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Title: At Bay
Author: Alexander, Mrs.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "At Bay" ***

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



                               _AT BAY_

                                 _BY_

                           _MRS. ALEXANDER_

                               _CHICAGO_
                        _W. B. CONKEY COMPANY_


     _BY THE SAME AUTHOR_

     _IN UNIFORM STYLE_

     _ADMIRAL'S WARD_
     _AT BAY_
     _BEATON'S BARGAIN_
     _BY WOMAN'S WIT_
     _CROOKED PATH, THE_
     _FRERES, THE_
     _FORGING THE FETTERS_
     _HERITAGE OF LANGDALE_
     _MAID, WIFE OR WIDOW_
     _MAMMON_
     _SECOND LIFE, A_
     _WHICH SHALL IT BE?_


     _CHICAGO_
     _W. B. CONKEY COMPANY_



AT BAY.



CHAPTER I.

STRIKING THE TRAIL.


Paris on a bright April morning. Can any city make a brighter, braver
show under a clear blue sky and a brilliant sun, the chestnuts in
the Champs Elysées and Tuileries gardens bursting into bloom, the
flower-market of the Madeleine a mass of color, exhaling delicious
perfume, the fair purchasers in the first freshness of their spring
attire, the tide of business and of pleasure at the fullest flood. It
is a sight to fill any heart tolerably free from pressing anxiety with
an irresistible sense of youth.

Though the month was still young, the weather was warm enough to make
open windows an agreeable addition to the comfort of a pretty little
_salon_ in the _entre-sol_ of Meurice's hotel, where an elderly lady
was seated at a table on which a dainty _déjeuner_, and a couple of
bottles, inscribed respectively "Moselle" and "Pomard," was laid out.

She was not handsome, never could have been handsome, her face was
broad and strong, with small twinkling black eyes, and a heavy jaw.
Her figure still showed traces of the symmetry for which she had been
remarkable, and the hand she had stretched out to take another oyster,
was fine both in shape and color. Her rich black silk dress, the lace
of her cap, the jewels on her fingers, all her surroundings indicated
wealth,--her expression, comfortable self-satisfaction.

She finished her oyster with an air of enjoyment, and then looking at
her watch, murmured "he is late"--as she spoke, the door was opened,
and a waiter announced "M. Glynn."

The visitor was a tall, broad-shouldered man, of perhaps thirty-five or
more, with very dark hair, eyes, and complexion, well dressed and easy
in his bearing and movements, yet not looking quite like a club or a
drawing-room man.

"This is not your usual punctuality, Hugh," said the lady smiling
benignly, as she stretched out a welcoming hand, "but you make your own
punishment! Time, tide, and _vol au vents_, wait for no man."

"I have a thousand apologies to make! You may be sure the delay was
unavoidable or I should not have kept you waiting."

"But I have _not_ waited! Take some oysters--and then tell me what has
kept you, if it is a discreet question."

"Perfectly. No oysters, thank you. Do not let me delay the routine
of your _déjeuné_. Just as I was leaving the 'Bourse,' I ran against
Deering of Denham, who insisted on walking almost to the door with me."

"Travers Deering? I did not know he was in Paris. Is Lady Frances with
him?"

"She is, for he honored me with an invitation to dinner to-morrow,
mentioning that Lady Frances would be very glad to see me. I was
engaged, however; I don't find dining with Travers Deering a cheerful
occupation. Though Lady Frances keeps a brave front there is a profound
sadness in her eyes, or I fancy there is."

"Fancy! yes; I suspect your fancy is tolerably vivid still. Now eat
your luncheon, and we will talk presently." She proceeded to press
various dainties on her guest, who ate moderately.

"I don't think you care for good things as much as I do," said the
hostess, leaning back in her chair; "I am always vexed with people who
don't care what they eat; it shows deficiency of brain power. Now tell
me,--have you succeeded this morning?"

"Yes," he returned with a smile, as he poured out another half-glass
of Pomard; "I have disposed of all your Honduras shares, not at par,
but at a trifling decrease. Here," drawing out his pocket-book, "are
bills and notes to the amount of fifteen hundred pounds. I am glad you
are out of the concern, you might have lost double the amount; pray
avoid these foreign bubble companies in future, none of them are to be
trusted, Lady Gethin,--none that offer high interest are."

"My dear Hugh, I never will do anything without your advice again; I
have had a perfect nightmare about these horrid things. I am no miser,
but I hate to lose money; I am very glad you managed to get rid of
these shares so soon, for I want to go back to London to-morrow; the
rooms I have had altered in that old house of mine, are ready, I am
dying to furnish them."

"Well, you had better post this money to your bankers, and register
your letter, than carry it about with you."

"Yes, it would be the best plan. Shall you stay here much longer?"

"Some little time; I have a special mission to execute for the House,
which may keep me a few weeks."

"Be sure you come and see me directly you return; and do go and see
Lady Frances Deering, she would be a charming woman if she let herself
go. I was always interested in her. Why can't she get on with Deering?
he is good-looking, well bred, well thought of, and not very much older
than herself."

"Perhaps she does get on with him," said Glynn.

"I used not to care for Deering," replied Lady Gethin. "He had a
quarrel with a cousin whom I liked very much, and who was killed
afterwards, poor fellow. I have forgotten what the quarrel was about--a
woman, I think, and I have an idea Travers behaved badly; but he is
quite an irreproachable personage _now_, and monstrously civil to me,
especially since poor dear Sir Peter bequeathed me all his real and
personal property. Then, you know, we are second cousins, two or three
times removed."

"Oh indeed! Well, he is very civil to me too, and I am certainly no
relation but----"

"Aha! _you_ are dearer than kith or kin," interrupted Lady Gethin; "you
can give him financial tips, and chances of turning, I won't say an
honest penny, but simple hundreds into splendid thousands by the varied
sources of information you command. Ah! were I a man, I should like to
be a financier, which is 'high falutin' for stock-broker."

Glynn smiled. "I have had very few business transactions with Deering,
or for him. He is wealthy enough without help from any one. By the
way, he is more inflammable than I imagined; we were at the Auteuil
races together the day before yesterday, and when sauntering about we
were both struck by a girl who was in an open carriage with two other
ladies; she was certainly pretty--more than pretty--and Deering seemed
quite fascinated, he could not keep away. It was not like his usual
cool, high-bred indifference to all mundane things, to go back again
and again to stare at the young lady, for you know he is rather a
decent fellow as men go."

"You don't say so!" cried Lady Gethin, with keen interest. "What would
Lady Frances have said?"

"The last time we went to look at the bright particular star, she and
her party had left their carriage," continued Glynn. "Deering then
seemed to pull himself together, and to remember he was not alone;
but I could see he was desperately vexed to have lost sight of her,
though he tried to laugh at himself, and said she was wonderfully
like some one he used to know. I was both surprised and amused by his
manoeuvres. I left him before the last race, and I rather fancy he
was going to renew his search for her."

"Ah!" said Lady Gethin; "no doubt, thereby hangs a tale."

"Perhaps so. The young lady, however, is very young--little more than
seventeen or eighteen, and she certainly did not recognize him--nor
even notice him."

"The wisest have their weak moments," observed Lady Gethin, with an
air of wisdom. "I certainly have never heard any queer stories about
Deering. Did you see any one else you knew at Auteuil?"

"A few second-rate racing men, and George Verner."

"Oh, he generally haunts the Deerings when he is not at sea." After
a good deal more talk, partly business, partly wittily told scandal,
Glynn rose to take leave. "I dine at the Café de Florence to-day, with
Captain Methvin and Madame Gauthier; will you join us?"

"I am unfortunately already engaged; so must forego that pleasure,"
said Glynn.

"I shall see you then as soon as you return to London, and be sure you
tell me anything fresh about the Deerings."

"I don't fancy there will be any exciting _esclandre_ in that quarter.
If the weather continues as fine as it has been for the last few days,
you will have a pleasant journey. Good-morning, Lady Gethin."

When Glynn left the hotel he walked briskly for a few minutes towards
the Louvre, then he gradually relaxed his pace, as his thoughts
disengaged themselves from his surroundings, and presented him with a
picture they had frequently mirrored during the last three days.

After making a few purchases at the bookstalls of the Palais Royal, he
made his way down the Rue St. Honoré, finally coming to a halt at the
crowded crossing opposite the Madeleine, where the contrary currents
coming from the Boulevards, meet the tributary tide of the Rue Royale.
He was in no hurry; it amused him to see the huge omnibuses disgorging
their contents; to watch eager women with parcels, and refractory
children tightly held by the hand, make ineffectual dashes at the
opposite shore, and come scurrying back again, baffled, but still
resolute. To observe the little flower-girls plying their trade, and
hear the sharp bargaining between them and their customers.

Suddenly, however, his eyes brightened; the expression of a lazy
looker-on vanished, and was replaced by one of keen, vivid interest,
as his glance fell on the original of the picture which had haunted
him since the day of the races at Auteuil. A slight girlish figure,
in a pale gray dress; a mantlet or scarf, edged with black lace,
drawn closely round her; she was crowned by a pretty little hat, also
bordered with black lace, and adorned with a large bouquet of primroses
and tufts of narrow black velvet ribbon. Under the hat beamed a pair of
thoughtful, earnest, dark-blue eyes--large and lustrous; eyes that none
could pass unnoticed; long lashes; distinct, but delicate eyebrows;
a clear, pale complexion; a sweet though not very small mouth, and
abundant light golden-brown hair, made up a whole that might have
attracted the attention of even a more "potent, grave, and reverend
Signor" than Travers Deering of Denham.

This was the face and figure that had dwelt in Hugh Glynn's imagination
since he had first seen them. In any case he must have noticed so fair
a girl; but there was something in the effect she produced on Deering,
that impressed him with a curious sense of interest and uneasiness.

He had laughed at his own condition of mind, as a silly after-glow
of boyish folly, unworthy his experience and maturity. Yet there was
a wonderful charm in the soft grace of her quiet movements, and,
accustomed as he had been to women who rarely stirred out unattended,
he looked round to ascertain if this delicate, refined creature had
no companion, no _bonne_ or chaperon. No! she was quite alone. Three
times, while he watched her, she attempted to cross the street,
and three times she returned baffled. Glynn could not lose such a
chance; advancing to her side, he raised his hat and said, with grave
politeness:

"There is an unusual crowd; will you allow me to see you safely to the
other side?"

She raised her wonderful eyes to his with a slightly startled, but
frank expression.

"Yes," she said simply, in exactly the low clear tones that might be
expected from her. "I shall be very glad."

"Keep close to me," returned Glynn, and seizing a lull in the traffic,
he piloted her to the pavement in front of the Madeleine.

"The reason of the strongest is always the best," she said, quoting La
Fontaine aptly in his own language. "I should never have had resolution
to seize that opportunity."

"I think I speak to a countrywoman," remarked Glynn.

"Yes, I consider myself English. I am very much obliged. Good-morning."
This decidedly, though politely.

Glynn felt himself obliged to relinquish an eagerly-formed intention of
drawing her into conversation. He could not thrust himself upon a lady,
and he felt strongly disposed to believe that his new acquaintance was
thoroughly a lady, though a knowledge of life in most European capitals
disposed him to suspend his judgment. He followed her at a little
distance as she threaded her way through the booths which shelter the
flower-sellers and their fragrant wares, till she reached one where she
was apparently greeted as a regular customer by its wrinkled owner.
Then with a certain degree of contempt for his own weakness he turned
resolutely away, and walked down the new Boulevard Malesherbes.

He had not gone far, when his attention was attracted by a figure
advancing with a somewhat slouching gait towards him, a man of scarcely
middle height, but broadly and strongly built, well, though rather
showily, dressed, his trousers tight below the knee, and loose above,
his cut-away coat, bright-colored necktie, and low-crowned hat, had a
horsey aspect; a broad, sun-burnt face, with well-trimmed, but coarse,
red moustaches and hair, a blunt, resolute nose, sharp, light eyes,
the lids puckered, as if from trying to look at strong sunlight, gave
him an air of intense knowingness; all these seemed somewhat familiar
to Glynn, as was also a certain expression of lazy good-nature, which
softened the ruggedness of his aspect.

While Glynn was struggling to answer the question with which we have
all puzzled ourselves at one time or another--"Where have I seen that
face?"--its owner stopped suddenly before him, exclaiming, "Mr. Glynn!
if I am not greatly mistaken; I hope I see you well, sir."

The voice and accent, which were peculiar, neither French, nor
English, nor American, though a little of all, with an undertone of
something that was none of the three, brought back to Glynn, as by
magic, certain passages of his life ten years before--a big, crowded,
gambling saloon in the Far West, dim with tobacco smoke, and hot with
gas-lights, reeking with the fumes of strong drink, and echoing with
the din of strange oaths, suddenly rose from out the caverns of memory,
a confusion of struggling figures, a hand-to-hand conflict, the man
before him gallantly backing him in a desperate fight to reach the door.

"Mr. Merrick, I had no idea you were at this side of the Atlantic!"

"I have been more than once at this side of the Atlantic since we met
last. You know all good Yankees hope to go to Paris not only when they
die, but a considerable few times before that event. I'm right glad
to meet you; and, before going further, I beg to observe that I have
assumed" (he said "ashumed") "another name since I had the pleasure
of seeing you: or rather, I have reverted to my original patronymic,
which was a deuced deal too good for the raff amongst whom we were
temporarily engulfed, to mouth. Allow me"--with an elegant air he drew
forth a note-book, and presented a card engraved, "Captain Lambert,
U.S.C., 27 Rue de L'Evêque." "Times have changed for the better with
me, and I am now established here permanently."

"Glad to hear it, Captain Lambert," said Glynn, amused by the
rencontre. Then glancing at the card, "You are no longer on active
service?"

"No, in a sense, no. Life is always more or less a battle; but for the
present the bugles sing truce, and I am enjoying well-earned rest in
the society of my daughter and only child, to whom I shall be delighted
to introduce an esteemed comrade, if you will allow me to say so."

"You are very good! I shall be happy to make the young lady's
acquaintance."

"And yourself, sir? I fancy you have been looking up too, there's an
air of success, of solid respectability, eh? worthy of a churchwarden,
about you!"

"Yes, I may say I am now a sober citizen of famous London----"

"I believe you, and I am right glad to hear it. I shall yet salute you
as Lord Mayor of London. 'Turn again Whittington,' hey? Where do you
put up? I'll call and get you to fix a day to dine with us, but for the
present I must bid you good-morning, for I promised to meet my daughter
at the flower-market, and I never keep her waiting. Eh! by Jove, here
she is."

Struck by the sudden joyous lighting up and softening of his
interlocutor's eyes, Glynn turned to see the cause, and found himself
face to face with the beauty of Auteuil.

Seldom had he been so surprised, and it must be confessed shocked, as
when he saw this charming ideal creature smile back affectionately
to the rowdy-looking nomad who claimed her as his child, whom he
remembered as one of an adventurous gang, ready alike with dice-box or
revolver, barely ten years ago.

"I thought you had forgotten me," she said, slipping her hand through
his arm.

"Forgotten you? No, faith! you must blame my friend here, if I am a
trifle late. This is an old acquaintance, my dear; we have faced death
together more than once; and a better, pluckier comrade no man need
wish for. Mr. Glynn--Miss Lambert."

Glynn raised his hat with profound respect.

"He has already befriended _me_," she returned, gazing at him with a
pretty, surprised, bewildered look in her large eyes. "I should still
have been waiting to cross there at Madeleine, had he not escorted me."

Lambert gave a quick, questioning glance at his daughter's open smiling
face, and then exclaimed, "I am infinitely obliged to you, sir;
infinitely, begad! I tell you what, Elsie, you mustn't be out so late
in the day by yourself. Why don't you take the _bonne_ with you, or
wait till I come in."

"Oh, it is such waste of time waiting for a chaperon on a fine day; but
we shall be too late to secure places if we delay."

"Yes, we had better be jogging. Can you dine with us to-day? And we'll
have a talk over old times, and my girl will give us a song or two. Pot
luck, my dear fellow, but you shan't starve."

"Many thanks, I am engaged unfortunately," returned Glynn,
half-pleased, half-regretful that he had a real excuse ready.

"Well, to-morrow then, at six, sharp, and we will go and hear the new
_operette_ at the Comique after."

"You are very good. I shall be most happy," said Glynn, with an
irresistible impulse as if some voice, not his own, answered for him.

"Well, good-bye for the present. By the way, where do you hang out?
What's your hotel? Wagram?--very good." He swept off his hat in
continental style, and his daughter bestowed a bow and smile upon Glynn
which conveyed to him in some occult manner the impression that it
pleased her to think he was a friend of her father.

How in the name of all that was contradictory did he come to have such
a daughter? From the crown of her head to her dainty shoes she looked
thoroughly a gentlewoman. More distinguished than fashionable in style,
and so delightfully tranquil in pose and manner. "I hate chattering,
animated women," thought Glynn, with that readiness to condemn
everything different from the attraction of the moment, peculiar to
the stronger and more logical sex.

It was too dreadful to think of so fair a creature, who looked the
incarnation of high-toned purity, being surrounded by a swarm of
sharpers--for that Lambert _alias_ Merrick, and a dozen other names
probably, could have ever settled down to sober, honest work, seemed
impossible.

Glynn dived deep into the recesses of his memory, recalling all the
circumstances of his former acquaintance with Merrick or Lambert, and
necessarily reviewing his own life also.

He had lost his parents in boyhood, but was left well provided for,
and had been carefully educated, taking a creditable degree at Oxford
shortly before coming of age. Then came a spell of wandering, of high
play, of rage for costly excitement, which, with a love of speculation,
beggared him in a few years. This climax found him in New York, and
for a considerable time he was put to strange shifts to make out a
living, for he would not beg, he was too true a gentleman to stoop to
dishonesty; but he was by no means ashamed to dig, or to do any work
worthy an honorable man. During his desperate struggle with fortune
he joined an exploring expedition, and found himself among queer
companions in one of those wonderful improvised far-western towns,
which spring up, mushroom-like, almost in a night, having spent the
little money he had scraped together in his attempt to reach it, after
the failure and dispersion of the prospecting party he had been induced
to join.

On the road he had fallen in with Merrick, whom he found friendly,
helpful, and not without gleams of good and of decency. So for a
week or two they kept together. Fortune befriended Glynn at the
gambling-tables, till the row occurred with which Merrick was so
inseparably associated, and which arose out of Glynn's extraordinary
run of luck, at which the mixed company of miners, explorers,
desperadoes and ruffians took offence. Finding the place rather too
hot for safety, Glynn and his new friend parted company, the former
making his way to San Francisco, whence he sailed for Australia, where
after various adventures he was agreeably surprised, by seeing an
advertisement in the _Times_, requesting him to communicate with a
well-known firm of solicitors in London. The result proved that his
uncle, the late Sir Peter Gethin, had left him a handsome legacy.

The late Baronet had been a partner in a great banking and
money-lending house; Glynn elected to let his capital remain invested
in the concern. His varied experience in speculative communities,
his knowledge of modern languages, and his training generally, made
him a valuable acquisition to the firm, first as an employé, and
after a few years as a junior partner. He was frequently despatched
to conduct complicated transactions with foreign houses, to inquire
into the validity of distant schemes, to test the practicality of
proposed undertakings. He had thoroughly sown his wild oats, and had
developed ambition, self-respect, self-confidence; but, unknown to
himself, the spring of imaginative passion which had been the cause of
all his misfortunes, and most of his pleasure, was only covered in,
not exhausted, and lay there, ready to bubble up and well over into a
strong current at the touch of the divining-rod.

Perhaps it was some hidden sympathy arising from this latent warmth
that made him so great a favorite with his uncle's widow,--a shrewd
worldly voltairean woman, well-born and well-bred,--who escaped from
poverty and dependence by accepting the position of wedded nurse to the
aged, gouty, city knight, Sir Peter Gethin.

It was long since Glynn had been so roused and interested, and the
acquaintances on whom he called that afternoon, found him unusually
animated and agreeable. All through a somewhat solemn dinner at the
house of a great French banker, he was buoyed up by the prospect of
the different kind of festivity which awaited him next day. There
was something curiously stimulating in this encounter with his old
Californian acquaintance thus swept into such incongruous surroundings
by the eddying current, life's stream. How did he come to have such
a daughter? What matter! enough that there would be so charming
an ingredient in the morrow's pleasure. As for his own prudence,
self-control, worldly wisdom--it never crossed his mind to doubt them.
He would pose as a calm spectator, study the puzzle offered to his
observation, and if necessary let Merrick or Lambert know the exact
position of Deering should he ever cross their path.

The weather was still calm, bright, warm, when, having drawn a light
paletôt over his evening dress, Glynn left his hotel, preferring to
walk as he was in good time for dinner. At the corner of the Rue
Castiglione he met Deering, who was coming leisurely from the opposite
direction; they stopped to exchange a few words, and then Deering
exclaimed, looking at his watch, "I did not know it was so late, I am
to do duty, and escort my wife and her sister to the Opera Comique
to-night, _au revoir_," and they parted.

"The Opera Comique," muttered Glynn, with a strong feeling of
annoyance. "He will see his Auteuil attraction, and recognize _me_ in
attendance. The presence of such a father, too, will dispose him to
believe it's a case of fair game; but after all, I have no right to
think ill of Deering. There is a curious sort of fate about the whole
affair. I am a fool to worry myself. I will try to enjoy the passing
hour, and let omens and auguries alone."

On reaching his destination Glynn mounted to the third _étage_, and
was admitted by a neat, black-eyed _bonne_, to a dimly lighted little
vestibule, containing some oak-chairs and a small orange-tree in
blossom, the perfume of which was almost overpowering.

"Enter then, Monsieur," said the servant, throwing open one of several
doors on either side, and Glynn found himself in a pretty, pleasant
_salon_ and the presence of Miss Lambert; who, somewhat to his
surprise, was in outdoor dress.

"My father will be here directly," she said, giving him her hand. "He
has gone to fetch our friends, Madame and Mademoiselle Davilliers,
for we have changed our plans; not being able to secure places at the
Comique for to-night, we propose to drive through the _bois_ and dine
at the Café de Madrid. I hope this will be agreeable to you?"

"Any arrangement you make will be most agreeable to me!" said Glynn,
indescribably relieved to find himself and her delivered from the
possibilities of an encounter with Deering, and charmed with the
unpretending refinement of her surroundings. The room was well but
simply furnished, and innocent of the flashy finery which might have
been looked for in an apartment where Lambert was master. Some small
but good water-colors enlivened the walls, which were of a neutral
tint; an open piano loaded with music; the stove converted into a stand
for flowers; the furniture of carved oak and green velvet; a small
basket work-table, overflowing with bright-colored wools and silk, some
fine old china on the mantel-shelf; a vase or two on corner-brackets,
formed a pleasant picture of comfort and occupation.

"You know the Café de Madrid, of course?" said Miss Lambert, when Glynn
had taken a seat, as she put her music together and closed the piano.

"Yes, I know it well; it is a capital place to dine at."

"On such a fine evening it is delightful to be among the trees; they
are quite green already, and there is a charming walk down to the
river. We must try and persuade Madame Davilliers and the dear father
to walk; do you mind walking after dinner?" She sat down suddenly while
she spoke and looked straight at him gravely, as if it were a question
of the last importance. "Does she think me an old fogy?" thought Glynn,
and answered with a smile, "I have not yet reached that period of life
when repose after eating is essential."

"No," still considering him gravely, "you are much younger than my
father. When he spoke of you as a comrade I thought you must be about
the same age. Is it long since you met?"

"Quite ten years."

"That is a long time. But my father is always young--I sometimes think
he is younger than I am--nothing depresses him, he is so full of
resource; and enjoys as if he were but five-and-twenty."

"Yes; I was always struck with his remarkable readiness. Do you
remember America?"

"America? I never was in America. I was born in Australia, but my
father----Ah! here he is," looking out of the window as the carriage
was heard to stop. She took up her gloves, which were lying beside
her sunshade, and began to put them on. In another moment the door
opened to admit Lambert, who came in with an expression of radiant
satisfaction.

"Glynn, my fine fellow! I am delighted to see you. Has my daughter
told you we have changed our plans, and substituted a little dinner
at the Madrid instead of baking ourselves at the Comique? All right,
come along, Madame Davilliers and 'Toinette are waiting for us below;
they have brought the cousin, young Henri Le Clerc, Elsie, and who
should I stumble on just at the corner of the Rue d'Aguesseau, but
Vincent, going to dine all alone by himself; so I made him jump up on
the box. We'll be a nice little party; you ladies will have a cavalier
apiece, and one to spare, that's myself; I am only a super nowadays;
don't forget a wrap for coming home." Elsie locked the drawer of an
ornamental bureau, put the key in her pocket, and declared herself
ready; and Lambert led the way down-stairs. Arrived at the entrance,
Glynn was duly presented to Madame and Mademoiselle Davilliers, in
whom he recognized the ladies who were with Miss Lambert at Auteuil;
they smiled and bowed most graciously, expressing their delight at M.
Lambert's change of plans in rather shrill-toned raptures. After a
little confusion it was settled that Mr. Vincent, a very elaborately
got-up continentalized American, with fair hair, moustaches, and
complexion, and rather sleepy pale blue eyes, should escort Madame
Davilliers and her daughter. While Miss Lambert, her father, Glynn, and
young Le Clerc, a good-looking boy in the polytechnique uniform, should
occupy another open carriage.

Glynn fancied he observed an expression of decided relief in Elsie's
face as Vincent took the seat assigned him, and she gave her hand to
her father, who assisted her with careful politeness to her place; it
was absurd to feel pleased by so trifling an indication--yet Glynn did
feel pleased.

The drive along the beautiful Champs Elysées, and the Avenue de
l'Imperatrice, as the approach to the _bois_ was then called, is
exhilarating,--especially when seated opposite an exceedingly pretty
woman, whose prettiness possesses a peculiar charm for your own
individual taste, and with whom for some occult reason you feel in
sympathy. Away past the marionette shows, and Punch and Judy's, the
well-kept gardens and fountains, the mansions all sheltered from the
heat by their closed _jalousies_, at the further end, round the wide
sweep which encircles the Arc de Triomphe, and on past splendid
equipages returning from the afternoon drive up and down Long Champs;
their occupants brilliant in exquisite toilettes, on down the Empress'
Avenue, soon to be rechristened under a new order of things. Glynn
could not help a keen sense of amusement as he compared the present
condition of the man opposite him to his former state; and the
wonder grew and grew, as to how such a girl as Miss Lambert came to
be his daughter. The embryo artillery officer (such was Le Clerc's
destination) chattered gaily, and was well seconded by his host, whose
French, though fluent and amusing, was not distinguished by grammatical
correctness, or purity of accent. His daughter said little, but that
little showed she could express herself pointedly. Moreover, she looked
so frankly and confidingly at Glynn that he felt as if she accepted
him, stranger though he was, as an hereditary friend. He had to
exercise some self-control to keep his eyes from saying too plainly how
charming he thought her.

The gardens of the Chateau de Madrid were gay and fragrant with lilac
and laburnum, mignonette, and jonquils.

Lambert, who loved to do things in a princely fashion, had written to
secure a private room and dinner. The party was therefore received with
great politeness and attention.

The young ladies betook themselves to the garden, followed by the
gentlemen except Lambert, who went indoors with madame to order the
wines. They were soon summoned to table, but in the short interval,
Glynn observed that Vincent made a decided attempt to separate Miss
Lambert from her companions, an attempt which she frustrated with
calm, resolute politeness, remarkable in so young a girl. The dinner
was excellent, the company animated, pleased with themselves and each
other, perhaps slightly noisy. Madame Davilliers talked well if she
also talked a good deal. Lambert occasionally, often unconsciously,
said good things, and told a story with point and humor. Vincent
devoted himself to Madame. Young Le Clerc to his cousin and Miss
Lambert. Glynn was for some time an observant listener, more and
more amused and puzzled at the incongruity of the whole affair, and
gathering from the conversation that Mademoiselle Antoinette Davilliers
had been Miss Lambert's dearest friend at the convent school, where
they had spent nearly six years together, that the papa Davilliers held
some government employment, and that Vincent was the agent for a New
York commercial house. Lambert's own occupation seemed very indefinite.
He talked of having been connected with the press, of having had
business interviews with various artistes, of writing himself on
sporting matters. The symposium was prolonged, and when it was over,
Glynn, observing a piano in a corner of their dining-room, asked Miss
Lambert if she remembered her father's promise, that she should sing?

"Yes," smiling. "But, it was _his_ promise, not mine."

"Ah! my darlin'," cried Lambert, overhearing. "You'll not dishonor your
father's draft on your musical bank!"

"No, I will sing with pleasure by and by, Antoinette will begin."

"And an uncommon sweet little pipe she has, of her own. Mademoiselle
is always gracious--and ready to give pleasure! Open the instrument,
Elsie, I hope it isn't an instrument of torture."

"It might be much worse," she returned, when she had played a few
chords. "Come, Antoinette," she said, as she began an accompaniment,
and Mademoiselle Davilliers, a neat little blonde with a saucy
"tip-tilted" nose, and a pretty toilette of the latest fashion, went
over to the piano, and in a sweet, slightly shrill soprano proceeded to
request some ideal Jeannette to look into the well, that the reflection
of her blue eyes might gladden the singer. She sang with much piquant
expression, and was loudly applauded.

"I think I should prefer looking into the blue eyes themselves, to
searching for a cold reflection," said Glynn, who had placed himself at
the end of the piano, so as to see the faces of the singers.

"It would be far better," returned Miss Lambert; "realities are always
best."

"Now, Elsie; we are waiting for you," cried her father. Her reply was
to strike a few chords, and begin a sweet, wild, plaintive air with
Italian words. Her voice was peculiarly rich and sympathetic; its lower
notes were especially fine; she had been thoroughly well taught, and
had besides a degree of natural expression that sent her tones right to
the heart of her hearers.

"This is indeed music," said Glynn, in a low voice when she ceased. "Do
you feel something of the delight you give?"

"Do I give you delight? You look as if you liked my singing,--I am
glad."

"It is heaven to listen to you," he exclaimed, almost in spite of
himself. "Your song is quite unknown to me."

"It is a Polish air arranged by my music-master for some Italian words.
He is Italian."

"I feel as if I were unworthy to ask for another song," said Glynn,
after a short pause.

"Why? I will sing as much as you like, I can always sing well for those
who like my singing," and again her deft fingers strayed over the
notes, till they seemed to fall of their own accord into an undulating
accompaniment to which she sang a _barcarolle_--brilliant, playful, but
with an undertone of sadness.

"She can sing a bit, can't she?" asked Lambert, approaching with
exultant looks. "Why, sir, she'd create a _fureur_, a regular
_fureur_; she'd pick up gold for the asking, ay, in hatfuls, if she'd
go on the stage; fancy her in the 'Trovatore,' or, 'The Figlia'
or 'Martha!'--give us 'The Last Rose of Summer,' my heart;--why,
she'd bring down any house; and the obstinate little sinner refuses
point-blank to appear on the boards, says it would kill her. Faith, it
is a right royal way to keep life _in_ one, and the devil out of one's
pocket; by Jove, she would hold her own with the best, when she has a
father that can crack a walnut at fifty paces, and wouldn't mind if it
were a skull in a good cause!"

"Ah, no! the stage would be a miserable failure for me. You do not take
temperament into account," said Miss Lambert, with a sigh, and then
stopped the conversation by thrilling out the exquisite air for which
Lambert had asked.

"Now," said the singer, when she had finished, rising from her seat,
"you must do what I ask, dear father; I want to walk to the river."

"It's a good step," said Lambert; "and it isn't civil to leave your
company."

"But they will come with me. Will you not, Madame Davilliers? and you,
Antoinette,--_you_ will, I am sure?" raising her eyes with a confiding
glance to Glynn's.

"I shall enjoy a stroll immensely," he replied. Madame, however,
preferred to remain where she was, and Vincent offered to stay and play
a game of piquet with her to pass away the time.

Evening was fast closing in when they started on their ramble, and
the falling dew drew out delicious odors from grass, and flowers, and
shrubs, as they proceeded along the avenue which, skirting the _bois_,
led to the river-side. It was longer than Miss Lambert thought, and the
moon had risen before they reached the Seine. At first they had kept
all together, but gradually Glynn contrived to separate himself and
Miss Lambert from the rest. "And so you had not courage enough for the
stage," he said, after a short pause in their conversation.

"No; I suppose it is want of courage that holds me back--a sort
of constitutional dislike to such a calling. Though I greatly
admire actresses and singers, I could not be one. I love quietness,
stillness,--being with a few people I like."

"Then you cannot like Paris?"

"Oh, yes! I am very happy here. I enjoy music and pictures, and my
father gives me everything I can want or wish. I am a most fortunate
girl, but----"

"There are 'buts' in every life," said Glynn, as she paused. He wanted
her to speak on.

"There is scarcely a 'but' in mine. I was going to say that I seem to
want a few months in the country every year to make life complete."

"Have you been accustomed to the country, then?"

"Yes. When we came first from Australia I was rather delicate, and I
used to live with the kind woman who took care of me after my mother's
death at her brother's farm in a beautiful country on the borders of
Wales. It was a delightful place. Then when I was about twelve my
father thought I ought to learn something, and he put me to school in
the convent. I have never been in England since; still I always fancy I
am English."

"And I feel as if you were; but Mr. Lambert is American?"

"Not by birth. Tell me, did you know my father very well long ago?"

"Yes; that is, we ran some risks together. Why do you ask?"

"Because you are so unlike all his other friends."

"Indeed! Am I too English?"

"No; I cannot exactly say what the difference is, but it is very great."

Somehow these few simple words elated Glynn as though they contained
the highest compliment. He restrained the reply which sprang to his
lips, and changed the subject by exclaiming, "There is the river; how
fine it looks in the moonlight."

"Yes, there is real harmony there."

"You are right, Elsie," exclaimed her father. "It gives one the feeling
of being in church when the organ is playing."

"And you and your delightful singing give me the feeling of silvery
light upon a still, smooth lake," said Glynn, in a low tone to his
companion. "You will be forever associated in my memory with moonlight
and music."

Elsie smiled a thoughtful smile.

"I am not sure that such an association of ideas is a good omen. There
is something mournful and mystic in the moon."

"I could never bring anything but good to you," whispered Glynn, who
was strangely stirred by the charm of his companion, the beauty of the
scene, the curious fatality which had brought him into contact with
Lambert after having lost sight of him for so many years.

"_Dieu!_" cried Mademoiselle Davilliers, "I am expiring with fatigue,
and I have all that long way to walk back!"

"Not at all, my dear young lady," said Lambert, with a superior air. "I
made a few inquiries before we started, and told them to send on one of
the carriages after us. There, I think I hear it coming."

The drive back was a fitting end to a delightful day. Glynn secured a
seat next Elsie, and though neither of them spoke many words, _he_ at
least felt that the electric communication of unuttered sympathy was
complete and sufficient.

"Thank you for a delightful day, Mr. Lambert."

"My dear boy"--it had been "my dear sir" the day before--"it is a
real pleasure to meet you. Look in on us now and again. I am sure my
daughter will be delighted. Elsie! Where is she?"

"Miss Lambert is rather tired; I think she has gone in.
Good-night,--thanks, I have a cigar."



CHAPTER II.

PLAYING WITH FIRE.


When Glynn woke next morning to broad day, the noise of the busy
street, and the consciousness of an early business appointment, last
night, with its music and moonlight, seemed to him dream-like and
unreal. It was all very pleasant while it lasted, but in a few days he
would quit Paris, and probably never see Lambert or that wonderfully
charming daughter of his again. What would be the destiny of such a
woman so placed? Not happiness, he feared, if she were all she seemed.
Yet how devoted that queer fish Lambert was to her. So far as he could
take care of her he would; but what perceptions could _he_ have of what
was right and suitable for a delicate, sensitive girl!

However, Glynn had other things to think of just then, and soon
hastened away to hold high council on money matters with a sharp but
soft-spoken German Jew, whose oiliness had not a soothing effect on the
cool, clear-sighted Englishman.

Business hours are earlier in Paris than in London. Glynn found
himself on the Boulevard des Italiens, and free, while it was still
early enough to pay a visit. With a vague curiosity, arising from very
mixed motives, he directed his steps to the hotel where Mr. and Lady
Frances Deering lodged, and found that lady at tea with her son--a
pale, delicate, deformed boy--and a gentleman of middle height, with a
frank, sun-burnt face, and a certain easy looseness about his well-made
clothes.

"You are just in time for tea, Mr. Glynn," said Lady Frances, in a soft
but monotonous voice. "Do you know my cousin, Captain Verner?"

Yes, the gentlemen had met before, and they exchanged a few civil words.

"Is this your first visit to Paris?" asked Glynn, kindly, as he drew
his chair beside the sofa on which the boy was lying.

"Yes, the very first."

"And how do you like it?"

"Oh, so much! It is so beautiful and bright. I should like to stay here
always."

"Bertie is much better and stronger since we came here, which partly
accounts for his wish to stay," said his mother, with a slight sigh.

"I wish I could take you to sea, my boy," cried Captain Verner; "a
cruise with me would make you all right."

Lady Frances turned her pale eyes on the speaker, and Glynn noticed
that they darkened with a look of intense pain only for an instant,
while she said with her usual composure, "I have no doubt that Herbert
will be quite fortified by Dr. Lemaire's treatment. Then the summer is
before him, and he will have gathered strength before winter. Winter is
very severe and dreary at Denham."

"You should winter at Palermo," observed Glynn. "It is a delightful
spot--a sort of place to make you forget troubles."

"I wish you would," said Verner, earnestly.

"Say _could_," returned Lady Frances, and she rose to ring the bell.

She was very tall and slight, exceedingly dignified and deliberate
in her movements, and would have been rather handsome but for her
extreme stillness, coldness, and want of color. A pale blonde sounds
like insipidity, but Lady Frances was not insipid; she was a great
lady to the tips of her fingers, yet simple in dress and manner to a
degree that bewildered those gorgeous dames, the wives of her husband's
wealthier constituents, on the rare occasions when they were admitted
within the sacred portals of Denham Castle.

"Why are you hurrying away to London?" asked Verner. "There is nothing
to call Deering back, as he has lost his seat."

"He is not happy out of club-land, I suppose," said Lady Frances,
sitting down beside her son. "I must say I am very sorry he lost the
election. He deserved better at the hands of the Denham men, but it was
the radical mining people that turned him out."

"Do you leave soon?" asked Glynn.

"On Thursday; I suppose you will not come back quite so soon? You are
fond of Paris, I think?"

"My movements are rather uncertain; I may go on to Berlin."

"I wish you would come as far as Genoa with me," cried Verner, "I am
just appointed to the 'Africa,' on the Mediterranean station. I hate
traveling alone. Poor Dennison, who commanded her, died of a few days'
fever off the coast of Calabria,--caught it shooting in some marshes,
and----"

The entrance of Deering interrupted him.

"How do, Glynn? You still here, Verner?" He took no notice of Lady
Frances or his son.

"Yes, I want to see the review to-morrow, and will start by the Lyons
train at night," said Verner, in an apologetic tone.

Deering threw himself into an easy-chair, exclaiming, "It is getting
insufferably hot here. Could you manage to start on Tuesday night
instead of Thursday morning?"--to his wife.

"I should think so."

"Then pray make your arrangements. I say, Glynn, things look very shaky
in Spain. There will be a tremendous fall in Spanish bonds."

"They will recover, if one can hold on. In fact, if a fellow can afford
to wait, it would not be a bad plan to buy now," returned Glynn.

Here Deering's valet brought his master some brandy-and-soda, with a
due amount of ice, a refreshment which both Verner and Glynn declined.

Travers Deering was tall, but not so tall as Glynn, more conventionally
distinguished-looking, with regular aristocratic features, steel-grey
eyes, and nut-brown hair and moustaches. He was, on the whole, a
popular man, and bestowed a good deal of carefully veiled cultivation
on his popularity. He was considered rather the type of a proud, manly,
English country gentleman of a fairly clean life, though no saint, and
a little martyrized by being tied to so cold and impenetrable a wife.
Servants, and insignificant people of that description, whispered that
the steel-grey eyes could flash with baleful fire, and that Lady
Frances had grown colder and stiller since the deformity and delicacy
of her only child had become perceptible and hopeless; while Mr.
Deering never stayed at Denham alone with her.

Glynn was conscious of an unaccountable sense of relief when Deering
expressed a desire to quit Paris, even sooner than he had at first
intended.

It was absurd to imagine that any evil could arise out of a mere
passing admiration; it could be nothing more, for a handsome stranger.
Yet the expression of Deering's eyes, the uneasiness, wonder, fire, all
commingled, which had so impressed him, flashed back vividly across his
memory with undiminished disturbing force. But Deering was talking.

"I have been round Count de Latour's stables this morning. Have you
seen them, Glynn? They are worth a visit. His stud-groom and head
men are all English. I am very much inclined to back his chestnut,
'Bar-le-duc,' for the Derby. He's a splendid horse, only, of course,
it isn't always blood or breeding that wins. There were a couple of
Americans looking through the stables at the same time, who seemed
deucedly wide awake, and inclined to back both 'Bar-le-duc' and a
filly, 'Etoile d'Auvergne,' about which I am not so sure. I have met
one of them, Vandervoort, in London, do you know him?"

Glynn said he thought he did. The talk became, for a few minutes,
of the Turf--turfy. And while it went on the boy rose, and followed
by his mother, who covered his retreat, noiselessly left the room.
Glynn, looking at Deering at this moment, caught an expression of
malignant dislike in his eyes towards his deformed son, or his wife, or
both, which surprised and revolted him. It was instantaneous, and he
continued to talk lightly and pleasantly, till Glynn rose to bid Lady
Frances good-morning.

Verner left the room at the same time, and the two men walked towards
the Place de la Concorde together.

"Pity that poor boy is a cripple," said Glynn, speaking out of his
thoughts. "I fancy Deering is a good deal cut up about it."

"I don't know about Deering, nor do I care much," returned Captain
Verner, bluntly; "but it has been a desperate grief to the mother.
Why, when we were children together--ay, and after--Lady Frances was
the life of us all. I never saw a girl with so much go in her; and
now!"--he broke off expressively. "However, no one can help her," he
added, after a moment; and then quickly turning the subject, began to
talk of French politics, till they reached the corner of the Champs
Elysées, where they paused to see the Empress drive by. There Verner
turned back to keep an engagement, and Glynn strolled on slowly to his
hotel, resolutely resisting a strong temptation to call and inquire for
Miss Lambert. Indeed, with the help of a good deal of letter-writing
and interviews with sundry personages of financial importance,
Glynn contrived to keep his mind free from imaginative pictures
and irresistible suggestions. _He_ was not going to make a fool of
himself, or of any one else, either; he was too old and experienced
to be carried away by a romantic encounter, or the liquid loveliness
of a pair of lustrous, dreamy, dark-blue eyes. "What eyes they are!"
he thought, as he sat at his second _déjeuné_, on Sunday morning,
three whole days since he had enjoyed the hospitality of his quondam
comrade of the Californian episode. "Mere civility demands that I
should call. I think I have been under fire often enough to stand this
last fusillade without flinching; besides, the whole thing is deucedly
curious." So, after looking in at Gaglinane's, and reading the English
papers, Glynn found himself on his way to the Rue de L'Evêque.

The perfume of orange-blossoms which came forth from the opening door
greeted him like the prelude of delight, so vividly did it remind him
of the pleasant hours to which his first visit was an introduction.

"Yes, monsieur was at home, and mademoiselle also," and the servant,
opening a different door from that through which she had ushered him
on the former occasion, spoke to some one within, and immediately
Lambert himself, in a gorgeous dressing-gown, a fez on his head, and a
cigarette in his mouth, came forth to greet him.

"Glynn, come along into my den here. I thought you had left for
some other diggings. I was going to look you up to-day. I've not
had a moment I could call my own since we parted!" While he spoke
he ushered his visitor into a small, very small room, containing
a large knee-hole table loaded with letters, newspapers, small
account-books, and all appliances for writing, and two very comfortable
circular-chairs. These articles of furniture scarcely left room
to move. A looking-glass, surmounted by a couple of revolvers,
completed the decorations. A dim light was admitted by a long, narrow
stained-glass window; and a second door, which stood open, led into a
comfortably furnished dining-room.

"This is my _Cabinet de travaille_," said Lambert, wheeling round one
of the chairs; "and I am just taking an hour or two from the Sabbath
to clear up some little arrears of work. Where have you been all these
days?"

"Very busy, or I should have paid my respects to you and Miss Lambert
sooner."

"To be sure, to be sure, you are in business yourself. Anything in the
book-making way? I think I remember you had a fair notion as to the
value of a horse."

"No; mine is a more sober system of gambling."

"Aha! the share market! I could give you a hint or two about that new
steamship company they are getting up in Hamburg."

"Thank you, my hands are pretty full already."

After a little further conversation on financial and sporting topics
while Lambert was putting his papers together with some degree of rough
order, he proposed to join his daughter.

"She was out to mass with her friends the Davilliers, and had breakfast
with them; I have scarcely seen her this morning." So saying, he rose
and led Glynn through the dining-room to an arched doorway, across
which a curtain of rich dark stuff was drawn, and lifting it cried,
"Are you there, my jewel? I have brought Mr. Glynn to see you."

"Come in," said a voice; and as he entered Glynn saw Miss Lambert
advancing from an open window to meet him.

The room into which he had been ushered was small, though larger than
the minute apartment Lambert had appropriated. It was prettily and
lightly decorated, the hangings and chair-covers being of chintz,
bouquets of roses tied with blue ribbon on a cream ground, and had
one large window opening on a balcony full of flowers, which overhung
a garden belonging to a large hotel in a street behind. There were
books and needle-work, a writing-table and a sewing-machine about, and
it was evidently Miss Lambert's private sitting-room. A stout, elderly
woman in black, with a lace cap and a large apron, who looked more than
a servant and less than a lady, rose as they entered, and was about
to leave the room, when Lambert exclaimed in his hearty manner and
rather peculiar French, "How goes it, Madame Weber? I hope your cold is
better; a summer cold is worse than any other, for it's out of season."

Madame thanked monsieur, reported herself nearly or quite well, and
vanished.

"I thought you had left Paris, at least my father did," said Elsie
Lambert, giving Glynn one hand, while the other held an open book--a
shabby, well-thumbed book.

"I should not have left without calling to say good-bye, to thank you
again for your delightful songs," returned Glynn.

She smiled. "Will you sit down, or shall we go into the _salon_, this
is such a tiny place?"

"Oh, we are snug enough here. And how are you, my dear? you haven't
said 'good-morning' to your old father yet."

"My _old_ father!" leaning her head against him for an instant, with
inexpressible loving grace; "why, he is younger than I am, Mr. Glynn.
When I have been brooding over my book or work I always feel as if some
bright, pleasant playfellow had come to rouse me when my father walks
in."

"Thar!" said Lambert, looking over with infinite pride and a queer
expressive nod and toss of the head to Glynn, as if to say, "What do
you think of your old fighting, gaming, hand-to-mouth comrade now?"
"It's not every old cuss that can find a nice young lady to say as much
for him, hey?" he said aloud.

"I quite understand it," returned Glynn, smiling, his eyes full of
tender admiration. What a curious puzzle the whole thing was. How had
Lambert _alias_ Merrick, or Merrick _alias_ Lambert, found the funds
to keep up this establishment, which, modest as it was, must cost six
or seven hundred a year? Honestly, he hoped, though from certain
dimly-remembered traits he feared the lively, boyish Lambert was not
the most scrupulous of men. Still, regard for so sweet, so refined a
daughter must, ought to keep him straight.

"What are you going to do with yourself, Elsie, this damp, drizzling
afternoon? you can't go out."

"Oh yes I can; I was just asking Madame Weber if she felt well enough
to come with me to the _salon_; one can find all weathers in the
pictures."

"A good idea, faith. Will you come with us, Glynn? for I'll be your
escort myself, Elsie. Just let me get into my coat and boots, and I'll
be with you in a twinkling."

"Yes, do come, that will be delightful. And you too, Mr. Glynn?"

"With infinite pleasure."

"Then I'll make my toilette before you'd say Jack Robinson," cried
Lambert, as he left the room.

"You are fond of reading, Miss Lambert?" asked Glynn.

"Yes, very fond; and this is such a delightful English book. I like it
much better than French poetry."

"May I see?"

"Certainly," handing it to him.

"Ah, 'The Lady of the Lake,' that is a very old friend; I thought
modern young ladies had left such childish productions far behind."

"Childish! what can you mean? Why, it is so clear and vivid; I almost
feel the mountain air as I read; and that combat between Fitz-James and
Roderick, only a man could have written _that_!"

"I must read it again," said Glynn, half to himself, as he turned over
the pages; "I have not seen it since I was a boy."

"Then you read, too? that also is unlike my father's other friends."

"I am afraid your father's friends do not stand very high in your
estimation; I earnestly hope I may find more favor."

"I think I shall like you,"--softly--gravely, and without a tinge of
coquetry, looking at him while she spoke.

He could not have answered her lightly, even had he been inclined;
there was something imposing in her straightforward simplicity, and he
replied, in the same tone: "I hope you will try to like me. You have
not read many English books perhaps?"

"Very few books of any kind, and those chiefly since I left school.
It is a great delight; but I read very slowly, indeed I am slow about
everything, not that I enjoy the less."

"I am sure you learned music quickly."

"I can always pick up airs, and even long pieces by ear, but I do not
think I learned by note quickly."

"Tell me," asked Glynn, moved by a sudden impulse, "did you enjoy the
races last Sunday at Auteuil? I should not imagine racing an amusement
suited to you."

"But I _was_ amused; the crowd and the brightness made a pleasant
picture." Then with a sudden recollection, "But how do you know I was
at the races; they were long ago, before I knew you?"

A strange thrill of triumph shivered through Glynn's veins at this
implied admission that her acquaintance with him was an event to date
from.

"I saw you there, and I feared you might have seen me, for I was with
a man who gazed at you almost rudely, because you reminded him of some
one, and I did not wish you to associate me with him in your mind."

"Was he a tall, haughty-looking man, very English, and rather
_distingué_?"

"Yes."

"Then I _did_ see him, but not with you; it was just before we came
away. He walked up to the carriage, and looked into my face. I felt
frightened. Why did he do it? Of whom did I remind him? some one he did
not like, I am sure."

"That I cannot tell," said Glynn thoughtfully, while he remembered that
Deering had no doubt returned to gaze once more at the face which had
so fascinated him.

"Do you know the gentleman well? Is he--good, I mean kind, or hard and
cruel? He filled me with a strange fear; but I did not mention it to my
father, because he is so fond, so anxious about me."

"Now then, go put on your bonnet, my darlin'; the sun is trying to come
out. We'll take a _fiacre_, and have a good look at the pictures,"
cried Lambert, breaking in on their discourse.

Elsie was soon ready, and a few hours of simple, pure, but thorough
enjoyment ensued. Lambert candidly avowing his indifference to art
generally, secured a comfortable seat, and produced a couple of
newspapers from his pocket. To these he devoted his attention, telling
his daughter he would await her pleasure.

So Glynn was practically alone with Elsie. He found a new experience
in her genuine, though uncultured appreciation of the paintings, in
the complete unaffected reality of her manner, the honesty of her
crude opinions. Then when she found he had seen many galleries, and
knew something of art, the interest with which she listened to him was
flattering and amusing; not that she was ready to accept his dictum
unquestioned, she tried most assertions by the test of her own common
sense.

The restful charm of her gentle composure, while it enchanted
her companion, conveyed an impression of latent strength which
unconsciously piqued him into an irresistible desire to exert an
influence, a disturbing influence over her. He was growing conscious
that at the first sign of discomposure, the first fluttering hesitation
in her look or voice, his firmness, prudence, good resolutions would go
by the board. For the present, however, all was safe; he might as well
enjoy himself, in another week he would probably be far away, and might
never see his queer Californian comrade or his lovely daughter again.
Never? Well, he was not so sure about that. Meantime the severest
chaperon could not find cause to cavil at any of his words or looks; he
was calmly agreeable, and put forth his best powers of conversation,
his memories of art, of other lands, of all that could lay hold of his
companion's imagination, with intuitive skill.

"Have I kept you too long, dear father?" exclaimed Elsie, when at last
she sought her much enduring parent and sank into a seat beside him.

"Well, you've been a trifle longer travelling around than greased
lightning. I've finished my two journals, and had a doze, but you have
enjoyed the pictures, eh?"

"Very, very much; Mr. Glynn knows a great deal about painting, and he
has explained many things that puzzled me. I never enjoyed the _salon_
so much before. Will you come with us again, Mr. Glynn?"

"I shall be very glad," he returned with laudable sobriety. "But I fear
I shall have to leave Paris in about ten days," he added.

"Then pray let us come one day next week," said Elsie, quite unmoved by
this announcement.

"All right, _ma belle_," returned her father; "but we must be going
now, it's six o'clock, and I asked Vincent to dine, we have a little
business to talk over."

Elsie was silent, but a distressed look crept over her speaking face.
"If you want to talk of business may I not go to dine with Antoinette?"

"Aha! you perverse little puss, you are real unkind to poor Vincent,
who is a good fellow enough; why, every one likes him but you."

"And I do _not_ like him, nor do I like to sing to him."

"See that now! and he an old friend of your father's before--no, not
quite before you were born. Well, please yourself, dear, please--Why,"
interrupting himself, "there's old Monsieur Chauvot; I must speak to
him."

He went forward, and was soon in deep conversation with a stout
Frenchman, through whose arm he passed his own, and they walked on
together, Elsie and Glynn following.

"So Vincent is one of your father's friends who do _not_ find favor in
your eyes. What has he done?" asked Glynn.

"Nothing; I cannot account for my dislike, but it is here," pressing
her hand on her heart, "and will not go away."

"And I with as little reason share it," returned Glynn.

"Do you? I am glad, which is very wrong, but it comforts me to find
some one else unreasonable. Madame Davilliers and Antoinette think him
quite nice and agreeable."

At the door of Madame Davilliers' residence Elsie paused.

"I may as well go in now," she said to Lambert. "Will you not come in
and say a little word to madame? and you, too, Mr. Glynn, she will be
delighted to see you."

Glynn assented. After a quarter of an hour's lively talk amidst a
circle of evidently solid and respectable visitors he was cordially
requested to call again, and left the house with Lambert, feeling that
another link had been added to the magic chain which was twining itself
around him.

"She's an elegant woman, faith," said Lambert with the air of
a connoisseur, as he left the house with Glynn, "and so is the
demoiselle. I always count it real good luck that Elsie fell in with
them, for between you and me and the post, none of my acquaintances
were just suited to introduce a young lady into society. It's been
uphill work _I_ can tell you, but Madame D. has been no end of a help
to me. Why, you'd never have the faintest notion of all the whim-whams
she has put me up to! Wouldn't you think now a girl would be all right
in her father's house with a respectable young woman like Celestine to
wait on her? Not a bit of it. Madame says I must have a sort of a lady
to be a companion to Elsie, and so she found Madame Weber for us. Now
they are going to marry Antoinette to a very respectable wealthy young
Vicomte that will be another backer for Elsie. I believe preliminaries
are nearly arranged, and then he'll be presented as a _prétendant_."

"What a hideous system it is," ejaculated Glynn.

"I don't see that at all," returned Lambert; "a good girl will get fond
of any man who makes her a kind husband, and God only knows the relief
it is to a parent to make sure that all's right, and see, too, one's
girl safe under the protection of a strong man." He spoke with feeling.

"There are some better aspects, I confess, to the _mariage de
convenance_," said Glynn, "but the worse outweigh them."

"Well, I am inclined for the system, though our Amurican girls would
never stand it."

"Are you American?" asked Glynn, encouraged by his companion's
confidential, regretful tone to put the question.

"A naturalized American. I was obliged by the persecutions of a
cruel government to quit my native land as a mere boy, and leave
behind me the life of a gentleman, for I can tell you, sir, the
Lamberts of Ballybough are as good a stock as any in Ireland; that's
five-and-thirty years ago; between you and me I had a hard, sometimes
a desperate fight of it since, but I keep all that to myself. Madame D.
there thinks me a big man entirely; it's all the better for _her_, and
all I care for is my jewel Elsie."

This brought them to Lambert's door. "Honor bright," said he, giving
his hand to Glynn, "I know I may trust _you_."

Glynn shook hands cordially, and went towards his hotel, musing on
the curious contradictions displayed by his former friend, and the
incongruity of being made a confidant by the adoring father of the girl
against whose subtle charm he had determined to steel himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

A fortnight had gone by swiftly, too swiftly, and Glynn was still in
Paris. True, the plans which would have compelled his presence in
Berlin were changed, and he was consequently detained a little longer
in the French capital, but he was now free, and had some weeks at his
own disposal.

For various plausible reasons he was frequently at the Rue de L'Evêque,
and also a welcome visitor at Madame Davilliers', who declared him
worthy of being a Frenchman. He was always careful to bestow his whole
attention on her when in her presence, and did not shock her sense of
propriety by throwing away any small politenesses on the young ladies.

His happiest moments, however, were those in which he found Elsie
sitting at her work or at the piano with Madame Weber and her knitting
established beside her. Then they talked long and confidentially on
many topics, sometimes in French to include the good Alsacian, but
more often in English; and Elsie would practice her songs while he
sat in a deep low chair and dreamed, and was lapped into a state of
feverish, uneasy delight. Every day the difficulty of tearing himself
away grew greater, and still the quiet unconsciousness of Elsie, the
easy, friendly tone which she preserved towards him convinced him that
whatever of pain might result from their intercourse would be unshared
by her.

Glynn was often Lambert's guest; and more than once entertained the
father and daughter at some one of the pleasant restaurants, in the
_bois_, or on the Champs Elysées.

Lambert, though speaking frankly enough of himself, never explained
very distinctly what his employment was; nor did he make any allusion
to the position or occupation of his former friend and comrade, as he
was fond of calling Glynn.

"I have a wonderful piece of news for you, Mr. Glynn," said Elsie
one fine warm afternoon, when he had been ushered through the
orange-scented vestibule to the _salon_ where she was sitting beside
her work-table, with a book Glynn had lent her in her hands, and she
motioned towards a chair opposite her.

"Indeed! what may it be? Good-morning, Madame Weber," bowing. "May I
try to divine it, Miss Lambert? Has Mr. Lambert agreed to take you to
the Pyrenees or to England?" looking into her eyes. "No! then he will
go for a month or two to Switzerland? No? Then your old friend Mrs.
----, I forget the name, who used to take care of you, is coming to
Paris? No? Then I am at the end of my conjectures. You see I always
read '_no_' in your eyes."

"You could never guess! My father has gone away to Havre, quite early
this morning, and will not return for three or four days. He has never
left me since we came to live here till now, and I cannot tell you how
strange and restless and half frightened I feel; but Madame Davilliers
has kindly asked me to stay with her, and I go there to dinner to-day.
I should have gone sooner, but I thought you might call, so I waited."

Her perfect easy candor was charming, yet mortifying to his _amour
propre_.

"Thank you very much; I am glad to have an opportunity of hearing of
your intended movements from yourself; it would have been an awful
shock to have found every one gone; but," looking keenly at her, "what
have you been doing or suffering? You are pale. There is a weary look
in your eyes."

"And you are like my dear father, too ready to think I must be
suffering or unhappy, or something dreadful, if I look a shade paler
than usual. I am quite well." She smiled, stopped abruptly, let her
eyes droop, while the color rose softly in her cheek, and her smile
was replaced by a serious, almost sad expression in the curves of her
mouth.

"You have something to tell me? something that disturbs you. Speak, you
may trust me."

"I am sure I can. Well, I was foolishly frightened yesterday. We,
Madame Weber and I, had gone to hear the band play in the Tuileries
Gardens. It was very pleasant under the trees, and we sat a long time.
Just as we rose to return home, two gentlemen came up from a side
walk; one I recognized at a little distance to be Mr. Vincent; the
other, when they came nearer, I saw was the same man whom I noticed
at Auteuil; you know who I mean? He looked at me so strangely, I felt
uneasy, frightened, and I hurried Madame Weber away. They must have
taken some shorter path, for when we reached the gate opposite the Rue
de la Paix they came upon us again. Mr. Vincent raised his hat, and
so did the other, and stared at me with such an odd piercing look of
dislike and doubt--Oh! I cannot forget it."

"Yes," said Madame Weber, gathering from Elsie's expression, and
the words "Tuileries Gardens," that she was relating the events of
yesterday, "that gentleman there was not at all polite; he glared at
mademoiselle, _Mon Dieu!_ like a savage beast; nevertheless he was
distinguished, and no doubt noble."

"I think you must be mistaken," said Glynn; "the man whom you saw at
the races left Paris nearly three weeks ago. I should most probably
have seen him had he returned. You must have been mistaken."

Elsie shook her head. "I could never be mistaken in that man," she said.

Glynn was greatly struck by the reappearance of Deering, but he threw
off the impression. It was probably an illusion on the part of Elsie.
That Deering, the proudest of men, should be walking with so doubtful a
personage as Vincent seemed almost incredible. He would make inquiries,
however. Meantime he addressed himself to soothe Elsie's evident
uneasiness.

"After all, granting you are right, what have you to fear? Your admirer
can only look; he dare not annoy you, or any attempt at annoyance
could soon be put a stop to. Indeed, I am sure Deering is too much a
gentleman and a man of the world to outrage good manners in any way."

"What is his name?"

"Deering of Denham; rather a personage in Yorkshire. I know him and his
wife."

"He is married?" as if a little surprised. "Yes, I dare say I am
foolish to be afraid of anything, but I am sometimes such a coward. I
suppose it is the effect of the terrible terror I suffered when almost
a baby."

"Indeed!" said Glynn, his curiosity profoundly stirred, and feeling
more than ever convinced there was some very unusual story attached
to the sweet, graceful daughter of his former rowdy acquaintance. "I
suppose I ought not to ask you how and where you encountered such a
shock?"

"I do not mind speaking of it to you; it is a sort of relief, for I
have seen you look surprised when I have started and shuddered at
trifles. I do not wish you to think me silly."

"Silly!--do you know that you seem to me the impersonation of tranquil,
womanly wisdom?"

A laugh so merry and spontaneous rippled over lip and cheek, and
flashed from her eyes, that for an instant Glynn feared he had erred by
appearing to exaggerate.

"That you should think so ignorant a girl as I am wise, is too funny,"
she exclaimed.

"Wisdom is a gift that may be improved, not created by learning," said
Glynn; "but as you permit me to ask, what was the terror to which you
allude?"

"It was so long ago that my memory of it is mere confusion. When I
was three or four years old the blacks came and burnt our house, away
in Australia; they killed some people too. Then I remember being on
a horse and clinging to my father. I think I was quite out of my
mind, for I remember being afraid of my own dear father, and thinking
him changed and different from what he used to be. Oh, it is all so
confused! Then there was a long voyage and great quiet; yet I used to
scream if I were left alone for a moment. Sometimes it seems true that
I had two long sea voyages, and that my only comfort was to crouch in
my father's arms. Then came a long period--long and peaceful--in the
sweet fresh country, where I grew strong and fearless, though I always
had panics. I had one the first time I met that gentleman's eyes, and
sometimes I feel afraid with Mr. Vincent. I was very happy with Mrs.
Kellett; she is the good friend who took care of me till my father put
me in the convent. He used to come and see me from time to time, and
when I saw how much he loved me I grew to love him with my whole heart.
That is all I know about my own life."

"And it is enough. You must banish all sense of fear--life promises to
be fair and smooth for you."

"I hope so; but curious thrills of terror steal through me sometimes. I
never like to ask my father about that dreadful night. I think my poor
mother died then, and he cannot bear to speak of it. It was that fright
I suppose that made me a little slow and dull; but thank God I can and
do enjoy a great deal."

"It would be a frightful injustice if you could not; and you must
throw your fears to the winds. You are formed to win friends; dream
only of happiness and affection! May I wait, and escort you to Madame
Davilliers'?"

This request was prompted by a strange inexpressible reluctance to
leave her alone in her own apartment during her father's absence.

"I am turning driveller," he thought; "am I on the verge of making a
fool of myself? Not with my eyes open,--yet I would risk a good deal to
insure this fair delicate creature from shock or real danger,--for with
such a father, such dubious surroundings, her future is, to say the
least, unpromising."

"Oh, yes; I should be very glad if you will come with us, and then you
will come and see Madame Davilliers while I am with her? My father will
be home on Monday, in the evening. How delightful it will be to have
him back again. Ah! he is so good to me. I am sometimes oppressed to
think how dearly he loves me. I suppose it is because I was so weak, so
nearly imbecile when a child. Shall we go to Madame Davilliers' now? I
am quite ready."

"When you like; but first do me a great favor, sing me a song before
you go away among a set of strangers, a song all to myself."

Elsie smiled, and turning to the piano at once, complied, choosing a
Latin hymn expressive of faith in Divine protection, one of those she
was accustomed to sing in her convent school days.

When Glynn had escorted her and Madame Weber to the Davilliers'
residence, he walked to the hotel where Mr. and Lady Frances Deering
were in the habit of staying, and inquired if Mr. Deering had returned.
"No," the waiter said, "nor did they expect monsieur, who had left more
than a fortnight ago."

"She must have been mistaken," mused Glynn, as he went on to his own
quarters. "Deering could not endure the companionship of such a man as
Vincent, and what object could he have in following a girl like Elsie
Lambert? She is a sensitive, timid soul, more so than I imagined, yet
there are possibilities of heroism in her. A most delightful companion,
with fresh discoveries of sheltered nooks and mossy dells of character
at every step in our acquaintance. I will not leave Paris until I see
her safe under her father's wing again; then, if I have an ounce of
common sense left, I will fly!"

Reaching his own room, he found among others a letter from Lady Gethin,
asking the real reason of his prolonged stay in Paris. Having a spare
half-hour he replied at once:

"I am trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together; I am not sure I
shall succeed, but am going to give myself a few days longer, then I
shall come and report proceedings. I wonder what solution you will
suggest. Till we meet then, I can say no more on the subject. Have
you seen the Deerings? Are they both in London? I assure you I long
to bring my doubts and suspicions to the test of your experience and
acumen.

/P
    "Ever your devoted Nephew,
    "Hugh Glynn."
P/



CHAPTER III.

OLD SCORES.


Madame Davilliers' was a very pleasant household. Of course it had
not the ease and freedom that reigns in an English home, at least for
young people. Antoinette and her friend were treated with the kind of
affectionate indulgence suited to infants of tender years, but watched
also and guarded with the care due to creatures of the same immature
age.

To Lambert and his daughter madame extended a wide
indulgence,--"Americans, you know," in an explanatory tone, was always
her comment on any eccentricity of theirs. She was exceedingly anxious
to settle Elsie judiciously, as she felt convinced she would have a
goodly dower, and deeply regretted that she had not a son old enough to
demand the charming mademoiselle in marriage. Lambert, however, showed
himself reluctant to accept any of her suggestions, and she therefore
concluded that he had other plans in view.

Elsie Lambert was very happy with Antoinette. They practiced duets
together, and traced patterns, and Elsie read aloud to her friend when
she was at work, or repeated to her the stories and poems she had
lately read in English, on Glynn's recommendation. Elsie was the master
spirit of the two, though Antoinette was by far the bravest and most
self-possessed in society.

But amid her contentment Elsie was conscious of an extraordinary
want--a void which nothing sufficed to fill; it was the want of those
quiet conversations with Glynn, each of which awoke new ideas, new
aspirations, new life. He called as he had promised, and was received
most graciously by Madame Davilliers in her _salon_. Both girls were
present. Glynn, however, knew well he must not speak more than a few
civil words to them, and even his inquiries for Lambert he felt bound
to utter in French. But Elsie's expressive eyes told him much. They
said frankly and innocently, "I wish I could talk to you. I wish I dare
speak as usual. This is all rather tiresome." And he longed unutterably
to take her out for a long ramble in the _bois_, her arm through his
own, her sweet candid face uplifted to his, that she might the better
comprehend the meaning of his words; but he must not think of such
things. He ought to be thankful, especially thankful, that her feelings
towards him were so calm and friendly. If he were to read anything of
tenderness, of passion, in those lovely blue eyes of hers, why, chaos
would be come again! For to call Lambert father-in-law would be chaotic!

"How is M. Vincent?" asked Madame Davilliers, as Glynn rose to take
leave one afternoon; "he has not presented himself lately. He is a
most interesting man, and quite French in his knowledge of life and
character! I shall beg him to give himself the trouble of dining with
us on Wednesday next, and I hope that you too, monsieur, will do us
the pleasure of joining our little party. Wednesday is the anniversary
of our wedding-day, and M. Davilliers proposes to make a little fête
in its honor. If fine we shall dine at the 'Grande Cascade' at six
o'clock; we hope our good friend Monsieur Lambert will return in time
for our _réunion_."

"It is also the anniversary of Lodi, and the Grande Cascade will be
illuminated," cried Antoinette. "It will be superb."

"Yes, do come, it will be charming," said Elsie.

"I need no persuasion," replied Glynn. "I shall be but too happy to
join your party, madame."

During the days which intervened Glynn kept a sharp look-out wherever
he went, both for Deering and Vincent, but in vain; he saw no trace of
either. The weather was variable, and Glynn offered up earnest prayers
for sunshine and blue skies on the eagerly anticipated Wednesday. There
were opportunities for a _tête-à-tête_ in the freedom of a restaurant
dinner which were not to be found within the narrow limits of a private
dwelling.

The fates were propitious. Wednesday broke bright and warm, and most
of the party were assembled when Glynn drove up to the restaurant of
the Grande Cascade. Madame Davilliers was richly attired in crimson
and black brocade, with white plumes in her bonnet; her daughter in
diaphanous dove-color and pink; while Miss Lambert, who was unusually
animated, looked lovely in soft, clear white Indian muslin over
spring-like green, with abundance of delicate lace, and a poetic little
bonnet decorated with violets, which showed the wavy richness of her
golden-brown hair.

She was listening with an amused smile to some remarks of Monsieur
Davilliers, a good-humored looking and rather ponderous man, with a
morsel of red ribbon in his button-hole.

Glynn was warmly greeted by all, including Vincent, who, to his
(Glynn's) annoyance, was amongst the guests, magnificently got up in
the height of fashion, with a heavy emerald ring fastening his necktie,
a brilliant diamond on one little finger, an onyx signet-ring on the
other and a massive gold pencil-case and bunch of charms dangling from
his guard-chain.

"Is it not unfortunate?" said Elsie in a low tone, when Glynn succeeded
in getting near her; "my father cannot return till to-morrow."

"Yes, it is too bad that _he_ cannot come, and that Vincent _can_."

"Do not look so angry," she returned with a smile. "I am sorry too, and
yet I don't know why; he is always very polite and obliging, and seems
to be great friends with my father."

"There are instincts--" began Glynn; but dinner was announced, and he
was directed to escort a brilliant dame, who made a determined attack
upon him, and would not share his attention with any one.

Vincent was placed next Miss Lambert, and appeared to succeed in
entertaining her. Altogether Glynn felt provoked, and by no means
amused, as he had anticipated.

When dinner was over Vincent proposed that they should take their
coffee in the veranda, which was only raised a step above the gardens
in front of the restaurant, and from whence they could see the spray
of the waterfall glittering in the light of the setting sun. This was
readily agreed to, and in the movement which ensued Glynn contrived to
place himself near Elsie.

"What an interminable dinner!" he exclaimed.

"Yet you had a very agreeable neighbor?"

"If a forty horse-power of talk constitutes agreeability, I had. I hope
your father will return to-morrow. It seems such an age since I heard
you sing."

"But I sang to you on Sunday."

"To me? no, to a crowd of strangers, of whom I was one."

"_I_ do not consider you a stranger."

"Thank you; you are infinitely good to say so," gazing into her eyes.
"It is a great additional charm to hear you in your own room, with only
your father and myself for audience. Do you think me selfish for saying
so?"

"No; yet music is music, wherever you hear it."

"_Your_ music is something different from all other," began Glynn,
scarcely able to keep back the imprudent expressions which rushed to
his lips, so delighted was he to have a few words aside with her.

"I hope you will not go away until my father returns," said Elsie, not
seeming to heed his compliment; "he would be sorry to miss you."

"I shall certainly not leave until he returns," said Glynn, feeling
himself in some odd way bound to watch over Elsie in Lambert's absence.
"Don't you think he will come to-morrow?"

"Mr. Vincent seems to think it probable he may be delayed."

"Indeed! Vincent appeared to have a good deal to say for himself at
dinner."

"Yes; he seems to be looking for some one," for Vincent had gone to
the edge of the veranda, and was surveying the various groups standing
or walking about the little lawn in front of the _café_. Presently he
bowed and smiled, saying to Madame Davilliers:

"I see an English friend of mine, apparently alone; have I your
permission to present him to you? He is a man of fashion and
distinction--a Mr. Travers.

"But certainly," cried Madame Davilliers, "any friend of yours, dear
sir----"

Vincent stepped forward, while Glynn felt a thrill of angry
anticipation. In a few minutes he returned, accompanied by--Deering!
Vincent at once presented him to Madame Davilliers, who put on her
most elegant manner to receive so distinguished an addition to her
party; and Elsie's eyes sought Glynn, saying as distinctly as eyes
could say, "You see I was right."

Madame's elegancies were thrown away upon Deering. He understood but
little French, and only bowed with a sort of haughty courtesy to his
smiling hostess.

"Ah, Glynn, you here?" he exclaimed, turning from her to his
compatriot. "I fancied you were at Berlin."

"And _I_ imagined _you_ preparing for the next general election, which
is not far off, I suspect," returned Glynn. "I hope you left Lady
Frances and your boy quite well."

"They are all right," returned Deering, shortly, and even as he spoke
his eyes were rivetted on Miss Lambert with a strange, watchful gaze,
at once admiring and hostile. The color slowly rose in her cheek, and
she looked away in evident embarrassment, while Glynn felt an almost
irresistible impulse to take him by the neck and throw him out of
the circle into which he had intruded. But civilization compelled
them to exchange polite sentences instead of following their natural
tendency--to fly at each other's throats.

"Pray introduce me to your English friends," said Deering to Vincent,
with a certain air of condescension.

"The only English-speaking member of our party besides Mr. Glynn is
this young lady, and I claim her as American. Miss Lambert, allow me to
present Mr. Travers Deering to you."

Glynn noticed that he used both names this time. Was the omission of
one of them at first intentional?

"You must take pity on me, and allow me to sit beside you," said
Deering, in a carefully softened tone; "for, unfortunately, I cannot
speak French, and feel awkward when I am alongside one of our lively
neighbors."

He drew a chair by her as he spoke, laying aside his hat and taking
his place with the easy, well-bred decision of a man perfectly sure of
himself, of his social standing, and his general acceptability. Elsie
gazed at him as if fascinated, and Glynn could not help thinking how
handsome and lordly and thoroughbred he looked, just the style of man
to captivate a girl's imagination.

"Do you know, Miss Lambert, I have some very humble apologies to offer
you for my involuntary rudeness. I can only urge that when I saw you
at the races, I was so struck by your remarkable likeness to a very
charming woman I knew long ago, that I really could not keep my eyes in
order."

"You did not offend me," said Elsie, with a quick little sigh, and
making a slight unconscious movement, as if to draw nearer Glynn. "I am
glad I reminded you of some one you liked."

"I did not say I _liked_ her, though she _was_ charming," returned
Deering, with a searching glance and a somewhat cynical smile.

Elsie did not reply; she looked wonderingly at him out of her great
serious blue eyes, as if at some curious, dangerous creature.

"So I am to consider myself pardoned?" resumed Deering.

"I have nothing to forgive." Then turning to Glynn, she asked, "Do you
think the fireworks will soon begin?"

"Not until it is considerably darker. I suppose we ought to go out to
see them; we shall only have a very narrow view here."

"Yes, we can't possibly stay in this corner," exclaimed Deering,
looking round impatiently.

"Oh, I fancy madame will make a move," said Vincent, who was hovering
about in his character of sponsor to his aristocratic friend.

"I did not know you had so distinguished a circle of French
acquaintances," resumed Deering, addressing Glynn, and glancing with
slightly elevated eyebrows towards Madame Davilliers and her friends.
The glance caught that lady's attention, and induced her to turn the
fire of her conversation upon him. To which Deering replied, with the
assistance of Miss Lambert and Glynn. On her own account Elsie said
very little, and seemed to have lost the brightness that animated her
before and during dinner.

At length the first rocket rushed towards the sky, and burst into a
cluster of many-colored stars, whereupon every one jumped up and made
for the garden, the lawn, the roadway.

"Pray take my arm," said Glynn to Elsie the moment he saw the stampede
beginning. "It may not be easy to keep together in the crowd."

"That is not fair, Glynn," said Deering with a smile. "You appropriate
the only lady who can speak English, and condemn me to silence for the
next hour."

"I am very sorry," said Glynn coolly; "but in Captain Lambert's absence
I consider myself in some degree responsible for his daughter."

"Antoinette speaks a little English," said Elsie, "and will be charmed
to talk to you--I mean Mademoiselle Davilliers," looking towards her.

"Pray do not trouble yourself," returned Deering hastily, "I can exist
for half an hour in an unattached condition; besides, one can always
pick up the crumbs which fall from rich men's tables." This with an
insolent laugh, which grated on Glynn, as did Deering's whole tone; it
conveyed the idea that he was amongst people whom he did not respect
sufficiently to feel any restraint, and, moreover, that he was in a bad
temper.

Elsie did not require a second invitation. Glynn was amused and touched
by the readiness with which she took and almost clung to his arm as
they sallied forth and mixed with the crowd. Deering, true to his
avowed intention of "picking up the crumbs," kept persistently on her
right--her unguarded side--and mastering his ill humor, talked lightly
and easily, every now and then planting a query as to her past life,
the drift of which Glynn thought he perceived.

"Is it North or South America which has the honor of claiming you, Miss
Lambert?"

"Neither; I have never been in America, I was born in Australia."

"Australia! so much for preconceived ideas. I was disposed to swear
that you were English born and bred."

"I have been more in England than anywhere else."

"Indeed! whereabouts, may I ask?"

"Look! what a splendid effect!" exclaimed Glynn, who was not too
pleased at this acquaintance.

"Oh, how lovely!" exclaimed Elsie, her attention quite diverted. A
large star of silvery light had suddenly appeared over the waterfall,
through the spray of which it shone in varied prismatic colors, and
Vincent coming up at the moment to speak to Deering, Glynn managed
dexterously to lose himself and his companion in the crowd, and for a
delicious half-hour had her all to himself.

"It is nearly over," he said at last. "Let us make our way to the
_café_; we were all to assemble there; you are tired, I am sure, and I
am afraid Deering has bored you."

"I never know what being bored means exactly. I did not like speaking
to him at first, but he can make himself very pleasant, and he looks
well. How did he come to know Mr. Vincent? really Mr. Vincent scarcely
seems fit to be his servant."

"That is rather strong," said Glynn, laughing, yet with a sense of
annoyance at her words; "but his acquaintance with Vincent does seem
inexplicable. I wonder if he would ask him to Denham and introduce him
to his wife, Lady Frances?"

"Is Mr. Deering's wife a great lady?"

"Yes, thoroughbred, and I suspect with a thoroughbred's power of
endurance."

"Is she not happy, then?"

"Elsie, my child," cried Madame Davilliers, close beside them, "we are
going to return home. You must go in the carriage with monsieur, Henri
Le Clerc, and Madame Dubois; they await you in the veranda. Antoinette
is speaking English quite well, but ex_cee_dingly well, to M. Dérin. He
is really most distinguished. He ought to learn French."

"I am afraid he is a little too old, madame," said Glynn.

They were soon at the rendezvous: the carriages were ready, and Glynn
having wrapped Elsie's cloak round her, was obliged to let Deering hand
her into the carriage, as he had stationed himself at the door.

"Good-night, Miss Lambert; I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you
soon again,"--with a little ring of triumph in his tone, and she was
whirled away into the soft darkness of the summer night.

"Are you going straight back to your hotel?" said Vincent to Deering,
when Madame Davilliers had driven off.

"Yes; I shall return with Mr. Glynn, if he will allow me," courteously
to the latter, then abruptly to Vincent, "But I shall expect you
to-morrow at 10.30 or eleven. I want to hear more about this wonderful
colt."

"Very well; I will wish you good-evening.--Oh, by the way, Madame
Davilliers' address is 14, Rue de C----, in case you think of honoring
her Friday evenings."

"Thank you; good-evening." Then to Glynn, "Shall we stroll towards the
lakes? It is such a fine night, and we shall find a _fiacre_ nearer
town."

The two men walked on in silence for a few minutes, and then Deering
exclaimed, "One is prepared to pay for tips in racing matters, but not
quite so high a price as associating with such men implies; that is an
awful cad."

"He is; I was infinitely surprised when I saw you appear in the
character of his _protégé_ this evening. How did you come to know him?"

Deering laughed. "How did _you_?--but I forgot,--he is evidently a
popular member of your society. I--I met him in Count Latour's stables,
and found he was well up in sporting, or rather turf, matters. There is
very little _sport_ in them. He told me a thing or two, and may be of
use."

"I did not know you were going in for racing," said Glynn.

"I take a certain interest in it, and I thought you did." He paused,
lit a cigar, and then said abruptly, "Vincent tells me you know Miss
Lambert's father; in fact, that you are frequently his favored guest.
How does it happen that such a girl can be the outcome of a society
of bourgeois and sharpers? You must present me to this father when he
appears; I should prefer your sponsorship to Vincent's."

"Why do you want to know a set of people so completely out of your
line?"

"I have a motive, not a very high one, I confess, but sufficiently
powerful--curiosity. I want to find out something about Miss Lambert's
people and history, for I am certain I knew a relative of hers, many
years ago."

"Well, you had better fall back on your sporting acquaintance for an
introduction, he is much more intimate with Captain Lambert than I am."

"Ha! you refuse to be responsible for me? that's deuced shabby! So he
calls himself captain? He is rather a queer fish, isn't he?"

"That depends on our respective ideas touching queer fish. He is not a
highly-polished, courtly gentleman, but he is not a bad fellow; and he
is devoted to his daughter."

"Indeed! Well, Glynn, I believe you have seen a good deal of the world,
and it is pleasant to find that so much faith in your fellow-creatures
survives the experience."

"Faith is certainly a more agreeable sensation than doubt," returned
Glynn, unmoved. "By the way, I quite forgot I had an engagement this
evening. I am late already; there is a _fiacre_." He hailed it. "Will
you drive with me, Deering?"

"No, thank you; I shall enjoy my weed and a stroll, so good-night. I'll
look you up to-morrow or next day."

"Curiosity," murmured Glynn, as he rolled away towards Paris. "Is it
only curiosity? I wonder who Elsie's mother was? It seems too bad that
any unholy mystery should hang round so sweet and frank a creature";
and recalling the beautiful eyes which had looked up into his with
clear unconsciousness and unhesitating trust Glynn closed his own, and
gave himself up to some delightful though disquieting reflections.

"What infernal bad luck!" thought Deering, as he lit his cigar
viciously. "I did not dream of meeting that fellow. I never reckoned
on such an obstacle. However, cost what it may, I'll get to the bottom
of her parentage and history. If my suspicions are right, I must get
rid of her or bind her to me indissolubly; and the last would be the
pleasanter process. There is a wonderful charm about her, and yet at
times I can catch traces of _him_ too! I wonder who this father of hers
is? I must get at him. I wish I hadn't been obliged to send that cad
Vincent to the right-about so shortly, just to keep up appearances. It
is double distilled bad luck to have that fellow Glynn here. But if he
thinks he is going to make all the running with Miss Lambert, he is
considerably mistaken. She is lovely, so lovely that I almost forgive
her for existing."

       *       *       *       *       *

Glynn waited impatiently for the moment when he could present himself
at Madame Davilliers' weekly reception. The reasons why he must
remain in Paris multiplied. He could not leave Elsie until her father
returned, and then he must stay until he got some clue to Deering's
schemes. That there was mischief brewing he felt convinced. Indeed,
he was inclined to believe that Deering did not intend giving his
real name when Vincent introduced him to Madame Davilliers and her
friends, but perceiving Glynn he had probably changed his intentions,
and telegraphed accordingly to his associate. Still, considering that
Deering bore a fair character, it was highly improbable he would be
guilty of any overt baseness.

On reaching Madame Davilliers', Glynn found about half a dozen
intimates already assembled. Monsieur's _partie_ at whist had been made
up in a small side-room, and in the _salon_ Mademoiselle Antoinette
and Elsie, assisted by the singing-master, were performing a trio.
Glynn waited till this was over to make his bow to the lady of the
house, enjoying from the corner where he had stationed himself an
uninterrupted view of Elsie's face, which had the rapt, far-away look
it always wore when she was singing. How sweet and noble her expression
was. No, he would not leave her, unless he felt sure she was safe and
her father forewarned. The trio ended, young Le Clerc pressed forward
with animated thanks. Then Elsie looked round, as if seeking some one;
when her eyes met Glynn's a bright, happy smile sparkled over her
countenance, and she made a movement as if to go to him. He was soon at
her side.

"You have some pleasant news, I am sure?" he said, as he took her hand.

"I have indeed. My father has returned; he will be here presently, and
he looks so well. He is so refreshed by the sight of the sea that he
says he will take me to Brittany, when it grows too hot in Paris."

"You will enjoy Brittany," said Glynn's voice mechanically, while the
real man was thinking what a heaven it would be were he alone with
her in Brittany, or Buenos Ayres, or Botany Bay, or any other spot on
earth, provided they were together, away from every one else. The next
instant he was reproaching himself for his weakness, his folly.

"I believe the scenery is very fine," Elsie was beginning, when she was
interrupted by the words, "Good-evening, Miss Lambert." Glynn had been
so absorbed in her that he had not observed the approach of Deering,
until he spoke. Elsie turned to him, still composed and smiling,
without any trace of the nervous dread which she had evinced at their
first meeting.

"I am in a strange land here," said Deering, when they had exchanged
greetings, "so I claim your protection; you must be my guide,
philosopher, and friend." He drew a chair forward as he spoke, and
Elsie sat down. "Are you a frequent attendant of these _soirées_,
Glynn?" he asked, after having bestowed a nod on his countryman. "You
are certainly fonder of innocent amusements here than in London!"

"It appears that Paris produces the same effect upon us both," returned
Glynn coolly.

"Monsieur Glynn," said Madame Davilliers, sailing up, "will you
come and speak to my old friend M. Le Colonel Dubois? He is a most
interesting person! He fought at Waterloo in the first year of his
service, and is all the fonder of your nation because they were gallant
foes."

So Glynn was carried off, to his great annoyance, just as Deering took
a seat beside Elsie, and seemed to settle himself for a long talk.

M. Le Colonel Dubois did not find the most attentive listener in
Glynn, and was not sorry when the host came to pay his compliments to
the octogenarian, and permitted his English guest to escape. Glynn
strolled into the next room, and found Miss Lambert still conversing
with Deering, with an air of interest too that surprised him. He did
not attempt to interrupt them, but stood watching an opportunity of
begging Madame Davilliers to ask Miss Lambert for another song. From
his position near the _portières_ between the two rooms he could see
the door leading to the vestibule. While he looked it opened, and
Lambert came in--Lambert in a gorgeous-colored waistcoat and a bright
necktie, for evening dress was not indispensable at Madame Davilliers'
receptions. There was a joyous twinkle in his eye, an irrepressible
air of success in his bearing. He saluted madame with much warmth,
and then looked round the room as if seeking his "Jewel." Suddenly
an extraordinary change passed over his face. The laughing, joyous,
humorous look vanished, and was replaced by a fierce, startled, angry
glare, like a wild creature suddenly roused to apprehension and
defiance, as if through the thin, smooth coating of lately acquired
domesticity, the savage nature of the untamed desperado had broken
forth all the more vehemently for its temporary slumber. Glynn saw that
his eyes were fixed on Deering, who was smiling and bending forward as
he spoke to Elsie. She did not heed him, for she had caught sight of
her father, and Deering, struck by her expression, turned to see what
had attracted her. Then his face changed too, his jaw closed with a
look of rigid determination, his steel-blue eyes lit up with a flash of
angry recognition. By an involuntary impulse Glynn started forward to
greet Lambert with a vague intention to assist him in recovering his
self-control--to aid Elsie's father in any way he could.

"Glynn," said Lambert, gripping his hand hard, "who--who is that
man--sitting there--by my--daughter?"

"He is Deering of Denham. Do you object to him?"

"No, why should I? Only I knew a Deering once--not a clean potato by
any means! This may not be the same--Ah, Elsie, my child! Come here,
keep by me."

"What is the matter, dear? You are not like yourself," she exclaimed,
as she came up and passed her arm through his.

"Not like myself! you are wrong there." Then with a sort of effort he
went straight up to Deering and said audibly in English, "We have met
before, sir, have we not?"

Deering, who was considerably the taller, looked down on him from the
ineffable heights of his social superiority, and replied deliberately,

"I have certainly had the pleasure of your acquaintance some years ago."

Then they stood silent, eye to eye--silent, yet exchanging deadly
defiance. Deering, the most self-possessed of the two, was the first to
speak.

"I fancy we have seen some changes since we met. Paris is not a bad
place to anchor in after a wandering life, especially when one has so
charming a companion as--Miss Lambert," adding the name after a slight
pause.

"How do you know my daughter?" abruptly.

"Your friend, Mr. Vincent, was good enough to present me," said Deering
calmly, with some emphasis on the name.

"My father seems to have found another acquaintance," said Elsie to
Glynn. "It is curious."

Glynn scarce knew what to say. It was probable that Deering had known
Lambert by some other name, known him under more doubtful circumstances
than even he (Glynn) had. The idea stung him with a sense of angry
pain. Deering was the last man to be trusted with such knowledge.

"Mr. Deering has been telling me about the lady of whom I remind him,"
resumed Miss Lambert. "She must have been very sweet and very charming,
but most unhappy; her husband was murdered. I was quite interested, but
I hope the likeness is not an evil omen."

"Impossible," cried Glynn. "Do not think of omens. Here comes Madame
Davilliers to ask you to sing; pray do not refuse."

While he spoke with Miss Lambert, Glynn noticed that her father and
Deering exchanged a few sentences in a low tone, and that Lambert,
although he had completely mastered his temporary disturbance, had by
no means recovered his spirits. A look of care and thought clouded his
brow, though he spoke with some animation to one or two acquaintances.
Deering on the contrary looked supremely calm, with something of
exultation in his cold, light eyes.

"Miss Lambert sings well," he said. "I am no great judge of music, nor
do I care for it, yet I should imagine that such a voice, such a style,
ought to be worth a good deal of money."

"I don't intend her to sell her songs," said Lambert, roughly. "And
now, Madame Davilliers, I'll wish you good-night. I'm a bit tired
after my journey. Elsie, get on your hat. I'll take her home with me
to-night, madame, with a thousand thanks for your good care."

Elsie rose from the piano, and cast an anxious look on her father. Then
she gave her hand to Glynn, bowed to Deering, presented her brow to
madame's kiss, and slipping her arm through Antoinette's, left the room.

"Let me see you soon," said Lambert to Glynn. "You do not return to
London just yet?"

"Not this week, at least."

"Suppose you breakfast with me to-morrow, Captain Lambert," said
Deering. "We'll smoke the pipe of peace, and talk over our adventures
by flood and field."

"Thank you," shortly, "I never breakfast away from home."

"Oh, indeed! Then I shall call on _you_, and pay my respects to Miss
Lambert at the same time," returned Deering in a tone of imperturbable
good breeding.

Lambert, who was making his adieux to Madame Davilliers, did not seem
to hear, but before he reached the door he turned quickly back, and
said in a constrained tone to Deering:

"I cannot breakfast with you, but I will call at your hotel to-morrow
morning at 10.30."

"That is wiser," said Deering, with quiet superiority.

Glynn was greatly struck by the significance of these words. What hold
had Deering over the wandering adventurer, who seemed as far removed
from the haughty English gentleman as the east is from the west?

He walked home revolving this question and others. Every day increased
the fascination which Lambert's daughter unconsciously exercised over
him; every day showed more and more clearly the unsuitability, nay,
from a common-sense point of view, the impossibility of allying himself
with so doubtful a character as poor Lambert.

On reaching his hotel, the _concierge_ handed him several letters, and
when safe within his own room he opened them. One proved to be from his
firm on business which compelled his immediate return to London.

He had seldom been so annoyed and irritated as by this unavoidable
necessity to quit the scene of the mysterious drama which interested
him so intensely. He might be prudent enough, mean enough, to shrink
from linking himself for life with a creature who was probably too good
for him, but he would not desert Lambert in a difficulty. He would
return as soon as possible and see him clear of Deering. Seizing his
pen he wrote a hasty line to the effect that he was obliged to run
over to London for a week, but would return without fail, adding his
private address. When this had been sealed, stamped, and directed to
Lambert, he rang and ordered his bill and a very early cup of coffee
next morning.

"The first train for Calais leaves at seven in the morning," said the
waiter. "There is an earlier one about five, I think, by the Dieppe
route, but you gain no time, for the _trajet_ is longer."

"Of course I will go by Calais," returned Glynn. "Do not fail to call
me in good time."



CHAPTER IV.

A LAST CARD.


The first few days after Glynn's return to London were so crowded by
important engagements and serious consultations with the elder members
of his firm as to the advisability of a new and important undertaking,
to which Glynn was entirely opposed, that he had no time for deliberate
thought respecting Lambert and his mysterious acquaintance with
Deering. Yet the subject was never quite out of his mind. A vague
unreasonable anxiety about Elsie haunted him, and he was strangely
eager to return to Paris.

The earliest spare moment he could find was devoted to Lady Gethin.

She was out when he called, but next morning's post brought him a
pressing invitation to dinner, of which he gladly availed himself. He
would have liked to take counsel with the shrewd old woman, and yet he
did not think it loyal to Lambert, who evidently trusted him, to be too
confidential.

Her hospitable ladyship, however, was not alone. A small, pleasant
party, some writers of light literature, a traveller, a smart
grass-widow from India, a clever barrister, and his pretty,
accomplished daughter, to whom Glynn was already known, were assembled
when he arrived, and dinner was a feast of good things in more
senses than one. Afterwards there was music. The grass-widow played
brilliantly, the pretty young lady sang very nicely, had a sweet
voice, and had been well trained. But Glynn could only think of the
contrast between her singing and Miss Lambert's; of the mellow, tender
richness of the latter's notes, which seemed to come from the heart to
the heart, compared with the lighter though pleasant _timbre_ of the
other,--the sweet, simple earnestness of the one, and the easy smiling
surface, good breeding of the cultivated London girl.

"Don't leave till the others have gone," whispered Lady Gethin, as she
passed him when following her lady guests from the dining-room.

It was the height of the season, every one had more engagements than
they could well manage; the party therefore broke up early, its members
dispersing to balls, concerts, or receptions.

"Now then, have a little iced seltzer and cognac, it is quite warm this
evening," said Lady Gethin; "and let us have a long talk--that letter
of yours whetted my curiosity. What in the world has kept you away so
long? every one has been asking for you!"

"Partly business, and partly curiosity."

"What about?"

"I will tell you presently. Have you seen Lady Frances Deering lately?"

"I saw her about ten days ago; she has gone down to Denham, and Deering
is off to Vichy--liver or something wrong, but he didn't look as if he
had much the matter with him."

"Vichy? He is not at Vichy! I saw him in Paris the night before I left."

"Well, I suppose he must pass through Paris, but you mean something
more; where, and how did you see him?"

"I saw him saying good-night to the young lady with whom he was struck
at Auteuil, and whom I think I mentioned to you."

"You don't say so! That's the liver complaint, is it? and the drama
into the bargain. Come now, Hugh, do be candid, and do not worry me
with any attempt to heighten effect. What do you know? What have you
seen? What do you suspect?"

"These are tremendously leading questions!"

"Well, I want to get at your drama as soon as possible."

"Then, I shall answer categorically. I know nothing. I have seen very
little. I suspect everything."

"What a sphinx-like reply. Just go on your own way, and tell me
everything you _will_ tell, for I have an idea you will make
reservations."

Whereupon Glynn described his meeting with Elsie and her father,
not omitting Vincent, the curious contrast between Lambert and his
daughter, the reappearance of Deering on the scene, his incongruous
acquaintance with Vincent and Lambert, and the evident astonishment
of each on recognizing the other. He only suppressed or softened the
circumstances under which he had known Lambert, and the fact that he
had changed his name. When he ceased, Lady Gethin, who had listened
with profound attention, exclaimed:

"A very pretty mystery, upon my word. That Deering is a fiend! He knows
something against Lambert, and is going to use his knowledge to help
him with the daughter. I never liked Deering. He is a smooth-tongued,
sneering hypocrite, and has many queer corners in his life, or I am
much mistaken."

"I never heard anything against him, indeed he is rather liked among
men. Even now I scarcely think he can be capable of any evil designs
against a girl like Miss Lambert. What struck me at first, was the sort
of fierce uneasy curiosity he displayed concerning her. He certainly
admires her very much."

"So does some one else," returned Lady Gethin, with a knowing nod.
"I trust and hope that the beautiful eyes, and lovely voice, and
attractive mystery, will not draw _you_ into making a fool of yourself."

"But, Lady Gethin!" cried Glynn, amazed at her penetration and quite
unconscious how much he had betrayed, "you do not imagine that at
my age I should be so weak as to be drawn into an entanglement,--a
marriage, of which my judgment disapproves."

"I wouldn't give five minutes' purchase for your judgment, Hugh.
You are just at the age when, if men are slower in igniting, they
burn with a more intense and lasting fire. The frothiness of
your enthusiasm may have evaporated, but the warm, strong spirit
remains. Take care of yourself, Hugh; connection with such a man as
you describe Lambert (and I fancy you have made the best of him)
would be a frightful calamity,--no eyes, voice, or angelic nature
could make up for it. You'd soon find that out. There is a certain
degree of disenchantment in marriage, even under the most favorable
circumstances. Take my advice, don't go back to Paris, let them manage
their mystery themselves. You will be let in for something unpleasant
and risky--don't go back."

"Oh, I must go back! I promised Lambert I would; besides, I want to
see the play out; and you alarm yourself unnecessarily. I admire Miss
Lambert, I think her as good as she is charming; but I am as averse to
a marriage with her as you can be. Moreover, I have a safeguard in her
indifference, for she treats me with frank confidence as her father's
old friend, nothing more."

"This is worse and worse," said Lady Gethin, gravely. "How do you know
what profound tenderness her indifferent airs may mask?"

"Do you think I have never looked into any eyes, nor learned their
language, before I saw Miss Lambert's, that I should be so mistaken?"
asked Glynn, laughing.

"Oh, I dare say you are learned enough in such matters. Pray be guided
by me, put the Parisian episode out of your head, and make up your mind
to marry that nice piquant little daughter of Pearson's. I asked them
on purpose to meet you. He will give her ten thousand pounds, and he is
a rising man; he will be on the bench in a year or two; they are people
of good family."

"My dear Lady Gethin! I don't want to marry any one, and so I will bid
you good-night. A thousand thanks for your good advice."

"Which of course you will _not_ follow! Well, keep me informed of what
goes on. I wish _I_ could see all your people, I think I should find a
key to the riddle. I never liked Deering."

"I have no doubt you could read between the lines. As to Deering, now
that I am away from him, I am half ashamed of my suspicions. It is
rather absurd to imagine that a man of his standing would risk his
reputation for a passing whim."

"But he doesn't risk it," said Lady Gethin. "He is not infringing any
social law in England; unknown, doubtful Americans, neither rich nor
highly-placed, are beyond the pale. If that Lambert had any sense, he
would give his daughter a little money and marry her to some solid
_bourgeois_. He could easily arrange it, I fancy."

"Well, good-night," said Glynn, with an odd feeling of irritation. "I
shall call and see you before I leave, and do not hesitate to give me
any commission--my taste in gloves and even in ribbons is not to be
despised."

"Take care," was her valediction.

The next day brought Glynn a few lines from Lambert, which struck him
as expressing more uneasiness than was intended.

"I have no right to ask you to return if it does not suit you," he
wrote, "but I hope you will. I feel in need of your counsel. I have had
wonderful luck for years, and now I'm afraid it's turning. Then I am
not as young or as strong as I used to be; and one way or another it
would cheer me up a bit to have a talk with you."

Had Glynn had any hesitation as to revisiting Paris this letter would
have decided him. He sent a few lines in reply, and then applied
himself steadily to clear up all business engagements as far as
possible, to secure a long holiday.

He called on Deering at his club, and was told that gentleman was
travelling abroad, and that letters addressed to his town house would
be forwarded. Lady Gethin was not at home to receive his adieux, but
wrote him a quaint characteristic line of warning.

Having performed all his duties, Glynn found himself in the mail
train for Calais one evening about a fortnight after he had left
Paris, with an irrepressible sense of exultation, of keen delight at
the idea of returning to what he knew in his heart was a scene of
danger, determined to enjoy to the uttermost the pleasure of Elsie's
companionship, so long as he saw no sign of consciousness on her part.
Life had so few moments of bliss that he could not and would not deny
himself the draught that chance had offered.

It was a damp, drizzling morning when he reached his journey's end.
Perhaps no town changes so much with change of weather as Paris; muddy
streets, wet umbrellas, heavy grey clouds disguise it completely,
and give it the aspect of a beautiful coquette, in deshabille and a
bad temper. As early as etiquette would permit Glynn took his way to
the Rue de L'Evêque, hoping to find Lambert, as he could not expect
to gather any information from Elsie. Hailing a _fiacre_, he told
the driver where to go, and smiled to himself at the notion of Lady
Gethin's alarm, thinking that if she knew how fast his heart was
beating she would resign all hope of saving him. As he approached
the house Glynn saw that his driver had either forgotten or mistaken
the number, and was driving past it. He had just started forward to
stop him when he saw two men come out of the entrance, and turning
their backs on his conveyance, walk smartly down the street in close
conversation. They were Deering and Vincent. A quick thrill of pain, of
anticipated evil, shot through him as he recognized them. He feared he
knew not what. But above and beyond all reasoning, he felt that their
companionship, their presence, were omens of trouble and of wrong.

"Stop where you are, I will descend here," he called to the driver,
and was soon springing up the familiar stairs. How vividly the perfume
of the orange blossoms reminded him of the surprised admiration which
Elsie and her home had excited on his first visit.

"Oh! it is you, monsieur!" cried Celestine, directly she opened
the door; "I will tell Madame Weber, and I am sure mademoiselle
will receive _you_." She went into the _salon_, and returned almost
immediately. "Enter, monsieur, but enter; mademoiselle will be pleased
to see you."

Miss Lambert was alone when Glynn found himself in her presence, and
sitting at a writing-table; she rose quickly, and came forward, with
outstretched hands, "I am so glad you have come." Glynn did not speak
immediately--he was surprised at the intensity of his own delight on
finding himself once more beside her, listening to her voice, holding
her hand, gazing into her eyes. He did not know he was so far gone. She
looked paler, thinner, graver, than when he last saw her. She wore a
black dress, and had a small scarf of delicate lace tied loosely round
her throat. Her bright brown hair looked golden even in the dull light
of a grey day, and there was something sad in her pose and expression
that Glynn found infinitely touching.

"You knew I should return--at least your father did," he said at length.

"My father did expect you; but I--I thought it likely that when you
were amongst your own friends, your own people, you would not care to
leave them."

"I am afraid that you are not so well as when I left," said Glynn,
drawing a chair near her writing-table, at which she had reseated
herself. "It is perhaps impertinent to say that you are not looking as
well, as brilliant as you were."

"Brilliant," she repeated, with a brief sweet laugh. "That I never
could be; but you are right, I am ill,--ill at ease, I mean. My father.
Ah!--he is so changed! And he is angry if I notice it; but he is very
unhappy, I know he is. That is why I am so glad you have come; he can
speak to you, he _may_ speak to you. You may be able to help him; but
_I_ am only a helpless, ignorant girl. Yet I could do much if I were
directed."

"I should be most happy to be of any use to Captain Lambert," said
Glynn. "No doubt your affectionate anxiety inclines you to exaggerate,
but----"

"When you see him you will understand," interrupted Elsie, "you will
see that I do not exaggerate. He will not tell _me_ what has happened.
He says he has not lost his fortune. I should not care if he had, for
I could earn money by singing, though not on the stage. However, my
knowing would not help him, because I have always been shut up and am
so ignorant. You do not mind me telling you all this, do you? Though I
have not known you long, my father has, and--and--you seem like a real
friend to him."

She looked full in his face, her great soft eyes all suffused with
tears--like violets laden with dew.

"I am gratified that you confide in me, so far," said Glynn quietly,
with laudable self-control. "I shall observe your father by the light
of your remarks; and if he is really in any difficulty, or cares to
consult me, I shall be most happy to assist him so far as I can.
Probably his depression arises from some temporary losses. Believe
me," and his dark face lit up with a pleasant smile, "money is a most
important factor in existence; I am able to assert from experience that
there is no vacuum so distressing as an empty pocket."

"If it is the loss of money," she returned gravely, "we ought not to
stay here; life is very costly, I know; I have paid everything for the
last eight months. My dear father is too generous; we ought to manage
as we used when he was trying to save; he might move about as his
business required, and I could go back to good Mrs. Kellett."

"Who is Mrs. Kellett?"

"My foster-mother; the only mother I have ever known: she lost her baby
and her husband, and took me to love instead, at the time our place
was destroyed in Australia. But, Mr. Glynn, it is more than money that
disturbs my father."

"Let us hope he will speak openly to me; but I have no right to ask his
confidence. Now you must not worry yourself unnecessarily. I wish it
were a finer day, and I should try to persuade you and Madame Weber to
come for a drive in the _bois_."

"Thank you, very much; I should have liked it, for I have gone out very
little of late; but Madame Weber is not in the house, she went to the
Halle this morning early to buy fruit, and has not returned yet."

"Then you have been dull as well as troubled. How is Madame Davilliers,
and Mademoiselle Antoinette?" asked Glynn, making a circuitous approach
to the topic uppermost in his mind.

"They are very well, and very busy. Antoinette is going to be married
in August to M. Le Vicomte de Pontigny; it has been all arranged since
you left. I should have less to regret, therefore, in leaving Paris,
for Antoinette is going to travel for some time, and when she returns
it will not be the same."

"This seems to have been a rapid act?"

"I dare say Monsieur Davilliers and the Vicomte had begun the treaty
long ago," said Elsie, laughing; "but _we_ only heard of the intended
marriage three or four days ago."

"And Deering, he is still here?" looking keenly at her.

"Yes"; all her gravity returning. "He called this morning just before
you came; I did not see him, for, it is very extraordinary, my father
has turned against Mr. Vincent, who is always with Mr. Deering; that I
do not mind; but though he says less about it, I think he is quite as
distrustful of Mr. Deering. Now _I_ have got over my first foolish fear
of him; he is so gentle and polite, and seems to want to be friends
with my father. I do not understand it all; but I never dispute what my
dear father says. He knows more of life than I can possibly do. Yet
I want very much to hear all about the lady Mr. Deering thinks me so
like. He promised to tell me when he knew me better. Everything seems
so changed since our pleasant dinner at the Café de Madrid, not two
months ago."

"Such days and dinners do not come often," said Glynn, with a quick
sigh. "I hope all this worry does not prevent you singing as much as
you used?"

"Oh, no! it is the only pleasure I have."

"Is it too presumptuous of me to ask for a song now?"

Elsie did not answer for a moment; she put her elbows on the table,
clasped her hands together, and resting her cheek on her interlaced
fingers, said very slowly, "No; I could not sing to-day, I should break
down--the tears would come--I had better not try."

"Then I will not ask you;--but tell me, when shall I see your father?"

"He will certainly call upon you. I am not sure if he will return to
dinner, or I would beg you to dine with us."

"Thank you; we will reserve that pleasure for future arrangement. I am
staying as usual at the hotel Wagram, and have letters to write which
will keep me in till past eleven to-morrow, should Captain Lambert feel
disposed to call."

"I will tell him," said Elsie.

Then Glynn knew he ought to go; but he could not tear himself away
immediately. It was so charming, this quiet confidential talk; so
intoxicating to see that her pale, anxious face had brightened
considerably; certainly her composure, in the midst of her depression
and uneasiness, left no room for any flattering conviction that he had
impressed himself upon her heart or imagination. So far all was right;
she treated him as a friend, an honorable gentleman, in whom she might
trust, and nothing more.

A little further talk of the books Glynn had left with her, of her wish
to leave Paris, and revisit the farmhouse, where most of her childish
days had been spent, and Glynn felt he must not stay longer.

"Shall you make any stay?" she asked, as she gave him her hand at
parting.

"A week or two, perhaps a month; I am not sure."

"Then good-morning--_au revoir_."

The rest of the day was strange and dream-like. He wandered through
well-known places, seeking acquaintance to draw him from the puzzle of
his own thoughts, and finding none, till towards six o'clock, passing
Tortoni's, he found himself face to face with Deering, who was seated
at one of the little round tables eating an ice.

"Hullo, Glynn! I thought you were in London?"

"Well, you see I am in Paris."

"When did you arrive?"

"This morning."

A little ordinary talk ensued, the tone of which showed a strong
desire on the part of Deering to be civil and friendly. Glynn at
once determined to accept his advances; he might thus detect some
indications of the secret which underlay his acquaintance with Lambert,
and the curious influence he seemed to have exercised over him. He
could not, however, bring himself to accept his invitation to dinner,
though he agreed to dine with him at one of the luxurious _cafés_ which
abound in the great capital of pleasure.

Deering talked well, of many things, chiefly political; he also
mentioned his wife and home, pressing Glynn to come down to Denham for
the twelfth of August, promising him good sport.

It was not till they had risen from table, and were lighting their
cigars previous to separating, that Deering made any mention of the
subject probably uppermost in both their minds.

"Of course you have not seen anything of Lambert?"

"No, not yet."

"He is a queer fish--a very shady member. I knew him under another
name, and rather doubtful circumstances; I am afraid he is not in a
very sound financial position; he is a thorough adventurer. It is a bad
business for the daughter; she is a very nice creature. I wonder where
he picked her up, for one can't believe she really _is_ his daughter?"

"There is not much family likeness between them; certainly; but I see
no reason for doubting his representations. He is evidently devoted to
her, and his surroundings are perfectly respectable."

"Perfectly. Where did you meet him?"

"In America, many years ago."

"Indeed! Oh, are you going? Well, good-night."

       *       *       *       *       *

Hugh Glynn was careful to stay in his room all the next morning,
thinking that if Lambert wished to make any private communication, they
were more secure from interruption there than elsewhere.

It was barely eleven when Lambert was announced. Glynn was positively
startled by the change in his aspect. His weather-beaten face was
colorless and haggard, his eyes had a hunted look, as though seeking a
way of escape, his clothes were carelessly put on, his moustaches no
longer waxed and fiercely twisted, his whole air bespoke neglect.

"Delighted to see you, Glynn," he said, a faint gleam of pleasure
lighting up his restless eyes. "I was afraid you wouldn't get back
again this season; business must be attended to. You're in business,
aren't you?"

"Yes, but I can attend to it sometimes at a distance."

"That's fortunate; and you have been all right?"

"Yes; quite right, thank you."

There was an awkward pause. Lambert seemed unable to approach the
matter, whatever it might be, which filled his mind; he took up a
paper-knife, which he turned restlessly to and fro, he changed his
position, and then, with a sigh, exclaimed, "You saw Elsie yesterday.
She was glad you called, but she is not very bright. You didn't think
her looking well, hey?"

"Not as well as usual, certainly."

"No; she is fretting--fretting about her old dad. It's wonderful how
that creature loves me. _Me!_--sometimes when she is hanging about me,
and singing the songs I like, and making a servant of herself for me, I
just look back and think of the scenes I've gone through, and the queer
scramble my life has been, and wonder how the dickens it happens that
an angel like her can be so fond of an old scapegrace; that she doesn't
shrink from me; but she doesn't," with infinite exultation, "she loves
me, sir, as well as ever child loved father!"

"Of that I can have no doubt," cried Glynn. "And your affection for her
deserves it."

"She has made another man of me," continued Lambert. "But though I have
not been a regular saint all my days, I am as white as driven snow
compared to some blackguards that hold up their heads in high places. I
am rambling on like an idiot. I called to ask if you'll come and dine
with us to-night. It cheers me up to see an honest face."

Glynn accepted the invitation readily, and after a pause, during which
he drummed on the table, Lambert recommenced.

"I have not had a good time of it since you were away, Glynn. I have
been on the brink of ruin through the treachery of a man I thought
a friend. But I hope to get over it. I think I'll get over it, and
whatever happens, Elsie's little fortune is out of harm's way. I made
sure of that. She need never starve."

"Very prudent and proper," returned Glynn. "But I earnestly hope you
will escape the loss you mention. Been bitten by a bubble company?"

"No! It's a long story; I'll tell it to you some day, and you'll judge
for yourself; but not now, not now. Ah! you are a bright chap, Glynn,
strong and steady. If you had a little capital, now, you'd get along
first rate." He rose as he spoke and took a turn up and down.

Glynn did not answer his conjectures as to his--Glynn's--financial
position; he felt terribly disappointed that Lambert had made no
confession of tangible difficulties, and yet he was brimful of some
trouble which he could not bring himself to confess. Lambert resumed
his seat, and began talking in a rambling fashion of ordinary topics;
but his thoughts were evidently elsewhere, and at length he went
away, leaving a most painful impression on Glynn's mind, of profound
despondency, of mental disquietude which he could not or would not
express.

At dinner, some hours later, he either was more cheerful, or assumed
a livelier aspect for his daughter's benefit. She seemed to accept
the improvement as real, and the evening went quickly. With the help
of music and conversation, Lambert, towards the end, seemed to forget
his troubles and was more like himself. At parting Elsie gave Glynn an
eloquent glance expressive of thanks, of mutual understanding, which
sent him away charmed, restless,--longing for their next interview,
yet full of dread for the future.

The next day as he was leaving his hotel he ran against Deering, who
was coming in. "I am off to Vichy to-day," he said. "I thought I should
just let you know. I ought to have gone a week ago, but I met some
people that amused me; Lady Harriett Beauchamp and Wedderburn--you know
them, I suppose? Shall I find you here when I return?"

"That depends on the length of your visit."

"Oh, about a fortnight."

"I shall hardly stay so long."

"Good-bye, then. Don't forget Denham in August. Lady Frances will be
delighted to see you."

       *       *       *       *       *

The very atmosphere seemed lighter and brighter to Glynn when Deering
was safe away. Lambert was visibly relieved, and his daughter reflected
her father's mood. Things went on much as before. Madame Davilliers'
Fridays were more crowded and varied. They made little excursions
to Sèvre, and to the beautiful woods of Mendan; sometimes with the
Davilliers, sometimes only a quartet--Lambert, Elsie, Madame Weber, and
Glynn.

These were delightful days. The quiet harmony of the present made Glynn
regardless of the future. It was wonderfully interesting to draw Elsie
from the observant silence which was habitual to her into sympathetic
talk. There was always something to discover in her, something to win,
of confidence, of self-revelation, and she was so teachable, with all
her honest clinging to the conclusions of her own clear sense.

There were moments when his hesitation disappeared, and Glynn was
almost resolved to make her his wife if she would have him; but that
vague cloud of mystery was a bad accompaniment for married life.

The only discordant ingredient in this happy interlude was the
occasional intrusion of Vincent, to whom Lambert showed a curious
ceremonious politeness, dashed at times with epigrammatic bitterness,
of which the dandified American took no notice. Elsie, on the contrary,
was more friendly to him than formerly.

It was about ten days after Glynn's return, and he was debating in
his own mind the prudence and advisability of a retreat while he had
still some command of his own will. Dinner was over in Lambert's pretty
_salle à manger_. Elsie had left her father and his friend to talk and
smoke for the lazy, comfortable half-hour which succeeds the evening
meal.

"Miss Lambert is looking quite herself again," said Glynn, his
imagination too full of her to resist speech.

"She is," returned her father. "That is because I am brighter; but I am
not out of the wood yet--not yet." He was silent for a moment or two,
puffing vigorously while he thought. "Ay!--many an anxious thought she
costs me. I'd give a good deal--all I possess, life itself, to know she
was safe and in better hands than mine. Glynn, I am going to prove the
confidence I have in you. We are men of the world, and can talk to
each other without fear of misunderstanding."

"It's coming at last," thought Glynn. "You may be sure that anything
you like to tell is safe with me," he said aloud.

"I know it." He rose, lifted the curtain which hung across the doorway
leading to Elsie's little study, assured himself it was unoccupied and
the outer door shut. Then he resumed his seat, and placing his arms on
the table leant towards Glynn, and began in a low voice, which, as he
plunged deeper into his subject, grew clearer and louder. "Look here,
now, I don't see why, when I am in Rome, I shouldn't do as Rome does.
I know you'll meet me in my own spirit. If you like what I am going to
propose, well and good; if not, there's no harm done. First of all I
suppose I am right in concluding you are not married--that you are free
and independent?"

"I am," said Glynn, greatly surprised.

"Then what do you say to settling yourself? You are old enough. You are
six or seven-and-thirty, I guess. Now, if you are so disposed, I'd die
happy if I saw you married to my Elsie!"

Glynn started at this bold proposition; yet gazing at the eager eyes,
the earnest face, the slight nervous twitch in the lips which had just
uttered it, he felt strangely moved.

"Don't answer all at once," continued Lambert; "I calculate there's a
goodish bit more to be said on the subject. I know this sort of thing
isn't our fashion, but I am too uneasy about--ah! about the future,
to wait for the chance of my jewel meeting the right man, and life is
uncertain--mine especially. I wouldn't give her to you empty-handed,
either."

"Why, Lambert, you take my breath away! In the first place I don't
fancy Miss Lambert ever wasted a thought on me, except as to how far I
might be of use to you."

"I know that; I am sure of it. If I thought she was in love with you
I don't think I could speak out like this. No, love hasn't come into
her heart yet, and you are too much a high-minded gentleman to try and
rouse it; but she could love well; and look here, I have saved up and
invested nearly five thousand pounds--I'll make it five full--that
would be a nice lift to whatever business you are in. You see how I
trust you. I don't care if you have a struggle; Elsie is no foolish,
extravagant doll."

"Pray hear me," interrupted Glynn with difficulty; "so charming a
creature as your daughter, wants no makeweight to recommend her; she
would be a treasure in herself to any man of taste and feeling. But I
do not wish or intend to marry for a considerable time to come," he
continued, with increasing firmness, quite determined not to yield to
the suggestion of another what he denied to the passionate craving
of his own heart. "As you say, we are men of the world, and can
discuss such a question coolly and fairly without, on my part, the
smallest infringement of the warm respect and regard I feel for Miss
Lambert. There are circumstances--reasons on which it is unnecessary
to dilate--which forbid my entertaining your flattering and attractive
proposition."

"Suppose I guess what they are," said Lambert, eagerly rolling up a
cigarette, and scattering the shreds of tobacco as he did so. "You're
a bit of a swell, I calculate; you are among a desperate respectable
set of city bosses. Hear me now; I'm not thin-skinned. I know I'm not
the sort that would go down with them, and you know I was a queer lot
once. Well, if you take my Elsie, I'll go right away; I'll never ask
to trouble you or her. What matter what becomes of _me_ if she is
safe?--oh, God! safe with an honorable, kind man, who would give her
a peaceful home. Ay, Elsie, I love you well enough never to ask to see
your sweet face if I could earn peace and security for you!"

"And do you think she would love a husband who could part her from such
a father as you are?" asked Glynn, deeply touched.

"But she should never know,"--eagerly: "I'd just go away on business,
and stay away, and she'd forget; she would always have a kind thought
for me, but the new love would fill her heart; and if you tried
to win her she'd love you. I am sure she would! Now, can't it be,
Glynn?--can't it?"

"No. It is with deepest reluctance I say it. If I can in any way serve
you or her, command me; but unfortunately for myself this cannot be."

There was a short expressive silence; then Lambert said in an altered
voice, "Anyhow, there is no harm done; I am sure you've some good
reason, and we'll not be the worse friends because we can be nothing
nearer."

"Certainly not; and for my part I have a higher esteem for you than
I ever had before. I trust, however, that you have no serious cause
for uneasiness about your daughter. If her little fortune is secured,
these are too prosaic times for daring and villainous lovers, murderous
conspirators, or other dramatic dangers."

"Ay, civilization is just deep enough to hide the devils that work
underneath it. I had one or two things to tell a son-in-law that,
maybe, I had better keep to myself now."

"I sincerely hope you will not look on me as the less warm a friend
because I cannot unfortunately fall in with your views; you do not wish
me to absent myself?"

"Far from it," interrupted Lambert; "be true to me--be true to her;
maybe by and by you'll have a good wife that might befriend my girl;
she has no one in the world belonging to her but myself, and I begin to
fear I am a broken reed."

"My marriage is a remote contingency," said Glynn. "Were you in London,
I could introduce Miss Lambert to a somewhat peculiar but kind-hearted
woman, a connection of mine, who would most probably be interested in
her,--I was going to say charmed with her, only it is hard to answer
for the impression one woman may make upon another."

"Everything is hard," remarked Lambert moodily, and as if to himself.
"Well, let us forget this fruitless palaver, and be as we were. I am
quite sure you are ready to do me a good turn if you can--if--Ah! I
hear Elsie singing. Come along, let us forget our troubles for a bit
over a game of baccarat."

But Glynn did not attend to his cards, his head was in a whirl. He
was infinitely touched by the unconsciousness of the songstress, who
received them with the soft composure peculiar to her, which had in
it so much womanly dignity. How little she dreamed that the man who
thrilled at her touch, who drank in the tones of her voice greedily,
had refused to share his life with her--had rejected the chance of
winning her, for Glynn acknowledged there was a "con" as well as a
"pro" in the case. He had survived the age at which men think they have
but to ask and they must receive.

"Oh! Mr. Glynn," said Elsie, suddenly turning to him, "Madame
Davilliers begs you to take a ticket for a ball which is to be given at
the Louvre Hotel, for the benefit of an orphanage under the direction
of sisters of St. Vincent de Paul. Madame is one of the committee."

"I shall be very happy. Are you going?"

"Yes; that is, if my father can spare me." She rose as she spoke
and turned towards Lambert, who was sitting in an attitude of deep
dejection, his cards lying on the table beside him.

"Dearest," said Elsie, stealing to his side, and laying her cool white
hand on his brow, "does your head ache?"

"No, no, not much"; then with a sudden impulse, "You love your dad
then, though he _is_ a rugged old cuss?"

Elsie smiled, an exquisitely tender smile. "So well, that nothing and
no one could make up for the want of him."

Glynn was struck with her words. Could she by any possibility have
overheard her father's proposal, and his refusal? Such an idea was
appalling. But no, it was quite impossible.



CHAPTER V.

VANISHED.


Glynn was far from being satisfied with his own decision. Of course
the mere fact of having any woman offered to him is enough to make an
Englishman reject her, were she an amalgamation of the Blessed Virgin,
Florence Nightingale, Venus, and Psyche in one. That he should decline
Lambert's suggestion was right enough, though the evident singleness
of purpose, the intense fatherly feeling which prompted him, took from
his strange proceeding all trace of coarse worldliness; but having
congratulated himself on his own wisdom and firmness, another train of
thought put itself in motion, haunting him with maddening pertinacity
in all his comings and goings throughout the day which succeeded the
memorable conversation. Elsie's face, her eyes, the quiet grace of
her figure and movements, were perpetually before him. Her tender
gravity, which did not prevent her from enjoying in brief light flashes
of perception the droll side of things, the generous sympathy, ever
ready to well up when needed,--all this was vividly present to his
imagination. Had he done well to turn from so rich a store of goodly
gifts because it was set in uncouth surroundings? Was it the part of a
true man to count the cost, to shrink from any possible risk, rather
than to brave all things for true love? When and where should he find a
companion so sweet, so intelligent, so satisfying to heart and sense?
Then again came the doubt,--would it be well to plant in the midst of
one's home and its sanctities this branch of a wild vine, lovely though
it was? Might not sorrow and disgraceful associations be the bitter
fruit thereof? How would imperfect human nature--imperfect human love,
stand such a test? If Elsie loved him, then he would dare all things;
but she did not. It would be better for her, as well as for him, to
leave her in the tranquillity of indifference than awaken an interest
that could only lead to trouble. Yes, he would continue to preserve
the tone of quiet friendliness he had adopted. Still he must not leave
Paris immediately. He would not desert poor Lambert, who was evidently
in a mess of some kind. Later on he would probably make a clean
breast of it. So as it was Friday, Glynn determined to go to Madame
Davilliers' in the evening, for the result of his wise cogitations
was a burning desire to meet Miss Lambert to assure himself of her
indifference.

The gathering at Madame Davilliers' was less crowded than usual; still
a considerable number of visitors were present, among them one or two
professional singers and Mr. Vincent, who was talking to Elsie when
Glynn made his appearance. He was soon called away, however, by the
hostess, and Glynn eagerly took his place.

Elsie greeted him with a bright amused smile, as though his presence
suggested some droll idea.

"I don't see your father here to-night," said Glynn.

"He has been called rather suddenly to Dunkerque," she replied, "but
will return on Monday. He seemed in better spirits, and I think the
change will do him good."

"I hope so, especially as you reflect his moods. You are looking more
like yourself than when I first returned."

"Ah, I was very miserable then. But one reason why I feel so much
brighter is that my father has promised I shall go for a few months to
Mrs. Kellett, to my old home, Woodburn, and then we shall give up our
_étage_ here."

"And how will you bear the seclusion--the change from Parisian
gaieties?" looking earnestly into her eyes, and wondering what motive
underlay this sudden scheme.

"I shall like it very much; I should like anything that would secure
peace."

"Pray, monsieur," said Madame Davilliers, who came up at that moment,
"have you received your card for the ball on the 20th? Our young
_débutantes_, Mademoiselle Lambert and my Antoinette, count on you for
one of their partners."

"I am infinitely honored; but I fear my dancing is not of the best.
However, in such a cause, one would attempt the impossible."

"It is much to be regretted that the amiable Monsieur Dérin is not in
town; and _ce cher_ M. Vincent does not know when he will return. Still
our party will be large and _distingué_."

Of that Glynn had no doubt. He had received his ticket, and if still in
Paris would certainly present himself, etc., etc.

Then he felt obliged to offer his congratulations to Mademoiselle
Antoinette, after which M. Le Vicomte was introduced, and it seemed
to him that half the evening was over before he managed to return to
Elsie. She was by no means solitary or neglected, however. Antoinette
chattered perseveringly at her side, and various well-dressed
_employés_ in sundry imperial bureaux bestowed fragments of their
time upon her. Vincent came back more than once to her side, and was
tranquilly, if not favorably, received. At last Glynn contrived to
obtain a seat beside her.

"Are you not going to sing to-night?"

"No; these gentlemen and Madame d'Italia will give us far better music
than I can."

"Not in my opinion; your singing goes straight to my heart."

Elsie smiled and looked at her fan. Glynn felt almost irresistibly
impelled to tell her how charming she was, but he _did_ resist.

"I suppose I must not call while your father is absent," he resumed;
"and I have found some delightful volumes in Tauchnitz, which I should
like to give you."

"Can you not send them?" she asked, looking at him with laughing eyes.
"I want books very much; no one gives me books but you."

"Then I must bring them myself."

"Why not? I shall be very glad to see you, so will Madame Weber."

"Thank you! May I come to-morrow?"

"To-morrow? No; to-morrow I go with Antoinette to visit the good ladies
of the Annonciades, the convent where we were at school. But come on
Sunday if you like. On Monday my dear father will be with me again;
then he will be able to tell me when we can go to England."

"But you will return to Paris?"

"I do not know; nothing is certain."

"I hope you will promise certainly to dance with me at this ball."

"Shall you be here when it takes place?"

"Yes, certainly; nothing shall prevent me from being present."

A faint color flickered over Elsie's cheek, as if this resolution
implied a personal compliment, and an amused smile parted her lips.

"Then you like dancing?"

"That depends. At any rate I want to dance the first dance with you at
your first ball."

Elsie laughed. "Very well. But though I have never been at a great
ball, I have been at several _soirées dansantes_ with Madame
Davilliers. Whenever Antoinette went they kindly took me."

"And I suppose _you_ are fond of dancing?"

"I love it," earnestly.

"Does your friend Vincent dance well?"

"I believe he does; most Americans do; but he is not my friend, and I
cannot bear to dance with him."

"You receive him very well considering you do not like him."

Elsie paused an instant, and looking up with an expression of trust,
said in a low tone, "I am afraid of him."

"Why?" drawing unconsciously nearer to her.

"I cannot tell--no, that is not quite true; I begin, I think, to
understand why."

"And will you not tell me?"

"I should rather like to tell you, but not here."

"On Sunday, then, when I bring you your books?"

"No; I do not want to mention his name before Madame Weber."

"Is she a friend of his?"

"I am not sure, but it is well to be cautious."

"It gives me a kind of shock to think you are obliged to be on guard in
your own home."

"That will be all over when I am at Woodburn."

"I wish your father would come and settle in London; it would be
pleasant and useful for you to have some English friends."

"It is more likely my father would settle in America."

"Then I should never see you!"

The words had passed his lips before he could restrain them, and he
watched their effect keenly.

"I suppose not," very quietly. "I should be sorry, and my father would
be very sorry."

Glynn felt unreasonably irritated. Was this young, slight,
inexperienced girl stronger than himself, that the tone in which
he was conscious his words were uttered should in no way move her?
He was dimly aware of a change in her manner, so delicate as to be
indefinable; it was not less friendly, but more collected, as if she
thought before she spoke.

But Antoinette, approaching with an elderly cousin of her _fiancé_, who
had requested an introduction to the _belle Américaine_, put an end to
their conversation, and not long after Elsie went away.

The days which intervened between Lambert's sudden journey to Dunkerque
and the ball went rapidly--too rapidly. Glynn dined twice in the Rue
de L'Evêque. Lambert was grave, but less dejected than previously. He
had the air of a man who had escaped from a period of indecision, and
had thoroughly made up his mind. Glynn, on the contrary, sank deeper
and deeper into the quicksands of irresolution, and felt each day more
vividly how strong an effort it would cost him to tear himself away;
how impossible it seemed to leave Elsie to the chances of undefined
danger, none the less formidable because it was impalpable.

It was with an unaccountable impression that something important,
something decisive would occur before the evening was over. Glynn
dressed and dined, taking care to be in the ball-room and near the door
in good time, in order to claim Elsie's promise of the first dance on
her arrival. Madame Davilliers and her party were rather late, and,
to Glynn's annoyance, she entered the room leaning on Vincent's arm.
Mademoiselle followed, conducted by the Vicomte, and finally Elsie,
leaning on M. Davilliers--Elsie in her first ball-dress, a delicious
combination of white silk and _tulle_ and lace, with sprays of wild
roses, long grass, and foliage, a delicate wreath of the same flowers
in her hair, and a simple necklace of shimmering Venetian shells round
her throat. She looked a little shy, a little self-conscious, less
composed than usual, and when she distinguished Glynn's tall figure,
and met his dark, eager, admiring eyes, she colored suddenly, looking
away with a smile so sweet, so glad, that Glynn's heart gave a quick
bound, and throbbed with a triumphant sense of victory, after which
reason gave up the struggle and resigned herself to defeat.

"This is our dance, Miss Lambert," said Glynn, after a brief greeting
to the rest of the party as he took her hand. "But it is a set of
lancers; would you not like to walk round and look at the decorations
until the next dance, which is a waltz?"

"Thank you, I should." So Glynn took her programme and wrote his own
name for several waltzes, prefacing each inscription with a persuasive
"May I?" Elsie laughingly restricted the number, saying she had
promised some dances to M. Davilliers, Henri Le Clerc, and M. de
Pontigny. "But," she added, with slight graceful hesitation, "if it
does not interfere with your other dances, might I say I am engaged to
you if Mr. Vincent asks me for a waltz? I _must_ dance with him, but
_not_ a waltz,--I cannot."

"Yes, I will grant your very serious request," said Glynn, smiling down
upon her. "I shall keep all waltzes at your disposal, and take care
to be within hail! Is it permitted to a brutal Englishman to say your
toilette is perfect?"

"I am very glad you think so; it is chiefly Madame Davilliers' choice.
It pleased my father, who never counts the cost of anything for me,"
she sighed.

"Why is Lambert not here to see your triumph?"

"He did think of coming, but felt too tired; he has been very busy, so
it was decided that I should come with the Davilliers; and if we stay
very late I am to go home with them, for my father always wakes when I
come in."

The decorations were duly admired, and then the waltz for which Glynn
had been longing struck up.

Given good music, a first-rate floor, a partner whose step suits yours,
and waltzing is certainly a pleasant exercise; but when in addition
your partner is just the very creature that you have felt tempted over
and over again to clasp in your arms, and pour out expressions of
tenderness and admiration while your heart throbs against hers, the
pleasure becomes almost painful.

Glynn, as the hours went rapidly by, felt his power over himself
melting away; there was a soft reserve, a frequent avoidance of
being alone with him on the part of Miss Lambert, that fanned the
long-smouldering fire of passion into a strong, an irresistible glow.
Why should he let himself be cheated by cold caution out of the
delicious, perhaps invigorating draught which fortune offered him? He
was no mere conventional man of the world to turn his back on a woman
worthy of all love because her father was not exactly eligible to be
comptroller of Her Majesty's household! He would be true to his better
instincts, his higher self.

Meantime it was infinitely irritating to be obliged to give up his
fascinating partner from time to time as other cavaliers came to claim
her.

Suddenly, as he was leading her across the room to Madame Davilliers,
he felt her start and press his arm, a movement which he attributed to
Vincent's approach.

"You have not granted me a waltz yet, Miss Lambert; may I have the
next?" said the American.

"I am engaged for the next."

"Indeed! to Mr. Glynn? He has been so highly favored that I think he
might permit a change of partners, as I am obliged to leave almost
immediately, and shall not see you again for some time. I start by the
early mail for Bordeaux to-morrow, or rather this morning."

"I have less benevolence than you credit me with," Glynn haughtily. "I
am not disposed to forego an iota of my temporary right."

"What would your father say to your desertion of your old friend for a
new acquaintance?" asked Vincent with an unpleasant laugh.

To Glynn's surprise Elsie made a slight movement as if to withdraw her
arm. Glynn held it tightly against his side.

"I have not deserted you, Mr. Vincent," she said quietly, as if
recovering her first impulse to leave Glynn, "for I was not engaged to
you."

"Perhaps not; we will discuss that point when we meet next," returned
Vincent with insolent assurance. "Meantime _au revoir_, Miss Lambert.
Good-bye, Mr. Glynn; I don't suppose I shall see you again." He made a
sort of defiant bow and turned away.

"Come and sit down in the ante-room," said Glynn, "it is cool and
quiet; that brute has disturbed you." Miss Lambert silently accepted
the suggestion, and as a new dance proceeded they were soon alone.

"For heaven's sake tell me what it is that enables that fellow to annoy
you?" said Glynn earnestly; "you said you would tell me."

"I never liked him, but latterly I perceive that he has some curious
influence over my father, who has even asked me to be civil to him.
Perhaps I ought not to tell you this, but my father trusts you, and
I--I believe you are loyal. I am still uneasy about my father. He is
so restless, and I imagine he is always more restless when he has been
with Mr. Vincent. I sometimes think that my father has had a hard, sad
life, though he tries to forget his troubles, and I want to make up to
him for the past. He loves me so much that I must do everything for
him, and be with him always."

"The young cannot always promise for their future, and he would be
happiest, knowing you were happy."

"But _I_ should not; he deserves all I can do, and it would hurt me,
oh! cruelly, to think he ever wanted anything when I was not there to
give it to him." The sweet, soft lips quivered with feeling as she
spoke.

"This is a heart worth winning," thought Glynn, as he gazed on her
pensive, downcast face.

"I wish he would tell you something about Mr. Vincent before you
go," continued Elsie. "I feel oppressed with a sense of indefinable
mischief."

"Before I go!" repeated Glynn. "How do you know I am going?"

"I heard my father say you were going, and of course you will not stay
in Paris."

"I cannot tear myself from it," said Glynn with passionate emphasis.

"Why?" asked Elsie, looking up surprised, then meeting his gaze, a
vivid blush passed over her cheek, fading away quickly.

"Why?" he exclaimed. "May I come and tell you why? to-morrow will you
hear my explanation, with kindness, with patience?"

"Ah!" she returned, shrinking slightly, "it is late--Madame Davilliers
will be looking for me."

"But, Elsie, may I come,--will you hear me?"

"Yes," she said, very gravely and softly, "you may come." Other couples
now invaded their solitude, and Glynn was obliged to take her to her
chaperon.

Madame Davilliers was ready to leave the ball, and observed that the
dear child, meaning Elsie, looked quite tired.

Glynn accompanied them to the door, wrapping Elsie's cloak round her
carefully.

"To-morrow," he whispered, pressing her arm to his side. She looked
up--a serious, searching look.

"You puzzle me!" she said.

"How? but you will tell me how and why! When may I come to-morrow?"

"In the afternoon."

"You will stay with us to-night, _chère_ Elsie?" cried Madame
Davilliers from the carriage.

"A thousand thanks, but I should rather go home; I have caught cold,
I think." Her voice was unsteady, and Glynn noticed that she was
trembling. He longed to speak some soothing words to her, but there
was no possibility of doing so. The next moment the door was shut, the
coachman ordered to drive to the Rue de L'Evêque, and Glynn left gazing
after the retreating vehicle.

Bidding good-night to young Le Clerc, who was returning to the
ball-room, Glynn lit his cigar, and walked slowly down the Rue de
Rivoli. It was a heavy, intensely dark night; but he was too much
excited to feel atmospheric influences. In his own mind he had passed
the rubicon; and his request to Elsie for an interview on the morrow
had, he considered, pledged him to offer his future life for her
acceptance. Would she accept it? He was too deeply and truly in love
to make sure of the impression he had created himself, too much in
earnest not to be humble. Elsie had been startled, touched; but it did
not follow that she loved him. However she decided, he was glad he had
spoken as he did. She must know what his intended explanation meant;
would she have promised to hear it if she were not disposed to hear
it favorably? If!--what rapture of anticipation shivered through him
at the possibilities thus suggested. Then he almost laughed aloud at
the idea of Lady Gethin's anger and despair at such a marriage as he
contemplated. He even pictured a future home, so peaceful, so lovingly
home-like, that not even the tolerably frequent visits of Lambert in
his gorgeous array and most anecdotal mood should disturb its delicious
harmony! The first faint streaks of daylight were stealing across the
eastern sky when Glynn at length entered his hotel.

The porter handed him his key, and with it a card, on which was
printed, "Travers Deering, Denham Castle," and written in pencil, "Want
particularly to see you. Will call to-morrow about two."

"What an infernal nuisance!" was Glynn's rather profane reflection; "he
shall not keep me here after 2.30 if it were to save his life!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Deering was not punctual. It was already two o'clock when he presented
himself, and he at once asked Glynn to let their interview take place
in the latter's private room, as he wished to speak of personal
matters. They therefore adjourned from the general _salon_, and Deering
quickly plunged into his subject, which was to ask Glynn's advice as
to the organizing of a scheme for making a branch from the main line
of railway, which ran within eight or nine miles of Denham, to some
villages on his estate, and past a certain quarry he had lately begun
to work. This had been suggested by a shrewd land-agent, and Deering
was anxious to consult Glynn before he left Paris for his summer
wanderings. The conversation which ensued was animated and interesting;
but Glynn did not forget to look at his watch from time to time.

"I see I am keeping you," said Deering, observing his movement; "I
shall not trespass any longer. I shall follow your advice, and see the
heads of your firm as to funds on my way through London. How is our
queer acquaintance Lambert and his incomparable daughter? I have found
traces of a curious story connected with him, which if true----," as
he spoke the door was burst open, and Lambert rushed in--Lambert in a
state of intense agonized excitement. His eyes wild with angry terror,
his face pallid through all the deep sunburn of its acquired tint, a
slight froth at the corners of his mouth, his necktie disarranged, his
hands gloveless; both Deering and Glynn started to their feet at this
unexpected apparition.

"My child!" cried Lambert hoarsely, "where is my child? Deering, you
limb of the devil! have you helped that scoundrel Vincent to take her
away? For God's sake tell me! have mercy! I'll do anything! Glynn,
_you_ will help me? you are an honest, honorable man. She's gone, and I
am going mad!"

"Gone!" cried his hearers together, "what do you mean?"

"Listen," said Lambert, gasping as if for breath, and throwing himself
into a chair. "She was at the ball last night. Why did I ever let her
from under my own eyes! It was agreed that if she was late she should
stay at the Davilliers'. When I asked for her this morning the _bonne_
said she had not returned, so I thought no more about it, and went to
work as usual. I had some business appointments, and then I turned into
Davilliers', thinking I'd walk home with Elsie--my jewel! if she was
still there. But she wasn't,--oh! great heavens! they had left her at
her own door, seen her go in, and heard it close; and now she is gone!"

"But this is not possible! Mademoiselle Antoinette is playing some
stupid trick. Have you----"

"I tell you they are nearly as distracted as I am," interrupted
Lambert, starting up and grasping the back of his chair. "I rushed to
your hotel, Deering, for I cannot help thinking Vincent has some hand
in it. He is a double-dyed scoundrel. Deering, I charge you not to
screen him!"

"How dare you accuse me of such villainy!" cried Deering in great
agitation. "I am as ignorant of the affair as you are--more so; don't
pretend that you are without suspicion. She has not been taken away
without her own consent; you must have some idea who it is she has gone
off with."

Glynn, in the midst of his own stunning horror, was struck with the
consternation which Deering's face expressed, and was inclined to
acquit him of any guilt in the matter.

"Have you been to the police? No; for God's sake let us lose no time."
Glynn seized his hat. "I will go with you."

"I returned to question the _concierge_ in order to get some clue
before going to the _Prefécture de Police_; then I felt obliged to
question him," nodding to Deering, "to tell you--to--Oh! stand by me,
Glynn, my head is going."

"You must keep calm for her sake," said Glynn; "come on, if she is
above ground we'll find her!"

"And I'll second you so far as I can," cried Deering, "though you have
attacked me so shamefully."

Lambert with a dazed, half-stupefied air, stared at him, till Glynn,
who felt his own head reeling under the shock, passed his arm through
his, and led him to the _fiacre_ which was waiting.

Little was said, except to urge the driver to greater speed, until
they reached the Rue de Jérusalem, where, after a short parley with
one or two lower officials, they were admitted to the presence of
the chief of the detectives, a quiet, simple-looking, iron-grey man,
with watchful eyes, and a clear, penetrating voice. He listened with
profound attention to Lambert's statement, scarcely putting a question,
only occasionally restraining the details. Lambert had evidently made a
supreme effort to master his terrible emotion, the vital necessity for
clearness giving him a force beyond himself.

While Glynn listened with agonized keenness to the recital, he
also heard the whispered terrors of his own heart. What horror had
befallen the tender, delicate darling whom he had hoped to call his
promised wife that day? To what hideous plot had she fallen a victim?
He scarcely knew how to restrain the wild impulse to rush forth in
hopeless blind pursuit.

Having heard all particulars, M. Claude (the _chef_) took a sheet
of paper, and demanded a description of the young lady. This was
furnished by both Lambert and Glynn, the latter eagerly adding some
characteristic details of which even the father did not think. Claude
then touched a bell, and ordered the subordinate who answered it to
telegraph the description at once to every seaport and frontier-town
in France, warning the _police de sûreté_ in each place to arrest any
person answering to it, no matter who accompanied.

"Time has been lost already," said the immovable _chef_. "Still, things
are always discovered. Have the goodness to answer my questions."

"Will you say," broke in Deering with his supreme air, addressing
himself to Glynn, "that I shall be happy to guarantee expenses."

"Damn your money!" cried Lambert, turning on him fiercely; "not a penny
of it shall pay for the recovery of my child."

"He doesn't know what he is saying, poor beggar," said Deering in an
undertone, with contemptuous pity, and an evil look on his face. "As
I don't understand what is going on, I'll leave you. I have an idea
she'll make for England, if she hasn't gone off with some Yankee. So
I shall write to my lawyers to stir up our detectives. I will call at
your hotel for further news this evening, Glynn." He left the _bureau_,
and Glynn gave his undivided attention to the interrogatories, noting
with despair, which increased every moment, the hopelessness of the
search in the face of nearly twenty-four hours' start.

That the extraordinary _finesse_ of the police should finally succeed
was possible, but in the interim what crime might not be committed?

The distinct queries of the astute detective established--That Lambert
had risen at his usual hour; that on receiving his coffee from the
_bonne_, he asked if mademoiselle had returned; and finding she had
not, remarked that doubtless she had danced well and late, so it
was better for her to stay at Madame Davilliers' for the night. He
also inquired if Celestine, the _bonne_, had taken her young lady's
morning-dress to Madame Davilliers', to which she replied in the
affirmative.

The _concierge_ had heard the bell about two or half-past, had pulled
the _cordon_, heard the door shut--it was a heavy door--and recognized
Mademoiselle Lambert's voice; after that there was no trace.

"Have you any suspicion? Had your daughter any admirer to whom you were
averse?"

"No; certainly not."

"Certain you cannot be where a young lady is in question," said M.
Claude with quiet cynicism. "But is there no one towards whom your
suspicion points? you spoke angrily to the gentleman who has just gone
out."

"There is one man respecting whom I have some doubts, and that
gentleman is his associate." Lambert proceeded to describe Vincent
with considerable accuracy, adding that he had more than once demanded
the hand of his daughter; but that the young lady herself was strongly
opposed to him.

Here Glynn, who had been listening with painful, feverish interest to
the dialogue, volunteered an account of his appearance at the ball on
the previous night; of his endeavor to persuade Mademoiselle Lambert to
dance with him, and his avowed intention of leaving early that morning
for Bordeaux. These details were all carefully noted down.

Then M. Claude, rising, said, "Now to view the house." He struck a bell
which stood beside his desk, and while he gave some instructions to
the officer who answered his summons, he put on his gloves, locked his
desk, and directed that a certain _commissaire_ should accompany him
to M. Lambert's residence. "I suppose you will wish to assist in the
examination of the premises?" said M. Claude; "you may help to throw
light on the case."

"Of course I will go with you."

"And you will allow me to assist so far as I can," urged Glynn.

"But can nothing more be done? no more rapid action taken?" cried the
fevered, agitated father, letting his closed hand fall heavily on the
table. The _chef_ took out his watch, glanced at it, and remarked
dramatically, "It is forty minutes since I noted down your description
of your daughter, and all egress from France is closed to her."

Lambert uttered a low moan.

"We must let them work their own way. They know what they are about;
but the suspense is almost intolerable," said Glynn, whose heart was
bursting with despair and remorse. Why had he not accepted Lambert's
proposition? Had he been Elsie's betrothed, this might not have
happened!

The drive to the Rue de L'Evêque seemed endless; Lambert sat immovable
and speechless. Arrived, the _chef de la sûreté_ and his subaltern
immediately proceeded to examine the house carefully, and to question
the _concierge_ as to the tenants. In the _rez-de-chaussée_ was the
_magasin_ of a Patent Polish Stove Company; on the first _étage_ an
old lady with her son and daughter-in-law resided. "Persons of high
consideration," said the tearful _concierge_. The second _étage_ was
vacant; M. Lambert occupied the third. Then came a Professor of Music,
Mons. le Capitain Galliard, Maitre d'Armes, and others.

Both Lambert and Glynn watched with quivering interest the deliberate
minuteness of the examination, first of the _concierge_, then of the
house itself. The Professor of Music and the Maitre d'Armes were out,
so M. Claude contented himself for the present by asking some leading
questions about them.

Then he and his attendant _commissaire_ ascended to Lambert's
apartment, and questioned Madame Weber and the _bonne_ as to the
smallest details concerning the missing girl; her character, her habits
of life, her friends, her pursuits, and finally asked for her last
photograph. It sent a sharp dart of angry pain through Glynn's heart
to see the _chef de la sûreté_ and his aide-de-camp coolly examining
the portrait which to him had a certain sanctity, to observe the
unmoved composure of the practiced detectives in face of the father's
despairing anxiety, the professional instinct which subordinated human
interest to the keen perception of possible crime, the sleuth-hound
scent for a legitimate prey.

From Lambert's abode they proceeded to the vacant _étage_, which the
_concierge_, in all the tearful yet delightful excitement of such an
extraordinary occurrence, threw open with eager zeal.

It was almost the same as the dwelling above, and after looking
carefully through the empty rooms they reached the kitchen. The door
was fastened.

"_Tiens!_" cried the _concierge_, looking rapidly through the keys she
carried, "this is strange. I do not remember locking the door, and I
have not been in here more than twice since the day you looked at the
apartment, Monsieur Lambert, for some friends who thought of coming to
Paris."

While she spoke the _commissaire_ had thrust the blade of his penknife
into the key-hole. "The key is inside," he said.

"It is impossible," cried the _concierge_.

"Go round by _l'escalier de service_ (back stair) with madame," said
M. Claude to his subordinate. "There is a door leading thence to the
kitchen, is there not?"

"But yes, certainly that will also be locked; I have a pass-key,
however, for these outer doors." A few minutes of silent waiting and
voices were heard within, then the door was opened by the _concierge_,
whose usually rosy face looked a yellowish white. "_Bon dieu!_" she
whispered, "the outside door was unlocked, and here is the key which
opens both, in this lock. I swear that the day before yesterday I
locked the outside door carefully; nor have I ascended this stair
since."

"Let us examine this room carefully," said the _chef_, with a shade of
additional gravity.

The search was most thorough, every little cupboard, every nook, the
stove, the oven, an old box, every inch of the dingy empty kitchen
was minutely scrutinized,--all present assisting. Suddenly a speck of
white in a dark corner attracted Glynn's eye. He picked it up. It was a
morsel of fine lace entangled with a knot of the narrowest black velvet
ribbon, from which dangled a broken end. With a sickening sensation
of horror and dread Glynn picked up this infinitesimal yet eloquent
suggestion of a struggle, and silently handed it to M. Claude.

"Ha!" exclaimed that functionary, gazing at it with some eagerness;
then he added, "Mademoiselle changed her toilet too hastily."

"Good God!" cried Lambert, "she wore just such a velvet string as this
through the lace of her dress; I noticed it!"--and so had Glynn. With
what bitterness he recalled his admiration of the creamy whiteness of
her neck contrasted with the black line surrounding it. "Do you--do
you think she is murdered?" continued Lambert in an agonized whisper,
staring wildly at the lace.

"No, I do not," said M. Claude, apparently somewhat moved by the
father's intense misery. "I do not suppose her life would be attempted
by any one, unless indeed there are some circumstances in her or your
history with which I am unacquainted. But I believe what may be as
bitter as her death to you,--that she has gone with her own free
consent."

"And that I never can believe," cried Lambert. "She--the sweetest, most
loving, obedient child man ever had!"

"Even so," said the detective with a tinge of sadness.

"The affair might have occurred under chloroform," said the
_commissaire_ in a low submissive tone. "A resolute practiced villain
meets her ascending the stairs; a handkerchief saturated with
chloroform suddenly wrapped round her face renders her helpless. She
is carried through this empty apartment, her dress changed while she
is still insensible." An irrepressible groan from Glynn made the _chef
de la sûreté_ look at him. "They carry her down-stairs," continued the
_commissaire_.

"And then," interrupted the _concierge_ shrilly, "they are caught!
how can any one get out without calling me? My faith! do you think I
neglect my duties, or that a great warrior like my husband, now _en
retraite_, and employed at the Gare St. Lazare, would permit half a
dozen such brigands to pass?"

"Silence!" said M. Claude, impressively. "Feel along the floor, in that
corner beyond the window."

His subordinate obeyed, and discovered a small square of chocolate,
a few crumbs of bread, and two pins. These last were most carefully
examined.

"They are English," said the detective. "But that is easily accounted
for; the person or persons engaged in the abduction evidently partook
of refreshment; nor is there any sign leading to the supposition of
violence. The difficulty is to discover how they managed to leave the
house. At what hour did you lock the door and put out your light last
night?" to the _concierge_.

In reply to his questions she stated that the entrance door was always
locked at ten o'clock, but that she herself often sat up till eleven.
Last night, feeling weary, she went to bed at half-past ten. Before
she slept the bell rang, and she pulled the _cordon_. M. Lambert's
voice said who was there, and bid her good-night. Twice after, entrance
was demanded by different inmates; then, after what seemed to her a
long time, some one rang, and waking completely, she distinctly heard
Miss Lambert's voice. She did not sleep again for what seemed to her
more than an hour, during which all was profoundly quiet. She always
rose before six, and after lighting her fire to prepare the coffee of
monsieur her husband, she unlocked the great door and went to fill her
pail with water at a pump, which was in a court on which the entrance
opened at the far side from the street, in order to wash the passage.

"Can you see the chief entrance from this court?"

"But yes, certainly."

"And the pump, how is it situated?"

"About the centre."

"I shall inspect it," said M. Claude. Having carefully wrapped up
the morsel of lace and ribbon, the square of chocolate and the two
pins, and placed them in an inner pocket, M. Claude led the way
down-stairs to the court mentioned by the _concierge_, followed by her,
Lambert, and Glynn, who were too penetrated by the sense of their own
helplessness in such an affair to offer any interference or suggestion.

The court, which was like a well, being surrounded by lofty houses,
was exactly opposite the entrance; and the pump, as stated, was in
the centre, but with its back towards the doorway, so that any one
using the handle to raise the water would naturally turn his or her
face from it, especially as it was necessary to watch the filling of
whatever vessel was placed below the spout. After looking carefully at
the relative positions of the door and the pump, M. Claude requested
the _concierge_ to fill a pail of water as she was in the habit of
doing. She obeyed; he stood behind her during the operation, and at
the end observed, "The fugitives walked through the open door while
you were pumping; no force or chloroform could have been used." The
_concierge_ burst into tears. "Gentlemen," continued the _chef de la
sûreté_, "I shall now proceed to Madame Davilliers, and the remainder
of my inquiries I wish to prosecute alone. M. Lambert, do me the
favor to call at my office to-morrow morning about ten, and come
_unaccompanied_."

"And can you do no more to-day?" asked poor Lambert, his mouth
twitching from the nervous strain of suppressing his cruel anxiety.

"I consider that we have secured a clue. I feel sure of finding your
daughter; if not immediately, at no distant date."

"At no distant date," repeated the father, as the _chef de la sûreté_
left the house followed by the _commissaire_. "But in the meantime!--Oh
God, Glynn, how can I live on such a rack, and I don't know where to
turn!"

"It is almost unbearable. Can you remember nothing that might serve as
a clue to her extraordinary disappearance?"

"Nothing. If I don't find her, I have done with life."

"I feel for you, Lambert, from the bottom of my soul. I'd give all I
possess to know that Elsie is safe! you'll have an awful night of it.
Shall I stay with you?"

"I am best alone," returned Lambert, looking sharply at him. "I didn't
think you cared so much. Thank ye--I am best alone."



CHAPTER VI.

PURSUIT.


Glynn had known some rough times in his life, but a stupendous calamity
such as had now overtaken him can only happen once in an existence.
Little more than twelve hours before he had thrilled at Elsie's touch,
and dreamed of winning her love! Why had he not accompanied her to her
house, and seen her safely within her father's door? What was the dim
haze of mystery which had hung about her, and had now suddenly deepened
into darkness so profound that it defied conjecture? And suppose she
were discovered, might not the discovery be nearly as terrible as the
loss? In spite of M. Claude's profound conviction that Miss Lambert had
gone willingly, Glynn could not, would not believe that there was a
shadow of duplicity in the soul that looked so candidly, so earnestly
out of those glorious deep-blue eyes. No; but she might have been
decoyed away by some plausible story; if so, she was not wanting in
courage and resolution; she would probably manage to communicate with
Lambert. But in the meantime what agonies of terror, what unspeakable
distress she must endure.

After a hideous night, during which he did not attempt to undress,
Glynn was early next morning at the Rue de L'Evêque.

Lambert looked less terribly agitated than he was the day before, but
he had an exhausted, stupefied air, as if nature could not hold out
much longer. He was dressed and ready to go out, however, and as he was
too soon for the appointment with M. Claude, Glynn accompanied him to
see Madame Davilliers, who with her husband had visited and condoled
with the bereaved father more than once during the previous evening.

They found her still much agitated. She received Lambert with
affectionate sympathy, but talked in a strain that maddened Glynn. The
_chef de la sûreté_ had evidently communicated to her his own belief
that Elsie had fled willingly.

"Antoinette," she said, "was weeping in her own room; the poor child
could not of course understand the despair of her elders. To her it was
like some fairy tale of a cruel ogre; the less she heard of so awful a
catastrophe the better. It is not for me to judge the habits of other
nations," continued madame, "but the results of such freedom as is
permitted to young American girls cannot fail to be fatal! That dear
Elsie was an angel of goodness and purity, brought up by those holy
ladies of the convent, and all the more likely to be led away, because
of her extreme innocence. She" (Madame Davilliers) "was the last woman
to be taken up with egotism; but the disgrace of such an occurrence
would reflect on _all_ who had come in contact with the unhappy one."

"Do you mean to say that you think my child, my jewel, my pride, is
to blame? that any one living could lead her astray?" almost screamed
Lambert, stung from his despairing apathy into angry excitement.

"Dear monsieur, I only blame your system, not its victim!"

"You are premature in your conclusions," said Glynn with cold
displeasure. "Within twenty-four hours she will no doubt be discovered,
and all that seems inexplicable explained."

"I trust it may be so, monsieur; meanwhile I agree with the excellent
M. Claude that the affair should be kept as secret as possible; rumor
will make everything worse than it really is, and for the sake of----"

"Adieu, madame; mine is too terrible an affliction to leave room for
thought about appearances!" cried poor Lambert, turning away.

"Poor unhappy father! all things may be pardoned to him," said
madame compassionately to Glynn, who bowed silently and followed his
distracted friend.

Arrived at the _Bureau de la sûreté_, Glynn remained outside, slowly
pacing the street; and while he waited, somewhat to his surprise he saw
Deering come out from a different door to that by which Lambert had
entered. He was accompanied by a man in uniform, and walked briskly
away, in the same direction in which Glynn was sauntering; but as they
were considerably ahead of him, it was useless to attempt pursuit. Nor
did Glynn particularly wish to speak with Deering. He felt that for
some occult reason he was Lambert's enemy, and he entirely acquitted
him of any share in Elsie's disappearance. That he should make
independent inquiries was natural, as Lambert's treatment of him the
previous day almost forbid their holding further intercourse; probably
the man with him was an official interpreter. Glynn's thoughts were
sufficiently painful as he strolled to and fro. He wished Lambert would
voluntarily confide to him the secret of his enmity to Deering. He felt
an unreasoning conviction that the extraordinary disappearance of Elsie
was in some way connected with it.

Time went slowly, painfully; but at length a _sergent de ville_
approaching, saluted him, saying, "Will monsieur give himself the
trouble to enter? M. Le Chef wishes to speak to him."

Glynn followed readily, and found Claude alone.

"Monsieur Lambert awaits you in an ante-chamber," said the grave
_chef_; "you shall soon be at liberty to join him. Meantime you will
have no objection to answer a few questions." He proceeded to put a few
leading queries as to Glynn's position and occupation, the origin of
his acquaintance with Lambert, its renewal, his knowledge of Deering
and Vincent, and their connection with father and daughter. The astute
_chef_ was courteous though searching, and having meditated for a
moment or two, said, "I should recommend your advising your friend to
confide _every_ circumstance connected with his daughter to me. He is
keeping something back, and that something nullifies all our efforts."

"I think he must have told you everything, especially connected with
his daughter."

"There is small chance of success if he does not."

"I suppose you have no intelligence as yet?" said Glynn.

"This is all we have discovered," said M. Claude, throwing open the
doors of a large _armoire_, or clothes-press, and there hung, in
ghastly mockery, the pretty white ball-dress which had so delightfully
become the wearer, its bouquets of wild flowers crushed and flattened,
and a long revolting stain of half-dried mud along one side of the
creamy silk.

"Good God!" exclaimed Glynn, starting back horror-struck. "Where--where
did you find this?"

"One of our men found it near the Pont de L'Alma early this morning.
See! here is where the lace and knot of ribbon were torn away. There
is no other mark of violence. The intention evidently was to throw the
parcel (it was tightly rolled up) into the Seine; but it fell short,
and the river was low. You recognize the dress?"

"Yes; and now?"

"This proves nothing," said the imperturbable M. Claude. "The dress was
deliberately thrown away, either to direct attention on a wrong scent,
or simply to get rid of an encumbrance."

"Then you have not advanced since yesterday?"

"Not much. I have found that M. Vincent _is_ at Bordeaux, but alone."

"And you have seen M. Deering?" said Glynn, quickly.

"Yes," returned M. Claude, looking at him for an instant. "He came
to seek tidings of the missing young lady, in whom he seems deeply
interested."

There was a pause. Glynn sought in his soul for some suggestion to
keep the inscrutable detective in conversation. He could not help a
conviction that he was in possession of more information than he cared
to impart; but nothing came to him.

"You do not, then, believe that any great crime has been committed?" he
faltered.

"All things are possible; but I hope that before many days are over you
will hear from the young lady herself. I believe it is an unusually
clever case of elopement. I have communicated with the English police;
but"--an eloquent shrug--"they have fewer facilities than we. My
telegram yesterday was too late to catch the Dover mail-boat--not that
I think it was of much consequence, for----"

His reason was never uttered; a tap at the door interrupted him. He
rose, took a dispatch from the hands of a messenger. Closing the door,
he read it, and then with a grim smile said:

"My suspicions are not far wrong. The young lady is safe and well at
Bordeaux--and _not_ alone."

"What does your _employé_ say?" cried Glynn, not much comforted by the
announcement.

"Read for yourself," said M. Claude, handing the telegram to him.

Glynn eagerly scanned the lines.

"Young English or American lady answering to description arrived here
last evening; is staying at 'The Lion d'Or,' on the quay. Has been
visited by the captain of an American steamer and another man. Father
must come at once and identify her, or she may escape."

"This is some mistake," said Glynn, the words dancing before his eyes.
"This cannot be Miss Lambert."

"It is most unlikely that my colleague at Bordeaux should be in error.
He is one of the shrewdest _employés_ of the _sûreté_. At all events we
must inform the father."

He rang, and desired that M. Lambert should be recalled. Glynn was
infinitely touched by the dulled, helpless look of the once bright,
alert Lambert. He watched him read the telegram, and observed with
surprise that his face brightened, and an expression of pleasure
gleamed in his eyes.

"This is a chance, anyhow," he exclaimed. "Of course I'll go. When is
the next train?"

The detective watched him curiously.

"But, Lambert," exclaimed Glynn in English, "you surely do not believe
this can be your daughter? You do not think that delicate, tender
creature would fly from _you_ to meet men of whom you know nothing?"

"Maybe I do," said Lambert, "and maybe I don't. Drowning men catch at
straws. I'll go, anyway."

He swayed slightly as he spoke, and caught Glynn's arm.

"It is more than he can bear," said M. Claude, with a rare gleam of
feeling. "I will telegraph to my colleague to meet you at the Gare. The
mail train leaves at six. You will be in Bordeaux about noon to-morrow.
You will, I trust, need no further assistance from my department. I
wish you good-morning, gentlemen."

He opened the door politely, and they went forth.

"Lambert," said Glynn, as he supported his friend's unsteady steps,
"you are not fit to travel alone. I will go with you."

"I'm better," returned Lambert, withdrawing his arm, "and I thank you
from the bottom of my heart; but I'd rather go alone. If--if--oh! great
heavens!--She mightn't like to see you, Glynn. No, no," with increasing
decision, "I would rather go alone, and I will send you word _what_
I find. You have been wonderfully good to me, and you know what she
was--_is_. Why do I despair? If--oh if," with sudden fury, "I ever get
my grip on the infernal villain that drove her to this, he'll have seen
the last of light, and go down to darkness forever. There, I don't know
what I am talking about. My head seems all wrong."

"You had better let me go with you, Lambert. Believe me, you are not
fit to go alone, and you must keep well, at any rate, till you recover
or rescue your daughter."

"Recover her! Ay, that I will," standing still suddenly. "Do you think
I'm not proof against everything till I find her? and then--and then,
when she is safe, I have done my work, and I'll rest--ay, rest well and
long. But I'll make this journey alone."

There was nothing for it but to give up all thoughts of persuading
him. Then he seemed to revive, to master his terrible despondency.
He accepted Glynn's invitation to luncheon, and forced himself to
take food and wine. Then he returned to his desolate home, to make
preparations for his departure; finally Glynn saw him safely into the
train.

The hours which succeeded, how slowly, yet swiftly, they dragged their
torturing length! slowly, for the moments as they dropped into the
abyss of the past seemed deliberately distilled from the bitterest
ingredients life could supply; swiftly, for every hour of delay added
to the difficulty of the search, on the success of which all Glynn's
hopes hung. He exhausted himself wandering to and fro the Rue de
L'Evêque, the Rue de Jérusalem, even the Morgue, where he would rather
have found the corpse of her he loved than know her alive under such
circumstances as the detective's telegram suggested. But this he did
not for a moment believe, though through his long mental agony strange
doubts would obtrude themselves--more of Lambert than his daughter. He
was evidently concealing something. Those vague threats against some
unnamed villain, what did they indicate? Knowledge of some possible and
real abduction, or merely imaginative fury?

Still, fast or slow, the hours went by. Glynn was finally overcome with
fatigue and sleep, so enjoyed a few hours of blessed oblivion.

He woke with a startled sense of wrong-doing in having forgotten even
for a moment the awful uncertainty that had laid its curse upon him,
and collecting his thoughts, remembered his surprise at not having
received a telegraphic message from Lambert. True, he might not have
succeeded at once in seeing his supposed daughter.

The expected communication came, however, before he sallied forth to
renew the restless round of yesterday----

"Officer mistaken. A fresh track. Am off to Marseilles Will write."

In a sense this was a relief; but Marseilles? that seemed the most
unlikely place to find the object of their search. However, all places
were unlikely. Lambert had better keep at hand in Paris. He would write
and beg him to return.

Glynn had taken his hat and was at the door, when some one knocked, and
Deering entered, well-dressed, cool, distinguished-looking, as ever,
but with a somewhat haggard aspect, and a set, sinister expression
about his mouth.

"I suppose you have heard nothing fresh? no discovery of any clue to
the whereabouts of Lambert's daughter?" he asked.

"Nothing. Her father went down to Bordeaux yesterday at the suggestion
of M. Claude to identify a girl described as resembling Miss Lambert. I
have just had this telegram from him."

"Ha!" said Deering, on reading it, "I doubt if Lambert will afford M.
Claude much assistance. I fancy some of his raffish associates have
carried off the young lady, and he is too much in their power to be
very earnest about discovering or punishing them."

"Have you suggested this idea to the _chef de la sûreté_?" asked Glynn
coldly.

"Why should you think so?"

"Because he talked to me of Lambert's concealments as militating
against the success of the search, just after you left him."

Deering's brows met in a fierce, quick frown, and then resumed their
ordinary haughty composure. "Yes; I thought it well to warn him. I am
even now endeavoring to sift a curious story about Lambert; it may not
be true, but I am a good deal concerned at this disappearance of his
daughter, and, I think, so are you. She is a fascinating morsel of
female flesh, and it is maddening to see the prize you had marked for
your own carried off under your very eyes. Really there is no line deep
enough to fathom a woman."

"I never marked Miss Lambert as my own," said Glynn angrily. "I object
to your mode of mentioning her. As to Lambert, no one can doubt the
unfortunate man's despair and distress. I do not believe that Miss
Lambert left her home willingly, unless decoyed by false pretences."

"Be that as it may, I would give a good deal to know where she is. I
believe she is in England; she was brought up there, I believe. Well,
I cross to-night, and will set the police at work so soon as I get to
London. Shall you be much longer here?"

"My movements are uncertain," returned Glynn stiffly.

"You'll wait and assist the bereaved father, I presume," said Deering,
with an unpleasant smile. "By the way, Vincent has returned, and is
awfully cut up about the affair. Vincent was, I fancy, a suitor; might
have been a decent match for Miss Lambert; he is a shrewd fellow. But
you are in a hurry, I will not detain you."

He bid Glynn "good-morning" with courteous friendliness, and left him
half-maddened with torturing waves of doubt, which seemed rising on all
sides.

Another long miserable day, its only solace a visit to poor Madame
Weber and Celestine, who talked of the "dear lost child" with unbounded
panegyric and floods of tears.

No letter from Lambert, and failure in an attempt to see the _chef de
la sûreté_, completed the day's trials.

The fourth morning brought Lambert's promised letter. The girl
supposed to resemble Elsie was a rouged _modeste_, with dyed hair, and
rather good blue eyes, the only real point of resemblance. "The reasons
for his expedition to Marseilles were too numerous for a letter,"
Lambert wrote. "He had some faint hopes of success, and would tell all
when he returned, if Glynn was still in Paris." _If!_ how could he tear
himself away till this cruel mystery was cleared up?

In the porter's lodge, as he passed out, Glynn found a police agent
with a message--Could he come soon to the _Bureau de la sûreté_? M. le
Chef wished to speak with him.

Glynn's reply was to hail a _fiacre_, and making the agent come with
him, drove at once to the _bureau_.

"So the _commissaire_ at Bordeaux was mistaken," said M. Claude. "That
is the difficulty of descriptions, even photographs sometimes deceive.
I am having several copies made of mademoiselle's, and shall send them
to the principal towns." He paused, and looking at Glynn, said, "I
do not approve this _démarche_ to Marseilles; M. Lambert should have
confided his reasons to us. He cannot work independently; but he will
make nothing by his journey. Were he here--there is a fresh and more
hopeful report from Bruges this morning."

"And it is?" exclaimed Glynn, leaning forward in his chair, quivering
with anticipation.

"Two ladies, one young, fair, blue-eyed and English; the other elderly,
German or Russian, well-dressed and well-bred, arrived the day before
yesterday at the Hôtel des Trois Couronnes. They keep most retired, and
only go out in a covered carriage, to the convent of the Béguines. The
younger lady weeps a good deal, and often mentions the word 'father'
with emotion. They have told their landlord that they await the coming
of the young lady's father."

"This sounds more promising," cried Glynn, all eager attention.

"Were M. Lambert here he might take the journey to Bruges, and identify
them. Probably _he_ is the father they expect."

"I wish he were here, but, in his absence, _I_ will undertake the
journey; I can identify Miss Lambert."

"Do you think her father will thank you?"

"I do. Can you doubt his agonized impatience until he can get tidings
of his daughter?"

"No; but there is something in the affair I cannot quite fathom."

There was a pause. "I suppose," resumed Glynn, "there is no objection
to my visiting the ladies your agent describes?"

"None; in the absence of the father."

"Then I shall start at once. Give me a line of introduction to your
representative. I shall telegraph to you the result of my journey. No
doubt you will see M. Lambert back to-morrow."

M. Claude wrote the desired letter, and armed with it, Glynn left the
_bureau_.

A rapid journey followed, a journey such as men make in bad dreams,
with a curious sense of acting under some hideous malignant influence,
a depressing anticipation of coming failure. Often in after-life the
memory of that journey came back as the most painful experience of all
he had ever known for years--it haunted him with thrills of horror.
Little he heeded the quaint aspects of the old mediæval town, though
the picture of the streets through which he was conducted to the Hôtel
des Trois Couronnes remained forever stamped upon his memory.

His anticipations were fulfilled. The ladies were both total strangers
to him; he had therefore nothing for it but to apologize and retire.

Back to Paris, where Lambert had not yet returned, and M. Claude
received him with cold displeasure. M. Claude was growing impatient at
the unwonted failure of his emissaries. It was now six days since the
disappearance of Miss Lambert, and not the faintest clue had been found
by which to trace her.

The keen-eyed _chef de la sûreté_ threw himself into the pursuit with
all the energy of his nature, all the professional pride that a high
reputation could inspire. There was not a town of any importance
in Europe where his researches did not penetrate, and yet the days
rolled on, and not a trace was to be found of the missing girl. For
some reasons unknown very little was said of the occurrence in the
newspapers. The police, always powerful in France, were especially
potent in the later days of the Empire. One or two journals mentioned
the mysterious disappearance of a young lady, and the matter was
dropped.

To Glynn the terrible darkness, which seemed closing in deeper and
deeper with each succeeding day over the fate of the fair girl he had
learned to love so passionately, was appalling. He chafed against his
own hopelessness, he exhausted himself in conjectures and restless
going to and fro.

When Lambert came back from his fruitless journey to Marseilles, he
seemed sunk in a strange, sullen apathy, nor did he accept Glynn's
well-meant efforts to comfort and sustain him with cordiality. He
declared his intention of remaining in Paris as the place where the
earliest tidings of his missing daughter were most likely to reach him.
He had already given notice of his intention to leave his apartments,
and now dismissed Madame Weber and the _bonne_.

"I do not know where I may have to go, or what I may have to do," he
said to Glynn. "I'll hang on here till my time is up, and then I'll
take a room somewhere and just wait. You are very good, Glynn; you
could have done no more if you had been my poor darling's affianced
lover. I little knew you were a rich man, and partner in a great firm,
when I offered you her poor little portion."

"Do not speak of it," said Glynn, with inexpressible emotion; "but
treat me as a trusted friend. Tell me what conjectures you have formed
as to her fate."

"I believe she is dead," said Lambert in a broken voice, and covering
his face. "Had she been in life she would have managed to communicate
with me. Now I have nothing left to live for but revenge."

"Have you any idea where to direct your vengeance?"

"I cannot answer yes or no yet, though if I'd answer any one it would
be you, Glynn."

"That means 'Yes,'" returned Glynn.

Lambert did not reply. He seemed sunk in gloomy, hard resignation to
a detested destiny. "You shouldn't wait on here, Glynn," he resumed,
after a minute's silence. "You can do no good,--as they didn't find her
within the first week it will just be a waiting race. We'll hit on the
truth just by accident, that will be the way of it."

But Glynn could not tear himself from Paris. How often he recalled the
circumstances under which he had uttered these words to Elsie; they
were almost the last he had spoken to her. He could almost hear the
soft, tremulous tones in which she promised to listen to his reasons
for not being able to tear himself away. No, it was impossible that she
could have had the smallest anticipation of the dreadful catastrophe
which awaited her. Yet her very last words--her last look haunted him.
The questioning, wondering glance, the half-whisper--"you puzzle me!"

Twice during this miserable period of indecision Glynn encountered
Vincent,--once on the stair leading to Lambert's abode, and once in the
Boulevards.

In the first instance he greeted Glynn with the frankest expression
of sorrow and sympathy for the great misfortune which had befallen
Lambert, mentioning his own deep grief, and his compassionate
forgiveness of Lambert's injurious accusations against himself.

Glynn found Lambert in a state of furious excitement after this visit,
and uttering violent half-unintelligible threats against Vincent.

On their second meeting Glynn tried to pass him, but in vain, and
was obliged to listen to a string of suggestions and conjectures
respecting the supposed fugitive which nearly drove him to throttle
his interlocutor and fling him into the street under the hoofs of
the passing horses, especially as he felt that Vincent's small,
penetrating, watchful eyes were intently, searchingly fixed on his face
while he spoke.

At length letters from his partners obliged him to quit the scene of so
much suffering and disaster.

It was with the deepest reluctance that Glynn bid Lambert good-bye. The
unhappy father still wore the same aspect of helplessness, of sullen
submission to the irresistible. He scarcely heeded Glynn's announcement
of his immediate departure, and merely answered his ardent request
for the earliest information respecting any crumbs of intelligence in
the affirmative. He put Glynn's card in his pocket-book mechanically.
Yet he wrung his hand hard at parting, and bid God bless him,
brokenly--yet heartily.

Glynn, not satisfied with Lambert's promise, obtained an interview with
M. Claude, who was even more curt and immovable than ever. He, however,
condescended to promise that he would not fail to let him know should
any traces of the missing girl be found.

Glynn was not perhaps fully aware of the withering change which the
torture of the last three weeks had wrought in him until he attempted
to resume the routine of his former life. The color and flavor seemed
to have been extracted from existence, nothing was left worth hoping
for, working for, living for, and the heads of his firm exclaimed at
his haggard, worn aspect.

The second day after he had resumed his attendance at the office he
found himself too faint and dizzy to continue the writing on which
he was engaged. His head ached intensely, his pulses throbbed. He
rang, and began to explain to the clerk who answered his summons that
he felt so ill he must return home; but before he could finish his
sentence he fell heavily at the feet of his startled hearer. He was
conveyed carefully to his own residence, which he did not leave for
many weeks,--not till he had been brought to the verge of the grave by
a fierce brain-fever.



CHAPTER VII.

WILL-O'-THE-WISP.


A new year was opening on the just and the unjust--the fortunate and
the unfortunate. Lady Gethin had arrived in town after a prolonged
Christmas visit to some attentive relatives in one of the midland
counties.

She was always pleased to be at home; she liked to exercise a friendly
hospitality, and she was by no means afraid of a lonely evening, of
which she never had too many.

It was the day after her return. Night had closed in; her dainty dinner
was over, and she was established in her favorite chair beside a bright
wood and coal fire in the smaller and cosier of her two drawing-rooms,
which was lighted only by the ruddy glow of the fire and a shaded
reading-lamp, by which she was perusing a new novel. She had laid down
the book and was thinking, with an unusually softened expression on
her strong face, of her favorite, Hugh Glynn. She had been intensely
anxious about him during his severe illness. She had constantly visited
his sick-room, and satisfied herself that nurses and servants were
doing their duty. When his life was despaired of, she was grimly still,
silent, and enduring, but _she_ knew that all the woman in her somewhat
masculine nature had gone out, in maternal affection, to her husband's
nephew.

When he was slowly struggling back to life and strength she accompanied
him to a south coast bathing-place, and gave him the great benefit of
her companionship, for she knew how to be sympathetically silent, as
well as congenially talkative. In this prolonged _tête-à-tête_ Glynn
grew sincerely and gratefully attached to the outspoken free-thinking
old woman, whose frank kindness was never oppressive, and whose
uncompromising sincerity might convince the hardest sceptic of its
reality.

Attachment brought confidence, and before they parted Hugh Glynn had
told her the strange history of his sudden love for Elsie Lambert, of
the hold it had taken of him in spite of reason, prudence, worldly
wisdom--every motive that ought to guide a man of his maturity and
experience. He even confessed to the weakness of regretting he had
rejected Lambert's proposal of marriage with his daughter.

In the story of Elsie's disappearance, Lady Gethin was profoundly
interested, though, to Glynn's disappointment and indignation, she
did not hesitate to declare her belief that the young lady eloped
voluntarily, and had probably since informed her father of her
whereabouts--a fact which he might think it wiser not to divulge. She
further declared that although she did not think the worse of Glynn for
his infatuation, she thought he had had a great escape, and believed
he would come to think so himself when he had recovered his health and
resumed the ordinary routine of his life.

Reviewing these conversations Lady Gethin sat forgetful of her book,
when the object of her thoughts was announced.

"Why didn't you come to dinner?" she exclaimed, holding out her hand.

"Because I have been dining earlier than usual at the house of a cousin
of mine in the suburbs, where I have been officiating as god-father to
his first-born son."

"A very patriarchal proceeding. Who is this cousin--do I not know him?"

"I think not; he is a cousin on my mother's side, and has a cure of
souls at Clapham."

"Well, Hugh, and how are you? You look better and stronger."

"I am! I have turned the corner, and am beginning to pull mechanically
against the collar once more."

Lady Gethin looked earnestly at him. He seemed taller than ever--gaunt
and bony. His dark face was very colorless, his eyes sunken; yet his
attitude and air had less of lassitude than when they had parted last.

"You have been across the Channel?"

"Yes, I ran over to Paris for a little change, just before Christmas.
Paris draws me like a magnet."

"A magnetism you ought to resist. How is the beautiful city?"

"Beautiful as ever; but there is mischief in the air. However, I am no
prophet. I wandered about the old scenes like a troubled ghost, and I
saw Lambert."

"Indeed! I wish, Hugh, you would break away from all the painful
associations with that man, you can do him no good."

"True; but I have the most profound pity for him, all the more that
he seems by no means glad to see me. I fancy his terrible misfortune
has affected his brain. He is sullen, and averse to speak of anything
that leads up to the subject of his lost daughter, and yet he looks in
surprisingly good health."

"_He_ has not had a brain fever!" said Lady Gethin, significantly. "I
suppose no trace whatever has been discovered?"

"Not the faintest. I succeeded in obtaining an interview with M.
Claude, who reluctantly admitted that the French police have rarely
been so baffled."

"It is a most extraordinary case," said Lady Gethin, and then hastened
to change the subject. "I have had rather a pleasant time of it at the
Kingsfords'. I went down the day before Christmas and only returned
yesterday. The Deerings put up there for two nights on their way to
Lord Arthur Saville's. Lady Frances was looking a little more alive;
and really Deering can be very agreeable."

"He is, I suspect, a tremendously white-washed sepulchre."

"I cannot understand your suspicions of Deering," returned Lady Gethin;
"as to his being mixed up with the Lambert affair, it is mere nonsense.
What on earth could he have to do with such a man as you describe
Lambert? He might have met him in a train, or on a steamboat, or a
race-course, but it is impossible he could have _known_ much of him."

"He did, however, I am certain," said Glynn, slowly and thoughtfully;
"and you would agree with me had you seen them together. There was
deadly enmity as well as acquaintanceship between them."

"Well, perhaps so," she returned. "Will you have a cup of coffee,
Hugh? It will rouse you, you look sleepy and _distrait_."

"Thank you; a cup of _your_ coffee will do me good."

Lady Gethin rang and ordered some to be brought, talking cheerfully on
a variety of topics. But Glynn's attention wandered while he sipped the
refreshing beverage, and as he put down his cup Lady Gethin exclaimed,
"I don't think you have heard a word I have been saying!"

"Yes," he exclaimed, starting from his thoughts, "I have heard, but,
I confess, not taken in the sense of what you have been saying. I
am, perhaps foolishly, excited by an incident which occurred to-day,
and as you are tolerably acquainted with all my weakness you may as
well hear this instance too. I was, as I told you, at Clapham to-day;
after the christening of my little godson we returned to luncheon at
Heathcote's--at my cousin's house, and when the other guests had left
he asked me to smoke a cigar with him in the garden. As we talked and
walked up and down beside a railing and hedge of holly, which separates
Heathcote's garden from the next, I heard some one speaking at the
other side, and as I listened I could have sworn that the voice was
Elsie Lambert's. It was soft and low, yet wonderfully distinct; then a
highly-pitched woman's voice declared in French that she feared some
task would be difficult. Again the voice that made my heart stand still
said, 'Difficult, but not insurmountable; kindness and steadiness
will overcome so much; I would trust them too----' Then I ceased to
catch the words, though the well-known tones came to me again, as the
speakers evidently turned away. Great heavens! I hear it still, it was
Elsie's voice! I lost my head for a moment; I rushed to the railing,
and thrusting my arms between them, tried to tear away some of the
branches to look through. My cousin thought I had lost my senses, and
begged for an explanation. I told him I felt certain that a lady I had
been seeking in every direction was at the other side of the hedge. He
said the adjoining grounds belonged to a ladies' school, and I asked
him to accompany me to the house, and back me up in my inquiries, as
he was known to the owner and the teachers. At last he consented. The
parleying occupied some time, then we had to walk round by a road
which ran the length of the two gardens, to turn again on reaching the
common, and go a little way back to the gates of Montpellier House;
altogether twenty minutes must have elapsed from the time I first heard
the voice before I rang the bell at Mrs. Storrer's. As we approached a
cab was driving away. On asking for the head of the establishment, we
were informed that no one was at home but the head governess and the
French teacher. Heathcote sent up his card, and begged to be allowed to
speak to one or both of the ladies."

"Well," ejaculated Lady Gethin, "what did you find?"

"After a little delay we were ushered up stairs and were received by a
lady, who recognized Heathcote. He left me to explain myself, which I
did as well as I could, though it was not easy."

"'You heard a voice you recognized speaking in our grounds,' repeated
the lady; 'it must have been either Mademoiselle Laroche, or
Mademoiselle Moppert. They were in the grounds just now.'

"'May I see these ladies?'

"'Mademoiselle Moppert,--yes; but Mademoiselle Laroche has just
driven away. Mademoiselle Moppert has come to replace her as French
governess.' I confess I lost hope as she spoke, still I begged for an
interview with the incoming teacher, and a servant was sent to request
her presence. A glance at her was enough. She was a short, stout,
elderly young lady, with piercing black eyes and distinct moustaches. I
had to muster my best French and apologize elaborately. Then I begged
for some information touching Mademoiselle Laroche. Was she French?
'Yes, undoubtedly,--from Picardy.' 'Was she tall, or short? slight,
or stout?' 'She was,' the French governess said, 'about her height,
and a little, yes, a very little thinner.' The Englishwoman added
that she did not look in good health. 'Did she sing?' I asked. No,
she had never sang or played while in Mrs. Storrer's establishment.
How long had she been there? About seven months. She had been engaged
in May last, but did not come till the middle of June. Where had she
gone? It was understood she had made an engagement to go to India, but
she was extremely reserved. No one knew much about her except Mrs.
Storrer, who was spending the holidays with a friend at Cheltenham.
This was all I could extract. Heathcote was desperately put out by my
eccentric proceedings. I was obliged to return with him and to give
some explanation of my conduct. Then I went to the cab-stand, and found
out the number of the cab; and to the police-station, and commissioned
a constable to ascertain where the cab had taken Mademoiselle Laroche."

"I think your time and trouble have been thrown away," said Lady
Gethin. "A fancied resemblance to Miss Lambert's voice was but shallow
ground to build any hopes upon."

"It was not fancied," said Glynn, leaning back and looking straight
before him with fixed, dreamy eyes. "The tones struck my ear, my heart,
with instantaneous recognition. I cannot believe that any two people
could speak so much alike. I must say the description doesn't tally,
nor is it possible to account for her being in a ladies' school in
England; still, that voice!"

"My dear Hugh, your imagination is so saturated with the tragic
ideas you associate with that unhappy girl's flight--I mean her
disappearance," for Glynn turned sharply towards her, "that you can
hardly trust your own impressions. I wish you would put the affair out
of your head. You were quite right to help the poor father as much as
you could; but now--let this chapter of your life be closed, and begin
afresh."

"Excellent advice, but useless to me. I can _not_ forget!"

"Is it possible that on so short an acquaintance you were so severely
hit?"

"Ay, in the first twenty-four hours of our acquaintance she touched
my heart as no other woman ever did, and every subsequent interview
added to her power. There was a sweet gravity about her which would be
as charming in her white-haired age as in her fair youth! And yet so
miserably faithless is this human nature of ours, there are moments
when doubt plunges its jagged darts into me;--and for a hideous moment
I think it possible she may have gone willingly with some unknown
lover, but at any suggestion of the kind from another the doubt
vanishes. It only gathers at rare intervals when I brood alone and
grow morbid. In my saner moments I never doubt her; but the horror of
the thing!--nothing diminishes that!"

He started up and began to pace the room. The anguish of his voice
touched Lady Gethin, in spite of her conviction that he was weakly
credulous.

"It is a terrible business altogether. What do you think of doing now?"

"I shall go down by an early train to Cheltenham to-morrow and see this
Mrs. Storrer. My future movements will depend on what I gather from
her."

"Shall you write to the father?"

"Not unless I have something definite to report. It would be cruel to
rouse him out of his apathy by a gleam of false hope."

"You are a most unlucky fellow, Hugh; your life is quite spoilt by this
entanglement."

"It is my fate," said Glynn. He rested his elbow on the mantelpiece and
his head on his hand.

"You will return to-morrow night, I suppose?" said Lady Gethin.

"Most probably. I don't fancy I shall get any intelligence that will
send me further afield."

"You must come and tell me your news as soon as possible."

"Of course I shall, gladly."

"Then dine with me the day after to-morrow. I shall not ask any one to
break our solitude _à deux_."

"Thank you. It is an infinite comfort to talk to you, though I know
very well you are sceptical on some points where I cling to belief."

After some more conversation they parted, and Glynn, disturbed, but
scarcely hopeful, went home to snatch what repose he could before his
early start next day.

       *       *       *       *       *

While Glynn was making his way to Mrs. Storrer's temporary abode
through muddy streets and a chilling shower of sleet, Deering sat over
a glowing fire in the particular apartment occupied by him in his town
house. He was in London for a few days on his way to visit a sporting
friend in Leicestershire, and was utilizing the time by an interview
with his solicitor, who had already risen to take leave, when
Deering's valet entered and handed a card to his master, who, glancing
at it with a frown, said:

"Ask him to sit down; I will see him presently," and he continued the
conversation with his legal adviser, though his eyes wandered more than
once to the card which lay beside him.

As soon as he was alone, Deering rang and desired that the gentleman
who was waiting should be shown up. In another moment the door closed
on Vincent, who was magnificent in a grand overcoat, with a sable
collar and cuffs, and a pair of sealskin gloves. His finery, however,
was no stay to his self-esteem, for his light-colored, hatchety face
had an uneasy, crestfallen expression.

"Well," said Deering, without further salutation, "have you any news?
There--sit down."

"Yes, I have news; not very satisfactory news," said Vincent in his
nasal, drawling tones. "He's off!"

"Lambert! And to America?" cried Deering.

The other nodded. "I tracked him myself, saw him on board the New York
steamer, and saw her steam away down the Mersey."

"Then he sailed from Liverpool? What was the meaning of that?"

"Can't tell. I think you are wrong in your conjectures. I don't think
he knows any more about his daughter than we do."

"His start for America proves nothing."

"Perhaps not; but for over seven months he has been watched night and
day, as you know, and not a trace of any communication with any one
except business men and that woman who brought up the girl has been
found."

"We don't know what his communication with her may have masked?"

"Well, not more than three letters have passed between them in all
this time; nor has he remitted money in any direction, or made any
expeditions beyond his daily round. He has been pretty steady in his
attendance at the Bourse, and done well in a quiet way, but his life
has been visible and regular. He has bothered M. Claude periodically,
and he looks a good deal changed; but, no! if he knew his daughter's
whereabouts he never could keep from giving some sign. He is a fiery,
impulsive, open-mouthed fellow, who would be too proud of doing you to
keep silent about it. If he were not within reach of the policeman he'd
give _me_ my quietus."

"No doubt," said Deering, with calm, complete acquiescence. "What is
the name of the woman in Wales?"

"Mrs. Kellett."

"I thought we might have got something out of her."

"Well, I did not," returned Vincent. "Lambert was so ready to apply to
her. Moreover, the man that went down to the place found she had been
ill in bed at the very time Miss Lambert disappeared."

There was a pause. "It is the strangest case, I should think, that
French detective ever came across," resumed Deering. "I suppose he
never was baffled before. Who has any interest in taking her away? Have
you any theory?"

"Not much of one. I am sometimes inclined to think she went off with
Glynn. He was, I suspect, far gone about her."

"No," said Deering, thoughtfully. "No; he was with me when Lambert
broke in like a madman, and no one could have aped the horror and
astonishment _he_ betrayed. No, he doesn't know anything,--or didn't
a few weeks ago; but I wish to heaven he hadn't got over that fever.
Should we ever find the girl we shall have to reckon with him, and he
is a formidable antagonist."

"He can be dealt with, I suppose."

Deering did not heed him; he moved uneasily in his chair. His brow
contracted with a look of fierce resolution. "Have you telegraphed to
the New York police?"

"I waited to see you first."

"You had better do so. They have a description of Lambert, I suppose?"

"I rather think not."

"Send it then."

"What, by wire?"

"Yes;--but wait,--do it through the French detective. I don't want
to appear in the matter. They were rather taken with the notion that
Lambert himself had made away with his daughter?"

"At first, yes; but the last time I saw M. Claude he seemed to have
quite given up the idea."

"You never know what he thinks. Now, what has your journey cost you?"

"I don't care to take any money at present; I will write when----"

"No," interrupted Deering, imperiously, "no letters--I will neither
write nor receive them--a telegram, if absolutely necessary. If you
have anything to tell, come and tell it, you can always find my
address at the Club, and never give up the search. Here are twenty
sovereigns,--I have no more gold about me, and I'll not give you
notes,--take them, I insist. It suits me better to pay when I have the
opportunity. Remember--the sum originally promised if you can find her
dead, double if you find her alive. Now you may go--stop--wait till
the servant comes." Vincent paused, and as the door opened, Deering
said distinctly in courteous tones, "I am very much obliged to you for
taking the trouble to call--I am interested in your search--and wish
you all success. Good-morning."

       *       *       *       *       *

Lady Gethin was restless and expectant until the hour arrived at
which Glynn was due. She was profoundly interested in the mysterious
disappearance of the girl who had made so deep an impression on her
favorite nephew. She would like her to be discovered safe and well;
but above all things, married to some worthy person, and so secure
from doing or receiving harm. Then she should like to see her, perhaps
assist at her reconciliation with her father. Anyhow it was a great
mercy that she was well out of Hugh's way, for really the folly and
weakness of men were such, etc., etc.

Glynn was a few minutes late, but was cordially welcomed.

"I see you have found nothing," exclaimed Lady Gethin, as soon as they
were alone.

"It was a wild-goose chase," he replied with a weary look.

"You must tell me all about it after dinner. You seem in want of a
glass of wine,--you shall have some of my best Burgundy, it is a
splendid tonic."

The friendly hostess was greatly distressed at her guest's want of
appetite; she pressed, him to eat, and prescribed various nostrums,
which he rejected. As soon as the servants had left the room he
brightened a little, and drawing his chair nearer hers, began his story
in compliance with her reiterated entreaty, "Come, tell me everything."

He had, he said, found the head of the Clapham establishment easy
enough; she was a composed, ceremonious, typical school-mistress;
civil, but guarded. She listened attentively to his story, and declared
her willingness to tell all she knew about the young French lady who
had just quitted her service. She had been recommended by some English
friends at Dinan; and her chief attraction was the fact of her being
a Protestant. Hitherto Mrs. Storrer feared the introduction of a
foreigner into her select and sacred household, but had no reason to
regret the entrance of Mademoiselle Laroche within its precincts. It
was early in May last that negotiations between herself and the French
teacher began; but she did not enter upon her duties till the 15th of
June.

"That," said Glynn, interrupting himself, "was the day of the
ball,--the day before her disappearance."

Mrs. Storrer described Mademoiselle Laroche as about middle height,
inclined to be stout, with hair and eyes between dark and fair; not
particularly graceful; and as to age,--well, it was hard to say--she
might be twenty-one,--she might be twenty-five,--appearances are
deceptive. As to her voice--yes, it was pleasant, unusually soft for
a French woman; but nothing remarkable! If he wished for Mademoiselle
Laroche's address, Mrs. Storrer would be happy to furnish it, though
that would not be of much avail, as the family to whom she had gone
were to start to-morrow or next day for India. She had not her
address-book with her, but would send a note to the governess to
forward it to Mr. Glynn.

"Finally, I showed her Miss Lambert's photograph, which I always carry
about with me. She looked at it with a slow smile, and then turning it
said: 'No, this is not Mademoiselle Laroche, this is a charming young
lady.' Her quiet unconsciousness of any resemblance convinced me even
more than her words that she could not know Elsie."

"Indeed," added Glynn, "a quiet young ladies' boarding-school seems
the very last place where one could expect to find a girl so strangely
and tragically lost. Yet even now, as I recall the voice I heard the
day before yesterday, I cannot believe that I was mistaken! Is it not
possible that a visitor might have entered and walked round the garden
with the other two? unknown to the head governess."

"Of course it is possible, but very improbable. If Miss Lambert was
carried away against her own will (which I do not believe), her captors
would not let her go visiting; and if she aided in concealing herself,
why, she would not seek acquaintances."

"True, and unanswerable. Still, when I think of the voice I heard
little more than forty-eight hours ago, I cannot resist the conviction
that if I could have burst through that accursed hedge I should have
clasped Elsie--the real Elsie--in my arms."

"Good heavens, Hugh! _would_ you have clasped her in your arms?"

"I would! if she had not repelled me! I tell you I would give life
itself,--to find--the Elsie Lambert I believed in."

"Yes, but can you hope to do so? Must you not admit that the balance of
evidence is _against_ such a find?" cried Lady Gethin, distressed, yet
deeply interested.

"There are beliefs and instincts," returned Glynn, "the deepest--the
strangest, respecting which one cannot reason! Shall we ever understand
the 'wherefore' that is beyond and above our material sense?"

"Never," said Lady Gethin, sharply. "There is a something we cannot
define or fathom that stirs us as though a second self was being
evolved from the coarser everyday serviceable ego; but it will always
escape our ken! Nor will it do to trust these bewildering, shadowy
promptings; we must act in the living present by the light of that most
uncommon faculty, common sense. These dreamy tendencies are not like
you! This unlucky business has upset your mental balance, Hugh. You
have done your best to find this poor girl; she has no claim whatever
upon you. You must try to put her out of your head, and take up your
life again."

"I suppose I must," he returned thoughtfully; "but it will be hard.
Curiously enough I found a letter awaiting me when I returned, from
Lambert, dated Liverpool, informing me he was to sail next day for New
York, where he had some faint hope of finding a clue to his daughter.
He must have passed through London. I am surprised he did not call on
me. I did not think he would have avoided me."

"It looks odd," said Lady Gethin. "By the way, let me see the
daughter's photograph; I did not know you carried it about, or I should
have asked for it before."

Glynn took out the little case in which the picture was carefully
enclosed, and gave it to her. Lady Gethin looked long and thoughtfully
at it.

"A sweet face," she said, "somewhat sad; but a fine expression;
it seems somehow familiar to me. Photographs are seldom true
representations, and she may be very unlike the idea this suggests; but
I wish I could remember who it is she reminds of."

"It has not been fortunate for Elsie that her face suggests memories,"
said Glynn. "I have a strong conviction that if she had not attracted
Deering's attention at those Auteuil races she would be still safe
under her father's care."

"You mean to say you think that a man of Deering's position, character,
standing, would give himself up to such scoundrelism. Hugh! it is too
absurd!"

"I know it is; I always dismiss the thought, and then it gathers again
like a mist over the morass of doubt in which I am plunged. However,
if he is responsible for her disappearance he certainly does not
know where she is now; but he is seeking for her. Claude, the French
detective, let out as much the last time I saw him."

"Depend upon it the father knows she is in America."

"You think so? _I_ doubt it."

"I wonder he is not more confidential with you. Does he know you were
in love with her?"

"No, certainly not!"

"The whole affair is incomprehensible!--let me look at that photograph
again! Who is it she reminds me of?"

Finding no reply in the stores of her memory, Lady Gethin shut up the
case and restored it to Glynn, and to change the subject began to urge
him to resume his former social habits and mix with his kind. "It
will not render your chances of finding your lost love any the worse,
perhaps better; for if you ever get a clue to her, I suspect it will be
by accident. No one was ever really lost in this small world of ours
unless, indeed, death folds its pall over the missing one."

"Yes, I shall probably find her; but how? and where?" said Glynn,
with a sound of pain in his voice. "At any rate I shall follow your
advice! I will try to shake off this despairing apathy; and, though I
cannot turn phrases prettily, believe me I am warmly grateful for your
sympathy, your forbearance; indeed, I do not know what I should do
without it."



CHAPTER VIII.

DAWNING LIGHT.


Glynn was true to his promise. He forced himself back to something of
his old routine. He took a deeper interest in business than before, and
found something of relief in the mental effort it obliged him to make.

Men said Glynn was greatly changed since that bad fever he had had.
Women thought him more interesting. The truth was hardly suspected.
It suited the authorities of _la sûreté_ that the _affaire Rue de
L'Evêque_ should not get into the public prints. The English newspapers
had therefore never got hold of the story.

One of the chief interests in this new phase of Glynn's existence was
to watch Deering, whom he frequently met.

That gentleman affected some intimacy with Glynn, and made many visits
to the office of Messrs. Ottley, Hassali and Ince, _apropos_ of his
railway scheme.

Glynn did not reject his advances, though never lapsing into intimacy.
Deering often spoke of Lambert, and volunteered the information that
the New York police had their eye upon him, that he had arrived all
right, landed, and gone away South almost immediately.

Gradually it dawned upon Glynn that Deering was watching _him_, that
he suspected him of knowing more of Elsie's disappearance than any
one else. He was careful not to let Deering see that he perceived
this, and so, under the fair seeming of friendly acquaintanceship,
the two men kept watch over each other with deadly pertinacity and
keenness, Glynn keeping profoundest silence as to his conviction that
he had heard Elsie's voice, a conviction that tormented him in all his
silent, lonely hours. Often he accused himself of stupidity for too
readily believing the stately Mrs. Storrer. But her quiet disavowal
of all likeness in the photograph to her French teacher, coupled
with Lambert's letter stating that he had some faint hope of finding
a clue to his daughter in America, put him off the idea of hunting
Mademoiselle Laroche further. Sometimes he felt that he would give
all he possessed to shake himself clear of the haunting horror which
poisoned his life. Then the memory of Elsie's sweet, grave, holy eyes
would rise before him, and he felt that he could endure all things,
hope all things, could he but find her, and restore her to what she
was. On the whole, evil anticipations predominated. He had been greatly
disappointed by Lambert's avoidance of him. He could not bear to think
that the unhappy, bereaved father had withdrawn his confidence.

Thus battling with the fiends of doubt and fear that lacerated his
heart, Glynn dragged himself on from day to day.

In the last week of February Deering's land-agent came to town,
bringing with him maps, plans, and calculations. To Glynn's great
surprise he proved to be a certain Dick Weldon, formerly one of his
school-fellows. This recognition led to some intercourse. Glynn,
without deliberate questioning, gathered a good deal of information,
which threw a new light on Deering's character in some directions. On
the subject of the quest which engrossed them both Glynn maintained a
profound silence.

His old acquaintance dined with him, and they talked over bygone
days and boyish escapades with zest, at least on Weldon's side.
It was amazing to Glynn how fresh and full the details of past
adventures--even small minutiæ--dwelt in his old acquaintance's mind,
untroubled as it was by a crowd of varied experiences. He had, it
seemed, led a quiet, busy life, humbly useful, but unexciting.

One cold, dry, dark evening Glynn had accepted an invitation to dine
with Weldon at the hotel in Holborn where he usually stayed on his
short visits to town.

Dinner was over, and both men were enjoying a cigar. The host had
put one or two queries, evidently prompted by the curiosity which
the contrast between Glynn's prosperity and his gloomy depression
evoked, but he could draw forth no responsive confidence, and Weldon,
falling back on his own interests, described his home, his wife, and
children, pressing Glynn warmly to pay them a visit, when, to the great
surprise of both, Deering was ushered in. He apologized shortly for his
intrusion, and explained that he had just had private intelligence that
the member for a borough town near Denham was dangerously ill, that
even were he to recover it would be long before he could enter into
public life again, and that he (Deering) wished to win the probably
vacant seat. He therefore wished Weldon, who knew the local population,
and was well able to feel its pulse, to leave town next morning, and
put matters in train for an immediate canvass, as the retirement of the
sitting member would most probably be announced in a day or two.

As soon as he could withdraw without too rude a display of
indifference, Glynn rose to say good-night; when Deering, somewhat to
his annoyance, proposed to go with him.

"I have no more to say now, Weldon. As soon as the death or retirement
is declared, I will go down to Denham, and we will not let the grass
grow under our feet!"

On reaching the entrance of the hotel, they stopped, intending to
call a cab, and while waiting Glynn's attention was attracted by
two cloaked and veiled women, who were standing close together just
within the doorway. One was tall and stout, the other barely of middle
size, her shoulders, even through the rain-cloak wrapped round her,
showed unmistakable grace,--unmistakable and familiar; a small hat was
entirely enveloped in a thick veil, which was tied over her face, the
ends being brought loosely round the throat to the front. Glynn's eyes
were riveted on this figure, while he seemed to be peering into the
darkness, and felt nervously anxious not to direct Deering's notice to
the object which attracted him.

"If he could only hear her speak!" He listened intently.

"It is useless, we must try an omnibus, it is really safer," he
overheard the taller lady say. The other murmured something, and
turning her head, displayed, in spite of her muffling, a morsel of
white neck, and a glimpse of golden-brown hair. Glynn's heart beat. At
all risks he must keep that girl in view; any mistake was better than
to lose the faintest chance. But Deering must not know his suspicions.
Surely the faint suggestions of a likeness would strike him also? But
Deering made no remark, nor did he seem to see.

At last the taller of the two women said, "Come," and went forth into
the street. At that moment an Islington omnibus drove up. She stepped
forward under the nearest lamp, and tried to stop it by waving her
umbrella. The vehicle was full, and the two cloaked figures walked
slowly away towards Oxford Street.

"Excuse me," said Glynn, abruptly, "I am anxious to get home; I will
walk on and take my chance of a cab."

"Very well," returned Deering, "I'll come with you."

Glynn was dismayed. Did Deering suspect, as he did, that this cloaked
and veiled figure might be Elsie Lambert? If so, what could he do to
save her from his recognition?

His heart thrilled with pain and delight at the bare idea of standing
once more face to face with his lost love. What secrets would that
meeting unveil? Meanwhile he never lost sight of the figures going on
before them, and Deering spoke at intervals.

"There's an empty hansom at last," he cried.

"I am going on a little further," said Glynn. "But don't let me
interfere with you."

"Oh! I don't mind walking with you; I have no engagement I care to
keep," he replied.

"Why does he persist?" thought Glynn. "I am going to look in on an
artist friend near Tottenham Court Road," he said aloud.

"Oh! very well; queer places these fellows put up in. By the way, I
have had another report of our mutual acquaintance, Lambert. He is at
St. Louis, and has changed his name for the third or fourth time."

"Indeed! then you must have had a telegram?"

"Yes, that is, our friends, Claude and Co., have communicated theirs to
me. If Lambert begins to try concealment we'll find out something."

"I trust we shall," said Glynn mechanically, his eyes greedily
following the two figures, lamp after lamp shedding its light upon them
as they passed.

"Will he never go?" he thought, quivering with excitement.

It was an extraordinary situation to be thus dogging the footsteps of
the quarry you wished to preserve from your fellow-hunter, and yet to
be unavoidably leading that hunter on her track.

"I fancy you don't want me," said Deering at last. "If so----"

"Why should you think I do not?" interrupted Glynn, nervously afraid to
betray his burning anxiety to be rid of him.

"I can't exactly tell why," said Deering, laughing, "but I am sure I am
right."

"Well, do whichever you like," said Glynn with well-assumed
indifference,--"come on with me to Tottenham Court Road, where you will
be sure to find plenty of cabs, or pick up the first empty one we fall
in with, and leave me to my fate."

Glynn was almost beside himself with hope, dread, and nervous tension.

Another Islington omnibus drove past and stopped. The two ladies darted
to it, exchanged a hasty hand pressure, and then the shorter of the two
mounted swiftly, and vanished into the interior.

"Good-night!" cried Glynn, abruptly; "the humble 'bus will suit me
admirably."

Before his astonished companion could reply he was beside the vehicle,
which was still standing, as a stout and irritable elderly gentleman
was painfully disentangling himself from among the tightly-packed
passengers.

"If you had only let me out first," he exclaimed angrily as he alighted.

"Trouble you for threepence," interrupted the conductor.

"Threepence! why, I only got in at Leather Lane."

"All right!--Islington!"

Another instant and Glynn occupied the stout man's place--nearer the
door, but on the opposite side to the lady he was following--and they
were rolling rapidly westward.

At first he would not let himself seem to see her, and by the light of
the omnibus lamp he could hardly make out her features, so thick was
the lace which concealed them. Suddenly he saw her start and draw her
cloak closer together with a nervous movement. Had she recognized him?

Gradually, his eyes growing familiar with the light and the texture
of the veil, the conviction grew upon him that he was not mistaken,
that it _was_ indeed Elsie Lambert. It was by a powerful exertion of
will that he controlled the burning impulse to address her, to take
the place beside her vacated by an old lady. She could not leave the
conveyance without passing him; he would be quiet and careful. But if
her father was seeking her in America, how came she here, alone, and
evidently disguised? What frightful confession of weakness, betrayal,
and duplicity awaited him! for this night he would know everything. He
had her in his grasp, and she should not escape. The minutes were like
drops of lead, and still the commonplace everyday 'bus rolled on, its
occupants little dreaming what elements of tragedy were enclosed within
it.

At last he observed Elsie--yes, it _was_ Elsie--murmur something to her
next neighbor, who immediately called out--

"Conductor, Chapel Street for this lady."

The omnibus stopped. Glynn kept quietly in his place, but sprang out
the moment she had passed him. The omnibus drove rapidly away.

The slight dark figure was but a few paces before him in a quiet street
leading from the omnibus line. The longed-for, dreaded moment had come.
He walked rapidly past her, turned round suddenly, and confronting her,
exclaimed:

"Miss Lambert--Elsie! you cannot wish to avoid me?"

She stopped, and put out both her hands with a repellent gesture of
helpless terror that touched Glynn's heart with immense pity.

"Is it possible you fear me?" he said, catching both her hands in his.

She was silent, motionless; but as he almost unconsciously drew her
nearer to him, he felt that she was trembling so violently that she
could scarcely stand.

"Do not fear, I will not betray you to any one. I will help you if I
can. Will you not speak to me? Is it the Elsie I used to know?"

With a long, quivering sigh she whispered, "It is."

"Let me look at your face once more," said Glynn in a low intense tone.
"Don't you know you may trust me?"

"It is not for myself I fear," she said in the same hushed, frightened
voice, as she yielded to the movement by which he drew her under a
lamp; and loosening her veil, she lifted it, raising her eyes with
their well-remembered expression of thoughtful candor to his. How
lovely they were! With what rapture Glynn read in them the confirmation
of her assurance that she was the same Elsie he had loved and lost.
But she was changed; the sweet eyes were unutterably sad, and the
delicate cheek was less rounded. The soft lips were pale, and quivered
nervously, and the hand he still held was thinner. She seemed unable
to suppress the excessive trembling that had seized her. Glynn's whole
soul went out to her in love and trust; he could hardly resist the
impulse to clasp her to his heart, to shelter her against all ill in
his bosom. But might she not be the wife of another man? Anything might
have happened during the terrible blank; and, above all, he must win
her confidence.

"Ah, yes, you are indeed the same. Why--why have you given us all
this sorrow, this fearful anxiety? Think of what your poor father has
suffered! Do you know that he has gone to America to search for you?"

"My father!" she repeated, "my poor dear father!" Then she paused, as
if resisting the inclination to speak.

"I must not keep you here in the cold, dark street. I cannot let you go
alone. May I not come with you?"

"Oh, no, no, no," she repeated; "you must let me go. I cannot, dare not
let you come with me. I must not tell you anything."

"Now that I have found you, do you think I will lose sight of you
again?"

"You will, I am sure, do what is best for me, and kindest," said Elsie,
trying to be calm, and wrapping the veil round her face again. "Let us
move on; we shall attract attention."

She did not resist when he drew her arm through his own, and they
slowly paced up the street in which he had overtaken her.

"Do you think me capable of betraying you?" asked Glynn.

"No," after a pause, as if to plan her speech; "but I have more than
myself to think of. You must not ask me any questions."

"Can you say nothing? Is there no way in which I can help you?"

"I fear not--I do not know--I--" she stopped and drew a long, sobbing
breath--"I dare not speak. Any word might betray more than I ought."

"For your father's sake!--think of all he must endure. Have you any
duty to come before what you owe him?"

He waited for her reply as for a sentence of life or death.

"Think of him! do I _not_ think of him? My love and duty are his only.
But"--she tried to withdraw her arm--"you must let me go; I dare not
stay."

"I cannot let you go unless you promise to meet me again, or tell me
where I may see you. No, I will not release your arm. Elsie--Miss
Lambert, I have been seeking you for seven months; my brain has reeled
at the horror of its own picture of your fate; I cannot let you go now.
Why do you distrust me? Let me take you home. How could I leave you
here in the dark alone?"

"Oh, do not torment me!" she exclaimed, and her voice expressed such
pain that Glynn almost hesitated to persevere in his efforts to detain
her. "In truth I long to take you with me; I am sure you are kind
and true, and I fear to be alone; but I will brave anything, endure
anything rather than say whence I came and whither I go. Do not be
angry with me."

She burst into an agony of tears, leaning against him as if from sheer
inability to stand alone.

"Good God! Elsie, what _can_ I do to comfort and help you? I implore
you to trust me. If I let you go now without retaining some clue by
which I can find you, I can never forgive myself."

"I long to tell you much, all, but I must not. Yet I might get leave; I
might write. Give me your address; I _may_ write to you."

"Will you promise this, solemnly, faithfully?"

"If I do, will you let me go? I am late already. He will be so
anxious."

"_He!_ who?" a throb of fierce jealousy vibrated through Glynn's heart.
"If you promise to see me once more, when and where you will, I will
trust you and let you go. You see, I have more faith in you than you
have in me."

"No; _you_ are free, I am not. I have faith in you, but--Well, promise
for promise. I will promise to write to you before Friday night, if you
will promise not to make any attempt to discover me until after I have
written."

"Good; then promise for promise."

"I promise to write to you, and--and if possible to see you."

"There must be nothing about possibility," said Glynn, sternly. "Give
me an unconditional promise, or I shall not leave you!"

She hesitated, and then said solemnly, "I promise."

"And I trust your promise," returned Glynn. "On my part I promise not
to make any attempt to track you until I have received your letter, or
rather until I have seen you."

There was a moment's silence, then Elsie, who seemed to recover herself
a little, said softly, "Then, good-night!"

"I cannot part with you yet," cried Glynn, passionately; "I cannot bear
to let you go alone. Tell me, did you recognize me in the omnibus?"

"Not all at once; a little while after I had got in. At first, for some
time, I thought you did not know me--I hoped you did not."

"I knew you at the door of the hotel, and followed you."

She started. "I _must_ go now, I have stayed too long. Call a cab for
me, and tell the driver to go to the Great Northern Station. I will
direct him after."

"I cannot bear to let you go alone."

"You must!" impressively. "I am braver than I used to be."

"At least hold my arm till we find a cab," said Glynn, pressing hers to
his side, as they turned back to the thoroughfare from which the street
led. Elsie submitted to his guidance silently. Glynn's heart beat
strongly with mixed emotions. The rapture of meeting her was great--the
fear of losing her still greater. His promise forbade his following
her, and he seemed as far from solving the mystery of her disappearance
as ever. She was moved at the mention of her father, yet not in the
way he expected; she had evidently suffered. Was he culpably weak in
letting her go? But he had no choice. He could not resist her tears,
her distress.

Soon, too soon, they found a cab. Glynn scrutinized the driver; he did
not look like a ruffian. With an effort he subdued his reluctance to
part with her, and assisted her into the conveyance, remembering with
a pang how he had handed her into the carriage after the ball and sent
her forth to--he could not tell what wretchedness and wrong.

"You will be true to your word," he said, pressing her hand as he gave
her his card.

"I will," she whispered. "Perhaps it may prove fortunate that I have
met you."

"God grant it," he returned; then drawing back, said aloud, for
the benefit of the driver, "You will let me know if you arrive all
right;" and waited till the man had ascended the box, when he asked
and obtained his ticket. That at least was something to have and to
hold. Elsie drew up the window and leaned back well out of sight.
The cab rolled away into the darkness, and Glynn was left standing
alone. Collecting himself, he walked briskly away in a southwesterly
direction. Lady Gethin was right, a mere accident brought him the
fulfilment of his passionate desire--that which he had sought for with
such agonizing eagerness. How strange that Deering should have been
with him when he caught sight of something familiar in the neck and
shoulders of the cloaked figure! He would not soon forget the torment
of that walk along the dusky street, the dread of drawing Deering's
attention to the object of his own intense observation, the difficulty
of getting rid of him. Surely the stars in their courses fought for him
(Glynn). Good must come out of so strange a turn of fortune's wheel.
At least he had found Elsie safe--safe apparently from any pressing
danger, and though looking ill and worn, comparatively well. He had
therefore room for hope.

But she was evidently under the influence of some strong will, the
pressure of some great necessity. Would she be true to her promise?
Yes, a thousand times yes! With the sight of her fair, sad face, the
sound of the tremulous voice, all his faith in her returned. It was
marvellous the sort of tender reverence she inspired in him--this
inexperienced creature, who was almost young enough to be his daughter,
and utterly unlearned in the world's lore which was so familiar to
himself! She was not even a highly-accomplished, deeply-read young
lady. There was an old-fashioned charm of sincerity and earnestness
about her infinitely attractive. But she must have undergone some
severe shock, or trial. Her nerves seemed shattered. When should he
know all? Would any blame attach to her? And Glynn answered his own
question with a resolute "No." Then giving himself up to the first real
intense passion he had ever felt, he resolved to win her, to wed her,
to know even a few months' entire happiness--if she would share that
happiness--unless the secret to be revealed hid some insurmountable
barrier.

So far sure of his own consent, Glynn felt more composed; but the hours
dragged fearfully.

The next day he had a visit in his private room from Deering, who was
at the office on business, and said he was going to Denham for a few
days. He then added that Vincent had presumed to call on him, to his
great surprise, his excuse being, that he had heard from St. Louis
that Lambert was there under another name, and had a wife and daughter
with him; that the police were following him close, but could find no
pretext at present for arresting him.

Glynn said very little in reply. He watched Deering keenly as he spoke,
and came to the conclusion that he had no suspicion that Elsie was so
near.

"I don't suppose we shall ever get to the bottom of the affair 'Rue de
L'Evêque,' as the French detectives call it, till the law has got its
grip on that scoundrel Lambert."

"I think he is more an adventurer than a scoundrel," said Glynn coldly;
"and I confess I see no reason for supposing he is in the secret of his
daughter's disappearance; but perhaps you know more than I do."

Deering looked at him with a quick, keen glance--a glance of dislike
and distrust. "On the contrary, _you_ were the intimate friend, the
favored guest of Lambert, and of his charming daughter, of whom I
suspect he made a profitable investment."

"It is blasphemy to say so," exclaimed Glynn indignantly. "Lambert may
have a queer history, but no irreproachable member of the best society
could be a better guardian of his daughter than he was! Do not let him
hear you utter such an insinuation, should you ever meet again, or you
might not like his reply!"

Deering elevated his eyebrows contemptuously. "You are remarkably
loyal," he said. "Well, good-morning; I shall probably see you next
week."

Thursday passed and no letter; well, there were twenty-four hours yet
to spare. Glynn dined that day with Lady Gethin, and as usual outstayed
the other guests.

"I haven't seen you for an age, Hugh," she said, settling herself in
her favorite chair. "You are looking better, as if some life was waking
up within you; but you are very restless and _distrait_; at dinner you
did not seem able to attend to any one or anything for more than five
minutes. Have you found any trace of the lost one?"

"I am too uncertain to talk about it--wait for a few days."

"Ah! then you have," cried her ladyship triumphantly. "I protest I
would give my Louis Quatorze watch, diamonds and all, to know the truth
of that extraordinary story, and to see the girl who has fascinated
you--for she has--you know she has!"

"I will confess nothing, and discuss nothing with you, Lady Gethin," he
returned laughing, and pulling his long dark moustaches. "I know the
power of _your_ fascination sufficiently to be aware that if I once
began there is not a corner of my mind I would not turn inside-out for
your inspection."

"Ah! that is all very fine," exclaimed Lady Gethin in high glee; "but
you will not say a word more than you choose. If you ever find this
young lady, you really must manage to let me see her."

"Would you come and see her?" asked Glynn, as delightful intoxicating
possibilities floated before his eyes.

"Find me a decent excuse, and I'll come fast enough! Hugh, I suspect
you know where she is?"

"I do not, indeed--I wish I did."

"Well, for Heaven's sake, do nothing foolish when she does appear, for
you will find her, if she is above ground."

Friday, and no letter. Glynn kept indoors nearly the whole day, sent an
excuse to the house where he was engaged to dine, and sat, trying to
read, and watching for the last delivery. It came, but brought him no
letter from Elsie.

Then he called himself a drivelling fool, a weak-minded idiot. Why had
he allowed the tears and terror of that unhappy girl to delude him? He
ought to have kept her in his grasp once he had found her. But he had
been so sure of her keeping faith. Now his very faith was shaken. What
might not be revealed if Elsie had deceived him?

He could not sleep. He spent the night in planning schemes of
detection. He found in the depths of his present depression the measure
of the height of hope to which he had risen yesterday.

Next morning he rose, fevered by want of sleep, and eager to begin his
search. He was dressed before the eight o'clock post came in, and was
already writing, when several letters were brought to him, one directed
in a stiff, careful, unknown hand, bearing the postmark of "Clapham."
He tore it open and read--"Come on Saturday at two. 30, Garston
Terrace, Towers Road, Islington." These lines were unsigned, and might
be meant for any one, as there was no address, yet Glynn never doubted
that the lines were meant for him, and were written by Elsie Lambert.
At two o'clock! How near and yet how far! little over six hours. How
should he get through them? He had work at his office, and must arrange
for a free afternoon; that was not difficult; he had not been regularly
in harness since his severe illness. Then he must supply himself with
money. It was impossible to say what steps might be necessary. He was
glad Deering had gone out of town. There seemed a fatality about his
connection with Lambert. He always came to the front when there was any
stir in the Lambert affair.

At last it was time to go citywards. First, however, he drove to
Deering's house and ascertained that he had gone out of town. The
morning hours fled away swifter than he had hoped, though he had a hard
struggle to attend to the business before him. But he had acquired a
good deal of self-mastery in the course of his varied experience, and
few of those with whom he came in contact would have guessed that his
heart was perpetually repeating the words, "What disclosures await me?"

After a vain attempt to eat, he took the train to King's Cross, and
then hailed a cab, desiring the driver to put him down in Towers
Road. This proved a long, dusty thoroughfare. Nor did he find Garston
Terrace till after many inquiries and walking some distance. It was
a little crooked lane, where some exceedingly new houses looked over
a field and a few trees. The door was opened by a fresh-colored,
countrified-looking old woman, in a beautifully white cap. Glynn was
utterly at a loss, he did not know for whom he should inquire. He
feared to mention a young lady; he thought of asking if there were
rooms to let in the house--of a dozen things for the instant or two,
during which they stood gazing at each other. At last the servant or
owner of the house said, in a broad accent--

"You'll be the gentleman to see Mr. Smith?"

"I am," returned Glynn, infinitely relieved.

"Walk in, please." When he obeyed she opened the door of a tolerably
large room at the back of the house, which looked into a small garden,
behind which was a high dead wall, separating it from a manufactory of
some humble sort.

It was very simply furnished--simple to plainness--yet neither ugly
nor uncomfortable. Here his conductress left him, and disregarding her
invitation to take a "cheer," he stood by the fire, his eyes fixed
on the door in a state of painful expectancy. The sound of footsteps
overhead, the murmur of voices made themselves heard, then the door
slowly opened, and Elsie herself came in softly. She was dressed in
black, but not in mourning, and looked deadly pale; her eyes seemed
larger and darker than they used. She made a step or two into the room,
and then stopped, holding out both hands, a smile curving her lip,
which yet trembled, as if on the verge of tears.

Glynn seized the hands she offered, and, in the rapture of seeing her
again, kissed them more than once. "I have imagined such horrors that I
cannot restrain my joy at finding you," he exclaimed, his voice broken
with intense feeling. "Why have you caused us this cruel anxiety?"

"How good you are to care so much," she said, looking at him with a
wondering expression. "You will find I am not to blame. Oh! I feared
I should never get leave to write to you, that you would think I had
broken my promise! I wished to send for you long ago. I know we can
trust you."

"_We!_" Good heavens! was she married, then? "We!" he repeated
hoarsely,--"who--who do you mean?--your husband and yourself?"

"My husband!" a smile gleaming over her face. "I am not married! No--my
father."

"Your father!" letting her withdraw her hands. "He is in America, is he
not?"

"He is here--here in this house."

"I feel bewildered," said Glynn, taking the seat she pointed to and
drawing it near her. "Will you not enlighten me?"

"I know so little, and my father wishes to tell you everything himself.
Ah! you will see him so changed." A quick sob caught her breath, but
she went on calmly: "He was changed enough when he first came, but he
has been seriously ill. He caught a bad cold when travelling here, and
has had inflammation of the lungs. He is so weak; will you come to him?
Now he has agreed to let you come, he is quite anxious to see you."

"In a moment. Tell me, how are you yourself? You look weary, as if you
had suffered."

"I have. It has been such a wretched, miserable time, almost
unbearable, until my father came--always hiding, always a mystery."

"And how did Lambert--how did your father find you?"

"My father find _me_?" with an air of astonishment. "Ah! he will tell
you everything. Come up-stairs to him."

Glynn rose to follow her with a faint feeling of disappointment. She
was evidently delighted to see him, full of faith in him, but utterly
devoid of that delicious consciousness which no woman in love can quite
conceal; and grief for the supposed loss of this girl had almost cost
him his life!--while for the present the mystery was more mysterious
than ever.

Elsie led the way up a narrow stair to the upper story, the same look
of neat simplicity characterizing the rest of the house, and opening
the door of a good-sized bedroom, she said, "Here is Mr. Glynn, dear."

In a large arm-chair, his feet on a footstool, and covered with a
warm plaid, propped by pillows, and close to a good fire, sat, or
rather reclined, Lambert, a small table near him, on which stood a
medicine-bottle and glass. A door leading into another room stood open.

Elsie was right. Her father was wofully changed. His cheeks were
hollow; his skin yellow and wrinkled; his once half-humorous,
half-defiant expression was gone, and replaced by a watchful, pitiful
look, like a creature always expecting a blow, pathetic too in its
wistfulness. One thin, claw-like hand grasped the arm of the chair. As
he turned to gaze eagerly towards the door, a smile of pleasure, a sort
of relieved look beamed over his face as Glynn advanced. "Ah! this is
kind--this is like a good fellow, as I always thought you were," he
whispered in a weak, tremulous voice. "I have just been wearying to see
you, but afraid, afraid!" He sank back on his cushions, still holding
Glynn's hand, and gazing at him imploringly.

"You know, Lambert, I am worthy of some trust, and desire nothing more
than to be of service to you," said Glynn, suppressing all tokens of
his immense surprise, and speaking with studied calmness. "You must not
fatigue or excite yourself. Now that you have allowed me to know your
address, I can come often to see you, and do anything you want in the
way of commissions."

"Ah! but we must take care--we must take care." He sighed deeply,
raising and letting fall his poor wasted hand with a despairing gesture.

While he spoke Elsie had measured out his medicine, and now gave it to
him, saying, "Try not to speak too much, dear father. I will leave you
to have a nice visit from Mr. Glynn all to yourself," with a sweet,
kind smile and thankful look. "I shall see you before you go." She
closed the door between the two rooms.

"Lock the other one, lock it, Elsie," said Lambert eagerly.

"Yes, I will." She disappeared.

"Come near me, nearer; we must speak low," said the invalid.

Glynn brought a chair close to his.

"Tell me," said Lambert, more calmly than he had yet spoken, "do you
think your old comrade a malefactor? do you think I am dodging the
police because I hide away from every one?"

"No! There is something wrong, of course,--concealment always implies
that; but I suspect you are more sinned against than sinning; at any
rate, I repeat, if I can serve you----"

"Ay!" interrupted Lambert; "but to serve me you must know all, and that
is more than I can tell to-day; but I have broken no law--I don't know
that I ever did, though I have done queer things--not for thirteen
years though, for all that time I have led a decent life; and now it's
for the good as well as the evil I have done that I am persecuted!
Glynn, all I can find strength to say is, will you help me to save my
Elsie? Will you be her guardian, and take care of her little fortune?"

"I will," said Glynn; "but I trust and see every reason to hope that
you will be her guardian yourself for many a year!"

"That has nothing to do with it," impatiently. "I want you to take
charge of her money, without deeds or papers, or lawyers, for I can see
no one. Just give me a written acknowledgment. Her money stands in the
name of the good woman who was my darling's foster-mother, and she is
not fit to manage it, and is afraid to keep it. But I trust you, Glynn!
O God! I _must_ trust you! and when the money is transferred to you,
then _you_ must settle it on her, and appoint trustees." He paused,
much exhausted.

"I will do exactly what you wish in the matter," said Glynn, anxious to
soothe him, "and do my best to deserve the high confidence you place in
me."

"Thank you, God bless you!" with a sigh of relief, laying his hand
on Glynn's; "and you will lose no time about it. Mrs. Kellett shall
call on you on Monday, and go with you to the brokers. The money is in
Spanish bonds and Australian railways; it can be handed over to you
with the stroke of a pen; but you know all that better than I do--ha,
ha!" He laughed feebly. "I didn't know what a big boss you were when I
wanted to make a match between my dear little girl and you."

"Miss Lambert deserves a better man than I am," said Glynn.

Lambert looked at him sharply. "There's one thing more, important
enough, but not so pressing as the money. Do you know any lady that
would be kind to Elsie, and look after her? she hasn't a lady friend in
the world--those French women are no use. But mind, she must be strong,
with either money or rank, and a resolute woman, who knows the world.
Lord! it can't be easy to find a clever, well-placed, kindly woman."

"Far from it, yet not impossible. I will undertake to search for this
rarity; but before I do I must know more. I cannot ask another to put
the faith in you that I do."

"Fair enough, fair enough! Well, I'll tell you a lot in a few days; I
daren't begin now, it would kill me."

"You must keep up your heart, Lambert, you must live for your daughter."

"Live for her! I'd serve her best by dying for her!"

"She would not think so."

"No," cried the sick man with a burst of emotion, sobs that shook his
frame, and tears for which when stronger he would have blushed; "_she_
loves me! she believes in me! and come what may, here or hereafter,
nothing can rob me of the fourteen years of happiness and redemption
she has given me. May God reward her."

"Amen," said Glynn, softly. "I think you have talked enough; I will be
ready for your friend on Monday. How shall I know her?"

"She shall bring a word, a line. Settle it with Elsie."

"May I come to-morrow?"

"Yes, if you can manage it safely! The one man that must _not_ find me
is Deering, and he is spending a fortune tracking me."

"This is most extraordinary."

"I dare say it seems so."

"May I put any question to Miss Lambert?"

"As many as you like; but she knows very little."

Here there was a tap at the door, and Elsie entered. "I think I must
ask you to come away," she said.

"I fear I have stayed too long," returned Glynn.

"Will you come to-morrow?"

"Yes, without fail; at the same time."

Then followed a delightful half-hour with Elsie, who gave him a cup of
tea in the sitting-room below.

"I can tell you nothing of my father's reasons," she said in reply to
his queries. "I have simply obeyed him, for I am sure there is some
great necessity, and he promises to explain all to me later. I cannot
describe the state of despair my father gets into occasionally; his
terror at the idea of our being discovered! but now, perhaps, he will
tell you! You will come again, will you not?"

"I shall come to-morrow."

"I am so glad, so glad." Her voice trembled; she strove to keep her
self-control; then resting her elbows on the table, she covered her
face in her hands and burst into irrepressible tears.

"It has been all so terrible," she sobbed; "this concealment, this fear
of I know not what; this shameful changing from one home to another.
Shall we never be free and happy again?"

"You shall, you must," whispered Glynn. "Your father exaggerates his
troubles, I am sure; he has promised to tell me everything, and I will
never leave him till he is reinstated. You can _not_ live on under such
horrible conditions."



CHAPTER IX.

THE SECRET OF THE PRISON HOUSE.


It was many a month since Glynn enjoyed such refreshing sleep as
soothed his weary brain that night. To have found Elsie safe, unharmed,
even though surrounded by a haze of doubtful circumstances, of painful
mystery, was a blessed relief. All must turn out well, while Elsie was
the same, untouched, unchanged.

To him she seemed more charming in her grief and terror than in the
freshness of her beauty, which first attracted him. Though full of
passion, his love was pure and true. To save its object from harm, or
spare her suffering, he would even sacrifice himself. Something in
the unconsciousness of her manner, her look, her words, warned him
to keep the lover in the background for the present,--only for the
present,--for deep in his heart he registered a vow to win her if
tenderness, and loyalty, and perseverance could. He counted the cost,
and decided that in winning her he should win all that would make life
worth living. Glynn was not a conventional man. He liked society, but
was not its slave. A quiet home, with such a companion, what could
be a fairer lot? Would the day ever come when she would let him hold
her to his heart, when her soft arms would steal round his neck, and
her sweet, sad, tremulous lips return his kisses? Whatever Lambert's
circumstances, misdeeds, crimes, Glynn resolved to give his life to the
tender, blameless daughter.

He started in good time next day, and spent a long, entrancing,
disturbing afternoon with Elsie and her father.

With the latter he had not much private conversation, and in that
little Lambert told him he had discovered early in their renewed
acquaintanceship that Deering had fallen in love with Elsie, that he
knew him to be a daring and unscrupulous man, and that, moreover, he
had a very strong hold over Lambert himself, which made it exceedingly
difficult to protect his daughter, without running certain risks, and
to cut the gordian knot, he determined to hide her. This was so far
successful, but the conviction that it was impossible to keep up the
game was pressing on him, and with the consciousness of failing health,
almost drove him mad.

       *       *       *       *       *

"May I dine with you _tête-à-tête_ the day after to-morrow? I have much
to tell." This request reached Lady Gethin one morning at breakfast,
and threw her into a state of delighted anticipation. She despatched a
warm invitation, and wrote to decline one or two engagements for that
day.

"You are looking a different being," she said, when they had settled
into their places for a long talk after dinner. "But what has become
of you? I have not seen you for the last ten days. What have you been
about? Have you found your young woman?"

Glynn looked straight at her, and to her amazement replied, "I have."

"You are not serious. Here? in famous London town?"

"I have."

"Well, I always said you would. Do tell me all about it."

And Glynn began at the beginning, and did tell her everything.

"This is indeed extraordinary!" she exclaimed with unusual gravity,
at the end of his narrative. "But after all, they have told you very
little; there is some ugly secret behind."

"I suspect there is," very gravely.

"Now that you have found your fair Helen, what are you going to do with
her?" asked Lady Gethin, looking sharply at him.

"Marry her," was the unhesitating reply.

"Good heavens, Hugh! you are not in earnest?"

"Very much in earnest, I assure you."

"But your future father-in-law may be a murderer."

"But my future wife is not a murderess."

"Not yet"--emphatically. "Remember, crime is often hereditary. I never
heard of such madness. Why, you will spoil your life."

"It would be ruined without her."

"And while the noble father is taken to Newgate, the happy pair will
start for the Continent and return in time for the execution! I could
shed tears over you, Hugh."

"Instead of hurting your eyes, do me a very great favor. Come with me
to-morrow, and let me introduce you to Miss Lambert."

"I shall do nothing of the kind! How can you expect me to encourage you
in such insanity?"

"Because your encouragement or discouragement will not affect my
decision. I have a sincere respect for your opinion; you are a shrewd,
far-seeing woman, and I think your view of the case perfectly natural,
but I feel that my wisest course in this instance is to throw prudence
overboard. Do, my dear aunt, grant me this petition! I am old enough
to take the responsibility of any step upon myself, and I have no near
relative to consider. Be my friend in this crisis; come and see the
girl who has drawn me to her so magnetically; help me to save her, for
as she possesses my soul I am resolved to give her my life."

"I protest, Hugh, you are a lover worth having. I hope she values you
as you deserve."

"I do not think she has an idea I am a lover."

"Then you have not asked her to marry you?" cried Lady Gethin, visibly
brightening.

"I have not ventured as yet; I am trying to prepare the way."

"Then," said Lady Gethin, "I will come, and you must agree to listen to
any objections which may occur to me, rationally, without snapping my
nose off, because I shall see things which would never strike _you_."

"Agreed."

"When shall I go?" resumed Lady Gethin. "I confess I am dying to see
this lady-love of yours, this heroine of a still unsolved mystery. May
I go to-morrow?"

Glynn took her hand and kissed it. "Thank you," was all he said, but
there was that in his voice which made a troublesome lump rise in Lady
Gethin's throat.

This entire and disinterested devotion touched her infinitely, and
gave her an instant's glimpse of the loveliness life might have if
tenderness and loyalty and self-forgetful generosity could only share
and share alike, with science, statistics, and political economy.

"Not to-morrow," resumed Glynn after a pause. "I must give Lambert
warning, for he is very nervous about any one coming near him. He is
so possessed by the idea that he is being watched. It is an awful
feeling, I had no conception _what_ it is until I saw a man under its
influence. I will settle with him and Elsie when they shall receive
you. At present I am not quite so uneasy about them, for Deering is out
of town. I am afraid he has some very strong hold on Lambert."

"Deering is not out of town; I saw him at the opera last night."

"Indeed!" Then after a pause, "It is amazing how Lambert has escaped
detection so far, but it is inevitable. Why he dreads it, and what he
is afraid of, remains to be told. I think he is longing to tell, yet
dreads to do so, which is inconsistent with his assertion that he has
broken no law."

"Hugh," said Lady Gethin, "I wish you would give _me_ a promise, not to
declare yourself to Miss Lambert until you know the whole truth."

"No, Lady Gethin, I will not pledge myself to anything," returned
Glynn, smiling; and soon after he took his leave.

Things were looking brighter, he thought. If Lambert would only make a
clean breast, something definite might be arranged.

The next day, glad of an excuse to present himself at Garston Terrace,
Glynn was making his way towards one of the Metropolitan stations, when
he met Deering coming to the office.

"I was going to call on you," he said.

"Sorry I cannot go back with you," returned Glynn, "but I have a
special engagement. You will find Mercer, which will answer your
purpose even better."

"No doubt. By the way, do you ever hear anything of the Lambert
business?" looking searchingly at him.

"Never," said Glynn steadily.

"And I presume you take no further interest in it?"

"Yes, I do. I would give a good deal to get to the bottom of that
affair," and Glynn returned Deering's gaze with equal keenness.

"Are you so ignorant, then?" asked Deering with a sneer. "Well, I heard
this morning from a man I have employed (for I confess I am determined
to track that scoundrel Lambert), that those stupid Yankee detectives
have been on a false scent altogether. The man they have been following
proves not to be Lambert, and they now suspect that while they have
been dodging his double at St. Louis and other places, the real man has
escaped to Canada. But he is certain to be found."

"I suppose so," said Glynn, with such equanimity that Deering's brows
contracted, and he nodded a hasty adieu.

"I wonder how the mistake arose," thought Glynn, as he strode along;
"but having found it out I fear they may get on the right track."

He took a longer _détour_ than usual before approaching his goal.
Arrived there, he found Elsie waiting to see the doctor after his visit
to her father.

She looked very anxious. His nights, she said, were so feverish and
restless that it was impossible he could make any real progress.
Sometimes he was quite cheerful; then the cloud of nervous depression
would settle down upon him, and nothing seemed to rouse or cheer him.

Glynn took care to speak to the doctor himself, and he gave the same
account. He said the bronchial attack was cured, but an extraordinary
degree of mental depression continued. Was Glynn aware of any
hereditary tendency in that direction, which might account for much? It
might be well to have a second opinion, but Mr. Lambert was so averse
to call in any other medical man, he did not like to press it, etc.,
etc.

As soon as he had gone Glynn was summoned to the invalid, who was more
than usually querulous and uneasy, until his visitor broached the
subject of Lady Gethin's visit, describing her as the embodiment of all
Lambert desired in the shape of a female friend for Elsie. Her father
caught at the idea, but shrunk from his friend's proposition that he
should be presented to her by his real name.

"Believe me, Lambert," said Glynn impressively, "it is useless to hope
you can remain concealed much longer. If you would tell me all, I might
be able to advise you; at present I cannot for want of knowledge."

"Well, look here, then," said Lambert, after a minute or two of
profound thought, "you bring this lady to us; let her see what a sweet,
elegant creature my Elsie is; maybe she will take a fancy to her. I'd
like to see this aunt of yours too, Glynn; and as the doctor says I
am to change the air and scene, I'm going down to the drawing-room
to-morrow, so let her come the day after. I'll put on my coat, and get
myself shaved, then I'll be fit to be seen. Do you think she will come
the day after to-morrow?"

"Yes, I am sure she will. She cannot fail to be charmed with Miss
Lambert, and may be a very useful friend."

"Then bring her, in God's name," ejaculated Lambert, leaning back
wearily; and Glynn, seeing he was inclined to sleep, stole quietly away
to Elsie's sitting-room down-stairs.

He found Mrs. Kellett with her, and on hearing him say that he thought
her father was sleeping, Elsie went away to see if he was wrapped up
and comfortable, and for a minute or two Glynn felt at a loss what to
say to Mrs. Kellett.

She was a tall, thin, dark-eyed woman, with grey hair, high
cheek-bones, and a severe expression; but her smile was kind, her eyes
steady and honest. She spoke very little, and her manner was guarded.
Glynn had been favorably impressed on the only occasion when he had met
her--their visit to the stock-broker's, and the transfer of Elsie's
money to Glynn's care.

"I find Miss Lambert by no means so well as I should like to see her,"
he said at length.

"No, sir; and I am surprised she looks so well. Her life has been a
very trying one for many months."

"It has. I trust its trials will soon be over."

"There seems little prospect of that unless Mr. Lambert will speak."

"As an old friend, Mrs. Kellett, you ought to beg him to explain his
position, or, if the effort be too painful for him, to let you do it
for him."

"But I do not know the whole story!" said Mrs. Kellett. "It is fourteen
years since he gave that dear child into my care, and though I always
suspected he had a history, and a strange one, I never knew it. He has
always been a loving father, a just and generous paymaster. I know no
more."

"It is the strangest case I have heard of," Glynn was beginning, when
Elsie returned.

"He is sleeping quite peacefully," she said, "and he needs rest
terribly."

"Then I must not stay longer," said Mrs. Kellett, "and I dare not
come soon again. When I write it will be as usual under cover to your
landlady."

She said good-bye to Glynn. Elsie followed her into the hall to speak
some last words, and then returning, sat down on a low couch near the
fire, and clasping her hands on her knee, gazed in dreamy silence at
the glowing coals. Glynn, who stood leaning against the mantelpiece,
waited and watched; the stillness, the loneliness, the isolation from
all who had well known them, thrilled him with a strange sense of
delicious power. Suddenly she said very softly, as if to herself:

"It will soon be a year since that day."

"What day?" asked Glynn.

"The day you came and dined with us at the Café de Madrid,--do you
remember?"

"It is constantly in my thoughts; it is one of my most delightful
memories! Do you know," coming and sitting down beside her, "that when
I lie awake at night I recall the airs you sang that night, and hear
again your delicious tones!"

"We were so happy then--at least I was."

"And I was," echoed Glynn. "I did not know how happy, until the misery
of losing you taught me. Do you know that the horror of the whole thing
nearly killed me? I had brain fever----"

"Had you!" cried Elsie, looking at him in great, sincere surprise. "It
was very good of you to care so much! My father never said you tried to
find me!"

"Why do you look so astonished?" he asked.

"Because--Oh, I shall tell you some day when I feel happier and
braver."

"The lady I am going to bring here the day after to-morrow will tell
you how ill I was. She was very kind, and helped to nurse me. She is a
sort of aunt of mine."

"If she took care of you I shall like her. You have been such a true
friend to my father," cried Elsie, with sudden warmth, and stretching
out her hand she placed it in his.

Glynn was greatly surprised, and not altogether pleased by her extreme
unconsciousness, but he gently retained the hand for a moment while she
went on--

"Is it quite safe her coming here? I do not understand our
extraordinary position, but it seems to me that our hiding-place
is becoming too generally known. Does the lady know we are hunted
fugitives?"

"She does, and I will answer for her good faith."

"There must be some very strong reason for my father's strange life!"
and she lapsed into thought.

Then they spoke again of Lady Gethin, and the extraordinary chance
which had brought them together. At last he was obliged to tear himself
away. He never left her without an unspeakable pang, a dread of some
crime being committed before he saw her again.

The dusk of a blustering March evening was deepening, and Elsie was
struck by the minute directions he gave the old landlady to fasten the
shutters, and lock the doors, to admit no stranger, and put out the
lights early.

"You are as fearful as my father," she said; "but I think we are very
safe in this quiet neighborhood."

"Good-night. I suppose I must not come to-morrow? Well, the day after I
will with Lady Gethin. If you want me in any way, telegraph."

       *       *       *       *       *

Glynn was surprised to find Lady Gethin not only ready, but in a state
of impatient expectancy when he reached her house on the day appointed.

"I suppose my kinsfolk and acquaintance would consider me insane if
they knew I was thus encouraging you in so wild a project," she said,
as she took Glynn's arm to go down-stairs.

"That can be of small consequence to you."

"Hum! I shouldn't like to be looked upon as an idiotic old woman.
However, I am dying to get to the bottom of this mysterious affair,
that's the truth. As to you--you are past praying for."

"Not past returning thanks for, I hope," said Glynn, as he handed her
into her brougham, and told the coachman to drive to Euston Square
station. Arrived there, Lady Gethin said she would not require the
carriage again, as Mr. Glynn would see her home; and as soon as they
reached the arrival platform they took a cab and drove to within an
easy walking distance of Garston Terrace.

"I never was so far north before," said Lady Gethin, looking about her
with interest. "It does not seem a very lively place. How long has this
poor girl been shut up here?"

"She has been secluded altogether for nearly nine or ten months. It is
time this persecution were over; a little courage and candor would soon
put an end to it."

"Nice old woman," ejaculated Lady Gethin, as Mrs. Ritson, the landlady,
opened the door and dropped a curtsey.

"Walk in, please," she said, and ushered them into a small front room,
furnished as a _salle á manger_.

Lady Gethin immediately took a tour of inspection. "I don't know how it
is, but this doesn't look quite like a lodging," she said, sitting down
suddenly. "I don't think that old woman furnished this."

"I suspect you are on the look-out for mysteries," Glynn began, when
Elsie came in, dressed in her ordinary costume of black, with a little
scarf of fine creamy lace round her throat, and a bunch of daffodils
beside it.

The excitement of seeing a stranger had brought a little color to her
cheek, and as she stood still for a moment of graceful hesitation,
Glynn's heart throbbed with tenderness and pride, and he thought it
must puzzle Lady Gethin to find fault with so fair a creature. He
turned to read her opinion in her countenance. She was gazing at Elsie
with a curious expression of startled surprise, almost of recognition,
and seemed too absorbed to remember the ordinary observances of a first
introduction.

"I have brought my aunt, Lady Gethin, to see you, Miss Lambert," said
Glynn, shaking hands with her.

"She is very kind to come," returned Elsie, with a slight pretty
curtsey, expressive of respect to the age and position of her visitor.

"And I am very glad I came," said Lady Gethin, rising and holding out
her hand, gravely, but cordially. "Mr. Glynn's interest in your father
and yourself has induced me to offer a visit, even though not quite
sure it will be acceptable."

"Oh, yes! it is most acceptable," cried Elsie, her eyes filling with
tears, and feeling strangely fascinated by Lady Gethin's gaze.

"I am pleased to think so," said Lady Gethin, with more of her usual
manner, as she resumed her seat.

"In a few minutes my father will be ready to receive you, if you will
be so very good as to visit him--he has been so ill!"

"Yes, certainly, I want to see him very much. You do not look
particularly well yourself! too much confinement in a sick-room, I
suppose." A pause and long searching look.

"I have gone out very little for months."

"Excuse me, my dear, you will think me an intrusive old woman, but
what is your name? Elsie, Elsie! that is quite strange to me. Do you
remember your mother at all?"

"No--that is, like a faint, far-away dream!"

"What was her name?"

"I think I was called after her. I never speak about her, for my father
cannot bear it. His sorrow must have been great."

"I suppose so--I suppose so," thoughtfully. "You will forgive my
abruptness, I am not asking from idle curiosity."

"I have nothing to forgive." Here the tinkle of a bell was heard. "My
father is ready; will you come?" said Elsie, rising. She conducted them
into the drawing-room, where Lambert, shaved and smartened up, sat in
his large chair, which had been brought down-stairs; a few flowers
and some books gave an inhabited air to the room, while the exquisite
neatness of the invalid and his surroundings bespoke loving care.

Lady Gethin's quick eye noted everything. Lambert brightened a little
as he thanked her with simple courtesy for her visit. Glynn saw that
she scrutinized him with profound attention, and drew him out rather
than spoke to him.

Glynn himself had various matters to speak of with Elsie, who looked
more like what she had been in Paris than she had since they had met
again.

After some little time Lady Gethin turned to Elsie and said, gravely,
"Will you forgive me, my dear young lady, if I ask you to leave me with
your father and Mr. Glynn? I have one or two matters to speak of." She
paused.

"Certainly," said Elsie, rising; "you will send for me when you want
me," and with a smiling, wondering look at Glynn, she left the room.

The door being closed, Lady Gethin, turning to Lambert, said, "At the
risk of awakening painful memories I must ask you a few questions!
Your daughter so resembles a dear friend, or rather one who was a
dear friend of mine long ago, that I cannot refrain. Pray has she any
relations named Acton?"

"No," said Lambert, eyeing her suspiciously; "she has no relation in
the world but myself."

"She must have some others, Captain Lambert!" persisted Lady Gethin.
"Strange ideas rise in my mind, coupling the likeness with Deering's
efforts to find her. The friend Miss Lambert resembles, and whose
daughter she might be, was Isabel Acton, who married Gilbert Deering
against the will of her people, and went away with him abroad, where
she died."

"My God!" cried Lambert, turning ghastly white, "this is incredible!"
He remained silent for a minute, his hands clasping and unclasping the
arms of his chair, his mouth twitching, some strong emotion evidently
working within him. "Ring the bell!" he said at length to Glynn. "Get
me some brandy-and-water. I will tell you my whole story, and I'll want
something to help me through. You look like a strong, good woman, Lady
Gethin. You will not turn against my girl, though her father has been a
bit of a blackguard in his time."

"I will not," said Lady Gethin, stoutly.

"Do you wish me to leave you?" asked Glynn.

"No; my confession is as much for you as for my lady here." He
paused while the servant placed the brandy-and-water beside him. "I
must go a long way back," he resumed, when she had left the room. "It
was about fifteen years ago when, after knocking about in Texas and
California, I found myself at Chili in a very low condition, both as
to money and prospects. Just at that time a railway had been begun by
a clever adventurer who had been kicked out of 'Frisco, but persuaded
the Government of Chili to take up his scheme. This railway was to a
village up in the mountains, in the middle of a rich mineral district,
teeming with wealth. The difficulty was to find ready money to pay
current expenses; they were never more than a week ahead of the men's
wages. To provide for this outlay, Jeafferson, the Yankee promoter, got
together three or four gamblers to meet the men at the village where
they were paid, and win back the cash just given out, and have it ready
by the next pay-day. I was one of these fine gentlemen," bitterly. "We
had a percentage on our winnings, and lots of food and drink at the
bars, kept by the company,--that is, Jeafferson. It is curious how
little I minded it all then, and what a rascally business it seems
now! Among the _employés_ there was a certain Deering, a cold, stern
Englishman, an engineer. He was a silent, self-possessed fellow, proud
and plucky as the devil. We all hated him, for he looked down on us. He
seemed to see through the gambling scheme; he was always interfering,
and warning the men against us, and making enemies on both sides.
He had had a wife with him, but she was dead. I never saw her." He
paused. Both Lady Gethin and Glynn drew a little nearer with breathless
interest.

"Well," resumed Lambert, "one night I met Deering in a hotel in Lima
with a tall Englishman not unlike himself, only fair, with whom he was
talking over a bottle of wine; and they had papers and money lying
on the table between them. They seemed greatly occupied with their
conversation. I had had a hard ride, and a hard drink (I _did_ drink
then), and I couldn't resist trying to get up a quarrel with Deering,
so I broke in on him and his friend and offered to stake as much as
lay there and play him for the whole at poker, euchre, anything he
liked. He answered me contemptuously, and rising, left the room. I was
in an awful fury, and swore that I'd have his life, and a deal more.
The tall friend who remained laughed and taunted me, and gave me more
drink, so we grew a bit familiar. The upshot was, I went to see him in
his private room; there we got abusing Deering to dirt, and I swore
I'd have his life. When this man had listened awhile, says he: 'If you
are in earnest, I know a party as would give a bigger pile than that'
(meaning the money that had been on the table) 'to know that he was
safe under the sod, and not only the serpent but the spawn to; for,'
says he, 'he has a child, who may prove worse than the father.' This
sobered me. Ay, you may look hard; it had an ugly sound, and blackguard
as I had been, I was no cowardly assassin." He stopped, and signed to
Glynn to give him some brandy-and-water.

"I parleyed with him a bit. However, I could get little out of him,
except that there was a good sum to be mine if I would shoot my enemy.
Well, I kept quiet. I felt somehow desperately disgusted, and all my
fury against Deering began to die away. I said to my new acquaintance,
that he should hear from me, and next day I mounted my horse, and rode
away to find Deering; not to challenge and shoot him, but to warn
him against the treacherous devil that was thirsting for his life.
It's truth I'm telling you. Do you believe me?" interrupting himself
feverishly.

"I do," said Glynn, earnestly.

"Pray go on," urged Lady Gethin.

"Deering lived away at one of the stations in the mountains, an
awful wild place, with a lot of Indians and half-breeds round him;
the railway was pushed so far, and the next payments were to be made
there. So men were busy rigging up a bar and a gaming saloon, with
logs and what not, when I rode in. Lord! what a beautiful place it
was! Just a strip of heaven peopled by fiends! I got in there a little
after sundown and found Deering kicking up no end of a row, wanting
to prevent the saloon being finished and opened. I spoke to him, as
I hope--no! I don't hope anything,--but as I live, full of the best
intentions. I asked him to come away out into the open with me a bit.
There I tried to speak friendly to him, but it was no use. He turned
on me and abused me like a pick-pocket, for one of a gang of sharpers.
He stung me to the quick; I lost all control of myself, and pulling
out my revolver, I challenged him to fight there on the spot. He said
something about ridding the place of a pest. Just then a boy--oh, of
about nineteen or twenty, a factotum of Jeafferson's--came up. We
both asked him to see fair play. O God! it was soon over! He fell
at my first fire. I had winged my man before, and didn't mind much.
But somehow I felt sorry for him. Vexed with myself, I threw away my
revolver, and knelt down beside him, calling to the boy to help; but
a confused sound of shouting and a loud hum came from the village or
camp, and the boy said, 'They are up to mischief there,' and away
he ran. Deering seemed to hear it; he opened his eyes and muttered
something--I could only make out the word 'destroy.' Then he caught
my hand, and with a despairing, imploring look in his eyes,--I see
it still,--groaned, 'My child--save her.' And holding his hand, I
swore I'd take care of her so long as I had breath. He pointed to a
ring on his little finger, and muttered, 'Take'; then he said, 'My
child,' turned sharp, as if in pain, and was gone. I took the ring
(I'll show it to you presently), then I made away to his shanty. The
devils of miners, and navvies, and half-breeds had risen to revenge
themselves, and were wrecking his place. One fellow called out that
there was a pile of money in the house, that Deering had got down in
the town yesterday. The lot of them were raging like furies and had
just set fire to the hut, when I got up. There wasn't a sign of the
child. I hunted through the place. The men all thinking I was dead
against Deering, didn't interfere with me. At last, crouching in a
corner behind a door, quite stupefied with fear, I found a little
golden-haired darling, of three or four years old--all alone."

"Had she no nurse--or did the nurse forsake her?" asked Lady Gethin, as
he paused. "How did he come to keep her in such a place?"

"That I cannot answer. I think Deering must have been desperately poor,
or he would not have taken service with Jeafferson. Anyhow I took the
child, who screamed at me in an agony of terror. I told her I would
take her to her father. I wrapped a cloak that hung on the wall round
her, and got out. She was quite still--so still that I feared she was
dead. So I managed to saddle Deering's horse, which was fresh; and as
night was falling I rode away, while those mad devils where shouting
and dancing round the burning wreck." He stopped, quite exhausted.

"You had better not go on now," said Glynn. "I begin to understand your
position. Lady Gethin will, I am sure, return to----"

"I _must_ go on," interrupted Lambert. "I can't rest till I have
finished; and there's a lot more to tell."

"He had better get through it," said Lady Gethin.

"When I got down to Lima, I went to an out-of-the-way eating-house,
where I sometimes put up when funds were low. The woman that kept it
was a good soul when sober. I got her to take care of the child for a
day and a night. She didn't ask questions. Then I thought what to do,
for I was at the end of my cash. It struck me as a grand 'ploy,' if I
could get the price of poor Deering's life out of the long fellow at
the hotel, and build up a fortune for the child. So I went to him, and
told him what had happened, and a good deal more--faith! I said I found
the child suffocated with the smoke, and just squeezed my hand round
its throat to make sure. He took it all quite easy. 'You are a handy
scoundrel,' he said; and I answered, 'You are an unhandy one. Now, are
you going to keep your word, and give me over what you wouldn't give
poor Deering?'

"'What he wouldn't take,' says he. 'How do I know you are speaking
truth?'

"'Send and see,' said I. 'If you cheat me, I'll raise the hue and cry
against you.'

"'Who will believe you against me?' said he with a sneer. 'I am an
Englishman of unblemished character. What would your assertions be
against mine? However, I don't want to cheat you. Come here to-morrow.'

"To make a long story short, the woman who had had the care of the
child came roaring and crying to this man, who was another Deering,--he
never disguised his name,--and said the child had been killed, or at
any rate burned to death, and Deering was killed too while she was
away, taking some food to her husband. Anyhow that long devil was
satisfied, and gave me the money. I must hurry a bit.

"I had agreed to quit South America, and so I took a passage to
Melbourne. I never thought the child would live; she pined and seemed
silly. There was a good woman on board the vessel we sailed in who took
to my little darling. She had lost her baby and her husband. He was the
skipper of a ship that traded between San Francisco and Callao, and
sometimes to Melbourne. She was wonderful fond of Elsie. I called her
Elsie after a little sister of my own; I never knew what name she had
been christened. This good woman is Mrs. Kellett. She was going to join
a sister who was married in Melbourne, and intended getting work of
some kind, as she had little or no money.

"Well, the upshot was, that she agreed to take charge of Elsie. I
paid well; and then I took to breaking horses, then I bought and sold
them, and made a good bit, and saved--Lord, how I saved! I left off
drink,--two glasses of beer in the day was my allowance. If I could
only make up to that child for all I had robbed her of!--and she began
to know me. The day she first put her little arms round my neck, and
stroked my face, and wouldn't let me go, I made a darned fool of
myself, and cried. Mrs. Kellett, not understanding, says, 'She'll
be as sensible as any child yet.' Ah! so she is. One time I wasn't
lucky, that is, I got next to nothing for myself, for I kept the
profits of Elsie's money separate from my own, and it's wonderful how
everything I undertook for that child prospered. It was then I went
over to California, and scraped around a bit, and collected gold-dust
and nuggets; some I bought, some I dug myself. It was there I fell in
with _you_, Glynn. I seemed a penniless adventurer, didn't I? Aha, my
boy!--I had nigh a thousand pounds' worth stitched into my belt. I kept
out a little just to throw away and keep up with the others, but did
you ever see me forget myself in drink?"

"I was always struck by your extreme temperance," returned Glynn.

"Ah! well, those were happy days," resumed Lambert. "After that spurt I
went back to Melbourne. Presently Mrs. Kellett wanted to go home; her
brother had come into his uncle's farm; he was a widower, with a lot of
boys, and wrote for his sister to keep his house; so I came with her,
and saw the place, and left my precious child there, where she throve
like a lily for near five years. I settled in Paris, always working her
money and my own very cautiously, and looking forward to the day she'd
come and take care of her father. I declare to God, I used to forget
she wasn't my own child! When she was, as I reckoned, about twelve, I
put her into the convent, and used to have her out on holidays. She
never enjoyed them more than I did, and she grew fonder and fonder
of me. Then I made a snug little nest for her, and took her home for
good. Then I met you, Glynn, and now I'm coming to the trouble. You
remember Vincent. Well, when I first met him with some very respectable
Americans in Paris, I was puzzled with the notion that I had seen him
before, and I told him so. Then he grinned, and said he was the boy
that had witnessed my duel with Deering. We agreed to bury the past,
as it wasn't exactly a letter of recommendation. I wasn't over-pleased
with him, but he was uncommon civil, and used to come to the house, and
I got accustomed to him. Then he proposed for Elsie, and I refused him;
still he hung on, and asked a second time; after that he got spiteful.
You know all about that time, Glynn! Wasn't it a slice out of heaven?
It didn't last long. You were at the Davilliers' the evening I came in,
and saw Deering talking to my Elsie, and looking at her. By Heaven, I
understood his looks! and if I had had my knife in my belt, as in the
old days, he'd have looked his last. I thought the sight of me would
have frightened him."

Lambert paused, and lay back in his chair.

"Did he recognize you?" cried Lady Gethin with breathless interest.

"Ay, that he did. He was calm, and civil, and damnably superior, and
came the next day to call, and sat talking so softly and elegantly
to my blessed child. At last he begged for a private interview with
me,--said he had something of importance to say. I was obliged to go to
his hotel, there was no use refusing." Lambert stopped, took a little
more brandy-and-water, drew a long breath, and began again. "As soon
as the door was closed he asked me to come up by his writing-table.
Then looking straight at me he exclaimed, 'You lied to me. You did
_not_ strangle Gilbert Deering's infant! I recognized the girl's
likeness to her mother at the first glance.'

"'What's that to you?' said I. 'There's a crime the less on your
conscience.'

"He laughed harshly. 'I confess she was worth sparing; she is a
charming creature. You seem to have brought her up remarkably well, but
I think you have done enough. I propose to assume her guardianship in
future.' Then he went on to offer me money--_me!_--to give up my child.
I saw his infernal scheme, and I burst out in a fury. I threatened to
expose him. 'Try,' he replied, 'and see what will become of it. I shall
simply tell my story. I went out to Chili to find my cousin, who had
succeeded to the family estate of Denham. I had a considerable sum of
money with me for his use. A desperate scoundrel sees us discussing
business matters, and the money on a table before us. He follows poor
Gilbert, murders and robs him; incites the ruffians of the place to
fire Deering's house. In the scuffle Gilbert's little girl is supposed
to be burnt--years after I discover her in Paris. I denounce the
murderer, save my young cousin, unveil the monster on whom she has
lavished her filial affection--and----'

"'Lose your estates,' I interrupted. 'You didn't want to murder Gilbert
Deering for nothing. How would my story tell against yours?'

"'My good friend, not a soul would believe _your_ word against mine.
Your antecedents would put you out of court!'

"'You would need a witness or two,' said I.

"'I might find one,' he said, with an air of careless security that
thrilled me with fear. I thought of his strange intimacy with Vincent.
But _he_ wouldn't be such a villain as to forswear himself? 'I'll
give you a few days to reflect,' he went on. 'This is my proposition.
Hand over the girl to my custody. I will find her a good husband,
and generally take care of her. You make yourself scarce; be off to
America, and drink yourself to death. I'll give you two hundred a year
while you are above ground. Refuse, and I'll lodge information against
you in consequence of revelations made to me by your friend Vincent.
Now take your choice. My position is impregnable; every one knows
Gilbert Deering was murdered; it only remains to discover the murderer.
_If_ I am driven to this, I shall stand out in bright colors as a just
and chivalrous kinsman, and no doubt some compromise beneficial to
me can be arranged. Of this I am resolved,--to get rid of _you_.' He
would not say another word, and I left him, feeling more than half-mad
with helpless rage--ay! and terror! I am no coward, I could face death
as steadily as any man; but to leave my Elsie at the mercy of such a
villain, with the stain of my public execution on her life, with the
bitter knowledge that I had killed her real father, to blot out all
tender, kindly recollection of me--no, I could not face _that_. Then
to hand her over to a wretch who would destroy her if he could: that
idea drove me wild. I tell you in my agony I half determined to put
an end to her and to myself, as the best and most merciful mode of
cutting the knot." He paused, shuddering. "No poor words can tell the
horror of those days. I had more than one interview with Deering, and
the calm way he affected to believe his own lies drove me wild. I urged
that the disappearance of the large amount of money with which he was
entrusted to give his cousin would tell against him. He said he had
given the money to Gilbert, and that I had robbed him of it. I appealed
to Vincent. Vincent coolly told me that I had shot Deering in the back.
I was utterly powerless; all I could gain, was time.

"I pretended to take the proposition of giving her up to Deering into
consideration. They thought I was going to yield. Then you came back,
and I played a last card. I asked you to marry my Elsie. I thought she
would be safe, and I'd go away and hide. But you couldn't, or wouldn't."

Glynn started up. "I don't know," he began.

"Let me finish," interrupted Lambert; "I have nearly done. I was
desperate, and at bay. The thought came into my mind to hide my
darling. I ran over to England, telegraphed to Mrs. Kellett to meet me
at a neighboring town, and told her something of my difficulties. She
knew my love for my child, and obeyed my instructions. I transferred
all the money I could to her name. I took counsel with her as to where
Elsie should stay, and when she (Mrs. Kellett) should come to Paris,
and many details I haven't time to tell. A day or two before the ball
Mrs. Kellett, down at her brother's place, was laid up with a severe
cold, and was waited on by a faithful old servant who was partly in her
confidence, and let no one else into her room; whereas in the night
she had slipped out of the house and walked to the nearest station,
where she caught the first train to London, and came through to Paris,
bringing with her some English-made clothes to dress Elsie in. I did
not warn my jewel, lest she should betray any uneasiness, but at the
last moment I made her promise to come home from the ball,--_not_ to go
to Madame's. This between ourselves.

"Then I met her, and took her into the kitchen of the empty _étage_
below us. I had to contrive to get hold of the key. She was terribly
startled; but I made her believe her hiding was essential to my safety.
She changed her clothes, and tried to eat something. We waited till I
heard the _concierge_ moving about, for the danger was in going out.
I had brought Mrs. Kellett in with myself the night before as soon as
the house was shut up, so that no voice but mine was heard when the
_concierge_ asked, 'Who was there?' Well, they got out exactly as that
thief of a detective guessed, while the _concierge_ was at the pump.
They walked quietly along over the Pont d'Alma, where they got rid of
the ball-dress, and near the Invalides took a _fiacre_; thus they got
off by the first train.

"I was careful to make no discovery, till I thought they would be safe
on board the Calais boat. Once landed safely in England, and steaming
to London, it would be next to impossible to track them. In London,
they drove to the Great Northern, and thence, late in the evening, to
the South-Western; from that to a lady's school at Clapham, kept by a
cousin of Mrs. Kellett's, where Elsie was to go as a teacher without
salary.

"I made up my mind to do without letters for months; only one I _must_
have, to say she was safe; that was sent to a false name at Marseilles,
where I journeyed to get it. I had given Mrs. Kellett a certain set of
advertisements to be inserted week after week in the _Daily News_, on
Wednesdays and Fridays, which informed me that all was well; and one
which was only to be inserted if my presence was required,--a danger
signal, in fact. I knew the shrewd devils I had to deal with; the money
power that Deering wielded. Nothing gave me a chance but the eight or
nine hours' start before the police were on the track.

"So I waited and waited, never writing to England except to Mrs.
Kellett now and again, letters composed for inspection; never remitting
money; waiting, watching for a chance of seeming to go back to America;
really, of joining my jewel, and I found it at last; but there, I can't
say another word. If it hadn't been for this unlucky illness, we'd have
been on our way to Australia. There, give me some more."

He lay back profoundly exhausted. Glynn held the glass to his lips,
while he exchanged a look of wonder and sympathy with Lady Gethin.



CHAPTER X.

A TRUE LOVER'S KNOT.


Lambert's hearers were silent for a few minutes. Both perceived the
danger and difficulty of his situation. If Deering stuck to his text,
and could trust Vincent to show equal pertinacity, all probabilities
were on the side of the man of high character, fortune, and position.

Lady Gethin and Glynn might believe his story, from the internal
evidence of sympathy and sentiment, but to the legal mind that would
not be worth a straw.

If Deering chose, he might obtain Lambert's condemnation as a robber
and murderer, and purchase revenge by the sacrifice of his estate. Thus
a blow--a fatal blow--would be dealt to Elsie, whose tender, faithful
nature would suffer intensely from the shock of such knowledge.

To Glynn there seemed but one means of security to both--one he was
most ready to adopt. As his wife, Elsie would be out of Deering's
reach, and with such a champion of her rights, he could not hope to
make very favorable terms; still, for character's sake, he was almost
bound to support his assertions should a whisper of them reach any
ears save Vincent's and Lambert's. While he thought, Lambert seemed to
revive.

"I never heard of such an utter villain!" exclaimed Lady Gethin. "I
perfectly remember the death of old Deering. The next heir had been
carried off by fever just before, making way rather unexpectedly for
Gilbert.

"This man, Travers Deering, who had had a quarrel with his cousin, was
in the office of the family solicitor, and was sent out to look for him
in South America, as he had not been heard of for some time. The story
goes that he met him and gave him rather a large sum of money for his
expenses, which Gilbert took away up to some barbarous place, where
he had left his baby girl. He was murdered and robbed in an outbreak
of roughs, and the child was burned, they said, in the fire which
consumed Gilbert's hut or house. It was all in the papers at the time,
and Deering made search for the child, offered rewards, etc., and did
not take possession of the property for some little time."

"That lynching business was a stroke of luck for Deering," said Lambert
feebly.

"If not inconvenient, I should like to see the ring you mentioned,"
said Lady Gethin.

"Certainly," said Lambert. "Glynn, ask Elsie to bring the little
despatch-box from the table in my room."

Glynn went to deliver the message, and Elsie, who came down-stairs,
inquired anxiously if her father was not overtired. Glynn assured
her that he seemed better for the relief of complete confidence. "I
trust we shall be able to find a way out of all his difficulties," he
concluded.

Elsie brought the box, and placing it in his hands, looked up in his
eyes with a sweet, frank smile. "If his mind is at rest, he will soon
be better."

"I am sure he will," said Glynn, his heart swelling with infinite
compassion, as he thought of the tangled villainous mesh which had
twined itself round her pure and simple life. To him belonged the task
of protecting and delivering her. "And you too," he added, "you need
rest and a sense of security."

"When I see _him_ well, I too shall be myself again."

Glynn took her hand, and kissed it reverently. Something of
consciousness called the color to her cheek at the touch of his lips,
and it was with a faint, delicious glow of hope that Glynn went back to
Lambert, who, drawing out a key which hung to his watch-chain, unlocked
the box. After a little search he produced a small case from which he
took an old-fashioned gold ring, two hands clasped, and a bracelet of
tiny turquoises on each wrist. "There," said Lambert, "that is the ring
I took from the poor fellow's hand after he had breathed his last."

Lady Gethin took it, and sat looking at it for a moment or two, her
keen black eyes suffused with tears. "This is indeed a message from the
grave," she said, with much emotion. "I gave this ring to Isabel Acton,
a few days before she married my relative, Gilbert Deering. I was
very poor at the time, and had little or nothing to give, so took this
quaint old thing from my finger to put on hers. I never saw the poor
girl again."

"What an extraordinary piece of evidence!" exclaimed Glynn.

"It corroborates the effect of your daughter's remarkable likeness to
her mother. 'There _is_ a providence that shapes our ends,'" said Lady
Gethin in a low tone, and silence fell upon them, from which she was
the first to rouse herself.

"There is no time to be lost in making some arrangement that will
relieve you from this horrible condition of fear and concealment. Let
us consult my lawyer."

"A lawyer!--no, no!" cried Lambert. "That would be dangerous."

"We must proceed with infinite caution," observed Glynn. "Deering's
position is a strong one. _You_ have only your own word to weigh
against his. If we could get hold of Vincent?"

"There is little chance of that," said Lambert. "If I could only be
sure my precious Elsie were safe."

"She shall come and stay with me," cried Lady Gethin with enthusiasm.

"That would be going into the lion's jaws," said Glynn. "This is my
plan: I have learned to love your daughter (as I still consider her);
let me try and win her; and let us keep all dark till she is my wife."

Lambert stretched out his hand to grasp Glynn's; he tried to speak in
vain, and burst into a fit of hysterical weeping.

"Moreover," continued Glynn solemnly, "I promise, that if Deering
resigns his bold attempts at revenge, no love of mere wealth shall
induce me to open up the question of Elsie's parentage or your past
life."

The sound of her father's sobs brought Elsie into the room, and broke
off the conversation.

       *       *       *       *       *

"It is altogether the most extraordinary romance I ever heard of,"
said Lady Gethin, when Glynn called a few days after these exciting
disclosures. "I have been thinking what is best to be done. Suppose I
take Elsie abroad with me, and you follow. You can be married quietly,
and then snap your fingers at Deering. Lambert alone he could easily
crush, but Lambert as 'father-in-law to a very magnificent three-tailed
Bashaw' is a different matter. I am deeply interested in your little
lady-love, and I am by no means disposed to give up her inheritance to
that double-dyed traitor."

"You must remember I have not yet been accepted. I have not even tried
my chance."

"Pray do not lose any more time. She would never be such a fool as to
refuse you! You are really a very acceptable sort of man."

"Thanks for the compliment. But I hesitate; because I dread the
complications which would ensue if she refuses me!"

"Fiddle-de-dee. She won't refuse you! _I_ would not refuse you were I a
young lady."

Glynn laughed, and then grew grave. "I was rather annoyed yesterday
to hear from Mrs. Kellett, who is staying at her cousin's school at
Clapham, that she is afraid she is being watched--she is not sure;
but of course she is nervously on the _qui vive_. She rarely ventures
to Garston Terrace; and the blessed day I found Elsie they had met at
that hotel in Holborn to arrange some money matters, as Mrs. Kellett is
afraid to write."

"What a dreadful state of things! So it _was_ Elsie's voice you heard
at Clapham! Was that Mrs. Storrer in the secret?"

"Not altogether. When Elsie first went she thought she was French;
afterwards Mrs. Kellett partially confided in her, and between them
they prepared the story of her having gone with a family to India, in
case of inquiries."

"Well!" said Lady Gethin, "I shall make my preparations for going
abroad; and you go and settle things with Elsie and her father. By the
way, have you found out how he escaped from the steamer where Vincent
absolutely saw him _en route_ for America?"

"By a very clever dodge. Lambert waited and watched till he found a
needy countryman something of his own height and color, who wished to
go to New York. He offered to pay this man's passage from Liverpool
if he would go under the name of Lambert. This he readily agreed to.
Lambert went to see him off. His representative wore a mackintosh of a
peculiar cut, a chimney-pot hat, and a large, white comforter muffling
the lower part of his face. Lambert had a brown cloth overcoat, and
fur travelling-cap. He and his friend talked together on the deck till
the last moment, and then seeing Vincent (of whose presence he had
been aware) move off, he slipped behind some shelter with his friend,
and changed coat and hat in hot haste; Lambert twisted the comforter
round his throat and face, and joined the crowd on the gangway a little
behind Vincent. The fellow paused on the pier to watch the rest go by;
and Lambert passed him with the utmost _sang-froid_, even stopping to
wave his hand to his friend on deck, and then walked smartly on, jumped
into a cab, and caught the London train."

"Well done! But the most determined will, the most inventive brain,
cannot keep up concealment in these days _if_ you are looked for!
Suppose you were to see Deering yourself, Hugh?"

"No; the only chance for present peace is to let him suppose that I am
ignorant of the truth."

"Perhaps so! I must say I am most reluctant to let that wretch escape."

"So am I; but I think of Elsie before everything. Well, go away and
settle everything with her; tell her to be ready to start for the
Continent on Monday."

It was late before Glynn reached Garston Terrace; he had had some
business to attend to, and took a hasty meal at his club, thus securing
a long evening.

Never did the way seem so long. He was resolved that if an opportunity
offered, or even if it did not, to avow his affection to Elsie, and try
to obtain her promise in return.

When he reached the door, the landlady informed him that Missee "was
very much upset, and waiting for him in the drawing-room." The moment
he entered she flew to him with outstretched hands, which he took and
tenderly held.

"Why have you been so long? Oh! I have seen him. He has followed us
here! What shall we do?--how shall we escape?"

"Whom have you seen?" asked Glynn, drawing her to him, distressed at
the wild fear in her eyes.

"Vincent!" she whispered. "I saw him from my bedroom about three
hours ago; my room is to the front. He did not see me, I am sure; he
was looking round when I first caught sight of him, and his back was
towards me, so I kept behind the curtain. Oh! Mr. Glynn, it will kill
my father, I know it will! What can we do? Will you not help us?"

"I would give my life to buy peace for you, sweetest," cried Glynn
passionately. "Give me the right to be with you, to guard you and
your father! I love you with all my heart and soul. Give me a little
love in return! be my own dear wife. I swear, whether you are or not,
that accursed American shall do you no harm. Elsie, beloved! will you
be mine?" He grasped her hands tightly, and held her eyes with his,
as if he would penetrate her heart's secret. At first an expression
of profoundest amazement flitted over her face, succeeded by a deep
burning blush, as she shrank back from him.

"Are you sure this is not compassion?" she asked, in a very low voice.

"Compassion? No; why should it be compassion? Do you not feel, do you
not see, that I love you, as men rarely love?" A curious, amused smile
stole round Elsie's lips, and her eyes sunk to the ground. "What do you
smile at?" asked Glynn, surprised in his turn.

"At your change of mind. Some seven or eight months ago you refused to
marry me!"

"How do you know?" cried Glynn, feeling as if the glowing currents in
his veins were arrested and turned to ice.

"By means of which I ought to be and am ashamed."

"Tell me!"

"You were sitting after dinner with my father, and I came into my own
little room. The curtain was down, but I heard him say something about
'my jewel,' as he so often called me, and," hesitating, "I listened. I
know it was shameful, but I could not resist. What struck me most was
that he offered to go away, not to see me. I wondered what sort of man
you could be to need such an assurance!"

"What could you have thought of me?" cried Glynn. "Can you ever forgive
my insane folly?"

"Oh! I did not mind! These plans of marriage are often made by
thoughtful parents. You hardly knew me then; it would have been foolish
to agree to what might not have been suitable. I did not dream of
marrying you. You seemed to me too----"

"Old?" suggested Glynn, more charmed than ever with her sweet, grave
simplicity, and thirsting to kiss the lovely mouth that spoke so
melodiously.

"No," with a smile, "not old, but grand; I cannot exactly express what
I mean. I did not want to marry you. Indeed, I was so taken up with
what my father said about keeping away from me, that I did not think
much about you."

"Will you think of me now?" exclaimed Glynn. "Look at me, dearest! read
my heart in my eyes. Believe me, there is nothing in heaven above, or
earth beneath, that I desire as I desire your love!"

Elsie grew a little pale.

"I am half-frightened at the idea. It is not good for you; it is not
wise of you; though I am ignorant of the world, I know it must be bad
for any man to marry a girl who has been obliged to hide away as I have
been--who is surrounded with mystery and fear, and who could never,
never forsake her dear father even for you!"

"Even for me! then you love me a little, Elsie?"

"I do!" with a slight sob. "I love you for your loyalty and goodness
to my father. I love you"--she stopped and added with gentle
solemnity--"for yourself." Yielding to his passionate embrace, she
clung to him and burst into a fit of wild weeping that surprised
and disturbed him. "I hope it is not wrong to let you love me," she
murmured brokenly; "I do not know what is behind, and if we must
part----"

"We never shall unless by your special wish, my own, my life. _I_ know
everything, and you shall know everything by and by. Will you not wait
and trust your father and me?"

"I will," she returned, and Glynn felt her "I will" was equal to
another's oath. She disengaged herself from his arms, and stood for an
instant with clasped hands in silent, prayerful thought. Glynn waited
till she stirred, and then taking her hand, began softly to explain
to her the necessity of a speedy marriage, and Lady Gethin's wish to
take her abroad at once. This Elsie demurred to; she could not leave
her father, who, though wonderfully recovered in health, was greatly
depressed and despondent.

"Let us go and consult him," said Glynn.

"Oh, yes; I have forgotten him too long. Shall we tell him that I saw
Vincent?"

"No, certainly not. The knowledge will not add to his safety, and may
injure him. He must leave this----"

"He is very safe here. The house is really ours. Mrs. Kellett took it
furnished for a year. The landlady is really her old servant, who knew
me as a child. She was here for two months before we came. She will
never say anything that could betray us."

"Ah! an excellent plan. But come to your father--we must consult him."

Lambert was reading a newspaper when they entered his room. He was
looking stronger and more like himself than Glynn had seen him since
they had met in London. He welcomed them cordially, glancing from one
to the other, as if perceiving traces of unusual emotion. "Lambert,"
said Glynn, "we have come to ask your consent. I am so infinitely happy
as to have won Elsie's; you will not withhold yours?"

"My God, I thank Thee!" murmured Lambert. "My child--my Elsie, you will
be safe now, and I have done with life."

Elsie ran to him, and putting her arms round his neck kissed him over
and over again, exclaiming, "No, my own dear father, you will begin
life anew; the best of it is to come. He loves you, too; he will help
me to make you happy."

When they were a little calmer Glynn began to speak of Lady Gethin's
plans, and rather to Elsie's surprise Lambert was eager to adopt them.
He declared it would make his mind quite easy to know that his daughter
was under Lady Gethin's care; that he would soon be able to travel, and
join them with Glynn. He seemed eager that this plan should be carried
out.

"Father," said Elsie, taking his hand in both hers, "will you not trust
me?--will you not tell me _the_ secret?"

"Well, not quite all of it," said Lambert, with a peculiar look at
Glynn. "You see, my dear, a long time ago I was foolish enough to get
mixed up in a political plot to upset the Government in Ireland. Well,
it never came to anything; a blackguard connected with it betrayed
everything, and he was murdered out--oh, out in California. Well,
unfortunately I was the last person seen with him, and Deering has got
evidence that might hang me. Now I don't want a row until I have the
means of disproving his assertions. Of course he has an object in all
this, and of course you don't believe _I_ would take a life?"

"_You_, dear, dear father! No, indeed; but why--why were you obliged to
hide _me_? Would it not be better to face it all?"

"I hid you, my darling, because that red devil had a design to remove
you from my guardianship on the plea that I was a criminal; and as to
facing it, I'll do that when I have counter evidence, which I hope to
get."

"Which is only prudent," put in Glynn.

"It is all very strange," said Elsie, trembling visibly. "They cannot
hurt him, can they?"--to Glynn. "They shall not. And you," she
continued, turning to him, "you wish to marry me in the face of all
this?"

"As ardently as if you were the daughter of the proudest potentate in
Europe."

Elsie was silent, her bosom heaved, tears hung heavy on her long
lashes, and it was only by a strong effort of her habitual self-control
that she resisted an outburst of tears.

"You are fit for the best king that ever sat on a throne," cried
Lambert: "and Glynn is worthy of you. Now, my darling, go--go write a
letter to Mrs. Kellett and tell her everything; Glynn will post it (we
are desperately cautious about communicating with Mrs. Kellett), and I
will have a little talk with Glynn."

Elsie, who looked shocked and shaken, kissed her father's hand
lovingly, and exclaimed:

"You can never be accused seriously. Surely there is no danger? Why
does Mr. Deering hate you? I did not believe there was such wickedness
except in books."

With an appealing look at Glynn, she left the room.

"It was a good thought," said Lambert, leaning back with a deep sigh,
"a very good thought, to make her believe I was mixed up with the rebel
Irish; so I _have_ been, but not much. Anything rather than the truth.
I tell you, Glynn, she must _never_ know that I killed her own father,
of whom she has still a confused memory, for she has let out that I
sometimes seem different from the picture her early memory presents
of me. I'd die out-right rather, Glynn. The toils press me closer and
closer, but my Elsie will be safe with you."

"As safe as love and care can make her," said Glynn in a low, solemn
tone.

"Then it matters little about me," said Lambert, and remained silent
for a few minutes with a look of deepest despondency.

"Suppose you let me see Deering on your behalf?" suggested Glynn. "I
might----"

"No, no," interrupted Lambert vehemently; "none must meddle with him
but me. Once Elsie is away, I will go and see him. If he knows she
is safe out of his reach, the black villain, he may come to terms.
But he'd do anything for revenge. I believe he could hang me; and he
_might_ choose to destroy me, and through me my darling. No; I will see
him myself as soon as I am a trifle stronger." Lambert rose, and walked
up and down the room with a sort of feeble energy very touching. "If I
could get out," he said, "I'd gather strength, and I don't want to face
that scoundrel till I have the pluck to stand up to him. Oh, Glynn,
Glynn, I feel as if he would get the better of me!"

"You must keep up your heart, Lambert, for _her_ sake. If Deering knows
that Elsie is, or soon will be, my wife, and that you will not press
any claim upon him, he will be glad enough to keep quiet."

"May be so, may be so; anyway, you lifted a great load off my mind by
making it all right with my jewel. I'll let you go now, I am desperate
tired. You go and have a little talk with Elsie while I rest and think
what's best to be done. You tell Elsie to get all ready to start with
Lady Gethin; and, Glynn, promise me one thing--never let her know that
I shot her father. Your hand on it."

"I promise you," said Glynn gravely.

Another delightful hour with Elsie, and he was obliged to go. He had
persuaded her to accompany Lady Gethin, and had undertaken not to lose
sight of her father until he conveyed him safely to Lausanne. The idea
that Deering was plotting against his life had greatly affected her.

"There must be much you do not tell me," she said. "The whole thing
seems so strange and terrible."

"No doubt it does," said Glynn. "Later, I am sure, your father will
tell you more. Now, my love, my darling, I must leave you."

"Before you go," said Elsie, raising her eyes to his with a grave
smile, "tell me your name! I never heard it, and I want to know; I want
to call you by some name more familiar than Mr. Glynn in my thoughts."

"I hope you will, dearest. I am called Hugh."

"Hugh! I do not know that name. I like it. It sounds strong." Then,
with a vivid blush, but a certain steadiness, as if she had made up her
mind, she said, "Good-night, dear Hugh."

Glynn clasped her in his arms, and kissing her tenderly implored her
to take courage and believe that her father's innocence would yet be
proved, and the villainy plotted against him frustrated.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a dreadful wrench for Elsie to part from her father. It needed
the united influence and urging both of Glynn and Lambert to persuade
her at the last. For the few days intervening between Glynn's avowal
and Elsie's departure, Lambert walked every morning in the little
garden behind the house, leaning on his daughter's arm. He seemed
feverishly eager to regain strength now that the local doctor who
attended him ceased his visits, and declared him convalescent.

Lambert, having determined to declare himself to Deering, was less
nervously anxious to keep in hiding, and even drove with Glynn and
Elsie as far as Lady Gethin's the morning of the day the latter were
to start for the Continent. He wanted, he said, to see the last of his
child.

"The last for the next few weeks," corrected Glynn.

"May be so, may be so," said Lambert, with a sad ring in his voice.

Lady Gethin made him welcome, and at once evinced an inclination to pet
Elsie, who was too much overcome by the dread of leaving her father to
heed the minute kindnesses heaped upon her.

"Don't be too downcast about her," said Lady Gethin, who was in her
element at the head of affairs and in the centre of a romantic mystery.
"When she is clear away, and has had a few cheering letters from her
father, she will be all right. The sooner he makes things square with
Deering the better. I can never believe he would be such a headstrong
idiot as to throw away a splendid estate and high position for the sake
of mere revenge."

"Mere revenge! It is a powerful incentive. Remember the ill-health of
that crippled boy of his! I doubt if he cares to transmit much to him,
and then he no doubt counts on a compromise that he would be left the
life-use of the property."

"To which I hope and trust you would never consent, Hugh! I'd take
that wretch's skin off, if I could! In fact I have set my heart on
seeing _you_ master of Denham one of these days. It is infamous that
wickedness should flourish in high places."

"I prefer keeping my word to Lambert that Elsie should never know how
her real father died, to possessing the finest property in the kingdom."

"Well, you need not break your word; neither need you be Quixotic."

These sentences were exchanged in the dining-room, from which Lambert
and Elsie had retired to have a few words in private in Lady Gethin's
boudoir. Thither she and Glynn followed them, the latter drawing Elsie
into the conservatory adjoining.

"The next fortnight will be awfully blank," he exclaimed, when they
were out of earshot. "By that time I trust all difficulties will be
surmounted, and I shall be able to start with your father for Lausanne;
then I trust there will only be peace and love for you both in the
future."

"Would to God this terrible interval were over!" said Elsie, with a
quivering sigh.

"I intend to insist on your father's staying with me in my chambers
until he is free to join you! Trust him to me, dearest," replied Glynn.

"How good you are! How can I ever thank you enough?" cried Elsie, and
carried away by tenderness and gratitude her arms stole round his
neck, and she kissed him repeatedly in all the simple sincerity of
unhesitating affection.

Soon after, as it was growing late, Lambert proposed returning to his
lodgings. He had said good-bye to Lady Gethin, and tenderly embraced
Elsie. He had even gone half-way down-stairs when he suddenly paused,
and turning back exclaimed, "I must take one more look at her," and
ascending to the drawing-room, took her hand in both his own. Gazing
intently into her face, he said softly, "My own jewel! Have I made you
happy? Will you pardon me any wrong I may have done you?"

"Wrong!--you have done me nothing but good. No father ever made a
daughter happier than you have made me."

"Then give me a loving thought now and again. God bless you, my
darling. Good-bye, good-bye."

"Only for a little while, dearest, best!" she exclaimed. "Be careful,
and come to me soon!"

Lambert made no reply. He hurried into the cab which waited below, and
accompanied by Glynn returned to his lodgings in safety.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was little or no difficulty in persuading Lambert to accept his
future son-in-law's invitation. Though greatly pleased to know Elsie
was with Lady Gethin, he evidently shrank from being alone, and was in
so low and nervous a condition that Glynn insisted on carrying him off
to his chambers the day after Elsie's departure.

Here he revived considerably, and was able to receive a visit from Mrs.
Kellett. Letters from Elsie and Lady Gethin also cheered him. Still he
was not himself, and his restlessness was painful at times.

Glynn carefully avoided any appearance of change in his habits,
and went out to dinners and parties as usual. At one of these he
encountered Deering, and took the initiative by asking if he had been
all this time in the country, as he had not met him anywhere lately.

"I stayed longer than I intended at Denham, putting matters in train
for the election, and now that radical fellow Smithson will neither die
or retire. But you have been rather scarce lately. I haven't seen you
in the haunts of men."

"I think I have been as much about as usual. By the way, is your
American friend Vincent in town? I fancied I saw him the other day in
Bond Street."

"Vincent! yes; at least he was last week. The fellow is a born
detective. He will not give up the chase after Lambert and his
daughter. It seems he found out that the woman who brought Miss Lambert
up is staying at Clapham, and he has been dodging her, thinking he will
track the Lamberts through her. By the way, the American police are
duffers: they have at last found out that they have been hunting the
wrong man. My own belief is that Lambert never quitted England."

"Perhaps not," returned Glynn. "Are you to be at the Milton wedding
next week? Lady Agnes is your sister-in-law, is she not?"

"No, only my wife's cousin; she is not very well,--Lady Frances I
mean,--and I have begged off the festivity. I go down to Denham on
Wednesday for a few days. I am making some alterations there, and want
to look after them."

"Well, good-night."

Glynn returned with so much information for Lambert, who was evidently
stirred by it. "I am better and stronger," he said, rising and
stretching himself: "I'll take heart, and go talk to him in the midst
of his ill-gotten property; maybe he'll hear reason. If not----"

"If not, let _me_ see him and remonstrate."

"Anyway, I'll not bear this state of misery any longer; I'll find
freedom somehow!" cried Lambert, with an air of determination.



CHAPTER XI.

PAID IN FULL.


"I feel like myself," said Lambert to his host, a few days after the
encounter above recorded. "I'll go down to Denham to-morrow, and get my
interview with Deering over."

"I am not at all sure you are equal to it, Lambert; you are feverish
and excited. Why not wait till he comes up to town?"

"Because I'd feel safer in the country. That fellow is just traitor
enough to keep me in talk while he sent for a constable, and made a
charge of murder against me. Constables are not so near at hand in the
country."

"I think you are mistaken; I don't fancy Deering will cut off his nose
to spite his face."

"It's hard to tell. Anyhow I'll try him. I suppose there is some
village or town near where a man could put up?"

"There is a village at Denham, I believe, but the railway-station is
five or six miles off, I am told, at a town called Earlshall, where no
doubt you will find accommodation. I wish you would leave the matter in
my hands, Lambert."

"That I cannot; but I think I am sufficiently backed up now to make
terms with him."

"I wish you could carry the war into the enemy's country, but that
without witnesses would be impossible," returned Glynn. "Make the best
terms you can. I agree with you in thinking that no amount of wealth
could atone for shocking and grieving Elsie."

"Nothing could!" ejaculated Lambert. "And suppose I am hanged, will you
be true to my darling?"

"Yes, even if I believed you guilty of murder, I would stick to her!"

Lambert seized and pressed his hand, and after a moment's silence
resumed:

"I'll go and sleep at my own place to-night; it's nearer the Great
Northern, and I'll start off to-morrow morning. Maybe I'll be lucky,
hey?" He pulled out Elsie's last letter and read it through in silence.
"She is happy anyway, but she's wearying for her old dad! God bless
her! God bless her, and watch over her!"--with a burst of feeling. "The
blessing of a vagabond like myself isn't worth much, but there it is.
Maybe but for me she'd be a great lady now, and holding her own in the
sight of all men."

"And perhaps but for you she would be in her grave, or struggling in
poverty and degradation," said Glynn.

"Who can tell?" rejoined the other, and he left the room to prepare for
his return to his own abode.

"I'll not write to you, Glynn," were his last words at starting; "I'll
just come straight back and tell you everything."

"Do; and remember that the bolder front you can show, the greater the
chance of his yielding. Speak as if you had a cloud of witnesses to
back you."

"Ay, that's the plan! I'll try it, if only my nerves keep as steady as
they feel to-day."

       *       *       *       *       *

The chief inn of Earlshall, a small town on the borders of Northshire,
was full and busy one morning in May, more than twelve months from the
opening of this true history. It was market-day, and the coffee-room
resounded with the loud voices and creaking boots of the neighboring
farmers, who had looked in for a mouthful and "a drop of drink"
somewhat stronger than coffee.

The stables were full of strong, serviceable nags, worthy of the shire
which bred them, and the busy hostlers had scarce time to attend to the
demand of a stranger, who had been staying for the last two days at the
inn, that one or other of them should saddle the horse he had ridden
each day since he arrived.

"Hand it over to me, and I'll saddle him myself," he said at length.
"I am no fool about a horse, and can generally manage all I want with
my own hands." So saying, he proceeded to saddle the steed he had
selected, and soon trotted out of the yard.

A stranger was a novelty at Earlshall, and several inquiries were
addressed to "mine host," who mixed on pleasant, easy terms with his
guests. "The visitor was from 'Lunnon' or from furrin parts." But he
knew a horse when he saw one; he had been over to Denham all day long;
the landlord's opinion was that likely he came from a newspaper, and he
hoped as how he would write up the 'Black Horse.' There was a letter
for him that morning from Denham. "I know the paper and the crest
stamped outside," added the host; "I dare say he's an electioneering
chap."

Unconscious of these comments Lambert rode on, with a grey, set face,
and firmly-closed mouth. The letter he had received that morning had
been brief:--"I will hear what you have to say, but I do not wish a
criminal to cross my threshold. You must meet me by the Deer's Barn
in the Beech Wood, about a mile from the village. Any one will direct
you." This had no signature, and was addressed to "Mr. Smith." Lambert
took it out and read it, gnashing his teeth as he did so.

"The insolent, daring villain," he muttered; "can I do nothing to turn
his flank? If he had a gleam of conscience he would be less daringly
unscrupulous, but he hasn't enough to make a coward of him. Glynn is my
best card, but Deering knows his strength; he has only to lie boldly,
and I am at his mercy. But he'll never get hold of _her_: she is safe
from him." Then his thoughts wandered away to a bit of country near
Mrs. Kellett's home, where in some of his many visits to his darling
daughter, he had led her little Welsh pony, while she talked to him
of her own simple fancies--of her dearly loved pets, of the wild
flowers, and birds, and insects, all of which were so familiar to the
country-bred child. What a foretaste of heaven it all was! No soiled
sinner purified by purgatorial fires and admitted into the divine calm
of celestial joy could have felt more keenly the sense of regeneration
and revival than the poor battered wanderer who had devoted himself
to the care of his enemy's orphan; and now, as he reflected that he
had brought misfortune to the creature he so fondly loved, that he had
unconsciously put her and himself into the power of a bold scoundrel,
his heart throbbed with fury so wild, so overpowering, that he was
almost alarmed at himself.

"I must keep my brain clear," he muttered. "I wish I could get quit of
this mad desire to shoot Deering,--it wouldn't do,--it wouldn't do.
I could never stroll through cool country lanes with my Elsie again;
I never could stroke her bright hair with this right hand if it had
committed murder. _That_ I have never done. No, Deering, you infernal
liar, never!--only in fair fight have I killed my man."

He stopped with an odd sense of confusion, finding that he spoke aloud.
His horse stumbling at the same time, the current of his thoughts
changed. He began to look forward. Elsie and Glynn were married;
they had a beautiful home in London, and he (Lambert) a snug little
apartment in Paris--he was more at home in Paris--and they visited
each other. Then as years stole on, and he didn't care to move about
much, he would sit in his chair, and Elsie would soothe him with her
heavenly songs, her delicious voice. Ah well, he might bring Deering
to reason; if not, well, he could never meet Elsie's eyes when opened
to the knowledge of deeds hidden away in his past life. Anyhow he must
commit no act of violence; this 'must not' but thinly veiled a strange
kind of conviction that something beyond himself would compel him to do
a desperate deed.

When he reached the very humble little hostelry distinguished by the
sign of the 'Saracen's Head,' the crest of the Deerings, which stood
beside the village green of Denham, Lambert was cool and collected
enough. He dismounted, and desired that his horse should be given a
feed of oats, that the girths should be loosened, but the saddle was
not to be removed, "for," said he very deliberately, "I want to finish
a sketch of the Deer's Barn, and get back to catch the up-train at
Earlshall about six, so I may want the horse all in a hurry."

So saying, he walked quietly through the great old wrought-iron gates,
and up the stately avenue for a few hundred yards. Then striking to
the left, he quickened his pace, and plunged into the beautiful woods
all flushed with the first tender green of spring, trampling down the
great feathery fronds of the fern, the variously-tinted leafage of
the undergrowth, till he reached an open space, from which a heath
and gorse-grown upland sloped gently towards some distant hills. And
all these grand woods, this beautiful sweep of hills, these groups
of dappled deer, that murmuring brown stream, the solemn, stately
beeches that clustered round the barn which stood at the verge of the
deer-park,--all these were Elsie's; and as he thought, Travers Deering
came out from the shadow of the rough, picturesque edifice and advanced
to meet him.

The two men came face to face, a little in the rear of the barn, and
stood in silence for a few seconds, eyeing each other with deadly
hatred; nor was the gaze of the unscrupulous villain a shade less
steady or unflinching than that of the man he intended to make his
victim.

"Pray why have you taken the trouble to come down here, when you might
have seen me in town next week?" asked Deering coolly.

"For various reasons, chiefly because I could not wait."

"Then you have something important, something favorable for yourself to
propose. First, where is Elsie? You know?"

"I do."

"Is she in England?"

"No."

"Will you tell me where she is?"

"I will further on."

"Very good. Let me hear what you have to say," taking out a cigar, and
striking a fusee he lit it with elaborate composure.

"I succeeded in hiding myself and my child from you and your devilish
designs," began Lambert in a voice that vibrated with the anger he
could hardly control; "and if I had not been struck down by illness, my
girl and I would have been out of your reach at the other side of the
world. However, I couldn't carry out my plans, and I know one cannot
keep out of sight forever, so I made up my mind to see if we can't come
to an agreement. Let us go, and I'll never say a word against you, or
meddle in any way."

"Is that all you have to say for yourself?" returned Deering
contemptuously. "I thought you had something new."

"So I have! I have found a man who believes my story, and he is a
backer not to be despised."

"And he is?" asked Deering, without taking his cigar from his lips.

"Glynn! You know him."

"Ha! and he believes your little romance?"--a look of concentrated fury
contracting his brow. "Satisfactory to _you_; but unfortunately men's
beliefs are not evidence. Now I have positive evidence."

"Deering!--you are the most accursed scoundrel that ever disgraced
God's earth! Were it not for my child, I'd gladly pay forfeit with my
life for the pleasure of killing you."

"I dare say! Knowing my man, I am not such a blockhead as to come here
unarmed," and he made a motion with his hand to his breast-pocket.

"Good," cried Lambert, and he laughed a peculiar wild laugh. "But this
is nonsense," he resumed; "let us talk like reasonable beings. Just see
what folly it is to throw away fortune, and all this"--waving his hand
towards the trees and upland--"for what?--a whim, a bit of revenge!
When you have destroyed me, and planted a thorn in Elsie's heart
that'll pierce her through her life long--for you _can_ do that, though
she's beyond your power to harm more--how will you like to turn out of
this grand place, and count every penny in your pocket?"

"I don't intend to do either; I shall be rewarded for my disinterested
honesty by keeping the estate for my life. My son, a mere helpless
cripple, can exist on a trifle; my lady wife is only half alive as it
is, and probably may resign the frail half she possesses before long,
then I may marry my sweet cousin, and all will go well and happily when
we have hung _you_, you blundering blackguard"--with a sudden flash of
rage and hatred.

"Gently," said Lambert, thinking the moment was come to play his trump
card. "You'll not be able to carry out your neat little scheme. My
Elsie is engaged to Glynn, and will be his wife before three weeks are
over. She is staying with Lady Gethin until the wedding takes place!"

Deering was moved at last; he started back.

"What! has Glynn known your secret during----"

"The last month, and more," interrupted Lambert.

"And Lady Gethin?--is _she_ equally well informed?"

"She is."

Deering grew deadly white; his sharp, cruel-looking teeth pressed his
under lip for a moment of silence before he burst out:--"Infernal
idiot! you have driven the last nail into your own coffin. Elsie,
Glynn's wife! I'd strangle her with my own hands first! You have
left me no alternative. I must in mere self-defence attack _you_.
You have shattered your own safeguard! If you have told Glynn and
that sharp-tongued old woman, I must not keep quiet any longer. Their
credulity does not weaken my position; it is impregnable, _if_ I have
pluck enough to stand to my guns, _which I have_! You have left me
nothing but revenge, and I'll have _that_. Who will believe a word you
utter? I'll make your visit here the starting-point of my accusation.
You have come to extract money! and threaten me with the claims of
Gilbert Deering's daughter. I, having always suspected you, and having
recently met Vincent and heard his story, I lay the matter before a
magistrate, both to obtain and bestow justice. Then let Glynn marry the
_protégée_ of a disgraced, detected criminal if he will, nothing shall
save _you_ from appearing in Elsie's eyes as the murderer of her own
father, the destroyer of her life. There! I tell you my plan; repeat
it or not as you choose. Your words, your story, your very existence
are in vain. I have but to be firm, and you go to a dishonored grave,
followed by the horror and disgust of the creature on whom you spent
your life!--ay! who, rejected by Glynn, will yet be mine."

Lambert had listened with a wild mingling of fury and despair. He gazed
at Deering to see if there was any sign of faltering, of hesitation,
but the leader of the rebel angels himself could not have looked more
determined to "make evil his good." Contempt as well as hatred gleamed
from his fierce light eyes, a sudden sense that all hope was over, that
a dark cloud streaked with blood was already rising between him and his
darling, his jewel, pressed with maddening force upon Lambert.

Deering misunderstood his momentary stunned silence, and added with a
sneer: "I am master of your fate. Find a way out of the dilemma if you
can."

"There is _one_ way left," cried Lambert hoarsely; and snatching a
revolver from his breast-pocket, he fired almost before he ceased to
speak.

The ball pierced Deering's right temple. With a groan he fell to the
ground, dead, helpless, harmless!

Lambert stood quite still for an instant, his pistol still held out,
waiting lest Deering might rise and attack him, but his enemy was
quieted forever. Lambert then put up his own weapon carefully, and
bending over the prostrate form, took out the pocket-revolver to which
Deering had alluded. Examining it he found the six chambers loaded,
then aiming low into the brushwood, he discharged one of them, and laid
the pistol at a short distance from the dead man's outstretched right
arm, as though it had fallen from his hand: all this with singular
mechanical deliberateness. Then he turned and walked briskly, not
hurriedly, back to the little inn.

A great deadly calm had fallen upon him. There was no more danger from
Deering, nothing to fear from his vile projects; but he, Lambert, had
died too, he had done that of which he dreaded being falsely accused.
He had done with life, but at least he had cleared a venomous beast out
of his darling's path; nothing now remained but to efface himself.

"None will ever know the exact truth, and my jewel will always believe
the best of me; time will heal up her wounds, ay, soon, soon." He
paused and looked round him. How beautiful the country looked; how
sweet the air, laden with the odor of violets and fresh grass! He had
loved life, and enjoyed it, and done his best in his own rough way, and
now he firmly believed he was doing his best still. No horror at his
own act thrilled him; he had but executed wild justice. His thoughts
grew strangely confused. He fancied at intervals he was going back to
Paris to his little home there, and that he would find Elsie at the
piano, and Madame Weber knitting. Then he would pull himself together,
and think hard of a certain plan he was trying to mature.

Reaching the little inn he called for his horse, and asked for a glass
of ale.

"You'll have to ride sharp," said the landlord, as Lambert paid his
bill. "I thought you wouldn't be back in time; that's what you artist
gentlemen don't think of. We've lots of 'em sketching about Denham
woods in summer-time."

"Ah! few have done so complete a bit of work as I have," returned
Lambert grimly, as he started at a quick trot.

His horse was fresh and free, and did the distance to Earlshall within
the time allowed by his rider. The hostler remarked that the gentleman
must have been took ill or summat, he had such a ghastly, dazed look in
his face. "Anyway, he did not forget to tip me handsome afore he ran
off to catch the train."

Meantime the first and second dressing-bells rang in Denham House, but
the master did not come in from the walk he had evidently prolonged.
Weldon had come over to dine and discuss business with his employer,
and endeavored to keep up a conversation with Lady Frances, sitting in
state in the grand solemn drawing-room. The dinner-hour was long past,
and Lady Frances grew uneasy. Deering's valet was called, but could
give no explanation of his master's absence. Night closed in while
search was being made, and then a cold and rigid figure, that a few
hours ago was the lord and master of Denham, was brought reverently
back, carried by the gamekeepers and gardeners, and followed by the
awe-struck men who had assisted in the search. The revolver, which
had apparently fallen from his hand, was recognized by the valet as
belonging to his master; indeed he saw it in its accustomed place that
very morning. Yet neither Lady Frances or Weldon could accept the idea
of suicide. He was so active, so full of schemes, so instinct with
life. But there was the incontrovertible fact--Deering of Denham was no
more, and Bertie his son reigned in his stead.

       *       *       *       *       *

Away by the beautiful shores of Lake Leman Elsie Lambert enjoyed a
growing sense of security. Lady Gethin was a strong protectress.
Lambert wrote cheerfully, and seemed to enjoy his visit to Glynn;
and the latter's frequent letters were an ever-increasing source of
delight, while it was an ennobling education, in Elsie's estimation,
to answer them. With Lady Gethin she grew in favor day by day; her
thoughtful softness, her delight in learning, and her delicious voice
charmed the somewhat _exigeant_ dowager. Again and again she vowed
to herself that she would never rest till she had won back that dear
girl's rights, and exposed Deering. "I believe every word that good
soul Lambert says," was the general climax of her meditations.

Lady Gethin was pondering these things one day as she sat, after
luncheon, on the delightful balcony of their hotel overlooking the lake.

She had begun to speculate when Glynn would join them, and what
preliminary arrangements would be necessary previous to the wedding,
which she hoped would soon take place. The approach of a waiter
disturbed her. He brought a telegram. It was from Glynn. "Keep all
newspapers, especially English ones, from Elsie; will be with you on
Wednesday."

"There is something dreadfully wrong," said Lady Gethin to herself,
"and the wrong is with Lambert. I trust the poor man's head hasn't
turned with all his troubles. I hope Hugh will write. This is Saturday:
one, two, three days to wait and hold my tongue. Why, it is more than
human nature can endure."

But though carefully keeping the papers from her young _protégée_, no
very difficult task, Lady Gethin searched them diligently herself, and
soon found the word of the riddle, first in a column headed "Mysterious
Death of Mr. Deering of Denham," followed by all particulars, and an
account of the stranger artist, who had been sketching in Denham woods,
and had, according to the evidence of the hotel-keeper at Earlshall,
received a letter with the Deering crest the day previous to the fatal
event.

In another column was an account of a robbery and murder in a
railway-carriage between York and London. On reaching an intermediate
station, one of the carriages of the up-train was found open and
empty, the door swinging to and fro, while the cushion beside it was
smeared as if something bleeding had knocked against it. The carpet was
displaced, and some sovereigns and loose silver scattered about.

On search being made, the body of a middle-aged man, well dressed, and
apparently in good circumstances, was found lying beside the rails some
miles back, his head and face shattered, his pockets turned inside out,
and at a little distance lay an American revolver. His purse was gone,
but a valuable watch was still in his pocket, and an old envelope, with
an American stamp, addressed, "M. Lambert, Rue de L'Evêque, Paris," was
the only clue to his identity.

After reading these ghastly details, Lady Gethin spent an anxious and
miserable time until Glynn appeared. He had sent a hasty line to Elsie,
to say he was trying to clear away an accumulation of business in order
to be with her on Wednesday.

"I suppose my father will come with him? It is strange he does not
mention him. Nor has my father written for several days," said Elsie.

"Oh! Hugh will explain everything when he comes," replied Lady Gethin;
who immediately after declared she had a sick headache, and retired to
bed, to avoid the distressing sight of Elsie's unconscious content.

Lady Gethin contrived to impress Elsie with the idea that Glynn would
not arrive till late in the evening, and so managed to secure a short
interview with him before he went in to break his sad news to the
orphan.

He looked ill and worn.

"Oh, Hugh! what an awful business," exclaimed Lady Gethin.

"A profound tragedy," he returned. "To _you_ I may venture to confess
my belief that Lambert first shot Deering and then blew his own brains
out. He couldn't have been recognized, poor fellow! His head was so
shattered, and the curious thing is, he had on different clothes from
any I had ever seen him in. I suspect he bought them somewhere between
Earlshall and London. It was the day after Deering's murder Lambert
destroyed himself. I have been expecting every day to find that he has
been identified in some way with the artist who spent a couple of days
sketching at Denham. Of course the watch and a ring, and the man's
figure generally, were enough for me. _I_ knew who he was fast enough.
I attended the examination, and gave my evidence frankly. Nothing was
said about Deering. Now let me go to Elsie! I both long and dread to
see her."

Lady Gethin led him up-stairs to their private sitting-room, and said,
"Elsie dear, here is Hugh sooner than we expected him," and discreetly
closed the door.

Glynn paused just within it, and gave himself one moment of delighted
contemplation, as Elsie sprang forward to greet him. She wore a dress
of soft grey, and a deep red rose, with its green leaves, at her
throat. The evening sun lit up the golden sheen of her hair; she had
color in her cheek; the light of joy in her eyes; and he had come to
darken all.

"Oh! you have come at last!" she cried, forgetting for one brief moment
even her father.

"My Elsie, my love, my life!" he exclaimed, clasping her closely to
him, while his heart throbbed with sympathy and sorrow. At the sound
of his voice she drew back and looked intently in his face. "Ah! you
have brought bad news. My father--he is ill?--he is dead?" A short,
breathless pause between each question.

"He is," returned Glynn, solemnly gathering her again to his heart. "He
is at peace, and I must be husband and father both to you, my darling."

"Oh, no, no! not dead!" she cried piteously. "I may see him once more.
He will speak to me again. Take me to him, dear Hugh!" Breaking away
from him: "Let us go at once."

"It would be of no avail, dearest!--you could not even recognize him!"

"How! why! Why did you not send for me when he was ill?"

"But he was not ill, darling! He was killed on the railway; he must
have leant against the door of the carriage, and it probably flew open.
He fell, and it is supposed was instantaneously killed."

"Shall I never, never see him again? It is too cruel!" She wrung her
hands and looked despairingly round her; then with a sharp cry threw
herself into his arms, and an agony of tears came to her relief.

       *       *       *       *       *

With infinite care and tenderness Glynn soothed the poignancy of her
first grief, and soon persuaded her she could show no better respect
for the dear dead than by fulfilling engagements to which he had
agreed. Some months later, therefore, a very quiet wedding took place
at Lady Gethin's residence. Glynn's clerical cousin from Clapham and
the faithful Mrs. Kellett were the only guests, and gradually time and
tranquillity healed the wound which death had inflicted.

But Lambert lived ever tenderly cherished in his daughter's memory, and
Glynn found that the best comfort he could give his young wife was by
describing the cheerfulness and returning sense of enjoyment displayed
by her father during the time he spent with his intended son-in-law.
The mortal agony that darkened his last hours she never knew. Even
when in the course of time she was obliged to believe she was not his
daughter, her sense of loving gratitude was only deepened and exalted.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ten years later. Scene: a reception at Lady Frances Verner's. Speakers:
a well-known dowager and a nephew just returned from India, whom she is
lionizing.

"Yes; Lady Frances is very handsome, and has a good deal of quiet
animation. She was the widow of that poor Deering of Denham, who shot
himself some years ago. That stout, broad-shouldered man with the blue
ribbon is Admiral Verner, and the pale, delicate-looking lad--talking
to Madame Ronika, the great violinist--is young Deering, who writes
such beautiful poetry."

"Who is that distinguished-looking woman--the smaller of the two
talking to Admiral Verner? She has such a sweet, pensive face, and
great blue eyes."

"Oh, you mean Mrs. Glynn. She is greatly admired by artists and those
sort of people, and has _such_ a romantic history. Her father was
murdered by the Indians or the Kaffirs; she was saved by a Yankee
gold-digger. _He_ brought her up in the Rocky Mountains among an
awfully lawless set of men. Then he took her to Paris, and I believe
she was to come out as the daughter of the Incas, in a ballet or some
such thing, when Glynn saw her and married her, which seemed rather
idiotic. However, old Lady Gethin recognized her remarkable likeness
to a dear friend who married Gilbert Deering, and whose daughter
she proved to be. Then they found the nurse to whom the Yankee had
given her, so the Deerings thought it better to come to an amicable
settlement. Lady Frances keeps her dower, and young Deering the estates
for his life; but this charming Mrs. Glynn, or her son, will succeed
him. They are great friends. What splendid diamonds she has!"

"Well!" exclaimed the Indian nephew, "truth really is stranger than
fiction."

       *       *       *       *       *

We are the Sole Publishers of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's Books


_The Poetical and Prose Works of_

_ELLA WHEELER WILCOX_


Mrs. Wilcox's writings have been the inspiration of many young men
and women. Her hopeful, practical, masterful views of life give the
reader new courage in the very reading and are a wholesome spur
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lies--flow from this talented woman's pen.

MAURINE

     Is a love story told in exquisite verse. "An ideal poem about as
     true and lovable a woman as ever poet created." It has repeatedly
     been compared with Owen Meredith's _Lucile_. In point of human
     interest it excels that noted story.

"Maurine" is issued in an _edition de luxe_, where the more important
incidents of the story are portrayed by means of photographic studies
from life.


POEMS OF POWER.

New and revised edition. This beautiful volume contains more than _one
hundred new poems_, displaying this popular poet's well-known taste,
cultivation, and originality. The author says: "The final word in the
title of the volume refers to the Divine power in every human being,
the recognition of which is the secret of all success and happiness.
It is this idea which many of the verses endeavor to inculcate and to
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"The lines of Mrs. Wilcox show both sweetness and strength."--_Chicago
American._ "Ella Wheeler Wilcox has a strong grip upon the affections
of thousands all over the world. Her productions are read to-day just
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THREE WOMEN. A STORY IN VERSE.

"Three Women is the best thing I have ever done."--_Ella Wheeler
Wilcox._

This marvelous dramatic poem will compel instant praise because it
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POEMS OF PLEASURE.

Many of the best poetic creations of Ella Wheeler Wilcox are to be
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"Mrs. Wilcox is an artist with a touch that reminds one of Byron's
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but makes a glad religion out of evolution and human fellowship."--_New
York Daily News._


POEMS OF PASSION.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox is known as the greatest living poet of passion. To
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"Only a woman of genius could produce such a remarkable
work."--_Illustrated London News._

Beside many others, there are some fifty poems which treat entirely
of that emotion which has been denominated "the grand passion"--love.
Among the most popular poems in the book are _Delilah_, _Ad Finem_,
_Conversion_, and _Communism_. These vibrant poems have attained a
reputation that is above and beyond criticism.

"Her name is a household word. Her great power lies in depicting human
emotions; and in handling that grandest of all passions--love, she
wields the pen of a master."--_Saturday Record._

Many thousands of the book have been issued in the plain edition. The
author's numerous admirers called for a _de luxe_ impression, and in
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_BEAUTIFULLY PRODUCED AND CHARMINGLY EMBELLISHED EDITION_

certain to satisfy the most fastidious taste. In its new form, the book
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EVERYDAY THOUGHTS--In Prose and Verse.

Her latest, largest, and greatest prose work. This brilliant work
consists of a series of forceful, logical, and fascinating "talks" to
every member of the household, in which the author fearlessly, but with
delicacy, discusses everyday subjects, and directs attention to those
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than are to be found in the average sermon.

"These thoughts, lofty and uplifting, are stated with virility, both
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Mrs. Wilcox's latest publication is a worthy addition to the best works
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Daily News._


KINGDOM OF LOVE, AND OTHER POEMS.

_A magnificent collection of poems suitable for recitations and
readings, true to the very best there is in human nature._

In the preface to this collection, the author says: "I am constantly
urged by readers and impersonators to furnish them with verses for
recitation. In response to this ever-increasing demand, I have selected
for this volume the poems which seem suitable for such a purpose. In
making my collection of them, I have been obliged to use, not those
which are among my best efforts in a literary or artistic sense, but
those which contain the best dramatic possibilities for professionals."

"Her fame has reached all parts of the world, and her popularity seems
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AN AMBITIOUS MAN--Prose.

A realistic novel of the modern school of fiction. Although the plot
borders on the sensational, the motive of the story is a good one.
It teaches that hereditary tendencies can be overcome; that one can
conquer passion and impulse by the use of the Divine inheritance of
Will, and compel public respect by lofty ideals; in other words,
that one may rise on the "stepping-stones of a dead self to higher
things." Mrs. Wilcox is a successful novel writer as well as a poet,
and this story is another evidence of her wide range of thought. "In
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AN ERRING WOMAN'S LOVE.

There is always a fascination in Mrs. Wilcox's verse, but in these
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human heart.

"Ella Wheeler Wilcox has impressed many thousands of people with the
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MEN, WOMEN AND EMOTIONS.

A skilful analysis of social habits, customs and follies. A
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THE BEAUTIFUL LAND OF NOD.

A collection of poems, songs, stories, and allegories dealing with
child life. The work is profusely illustrated with dainty line
engravings and photographs from life.

"The delight of the nursery; the foremost baby's book in the
world."--_N. O. Picayune._


W. B. CONKEY COMPANY, Hammond, Indiana





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