abandon_ of an epicure.

"Indeed, I have not one bit of news worth telling. I hear anything
except a lot of the silly stuff the girls bring to school."

"Well, that must be worth something, arising from such a variety of
sources," replied the young man, his grave face expressive of the
fund of true humor within.

"Suppose you heard of the quarrel between Maud Harrington and Hattie
Reynolds?"

"No; what was it about?"

"Oh! I can hardly tell you; but it was at recess, and nearly all the
girls were out, except three or four. Maud said that Carrie Wilson's
mamma had been calling at Mrs. Simpson's and that she said that Mrs.
Ashley told that Hattie's sister Belle was the most dowdy-looking
girl at the Langley's party."

"How did Hattie find it out?" asked Phillip, with all the gravity he
would exercise on one of his clients.

"Oh! you know listeners never hear anything good about themselves.
Hattie was listening and never said a word about it until she got
home, and then Hattie's mother went to all the folks who were mixed
up in it and they had an awful time of it. Oh, yes, and what do you
think?----" Lottie gave another piece of news of much more
importance to her brother than the preceding one, but he very
quietly kept his own counsel, and soon after dismissed the little
maiden, that he might take up a few hours of hard study. The student
lamp was lighted, and new fuel added to the grate. Phillip Lawson
sat himself down; but it cost him great effort to concentrate his
thoughts upon the work before him. Still he labored on and fought
manfully with the intruding thoughts, that, despite all resistance,
would at times be heard. But duty gained the victory, and it was not
until the young man had placed the much-prized manuscript in its
resting place, drawn his chair nearer the hearth, and lit a cigar
with the blessed expectation of having a puff of the weed, that he
again reverted to the banished subject.

"How the child could hear such a thing! Much as I dislike gossip I
should, like to question her further, but I dare not encourage such
things in a child," murmured the young man, involuntarily pressing
his hand upon his brow, as if bent upon study. And it Was a study
both pleasant and unpleasant. It presented two pictures--one fair
and bewitching, which lit up the student's face with its reflection,
while the other, dark and lowering from its deep and gloomy
appearance, shed a cloud of despondency and sadness upon the
thoughtful brow, leaving thereon an expression that was fretful and
annoying.

"If the fellow were worthy of her I would not care so much, I could
and _would_ live it down; but for me to see her associated with
him through life, it is something dreadful. And what am I to do?
Warn them of the danger myself? oh, no; that will never do! I will
be accused of plotting to secure the prize myself. But you will
certainly do it in justice to the man whom you value as a true
friend, if for nothing else," were the burning thoughts that forced
themselves uppermost, and bade the young man reflect very seriously.
"Yes, that is a motive sufficient to nerve any man; but there is a
deeper one--yes, I will admit it--a selfish one." There was a
struggle going on worthy the soul of this noble-minded youth. He was
trying to solve a problem which vacillated between right and wrong.
It was no common task, for when duty pointed the way, the form of
self overshadowed the path, and showed only fitful gleams of light.

"I will be cautious; but she must not be sacrificed to the artful
wiles of unprincipled tricksters while I have an trinity. Come what
may, I must and _will_ speak out!" Phillip Lawson thus resolved,
with a sense of relief. He knew now how to act, and his mind was
clear, calmly awaiting the hour to carry his resolutions into
effect. But how often do a few careless words change the
whole course of action which hours of thought had premeditated.

Phillip Lawson's high-toned resolutions by these means were
scattered to the winds, and he turned once more to the lofty
aspirations of his intellectual nature for refuge.

Let us explain:

It is the hour of twilight, and the streets have an air of
desertion. The people of fashion that are daily to be seen on King
and Prince William streets have retired within their palatial
residences, and none are abroad except an occasional man of
business, with wearied and abstracted air, soon to find rest in the
bosom of his family. Suddenly a handsome turnout claims our
attention, and instantly the driver assists a lady to alight. She is
dressed in costly furs and velvet, and her haughty mien shows that
her associations and preferences are with the patrician side of
nature.

"Will you come in, too, Rania? I need not ask Marguerite, lest she
might miss a chance of seeing 'Farmer Phil' and lose effervescence
of the hayseed. Do you know he is always associated, in my mind,
with homespun and hayseed."

Evelyn Verne laughed at the cleverness of her remark, and adjusting
her mantle entered a publisher's establishment, followed by the said
Rania Lister.

"Homespun and hayseed," muttered a muffled figure as he stood in the
recess of a doorway, from which situation he could see each occupant
of the sleigh and hear every syllable that was uttered.

"Homespun and hayseed! ah! my proud beauty, the effervescence of
hayseed is less noxious than the stench odors inhaled from
dissipation and vice, notwithstanding the fact that they are
perfumed over with all the garish compliments and conventional
gallantries that society demands."

Phillip Lawson had a highly-wrought imaginative temperament. He had
not heard more than those few words, but his mind was quick to take
in the whole situation. He could hear the lengthy speeches of
ridicule and sarcasm aimed at him from every possible standpoint,
and he felt the more determined to live down the scathing thoughts.
The man did not hear the reply by Marguerite Verne to her arrogant
sister, but he calmly and slowly repeated the words--"God bless
you, noble girl!" He still had faith in the purity of her mind, and
would have given much to be able to convince her of the fact.

It did, indeed, seem a coincidence that the moment Phillip Lawson
uttered the words above quoted, an almost perfect repetition found
their way into Marguerite's heart, and left a deep impression which
all the taunts of the subtle Evelyn could not shake off. Nor did it
seem strange to her when she fancied that a figure, on the opposite
side of the street, hurrying along at a rapid pace could be none
other than the subject of her thoughts.

       *       *       *       *       *

"A delightful evening, indeed. It is almost too fine to remain
indoors."

The speaker is none other than Mr. Lawson. He is looking his best in
the neatly-fitting dress suit, with all the little make-ups
necessary to complete a gentleman's evening costume, and while he
leisurely surveys the groups of pretty faces on every side, is also
engaged in entertaining a bewitching little brunette, charmingly
attired in cream veiling and lace, with clusters of lovely damask
roses to enhance the brilliancy of her complexion.

The scene was truly intoxicating. Mrs. Holman, the fashionable belle
of society and wife of one of the leading physicians of the city,
was entertaining a brilliant assemblage of the _elite_. The
informal announcement of her grand "at home" had kept society
in a delightful state of anticipation for the past ten days, and
reality was indeed equal to all that could be devised. The grand
drawing-room, furnished with regard to the beautiful in art, was
certainly a fit receptacle for such an array of beauty and grace.
There was the exquisite blonde, with face of angelic purity; next
came the imperial Cleopatras, with their dusky grandeur of style
rivalling that of empresses; and conspicuous among the latter was
Evelyn Verne. Her amber-satin robes revealed the fact that she was
an adept in the art of dress, and spared no pains to display the
beautifully-rounded form and graceful carriage as she whirled
through the mazes of the waltz, with Montague Arnold as partner.
The latter was indeed a handsome man--one that is sure to attract a
fashionable woman. There is a sarcastic expression lurking around
the well-formed mouth, that has not, to the intelligent mind, a
wholesome tendency; but then there is such a dash of style, and an
amount of gay and charming sentiment in every word, that the
resistless Montague Arnold finds himself an important adjunct to
every gathering representing wealth and prestige.

To an ordinary observer the contrast between Phillip Lawson and the
acknowledged beau of society never appeared more striking, and many
would exclaim, "Well, Lawson is a very nice fellow, but then he is
awkward, and makes a poor appearance in society."

At this moment a familiar and graceful figure engaged the attention
of the young lawyer. Marguerite Verne has been dancing, and
accidentally finds herself seated near the conservatory in which
Phillip stood. He is instantly at her side and it is then that the
real beauty asserts itself--beauty of soul. "Miss Marguerite, I see
you are determined to enjoy yourself, if I may judge by the number
of dances you have already participated in," said the young man,
eager to join in conversation with the gentle but dignified girl.

"Why are you not doing likewise, Mr. Lawson? Now if all the
gentlemen were like you what would be our fate? What an array of
hopeless wallflowers there would be! Really I feel half angry at you
already!--" Marguerite stopped suddenly in her remarks. Hubert
Tracy came to claim her for the next dance, and as she took the arm
of the latter, she quickly turned towards Phillip Lawson exclaiming,
"Remember, I will be back in a few moments to finish what I intended
to say. Indeed you need not think to escape censure so easily;"
while the accompanying ripple of silvery laughter "low and sweet"
were something to contemplate in the happy meantime.

"Mr. Lawson is evidently not intended to be a society man," remarked
Hubert Tracy to his partner, when they had reached the other end of
the room.

"In my opinion he is all the more to be appreciated," returned the
other in a tone of reproof which stung the young man with deep anger
and resentment; but he was too artful to express himself, and from
that moment there entered into his mind a firm resolve to lessen the
high estimate that Marguerite Verne had formed of the would-be
lover.



CHAPTER IV.

A SCENE OF HILARITY.


Several weeks had elapsed since Hubert Tracy had made up his mind to
thwart the man whom he hated with a bitter hate. He was not backward
in expressing his thoughts to the accomplished Mr. Arnold, who
entered into the project heart and soul, and discussed the subject
with all the nonchalance his shallow nature was capable of.

On the evening in question they are seated at a small side-table,
profusely decorated with champagne bottles, glasses, and a few
delicate morsels of refreshments.

"At the bazaar, Dick?" exclaimed Montague, stroking his
artistically-waxed moustache with considerable dexterity.

The individual addressed as Dick was certainly a dude of the
fifteenth degree--his pale-blue pantaloons being sufficient proof
without venturing another glance. His movements, voice and manner
were constant reminders of the excruciating assertion, "I'm a dude."
But of the question.

"Oh! is that you, Arnold? I really did not expect to see you here
to-night. How is business at the governor's? Hear you are making a
bold dash there?"

"Yes, you can bet on that! I'm the white-headed boy there now."

As Arnold was in a short time highly exhilarated by the contents of
the table, he became very communicative, and as his conversation was
not such as would be under the head of pure language, we will leave
him to make merry with his set of jovial companions.

Hubert Tracy was calm and self-possessed. He was too much intent
upon some plans to allow himself to become incapable. He had
"another iron in the fire," to quote his expression as he thought
the matter over to himself, and called upon all the powers unknown
to come to his aid.

It was within a short time that Hubert Tracy had become vitiated in
his moral nature. He had hitherto been known as a good-living young
man--one that respected what was good and pure; but the old, old
story--he fell in with bad company, and almost fell beyond reprieve.

You ask, "Had he a home?" He had, indeed, a home, where all that was
good and pure was daily practised--loving, warm-hearted sisters, and
a fond trusting mother had not the power to drag him back from the
tempting gulf of dissipation and allurement. But we will not say
that their prayers were lost. There was yet a small, still voice,
that would intrude itself upon the young man, and despite his
attempts to silence it forever, would steal upon him in the silent
hour of midnight, and haunt him in the noisy abodes of revelry and
carousal. It even forces itself upon him now as he sits planning a
scheme to outwit his rival. The voice is repeating over and over
again the words "Lawson is a good young man," and they are re-echoed
until Hubert Tracy raises his head and glances around as if to
convince himself of the reality. "A good young man," he murmurs
bitterly; "I was one myself--in the past."

A bitter groan escaped the lips of the speaker as he uttered the
sentence, and his face became stone-like in expression.

"It is of no use; I must not give up. The fellow is good; but what
is that to me now? If he win the day, I am lost forever--for it is
only through her I will be a better man--and surely, with Lawson's
nature, he would willingly make the sacrifice. But here I am,
moralizing like a preacher," cried the young man, as he arose and
began pacing up and down the floor in an excited manner. "By heaven!
it won't do to give up! If I ever expect to be a better man I must
first fall still lower!"

A strange method of reasoning indeed! But a striking illustration of
the fact that degenerate natures have always some loop-hole to crawl
through in order to shield themselves from just reproach.

Hubert Tracy had not sufficient moral courage to take upon himself
the responsibility of his actions. He had not faith to strike out on
the path of right, and with a sense of his own helplessness, turn to
Providence for his guide. Oh no, he could not see ahead of him with
an honest hopefulness; but instead "an ever-during dark surrounds
him," and he, with all the cowardice of his nature, consoles himself
with the thought that the nobility of Phillip Lawson is apology for
his base actions.

It was after such reverie that Hubert Tracy bethought himself of an
engagement he had made to join a number of acquaintances at a whist
party. He straightened himself up and cast a glance in the mirror
opposite to see if he would "pass muster" in a crowd. "Guess I'm all
right," he exclaimed, stroking his fingers through the masses of
chestnut curls that clung so prettily around his well-shaped head.

"Halloo, Tracy, not going so soon? The night's young yet, boy! Come,
sit down and have some of the 'rosy,'" shouted a rubicund-faced
youth, with a generous proportion of carrotty hair crowning his low
flat forehead.

"Sit down Tracy," exclaimed another, slapping him on the back by way
of accompaniment to the words: "We'll not go home till morning,"
which song the whole company began to roar in a style more forcible
than artistic.

When the last strains of music had spent its force and a general
interchange of silly speeches had been made, the young man once more
rose to go, but a youth with broad Scotch accent seized him by the
arm exclaiming: "Don't go yet, Tracy dear; for if ye do, ye need'nt
come back here."

"A poet of the first water," cried a voice from behind, at which all
joined in another roar of laughter, which reached its climax when a
feminine-looking youth exclaimed, "What a pity the government have
not discovered such talent! they would surely have him for poet
laureate."

Before quiet was again restored Tracy took advantage of the occasion
to cover his retreat, and hastily gained a small side entrance which
led to the suspicious-looking alley not many yards from a very
public thoroughfare. Having reached the street without any serious
apprehension, he then set off at a rapid pace in the direction of
his lodging.

A careful toilet, including some necessary antidotes, and we find
the subject of our remarks an honored guest in one of the luxurious
drawing-rooms in the city. Not a trace of the recent association is
visible as Mr. Tracy takes his seat at a whist-table with an
interesting and amiable young lady for partner.

"What a brilliant young man Mr. Tracy is," remarked an anxious mamma
to a lady sitting near, who also was on the _qui vive_ for an
eligible _parti_ in the capacity of a son-in-law.

"Don't you think Miss Simpkins is very forward; just see how she is
flirting with Mr. Tracy. I'm glad she is no relation of mine."

Miss Dorothy Strong had ventured the above speech in hopes of
testing the _strong_ tendencies of her audience. She was a
spinster of youthful pretension, and invariably took occasion to
condemn any such exhibition on the part of others a dozen years her
junior. Not meeting any remonstrance she made quite a speech on the
familiarity of young ladies, their want of dignity, and ended in a
grand peroration upon the conceit of the young men, their vicious
habits and all short-comings she could bring to bear upon the
subject.

But Miss Dorothy's speech was unhappily chosen, and therefore "lost
its sweetness upon a desert air."

"Sour grapes," whispered a pretty miss of sixteen to her elder
sister, as they stood apart from the others and watched the effect
of the oration.

As we glance towards the said Miss Simpkins and watch the game for a
few moments, we feel certain that Hubert Tracy is not deeply
concerned whether he win or lose. He is evidently studying a deeper
game--one on which he would willingly stake all he possessed.

"Now, Mr. Tracy, that was mine as it lay!" cried his partner,
somewhat petulantly, as she noted the mistake.

"Never mind this time; I will look out better again," said the
culprit, his penitential look being sufficient apology for a more
grievous offence.

"If I didn't know you better, Tracy, I would say you were in love,"
exclaimed a fashionable young man, engaged as bookkeeper in one of
the largest wholesale firms in the city.

"You seem to have great confidence in your own opinion, Mr.
Berkeley," retorted Miss Simpkins, who, be it said, was a girl of
much moral stamina, having an aversion to conceited young men, and
let no opportunity slip when she could give a home-thrust.

"Pray don't be so captious, Lottie; I am certain that Mr. Berkeley's
opinions are always founded on correct observation," timidly
ventured a mild-looking little woman, whose speech had no other
motive than a desire to throw oil on troubled waters.

As the game progressed, the party became more interested, and after
an hour or more thus engaged Miss Simpkins was congratulated on her
run of good luck; and Mr. Tracy, to show his appreciation of her
ability, turned out some pretty compliments.

"Where is Mr. Arnold to-night, Mr. Tracy?" asked one of the guests,
as the party stood in the hall making their adieux to the hostess.

"I cannot say," replied the young man, tugging at his great coat
with more vehemence than was necessary, but affording relief to hide
this oracular reply.

"Oh! you need not ask that question," exclaimed a voice near; "we
all know that he is at 'Sunnybank,' paying his devoirs to the
peerless Evelyn." The speaker was a young lady, and the tone of this
speech intimated that jealousy was at the bottom of it. But there
was another side to the story. Turning to Hubert Tracy, with an air
of playful badinage, the young lady continued: "And I believe that
Miss Marguerite has a lover too. Surely, Mr. Tracy, you must know
about it for you are on intimate terms with the family. You can
enlighten us upon the subject."

Hubert Tracy was master of his feelings, but he had difficulty to
suppress himself. An opportune bustle among some of the other guests
gave him time to reply in a cool and wholly indifferent manner which
would turn their attention to another source.

It was only when this would-be suitor had thrown off the mask of
studied indifference that he began to realize the state of his mind.

"It will never be," he cried, in a fit, half-anger, half-emotional,
as he paced his room during the silent hours that precede the dawn.

"I don't want to injure the fellow in any other way. Arnold says
wipe him out; but--heavens! those words--he is a good young man!
what makes them haunt me! It seems as if my mother and the dear
girls at home are repeating them to me: Why was I not dragged up,
instead of living hourly under the influence of a sainted mother and
devoted self-sacrificing sisters? Ah! young man; it is a hard
struggle for you to fall when you think of 'Home, sweet home!'"

Such was the soliloquy of Hubert Tracy as he sat himself down in a
half-desperate state and commenced writing a letter with that
nervous haste which showed he was anxious to get rid of the
disagreeable task at once. After the envelope had been addressed the
writer gave a sigh of relief, and rising from his seat, exclaimed:
"Heavens! I would rather than a fortune it was over with!"

Despite the fact that curiosity has been defined "the lowest emotion
of the soul," we cannot forbear glancing over the content of the
letter which seemed to affect the writer so deeply. It ran thus:--

ST. JOHN, Jan. 25th, 188-.

_Dear Friend_,--Intended to write you some days ago, but am now
at fever heat, and manufacture my thoughts accordingly. Going to
make no excuse, but come to the point right off. You heard the
report about Lawson. It is too true, and if I cannot choke him off
somehow, it is all up with me. I want to get the fellow out of the
way. Can you secure that site for him instead of poor Jim Watters?
If we can only get that deuced sprig of the law entrapped out there,
some goodly stroke of malaria may come to the rescue, and I can
breathe the grateful fog with double freedom. "Give the devil his
due," I believe the fellow is a veritable Mark Tapley--jolly under
all circumstances--and will in the end thank us for giving him a
change of climate and the vicissitudes of life so invigorating to
his athletic and muscular composition. Much depends upon you to
think and act at once. Saw that "drummer" yesterday; not a bad sort
of a fellow. He speaks well of you--says you are a tramp. Go to
headquarters on receipt of this and write immediately. If Lawson can
be induced to go, my prayers will follow you for life.

                                        Yours in dilemma,  H. T.

This epistle--disconnected and vague as it seems--needed no further
explanation on the part of the writer. The recipient was acquainted
with the whole history of Hubert Tracy's career and also that of
Montague Arnold.

It is necessary to add that while this correspondence was being
carried on, that Hubert Tracy was a daily caller at Mr. Lawson's
office, and without any apparent effort, had the satisfaction of
knowing that the young lawyer was much attracted by his engaging
manners and persuasive tongue.

It had been considered somewhat strange that a man of Lawson's
integrity should look with favor upon a gay youth whose preferences
were ever on the side of conviviality, but many wise-headed seniors
said that the influence might be exerted upon the other side and
Tracy would thank heaven for the star which guided him thither.

It was surprising how many little attentions were paid our young
lawyer from the fact of the newly-formed friendship, and how many
consultations were held as regards a promising field which glittered
before the eye of the hopeful aspirant. A wide range of labor lay
within his grasp, and Phillip Lawson was not made of the stuff to
lose a prize when it could be attained at any cost of self-sacrifice
and personal feeling. With herculean effort he shakes off the bitter
thoughts that hourly intrude within the privacy of his own heart,
and armed with all the moral courage and true heroism of his soul he
goes forth into the world's conflicts a noble defender of the rights
of true manhood!



CHAPTER V.

MORNING CALLS--"GLADSWOOD."


A bevy of fair and interesting young girls are grouped around
Marguerite Verne in the spacious bay-window of the library. One, a
bewitching brunette, dressed in slight mourning, is indeed a pretty
picture to contemplate. Louise Rutherford possesses a face and form
which bespeaks a high degree of idealism--an aesthetic nature that
is lofty and inspiring. As she turns toward the fair young hostess,
there is an expressive look of sympathy that leads one to know they
are firm friends.

"It is no use to say anything against it if _you two_ have made
up your minds," exclaimed a good-natured looking maiden of
seventeen, who had been trying to convince her audience that they
had not selected the most fashionable characters for the coming
parlor entertainment.

"That's just what I always have said, Mattie. You know well what
Damon proposes Pythias will ever agree to," ventured another devotee
with a "cute" little face, tiny hands and tiny feet, with decisive
tone and dignity of manner showing that she was beyond the ordinary
type of girlhood, whose highest ambition is to have a good time,
cheat her teachers out of as many lessons as she can, and walk,
skate and dance, with a train of admirers ever at her command.

Helen Rushton was a native of Halifax and had been bred upon
strictly conservative principles, but there was an innate generosity
of heart that converted them into a happy medium.

She had relatives in St. John, and hearing much of its advantages
And disadvantages, had accepted an invitation to see for herself,
And now, after six months had been passed amid the grateful breezes
and invigorating fog, she dreaded the approaching season, which
demanded her return home.

Marguerite Verne was indeed the crowning deity on that happy
morning, as she replied to the many little speeches intended for her
benefit, and as the color came and went she was truly worthy of all
the admiration then and there bestowed.

She is in striking contrast to Louise Rutherford whose black
cashmere costume forms an effective back-ground.

Marguerite's delicate cream-colored morning robe is also relieved by
the shades of garnet worn by the others.

Much real happiness is exhibited as one looks upon every countenance
within the radius of her smiles. No jealousy lurks upon the brow of
any. Thrice happy Marguerite! The secret of making others happy lies
within the confines of your own unselfish nature!

"Well, girls, I declare, you have not told me one bit of news.
Surely there must be something going on worth talking about,"
exclaimed a new comer who had pounced in upon the company _sans
ceremonie_.

"Nothing much, Josie," returned Marguerite, "we have just been
having an old-fashioned chat, and I am not sorry to say gossip has
been at a discount."

"Oh, you bad girl! Now, had that been Louise I would have been
'hoppin', but, girls, you see, we take everything from Madge."

"Yes, anything from her is worth coming from Halifax to hear,"
exclaimed Helen Rushton, rising from her position and crossing over
to the range of bookshelves that adorned the opposite walls.

"Well, it's no use; I'm out of my element here. I can't get up to
your high-toned talk. Look at Louise--reminds one of a Roman
empress--and you, my self-conceited Haligonian, must follow suit;
was there ever such a set?" The manner in which this speech was
dictated set the circle in a roar of laughter, and Josie Jordan felt
repaid seventy-times-seven.

"Helen is going to leave us soon. That is news," exclaimed Louise
Rutherford, glancing at the incorrigible Josie.

"But bad news," chimed in Marguerite.

"Not going home so soon, Helen," ventured Josie, with an earnest,
inquiring glance.

"I am only going to Fredericton, or the Celestial City, as it is
generally called," said the other in reply.

"Pardon me, Helen, but the manner in which you say that word only
would lead one to suppose you did not entertain a high opinion of
our seat of government. I have been there during several sessions,
and I always felt sorry when the time was up, and the M.P.P.'s and
their families turned their faces homeward."

The speaker was Louise Rutherford--her face aglow with an
enthusiasm, called up by those pleasing associations which gave rise
to her speech.

"Louise Rutherford," said Helen Rushton, the color mounting higher
in her cheeks, "you misinterpret my thoughts. If I have not
sufficient command of the powers of speech to express myself without
blunder, you should not attribute it to want of charity. Indeed,"
added the girl, with more than due emphasis, "if, for no other
reason, I should speak respectfully of the place, from the fact that
I have very dear friends there."

"Josie, this is all your doings," cried Marguerite, raising her hand
in a menacing gesture and trying playfully to restore quiet.

"I'm always bent upon mischief," cried Josie, her eyes sparkling
with merriment. "Indeed, at home, I am treated to that highly-
seasoned speech every hour of the day, and now I don't think I could
live without it."

"Helen, my dear, I did not"--"think to shed a tear in all my
miseries," shouted Josie, in a stagy and tragic style, and then,
'twixt laughter and song, attempted a series of courtesies worthy a
star actress.

"Why did you interrupt Louise when she was going to say something
good?" asked Marguerite in a half-reproachful tone.

"Just because I want no scenes until to-morrow evening, when Miss
Louise Rutherford and Miss Rushton will not display their histrionic
ability to a desert air."

"Hear! hear!" cried a voice from without, and instantly a promising
youth dashed in _sans ceremonie_, claiming all the familiarity
due a younger brother.

Fred. Verne's arrival changed the current of conversation. Louise
and Helen were soon interested in the costumes to be worn at the
theatricals, and Marguerite's good taste was always to be consulted
on such occasions.

"Madge is a genius of the first order. Charlie and the boys all
swear by her, and say she would beat the fellow that invented the
carnivals."

"Fred, do be moderate," cried Marguerite; who at the same moment
could not repress a feeling of pride in the boy's earnestness and
filial affection.

But Fred, was not to be gainsaid, and edged in his witticisms with
an air of infinite satisfaction. Trinity chimed out the hour of
twelve, and served as a reminder for the withdrawal of the guests.
Josie had succeeded in getting up a first-class encounter with the
indomitable Fred, and then beat a hasty retreat, utterly regardless
of the least approach to etiquette.

"I will see you again before you go away, Helen?"

"Yes, my dear Madge," cried the other putting her arms around
Marguerite in a sweet caressing manner, "and I shall have one more
chat that will last until I see your dear old face again."

Marguerite Verne stood in the outer doorway waving adieu and
throwing tokens of affection to the two young girls until they had
crossed Queen Square and were lost to view.

On returning to her room a formidable array of letters lay awaiting
their owner.

A glance at the address of each was sufficient. Marguerite rapidly
seized a large square and heavy one from among the number and very
soon devoured its contents. It came from "cousin Jennie Montgomery,"
a genuine and true hearted girl whom Marguerite loved as a sister.
Mrs. Montgomery was a sister of Mrs. Verne but never was nature
known to indulge in so many freaks as when she bestowed such
relationship.

"Gladswood," the comfortable and happy home of the Montgomerys, was
indeed no misnomer; for in this beautiful and sylvan retreat every
heart was truly made glad and every guest only felt sad when the
summons of duty suggested departure.

Marguerite Verne never had too many society demands upon her to
neglect correspondence with cousin Jennie, and she was more than
delighted on this morning to hear such glowing accounts of
"Gladswood" and its inmates. On the situation of this charming
country seat we might exhaust pages and never weary of the effort.
It stood on a rising knoll surrounded by the picturesque scenery of
Sussex Vale. Here was that enchanting beauty of nature in which the
most aesthetic soul might revel. In the months of summer the verdure
was "a thing of beauty." Luxuriant meadows showered with golden
buttercups, alternating with patches of highly-scented red and white
clover, while the air seemed freighted with the balsamic odor of the
crowning foliage. But the foliage of "Gladswood"! We have no powers
capable of description. The majestic maples, stately willows and
graceful elms were grouped with an effect that baffled the mind of
man. And the interfacings of soft feathery furze, moss and ferns.
Surely this spot must have been in the mystic ages one grand
amphitheatre for the sylvan deities. And the stately manor-house,
for such it much resembles with its quaint wings and irregular
outbuildings. Its old-fashioned windows, tall chimneys, projecting
eaves and arched doorway have an inviting appearance and impresses
one with the fact that there are still some substantial homes--some
reminder of the past.

And now we come to the mistress of "Gladswood." While she is
carefully pruning some choice specimens of ferns growing on the
shady side of the doorway, we take advantage of the situation, and
hence the result: Mrs. Montgomery is a matronly-looking woman, of
about forty-five years of age, perhaps less; for the abundant mass
of dark chestnut hair reveals not one silvery thread. One glance is
sufficient. Never was character more cleverly delineated than upon
this woman's face. There, in bold relief, is the deep penetrative
mind--one that has power to read the masses as they pass before her
mental vision. Her's is the heart that opens wide to the one crushed
and broken by the uncharitable sect called "the world." Her's is the
hand ready to help the suffering and support the tottering. The
shoddyisms of modern every-day life have no charms for Mrs.
Montgomery. Woe be to the victim who comes under her censure. She
has no mercy upon those who are under a daily strain to cater to the
usages of society.

Let us see good, honest and noble-minded men and women, and then
will follow all those accomplishments that are really necessary.
Jennie Montgomery had early imbibed those principles, and in her we
see a striking illustration of this truth.

But in our praise of the mistress we must not forget to introduce
the master.

Mr. Montgomery is not the sort of man one would naturally associate
with his energetic and self-reliant helpmate. There is a lack of
shrewdness and an utter want of that keen discriminating power,
which can give at first glance the full numerical value of all
exterior objects. The owner of "Gladswood" belonged to that
"come-easy-go-easy" class, who, unless circumstances come to their
relief, are ever being duped or made a prey to the avaricious. But
Mr. Montgomery had a source of never-failing strength in his wife.
"Had William Montgomery married a different kind of wife he would
have become a poor man," had grown into a proverb regarding matters
at "Gladswood." All business transactions and pecuniary affairs
always received the approval of Mrs. Montgomery before they took
effect; while each and every individual about the farm well
understood the business-like capacity of their respected mistress.
But it must not be supposed that Mrs. Montgomery was the ruling
spirit of "Gladswood." She displayed no strong-minded nor
dictatorial manner; no arrogant gestures or inclinations to
combativeness; but seemed as one endowed with the happy faculty
of presenting herself at the right time and right place, and by
her motherly counsel to superintend the working of her household
in a perfect and unconscious manner.

There are several younger members of this family, but as they are
not necessary throughout the work we will not make mention of them
here.

On the morning when Marguerite Verne sat in the luxurious crimson
velvet arm-chair reading Cousin Jennie's letter, the latter was
engaged in fashioning some dainty scraps of wool and silk into
various little knick-knacks for a bazaar.

The pupils in attendance at the common school were anxious to
procure some extra apparatus for the hall, and having received much
assistance from the young ladies of the district, entered into the
work with a will.

Jennie Montgomery was a host in herself. A bright, amiable girl of
eighteen, with robust constitution, sunny disposition, and step
elastic as a fairy. She was, indeed, an ornament to her home and
also to the community.

Jennie was not a beauty--had not the least pretentions to one. Her
dark complexion was pure and health-like; but it was not heightened
by that peachy bloom peculiar to brunette's, instead only a warm,
bright and ruddy hue, which some might consider as approaching the
rustic. Her eyes, as they sparkle with delight at the pretty array
of bright colors, might not be admired as of the poetic or ideal
type, but in their depths lurks a keen and significant expression of
the peculiarly intelligent and earnest appeal that seldom speaks in
vain. The neat and cosy parlor, with its many articles of female
handiwork, speak for the taste and talent displayed by this
interesting girl. The pretty sketches of familiar haunts near her
loved home showed that genius had stamped the brow of Jennie
Montgomery, and inspired her with a deep enthusiasm for the
beautiful and sublime.

Presently she rises from the work table, and opening a door leading
to the balcony, stands for some moments gazing in mute admiration
upon the lovely view of Sussex Vale, wrapped in its mantle of purest
white, reflected in the sunshine as a vast expanse of frosted
silver.



CHAPTER VI.

A LAWYER'S REVERIE--A VERDANT CLIENT.

A dismal dreary day. The fog had crept slowly over the city and
enveloped every object within its reach. There was fog clinging to
turrets, spires and towers, fog in the streets, fog in the alleys,
fog in the ditches--all was fog. It hurried along utterly regardless
of the delicate fabrics that were ruthlessly despoiled by its touch,
musing now and then, doubtlessly, on the ingratitude of the fair
daughters of St. John who, in the possession of their clear and
brilliant complexions forgot to give thanks to the great enhancer.

In the midst of this fog many pedestrians are wandering to and fro,
crowding the streets, hurrying along the wharves, hailing vehicles,
accosting their friends, and in fact as perfectly happy in their
surroundings as though the cheerful, sunshine were illuminating all
visible space.

Passing along Prince William street as far as Chubb's Corner we see
a familiar form--it is Phillip Lawson. He is enveloped in a gray
Mackintosh and his soft felt hat is worn with an air of careless
ease that is more becoming than otherwise.

"Chubb's Corner" had lost its charm for the young lawyer. He did not
stop to consult stocks, exchanges, debentures or any such business,
but merely nodding to an acquaintance or so crossed the street and
wended his steps to the lawyers' nests--nests from the fact that in
this, locality they hatched all the schemes by which to victimize
their unwary clients.

But of our friend. He gained his apartments, and throwing aside the
outer garment, sat down at his desk and drawing his hand across his
forehead, began to think. "I want to see nobody for the next hour,"
murmured the young man, his brows contracting as he spoke.

A deep shade settled upon the usually mild countenance. A question
of momentous importance was to be decided. "To be or not to be" was
the final answer. Each solution involved a corresponding number of
conflicting doubts and anxieties, and left scarcely any choice in
the mind of the reasoner.

"No doubt it's a good field for a beginner in life. St. John has
more lawyers than would start a colony. Some of us must go to the
wall, and I don't fancy being one of that number."

This was the sunny side of Phillip's reflection. He was trying to
cheat himself into the belief that "green fields and pastures new"
were panacea for all other grievances, and that that was the goal of
his ambition.

"Yes, it's a good 'spec'; but why is the fellow so anxious for me to
get it? Still I would like to hear more of the matter before I
question the motives."

The young lawyer was aware of the fact that Hubert Tracy had been
using his influence for another a short time previous, and he could
not see his motives for such change of opinion. True, a sudden
intimacy had sprung up between them, but the subject had been
hitherto mentioned and acted upon; therefore the last reason formed
no groundwork for his convictions.

Occasionally a dark thought crossed Phillip Lawson's mind. Can the
fellow be honest? I cannot bear to think ill of a fellow-man, and I
must not now. I know that Tracy is not what he might be, yet he has
a kind heart and what's the use of my talking, who is faultless?
"Let him that is without sin cast the first stone."

It was here that the beauty of Phillip Lawson's character showed
itself. The young man was a Christian. He had always cherished the
principles of true piety, and as he repeated over the words of Him
who was the friend of sinners, it was in tones of sublime
tenderness.

Instantly a second thought flashed across his mind--he had an
acquaintance--a member of a legal firm in that newly-founded city in
the Northwest. He, therefore, made up his mind to write at an early
date and make all the necessary inquiries.

Having settled his mind upon this point another subject presented
itself to our friend, and from the sudden flash of his grey eyes one
would imagine that it was of an electrifying nature.

It is one, which, from the remote ages, has had power to magnetize,
humanize and civilize; it is the power which makes man what he
should be--love--that short word of four letters--what a world of
thought it embraces--it held the heart of Phillip Lawson at will,
and despite his power of self-control he was often the victim of its
vagaries.

But the lawyer had not long time to indulge in such thoughts. A
knock aroused him.

"Come-in."

A stalwart looking youth of muscular build (with suit of grey
homespun not cut exactly in the proportions of that of a dude) stood
upon the threshold with a look upon his florid face that betrayed
some embarrassment.

"You be Mr. Lawson the lawyer, sir."

"Yes, sir," said the young practitioner, a smile lighting up his
face and making him an interlocutor not to be dreaded by the most
unsophisticated client.

"'Spose I needn't ask, be you pretty well posted in law?" queried
the individual on taking his seat, at the same time pulling out an
enormous expanse of red and yellow cotton, called by way of courtesy
a handkerchief, which he vigorously switched across his face as
though a swarm of mosquitoes were on the aggressive, and kept the
field unflinchingly.

"What is the cause of complaint, sir?" ventured the interested
lawyer, scarcely able to repress a smile.

"Well, sir, to come to the pint at once, as you fellers allus happin
to say, since I was knee-hight of a grasshopper I had a hankerin'
after the law, and allus envied tother fellers when they'd to go to
the 'Squire's on trials, and I tell you they thought themselves some
punkins when they got a day's wages for goin'"--

"Of your question at issue," interrupted our legal friend, "I mean
on what point do you wish to consult me, sir?"

"Well, sir, as I told you before, I'm comin' straight to the pint,"
replied the youth, giving the aforesaid bandana a more vigorous
switch in the direction of his interrogator, then continued, "and,
firstly (as them lecturin' fellers say) I allus thought I'd like
mighty well to have a trial myself, and bring some un up to the
scratch; and I've jest got my wish, and if it costs all dad's worth
I'll make 'em sweat!

"Are you a minor, sir?" demanded the lawyer.

"No, sir; I'm no relative to them _miners_, nor don't want to
be, tho' Sally Ann is allus taggin' arter me, and would like
terrible well to hitch on to me; but I tell you, 'Squire, I'm not so
green as they think, though I'm mighty fond of buckwheat."

This last speech was too much tax on the risibility of the
"'Squire," as familiarly dubbed by the would-be client, and after
some merriment, explained the tenor of his question, assuring the
youth that it bore no allusion to "Sally Ann."

After the young lawyer had taxed his ingenuity to draw the verdant
client "to the point" he learned that the cause of complaint was
directed against one Joshua Jones, who had given himself an
invitation to haul off some cedar poles claimed to be the property
of the said Mose Spriggins, and the said Mose wished indemnification
right speedily.

"Tell you what 'Squire I'll put him fur as the law will carry it,
and if you can slap on plenty of cost 'Squire, it'll do me more good
than eaten my supper."

"I shall do the best I can for you sir," said the young man,
carefully noting the points which Mose brought to bear on the
matter.

"Well now 'Squire, suppose you want your wages for this 'eer job.
What's your price?"

Mose now produced a complicated piece of mechanism from his
expansive waistcoat pocket. It might have been constructed for a
three-fold purpose--for money, pipes and tobacco. The odoriferous
exhalation giving strong evidence of the latter commodity.

"Well 'Squire, you fellers earn your livin' mighty easy," exclaimed
Mose, tendering the five dollar bill into the lawyer's hand.

The latter smiled, pocketed the fee and commenced writing the letter
to the defendant Joshua Jones.

"Now sir, if this thing works well, I don't grudge ye the money
'Squire, and any time I have somethin' more in the law business I'll
throw it your way, for I think you a squarer sort of a chap than
them ere gang further up the street. I tell you they're sharpers,
they fleeced dad last summer and I wasn't agoin' to be so green, eh
'Squire?"

"Well Mr. Spriggins, I shall always try to work to your satisfaction
any time you are in need of advice," returned our friend, rising
from the desk and going toward the window.

Mr. Spriggins thought he would soon be ready for "startin'" and also
rose up, in the meantime depositing the before-mentioned wallet in
his waistcoat pocket. Silence reigned in the lawyer's office for
three minutes, when the door was reopened and Mose Spriggins'
rubicund face once more adorned the apartment.

"Say, 'Squire, aint there a new kind of insurance consarn 'round
these diggins? I'm thinkin' of gittin' my life insured--not 'cause
there's any kinsumption in our fam'ly, only there's no tellin' when
a feller might peg out. Tell you, 'Squire, I'm sound as a bell."

Mr. Spriggins turned himself around for inspection, and shrugged his
broad shoulders with an air of evident self-esteem.

A lengthy speech might have followed, but our legal friend averted
the catastrophe by informing his client that the Dominion Safety
Fund office was close at hand, and with quiet mien escorted the said
Mr. Spriggins to the door.

A genial "come in" answered the summons of the applicant, and in
another chapter we will be able to inform the reader how the
veritable Mr. Spriggins was sent home rejoicing from the fact that
he had become insured in the Safety Fund.

Phillip Lawson was re-established at his desk, and not wishing to
allow his thoughts to wander to the subject which had hitherto
occupied them, took up a novel that lay upon the opposite shelf. It
was one of George Eliot's masterpieces--Daniel Deronda. Its depth of
thought and richness in the sublime and beautiful theories as
regards the Jewish dispensation had a charm for the talented
scholar, and he read for more than an hour, deeply buried in the
inspired words of the gifted author--one who will occupy a deep
niche in the inmost recesses of all hearts, so long as the
literature bearing her impress shall make its way in all tongues and
through every clime! Presently a light, well-known step greets the
reader's ears, and a trim little maiden, with waterproof, heavy
boots, and umbrella in the foreground, presents herself upon terms
of much familiarity.

"And my dear old Phillip, how happy you look in here! Why, its
fearfully disagreeable out to-day, and you look as contented as if
the room was heated only by the sunshine, while I am really
shivering with the dampness and fog."

"Well, little woman, what brought you out to-day?" exclaimed the
indulgent brother, stroking the fair hair of his pet sister as she
stood beside him, looking into his face with a look of pure
devotion--a look which showed that her brother was her world, and in
his face shone all that was good and true in her eyes.

Lottie Lawson was a child of a sweet and tender nature. She had been
watched over by a model mother, and this earnest mother's prayers
had not fallen unanswered.

"God grant that the woman be a living realization of the child," was
the fervent prayer that dwelt upon Phillip Lawson's lips, as he drew
the child towards him and tenderly kissed the fair forehead.

"You wonder why I am out to-day, brother Phillip; I came on a
message from Kitty."

The latter was the house-maid, and the young man smiled as he
thought of the force of character which constituted this efficient
maid of all works.

"Oh, I see now, there is some excuse for you. What are Miss Kitty's
demands to-day?"

"She is having a new dress made and wished me to select some samples
for trimmings, and as she wants to wear the dress home next Sunday,
I had to go to-day."

"Yes, that is all right; Kitty's wishes must be attended to," said
Phillip, with an air of much gravity.

"Will you soon be ready to go with me Phillip. I shall wait for you.
It is just such a day as needs your dear old self to drive the gloom
from the back parlor."

The little maiden had not long to wait for an answer, as the young
lawyer took down his mackintosh, and in a very short time the
pair were to be seen walking at a quick pace along Charlotte
street, through King Square and out beyond the limits of the old
church-yard.

A neat and cosy cottage is reached, and a tidy looking domestic
answers the summons and smiles graciously as the coveted samples are
placed in her hand while she receives a full explanation of the
prices and the additional advice of Miss Lottie thrown in as extras.
The cottage has an air of neatness throughout. Its windows filled
with choice plants and gorgeous foliage lend a charm that impresses
one with the taste of the inmates. The spotless purity of the muslin
curtains and the transparency of the windows bespeak the thorough
cleanliness and comfort of this home-like little nest. And the
inviting parlor: it's furniture was neither elegant nor costly. The
plain mahogany chairs and straight-backed old-fashioned sofa were
well preserved. Not a particle of dust could be seen without the aid
of a microscope. And the beautifully polished andirons which had
done service in the family for many years, and seemed to assume an
air of importance over the less attractive articles grouped around.
A pretty little work-table with writing-desk combined stood at the
left side of the hearth. It was a gift from Phillip Lawson to sister
Lottie. It was the child's favorite seat, and that fact repaid the
brother more than the most extravagant praise.

The upright piano was not neglected. Piles of music lay near, and
the well-worn rug beneath showed that music had its charms for the
members of this household.

Reader, we will not weary you with minute details, but merely say,
such was the home of Phillip Lawson. In this abode he could look
back to a country home, with which, as the haughty Evelyn Verne
said, "you could associate hayseed." But did that fact lesson the
reputation of this gifted scholar?

Nay; the sons of the soil are in reality the "lords of creation."
They have the first and highest calling, and ere the proud beauty
had passed through all the ordeals of life, she hastily repented of
the bitter and sarcastic words.



CHAPTER VII.

ADVERSITY.

As our legal friend occupies a prominent part in our story we will
endeavor to give such explanation as will enable the reader to form
a true estimate of his character.

Phillip Lawson was indeed the son of a farmer--a man who had, by
honest industry and untiring perseverance, made a comfortable home
for his family in one of the frontier settlements of Carleton
County--that truly agricultural locality where nature has done so
much to assist the sons of toil--that county where the crops are
almost spontaneous, and where none need be ill off, unless through
misfortune or mismanagement.

"The Lawson farm" was the abode of comfort and happiness. Thrift
greeted the eye on every side--from the well-filled barns to the
unbroken range of fences, through which a sheep could not crawl, nor
even could the most "highlariously" inclined Ayrshire be tempted to
try the pass.

The neat farmhouse, with its bright coat of paint, was the
attraction of the district, and was just such a place as would be
besieged by all the lecturers, agents, and travellers that happened
to strike oil in this direction. Nor were they ever disappointed.

Mrs. Lawson was truly wife, mother and friend. None passed her door
without the hospitality they craved.

"It is a wonder to me how the Lawson's stand it," was often the
comments of the less hospitable neighbors, as they watched with no
uncommon curiosity the daily arrival of some unexpected guest.

"The more we give the more we'll have," was the wise mother's reply
as she sometimes heard complaints from the female portion of the
household as regards the extra work.

It had always been the highest ambition of John Lawson that his
family should grow up industrious men and women and that they should
each receive all the benefits of education that lay within his
power.

In his eldest son he saw much ability and also a mind logical and
argumentative, and he had fully resolved that the boy should be
educated and trained for the legal profession. And the farmer
"plodded his weary way homeward" each day buoyed up with the
thought that he was doing his duty towards his family and above
all towards his God.

"But man proposes and God disposes."

Ere the young student had finished his collegiate course the
fond parent was called to his long home, and within a year the
heart-broken mother was re-united in that world where sorrow
never comes; where she awaits a further re-union, when she shall
once more gather to her bosom the loved forms whom she watches
over in anxious solicitude from the portals of her blessed abode. It
was from this time that the noble minded youth was aroused to a
sense of his duty. He must not give up the course of action which
had been laid out for him.

What was to be done?

Sickness and death had told heavily upon the pecuniary resources of
the family. Much of the produce had to go to pay the wages of
labourers, and only by dint of much anxiety and careful management
could the farm be made to cover expenses. Something further must be
done.

Julia Lawson had reached her sixteenth year, and possessing more
than ordinary ability, resolved to prepare for the vocation of
teaching; and within a year from the time she had formed such
resolution, was actually engaged as teacher of the school in their
immediate district.

This fact gave Phillip Lawson much relief of mind, as the young
teacher could still have a care over the household, and give advice
to the two younger children under her charge. The young student
having received his degree at the N. B. University next turned his
thoughts towards the law.

While spending a few weeks at home to assist in the farm-work,
he received a letter from an old friend of his father. Nothing
could exceed the joy of this young man as he read and re-read the
kind-hearted proposal from one of St. John's most able and popular
lawyers, praying that the son of his old friend engage to enter as a
student in his office.

"The Lord will provide," was the earnest comment of the reader, as
he folded the missive and laid it away between the leaves of his
wallet.

But means were necessary as well. Phillip had, much against his
inclination, to raise money by a mortgage upon the farm. He had
often heard it said that a property once mortgaged was never
redeemed, and the thought gave much concern. But the old maxim,
"Where there's a will, there's a way," was ever rising uppermost in
his mind, and he was doubly resolved to make the trial.

A few weeks later the student is at his desk, poring over the dry
documents and legal lore. On his brow is determination and disregard
of difficulties.

Phillip Lawson soon became a general favorite. His generous nature
and frank manners won the esteem of his fellow students, and also
that of the senior members of the firm.

"Lawson will make a mark some day--he has it in him," was the first
remark passed upon the student as the eagle-eyed solicitor glanced
at the son of his friend, whose thoughts were intent upon the copy
of Blackstone before him.

Things went on prosperously at the homestead; and as the student had
succeeded in increasing his means by giving evening lessons to a
class of young men, he felt comforted and assured that in the end
all would come out right.

But a heavy blow had suddenly fallen upon the Lawson family--typhoid
fever came into the household and prostrated the noble-minded Julia
upon a bed of suffering.

Uncomplainingly she had watched her pet sister through all the
stages of this dread disease, until the child had been pronounced
out of danger. It was then that outraged nature asserted itself and
the worn-out system was not equal to the strain--she succumbed to
the raging and delirious fever an object of deep and tender pity.

"God help me," cried Phillip Lawson, in despairing tones as he read
the letter conveying the news in as mild a form as possible. "If
Julia lives I shall never be separated from her again," were the
reproachful thoughts that forced themselves upon the affectionate
brother.

Need we speak of the agonizing hours spent in the dread suspense
that followed.

In the midnight watches as the hours dragged slowly by, the young
student was silently learning to "suffer and be strong." And it was
well that these lessons took deep root in good soil, for within a
few weeks Phillip Lawson knelt beside the dying bed of his beloved
sister, and in heart-broken accents commending her departing spirit
to the loving Saviour.

Ah, such a scene is too sacred for intrusion; but it is only by such
means that we can realize the true value of our esteemed friend.

And as the last sod had been placed upon Julia Lawson's grave, and
the flowers that she loved strewn over it by loving hands, we cannot
move from the spot.

It is scenes like those that teach us what we are, so long as there
is the least impress of the Divine in our nature will we look to
those scenes as mile-stones on our journey through life.

Kneeling beside the sacred spot the grief-stricken brother was
utterly unconscious of our presence. With tearless eyes he gazed
upon the mound that held the remains of her he loved so fondly.

Who will not say that in that dark hour there hovered near a band of
angelic beings, and foremost in that band the angel mother whose
breath fanned the pale brow of the mourner and quieted the soul
within?

Ah, yes; it is not heresy to think thus. Phillip Lawson surely felt
such influence as he arose and in tones of quiet resignation
murmured, "Father thy will be done." Then picking up a half blown
rose that had fallen upon the ground, pressed it to his lips
exclaiming, "fitting emblem of the pure and innocent young life cut
off ere it had blossomed into womanhood."

And the hollow sounds that greeted the mourner as he wandered
listlessly from room to room apparently looking for some object,
some vague uncertainty, something indefinable.

What solemn stillness reigns around where death has been! The
painful oppression, the muffled tread, the echoes that haunt as
tidings from the spirit world, borne on invisible wings, confronting
us at every step.

To the most matter-of-fact mind these things are indeed a solemn
reality. Death has power to change our every-day thoughts to others
ennobling, beautifying and divine! But we do not sink under the
weight of affliction. God has seen otherwise for us. He heals the
wounds and bids us go on amid life's cares administering to those
around us with increased diligence, happy in the thought of doing
what is required of us.

Throughout the inexhaustible stores of poetry and song is there
anything more exquisitely touching than the lofty and inspired dirge
wailed out in tremulous tones--in memoriam--and the healthful words,

  "Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
   Ring in redress to all mankind."

But to return to the Lawson homestead.

Very soon all was bustle and preparation. The young student had
rented the farm and by selling off the stock had raised means to
secure a home for the children in the city, and ere a few weeks had
passed around we find them comfortably situated in a convenient
tenement in the suburbs of St. John.

But a stouter heart than our young friend might well have groaned
under the weight of difficulties that pressed upon him.

What with the management of his household, the hours of office work,
and the hours devoted to his classes, and hours of anxiety and care,
the young student was oftentimes depressed and wore a look beyond
his years; but he never once swerved from his duty, and trudged
manfully onward his eyes ever bent upon "the strait and narrow
path." Lottie the pretty child, full of life and hope with her sweet
winning ways imparted warmth and sunshine to the snug home; and the
merry high-spirited Tom, a blue-eyed youth of fourteen, gave life
and freshness to the surroundings.

It was indeed a pretty sight that greeted a visitor as he entered
the plain but neatly-furnished parlor, in this quiet home. It is the
hour between tea-time and that prescribed for evening work. It is
the only hour of leisure during the day, and it is generally devoted
to the boy and girl at his side, the latter sometimes sitting upon
his knee looking into the face that in these moments wore a smile
that oftentimes belied the conflicting and agitated thoughts within.

Such was the history of Phillip Lawson previous to the opening of
our story. A period of six years had elapsed since he commenced life
in the city and now we find him an honoured barrister, with
sufficient practice to meet the expenses of the pretty residence to
which he had removed some months ago and to which we referred in the
previous chapter.

We now see the reason which prompted Evelyn Verne in associating the
young lawyer with "hayseed'" It is only shallow sordid natures as
hers can indulge in such meanness, but thank heaven the venom has
only a momentary sting, a resting place in proportion to the
superficial source whence it springs.

In respect to other members of the Verne family it must be said that
Phillip Lawson had received much kindness and hospitality within the
walls of their princely residence, and if the spoiled beauty
indulged in spiteful taunts it was because she saw in the young man
that ability and soundness of principle which placed her set of
worldings at painful disadvantage.

Montague Arnold with his waxed moustache, Adonis-like form and
studied hauteur, minus the brains, amiability and that true
politeness which constitutes the real gentleman cut a sorry figure
when contrasted with Phillip Lawson.

Mrs. Verne was in every sense a votaress to the world's caprice, yet
she was not devoid of insight. She could see the noble traits of
character in Phillip Lawson; but she must bow to the mandates of
fashionable folly.

Mr. Verne, deeply absorbed in stocks and exchanges, seldom took
respite in the gaieties of the drawing-room; but in his business
hours he saw enough of young Lawson to convince him of his
character.

A slight circumstance happened one evening which had a tenfold
effect upon Marguerite Verne; but the girl kept her own counsel, and
cherished the thought as a happy talisman through all the months and
years that followed ere events brought about the consummation of her
fondest hopes. Mr. Verne was seated in the library. Brilliant rays
of light were reflected from the highly-burnished chandelier.
"Madge, my girl, come read awhile," exclaimed the former, as
he espied his favorite across the hall with a delicate bouquet of
hot-house plants in her hand.

"I will be with you in a minute, papa, dear," was the response, in a
sweet, childlike voice, as the speaker ran up the broad staircase
with elfin grace and gaiety.

"So the flowers were not for me, you naughty girl. Well, well, times
have changed since when, in the eyes of the august peers of our
motherland, it was considered 'an atrocious crime' to be a young
man."

"Oh, papa, you see I do know a little history--enough to accuse that
'young man' of being guilty of sarcasm in the highest degree."

"Well done, my Madge! Here, take the paper--read me the rest of that
speech of young Lawson's. It is a clever defence, and goes to prove
my words--that he is a young man of sound judgment, and every day
gives proof of greater force."

It was well for Marguerite Verne that the newspaper hid the blushes
that, despite her efforts at self-control, played hide-and-seek upon
the soft, fair cheeks.

"I am waiting, Madge."

The sweet, silvery tones were the only response, and though the
maiden knew it not, there was a tender chord of sympathy that united
father and child more firmly, and bent their thoughts in the same
happy direction.



CHAPTER VIII.

HUBERT TRACY'S DILEMMA.


As Phillip Lawson sat silently poring over a formidable looking
volume, bound in heavy parchment, he was accosted by a familiar
voice.

"Working as usual, Lawson?"

"Yes, sir; I generally find something to keep me out of mischief,"
said the barrister, smiling, in the meantime clearing the proffered
seat of a pile of documents that had been cast aside as useless.

"What's the news?" demanded Hubert Tracy in his indifferent and
careless style.

There was a restless, wearied look upon the face of Phillip Lawson,
as he glanced towards his interrogator. "To tell you the truth Tracy
I've heard nothing startling to-day. I might for your amusement give
you some of my own afflictions. In the first place I have a headache
that I would gladly part with."

"For heaven's sake don't wish it upon me," cried the visitor,
thinking no doubt of the unsteady hand and nervous headache of the
previous morning.

But this was not the kind of news that Hubert Tracy sought. He
wished to draw out some well-timed allusion to the northwest and he
had not the courage to do so.

He had been a frequent guest at the Verne mansion of late, but the
fact did not add to his felicity. Marguerite Verne could not play
the coquette. She was attentive to her callers but nothing more.

Montague Arnold, who was on the eve of declaration to the imperious
Evelyn, had now gleaned much of the affairs of the family. He
learned that Mr. Verne had a high regard for the rising young
barrister and he knew well that there was strong sympathy between
father and daughter.

"That little dame has plenty of grit to fight the battle, but if I
can manage it she will have to give up, if not she is a match for
the old fellow."

The above remark of Montague Arnold gave his companion some
assurance yet it did not satisfy him.

"I tell you what Mont, the only chance for me is to get the fellow
out of the way, then you can influence the old lady and if she puts
her foot down we are all right."

Hubert Tracy was far from being in a settled state of mind. He had a
continual dread of his suspected rival, while a strange fascination
possessed him--a something which attracted him to the latter with a
force in proportion equal to the dread.

It was this state of mind that forced his steps to the barrister's
office at this time, and as he turned the burning subject over and
over he felt more confused.

"It is madness to give up--it will kill me;" were the thoughts that
rose half framed to his lips and then forced themselves back with
renewed energy.

But of the forgoing conversation which we interrupted.

"Don't be alarmed my friend," cried Phillip "I can get rid of it
sooner than you, and judging from your looks this morning one would
imagine you too had been battling with some of the 'ills that human
flesh is heir to.'"

Hubert Tracy winced under this remark but the fact was lost upon the
other who innocently exclaimed, "Any trouble in the shipping
business just now."

The young man laughed.

"Thank heaven I'm right on that score and don't even expect much
trouble unless the world would get turned upside down."

"Which is an unlikelihood," said Phillip adroitly. And much as we
speak of the uncertainties of this world, the latter remark might be
accepted as a truism in regard to the pecuniary affairs of Hubert
Tracy.

He was the heir of a rich uncle--a modern Croesus--a man who had
amassed a princely fortune by his wonderful success as a
manufacturer and speculator.

It was this circumstance which gave the nephew such value in the
eyes of good society. Hubert Tracy was fully aware how matters
stood. He knew that money was the only screen to cover up all the
shortcomings and glaring deformities of our nature. He well knew
that he could haunt the abode of dissipation and vice and fill up
the intervals with the gaieties of the fashionable drawing-rooms. He
well knew that a young man of pure morals with strong determination
to rise to the highest manhood would have no chance with the heir of
Peter Tracy.

And the young man was right. He was sought after and courted
by fashionable mothers who saw only in this beau ideal of a
son-in-law--fine houses, fine carriages and in short everything that
wealth could give.

The worldly Mrs. Verne was not without her day dreams on this
subject. She never let an opportunity slip when she could show Mr.
Tracy that patronage which his prospects demanded.

But this woman of the world did nothing rashly. She was always
acting from motive and though apparently unconcerned was keenly
alive to the situation of the hour.

Such was the tenor of Phillip Lawson's thoughts as he chatted to
Hubert Tracy for more than half an hour, when the latter departed
less satisfied than when he entered. Then the former set to work
upon some important business, and being a rapid penman, soon
finished the job. Finding time for a short brown study, or more
properly speaking a soliloquy.

"If I go out there and be dissatisfied it will be worse than ever,
and there is Lottie, I cannot think of taking her with me. The poor
child would break her heart if I left her behind, and our cosy home
would be broken up--perhaps forever."

Home had always been the oasis in the dreary waste of Phillip
Lawson's late eventful life. After the monotonous round of
office-work he always anticipated with delight the hour and
circumstances so truthfully depicted by the poet.

  "Now stir the fire and close the shutters fast,
   Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
   And, while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
   Throws up a steaming column and the cups
   That cheer, but not inebriate, wait on each,
   So let us welcome peaceful evening in."

Therefore the thought gave much pain. "But life is made up of such
struggles," murmured Phillip, "and it is our duty to be happy
wherever we are--in Winnipeg as well as St. John." The last words
were repeated in a tone of determination and the speaker arose
hastily, took down his overcoat and shortly afterwards was to be
seen walking along the north side of King street with a rapid but
regular step. Having gained Charlotte street the young lawyer is
greeted in an artless and unaffected manner by Marguerite.

The graceful and sylph-like form had sufficient power to cast all
the high minded resolutions to the four winds of the earth. In the
maiden's presence Phillip Lawson was bound body and soul, yet he
would not allow himself to think so.

"I am quite fortunate in meeting you, Mr. Lawson, as I am saved the
trouble of sending a note." Marguerite emphasized the word trouble
in a manner altogether peculiar to herself and a manner which
infected the banister with a certain degree of gaiety that was
unusual to him.

And no wonder that our friend felt the influence of the maiden's
smiles. Marguerite Verne was indeed a pretty picture to study. Her
rich costume of seal brown, plush with ruchings of feathers, the
coquettish hat to match with the jaunty ostrich plume were becoming
in the extreme and gave an air of richness and refined elegance.

"Is it any harm to inquire as to your wishes Miss Marguerite?" said
Phillip, glancing inquisitively into her face.

"I don't think I shall tell you to-day."

There was a look of arch mischief accompanying the words--a spirit
of banter that was truly fascinating.

Phillip had escorted his companion as far as Coburg street, where
the latter was to call upon some of her friends.

"Mr. Lawson, I am not quite so dreadful as you think. Come this
evening and I shall gratify your curiosity at once, and you know
papa always likes to see you."

"I shall go," exclaimed the barrister to himself, as he had turned
down Paddock street on his way homewards. "Her papa will receive me;
why did she not say Evelyn?"

Marguerite was sensitive on the subject of Mr. Lawson's reception,
and she had a modest intuition of her friend's feelings, and, as is
too often the case in trying to smooth matters, only made a greater
blunder.

"Why did I not let well alone," exclaimed the girl, as she stood on
the broad stone steps leading to the elegant home. It was six
o'clock and the first bell gave the warning that there was barely
time to dress for dinner.

"He will be here without fail, for I know his word is inviolable,"
cried the girl, as she hastily re-arranged some lace on the sleeves
of her pretty dinner dress--a combination of silk and velvet in
shade of ash of roses.

"Dear me, there is the bell, and my hair not presentable."

But Marguerite was mistaken.

"Why, Madge, where have you been?"

"I have been out making calls," said she, with an air of surprise.

"Well, my dear, I advise you to go every day if you can bring back
such roses."

Marguerite blushed as deeply as if the compliment came from an
admirer--aye, more so; for the girl well knew that those from her
fond parent were from the heart.

"There now, don't spoil them, _ma belle_," cried Mr. Verne, his
eye resting with fond admiration upon his daughter.

Children are oftentimes _de trop_, and Charlie Verne proved no
exception.

"Papa, I was one day with Madge, and she had two big red spots on
her cheeks as big peonies."

The precocious youth was on the eve of explanation, when Mrs.
Verne's--"Children should be seen and not heard" put an end to the
subject.

It were well for Marguerite that her elder sister did not grace the
festive board that evening. Evelyn's keen and penetrative eye would
have taken in the situation at a glance. The light in the soft,
deep, violet eyes would tell the tale that the maiden would strive
to conceal; and the bright flush, heightened by fond anticipation,
would have accomplished its deadly work.

But Marguerite was granted further respite.

She gave Phillip Lawson a quiet reception, and much to the relief of
the latter, they were allowed to chat at their ease the greater part
of the evening, uninterrupted by a guest.

Mr. Verne, having returned from one of those Board of Trade
meetings, on hearing that Mr. Lawson was in the drawing-room,
immediately made his appearance, and from his warm greeting, one
might see that the young lawyer stood high in his favor, and that
his prospects were indeed fair as any suitor might wish for.



CHAPTER IX.

MR. SPRIGGINS GETS INSURED--THE DOMINION SAFETY FUND.


As Mr. Spriggins is a gentleman of no mean pretensions and occupying
a prominent place among our characters we will again introduce him
as he is seated in the office of the Dominion Safety Fund.

The general agent greets Mr. Spriggins in his usual gentlemanly and
unassuming manner--a fact which is not lost upon the applicant.
"Well, Mr. Agent, spose you'll think it a mighty queer business to
see a feller comin' here without a bein' asked, so to make a long
story short, I might as well till you all about it."

With this remark the speaker pulled his chair closer to the desk and
with an assumed business air began--

"You see, Mr. Agent, I'm not a married feller but have a terrible
good mind to hitch on one of these days and that's the reason I'm
here to-day."

"A poor place this to come to look for a wife," remarked an elderly
gentleman in a gruff voice, who had just entered on business as the
last words had been repeated.

A happy smile illuminated Mr. Spriggins' face as he rose to
retaliate.

"Oh, indeed sir, I'm posted on such affairs. When I want a pard'ner
I know mighty well where to go--none of yer peeaner players for
me--give me the girl that can make butter and boil a pot of tatters
without havin' em all rags and mush."

Mr. Spriggins became more and more eloquent upon the necessary
qualifications of the future Mrs. Spriggins, and then once more
addressed the gentleman behind the desk.

"Well, now, Mr. Agent, suppose you don't mind me a askin' a few
questions on this eer bisness."

"Not at all sir, that is our pleasure Mr. ----"

"Spriggins sir. I'm Moses Spriggins of Mill Crossin', but they allus
call me Mose to hum for short."

Mr. Spriggins would have added further explanatory remarks but was
interrupted by the official:

"Now Mr. Spriggins, I wish to hear from you--"

"What do you say the name of this consarn is Mr. Agent?"

"The Dominion Safety Fund Life Association."

"Well now, that's a terrible long name. Hanged if that doesn't beat
Uncle Amaziar Wiggleses family, for their oldest gal's name is
Samanthy Eunice Esmereldy Jerushy."

At this speech Mr. Spriggins burst into a fit of laughter, affording
sufficient proof to the company that there was little need of the
necessary medical examination to testify that the applicant was of
sound health.

"Why do you call it the Dominion Fund?" queried the applicant
looking intently at the title.

"Because it is the only one of its kind in the Dominion sir!"

"All right, Mr. Agent. Safety Fund--that's a queer name. Would you
mind explainin' that. You musn't think hard of me sir if I want to
know all about this business, for you know people have been so taken
in by so many humbuggin' consarns that it makes a feller keerful."

Within a very short time Mr. Spriggins was led to see the beauty of
the Safety Fund. How that the longer he was insured the more
favorable his position; how persistent members of the class received
the benefit, etc.

"That's just the thing I've been lookin' for," exclaimed the
applicant, his face aglow with enthusiasm.

A few more preliminaries were discussed to the entire satisfaction
of Mr. Moses Spriggins, and arrangements were made that he should
present himself before the medical examiner on the following morning
at ten o'clock.

"Nothin' could suit better, Sir, for one of our naber's girls is
a'stayin' in town now, and there's enough attraction there, sir, to
keep me here for to-night."

Mr. Spriggins cast a knowing glance at the official as much as to
say "you understand me."

On his way up Princess street the veritable Mose might be heard
soliloquizing at a wholesale rate--"Well, now, its mighty cheap,
too, and a feller is gettin' sich profit; better that than raisin'
tatters and lettin' the bugs eat 'em--on a thousand, too. By George,
it's next to nothin'; let me see: four times $1.44--4 times 4 are
16. 6 and carry 1; 4 times 4 are 16 and 1 are 17; 4 times 1 are 4
and 1 are 5--576, that is $5.76, and $3.00--$8.76--and next year
less--then lesser, and then I'll be a makin' right straight along--
won't Melindy Jane be astonished." A dashing turnout for the nonce
arrested Mr. Spriggins' attention, and as he gazed at the richly
caprisoned steeds, and fair occupants, exultingly exclaimed, "Yes,
ye think yer a mighty fine crowd, but there's not one I'd swop for
Melindy Jane."

And Mr. Spriggins had not changed his opinion when, at the appointed
hour, next morning, his good-natured face wreathed in smiles, made
its appearance before the official, hailing all with delight, and
full of conversation of the most animated style.

The entrance of the medical examiner now claimed attention, and when
the said Mr. Spriggins had passed the fiery ordeal his delight knew
no bounds.

"What did I tell you--sound as a bell--no kinsumption among the
Sprigginses."

This and corresponding remarks fell from the lips of Moses as the
papers were being filled. Silence was the order for a few moments
when our friend rising quickly to his feet exclaimed:

"But, hold on, here's sumthin' I've not seen afore. Is it part of
the agreement?"

Mr. Spriggins then drew attention to the motto--

_"non mihi sed meis vivo."_

The medical gentleman very quietly allayed Mr. Spriggins' fears by
convincing him that it was the motto--the principle which governed
the working of the institution, and also, gave the literal meaning
in our mother tongue.

"The very words I told Melindy Jane last night. Well, if it don't
seem, like magic. If it don't suit my case to a tee--not for myself
but others--well, there is just one mistake in it. I would say not
for myself--but mine."

Mr. Spriggins directed his remarks to the follower of Aeculapius
with an air of importance, and then began a vigorous onslaught on
the pronunciation of the foreign words.

"And that's Latin. Well, I never had such liken' for Latin afore. If
I wasn't too old would try to learn it yet--by jimminey, doesn't it
say nice things though?"

The forms being filled in and payments being made Mr. Spriggins
reluctantly arose to depart, but another glance at the motto and he
broke forth afresh. "It's just the thing that old Parson Simes was
speakin' of last Sunday--gracious me--who'd a thought there was so
much religion in the insurance business. Well, sir, I feel like a
different man already; and now folks, if you see any more fellers
from the Crossin' you'll know who sent 'em that's a sure case. I
tell you what the crossin's not the worst place to come to, and if
any of yous would happen to come our way don't forget to give us a
call."

Thus ended Mr. Spriggins' speech and as he made his exit through the
doorway at a two-forty gait a smile was visible upon the occupants
of the office. But ere business had been suspended for the day Mr.
Spriggins again appeared on the scene with the following
exclamation:

"I could'nt go back to the Crossin' without seeing you and tellin'
what I heard. Of course I wouldn't like it to go outside as it is a
kinder secret but thought it too good to keep, eh Mr. Agent."

Mr. Spriggins threw himself into an arm-chair and then in lively
tones continued:

"You know them ere Verneses that live in the big house on that high
bank near the Square--well that's where Melindy Jane is hired, so of
course when I left here I went up there and as I was a showin' the
paper to Melindy Jane and explainin' it who should walk in but one
of the young ladies.--(Now between you and me and the wall I believe
it was a put up job of Melindy's to show me off and have the young
missis' idees of me.)"

At this point Mr. Spriggins became very confidential and lowered his
voice almost to a whisper, then, no doubt bethinking himself of the
importance of the subject added: "Howandever its no matter here nor
there, so as I was a sayin', the young missis came right over and I
had to say sumthin', so I ups and tells her where I had bin and you
never seed anyone more delighted. She seemed to know all about it
and told me it was the best insurance consarn in the dominion."

At this remark the agent smiled and said that he was pleased to know
that young ladies were interested in the Institution.

"Well, sir," continued he, "but that was not the hull of the
conversation. I was a'telling her about that ere young lawyer, the
young feller that gave the advice for Josh Jones (I declare it makes
me bile over while I think on it), and she listened quite attentif
and took great consarn in it, and said she was sure I would get
justice, as Mr. Lawson was an honest lawyer, (and between you and
me, Mr. Agent, that's more'n can be said of most of 'em)."

"You are rather severe on the legal profession, sir," ventured a
voice from the other side of the room.

Mr. Spriggins having confided his affairs, and seeing that business
absorbed the attention of his audience, finally took leave, with the
parting injunction to give him a call if they happened his way.

It did, indeed, seem a strange coincidence that while Mr. Moses
Spriggins drew Miss Marguerite's Verne's attention to his legal
proceedings that Phillip Lawson should be turning over certain facts
in his memory in order to elucidate some important problems as
regards his relation to this fair being.

Could he then have seen the respectful manner with which Marguerite
greeted the son of toil, he would feel more deeply impressed with
the beauty of her character, and could he have heard her modest
eulogium upon himself, an emotional chord would have vibrated to the
musical tones of her soft and well-modulated voice. But our young
friend was not to be thus gratified. It is contrary to the laws
which govern the order of the universe that an eternal fitness
should adapt itself to our circumstances.

Ah, no, my young dreamer, much as we would wish it otherwise, we
must sit patiently and see you suffer much mental agony in trying to
discipline your mind for the trying ordeal through which you must
irrevocably pass.

Nor did the sweet-faced Marguerite, as she chatted in her quiet
happy way, for one moment dream that the brawny and muscular hand of
Moses Spriggins should be yet held in friendly grasp, and that she
would ever cherish this sturdy son of toil in grateful memory.

Standing there on that uneventful morn with the rays of sunshine
playing hide and seek through her silken hair, could she have looked
beyond the surrounding of the present, and cast her eye along the
dim and shadowy perspective, what sorrow might have been averted;
what heart-throes might have been quieted! But let us not be carried
away by such thoughts. Let us not seek to penetrate beyond the airy
nothings of every-day life.

Marguerite Verne went back into the presence of the other members of
the family. She chatted, laughed and sang blithe as a bird carolling
its earliest matin.

Marguerite's pure and transparent soul finds shelter in the daily
acts of goodness emanating from her loving heart, and if she feels a
momentary pang she struggles bravely and lives on. She could ill
repress her feelings when the peerless Evelyn, radiant in convenient
smiles and blushes, went to be congratulated on her engagement to
Montague Arnold.

"You never did seem like a sister to me Madge, and you act less like
one now. I did not come to tell you that I was going to die."

Evelyn's manner was anything but amiable. She could brook no
opposition to her will, and she was piqued to the highest degree
that Marguerite did not break forth with the wildest terms of
extravagant congratulation. But it matters not. Marguerite is not a
hypocrite. She pities from the bottom of her heart the woman who
will wed an unprincipled man like Montague Arnold.

How her tender pitying nature went out to the first-born of the
family but the girl knew well the stubborn haughty spirit and looked
calmly on without reproach.

Mrs. Verne had accomplished much in her own eyes. Her daughter was
to revel in the comforts and elegancies of life. And when once the
grand event had taken place she would have further opportunity to
turn her attention to Marguerite. "I must get rid of Evelyn first,"
was her comment as she bent over a piece of embroidery designed for
a mantle drapery--bunches of delicate ferns and golden rod on garnet
plush, and intended for the home of the future Mrs. Montague Arnold.

But there was one who took a different view of the matter. Mr.
Verne looked on in grave disquietude. It may be sacrilegious but we
cannot refrain from intruding upon his inmost thoughts and with
heartfelt sympathy grieve for the indulgent parent who sees his fair
first-born sacrificed to the world and mammon. The man of far-seeing
penetration knows too well the great mistake and with painful
intensity contrasts the sweet girlish wife of his youth with the
fashionable woman of the world who presides supreme over his
household--he sighs deeply and plunges deeper into the ponderous
folios before him.

Presently a smile illuminates the grave face. A graceful form is at
his side, and as the maiden holds up a pretty bouquet arranged by
her own fair hands, the fond father draws her towards him and
tenderly kisses the white, smooth forehead earnestly hoping that his
favorite child may have a happier prospect before her--that she may
be happy with one she loves.

  "A guardian angel o'er his life presiding
   Doubling his pleasures, and his cares dividing."



CHAPTER X.

HELEN RUSHTON AT THE "CELESTIAL."


A few weeks had rolled by and Helen Rushton once more entered
"Sunnybank."

Marguerite receives her visitor with open arms.

"I am so glad to see you, Madge," exclaimed the quaint little
maiden, as she threw aside the pretty wrap, worn carelessly around
her shoulders.

"I ought to be angry with you, you naughty girl," returned
Marguerite, playfully, shaking the former by way of punishment.

"Oh, please don't say a word, like a good old dear. I did intend to
write, but you just know how we spend the time running around, and I
had so many demands upon me."

"Well, this time, I shall 'take the will for the deed,' but remember
the second offence will be dealt with according to law."

Madge emphasized this threat with a hearty embrace and turned her
eyes in the direction of the door.

"Well, if that is not too good to keep," shouted Josie Jordan,
rushing in pell-mell, and seizing the pair with a lustiness peculiar
only to a maiden of athletic pretensions.

"Oh, you nuisance," exclaimed Helen. "How did you know I was here?"

"If that is not ignoring our hostess I should like to know what is.
Indeed, Miss Helen, I came intent on weighty business matters, but
Madge's allusion to the law drove it out of my head."

Josie shrugged her shoulders and gave way to fits of laughter, then
exclaimed, "But you know, Helen, why Madge should be interested in
legal matters."

"Josie Jordan, I believe you are the greatest pest I ever met, just
to come in when I was going to entertain Madge with my visit."

Helen Rushton had adroitly commenced an attack upon the former to
conceal her friend's embarrassment. She saw that Marguerite liked
not the badinage of the thoughtless Josie, and she was determined at
her own expense to turn the conversation.

"Just as if I am not as much interested in hearing celestial gossip
as our worthy hostess," exclaimed Josie, making one of her most
stately bows and assuming a very mock-serious air.

"We can both listen, you saucy puss," said Marguerite, drawing a
pair of pretty ottomans close to the sofa on which Helen sat.

"Indeed I am not going to listen--I can't wait--I am going to ask
questions, and then we will hear more in the prescribed time--as the
teachers say.

"As you wish," said Helen, patting the mass of golden curls that
were as antagonistic to all order as the fair head they adorned.

"Did you go often to the House, Helen? Now for my questions.

"Yes, I went when there was anything worth going to hear."

"And I suppose that was not often."

"Hard on the M.P.P.'s, Josie," said Marguerite, smiling.

"Not half hard enough!" said the girl, vehemently. "They go there
and sit and have a good time at the expense of the Province,
and show off a little with a passage-at-arms now and then that
suggests more of a gladiatorial arena than that of a body of august
law-givers!"

"Oh, mercy! hear the girl!" cried Marguerite, raising her hands in
tender appeal.

"I tell you it's the truth; I will ask Helen if it is not so," cried
the speaker turning to the latter for answer.

"I must confess that to a certain extent Josie is not far astray. I
have seen exhibitions of cross-firing not strictly in accordance
with one's ideas of a gentleman. But I suppose sometimes they forget
themselves."

"A gentlemen never forgets himself, Helen. Although you have
high-toned notions of the Capital, and granting that you have been
lionized right and left, it does not excuse you from exercising a
sense of right and wrong."

Marguerite could not but admire the brave girl with such an earnest
look upon her face. The laughing, romping hoyden was capable of
sound sensible argument, her character was made up of opposites; and
Helen Rushton, clever in many things, was almost baffled.

Marguerite soon poured oil on the troubled waters.

"You told me where you were going to stay Helen but I have
forgotten," ventured the latter.

"I did not happen to find my friends in the Belgravian district, but
what matters it?" returned Helen.

"Up town or down town, that is the burning question always uppermost
in Fredericton," cried Josie.

"It was that part I believe they call the West End, but unlike
London and other cities it is not a locality habitable by the
fashionable or good form of the pretty little city. But the
residence of my friends is, notwithstanding this drawback, the home
of culture and refinement, nay more--it is the home of generosity,
for never did I see more genuine true-heartedness than in this truly
happy home."

"You doubtless have found many such people during your visit, for
the hospitality of Fredericton is proverbial," exclaimed Marguerite
in a soft and gentle manner.

"I did indeed," exclaimed Helen, "the people are very much
conservative, but that gives them all the more favor in my eyes."

"Ah, you precious daughter of the old school," cried the vehement
Josie, "it were well that you went to the Celestial ere you
started for Halifax, in order that you might, to a certain extent,
have re-acquired that amount of red tapeism which you must have
almost forgotten amid the more liberally-inclined citizens of our
fog-begirt city."

"Quite an orator, Josie," ventured Marguerite. "I will not interrupt
you again, Helen, only to assist your memory by questions. Were
there many young ladies in the family?"

"There was just one of the loveliest and sweetest girls in
existence," cried Helen, enthusiastically.

"Be careful now, we are jealous already," said Josie, holding up her
forefinger, menacingly.

"And two young gentlemen, lately enrolled as professionals."

"At which?" cried Josie, in mock gravity.

"Where's your promise now?" ventured Marguerite.

"Never mind, Madge, I can manage," replied Helen, smiling. The
latter then gave an interesting description of her visit from
general to particular. She had listened to the speeches from the
government and opposition; admired the pretty surroundings of the
Parliament buildings; glanced over several of the volumes in the
neatly-kept library, and in the meantime formed opinions upon many
of the representatives of our Province. Government House also
received much notice.

"I've never been there yet," cried Josie, in a half-regretful tone.

"Then you have something in store worth going to Fredericton for,"
said Helen, "it is such a grand old place. The conservatory is
charming--a spot where you can dream that you are in the land of
perpetual summer and golden sunshine. Standing upon the threshold of
the blue drawing-room you are almost spell-bound. Really my eyes
were dazzled with the array of lovely pink and white azaleas that
were arranged at respective distances. And the camelias--really, I
had to hold my breath--then came the endless group of calla lilies--
pure, transparent and beautiful."

"Oh, Helen, I should have been tempted to pluck a stray one and say,
'old conscience, it is public property.'"

Marguerite laughed at the amusing look depicted upon Josie's face,
but Helen disconcerted went on. "But what made the scene more
effective was the soft and velvety carpeting of luxuriant grass
growing in the centre of the conservatory--nothing to be seen but
lovely flowers, foliage and verdure."

"Suppose great care must be bestowed upon it," said Marguerite.

"Truly, I could have lingered there for days and not been wearied."

"And in the meantime live upon the effervescence of your beautiful
thoughts," cried Josie, bursting out into a wild ringing laugh.

"You mentioned the blue drawing-room, Helen," said Marguerite,
anxious to prolong the conversation; "is it not very pretty?"

"Pretty is indeed the term suitable for it, Madge. There is no
elegance, but it is sweet and inviting, pretty draperies, pretty
bric-a-brac, and pretty effect.

"Did you notice anything different from other drawing-rooms, Helen,"
queried Madge.

"Yes, I did," replied Helen. "The entire absence of so many silly
knick-knacks oftentimes heaped up in ordinary drawing-rooms. How my
eyes gloated over a few pieces of quaint and rare old china!"

Helen's keen, scrutinizing gaze had taken in the whole situation,
doubtless without any apparent effort; good-breeding was the innate
principle which actuated the speaker's every-day life; and it was
now from a desire to speak in high terms of life in the capital,
that she wished to entertain her companions. "I have heard Louise
speak so many times of the kindness she received there, that I seem
to know all about it," said Marguerite, her dark violet eyes aglow
with earnestness.

"And yet you never went with _her_?" queried Helen.

"Something always happened to prevent my going then, yet I have some
pleasant associations connected with Fredericton."

"Pleasant anticipations you should say," chimed in the irrepressible
Josie.

"Miss Jordan, please do not misconstrue Madge's words, you saucy
girl!" retorted Helen, tapping her toes upon the stool near, by way
of calling the other to order.

A brilliant description of a ball at the Government House then
followed, also several parties and other indoor amusements.

"That is all very nice Helen," cried Josie, "but I want to hear
about the people. There is always so much talk about the celestials,
their culture, refinement and all that sort of thing, now you can
give us your opinion."

"That is a delicate subject for Helen to handle," said Marguerite
with a slight shade of embarrassment heightening her color and
making more pathetic the soft speaking eyes.

"Indeed my peerless ones you are all good and lovely in my sight and
the fair Marian is among the number."

"Is she pretty, Helen?"

"Not what the world would call pretty, but she is neat and graceful,
has a pretty form and graceful carriage and carries her head like a
queen."

"What of her brothers--are they blonde or brunette?"

"Neither, but tall, straight and rather inclined to be fashionable
young men."

"Then I cannot bear to hear of them; for anything in this world I
despise is a dude," exclaimed Josie with an expression of disgust
upon her face that was in accord with her speech.

"Anything in moderation is tolerable," returned Helen, "I cannot say
that I admire the extremely fashionable young man but I must say
that I cannot appreciate the young man of antediluvian aspect."

The latter then settled down to a lengthy detail of her visit in
particular, the different characters she met and the pleasant hours
enjoyed in their company.

"How different your visit has been to some who have gone there. Why,
I have heard the girls say all you could do was go up and down Queen
street for a few times, hear remarks passed upon you by the loungers
at the hotel doors, and then stow yourself away to be scorched to
powder in summer or be converted into a tolerable sized iceberg if
it happened to be winter."

"Like all other places, Josie, one's impressions are always formed
according to circumstances and I must say I never will forget the
happy hours in Fredericton."

"But you never told us of the 'head of the family,' Helen?"

"That thought was uppermost when you spoke, Josie. I never can fully
express my gratitude to the esteemed couple who so kindly invited me
to their house.

"Marian's father is fat, fair, and slightly over forty, with the
most happy and frank countenance that you ever met. He has a good
story always on hand, can entertain clergy or laity, and never
wearies in contributing his store of amusing anecdotes, which
oftentimes are at the expense of his nearest relatives."

"How I should like to listen to them; it does me so much good to
laugh," cried Josie, her eyes beaming with fond satisfaction.
"Kingsnook" (for such we will name this happy professional's abode)
is of all others the place for a good hearty laugh. No simpering,
silly affectation is allowed much reception within the neat and
tastefully arranged parlors, or tempted to display itself on the
shady verandah, cool, leafy shrubberies, or spacious garden.

"Did you see much military life there, Helen?" asked Marguerite, who
had been for some moments apparently engaged in deep study.

"That is the beauty of it, my dear. The study, the drawing-room, and
in fact, every inch of 'Kingsnook' reminded one of the true spirit
of patriotism which ruled its master, who could look with pride back
to the sturdy and high-spirited ancestors who wore the uniform of
the British army. I am not the daughter nor grand-daughter of a
British officer, but I could look with pride upon the arms and
accoutrements adorning the study walls, and feel a wave of emotion
break over me and fire my soul with a pride that can only be
experienced by one of Britannia's children."

"Hear, hear," cried Josie Jordan, springing to her feet, and seizing
the speaker by the hand. "Helen, I am with you heart and soul.
Remember, we New Brunswickers are true loyalists. I am proud to
belong to that good old stock which gives our Province so much of
its prestige."

The bright romping girl had now changed into a whole-souled woman.
There was a dignity in her bearing worthy the mother of the Gracchi.

But an unlooked-for event put an unceremonious end to the
conversation and Helen Rushton took leave promising to tell them
much of the friends she made during her late visit.

The unlooked-for event was the arrival of Cousin Jennie Montgomery.

"I thought it best to surprise you, Madge!" cried the bright
sunny-faced maiden as she was folded in the arms of the outwitted
Marguerite.

"I suppose it is best to forgive you," cried the latter and putting
an arm around Cousin Jennie led her into the family parlor to
receive greetings from the rest of the family.



CHAPTER XI.

PHILLIP LAWSON HAS GAINED AN ALLY.


It is needless to say that Cousin Jennie was a welcome visitor at
"Sunnybank." Her bright presence shone everywhere from the
drawing-room to that particular spot dedicated to the sports of
the romping, noisy boys.

"We will have the jolly times," was the password of the latter;
"Cousin Jennie is the girl to help us fellers along."

And there was the usual stir and bustle necessary for the equipment
of Evelyn Verne's trousseau. The beauty had scarce time to think of
anything but the different styles of dresses, pretty bonnets,
delicate laces, and the most costly trifles, from the gorgeous fan
to the delicate tiny slippers.

"Dearest Eve, I should think you would be tired looking over such a
lot of things," exclaimed Cousin Jennie in her cheery tone, "really
my eyes would get sore in less than no time."

"What a speech, Cousin Jennie. Indeed, you are not so
unsophisticated as you confess to be," said the dark-eyed fiancee,
with a tinge of sarcasm accompanying the words.

"Well, fair cousin, much as I may lose caste by my confession, I
cannot help it,--you know the country folks never see grand
weddings, and I may say truthfully that I never expect to see so
much finery again."

"Then you ought to make good use of your eyes now," was the rather
ungracious reply.

As Evelyn stood amid the heap of boxes, arranging and rearranging
the delicate fabrics to her heart's content, she was not an
object of envy. She was flattering, herself that she was moving a
grand marriage and she never let her thoughts wander beyond that
well-defined boundary line. Hers was a nature seemingly devoid of
feeling and incapable of fine thought, and when she artfully feigned
such in the presence of her lover, it was only from a desire to make
him more completely her slave.

Jennie Montgomery was not many days at "Sunnybank" ere she saw a
glimpse of the world from a fashionable society standpoint.

"Oh, Madge, how can Eve marry that man? You surely do not like him
either?"

Jennie Montgomery had favorable opportunity of passing judgment upon
Montague Arnold the previous evening, and now she had directed her
appeal to her favorite cousin.

"I will be candid, Jennie. You know I never could admire, much less
respect, an unprincipled man--I mean a man who lives for his own
sordid pleasure--and my sister will have cause to repent the rash
step. Poor Evelyn; she has faults, but really she has many good
traits of character if her pride would not stand in the way."

Sweet, confiding Marguerite. She fain would shield her sister from
censure, and hoped for her a brighter future than she durst picture.

While at "Sunnybank" Jennie Montgomery saw much to like and dislike.
She met many kind-hearted women whose mission on earth was to do
good. With the keen, discriminating acuteness peculiar to this
maiden, she could sift the wheat from the chaff--she inherited this
gift from her far-sighted mother, and was happy in such possession.

But there was one who claimed due attention from Cousin Jennie.

Phillip Lawson of late had made several calls at the Verne mansion
and had received a more than hearty welcome from Mr. Verne.

The latter held young Lawson in high respect and took no pains to
conceal the fact--which was not lost upon the deliberating Mrs.
Verne; but she was cautious, knowing well that moderation was the
surest way to overcome opposition.

Within a short time the young barrister and Cousin Jennie became the
best of friends. They chatted together without interruption and to
the evident delight of Mrs. Verne seemed happy in each other's
company.

Jennie was of a quick, decided turn of mind and had a dash of
sentiment in her nature that might have been considered dangerous on
this occasion; but her whole-souled sense of honor would have saved
her from taking a step from the path of right.

"It is the best thing that ever happened, mamma," exclaimed Evelyn
Verne as she stood arrayed in an elegant velvet reception dress
which she was admiring before the large plate-mirror in her
dressing-room.

"I will forgive Jennie of all her rudeness and country ways if she
will only rid us of this importunate suitor," said Mrs. Verne,
giving the lengthy train a few more touches to add to its effect.

"He seems very much in love with her at present," replied Evelyn,
"and indeed they are just suited for each other. It is to be hoped
Mr. Lawson will find one more congenial to his rustic manner than
Madge."

"Of course, my dear, you don't think Jennie very rustic in her
ideas, but she has a certain odd way about her that is not the
highest mark of good breeding."

"Common sense, as her wise-headed mother terms it," remarked Evelyn,
with a scornful curl upon the otherwise pretty lips.

On the following evening Mr. Verne entered the small back parlor
adjoining the library. Mrs. Verne was seated at a daintily-carved
ebony work-table. A piece of silk lay upon her knee and many shades
of crewel were spread out before her.

"Busy, my dear?" queried the husband, greeting his wife in a
pleasant, quiet way.

"Really, Stephen [Note: hand-written, 'Richard' inked out], have you
found time to venture in here? Surely there must have been a mistake
somewhere," returned Mrs. Verne, in an affected and patronizing
manner, that from a quick-tempered man would have forced a hasty and
perhaps disagreeable speech.

But Mr. Verne sat down and commenced asking such stray questions as
came into his mind.

"Where have the girls gone to-night, Matilda?"

"Jennie and Marguerite, you mean?" queried Mrs. Verne, dexterously
weaving the bright silks into a pretty many-hued flower.

"It is the night of the concert, and they have accepted Mr. Lawson
as escort." A slight frown accompanies the speech.

"Indeed," said Mr. Verne, with a knowing look upon his face, then
turning abruptly towards his wife, added, "It seems to me that
Jennie has made an impression upon Mr. Lawson."

"I hope so," was the only reply.

Mr. Verne was bent upon forcing from his wife the true state of her
feelings towards his young favorite.

"Jennie will be a lucky girl if she can win such a prize," said he,
with considerable warmth of expression.

"He is, indeed, a very suitable husband for Jennie," replied Mrs.
Verne in icy chilling tones.

"He is a fit husband for any young lady in St. John, my dear. If he
were to look with favor upon Marguerite I should say she, sweet
child that she is, would be honored by the proposal of marriage from
such a man."

This was too much for Mrs. Verne. It aroused her temper and gave
opportunity for many harsh, bitter sayings. Then she found relief in
sarcasm.

"I am pleased to know that Mr. Lawson occupies such a proud place in
your esteem. No doubt you have been making a few encouraging
suggestions to this second Gladstone." Then changing her tones to a
higher key exclaimed, "Remember, I will not oppose you in this step,
but If will never sanction my child's encouragement of that
upsetting, half-starved lawyer."

"Please bear in mind, Matilda, that Mr. Lawson has never once spoken
to me upon the subject and it is very foolish to suppose that he
wishes to pay any attention to Marguerite otherwise than any young
gentleman might."

"You need not think to hoodwink me, I can see for myself, and it
seems too bad that when a mother expects her children to become well
settled in life that she is sure to be disappointed."

Mrs. Verne within a few moments entirely changed her course of
action. She was almost moved to tears and her manner seemed to say,
"Well, I suppose it is all for the best, come what will I am
prepared for it." But might we not quote the words of the Psalmist,
"The words of his mouth were sweeter than butter but war was in his
heart."

A clever thought had entered Mrs. Verne's mind. She is already armed
for the occasion hoping that she will come off victor.

"Well, my dear, we will not quarrel over this matter. It seems so
foolish, knowing it is only conceit on our part, for I believe that
Mr. Lawson is very much interested in Jennie Montgomery."

"Jennie has grown to be a fine girl," remarked Mr. Verne, in a
matter-of-fact way.

But the fact did not change his opinion as regards the preference
for Marguerite.

"It would perhaps be better that such would be the case," exclaimed
the parent, as he was once more closeted in his private apartments
looking ever the list of bills and documents awaiting his signature.

In the meantime Mrs. Verne had found her way into the drawing-room,
where she was soon after joined by Evelyn and her distinguished
betrothed. What a smile greeted the seemingly happy pair! In
languid, drawling tones the beauty was relating her adventures of
the previous afternoon--the calls made, and the making of a new
acquaintance.

"A gentleman from England, did you say, my dear? How delightful! I
shall be most happy to meet him."

"And so you shall, dear mamma, for he intends calling upon us very
soon."

Mr. Arnold seemed not to notice the radiant smile which illuminated
the countenance of his betrothed. Yet it gave him annoyance.

He bit his upper lip and bent closer over the new song that lay open
before the piano. "She will sing a different tune before long," was
his comment.

In truth Montague Arnold possessed not that feeling which can only
be cherished by true, unselfish love. He openly admired Evelyn Verne
for her beauty. His sole desire was to make her his, and bend her to
his will. His nature was too superficial to harbor jealousy, but his
stubborn vanity answered the purpose.

Ah, my peerless Evelyn! you may blush and smile at the well-timed
compliments of your admirers now, but your reign seems nearly at an
end!

"What a grand opportunity to give a party," exclaimed Mrs. Verne,
glancing at her daughter for approval.

"It would be just the thing, mamma," said Evelyn, in her nonchalant
and dreamy sort of air.

"You are already settled my dear and now I must try to do my duty
towards Marguerite. Really, dearest, you have no idea of the
anxiety I have about that girl. She is so much like her father that
I am at a loss how to act. You know that she secretly adores that
good-for-nothing lawyer and if it were only on her part I would
not care, but I am certain that he is head and ears in love with
her. Dear me! What a world of trouble we poor mothers have to
endure. Why do not our children see as we do?"

Poor Mrs. Verne! She seemed in much distress and assumed a woebegone
appearance.

Dear mamma--I think you ought to feel less uneasiness just now for I
verily believe that Cousin Jennie has designs upon our unfortunate
visitor."

"God grant that she may be successful," was the reply.

"You must encourage it in every way, dear mamma," said Evelyn, with
more earnestness than usual.

"Yes; I was just thinking of a plan which doubtless by clever
management, will succeed."

"Let me hear it, mamma," said Evelyn, raising her jewelled fingers,
cautiously.

Mrs. Verne glanced in the direction of the smoking-room, (whither
her future son-in-law had retired to enjoy the delightful weed,) and
finding that there was no fear of interruption for the next ten
minutes, cleverly sketched out her plan of action.

We will not give the outline of this cleverly devised speech, but
merely say that from this time Cousin Jennie was honored to her
heart's content, and was induced to remain much longer than she
intended.

Mr. Lawson was a frequent visitor, and to the great delight of Mrs.
Verne signified his intention of accepting the invitation of Mrs.
Montgomery to spend part of his summer vacation at "Gladswood."

"That will certainly put an end to all your fears, mamma," said
Evelyn, standing before the bronze mantel shelf admiring a pretty
and rare vase which had arrived from England as a wedding present
from an old school mate. And so matters went quietly along.

Mr. Verne kept his counsel and worked away amidst his folios, And
when his pet daughter shed a ray of sunshine over the matter-of-fact
apartment, he felt a tinge of sadness and fondly hoped that no
darkening clouds should burst over this idolized treasure.

"What a pity that such a being should ever know the meaning of the
word sorrow. In one way, my darling, I can save you, in another I
cannot."

Mr. Verne was almost convinced that Cousin Jennie had supplanted
Marguerite, and he well knew the proud nature of the latter.

"Perhaps it is all for the best. My pearl could never outweigh all
difficulties like the self-reliant Jennie." Such murmurs escaped the
lips of the fond parent as he glanced up and down the long row of
figures balancing his accounts with a rapidity only acquired by long
experience and constant practice. But what of Marguerite?

The girl was not unhappy. She lived on cheered by her happy, dreamy
nature, and as it was far above that allotted to ordinary mortals,
it sustained her and kept her mind above all sordid thoughts.

  "Time has laid his hand
   Upon my heart, gently, not smiting it,
   But as a harper lays his open palm
   Upon his harp to deaden its vibrations."



CHAPTER XII.

EVELYN'S BRIDAL MORN--FESTIVITIES AT "SUNNYBANK."


     .   .   .   "To the nuptial bower
  I led her blushing like the moon, all heaven,
  And happy constellations on that hour
  Shed their selectest influence, the earth
  Gave sign of gratulation, and each hill,
  Joyous the birds;"          --_Milton_

Such is the glowing description of the appearance of nature on the
morn when, in the presence of God and the host of white-robed
angels, was celebrated the nuptials of our common ancestors--
nuptials whence sprang the ills of our humanity.

Could the fair and beautiful Eve have foreseen the future that to
her seemed so promising, would she not have given up to despair and
remained aloof from sound of tempting voice?

But God's decree willed it otherwise, and the fair Eve, whose beauty
and submissive charms had power to influence her lord and master,
became the mother of mankind.

It would be unjust, uncharitable, to intrude upon the feelings of
the pair to participate in the present festive ceremony at
"Sunnybank."

Evelyn Verne emerges from her boudoir "a thing of beauty." Was ever
bride more enchanting, radiant or beautiful? Were ever bridal robes
more graceful? Perfect beauty, queenly beauty, dazzling beauty. It
is needless to expatiate upon the shimmering train, mist-like veil
or conventional orange blossoms. Reader, we will allow your
imagination full scope. Let it rest upon the radiant bride until the
eye becomes familiar with the minutest arrangement of the elegant
costume.

And then the bridesmaids! Five lovely maidens--St. John's fairest
daughters. Five bewitching forms with grace in all their movements,
claim our attention; and on all sides--"How pretty!" "How sweet!"
"How beautiful!"

Two sisters are exquisitely dressed in India muslin and antique
lace--one in pale-blue and the other in pink.

Marguerite Verne is radiant in pearl-colored satin and ruchings of
delicate pink azaleas.

Two younger girls are becomingly attired in cream lace and soft
filmy crepe of the same shade.

Each maiden carries a bewitching basket of flowers, and imparts to
the senses the most delightful effect. Indeed, it is seldom that
historic Trinity ever witnessed a grander pageant within its sacred
walls.

As the handsome and distinguished-looking bridegroom stood before
the altar awaiting the entrance of his bride, it were almost
sacrilege to utter a word deprecatory or otherwise.

Hubert Tracy supports his friend with an air of interest. He seems
more impatient than the other, and has a look of ill-concealed
uneasiness upon his slightly furrowed brow. He hears not the remarks
of pretty maidens or dignified matrons, else the slight frown would
have given place to a smile.

"Mr. Tracy is as handsome as the groom, mamma."

"Handsomer, my dear."

There was still a chance to ensnare the uncaged bird, and this fact
was alone in the mind of the anxious mamma. But the entrance of the
bridal party put an end to all talk concerning the sterner sex.

"Isn't she lovely?" "What a magnificent dress?" "She is so
composed." "Really, Marguerite is as pretty as the bride." "Oh,
indeed; fine feathers make fine birds." "If our girls could have all
the money they want and nothing to do I bet you they would look
better than any one of them." "Well, well. The world is ill
divided." "Isn't Miss ---- gorgeous in that lovely lace." "If we had
some of the money that has been spent upon them dresses we wouldn't
have to work any this summer."

Such was a brief outline of the speeches made upon this important
event, but they were lost upon the wedding party.

The guests comprised the wealth and beauty of St. John and as each
guest was ushered in one could not fail to exclaim: "St. John has
wealth, beauty and refinement."

The scene was an imposing one. While the choir sang,

  "The voice that breathed o'er Eden,"

a young man entered and took his place among the guests. He had been
detained but arrived in time to tender his congratulations to one
more important to him than the radiant bride.

Why does Hubert Tracy instinctively cast a glance towards the new
comer, and feel a slight shudder through his frame?

It matters not at present. Let him enjoy the benefit of his thoughts
while we turn to our old friend.

"Mr. Lawson is growing better looking every day," is our verdict, as
with genial warmth we grasp him by the hand.

An intelligent face can never remain long in obscurity, and when a
generous soul and kind, true heart are also accompanying graces
there is a beauty that is unfading. But it is only the higher side
of humanity which can discover this beauty. And perhaps on this
festive morn many of the worldly minded would fail to recognize this
superior style of beauty.

But proudly Phillip Lawson stands with the consciousness of having
tried to act well his part and live in obedience to the dictates of
his God.

It was only when the guests had assembled in the spacious drawing-
room at "Sunnybank" that our friend found opportunity to have a
short conversation with Marguerite, who with sunlit face took no
pains to conceal her delight. She chatted with Phillip Lawson with a
familiarity that led the calculating mother to think that she had no
further troubles from that source.

And Cousin Jennie's presence heightened the effect of this illusion.

Clad in draperies of soft nun's veiling Jennie Montgomery was, if
not pretty, quite interesting, and her bright, fresh face was
refreshing as the air of her native vales.

As in truth every wedding boasts of the time-honored
conventionalities, toasts and speeches, that of "Sunnybank" formed
no exception, and we will not weary you with the endless list of
compliments and amount-to-nothing-in-the-end talk which is current
at such times.

It was only when the hour for departure had arrived that a sense of
loneliness crept over Marguerite.

The elegant presents had been inspected, luncheon served, and the
bride, attired in a superb travelling costume, stood in the doorway
awaiting the carriage.

Montague Arnold wears all the necessary smiles that are expected of
him, and as he takes his place beside his bride a new responsibility
dawns upon him.

A large number of the party accompany the newly-wedded pair to the
Fairville Station, and Marguerite is assigned to Mr. Lawson and
Cousin Jennie.

The latter is cheerful and witty and strives, under cover of her
remarks, to divert her cousin from the sadness that is common to
such occasions.

Phillip Lawson sees with gratitude the girl's kindness and thanks
her in a way that is tenfold more valued than the counterfeit
everyday thanks passed around in common life. If the young barrister
could have seen the true state of Cousin Jennie's feelings towards
him he would have fallen on his knees and thanked God for such a
friend.

But Phillip Lawson was not a mind reader. He could not divine the
thoughts that were passing through Jennie Montgomery's ready and
active brain. But one thing he did know, that in this warm-hearted
girl he had a true friend.

When Marguerite returned to her home a vague, undefined feeling took
possession of her, and gladly would she have given herself up to
this feeling, and indulged in a good, old-fashioned, time-honored
cry.

She felt a sudden pang of remorse. She thought of the lost
opportunities when she might have had a stronger hold upon the
sympathies of her elder sister.

"Poor Eve," murmured the girl, "she was less to blame than I. We
have never had each other's confidence. I hope she will try to love
Montague as a woman should love her husband. How I should like to
ask mamma what she thinks; but what is the use. She will say it is
one of the best matches of the season, and no doubt she will end by
advising me as to her anxiety--on my behalf. Oh, dear! why cannot we
live in a state of blissful oblivion?"

The miniature bronzed clock on the mantel-shelf caused Marguerite to
look up.

"Four o'clock--dear me; I wish this afternoon was over. The house
seems as if a funeral had left it. Poor Evelyn."

"You naughty Madge, where are you?"

The speaker was Jennie Montgomery. She had been busy over the
arrangement of a number of bouquets for the dinner-table, and
assisting Mrs. Verne in many ways, and now made a hasty transit
towards Madge's favorite retreat--a pretty boudoir adjoining her
mamma's dressing-room.

"Just as auntie said, you old offender. A pretty time for day-dreams
when everybody is head over ears in business."

"I have not been here an hour, Jennie," said Madge, in an apologetic
manner, putting her arms caressingly around her cousin's waist.

The latter, though apparently preoccupied, could not fail to admire
this quaint and pretty nook--just such a spot as one could sit in
and dream their life away; a sort of lotus bed, where one inhaled
the beguiling odors, and cast all worldly cares to the shores left
behind.

And little wonder cousin Jennie gazed in admiration.

The walls were of the most delicate rose color, tinged with gold;
the carpet, a ground of white velvet pile bestrewed with delicate
roses; the furniture of delicate pink satin, with setting of
quaintly carved ebony.

But the "seat of state," as Jennie termed it, was the crowning
feature in this pretty retreat.

This seat of state was a raised dais, curtained with costly lace and
surmounted by a canopy of pretty workmanship. In this alcove was an
antique chair or fauteuil, and beside it a small cabinet, inlaid
with mother of pearl, while opposite stood an ebony writing desk,
strewed with fragments of exquisitely perfumed note paper.

It was evident that Marguerite had been penning down some stray
thoughts, for the pen stood in the inkstand, and traces of ink were
to be seen on her fingers.

This seat of state was just such a place as our sweet-faced
Marguerite looked to advantage, not as a queen upon her throne, but
as a type of the _spirituelles_--of the pure-minded maiden with
a slight shade of melancholy, giving interest to the soft, fair
face.

"You remind me of a madonna, my saint-like cousin," said Jennie,
placing her bright red cheek against the purely transparent and more
delicate one of her companion.

"What a contrast, Madge. Just look at your country cousin--a
blooming peony, and you, my most delicate blush rose. Ha! ha! ha!"

Cousin Jennie's laugh was one of the genuine ring--untrammelled by
affectation or repressed by pain or languor. She gave vent to her
feelings and exercised such influence upon Cousin Madge who now
joined in with a clear silvery peal of laughter, sweeter than the
most bewitching music. Nor was this "sweetness lost upon a desert
air."

Mr. Verne had been engaged in his apartments for some minutes. He
had entered unobserved in company with a friend and a few minutes
later a gentleman bearing some legal looking documents entered and
without ceremony was ushered in. It was while the latter was taking
leave that the well-known tones of Marguerite Verne's voice rang out
its silvery sweetness and caused the listener to start. But it
matters not who the latter was--suffice, a man

                        "of soul sincere,
  In action faithful, and in honour clear;
  Who broke no promise, served no private end,
  Who gained no title, and who lost no friend."

"Come with me Madge and see what I have done. Indeed, I am not going
to put my light under a bushel. Everyone must see my good works,"
exclaimed Jennie, drawing her arm through that of her cousin and
leading her out to the supper room where a sight worth seeing
presented itself.

The tables were arranged with an eye to the beautiful. Everything
that art and taste could suggest was there.

Epergnes costly and rare almost overpowered the senses with the
exhalations of their gorgeous exotics. It was a difficult matter to
determine from what source came the most assistance, the caterer or
the decorater, but all harmonized and all made up one perfect
adaptation.

"Jennie I am ashamed of myself," cried Marguerite, standing before
an exquisite combination of roses, heliotrope, lilies and smilax
which occupied a central place on the supper-table, "you can do
anything. How I envy you."

"Beware my little coz, I have read a little line somewhere
throughout the course of my extensive reading--

  'Praise undeserved is scandal in disguise.'

Now be governed accordingly and escape the fearful condemnation."

Marguerite smiled at the bright cheery girl and wondered if it were
possible that such a life might ever feel the weight of care. She
was thinking might it be possible that the girl would give her heart
to the whole-souled friend who always seemed brighter in her
presence.

Is it possible that jealousy finds a lurking place within so fair a
soul--that it may take root and grow and bloom and scatter the
noxious weeds peculiar to its growth?

Ah no, pure minded Marguerite. We accord thee a higher mission upon
earth. Thy nature is too exalted, too ethereal, too much of the
divine.

"I verily believe if I were not here to arouse you, Madge, that you
would be off in another dream in less than no time. I believe some
day in the not very far future if one happened to stray as far as
Boston that on looking over the _Herald_ the first notice that
will greet us is:--

"Madame Marguerite DeCoeur--Clarivoyant. Predicts past, present and
future. Much attention given to maidens seeking a husband. For
particulars see circular. Advice sent on receipt of postage stamps.
No. ---- Court Street, Boston, Mass."

"What's all the fun about, I'd like to know?" chimed in none other
than Master Fred. Verne with an eager curiosity common to his youth.

"Some time you may feel interested my young man, then you may
consult your big sister," was the reply of Cousin Jennie.

Four hours later Marguerite Verne was, as Cousin Jeanie said a
perfect picture--a being born to be admired and loved. Never had she
appeared more bewitching and as the clear-headed Jennie watched the
effect produced upon a pair of thoughtful grey eyes she felt a
sudden relief, murmuring "he will love but one 'my Marguerite.'"



CHAPTER XIII.

MARGUERITE AT "GLADSWOOD."


Reader, another glimpse of life at "Gladswood," and in this inviting
retreat imagine Marguerite. Great indeed, was the delight of Jennie
Montgomery, when, on a shining, bright May morn, she set forth from
"Sunnybank," accompanied by her favorite cousin.

"Take good care of my Madge, Jennie. You see she is of two-fold
value now. I cannot afford to lose my second daughter for a very
long time."

Mr. Verne had arrived at the railway station in time to see the
girls off, and his parting injunction to Jennie was playful, and
partook more of the nature of a brother than that of a parent.

In the companionship of sympathetic natures he was warmhearted,
affectionate and familiar, but in ordinary moods thoughtful and
reserved, and at times gloomy.

"Jennie, do you think it possible for any girl to love her father as
much as I do mine," asked Marguerite, as she leaned forward and
waved adieu, then throwing a kiss sat down beside her companion.

"What a question," cried Jennie. "I hope you don't imagine I care
one straw less for my dear old man than you do for yours, my
sweet, saucy coz. You really must be punished."

Cousin Jennie gave her companion a hearty shake and the subject
dropped.

Friends and acquaintances coming in at Torryburn claimed their
attention and when they arrived at Rothesay a greater reinforcement
came--a party of pic-nickers going to Hampton to feast upon the
beauties of that pretty rural town, and divide the remainder of the
day between the delicacies of the luncheon baskets and the more
delicious bits of gossip common to such gatherings.

"Miss Verne, I really did not expect to see you to-day!" cried a
sprightly miss, springing towards her at no gentle rate.

The girl was Lottie Lawson, her bright young face beaming with
excitement and happiness.

"I have been at Rothesay for a week, and just think, Miss Verne,
Phillip has not found time to come and see me."

Lottie's manner expressed that of a deeply-wronged maiden, and
Marguerite broke forth in a ripple of silvery laughter. Cousin
Jennie also joined, and the infection spread to the aggrieved
sister, whose child-like, musical tones were refreshing to all.

"How I should like to go as far as Sussex! but my visit ends
to-morrow, and Phillip will expect me," said Lottie, in a half
regretful tone.

"But you can come with Mr. Lawson during his vacation. He has
promised me to come to 'Gladswood' then."

"How funny that everything seems to come contrary! I have promised
to go to Woodstock."

Having reached the Hampton station Marguerite glanced out of the
window.

It was fortunate that Cousin Jennie was at that moment deeply
engaged in conversation with a lady in the next seat. A blush
mantled a maiden's cheek, then left her a shade paler than before.

"Brother Phillip--" In another instant the child was in her
brother's arms. "You bad brother, you did not come to see me, I was
just telling Miss Verne."

The young barrister then espied the latter and holding his sister by
the hand walked to the front of the platform.

"I must soon steal her away for a few days, Mr. Lawson. If business
did not interfere, I should feel like making a second raid and
secure another citizen."

Cousin Jennie spoke in a way that one seldom hears. Her artless,
heartfelt manner, was acceptable to our friend, and with true
gentlemanly grace, he bowed acknowledgment.

One of the picnic party--a vinegar-faced woman of forty-five, with
two eligibles at her side--declared to a very intimate friend that
she thought it very queer that Miss Verne should be following at Mr.
Lawson's heels all the time. "For the life of me I can't see why
girls will make themselves so ridiculous. Why, I often see her
cutting across the Square to overtake him."

"Oh, indeed; the girls now-a-days don't have much modesty. Just see
how she is laughing and talking now," exclaimed the confederate.

"Yes," retorted the first speaker "and that country-looking cousin
is just a cloak for them. She is watching a chance to catch some
others of the firm."

"Nice looking, did you say? Not a bit of it. For my part, I think
she is homely; her face is too round and red."

The last remark was made by a saucy-looking maiden of sixteen, who
owned to nothing being good that did not belong to herself.

Marguerite was utterly unconscious of the comments made upon herself
and companion.

In the minutes that Mr. Lawson remained they found much to say, and
there was an absence of coquetry that was gracious to see. The
thoughtful, yet bright, expression of Marguerite's eyes had power to
magnetize the most callous-hearted, and on this morn they were truly
dangerous. The graceful form, attired in pretty travelling costume,
could not fail to attract notice, and we see her repeatedly
acknowledge the recognitions of many of the sterner sex with her
quaint rare smile.

Just as the train was starting a voice exclaimed, "Miss Verne here
are some violets, I brought them purposely to match your eyes." The
fairy-like child placed the treasures in Marguerite's hand and
bounded away without further comment.

"She is a good child," said Phillip, waving adieu to his companion
and hurrying towards the carriage awaiting him.

Cousin Jennie now came forward demanding a share of the violets.

"Mr. Lawson thinks so much of her that I almost love him!" cried she
vehemently. "And she is so cute, I'm sure her brother cannot pay
such pretty compliments, Madge!"

Marguerite smiled and glanced far away over the distant hills,
crowned with trees and foliage already flaunting themselves in
holiday attire.

At that moment Phillip Lawson was thinking over a host of
compliments, which if repeated would have caused Marguerite Verne's
_spirituelle_ face to glow with maiden blushes.

But let us believe--

  "One truth is dear, whatever is, is right,"

and leave each to the free range of thought indulged in at the
self-same moment.

The lovely views of nature on this lonely morn soon claimed
Marguerite's attention.

"If the world were all so fair! Oh, how charming!" exclaimed the
latter rising from her seat and drinking deep of the glowing beauty
of hill and dale, beautifully undulating expanse of green carpeted
fields lying in the distance, the purple mountain tops glowing with
regal splendour and above all the ethereal dome of heavenly blue
with fleecy clouds in fantastic shapes and trooping along in gay and
festive march across the boundless field.

As the spire of Apohaqui Church gleamed in the distance Jennie
caught her companion by the arm exclaiming, "Madge, I cannot realize
that we are going to have your dear old self for three long weeks. I
hope papa will be at the station to meet us."

"If not what matter; I love to take good long walks."

"And so do I, my pretty coz; just wait until I trot you out over the
hills and far away," said Jennie, giving her companion a pinch on
the ear that caused it to assume a crimson dye. Sussex Vale, in all
its loveliness now came within sight.

"My own, my native land," cried Jennie, in high glee, as she eagerly
looked for the guard of honor that would be awaiting the arrival.

"I thought so. Look Madge."

The latter saw a group of merry children, a respectable-looking man,
whose good-natured face could belong to none other than Uncle
William Montgomery.

"Wasn't it lucky that you came on a Saturday, Cousin Marguerite; it
is just lovely in the fields now."

The bright-eyed urchin had claimed a seat beside the delighted
maiden with all the airs of a gallant, and jealously guarded all
access from the other unfortunates.

"Hal is not going to ride beside Cousin Marguerite to-morrow, for I
will get in first," whispered a younger lad to his confidante--
Jennie.

"Yes, Jimmie, you shall have fair play. Count on me as your
champion," whispered the former in conciliatory tones.

It is needless to speak of the beauty of Sussex Vale. Did ever
passenger travel along the Intercolonial "with soul so dead" as not
to be stirred with a sense of the beautiful as he neared this
delightful spot.

On this golden May morn Marguerite was indeed intoxicated with
delight. But she could not remain in silent admiration, for Master
Hal's attentions demanded recognition, and after chatting gaily for
half an hour the phaeton deposited its smiling load upon the terrace
at "Gladswood."

Truly "Gladswood," for upon every side arose some sight to make glad
the heart.

There stood the warm-hearted and energetic mistress, her genuine
soul stamped upon every lineament of the plain but inviting face.

"And you did make out to come, Marguerite!" exclaimed Mrs.
Montgomery giving the girl a warm, hearty kiss.

"Yes, we've got her now and the city folks can do without her until
we are ready."

At this ambiguous declaration the gallant Hal gave his head a
defiant toss and gathering up an array of sundry feminine
indispensibles made towards a side entrance where he deposited the
said articles.

"Cousin Marguerite come out and see the calves." We have two of the
loveliest little creatures with large eyes and such pretty white
spots! And you would think they had their foreheads banged!"

"Well, they must be very pretty, Jimmie," said Marguerite, laughing
heartily at the lad's description.

"Now children do let Cousin Marguerite have time to draw her breath
before you tease her to death about your stock," said Aunt Hester
with an amused look upon her face.

"Cousin Marguerite will excuse herself to the company," cried
Jennie, motioning Marguerite to follow her and the latter was soon
snugly ensconced in the cosiest and most inviting chamber that one
ever beheld.

It was not the spare room but a smaller one adjoining that of Cousin
Jennie.

The walls, contrary to fashion, were covered with a delicate paper,
a white ground sprigged with pale lavender, the paints were pure
white and the hangings and draperies were transparent in their
whiteness.

The neat furniture was also of a dazzling white relieved by stripes
of gold and pale lavender. The old fashioned window was formed in a
kind of recess which was filled with pots of the choicest flowers,
while just within reach stood a large lilac bush which on the least
provocation forced its branches into the room.

"Cousin Jennie, the grandeur of St. John cannot boast of a spot like
this. Can it be reality." cried Marguerite, pushing aside the lilac
branches and glancing out upon the enchanting landscape, which gave
such effect to the pretty room.

"It is so cool," broke from the girl in rapturous tones as she eyed
the bare floor with its coat of soft tinted lavender and deeper
shaded border. "You know it would be such a disgraceful thing to
have an uncarpeted floor in the city."

The last remark was in tones slightly ironical, and showed that
Marguerite Verne held views not in accordance with good form and
fearlessly regarded the consequence.

"Of course, mother would not have a carpeted chamber in the summer
season, and now, I really like it, but I fear that some of our
guests are very often surprised."

It being past the noon dinner-hour a luncheon was prepared and the
girls were interrupted by the indefatigable Hal knocking lustily on
the chamber door.

"Really, Jennie, I would rather sit here than eat," said Marguerite,
going to the mirror to re-arrange the mass of silken hair that
crowned her prettily shaped head.

"I am going to take Cousin Marguerite down to luncheon," cried a
voice from without.

This set both girls in a fit of laughter.

"You can't say that you did not raise a beau while in the Vale,"
cried Jennie, with a roguish twinkle of her eye.

"Indeed, Cousin Marguerite will hare no city chaps skulkin' 'round
while I am here," cried our twelve-year old with all the airs of a
dude of twenty.

Next in turn came a tramp around the proud old domain of
"Gladswood."

The stately elms seemed to extend a kindly welcome. All nature
seemed to say "welcome, to Gladswood." The birds seemed to have been
practising some of their latest melodies, for never did grander
strains issue from their sylvan orchestra.

How pleasantly the hours glided by in this charming abode. Truly it
hath been said--

  "How noiseless falls the foot of time
   That only treads on flowers."

"It is a fortnight to-day since I came to Gladswood," said
Marguerite, one bright, sunny afternoon, as she came up the broad
avenue, crowned with lovely wild flowers and such trophies as the
neighboring wood afforded.

Cousin Jennie had remained at home to assist in some extra duties,
and as she greeted the "spirit of the woods," as she playfully
dubbed Marguerite, she was worthy of notice.

A neatly fitting light colored print wrapper, spotless in its
purity; a linen collar, fastened by a silver horse shoe pin; a long,
plain, white muslin apron; a neat and substantial shoe, tied with
black ribbon, and high over all a crowning mass of purplish black
hair, in beautiful and striking contrast.

"You radiant country maid," cried Marguerite, "stand until I admire
you awhile."

Jennie was playfully turned around as an automaton in a shop window,
and at length breaking forth into a merry laugh, exclaimed, "You
saucy minx, please turn your wit upon some other object."

And thus amid fun, frolic and gaiety, Marguerite's visit came to an
end, and on the last eve to be spent at Gladswood, the girls are
seated in the old summer house enjoying an uninterrupted chat--that
blissful recreation peculiar to each and every maiden.

"Madge, I am almost sorry that you came," said Jennie, taking the
pretty white hand within her own. "Promise me that you will come
while Mr. Lawson is here," cried the girl in a vehement and almost
determined manner, while the large, brown eyes had a far-off look
that she tried hard to conceal.

"It is impossible, Jennie; besides, you must not mention the matter
again."

Marguerite's voice was clear and bird-like, but Jennie Montgomery
fancied she felt a slight tremor in the last words uttered, and with
that intuitive caution characteristic of her mother pressed the
subject no further, and the warm-hearted maiden felt keenly her
utter helplessness to render her companion any sympathy.

"Let us go in, Cousin Jennie," said Marguerite, in tender tones that
seemed as reproach to the high-minded girl, but she heeded not, and
playfully putting her arm around her companion's waist, led her into
the parlor, where the rest of the family were seated around awaiting
their appearance.

"Marguerite is too proud," murmured Jennie, as she sought her own
room on returning from seeing her fair cousin aboard the down
accommodation train which was to carry her homewards.

"Oh, my loving Marguerite, I know more than you think. I could
indeed tell you much that you little dream of, but why is it
thus?" and humming an old-fashioned air Jennie mechanically went
back to her household duties, as if all the world were sunshine
and brightness, and not a troubled thought had ever found a
resting-place within her mind.



CHAPTER XIV.

AT THE NORTHWEST.


The scene is changed; and we find ourselves transported beyond a
doubt to the far-famed city of Winnipeg--that emporium of wealth,
enterprise and industry which arose from its prairie surroundings as
by the magic of the enchanter's wand.

It is a bright, cheerful day in leafy June, and as one jogs
leisurely adown Main street, there are to be seen many happy smiling
faces.

But we are bent upon important business, and yield not to the more
leisurely inclined side of our nature. A large four-story building
is our destination. Its door posts, windows and available space are
decorated with the inevitable shingle that sooner or later ushers
the professional into the notice of his victims. And this building
was not alone in such style of decoration.

"Dear me, I believe every other man in this place is a lawyer! Sakes
alive--it's worse than being among a nest of hornets." Such was the
exclamation of an elderly lady who had recently arrived, and was out
taking a survey of the town.

And the old lady was not far astray, as Winnipeg has proportionately
more of the legal fraternity than any other city of the Dominion.

But to our subject. Having arrived at the end of a spacious corridor
we stop directly opposite a door bearing a placard--the letters are
of gilt upon a black ground:

N. H. SHARPLEY,
Attorney-at-Law,
Notary Public, etc.

A medium-sized man is seated at the desk busily engaged over a
lengthy looking document which he has just received from the young
copyist at the further end of the office.

"All right, Ned, you are at liberty for the next hour. Wait: You
can in the meantime run up for the ink," said Mr. Sharpley,
Attorney-at-Law, in an impatient tone, as though he wished to enjoy
the delightful communion of his own thoughts.

And while the scion of the law was wending his steps towards the
Hudson Bay Company store--that mammoth collection of goods from
every clime--the father, yea rather grandfather, of variety stores--
the disciple of Coke and Blackstone takes out of his breast pocket a
letter, which, judging from its crumpled state, must have claimed
the reader's attention more than once.

"Five thousand dollars--not bad, by Jove," muttered Mr. Sharpley, in
firm set tones, then began whistling the air accompanying the words:

  "Never kick a man when he's going down the hill."

Before going further let us take a survey at Nicholas Sharpley,
Esq., Attorney-at-Law, as he sits with his right arm resting on
the desk and his left supporting his very important head. He is
about thirty-five years of age, or perhaps less. His face is long
and his chin sharp, so that his name is no misnomer. A pair of
glittering, steel-like eyes, play a prominent part in the
expression of his face. A sinister smile plays hide-and-seek
around the thin, pale lips, while the movement betray a
flexibility of mind that is not nattering to the possessor.

There is about the man a striking combination of Uriah Heap and
Mr. Pecksniff; which, to an honest-minded man, rendered him
intolerable.

But Nicholas Sharpley had his followers, and thrived and shone
bright among the legal luminaries, and was always ready to do the
most unprincipled jobs to be met with.

A cunning leer passed over the greyish countenance as the dazzling
vision protruded itself before Mr. Sharpley. He drew his fingers
convulsively through the mass of bristling hair (which might be
designated by that color known as iron grey), and then suppressing
a yawn, muttered: "It's worth the trying. The fellow's good for
another five--that's a bonanza these devilish hard times."

The attorney then glanced over the contents of the prized letter
once more and evidently experienced a fresh sensation of delight.

"Tracy beats the devil--all for the sake of a girl too; bet my
life she's no better than the rest of them. Well, Mr. Tracy, my
humble client, you will pay a good price for the enchanting
dearie, who has caught you body and soul--fools--fools--men are
fools."

Poor Nicholas made the last assertion with much force of manner,
betraying his own feelings more than he would have dared to
acknowledge.

Dame Rumor had not been sparing in circulating the love affairs of
our attorney-at-law, and when she fearlessly came forward and
declared that a certain maiden with more pin money than beauty,
rejected his suit, there went forth from the four walls of the
bachelor's apartments an edict ruthlessly vowing vengeance upon
the whole sex, and comforting himself with the thought that he
loved a good horse better than anything in this fluctuating world.

"Ten thousand out of it; not a bad speck--and that in the eight
per cent--a thousand times better than the other side of the
bargain. Eh, Moll?" The latter part of the sentence was addressed
to the pretty animal that was reined up before the court-yard just
as the speaker rose to his feet.

It was four o'clock and Mr. Sharpley, taking the ribbons from the
boy with all the importance of his position, rode down Main street
towards the old fort, and afterwards through the different streets
lined with the most imposing and stately residence so characteristic
of the southern portion of the city.

Have patience, reader, while we give another thought to the
crumpled letter. Its pages make mention of one very dear to us.
Phillip Lawson is on the eve of being the dupe of two unprincipled
schemers.

Hubert Tracy knew well where to look for an accomplice. He
possessed money or the means of getting it, and he knew that for
the precious dust the high handed and unscrupulous soul of
Nicholas Sharpley was his only help.

"Ten thousand--not bad--and more to follow," were the words that
rose to Mr. Sharpley's lips and which he muttered incoherently as
he sat over a rubber of whist in a private apartment of the hotel
on the self-same evening, and as the many-sided character of the
attorney-at-law presented itself, we can see in bold relief a
placard bearing the mark "$10,000--not bad--and more to follow."

And there is another on the eve of happiness--a rival is to be set
aside--that other is Hubert Tracy, and the rival is Phillip
Lawson.

Within a few hours from the time that Mr. Sharpley had made up his
mind, there lay on the office desk a letter addressed:

W. CLARKE CONNOR, ESQ.,
Barrister,
Portage, La Prarie.

Barrister at Portage La Prarie. Yes, my friend; barristers at the
northermost corner of the earth.

Mr. Connor was a man of fifty years or upwards. He had formerly
practised in Winnipeg and in his office Nicholas Sharpley first
entered as a law student. Doubtless the quick-sighted lawyer saw in
the former much in common with his own sordid nature and liked
communion with kindred spirits, for Nicholas Sharpley rose high in
Mr. Connor's esteem, and when the latter started out for "greener
fields and pastures new," he was in full confidence of the affairs
of the younger lawyer.

Mr. Connor was a man whom few liked but very many dreaded. He had
the power of ingratiating himself in favor when he was least sought,
and his bland oily manner could scarcely be disconcerted.

"That old nuisance of a Connor is always poking his nose where he is
not wanted," was often heard from any outspoken Miss who had the
audacity to express her honest thoughts.

Mr. Connor always appeared to take a very great interest in church
affairs and from his indefatigable labor generally strove to be at
the head of all measures advanced in the interest of his own church.
Whether or no the congregation of the pretty Presbyterian Church on
the outskirts of the town appreciated such labor we will not say but
let the reader judge for himself.

But to the subject in question. Mr. Sharpley had no hesitation in
disclosing his mind on the present burning question.

A great inducement was to be held out to Mr. Lawson to enter into
partnership with the said Mr. Connor, Barrister. Nothing was to be
left undone in order to accomplish this scheme. The wide field,
large practice, wealth of the country; its future greatness was
pictured in a wonderfully clever manner.

Mr. Sharpley had been made acquainted with the affairs of the St.
John barrister in every particular.

Hubert Tracy had carefully noted the average salary of the latter
and found that it was only by dint of perseverance and up-hill work
that he could meet all his demands.

"The stronger the inducements the easier the job," was Tracy's
advice to the Winnipeg lawyer and it is needless to say that such
advice was carried out to the letter.

Portage La Prarie was indeed an enterprising little town and
possessing many of the characteristics of earlier settled districts.

On Main street are to be seen several fine buildings, fine stores
and fine residences, while Pacific and Belliveau hotels are quite
imposing.

And the education of the youth is not forgotten. On an elevated
position commanding a fine view of the town stands the new
schoolhouse, a pretty and imposing structure with surroundings in
keeping with such an institution.

And to this habitation the young lawyer was to be consigned. He
could not see his way out of the arrangement to which he had
partially given his consent. And when Mr. Sharpley's letters were
read and re-read, Phillip Lawson was in no enviable state of mind.
To do or not to do--to do was invariably the answer. Then there
arose another side to the question, which the young man hardly durst
think of.

"I may stay here until my hair is gray, and what matters it? I have
no reason to think that there ever will be any hope for me in that
respect."

Here Phillip fell to musing, and what his musings were, we may
divine from the foregoing speech. He considered Mr. Tracy in several
ways, and though he felt a little uneasiness in the matter
attributed it to the morbid state of his own mind.

"With a wider field I can do something," murmured the lawyer, as he
gathered up the loose sheets of paper lying around and threw them
into the waste basket.

But Phillip Lawson only saw one side of the proceeding--the
alluring, tempting side.

There was, indeed, a complication of schemes already concocted, and
each one was to follow in a well conceived and nicely arranged
order--"a wheel within a wheel," as Hubert Tracy coolly expressed
himself.

Perhaps no more diabolical scheme could have been more cleverly
planned to ruin the character of a fellow-being. But it is ever
thus, and shall be until the arch fiend, who first plotted in the
Amaranthine bowers of Eden, shall be cast out forever beyond the
reach of mortal ear.

Had Phillip Lawson now received the timely warning of one kind
friend--but there was none to warn. If he asked the advice of some
older members of the profession, the answer invariably was: "Try it,
my boy, if you think you will succeed." So the outcome of it all was
that the young man had made up his mind to try it, and, after a long
conversation with Hubert Tracy, resolved to inform Mr. Sharpley of
his intention at the earliest opportunity.

But Tracy was not so deeply enthusiastic as might be expected. He
seemed quite indifferent as to the result, and the change would have
puzzled as wise a head as Mr. Lawson's. Great was the surprise of
the latter when a few mornings earlier Mr. Tracy called to bid
good-bye. He was ready to take the train for Halifax, whence he was
to sail for England.

"I may never see you again, Lawson, so think of me as you will,"
cried the young man, with a sudden outburst of energy quite foreign
to his nature.

"You may not go to the North-West?"

"I certainly shall," answered the lawyer, determinedly.

"Well may God prosper you, old boy," cried Hubert Tracy with a
choking sensation in his throat, and rushing madly out Phillip
Lawson caught the peculiar glance in his eye which he many a time
called to mind years afterwards when he could interpret it with all
clearness--the look which seemed to plead for forgiveness--which
seemed to say, "I was desperate and the devil tempted me, I was
indeed brought up by a good, pious mother."

But it matters not that Hubert Tracy had been early trained in the
paths of right, he was possessed of a weak many-sided nature and
fell a prey to vice on the first opportunity.

Worse still, he appeared in good society and was looked upon alike
by maidens and mothers as a most desirable acquisition by way of
alliance, notwithstanding the fact that many had doubts concerning
the tone of morality set up as his standard.

Let us, however, earnestly hope that the pure heart of Marguerite
Verne shall never come in contact with such deadly poisonous
influence. May she ever remain the guileless, sweet creature that
she now is.



CHAPTER XV.

HELEN'S CELESTIAL SKETCHES.


A few mornings after Marguerite had arrived from "Gladswood" she was
sitting in the library writing a note to cousin Jennie.

A fresh young voice gaily greeted her and Helen Rushton stood before
her, a pretty picture in her morning costume of delicate cambric.

"Madge, darling, it seems a year since I saw your dear old face!"
cried Helen enthusiastically, at the same moment embracing the
former in truly genuine style.

Marguerite returned her friend's salutation, and putting her into an
old-fashioned arm-chair drew her own seat near and was ready for a
good chat.

"Madge, I have news for you."

"Good news or bad news?" queried Marguerite.

"Both," said Helen, "can you guess?"

"Spare my patience, Helen, I am no good at guessing."

"Then you give up?"

"I do, but you know full well that I have as much curiosity as any
of Eve's daughters."

"Indeed, Madge, I will not give you credit for any such thing. I do
think you have the least curiosity of any girl I ever met--you are
far above it, you precious darling."

"Be careful, Helen, or I shall begin to have more conceit than is
strictly in accordance with what is right," said Marguerite
earnestly. "But of the news, Helen? You see, I cannot conceal the
weakness after all you have said."

"Well, I shall not tease you any more. Last evening I received a
letter saying that papa was called away to England on business to be
absent for three months, and as mamma's health is delicate the
physicians thought the trip would be highly beneficial to her. Papa
and mamma both write and ask if I would like to remain here while
they are absent."

"Oh, I am so glad Helen--of course you will," cried Marguerite in
earnest pleading tones.

"Yes Madge, I will stay. My brothers are in Philadelphia and the
dear old home would seem very lonely."

Helen was about to say more but the unceremonious arrival of Josie
Jordan brought it to an abrupt end.

"Well, of all things! You girls here! I do think I am mean to come
when I wasn't sent for. Now Madge Verne, you are one of the meanest
girls I ever met."

"What have I been guilty of now, Josie?"

"Oh yes, to be home more than a week without sending Fred. or
Charlie to let me know. And this precious article," pointing to
Helen, "I thought in Halifax."

"Am sorry you are so sadly disappointed, Josie."

"Come now Miss Helen, I mean no offence and though it is nearly two
months since I saw you, remember I have not forgotten your promise."

"What about?" asked Helen.

"Celestial entertainment, my dear," ventured Madge.

"I thought myself to be free, for you know, my dear, that was some
time ago," said Helen, laughing.

"I'm ready with questions girls. Let us call the House to order. Is
the House ready for the question?" cried Josie, jumping to her feet
and brandishing a lignum vitae rule which she held in her hand.

"Well girls to be serious I don't know how to begin. Last evening I
had a note from Marion and she says they had a most delightful time
at the Encaenia and spoke of two young gentlemen who graduated with
the highest honors. I met them frequently and received much kindness
from them."

"Suppose you saw in them a 'Roland and an Oliver,'" cried Josie,
making a series of amusing grimaces.

"One was from Westmoreland and the other from Kings--the latter, I
am told, is the banner county for intelligence and ability."

"Now Helen Rushton, I am not going to stand that," exclaimed Josie,
her eyes sparkling with good natured repartee--"indeed the famous
county of St. John has been the birthplace of men who ranked high in
intellectual ability, proud attainments and held their own with the
professionals, legislators and statesmen of other countries."

"Well done Josie, you are true to the core," cried Helen in rapt
admiration at the defiant and fearless girl.

"What if York could have her say, I suppose _she_ claims to be
historic and grand too," remarked Marguerite with a sly glance
towards Helen.

"Aye, and that she is, too," said the latter, the bright color on
her cheek betokening the earnestness of her speech, "surely you will
give to York the credit of the 104th regiment. It was while there I
heard much of that glorious march which is unparalleled in history.
When the brave veterans set forth amid all the hardships of piercing
winter winds and boundless wastes of snow, the patriotic band, their
hearts kept warm by the patriotic fire within, toiling on without a
murmur, and singing snatches of song to sustain their drooping
spirits, at last reached the goal; and when called into action,
fought bravely and to the end, shedding greater lustre on the
Province of their birth than if each soldier had been raised to a
peerage."

"New Brunswick has many such true, loyal and brave sons, Helen, and
if the hour should come when our country demands them, not one will
shirk his duty."

Marguerite Verne was the speaker, and at that moment the
enthusiastic expression of her face showed that the girl would not
stand idly by if she could also administer to the sufferings of the
wounded and the dying.

"Well, I do believe we are the oddest crowd of girls in existence.
Just look where our conversation has landed us, and for goodness
sake look at Madge! One would suppose she was starting off with an
ambulance and all the other requisites necessary for a field nurse!
Ha! ha! ha!"

Josie's ringing laugh infected the others, and a general laugh
succeeded.

"This reminds me of an evening while in Fredericton," said Helen.
"Some company happened in, and after music we formed a party for
whist, and during the first half hour as the game progressed the
conversation was, strange to say, of a serious nature, when in an
instant a bright, happy girl sitting near me, by an unconscious
remark, completely changed the current of thought and convulsed the
entire party with fits of laughter."

"How I would have enjoyed it, Helen. If there be anything in this
world that I admire in people it is a propensity for laughing," said
Josie.

"Yes," added Marguerite, "if people laughed more heartily there
would be less doctor's bills to pay, and less palatial drugstores at
every corner."

"I believe so, too; but as I have many friends among the medical
faculty, would not like to take a shingle off by advising too
frequent hilarity," said Helen, laughing herself as contradiction to
the speech.

"Oh, I forgot, Helen; you said that you visited in a professional
gentleman's family. I hope your host would not be among the list to
be boycotted by our new method of prescription?"

We will not give Helen's answer. Suffice it to say the girls
received all the facts they wished to know, and felt more than ever
impressed with Helen's ideas of celestial hospitality.

Then followed a vivid description of several of the M.P.P.'s,
particularly the younger members of that august assemblage.

"The Crichton's of the House, did you say, Helen?" cried Josie,
abruptly.

"Yes, several are considered quite beaux; I believe many of the
young ladies have had designs upon them."

"And they are invulnerable?"

"Not exactly so, if rumor is correct; but as I never met the young
ladies in question, cannot tell you much about it. Yes, I was at
several parties, and had a good opportunity of seeing many people."

"Did you form as favorable opinions of the fair sex, there as those
of our set?"

"You absurd girl! what a question! Well, to be candid, I saw much to
approve and much to disapprove. One thing I did not like--that was
the young ladies invariably flirted with the married gentlemen, and
_vice versa_,--anything I despise in this world is a male
flirt."

Helen Rushton drew herself up proudly and looked the embodiment of
scorn and disgust.

"And I dare say little Helen was not behind in the list, for you
see, girls, she favors it among the fair beauties."

"Josie Jordan, I would not stoop so far beneath the dignity of woman
as to indulge in the most 'harmless flirtation,' and I pity the
woman who does so; but man, with all his high sense of honor, and in
possession of those manly graces which, when properly directed, are
a guiding-star to society, falls low indeed when he becomes what is
generally termed a flirt."

"Dear me," cried Josie, "and you really passed through the campaign
without making an attack upon any of the celestials?"

"I am not going to tell you, Josie. I only wish you to know that I
walked, danced, sang and was kindly entertained, and hope that I may
only have an opportunity of returning such kindness when any of
those acquaintances should happily tread on Haligonian classic
soil."

"I believe the poetic and aesthetic of the celestial have taken,
deep root already! Girls, just listen to the style of speech--tread
on classic soil!"

At this Marguerite smiled, yet she did not altogether endorse
Josie's repartee, and going to a cabinet took out a portfolio, which
she passed to Helen.

"Excuse me, Josie, I had almost forgotten to have these sketches
ready to send by the evening mail. I have promised two of them to
Cousin Jennie, and really am at a loss to decide--which do you like
best?"

Marguerite had now arranged several pretty sketches before her
companions, and to decide was no easy task.

"This is cute!" cried Josie, holding up the foremost of the group.

"The banks of Nith," remarked Helen, examining the pretty Scotch
landscape with the air of a connoiseur.

"Yes, I believe Jennie will like that," said Marguerite, taking the
proffered sketch.

"Like it? she will adore it! for if she be like me she will admire
anything that is Scotch--Scotch music--oh, girls! is there anything
on this earth more enchanting than a quaint old Scotch ballad?"

"Yes; and if Madge or yours very humbly ever gets to Halifax we may
expect a daily repast of oatmeal bannocks," turning towards Helen,
and was about to exercise some of her latent strength upon her, when
a reminder from Marguerite caused her to turn in dismay.

"Look what you have done!"

The sketches were lying upon the carpet. Instantly Josie was on her
knees; and as she placed each sketch upon the cabinet, described its
merits and demerits most heartily.

A pretty companion sketch--"Kilchurn Castle," rendered famous by
Wordsworth--was also selected, and when the package had been sealed
it passed into Josie's hands to be mailed on her way homeward.

Before the girls separated, Helen had given a glowing description of
a choral service in the Cathedral. She described the building itself
with the precision of an architect, not excepting the massive key
which was also in keeping with the style of architecture--the form
of a cross. And this grand and imposing Gothic structure, its solemn
service, inspiring music pealing along the corridors, echoing and
re-echoing through the vaulted arches, the solemn procession wending
slowly down from the altar and entering by the eastern door, the
prelates in the order of succession.

"It was a sight I shall never forget," said Helen, with a peculiar
earnestness. "I stood long in the grand tesselated vestibule and
took in the scene, and as I did so, I noticed a young gentleman who
seemed spell-bound; he was wrapped in deep enthusiasm, and on making
enquiries learned that the dreamer was an artist--a native artist--
in fact I could almost see the poetic glow overspreading each
feature of the expressive face."

"And thus it ended that Helen Rushton went to the Celestial and fell
in love with a Celestial artist. Amen, so let it be!"

"Josie Jordan, how irreverent!"

"Forgive me, Madge! I forget that I am in the presence of High
Church people. Now dear, I will be ever so humble."

Josie's contrition was of short duration. Within a few moments she
had to be reproved for interrupting Helen in the midst of a short
but clearly-defined picture of the University and the pretty groves
and avenues.

"I am determined to see those places later in the season."

"Then you will be repaid a thousand times, Helen," said Madge, a
smile resting upon the madonna-like face and throwing a halo around
her. "Last summer a number of friends were staying at the 'Barker,'
and in the meantime Cousin Jennie and I found ourselves in Uncle
William's care and registered at the 'Queen.' It was a lovely
morning in August, and as we were engaged to attend a garden party
on the self-same evening, we set off in the direction of Mr.
Bebbington's garden, to get some of his choice roses. I was somewhat
ahead of the party, and on turning the corner of Queen and Church
streets the scene was truly enchanting. I was pleased to be alone to
drink in the grandeur. I never could half describe that picture, it
was as one brief glimpse of some paradise that appears only in
dreamland. Not a sound marred the effect. All was calm and peaceful
indeed. Stretching out in graceful curves lay the river, looking
indeed like living silver; the soft, green sward and grassy bank;
then the Cathedral in its sombre Gothic dress, its leafy grove, its
hallowed associations. I looked further, and there stood the
outlying hills crowned with lovely foliage, and above all the soft,
fleecy clouds chasing each other through the blue sky. Soft and
beautiful as an Italian landscape! And the neat, suburban cottages
with artistically-arranged flower gardens in front. All was in
keeping with the scene.

  'No sound of busy life was heard.'

"As I stood in wrapt admiration, the Cathedral clock chimed out in
soft, silvery tones, summoning the worshipper to the morning matin.
Presently a figure emerges from the doorway of a neat residence and
crosses the street. It is the Lord Bishop, who for so many years has
crossed the same well-beaten path. The calm serenity of the place,
the hour and the solemnity of the scene was overpowering. I dared
not wait until the ethereal sweetness of the music would cease. I
took one lingering gaze and murmured: This is indeed Elysium--a step
nearer Heaven, and with feelings of reverential awe set forth on my
errand."

"It must indeed have been grand!" cried the listeners in concert.

"I can never forget it," said Marguerite, "and if you should ever
happen to see the same picture, you can imagine my emotions at the
time."

"It is growing late, and I must attend to business," said Josie,
taking up the package and setting off for the post office, while
Helen and Marguerite stood on the balcony throwing tokens of
affection, and as the coquettish form was lost in the distance,
Helen, turning towards her companion, said:

"If Josie could only remain as she is--a grown-up child!"



CHAPTER XVI.

MRS. ARNOLD AS A DIPLOMATIST.


Some evenings later Phillip Lawson found his way to "Sunnybank." He
was received by the stately mistress with more than usual courtesy.

"You have surely forgotten us of late, Mr. Lawson," exclaimed she,
in a playful and remonstrating style. "Are we to attribute your
delinquency to business or total neglect?"

"I must plead business to a certain extent, Mrs. Verne," said the
young man with a quaint dignified reserve.

"I understand that you intend spending your vacation at 'Gladswood'
Mr. Lawson. Really I envy you the prospect, for it is a truly
delightful spot."

Mrs. Verne had seated herself upon the sofa. She wore a rich black
moire robe which, with the addition of a magnificent display of
garnets with setting of gold, made an elaborate costume.

"I am sorry that circumstance has cancelled my engagement in that
direction. In fact I regret it deeply, I was anticipating too much
and was justly punished."

"It must be weighty business that would thus interfere, Mr. Lawson.
I am inclined to believe that you are already becoming too worldly."
Mrs. Verne had raised her jewelled fingers and rested them upon her
forehead.

Among the many weaknesses of Mrs. Verne was her vain and
uncontrollable desire to show off her beautifully shaped hands--fit
models for the sculptor's chisel--rivals for those of, the Venus of
Cnidos by Praxiteles.

The young barrister had kept his negotiations quiet and had no
intention to gratify the woman's curiosity.

Marguerite now entered accompanied by Louise Rutherford. The latter
had returned from Montreal and was making her first call at
"Sunnybank."

"Mr. Lawson has just been receiving a slight reproof, young ladies,
and I think you have arrived in time to assist me," said Mrs. Verne
glancing at Louise with a bewitching smile.

"I for one always think that when Mr. Lawson neglects any part of
his duties it is wholly from inability to perform them," said
Louise.

"Duties! That is the great trouble. It is to duty that we attribute
the true source of our complaint. To the stern goddess is sacrificed
every would-be pleasure."

"Forgive me Mrs. Verne, I believe that Mr. Lawson is right, and
forgetful of every presence Louise exclaimed:--

  "Stern daughter of the voice of God,
   O duty, if that name thou love,
   Who art a light to guide, a rod
   To check the erring, and reprove--
   Thou, who art victory and law,
   When empty terrors overawe;
   From vain temptations dost set free,
   And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity."

"Noble girl," thought the young man, "those words give me greater
strength."

Little did Marguerite Verne dream of the thoughts passing through
Mr. Lawson's mind as he bowed acknowledgment to her companion's
quotation.

The rising blush betrayed Louise Rutherford's embarrassment.

"Really Mr. Lawson, I beg to be excused. I have a habit of
committing to memory any subject that I admire and it sometimes
makes me seem very ridiculous when they unconsciously repeat
themselves."

"Not in this particular, I assure you, Miss Rutherford," said the
young man very earnestly, and as Marguerite fancied, with a hidden
meaning in their depths.

"I presume you are aware that Mr. Tracy has sailed for Europe?" said
Mrs. Verne, casting a meaning glance at Marguerite and watching the
effect upon Mr. Lawson.

"Yes; I was somewhat surprised when he called at the office to make
his adieu. It must surely have been an impromptu arrangement. Within
a fortnight he had been planning a different course," said Mr.
Lawson, quite cheerily.

"Sooner or later he will join Mr. and Mrs. Arnold," said Mrs. Verne,
referring to the newly wedded pair with proud delight.

"That will be very pleasant, indeed," said Mr. Lawson.

"Would you not like to be one of the party, Madge?" cried Louise,
with all the honest enthusiasm of her nature."

"I cannot say that I would," replied Marguerite.

"Oh! you are such an old-fashioned home body, Madge; I might know
your answer without asking the question. Suppose I might ask
_you_, Mr. Lawson," ventured Louise, persistent in getting a
favorable reply.

The young barrister smiled, and that smile was a conquest in itself.
It had powers to enable a mild and _spirituelle_ maiden to form
a resolve that was as unyielding as the marble hearthstone beside
her, while on the other hand it exercised a spirit in the
calculating matron that no human influence could brook.

Mr. Lawson had little thought of the agencies at work in those two
beings of widely different natures, and of which time alone will
interpret the result.

Marguerite Verne was sweetly irresistible. Her dress was simple--a
sweet simplicity in every look, motion and gesture. The pure white
draperies gave to the _spirituelle_ face the radiance of a
Madonna, and placed the maiden in striking contrast to the sparkling
bright and witty Louise--a striking and high-spirited brunette, with
a mind of no common order.

As Mr. Lawson sat in the Verne drawing-room with the being that he
idolized so near him, a deadly struggle was going on within. What a
conflict--what doubt, what irresolution!

It was worse than ever to give up all earthly hope, all earthly
happiness.

What prevented the young man--aye, every inch a man--from falling on
his knees and declaring his love, and begging a slight return for
such love?

Go ask the weird sisters upon whose spindles hang the threads of
every human life! Go ask the winds that echo the wails of human
hearts and often carry them along with a cruel insatiable spirit of
revenge, until all is hushed in the stillness of death.

Mrs. Verne dwelt with pride upon the adulation which her firstborn
was receiving in them other country. Mrs. Arnold's beauty had been
commented upon in the journals; her face was sought after in all the
fashionable resorts, and her queenly torso was the subject of every
artist.

"They are going to remain for some weeks in Paris, and I am really
afraid that Evelyn will be intoxicated with gaiety. She is such a
lover of society, the dear girl, and Montague is just as fond of
gaiety as Eve. What a happy couple they must be--they write such
sweetly interesting letters. Really, Mr. Lawson, it would do one
good to read them."

The subjects of those remarks were in the meantime enjoying life at
a hotel in Picadilly. They had seen the sights of the great French
metropolis, but were they really enjoying life as it should be. Was
there real true happiness existing between these two hearts--"this
happy couple?"

This is a question to be answered in due time, and which will be
"sweetly interesting" to know.

When Mr. Lawson rose to take leave he was uncomfortably conscious of
the patronage bestowed upon him. Mrs. Verne was radiant in smiles
and gave her hand to the departing guest with the grace of a
dowager.

"You must not stay away so long again, Mr. Lawson. Remember if you
do, I shall be very angry, and, perhaps, not so easily conciliated."

It did, indeed, seem a coincidence that at the very moment that
Louise Rutherford had asked Marguerite if she did not wish to be one
of the tourists that a thought flashed through Mrs. Vernes' head
with the rapidity of lightning, and in less time than is conceivable
was formed into high and daring resolve.

And more surprising still is the fact that some hours previous the
same bent of thought was being cherished by the wily Mrs. Montague
Arnold.

The latter was determined that through her influence upon her
worldly mother that Marguerite should wed Hubert Tracy, heir to Sir
Peter Tracy's grand estates.

"Mamma will accomplish her end if any person on earth can do it, and
Marguerite is too good, too conscientious, to disobey."

Was this peerless beauty so fond of Hubert Tracy? Did she entertain,
such high opinion of this fashionable young man? No! He had riches--
that was all in all. That was one reason; and another, it would be
the means of outwitting Philip Lawson, whom she hated with a bitter
hate.

When Evelyn Verne gave her hand to Montague Arnold she never gave
her heart.

Her marriage was in the eyes of the world a good match, and that was
all that was necessary. Mr. Arnold was a man of the world, addicted
to many habits that were not what the better side of life would
approve of; but his wife had her failings, likewise, and she availed
herself of the license thus given her--the liberties of fashionable
folly. Mrs. Arnold being a beauty, was courted by the gay and
fashionable world. She flirted without restraint, and took delight
in making conquests among the degenerated nobility, and lost no
opportunity of displaying her charms. Excitement was as necessary to
Mrs. Arnold's nature as the air is necessary for the support of
animal life. She was buoyed up by excitement and kept alive by
excitement. Life was one giddy round of delights--the dejeuner fete,
opera, and ball-room.

It matters not to know whether this woman of fashion ever gave one
thought to the real object of life--whether she even dreamed that
God gave man an intellect, with mind-power capable of being brought
nearer that state from which he fell ere he lost the impress of the
Divine; but it matters us to know that she strove to bring every one
whom she met on a level with her own superficial mind.

"Madge must marry Hubert Tracy; once with us she is perfectly safe.
Papa will be beyond reach, and his counsel or suggestions will not
come in time."

Such was the comment of Mrs. Arnold as she stood opposite the
elegant plate mirror which reflected a life-size portrait of
herself.

"I am beautiful, and it is but in justice to myself that 'I improve
the shining hour.' Oh, Montague Arnold, you were a lucky man to wed
such a prize," murmured the woman, clasping her hands over her head
in an attitude often seen upon the stage when the actress is
exhibiting much feeling: then looking into the depths of the
brilliant dark eyes, exclaimed, "What jewels can compare with thee,
my priceless orbs?"

The elegant evening costume was a marvel in itself--creamy lace,
shining satin, and flowing draperies, while bright jewels gleamed
from the dusky hair and burned upon the heaving bosom.

"Evelyn, my queen, you are ready for the conquest!" cried the
beauty, taking one long gaze, and then picking up the jewelled fan
that fell at her feet went forth at the summons of the waiting-maid
to receive a visitor in the drawing-room.

"The Hon. Cecil Featherstone! The man is my slave! Why is he here at
such an early hour?--it is too bad! What shall I do with poor
Huntington, my latest flame? Oh, dear! I wish the men were not so
incorrigible! Featherstone--it ought to be Featherhead, for I
believe his head is sadly light of brains. Featherhead--Hon. Cecil
Featherhead!--ha! ha! ha!"

Had not the grand drawing-room been at the other end of the spacious
hall the latter part of Mrs. Arnold's speech would have been heard
by the subject of these remarks. Be it said, to that gentleman's
ease of mind, that he was in the meantime admiring some choice
paintings and counting the minutes hours until the fair hostess
should arrive.

"This is an unexpected pleasure, Mr. Featherstone! I was really
wondering what I should do with myself until the opera--and how kind
of you, Mr. Featherstone, to think of me! I believe that I am one
of the most favored of mortals!"

Having made this speech, Mrs. Arnold cast upon Mr. Featherstone one
of her duly-organized smiles--a smile that was magnetic, and that
set the heart of the luckless visitor into a flutter beyond recall.

"My dear Mrs. Arnold, you certainly do me the highest honor that can
be bestowed upon a human being"--Mr. Featherstone felt considerable
difficulty in getting off this speech, but another glance at the
fair creature and he continued--"for you are certainly born to be
worshipped at a distance--a something too lovely to be approached by
anything this side of paradise!"

"Oh, Mr. Featherstone, spare me this flattery--I cannot really
receive such, and from you-one endowed with such intellectual power,
such ability and such genius! The thought is really dreadful!"

Mrs. Arnold's assumed earnestness of manner was indeed flattery of
the seventh degree to the superficial Mr. Featherstone. He was
transported to empyrean air. Mrs. Arnold had insight and her opinion
was something to cherish. Poor Mr. Featherstone!

The conversation that followed was extravagant to the highest
degree, and he went away that evening in a state of great
disquietude, wondering why it was that it had not been his good
fortune to meet his ideal of female loveliness ere she was wedded to
another.

"That miserable bore! I am late in writing mamma's letter. I really
wonder what she would say if she saw me flirting with the Hon. Cecil
Featherstone! but I must be cautious, for I want the simple-minded
Madge to share my blissful fate."

A servant in livery entered in answer to the summons of the
bell-rope.

"Has James gone for the evening mail, Watkins?" demanded Mrs. Arnold
in an imperious tone.

"He has not gone yet, my lady."

"Go and see how long before he does."

"Yes, my lady," said the servant, bowing very low, and with an air
that seemed to say he was in the presence of royalty. The said
Watkins had seen service in distinguished families, and the habit,
though a ridiculous one, had become second nature, he invariably
addressing every woman of fashion as "my lady."

Mrs. Arnold was pleased to learn that she could put her plan into
execution without a moment's delay, and being a rapid writer she
wrote and sealed a formidable-looking document, which she styled
"mamma's letter," and within a few minutes saw it safe in the
mail-bag awaiting the arrival of James, the trustworthy footman.

What the letter contained and its effects upon the different members
of her family will follow in another chapter.



CHAPTER XVII.

MR. SPRIGGINS MAKES A DISCOVERY.


It is indeed, a warm July day--a fine hay day--and the people of
Mill Crossing are taking advantage of the occasion. They are turned
out _en masse_. Mowing machines are called into active service,
and the new inventions--reapers, binders, etc.--are also at hand.
The farmers of this favored locality are pretty well to do, and
conspicuous among the number is our friend Mr. Spriggins.

The Spriggins farm was well cultivated. A good frame house and
commodious barns speak of the industry of the Sprigginses.

There was also a heavy stock upon the farm, and that fact alone is
sufficient proof of its thrift.

On the day in question we see the healthy, beaming face of Mr. Mose
Spriggins in the doorway. He had been very busy in the earlier part
of the morning, but now had a few moments to talk to the young man
who had been hired to help in haying time.

The homestead, like many others that we see in country districts,
had a snug room on each side of the narrow entrance--the one on the
northeast side being fitted up for the best room, and used only on
state occasions, such as weddings, quarterly meetings, etc. Into
this apartment Moses peeped with an air of great caution, as much as
to say "I must be keerful the old lady don't spy me in here with my
big boots on."

But important business was on hand. The mantel piece must be
reached! The old clock that didn't go stood there, and within, its
sheltering recess was a valuable document.

"Well, I never; if this eer room isn't as dark as Egypt," exclaimed
Moses, going to the end window and hitching up the blind in that
remarkable style peculiar only to the sterner sex.

The light sun streamed in and brought out each article of furniture
in bold relief.

There was a brand new set of cane-seat chairs that the old lady had
bought at Stewart & White's the last time she had been to town. A
woollen carpet from A. O. Skinner's had lately taken the place of
the home-made one which now graced the spare bedroom up stairs. A
motto, "God Bless our Home," hung over the mantel, and a few chromos
relieved the walls. A large, beautifully bound Bible lay on the
table, and beside it a photograph album, which had been subscribed
for a few days previous by the persistent, efforts of an
indefatigable canvasser. A white tidy covered the back of the
rocking-chair, and another the back of the lounge. An old-fashioned
pitcher filled with sweet-brier and some of the old-time flowers,
such as bachelors' buttons, London pride, blue rocket and
jump-up-johnnie stood on a kind of sideboard and showed a desire
to make the room attractive and inviting.

In this apartment the young man stood for about five minutes' time,
then exclaimed:

"By golly! I must soon git; for if the old lady catches me I'm a
goner."

Suiting the action to the words Moses made his exit, carrying in his
hand a sheet of paper which, on gaining the door, he folded and
thrust into his bosom.

"Where's N'h'miar gone, Bill?"

"He's up to Widder Smith's; Ned was here a few minnits ago and said
he was a' wantin', so off he sot; but he said to tell you he would
be back less 'n ten minnits."

"The 'tarnal fool, to be a runnin' arter the Smithses every time
they want him," exclaimed Mr. Spriggins, seating himself under a
tree to take the afternoon lunch which now had arrived.

"Why didn't mother send a bushel more?" exclaimed Moses, eyeing the
basket of bread and butter, cakes and pie--real raspberry pie.

A slice of bread was followed by a mug of milk. Then Moses took a
glance at the document, probably as a means of facilitating
digestion.

"Great scott! what's this? Well, if I'm not one of the darnd'st
fools on this side the crossin'. Well, if that ar' lawyer won't
think me a nice 'un, and like as not a thief."

Mr. Spriggins had been at Mr. Lawson's office some days' before, and
bore away some advice, written down, that he "might not forgit."

The barrister had received several visits from his client, and each
time had treated the said client with considerable favor.

Mr. Lawson somewhat admired the honest-hearted young farmer, and
really was interested in him, and felt a sympathy which was
unaccountable.

"One good turn deserves another, Mr. Lawson, and I may throw
something your way some day."

There really did appear to be little value in this remark; but
strange to say, in it were bound up Phillip Lawson's hopes,
happiness, yes, all that was dearer than life. The sturdy son of
toil proved his truest friend, and to the hour of his death he will
ever cherish the thought wholly sacred.

But of Mr. Spriggins' surprise!

He had opened the letter to read the advice on trespass (which
sooner or later is the experience of every farmer), when to his
dismay another letter dropped out. It bore the address of the
Winnipeg solicitor, and evidently was some private correspondence of
his respected counsellor, Mr. Lawson.

"Ginger, I must git to town soon, for it must be something
important! Darned if I know whether to read it or not. P'raps I'd
better not. I couldn't go and tell a lie and say I didn't when I
did. It would make a feller feel kinder streaked when he thought
on't."

Mr. Spriggins reasoned thus, and the upshot of it was that next
morning, after he had got a man to take his place, set off to town,
a distance of twenty-two miles.

A pallor overspread the countenance of Mr. Lawson as he glanced at
the missive which Mr. Spriggins placed in his hand, with the
impression that it was business.

"Yes, it is indeed business, Mr. Spriggins, and I am your debtor for
life," said the young man, extending his hand to the obliging Moses
and giving him that hearty shake which often betokens lasting
gratitude.

"Call on me at any time, Mr. Spriggins; you will be in again soon, I
presume."

"After hayin', sir."

"Very well," and bowing the visitor out the lawyer once more took up
the letter and read it slowly through.

"Heavens!" exclaimed the young man, excitedly. "I have it in my
power to bring the scoundrel to justice. Thank God, I have not
fallen a victim to the villains. And to think of the simple way by
which it is brought about. Oh! Heavenly Father! to Thee I am truly
grateful." The speaker raised his eyes upwards, and a light shone
upon the broad manly brow--a light that seemed really to descend
from Heaven.

Phillip Lawson buried his face in his hands and remained thus for
some time.

During these moments what a rush of thought passed through the busy
brain. What a change from the last fortnight, when he had made up
his mind to leave for a distant town in the far West.

"And yet, if it had not been for the second part of the offence, I
could have borne it; aye, it might have been better for me in the
end. But the dreadful pit into which I was inevitably to fall--God
forgive them. Hubert Tracy--we may never meet again, and if we do,
you shall never know. And all engaged in it were of the profession.
No wonder lawyers are denounced in the holy writ--"

"My dear old brother looks as if he had lost every friend in the
world."

Looking up Phillip Lawson saw a _petite_ figure in white
cambric frock standing at his elbow. The child put her arms around
her brother's neck and looked steadily into the honest grey eyes, so
full of thought and so striking in their depths.

"Phillip, you are troubled, and you are hiding it from me. Dearest
and best of brothers, can I not help you? I am not the little child
you think me. Oh! Phillip; I can be a woman when I am needed," and
the large bright eyes filled with tears.

"What nonsense, Puss. What an imaginary little creature you are. Now
please drive away such silly thoughts, and when Brother Phillip is
in need of sympathy he will ask none other than his little sunbeam."

The young man then kissed back the sunny smiles and listened to the
playful prattle which fell from the bright lips. Then he thought of
the lines--

  "The tear down childhood's cheek that flows
   Is like the dew-drop on the rose;
   When next the summer breeze comes by
   And waves the bush, the flower is dry."

"What have you there, Puss?" said Phillip, glancing at the volumes
in the child's hand.

"I can scarcely tell you, but I believe they are good, for Miss
Lewis recommended them."

Mr. Lawson took up one of the volumes. It was Miss Alcott's first
work--"Moods."

"It is very good, indeed, but I fear you are too young to appreciate
it. There is an analysis of character that requires much mind
knowledge, and that is why so many young girls consider it dry. If
I were to explain it fully you would not understand; but you can
read the volume through, and we will have a little chat when you
have finished. I hope my little sister will not be impulsive and
moody as the heroine."

Phillip then patted the golden curls, and as he stooped to kiss the
pretty pouting lips he saw a fair vision of a lovely maiden, no
longer a child on her brother's knee, but a sweet and amiable
maiden, with a subdued and thoughtful look that showed she had
struck a sympathetic chord in a fond brother's breast and given him
the devotion of her first and purest love.

Then the dreamer vainly tried to draw another picture; but all was
chaos. No bright form could be exorcised from the conglomerate heap.
All was disorder--a ruined mound of buried hopes!--a blackness dark
as the Stygian shore.

"Is it not nice that we have a Public Library now!" cried the child
in gleeful tone, so sadly in contrast to her brother's thoughts.

"It is, indeed, Puss. I wonder how you young ladies got along before
we had one?"

"We did not get along at all, Brother Phillip. Annie Morrison says
that it was not living, only staying."

"I suppose Miss Annie must be right," said the lawyer, turning to
the other volume.

"'Tales of a Grandfather.' In this you have something nice. I read
it when quite a little boy, and I can remember much at it yet."

"It is Scott's, and anything of his I love," said Lottie, with a
womanly air.

"It is historical, and such books are great helps to study. You must
read some of it this evening, child. I am somewhat, tired, and will
be both amused and entertained. You can sit in the old chair and I
will play lazybones upon the lounge."

Hand in hand went the pair in the direction of the cottage.

When Phillip Lawson sought the asylum of his own room he knelt down,
and offered up a fervent prayer at the Throne of Mercy.

A sense of relief followed, and a light seemed to break forth amidst
the gloom--a light that lightened the dark path of life and
portended to usher in a new and happier day. The last look of Hubert
Tracy received interpretation, and as Phillip Lawson thought over
and over of the deep abyss into which he was so nearly to be
plunged, tried hard to feel kindly towards the perpetrator of the
double-sided crime.

"God forgive him! Let him pass into other hands than mine," was the
young man's decision as he turned over the pages of the cruel
letter. The young barrister was magnanimous in the highest degree.
It was then the grandeur of his character shone in its purity and
nobility, and as his sister came in with a tiny note she fancied
that she heard him repeat in earnest tones the words "never--
never--never!"

"This is for you, Brother Phillip; Fred. Verne left it this
afternoon."

A smile followed the reading of the note. It was from Cousin Jennie.
The young lady had arrived in the city and was ready to convey him
to "Gladswood," free of charge.

"Lottie, can you get Edith to stay with you this evening? I shall be
out."

The girl, with all the impetuosity of her nature, set off on the
gleeful message, while Phillip Lawson mapped out a letter that was
energetic and full of decision.

"There will be no more solicitation from that quarter. Heavens! it
was a great temptation. Well, if I had exposed them, what good could
come of it."

A few hours later Mr. Lawson was announced at Sunnybank. Cousin
Jennie was in her gayest mood.

"I am ready for you. Mr. Lawson; what is your verdict?" cried she,
giving him a hearty shake of the hand.

"That the law must take its course," said Mr. Verne, who at that
moment entered and gave the young man a warm greeting.

"You have been sadly delinquent of late, Mr. Lawson. I ask the women
folks, and the answer invariably is in the negative. Now, if it were
not that this little country girl is here I would carry you off to
my den."

"Yes, Uncle Verne, it is just such an ungallant thing as you would
do," cried Jennie, giving her head a saucy toss.

"Madge, you are just in time to support our claims."

"Pray enlighten me, dearest," said Marguerite, who, hat in hand,
stood on the threshold.

A second look caused a slight blush to mantle upon her cheek, and
she came forward with a sweet smile and gave her hand to the welcome
guest.

"Mamma has a severe headache and wishes me to convey her regrets to
you, Mr. Lawson," said Marguerite, on her return to the drawing-room
a few minutes later.

After the young girl made the above speech her eyes met those of her
father, and she knew that he felt annoyed. Did he think she had done
wrong? She could not refuse to deliver her mother's message. And
that headache! It was a purely conventional one--arranged for
effect. Mr. Verne had occasion to say some hasty words to his wife.
He could not sanction the steps she had taken in direct opposition
to his advice, and he must speak his mind. He was a man of few
words, but those words were to the point.

Thus while the rest of the family enjoyed themselves in the
drawing-room Mrs. Verne gracefully reclined upon die gorgeous
crimson lounge in her own room, and was as deeply interested in the
heroine of the novel which she was reading as a maiden of eighteen.

"Half-past nine. How the time flies over a good book. It is better
that I don't go down. I would be almost tempted to break the news.
Enjoy yourself while you may, my verdant friend. Money will triumph
over brains, especially when you have none of the former to back
them up."

Mrs. Verne picked up the ivory-backed hand glass within her reach,
and looking into its depths, exclaimed, "Mrs. Verne, of St. John,
New Brunswick--not exactly beautiful, but a pretty and fascinating
woman."

As Mrs. Verne laid aside the glass and once more took up the
novel--but not to read--her thoughts were bent upon conquest of an
important nature. Accomplish her end she must at the risk of all
that was near to her, and all that ought to be dear to her.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE VERNES GO TO EUROPE.


"I declare nothing need astonish one nowadays," exclaimed Mrs.
Montgomery, throwing aside the _Daily Telegraph_ announcing
that Mrs. and Miss Verne had sailed for Europe the day before.

"There's something that will explain matters," said Mr. Montgomery
coming in with a letter with Marguerite's initials on the corner of
the envelope.

Jennie tore open the missive and hastily scanned the contents.

"They went quite unexpectedly, mother," said the girl, with a slight
quiver on the healthful lips, "else Madge would have come to bid
good-bye."

Jennie Montgomery loved her sweet-faced cousin as she loved no other
companion.

Madge was to her all that was good and lovely, and the thought of
separation sent a strange thrill of emotion through her frame--a
sense of loneliness that she had never known before.

Mrs. Montgomery felt for her child, and adroitly referred to the
fine opportunity of having a correspondent from the mother country,
and the pleasure it would give Marguerite to see the sights and
curiosities and grandeur which she would hourly meet in her
intercourse with the world.

But this shrewd, penetrative woman took another view of the matter
when alone in the presence of her husband some hours afterwards.

"Matilda needn't try to stuff such nonsense down our throats. She
cannot make me believe but that she concocted the whole thing
herself."

Mrs. Montgomery was evidently aroused. Her sallow face assumed a
deeper color, and her eyes spoke out the honest convictions of her
thoughts.

"_Poor Evelyn_, indeed! She is just as much sick as I am at
present. How they can trump up such things and make people believe
them is more than I can see."

Mrs. Montgomery plied her knitting needles with almost lightning
rapidity, and the exercise seemed to give relief to the angry
feeling that accompanied it.

"You need not say a word in Matilda's defence, William. I pity
Stephen Verne from the bottom of my heart. It is always such men
that become martyrs to the whims and tyrannical grievances of their
wives."

Mrs. Montgomery stooped to pickup the ball of yarn that had rolled
under her chair, and her husband went towards the door as if to
depart.

"I tell you what it is, William, Matilda Verne is my own sister, but
it grieves me to think so. Talk of pride or dignity. She has none.
Pride--yes, a nice kind of pride that lives on lies and falsities of
every description! But she cannot deceive me, thank Heaven; I can
read her through and through."

"In some instances, my dear, your boasted accomplishment is not
always of the most agreeable kind," said Mr. Montgomery, in his
bland, easy manner.

"Never mind that part of it. I can bear it, since it gives the
preciousness of seeing people as they are, their shallowness and
their shams. Is there anything genuine in this every-day world?
Really, each day I see something to disgust me."

The speaker's face gave proof to her speech as she fixed upon her
husband a long, earnest look.

"Poor Marguerite it should be instead of Poor Evelyn. It is the pure
minded girl that is to be pitied. Marguerite is the victim of this
freak. Matilda will drag that child to the four corners of the earth
to accomplish her ends."

"My dear, you are severe. Have some moderation," said Mr.
Montgomery, in a conciliating tone.

"Moderation!" retorted the self-reliant wife--"moderation towards a
weak-minded, unscrupulous fortune-hunter and match-maker--a despiser
of those genuine graces which adorn the female mind and make woman
what she should be. Don't talk thus to me, William, else I shall
feel that you would abet Matilda in what she has undertaken, and
what she may evidently accomplish."

"God forbid," said Mr. Montgomery, with more vehemence than was
peculiar to him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Marguerite had only one week's notice to prepare for the projected
trip. She did not receive the summons with joy and eagerness, nor
did she evince any pleasure in the preparations.

"I shall have some beautiful costumes ordered for you when we arrive
in London, my dear," said the fashionable mother on inspecting her
daughter's wardrobe and commenting upon the array of materials
before her.

"Really, mamma, if I am to be bored by _modistes_ from morn
till eve I should prefer to remain at home. I know it is wrong to
say so, but I almost wish that Eve was well enough to get along
without us."

"I believe you, my dear," said Mrs. Verne, stroking her daughter's
head, "but then you know it would be cruel to have the poor girl
break her heart, moping away her time and begging to see a dear face
from home."

A wicked thought entered Marguerite's head. She wondered if it were
possible that her haughty sister ever possessed a true, honest
heart? and was there in her marriage with Montague Arnold the least
approach to sympathy? Did the proud heart ever beat with one
responsive throb for him whom she had chosen?

As the maiden reasoned thus there was a slight pang which told her
she had a heart, but that it must be silent--it must not be allowed
to assert itself, but masked in conventionalities she must act the
part of the worldly wise.

Mr. Verne was piqued to the highest degree when his wife spoke of
her intended tour.

"Why not put it off until next year and I may be able to accompany
you. Arnold can take care of Eve without out assistance."

The sound sense arguments were of no avail.

"We must certainly go, and I should think it would be much
pleasanter for us to think that we left home without any
disagreeable feelings."

"I suppose it is the best way to look at it," said Mr. Verne,
quitting the room and going to his office, where in a few moments he
was found by his beloved Marguerite.

"So my sunbeam is going to leave me," said the father, taking the
girl in his arms and kissing the soft oval cheeks until a faint
flush overspread them and the lips grew tremulous.

"I do not want to go papa, but mamma says that she cannot think of
going alone," said Marguerite, as she nestled closer in her father's
embrace and wound her arms lovingly around his neck.

"Perhaps the invigorating sea breeze may coax a few brighter roses,"
said the fond father, emphasizing his words by patting Marguerite's
cheek with childlike playfulness.

"Never mind, you dear old papa, they cannot force me to stay very
long away from you. Remember, if you hear of my doing desperate
deeds it will be through madness to be once more beside you in this
dear old spot."

"Ah, you silly little Madge, you will soon find other attractions
than your prosy dull old father, but you must reserve one little
spot for him."

Mr. Verne glanced at his pure and lovely child, and inwardly invoked
God's blessing, and prayed that she might pass through the many
temptations and dazzling allurements of fashionable follies
unharmed.

"Darling papa, believe me, I care so little for society, so called,
that I would rather spend a few hours each day among my dear home
friends than be lionized in the highest courts in Europe."

"I believe you, my child," said Mr. Verne, placing his hand
reverentially upon Marguerite's head, "but it appears that it is a
duty to go."

"Yes, papa, but I am inclined to be rebellious, and ask you to pray
for me. Sometimes I feel that I am not doing my duty in any way. It
seems so hard to know the way before us."

Marguerite's face had a perplexed look and a shade of gloomy
foreboding succeeded.

"Put your trust in God, my child--never forget Him. He will be your
best Friend, when earthly friends will fail you."

Mr. Verne was what is generally known as a "good-living man." He
made no parade of his profession, but he tried to live at peace with
his God and do right to each and every man. His religion was not put
on with his Sunday coat. He wore it into the counting-room as well,
and carried it to Chubb's Corner, aye to every business resort and
doled it out on every opportunity by acts of charity and Christian
benevolence.

But of the departure.

Mrs. Verne was in ecstacies of delight. Everything pleased her. She
superintended the manifold duties as if her whole soul was in the
work, and beaming with smiles, flitted from one room to another with
the playfulness of a child just setting out on its holiday season.

"I hope we shall have no scenes from Madge," said she to one of the
friends who graced the drawing-room the day previous to their
departure, "for anything I hate is a crowd gathered around with
faces all gotten up for a funeral."

Here Mrs. Verne shrugged her shoulders and assumed a look of
abhorrence.

Marguerite was leaving the conservatory as she overheard the remark,
and she pressed more firmly the sprays of heliotrope and azalea
which she held in her hand.

"Heaven help me," murmured the girl; "am I always expected to go
through life with my feelings put away far out of sight-far away--

  "Deeply buried from human eyes?"

Looking upwards she remained motionless as the marble statue of
Psyche that adorned the recess in which she stood. Then the lips
moved and the words "Put your trust in God," came forth soft and
bewitching as the strain of an aeolian harp, and leaving, as it
were, a holy hushed spell, subduing the soul of her who uttered it.

It was well for Marguerite that she had those precious moments of
communion, and at no other time in her life did she need them more.
They were the only beacon lights to guide her through the
treacherous shoals into which she must inevitably steer her course.

It was with such feelings that the girl stood at the station and
shook each friend by the hand without the least tremor in her voice
or tear in her eye.

It did, indeed, cost a struggle to keep the pallid lips firm as
Marguerite returned her father's parting embrace; but strength had
been given her.

And the manly form beside him, Phillip Lawson, stood unmoved and
erect, his face quiet in expression and not the least betrayal of
the passion within his breast.

Mrs. Verne, with the tactics of a shrewd diplomatist, had arranged
matters to enable her to perform her part without opposition.

Marguerite had to devote much time to the pressing duties devolving
upon her, and when Mr. Lawson called at "Sunnybank" it always
happened that she was out making her farewell calls.

It was the last evening that Marguerite should gladden her home,
perhaps, for many months to come. The bronze clock on the mantel
shelf struck the hour of eight. The drawing-room was unoccupied, and
Marguerite stealthily glided towards the piano and sat down.

Her beautifully-moulded hands rivalled the ivory keys before her,
and would have tempted the genius of a Phidias or a Lysippus.

Soon a low, soft symphony sounded through the room a music that had
power to move the soul and hold it entranced.

"Marguerite, darling, do not play like that. I cannot hear such
music without feeling sad, and sadness must not intrude to-night."

"Perhaps this will suit you, papa," and instantly Marguerite
commenced to sing the old-time ballad, "The Campbells are Coming,"
in the liveliest manner possible, looking indeed the picture of
happiness.

"How is it that my little girl cannot attend to the social demands
that press so lightly upon her?" said Mr. Verne, as the last notes
of the song were ended.

"I do not understand you, papa dear."

"Mr. Lawson called and I heard one of the maids tell him that you
were not at home."

"It is strange that mamma did not send up to my room. I have not
been out since ten o'clock this morning, when I went up to
Manchester's to buy the pretty little work-basket that I wish to
carry to Eve."

"A work-basket for Eve!" cried Mr. Verne, gaily. "What extravagant
taste my little Madge has!"

Marguerite smiled and then looked thoughtful. She tried hard not to
see her worldly mother's feelings. Yet she could not be blinded to
the fact.

"It is ungenerous of mamma to deny me," she thought. But her
mother's shallowness was sacred to her innermost thoughts. Much as
she desired Mr. Lawson's visit, she offered not a word of complaint,
but smilingly said, "Papa, when you see Mr. Lawson please apologize
for me and explain matters to your satisfaction as I know that you
feel sensitive about it."

"It will all come right soon--perhaps before you leave."

As Marguerite Verne waved her last adieu to her fond parent and
received his tender recognition, a second glance convinced her that
all was made right, as Phillip Lawson raised his hat and stood with
uncovered head until the train was out of sight.

"Crying at last, Madge; I thought you could not bear up much
longer," said Mrs. Verne, as she entered the seat with a new novel
ready to devour, and smiling and bowing to several passengers whom
she recognized. But the remarks were lost upon Marguerite. She
remained in deep abstraction for some moments, and then regaining
consciousness, threw aside the pretty wrap, murmuring--"Papa says it
will all come right."



CHAPTER XIX.

GRATITUDE.


We will now direct attention to our much esteemed friend, Phillip
Lawson, who has much to be grateful for. He hourly thanks his Maker
for the great mercies received at His hands.

"Let them fall into other hands than mine. It would do no good. Poor
wretches, I envy them not their ill-gotten gains. There is a day of
reckoning, and may God cleanse their guilty souls." Such were the
lawyer's remarks as he sat alone in his office with a heavy load off
his mind.

He had just returned from witnessing Marguerite Verne's departure,
and he felt calm and content.

Mr. Verne had accompanied the young man to his door and left with
many kind invitations for "Sunnybank."

How comforting was his kind, cheery voice and his parting: "Now
don't fail to drop in often, for I shall be very lonely, indeed."

Mr. Verne is a thorough gentleman and true friend, thought Phillip,
as he turned over the last half-hour's conversation. "How thoughtful
to explain Marguerite's failure to see me last evening." Then a
slight frown settled upon the broad brow, showing that some
disagreeable subject had in turn claimed the young lawyer's
thoughts.

"Perhaps she may be better than I give her credit for. Are there any
of us perfect?" Then musing for a few minutes he arose, the poet's
words recurring to his mind--

  "The best of what we do, and are,
   Just God, forgive."

On opening the daily mail the color rose upon Phillip Lawson's
cheek, and his fingers became tremulous as he seized a letter
showing the unsteady chirography of Hubert Tracy.

"I will never open it," he thought, and instantly the missive lay a
mass of shreds in the waste basket. "'Out of evil good may come.'
Hubert Tracy has taught me to be more grateful to the God who has
done so much for me."

"Keep your temper, old boy," murmured the young man afresh as his
eyes ran over the next letter--one dated from Winnipeg.

"To the flames I consign thee", said he, lighting a match and
holding the provoking article over it until it was consumed.

"Halloo! I smell brimstone here. Suppose you're practising so it
won't be so hard on you when the time comes?" cried a genial, hearty
voice from the open door.

"Glad to see you, Mr. Montgomery," said the occupant, offering a
seat to his visitor.

"How are all my friends at 'Gladswood'?"

"Have hardly time to tell you, for I'm in a hurry. I promised to
meet several of the sports at Breeze's Corner. We are going out to
Moosepath: but this will explain everything, and more too," cried
Mr. Montgomery, producing a neat-looking note, and passing it to the
young lawyer, making a hasty exit to meet said horsemen friends from
Sussex and the city.

"I shall go to-morrow and stay over Sunday, at any rate," said Mr.
Lawson to himself when he had gleaned the contents Of Jennie
Montgomery's note.

It was just what was necessary to the lawyer's existence. A day or
two at "Gladswood" was panacea for almost any ill that flesh was
heir to.

The self-reliant matron, with her healthful, stimulating advice, and
the bright, merry-hearted girl with her vigorous and true resolve,
were indeed incentives of good, and none could fully realize the
fact more than the young lawyer. He always went away from
"Gladswood" with a high and lofty purpose and firm resolve to tread
the path of duty.

And this occasion proved no exception.

Jennie Montgomery's happy face would put to shame the most
inveterate grumbler. Her buoyant spirits were infectious. Her
ringing, merry laugh was cheering to the highest degree.

The sprightly maiden in her neat muslin frock and broad hat trimmed
with freshly-plucked marguerites was a fit model of the fair
daughters of Kings County, and it was no wonder that many of the
villagers predicted that "the young gentleman from the city must
surely be payin' attention to Miss Montgomery."

Three days at "Gladswood"! What a world of thought it conveys--
three days to revel among the beautiful glades and linger among the
bewitching groves of graceful elm and tasselled pine! to hear the
lowing of herds and the music of the winged songsters blended in one
exquisite harmony.

Yes, devotees of the world, who build upon the style of your
neighbor's dress or equipage and trifle away God's precious moments
in silly show and vain trumpery, go to the retreats at "Gladswood,"
follow Phillip Lawson in his daily rounds, and if you will not, like
him, feel your heart expand and seek aspirations of a higher mould--
a something which gives comfort each breath you draw, each word you
utter and each thought you frame!--then, we will make bold to say,
your heart is irrevocably sealed beyond recall.

Cousin Jennie was shrewd and witty. She knew how to act that she
might afford the least embarrassment to her guest.

For hours her guest was allowed to roam at his own desire, and felt
not the pressure of conventional restriction.

Mr. Lawson was gallant in the true sense of the word, but he was no
empty-headed fop, paying that amount of overdue attention to the
fair, which, at times, becomes a bore and a pest.

It had been arranged that a small pic-nic party should relieve the
quiet of the third day, and a jolly pic-nic it was. There was mirth
enough to last for a month. Jennie's companions had mustered _en
masse_. Groups of merry, rollicking youths and bright-eyed
maidens lent a charm to the scene, and reminded one of the revels
held in classic groves, when each sylvan deity, at a blast of her
silver horn, made the wood resound with the voices of her myriads of
subjects.

As the sayings and doings of all pic-nics are much in common it
would be wasting time to describe the one at "Gladswood."

  "All went merry as a marriage bell."

The sun was sinking in the west in all its glory--a blaze of living
gold. The purple tops of the distant hills were enchanting and stood
as huge sentinels of the scene below.

"Come here, Mr. Lawson," cried Jennie Montgomery, in breathless
suspense. "Is not that grand? This is a sight I have been wishing
for. Just look."

Mr. Lawson was truly a lover of nature, and his profound admiration
excited her.

"I never stand here without thinking of Marguerite," exclaimed the
girl, vehemently; "she would sit upon that bowlder and gaze around
until I would think that she had lost her senses. I believe if any
being has a soul for the beautiful it is cousin Marguerite."

The young man looked down from his proud eminence and encountered
the fixed gaze of his companion. That look gave anxiety. A painful
silence was the only reply, and both gazed upon the panorama before
them for fully five minutes before the girl spoke.

"I can never forgive my cousin Evelyn for forcing Madge away. We all
knew it was against her wishes that she went."

How comforting those words to Phillip Lawson's ear.

"Mr. Lawson," said Jennie, coming close to his side, "I am not going
to hide my feelings any longer. You are a very dear friend and must
have my confidence."

The young man's looks were proof of the girl's words. His face
reflected thought sublime as Aeschylus, beautiful as Sophocles, and
pathetic as Euripides!

"Thank you, Jennie," was the reply, and the eyes had a far-off look
that went to the girl's heart.

"You are going to-morrow, Mr. Lawson, and I may not have another
such opportunity."

It was then that the beauty of the maiden's nature shone
resplendently, showering scintillations of pure native goodness that
forever sparkled as sunshine and cheered the rugged path of Phillip
Lawson's life!

A crimson flush momentarily suffused Jennie Montgomery's face, then
she became pale and agitated.

"Mr. Lawson!" she exclaimed, "I love my cousin dearly, and I grieve
for her more than I can tell you."

The young man's face blanched under the effect of the girl's tones,
but he made no reply.

"Forgive me if I weary you, but I seem to feel in you a friend--one
in whom I find sympathy."

"Trust me fully, Jennie, I will try to be all that you think me."

Phillip Lawson's earnest tones went straight to the girl's heart,
and tremulously she continued:

"Mr. Lawson, you have not been a frequent visitor at my Uncle
Verne's without seeing much to condemn in my worldly aunt. I know it
is wrong to judge, but I cannot help it. I cannot help judging the
motive of Aunt Verne--indeed I cannot."

The listener had fixed his eyes upon the huge trunk of a venerable
oak tree covered with a luxuriant growth of velvety moss.

"I really cannot feel kindly towards cousin Evelyn, for she has
ruled with an iron rod, and she is so wily that Auntie thinks her
every action something perfect. Now, Mr. Lawson," said Jennie, with
greater earnestness, "Mrs. Arnold is determined that Marguerite
shall marry that unprincipled Mr. Tracy, and the thought makes me
sick. I loathe him--he is almost as contemptible as Mr. Montague
Arnold."

Mr. Lawson knew not what to say. A struggle was going on within.
Would he reveal the plot to the truthful girl and ask her
assistance--or would he let the secret die with himself and perhaps
see the lovely Marguerite become a victim to the merciless trio?

The girl knew not what was passing in her companion's, mind, and the
latter felt sadly puzzled. He durst not meet the gaze of the
thoughtful brown eyes, but found words to reply:

"You put me in a strange place, Jennie; but I know it is from a
sense of right that you speak."

"Mr. Lawson, I appeal to your manhood to help me. I want to save
Marguerite, and _you_ alone can do it."

The girl's manner was vehement. Tears glistened in her eyes, and the
pathetic nature of the appeal visibly affected Phillip Lawson.

He stood for a moment as if in a study. Had the girl in any way
found out the plot? Could it be possible? What did she mean that he
alone could save her?

"Mr. Lawson, I can be a friend when charity demands one; trust me;
perhaps I am too bold--but it is my regard for both that forces me.
Mr. Lawson, you love Marguerite Verne. It is in your power to make
her happy, and oh!" cried the girl, seizing the hard, strong hand,
"Mr. Lawson, promise me that you will do it."

The young lawyer held the girl's hand tenderly, yea, as that of a
dear sister, then raised it to his lips--

"God bless you, Jennie," cried he, fervently, "I only wish it was in
my power to do so; but Marguerite Verne is as far above me as the
heavens above the earth."

"Believe me, Mr. Lawson, you are the only one towards whom my cousin
gives a thought."

"She treats me always as a friend, and at times more as a brother,"
said the young man abstractedly.

"Phillip Lawson, keep this secret as you value your soul," cried
Jennie, clutching the lawyer by the wrist in an excited manner, and
lowering her voice to a whisper--

"Marguerite loves you as she will never love another. It is
sacrilege to watch every movement and steal the secret from every
breath she drew, but love prompted me and I did it, and I feel that
I am not doing wrong in revealing it."

"God grant it, my true-hearted girl--yet I dare not trust myself to
think of it. I love Marguerite Verne as no other man living can, yet
she may never know it. She may one day be wedded to another, and
live a life as far from mine as it is possible for circumstances to
make it. Yet her image will always be sacred to my memory, and no
other woman will ever hold a place in my heart. The sprig of cedar
which one day fell unobserved from her corsage, I shall treasure up
as a priceless relic. Yes, truly, I live for thee, my peerless
Marguerite."

"If Cousin Marguerite could only hear those words," thought Jennie.
"Why have the winged winds no mercy? why do they not hurl down the
great sounding board which separates these two beings and transmit
those valued sounds to the ear, where they shall fall as music from
the spheres!"

"Jennie, as a friend, I ask you to solemnly promise that what has
passed between us shall never be unearthed again--let it be buried
deep in the grave of lost hopes."

"I shall make no such promise, Phillip Lawson; but I promise that I
will never place you in an unworthy position. I will never utter one
sentence that will compromise your dignity as a gentleman. Will you
trust me?"

"I will trust you in anything, my noble girl," said Phillip in tones
of deep reverence.

"You know that my Uncle Verne's interest in you is real--he is your
friend," said Jennie, trying hard to brighten the path of her
friend's existence.

"Thank God for it," said the lawyer. "Indeed I have much to be
grateful for. Jennie, some day I may tell you more: at present my
lips are sealed."

"Your sense of honor is too high for the nineteenth century, Mr.
Lawson; yet I would not have you otherwise."

The girl was mechanically picking to pieces the white petals of
bright-eyed marguerites and strewing the ground beside her.

"You ruthless vandal! look at your work, Miss Montgomery," exclaimed
a bright romping miss of fifteen, bursting upon them without regard
to ceremony and pointing to the ground where lay the scattered
petals.

"But it is romantic, you know; one always reads of some beautiful
maiden picking roses to pieces to hide the state of her feelings."

"Thank you, Miss Laura, for your well-timed allusion, for Miss
Montgomery and I have been romancing indeed," said Mr. Lawson,
bowing to the young miss with an air of deferential homage.

"It will all come right yet," said Jennie, pressing her friend's
hand with the tenderness of a sister.

The young man smiled sadly, murmuring: "'It will all come out
right.' How those words seem to mock me--'it will all come out
right.'"



CHAPTER XX.

SCENES AT THE GREAT METROPOLIS.


Mrs. Montague Arnold sat, or rather reclined, in her handsome
breakfast-room. She was awaiting the morning mail, which had been
somewhat delayed. A bitter smile played around the daintily curved
lips.

"The saucy little minx; I shall teach her better," murmured the
beauty in angry tones and gesture.

Montague Arnold paid no attention to the half-spoken words. He
looked the veriest picture of dissipation. Late hours, cards, and
wine were stamped upon his hitherto handsome face and left an
impress at times anything but flattering.

In private, few courtesies were interchanged between the husband and
wife. It would, indeed, be wrong to say that Montague Arnold on his
marriage morn did not give to his fascinating bride more adulation
than he ever bestowed upon any other woman, and had the haughty
beauty given more attention to her husband he might have become a
different man; had she shown a true heart, a truthful, honest
nature, and a mind adorned with what is lofty and elevating, what a
different life those two might have led? But Evelyn Verne was
without heart, and we might almost say without soul. She lived for
society alone; it was her first duty, and worshipped more zealously
than the goddess Hestia that occupied the first altar in a Grecian
home.

Mrs. Arnold was indeed an object of admiration in her superb morning
toilet of fawn-colored Lyons silk, with faultless draperies and
priceless lace. It was the beauty's ruling passion that no toilet
was ever neglected; hours were spent in putting the finishing
touches to some becoming style that brought out the wearer's charms
and set the hearts of her admirers in a flutter.

As the soft white hand was raised to suppress a yawn a solitaire
diamond caught the ray of sunshine that found its way into the
elegant mansion, and reflected a radiance that was enchanting.

Mr. Arnold could not fail to be impressed with the sight. He at last
found words to say, "What is your programme today, Eve?"

"I have promised to visit the studio with mamma and Madge. Lord
Melrose is to be there, and I am very anxious to see his portrait."

"Don't flatter yourself that you are his latest charm, my dear,"
said her husband in sarcastic tones.

"You are altogether _de trop_, my amiable husband," said Mrs.
Arnold with an angry gleam in the brilliant and wondrous dark eyes.

"I was sorry to hear that the young and beautiful Mrs. Maitland has
possessed the fellow body and soul. What an honor to the young
'squire to have his wife thus lionized in the London drawing-room."

Mr. Arnold could be tantalizing without mercy, and when he had fully
aroused his wife's anger he was happy.

Mrs. Arnold had received much flattering attention from Lord
Melrose, and it wounded her pride when she heard that another had
supplanted her. The remarks that had escaped her lips referred to
the merciless young matron; and well Montague Arnold was aware of
the fact, but he winced not, and only plunged deeper into the
whirlpool of dissipation, which sooner or later would be his
inevitable destruction.

"I was really tired waiting," exclaimed Mrs. Arnold, when Mrs. Verne
and Marguerite entered the reception room an hour later. "I had
begun to think that some prince in disguise had eloped with little
sobersides."

"I don't think we will be quite so fortunate, Eve," said Mrs. Verne,
with a significant look which annoyed Marguerite more than she was
willing to acknowledge.

"Really, Madge, you are growing prettier every day since you came on
English soil. Mamma, just look at her color; is it not bewitching? I
tell you, Madge, you will turn half the heads in Piccadilly."

Marguerite saw with disgust the real object of her mamma's visit,
and she was determined to show her dislike in a manner that would
save herself from being the object of ridicule.

"Eve, I wish you to understand that I am not interested in love
affairs. Please choose your conversation from other sources, and I
will be much obliged--indeed I shall be forever grateful."

The girl's manner was serious, and her pleading looks would have
given pleasure to a sensible woman, but they were scorned by Mrs.
Arnold and her mother.

Mrs. Verne had been expatiating upon the immense fortune which had
fallen to Hubert Tracy, and took the greatest of pains to impress
Marguerite with a sense of his importance.

"How I wish that I had waited, mamma. You know that Mr. Tracy was
devoted to me in every way, but you preferred Mr. Arnold."

"I preferred his riches, my dear, and you know Montague is so
handsome and distinguished looking. Why, he really was the
handsomest man in the ball-room last evening."

"But Hubert's fortune is tenfold that of Montague's. His income is
immense."

"Well, all we can do is to consign him to Madge," said Mrs. Arnold,
with an affected air of deep regret. "It is certain that he clings
to the family, and his great wealth would be an heirloom for many
generations."

"Quite a speech, Eve," said Mrs. Verne, clapping her white palms
together by way of applause.

Crimson silk _portieres_ separated the party from Mr. Arnold,
but not a word had been lost. "You will have to play your little
game quick, else the fortune will soon be a thing of the past,"
muttered the husband under his breath. "Curse these women, they are
nearly all tarred with the same stick. And my charming wife. What a
pity I stand in her way. Well, she can go on in _her_ way and I
will stick to mine. Heavens! is there one true woman?"

Montague Arnold's face, reflected in the mirror opposite, was not
then a pleasing study. A sardonic grin was on his lips and a
dangerous light in his eyes.

Just then Marguerite changed her seat, and, unobserved, the
dissipated man glanced at the pure _spirituelle_ face which had
appeared as answer to his questioning words.

"Yes, Madge, I am a veritable scoundrel; already I see before me one
true and pure being."

Was it a tear that glistened on the maiden's cheek as Montague
Arnold once more contemplated the fair brow and madonna-like eyes?

Marguerite, in her courtly surroundings, was indeed indulging in day
dreams, woven from scenes of her native land. And when she
contrasted the picture with the vague, undefined reality, her
emotional nature was stirred within her, and the gushing tears would
force themselves in spite of all efforts at control. She was longing
for one glimpse of dear old "Gladswood" and the fond embrace of
Cousin Jennie.

"What would I not give to be free from this," murmured the girl
in an undertone; then glancing around she recognized her
brother-in-law, his eyes fixed upon her in close scrutiny.

"Upon my senses, Madge, you look like some one in a dream. I really
might imagine you a piece of rare statuary--one of the Niobe group
strayed from the Florentine gallery to meet the wistful gaze of the
sight-seers of London!"

Marguerite smiled, and the color rose to her cheeks.

"I have dispelled the charm!" cried Montague Arnold, pointing to the
vivid, life-like and roseate hue of the oval face.

"A flirtation, I declare!" said a lady who formed one of the party
for the morning's entertainment. "Mrs. Arnold, I really would not
allow it."

"But you must remember we have liberty of conscience, my dear. Each
is free to act as he pleases within the realm of British
jurisdiction."

"I am afraid you are giving us a wide license, Mrs. Arnold. Please
be more circumspect," cried the lady in playful tone, "else your
suggestion may have a very bad effect."

Mr. Arnold looked askance at the fashionable woman beside him, and
thought what a world of deceit lurked within--a wolf in sheep's
clothing.

Instantly he was at the woman's side, and began paying her those
compliments which the most enraptured lover might pay to her whom he
adores above all women.

At the studio Marguerite was introduced to many persons of
distinction, among those a German Count, a blaze looking Captain of
the Life Guards, and a bright, dashing young officer of the
Dragoons.

"What a host of admirers you have already in your train, Madge,"
whispered Mrs. Arnold to her sister as she came opposite the
portrait of Lord Melrose and stood admiring the exquisite touch and
execution of the artist.

The latter had been engaged in conversation with a group of ladies
when his eyes fell upon Marguerite Verne. The earnest gaze made the
girl look toward him, and as she did so that look made a deep
impression upon the youth.

"I would give almost all I possess to paint that face," thought he,
gazing intently at the _spirituelle_ type of beauty that is so
seldom seen.

"Allow me to introduce my sister, Miss Verne," said Mrs., Arnold,
who felt much flattered at the admiration paid Marguerite.

"I think that we must persuade her to sit for a portrait, Mr.
Manning," said Mrs. Arnold, trying to attract her mother's attention
from the niche in which she sat carelessly chatting with some
acquaintances they had made on their ocean trip.

Soon Mrs. Verne found them, and was in ecstacies over her daughter's
proposal.

"It would be such a nice way to show Madge to advantage. I am
delighted with the thought," said Mrs. Arnold to her mother, as she
toyed with her jewelled fan and gazed carelessly around to see if
Lord Melrose were yet in the studio.

"How provoking. It is just always so! It will afford such
satisfaction to my sweet-tempered husband."

"My dear Mrs. Arnold; it does one good to meet you after trying to
live a few days at Portsmouth," cried a showy looking military man,
perhaps forty years of age, perhaps younger, with a heavy reddish
moustache and dark auburn hair.

"I cannot really say whether you are complimentary or not, colonel,"
said Mrs. Arnold, smiling with all the angelic sweetness at her
command, "since I have never had the pleasure of visiting that
renowned place."

"Well, I should consider it the highest compliment that could be
paid," said a brother officer in dark blue uniform with a sprinkling
of "silver threads among the gold," "coming as it does from one who
can stand the siege when a thousand bright eyes are levelled upon
him at a garrison ball in Portsmouth with a heart as impregnable as
the fort at Gibraltar!"

"Thank you, Major Greene, for your kind consideration to both
parties," said Mrs. Arnold, bowing sweetly to the former. The
gallant colonel also bowed acknowledgment, and then espied
Marguerite Verne, who still lingered near the artist, considering
him far above the shallow set that frequented his studio.

"Who is that beautiful girl talking to Mr. Manning?" queried he,
raising his eyeglass with an air of interest.

"I shall present you in due time," said Mrs. Arnold, with a faint
smile revealing the most exquisite set of teeth that eye ever
beheld.

As if by intuition Marguerite cast her eyes towards the aspirants
and the action brought a faint blush.

"Beautiful as Hebe, by Jove," exclaimed the rubicund major, in an
undertone that implied he was also deeply interested in the fair
young face and graceful supple form.

How the manoeuvering mamma watched each sign of admiration thus
directed towards her daughter.

"If I can only accomplish my wishes my life will be one
uninterrupted calm. I will then lay me down in peace," thought Mrs.
Verne, as she re-arranged the folds of her silken train to her
entire satisfaction.

Hubert Tracy had been detained on a fishing excursion up the Cam,
whither he had gone with some rollicking companions to recruit his
health and restore some of the youthful bloom that dissipation had
almost destroyed.

Marguerite could ill conceal her disgust as she met the weak-minded
and, to her, contemptible young man, on the week following.

It was at a brilliant assemblage, under the patronage of Mrs.
Montague Arnold.

Never was maiden more becomingly attired, for despite her friends'
entreaties, Marguerite's taste was simplicity, indeed. Her modest
pearl-colored satin was relieved by knots of delicate pansies--one
of Marguerite's many favorite flowers--and the delicate and chaste
silver ornaments, made her toilet simply bewitching.

"Mrs. Arnold is imperial, but Miss Verne is truly angelic," was the
exclamation of a man of fashion, and the leader of his club, as the
two sisters stood side by side receiving the brilliant throng of
guests that filled to overflowing the gorgeously lighted parlors,
sumptuous drawing-room and bewitching conservatories.

Why was it that Marguerite shrank from the touch of Hubert Tracy's
hand as if stung by an adder? Why was it that, when she was obliged
to listen to his flattering, oily tongue, that she saw the manly
dignified form of Phillip Lawson standing between, with his hand
uplifted, as if in gesture of warning, and a stern reproachful look
upon his honest face?

These are questions that will be answered some day when the world is
older and wiser--when the great road to science will have been
trodden further on towards the goal which shall reveal all mysteries
in the light of simple truths--when man can look a fellow being in
the face and trace each thought written there.

Mrs. Arnold was in the confidence of her husband's friends, and she
had partly deceived her mother to carry out her designs.

Mrs. Verne had hitherto set her heart upon Hubert Tracy, but she was
now flattered by the admiration paid to Marguerite by several of the
nobility, and she thought it would indeed be a rare distinction for
her daughter to have a title.

"I see how it is with mamma, and if I am not sharp she will nonplus
me," thought the beauty, as she watched the game which her anxious
mother was playing so skilfully, and, as the latter thought, so
successfully.

"But I will do nothing rash. Nothing succeeds like caution," and
musing thus Mrs. Arnold placed her jewelled fingers in those of her
partner and was whirled away to revel in the delightful elysium of
waltzland.



CHAPTER XXI.

MRS. ARNOLD CONFIDES IN HUBERT TRACY.


Mrs. Arnold's beauty was commented upon by the fashionable throng
with whom she daily mingled. She was sought after and courted by her
many admirers; yet among them all there was none who thought her the
most charming of her set.

The wily beauty had adopted a line of policy that was not the most
discreet. She showed a spiteful spirit towards any of her sex who
laid claim to personal charms, and often said many bitter things in
a way that was neither dignified nor ladylike.

It was in such a spirit that Mrs. Arnold returned from a grand ball
where she had seen Lord Melrose pay marked attention to the pretty
Mrs. Maitland. With anger in her bosom she strode the elegant
boudoir with measured beat and vowed vengeance upon her more
fortunate rival.

"Why does any one envy me the charms I possess?

"Ah, me!" she cried, looking at herself in the mirror with her hands
poised in the attitude of a Caryatid. "It is all I have. Happiness I
shall never know; but one thing I do know--that I will laugh, dance
and sing and have a merry life while I am young, and then when my
charms have fled to a younger form I will bury myself in some remote
convent and try to make atonement for my gay and worldly life."

It were strange, indeed, that Mrs. Arnold had this sense of wrong.
She did, indeed, realize that her actions were not what any sensible
woman would justify, yet she took refuge in the thought that when
she grew old there was time enough for discretion.

Another trait of her disposition: It grieved her to see others
happy. Like the arch fiend who turned aside with envy when he beheld
the happy pair in the Garden of Eden and from that hour plotted
their ruin, so Mrs. Arnold from, sheer envy was determined that the
innocent and pure-minded Marguerite should be associated with the
coarse side of humanity--in short, that she should become familiar
with the fashionable miseries of a fashionable woman.

But Mrs. Arnold reckoned without her host. She met with more
opposition than she expected, and the lesson she yet had to learn
cost her a bitter experience!

Mrs. Verne's vascillating nature was a source of much annoyance to
her first-born.

"It is so provoking," murmured Mrs. Arnold, as she noted the
infatuation her mother possessed for a certain baronet of a
distinguished Yorkshire family.

"I've set my mind upon Hubert, and mamma must yield. As for Madge,
she is out of the matter entirely."

As if in answer to her thoughts the young man was soon at her side
looking quite interesting.

"You naughty boy; I am inclined to be angry with you--not one dance
have you sought."

"From the very fact that I cannot have one. Ah, Mrs. Arnold, you
well know how to amuse yourself at the expense of us poor
unfortunates," said Mr. Tracy, glancing at the tablet already filled
for every dance.

"I have a mind to cancel this," said he, pointing to that of the
Yorkshire baronet.

"No, indeed, Mr. Tracy; that would be pleasure at too great a
sacrifice. I have a motive for entertaining the baronet."

Mrs. Arnold smiled one of her peculiarly attractive smiles,
significant of the part she was to enact.

She whispered a few well-directed, words into the young man's ear,
and taking his arm led him to the conservatory.

"I can only stay a couple of minutes at the least, so I wish you to
be all attention."

Hubert Tracy seated himself beside Mrs. Arnold and listened to her
dear confiding tones.

"Mr. Tracy, I despise that Yorkshire bore, with his coarse English
and stupid manners. And his effrontery in presuming to play the
suitor to Madge. It is all your own fault. You follow at a distance
and have not the courage to claim your rights--"

"Rights!"

"Yes; I say rights, Mr. Tracy. I say that you have a right to claim
Madge, because we always looked upon you as her future husband. The
girl knows not her own mind, but she will never go against mamma's
wishes, and I know that she cares for you, though she will not own
it."

"If I thought so I would be happy, for if any woman will ever
reclaim me it will be Marguerite Verne."

"Such talk, Mr. Tracy; I'm sure you are no worse than the general
run of men. Pray don't talk of reclaiming; that sounds as if you had
committed something dreadful."

Just then there arose before Hubert Tracy's vision the sad picture
of a brave young man, struggling so hard to prove his innocence when
circumstances are all against him. He sees the reproachful gaze of
the sorrowful eyes, and he stops his ears to keep back the sound of
the reproachful tones that force themselves upon him.

But Mrs. Arnold knows it not.

"We will dispense with the word if it displeases you, Mrs. Arnold. I
will do anything that you wish, even if it be impossible for you to
be in a dearer relation than at present."

"Hubert Tracy, if you succeed not, remember it is through no fault
of mine. Just listen to me."

The young man listened, and in a few short words Mrs. Arnold made
known her plans.

"We will succeed or I am not what I think myself," said Mrs. Arnold,
readjusting the spray of heliotrope that was displaced in her
corsage.

"Adieu for the present, dear Hubert," said the latter, on seeing
Lord Melrose advancing to claim her for the next waltz.

"Ah, my fear truant, you have given me a world of anxiety. Why do
you persist in such delightful methods of torture."

"_Torture!_ Lord Melrose!" exclaimed the lady with an air of
arch coquetry.

Meanwhile Marguerite Verne sat in the quiet of her own apartment.
She had retired from the heated ball-room at an earlier hour than
many of the guests. A wearied look rested upon the girl's face. She
was heartily worn out with the excessive fatigue attending
fashionable life.

"Well, it seems that I am fated for a martyr, and I must calmly
submit," said she, loosening the luxuriant mass of silken hair that
had been arranged to suit the most fastidious taste of Mrs. Arnold.

Donning a loose wrapper, and exchanging the pretty white satin
slippers for a pair of soft morocco ones. Marguerite threw herself
into a large and inviting arm-chair.

"I will not allow myself to think. My thoughts are rebellious," and
immediately a pretty little pocket Testament found its way into the
girl's hand.

A few words escaped Marguerite's lips as if an invocation was asked;
then she read aloud the thirteenth chapter of Corinthians: "Though I
speak with the tongue of men and angels," etc.

The sweet voice of the reader was not heard in vain. Marguerite
closed the book and remained motionless for some moments, when she
fancied that there was a noise as if some one were listening at the
door.

"I am so foolish. My nerves are unstrung from keeping late hours,"
murmured she. Then hastily glancing towards the spot whence the
sound proceeded Marguerite knelt down and prayed that an
All-Merciful Providence would keep her from the temptations of
fashionable society.

"God help me, I'm lost. I dare not approach that angel in disguise,
else I would ask her what is meant by that Charity."

These words were muttered by Montague Arnold, who having been unable
to attend his wife to the ball, had now returned in a state of
intoxication.

Had Marguerite listened she might have heard the words repeated; but
she had dropped off into a quiet slumber and lay unconscious of the
semi-brutal state of her dissipated brother-in-law.

The next morning brought invitations for private theatricals at the
house of a distinguished foreign embassy.

The spacious mansion in St. James' Court received the grandees of
every land. It was a high honor to enter "Rosemere Place."

Mrs. Verne was almost beside herself (to use a vulgarism). She
walked on air, as it were, and could talk of nothing else but the
elegance and grandeur in prospect.

"I have accepted Mr. Tracy as escort, mamma," said Mrs. Arnold,
entering her drawing room with an elegant dress that had just
arrived from the _modiste_.

"Now, Evelyn, have you not been a little premature? Would it not
have been better to wait, for I think that Sir Arthur would in all
probability have called to offer his service to Madge."

"Sir Arthur is a horrid bore, mamma--he is intolerable. I cannot see
why you encourage him. I'm sure his estates are heavily mortgaged. I
don't believe he can afford to pay for the kid gloves that he
nourishes on his big brawny hands!"

"Some malicious person has been endeavoring to misrepresent Sir
Arthur. I wish you would not listen to such stuff. I am certain that
he is immensely wealthy, and then think of his family!"

Mrs. Verne did not wish to quarrel with her daughter; yet it seemed
that a quarrel was brewing.

"You think it so important to secure a title for Madge that you
would have her struggle amid shabby genteel surroundings in order to
introduce her as Lady Forrester!"

"Shame, Evelyn! you forget that I am your mother," said Mrs. Verne,
raising her hand with haughty gesture and looking the embodiment of
injured innocence.

"Forgive me, mamma, I did not mean to anger you," said Mrs. Arnold
with an air of deep contrition.

This act was the latter's only safeguard. She knew well the key to
her mother's character, and was determined to take advantage of
every point.

"You know, mamma that we must look to dear papa's interest as well.
His business is in a precarious state. I heard Montague say that it
is tottering, and Hubert's great riches will be at Madge's
disposal."

Mrs. Verne could not but admire the thoughtful argument of her
daughter.

"True enough, child; but if Mr. Tracy hears of the circumstance he
will soon throw us over, my dear," said Mrs. Verne with something
like agitation in her voice.

"Nothing of the kind, dear mamma," said Mrs. Arnold, placing her
hand caressingly upon her mother's shoulder "it is thus that I have
proved the true worth of Mr. Tracy's character--he not only spoke of
the matter but intimated in a delicate manner that now he could sue
more boldly for Madge's hand--be in a position to place dear papa on
a surer footing than, he ever was."

"It is indeed a great blessing to know that we have such true
friends," said Mrs. Verne in a tone that showed her heart was not
with the subject.

Poor Mrs. Verne!

She had, since her arrival in England, changed her views as regards
a son-in-law.

Her heart was set on the baronet and she wished that the merciless
Evelyn would have expatiated on his riches instead of those of
former friends.

"I can never have what I want," sighed the anxious mother as she
sought her boudoir to write a letter in answer to the one which lay
upon the Indian cabinet opposite.

"What on earth brings about these insolvencies is more than I can
account for. One thing certain I can wash _my_ hands of it. It
is not _our_ extravagance that will cause it."

Mrs. Verne glanced at the surroundings hoping to see much
simplicity, but the elegance of the magnificent suite of apartments
were sadly at variance with her speech.

"And to think of Evelyn's opposition. She is settled and should mind
her own affairs, and judging from what I can see, she will have
enough to do to keep her head up. Montague Arnold is no better than
he ought to be. Well, well! I suppose his money will hold out and
that is all that is required--oh dear, if Sir Arthur had Hubert
Tracy's money."

The letter being finished a servant was despatched with the budget
of mail, and Mrs. Verne took up a pretty design, of Kensington work
that she was fashioning for a table scarf.

"I don't feel like anything to-day," murmured the woman, throwing
the work aside and yawning several times.

"Madge, I'm glad you have come. Where is that novel I saw you
reading yesterday?"

"Rossmoyne, do you mean, mamma?"

"Yes, I glanced over it and think it is fascinating, and I stand
sorely in need of just such a work to-day."

Marguerite knew from her mother's fretted looks that she had been
somewhat annoyed, and judging that Evelyn had something to do in the
matter, said nothing, but quietly withdrew to her own apartments.

Although Mrs. Verne and her daughter spent much of their time in
Mrs. Arnold's elegant suite of rooms, they occupied an exclusive
suite of apartments in an aristocratic square not far distant.

Marguerite had been amusing herself in reading over some extracts
from her pocket diary when a pretty young page entered with an
exquisite bouquet of rare exotics.

"How lovely," was the simple remark, as the girl took them in her
hand and held them out to view, while the fragrance exhaled was
almost overwhelming.

A tiny note, peeped out between a cluster of heliotrope and blush
roses.

"It is provoking," thought the maiden, as she drew forth the
perfumed billet-doux and read what might be considered a declaration
of love.

Sir Arthur Forrester was not a dissipated man, nor was he a
disagreeable man, yet he was not what a girl of Marguerite Verne's
nature would desire for a husband.

"This is just what mamma has been angling for," thought Marguerite
as she tore up the note into tiny shreds and showed more spirit than
her sister Eve would have given her credit for.

"I thought as much dear Madge," said Mrs. Verne, who on entering
beheld the bouquet, "and to think that Evelyn should accept Mr.
Tracy as escort when we could have Sir Arthur. It is, indeed,
provoking beyond endurance. Madge you are to be congratulated upon
such good luck; scores of girls would envy you the proud position as
Lady Forrester, and for once I hope my child will consider well
before she lets such an offer meet with refusal."

Marguerite sat as if in a state of utter abstraction. She was too
much confused to reply. "Honor thy father and mother" had been an
important part of her religion. Must she now say words of dire
rebellion--the thought cost a bitter pang. The tears rose to her
eyes and her lips were pallid and tremulous.

"Mamma I cannot think you would ask me to encourage Sir Arthur
feeling as I do at present. I respect him but nothing more, please
do not mention the subject again. I do not wish to leave you and I
know papa wishes me to remain always with him and make his home what
it ought to be."

The last remark was too much for Mrs. Verne's temper.

"Marguerite, lately I had begun to think that you had more sound
sense than your fortunate sister but I am doomed to bitter
disappointment. One need expect nothing but ingratitude from
children--especially mine. Hear me, Madge: if you refuse Sir Arthur
you will live to repent of it--remember my words!" and gathering up
her trailing robes Mrs. Verne turned angrily away leaving Marguerite
to her own sad thoughts.



CHAPTER XXII.

AN INSIGHT INTO MR. VERNE'S AFFAIRS.


Summer had passed into autumn--all nature was arrayed in robes of
gorgeous dye. The foliage of Sunnybank was brilliant and the leafy
shrubberies had not yet begun to show signs of decay.

Mr. Verne sat in the library and beside him sat a welcome guest.

Mrs. Montgomery made several excuses for her untimely interruption
and Mr. Verne received them with the best of grace--he well knew
what had prompted the visit--the good kind and generous heart.

As the matronly appearance of the new comer awakened a spirit of
interest in the affairs of Sunnybank so it aroused the quiet
unobtrusive master. Mr. Verne thanked God from the bottom of his
heart that he could sit in his office and hear the voice of a true
friend in kindly counsel with the domestics.

"Ah! if Matilda were only like her, how different our lives might
have been," murmured the wearied man of business, then heaving a
deep sigh glanced over the latest exchange sheets, trying to find
relief from the depressing thoughts that were crowding hastily
through his overworked brain.

"Sooner or later it must come and God knows it is through no
discrepancies on my part. Poor little Madge; she is a good child. If
she were only settled I would feel more relief; but she is to be
bartered for pelf, poor child. I will stand by her to the last."

Voices in the parlor now claimed Mr. Verne's attention.

"Strange too, at the very moment," murmured the latter as he closed
the folios and then ran his fingers through his hair as if to
prepare for some pleasing reception.

A cheery voice exclaimed "business kept me away sir, but I could
stand it no longer," and shaking his host's hand with more than
hearty grasp Phillip Lawson soon found himself at home in
Sunnybank's elegant parlor.

The young lawyer could not fail to note the careworn look upon Mr.
Verne's passive countenance, nor did he fail to note the cause,
while a strange yearning feeling went straight to the warm heart.

"If it were only in my power to help him," murmured Phillip in
inarticulate tones as he took up a newspaper that lay on the small
table near. It was a late English paper and bore the address of Mr.
Verne in a neat graceful hand.

"We have just heard from Marguerite," said Mr. Verne, attempting to
be very cheerful.

"I hope all are well, sir?" ventured Mr. Lawson timidly.

"Yes, they are in good health, but I fear that Marguerite is wearied
of life in gay cities. Mr. Lawson, you cannot imagine how much I
miss her. It seems as if part of my life is gone from me."

Mr. Verne's voice was husky and unsteady and his eyes had a far off
wistful look that struck a vibrative chord in Phillip Lawson's
breast.

"I might as well make a clean breast of it at once," thought the
latter, "no good comes of carrying a pent up sorrow to one's grave
without trying to seek sympathy from a fellow being--and to none
would I go more willingly than her father."

A slight pause ensued and Mr. Lawson spoke.

"It is pleasant for Miss Verne to see the mother country and form
comparisons for herself and no doubt she will be the better for
having had a change of climate."

"Yes, that was why I did not oppose her going away. I knew that her
constitution was delicate, but again, that fact made it the harder
for me to associate Marguerite with late hours and all the
inconveniences of fashionable life. I tell you what it is Mr. Lawson
I am no advocate of fast living and I thank God that my daughter is
only playing a part in which her heart has no interest."

"Miss Verne has a mind far above such things," said Mr. Lawson with
some warmth.

Mrs. Montgomery had adroitly slipped out unobserved and was busying
herself over some mending which was needed.

She could hear the hum of the voices and could almost distinguish
the words being said.

"If Stephen Verne is not a downright fool he will straighten matters
up yet," thought the woman as she put away the work-basket and began
to plan work for the following day.

Conversation still went on briskly and Mr. Verne seemed himself once
more. His burden felt light in the presence of the young lawyer and
from the depths of his soul he longed for a closer intimacy--that
bond of true sympathy which cements hearts forever.

Phillip Lawson partly realized the fact: the barriers of
conventionalism were fearlessly torn down as he took courage to
speak out.

"Mr. Verne you do not surely think that a man of sense can be blind
to the inestimable and rare qualities which he sees in Miss Verne's
character. If we had more woman like her what a different world it
would be!"

"God bless you, my boy," said Mr. Verne fervently.

"Amen," responded a voice from another apartment but unheard in the
parlor.

What invisible, subtle power prevented the young man from falling on
his knees and confessing his love for the pure Marguerite?

What invisible presence laid a pressure upon Phillip Lawson's lips
and sealed them fast?

What invisible force turned the conversation into another and
entirely different source, yet did not weaken the bond already
established.

Mr. Verne communicated many proofs of his entire confidence and the
thought gave to his young friend more courage.

"It is indeed a trying season sir, but I trust you will keep abreast
of the times. Many of our establishments are said to be in a shaky
condition."

"If they give me time I am all right, if not I am gone."

Phillip Lawson was a poor man. What right had he to offer
consolation? He said nothing, but inwardly prayed that the storm
might pass over and all would be brighter than the May morn.

"I challenge you to a game of dominoes, gentlemen," cried Mrs.
Montgomery who now felt that her presence was necessary.

"We are only too happy Mrs. Montgomery," said Phillip rising from
his seat and placing a chair for her.

Mr. Verne also being seated the time honored game of muggins was
soon in active operation and, as is often the cape, the lady being
the best player was sadly worsted but submitted with a grace that
was amusing.

"Come in often, Mr. Lawson; I am going to remain for three or four
weeks and we need all the companionship we can muster," said the
lively and unceremonious matron as she bade good-night to the former
with an air of interest in every look and gesture--a something which
seemed to say "depend on me."

Nor was the warm pressure of Mr. Verne's hand lost upon the
susceptible nature of Phillip Lawson.

"If I had Hubert Tracy's riches what an amount of good I could
accomplish; but what's the use." And for once the Christian spirit
of the young man underwent sore temptation. He was wondering why it
was that prodigals and spendthrifts, with no special ability but
that of wasting other people's earnings, should have means
inexhaustible while other poor fellows with fair ability should have
to toil all their days for the means of subsistence and never have
the wherewith to relieve their suffering fellow mortals or follow
the yearnings of their impassionate hearts!

Mrs. Montgomery stood on the terrace and watched the receding figure
of Phillip Lawson until he had crossed Queen Square and turned
Charlotte street. She then returned to the parlor, and finding Mr.
Verne sitting as if in deep study, was about to retire when he
quietly motioned her to a seat.

"Sit down here. Our young friend has gone, and it seems as if he
took all the sunshine with him, for I feel more prosy than ever."

"You need not try to hide your feelings from me, Stephen; it is of
no use. I am here to help you all I can, and much as it will cost
you I must hear your trouble. Heaven knows I would gladly do all
that lies within my power."

Mrs. Montgomery's bustling and blustering nature had now become calm
and gentle as a child as she sat beside her brother-in-law and
poured into his ear such words of sympathy and encouragement as she
could honestly give.

"We will not blame her altogether," said Mr. Verne. "She was young
and fond of gaiety, and I thought that in course of time our natures
should blend together, but sad to say, with coming years the breach
widened. She went into society and I took refuge in seclusion."

"Stephen, you need not try to smooth matters!" exclaimed Mrs.
Montgomery, allowing her temper to get aroused. "She is all to
blame. Matilda is a fool, and I would tell her so if she stood face
to face with me to-night!"

Mr. Verne did not raise his eyes, for he did not wish his companion
to see the look of desperation settled there.

"And to think of the manner in which poor Marguerite is dragged over
the continent for the sake of hunting up a grand match is something
beyond endurance."

"It is all too true, Hester," moaned the grief-stricken husband. "It
is all too true."

"And I would oppose it to the bitter end, Stephen. Yes, I would face
poverty a thousand times rather than see a child of mine subjected
to such indignity. I have watched Matilda's high-handed work with
keen interest, I have noted everything, and if she thinks she has
hoodwinked me I pity her delusion."

"The truth is I have been too much immersed in business to attend to
much else, Hester, but at times I have not liked the manner in which
things were going on. I never gave consent to Evelyn's marriage, I
could not sanction it, but the girl seemed bent upon it, and I made
no opposition in the matter."

"Montague Arnold is a dissipated man and immoral in every sense of
the word, but that matters not in good society."

Mrs. Montgomery's face was indeed severe as she took from her pocket
a piece of knitting and began making stitches rapidly.

"It is one of the many enigmas of fashionable society which I can
never account for: why the most worthless, debauched and dissipated
young men are fawned upon, lionized and courted by the most
respectable mothers and matrons, and allowed the full liberty of
their ball-rooms, drawing-rooms, salons, &c., claiming the most
virtuous maidens for their amusement and pastime! And further, an
honest-minded young man, who leads a strictly moral life, and labors
hard to gain a reputation for himself, is cast aside or scorned as a
mere nobody!"

"It is too true, Hester, I can fully endorse what you say. I have
indeed turned away in disgust from fashionable resorts when I have
seen young men of the most vicious habits contaminating the very air
with their dissoluteness, flirting and dancing with the pure-minded
girls who would have shrunk away in loathing could they hare seen
the same young men at a later hour in dens of iniquity."

Mr. Verne was excited; he thought of his lovely Marguerite, and a
pang shot through his heart, causing his face and lips to become
ashy white.

"It is a disagreeable subject to broach, but I cannot help it,
Stephen--I mean Hubert Tracy," said Mrs. Montgomery, in suppressed
and measured tones. "You are not blind, Stephen, to the fact that
Matilda and Evelyn are conspiring to find a son-in-law for you, and
that one is Mr. Tracy?"

"God forbid!" said Mr. Verne, springing to his feet as if stung by
an adder.

"As true as my name is what it is, Stephen, you will see it--that
is--if you do not try to prevent it."

"My Marguerite will never sacrifice herself in that way," said Mr.
Verne, vehemently--"never!"

"She will be talked into it. Marguerite will do anything rather than
incur her mother's ill-will; for depend upon it, Matilda will lead
her a sorry life if she shows opposition to her will."

"I have been too careless, Hester. It is yet time enough, thank God!
When Marguerite is once more safe in my sheltering arms she will
neer be subjected to the importunities of disagreeable suitors."

"Evelyn has too much diplomacy in her character. Marguerite cannot
cope with her ingenious allurements, depend upon it, but I hope
everything may turn out for the best yet," said Mrs. Montgomery,
with a wistful look upon her countenance.

"Hester, I have much to think of. Sometimes my thoughts are almost
insupportable, I almost sink--I believe I would if it were not for
Marguerite. She is my ministering angel--and I miss her so much."

It was only on this evening that Mr. Verne had become communicative.
He was always looked upon as a cold, reticent man, who had no
sympathy with humanity in general; but there were those who could
say "God bless you, Mr. Verne," from the bottom of their hearts. Who
will presume to say that those grateful invocations were lost upon
the winds--that they were not wafted to the Throne of Mercy, and
received the plaudits of the King of Kings?

"I have long been thinking of having a talk with you, Stephen, and I
feel now is the time," said Mrs. Montgomery, in confidential tone,
yet betraying some hesitation. "We all know Stephen, that your
family is living beyond your means, and that you are robbing
yourself of health, strength and peace of mind to keep up an
extravagant appearance. I ask you if that is right?"

"Hester, it is this that is killing me by inches, yet I cannot
prevent it. What can I do? I cannot breast the current that is
carrying along everything with it in maddening fury. One day I must
make the plunge!"

Mr. Verne buried his face in his hands and wept like a child, while
Mrs. Montgomery sat motionless, her eyes fixed upon the quaintly
carved case of the eight day clock, whose solemn tick made the
stillness more oppressive.

Mrs. Montgomery was the first to speak. "Stephen, it is not too late
to straighten up matters. Take my advice, and if you are not more
prosperous a year hence I will give you the deed of 'Gladswood.'--a
present on your next birthday."

Mr. Verne forced a smile, and grasping the woman's hand, exclaimed,
"Hester, you are, indeed, a friend in the hour of need. I feel
stronger already."

"It is growing late, Stephen, and you need rest; we will talk over
the matter to-morrow," and bidding good-night, Mrs. Montgomery arose
and retired to her own apartments, while Mr. Verne sat buried in
thought until the clock struck the hour of midnight; then slowly he
arose, and, with languid step, turned a sad face towards the door,
musing, "It is all sent for some good. Teach me, oh God, to see
things as I ought."



CHAPTER XXIII.

MRS. MONTGOMERY'S IDEAS OF SOCIETY, ETC.


Next morning Mr. Verne was astir at a very early hour. The rest of
the household apparently wrapped in deep slumber, while the wearied
man of business sat at his desk, his features fixed and immovable as
the bronze productions of the inimitable Lysippus who had won the
favor of the Great Alexander.

Scratch! scratch! scratch! went the pen over the lines with
inconceivable rapidity, the writer occasionally glancing over his
left arm at the document he was copying. The tortoise-shell cat sat
at her master's feet with an air of self-importance and a look which
seemed to say, "woe be to him who dare to drive me hence."

But there was another within the walls of Sunnybank who was also
awake--Mrs. Montgomery.

She leaned on the side of her couch and listened to the faint sound
that at intervals came from the office: "Well, well; what will be
the end God alone knows! Matilda Verne, you will one day see the
fruits of your folly and taste them in all their bitterness!"

"I must divert him from such work. It is killing the man by inches;
surely there is some way out of the difficulty--where there's a will
there's a way.'"

Mrs. Montgomery said the last words with a will--aye, with the
spirit of a Leonidas, and hastily arranging her toilet descended to
the silent, deserted parlors. She evinced no surprise when
confronted by Mr. Verne. She had been calmly awaiting his presence.

"It is too early for you to be astir, Hester. I would think you
might take things easy when you could. I'm sure there's nothing to
get you up here--no milking and farm work as at 'Gladswood.'"

"It's second nature with me and I can't help it any more than you
can help getting up with the sun and poring over those tedious
papers; Stephen, I would think you ought to get sick of such work."

"So I do, Hester, but I must not let myself feel so; there may be an
end far too soon."

"Stephen you are getting a monomaniac on these things. I tell you
what it is if William Montgomery were in your shoes he would not
last a week. Thank God, he is a farmer--there's no life like it."

"True, indeed, Hester; I wish I had become a sturdy yeoman before I
gave myself up to this business. Ah! it's nothing but uncertainty."

"Listen to me Stephen; the quiet of the hour prompts me to say
something which I have been thinking of for some time past--it is of
Mr. Lawson."

"Yes," said Mr. Verne, in a manner that seemed to say that he knew
what was coming, "he is a worthy young man!"

"Worthy, did you say, Stephen? There is no words in the English
language sufficient to speak his praise. He is a man such as the
Creator premeditated before the world rose out of chaos--a man in
the true image of his Maker!"

Could Phillip Lawson then have looked upon this woman as she sat
there and spoke such holy thoughts--how simple and yet how
eloquent--could he then have heard the tenderhearted matron plead
for him what a flood of gratitude would have welled out from his
honest heart!

"I have invited Phillip Lawson to 'Gladswood' purposely to study him
through and through, and each time I find something nobler in him to
admire."

"I believe it," said Mr. Verne, gravely.

"Then pledge yourself with me to bestow upon him all that can give
him the only earthly happiness he desires. Stephen, you are not
blind--you know he loves your child--make the way brighter for him--
give him your confidence, your encouragement, and before a
twelvemonth has passed away you will be happier, Madge will be
happier, and Phillip Lawson will bless you while he lives!"

Mr. Verne turned uneasily in his chair. He felt somewhat guilty of
not seeking the young man's confidence the previous evening when he
made allusion to Marguerite.

"Stephen, I'm no fool; I can sometimes see more than some people
would like me to see--but I care little for people's opinions," said
Mrs. Montgomery in a defiant mood, "I am here to say what I think is
right--I care for nobody."

"I know that the young man admires Madge, but we have proof of
nothing further."

"You surely cannot say _that_, Stephen, and note the interest
which Mr. Lawson takes in your affairs. Ah, we women can see you men
through and through--you don't mean what you say."

It did not take much persuasion to gain Mr. Verne as an ally to the
cause so dear to the woman's heart.

Now what suggestions Mrs. Montgomery made to her brother-in-law and
his acquiescence, the whole-hearted management and cleverness, also
delicacy of plans, we do not care to reveal, suffice to say, that
the plans were matured and put into execution from that hour, and
that there were those who lived to thank Mrs. Montgomery with all
the fervor of their hearts.

Mr. Verne was indeed happier from the light-hearted manner in which
Mrs. Montgomery strove to entertain him and relieve the monotony of
his busy life. "Sunnybank" had been closed from society for several
months. No guests desecrated the stillness of the deserted
drawing-room, and save the occasional calls of a few business men,
"all around was quietness."

"I will make a change," said Mrs. Montgomery, and a change was made.
Phillip Lawson found time to drop in two or three evenings of the
week, and when the gentlemen were engaged over their game of chess,
there would suddenly steal upon their senses a fragrance that
portended hot delicious coffee, not to speak of the choice rolls and
delicate cheesecake.

Mr. Lawson was truly at home in Mrs. Montgomery's society. He
admired her independent spirit and correct judgment as to what
should constitute society in its wholesome state; he listened with
eagerness to her exposition of the shame and rottenness of good form
and the consequent evils arising from them.

One evening they were enjoying the refreshing breeze that stirred
the leafy shrubberies at "Sunnybank." Coolness reigned everywhere,
within and without. The halls were redolent with heliotrope, and
breath of roses, the hour was inviting and the conversation was
spirited.

Mrs. Montgomery, clad in her silken gown, was indeed fitted to pass
close criticism. She was sensible looking, neat and respectable, and
her genial warmth of manner formed no secondary consideration.

"It is disgraceful to society to tolerate it," said Mrs. Montgomery.
"I should like to see a girl of mine receive attention from such a
man, and to think of his going to Mrs. M.'s company utterly
incapable. Had I been there I would have insulted him before the
company."

"It is just as well that you were not," said Mr. Verne, smiling.

"We country people are verdant, Stephen, but thank heaven we escape
your _good-form_ style that is ruinous both to body and soul,"
said Mrs. Montgomery with considerable vehemence. "Our young women
are educated to a sense of their position, and to demand that
respect which they ought. Ugh! just for one moment imagine a young
man of loose immoral habits seated in _our_ parlor. Why the
very thought of it makes one sicken with disgust."

"Hester, if we had a few such women as you there would be a sweeping
moral reform throughout our land," said Mr. Verne, vehemently. "Yes,
we would have such a wholesome state of things as would entail a
world of happiness to succeeding generations."

"I tell you one thing, Stephen, there would be no living beyond
one's means; neither this abominable keeping up of appearances,
which has possessed two-thirds of our people, and which is the cause
of nearly all the misery and degradation that we hear of every day
of our lives--and those mothers and daughters will be held
responsible for the souls of the suicides who were goaded to the
rash deed by their doings! Yes, Stephen, I say it, and hold to it,
that it is our women who are at the root and bottom of these
horrible misdeeds."

"It is true in a great measure, Hester," said Mr. Verne, his face
betraying evident emotion--his voice strange and his manner
altogether changed.

Mrs. Montgomery's words had a powerful effect. They took deeper root
than she intended and the woman felt a strange misgiving at her
heart. "What if he might seek refuge in such," thought she, and a
feeling of revulsion passed through her which was in nowise
comforting.

Mr. Verne seemed to anticipate her thoughts. "It is an unpleasant
subject, and can do little good for either," said he, trying to
force a smile.

"Yes, Stephen; I can bear your reproof, for I am too hot-headed. I
need a strong pull in the opposite direction to set me right."

The sound of domestics astir suggested employment, and Mrs.
Montgomery set forth to superintend affairs with more concern than
the real mistress. In fact, there had been a sad want of attention
to matters in general. There was an apparent lack of system and good
management that only such an one as Mrs. Montgomery could set right.

"I want you to do it this way," was her order, and it was done.

An untidy chambermaid had been dismissed, and the cook was given her
choice to retrench in the enormous waste or find a new field for
such extravagance.

It was indeed surprising what a change had been wrought during Mrs.
Montgomery's first week at "Sunnybank."

"And to think of her coming from such charitable motives. The woman
is a host in herself." Such was Mr. Verne's comment as he began to
see how affairs were managed on the reconstruction plan, when even
the parlor seemed to admit the beneficial change.

"I shall have to attend a meeting of the Board of Trade this
evening; and thinking it would be dull here, I asked Mr. Lawson to
come in and bring Lottie. You know the poor child idolizes him, and
it is a shame to keep him from her."

"How kind of you, Stephen. I shall be delighted to see Lottie; she
is a sweet child. It really does me good to see the young man pet
his little charge and minister to her wants with the delicacy of a
woman. I tell you there are few men that will compare with Phillip
Lawson."

Mrs. Montgomery was determined that she would let no opportunity
escape when she could say a word in her friend's praise. "They will
thank me one day for it," said she to herself, as she turned
leisurely towards a pot of heliotrope and stood inhaling the sweet
fragrance.

"The Board of Trade to-night. No rest for the overwrought brain!
What a pity that our women, Instead of decking themselves out for
hours before a life-sized mirror, and when arrayed like peacocks
amble into drawing-rooms or conservatories to listen for so many
hours to the idiotic, half-formed expressions of the semi-monkeys
who answer to the fashionable appellation of dudes, should not give
themselves some fit employment. Oh, dear me! thank Heaven I'm not a
society woman, and still better, that none of my family can lay
claim to the title."

As Mrs. Montgomery made the last part of her remark, she thought of
her first-born, the sweet, but bright-spirited Jennie, who was
always ready for fun and amusement and never was happier than when
administering to the wants of her fellow creatures.

Jennie Montgomery was also a maiden of sound intellectual ability.
Her fund of reading was extensive. She never allowed a day to pass
without devoting two hours to good solid reading. Pope was a
constant friend, as was also Wordsworth, and few could give a better
exposition of the mental depth of this metaphysical poet, his
self-knowledge and his keen realization of the depth of such
knowledge.

But of the expected guests. It was indeed a red-letter day for
Lottie Lawson when Phillip announced his intention of taking her to
"Sunnybank."

"Oh! Phillip," cried she in ecstasies of delight, her saucy curls
dancing around the pretty head, "and I shall see Mrs. Montgomery;
was there ever such a lucky girl as I?" and the bright eyes danced
with joy and eagerness. "Goodness gracious! it's almost too good
news to be true. Phillip, what shall I wear? Dear me, if I had only
known I would have made Kitty do up my white lawn."

The little maiden's countenance had suddenly changed from great joy
to dismay, and the indulgent brother was much amused.

"I don't think it will make much difference to Mrs. Montgomery, so
long as your dress is neat," said he smiling, then added, "I hope my
little sister has not commenced to be vain already. It is too soon,
my dear."

"Indeed I am not quarter as bad as the other girls," replied the
little miss. "I wish you could see how they dress for school; why
Nellie Bliss wears a different dress every afternoon, and to-day she
had one with the greatest lot of lace ruffles."

"Well, well, my dear, let Nellie enjoy her ruffles, and Lottie
Lawson be a sensible little girl."

As the brother fondled the fairy-like child, he thought of the
inherent weakness that showed itself thus and exclaimed as the
little form was beyond hearing, "the ruling passion truly," he
paused, then added, "with most women."

To say that Lottie Lawson enjoyed herself at "Sunnybank" would be
speaking too mildly. Even the dogs gave her welcome, romping,
playing and frisking till warned to restrain their unwonted
hilarity.

An oil painting of Marguerite Verne made the child clap her hands
with delight.

"Oh, it is just like her! It seems as if Miss Verne were speaking to
us," cried she, getting as near to the portrait as she possibly
could. "I can imagine myself in Sunday-school now and our dear
teacher among us. When do you expect her, Mrs. Montgomery?"

The bright eyes had a wistful look and gave the piquant face a
thoughtful tone.

"I cannot say, my dear, but we hope we may expect her soon."

The eager eyes favored the portrait with occasional glances while
the white fingers ran over the keys of the piano.

A pleasant evening was thus spent and Lottie was delighted when it
was arranged that she would be allowed to pass many such pleasant
hours during Mrs. Montgomery's stay at "Sunnybank."

"How thoughtful," was Mr. Verne's comment as he heard the voices in
the parlor on his return.

Phillip Lawson with a pang at his heart could not but notice the
wearied look upon Mr. Verne's face, also the stooping form which
once had been erect and majestic, and his sympathetic look could not
escape the eagle eye of Mrs. Montgomery.

"Business is business, my boy," said Mr. Verne as he bade his guests
good-night.

"Yes sir, it is all business these hard times. Business is
business," and musing thus Phillip Lawson went on his way, so busied
in thought that he scarce heeded the prattle of the child at his
side.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A COMBINATION OF EVENTS.


Four weeks had passed away and Mrs. Montgomery still presided at
"Sunnybank." The days were spent in a variety of ways that tended to
one grand end and that for the best.

Lottie Lawson was blithe as a bee, humming little snatches of song
and often cheering the rooms by her presence.

An important functionary among the domestics was Melindy Jane
Thrasher, the happy _fiancee_ of Mr. Moses Spriggins.

Melindy Jane took much pride in informing her fellow-laborers that
"she had been engaged to work with the Verneses all through the
Montgomeryses, for she had seen the first Miss Verne along with her
intended up to the upper neighborhood at church, and she and a hull
lot of the young folks came out from Mill Crossin' to go, and when
they seed the grand folks, they'd inquired and found out all about
him. Then, what do you think? dad saw an advertisement in the paper,
and he rit right away and got this situation; and here I am ever
since, and s'pose will be for a _leetle longer_" and with a
knowing look Melindy Jane would draw her hearers' attention to Mr.
Spriggins, and by a series of phases expatiate on her lover's manly
form and weighty principles, not forgetting his importance among the
good folks of Mill Crossing.

Marguerite Verne had often listened to these speeches, and
stimulated Melindy Jane's eloquence by her earnest attention, and
for such kindness she was eulogized in the presence of Mr.
Spriggins, until the latter vowed that "that 'ere Miss Verne hadn't
an equal in the Dominion."

It so happened that Melindy Jane one evening asked for an hour or
two out, and the request being granted a few minutes later the happy
rubicund face of Moses, beaming with smiles, illuminated the gateway
as he passed through, hand-in-hand with his _fiancee_.

Mrs. Montgomery was a lover of fun, and she enjoyed the sight with
evident relish. Mr. Lawson's voice soon after interrupted her
thoughts.

"I came near being run down by one of your family, and an old friend
of mine," cried he, his manner bright and cheerful, "I did not know
that Mr. Spriggins was paying his addresses to anyone in this
house."

"If you saw him, Mr. Lawson, you would soon be convinced of his
honorable intentions. Indeed, Mr. Spriggins is an attentive lover,
and in every way worthy of Melindy."

"He is one of the best fellows I ever met," said Mr. Lawson, with
much enthusiasm.

"You have reason to know him?" said Mrs. Montgomery, with evident
surprise.

"He did me a very great service, Mrs. Montgomery, and one I can
never adequately repay."

This was indeed a sudden revelation, but the lady showed good taste
in her replies, and was much pleased with the knowledge that Phillip
Lawson's character was made up of gratitude.

Mr. Moses Spriggins thought proper to spend a dollar or two upon
Melindy "each time he came to town," and on this evening in question
the happy pair might be seen on Charlotte street making glad the
heart of the grocer by the extensive purchase of peanuts, peaches,
pears, bananas, and every choice confection that was appreciated by
Miss Melindy.

"I tell yer what, Melindy, if I was a-livin' in town I'd live. I'd
buy them fellars out in less than no time," exclaimed Moses, as a
fair-sized banana disappeared from view at one gasp. "Tell you what
it is, Melindy, them fellars makes a fortin' out of this stuff; by
golly, it's good." A fact which was evident from the gusto resorted
to in mastication.

"Thunder! what's that purty thing a-hangin' out in front of that
'ere stoppin' place? Look Melindy."

"Why you goosey, that is the Royal Hotel light--the electric light."

Melindy pronounced the three words with an air of pride, which
indeed seemed to say "please bear in mind that I am no ignoramus."

"Wal, I do declare, if that aint the highfalutin' light they were
a-tellin' about up to Wiggleses t'other night."

This was an unlucky speech for Mr. Spriggins. Melindy's face was
black as Erebus in less than a minute and her eyes fairly darted
fire.

"Don't mention those Wiggleses agin Mose, or as sure as my name is
Melindy Jane Thrasher, I'll never speak to you agin!"

"Now, listen to me, Melindy, I was a-goin' to tell you that I only
went up to Wiggleses to borrow a crosscut from Josiar. True as I
live I w'ant inside the gate for I met Josiar a-comin' out o' the
milkin' yard and I then and there ups and tells him what I was
arter."

During this conversation the unconscious pair had gained the foot
of King street and turned up Prince William street toward Chipman's
Hill where they took a stand.

"And you got the crosscut at the gate?" asked the perturbed Melindy,
rather timidly.

"I did, you dear old gal. Now, what's the use of you gettin' jealors
of me and Josiar? I'm darned shure I don't be a-courtin' him."

"Don't talk so simple, Mose," said Melindy, giving her affianced an
affectionate push against a large building that stood on the corner.

"If I w'ant skeered of them 'ere police chaps I do believe I'd feel
tempted to kiss you in this very place!" exclaimed Moses in very
pathetic style.

"I'd like to see you, Mose Spriggins, forgit yourself in such a
manner--it would be the last time you would act so in my presence,"
returned Melindy Jane in simply bewitching tones and more bewitching
gestures.

"Well, just you wait till we get back to Sunflower Dale."

"'Sunflower', a nice name to be callin' our place. I wish that Mrs.
Verne heard you Moses, it would be the last time you'd poke your
nose in there, I can tell ye Mister Mosey."

"Well, now see here, Melindy. I see town is makin' you too toney,
what's the use of cuttin' a fellar up so when he makes a little
mistake?"

"Well, say Sunnybank, and I won't be findin' any more fault."

"Well, Sunnybank! Aint that right Melindy?"

"Leave out the _well_, and all will be well," said Melindy,
spitefully.

"Melindy Jane Thrasher, you are a gettin' too cute for anything.
That was the cutest sayin' I've heerd for a long time. If you stay
in town much longer you will be able to talk with any of them
lawyers that's around as thick as thieves."

"Moses be keerful what you say, for some of the same fellars might
have you hauled up for definition of character, and some of them can
afford to do it too, for I believe there are honest ones among 'em.
Indeed, I know of one."

"And I bet I know the same chap," said Moses, jumping at the
conclusion, with an accompanying exhibition of elasticity, not
unworthy of the bygone arena, and then added, "and we both of us
seed him this 'ere evenin'. Aint that so, eh, Melindy?"

"There, don't be silly, Moses," said the half-indignant Melindy,
pouting her ripe red lips, and trying to look very prim.

When Melindy wished to administer reproof to her betrothed she
always addressed him as Moses, a circumstance which had a very
chilling effect upon the offender.

"Well, I vow if it aint--speak of the old fellar and he's sure to
appear," cried Moses. And instantly they were recognized by the
stalwart young lawyer who was on his way homeward.

"He didn't stay long. Perhaps the missus ain't in very good humor
to-night," surmised Melindy.

"Perhap's he's too busy hisself. Like as not he's off on some law
scrape now. That's just it, for Court's a settin' all this week.
Well I hope Mr. Lawson will get a good share of the pickins, for
he's as honest as the sun, and when a fellar goes to him for advice
he gets it in good English law, and no runnin' roundabout way that
would puzzle a chap till his hair would turn gray."

Doubtless Mr. Spriggins would have expatiated on his friend's good
qualities for a much longer time, but Melindy was not inclined to
have him waste so many eulogistic speeches at her expense.

"How time goes! Well, it seems no time since we left, and here we
are back agin," said Melindy, glancing up at the grand facade of
"Sunnybank," which looked as pretentious as its neighbors on the
same imposing terrace.

Mr. Spriggins was annoyed to think that it was only nine o'clock,
and he must part with Melindy.

"You know what we used to learn in the little yellar book at home,"
said the latter.

"Yes, that's all very fine when a fellar hasn't anything better to
do, but when a feller has sich good company, he don't think of being
healthy, wealthy and wise, eh, Melindy."

"We'll not quarrel about it, anyhow," said Melindy, evidently well
pleased at being reckoned such good company, then instantly
exclaimed, "What time are you agoin' to start in the mornin';
perhaps you can run down, and I may have somethin' to send the
folks."

A step upon the gravelled walk warned the lovers to retreat, and ere
long Mr. Spriggins was wending his steps up Sydney street, muttering
imprecations upon the unknown person who had so unceremoniously
broken up their rendezvous.

Meanwhile Phillip Lawson was enjoying the quiet of his cosy back
parlor. He was seated in his huge arm-chair enjoying the _Evening
Globe_ and a choice cigar.

Lottie Lawson had once remarked that brother Phillip might go
without his tea, but he could not sleep without seeing the
_Globe_. And the little maid was right, for nothing is more
inviting for the hurried man of business, the politician, the
professional or the student than the perusal of the evening paper.
Look into the counting-rooms, the offices, the libraries--aye, even
the brilliantly-illuminated parlors--and you will in each find your
answer.

But we must turn to our legal friend. As Mr. Spriggins surmised, it
was court week, and a very busy one for Mr. Lawson. Brighter
prospects were now in store. Prosperity had dawned upon the untiring
student, and he looked forward with encouraging hopes.

"Thank God I am here yet," was the young man's exclamation, as he
threw aside the paper and began to ruminate upon his prospects in
general.

Strange to say he did not harbor ill-will to Hubert Tracy. He pitied
him with a tender pity, and mourned for the wreck of a life that had
such a good beginning. But Mr. Lawson had a feeling of enmity
towards his contemporaries in the far west. He could ill repress the
angry feelings that arose when the scheme presented itself in all
its horrid reality.

"What ground for bringing the gang to the scratch and making a
startling expose of our legal brethren; yes, nice brethren too."

No wonder that Mr. Lawson felt ashamed of his fraternity. If the
shades of Coke and Blackstone could only arise--what a reckoning
would be made. What a scene--aye, one that would need a Milton to
describe.

Thoughts akin to these were passing through the young lawyer's mind
when he suddenly recalled the cause. The heavy brows are contracted
and a scowl appears. "The wicked flourish for a season and so may
you, my happy friends, but your happiness is not of the enduring
kind." Another scowl. "But if he succeeds I am miserable," muttered
Phillip Lawson, his countenance betraying deep agitation. "But I
will not suffer her to become a sacrifice. Heaven forbid."

There was determination in the tone and in the gesture which
accompanied it.

There was indeed to be a struggle between right and wrong, and a
bitter struggle, too, but an All-Wise Providence rules over all, and
disposes of events in an inscrutable order, and in the way He
foreordains for His own glory.

It is necessary to explain how matters stood between Hubert Tracy
and the Winnipeg solicitor.

The latter had entered heartily into the affair and was looking
forward to the big bonanza that he would gain. But some weeks passed
and hearing nothing further Mr. Sharpley resolved to test the
matter. Receiving no answer to the first letter he despatched a
second and was surprised to receive it re-addressed to himself. What
did it mean? Had Mr. Lawson removed to another field or had Hubert
Tracy played false?

The solicitor then wrote an acquaintance making some modest
inquiries concerning Mr. Lawson's whereabouts and was further
surprised to find that he was still in St. John, also that he was
prospering in the profession and would one day rank as one of the
leading practitioners there.

Mr. Sharpley then directed his interrogations across the sea and
much chagrined charged Mr. Tracy with duplicity. But it was the
latter who felt the most non-plussed. He cursed Phillip Lawson from
the bottom of his heart and hoped that he might live to crush him in
the dust.

"Fool that I was to listen to his palaver!" cried he, "when I could
have contrived some means to silence him most effectually. It is
just what I deserve. He will dog my steps to the bitter end if I
cannot accomplish my work very soon."

It was while Hubert Tracy was being thus humiliated that he received
a summons from Mrs. Montague Arnold and hailed it as an omen of
success.

The interview was lengthy and boded no good to Marguerite.

"Depend upon me, Hubert," cried the heartless young matron as she
graciously extended the tips of her taper fingers and smiled her
most enchanting smile which the young gallant more than graciously
acknowledged as he sprang into the cab awaiting him at the end of
the court-yard.

A few moments later he was at the club, and surrounded by a host of
the most abandoned profligates he joined in the ribaldry and obscene
jests with a zeal that betrayed the utter depravity of his habits,
and also shewed that he had taken a headlong plunge into the vortex
and must soon become a hopeless wreck. And yet a short time ago, so
fair to look upon, Hubert Tracy had been indeed prepossessing in
appearance. His neat, well built figure, graceful but manly
carriage, agreeable address and fine manners gave him a significant
tone and made him much sought after in society.

There was even a pleasing expression in the young man's face that
was really attractive. His chestnut locks of silken hair clustering
in luxuriant ringlets were indeed the envy of the many less favored
youth, while the hazel dreamy eyes, soft and expressive as a
woman's, seemed to suggest that they had once been the pride of an
indulgent mother and kind friends.

"Zounds, Tracy my fellow, you're going all to sticks! What the devil
is up? Why, you look as if you had been trailed through seven
cities--got the blues,--eh?"

"Worse than that, Turpin. I'm in a fair way for the Old Bailey."

"The deuce you are!" exclaimed the latter, who owing to several
sharp feats performed upon some members of the club, was dubbed
Turpin.

Mr. Turpin was a lucky kind of mortal who had a propensity for
living on the funds of his more fortunate friends and always kept an
eye to Mr. Tracy.

The latter was lavish in expenditure and thought it a streak of luck
to have an individual like Turpin to cater to his caprice and assist
in making his every day life free from remorse or anything
approaching to it.

"'Jordan is a hard road to travel,' eh Dick?" said Hubert Tracy as
he raised the cocktail to view and stood gazing upon it, then
swallowing the contents, as if anxious to get through the job,
exclaimed, "Heavens Dick, I wish that were the last drink on this
side of Jordan," and after a desperate effort to appear at ease the
young man left his rollicking set and sought his apartments in
Regent Square.



CHAPTER XXV.

MR. SPRIGGINS INTERVIEWS MR. VERNE.


While Mr. Verne sat in his office in Water street, busy as usual on
his exchanges, etc, an individual was making his way thither at a
rapid gait, which, in fact, bore more closely to business than
grace.

The individual was Mr. Spriggins of Mill Crossing. Any one keeping
close behind the said gentleman might have heard the following
soliloquy.

"Well, sir, I'm deuced glad I didn't let on to Melindy, for like all
wimen she'd be a peekin' to see what it was. It's terrible queer
that not one of 'em is better than another. Still we can't get along
without 'em, nohow."

Here Mr. Spriggins emphasized the remark by a shrug of his herculean
shoulders, and allowed himself to think what a blank this world
would be without Melindy.

"Wal, I reckon them bisness fellars have so many papers, round that
its 'tarnal queer they don't loose money, but ten to one this 'ere
thing don't amount to a goose egg."

Mr. Spriggins had now gained the office, and with smiling
countenance inquired for Mr. Verne.

A genial "come in" from the inner office inspired our friend with
additional confidence.

Mr. Verne bowed in a respectful manner, and taking off his
gold-rimmed spectacles motioned the young man to a seat.

"Good morning, sir," said the latter, feeling somewhat embarrassed
as how to begin.

"It is fine weather, indeed," returned Mr. Verne, pleasantly.

"Its no use delayin'," thought Moses, "I'll make a bold dash," and
jumping up from his seat, exclaimed, "You're Mister Verne that lives
in the big house on that high bank up there by the square?"

"Yes, sir," said the latter, respectfully.

"Well, sir, did you ever see this 'ere piece of writin' afore, I
picked it up near your house, and supposin' it were your'n I brought
it here."

Mr. Spriggins placed the document in Mr. Verne's hand, and the
latter glanced at it carelessly at first, and was about to return it
to his visitor, when his eye fell upon the following:

"We can make him appear so guilty that all the laws under heaven
could not clear him. Two thousand dollars would be a sum sufficient
to entrap him. If he is as trusting as you say, the easier will be
the job to do it. At any rate, Connors can finish what I undertake--
that is the silencing forever of that law sprig."

"Just be seated for a few minutes, sir," said Mr. Verne. "I think
this is to me a very important document."

Mr. Spriggins was now quite at home. He took in the surroundings
with an air of interest, and became on terms of intimacy with the
handsome spaniel that lay near him.

Mr. Verne's hand trembled violently as he re-read the letter. He was
deeply agitated, but fortunately the fact escaped Mr. Spriggins'
notice.

"I am deeply indebted to you, sir," said Mr. Verne, addressing his
visitor. "I trust some day I shall be able to repay you."

There was an earnestness in the tones and also a look of gratitude
that made Mr. Spriggins feel a sudden sensation in his throat--a
suffocation which made it impossible to reply--the big heart was
full to overflowing.

"This is an honest creature," thought Mr. Verne as he pretended not
to observe his benefactor's emotion.

Mr. Spriggins rose to go when suddenly Mr. Verne exclaimed "this is
not going to be our last meeting Mr. Spriggins," (the latter had
introduced himself previous to this) "I want to see you the next
time you are in the city. Remember you are welcome at my house any
time that you call. Don't forget to come."

Mr. Verne received a more than hearty grasp of Moses' iron hand and
graciously escorted him to the door where he disappeared muttering
along the street, "By hokey, I'm the luckiest chap in all
Christendom. There's no knowin' but what I may turn out to be the
biggest gun among 'em yet."

On his way home that day the hilarity of Mr. Spriggins was
unbounded. Even the canine denizens of the district through which he
passed received compliments of no secondary order, and to quote his
own expression "he was the happiest fellar between town and Mill
Crossin'." But we must return to Mr. Verne.

About an hour after Mr. Spriggins' departure he is seated in the
library at "Sunnybank" waiting summons to luncheon.

"What is the matter with your time in the office, Stephen?" said
Mrs. Montgomery with an amused look upon her face. Mr. Verne glanced
at his watch.

"I made a mistake of an hour," said he absent-mindedly. "Poor man,"
thought Mrs. Montgomery, "it is no wonder," and then hurrying off to
give orders for an early meal, left him to the misery of his own
thoughts.

But this time they were not distracting ones. Mr. Verne had in his
possession proof of the baseness of Hubert Tracy and his legal
accomplices, and the more he thought of it the more puzzled he was.

How did the letter get in the vicinity of "Sunnybank." It certainly
had been in the possession of some person or persons since it had
been received by Hubert Tracy, as he had now been abroad for nearly
three months. Had it fallen into Mr. Lawson's hands? Could it be
possible that he had thus been warned of this conspiracy and changed
his course of action?

Mr. Verne thought over the matter and a light seemed to dawn upon
him. He remembered of hearing his young friend making some inquiry
as regards the affairs of a well known legal firm that had left St.
John and earned a well-deserved reputation in the far west. He also
thought of certain transactions which went to prove that at times
Mr. Lawson's prospects were indeed sadly blue, and that, doubtless,
Hubert Tracy had taken advantage of those occasions to hold up the
tempting bait.

"Base scoundrel," muttered Mr. Verne with set teeth. "Providence has
not allowed him to ruin a noble life."

Mr. Verne was not blind to outward circumstances. He knew full well
what had prompted the deed, and he shuddered as he thought of his
guileless child associated with such a character. He was in a
quandary as to what steps to take that he could ward off suspicion.

Mr. Verne wished to keep the affair a secret until he could have
further ground for action. He knew that Mrs. Montgomery would be a
sure ally, but second thoughts prompted him to say nothing of the
matter just then, so he calmly supped his coffee at luncheon and
talked over certain little plans with more than ordinary interest.

"Mr. Lawson is much engaged lately," remarked Mrs. Montgomery, as
she passed a second fragrant cup of coffee to Mr. Verne; "he only
had time to make a short call last evening. I forgot to tell you
before."

"What is the matter, Stephen, you look alarmed or surprised or some
such way that I cannot describe," said the woman, glancing again at
her brother-in-law.

"I must give you credit for having more of the imaginative than I
thought, Hester," said Mr. Verne, trying to cover his agitation with
an accusation.

"I don't know whether to take that as a compliment or not, Stephen,"
said Mrs. Montgomery helping herself to another of the delicious
cheese cakes, the pride of the time-honored cook at "Sunnybank."

"You were speaking of Mr. Lawson, Hester. What had he to say?"

"Nothing of much consequence, only that he was much occupied during
the week. He seemed in such good spirits that I told him that he
must have fleeced some poor mortal unmercifully."

"Hester you are a dreadful woman. It is a good thing that people
don't mind what you say."

"It would make little difference to me whether they would or would
not, Stephen. I shall always say just what my evil thoughts prompt
me to say, and as you remark that is considerable."

In justice to Mrs. Montgomery, we might as well here add, that what
she said or did, was in a conscientious way. No slander could ever
be traced to her nor could anything that savored of deception find a
place in this honest woman's heart.

"But to return good for evil," said Mrs. Montgomery, "I asked Mr.
Lawson to let Lottie go home with me."

"Home?" questioned Mr. Verne, in surprise.

"Yes, Stephen, I cannot stay much longer. The fall work is coming
on. Jennie is a host in herself, but I must not impose upon good
nature."

"Jennie Montgomery is a rare jewel; and I least of all should insist
upon your staying longer. You have, indeed, done much for me."

"Stop, Stephen, I am not going to listen to any such stuff. Indeed,
it's a pity I could not come down to amuse myself for a while
without you having such notions. The fact is, I needed change of
air, and now having a sufficient store to subsist upon for the next
half year, think I had better make tracks."

"Did you think of it yesterday, Hester?"

"To be honest with you, Stephen, I scarcely thought of it until the
sight of good-natured Moses Spriggins reminded me I had a snug
little nest in Kings County, and had better fly away to it."

"Spriggins, did you say, Hester?" queried Mr. Verne, in a manner
that showed that the name had been hitherto associated in his mind.

"Yes, sir, I said Spriggins. Did you not know that Melindy Jane
Thrasher has a suitor who calls as regularly as he comes to the
city?"

Mr. Verne laughed cheerily, a circumstance which was so unusual that
the domestics in the basement were on the _qui vive_ to see
what was the matter.

"And you happened to interrupt the lovers I suppose," remarked Mr.
Verne in his quaint dry way.

"I did nothing of the kind, Stephen. I met Moses on the landing. I
tell you what it is, I have great respect for Moses Spriggins. Yes,
for every one of the family," said Mrs. Montgomery in an earnest and
respectful manner.

"They live near you Hester?"

"About ten miles, perhaps not so far. Simon Spriggins raised a large
family, but there are only two of the boys at home now, and Nell
Spriggins is a nice looking girl. I tell you their home is neat and
tasteful, although not very showy."

"It seems quite a coincidence that the same Moses Spriggins should
have occasion to call at the office to-day--"

"To ask for Melindy Jane Trasher, I suppose," cried Mrs. Montgomery,
with as much merriment as a young girl.

"He was merely conveying an important message," said Mr. Verne, "and
in course of conversation I was quite interested."

"Moses is one of the best hearted creatures for miles around. He is
often imposed upon when anything in the shape of tea meetings or
bazaars are on the go."

"All's well that ends well," said Mr. Verne, rising from the table
quietly.

"Quite a digression," murmured Mrs. Montgomery, as she touched the
gong and arose from her seat.

Within the sanctity of his private apartments Mr. Verne now saw
clearly how matters stood. He was convinced that Phillip Lawson had
been in possession of the letter and that he had dropped it while
going or coming from "Sunnybank," and that Moses Spriggins,
following in his footsteps, had picked it up.

"Truly, indeed, 'God moves in a mysterious way,'" mused Mr. Verne as
he glanced at the crumpled paper, "and to think they have been
foiled in the outset. To think that I have entertained such a
monster, and to have heard him applauded until I was nigh sick.
Heavens! if there be a retributive justice it shall surely be meted
out to that accursed viper, Hubert Tracy."

The compressed lips and fierce scowl gave expression to the anger
within, and showed that when once aroused Stephen Verne was "a
foeman worthy of his steel."

He deliberated long upon his young friend's magnanimity.

"Lawson is a man of ten thousand, else he would have had the
satisfaction of seeing the whole gang reap their reward. Aye,
lynching is too good for them, the scoundrels. But the time will
come when they'll be found out, for they'll not stop at that," and
in clear distinct tones Mr. Verne repeated the following lines:--

"Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding
small; Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds
He all."

Mrs. Montgomery was not satisfied with Mr. Verne's evasiveness. Like
most women she had a fair share of curiosity, and now she was doubly
curious.

"It's no earthly use to try to sift Stephen, for he's as firm as a
granite bowlder; but one thing is certain, there's something in the
wind just now--something in which Mr. Lawson and Moses Spriggins are
both concerned, though either or both may be unaware of it. Let me
see," continued Mrs. Montgomery, elevating her eyebrows, and looking
very much like a lawyer when he has his client's opponent in the
witness stand. "Mr. Lawson was here last night and left early. Moses
Spriggins was here also, and left later. Now, as to what took Moses
to the office that's where the mystery is, and that there is one I
am as certain as the head is on my body."

One good trait in Mrs. Montgomery's character was that she never
lost confidence in a friend until she had the most positive proof of
his guilt, her honest nature was slow to believe in the worst side
of humanity.

"Whatever it is," murmured she, "it is the doings of some other
parties, for both are above suspicion."

The entrance of Mr. Verne put an end to the soliloquy, but did not
drive away the subject, and when the latter was safely out of
hearing, Mrs. Montgomery exclaimed to herself "I see plainly that
Stephen is deeply agitated. He seldom carries that look. It is
something of an uncommon nature that has aroused him. He thinks he
hides his secret whatever it be, but poor Stephen is not schooled in
the ways of deception, and in the end it is better so." And
repeating the words, "'tis better so," the whole-hearted woman was
soon occupied over the ways and means of domestic economy.



CHAPTER XXVI.

DESPONDENCY.


Much as we would like to follow other friends we cannot yet leave
Phillip Lawson. He is now in great trouble having met with a loss
that is great.

"I might have known that it was too much good fortune for me," cried
the young man in sad and pathetic voice. "Fool that I was to carry
it about when I was so lucky for once in my life."

Phillip Lawson was the picture of despondency. A heavy cloud had
settled down just as all had promised fair and now all was darkness
and gloom, not a ray of hope pierced the grim portals which had
closed so suddenly upon him.

He thought of the Tuscan poet and wondered if it were possible that
his bitter experience had called forth that direful inscription--

  "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

"Ah, my life is Hades! I look for none other!" cried Phillip, his
mind now in an unsettled state and ready almost to doubt truth and
revelation.

"I have tried hard to lead a good moral life, to live according to
the teachings of the Golden Rule and to live with God's help in
accordance with the teachings of His holy doctrine, and why is it
that I am thus hardly dealt with?"

We cannot blame our young friend if he be somewhat rebellious. His
faith is sorely tried and he is at first found wanting; but unlike
many others who have gone down under the weight of the angry
billows, stems the torrent and with his eye straight for the beacon
light reaches the haven in safety.

"I believe that some good may yet spring from it. Hubert Tracy will
not have the power to injure my reputation. He may succeed for a
time, but there is a Nemesis cruel as death."

Phillip repeated these words as if he were the avenging Deity
himself and the hoarseness of his voice made them sound doubly
prophetic.

"If they could only have passed into Mr. Verne's hands instead of
mine it would have been better for all parties; but what's the use
of talking."

Phillip looked sad and careworn, aye, ten years older than on the
previous night, and had Mrs. Montgomery looked in upon him then she
would surely have been more perplexed than ever.

"It will never do for me to be hunting around the doors at
'Sunnybank.' For the life of me I cannot see how such a thing could
have happened."

For the sake of explanation we must admit that our legal friend had
a failing which often turned out disastrously for himself and at
times for others--he was simply speaking--absent-minded, but bear in
mind it was only outside of business matters. As a clear thinker Mr.
Lawson had no superior, he was equal to any question, running over
with brilliant repartee and thoughtful speech.

It was only when the office door was closed and business suspended
that he was guilty of this weakness, and as it on this occasion,
caused him to suffer much from the consequence we hope to prove that
he had overcome it. The fact was the paper had slipped between the
folds of his handkerchief when he had taken it to brush off some
dust that persistently adhered to his coat sleeve. There was another
view of the matter from a more jubliant source, Mr. Moses
Spriggins.

The latter toiled away in the ten acre lot at Mill Crossing in the
happy thought of some day being "as big a gun as the rest of 'em,"
and with the kindness received from Mr. Verne the happy climax was
almost reached.

"Would'nt it be great," mused Moses as he followed the plough in the
field above referred to, "if when Melindy and myself go to town that
we would put up at them 'ere Verneses. Golly it would make the
Wiggleses eyes stick out furder than ever. They're a jealous lot at
the best o' times, and its sich a silly idear for Melindy to be
a-naggin' at me for goin' there when I never go nearer than the
rickety old gate."

Mr. Spriggins was evidently taking on a few airs for he seemed quite
exasperated and ready to battle against such aspersions. Instantly
his face became radiant as the noonday sun, and he burst forth in
rapturous strains--

  "What a man I would be and what sights I would see
   If I had but ten thousand a year,"

until the hills and dales in the vicinity of Mill Crossing caught up
the refrain and all nature seemed to rejoice.

"What's the use of wishin'? it won't bring the ten thousand any more
than I could turn that old millstream yonder tother way. But what's
the odds so long as yer happy?" and once more there floated on the
breeze--

  "If I had but _one_ thousand a year."

"Yes sir, I'd be content," exclaimed Mr. Spriggins, as he finished
the last stanza and took a vigorous pull at his pipe as means of
reconciliation with his present circumstances.

"And, by-the-bye, I must go up to Ned Joneses to-night and talk him
into that business. It aint any sense for Ned and me to be a keepin'
up spite 'cause the old folks want ter. No sir, not this child,
anyhow."

Between eulogizing and soliloquizing Moses' morning wore into
evening and having hitched up the old mare he set off for the post
office--a spot doubly endeared to him since Melindy Jane Thrasher
went to service, since which time there regularly arrived every
Monday evening a suspicious letter addressed:--

MR. MOSES SPRIGGINS,
Mill Crossin',
Kings County, N. B.     In haste.

Imagine the surprise of our friend on being presented with three
whole letters--nothing more, nothing less--and one was addressed
"Moses Spriggins, Esq."

"I wouldn't take that as a joke, nohow, Mose," said a lugubrious
looking individual, whose face looked as if it had been playing "I
spy" with a tallow candle and got the worst of the battle.

"Bet your life on it it's no joke; you're jest right Zeb, it's real
down airnest; the fellow that rit that ain't one of your jokin'
consarns."

Mr. Spriggins glanced over Melindy's letter to see if she was in
good "speerits," and being more than satisfied, broke open the seal
of the second one, which was from Mr. Verne.

It was written in a large and legible hand, and was couched in the
most simple language, and ended with a request that the finding of
the paper should be kept secret until such time as he (Mr. Verne)
should see fit to acknowledge it. "I do not doubt you, Mr.
Spriggins, only you might carelessly let it be made known among your
friends."

When Moses read these lines he was more than delighted. They
expressed such confidence in him that he felt so proud, to quote his
own expression, "that he wouldn't claim relationship with the
Attorney Gin'ral."

The third letter which drew our friend's attention, was a notice
from the Dominion Safety Fund Company, which almost gave as much
pleasure as the other, for in it lay, as Moses expressed it, "a big
bonanzer one of these days."

But Moses was not destined to live many days in a perpetual ray of
sunshine.

Mrs. Spriggins was a motherly and kind woman, careful, industrious
and economical, but she had one bad habit--that of scolding.

"Mother could no more live without scoldin' than dad could live
without his tobaccer," was Moses' frequent comment when beyond the
old lady's hearing.

The happy first-born was dear to Mrs. Spriggins as "the apple of her
eye," but he always came in for a decent share of the scolding.

"Now, what that critter is a galavantin' to town and gettin' so many
letters is mor'n I can tell. Seems to me he must be neglectin'
sumthin', for I tell ye things won't git along without puttin' your
shoulder to the wheel." (Mrs. Spriggins had evidently heard of the
fable of Sisyphus, and gave it an original translation.)

"That's all right Jerushy, but I don't think there is any danger of
our Moses. He's as stiddy as a rock."

"Don't let him hear you say so, Simon, for its the worst thing in
the world to be a-praisin' your own children, and a-tellin' them
they're so smart, and good lookin', it makes them so ever-lastin'
conseity."

Mr. Spriggins, Sr., was going to remark that there was no danger of
_her_ children getting spoilt, but he knew what was best for
himself, and kept a quiet tongue in his head.

The next evening after Moses had been to the post office, he became
aware of the startling fact that his mother had been peeking into
his trousers pocket while she rearranged his neat little room, and
made it look more spicy by the addition of a set of snow-white
curtains.

"'Pears to me Moses you have a lot of business agoin' on. Hope you
ain't writin' to any girls but Melindy. You know anything I despise
is a young man a-flirtin' with every girl he sees, and besides its
not what any honest man would do. It's well enough for them 'ere
city chaps that thinks no more of their word than eating their
supper, to be runnin' arter every piece of calicer they see, but I
tell you none of the Spriggins is agoin' to do it."

Mrs. Spriggins evidently meant what she said if one could judge from
her vehemence, her snapping eyes and sharp tongue.

"Don't be skeered of me a flirtin' mother, I'll stick to Melindy
while there's a button to my coat," said Moses trying hard to look
very dignified.

"Well, what is all of 'em letters about?"

"What letters mother?" queried Moses, with the evident delight of
extorting a confession.

"Why as I was a-hangin' up your Sunday trousers some of 'em fell out
and I couldn't help a-lookin' at the writin' on the back.

"From as fine a gentleman as ever walked the streets of St. John,"
cried Moses quite emphatically.

"What's comin' next! You, Moses Spriggins of Mill Crossin', a ritin'
letters to a gentleman. Let's hear all about it.

"I'm not at liberty to tell you jest now mother, I'm sorry to say,
but it's all right."

"Am I in my sober senses or am I in a nightmare? (No, there's Mose
as nateral as life.)" Then pointing her finger at the supposed
culprit Mrs. Spriggins exclaimed: "I tell you what it is Moses
Spriggins it's nothin' very good that you're ahidin' from your own
mother. Got into them lawyer's clutches at last? Ye used ter say ye
liked law and if I'm as good a prophet as I think I ort to be you'll
get enough of it. Like as not the farm and the stock and all the
utensils will go afore long. Oh dear me!"

Mrs. Spriggins now stopped for want of breath and fawning herself
violently with the bottom of her blue gingham apron made a second
onslaught.

"I tell ye what it is Mose there is no good comin' of this 'ere
gallivantin' to town every t'other day, anyhow."

"Mother, if you would only have patience a few minits I might make
some explanation, but you seem to want to have it your own way,"
said Moses, who had now determined to venture a word or two in his
defence.

"Be keerful, Moses, how you speak to your own mother. It's time I
_had_ everything my own way, when other folks can't manage
their own affairs," said Mrs. Spriggins, with an angry toss of her
head.

"Now jest listen a minit, mother, and if I'm wrong I'll give in,"
said Moses, trying to effect a compromise.

"Well, let's hear what you have to say for yourself; but remember,
you must not palaver it up to suit yourself, or I'll soon find
out--sure as my name is Jerushy Ann Spriggins."

Moses had, to a certain extent, allayed Mrs. Spriggins' fears, and
brought matters to a satisfactory close, when a load knock at the
front door caused the latter to utter a startling exclamation, and
then run to the glass to see if her hair was parted straight.

"Gracious goodness, mother, if there ain't the greatest crowd you
ever saw. There's Mister and Missus Squires and Deacon Rider, and
Missus Rider and little Joe Rider, and there's Huldey Ameliar
Dickson and Marthy Ann, and a hull lot more."

"Moses Spriggins, are you a-takin' leave of your senses to be
a-standin' gapin' with your mouth open instead of runnin' to the
door and a-showin' 'em into the best room, and I'm not fit to be
seen. It's allus the way. If I had all my fixin's on there'd not be
a soul to come, but let one sit in their old rags, and the hull
country side will pop in."

Moses had not heard the last part of the speech, for in less than a
minute he was at the front door, doing the honors with all the grace
imaginable.

"Nell has gone to the store, but mother will be here in a few
minutes, so make yourselves to hum," cried the genial host, showing
the female guests the way into the spare room "to take off their
bunits."

When Mrs. Spriggins appeared not a trace of the recent encounter was
visible.

"Wal, Mrs. Spriggins, yer growin' younger lookin' every day," said
the good old deacon as he glanced at the hostess in her best gown
and black lace cap, not forgetting to admire the coquettish white
linen stomacher that completed the costume.

"Deacon Rider, I'm afraid you are guilty of sayin' little fibs as
well as the rest of the folks. What do _you_ think, Mr. Squires?"

Mrs. Spriggins' appeal placed the minister in a trying position, and
his better half came boldly to the rescue. "I tell you what it is,
Mrs. Spriggins, I'm not going to allow you to get all the
compliments. Just think of it, Deacon Rider drove all the way over,
and never paid one of us a compliment."

"Well, well, if here ain't all the folks," exclaimed good natured
Simon Spriggins, bursting into the best room with several straws
clinging to his trousers--a practical illustration of attraction of
adhesion.

"Missus Squires, I do declare! Why, it does one's eyes good to see
you. And Missus Rider, too--I haven't seen her for an age. Why it
makes me feel young agin to see one of my old beaux around. Eh,
Jerushy."

"A pretty thing you, to be a-talkin' of beaux. Better go and get off
your old clothes first, for you'd scare the crows."

Mrs. Spriggins then became deeply interested in the affairs of her
visitors and began bustling about at a great rate, and making hosts
of excuses for things "not a-lookin' as nice as they had orter, for
Nell had been a-spinnin,' and they had extry work besides."

"Come, come, mother, you needn't be a-puttin' on airs now, for the
folks won't believe you, nohow."

At this sally from Moses Spriggins the younger visitors set up a
laugh, and the older ones smiled and said "Moses is full of fun."
And after a few such preliminaries the party were ensconced in the
best room, enjoying the unbounded hospitality proverbial to the
Sprigginses, while Moses went up to his room to have another spell
at the important letter, and as he read over for the seventh time
the neatly rounded sentences, he felt that he could well afford to
bear reproof for the sake of having the good will of such a man.



CHAPTER XXVII.

VISITORS AT "GLADSWOOD"--THE FISHING EXCURSION.


An interesting trio graced the cosey parlor of "Gladswood" on this
glorious September eve. The balmy breeze stole softly through, the
open casement of the old-fashioned lattice window, and shed its
fragrance profusely.

"Really, Jennie, this is more like an evening in June than
September. Why one seems to think there must surely be some of the
roses around."

"And so there are, my dear," said Jennie Montgomery, taking Helen
Rushton by the arm and pointing to a small flower stand whereon sat
a fragrant rose bush crowned with tea roses.

"They are indeed magnificent, Jennie, but I meant the little June
roses that made such a gorgeous sight the morning that Madge and I
arrived _sans ceremonie_."

"You prefer wild flowers to the more brilliant sisterhood of the
hothouse, Miss Rushton," exclaimed Mr. Lawson with an air of
interest.

"I must confess that I do Mr. Lawson, they seem so natural, so pure
and so unaffected. They are always associated with life as it should
be, and not as it is."

"Helen you are a darling," cried Jennie Montgomery, "those are just
my ideas too. How is it possible that a refined city girl can foster
such sentiments when surrounded by such opposite and antagonistic
elements."

"Jennie, my dear, you must not infer from this that I do not approve
of the forms and usages of society, for I _do_, but my society
is common sense society, if I may be allowed the expression."

"You are quite right, Miss Rushton. Halifax will never lose her
prestige while she sends out women gifted with such ideas of true
worth."

Helen slightly changed color but felt no embarrassment.

Mr. Lawson had listened to her clearly advanced views and was
pleased with the style she argued and his last remark he considered
as no flattery.

"What a pity Marguerite is not here," said Helen enthusiastically.

"And Josie Jordan to enliven the scene," returned Jennie with a look
of mischief in her bright sparkling eyes.

"Yes, and make one feel as if always eager and ready for the fray,"
said Helen, "for commence as meekly as a saint that girl will have a
pitched battle before one gets half through."

Jennie Montgomery's voice rang out in peals of hearty laughter and
ended by infecting her companions.

"Poor Josie," exclaimed Jennie when the laugh subsided, "she is as
Charlie Verne says, 'a regular romp,' but she has a big tender
heart."

"I think her manner is becoming much more subdued than when I first
saw her," said Phillip Lawson who had seen much of the wilful Josie
at the Rutherford mansion, whither he often spent a quiet hour in
the company of his friend Herbert Rutherford.

Helen Rushton was truly fond of the hoyden girl and it was only from
a desire to get the others' opinion that caused her to make the
above remarks.

"We need just such girls as Josie, Mr. Lawson, to keep the world in
a healthy state. I'm sure it would never do to have all wiseacres
like a certain young woman of my acquaintance."

"And of mine too, Miss Rushton," cried a voice from the adjoining
hall.

"Josie Jordan," cried both girls in amazement on beholding the
subject of their remarks standing upon the threshold, hat in hand,
and her hair in wild disorder about her neck, adding:

"Yes, Josie Jordan, if you please. What's all the fuss about. Can't
I run up here without making your eyes stick out like rabbits'?"

Phillip Lawson being almost concealed behind the window curtains now
betrayed his presence by a hearty laugh.

"_You're_ not surprised at all, Mr. Lawson, and as the children
say, I'm not going to play pretend," exclaimed Josie, shaking the
young man heartily by the hand, then giving him a vigorous push in
the direction of the door, added, "Run out and see for yourself."

The girls now indulged in hearty embraces, and Josie breathless with
delight went on to tell how she had planned the surprise and the
manner by which she effected her escape from her aunt's house.

"It's no use, Josie, I believe you are capable of doing anything
after this," said Helen Rushton, raising her hands in holy horror at
the thought of the escapade.

"I am not a party in the matter at all, young ladies," exclaimed
Herbert Rutherford, who now entered with Phillip Lawson, looking as
handsome as a prince with his large dark eyes and brilliant brunette
skin, with the least possible tinge of ruddy carmine exquisitely
blended.

"Don't tell me that women can't keep a secret after this," cried
Josie, rocking to and fro in paroxysms of laughter. And in the
straggling explanations that followed they learned that Mr.
Montgomery had been concerned in the plot.

"I couldn't stay down there back of sundown when I heard there was
such lots of company up here. No indeed; talk of solitude, I believe
Robinson Crusoe lied when he said he liked it. Yes, and Old Friday
too, if he said so."

"Oh! Josie, you are beginning to disgrace a fellow already," cried
Herbert, alternating the words with genuine laughter.

"Auntie will be weeping and wailing my absence. Poor old soul; she
don't deserve it, but I couldn't stay. Good gracious, there would
have been the expense of a funeral, and I'm sure that's something to
consider up in Brookville."

Mr. Montgomery had now joined the company, and with Josie's
enlivening speeches it had a merry tone.

"I cannot see how friend Herb should be so opportune," said Mr.
Lawson, with an arch glance at the incorrigible Josie.

"Defend yourself, Sir Knight," cried the latter, in her pretty
artful way, that made the wavy ringlets play hide-and-seek with the
utmost _abandon_.

"I was on my way to the fishing grounds, and you can imagine my
surprise on being hailed in this wise:--'I say, mister, can you take
a passenger?' On looking around I espied a young lady and bundle
waiting for transportation to Sussex, five miles out of my way. Just
think of it, and I had to stop, and here you see the passenger,
while your humble servant is without doubt the subject of a few
prayers from the boys who are anxiously awaiting a further supply of
rations."

"They'll not starve till morning, Mr. Rutherford, and I think we had
better all form a party and go with you," exclaimed Mr. Montgomery,
who now occupied a seat beside Josie, and was as much a youth as his
fourteen-year-old son who had entered unobserved while the
conversation was going on.

"Won't that be glorious!" cried Josie, springing from her seat and
clapping her hands with delight.

"And I suppose the pantry must suffer for it," said the cheery
hostess, who had overheard her husband's suggestion.

"Well, mother, I think you can afford us a good supply, and not
suffer the inconvenience of hunger either," said Jennie, placing her
hand caressingly upon her mother's shoulder, and thinking in the
meantime of the delicious pumpkin pies, tempting doughnuts and soft
gingerbread that were piled upon the pantry shelves in a manner
that, to quote a younger scion of the Montgomery family, "would make
a fellow's teeth water."

The evening was indeed a jolly one at "Gladswood." Josie being
sufficient entertainment for a much larger company made the most of
her time, and the most shrewd observer could not detect anything
like gloom in Phillip Lawson's manner as he laughed and chatted
among the happy party.

As the hour was growing late Helen Rushton requested that Josie
would sing something for them to "dream on."

The latter possessed a soft, rich and musical voice of much
flexibility and easily adapted to meet the tastes of her audience.

"What shall I sing?" cried she in imploring tones as her eyes
instinctively met those of Mr. Lawson.

"Anything you like," replied several voices.

As the girl took her seat at the piano she looked everything but a
hoyden. A sweet native grace possessed every movement and gave
dignity to every gesture. The pretty fingers, somewhat browned by
recent exposure, ran over the keys and a prelude soft and bewitching
floated around the room, then the bird-like notes warbled forth that
well-known song--

  "'Tis evening brings my heart to thee."

A solemn stillness prevailed. An exquisite sadness seemed to possess
each member of the company, but there was one who felt it keenly.

As Phillip Lawson sat there listlessly turning over the leaves of a
handsomely-bound portfolio who could tell of the deep agitation that
almost unmanned him? Not a muscle moved, not a sigh was heard, not a
look was conveyed, yet deep down in his heart was a fierce conflict.

"My God," thought the young man in the bitterness of his heart,
"will the dead past never bury its dead? Why does it come forth from
its shallow sepulchre and meet me on the most trifling occasions?
Even that romping girl has power to unearth the mystic presence."

The last notes had died away and Jennie Montgomery cast a quick
glance at the young lawyer. Her intuitive nature was sadly alive to
the effect produced upon her friend. "Poor Phillip," thought she,
"he thinks he is secure, that none intrude upon the sanctity of his
thoughts. Poor Phillip, I would wish him happier things."

"Such a song to amuse a company," exclaimed Herbert Rutherford. "If
Maude was here you might expect a crying match, and judging by the
rest of the faces I think we could count upon a pretty fair
exhibition of the pathetic."

"Well, Herb, it is not for your individual benefit," cried Josie,
closing the book and rising from the piano.

She was about to say something further when a glance from Mr. Lawson
caused her to stammer and blush in sad confusion. "What have I
done?" thought the girl. "He is angry at me." And whenever she
turned the reproachful eyes seemed to confront her.

Was there any real cause for such alarm?

Josie Jordan was of a highly-wrought, imaginative mind, quick to
suspect, impulsive and full of vagaries and oftentimes those
susceptibilities led many a wild-goose chase. There was another that
interpreted the look from a different standpoint. Jennie Montgomery
learned to realize Phillip Lawson's thoughts, and she felt that a
yearning sympathy had arisen within herself; yet, she knew full well
that her friend Josie was ignorant of anything which would suggest
the song, and as she was going to ask the hitter for one of her
favorites, Mr. Lawson came and stood beside Josie, exclaiming in the
softest and most gentle tone, "You sing well, Miss Josie, I'm afraid
that you have got yourself into trouble, for I am a lover of song
and--"

"Have become a perfect bore," cried Josie, "there I have done you
the service to finish the sentence, Mr. Lawson."

"Look here, Miss Jordan, the genial atmosphere of Kings County has
not any beneficial effect upon your good behaviour," cried Herbert
Rutherford, glancing at the pretty half-grown child with an air of
much gravity, and wondering if she will be a child-woman as well.

"I like Mr. Lawson only he has a strange way of looking at you," was
Josie's comment as the girls sought a snug little nook upstairs to
have a quiet chat before retiring.

"Mr. Lawson is a deep thinker, and ever in his brown-study his eyes
may happen to be riveted on you or any other object, yet he sees it
not. He is looking upon a picture perhaps fairer, perhaps less fair,
as circumstances may suggest, but depend upon it, he is lost to all
outward surroundings."

The words had no sooner escaped Jennie Montgomery's lips than she
regretted them, but happily her remarks did not take deep root in
the minds of her girl companions.

The many little tidbits of girlish gossip and jokes were followed by
merry laughter until the heavy stroke of the old clock of the
household suggested that if they wished a good day's sport they must
first have refreshing sleep, and soon all was still within the
quaint sleeping-rooms, wherein the merry maidens dreamt their
girlhood dreams. But in the snowy white chamber hitherto described
in a preceding chapter there were subdued sounds which betrayed the
disturbed state of the occupant.

Phillip Lawson's couch was yet bedecked in its snowy draperies and
its perfect folds showed that no hand had marred its effect by
actual contact.

The heavy hunting-case watch lying upon the dressing-case pointed to
the wee small hours. Yet it mattered not. The song was ringing in
the young man's ears. Ever and anon the beautiful refrain sounded
through the quiet room with increasing volume.

"Why am I such a fool?" murmured the young man as he leaned upon the
window-sill and looked out upon the beautiful scene below.

"Why are not my thoughts in harmony with this glorious picture--
this realization of a poet's dream. Ah, truly, the heart is an
unruly pupil. It is ever rebellious against the teaching of the
stern monitress--Duty."

Phillip Lawson heaved a sigh and then continued: "Whatever the
future will bring God only knows; whatever is is all for the best."

A hush fell upon the troubled heart, and taking up the Book of
Prayers, the young man read the beautiful and sublime Evening
Service of the Episcopal Church, of which he was a consistent and
conscientious member, and in whose prosperity he took an active
interest, laboring hard both by his purse and by his personal
influence to increase its growth, and cherish sacred those memories
of the bye-gone past. But of the incoming morn. An unusual babble
and hurry-scurry time was going on long ere Herbert Rutherford had
thought fit to arouse his friend.

"I say, Lawson, what in the mischief is the matter? Why, the folk
downstairs have been kicking up the biggest fuss for the last three
hours. How could you sleep? Gracious, how those girls are tearing
around--no allowance for nerves here."

Phillip Lawson laughed and soon began to make his morning toilet,
while Herbert Rutherford betook himself to the stable to see if
everything was in readiness to start. To the latter's surprise he
espied Jennie Montgomery coming across the field with her favorite
spaniel close in pursuit.

"Good morning, Miss Montgomery. What errand of mercy has demands
upon you at this early hour, for certainly it can be nothing less,"
and the glance at the substantial errand basket was significant of
the interpretation.

"I am the errand boy on particular occasions," said Jennie, her face
aglow with the healthful exercise.

Herbert Rutherford looked at the beaming face and then at the trim
but graceful figure in neat print frock just of a length to show a
well-formed foot encased in heavy-soled shoes.

"Talk of your city girls--there is a match for any of them,"
muttered the young man as he saw the maiden spring over the opposite
stile and then throw back one of her sweetest smiles.

       *       *       *       *       *

"A pretty fellow, by Jove," said one.

"A nice commissariat," said a second.

"Why didn't you wait until you came to pick up our bones?" shouted
another, with force sufficient to show that starvation had not yet
attacked the camp.

"You're all right yet, I guess," said Herbert Rutherford, reining up
the pretty and spirited animal beside an old hut that served as
dining-hall for the party.

"Herb, say, hope you didn't forget the corkscrew this time," shouted
a voice from behind an old stump.

"Caesar and Anthony!" was the exclamation as the smiling maidens and
their attendants came in sight.

"Josie Jordan!" cried a trio and the congratulations that followed
need not be repeated.

A jollier party never fished in that well-known brook and better
appetites never were known than when the table was thrice set and
thrice cleared of the most tempting dishes that ever graced a
festive board.

"Who would have ever thought of meeting you here, old bookworm?"
exclaimed a happy-looking youth hailing from a shipper's office on
the South Wharf.

"Well sir, I would as soon have expected to see old Herodotus
stalking along with his wonderful Nine," roared another, slapping
Mr. Lawson with more force than elegance.

"And I haven't steered across you since that night at Verne's. Quite
a change there since then, eh Lawson? Have you heard the latest
news?"

Phillip had now drawn the speaker aside. He learned with regret that
Mr. Verne had suspended payment but had been granted extension.

"It may turn out better than people think," returned Phillip.

"Not a ghost of a chance for him. He's sure to go and a big smash it
will make."

"It will go hard with Mr. Verne," remarked the former.

"It will go harder with his fool of a wife," returned the other,
"she worked for it sure and is not to be pitied; but there is one I
do feel for--that is Marguerite."

Phillip Lawson's reply was inaudible for the merry group came on at
a rapid rate and surrounded them with all the fishing apparatus
conceivable.

"Poor Marguerite," muttered Phillip and he went on with his work as
if nothing had happened to mar his day's sport or divert his
thoughts across a wider stream.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE LOVERS' MISUNDERSTANDING MADE UP--MOSES KEEPS HIS SECRET.


On the evening after his arrival in the city Phillip Lawson found
his way to "Sunnybank." As he stood on the vestibule his thoughts
reverted to the missing paper.

"It was so important; and now that I could have more hope than
before."

It must not be presumed that the young man exulted over the reported
insolvency. He fervently prayed that Marguerite Verne should have
moral courage to bear up under the pressure of circumstances that
must necessarily follow, but he hoped that a life of usefulness
would be more acceptable than that of luxury hitherto enjoyed.

"If it were only in my power to pay off every farthing of those
enormous debts gladly I would do it for her sake though she might
never know who was her benefactor."

Such were the tenor of Mr. Lawson's thoughts as he advanced towards
Mr. Verne and received a hearty welcome--almost an ovation.

"Mr. Lawson, you cannot imagine how much I missed you, else you
surely could not have stayed so long!" exclaimed the host springing
from his chair like a boy of sixteen.

"Only five days in all, sir, since I was here."

"Five days!" cried Mr. Verne drawing his hand across his furrowed
forehead as if to gain clearer perception, "five days! dear me, it
seems like five months--five months."

Mr. Verne seemed for a moment or so to have forgotten that he had a
guest for he was lost in thought. Presently his mind cleared.

"How did you leave all at 'Gladswood.' In fact I forgot that you
were there."

Mr. Lawson then gave a brief description of the days spent at the
farmhouse and was pleased to note the very great interest with which
Mr. Verne listened.

The solicitor was puzzled. He expected to find his friend in a state
of deep dejection, but instead he was more cheerful than usual, and
seemed to be exulting over some secret or newly-found joy.

"He may be rejoicing in the thought that his child is soon to be in
a position which his reverses cannot affect."

Phillip Lawson had no sooner uttered these words in an undertone,
than a deep chill seemed to paralyze his muscular frame.

"Just as if that should be of import to a poor beggar like me, who
has no more than can keep the wolf from the door."

Strictly speaking the last remark was somewhat hyperbolical, for as
we have hitherto been informed the young solicitor's professional
emoluments were now anything but scanty, but it was in the
bitterness of spirit that he made use of the words.

"Have you heard from Mrs. and Miss Verne, sir."

"There, I would have forgotten! It seems to me I am getting old
fast--nothing tells on a man like that," said Mr. Verne, smiling and
drawing from the pigeon-hole of a small desk a neatly-folded letter.

"My little girl refers to you--listen to this"--and the fond father
read a portion of the letter, in which she referred to the young
lawyer, and begged that her father would convey her thanks for the
very great thoughtfulness of Mr. Lawson in trying to cheer him in
her absence and filling up the vacant place beside him.

"Tell him, dear papa, I shall never forget him for it--never."

Mr. Verne was deeply affected as he read the last sentence; also was
his visitor.

"My Marguerite, she cares yet for her doting father. Yes, Mr.
Lawson, my child worships those who are kind to me."

"You can never fully express Miss Verne's worth, sir. I am only too
happy to do anything that would secure her good wishes, for coming,
as they do from one so good, they most certainly result in good."

"The man is honest," thought Phillip Lawson; "he does not wish me to
think that his daughter has any other feeling than that of
gratitude, and I honor him for it."

The young man glanced around the elegant parlor with its glittering
furniture and costly _vertu_, and felt sad at the thought of
the great change that was in store for the delicate girl who had
been reared in the lap of luxury. He wished to refer to business,
but Mr. Verne evaded him at every turn, and when he rose to go, felt
somewhat uneasy and disappointed.

"There is something astir," thought Phillip, as he passed down
Mecklenburg street and turned up Carmarthen, on his way home. "There
is something in the wind. I can already feel it in my bones,"
exclaimed the young man, striding along with a rate of velocity
equal to that of his thoughts.

A sudden fancy seized him. Quick as lightning it darted through
every nerve and electrified him with pain.

"It must be so! Fool that I was not to see it before. Tracy has
proposed in the nick of time. He has had an accomplice whom it is
easy to guess. It's all up with me now, and she can send kind wishes
without a feeling of restraint"

Phillip Lawson was indeed sore at heart. He reasoned long and argued
the ease to the best of his ability; but love is one thing and law
is another--the two abstracts cannot coincide any more than can a
parallelogram coincide with an equilateral triangle. "But must I
stand calmly by and make no effort to save her from such a fate.
Merciful heavens! There's no clue for me to prove what I had already
known. Why was I so unfortunate. Surely heaven will not suffer
Hubert Tracy to accomplish his designs. I wish him no bodily harm,
but I trust that he may yet atone for his deeds, and live to see the
error of his ways."

By the time the solicitor reached his home he was calm and
collected.

"Brother Phillip," was the first exclamation he heard; "look, are
not these beautiful. Josie Jordan brought them this afternoon. She
kept me laughing nearly all the time she was here telling about the
fun she had at 'Gladswood'."

"Ah! the ferns are from Jennie Montgomery, I presume," said the
brother, giving them a second glance of admiration.

"Yes, and the sweetest little letter you ever saw beside. Isn't she
lovely, Brother Phillip?"

The _petite_ little maiden had now nestled closely in her
brother's arms; her flaxen curls showered around her in sad
disorder, while one plump little arm was entwined around his neck.

"You must be dreaming, Brother Phillip. Why, you never heard my
question."

"I beg your pardon, little one, for this time. Miss Jennie is all
that you think her to be," replied the brother, somewhat gravely.

"Do you know what I was thinking of, you dear old brother," said
Lottie, emphasizing the speech with an affectionate hugging. "I was
thinking of all the nice young ladies you are acquainted with, and
wondering which one I would like you to marry."

"What put such notions into your head, you silly child. Have I not a
little wife already. But let me hear the rest of it."

Phillip Lawson indulged his pet sister in all her pastimes, and was
now an attentive listener to her proposals.

"You know, Brother Phillip, there is Miss Verne--."

"Yes--go on," said the brother in a quick, nervous manner.

"And there's Jennie Montgomery and Louise Rutherford and Miss
Rushton and Josie Jordan, and--"

"I think you have got enough now to decide from."

"Well," continued Lottie, not appearing to notice the interruption.
"There is Miss Marguerite. I love her dearly. I feel like kissing
her picture every time I see it--well she is an angel, Brother
Phillip, and sometimes I think she is too good to marry anyone."

"A compliment to the sterner sex," remarked Phillip, in an
undertone, then he exclaimed, "Child, where did you get such ideas?"

"Oh, I hear the girls in school nearly every day, and yesterday
Belle Morris asked me if I would like you to get married."

"I think the young ladies might find more profitable employment
during study hours."

"Oh, we don't talk only at recess. Now please don't be angry,
Brother Phillip, for I never said anything."

"Thank you little Miss Discretion. I am very glad that you do not
indulge in gossip. Listen to what Solomon says," and going to the
book-case Phillip took therefrom a Bible, and read from Proverbs
xvii. 9,--

  "He that repeateth a matter separateth _very_ friends."

Lottie saw that her brother did not wish to hear more on the
subject, and she again took up the bunch of pressed ferns which had
arrived from "Gladswood."

"I wish that I could be as good as Jennie Montgomery. Why she's
scarcely ever idle one moment during the whole day, and she never
seems happy but when she is helping some person. Do you know Brother
Phillip the oldest people around love her, and she goes and reads to
the sick and runs all the errands for the sick herself."

"I am glad you observed so closely my dear, and I hope Lottie Lawson
may one day be as good a woman as friend Jennie," said Phillip very
earnestly.

"Oh, I know I never can have the happy way of setting everything
right that is wrong, and taking the tangles out of the most common
affairs the same way that Jennie does. Oh, no, Brother Phillip,
don't expect me to be anything like that."

The fond brother could not fail to see that there was a vein of good
sense running all through the child's remarks, and he also noted her
quaint style of application.

The appearance of Kitty, the housemaid, interrupted further reply.
With a respectful air the domestic made known to her master that,
owing to the death of a near relative, she had to remove to the
country to take charge of a family of small children.

"Indeed, Mr. Lawson, you have been a good, kind master to me, and
that angel there"--pointing to Lottie--"the likes of her is not in
St. John. But I'll hear from yous often and when Tim is in town
he'll run in to see how yous are gettin' on."

"And you must go immediately, I suppose?" said the young man who
indeed regretted the loss of an industrious and honest domestic.

"Next Saturday, sir, Tim will be after me, and the children is a
sufferin' between whiles."

"Very well, Kitty, we must do the best we can," and Mr. Lawson was
already prospecting over a trip to Mrs. Lee's Intelligence Office to
procure a successor to the lamented Kitty.

"Look here Brother Phillip, I believe that I can get a new girl
without any trouble."

"You little one!" cried the young man, laughing at the idea of such
a grave responsibility being associated with the child.

"Wait a moment until I come back," said the latter who in a very
short time reappeared, breathless with anticipation.

"Yes indeed, Melindy Thrasher is going to leave Mr. Verne's--Kitty
says so. Please let me go down and see. You know I am growing quite
old now and ought to be able to do lots of things."

"As you wish, Lottie; but remember you must first find out if Mr.
Verne is aware of the fact."

Within a week Melindy Thrasher was duly installed as general servant
in the Lawson cottage, a fact which is worthy of mention as it is
connected with other important matters relative to the affairs of
the solicitor.

The new help gave general satisfaction and Lottie was much amused
with the girl's primitive manners, which even the associations of
"Sunny bank" could not altogether affect.

One bright morning as the former was getting ready for school, she
was accosted by Melindy in the following strain:

"Law sakes, Miss Lottie, how things do come 'round. Jest to think
that you and the young lady that was up to Mr. Montgomery's
happenin' to be the same identical one, and I was up to meetin' the
same Sunday. It seems so queer that of all places I should happen to
get here. But as I say there's no tellin' what may happen."

"What a coincidence it is," thought Phillip, laughing as on passing
through the back parlor he overheard Melindy's remark.

He had gone to the post-office on that morning and as he took out
the contents of the well-filled box discovered a letter which on
opening he saw was from Marguerite.

"What can have prompted her to write. It would seem as if some one
else had written it. Marguerite Verne would as soon think of cutting
her right hand off as to write me unsolicited. And for what is she
grateful. It seems so ridiculous when all that I have done was to
entertain myself."

The young lawyer once more read over the precious missive which was
written in the most simple, yet graceful style. It stirred him
deeply.

It recalled the fair girl in all her _spirituelle_ beauty, and
made him doubly rebellious over the circumstances that thwarted all
his hopes.

"Why was I not some heir to an earldom, for nothing less is
befitting such a one," thought the young man, feeling all the
bitterness that a heart can feel.

Strange indeed, that from the moment Phillip Lawson uttered these
words he was a richer man, though he knew it not. He had to drink
deeper of the dregs of adversity ere he shall have cause for
rejoicing.

Marguerite gave short pithy accounts of her visit, and was quite
enthusiastic over the wonderful sights that she saw on every hand;
also, the walks, drives and various places of entertainment.

"It's no use to think any more about it. They have at length
succeeded in making her what I would have one time sworn that she
never would be--a woman of the world. Ah truly 'the spirit is
willing, but the flesh is weak.' Six months ago I never could have
believed that Marguerite Verne would have yielded to such worldly
influence. She seemed an angel among sinners. And she speaks of
Hubert Tracy in such a gushing style--so foreign to the modest
high-toned sentiments which always inspired me with a love of
truth."

"Can it be possible that Marguerite Verne wrote that letter?"
exclaimed Phillip Lawson, holding it up before him and scrutinizing
every line. Then throwing it aside, added, with a deep tone of
resentment, "Is it possible that one must lose all faith in
humanity?" Then, as if some good spirit had whispered better things,
He raised his eyes and faintly exclaimed, "Father forgive me, I
have been sorely tempted," and set about some work with a fiercer
determination than ever to make his will subservient to his reason.

Melindy Thrasher had not seen more than a fortnight's service in the
Lawson family when Mr. Spriggins made it convenient to stay and
spend the evening.

Phillip being called away upon business the happy pair solaced
themselves in the inviting back parlor, and whiled away the hour in
the way that only such lovers can when one takes into consideration
the candies and peanuts that were conspicuous on this occasion.

When the latch-key turned in the front door all was quiet within,
and the back parlor in perfect order. Faint sounds beneath the
window told the indulgent master that Melindy was taking leave of
her lover.

Mr. Lawson was not guilty of eavesdropping, but what could he
do--the voices became more distinct.

"I tell you what it is, Moses Spriggins, there hain't been no
secrets between us afore this, and I'd like to know why you can't
tell me what business took you to Mr. Verne's office. Now you know
you was there just as well as you know the head is on your body."

"Come, come, Melindy--I ain't got no secrets from you. It's only a
little bit of bisness that I was a-doin' for 'Squire Verne--(Mr.
Spriggins had a habit of addressing all men of any importance by
such appellation)--and it's his secret, not mine, and you can't
blame a fellar for a-keepin' it when he is asked to do it, can you,
Melindy?"

At this declaration the said Melindy was somewhat mollified, but
muttered something about the two being one.

"Wal, never mind now," said Moses, "that's a dear Melindy; let's
make up," and suiting the action to the word the lovers made up, and
Melindy was satisfied that the secret did not belong to her
affianced.

"But hold on, Melindy, how did you hear that I was at the office?
That's the stickin' pint; eh, Melindy, I've got you now."

"I ain't a-goin' to tell you, Moses Spriggins; that's my secret,"
said Melindy, affecting an air of disdain.

"Now you've been a-listenin', that's a sure thing, Melindy, and I
think it's a-cryin' out shame to do sich a mean thing."

"Now look here, Moses Spriggins; I'm not a'goin' to stand no
lecturin' from you, for if you don't like it, you can git as soon as
you like, for there's Ben Buckler would give his eye tooth to cut
you out!"

"Come, come, Melindy; we won't say anything more about it. We ain't
a-goin' to be quarrelin' over nothin'." And very soon the lovers
made up a second time, while the solicitor turned away, indulging in
the same amount of curiosity as expressed by Melindy Jane Thrasher.

"It is strange, indeed. Moses is truthful. Mr. Verne has some
secret, and he could have no more trustworthy confidante than the
self-same Mr. Moses Spriggins," and soliloquizing thus Phillip
Lawson sought the land of dreams--

  "Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep."



CHAPTER XXIX.

A CHARACTER IS LUCK.


"Truly an interesting girl. There is a vein of good sense about her
that I admire. New Brunswick sends us some fine specimens of
females."

The man who made these remarks was not a gallant of the ninety-ninth
degree, but was a sober, intellectual man of threescore-and-ten and,
judging from the clear, penetrative eye, one who had seen much of
the world as it is.

"From St John did you say, Mr. Metcalfe?"

"Yes, sir. Her father is engaged in the shipping business there, and
I am told is a very fine sort of fellow. I have met Miss Verne
several times and each time am more interested," said the old
gentleman, rubbing his gold-rimmed spectacles in a way that implied
"now for business."

"By the way, sir; that reminds me of a case I have on hand. The
McGregor heirs are at a discount around here and our object is to
hunt up a branch of the family who emigrated to New Brunswick some
forty years ago.

"Old Hugh McGregor, from whom the bulk of the property comes, was an
ironmonger who at one time did a large business in Glasgow, after
which he removed to Manchester, and resided there until his death in
1829.

"His son Robert succeeded in the establishment and was prosperous,
living in good style in a suburban residence five miles from
Manchester.

"As Robert McGregor had no children the nearest heir was his sister,
Jessie McGregor, who unfortunately fell in love with a young student
who attended the same institution as herself. Her parents becoming
acquainted with the facts had her removed and forbade all
intercourse; but love is stronger than bolts and bars, and the fair
Jessie set out to face the world with no visible means of support
but her husband's blandishments. But love is strong and the fair
maiden managed to eke out a subsistence and by untiring effort they
were at least in comfortable circumstances, and succeeded in
educating their first-born for the ministry, but ere the talented
young minister had preached a season his health gave way and he was
called away to reap the reward of the faithful.

"The remaining child, a sweet girl of fourteen, was now the only
solace of the bereaved parents, and fearing that they would also be
deprived of their only joy, sold out their small property and
emigrated to New Brunswick, where they purchased some land, and also
by carrying on some other speculation were once more in prosperity.

"Now," said the old lawyer, glancing up over his spectacles, "our
object is to trace this girl, who is the only surviving heir of the
McGregor estate."

"But on what ground do you ignore Jessie McGregor, who may yet be
alive? She cannot be a centenarian yet, sir."

"True," replied the former, "but Robert McGregor was aware of the
fact of his sister's death some years ago. The latter was too proud
to ask forgiveness for her rash act, and all intimacy ceased when
she left her parent's protection, for old Hugh McGregor was a harsh,
unrelenting man, whom if once thwarted could never be conciliated."

"And how do you intend to proceed? Have you any further
information?"

"None, sir--except that by some intelligence from New Brunswick
about ten years ago, Robert McGregor heard that his sister's child
married a farmer and was comfortably settled."

"There is little trouble in finding the heirs then. Is the property
a valuable one?"

"Real and personal estate amounts to something in the vicinity of
forty thousand dollars."

"Not a bad heritage, I assure you, sir," said the other, with the
least perceptible smile.

A month after the above conversation took place the lawyer was
interviewed by the same individual.

"Yes, indeed, I immediately forwarded the notice to the St. John
_Daily Telegraph_ and to the _Daily Sun_, two leading journals
of that city, and yesterday was rewarded by a letter from a young
solicitor of that city making such inquiries about the McGregor
family that evidently shows that he is in possession of all the
facts that we wish to become acquainted with."

"Are you at liberty to give his name. I am acquainted with the
majority of St. John lawyers," said the other, feeling a lively
interest in the subject.

"Not at present, if I were really disposed to do so," said the
lawyer in the most good-natured manner. "The fact is I am not
exactly in the writer's confidence myself. He wishes, no doubt, to
communicate farther with some of the family in question ere he gives
himself publicity."

"A sensible young man, indeed," ventured the New Brunswicker, for
such he evidently was in his unconventional aspect and easy-going
habits.

On the evening of the same day the same gentlemen held a second
conversation, but this time it was not in a dingy lawyer's office.
The scene was a neat and pretty drawing-room, with all the necessary
adornments native to such an apartment, and also a higher class of
adornment--that of several interesting and fascinating women.

"Home, sweet home," exclaimed Mr. Metcalfe, taking up the newspaper
which Marguerite Verne had just laid aside. "I see you don't forget
our old sheets. Well, they _do_ look familiar."

"I must be very deeply engaged when I cannot find time to run over
the _Telegraph_ and _Sun_--the former I have read since
I was able to spell the words. It occupies a warm spot in my
affections," said Marguerite, smiling, while the soft roseate
blushes rose in sweet confusion upon her face.

"You are a Grit, I presume, Miss Verne," said the host. "I see that
your favorite journal advocates that policy?"

"I cannot say that I am, Mr. Stanhope. I have many friends on that
side, but really my sympathies go with the present government."

"Then you should transfer your affections to its leading New
Brunswick organ, Miss Verne," said the New Brunswicker.

"I admire it upon principle, sir. But pardon me, I am not versed in
politics, and cannot express myself upon the subject," exclaimed
Marguerite, taking up the _Sun_ to have a second glance at the
locals which graced its columns.

"Not versed in politics, Marguerite! Do I hear aright?" cried a
vivacious and interesting maiden of medium height and fair
proportion, with an air of hauteur in her bearing characteristic of
a model English girl.

The speaker was the lawyer's only daughter--a clever
conversationalist and well read in all those branches of literature
which elevate and ennoble the mind, and if applied to the female
character make woman more than a kind of being that can only talk
about what she eats, drinks, and more than all, what she wears and
what her neighbor wears; discuss the latest bit of scandal and take
a superficial view of everything upon which she languidly
condescends to pass judgment.

"Miss Verne is an out-and-out Conservative, I can assure you," said
Mr. Metcalfe, who now came to the relief of his countrywoman with a
feeling of pride. "She can advocate the National Policy in a manner
that would gain over the most stubborn Grit."

"Ah! Mr. Metcalfe, please do not over-rate my abilities in that
respect," said Marguerite in a manner which coolly implied that she
did not wish to get up such an argument as she certainly must if
confronted by the strong Grit views of her interesting and witty
companion.

"Never mind, Marguerite, we will not measure weapons this time,"
cried the former, "But I must try to shake some of the Tory off
before we have done with you. Remember I have made more than one
staunch Liberal convert."

Marguerite laughed at the girl's spirit of enthusiasm and thought
"what a power is woman when her energies are directed aright?" Then
her thoughts took rapid flight to another and different subject. She
was thinking if it were possible for woman to exert her influence in
the manner she would like that the end would justify the means.

"Not that exactly," mused the maiden as she thought of--but,
perhaps, it is better we do not unearth Marguerite Verne's thoughts
at that moment. She is doubtless sensitive, let us act accordingly
and turn to other subjects. There was a sweet simplicity in her
attire on this evening. Her dress of pale-blue bunting was plain
indeed, and save the silver bracelets upon her beautifully-rounded
arms, there was no other attempt at ornament.

Her cheeks were pale, and a shade thinner than usual, and to this
fact the girl may attribute her liberty or rather freedom from the
giddy rounds of dissipation into which she was reluctantly forced
from morn to dewy eve and from dewy eve to rising morn.

Mrs. Verne had to acknowledge that her daughter's health was getting
impaired, and that nothing but rest would restore her former
strength, therefore consented that Marguerite should spend a few
days with the young lady whom she met and became on intimate terms
during a short time spent on one of the steamers plying between
Liverpool and Belfast.

Edith Stanhope, as we have hitherto intimated, was a bright, witty
English girl, and her companionship was healthful and invigorating.

She admired the gentle, winning, child-like ways of the New
Brunswick maiden, and together they formed a pretty picture.

Mr. Stanhope had been a widower for many years, his household
affairs being managed by a maiden sister, whose affection for the
child Edith increased as the latter grew to womanhood, and nowhere
could be found a more peaceful, inviting and cosy little nest than
that of the much esteemed and venerable lawyer--Charles Stanhope, of
Cheapside.

Edith Stanhope had reached the age of twenty-one, and still "in
maiden meditation fancy free." Her life was an undisturbed and
peaceful dream--her days an enjoyable round of simple domestic
pleasure, broken in upon now and then by a few of the young
schoolmates or companions of her childhood.

How keenly Marguerite then felt the difference of their respective
positions as she glanced up from the newspaper and saw the real
happiness that shone so steadily upon the girl's countenance, while
she, wearied with the gaieties of life, was yearning--oh! so
longingly--for the real domestic happiness that she must never
realize.

"Marguerite Verne, am I to attribute that gaze to fond admiration or
pertinent curiosity?" cried Edith, going up to her friend and
playfully shaking her by the shoulders.

"To neither, Edith," said Marguerite, almost sadly, "but to a worse
trait in my character--to jealousy," and the short sigh fell faintly
upon Edith's quick and acute ear.

"To jealousy, you minx," cried the latter, who had a habit of
repeating the speaker's words, which, in many cases, gave more
effect to her arguments.

"To jealousy, indeed. Is it because I have the audacity to address
your countryman, 'whose way of life is fallen into the sere, and
yellow leaf'," replied she, her eyes sparkling with animation and
keen enjoyment.

"Thank you for the quotation, Edith," said Marguerite, running
her small, delicate fingers through the meshes of her friend's
golden-brown hair.

The reply was interrupted by an exclamation of the New Brunswicker.
"Miss Verne I presume you have read both editorials. Is it not
amusing how each goes for the other."

"Yes, Mr. Metcalfe, but I must confess that I am somewhat like a
lady whom I once heard say, 'Well, dear me, I think everything in
the _Telegraph_ is all gospel until I take up the _Sun_ and it
upsets every speck of belief as fast as it went up. Dear me,
I wish I knew which side was genuine, for both cannot be truth.'"

A general laugh followed and Edith Stanhope exclaimed, "I think that
your friend must have been on the fence, Marguerite."

"Yes, and watching to see which side to jump on in the coming
election," cried the old lawyer who had hitherto remained a
listener.

A burst of merriment arose from the trio on the other side of the
room and rang out in peals of laughter.

"Oh, papa, you naughty man to make such an unscrupulous remark
about one of our sex," cried Edith, assuming an air of injured
innocence and trying to look very severe.

"I take it all back my dear. Come let us have some music. It is too
bad to be wasting so much time when one has an opportunity of having
so much ability on hand."

"Do you allude to Marguerite or myself, papa," cried Edith gaily,
while she arose and playfully led her companion, to the piano.

"It is dangerous to say much here unless one very carefully
considers ere he speaks," said the fond father, casting a glance at
his daughter that was worthy of the most ardent lover.

"Well, well, papa, you will go scot-free this time. Of course
Marguerite will favor us."

The latter needed no coaxing. She played a selection of
old-fashioned airs that were more appreciated than the most
brilliant fantasia or classic opera. Then followed a few of the
songs she used to sing for her father and one which had caused
the heart of Phillip Lawson to beat wildly as he stood listening
to the voice he loved so well and bitterly thought of the world that
lay between him and his buried love.

"Miss Verne, you have certainly much power of expression," said the
New Brunswick gentleman as the last note had died away, and, Edith
Stanhope sat silent as if fearing to break the spell.

"I seldom sing except to amuse my father, and the class of music I
practise is simple," was the quiet reply.

A young girl attended by a gentleman several years her senior, now
entered the room. The former was Edith Stanhope's favorite cousin,
and the latter was a distant relative, who was home on a vacation
from a neighboring town, where he held a responsible position in a
banking establishment.

"Ah, my fair cousin; and you have condescended to come at last,"
ejaculated Edith, embracing the latter, and then extending her hand
to the gentleman, exclaimed, "and you, Frank, it is time that you
presented yourself. Just think, you have been here nearly a
week--"

"Not so hard, cousin Edith. Your humble servant arrived on Monday,
and this, I believe, is Wednesday."

"That's right, my boy, defend yourself," said Mr. Stanhope, looking
proudly upon the fair group around him.

As conversation set in lively and amusement was the order of the
day, Mr. Stanhope and his friend quietly sat and looked on,
occasionally answering to some of the sallies sent off at their
expense.

A servant now entered with the evening mail, and assorting the pile
Mr. Stanhope passed to Mr. Metcalfe the two provincial dailies.

"The very information I was seeking," cried the latter in excited
tones. "Just read that."

Mr. Stanhope glanced at the article in question and seemed lost in
amazement; then hastily exclaimed: "It is wonderful how these
fellows get things so soon. The matter has indeed gained publicity,
and the young fellow need hesitate no longer."

"Miss Verne will no doubt be able to give you much information, as
the young lawyer is quite popular in her native city. I may have
known of him, but I'm inclined to think he has established himself
since I left St. John."

Mr. Stanhope passed the newspaper to Marguerite, who, for some
unaccountable reason, felt more curiosity than she was willing to
acknowledge.

As she silently read the paragraph a tremor passed through her
frame, and her heart began to throb wildly, but no emotion was
visible.

"I am quite well acquainted with Mr. Lawson. He is a very great
friend of my father's," were the words that rose to the girl's lips
when she had gained courage to speak.

"That is splendid," exclaimed Edith, who now became interested in
the matter; "I suppose he is young, and handsome beside," added she
in a different tone.

"Keep that part of it to yourself, Miss Verne," said Mr. Metcalfe,
in a tantalizing manner; "Miss Edith is not going to rob New
Brunswick's daughters of what is theirs by right."

"But if the fortune be forthcoming here we should insist that the
heir give some fair one here the benefit of it," cried Edith, who
thought she had the best side of the argument.

"Don't quarrel over this matter, I pray," said the distant relative
with a merry twinkle in his eye, "I am going to ship for St. John
one of these days, and will, if possible, visit the McGregor heir
and make him acquainted with the designs of my fair Saxon Edith."

"And you will exonerate Miss Verne from any complicity in the
matter."

"Most certainly I do," said the relative, while Marguerite Verne
hurried carelessly away to hide the tell-tale blushes which sooner
or later would betray her.



CHAPTER XXX.

FINANCIAL EMBARRASSMENT.


And now let us turn to Mr. Verne, who is in a sad state of physical
prostration.

The financial storm which overhung his daily prospect has at last
swooped down upon him in merciless fury, hurling down every hope
that hitherto buoyed him up and whispered encouraging words as he
struggled on.

Mr. Verne had shut himself in his private apartments and asked that
he might be left alone.

But ere long he was besieged by interviewers. Reporters, anxious to
give the full benefit of the sad disaster to the clamoring public,
who must know to a farthing the amount of the liabilities, and, of
course, the assets.

But before "morning wore into evening" Mr. Verne had the comforting
assurance of a sympathetic heart. Mrs. Montgomery had a telegram
conveying news of the assignment, and in a few hours she was at home
in "Sunnybank," trying every means within her power to console her
stricken brother-in-law.

"It will never do to allow him to give up in this manner," said the
true-hearted woman in a conversation with an old and tried friend of
the family. "Something must be done to rouse him."

On the same evening a _Globe_ containing the news of the
failure was handed to Mr. Verne as he sat with bowed head gazing
mechanically at the list of figures before him. The notice was
favorable to the man of business. It spoke of the sterling integrity
of Stephen Verne, and showed that the disastrous crash was from
circumstances over which he had no control.

The cause of the assignment, it said, was due to the uncertainty of
the moneys due him. The liabilities were large, but the assets would
nearly cover them, and one thing was certain, the estate would not
hold back one cent.

"Thank God," cried Mr. Verne as he threw down the paper and once
more folded his arms across his breast, looking, as indeed he was, a
total physical wreck.

But human charity is not common to the general public, nor among the
weaker sex.

"What will the Vernes do now without their grand carriages and
retinue of servants? That stuck up old Mrs. Verne will have to go
into the work herself, and do as other people, and not be sticking
on any more airs or she will get snubbed up pretty often."

"Yes, and I wonder how she will manage her trains now going through
the kitchen when it was almost impossible for her to get along the
aisle in Trinity."

"Pride always has a fall," chimed in another.

It was indeed a noteworthy fact that throughout the whole range of
uncharitable remarks made upon the matter not one syllable was
uttered against Marguerite.

On the contrary she excited the compassion of the most callous-
hearted. "Poor Marguerite, she will feel it bitterly."

"Yes, most of all, for she loved her father dearly. It will almost
break her heart to see him looking so ill."

"It was none of her doings I assure you. I have seen much of Miss
Verne, and have learned that her tastes are of the most simple kind,
and if she had her own way they would have lived in a more quiet
style than that of Sunnybank."

The speaker was an intelligent woman of the middle class, whose
business brought her in daily contact with the young lady, and she
had thus formed a correct opinion of her.

Mrs. Montgomery did not wish to intrude upon the privacy of the
stricken man, but she saw that he must be aroused from his apathy.

"It will kill him sooner or later," thought she, "but he must live
to see a change for the better."

"Stephen, you have not written Matilda. It is better that she
should know at once," said the woman, taking a seat beside her
brother-in-law, and placing her hand upon his shoulder as gently as
if he were an infant.

"God bless you, Hester, I am not alone; I yet have warm friends, let
the world say what it will."

Mr. Verne's frame shook with emotion, and the tears stood in his
eyes--a pitiable sight to the friend beside him.

"The world may say that you are an unfortunate man, Stephen, but it
cannot say that you are a dishonest one," said the woman, cheerily;
"and remember, Stephen," added she, "it is partly to the delinquency
of others that you owe this."

"True, indeed, Hester," said Mr. Verne, brightening up, "had they
given me time I would have redeemed every dollar of my common debts,
but as it is now, every cent's worth of property I own shall go
into the assignee's possession as assets, for the benefit of each
and every creditor."

"Why, then, take such a gloomy view of the affair, Stephen? Hundreds
have been in the same position and came out all right in the end,
and I see no reason why you should form an exception."

"That is true enough, Hester, but I feel that I am going downward."
And as Mr. Verne spoke he shut his teeth very firmly as if suffering
intense pain.

Mrs. Montgomery was quick to detect the cause, but she made no
comment upon it.

Prom the woman's heart went up a fervent prayer that Heaven would
avert the threatening blow, and that quiet and content would yet
reign in the now desolate home.

It was only by the utmost persuasion that Mr. Verne could be induced
to eat a morsel of food.

"You are doing yourself a great injustice, Stephen. Think what you
owe to your family. Think of Marguerite. Surely you will break her
heart."

"Ah, Hester, you have spoken truly. I must bear up for the sake of
my child; but oh God, it is hard to be branded in the eyes of the
world as a rogue and a scoundrel. Mothers will curse me, and the
orphan's wail will haunt me throughout time and eternity!"

Once more Mr. Verne placed his hand against his breast as if to ease
the spasmodic pain which had then seized him.

"He is going fast," murmured Mrs. Montgomery, as she noted the
livid lips and pallid face that followed the spasm.

"This cup of coffee will tempt anybody, and the rolls are delicious;
just taste one, Stephen."

"I was thinking of my darling child, Hester; how do you think she
will bear the news? And to think of her being exposed to the scoffs
of the world. Hester, I can stand anything but that," and the groans
that followed were agonizing.

"Stephen, I have more faith in Marguerite than you have. If you
think she will mope and worry herself to death you are sadly
mistaken." Then in assuring tones added, "I do not wish to hurt your
feelings, Stephen, but I firmly believe that as regards the
financial trouble, Marguerite will not care a straw. She is not one
of your namby-pamby girls, whom you could dress up and put under a
glass case to look at. No, Marguerite is a rational, human being,
capable of taking her place in the world, and looking misfortune in
the face with a determination to succeed in whatever she may
attempt."

"Hester, you are a student of human nature. You are capable of
judging aright. God grant that my child may meet this trouble as you
predict," said Mr. Verne, as he tried to swallow the food which had
been so temptingly prepared by the ministering angel who now strove
to make smooth the hard, rough pathway over which he now daily trod.

It was Mrs. Montgomery's hard, strong hand, that penned the lines
conveying the news to Marguerite. "I11 news comes soon enough." was
the former's remark, "and we can afford to await the next mail."

As the important missive is on its way across the broad waters of
the Atlantic, let us take the liberty of intruding upon the privacy
of the mother and daughter who are still occupying their handsome
suite of apartments in Picadilly Square.

Marguerite had returned from "Ivy Cottage," the pretty little home
of the Stanhope family, feeling much stronger and looking brighter
and more cheerful.

"Mamma," exclaimed the girl looking intently into the handsome face.
"I have been thinking so much of home lately that it seems as if I
had room for no other thoughts, and, oh, you cannot imagine how much
I want to see papa."

Marguerite made a striking picture reclining beside her mother, and
one arm resting on her knee. Her delicate morning wrapper lay in
graceful folds around her, and reminded one of the draperies of a
Venus de Medici.

What a world of expression was in the violet eyes as they pleaded
for the return to the dreary cheerless home. What a depth of meaning
lay in the purely oval face so beautifully defined in every
lineament. What nature could withstand Marguerite Verne's
entreaties?

"My dear, I am thinking just as much about home as you are, but I
keep it to myself. It is impossible for us to go for another month,
and you know we have promised Sir Arthur to make a visit at his
country seat--a beautiful spot I am told."

"Surely mamma, you did not expect me to go there. I cannot endure
the thoughts of coming in contact with that disagreeable man," and
Marguerite shrugged her shoulders in unaffected disgust.

"Marguerite, I am ashamed to think that I have a child capable of
such ingratitude. It is enough for Evelyn to become obstinate and
oppose me in everything, but, really, I did not expect it of you."

At this point Mrs. Verne became deeply affected, and very much
inclined to cry, but she thought such a course inopportune and
availed farther provocation.

"Has Eve been here lately, mamma," asked Marguerite, suddenly.

"If you have any respect to me please don't mention her to me again,
Madge. I have done everything for that girl that a fond, idolized
mother could do, and what is my reward? Base ingratitude of the
worst kind. Talk of mothers; what do they live for; and Mrs. Verne
stood with clenched hands, looking, indeed, a living representation
of one of the Three Furies.

"Mamma, dear, do not look like that, I cannot bear to see you thus,"
cried Marguerite, catching hold of the fold of the cashmere gown and
attempting to draw her mother towards her.

"I cannot help it, Madge, when my children are so disobedient.
Surely you cannot have forgotten the teachings of that Book, which
says, 'Children obey your parents in the Lord' for this is the first
commandment with promise. Oh, it is so hard to think that my
children have such unchristian spirits."

"Come mamma, let us think of something else for a little while, and
then we will both act differently," said Marguerite, trying to
appear more cheerful than the circumstance would admit.

"I may just as well tell you once for all, Madge, that nothing will
conciliate me but your acceptance of Sir Arthur's kind invitation
which we can forward without delay."

Marguerite remained in silence for some moments. She was sorely
tried, yet she brought reason to bear upon every point at issue. "If
I go," reasoned she, "Sir Arthur will think that I give him
encouragement, and that would be acting dishonestly, and again if I
do not go mamma will have her feelings so deeply outraged that I
fear the consequence. Oh! that I were once more in the protecting
arms of my dear, dear father." The girl then thought of the lonely,
silent man, plodding on so patiently amid the daily straggles of
life, and her heart went out in deep fervent sympathy.

Presently her mind was made up. Going straight to her mother's
dressing room, whither the latter had retreated in a state bordering
on madness, Marguerite threw her arms out in imploring gesture and
stood for a moment, then exclaimed between tears and sobs, "Mamma,
do not judge me harshly, I want to do what is right--but it is so
hard."

Mrs. Verne saw that her daughter was relenting, and uttered not a
word.

"Mamma, dear, give me time and I will prove a dutiful daughter." She
was going to say more when a servant entered with a note, which from
its negligent appearance was evidently written in much haste. It was
from Mrs. Montague Arnold, and contained only a few hurried
sentences, so unintelligible that Marguerite did not attempt to
interpret them.

"I will go at once, mamma," said the latter, "and see what is the
trouble. Poor Eve, she seems always in some fuss."

As Mr. Arnold's residence was only a short distance, Marguerite was
there in a very few minutes after the delivery of the note.

"Oh, Madge, how can I tell you; I know it will break your heart. Oh,
poor papa? Oh! Madge--is it not dreadful?"

"What do you mean, Eve?" cried Marguerite, her ashen face sufficient
proof of the shock she had already undergone. "Speak, Eve; for
heaven's sake tell me the worst. Is papa dead?"

"Oh worse than that, Madge--worse than that. Death is nothing in
comparison!"

"Eve, I cannot stand this horrible suspense; for mercy sake, I
implore you tell me the truth," cried the girl, her bosom heaving
wildly and her limbs trembling so that she had to grasp the mantel
beside her for support.

Mrs. Arnold then pulled the bell-rope and a servant, or rather page,
answered the summons.

"Bring me that package of letters lying on the small cabinet in my
boudoir," said she, with as much nonchalance as if nothing of any
importance occupied her thoughts.

The boy returned and presented the desired package on a small and
unique silver salver, lined with gold and enamel.

"Here it is, Madge," said Mrs. Arnold, passing a somewhat lengthy
telegram into the girl's hand.

The latter run her eye hastily over the contents and turned deathly
pale. "Poor, dear, papa!" were all the words she could say, when an
icy chill ran through the delicate frame, and the tender-hearted
daughter fell into a deadly swoon.

Mrs. Arnold did feel something akin to pity when she saw the
graceful form prostrate at her feet, and as she stooped down and
took the cold hand in hers, murmured "poor little Madge--you were
not fashioned for this decidedly calculating world. Your heart is
too tender--far too tender."

"You must be brave, Madge," said Mrs. Arnold, on seeing Marguerite
restored to something of her former self. "I'm afraid you would be
more of a drawback to papa at present than a help."

But Marguerite was of a different opinion. "Oh! if I were only near
him, to comfort him," thought she, "I could indeed do something. My
sadness to-day was but a presentiment of this. Oh, dear! will I ever
see papa alive again!"

"Papa will be all right, Madge. It is to yourself you must now look,
for more depends upon you now than you at present realize."

"You speak in enigmas, Eve. Tell me what you mean," cried
Marguerite, in a bewildered sort of way.

"I will wait until you are a little stronger, Madge. Go home now and
tell mamma what has happened; I know she will act like a sensible
woman. You know, Madge, she is always composed. I verily believe,"
added Mrs. Arnold, "that mamma would feel at ease if all the friends
she had committed suicide, or died from some fearful epidemic."

"Don't talk about mamma in that way, Eve; I cannot bear to listen."

Mrs. Arnold thought just then that the girl would listen to
something, perhaps to her, far more disagreeable, but she held her
peace.

Poor Marguerite. All prospect of happiness had now fled from her
vision. She saw instead sorrow, disappointment, and, perhaps, death.
"If papa survives the shock I will face the world, and, amid
poverty, and the slights of my former companions, I will toil--yes,
I will work at anything that I can do in honesty." And with this
high resolve Marguerite set forth to break the sad news to her
worldly-minded mother.



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE STORM THICKENS.


It would be much easier to imagine than describe the violent
paroxysms of grief (if we may use the expression) which seized upon
Mrs. Verne when Marguerite calmly broke the unwelcome news. Grief
did we say--yes--"not the grief that saps the mind," but grief for
the deprivation of those luxuries which the woman had considered as
part and parcel of herself.

"It is just what one might have expected from the loose way in which
your father has been transacting his business," cried Mrs. Verne,
wringing her hands, and lamenting wildly; and then turning upon her
daughter the full benefit of her penetrating eyes, added, "and it is
not himself that will suffer the most, but think of us Madge. How
nice you will look going out to earn your living, perhaps, behind
some counter, or worse still, apprenticed to a dressmaker and
blinding yourself over such rags as we would not condescend to put
on, nor, more than that, recognize the people to whom they
belonged."

After this harangue, Mrs. Verne threw herself into the elegant
fauteuil of carved ebony and oriental tapestry, and poured forth
another volume of tears more prolific than the first.

"Mamma, dear, what is the use of all this. The affair is bad enough,
but it might be a great deal worse. Papa is still alive and we
can live just as happily on a small income as indulging in such
luxury. Really, my dear mamma, I feel that we are going to be much
happier. I need not, as you remarked, have to submit to any great
drudgery, I can teach music and painting, thanks to those kind
instructors who took such pains in my education, and if I fail to
make that kind of work remunerative, why I can easily fit myself for
a school-teacher."

"Marguerite Verne!" cried the horrified mother, raising her hands in
gestures of dismay, "You will drive me mad! A daughter of mine a
school-teacher! Oh! dear, did I ever think I would raise a child to
inherit such plebeian ideas. Bad as Evelyn is with all her faults
she would not hurt my feelings in such a manner."

Marguerite looked at her mother with a feeling of compassion, yet
there were rebellious thoughts in her mind.

"Is it possible that mamma forgets poor dear papa, who is most to be
pitied?" murmured she, as she strove to hide the tears that would
flow in spite of all her efforts.

"And only to think of your papa's slackness. I shouldn't wonder one
bit if he gave up every cent's worth of property, and all the
furniture into the bargain. It is just such a trick as he would do,
for the sake of being called an honest man. Yes, it is very nice to
hear people talking of 'honesty being the best of policy' where no
one is concerned in the matter; but when it comes home, I say a
man's first honesty is to his family."

"Pray, mamma dear, do not worry over our worldly loss; it will all
come right," whispered Marguerite, in tones of endearment, and
stroking the luxuriant mass of silken hair that crowned the pretty,
classic-shaped head.

"Well, I hope so, Madge; but I am sorry that I cannot entertain your
very convenient sort of opinion," returned Mrs. Verne, in a half
angry and petulant mood; then rising from her seat, took up a piece
of crewel embroidery, saying, "I suppose if I have to turn out and
earn my living I had better begin at once," and suiting the action
to the word, was soon busily engaged in making some pretty stitches
upon the handsome panel of rich garnet-colored velvet.

While Marguerite sat buried in deep thought, turning over and over
in her mind what she must do, an attendant arrived with a letter.

"It is from Aunt Hester," cried she, as she broke the seal and
eagerly devoured its contents.

"It's just like her," said Mrs. Verne, as Marguerite passed the
letter for her to read. "Yes, she is one of Job's comforters, and
will make your papa feel a great deal worse than there is any need.
Of course, she will be preaching day and night of our extravagance,
and make him believe that we alone are the cause of all his
misfortune--I should say, mismanagement."

"I think it was very kind of Aunt Hester to come to papa when he was
so lonely," replied Marguerite, with a choking sensation in her
throat.

"Yes, and it is a great wonder she did not say that _her friend,
Mr. Lawson_, was one of the company, for it seems that not one of
the whole Montgomery family can exist without him."

Mrs. Verne had emphasized the word friend in a very uncharitable
manner, and her tone was spiteful in the extreme.

"Of course that letter means come home at once, but I think it would
make us appear very ridiculous to go until some settlement was made
and the gossips had their nine days' wonder over," said she in a
very cool and decided manner.

"Mamma, dear, let us not delay one hour more than is necessary,"
cried Marguerite clinging to her mother's arm as if to gain assent.
"We surely can be ready for the next steamer of the Anchor Line (the
Olympian) which sails on Saturday."

"What nonsense, Marguerite! and only think of Sir Arthur's
disappointment! Poor man! It is such a pity, and we have received
such kindness." Mrs. Verne drew a long sigh and then added in an
altered tone: "If your papa insists upon our return we shall go, but
I cannot see why your Aunt Hester should take upon herself to
dictate to us."

"We will, no doubt, hear from papa as well. You know, mamma, he owes
me a letter now," said Marguerite, hopefully.

A caller was now announced and Lady Gertrude Fortescue, in her
beauty and amiability, was ushered in with all the deference due her
rank and position.

Mrs. Verne was intoxicated with delight as she thought of the great
honor thus conferred upon her, and she soon forgot all her recent
trouble in the sunshine of her ladyship's smiles.

"Miss Verne is certainly deserving of our most bitter hate!" cried
the latter in affected severity. "You know we English women cannot
tolerate a rival and this clever little Canadian (pointing to
Marguerite) has outshone us all."

Marguerite was indulging in thoughts of a different nature, but she
managed to reply to her ladyship, and occasionally ventured a remark
upon some trivial matters.

"You will be at the reception to-night, my dear?" exclaimed the
blonde beauty as she rose to go.

Mrs. Verne glanced at her daughter for answer and was pained to see
the utter serenity of the pale but interesting face.

"Miss Verne has been slightly indisposed to-day and I fear that she
will plead that as excuse to remain with Muggins."

"You naughty little thing," said her ladyship, poking the said
Muggins with the top of her parasol and exciting lively responses
from his poodleship, then turning to Mrs. Verne exclaimed, "Mrs.
Arnold is looking well. It really seems to me that you Canadians
have found the long-sought elixir of youth and beauty."

"You are inclined to flattery Lady Gertrude, but if you should ever
visit New Brunswick you will find many pretty women."

"Now, my dear Mrs. Verne, _you_ are inclined to teaze," cried
her ladyship. You know full well that it is the gentlemen in whom I
am solely interested. What have you to say in _their_ behalf."

"New Brunswick can boast of many handsome, brave and clever men,"
was the reply, and this time Mrs. Verne spoke the truth.

"Oh well, I shall, perhaps, go and see for myself. Good-bye Mrs.
Verne, and you my little rival, adieu until we meet again."

Her ladyship pressed the tips of her dainty fingers and playfully
threw a kiss to Marguerite as she leaned against the balustrade and
watched her visitor depart.

"What a sweet but sad face," thought the latter, as she was being
assisted into the grand old family coach with its richly-caparisoned
steeds and gay trappings.

"To Hyde Park, James," then leaning back amid the luxurious cushions
the almond-eyed beauty murmured "that girl has a tender spot in her
heart which all the pleasures and gaiety of a thousand worlds like
this can never heal. Ah, well we women must endure," and with the
last remark there arose a sad and weary look that would seem
strangely at variance the gay, sporting butterfly who talked and
chatted of airy nothings in Mrs. Verne's drawing-room.

And now to Marguerite. She has donned her tasteful gray walking
costume and accompanied by Muggins is on the way to Mrs. Arnold's
residence, not far distant.

"I am so glad you have come, Madge, I was just going to send for
you. My head has ached all morning. I can think of nothing but dear
papa. Just imagine him without a cent in the world, and at his age.
Oh, it is too horrible for anything."

Mrs. Arnold now drew her elegant lace handkerchief across her eyes
to arrest the falling tears.

Marguerite was accustomed to her sister's demonstrations, and was
not at all affected as she should be.

"Madge, you are aware, I suppose, of the trouble between mamma and
me, and now I have no one but you to offer any sympathy."

Marguerite looked at her sister in surprise.

"You need not look that way, Madge, I mean it, and when you
have--" Mrs. Arnold checked herself. She was on the eve of a
declaration which she must at all hazards supress. "I say it is
most cruel of mamma to treat me in the way that she does. Really,
Madge, it makes me feel terribly; and oh! poor, dear, papa! I don't
know why it should affect me so strangely, but really, Madge, I
cannot get it out of my head but that papa is going to die."

"Oh, Eve!" cried Marguerite, clinging to her chair for support,
"pray do not say such a dreadful thing."

"Well, you know, Madge, that grief will sap all the vitality of
stronger constitutions than papa's."

Mrs. Arnold sat watching the effect of her words upon her sister,
and tried to be engaged assorting some letters that had been
misplaced in her desk.

"If it were only in my power to save papa such trouble I would make
any sacrifice," cried the latter, suddenly glancing at Marguerite.

"And would I not, too? Oh! Eve," said the girl, with an eager,
hungry look upon her face.

"You can _now_, if you wish, Madge," said Mrs. Arnold, in the
coolest possible manner.

"Eve, this is too serious a matter for jesting. You know not what
you say," cried Marguerite, wildly.

"I know that you can pay every cent of papa's debts if you will only
marry Hubert Tracy!"

"Eve! Spare me!" exclaimed Marguerite, turning deadly pale.

"Yes, my dear--I knew full well that you could not make such a
sacrifice. Why did I mention it. Forgive me, dear Madge, I shall
never mention the subject again. I told Hubert that I knew it was
useless for him to urge the suit."

"And he has spoken of it lately?" cried Marguerite.

"Not later than this morning, my dear. He called a few moments after
you went away, and seemed to be in great distress at papa's
misfortune. Poor fellow, he was deeply moved, and said that if you
would only consent to be his wife that his immense fortune would be
at your entire control. What a pity, dear Madge, that you cannot
treat him as he deserves--he is such a generous-hearted fellow."

Marguerite Verne was, indeed, an object of pity as she sat with her
eyes fixed upon the wall opposite, while a look of anguish now
settled down upon her features, and made them rigid as death.

"Don't worry, darling. I cannot bear to see you thus. If Hubert
Tracy is not willing to settle papa's affairs without sacrificing
your happiness, why let it go. Papa may get over it, and if he has
to face the world and earn his living by drudgery, it may do him
good in the end; if not, we cannot help it, my dear: So don't worry
any longer." And Mrs. Arnold swept across the room with the air of
an empress, while with her lace handkerchief she wiped the tears
from Marguerite's eyes.

"Has Hubert Tracy the full control of his estates, Eve?"

"Yes, Madge. He has had ever since his uncle died, which was more
than three months ago."

"Poor dear papa," murmured the girl in very bitterness of soul.

"She will come to it yet," thought Mrs. Arnold, "nothing succeeds
like moderation," and with the most consummate adroitness commenced
asking questions concerning her mother.

"You know, Madge, that mamma is so much wrapped up in Sir Arthur,
the ugly old bore, that she can listen to no one else, and for no
other reason than to have you addressed as 'my lady.'"

"Oh Eve, do not say that."

"I _will_ say it Madge, and more than that I will say that
mamma has no more respect for her children's feeling than for those
of her meanest servant. She would think it splendid to marry you to
a gouty old baronet old enough to be your father, yes your
grandfather, while I would not insist upon your favoring a handsome
young man with wealth and a large heart into the bargain."

"Eve, you do mamma a great injustice," cried Marguerite, who be it
said to her credit, always defended the absent one, "she already
knows my feelings towards Sir Arthur and has used no coercion since
and now that we are soon going home there is no need of referring to
the affair."

Marguerite was annoyed and her sister saw that she had said enough,
so with diplomatic tact, she became doubly tractable and tried to
appear in sympathy with every word that the girl uttered.

"Are you going to accompany us to the opera this evening, Madge? My
amiable husband, anxious to make reparation for past neglect, has
formed a set and I must certainly go."

Marguerite was pained at her sister's composure and thought of the
protestations of grief she had hitherto exhibited.

"Is it possible," thought she, "that Eve can dissemble so much?"
Then turning to her sister she exclaimed: "Eve, I cannot go; I am
miserable enough already and--"

"I see how it is, Madge, you are inclined to be selfish, and cannot
bear to see the happiness of others."

"Happiness!" murmured the girl, "as if there is much happiness under
all this false glittering surface." But Mrs. Arnold heeded not the
remark and added:

"Poor mamma, I know she feels badly, I will ask Montague to call and
invite her to join us. I know I did wrong to say so much, but at
times you know, dear Madge, I have an ungovernable temper."

"I am going now," said Marguerite rising and holding out her hand to
Mrs. Arnold.

"I know Madge well enough to perceive that she will have no peace of
mind this night. How she will brood over what I nave said!" and
turning to the spacious mirror Mrs. Arnold exclaimed, "Ah! madame,
you can dupe more clever minds than that of your confiding little
sister."

In the quiet of her own room Marguerite Verne gave full vent to her
pent-up feelings in an outburst of tears. Hers was not a nature that
could endure with fortitude the ills that oftentimes befall
humanity; but like the fragile reed that bends with the storm, and
when the force of nature has spent itself raises its head
heavenward.

And now the girl was prostrated, and bowed her head in keenest
agony. She wished not the interruption of mother or friends, but
remained silent and preoccupied.

On the third day in question a reaction set in, and Marguerite had
made up her mind to act.

"I am reconciled to my fate," murmured the girl, as she carefully
arranged her pretty morning toilet, and then went to her mother's
apartments to receive the extremely conventional style of
endearment.

"You should have been with us, my dear," exclaimed Mrs. Verne, as
she glanced at the interesting maiden, and thought that grief, if
anything, made her more bewitching.

"You should have been there, dear," cried she in ecstasies of
unfeigned delight. "It was such a charming little coterie, and the
dear girl has such a happy knack of making her friends appear at
ease, while Montague is so attentive that with all his faults one
can forgive him, and admire his highly-polished manners. And you
should have seen Lady Gertrude, my dear. She looked radiant in that
_eau de nil_ satin and honiton-lace flounces, but really I
think that her ladyship is very forward, as she certainly was making
love to Mr. Tracy and using all her blandishments with a master
stroke."

"And what matters that to me," thought Marguerite, though she
expressed it not She was puzzled to know what had wrought such a
change in her mother, as the latter talked of dear Eve and Mr. Tracy
in one breath and seemed enthusiastic over each particular.

In order to explain the cause of Mrs. Verne's altered manner we
would have to repeat a conversation which a few hours earlier took
place in Mrs. Montague Arnold's boudoir with mother and daughter as
occupants. Suffice it to say that a reconciliation was effected, and
that Mrs. Verne agreed to everything advanced by her daughter, also
that they were now united in a common cause, and that Sir Arthur
Fonister was ruthlessly cast aside for a more profitable
consideration, and one which would gratify the wants and wishes of
both.

"But enough of this for the present, my dear," said Mrs. Verne, then
instantly changing look, tone and manner, exclaimed, "It is strange
that we have not heard from home. Madge, I trust, things are not
growing worse. Indeed, I feel uneasy, but we must be prepared;
nothing seems improbable nowadays."

It was Marguerite's turn now to speak. Looking steadily into her
mother's face she asked, "Mamma, did Eve tell you what had passed
between her and Mr. Tracy?"

"Yes, dearest, and I begged that she would think no more of the
matter. When she declared that she would make double such sacrifice
for her dear papa, I told her that I believed she would, but that
she was of a different disposition from you, and would suit herself
to circumstances, and besides she is of a strong mind and possessed
of much will, and is capable of smoothing all difficulties, while
you, my dear Madge, are a tender, sensitive creature, whom it would
be more than cruel to submit to anything contrary to your wishes."

"Mamma, I am capable of more than you think. I have never
looked upon Hubert Tracy otherwise than a friend. Indeed I have
friends whom I like very much better, but I will receive him as my
future husband, and try to do the best I can to repay him for
unreciprocated love."

With these words died all the hopes that Marguerite hitherto vainly
cherished, and as she received her mother's warm embrace, her heart
seemed to have suddenly turned to ice, and her breath more chilling
than the piercing blasts of the frigid zone.



CHAPTER XXXII.

MONTAGUE ARNOLD IN DIFFICULTY.


Scene, a London club-room. It is an early hour and the dons of
the gay metropolis have not yet put in an appearance. The
handsomely-furnished rooms are almost silent while the endless
array of porters and waiters are on the alert, and cooks are busy
in getting up the various epicurean compounds for which they
are noted and to which the gay votaries of these resorts are ever
ready to pay devoted attention.

"What! here already, chum? You've kept your word for once." Montague
Arnold was somewhat inebriated but still in full possession of his
senses.

Hubert Tracy glanced moodily at his companion and muttered something
in the fashion of an oath, then exclaimed, "and a deuced hard time I
had to get here."

He was dressed in the most elaborate style and notwithstanding his
irregular habits was a prepossessing young man. His chestnut curls
gave a romantic look to his well-shaped head and would have elicited
the admiration of many a fair maiden. "Let us have what you want to
say, Mont."

"I'm afraid that you're not in the listening humor, boy," said the
other with an ill-at-ease look and manner.

"I ought to be pretty well used to it by this time," was the reply.

"Well, the truth of it is I'm on the rocks again and you must get me
off somehow. Cursed fool that I was to risk my last ten thousand!"

"Yes, and a kind of a fool that never sees his folly until too
late," exclaimed Hubert Tracy, in anything but sympathetic tones.

"Heap on the agony, my boy! I can stand more than that!" said the
other taking a cigar from the elaborate case and puffing the
fantastic wreath of smoke into all visible space.

"It's no use for you to be fighting against fate any longer. You
can't keep up this thing forever. Mont, your last venture was a
failure. What do you expect from this?"

"As true as the heavens are above us you will be more than repaid. I
have spoken to Eve and she says that you can count on her sure. Yes,
sir, you're one of the family already."

"Remember, Mont Arnold, if you fail now, when I need you most, there
will be the devil to pay."

The young man gave his companion a look that almost startled him,
then added, "If I am fooled, Mont, there will be a just
retribution."

"Good-heavens! don't look like that, boy; you would freeze a fellow
to the very joints and marrow; besides, there is no need of it now,
when you have everything your own way. Why, man, the old dame has
thrown over Sir Arthur."

"Egad, I thought as much, from the way the old clown, glared at me
last night at the Plough and Harrow."

"Plough and Harrow! what the deuce took you _there_?"

"To see the country lasses have a glass of hot punch, and hear the
orations of the country squires."

"And my would-be brother was representing his fair estate."

"Representing the gout, more like, for as he got tipsy I could see
him wince, and when an old yeoman, with a big red head, made light
by the whiskey, fell over our friend, he roared louder than a calf."

"It's all up with him and my precious mother, at any rate," said
Montague Arnold, twisting his waxed moustache into the most artistic
style, and laughing vociferously.

Wine was now passed around, and both gentlemen became extremely
amiable. Family matters were discussed and confidences were
exchanged, and Montague Arnold received a cheque for _five_
thousand dollars "to straighten him out once more," as he expressed
it, until he could make some settlement of his own financial
resources.

Montague Arnold was not in want. He was possessed of a large income,
but owing to his extravagant living and dissipated habits, his
demands were daily becoming more pressing; and when he had staked
ten thousand dollars at the gambling table and lost, nothing but the
helping hand of Hubert Tracy could save him.

The dissipated husband became very happy and at the same time very
garrulous. He discussed several of Mrs. Verne's qualities both as
negative and positive quantities, but more particularly the former,
and then referred to Marguerite.

It may be said in justice to Montague Arnold that he considered her
the living embodiment of womanly perfection, and though leading a
fast life and seeing much of the grosser side of human nature, he
still considered pure, noble-minded women the most exquisite
production of God's handiwork.

"Mont," exclaimed Tracy interrupting his companion, "if I can only
secure Marguerite Verne as my wife I will give up all my vices and
follies. I will lead a different life. Oh! if I had reformed years
ago I might have had no rival; but then, there is Lawson and he has
all along had the inside track."

"And as poor as a church mouse; bah! No fear of Madame Verne
allowing her daughter to wed a penniless lawyer. Man, the chances
now are all in your favor."

"The old lady was charmingly condescending last evening, I could
almost feel her smiles," said Hubert, becoming more buoyant in
spirits as the wine took effect.

Other members of the club began to drop in and Montague Arnold being
a general favorite soon forgot his former straitened circumstances.
His spirits rose to an almost uncontrollable degree, while his
companion complaining of headache sought the outer air.

As the club-room was situated in the fashionable West End of the
city, the young man turned his steps in the direction of Regent
Park, and sought the delightful shade of its sheltering foliage.

Like Rotten Row, Hyde Park had also its favorite resort and in this
delightful spot Hubert Tracy sat him down to rest. He had not long
remained thus when he heard voices; and presently the rustling of
leaves showed that the speakers had taken seats on the other side of
the shrubbery.

"She is one of the sweetest creatures I ever beheld," exclaimed a
lady rapturously.

The voice and style of expression indicated the speaker as a woman
of rank, and from the outline of her form Hubert Tracy could discern
she was also a woman of taste and fashion, also that she was young
and exceedingly graceful.

"Lady Gertrude is greatly in love with her, and she says that she is
the most interesting girl she ever met."

"I am of the opinion of her ladyship," said the other, who also
appeared to be of rank and culture, "but I cannot say that I would
rave over Mrs. Arnold, as the most of our gallants do. In my eyes
Miss Verne is far above her sister."

Hubert Tracy now felt a nervous sensation which made him uneasy, and
yet he was compelled to remain. His curiosity was aroused, and he
leaned eagerly forward where he could almost feel the speaker's
breath upon his cheeks.

"It was reported that Mrs. Verne was very anxious to secure Sir
Arthur Forrister for Miss Marguerite, but it was hinted at Mrs.
Arnold's drawing-room, not many evenings since, that Mr. Tracy is
the lucky man."

"What--not that young fellow who is so much in the company of
Arnold?"

"Yes, the very one, Ernest. It is to be hoped that he will give up
his bad habits, for if all reports be true he is not a proper
husband for Miss Verne."

"Who the deuce can they be?" thought Hubert, as he tried to get a
better view of the pair. Lovers they certainly were not. As he
listened he further learned that they were brother and sister, who
had met after some weeks of absence--the former being a cadet in a
military school in a neighboring borough.

"Egad, my young fellow, if it were you who made the speech there
would be some fan before you shouldered your knapsack again,"
muttered Hubert Tracy, as he sat eyeing the pair with no very great
affection; then adding, spitefully, "curse the women; they are first
and last in everything," stealthily crept out and was soon in the
open walk, jostled in turn by every pedestrian that crossed his
path.

Not more than an hour had intervened when Hubert Tracy found himself
chatting at his ease and listening to the pretty society talk of
Mrs. Montague Arnold. She was attired in robes befitting a princess,
and diamonds flashed from the superb necklace of antique design.

"You recreant!" exclaimed the beauty, throwing down the novel which
had occupied the moments intervening the completion of the
extravagant toilet and the arrival of an admirer. "I feel very much
inclined to impose severe punishment upon you. Is it becoming a
suitor to play truant when he wishes to hear favorably from his
'ladye fayre'?"

Hubert Tracy's eye brightened with expectation, and possessing
himself of an elegant lounge, reclined in real oriental style.

"I was at mamma's not an hour ago, and she is delighted at the
change I have made in Marguerite. She says that I am to have the
whole credit of her conversion. Really, Hubert, I am more than
delighted, and Madge is such a deaf good girl."

"She is too good for me," thought the young man, but he deemed it
best to maintain a spirit of independence.

Presently Mrs. Verne arrived, and also Marguerite, the latter
smiling and apparently cheerful, but very pale. She was dressed in
the utmost simplicity, and looked more childish and confiding than
ever. As her eyes met those of Hubert Tracy, a deathlike chill
seized her, but was unnoticed by the company.

"Madge has been indulged in idleness quite long enough, now we
are to have some music," and sweeping across the room to the
music-stand Mrs. Arnold began selecting her favorite pieces.

"Anything except conversation," thought Marguerite, and she played
some exquisite, old Scotch selections, which under any other
circumstances would act as a healing balm to a sore heart.

She thought of the hours when she had no audience save the quiet,
silent man whom she loved so tenderly--that dear parent who had
sacrificed so much for his family, and the thought was almost more
than she could endure.

"Why can I live on and pass through this dreadful ordeal, when so
many with bright, happy lives are suddenly cut off? But it is all
for his sake, and he has suffered more for me. Yes, papa, I will
make you happy, and you shall never know that I made any sacrifice
for your dear sake."

As the hours crept stealthily on, Hubert Tracy was determined to
offer his heart and hand to the woman of his choice.

Marguerite felt that her freedom was now gone forever, and resolved
to appear at her best, and on the following morning, when her mother
entered the breakfast-room, wreathed in smiles, and informed her
that Mr. Tracy had gained her permission to urge his suit, she
dreamily nodded assent, and tried hard to wear a bright and
reassuring smile.

"Strength is given us from heaven," cried the girl when once the
privacy of her own room was gained, "and if ever I needed such it is
now. Merciful God, teach, me thy ways. Oh, give me the light of thy
countenance to brighten my darkened path." A handsomely-bound
volume lay on the dressing-case. It was the Book of Common Prayer.

Marguerite lifted it in reverential tenderness. It was a keepsake
from her beloved parent, and she cherished it as something too
sacred for other hands to touch.

As she opened it her eyes fell upon the collect for the eighth
Sunday after Trinity, commencing thus:----"O, God, whose
never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and
earth."

"Precious truth," cried Marguerite as she read the words over
several times, then murmured, "How simple of me to repine when it is
my Heavenly Father who ordereth all things," and from that moment
Marguerite Verne found strength given from above, as she bowed her
head in meek submission, and resolved to lead a higher and better
life.

"Madge, my child, you are looking radiant," cried the worldly
mother, as she glanced at her daughter, for no other reason than to
admire the style of the dress she had chosen for the reception of
Mr. Tracy.

"And that corsage is so becoming, my darling. It alone would be
enough to charm the most prosaic suitor, and that bracelet shows off
so prettily on your white arm. I am so glad you put it on."

"Mamma, please be less lavish of your compliments, I cannot stand
flattery. I would rather you would see some of my failings, and
teach me how to do what is right."

Marguerite meant not to convey a reproof, but if Mrs. Verne had been
at all sensitive, she would have felt somewhat uneasy. She would
have felt that she had not given a thought to anything that
concerned the proper guidance of her children, and she would have
felt that the beauty of Marguerite's character was alone due to the
inherent goodness that possessed her and made her in all respects a
true, noble and beautiful woman.

Marguerite has now made up her mind and she will not swerve from the
duty that lies nearest her. She meets Hubert Tracy with a calm
composure and a steady light in her soft expressive eyes and when
she had listened to his ardent declaration of love calmly
replied:--"Hubert Tracy I will be your wife but only on these
conditions--you will save my father from bankruptcy and ruin. Yes,
save and protect his gray hairs and I will bless you until my dying
hour."

"I will do that and more Marguerite, if you will only promise to
love me--give me your whole and undivided thoughts," and falling
down upon his knees before her Hubert Tracy for once meant what he
said.

True indeed the redeeming trait in his character was his love for
Marguerite Verne and any goodness that remained was now visible upon
his brow. Some trace of true manhood still lingered there and
arrested the gaze of the pure-minded maiden as she looked upon him
and prayed that the Omnipotent One would obliterate the earthy
incrustations so firmly impressed there and instead cause His image
to shine with undimmed lustre.

The young man divined the maiden's thoughts and he bent forward
exclaiming:--"Madge, I am undeserving of you, God knows, but I will
try and be worthy of you. Will you trust me?"

"Put your trust in God, Hubert. He alone can give you the support
you need," cried the girl in earnest tones.

"God bless you, my precious darling. It is hard for you now, but
remember ere long you will bless the hour that you promised to be my
wife."

Marguerite Verne now felt the pressure of her lover's embrace and
listened to his renewed protestations of love with a sad aching void
at her heart which she had hitherto never felt and she dared not
question herself as to the cause.

None knew it better than her affianced husband, but in the great
selfishness of his nature he could look on with proud indifference
and stifle his badly seared conscience with the thought that one day
Marguerite would be the happier for her present choice.

Truly it may be said--

  "God moves in a mysterious way."

Ah, Marguerite never once dreamt that a destiny was before her other
than that she had pictured out in frightfully vivid character. She
little thought that in a certain sense Hubert Tracy's predictions
should come true, and that she could one day exclaim--

  "How natural is joy, my heart,
     How easy after sorrow!
   For once, the best has come that hope
     Promised them to-morrow."



CHAPTER XXXIII.

DARK DAYS AT "SUNNYBANK."


As Marguerite received the congratulations of her friends, who can
paint the suffering which the heroic maiden was trying to live
through. With pallid lips and thoughtful brow she received her
affianced, and permitted his endearments with a passiveness that
piqued him sorely; yet he comforted himself with the thought that,
like all other girls, she would soon get over it, and he would be
the subject of her entire devotion.

Hubert Tracy knew full well that Marguerite had a secret recess
within her heart, where was hid away a very dear picture, but he
knew she was too conscientious to allow herself to look into that
chamber when the step she had now taken forbade all communication.

He fully trusted her, and well he might. Marguerite had written her
father informing him of her betrothal and asking for his blessing.

The letter was hopeful, and referred to the generosity of her future
husband in such a manner that one not in the possession of such
proof of Hubert Tracy's villainy would have gladly welcomed him with
a "God bless you, my son. Take my child and keep her happy until
death do you part."

Mr. Verne clutched the missive within his trembling hands and sat
crouching over it an object of pity.

"My God! is it possible that my child loves the demon? Oh, heavens!
am I spared to wreck her happiness as well as my own? Why did I not
die ere this fatal news had reached me? It may be all for the best,
but it is hard for me to bear. I must, and will, revenge the
dreadful wrong done to Phillip Lawson, and I must save my child from
what is worse than death! Death, did I say?" exclaimed Mr. Verne,
in hysterical tones. "I could see her decked in the robes of the
grave without a murmur, and strew flowers over her form without a
sigh--but to give her up to that monster of deception. Oh, God! it
is dreadful!" And the heart-broken man uttered a groan that would
have aroused the pity of the most callous wretch that ever-breathed.

Dead silence reigned, and the affectionate spaniel looked into his
master's face with a sympathetic look in his eyes, and then began to
lick the weary trembling hands that were crossed upon the troubled
breast.

"Poor brute, you feel for me," said Mr. Verne caressing the animal,
and being aroused to a sense of feeling.

"It must never be--no never," and glancing at his watch he arose and
staggered to the other side of the room.

"I shall see Phillip, God helping me. I now see the error in keeping
the fact from him so long, but it may be all for the best God keep
us faithful."

It was well that Mr. Verne made that prayer, for his faith was
growing weak, and the words gave him strength, and as he wends his
way to Phillip Lawson's office, smiling upon each acquaintance that
he meets, none would suspect the desperate state into which he was
so suddenly plunged.

"Phillip will help me," murmured he with a hopeful gleam in his eye.
"Yes, Phillip will help me--he is my good angel, he will not forsake
me now!"

Great was Mr. Verne's disappointment on hearing that the young
lawyer had gone out of town on business, and would not return until
the following day.

"God keep me faithful," again murmured the man, as he stole softly
up to his chamber, and quietly shut himself in, giving strict orders
that none be allowed to gain admission.

But how often do we deceive ourselves; how often do we find that all
our plans come to naught, and we prove ourselves miserable
failures--altogether unfitted to accomplish the great task we have
so vainly aspired to.

Mr. Verne had a worthy project in view, but he was not equal to the
effort.

A domestic of "Sunnybank" being engaged at work in the upper hall
heard a faint noise in the direction of Mr. Verne's dressing room.
With feelings of alarm she ran to the spot and summoning all her
courage entered and found her much respected master in a swoon his
eyes wide open and his face rigid as death.

Within a few moments the entire household were trying to administer
such restoratives as they deemed proper while awaiting the family
physician who had been telephoned for with all haste.

When Mr. Verne gained consciousness he did not gain speech and when
his physician arrived it was found that he had been prostrated by
paralysis.

"It is indeed a sad case," said the venerable looking physician as
he stood beside the afflicted man and read in the passive face and
benumbed limbs the story of an injured and cruelly outraged man.

It was not the first time that the sharp but kind bluish eyes looked
down on such a wreck, and as they shed a silent tear we noiselessly
steal away.

With the next day came the well tried friend Phillip Lawson. Sadly
he stood and watched the half-conscious man. A gentle pressure of
the hand was the only recognition, yet the young lawyer cherished
hopes that were solely attributive to himself. "He will yet come
around all right, sir?" said Phillip questioningly, but a grave
shake of the hoary head was the physician's only reply.

Mrs. Montgomery (dear good soul) had now arrived and her presence
seemed to bring cheer into the house of gloom.

At intervals the patient would watch her as she flitted noiselessly
in and out unceasing in her labors of love, and a faint smile would
light up his pallid face as if in recognition of such devotion.

It was the hour preceding midnight and Mrs. Montgomery had been
persuaded to take a few hours rest while Phillip Lawson took her
place beside the bedside.

Something in the wan face arrested the watcher's attention and
stooping closely down he saw that the man was trying to communicate
something that was on his mind.

"Is it anything that I know of," cried Phillip in almost desperate
tones; "anything that I can do for you?"

Mr. Verne gazed wildly upon him, then tried to raise his hand, but
he was unable for the task, and relapsed into his former state of
unconsciousness.

"I will make another trial," thought Phillip, "when he becomes
himself again. Poor man! whatever it may be I'm afraid the secret
will die with him," and the silent watcher was indeed sad at the
thought.

The young man's reverie was indeed a painful one. It had lasted for
more than an hour when he was aroused by a servant who now
approached him, bearing a tray upon which was a cup of delicious
coffee and some tempting cakes, which Mrs. Montgomery had
thoughtfully ordered ere she sought repose.

"Such women are never half appreciated," thought Phillip as he sat
over the contents of the tray wondering why it was that two sister
could be of such opposite nature; then he thought of the still great
difference between mother and child--Mrs. Verne and the peerless
Marguerite. It were well known that he knew not of the circumstances
which had been the cause of the sudden prostration.

Providence had been kind to Philip Lawson through the sacrifice of a
friend, yet the former knew it not, and when he had puzzled his
brains in every conceivable manner to assist Mr. Verne in
communicating to him the important message, he little knew it was
the hand of mercy that kept it back.

What fervent prayers went up at that bedside; what supplications to
the throne of God; what anxious enquiries.

Day after day found Phillip Lawson wending his way to "Sunnybank."
What a mockery the name seemed to convey. The golden sunshine was
afraid to enter, save by stealthy glimpses through the barred
windows and closed doors.

"If Marguerite can only get here soon," said Mrs. Montgomery in
impatient tones. "You know Mr. Lawson it is the only remedy. Poor
man, it will either kill or cure. Poor Stephen, we must hope for the
best, but I'm afraid he has seen the best of his days," and the
corner of the linen handkerchief stayed the falling tears.

"Poor girl," replied the young man, "she will take it very hard, but
Miss Verne is not one who will easily succumb."

"Far from it, Mr. Lawson. She has the spirit of a martyr. I am not
afraid to say that Marguerite Verne would put us all to shame. Many
a time I have studied her character, and each time I found some new
beauties to admire."

"There is just such a mixture of poetry and romance as is
appreciable," said Mr. Lawson, a slight color betraying his
interest.

"Though I am a practical, matter-of-fact woman, I really admire the
vein of superstitious fervour that gives coloring to her many daily
acts."

"I remember one day," added Mrs. Montgomery, "of asking her why she
wore such an ugly looking bracelet when she had so many pretty ones.
I can see the graceful figure, and the sweet smiling face, as the
girl turned upon me the full force of her powerfully magnetic eyes,
and with great earnestness replied: 'Dear Auntie, there is a story
attached to that bracelet, and you shall hear it," and taking a seat
beside me she began----

"Mamma always told us that you were an apt student in history, and
of course you know the story of James the Fourth of Scotland and his
iron belt, and how each year he added an ounce to its weight, that
it might inflict the greater penance."

"I then said that when I was twelve years of age I had read the Lady
of the Lake for the sixth time, and that I had made Fitz James my
greatest hero, and notwithstanding his many short-comings, I yet
looked upon the benefactor of the noble Douglas, and the lovely
Ellen, with fond admiration."

"What a glow kindled in Marguerite's cheek," added Mrs. Montgomery,
as she listened, and then with exclamation of delight she cried,
"Aunt Hester, I really adore Scott, and I think that I outdo you,
for I have committed to memory nearly all of the Lady of the Lake."

"But about the bracelet," I said, remindingly.

"Well, you know, Aunt Hester, I was not at all times a very good
girl," said Marguerite, with a sympathetic glance, "and, indeed,
found opportunity to make myself very disagreeable. It is indeed
true, Auntie. Well, one day papa brought in a very handsome bracelet
as a birthday present for Evelyn. It was a cluster of garnets in
gold setting, and at night time, when the light fell upon it, shone
brilliantly. I envied Eve her pretty bauble, and as I saw my sister,
many admirers glanced upon it. I felt uncharitable. Why could papa
not have given me one as well, I thought; and bitter feelings were
cherished against my dear papa, and indeed, Aunt Hester," exclaimed
the girl in all humility, "they might have rankled there, and made
me worse than I would care to acknowledge, when a little
circumstance, or trivial accident, came to my aid and taught me to
rise above it. Like you, Aunt Hester, I am fond of history, and
being out of reading matter, came across a volume entitled Tales
from Scottish History."

"The very thing I have been seeking for months," I exclaimed, taking
down the work from the bookshelf, and admiring the substantial
binding of heavy dark blue morocco. Then I thought of the donor. I
turned to the title page and saw my name neatly inscribed in papa's
own handwriting.

"My darling papa, I exclaimed he sees every want. Not a wish of mine
but is gratified; he has overheard me saying I should like just such
a work, and has lost no time in getting it.

"I secured my favorite nook in the library and sitting down, the
first thing that caught my eye was an adventure of James the
Fourth--Scotland's Coeur-de-Lion in very deed. I read the story, and
it filled me with remorse. The prince, was guilty of rebellious acts
against his father, and I am guilty of rebellious _thoughts_.
He wore an iron belt as a reminder of the sad fact. Well, my dearest
and best of fathers, I shall have something likewise to remind me of
my ingratitude."

"And you bought that homely bracelet, my child?" I said smiling at
her earnestness.

"I did Aunt Hester, and when I feel that I am not doing what is
right I just run to my dressing case and slip that on my arm,"
pointing at the same moment to the curious construction of bronze
and steel that encircled her alabaster-like arm.

"And why are you wearing it to-day, my dear?" I asked.

"I felt inclined to be moody, Aunt Hester."

"I never remember of seeing such a bracelet worn by Miss Verne,"
ventured Mr. Lawson who had hitherto remained a silent listener.

"The occasion to which I refer, happened more than three years ago.
I remember sometime afterward of asking Marguerite if she had her
moody fits yet, and she smilingly said that the bracelet had been
consigned to a resting place among her store of relics."

"Miss Verne now looks to a higher source. She needs no such
talisman," said Mr. Lawson with an air of deep reverence.

"Yes, I believe Marguerite Verne is a Christian, though she makes no
loud demonstration of the fact. No one possessing the sweet
simplicity of character, the truly charitable spirit, and that
universal good will to her fellow creatures can be otherwise than a
Christian."

Mrs. Montgomery had given emphasis to her speech, as she never was
weary in extolling the virtues of her favorite niece.

A slight movement on the part of the prostrate man called Phillip to
the bedside.

Mr. Verne had awoke to consciousness, and no doubt had listened to
the words so lately uttered.

A smile was upon his face as he extended his left hand to Mr.
Lawson, and tried hard to regain his speech.

"Do not exert yourself, sir," said the latter putting his arm around
the invalid with the tenderness of a woman. "All you must do is try
to get a little stronger before Miss Verne arrives, after that you
will be all right. It is enough to make any one sick to be alone in
this big house."

Mrs. Montgomery watched the effect of the speech and felt sore at
heart. "Poor man," thought she, "he will never live to see it," and
as she looked a second time saw that Mr. Verne had suddenly relapsed
into that comatose state sadly akin to death.

"Thy will be done," murmured the watcher, and tenderly replacing the
coverlid committed the prostrate form to the mercy of an Almighty
Father.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

DARK HOURS INDEED.


It is nearly midnight. Mrs. Verne had been prevailed upon (to use
her own words) to attend a musical soiree given by a fashionable
young matron in honor of her fifth wedding anniversary.

Hubert Tracy now danced attendance upon his mother-in-law, elect and
on the present occasion was her beau chevalier.

He had taken leave of Marguerite with much reluctance. Her wearied
and sadly pale face upbraided him but he kept stifling his
conscience with the thought that she would be happier when the first
impressions wore off.

"I am beginning to believe all women are alike," exclaimed he
petulantly as he was awaiting Mrs. Verne's appearance, "made up of
April showers and ready to transfer themselves into a vale of tears
whenever they think of their boy lovers but when they've made a good
haul in the matrimonial net once and forever they forget all their
swains and live for one grand purpose--to impress their friends with
the greatness of their position. And I'm not going to be fooled
either I tell you, Miss Marguerite. You've got to toe the mark too.
None of your groaning over that chuckle-headed fool of a Lawson who
has no more sense than he needs."

"I beg pardon Hubert, for the detention," exclaimed Mrs. Verne who
now made her appearance rustling in gros grain silk and sparkling
with superb brilliants, while the cleverly artistic touches
administered to deface the inroad of merciless Time would lead one
at first glimpse to suppose that the radiant matron was none other
than a pretty woman of twenty.

"There is not the slightest need for apology," said the young man
bowing to the lady with the grace of a Crichton.

"I grieve to leave Madge this evening, but you know, my dear Hubert,
that society is a merciless tyrant. Its mandates are cruel in the
extreme," and affecting the air of an injured woman Mrs. Verne
ensconsed herself amid the luxuriant cushions.

"Marguerite is not looking well," said the affianced glancing; at
his companion to see that all was settled for her comforts.

"The poor child has such severe headaches, but in confidence, my
dear, Hubert, I sometimes think she brings them on herself, for you
know that she is too much given to reading, not that kind of reading
that is needed or recreation, but works beyond what a woman should
attempt."

Hubert Tracy was not altogether in a talking mood, and was glad that
his companion had claimed the floor.

"I for one do not believe in women making such a display in the
literary line. There is no sense in it, Hubert."

"You never yet saw a man in love with a literary star of the first
magnitude. Literature is not for women, and when I see one setting
up with an air of importance, and discussing science, history,
biography, aye, and even religion, I just think, well, my lady, if
you could see yourself as other see you, you would not get off your
stuff in that style. To tell the truth I despise literary women, and
if I had my way I would consign them to some seventh-class place of
refuge, where they could howl and shout until they become what they
generally end in--nothing."

"I fear you would not make a bad attempt in that sort of business
yourself," said the young man much amused at the adroit manner which
Mrs. Verne sought to gain a compliment.

"Heaven forbid it my dear, Hubert. From a child I always had a holy
horror of blue stockings, and when I looked upon their coarse
masculine faces I always experienced a feeling of disgust that I
must confess increased with the years."

"And you have met many I presume."

"I merely refer to the works of the photographer or the artist,
such, as you see on the vignette of their works. I am sure that they
are ugly enough to frighten any sensitive child."

"But Marguerite is not one of that class," said the young man,
lazily readjusting a cushion that had slipped out beneath his head.

"She is an exception so far as appearance is concerned, but that
does not excuse her," said Mrs. Verne, with a haughty toss of the
head, then suddenly changing her voice to a very tender and
confidential tone, exclaimed, "My dear Hubert, I am going to give
you a little bit of advice, and I know you will receive it kindly,
as you value my child's happiness. I wish you to have a warm
interest in everything that tends to her comfort; but above all
things, do not encourage in her that desire to be in seclusion, and
to mope and groan over imaginary grievances. It is, I am sorry to
say, a failing which she has inherited from her father; and though I
do not wish to speak disparagingly of my dear husband, I must say
that he is in many respects a very peculiar man. It is, indeed, very
discouraging for a woman to find that she has married a man who
takes not the least interest in society and prefers to remain, night
after night shut up in his own rooms, with no companion but a musty
old ledger and a filthy pipe. Ugh! the very thought make me sick."

As Mrs. Verne's speech was accompanied by expressions of contempt
and disgust, the impression made upon Hubert Tracy was not of the
most flattering kind. He merely smiled, but gave no expression to
his thoughts. They were not what would please his mother-in-law
elect, and he had enough policy to conceal them.

And now for a second scene. The carriage had rolled away and Mrs.
Verne had ascended the lofty stairway. As she stood in the corridor
to throw aside the heavy wrap that enfolded her, she heard a
confused din of voices. It startled her and caused her heart to beat
violently.

"What a fool I am to get in such a state for nothing," but just as
the last word was uttered, a servant opened the door leading from
the inner hall. It was Marguerite's waiting maid.

The girl's face spoke sad news.

"In heaven's name what is the matter, Maria?" cried Mrs. Verne,
thinking that a murder had taken place in their midst.

"It is Miss Verne, ma'am; but she is some better now. Oh! I thought,
ma'am, that you would never come--and she was asking for you."

The poor girl was deeply attached to her young mistress and was
nearly bereft of her senses when she found the latter lying upon the
sofa in an apparently lifeless condition.

A physician had been summoned, who pronounced the girl in no
imminent danger, but said that there was some anxiety to be feared
as regards nervous prostration.

Marguerite had been quickly restored to consciousness, but she was
white as the coverlid that overspread the luxurious bed upon which
she lay so calm and still.

"My child, what has done this," exclaimed Mrs. Verne looking wildly
around her as if for answer from some other than those that stood
about.

"Don't be alarmed, mamma, I am better," said the girl, attempting to
raise herself upon the pillow, but she fell back exhausted, and
closed her eyelids, looking sad and wretched.

Mrs. Verne was ill at ease as she watched at Marguerite's bedside.
Remorse for once seized upon her as she pictured herself moving
about the gay throng, and her child, perhaps, on the verge of death.

"I might have known that she did not look herself, for those great
circles around her mouth and eyes ought to have told me of her
illness; but I trust she will soon be all right."

Mrs. Verne took a second glance at the pale face to gain more
assurance and hope, and as she stood there tried hard to impute her
daughter's present indisposition to every source, but the real one.

"The poor girl is fretting herself to death over her father's
failure, for she knows that it will affect his reputation in
society. She will not acknowledge it, but I am certain that she
would feel the snubs of our most intimate friends more titan I
would. Indeed, they would kill the poor sensitive Madge; and to
think that Stephen Verne brought all this upon his family by his own
slackness. Talk about honesty! It makes fools of people. A man who
is so honest that he must trust every other man he meets is a fool,
and worse than a fool, he's not only a fool towards himself, but a
fool towards his family."

Such was an outline of the woman's soliloquy. She considered herself
the most unfortunate woman in the whole world, and wondered why it
was that some people are born to trouble while others never have a
care to ruffle their placid brow.

The kind-hearted physician watched with deep interest the welfare of
his patient.

He admired the sweet, pure face and the _spirituelle_ eyes
awaiting his coming with eager anticipation.

"You must have brooded over some mental trouble my child, and you
know _that_ is not what brings the roses to a maiden's cheek,"
and the disciple of Aesculapius once more patted the pale cheek to
force back the roseate blush of youth and beauty.

"Doctor, you surely cannot say that I am to remain here many days
longer when I am so anxious to see my father. I know that he will
get better if I can only be near him to become his nurse."

"I see where part of the trouble is, but there is a greater one
beneath that," thought the doctor as he sat writing out a
prescription.

But like that great student of human nature he could not help
exclaiming, though in undertone, "'who can minister to a mind
diseased.' This is indeed one of the stubborn cases that I often
have to deal with--administer drugs and pills _ad infinitum_
when the gentle pressure of a sympathetic hand or the soft tender
glances of a bright eye would act more effectually than all the
compounds which the London dispensaries can boast of."

A bouquet of exquisite beauty had arrived and with it a nicely
folded note.

Marguerite took the flowers within her trembling fingers and inhaled
the rich fragrance with a sort of reverence. Nature claimed a large
share of the girl's sympathies. She worshipped it as only the
student of nature should. She

  "Looked from Nature up to Nature's God."

But when she had unfolded the delicate looking missive and looked at
the neatly formed letters not a ray of feeling was emitted from the
expressive face.

"I see how it is," mused the man of experience; "poor child your's
has not been the only aching heart. You think one way and your
aspirations run another, or worse than that they accord and leave
you to the tender mercies of worldly and narrow-minded parents whose
sole motive is the accomplishment of their own sordid ends."

Mrs. Verne's entrance solved the problem, to the entire satisfaction
of the physician. She had been detained in the drawing-room, and now
came to offer apology for delaying in the sick chamber.

"Don't worry, mamma. I really am not so ill as you imagine," said
the girl, hopefully.

"The invigorating New Brunswick breeze is the best tonic I can
prescribe," exclaimed the doctor, eyeing Mrs. Verne with close
study, "but this one must be taken first."

A merry twinkle of the keen blue eye was directed upon Marguerite,
who now took the proffered slip of paper, and, to the very great
amusement of the practitioner, noted the Latin abbreviation.

"Don't be too modest over it," said the latter, laughing. "I begin
to think my patient has been drawn into the mysteries of our lore."

Marguerite reached out her hand to receive the kind goodbye, and how
pale and wan that little hand?

Poor child, murmured the genial-hearted man as he shut the door so
softly and went forth in his daily rounds whenever and anon the
sweet face would rise up before him and shut out all the visible
surroundings.

"The old, old story--poor thing--many such have I prescribed for in
vain, but it has been so from the beginning, and I suppose, will be
so to the end."

But Dr. Refern's soliloquy was lost upon a desert air, and as he
pronounced Miss Verne convalescent he felt a tender pity in his
large, warm heart, and fervently prayed that the girl's future might
be made brighter and happier, and that she yet might return thanks
for his interest in her recovery.

       *       *       *       *       *

"My Father!"

What a scene.

Marguerite is once more with her idolized parent, but the poor girl
is almost overcome with grief as she looked upon the altered looks
of the prostrate form.

"My darling father," she murmurs, and vainly attempts to gain a look
of fond recognition.

"Oh! father! try to speak to me," she cried, sobbing like a child,
"speak to your own Marguerite."

It was a scene too sacred for other eyes, and Mrs. Montgomery turned
away.

"Father in heaven," prayed the girl with arms uplifted and her eyes
raised in devout supplication, "forsake me not now; oh, give me back
my father--the father to whom I owe so much; Oh, grant that his
senses be restored, and I can hear his voice once more." Marguerite
threw herself prostrate beside the bed, and remained for some
moments in fervent meditation.

The silence was indeed impressive, when suddenly Marguerite cast a
glance at the loved form, and a half-smothered cry burst from her
lips.

Another glance and a murmured "Thank God," Marguerite Verne's prayer
was answered.

"Marguerite."

"My father."

What comfort in these words? What tongue could tell of the happiness
that now filled the maiden's heart. She could not utter another
word, but put her arms around her father's neck and pressed upon his
wasted lips one long lingering kiss--so tender, so pure and so
sacred that it might well have accorded with the salutation of the
angels in heaven!

And Marguerite Verne clad in robes of dazzling whiteness was indeed
a fit representation of an angelic being, whose sole mission on
earth was the doing of good and making others happy, but at a great
sacrifice, the greatest sacrifice that a maiden can endure--the
sacrifice of all her earthly hope.

Yes, Marguerite could and would make such a sacrifice. She had
strength given her from the highest source, and she had faith in her
heavenly father. He would carry her through all she had now
undertaken.

Mr. Verne had rallied sufficiently to recognize his child. He gazed
into the face he loved so well, and a faint smile overspread his
countenance. He lay with his hands clasped in those of his child and
seemed supremely happy.

"It is almost a pity that he should be aroused from this happy,
trance-like state," said Mrs. Montgomery as she quietly raised the
sick man to administer the medicine that had been consigned to her
care.

Marguerite once more pressed the thin lips and stood at a distance,
as if trying to think whether it were reality or dreamland.

Other eyes looked upon the maiden and other hands clasped in prayer
were indeed very near.

What subtle power caused Marguerite to look around? What subtle
power caused her to hold her breath as if oppressed with some
invisible presence?

"Miss Verne, I'm glad you are here."

"Thank you Mr. Lawson," was the quiet reply, but in the look there
was a world of sympathy that smote deeply into Phillip Lawson's
heart.



CHAPTER XXXV.

A MINISTERING ANGEL--A SUDDEN REVELATION.


Phillip Lawson was not surprised at the great change which had been
wrought in Marguerite Verne. She was kind and thoughtful, but there
was a restraint that made him feel ill at ease.

"Poor girl," thought he, "she feels her father's failure very
keenly, not I believe from a selfish view but from her relation to
others."

The young man had not divined aright.

He was not aware that Marguerite was the affianced wife of Hubert
Tracy. He did not know the nature of the blow that had made such
dire havoc upon the constitution of Mr. Verne. He did not know that
all the anxious moments of the latter were spent in vainly trying to
make known the bitter truth. He did not know that within Mr. Verne's
desk was concealed a document which might remain there until too
late!

Mrs. Verne had arrived in a state bordering on distraction.

She did not wish to meet any of her former friends lest she would
hear something that would grate harshly on her nerves. She suffered
much from headache and consequently remained most of the time in her
own apartments.

"If your papa were at all times conscious of our presence, my dear,
there would be some sense in my remaining with him, but really Madge
I think the more quiet he is kept the better."

"But mamma dear, one of us should be near so that with returning
consciousness he would recognize us."

"But that is not very often, Madge."

"Aunt Hester says that he asked for me very soon after I returned
last night. I am so sorry that she did not awaken me." The girl
looked sad indeed and to a more sensitive woman it would have been a
keen reproach, but Mrs. Verne was wrapt up in self and wished no
other feeling to find a shelter within her breast.

Some days passed and no great change had taken place in Mr. Verne
yet the physician did not pronounce his case as hopeless.

"We are all doing our best and I trust that there will soon be a
favorable change."

Marguerite Verne heard those words with a deep sigh, yet she was
calm, and composed and even smiled at the eulogism passed upon her
skill in the many duties of the sick chamber.

It was only when in her own room and none were near to witness her
grief that she showed the weak side of her nature.

Many weary hours she lay and prayed that God would give her strength
to go through the sad and painful duty that ever and anon rose up
before her with a vividness that was cruel as death.

"I cannot meet Mr. Lawson without a shudder!" she murmured between
sobs of deep and poignant anguish, "and I love him as I shall never
love another--but he shall never know it--ah no. I shall become the
wife of Hubert Tracy and try to be happy--yes, happy. And I shall
receive the warmest congratulations and I will smile as they think
me so happy and look upon me with eyes of envy."

Marguerite now drew her hand across her eyes as if to shut out the
reality of the scene, while a chill made her shiver as if seized
with ague.

"How foolish to be so weak," she murmurs, "darling papa, I would
make a sacrifice ten times as great for his dear sake," and
instantly the tears were dried and the girl was calm.

"Poor, dear papa, I shall receive such glowing accounts of his
perfect restoration to health, and I can visit him often. Oh! if I
could live with him always!"

Marguerite instantly smothered the half-formed sigh and sought a
momentary respite in carefully combing out the waves of soft, silken
and luxuriant hair.

Such was the manner in which she passed the first fortnight after
her arrival.

She became accustomed to the young lawyer's daily visits, and though
she knew it was not right, she could not resist a desire to await
his coming with all the eagerness of her nature. But further she
dare not go. The civilities exchanged were of a nature that fell
like lead upon the young man's honest heart, but he was attentive to
every word and wish, and always appeared with a kind voice and quiet
but cheery smile.

But Phillip Lawson had a more bitter draught to swallow ere many
hours had passed over his head.

Mr. Verne began to show signs of recovery, which the good old
physician smilingly attributed to the "ministering angel," as he
gaily dubbed Marguerite.

The latter was quietly arranging some delicacies upon a silver tray
that stood on the pretty five o'clock.

Phillip Lawson remained for a moment to contemplate the picture.
The girl looked so guileless and so childlike. The pale-grey
cashmere, draped in graceful folds, gave her an air peculiar to
some self-sacrificing Sister of Mercy, whose presence brought life
and light into the home of the afflicted ones.

As she stooped to pick up a stray rose that had fallen from the
fragrant bouquet, Phillip saw the delicate hands become tremulous,
while the lips parted and the beautiful eyes were raised to heaven.

"Oh, heaven!" murmured the young man "I cannot endure this," and
instantly he dashed forward with an impetuosity altogether foreign
to his gentle and, at times, grave demeanor.

Marguerite was quick to detect the abruptness, but not a gesture
betrayed curiosity.

"Papa has been sleeping for more than two hours--really Mr. Lawson,
I have such good news. The doctor has just gone out and he says that
every symptom is favorable and that he has every reason to believe
that he may rally very soon."

"God grant it Miss Verne," said Philip, going on tiptoe towards the
couch, and gazing wistfully upon the emaciated features of his old
friend.

"This is my night to remain with papa, but the doctor bade me ask
you to take my place. He seemed very anxious that I should do so and
I am willing to do anything that may be deemed necessary."

"Strange that I came here purposely to make the same request," said
the young man, looking gravely into the girl's face.

"How good of you, Mr. Lawson."

But Phillip Lawson needs no praise, and Marguerite goes on with her
work, occasionally glancing at the time-piece to see how long her
father had been sleeping.

And we come now to the hour of midnight. Trinity had sent forth its
hallowed chime, and the echoes had died away in the calm stillness
of the night.

Silence reigned in "Sunnybank," not a sound save the heavy tick of
the old clock that stood at the top of the grand stairway. Phillip
Lawson with book in hand was trying to while away the hours and to
divert his mind from the unpleasant thoughts that now and then would
arise with peculiar vividness.

A slight rustling causes him to start.

"My dear boy."

The young man leans gently forward and supports the upraised hand.

"Phillip, I have got my prayer. Is Marguerite near?"

Mr. Verne looked agitated, and Phillip Lawson feared the result.

"But you must be very quiet now, Mr. Verne. You know that much
depends upon yourself."

"Ah, Phillip, I know it too well, but I have something to tell you,
which is killing me by inches. Phillip you are the only one who must
know it now. The rest will come in good time--in good time my boy!"

Phillip Lawson administered the soothing draught that had been
tri-hourly prescribed, then lovingly placed his arm around the
wasted form and laid him softly on the downy pillow.

Mr. Verne's voice was much stronger, and it cost him less effort to
speak.

"It will do more harm than good to deny the request," thought the
young man, and he leaned forward that the voice might reach his ear
with the least possible effort of the speaker.

Mr. Verne drew a heavy sigh, and then began:--"Phillip Lawson, you
are one of the truest friends I ever had, and heaven will yet bless
you for all you have done for me."

The young man was about to appeal when he saw that Mr. Verne would
suffer no interruption, so he calmly listened and uttered not a
word.

"Phillip, it is a sad story that I have to tell, but I know you will
help me to bear up. I have only you to confide in--only you."

Mr. Verne rested for a moment, and then continued, "It was the day
before I was prostrated that I called upon you but learned that you
were out of town until the following day. I wished to tell you
something that grieved me more than living being ever can know. I
had then in my breast pocket the death warrant of all my future hope
and joy--that fatal letter announcing the betrothal of my darling
Marguerite to that dissolute and unprincipled young man--Hubert
Tracy."

Mr. Verne paused, then glanced at Phillip Lawson.

"Ah my son, God knows I would it were otherwise, I know that you
love my child. I have cherished that secret as something sacred, and
lived in the hope that all would come right some day. Phillip, my
boy, I can bear _my_ grief, but it is hard to see the hopes of
a bright and useful life buried deep--so deep."

The young man sat like one in a mocking cruel dream. The news
stunned him. It was so unexpected, and yet so true.

"You have spoken truly Mr. Verne," said Phillip sadly, "I love
Marguerite as I shall never love another woman. She is lost to me
forever, but I shall cherish her memory while I live. Her image
shall be enshrined within my heart; my life's devotion, my guiding
star; they cannot rob me of that sacred duty. It is sanctioned by
heaven itself."

Phillip Lawson now turned his face toward the couch.

"I never will believe that my child loves such a man as Hubert
Tracy," said Mr. Verne, closing his eyelids with sheer exhaustion.
"She has been forced into it. Promise me Phillip you will help me
examine the matter closely. I am regaining some of my lost strength
and will be better able for the task."

"I would like to assist you Mr. Verne, but I am in a delicate
position. I cannot see how Miss Verne would be entrapped into a
marriage against her own wishes. You know that Mr. Tracy was always
on terms of intimacy with your family, and besides he is rather
prepossessing, and would in all probability win the favor of any
young lady."

"Phillip, you are generous to a fault. You could not say that man is
a villain and a scoundrel when you really would have proof of his
villany in your possession."

"Heaven forgive me for it," mused Phillip, "it was for her sake that
I spoke thus. If she loves Hubert Tracy as I love her, then would I
sacrifice every feeling to do it. Would to God I could think as her
father does."

The young man sat for a moment buried in deep thought. He was now
finding some ground for Marguerite's restraint when in his presence,
and he conjured up many imaginary doubts and fears to prove that she
loved Hubert Tracy. Even the letters which spoke in glowing terms of
such kind attention--did not every circumstance serve as further
conviction.

Mr. Verne divined Phillip Lawson's thoughts.

"Phillip, my boy, hear me. I may never rise from off this bed, but I
solemnly swear that Hubert Tracy will never place a marriage ring
upon Marguerite Verne's finger--never--"

Mr. Verne now grasped Phillip Lawson's hand and held it there, while
the latter became suddenly inspired with bright hope.

"This has been too much for you, Mr. Verne," said the young man,
soothingly. "But I have more to tell you, Phillip--something that
will stagger you."

"Wait until to-morrow, sir, you will feel stronger."

"Very well, my boy, let it be to-morrow," and Mr. Verne dropped off
in a peaceful slumber--aye, gentle and peaceful as that of a child.

Phillip Lawson's thoughts were confusion manifold as he sat with his
hands folded listlessly across his breast. He was questioning the
genuineness of his motives in keeping from Mr. Verne a secret which
deeply affected the interests and welfare of his child.

"If Marguerite loved Hubert Tracy why should I thwart her fond
hopes. Hubert Tracy has wronged me, though his act failed. Have I
any right to rake up the intended wrong and hunt him down as an
avenging deity.

"And for what," asked Phillip, as he gazed wildly around, fearing
some one should intrude upon his privacy. "It was the green-eyed
monster that goaded the weak-minded Hubert to be tempted. And must
I, in possession, of all my senses, retaliate from the same cause!
Ah, no, Hubert. You will go free, but Heaven will not suffer you to
pollute a pure and innocent being. Ah, no." And more than ever
inspired with faith, in the decrees of an All-Wise Providence,
Phillip Lawson fully resolved to hold his peace.

"I feel that I am doing what is right in the sight of Heaven, and
that thought gives me double resolution."

Mr. Lawson's soliloquy was interrupted by the entrance of a domestic
who came to take his place.

Mrs. Montgomery, being anxious, had also come in to make numerous
inquiries, and to see that the young man should seek some rest.

"Blessings on her kindly soul," murmured the latter, as he went into
the tasteful dressing-room and threw himself upon the lounge, where
soft pillows and ample covering showed that loving hands had not
forgotten his comfort.

But Phillip Lawson did not sleep. He turned listlessly from side to
side. He tried to divert his thoughts to business and to many and
varied subjects but through all and above all arose the words "very
well, my boy, let it be to-morrow."

What a world of thought was running through the young man's brain as
he lay thus, turning over in his well-stored mind many of the
intricate problems of life and trying vainly to solve those which
more deeply concerned himself.

In his short career midst life's struggles there was much to be
grateful for. There was indeed, as he journeyed through the
wilderness, a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night and as
Phillip Lawson raised his eyes heavenward they caught the reflection
of that fire; his countenance glowed with a radiance that was truly
heaven-born and as Mrs. Montgomery passed through the room an hour
afterward there was still trace of the sacred invisible presence.

Beading low the woman exclaimed "truly a noble soul," and with a
prayer upon her lips invoking Heaven's blessing towards the sleeper
she crept noiselessly away.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

AN INTERESTING EVENT--SHADE AND SUNSHINE.


When Mr. Lawson called at "Sunnybank" on the following day he was
pained to hear that Mr. Verne had taken a bad turn. The physician
had given strict orders that none should approach him except an old
nurse who had seen much service in the family.

"It has been too much for him," murmured Phillip as he closed the
doer behind him, and again the word "to-morrow" sounded
prophetically in his ear.

But the solicitor was not allowed to indulge further in gloomy
thought. He had scarcely seated himself at his office desk when the
bright countenance of Mr. Moses Spriggins beamed upon all around.

"Good morning, Mr. Spriggins," exclaimed Mr. Lawson heartily glad to
see the face of his honest friend.

"Don't be too sure that you're glad to see me, Mr. Lawson," (Mr.
Spriggins having dropped the appellation of 'Squire) "for I've come
on a kinder disagreeable errant."

"I am sorry to hear _that_, Mr. Spriggins. But perhaps it is
not so bad as you imagine," said the solicitor very cheerily.

"It's the roughest on you, sir. I tell yer what it is, it ain't a
very disagreeable piece of bus'ness for me to git married to Melindy
Jane Thrasher when we've been a-courtin' mor'n two years--jest two
years last hayin' time, for Melindy came to our house to help the
wimmin folks and the first time I sot eyes on her I'd made up my
mind."

Mr. Spriggins was becoming very eloquent on the subject and might
have said much more (not to the point) when interrupted.

"And you have come to inform us that we must give up Melindy?"

"Yes, sir, that is the hull thing in a few words," cried Mr.
Spriggins very much elated, "Isn't it a wonderful gift you fellars
have of speakin' right to the pint. By hokey, I'd give a good deal
if I was a lawyer--an honest, fair-square one like yerself, sir."

"Thank you Mr. Spriggins," said the young man trying hard to look
serious.

"I was at yer place last evenin', sir, and as Melindy and me talked
the thing over, she said that she felt backward of tellin' you, and
says I, Melindy, I'll see Mr. Lawson meself and tell him to look
out for another girl, so as you'd not be left without help."

"And you have given us sufficient time, I hope," said Mr. Lawson,
smiling.

"We're to be spliced a fortnight from next Tuesday, sir, and if it's
not askin' too much, I'd like terrible well if yerself and Miss
Lottie could come up to Mill Crossin' to be present at the
cer'mony."

"If nothing prevents we will go," said the young man quietly.

Mr. Spriggins sat for some moments and then informing the solicitor
that he had some business at the insurance office rose to take
leave.

"I suppose you have heard of Mr. Verne's illness?" ventured Mr.
Lawson.

"Yes, sir, Melindy and meself was a-talkin' the hull thing over last
night. He is a fine gentleman, sir,--and the young lady--I'm so glad
she's back again. Ah! she's a fine girl, sir. I bet the old
gentleman will be all right now, for the sight of her face is
bettern' all the medicine in all the poth'cary consarns in St John."

What a temptation presented itself to the young man. He could easily
ask the honest-hearted fellow about his interview with Mr. Verne,
and of the effect upon him; also the nature of the conversation.

That Moses Spriggins formed a connecting link in some future
disclosure he was doubly convinced, but it must come about by an
established order of things; and the young lawyer thanked God that
he was given sufficient strength to withstand the power of the
tempter.

When Mr. Lawson went home that evening he received the full benefit
of the information imparted to Miss Lottie.

It had been arranged that the latter should assist in the selection
of the indispensable trousseau, and this was indeed a source of
delight.

Mr. Spriggins came to town many times ere he could suit himself in a
brand-new suit of clothes, also some new furniture to make things
look "kinder nobby."

Nell Spriggins had been married some weeks previous, and as she had
borne away her "fit out," there were many vacant corners in the
Spriggins homestead, which of course fell to the lot of Moses to
restore in due order.

But Mr. Spriggins was equal to the occasion.

"It ain't every day a feller gits spliced, I can tell yer, and one
orter put the best foot for'ard. Tell you what it is, mother,
Melindy and me is a-goin' to make the folks' eyes stick out when we
'pear out in the Mill Crossin' meetin' house."

The good old lady wiped her glasses and advised her son to be
moderate in his ideas, "for," said she, "I always think that a quiet
beginnin' makes the best endin'"

"Endin', did you say, mother' Wal, that's very encouragin', to be
a-talkin' about endin' when a fellar feels like livin' till he has
to be killed off," and Moses' big blue eyes glistened like two big
china marbles.

"Now, Moses, if you _are_ a-goin' to be married, you needn't be
a-losin' of every speck of sense. It's enough for a bit of a boy to
be a-makin' of sich light speeches."

Mrs. Spriggins' remarks were brought to a close by Moses making an
exit via the back door, and when the privacy of the sheep-house had
been gained he sat down on a big log and began counting how much
money he had still on hand after his trip to town on the day
previous.

"Let's see--there's thirty-six dollars and one cent. Yes, every
cent's a cent, and twenty-one dollars Sam Wiggles owes me, and the
two loads o' hay Jim Briggs is a-takin' to town this week--that's
sure cash--well, thirty-six and twenty-one is fifty-seven, and the
hay--wal, it's all as good as seventy-five dollars."

A couple of huge hogs acting upon the aggressive in appropriating a
large share of hen feed, now interrupted the soliloquy, and after
combating the unscrupulous animals, Moses Spriggins once more seated
himself upon the log.

"Wal, seventy-five dollars won't make a bad spread, neither. I'm
terrible sorry that there's trouble in the Verneses. I'd like deuced
well to have that Miss Margit--now that's too highfalutin a name for
me--if Melindy were here she'd git it off in good style."

Silence reigned for a moment; then Moses took up the thread of
discourse. "When a fellar's gettin' spliced hisself he wants every
one else to follow. Wal, it's no use a-sayin' it, but if Mr. Lawson
and Miss Verne could have both a-come to the weddin' there's no
tellin' what might have happened. They'd git interested in the
cer'mony, and I'd bet ten to one they'd be a-proposin' before it was
over. Wal, sir, if Mr. Verne gits the leastest bit better, I'm
a-goin' after Miss Verne, sure pop."

Moses having made such resolution now carefully folded the notes in
his business-like pocket-book and set off to do the work which
awaited him.

It was, indeed, somewhat of a coincidence to know that at the same
moment when Moses Spriggins was speculating upon the prospects of
his legal friend that the latter should be also troubled about the
veritable Moses.

Lottie Lawson had gone to "Sunnybank," brimming over with the
affairs of the elated Melindy Jane.

Marguerite listened to the child's amusing description of the many
articles that were hourly displayed by the expectant bride, and when
consulted as to the choice of a wedding present, thoughtfully
proposed sending one herself.

"Oh. Miss Verne, that will be delightful," cried Lottie, clapping
her hands in childish glee. "Why, Melindy will have lots of nice
things; I know what brother Phillip is going to give--a pretty China
tea-set--and mine, a pair of napkin rings."

Marguerite smiled at the little maid's enthusiasm, and warned her
against being too communicative to Melindy Jane.

"Indeed, she will not know what they are until brother Phillip and I
go out to Mill Crossing."

Lottie took her departure and Marguerite once more sought her
father's room to take her place beside his bed.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Spriggins, did you say, papa?"

"Yes, child--I want the paper."

"Which paper, papa--can I get it for you?"

In the effort to make known his wishes his memory had failed him,
and Marguerite stood utterly helpless to execute that wish.

"Something is on papa's mind--some paper. It is, indeed, of much
importance, for poor papa has been deeply agitated."

The girl had noticed that her father's eyes always rested upon her
in a mute, half-despairing appeal, yet she had not courage to
question him upon the matter.

"If I could only speak to Mr. Lawson, but there is a restraint
between us that I suppose under the circumstances is only natural. I
am the affianced wife of Hubert Tracy and Phillip Lawson is not the
man to take advantage of his influence."

A heavy sigh escaped Marguerite and instantly she raised both hands
as if to compress the aching brow and wearied brain.

In the quiet of her own chamber Marguerite Verne felt that she was
safe from human eyes. She longed to give vent to her pent up sorrow,
and sitting down upon a pretty ottoman (the work of her own
industrious hands) uttered a low and mournful wail--such only as
would express a broken heart.

"Oh Phillip Lawson, it is hard to meet you every day of my life and
to know that we are strangers indeed--yes, worse than strangers. Oh,
my sad heart. None but heaven will ever know what I have suffered
and am suffering now. Oh, Phillip! Phillip! why is your image ever
before me! Why do you approach me with your grave but kind face and
hold out your hand in tenderest sympathy! Oh, my heart, it is
maddening! Why was I born to such feeling! Why was I cursed with the
susceptibilities of a warm and loving heart! Why were not these
sympathetic chords torn rudely asunder ere they could vibrate with
such anguish! Why did not my heart turn into stone ere it took root
in such deadly bitter soil! Ah well, love is common and grief is
common--'Never morning wore to evening but some heart did break.'
And I am only a drop in the great ocean--the great sea of
struggles--heart-aches and bitter groans!"

A rustle of garments in the outer hall caused Marguerite to raise
her head and as she caught a glimpse of her sorrowful face in the
mirror opposite she felt a sudden pang and seemed to meet the mild
despairing gaze of her idolized parent.

"Dear papa, what would he think of his rebellious child?"
Immediately the girl was trying to look brave and struggling hard to
set aside all the painful thoughts.

Marguerite fortunately was endowed with much will power. She could
master her thoughts to such a degree that a quiet, calm content
would succeed, and in this condition she went to her mother's room.

Mrs. Verne was now in a semi-invalid state. She was moody and
morose, and oftentimes much depressed. It would be charitable for us
to think that this woman reflected upon her past foolishness; and be
it as it may we will give her the benefit of the doubt.

Mr. Verne saw little of his wife, but there were moments when his
thoughts went back to the child-wife of his youth, and a tear
glistened in his eye as he recalled the bright scenes of the sadly
dimmed life.

But Marguerite Verne compensated for her mother's defects. She was
truly all in all to her fond parent. Her smile was his beacon light.
Her voice was more musical than harp or psaltery, and her loving
ministration were life indeed; and as each morning and evening the
girl clasped her hands and knelt beside her father's couch reading
aloud the several beautiful prayers for the visitation of the sick,
what soul could fail to be deeply affected.

"What a picture for a Guido, a Rembrandt, or a Correggio," thought
Phillip Lawson as he stood on the threshold not daring to breathe
lest he break the solemn spell; and as he noiselessly turns away the
vision haunts him with increasing vividness. "Turn which way I will
it is always the same," he murmured, and entering Warwick's elegant
china store felt like anything but selecting a bridal present.

But the world has its claims upon us, and Phillip Lawson was shown
the many beautiful patterns of delicate china cups, plates, etc.,
and very soon selected a pretty tea-set that would make glad the
heart of the expectant bride.

The young man had crossed over to the northern side of King street,
but had not gone many steps when he heard familiar voices, looking
around he espied the piquant Lottie and her domestic making their
way into the handsome and tasteful establishment of Manchester,
Robertson & Allison. The young solicitor was amused as he thought of
the conversation which he had accidently overheard on the previous
morning.

But for the shopping excursion.

Lottie with an air of importance had given much advice to the
jubiliant Melindy but when that great emporium, so dear to many a
woman's heart, had been, reached the latter almost lost her senses.

"If Mose could just peek in wouldn't he stare?" said she, casting
her eyes on a pile of silks that had been displayed upon the
counter.

Lottie smiled, and having directed Melindy's attention to a choice
lot of dress material stepped to the other end of the ware-room to
speak to one of her acquaintances.

The shades were too dull to suit Melindy's taste. She wanted it for
a "pertikler occasion" and if she had thought in time would have
brought a "certain person" in to choose it.

The merry twinkle in the clerk's eye brought Miss Lottie to the
rescue, and after much deliberation on the part of Melindy a heavy
piece of all-wool goods of bright maroon was at length decided upon
for the best dress, while another of fancy plaid was chosen for
reception purposes.

It is needless to enter into detail of all the knick-knacks that
took Melindy's eye, but we cannot pass the millinery department,
into which the latter was ushered by the amused but undemonstrative
Lottie.

A bonnet was, of course, the desired article.

"It does look kinder nice," said Melindy surveying the pretty,
tasteful cream-colored lace with a bunch of neat French flowers in
relief, "but it looks to me as if it wasn't hardly dressy enough."

"We can easily arrange it to suit your taste," said the young lady
in attendance as she went towards the show-case and began assorting
some bright-colored roses as more acceptable.

"Wal, there's sumthin' more becomin'!" said Melindy into a high key,
"and I'm certain that 'person' would like it better."

Melindy Jane cast a significant glance at Miss Lottie who in turn
gave it to the young lady and the result was significant smiles all
around.

"Well, its nothing to be ashamed of. I s'pose we might as well tell
you that I want it for peerin' out with, and as there's alwus so
many remarks passed I'd like it to be sumthin' dressy."

"Certainly," said the young lady, and within a very short time the
cream-colored bonnet was in reality a bed of roses, highly
suggestive to Miss Lottie of the lines--

  "Oh my love is like a red, red rose
   That newly springs in June."

"There now," cried the delighted Melindy, looking in the mirror to
note the effect, "that's just the style that'll take Moses' eye.
Don't I wish he was here to see it."

The indispensable white gloves and white net veil and bright
ribbons, flowers, etc., were now laid aside, and with a strict
injunction "to be sure send 'em right away," Melindy Jane Thrasher
was truly the happiest customer that ever emerged from the
time-honored establishment of Manchester, Robertson & Allison.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

HUBERT TRACY UNFOLDS HIS PLANS.


It must not be supposed that Phillip Lawson was remiss in his
regular duties--that he neglected the professional demands duly
devolving upon him.

Our much-respected friend had seen adversity on every hand and in
many phases. He had struggled hard to overcome difficulties, and he
had smothered the pleading of his hungry unsatisfied soul; and as
from day to day he jostles his fellow man in the crowded
thoroughfares, or encounters him in the office, shop or study, the
same remark was common to every honest-minded citizen:--"Lawson is a
clever, industrious and good fellow, and well deserves the position
which he will one day occupy."

And now, when it became an established fact that Phillip Lawson had
fallen heir to forty thousand dollars, it was, indeed, worthy of
mention that no one was heard to make uncharitable remarks.
Congratulations fell thick and fast, and last, but not least, came
those of Moses Spriggins.

"Well, sir, I used ter say I'd be no small potatoes one o' these
days, but I never dreamed I'd have a millionar at my weddin'. Wal,
thar's no accountin' for miracles these times," and the iron hand
left its impress upon the soft palm of the "millionar" in a manner
that showed heartiness minus conventionalism.

But there was another who tendered congratulations while a deeper
shadow settled down and shut out any approach of joy or gladness.

Marguerite Verne could not fail to see the difference in her
mother's reception of Phillip Lawson as he now is, and this thought
gave her pain.

The possessor of forty thousand, and a poor penniless lawyer, were
indeed two different beings in Mrs. Verne's partial eyes. They were
unlike in appearance, character, action--aye, as opposite as two
extremes could well be.

Mr. Lawson, in his altered condition, was handsome, was more
distinguished looking, could converse more fluently, was more
polished and more gallant.

But Marguerite Verne listened to her mother's eulogism with a calm
despair, and, save the pallor of her lips, no one could tell the
suffering within. What matters it now, thought the girl, as she bent
over a sheet of paper and tried to collect her thoughts.

Hubert Tracy eagerly awaited the delicate missive that came as
regularly as the mail, and he now was looking forward to the time
when he would claim Marguerite Verne forever and forever.

It was so hard to frame each sentence without the conviction that
every word conveyed the falsity of the girl's heart. How dare she
pen one word such as an affianced lover would expect! Oh, the agony
of soul that Marguerite endured as she combated with her honest
nature.

Phillip Lawson never lost sight of the doings at "Sunnybank." He was
daily around the afflicted household and tried hard to bring cheer
along with him.

That Mr. Verne was sinking fast the young man knew well, and he was
sorely troubled that the secret grief would never be communicated--
perhaps in a way that might give relief.

Would it be wise to force the subject, to venture an allusion to
Moses Spriggins, and thus arouse the seemingly comatose condition of
the dying man.

"If I could mention the matter to Marguerite," thought Phillip, as
he sat in his office for a few moment's respite after a day of
toilsome labor over some perplexing law points in a case which
gained much notoriety, and which had also gained for the leading
counsel a reputation for earnestness and strict integrity that must
inevitably be crowned with success.

"If I could only ask her advice in the matter," thought he, "what a
relief it would afford."

But the words froze upon his lips, and Marguerite remained as before
in utter ignorance of the failure.

"Why do such questions arise," murmured the young man sadly, and his
thoughts reminded him of the renowned son of Jupiter dying of thirst
with the tempting element raised to his chin, but could not partake
of a single drop. "Ah! there's many a modern Tantalus," said Phillip
wearily, "many a Tantalus."

Marguerite had received several letters from Mrs. Arnold, but they
were vague, unsatisfactory and suppressed. There was an attempt at
concealment that gave the girl much concern, yet she did not
communicate the fact to Mrs. Verne.

"Poor mamma has enough to think of," thought she, "and as they say,
it is no use to be borrowing trouble, so I'll hope for the best."

Could one have glanced into Mrs. Montague Arnold's private life what
a picture would be presented to us--one anything but pleasing to
look upon--where alike was depicted disappointment, disgust, anger,
sullen resentment and hate.

Add to this dissipation, an utter disregard for the home duties of
woman, and one can form some idea of the unenviable position of this
fashionable creature.

Of the husband what can we say?

Montague Arnold is indeed far on the downward road to ruin.
Dissipation has made fearful ravages upon his hitherto handsome
face, and in the bloated features, inflamed eyes, and idiotic
expression, there is little left to convey an impression that the
gay and fashionable world once coveted such a prize.

The lowest gambling dens were now sought, and hour after hour the
man sat side by side with the scum of humanity. His days and nights
were scenes of carousal, his wife was left to her own resources, and
his home utterly desolate.

Evelyn Arnold had written her sister many glowing eulogies of Hubert
Tracy's generosity, yet she did not acknowledge that to him she was
entirely dependent.

Let us not utterly despise this young man.

There was yet a spark of generosity in his nature and a desire to
lend a helping hand to the needy.

As hitherto expressed, with different associations Hubert Tracy
would have been a different man. He began well but had not
sufficient will power to resist the tempter and like many a
promising youth who went out into the world with a mother's prayers
ringing in his ears, stumbled ere he reached the first milestone on
life's chequered road.

Hubert Tracy was to a certain degree trying to make amends for the
wrong he had done towards himself and towards his fellow man.

When the face and form of Phillip Lawson rose before him with
such vividness that he many times closed his eyes to shut out the
sight remorse would seize upon him and hold him in galling chains,
shewing us that the Divine impress was not entirely obliterated from
his nature and that some day one might expect a complete change.

But of this young man's kindness to Mrs. Arnold.

The latter had been accustomed to a lavish expenditure of money and
now that her husband's means had been squandered what was she to do?
Appearances must be kept up at any sacrifice and without any
apparent struggle. Mrs. Montague Arnold received from her sister's
betrothed a sufficient amount of money to meet her daily wants.

Every beauty has her reign and so with the beautiful Evelyn.

Another queen succeeded and with many a bitter feeling the former is
a thing of the past. Men have ceased to rave over the dark-eyed
syren and now behold her as a being of a secondary order.

Mrs. Arnold attributed such slights to her husband's altered
position and loud angry words were of daily occurrence until at last
matters grew worse and they were completely alienated.

It was now that Hubert Tracy proved himself a benefactor. He
remitted money and strove to give the unhappy woman all the sympathy
she desired.

At times Mrs. Arnold's temper became ungovernable and as each
annoyance crowded upon her with redoubled force it was anything but
agreeable to listen to the frequent outbursts of uncontrollable
anger or to look upon a face made hideous by those degrading
exhibitions of a coarse and corrupt nature.

Let us now take a look at this fashionable woman as she is vainly
trying to while away what appears to be a tedious morning.

Mrs. Arnold has removed to another suite of apartments and the
change bears heavily upon her.

With an air of disgust she surveys the plainly furnished parlor and
taking up a third class novel of the highly sensational type throws
herself upon the chintz-covered lounge and gives way to a series of
hysterical sobs more expressive of anger than grief.

The once large lustrous orbs have lost much of their brightness and
the oval cheeks have lost their beauty of outline, while the rich
crimson hue has given place to a sickly yellow. Even the toilette of
the proud beauty bears traces of neglect. The rich and elegant
dressing gown of cashmere and velvet had been converted into money
and a dowdy-looking stuff wrapper supplied its place.

Mrs. Arnold yawned and sighed wearily, then arose to look for some
curl papers but finding the effort too much once more sought the
lounge and novel.

The sorrows of the heroine pleased her. "Misery likes company," as
the adage goes and Mrs. Arnold formed no exception.

"Yes," mused she, "her lord, like mine, proved a failure, but here
the likeness ends--she got rid of him but there is no such luck for
me. I must put up with his brutal insults, his coarse language, his
murderous assaults--yes, I must bear it for better for worse until
death doth us part--"

"Which I hope will be very soon, my dear, delightful spouse," cried
a hic-coughy voice from an outer room and instantly the bloated face
of Montague Arnold confronted his wife in tantalizing and brutal
aspect.

We will pass over the scene which followed, suffice to say that the
inebriated husband finally betook himself to his room and--more
beast than man--lay until he was sufficiently recovered to set out
for the scene of dissipation to be enacted on the coming night.

When quiet was fully restored and Evelyn had once more found respite
in her heroine's increasing woes a familiar step sounded in the
passage.

"Come at last Hubert, I wish you had been here sooner."

Mrs. Arnold then gave an exaggerated account of her husband's
proceedings, and began sobbing wildly and hysterically.

Hubert Tracy did not like scenes, but he had to await Mrs. Arnold's
pleasure.

He had of late been trying to lead a better life and had given the
slip to several of his debauched companions, but on the previous
evening he had been unable to withstand their urgent entreaties and
as he wended his way to Mrs. Arnold's residence his aching brows and
dizzy head gave evidence of the sad fact.

"I have had news from home, Evelyn."

"Yes," said the latter faintly.

"Your father seems no better. Madge has little hopes of him, and
your mother's health has undergone a great shock."

"No, doubt," was the sarcastic reply.

"Evelyn," said the young man in earnest tones, "I shall eagerly
await the coming mail, for I have signified to Madge my intention to
cross the Atlantic!"

"So soon," cried Mrs. Arnold with awaking interest.

"Yes, Evelyn, I cannot endure this suspense much longer. Madge is
the only woman who can reclaim me, and I must now insist that she
will be my wife at an early date--at any rate I wish to be in St.
John at the settlement of the affair. It has been a great mistake
that I did not accompany your mother and Madge."

"Oh, Hubert, the thought makes me feel worse, if possible."

"You will come with me, Evelyn, and if Mont sees fit he can shake
off his fellows and come too."

"I go home Hubert! No indeed, I would rather die than face the
people of St. John, Ah no! You must say that I am looking so well,
and so brilliant, and am so happy that I prefer English society to
dull provincial life!

"True, Hubert, I have done much for you, and you surely will carry
out my wishes."

"I certainly shall, Evelyn, and more than that I shall never forget
that to you I owe all the happiness of my life."

"You may well say so Hubert. But for my scheming Madge would have
yielded to mamma's entreaties and became the wife of her pet--Sir
Arthur."

"Well, it's all over, now," said the young man impatiently. "You
never will have cause to regret the steps you have taken, and I
trust we will be a happy family one of these days."

Alas! it is an easy task for us to propose, but the Great Disposer
of our destinies finds it necessary to circumvent our plans and show
us how utterly helpless we are. But we will not forestall events. We
will calmly await the end, in a direct order comforted by the
cheering thought that patience is a virtue and worthy its reward.

"Hubert, have you ever thought of Phil Lawson lately. I must tell
you some news."

Mrs. Arnold then, with greater gusto, referred to the fortune, and
in sarcastic tones amused her friend with the great change it would
make in the heir's position, and the brilliant match he would also
secure from the same source.

"So much the better," said Hubert, "he'll not be poking his nose
where he's not wanted."

Hubert Tracy tried to appear as indifferent as possible, but in his
own mind he was ill at ease. Any allusion to Phillip Lawson opened
afresh a very tender spot in his memory.

"Would to God the fellow were dead," thought he, "though he never
did me any harm. Perhaps, after all, he never would have had courage
to propose to Madge--but then its best to be safe."

It would seem as if Mrs. Arnold had divined her friend's thoughts.
"Hubert," said she, rather excitedly, "I firmly believe, and will
always believe, that if we had not taken matters in time that Phil
Lawson, with his long-winded speeches, would have wrought a spell
upon papa and so completely influenced him that he would have had
Madge body and soul, for I am certain that she was fool enough to
encourage him."

"I believe so, too," said Hubert, dryly, and not at all pleased with
the woman's reference to a rival.

"It was only his poverty that kept him back. I tell you some
upstarts of lawyers have impudence enough to face anything; indeed,
when they stick out their shingle they think they are fitting match
for a princess."

Mrs. Arnold was sarcastic in the highest degree, and her expression
was scornful as well.

"And I suppose the forty thousand will assist materially in giving a
little more cheek," said Hubert, laughing.

"You may bless your stars that it did not arrive a twelve-month
ago," said Mrs. Arnold, in a teazing manner that was not at all
acceptable to her companion.

"Ah, well, Eve, let us think none the less of him. Perhaps he
carries a heavier heart than we would wish," and, glancing hurriedly
around, Hubert Tracy bowed to his companion and passed out as if
bent upon some particular errand.

Little did the thoughtless young man realize that this was his last
conversation with Mrs. Arnold, nor did the latter, as she called to
mind the fact that Hubert Tracy had, for the first time, addressed
her familiarly as "Eve,"--the name she bore in her father's home--
that it would also be the last. Oh, well, this is one of the many
lessons sent to teach us what we are, and what we should be:--,

  "Let manhood think that death may come
    When least it seemeth nigh;
   And, though content with this bright home,
    Yet be prepared to die."



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

CONFESSION AND RESOLUTION.


November's chilly blast moaned hoarsely around the heavy solid walls
of "Sunnybank," and the weird sound of the rustling leaves impressed
one with thoughts alike weird and melancholy.

Marguerite Verne sat in the library poring over some accounts.
Several letters lay beside her ready for mailing and as she glanced
occasionally at the outer door she is evidently awaiting some
person.

The suspense is of short duration. A bright cheerful face is soon at
her side.

"You dear old coz, have I kept you long waiting?"

"Only two minutes," said Marguerite glancing at her watch, then
hanging the pretty bauble within reach added, "Cousin Jennie I
believe you are equal to a time piece."

An affectionate embrace was the outcome of the compliment and very
soon the apartment looked brighter and more welcome.

The fire in the grate sent up a more cheerful glow as if it were
trying to shew its appreciation of the newly arrived guest. In fact
all things animate and inanimate tried to do homage to the sweet and
cheery Jennie Montgomery.

The willing domestic who had answered Marguerite's summons, had no
sooner finished her task than a message was conveyed from Mrs.
Verne's chamber requesting Marguerite's immediate presence.

Jennie followed and her presence of mind soon quieted her aunt's
violent fit of hysteria, and bathing the aching brows with Florida
water coaxed the restless woman into a soft and gentle sleep.

"What would I do without you, darling!" said Marguerite, her eyes
filling with tears and then hastily shading her delicate face sought
the nurse to make inquiries about her father.

On being advised that it was better not to disturb his restless
slumbers she instantly returned to the library.

"It is cosey in here to-day, Madge. Just see how angry the sky
appears. How fast the clouds are moving! Look! they seem furious!"

Marguerite having finished her accounts, now looked about for
something farther to do.

Her eyes were attracted towards a handsome volume that lay upon the
sofa. Its rich cream and gold binding giving a pretty contrast to
the elegant upholstering of the said article.

The first words that claimed the girls attention ran:

  "Wake maid of Love! the moments fly
   Which yet, that maiden-name allow;
   Wake, maiden, wake! the hour is nigh
   When Love shall claim a plighted vow."

Hitherto Scott had been one of Marguerite's favorite authors, but
now she threw down the book as if stung by an adder. Her blood was
chilled in her veins, and she seemed as if petrified.

It were well that Jennie Montgomery was busily engaged looking over
the broad rows of bookshelves in quest of some thing suitable to her
fancy.

It was also well that she found the desired volume and had
comfortably seated herself for a good long read.

Cousin Jennie might well be termed a book-worm, for, notwithstanding
the fact that she was a clever housekeeper, an industrious handmaid
and a skilful needlewoman, no girl had, considering her advantages,
been a more extensive reader. She was conversant with many of the
standard authors, could discuss freely upon the most abstruse
subjects and also kept herself well posted in all the leading events
of the day, a fact which goes to prove that there is no woman no
matter in what circumstances, but can, if inclined, give some
attention to the improvement of the mind, and make herself a fairly
intellectual being.

Marguerite's thoughts were painful, indeed. "The hour is nigh," she
murmured. Hubert Tracy's letter had arrived, and the well-known
lines had doubly recalled the fact.

"Would to heaven that it might never arrive," then suddenly checking
the wicked wish the girl exclaimed, "it is so hard to bear. Oh,
Heavenly Father, forgive my wicked, sinful heart."

"Madge, whom do you think I met as I was going along Princess
street?"

Jennie had now turned towards her cousin. Her honest face was fair
to look upon. Its genuineness was stamped in bold characters upon
the open brow and reflected in the clear expressive eyes.

"Why, none other than Helen Rushton. She has just arrived from
Fredericton where she has been for six weeks. She introduced me to
her friend Miss Boynton who is such a nice-looking girl, not a
beauty but interesting and very graceful."

"She called a few days after I came home," said Marguerite, "but I
was unable to leave papa. Helen is a good girl, Jennie."

"I always liked her," said the latter, putting a little marker in
her book, "and I would give anything to have her visit us. Mother
seems much interested in her."

"I think that I met Miss Boynton at Mrs. Greene's last winter. Is
she not tall and slight with auburn hair and straight regular
features, with just enough hauteur to give her an air of quiet
dignity?"

"The very same, Madge. You are quite an adept at description," said
cousin Jennie with mock gravity. "But I have something worth
telling," cried she excitedly, "Louise Rutherford is engaged to Mr.
Noyes. It is really true, for Helen told me that she congratulated
her, and she did not deny it."

"I expected to hear it before this," said Marguerite somewhat sadly.
"They are to be married early next spring and most likely will go to
Europe."

Whichsoever way Marguerite directed her thoughts there was always
some reminder of her own gloomy prospects.

Louise Rutherford's betrothed was an intimate friend of Phillip
Lawson's. Their interests were much in common and in their outward
appearance there was a striking resemblance.

"Phillip will be the next!" thought the girl "Ah, yes. Heaven never
intended that such a man would not realize his highest and fondest
hopes. He will receive the congratulations of friends and I will
smile and join the pressing throng, while my heart will ache and
throb so wildly. But no human heart ever was so freighted with
sorrow that it had not sufficient resisting power. Ah, no." And the
soft white palms are folded together as if the speaker had invoked a
prayer.

Jennie Montgomery had also been indulging in some speculative
thoughts, for she stole softly to her cousin's side, and, putting an
arm around the girl's neck, exclaimed, "Madge, darling, I have
longed for a good opportunity to say what I wish, and forgive me if
I make you feel badly."

Marguerite looked at her companion, and her lips grew deadly pale,
but her manner was calm, and not a shade was visible upon the
madonna-like face.

"Madge," said Jennie, with excited and wistful gaze, "tell me why
you promised to marry Hubert Tracy. I am certain you couldn't love
him! Oh, Madge! what has prompted you to do anything so dreadful?"

Marguerite Verne sat like one in some horrible dream, not daring to
move lest she might become the victim of some dread Gorgon or Fury.

"Speak, Madge, or you will frighten me to death," exclaimed Jennie,
imprinting a warm kiss upon the cold rigid lips.

The effect was electrifying.

"Oh! cousin Jennie, you know all! I will not hide it from you. I am
going to marry Hubert Tracy to save my father from the depths of
poverty. Poor mamma shall never know what I am suffering for her
sake; and if I could make a ten-fold sacrifice, I would do it to
bring my darling father back to life and health--but he shall never
know--oh no!"

"Marguerite Verne!" exclaimed the excited girl, raising her right
hand aloft in wild, appealing gestures, "you will _never_ marry
Hubert Tracy! Heaven could not, or would not, allow it. Oh, no,
Madge! Heaven could never sanction, such an act. Madge," exclaimed
the girl, with all the intensity of her nature, "you are tempting
the Almighty."

"Jennie, Jennie! spare me! oh, spare me! have some mercy!" cried
Marguerite, sinking at her cousin's feet, and clinging to her with
the force of desperation.

"Ask me not Madge. I can have no mercy in your case. Think me cruel
as you will, I will always be of the same mind, and mother is
indeed, if anything, a great deal harder upon you."

"She surely cannot be if she knew all Jennie," said Marguerite in
wild, agonizing tones.

"She blames you for not having sufficient combativeness to oppose
the influence brought to bear upon you."

"Surely Aunt Hester cannot think that I would be doing right to go
contrary to the wish of my mother--yes, and all."

"She does, indeed. She says that you are to obey your parents only
when their motives are honest and right, not otherwise, and you know
well, Madge, that your father, were he in possession of all his
senses, would never sanction such a course; and furthermore, Madge,
I firmly believe that the very thought of it is consuming the few
drops of blood that vainly try to give warmth to the broken heart."

"Jennie Montgomery, if you have one spark of pity, forbear. It is
cruel to upbraid me with being my father's murderess, when I would
willingly give my life to save him. Oh! Jennie, you cannot mean what
you say. Oh! my poor father."

Marguerite was now an object of pity. Her hands were clasped above
her head, and in that half-prostrate position she seemed a living
representation of some Grecian maid who, more than two thousand
years in the past, with like struggles, had climbed the marble steps
leading to the Acropolis and with lips pallid as the ivory temple
near, wailed out her woes to the myriads of deities that met her
despairing gaze.

But for the nonce Jennie Montgomery had steeled her heart and looked
as indifferent as a Zeno.

"It will do her good. There is more work on hand yet"--these and
other remarks of a like nature escaped the daring girl as she rose
to her feet and glanced at the angry clouds trooping along the grey
November sky like hordes of insatiable warriors bent upon further
deeds of prowess.

"Cousin Jennie!"

"Yes, Madge," said the latter going toward her cousin with as much
composure as if their conversation had been of the most common
place.

"Cousin Jennie," said Marguerite raising herself with an air of
determination, "I thank you for your harsh but wholesome words. They
have given rise to a train of thoughts which I shall soon put to the
test and you, my dear, must await the result."

"What now, coz? If it be anything that will relieve you from such
disgraceful bonds, I will enter into it body and soul."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Better to-day, dearest papa? I am so glad," and Marguerite rained
kisses upon the emaciated cheeks.

"And cousin Jennie is here to congratulate you upon looking so
well," Marguerite now motioned her cousin to the bedside.

"Uncle Stephen," said the girl taking the trembling hands between
her own, "you must hurry and get well for I'm not going to leave
here until you do."

Marguerite having supplanted the nurse for the entire afternoon and
having taken the precaution to learn from the good old doctor that
her cheerful presence would do good turned the occasion to the best
possible account.

Side by side sat the two maidens in striking but happy contrast.
Cousin Jennie's neatly fitting frock of wine-colored serge was
relieved by point lace collar and cuffs, the work of her own deft
fingers, while a cluster of white geranium served to complete the
toilet and give a subdued tone to the highly brilliant complexion.

Marguerite's plain black cashmere with bodice of rich velvet
harmonized most exquisitely with her soft _spirituelle_ beauty
and set off the purity of the purely transparent complexion.

How many have gazed with tearful eye upon that most bewitching of
portraits, that of Mary Queen of Scots in costume of black velvet,
time-honored ruff, and as reminder of her belief, the massive jet
crucifix was suspended from the most perfect neck that was ever
fashioned by the hand of the Divine Craftsman.

It is while gazing upon Marguerite Verne that our thoughts carry us
back to the ill-fated queen and as we note the striking personal
resemblance, thank a kind Providence that the maiden's lot has been
cast in happier days and in a land not blighted by the harrowing
associations of those stormy times.

But to our subject. The dutiful daughter goes softly toward the bed
and raising the shrivelled hand from the snowy coverlid looks into
the languid eyes as if she would read the thoughts which she now
longed to hear.

"Papa I want to say something. Will you promise me that you will not
get excited. You know I am under orders."

"Nothing will excite me now my child. Excitement is only fit for the
people of the earth, and I am now already on the verge of another
and I trust a better world."

Marguerite would fain have urged her father to forbear, but she knew
full well that it was the truth.

"Well, papa, we are all in the hands of God. He will do what he
thinks is best for us."

The quivering lips and tremulous tones gave expression to the
overflowing heart, but the girl bore up bravely.

"Papa, here is my accuser," said she, grasping Cousin Jennie by the
hand and drawing her forcibly to his side. "Now, dearest, tell papa
what you told me in the library."

Cousin Jennie trembled somewhat. She was alarmed lest her words
might add to the grief of the dying man. But she must not waver now,
and in measured tones she repeated almost word for word the same
conversation which had so deeply affected the sensitive Marguerite.

Mr. Verne listened, and as the girl proceeded his eye kindled and
his lips moved as if in deep gratitude.

Cousin Jennie's eyes now flashed upon Marguerite, and as if by
intuition Mr. Verne's also sought his daughter.

"My child, this may be the last question I shall ever ask you!
Answer me truly! Do you love Hubert Tracy with a deep and tender
love--such a love as a true woman gives to her husband?"

There was silence deep as death, then a sweet voice, murmured:
"Papa, I know it is sinful, but I cannot! Oh! I cannot love him!"

"God be praised for these comforting words. Come close my child."

Marguerite had her face down upon the pillow, calmly awaiting the
loved voice--the voice that ere long would be silent forever!

Mr. Verne had been tenderly raised to a sitting position, and
supported by pillows, he was comfortable and easy. A smile lighted
up his countenance and he looked calm and happy.

"Marguerite, my child, in presence of God and his holy angels, I ask
you now to make me a solemn promise--I can ask you now, thank God,
with a feeling of delight--promise me that you will from this hour
renounce that bad and unprincipled man--Hubert Tracy."

Marguerite was bewildered. What knowledge had of late been imparted
to her father? But it matters not. She is not to question, and with
firm voice, exclaimed: "As Heaven is my witness I hereby break the
bonds that bind me to Hubert Tracy," and as if some invisible aid
had been wafted from that upper world the costly solitaire, diamond
dropped upon the floor and rolled into a darkened recess, where for
the time it was safe from human eyes!



CHAPTER XXXIX.

A TURNING POINT.


What a change a few moments often make! They seem of small note and
yet to many lives they have wrought wondrous things.

Marguerite Verne sought her father's presence with a heart sad as it
were possible to be, and left it some time later with a new light
dawning upon her. A ray of hope had given warmth to her whole being,
and in the inaudible "Thank God" what a world of gratitude was
conveyed.

But it must not be inferred that the girl had no misgiving. The
picture of the disappointed lover hung before her as a reminder that
her release was purchased at the expense of another's happiness.
Marguerite reasoned with herself. She was of a deep argumentative
turn of mind, though her actions did not always endorse the
statement.

"How shall I ever have courage to write Hubert!" thought she! "How
shall I pen the words inflicting such a blow! Poor fellow! Whatever
his faults are, and papa must know of some, I am certain he loved
me, and would try to do better. Indeed, the only consoling thought I
had was being the means of making him a better man, but then, it is
dreadful to think of him as having committed some crime! Poor
fellow! he has been led into it," and heaving a deep sigh of relief
Marguerite once more felt truly grateful that she had been rescued
from a fate which now to her seemed terrible.

"Papa does not seem inclined to explain matters and perhaps is as
well," said she, taking a small portrait from a cabinet putting it
away in a drawer which she seldom opened. "I will not destroy it.
Poor Hubert! some day I may feel even more sympathy than I do now;"
and Hubert Tracy in miniature was consigned to its solitary resting
place.

Marguerite Verne's words were prophetic indeed.

She had remained some moments in utter abstraction when Cousin
Jennie hastily entered telling her that Mr. Lawson had just left and
that her father wished to see her.

"What an early call for Mr. Lawson," thought the girl as she went in
answer to the message.

Mr. Verne's face caused Marguerite to clutch the chair beside her
for support.

"Is he dying!" thought she, "dying, and our clergyman from home. Oh,
if he were here to give us comfort."

But Marguerite was mistaken. Her father's voice was stronger than
usual and his eye kindled with something of the old fervor, then
drawing from beneath his pillow a slip of paper raised it to
Marguerite.

The latter did not faint or indulge in any hysterical outbreaks as
is fashionable on such occasions but quietly read the lines and with
calm composure stood for a moment as if waiting for some one to
speak.

"May God have mercy upon his soul! Poor fellow, he had passed away
ere the letter could have reached its destination."

Mr. Verne spoke these words in a deep reverential air. They were
sacred to the memory of Hubert Tracy.

Poor misguided young man. He had gone out one bright Sunday
afternoon flashed with the anticipation of his fondest hopes and as
he stepped gaily on board the saucy-looking yacht that awaited him
at the pier a boisterous shout went up from merry-making companions.

Who among the lookers-on, glancing at the calm sky, would have then
predicted the approaching storm.

Sad to relate none who went out ever returned to tell the sad story.

Some waterman who afterwards passed the spot brought back the
tidings that the trim little craft was a complete wreck and that so
far the bodies had not been recovered.

Strange as it may seem Montague Arnold suddenly aroused himself from
his semi-brutal state and sent a lengthy cablegram to none other
than Phillip Lawson.

We will not question the motives which prompted this sense of duty.
Let us charitably hope that the impression left by the Divine
Architect was not entirely obliterated, that his last generous act
was due to that source.

It was the evening of the same day that Marguerite Verne had
received the news of Hubert Tracy's sad end.

She was in her own chamber, locking perplexed and troubled. "Am I to
blame for his death? Heaven forbid! Did I wish it! Ah no!" then she
thought of Cousin Jennie's prophetic speech and a chill seized her
as of ague. "It is indeed hard to decide between right and wrong.
Will I ever feel real happiness again! Will not the bitter past
come up and taunt me with cruel heartlessness. Would it not have
been better if he had lived! then I would have had an opportunity to
know myself better than now!"

What causes the girl to start? A well known step is heard on the
stairway, and a voice that has power to thrill every nerve, is heard
in conversation with Cousin Jennie.

"I cannot see him," murmured Marguerite, "I must not let him think
that I am glad of my release."

The cosey reception-room was directly underneath, and much of the
conversation within could be distinctly heard.

Mrs. Verne having sufficiently recovered to make her appearance now
formed one of the company.

Her manner towards the young solicitor was warmth itself. It was
painfully embarrassing to the sensitive girl to hear the labored
speeches addressed to the guest.

"It is better that I remain in ignorance, for such knowledge will
only make me act more ridiculous, in fact, I would not be myself
when I was prejudiced to such an extent."

Marguerite then arose, and stole quietly along the upper hall until
she sought the curious-looking apartment already described in a
preceding chapter.

Master Charlie and several of his chums were seated around an old
table and were having some fun over that highly intellectual game
known as "old maid" or "old bachelor."

With an air of gallantry the young gentlemen arose and each had an
impromptu seat for the fair visitor.

"We are not very presentable to ladies, Miss Verne," remarked a
rather handsome boy of thirteen, possessed with that I-am-a-man look
so amusing and comical.

"Oh, Madge, what good luck brought you to our den? Come let us make
'old maid' of you, I've been 'old bachelor' six times."

"And he is afraid that it will turn out so in reality one of these
days!" said out the lad who had not hitherto spoken.

"I might as well be diverting these children as brooding over real
and imaginary woes. It cannot be wrong. If papa could only look in
upon us now as he often did."

"I can stay a few moments boys--that is if you will be quick." And
suiting the action to the words Marguerite wedged in between two
curly-headed urchins brimful of fun and mischief and ready for
anything that might honestly be termed a good time.

"I thought so," exclaimed the jubilant Charlie, clapping his hands
in wild delight, "Madge is old maid."

A round of applause greeted Charlie's speech and amid the general
confusion Marguerite made a hasty retreat.

Mrs. Verne's voice could still be heard but with increasing
distinctness and her marked flattery was painfully distressing, but
the girl was careful to avoid the trying ordeal.

"Eve's letter must be written before I sleep," and instantly
Marguerite was seated in Cousin Jennie's room, where a bright fire
glowed in the grate and everything looked bright and cheerful as the
maiden herself.

"No gloom can come in here," said the girl in a manner that showed
that she was trying to fortify herself against intruding thoughts.

"Hubert was kind to Eve, she will surely mourn for him. He was more
attentive than Montague, and I believe had more sympathy."

It was well for Marguerite that she was ignorant of her sister's
sadly altered condition. As she pens the lines she fervently prays
that Montague Arnold may take warning from his friend's sad fate and
that Evelyn may feel more interested in her husband and give less
concern to the fogies and recklessness of fashionable society.

Mr. Verne's condition now appeared more favorable. Marguerite was
buoyed up by the thought that it was almost impossible that her
father could be taken away from her. "A kind Providence sees fit to
restore him to us," murmured she as the door closed upon the
venerable benign countenance of their much endeared physician. But
the latter did not hold out false hope. When questioned as to his
opinion he spoke kindly and said that he was doing all that could be
done.

Another week had flown, and Saturday night was ushered in with a
quiet that was inspiring, reminding one most forcibly of the lines:

  "The cheerfu sapper down, wi' serious face,
   They, round the ingle form a circle wide,
   The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace
   The big ha' Bible, once his father's pride."

Though Saturday night at "Sunnybank" presented a different scene the
faithful picture was often presented to Mr. Verne in a way that
filled his soul with a deep religious fervour and inspired him with
a filial reverence for the time-honored custom of his worthy
ancestors.

But of the present. Marguerite had been reading from the _Church
Witness_, and having finished her task or rather pleasure, sat
down upon a low stool beside the grate, gazing upon the red hot
coals with a far off look in her violet eyes!

"Has Phillip been here to-day, my dear?" asked Mr. Verne arousing
Marguerite from her reverie.

"Not to-day, papa."

"I would like to see him this evening."

"James can go for him if you wish, papa."

"Very well, dear, just say that I wish to see him, if at all
possible."

Marguerite glanced at the tiny alarm clock that stood on the table.
It was nearly eight o'clock, and in all probability Mr. Lawson might
not be found at home, but she gave the message to the trusty errand
boy, and once more was installed as watcher in the sick room, having
an uncomfortable dread of meeting the expectant visitor.

"James has indeed been successful, papa," cried the girl as she
heard the well-known footsteps in the corridor, then hastily added,
"I shall be in the library, papa. You can ring when I am needed."

Marguerite had not gone many steps when she stood face to face with
Phillip Lawson.

Despite her efforts to appear calm the flushed cheeks were a sad
tell tale.

She reached out her hand in a friendly way but seemed nervous and
embarrassing, a circumstance which might easily be ascribed to the
painful anxiety that at times possessed her.

"Papa seemed so anxious that I proposed sending for you," said
Marguerite in her winning gentle way.

"I am glad that you did, Miss Verne; I was just leaving the house as
the message arrived."

Mr. Lawson was soon seated beside his old friend.

The latter, within the last few moments, had become much excited and
the young man felt uneasy.

Mr. Verne, having divined the latter's thoughts, exclaimed, "Don't
be alarmed Phillip, I have much to say before we are through. This
may be the last opportunity--the very last."

"Never mind sir, you're worth a dozen dead men yet," said Mr. Lawson
in a cheerful voice.

But the effect was lost upon the dying man.

"Phillip Lawson," said he, his voice calm and distinct, "I have
asked God to give me strength to-night and I have not asked in vain.
He has been good and merciful to me through it all and on this bed
of affliction I have made my peace with Him."

A tear shone in the listener's eye and fell upon the floor.

"God has indeed been good to me. He has revealed Himself in a number
of ways. Not once has He withheld His hand. The plots of the wicked
have been frustrated. When their hands were lifted against me He
laid them low in the dust. Ah Phillip, I have much to be grateful
for."

Mr. Verne then pointed to a small box which Phillip brought to his
bedside, when a small key was produced.

"Take this," said he, "and on opening the lower drawer on the right
side of my desk you will see a miniature Japanese cabinet. Bring it
to me."

Mr. Lawson did as requested, and with trembling hands Mr. Verne drew
forth a paper which he passed to the young lawyer.

"There is a document, which doubtless you have seen before, at least
I always thought so," said Mr. Verne, eyeing his friend with eager
look.

"I have indeed, sir, but never would have thought of it being in
your possession."

It is needless to add the explanation that followed, the reader
being well acquainted with the facts, but we can try to imagine the
joy that leaped into Phillip Lawson's heart.

Never within so short a time was realized more true happiness.

"Mr. Lawson," said Mr. Verne, "I want to say a few more words. I
feel that my days are nearly numbered, and that soon my voice will
be silent. It is, indeed, a painful subject, but duty demands it.
Ah! Phillip, what man would have acted towards that unfortunate
youth as you have done. Yours is a generosity that is seldom met
with."

Mr. Verne seemed for a moment lost in deep thought, then exclaimed:
"Ah! Phillip, God's ways are wonderful. Let us thank Him that the
barriers are broken down--that ere long you may possess the rarest
treasure that this earth can give."

Mr. Verne's voice sank into a deep whisper as he uttered the solemn
invocation:

"And now may the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob, rest upon thee forever my son."

The icy fingers which had lain within those of the other, now
relaxed their hold.

Mr. Lawson seeing that the man was growing weaker, made an excuse to
leave.

"Phillip," said Mr. Verne in a hoarse tone, "When I have laid in my
grave for three months I want you to show my child that document.
Then plead your suit, and if from my home above it be possible that
it is granted me to witness the scene, I shall pray for you both.
Yes, Phillip, the prayer of an invisible presence shall light upon
you and crown you with a happiness, that will have no end."



CHAPTER XL.

TIME'S CHANGES--MONTAGUE ARNOLD.


Gloomy scenes are not agreeable to the general reader we will now
pass over the period when death and its inevitable sorrow
overshadowed the once festive halls of "Sunnybank."

A great change had taken place, yet when settlements had been made
the estate was in a better condition than was at first supposed. The
trustees were men of the strictest integrity, who made ample
provision for the afflicted family.

With feelings of relief and gratitude Marguerite learned that
"Sunnybank" was to be sold for the benefit of the creditors and that
a cosey little home had been provided instead.

With Mrs. Verne it was otherwise.

She went from room to room bemoaning her sad lot and wondering if
any other mortal ever had such a cross to bear. Poor woman! It was
hard to teach submission to such a spirit.

Phillip Lawson was a true comforter. He was not officious, nor was
he remiss, but had a happy faculty of being near when he was most
needed.

Marguerite was daily losing part of the disagreeable restraint which
had hitherto placed such an inseparable barrier between them, and if
at times she appeared forced and formal it was from a sense of shame
at her mother's undisguised patronage.

None could now execute Mrs. Verne's slightest wish in a manner like
Mr. Lawson, none could give such friendly advice, in fact none could
do anything but Mr. Lawson.

The pretty suburban cottage into which Mrs. Verne and Marguerite
were now removed was indeed worthy the name of home.

Its surroundings alone were sufficient proof. In summer its neat
garden front, vine-clad porch and graceful elms guarding the
gateway! But it was when one entered the inviting hall and glanced
through the several cosey rooms that the home feeling was realized.
A tasteful parlor looking out upon the garden is the spot where we
now care to linger, for seated in a familiar looking arm-chair is
Marguerite.

She is busy over a piece of Kensington work which has to be ready
for the approaching bazaar.

"It is well that I am of some service," thought the girl as she
stitched away upon the pretty designs, admiring the artistic groups
of lilies and fern leaves.

Clad in deep mourning Marguerite was striking in appearance and the
man must be a stoic indeed who could look upon her without feelings
of tender interest.

Such were Phillip Lawson's sentiments as he was ushered into her
presence.

"Miss Verne," said the latter on being seated, "I have called this
evening to convey a message from Mr. Spriggins."

"Was he in the city to-day--and gone back without calling? Well that
is too bad, for I had a message to send to Melindy; there now, that
reminds me of the Christmas cards."

"He bade me tell you that it was impossible for him to call to-day,
but that he would bring Melindy in on next Tuesday, and I suppose
from that you may expect guests for dinner."

Christmas was drawing nigh, and the "Sprigginses" were not
forgotten. Marguerite had knitted a handsome scarf to gladden the
large heart of Moses, while a pretty tidy had just been completed
for the new easy chair in Melindy's best room.

Mr. Spriggins had become a general favorite with the Vernes, and
also with Mr. Lawson. He had dined with the latter a fortnight
previous, and left brimful of gratitude and good wishes.

Mr. Lawson with all his integrity had been somewhat evasive, but
bear in mind the fact that he is doing so from a sense of duty--a
solemn obligation.

He did not inform his fair companion that Moses Spriggins had been
detained in his office for more than an hour, and that a serious
compact was entered into between the lawyer and his former client.

We will not relate the conversation that passed, but let the reader
imagine the look upon Moses' rubicund face when Mr. Lawson presented
the missing document, and made the necessary explanation as to the
means by which it came into his possession.

"It is a miracle, nuthin' more nor less," exclaimed Moses, his eyes
dancing with delight.

"Things are a-turnin' out jest as I expected. Wal, I do believe I'll
beat that ere Dr. Wiggins yet! Pity he wa'nt a Kings County feller
too!"

"But Queens is a pretentious county. She must not be set aside,
Moses," said the solicitor laughing.

"Wal, there's another subject I have to prophesy on, but I s'pose as
your a modest sort o' chap will hold my tongue. (It was no later'n
last night Melindy was a-tellin' mother I was too long tongued), and
I was only sayin' a word or two about some little family matters.
Wal, I'll keep dark a little bit longer," while Mr. Spriggins gave a
very significant glance towards Mr. Lawson, and enveloping himself
in his home-made ulster went forth to "bide his time."

And now, while Marguerite is striving to be happy and make others
happy, attending to the wants of the needy and awaiting with anxious
solicitude the arrival of the English mail, we turn to a darker and
sadder picture.

       *       *       *       *       *

"For God's sake don't let them carry me off body and soul! Ah, they
hiss at me with their venomous tongues! Yes! yes, they are crawling
over me! They are sucking the blood in my brain! Evelyn, come to me!
I will not send you away again. Oh, take me out of this fire! I'm
burning! Oh God, I'm burning to death!"

Such were the incoherent ravings of the shabbily clad creature who
had been found lying in a gutter at the end of a street leading to
an alley in which were several notorious gambling dens.

Like the parable of the Levite and Samaritan many "had passed by on
the other side," but there are good Samaritans at the present day
and one came in the form of an elderly gentleman with locks of hoary
hair and a benign yet sad expression of countenance. He is
accompanied by a sweet-faced woman and a delicate looking child with
flaxen curls and eyes of heavenly blue.

"Stay Clarice, we must see who he is, or why he is here," said the
old gentleman putting the child in the care of a friend and
hastening to the scene with the agility of youth.

"That man was thrown out of that farthest tavern there, sir," said a
raw-boned youth, who was standing with his eyes and month open
awaiting further developments of the case then before him.

"The same old story, father. They encouraged him until the last
farthing is gone, and then he is turned out to die. Oh! how
horrible," and the woman laid her hand upon her father's arm as if
wishing to get away from the sad and cruel sight.

"He was once a gentleman, sir," said the youth with the air of one
who knew much of the affairs of the neighborhood, and was anxious to
impress the bystanders.

The old gentleman beckoned to a couple of policemen, and thus armed
made his way to the infamous den.

The grey hairs and reverential mien pleaded more than the most
honeyed words, and within a short time all necessary information was
obtained. Amid shrieks and groans, Montague Arnold was placed in a
cab and conveyed to a public hospital, and the good, old Samaritan
went on his way happy in the thought of having done his duty.

Nor did he rest here.

On the following day, after having made inquires as to the
unfortunate man's condition, he set forth to find the destitute and
unhappy wife. Five or six hours search in a wretched tenement
habitation, and a sad scene presented itself.

After climbing the third flight of rickety stairs the old gentleman
sees a shabbily dressed woman, and as he glances at the surroundings
his soul sickens. All is drear and desolate. The apartment is cold,
and a few coals seem trying to keep a little glow that the poor
creature may not succumb to the pitiless element.

Some coarse shirts are lying upon the rude table--it is the same old
song which Hood made immortal:--

  "Stitch! stitch! stitch!
   In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
   Sewing at once, with a double thread
   A shroud as well as a shirt."

"Do not fear madam, I am no bailiff. I have come to bring you to
your husband," said the old gentleman in trembling accents. "Oh
spare me, dear sir! I never wish to see his face again! His brutal
treatment has left me as you now see--this wretched hole and these
dry morsels! Oh God! did I ever think this would be my sad fate!"

Who could recognize in this wretched-looking creature any semblance
to the peerless proud beauty--Evelyn Verne.

Ah, surely the proud soul must have passed through the waters of
much tribulation--surely she is humbled in the very dust.

"I cannot go, sir. Oh no, I cannot go!" exclaimed the woman in
piteous accents, covering her face as if to shut out the sight of
human sympathy.

"Listen to me, madam," said the old gentleman in his soft touching
way, and then the humiliated woman heard a tale of woe that entered
deeply into her soul.

What a change those words had wrought--such a change as mortal can
scarcely dream of!

"I will go with you, sir," said Evelyn with tears streaming, down
her cheeks.

As she glanced at her threadbare garments a feeling of embarrassment
was visible upon her emaciated face, but it was momentary.

The good old man led the way and Evelyn followed, but at respectful
distance, and as the frowning edifice rose above them what mortal
could have withheld pity for the almost demented creature!

"If Marguerite could see me now! And Phil Lawson whom I once
despised. Ah, now he is a prince indeed. I honor him above men!"

What sentiments for Evelyn Verne! Why such sentiments? One of God's
messengers has at last struck the missing chord and awakened a flood
of divine melody more acceptable to the quiring hosts than the lays
of measured song.

"This way, my child," says a benign matron in a kind and sympathetic
voice, and Mrs. Arnold stands gazing upon the sadly bloated face of
her husband.

"Eve, you have come! I am not deserving of such kindness--but it is
nearly over now, I shall trouble you no longer. Oh, if I could undo
the dreadful past what a different life I would lead!"

"Hush, Montague! we have both been to blame. Not more than an hour
ago I could have cursed you with my whole heart, but now I trust in
God that I am a different being."

The old gentleman had remained in the hall but was now summoned to
the bedside where he learned the sad story of the wreck of two human
lives.

"I was selfish and wayward; heartless and cruel. Many wrongs
have been encouraged because it was all right in the eyes of the
hollow-hearted fashionable world. Oh! society! you have much to
answer for!"

Mrs. Arnold broke down completely, and gave way to heart-rending
sobs.

"Let her weep," thought the old man, "It will do her good."

Montague Arnold now raised himself upon the pillow, but the effort
was too much, and he sank back exhausted, murmuring, "It will not be
long."

"Oh! Montague! my husband," exclaimed the woman, rushing wildly to
his bedside, and putting her arm around his neck, "Oh! my husband,
you must not die. We will began life anew, and each hour atone for
the past."

"Let us thank a merciful Saviour that atonement has been made both
for you and me, Evelyn."

"How came my husband to realize such a change," asked the
grief-smitten wife, gazing sadly into the old man's face.

"The good Chaplain remained with him nearly all night, and on
passing my house this morning came to tell us that the dying man had
indeed become truly penitent."

"Thank God!" was the fervent reply.

Evelyn was now left alone with her husband, and she knew that it was
impossible for him to live many days. She strove to smooth his dying
pillow, and give all the consolation that lay within her power.

It was indeed a sad but tender sight to notice the wistful gaze of
the still lustrous eyes, the hectic flush of the wan cheek, and to
listen to the spasmodic cough which spoke too plainly that hasty
consumption had sought out its victim with unerring aim.

The physician on going his daily round now entered the ward with a
look of sympathy in his kindly face, and as he glanced at the
careworn creature seated in a corner, felt a sudden pang shoot
through his generous heart.

Another day dawned and Montague Arnold was yet on this side of the
grave.

Evelyn went to and from the old lodging, with a firmer step yet with
an aching void at her heart.

Why did I not see my folly ere it was too late? Ah! mothers, why not
educate your daughters to be sensible beings? But why do I speak
now? It is too late! and drawing her shawl close to keep out the
winter's wind the woman pressed on amid the surging tide of
humanity, pressing against hearts, perhaps, heavy, as her own!

"Is it an apparition," thought Mrs. Arnold, as she stood for a
moment to gaze upon a lovely child, standing besides her husband's
cot.

It was surely an angel in disguise sent to cheer his last moments.

A bouquet of choice flowers shed a delightful fragrance. They are
the gift of the child.

"This is too sad a place for such innocence," murmurs the invalid,
taking the bouquet and pressing it to his lips.

"Lalia is accustomed to such scenes, Mr. Arnold, I take her with me
on my daily rounds, that she may see the sorrows of humanity, and I
trust she will never grow so selfish as not to feel for them too."

"May you receive the greatest reward," cried the wretched Evelyn.
"Ah! much promise is in store for your child."

The little one glided toward the speaker, and putting the tiny white
arms around her neck, impressed a warm kiss upon the quivering lips.

"Good-bye, Lalia! When you grow to be a woman wear this for my
sake," and Montague Arnold took from his finger an old-fashioned
ring--the gift of his dying mother.

The child looked at the precious relic, as if it were too sacred
to touch. Then spoke her thanks through the soft dreamy eyes--
beautiful as an Italian sky.

"Good-bye, Lalia," and the child went forth with a sadness prophetic
that from these icy lips those words were the last she would ever
hear.

And the child was right. On the following day as the sun was sinking
in the west, Montague Arnold was sinking into his last slumber.

Respiration became difficult, and his words were almost inaudible.
As his wife knelt beside him, and clasped the cold hands within her
own, she tried hard to appear calm.

"You forgive all, Eve?"

A kiss upon the rigid lips was the silent but expressive answer.

A fervent "God Almighty bless you," a faint sigh and Montague Arnold
had sought another and we trust a better home.

Mrs. Arnold is truly a widow in a strange land, yet He who is the
husband of the widow has not forsaken her. The aged gentleman, his
dutiful daughter and the lovely Lalia have given her the warmest
sympathy, and taken her to their snug and cosey home.

Only a few weeks had passed away since Evelyn had written
Marguerite, but how much had transpired in that time? It was when
she had received a second letter that the thought occurred that she
had been remiss.

"Marguerite, sweet girl! she will never knew what I have suffered,"
and with these words upon her lips Mrs. Arnold sat down and penned
as much of her sad story as she then thought fit to confide.

"That is all," murmured the writer folding up the blurred page and
addressing the letter. Then for the first time since the days of her
happy, sunny childhood Evelyn Arnold took up a neatly bound
Testament. She had an indistinct remembrance of something concerning
the prodigal son and now wished to know for herself.

The sad, pathetic picture soon possessed a charm and the story was
read over many times ere the volume was laid aside.

"Thank God," mused the reader and the words were wafted aloft until
they reached the

                     ----"Kingly palace gate;
   With frontispiece of diamond and of gold
   Embellished."



CHAPTER XLI.

THE LIVING PRESENT.


The bitter, cold days of winter are nearly at an end. The forces of
nature are now exhausted and the elements have settled down into
quiet rest.

"How time flies!" exclaimed the solicitor glancing at the calendar
opposite his desk. "Three months to-day since I made that promise."

Phillip Lawson looked happy. His office had a cheerful aspect, and
his surroundings seemed to indicate that the young man was contented
and happy.

"Four o'clock and the fellow is not here! Well, I can afford to be
disappointed to-day. It matters not." And putting on his great coat
Phillip Lawson made his way down town and as he strode along at a
rapid gate we were not surprised to hear one of the "oldest
inhabitants" remark "Gracious! what a fine strapping fellow that
young Lawson has got to be. I bet he'd turn the scales at one
hundred and eighty."

The evening of the same day another scene is before us.

A graceful figure is seated beside the grate of the neat, cosey
parlor which we have hitherto admired.

A deep blush rises upon the maiden's cheek as she turns over the
leaves of the handsome volume lying in her lap. What causes that
blush? What latent property lies hid in a withered moss rose? What
beauty to arrest a maiden's eye?

These are questions to be decided by the fair ones who perhaps in
like manner have treasured away, far from human eyes, a few, petals
of a withered rose or perhaps "only a pansy blossom."

Ah, the tell tale crimson that will betray Marguerite in spite of
all her grand theories of will power!

"It is Phillip!" and the rapid beat of that uncontrollable organ
sends the crimson flood surging over the marble brow with redoubled
force.

"Pardon my coming to-night, Miss Verne. It is on a sacred mission--a
solemn obligation to the dead."

Phillip Lawson's voice was husky, and his muscular frame vibrated
with the depth of emotion.

Marguerite grew pale, but the young man's reassuring words brought
relief.

"It is nothing to grieve for. It is somewhat unpleasant for us all,
but we must not consider our feelings."

A familiar face greets the young man with a pleasing smile.

Mrs. Arnold is indeed a changed woman. She is now a true friend an
honorable and honest friend.

The once peerless beauty is no longer a silly, heartless nobody, but
a being with feelings, and aspirations of a higher kind; and as she
stands before us much altered in appearance, with much of the former
beauty gone, we can indeed rejoice that in its place is a happy,
soft subdued expression that makes even the plainest face comely and
fair to look upon.

"I am glad that you have come Mr. Lawson, I have been thinking of
you the whole evening. I have so much to ask you about papa. It
seems that I never can get him out of my mind. I can see him now
looking so interested, just as he did when you happened to come to
'Sunnybank.' Oh! Mr. Lawson, will I ever cease to feel the deep
remorse that is almost killing me."

"That is just the way she goes on from morning till night,"
exclaimed Mrs. Verne, who now entered, and extended her hand to her
guest in a quiet and kindly way.

The young man was at a loss for words, and thinking it best to say
nothing just then, suddenly held up the missing document.

"This is the promise I made Mr. Verne," said he, addressing himself
to Mrs. Verne, then placing the letter in Marguerite's hand.

The latter glanced at the contents, and trembled violently.

Mrs. Arnold was the first to speak.

"Is it the confession of a murder, Mr. Lawson. It must be something
terrible."

"Bead it for yourself," said Marguerite, awaking from her stupor.
"Truly God has watched over us from the first. Oh! mamma, think what
I have escaped."

"Hush! Marguerite. Let us never refer to the past again," said Mrs.
Arnold, with a calm resignation so characteristic of the noble
spirit which now actuated her.

"Phillip Lawson, you have proved the truest friend that my father
ever had. You have been true to us all, and we little deserved such
sacrifice. Many a time I have held you up to ridicule when I knew in
my heart that you were honest and good."

Marguerite had noiselessly stolen from their midst. She was deeply
overcome and nature must have its way.

"You will pardon me, Mrs. Arnold, if I give you the same advice
which you thought fit for your sister--_let us forget the past and
live only for the present_."

Phillip Lawson was somewhat agitated. A clear, steady light shone in
the intellectual gray eyes, and a noble resolve was written in
relief upon the generous face.

"Mrs. Verne, I have something further to say." And the young man
repeated the conversation which took place when the document was
brought from its resting place when Mr. Verne had invoked his last
blessing upon those whose happiness was so dear to him.

"Mr. Lawson, I will also add _my_ blessing, and may Heaven
shower upon you all the happiness that such as you deserve," then
taking the young man's hand and pressing it to her lips Mrs. Verne
withdrew to her own room.

"Bless you, Phillip. You are all to me that a brother can be," and
leaning her head against the stalwart frame Mrs. Arnold gave vent to
the pent-up grief and wept like a little child.

Phillip Lawson sat for some moments after they had left the room.
His eyes were bent upon the floor and his face was grave indeed.

"Evelyn has told you all, Marguerite?" said the young man rising
from his seat and approaching the spot where the girl stood smiling
through her tears--like golden sunshine through an April shower.

"And I have come, Phillip."

Who can picture the joy those words gave?

"Marguerite, my own! mine forever!" exclaimed the enraptured lover
pressing the maiden to his breast and impressing upon her lips such
kisses as only a pure, noble-minded man can give.

Oh, the bliss of that happy betrothal hour, when two souls are
forever made one--when two hearts outwardly estranged at last find
the realization of their earthly bliss!

Phillip Lawson goes forth from the cosey home as the affianced
husband of Marguerite Verne and with him go our heart's best wishes
for a life to be crowned with all the happiness that this world can
give.

Poor Mrs. Verne. She may at times have felt somewhat disappointed
when she thought how surely she could have had a baronet for a
son-in-law, but in charity for the woman's weakness we will forbear.

It is really wonderful how quickly news travels. Not a week had
passed ere Mr. Spriggins came in with a double share of
congratulation from himself and Melindy.

"I tell ye what it is Mr. Lawson, I'm ahead of Wiggins, for I've
never failed in one of my prophesies. They're every one a-comin'
true jest as I said," and Mr. Spriggins slapped his friend on the
shoulder with a force worthy his muscular frame.

"You know I hinted about it at my weddin' and you looked sorter shy
and put me off, and you had it in yer head all the time. Wal, I'm
beginnin' to think men's as deceivin' as wimin."

Mr. Lawson made a few appropriate remarks and Mr. Spriggins began to
think "it was nigh about time for startin'" when suddenly he jumped
to his feet exclaiming, "I do believe I'd a-gone off without tellin'
you the most thrillin' story that you'd ever heard. That ere thing
just put me in mind of it," added he, pointing to a circular of the
Dominion Safety Fund.

"I remember Miss Verne a-tellin' me that it was the best consarn in
the Dominion and I do believe now she's turned out a prophet too.
Now to my story (as they say in love affairs)," and giving his
waistcoat a vigorous pull Mr. Spriggins resumed--

"You know them ere Wiggleses that Melindy used to be jealous of?
Wal, they had a cousin, Jerushy Cursye, and she married a fellar
that used to work up at Deacon Jones's. Wal, to make a long and a
short of it, they were spliced and came to live on a new farm out in
the backlands. Wal, sir, they had a purty tough time gettin' along
for the first year or so, but Jerushy was study as a rock and made
things go as far as the next one I kin tell you, and so when they
were five years in the log house they began to think of gettin' up a
frame house and puttin' on considerable airs; and one day I tackled
Bill and says I, look here, Bill, if you want to make a good
investment (a purty good word for me, Mr. Lawson)," said Moses with
a wink, "I'll put you on the track."

"Good gracious! yes, Moses, says he, it seems I must have had sich a
feelin' meself, for I was a-wonderin' yesterday what I could do to
make Jerushy and the family sure of a good livin'."

"Safety is the word, says I, and as soon as you could say Jack
Robinson, I explained the bisness, and next day Bill made an excuse
to go to town and came home $1000 richer."

"That was the man you had in here about a year ago," said Mr.
Lawson, with an air of interest.

"The very one. Poor Bill! he had no notion of cheatin' the consarn,
for he was hearty as a bear, but he took a cold in the woods, and
gettin' bad treatment it turned to consumption, and he died in less
than no time.

"Poor Jerushy took it dreadful hard, and the nabers was a wonderin'
all the time how she could get along--for you know Mr. Lawson, that
a farm ain't much good without a man or hired help. Wal, sir, what
do you think--it was no more nor three or four days after the
funeral that a letter came to inform the widder that she was to
receive $1000 for her late husband's policy.

"Well, sir," exclaimed Moses, with a twinkle of the big blue eyes,
"It was equal to a circus to see how the folks flocked from all
parts to hear if the story was true, and I believe there was a good
many of the wimin folks jealous of Jerushy's streak of luck."

The lawyer burst into a genuine and hearty laugh, then exclaimed,
"Moses I am afraid that you are rather uncharitable towards the fair
sex."

"Wal, now sir, because you've happened to fall heir to a terrible
nice gal, you needn't think they're all angels, for they ain't by a
long chalk."

Mr. Spriggins now made a stride towards the door.

"Bless me if it ain't later'n I thought. The goin' is terrible bad
and Melindy will be kinder anxious, so good-bye," and the loquacious
Moses made his exit in a style that might not, strictly speaking, be
considered "good form."

But the postscript most be attended to in the form of a second
appearance.

"I say, Mr. Lawson, when are you a-comin' out? Can't you come some
Sunday, and bring Miss Verne and Miss Lottie and be sure and send us
word, so as Melindy can have a fire in the best room, and a dinner
fit for city folks."

"You may see us all out there some day when you least expect us,"
said the young man, smiling in his peculiar way.

"All right, sir! Off this time, sure. Don't forget to tell the
insurance man about the nine-days' wonder up at the Crossin'," and
with this parting injunction, Moses disappeared in good earnest.

An hour later, as the latter is jogging along the king's highway
happy as mortal can be, Phillip Lawson is indulging in a quiet
reverie beside his bright, cheerful fireside.

Though possessed of much means there is no attempt at display in the
pretty tasteful cottage.

The young solicitor had too much good taste, culture, and breeding,
to follow in the wake of shoddyism. He was a true gentleman, and as
such he cannot take a false movement either to the right or the
left.

What glorious day dreams can now be woven from the golden threads of
happy thought?

Phillip Lawson is happy, indeed. He thinks of the fair maiden who
hourly awaits his coming with the flush of fond expectation mantling
the delicate cheek, and as he gazes upon the faithful portrait of
his betrothed, murmurs, "Is there aught on earth so pure and true as
thee my own--my Marguerite."

  "Confiding, frank, without control,
   Poured mutually from soul to soul,
   As free from any fear or doubt,
   As is that light from chill or stain
   The sun into the stars sheds out,
   To be by them shed back again."



CHAPTER XLII.

THE NORTHWEST REBELLION.


  "The great heart of the nation heaves
   With pride in work her sons have done well,
   And with a smile and sigh she weaves
   A wreath of bays and one of _immortelle_."
                              --_Toronto Mail_

It is the spring of 1885--a memorable one to many a bereaved
household. The Northwest Rebellion is at its height and our
brave-hearted volunteers are starting to the front "to do or die."

On that lovely May morn many a patriotic mother looked on her
first-born with a smile of encouragement upon her lips and a dull
aching at her heart. And that boy's farewell kiss! It lingers, oh so
lovingly, upon the quivering lips and pale cheek! But the brave soul
can suffer this much and more if her country needs it. She can send
all--husband, son and brother. Ah, yes, the true heroes are oftenest
found at the quiet fireside, or in some sequestered spot on a lonely
hillside, where, surrounded by the orphaned ones, they struggle on
and on--on to the goal where all such deeds are crowned with a crown
of victory that is unfading.

We need scarcely speak of that time when our beloved New Brunswick
mustered her little band of heroes, when each county gave its share,
when each vied in patriotic ardor and enthusiasm. It is well known
to all. And who among the countless throng that gathered at the
Intercolonial Railway Station of St. John did not feel a thrill of
emotion that perhaps he or she would never feel again?

And there were many of our friends--aye, all that could go--were
there.

Marguerite Verne, with face of angelic purity, stood bidding adieu
to the dear ones. Beside her was Mrs. Arnold draped in her mourning
weeds and looking indeed a changed woman--a woman with a heart now
ready to sympathize with others and ready to do aught that duty
dictated.

"I thought I'd see all the folks here!" exclaimed a voice and Mr.
Spriggins is instantly beside them, his honest face beaming with
patriotic pride.

"Wal, wal, it is wonderful to see sich a crowd. I wouldn't a-missed
it for a good deal," cried he, looking around with an air of
bewilderment.

Mr. Spriggins soon became _more_ excited. The York contingent,
including the Infantry School Corps, now arrived, and judging from
the appearance of the surging mass that formed the escort and moved
to the martial strains of the I.S.C. Band, there never was a more
genuine expression of Canadian loyalty. And the eulogiums passed
upon the worthy little band were heard on every side--"What fine,
orderly-looking fellows. They'll compare favorably with any of the
regulars." True saying, indeed, New Brunswick has a right to be
proud of her volunteers. They are ever ready to respond to the call
of duty, and to the end maintain the reputation of the British
soldier.

But of our friends. Marguerite felt sad indeed. She had witnessed
the parting of an aged mother and her youngest boy, and a mist now
shaded the thoughtful eyes.

Phillip Lawson next joined the group.

"I need not ask if you are going, Mr. Spriggins," said he smiling,
"as I see you are minus the uniform."

"But I'm true blue all the same, sir. I tell you the Spriggins are
never skulkin' when they're wanted. Jim Spriggins goes without any
coaxin' and if it w'ant that I can't get away from Melindy I'd go
too."

"Your brother volunteered, I suppose," ventured Mrs. Arnold, with an
air of interest.

"Indeed he did, ma'am, he and another fellar from the Crossin', and
I brought 'em down."

Mr. Spriggins made a flourish with his brawny arm and beckoned to
the young men who now were introduced, and received warm
congratulations.

As cheer upon cheer rose from the crowd Moses became half frantic
with enthusiasm.

"Tell ye what it is, Mr. Lawson, them's the fellars to scare the
half-breeds. Bet your life on't, they'll soon make quick work of the
Injuns round Frog Pond and Cut Knife Creek."

Marguerite could ill repress a smile as she caught sight of Lottie
Lawson's face, so expressive of quaint humor and mischief.

And now the historic air--"The Girl I Left Behind Me," falls on
every ear. Those inspiring strains played by the 62nd Fusiliers Band
as the train moved off amid deafening cheers and shouts of "God
bless you," will ever be remembered as souvenirs of that eventful
morn, recalling the enthusiasm which then burst forth from the heart
of every true Canadian.

"It seems too bad that they had to go because Riel had to get up
such a fuss. Why don't they get him and kill him off before he will
have the chance of killing many of our brave fellows."

The girl spoke with considerable force as she finished her speech.

"Bravo! little sister," cried Phillip, patting the flushed cheeks by
way of applause.

"And you think the guverment did the square thing by them ere
half-breeds, do you?"

"Certainly, Mr. Spriggins. What right had they to sell out their
claims and go and settle on any place they wished without making any
recompense whatever. How do you think affairs would end if they were
allowed to go on without any stop being put to them?"

"Wal now, see here, Miss Lottie, I believe you'd make as good a
lawyer as your brother. Spose you've a-learned this from his
discourse and sich like. Wal, I b'lieve the guverment is right, and
at the nixt 'lection I'll remember every word you've said. I allus
thought they was the squarest fellars we've ever had yet--them
fellars that got out this ere policy."

"The National Policy; Mr. Spriggins," ventured Marguerite,
smilingly. "People may talk to the contrary but it has done much to
improve matters. I am not a politician but I must say I like the
National Policy and hope it may exist while there is need of it."

"Wal done, Miss Verne, I b'lieve you could lecture better'n some of
them fellars that come up lection times. I'm sure they could'nt hold
a candle to you."

A general laugh succeeded and Mr. Spriggins was delighted to think
he had made such well-timed remarks.

The party had now arrived at the corner of Coburg and Charlotte
streets when the latter hastily exclaimed.

"By Jiminey! I must go and see about a tub that a woman was to leave
for me in the market. It's a good thing I did'nt forgit; for Melindy
would have my head off."

"I don't think Melindy is so dreadful as you seem to say, Mr.
Spriggins," ventured Lottie, who had gone a few steps in advance,
but now turned face to face with the jubilant Moses.

"Will we wait dinner for you, Mr. Spriggins?" asked Marguerite,
looking earnestly at the sturdy son of toil as if she knew the full
value of the rough but generous nature.

Marguerite was one of the few who could fully appreciate the lines
of Scotland's gifted bard--

  "A king can make a belted knight,
   A marquis, duke, and a' that.
   But an honest man's aboon his might,
   Guid faith he maunna fa' that."

She had moral courage to stand up boldly for those whom the
fashionable world would sneer at. She was not ashamed to recognize a
plainly-dressed acquaintance in the most public thoroughfare, nor
did she ever make an excuse to be pre-occupied when approached by
some coarse but well-meaning inferior.

Other subjects now crowd upon us.

Aunt Hester once more gladdens the Verne cottage with her cheering
presence. Sunshine follows every step of the happy and hearty
matron.

"_Not a bit older_, you say, Evelyn. Now I did'nt come here to
be made fun of in that style. It was no later than this morning that
your Uncle William told me I was greyer than he! Now there's
conflicting opinions enough for one day," and the hearty laugh that
followed showed that Mrs. Montgomery was as full of life as ever.

"William was afraid that you might grow conceited in your old age,"
said Mrs. Verne in a languid manner. To do justice to the latter it
must be said that she was more natural than the Mrs. Verne of
fashionable "Sunnybank."

"That's just what Jennie told him, Matilda," said Mrs. Montgomery,
taking down a pretty panel that Marguerite had just finished.

"It is exquisite," added she viewing the picture from several
points, in order to study the most striking effect of light and
shade.

"Do tell me, Matilda, have you ever heard of the Lister family? Did
they go back to their delightful Parnassus and revel in the music of
their delectable Castalian spring?"

The mock gravity of the speech afforded considerable merriment.

"You have surely heard of the grand match which Urania made," said
Mrs. Verne. "Why it was announced in most of the leading Canadian
papers."

Poor Mrs. Verne! She almost betrayed her besetting sin, but Mrs.
Montgomery, good soul, seemed unconcious of the fact.

"Only think," cried Marguerite, "of Urania talking up those sublime
theories to Sir George Vandewater of Cornwall."

"A Cornish knight," cried Mrs. Montgomery, clapping her hands with
genuine glee.

"And sixty years into the bargain," chimed in Evelyn.

"You are rather severe, my dear," said Mrs. Verne, addressing her
daughter in a somewhat petulant tone, then turning to her sister
added, "Evelyn wishes to imply that Sir George is sixty. I can't see
that he ought to pass for an old man. I've heard that he does not
look an hour over forty; and twenty thousand a year Hester."

"He needs it all! poor man! for he will have a sorry time of it,"
said Mrs. Montgomery in a tone of mock compassion.

"But that's not the best of it, Aunt Hester, I must tell you the
biggest joke you ever heard," cried Fred. Verne, now a handsome
and intelligent stripling of eighteen, who had just appeared on the
scene in time to have his say also. "You know that they went to
Ottawa about a year ago, and shortly afterwards I found a copy of
the Ottawa _Times_ with an announcement that the Misses
DeLister of New Brunswick were the guests of Mrs. Geoffrey Renfrew."

"DeLister," cried Mrs. Montgomery, between fits of laughter. "Well,
Fred, that is the best joke, indeed! No wonder they caught the poor
Cornish baronet."

Mrs. Verne did not relish her sister's raillery, but she had gained
enough sense to say very little about the Listers and their stroke
of good luck.

"I don't know how many letters I commenced with 'Dear Cousin
Jennie,' and just as I got the length of the Listers new title
something always happened to prevent my finishing."

"You need not try to invent any excuses to Cousin Jennie for your
remissness my dear little brother," cried Marguerite, giving the
youth a sisterly embrace with her fair arm, and running her fingers
through the meshes of clustering curls.

"What a pity we never thought of that dodge before," cried Fred,
brimming over with mischief. "I tell you what DeVerne would have
stood high at Ottawa."

"Can't you let the poor Listers alone, Fred," exclaimed Evelyn,
trying hard to look serious, as she glanced at the life of the house
wedged in beside Aunt Hester on the dainty little sofa.

Evelyn now arose to give some orders for tea, Marguerite glanced
over the evening paper, and seeing that Aunt Hester and her mother
were on the eve of a quiet chat went to her own room. It was in the
gloaming and the girl enjoyed that hour more than words can tell.
Her thoughts were happy ones. All was now bright and fair, and if at
times she took a retrospective glance at the unhappy past it gave
her more cause to be thankful. It always brought up a quotation from
a sermon which she heard in a church in Fredericton--

  "Night shows the stars; affliction shows the man."

And true indeed. Affliction showed the true Christian piety of the
lovely Marguerite. It brought out all the inherent beauty of her
nature, and when on certain days she prayed for those who had been
tempted to destroy the happiness of her betrothed it was always
thus: "They are only human! God forgive them!"

Apropos of Hubert Tracy's accomplices, we may say they were allowed
to go unpunished.

"Marguerite," exclaimed Phillip Lawson, taking the taper fingers
within his own. "We are too happy to wish any ill upon a human
creature. Let us trust in God, they may yet to see the great wrong
they tried to commit upon a fellow being; and may they feel such
remorse as will be productive of true penitence."

And the young man did not pray in vain. Messrs. Sharpley & Connors
felt much chagrined as they heard through the medium of the press of
the prosperity of the young and talented lawyer and often
experienced a feeling of uneasiness when they thought how matters
might have terminated. And who will not say that at times there
arose before them a great tribunal where they must answer for the
projected crime.



CHAPTER XLIII.

THE WEDDING ANNIVERSARY--CONCLUSION.


  "Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been--
   A sound which makes us linger,--yet--farewell."
                              --_Byron_.

"Gracious, Melindy; one would think the half-breeds were a-comin'.
For mercy sake come out and hear the rumpus." Moses Spriggins had
rushed into the kitchen, his eyes ready to start from their sockets.

Melindy was busy frying pancakes and setting the table for the
evening meal.

"Now, don't bother me; you see the cakes is a-burnin' already,"--
but Melindy did not complete the sentence for the toot of a horn
near the barnyard proved that her better half had some grounds for
his conjecture.

"It's a gang of roughs a-tryin' to git somethin' to steal. By
jiminey! we'll settle em' sure as our name is Spriggins," and Moses
made a rush for the guns and ammunition with all possible haste.

"Great scott! they're a-comin' round to the front door."

"I say! Mr. Spriggins, this is a nice reception for invited guests;
open the door and let us in."

The words had the effect of magic. The door opened and revealed
Moses and Melindy armed for fight with a good supply of ammunition
in the foreground.

The scene that followed baffles description. The ludicrous
expression upon the face of host and hostess is something to be
imagined.

The roars of laughter were deafening and it was some time before
Phillip Lawson could make an attempt towards explanation.

       *       *       *       *       *

"A what-do-ye-call-it weddin', Miss Lottie?" cried Moses, now
re-appearing on the scene with his best clothes on, plus a flaring
red necktie to match Melindy's "peerin out dress."

"A variety wedding, Mr. Spriggins. Now, you are not to blame any of
the others for not sending you word because I made each one promise
that it would be kept a surprise."

"Wal, I can tell you, it is a nice surprise, but I felt kinder
skeered at the fust, eh Melindy!"

The latter looked quite bridish with her maroon dress and lace
ruffles and white flowers--the same which she purchased at
Manchester three years previous, still as fresh as if bathed in
morning dew.

And the number of guests!

It was no wonder that Mr. Moses Spriggins was in a state of dire
confusion as he surveyed the smiling throng of intelligence, grace
and beauty, and last, but not least, the pretty and becoming
costumes of the fair wearers.

Foremost in the group is Marguerite Verne. "She looks too good
for anything," says the enthusiastic host as he contemplates the
sweet maiden in a neat black satin frock relieved by a spray of
forget-me-nots and pansies.

"And Miss Lottie, what shall I call you--a great big doll with a red
shiny dress on."

"Moses Spriggins, I'm ashamed of your ignorance; why it's pink
veiling Miss Lottie has on, and I'm sure she looks nicer than any of
them china-faced dolls in shop winders."

"Wal, wal, Melindy, you wimin folks oughter know mor'n men folks,"
replied Moses rushing out of the front door to see if the "hosses
were all seen to."

The best room never appeared to more advantage than on this festive
occasion. The old-fashioned looking glass seemed to take pride in
reflecting the pretty faces and sunny smiles, while the cheerful
fire on the hearth played hide-and-seek with the brazen andirons,
and sent out a glow of warmth that was emblematic of the big warm
welcome of the generous family.

Each guest had to receive a share of Mrs. Spriggins' eulogium, and a
lively time ensued.

But the crowning event of the evening was a still greater surprise.

Mrs. Spriggins had been summoned to the kitchen for a few moments,
and on her return to the best room saw a sight that almost took away
her breath.

The tables, chairs, and every inch of available space were crowded
with such, a variety of useful and pretty articles that one might
imagine himself in Blanchard's.

Poor Moses was for the moment speechless, first looking at one guest
and then at another.

Mr. Lawson now came forward, and in a few well-chosen remarks
addressed the host and hostess, and on behalf of the company
tendered congratulations on the third anniversary of their marriage.

Wreathed in smiles the host arose to reply.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said the latter giving his cravat a very
artistic touch, "if Mr. Lawson wa'nt a lawyer I'd a-tried to say
somethin', but I can't get a word out nohow, only Melindy and me
will never forgit your kindness--and the skeare."

The applause that followed was long and loud, and as the good host
made a hasty exit from the room, Marguerite did not fail to see the
big tear that rolled down the sunburnt cheeks.

"And you noticed it too, my darling," whispered Phillip to his
bethrothed, as he gained her side.

"Yes Phillip, I was just thinking that those tears were more
precious than pearls--the essence of real gratitude."

"God bless you, my own," said the lover, seizing the little hand,
and folding it so tenderly within his own.

But the time is not for love-making scenes, and the pair are aware
of the fact.

Marguerite is ready to assist in doing anything that she can, and
the guests now begin to make merry in real earnest.

A neighbor who could "perform upon the violin" was despatched for by
the enthusiastic Moses, and the light fantastic was in indulged in
with a zest, and all is "merry as a marriage bell."

Let us glance at some of the familiar faces as they pass to and fro
through the figures of a quadrille.

Mrs. Arnold is opposite us, looking quiet and content. She is happy
in the thought that she is trying to do her duty, and by striving to
live for others to atone for the past.

"You are doing nicely, Mr. Spriggins," says she to her partner, by
way of encouragement. "I believe that you make fewer mistakes than I
do."

"Wal, they say one has to creep a-fore they walk, so I spose I can't
be a dabster at the bisness yet--but jist look at them folks."

"Them folks" were Miss Lottie and a graceful young man who bore a
striking resemblance to the young solicitor. The latter was Mr. Tom
Lawson who had grown up an intelligent, manly fellow, and on having
shown much ability as a civil engineer, had been appointed to a
lucrative government position at Campbelltown.

Lottie hailed with delight her brother's flying visit, and when the
two sallied forth to purchase a neat and chaste toilet set her
delight was unbounded, and when the said articles occupied a
conspicuous place among the wedding presents no guest was happier
than this impulsive little maiden.

"But can't that insurance man fling himself in great style," cried
the radiant Moses, eyeing a certain official of the Dominion Safety
Fund who, at Miss Verne's request, was also a guest.

Mrs. Arnold smiling at her partner's earnestness, cast a glance
towards the object of the remark then replied, "It was so kind of
Mr. ---- to join us as his time is limited."

"Wal, one good turn deserves another, Mrs. Arnold, for Miss Verne
praised up that consarn so that I went right off and got all I could
to join it, so you see all through this life it's give and take?"

"Quite true, Mr. Spriggins, but we don't always live up to that
principle," said the other with a shade of sadness in her tone.

Mr. Spriggins had penetration enough to see in what, direction Mrs.
Arnold's thoughts were drifting and his discretion came to his aid.

"Wal, this ere affair will be a nine-days wonder among the nabers,
the folks will be so jealous that they'll not come to have a squint
at the brick-nacks--that's what you call them ere ornaments and sich
things ain't it?"

"Bric-a-brac, Mr. Spriggins," replied Mrs. Arnold, in the mildest
manner possible; also trying to appear serious.

"Wal, I'll be jist like Melindy. When she's a-puttin on airs before
the nabers sometimes she'll tell 'em she ain't out enough now to
know sich and sich things!"

The music ceased before Mrs. Arnold had time to reply, and with an
air of awkward gallantry Mr. Spriggins led his partner to a seat.

"Never say again that you can't dance, Mr. Spriggins," cried the
exuberant Lottie, bounding toward the latter with the grace of a
fairy, "and be sure to remember that you are my partner for the next
round dance."

"Round dance," said Moses in perplexity.

"A polka for instances, Mr. Spriggins!"

"Oh, yes, when I used ter go to school the gals used to have me
a-dancin'--this is the way it goes Miss Lottie," and instantly Mr.
Spriggins was performing sundry evolutions to his own accompaniment
of "I've got a polka trimmed with blue."

"If that Moses ain't a-makin' a guy of himself a-dancin' I'd like to
know," cried Melindy, as she emerged from the kitchen and caught a
view of her better half in his inimitable polka feat.

But Mr. Spriggin was unconcious of the fact and nothing happened to
mar the effect of the successful attempt.

The brilliant Louise Rutherford might indeed claim more than a
passing thought; her striking beauty was never more conspicuous that
when surrounded by her most intimate friends and partaking of the
hospitality of Mr. Moses Spriggins.

With due respect to host and hostess, the young ladies had appeared
in their most bewitching toilets, and in response to Marguerite's
playful reminder, "Louise, it is a wedding celebration," the latter
had donned a handsomely-trimmed garnet silk relieved by a heavy gold
necklace, while a broad band of gold crowned the dusky hair and made
a fitting coronet for the dark-eyed Houris.

"I cannot realize that you are going away so soon, Helen. It is
selfish to wish that you would remain this winter, but self is my
besetting sin."

Helen Rushton put her plump white arm around the speakers waist, and
thus they sat for several minutes.

Helen was to start for home on the first of the week following, and
her companions could not bear the thought. Louise Rutherford loved
the girl as a sister, and though their natures were strongly in
contrast there was a firm bond of sympathy between them.

"Just think Louise how many changes have taken place since I came?
Who then would have dreamed that Josie Jordan would become a
clergyman's wife?"

"Think!" said Louise, with considerable feeling, "I dare not let
myself think, each day brings its own thoughts. Life to me is made
up of enigmas and puzzling contradictions, and not being endowed
with an extra amount of brain power content myself with the
comforting words--''tis folly to be wise.'"

"What shall I call you, Louise, a pessimist?"

"For goodness sake! Helen, be moderate. Remember that a successful
speaker always adapts himself to the capacity of his hearers."

"What's all this about? preaching I suppose--something about
hearers! Jennie Montgomery!" cried both girls in concert.

Cousin Jennie was truly the ruling spirit of the party. She was
ready for anything that was proposed and met each difficulty with a
happy solution.

Had Louise Rutherford gone further into the subject of changes she
might have claimed the bright eyed Jennie as illustration.

A change had come to happy "Gladswood," Leslie Graham had won the
esteem of aunt Hester, and in return had gained the heart of her
daughter.

The fond mother does not regret her loss for she knows that the
young man is possessed of all those traits of character which are
truly noble and elevating, and which cannot fail to bring happiness
to her whose happiness is his only concern.

Ah! yes, in Jennie Montgomery's face one can read her secret. She
loves and is loved in return and that is all we wish to know.

A few minutes later, by a happy coincidence, there is a quartette
grouped together in careless but artistic style.

"This reminds me of a morning at 'Sunnybank.' Do you remember it
Madge?"

A slight quiver of the pretty lips was followed by a faint blush--
Helen Rushton raised her hand as if to gain audience.

"That is intended for me girls. I am the only one who is not
engaged. I was at 'Sunnybank' on the morning to which Miss Louise
refers, and certainly I was the one who made the remark."

"Helen is mistaken, I think," said Marguerite in her soft, sweet
way.

"She is indeed," said Louise, with much earnestness. "It was while
we were in the library, and all sitting together Josie Jordan
suddenly called out: 'Girls where will we all be two years from now?
That two years expired yesterday, and the thought now occurred to me
as we became grouped together in the old familiar way."

"Forgive me, Louise, darling, I am too impulsive. Let us now take on
two more years and hope that when the time expires we will be as
happy then as now."

"Heaven grant it thus," was the fervent prayer of each, though the
words were unsaid, and as the merry party returned homeward full of
life and gaiety there were none who felt happier than Marguerite
Verne and her three companions.

       *       *       *       *       *

A glorious autumn day in 1886 brings together a joyous and happy
group--the old familiar one. The hostess of the luxurious home is
the wife of Phillip Lawson. Ah! Marguerite you can never lose your
angelic beauty and softness of expression. In the violet eyes there
is a light that sheds a radiance over the little household, and
imparts a warmth to each suffering heart that has been chilled by
contact with the selfish and calculating world.

"Helen you are a darling! you are true blue!" were the words which
greeted the smiling visitor as she pounced in upon the fair young
matron, with the flush of excitement upon her fair, broad forehead
and oval cheeks.

"Girls you look charming! One would think you were expecting your
beaux instead of a few old married men! Why I thought when folks got
married they did not primp at all."

"I'm glad that you are agreeably mistaken, my dear," said Mrs.
Noyes, her charms enhanced by the rich bronze silk de Lyons, that
set off her faultless form to advantage.

Mrs. Arnold now entered, followed by Mrs. Verne and a host of hearty
congratulations were passed around within a very short time.

Mrs. Phillip Lawson's boudoir was a perfect gem in itself, its pale
blue and silver draperies harmonizing with the taste of its
mistress, while the delicate and artistic touches of the graceful
hand were proof of the labors of love there performed.

"Madge! you old dear, the only thing I envy you is this charming
spot," said Helen as she stood admiring the pretty work while the
others are reclining upon the inviting ottomans, and cosey chairs of
the most unique designs.

"The very words I said when I first entered it," said Cousin Jennie,
looking as youthful as when we met her at "Sunnybank."

"The effect of mind upon mind," said Mrs. Noyes, with a sly, roguish
smile upon the red pouting lips.

Helen Rushton threw herself into a handsomely carved fauteuil with
cushion of pale blue satin, embroidered with a wreath of lily of the
valley and soft cream roses.

"How time flies!--two years girls, since we made our promise--and I
am the only old maid left in the crowd. What a world of consolation
is in that thought!"

"Helen Rushton this is a fit place for your confession, and you
shall not stir until you have made it, my precious one."

The speaker was Cousin Jennie, now Mrs. Leslie Graham.

Mrs. Lawson sat for a moment as if buried in earnest thought, and as
her companions glanced at the sweet, sympathetic face they were also
affected in turn.

The past with all its light and shade was lovingly touched upon, and
as the gentle Marguerite's eyes were dimmed with tears her heart was
full of gratitude.

Helen Rushton _did_ make a full confession of her love affairs,
expressly for Cousin Jennie. What that confession was we will not
say, but presume upon the imagination of the reader. It is several
hours later. Helen has retired to her own room, and her old friend
lingers lovingly beside her. They chat of other scenes and other
days, and the hour flies too quickly.

A step is heard coming through the hall. Ah! the magic of that step.

"It is Phillip, Helen," and a gleam of love lights up the angelic
face.

"Good night, dearest," exclaimed Marguerite, embracing her friend in
the old school-girl fashion.

"Good night, Marguerite, if my life be indeed half as happy as
yours; it is all I ask."

"Yes, Helen, I am truly happy," and the young wife went forth to
meet the loving embrace of a tender, true and devoted husband.

"Ah! my darling, where is to be found such happiness as ours?"

Phillip Lawson needed no reply--no other language than the depths of
those violet eyes.





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