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Title: Love's Golden Thread
Author: Kenyon, Edith C.
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 "Love's Golden Thread" ***

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



[Illustration: "WITH A GLAD CRY BERNARD SPRANG TO HIS FEET." (p. 134)]



                             LOVE’S GOLDEN
                                 THREAD


                                   BY

                           *EDITH C. KENYON*

                               AUTHOR OF
            "A GIRL IN A THOUSAND," "A QUEEN OF NINE DAYS,"
                   "SIR CLAUDE MANNERLEY," ETC. ETC.



           Mark how there still has run, enwoven from above,
      Through thy life’s darkest woof, the golden thread of love.
                                            ARCHBISHOP TRENCH.



                        _WITH SIX ILLUSTRATIONS_



                                 London
                         S. W. PARTRIDGE & CO.
                         8 & 9, PATERNOSTER ROW
                                  1905



                              *CONTENTS.*

CHAP.

      I. LOVE AND HOPE
     II. A TERRIBLE WRONG
    III. THE PENCIL NOTE
     IV. A HARD WOMAN
      V. BERNARD SEARCHES FOR DORIS
     VI. DORIS ALONE IN LONDON
    VII. FRIENDS IN NEED
   VIII. NEW WORK FOR DORIS
     IX. ALICE SINCLAIR’S POT-BOILERS
      X. DORIS AND ALICE WORK TOGETHER
     XI. AN UNEXPECTED MEETING
    XII. AN ARTIST’S WRATH
   XIII. CONSCIENCE MONEY
    XIV. BERNARD CAMERON VISITS DORIS
     XV. ANOTHER VISITOR FOR DORIS
    XVI. THE GREAT RENUNCIATION
   XVII. IN POVERTY
  XVIII. NEW EMPLOYMENT FOR DORIS
    XIX. A POWERFUL TEMPTATION
     XX. THE WELCOME LEGACY
    XXI. BERNARD SEEKS DORIS
   XXII. TOO LATE!  TOO LATE!
  XXIII. ALICE SINCLAIR’S INTERVENTION
   XXIV. NORMAN SINCLAIR’S LETTER
    XXV. A HAPPY WEDDING
   XXVI. TWO MONTHS LATER
  XXVII. RESTITUTION
 XXVIII. CONCLUSION



                        *LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.*

WITH A GLAD CRY BERNARD SPRANG TO HIS FEET . . . _Frontispiece_

THE SHOCK OF LEARNING THE SAD NEWS WAS GREAT

SHE UTTERED AN EXCLAMATION OF SURPRISE

"GO!  YOU CANNOT APPRECIATE SELF-DENIAL AND LOVE"

"READ IT," HE SAID, HANDING HER THE LETTER

DORIS CLUNG TO HER AT THE LAST.  "YOU HAVE BEEN LIKE A DEAR SISTER TO
ME"



                        *LOVE’S GOLDEN THREAD.*


                              *CHAPTER I.*

                            *LOVE AND HOPE.*


    Little sweetheart, stand up strong,
        Gird the armour on your knight;
      *      *      *      *      *
    There are battles to be fought,
        There are victories to be won,
    Righteous labours to be wrought,
        Valiant races to be run:
    Grievous wrongs to be retrieved,
        Right and justice to be done:
      *      *      *      *      *
    Little sweetheart, stand up strong,
        Gird the armour on your knight:
    Sing your bravest, sing your song,
        Speak your word for truth and right.
          ANNIE L. MUZZEY.


"You know, Doris, to-morrow I shall be of age and shall come into my
inheritance, the inheritance which my dear father left me," and the
speaker sighed lightly, as his thoughts went back for an instant to the
parent whose loving presence he still missed, although years had passed
since he died.

"Yes, dear, I know," said Doris, lifting sweet sympathising eyes to his.
"And, Bernard, it will be a trust from him; he knew you would use it
well; you will feel almost as if you were a steward for him--for him and
God," she added, almost inaudibly.

He gave her a quick nod of assent. "Money is a talent," he said, "and of
course I shall do heaps of good with mine.  But you know, dear, I’ve not
got such a wise young head as yours.  I shall be sure to make heaps of
blunders, and, in short, do more harm than good unless you help me."

He looked at her very meaningly.  But her eyes were fixed on the green
grass of the hill on which they were sitting, and instead of answering
she said, rather irrelevantly, "You will be a man to-morrow; quite
legally a man.  I’m thinking you’ll have to form your own opinions then,
and act upon your own responsibility."

"Well, yes.  And one day does not make much difference.  I _am_ a man
now."  He held himself up rather proudly; but the next moment, as "self
passed out of sight," he drew nearer to his companion, looking down into
her sweet flushed face very wistfully.

"To-morrow will make a difference," she said lightly:

    "The little more, and how much it is!
    And the little less, and what miles away!"

she quoted.

"I was thinking of those lines, too," said the youth, "but not in
connection with my coming of age.  Doris, dear, the day after to-morrow
I shall return to Oxford."  He hesitated.

"Yes, I am sorry you are going."

"Not half so sorry as I am to have to leave you!" he exclaimed.
"However, it is my last term at Oxford.  When I return next time it will
be to stay."  He hesitated a little, and then, summoning his courage,
added hastily, "Doris, couldn’t we become engaged?"

The girl looked up, startled, yet with love and happiness shining in her
bright blue eyes. "Is it your wish?" she asked.  "Is it really and truly
your wish?"

Bernard assured her that it was, and moreover that he had loved her all
his life, even when as children they played together at making mud-pies
and building castles in the sand, on the rare and joyous occasions when
their holidays were passed at the seaside.

"You see, dear," he proceeded, after a few blissful moments, while the
autumn sunshine fell caressingly upon their bright young faces, "I am
rather young and could not speak to you quite like this if it were not
that to-morrow I shall be fairly well off.  My money--oh, it seems
caddish to speak of money just now!--is invested in Consols, therefore
quite safe, and it will give me an income of £500 a year. We shall be
able to live on that, Doris."

"Yes."  The girl looked down shyly, her cheeks becoming pinker, and her
blue eyes shining.  She was only nineteen, and she loved him very
dearly.

"Of course I shall have to assist my mother," continued Bernard.  "She
has very little money and will have to live with us when we marry. You
won’t mind that, dear; if we keep together there will be enough for us
all."

"Yes, of course."  But for the first time a shadow stole across the
girl’s face.  She was rather afraid of Mrs. Cameron, who was the
somewhat stern widow of a Wesleyan minister.

Bernard Cameron divined her thoughts. "Mother’s sure to like you,
Doris," he said. "She’s a bit particular, you know.  But you are _so
good_.  She cannot fail to approve of you. Ours will be a most suitable
match in every way.  Mother will be very pleased about it."

The shadow passed away from Doris’s face, and she smiled.  Bernard knew
his mother much better than she, therefore he must be right.  And her
last misgiving vanishing, she gave herself up to the enjoyment of the
present.

Time passed as they sat there on the pretty hill at Askern, where so
many lovers have sat and walked, plighting their troth and building
castles in the air; and it seemed as if these two, who were so young and
ardent, would never tire of telling their version of the old, old story
of the love of man for woman and woman for man.  It was all so new to
them that they would have been both startled and incredulous if any one
had suggested that the same sort of thing had gone on continuously ever
since Adam first saw Eve in the Garden of Eden.

However, everything comes to an end, and the best events always pass the
quickest; and so it happened that, in an incredibly short time, the sun
sank low in the heavens and finally disappeared, leaving a radiance
behind, which was soon swallowed up in twilight and the approaching
shades of night.  The girl first became uneasy at the lateness of the
hour.

"We must go home," she said.  "Mother will think I am lost.  Oh,
Bernard, I did not know it was so late."

"Never mind," said he, "we have been so happy.  This has been the
first--the very first of many happy times, darling."

"But I don’t like annoying mother," said Doris penitently.  "Oh,
Bernard, let us hurry home!"

"All right, darling."

So they went down the hill and across the fields to the village of Moss,
situated between Askern and Doncaster, where they lived; and as they
walked they talked of the bright and happy future when they would be
together always, helping and encouraging one another along the path of
human life.

It was so fortunate for them, they considered, that Bernard Cameron’s
father had left him £25,000 safely invested.  Doris’s father, Mr.
Anderson, a retired barrister, was one of Bernard’s trustees, the other
was a Mr. Hamilton, a minister, who knew little about business but had
been an intimate friend of the late Mr. Cameron’s.  Mr. Hamilton was
expected at Bernard’s home on the day following, when both trustees
would meet to hand over to the young man the securities of the money
they held in trust for him. Mrs. Cameron would then cease to receive the
income that had been allowed her for the maintenance of her son, and it
would become Bernard’s duty to supplement her slender resources in the
way which seemed best to her and to him.  There were people who blamed
the late Mr. Cameron for leaving the bulk of his property to his son,
instead of to his widow--that happened owing to an estrangement which
had arisen between husband and wife during the last years of Mr.
Cameron’s life.

Bernard mourned still for the father of whom his mother never spoke; but
he was attached to her also, for she was a good mother to him, and he
meant to do his duty as her son.  It was his intention after taking his
degree to devote himself to tutorial work, as he was fond of boys.  In
fact he intended to keep a school, and he told Doris this as they walked
home together, adding that he should realise part of his capital for the
purpose of starting the school.  He talked so convincingly of the number
of boys he would have, the way in which he would manage them, the
profits which would accrue from the school-keeping, and the enormous
influence for good which he hoped the scheme would give him over the
young and susceptible minds of his pupils, that Doris felt convinced
that the enterprise would succeed, and admired his cleverness,
business-like ability, and, above all, his wish to help others in the
best and highest way.

Timidly, yet with a few well chosen words, she sought to deepen and
strengthen his purpose, assuring him that nothing could be nobler or
more useful than to teach and train the young, and promising that she
would do everything in her power to assist him.



                             *CHAPTER II.*

                          *A TERRIBLE WRONG.*


    All day and all night I can hear the jar
      Of the loom of life, and near and far
    It thrills with its deep and muffled sound
      As the tireless wheels go round and round.

    Busily, ceaselessly, goes the loom,
      In the light of day and the midnight’s gloom.
    The wheels are turning, early and late,
      And the woof is wound in warp of fate.

    Click!  Click!  There’s a thread of love wove in:
      Click!  Click! another of wrong and sin--
    What a checkered thing will this life be
      When we see it unrolled in eternity!
        _Anon._


It was late when Bernard Cameron left Doris at the garden-gate of her
home--so late indeed that the girl hurried up the path to the house with
not a few misgivings.

How angry her mother would be with her for staying out so late with
Bernard!  Doris was amazed that she had dared to linger with him so
long; but time had sped by on magic wings, and it so quickly became late
that evening.  Well, she must make the best of it, beg pardon and
promise not to offend in that way again.  And perhaps when her mother
knew what had been taking place, and that she and Bernard intended to
marry when he had obtained his degree and was ready to launch out into
his life-work, she would be pleased and would forgive everything.  For
Mrs. Anderson admired Bernard very much, and had been heard to say that
she almost envied Mrs. Cameron her son.

"He will be mother’s son-in-law in time," thought Doris.  "I am sure she
will like that."

Doris had reached the hall door now.  It was locked, and she hesitated
about ringing the bell, being dismayed at the unusual darkness of the
house.  Why, it must be even later than she had imagined, for the
servants appeared to have fastened up the house and gone to bed!  The
top windows which belonged to them were the only ones that were lighted.
No one appeared to be sitting up for her, and, not liking to ring the
bell, she went round to the French windows of the drawing-room, in the
hope that she might be able to open one of them.  But they were closed
and in darkness. Then, going a little farther, Doris turned to see if
the library window would admit her, and found, to her satisfaction, that
a gleam of light from behind its curtains revealed the fact that it was
an inch open and that some one was within.

The girl was about to open wide the window and enter the room, when her
attention was arrested by hearing her father exclaim, in tones of agony:

"I am ruined!  I am quite, _quite_ ruined! And what’s more I’ve
speculated with Bernard’s money--and it’s all gone!  It’s all gone!  And
to-morrow they’ll all know!  Everything will come out--and I shall be
arrested!"

"Oh, John!  John!  What shall we do!"  It was her mother’s voice,
speaking in anguish.

Tremblingly poor Doris drew back, away from the window, feeling
overwhelmed with horror and consternation.  What had she heard? Bernard,
her lover, ruined by her father!  She felt quite stunned.

How long she stayed there in the dark, afraid to enter by the library
window lest her appearance just then should grieve her parents, and
uncertain what to do, she never knew; but at last she found herself
standing under her own bedroom window.

There was a pear-tree against the wall.  A boy would have thought
nothing of climbing it and of entering the room through the window;
Doris herself had often done that as a child, but now she hesitated,
feeling so much older because she had received her first offer that day
from the man whom she loved devotedly, and because, since then, great
shame and pain had overwhelmed her in learning that it was against
him--of all men in the world!--her father had sinned.  Therefore she
felt it impossible to climb that tree, as a child, or a light-hearted
girl, might easily have done.  So she stood beneath it, with bowed head,
feeling stunned with misery and utterly incapable of effort.

Above her the stars looked down, and the lights of the village shone,
here and there, at a little distance, while the night wind stirred the
trees and shrubs close by, and gently swept the hair from off her brow.
Just so had she often seen and felt the sights and voices of the night
from her bedroom window up above; but everything was different now.  No
longer a child, she was a girl engaged to marry Bernard Cameron, whom
she had always loved, and whom her father had plundered of all that made
his life pleasant and that was to make their marriage possible.

For a moment Doris felt angry with her parent, but only for a moment: he
was too dear to her, and through her mind surged memories of his
kindness in the past and of his pride and joy in her, his only child.
It might have been that in speculating with Bernard’s money he was
animated by the thought of still further enriching the son of his old
friend.  At least Doris was quite certain that her father had not meant
to do him such an injury.

"But oh, father, if only you had not done this thing," thought the poor
girl distractedly, "how happy we should be!  But now, what shall we do?
What will poor Bernard do? And I, oh! what shall I do?"

For a little while she stood crying under the old pear-tree, and then a
prayer ascended to the throne of Grace from her poor troubled heart.



                             *CHAPTER III.*

                           *THE PENCIL NOTE.*


    The winter blast is stern and cold,
    Yet summer has its harvest gold.

    Sorrow and gloom the soul may meet,
    Yet love rings triumph over defeat.

    The clouds may darken o’er the sun,
    Yet rivers to the ocean run.

    Earth brings the bitterness of pain,
    Yet worth the crown of peace will gain.

    The wind may roar amongst the trees,
    Yet great ships sail the stormy seas.
      THOS. S. COLLIER.


It was impossible for Doris to stay out in the garden all night, within
reach of her comfortable bedroom, and presently she took courage to
climb the tree and enter by the window.

The little room, with its snow-white bed and dainty furniture, including
well-filled bookshelves and a pretty writing-table, looked different
from of old; it did not seem to belong to Doris in the familiar way in
which it had always hitherto belonged to her.  Everything was changed.
Or perhaps it was she who was changed and who saw everything with other
eyes than of yore, and, recognising this, she sobbed, "It will never be
the same again--never, never!  I shall _never_ be happy again."

And then, because she was so lonely and so much in need of help, she
knelt down by her bedside, and poured out her full heart to Him who
comforts those who mourn and who strengthens the weak and binds up the
broken-hearted.  After which, still sobbing, though more gently, she
undressed and went to bed.

Thoroughly tired out in mind and body the poor girl slept heavily and
dreamlessly for many hours, so many in fact that she did not awake until
quite late the next morning.

Then, oh, the pain of that awaking, the pain and the shame!  Would she
ever forget it?

The maidservants came into her room one after another, the young
housemaid and cook, and Susan Gaunt, the faithful old servant who acted
as working-housekeeper; they were all in consternation, asking question
after question of the poor distracted girl.  Where were her parents?
Would she tell them what she knew about them?  When had she seen them
last?  What could have happened to them? and so on.

Doris asked what they meant?  Were not her father and mother in the
house?  What had happened?  What were they concealing from her?  "Tell
me everything?" she implored in piteous accents.

The servants, perceiving that she knew nothing of her parents’
disappearance, began to answer all together, making a confusion of
voices.  Their master and mistress had gone away: they had vanished in
the night.  Their beds had not been slept in.  No one knew where they
had gone.  And this was the day upon which Mr. Bernard Cameron was to
come of age.  Mr. Hamilton and the family lawyer were expected to lunch,
and so were Mrs. Cameron and her son.  What should they (the servants)
do if the master and mistress were absent?

Doris, half stunned and wholly distracted, ordered every one to leave
the room, and, turning her face towards the wall, shed a few bitter
tears.  That, then, was what her parents had done; they had run away and
had left their unhappy daughter behind.  "It’s not right! They have not
done the right thing!" Doris said to herself.  "And they might have
offered to take me with them," was the next thought: though, upon
reflection, she knew that she could not have borne to leave Bernard in
such a way, and neither would she have consented to flee from justice
with those who had wronged him, even though they were her own parents.

It was no use lying there crying, with her face turned towards the wall,
and so she arose, and, having dressed, began to search for a letter or
message which might have been left for her.

After a long search, by the accidental overturning of the mat by her
bedroom door, she discovered a note which had been left under it and had
thus escaped earlier recognition.  It was from her mother.

Doris locked herself into her room in order to read the letter, which
was blotched and blurred with the tears that had been shed over it:


"MY DARLING CHILD,--

"I am grieved to tell you that a very terrible thing has happened.  Your
father has unfortunately lost all Bernard Cameron’s money.  He
speculated with it as if it were his own, in the firm belief, he says,
that he would be able to double the capital. However, he lost
everything, and he is overwhelmed with grief and remorse, realising now,
when it is too late, that he had no right to speculate with Bernard’s
money.  Indeed, a terrible penalty is attached to such a mistake--the
law deems it a crime--as he has made. He dare not face Bernard and his
mother, Mr. Hamilton and the lawyer to-morrow, and his only chance of
escaping from a dreadful punishment is by flight.  Doris darling, my
heart is torn in two; I cannot let him go alone for _his heart is
broken_--and something dreadful may happen if he is left to himself--so
you will forgive me, darling, but I must go with him--_I must_.  For
twenty years we have been married, and I cannot leave his side, now that
he is in despair.  Oh, I know it would be better of him, and more manly
and just, if he would stay and face the consequences of his sin, but I
_cannot_ persuade him to do it, though I have implored him with tears,
and so, if it is wrong to flee, I share the wrong-doing, and may God
forgive us!  Now, my dear Doris, when we have gone you must tell Susan
that she must give notice to our landlord that we give up our tenancy of
the house; then she must arrange with an auctioneer to sell all the
furniture; and tell her when that has been done, after paying the rent
and taxes and the tradesmen’s bills, she must put the remainder of the
money in the bank to your father’s account.

"And then, as for yourself, my dear child, it will be better for you to
know nothing of our whereabouts, or our doings.  You must go to London
to my dear old friend Miss Earnshaw, and ask her _for my sake_ to give
you a home.  I am sure she will do that, for she is so good and loves me
dearly.  She lives at Earl’s Court Square; and you must go to her at
once, travelling by train to King’s Cross, and then taking a hansom
there.

"Once before, long years ago, Miss Earnshaw wanted to adopt you and make
you her heiress, but your father and I could not give you up.  Tell her
we do so now, and consent that you shall take her name--which was the
sole condition she made--it will, now, be more honourable than our own.
Farewell, dear, my heart would break at parting from you thus were it
not that what has happened has broken it already.

"Your loving Mother,
       "DOROTHY ANDERSON."


Doris read the letter over and over again before she could quite realise
all that it meant. She was nineteen years old, had received a fairly
good education, and now her parents had forsaken her, leaving her
entirely to her own resources, except for the command that she should go
to London to Mrs. Anderson’s old friend, Miss Earnshaw.

Doris had never been to London, and she had never stayed with Miss
Earnshaw, though the latter came to be at the hydro at Askern every
year, and never left without visiting them for a few days.  She was rich
and generous, and Doris knew that she would be willing to give her a
home.

"But oh," said the girl to herself, "it is hard to have to leave here in
this way--never to return--under a cloud, too, a dreadfully black
cloud!"  And she sighed deeply, for it was difficult for her to
understand how her father could possibly have speculated with money that
was not his own.  He was a reserved man, who had never spoken of
business matters to her, and she was a child yet in knowledge of the
world, and did not comprehend such things as speculating on the Stock
Exchange; but she knew that he had done wrong--for had not her mother
acknowledged that?--and realised, with the keenest pain, that Bernard
Cameron, her lover, was ruined by it, absolutely ruined, for he could
not continue his career at Oxford, and the capital with which he meant
to start his school, afterwards, was all lost, too.  Moreover, they
could not marry, for he was penniless, and she a beggar, going now to
beg for a home in London.  All thoughts of a marriage between them must
be over.  It was a bright dream vanished, a castle in the air pulled
down and shattered.

"I suppose we must prepare the luncheon, Miss Doris?" said Susan, when,
at length, in answer to her persistent knocking at the door, Doris
turned the key to admit her, and as she spoke the woman cast an
inquiring glance toward the letter in Doris’s hand.

"Lunch?  Oh, yes, Susan!  Mr. Hamilton, Mrs. Cameron, and the others
will be coming--although----"  The poor girl broke down and wept.

"Don’t, Miss Doris!  Don’t cry so, dear!" said Susan, pityingly, wiping
her own tears away as she spoke.  "Master and mistress may return in
time to sit down with their guests."

"No, they won’t.  They’ll never come back!" exclaimed Doris, with
another burst of sobs.

"What do they say in the letter?" asked the old servant.

"It’s awful!" replied Doris.  "Just see"--she passed the letter, with a
trembling hand--"see what mother has written to me.  _You_ may read it,
Susan, though no one else shall. There’s a message for you in it about
the house."

Susan adjusted her glasses and began to read the letter with some
difficulty, for tears were in her eyes, and she had to take off her
spectacles again and again in order to wipe them away.

"Oh, dear!  Oh, dear!" she ejaculated more than once, as she read the
letter.  "That I should have lived to see this day!  My poor mistress!
What she must be suffering!"

"And father!" exclaimed Doris.  "Oh, how miserable he must be!  For it
is his fault, you know, and the knowledge of that must be so dreadful."

"I cannot understand his doing it," said Susan, looking deeply pained.
"Such a high-minded, honourable gentleman as he always seemed.  Your
poor mother! your poor mother!" she repeated.  "What must she be
feeling."

"It’s bad for me, too," said Doris, "to be deserted, to be left behind
like this."

"Aye, dearie, it is," sighed the old servant, looking at her with great
affection.  "But you must remember, ’When my father and mother forsake
me then the Lord taketh me up.’"

"I don’t feel as if He takes _me_ up," sobbed Doris, whose mind was too
full of trouble to receive any comfort just then.  "Father and mother
_might_ have kissed me and said good-bye!  Oh, it was cruel, cruel to
steal away when I was asleep!"  And again she cried as if her heart
would break.

Susan endeavoured to calm her, but for some time in vain.  At last,
however, the old servant, glancing at the small clock on the
mantelpiece, exclaimed:

"We _must_ prepare to meet the visitors who are coming!  Miss Doris,
rouse yourself, be brave; we have our work to do now--afterwards we can
weep."  Susan brushed away her own tears as she spoke, and, drawing
herself up, added in her more usual, matter-of-fact tone, "I should like
to have this letter, or at least the part of it containing that message
to me, so that I may be able to show it to those who may question my
right to sell the furniture, etc."

"I can’t spare the letter," replied Doris, "but I will tear off the half
sheet containing the message to you."

"Yes, do, dearie, and write your mother’s name after it, and your own,
too."

"Very well," said Doris, "I will write my own name beside mother’s--then
it will be seen that I have written hers for her."  She did so, adding
"pro" before writing her mother’s, and then Susan took the half sheet
and went to prepare for the coming guests.

An hour afterwards, as Doris was mechanically arranging the drawing-room
in the way her mother always liked to have it when visitors were
expected, Bernard Cameron entered unannounced.

"Doris!" he exclaimed, coming up to her with outstretched hands.  "My
dear Doris, what has happened?  Crying?  Why, darling, what is the
matter?"

"Oh, Bernard!  Bernard!"  She could not tell him for her tears; but the
touch of his cool, strong hand was comforting, and she clung to it for a
moment.

He soothed her gently until she was able to speak and tell him what had
happened since she parted from him the night before, then she allowed
him to read her mother’s letter.

It was a great blow to the young man full of bright anticipations and
ambition, in the full tide of his Oxford career, on the eve of his
engagement of marriage, and on the day of his coming-of-age, to learn
that he was bereft of his entire fortune and rendered absolutely
penniless by one who had undertaken to care for him and protect his
rights; who was, moreover, the father of his beloved, with whom he
intended to share all that he possessed. Small wonder was it that the
young man drew back a little, covering his face with his hands, and
uttering something between a boyish sob and a manly sigh.

The next minute he would have turned to Doris again, in order that he
might say kind, reassuring words; for not for a moment was his love for
her affected by her father’s wrong-doing, but they were interrupted, Mr.
Hamilton being announced.

The trustee looked worried.  He came forward nervously, inquiring if
Doris knew where her father was.  It was evident that he had already
heard from the servants of Mr. Anderson’s absence.

Doris could not speak.  She looked helplessly at the man, and then at
Bernard, rose as if to leave the room, made a step or two forward,
stumbled over a footstool, and would have fallen if Bernard had not
caught hold of her.

"All this is too much for you," he said, in a quick, authoritative
manner.  "You must go and lie down.  Mr. Hamilton, be so good as to
touch the bell.  Thank you.  Doris does not know where her father is.
That will do, Doris.  No need to say any more at present. Susan," he
continued, as the door opened, "help Miss Anderson to her room.  She is
ill."

He handed Doris over to the maid with care; but it seemed to the poor
girl that he was only too anxious to get rid of her, now that he was
aware of the wrong her father had done him. She was, however, relieved
to be able to go to her own room, and, under the plea of illness, escape
the harassing questions which, otherwise, the coming guests might oblige
her to answer. In sending her to her room Bernard was really doing the
kindest thing.  It never occurred to him that she could possibly imagine
that he blamed her, or in any way felt his love for her diminished by
her father’s heinous conduct.

It was a pity, and the cause of much unhappiness, that he had not time
to say one kind word to the poor girl, after the grievous disclosure she
had made to him.



                             *CHAPTER IV.*

                            *A HARD WOMAN.*


    O for the rarity
    Of Christian charity
    Under the sun!
      LONGFELLOW.


"I have come to say a bit of my mind, Doris Anderson!"

The words were hard and uncompromising. Mrs. Cameron, who, in the
twilight, had sought and obtained access to the bedroom of the missing
trustee’s daughter, stood over her with a gesture which was almost
menacing. The difficulty she had met with in forcing her way upstairs
against the wishes of Susan and the other frightened maidservants, in
whose eyes she looked terrible in her wrath, had much increased her
displeasure.  She now longed to "have it out" with the only member of
Mr. Anderson’s family within her reach, or, as she expressed it to
Doris, to give her a "bit of her mind."

It was not a nice mind, Doris knew, so far as gentleness, charity, and
courtesy constitute niceness, and the poor girl shrank away from her
visitor, burying her tear-stained face still deeper in the pillows.  A
pent-up sigh escaping as she did so might have appealed to a more
tender-hearted woman, but only served to still further incense Mrs.
Cameron, who, tossing her head with a muttered malediction, forthwith
proceeded to disclose the real vulgarity and unkindness of her nature.

"It’s no use sniffing and crying there, young woman," she said, "and
it’s not a bit of good your playing the innocent, and pretending you
knew nothing of what was going on.  Your father is a thief and a
scoundrel!  Now what is the use of your sitting up, with that white
face, and pointing to the door like a tragedy queen?  I shall say what
I’ve come to say, and no power on earth shall stop me.  John Anderson,
your father, has stolen my poor boy’s money, and wasted every penny of
it! There is nothing left!  Nothing!  All has gone!  Twenty-five
thousand pounds were entrusted to your father by his dying friend
Richard Cameron, my husband, who had unlimited faith in him, as had also
Mr. Hamilton; and it’s all gone!  There is nothing left! Nothing!
_Nothing_!  My poor boy is ruined, absolutely ruined!  Just at the
starting of his life, when he is doing so well at Oxford, with all his
ambition----"

She broke down for a moment, with something like a sob, but, suppressing
it, frowned the more fiercely to hide the momentary weakness, "He has
this blow hurled at him by one of the very men who, of all others, were
appointed to protect his interests, and make everything smooth before
him.  It isn’t as if your father wasn’t paid for being acting executor,
or trustee.  My husband, who was always just"--Mrs. Cameron was one of
those wives who abuse and quarrel with their husbands while they have
them, but after their death wear perpetual mourning and lose no
opportunity of sounding their praises--"left John Anderson a legacy of a
hundred pounds, to repay him for any trouble the business of
administering his estate might cause.  Little did he think what a thief
and rogue the man would turn out to be!"

"Leave the room!" gasped poor Doris, sitting up and waving her hand
frantically towards the door.  Whatever her father had done, she could
not listen to such abuse of him.

"Leave the room, indeed!" cried Mrs. Cameron, sitting down on a bedroom
chair, which trembled beneath her weight--she weighed at least twelve
stone, being stout and tall--"I shall leave it when I choose, and when
I’ve said what I have to say, and not before!  And it doesn’t become
you, Doris," she cried--"it doesn’t become you to speak saucily to me.
You’re as bad as John Anderson, no doubt.  Like father, like daughter!
You’re all tarred with the same stick.  If you didn’t actually take my
boy’s money yourself, perhaps you used some of it; or, if you didn’t, no
doubt it was your extravagance and your mother’s that made Anderson want
money so badly that he took what was not his own. However," she went on
inconsequently, "you are as bad as he if you defend him, and take sides
against my poor boy, who never did anything to harm you in his life----"

"Oh, I don’t!" interrupted Doris, distressed beyond measure at the idea
of such a thing. "If you only knew how I esteem Bernard, and I----"  She
broke off with a saving instinct which told her that not by pleading her
love for Bernard would she soften his mother’s heart.

"Esteem him, and yet take the part of the villain who has robbed him of
everything?" cried the other indignantly.

"You forget"--almost soundlessly murmured Doris, her white lips only
just parting for the words to escape--"you forget, the wrong-doer is my
father.  Yes, he has done wrong--I acknowledge it," she cried
pathetically. "But still he is my father!"  And the tears fell down her
cheeks.

It was a sight to melt a heart of stone; but Mrs. Cameron was not
looking.  Though her eyes were fixed upon Doris, and her ears heard the
faintly uttered words, she perceived nothing but her boy’s wrongs and
her own, the vanished £25,000, the stopping of Bernard’s education at
Oxford, the failure of her own tiny income to provide for their daily
bread and the commonest clothes, the sinking of her son into a poor,
subordinate sphere at the very commencement of his life, the slipping of
herself into squalid, poverty-stricken surroundings, and a narrow,
meagre old age.  Another picture, too, presented itself the next moment,
and that was the mental vision of Mr. and Mrs. Anderson enjoying
themselves abroad, in the lap of luxury, eating and drinking at the best
hotels, arrayed in handsome clothing, and laughing, yes, actually
laughing together about the way in which they had lightened the Camerons
pockets.

That being so, it was no wonder that Mrs. Cameron’s next words were even
harsher than those which had preceded them.

"Yes, you’ve a scoundrel for a father!  You must never forget that!" she
cried.  "Never, never, for one moment!  Wherever you are, whatever you
may be doing, you must never forget that.  You’ll have to take a back
seat in life, I can tell you.  Not yours will be the lot of other girls.
With a father who is a felon in the eyes of the law you can never marry
into a respectable family without bringing into it such a load of
disgrace as will do it a cruel wrong."

She fixed her eyes sharply on the girl’s pale miserable face as she
spoke, with more than a suspicion of a love affair between her and
Bernard, which she determined to quash, cost what it might to Doris.

"If you marry," she continued harshly, "you will take your husband a
dowry of disgrace--that, and nothing else!"  She laughed harshly.
"Why," she ejaculated the next minute, "why, the girl’s not listening!"
for she perceived Doris springing from her bed and beginning, in
trembling haste, to dress herself.

To get away from that terrible voice, and the sound of those cruel
words, was Doris’s first determination; her second was to go where she
could hide for ever and ever from Bernard Cameron, lest in his noble,
disinterested love for her he should venture, in spite of what had
occurred, to insist upon marrying her.  The idea of bringing him a dowry
of disgrace was so frightful that it over-balanced for the moment the
poor, distraught mind of the suffering girl.

Mrs. Cameron was one of those women who, when wronged, are blind and
deaf to all else; suffering acutely, they pour out torrents of words,
unseeing, unheeding the mischief they may be doing to others.  She,
therefore, continued talking, in a loud, harsh voice, with unsparing
bitterness, all the time Doris was dressing and putting on her plainest
outdoor apparel; and the mother’s mind having turned to the subject of
marriage, and her wish being to destroy any thoughts Doris might have
cherished of Bernard as a possible husband, she said:

"My son, though poor as a pauper now--thanks to your father--bears an
unblemished name.  Honourable as the day, he comes of a most honourable
race of men.  In time, when he has worked up some sort of position for
himself, he may marry a girl with money, and thus, in a way, attain to
something like the position he has lost.  It is all a chance, of course,
but it is the only chance he has. There are lots of girls with money.
He is handsome and taking; he must marry one of them.  Do you hear me,
Doris?  I say he must!  It is the only chance he has.  Are you not glad
for him to have just that one little chance?"

Doris was silent.

"Ha!  You do not answer?  Can it be, can it possibly be," Mrs. Cameron’s
voice grew hysterical, in her fear and anxiety, "that from any foolish
words the poor, ruined lad has said--such words as lads will say to
giddy girls--you can possibly consider him at all, in any way, bound to
you?"

The poor girl would not answer.  She looked appealingly around.  Was
there no one who could save her from this woman?  Where was Bernard?
Why was he not at her side, to shield and protect her?  The next moment
she realised the impossibility of his being there in her bedroom; and
again her eyes roved longingly round the limited space.

On the morrow no doubt pitying friends, hearing of her trouble, would
rally round her: the clergyman’s wife, the doctor’s, the ladies to whose
school she used to go, and others, acquaintances more or less intimate.
There was not one of them who would not be kinder to her than this
woman, who was goading her now beyond endurance.  But they were
absent--and Mrs. Cameron was so very, very present.

"Do you mean to say--do you mean to say--there is anything between you,
the daughter of a criminal, who shall yet be brought to justice, if
there be any power in the arm of the law, and my son--my stainless,
innocent child?  Will you answer me?"

The room, which was going round and round, in a cloud of darkness
crossed by sparks of light, seemed to Doris to assume once more its
ordinary appearance, as she came round out of a half-swoon.  What to
answer, however, she knew not.  She could only dimly comprehend the
question.  Was there anything between her, overwhelmed as she was with
disgrace, and Bernard, poor, defrauded, yet honourable in the eyes of
all men?  Was there anything between them?  Yes.  There was something
between them--there was love. But could she speak of that to a third
person, and that third person one so aggressive as Mrs. Cameron?  She
felt she could not: therefore again she was silent, while the woman
poured out on her the wrath which now completely over-mastered her.

"You bad girl!" she cried.  "Not content with your father’s having
ruined my boy by stealing all his money, you are mean enough and wicked
enough to deliberately determine to cut away his one remaining chance of
rising in the world!  ’Pon my word"--all the vulgarity of the woman was
coming to the surface--"you would ruin him body and soul, if you could!
All for your own ambition, that you, too, may rise in the world; you
intend to cling to him as a limpet clings to a rock--and he won’t be
able to raise you, not he, poor lad! but you will drag him down into the
mire, which will close over his head and then--then perhaps you will be
content."

She waited for Doris to speak, but still the girl was unable to
articulate a word.  She was fastening her hat now, and putting the last
touches to her veil and gloves; in a moment or two she would be able to
escape into the open air, and into the night, now fast coming on.

"It is to his chivalry, doubtless, that you are trusting, to his
generosity, his love, his charity, his magnanimity.  By his virtues you
would slay him, that is, I mean, debase him in the eyes of the
world--the world we live in," continued the upbraiding voice.

Then Doris, stung beyond endurance and driven to bay, made answer,
confronting Mrs. Cameron proudly, with her little head held high:

"You may keep your son.  I will never marry him.  He is nothing to me
now--_nothing_."

"I can tell him that?"

"Tell him," cried Doris passionately, "tell him that I would not marry
the son of such a mother for any consideration in the world! Tell him
that I would _rather die_."  She felt at that moment as if she would,
for the woman’s cruel words had dragged her heart far from its moorings.

The next moment Mrs. Cameron was alone, standing in the middle of the
room, where she had so brow-beaten and insulted the innocent daughter of
that unhappy house, listening to Doris’s retreating footsteps on the
stairs and in the hall, and then the gentle closing of the outer door.



                              *CHAPTER V.*

                     *BERNARD SEARCHES FOR DORIS.*


    Life is so sad a thing, its measure
        Brims over full with human tears;
    A blighted hope, a buried treasure,
    Infinite pain, delusive pleasure,
        Make sorrowful our years.
      *      *      *      *      *
    Heaven is so near, oh friend, ’tis yonder,
        God’s word doth clear the uncertain way;
    His hand will bear thee, lest thou wander,
    His Spirit teach thee thoughts to ponder
        Till thou hast found the day.
          LOLA MARSHALL DEANE.


Doris had gone.  She had promised never to marry Bernard.  The young
people were parted for ever.  Mrs. Cameron, though poor, had her son,
her dear, if penniless, son all to herself. By a vigorous onslaught she
had defeated and driven away the enemy, utterly routed and confounded.
It was a moment of triumph for her, and yet she felt anything but
triumphant; and it was with a cross and gloomy countenance that she
proceeded downstairs in search of her son, whom she found at last
closeted with Mr. Hamilton in the study.

"How is Doris?" asked Bernard, rising as his mother entered, and
offering her a chair.

Mrs. Cameron sat down heavily, a little disconcerted by this
interrogation.

"What does that matter?" she snapped. "The question is how are we, the
wronged, defrauded, robbed?"

Her son looked at her impatiently.  "After all, it is worse for Doris,"
he said, with great feeling.

"Worse?" ejaculated his mother.

"Worse?" echoed Mr. Hamilton.  He was a long, lean man, remarkable for
his habitual silence and great learning.

"Yes, ten thousand times worse!" cried Bernard.  "We have lost only our
money, but she has lost her parents, her home, her money, and
everything--that is, almost everything," correcting himself, as a smile
flitted across his face, "at one stroke."

"Bernard is right--and the poor girl has the disgrace to bear as well,"
interjected Mr. Hamilton.

"Humph!"  Mrs. Cameron tossed her head. "The Andersons deserve all that
they have got," she was beginning, when Bernard stopped her hastily.

"Mother," he said, and his tone had lost its usual submissiveness in
speaking to her, "Doris has nothing to do with the cause of our
misfortunes.  She knew nothing about all this until after it had
happened."

"How do you know?" asked Mrs. Cameron sharply.

"Doris told me so."

"Doris told you so!  And you believed her?"

"Yes, and always shall!" cried Bernard, his face glowing and his eyes
flashing.  "And I would have you understand, mother, that I will have no
word said against Doris.  She and I are engaged to be married.  She is
my promised wife."

There was a dead silence in the room when his clear, manly voice ceased
speaking.  His mother was too much astounded and disturbed to easily
find words; she had not imagined things had gone quite so far as that
between the young people.  And Mr. Hamilton, not knowing what to say,
shrank back into his habitual silence.

"She is my promised wife," said Bernard again, and there was even more
pride and confidence in his young tones.  A smile, joyous and brilliant,
broke out all over his handsome face.  Forgotten were the pecuniary
troubles now, the broken career at Oxford, the school that would never
be his.  In their place was Doris, his beautiful beloved, who would more
than make up to him for all and everything. To his mother’s amazement
and consternation he went on rapidly, "I shall marry her at once, then I
shall have the right to protect her against every breath of
calumny,--though indeed, if you will respect my wish, Mr. Hamilton," he
added, turning to the minister, "and will not tell the police, or
prosecute Mr. Anderson, the matter can be hushed up as far as possible,
and her name will not be tarnished.  But in any case, _in any case_," he
repeated, "Doris is mine.  I shall marry her and work for her. If the
worst comes to the worst, I can get a clerkship, or a post as
schoolmaster--and with Doris, with Doris," he concluded, "I shall be
very, _very_ happy."

His mother’s words broke like a bombshell into the midst of his fond
imaginings.  "Doris has just been telling me," she said, in low, cruel
tones, "that she will _never_ marry you!"

"What?  What are you saying?" exclaimed Bernard, agitatedly, the joy in
his face giving place to an expression of great anxiety.

His mother said again, "Doris has just been saying to me that she will
never, _never_ marry you.  She told me I was to tell you so."

"But this is most unaccountable!" cried Bernard, beginning to walk up
and down the room.  "This is most unaccountable," he repeated.  "Why,
she told me----" he broke off, beginning again, "Where is she?  I must
see her--must hear from her own lips the reason of this change."

"You cannot see her, Bernard," said his mother, in slow, icy tones.
"You cannot see her.  She is not in this house----"

"Not in this house?  Not here?  What do you mean?"

"She has gone away."

"But where?  Where has she gone?"

"I do not know."

"But has she left no message for me?" he asked, with exceeding
anxiousness.

"She left the message I have given you," answered his mother.  "Tell
Bernard," she said, "that I will never, _never_ marry him!"

"That message I refuse to receive!" cried Bernard.  "Poor Doris was in
such trouble she did not know what she was saying--I am sure she did not
mean that."

"I suppose you think I am telling you a lie?" began his mother hotly.

Bernard did not reply, indeed he did not apparently hear her words.  He
hurried out into the hall, got his hat, and then returned to the room to
say to his mother:

"Have you no idea where Doris has gone?"

"Not the least!" snapped Mrs. Cameron.

"I shall find out.  I shall follow her, wherever she has gone.  You will
not see me again till she is found!"

"Bernard!  You silly lad!"

But he had gone.  No use, Mrs. Cameron, in rushing after him into the
hall, with all the arguments you can think of!  No use in standing
there, frowning and execrating his folly! The influence that draws him
after Doris, in her poor distracted flight, is stronger than that which
binds him to your warped and selfish nature.  Love is spurring his
footsteps onward, far, far away from you.  If you wish to keep him by
your side, you, too, must have some of its magic.

Bernard first went on his bicycle to Doncaster, to the railway station,
where, after many inquiries and much futile questioning, he ascertained
that a young lady answering to the description he gave of Miss Anderson
had booked for King’s Cross, London, and had set off to go there by the
7.34 train.

Without hesitation he determined to follow her by the next express,
which was to leave Doncaster at 11.18.  It was then eight o’clock, so he
had time to cycle back to Doris’s home, there to question Susan Gaunt as
to what relations or friends Miss Anderson had in London besides Miss
Earnshaw, for he thought that in case Doris had not gone to her, as her
mother had directed in the letter he had seen, she might be with other
friends.

Susan was in a state of great distress and anxiety when she heard that
her dear young lady had gone alone to London so late in the evening.
"There will be no one to meet her when she arrives!" cried the good
woman.  "It will be night, and Miss Doris has never been to London
before!  She won’t know what to do. There won’t be any one to take care
of her. Oh, dear!  Oh, dear! what will she do?"

"Well, I’m going after her," said Bernard, "as fast as I can.  And I
intend to go straight to Miss Earnshaw’s in Earl’s Court Square. She
will go there, I suppose?"  And he looked searchingly into the old
servant’s face.

"Yes, sir.  She will go there, for her mother told her to do so."

"But, in case she is not there when I arrive?" said the young man
tentatively, "have you any idea of any other friends in London to whom
she may go?"

"No, sir; no," answered Susan, shaking her head.  "She knows no one in
London except Miss Earnshaw.  How should she when she has never been
there?  Oh, my poor young lady!  My poor, dear young lady! God grant she
may find Miss Earnshaw!"

Bernard left her in tears, and hurried off to his home, in order to pack
a small bag which he could carry on his bicycle to Doncaster Station.
Having trimmed his bicycle-lamp and eaten a little supper, without much
appetite, he strapped his bag on his bicycle and again set off for
Doncaster, arriving there in time for the first night express.

During the hours of that long, rapid journey south he was full of fears
and doubts; fears for the welfare of the girl who had run away from her
old home in such terrible grief, and despair and doubt as to his power
to find, console, and persuade her to take back her promise not to marry
him.

The hours of the night wore slowly away, until at 3.5 in the morning his
train arrived at King’s Cross.  Nothing could be done at that hour, and,
after making inquiries at the station as to whether any young lady had
arrived by the train from Doncaster, which reached King’s Cross at 10.45
P.M., without eliciting any satisfactory information, he lounged about
for a couple of hours, and then went out in search of a coffee-house,
and was glad to find one at last where he could obtain some hot, if
muddy, coffee, and a little bread and butter.

The homely fare caused him to realise the state of his finances as
nothing else would have done.  This was what it meant to be bereft of
fortune!  For others would be the comforts and pleasant appointments of
good hotels; for others would be ease, culture, and luxuries: he himself
would have to take a poor man’s place in the world.  He would have to be
content with penny cups of coffee and halfpenny buns, with poor clothes
and a little home--thankful indeed if he could secure that.

"But no matter," he said to himself, raising his head and smiling so
brightly that several persons in the coffee-house turned to look at him.
"No matter, if I win Doris for my wife. With her dear face near me, and
her sweet and gentle words of encouragement sounding in my ears, I can
bear all and everything. She will transform a plain little cottage into
a palace by her presence, and will make a poor man rich.  I can be
content with anything, shall want nothing, when I have Doris."  And
afterwards, when he was walking about in the soft, misty rain, which
seemed to him so black and cheerless, he said again to himself, "It
doesn’t matter.  Nothing matters now that I am going to Doris."

For he felt confident that he would find her at Earl’s Court Square when
he arrived there.  Of course she would have gone straight there in a
cab, as it would be night-time when she arrived at King’s Cross.  There
was nothing else that she could do.

He would follow her as soon as he possibly could.  Dear little Doris!
How glad she would be that he had not taken her at her word, if indeed
she had sent him that cruel message!  How devoted she would think him to
follow her at once!  How much comforted she would be to receive the
protestations of unchanging, nay, more, increasing love!

Time seemed to drag with leaden wings, until what he thought a decent
hour for calling upon Doris began to approach.  Then he took a hansom in
a hurry, bidding the cabman drive to Earl’s Court Square as fast as he
could.

It was scarcely ten o’clock when he stood at the great door of the house
in Earl’s Court Square, touching the electric button, and waiting in
breathless suspense for the door to open.  No one answered his summons
for quite five minutes--which seemed an eternity to him--then the door
slowly opened, and a lad in plain livery stood before him.

"Is Miss Anderson in?" inquired Bernard.

"Miss Anderson, sir?" asked the page slowly.

"Yes, Miss Anderson.  Has she not arrived?"

"No, sir.  I don’t know whom you mean, sir. There is no one here of that
name."

Then Doris had not arrived!  It was a great blow to poor Bernard.  "Can
I see Miss Earnshaw?" he asked at length.

"No, sir.  You can’t, sir.  She is dead."

"Dead?"

"Yes, sir.  She died suddenly yesterday of heart disease.  Very sudden
it was, sir."

Dead!  Miss Earnshaw!  Then what had become of Doris?  "Are you quite
sure that a young lady did not come here in the early hours of this
morning?" asked Bernard, slipping a coin into the youth’s hand.

The touch of silver seemed to quicken the latter’s memory.  "I was in
bed, sir.  But if you wait here I will ask Mr. Giles, the butler," he
said, inviting Bernard into the hall and going in search of the
information he needed.

Presently he returned with a deferential butler, who said to Bernard:

"There was a young lady came to this house in a hansom, sir, about one
o’clock this morning.  She wanted Miss Earnshaw, and seemed terribly cut
up to find she was dead. She saw Mr. Earnshaw, Miss Earnshaw’s distant
cousin, who inherits everything.  But I think he couldn’t do anything
for her, sir, for she went away in great trouble."

"Where is Mr. Earnshaw?" demanded Bernard excitedly.

"He went off by an early train to Reigate, where he lives.  He won’t
return until the day of the funeral."

"When will that be?"

"Day after to-morrow."

"Give me his address.  I must wire to him!" exclaimed Bernard.  "Did you
observe whether the lady went away in a cab or walked?"

The butler had not noticed the manner of her departure, nor had any one
else in the house.  All the inquiries Bernard made--and they were
many--resulted in nothing.  Doris had vanished as completely as it was
possible for any one to vanish in our great and crowded metropolis.

Bernard was in the greatest distress and anxiety about her, and sought
for her in every possible way, by advertising, through the police, by
telegraphing, and when he returned from Reigate by a personal interview
with Mr. Earnshaw, who said that he had told her that any claim she,
Miss Doris Anderson, had on Miss Earnshaw could not be considered at all
by him, for he had nothing to do with it, and could not see his way to
do anything to help her.

Bernard said strong words, and looked with exceeding anger upon the
wealthy man who had just inherited the great house.  But the warmth of
his feelings only hastened his own departure, for Mr. Earnshaw requested
his servant to show him out with all speed.

And nowhere in London could Bernard discover a trace of Doris Anderson,
though he sought for her diligently and with care.

Bernard was a true Christian, possessing earnest faith, otherwise he
would have been perfectly overwhelmed by these sad reverses of love and
fortune; as it was, although he was very unhappy, hope never quite left
him, and in this, his darkest hour, he was able to trust in God and take
courage.



                             *CHAPTER VI.*

                        *DORIS ALONE IN LONDON.*


    Most men in a brazen prison live
      Where is the sun’s lost eye,
    With heads bent o’er their toil, they languidly
    Their lives to some unmeaning task, work give,
    Dreaming of nought beyond their prison-wall.

    But often in the world’s most crowded streets,
      And often in the din of strife,
    There rises an unspeakable desire
    After the knowledge of our buried life.
        MATTHEW ARNOLD.


Doris felt quite stunned when she found that her friend Miss Earnshaw
was dead, and that Mr. Earnshaw, the heir, refused to recognise any
obligation to be kind to one whom she had loved.  Night though it was
when Doris arrived in London she hurried to Earl’s Court Square in a
cab, for she knew not where else to go.  It seemed to her most fortunate
that Miss Earnshaw’s house was lighted up, little knowing the reason for
it.  And then the shock of learning the sad news of the sudden decease
of her old friend was great, and the cold and almost rude behaviour of
Mr. Earnshaw, who would have nothing to do with one whom he looked upon
as a protégée of his late cousin’s, gave poignancy to her distress.

[Illustration: "THE SHOCK OF LEARNING THE SAD NEWS WAS GREAT."]

Doris had very little money in her purse, and knew not what to do.
Mechanically therefore she returned to the cab, whose driver she had not
paid, and re-entered it.

"Where next, madam?" asked the cabman.

Not knowing what to say, Doris made no answer.  Was there in all the
world, she wondered, a being more deplorably hopeless, homeless, and
overwhelmed with trouble than she?  Where could she turn?  What could
she do?  It was out of the question that she should return to Yorkshire,
where there was now nothing but ruin and disgrace for an Anderson.  She
would not encounter Mrs. Cameron again if she could by any means avoid
doing so, and she had promised never to marry her son.  Bernard would be
sorry for her now, she knew, yes, very sorry indeed. Still he had shrunk
from her and looked very strange upon hearing of her father’s
misappropriation of his money and absconding, which was enough truly to
seriously lessen his affection for her.  Indeed, Doris thought he could
no longer love her, in which case she had certainly lost him entirely.

Father, mother, lover, all gone; cut off from friends by a black cloud
of disgrace and shame, penniless and alone, terribly alone in a world of
which she knew so little, amidst dangers more vast than she, with her
limited experience, could imagine, what could she do?  Surely God as
well as man had forsaken her!  She turned quite sick and faint.

"Where to, lady?" asked the cabman again, and this time there was a note
of compassion in his rough voice which appealed to Doris.

She burst into tears.

The man turned his head aside.  He was one of nature’s gentlemen, though
only a poor cabman, and it was not for him to look upon a lady’s tears.
He stepped back to his horse the next minute, and pretended to busy
himself with the harness.

Doris had time to recover.  In a few minutes she was able to check her
tears.  Then she beckoned to the cabman to approach.

"I am in trouble," she said; "the friend to whose house you have driven
me died suddenly yesterday----"  She broke down pitifully.

The cabman nodded.  "That’s bad!" said he, looking down on the ground.

"I don’t know what to do," added Doris in tones of despair.

"There’ll be servants in this big house, won’t they take you in for the
remainder of the night, at least," suggested the man.

"I dare say they would if they were alone," answered Doris.  "But there
is a man in the house--I cannot call him a gentleman--who says
everything is now his, and that I have no claim upon him, and he will do
nothing for me."

The cabman muttered something strong, and then broke off to apologise
for speaking so roughly.  "You’ll excuse me, miss," he added, "if I say
I should like to punch the fellar’s ’ead.  May I go to the door and make
’em take you in if I can?" he asked finally.

"No, thank you," replied Doris.  "I am poor and homeless"--her lips
quivered--"but I am too proud to intrude where I am not wanted."  She
turned her head on one side.

The horse started forward a step or two, and the cabman went to its
head.  A sudden gust of wind and rain swept over Doris through the open
door, causing her to shiver.  The man returned to her side.

"We can’t stay here any longer, miss," he said.

"No"--Doris hesitated--"no, but----" she paused.

"Where shall I take you, lady?" asked the cabman.

"I don’t know," replied Doris miserably.

The man stood waiting somewhat impatiently. All was silent in the
square: there were no passers by, except one solitary policeman, who
stood to look at them for a moment, and then passed on.

"Drive me to an hotel, please," said Doris at length.

"Yes, lady."

The cabman drove her to two or three hotels without avail; either they
were closed for the night, or the night-porter on duty refused to admit
a lady without any luggage.

Again the cabman came to Doris for orders. "What will you do?" he asked.

"I don’t know," replied Doris, pitifully, with quivering lips.  She felt
terribly desolate and lonely.

Fortunately for her the cabman happened to be an honest man, who had a
wife and children of his own, therefore seeing his "fare" so helpless,
and so entirely ignorant of the great city, with its immense dangers for
a young and solitary girl, stranded in its midst, in the night-time, he
suggested, "You might go to a decent lodging, lady, until morning."

"Yes, I should be glad.  But how can I find one?  Do you know of one?"
asked the girl desperately.

"There’s my mother at King’s Cross.  She’s poor, but respectable, and
she lets lodgings and happens to have no one in them at present."

Doris looked at him as he spoke.  Could she venture to go to his mother?
He seemed an honest man.  And what else could she do?

"Mother’s house is clean," continued the cabman.  "She lives in a quiet
street a few doors from where I live with my wife and children.
Mother’s always been very particular about her lodgers: and she’s so
clean," he persisted.  "Any one might eat off her floor, as they say."

The simple words appealed to Doris; they bore the stamp of sincerity,
and so also did the honest kindly face of the poor man.  But still she
hesitated: her common sense told her she could not be too careful.

"Perhaps you’d look at this, miss," said the man, putting his hand in
his breast pocket and producing a small New Testament.  He opened it and
pointed to the inscription written on the fly-leaf, which Doris read by
the light of the cab-lamp:

"Presented to Sam Austin by his friend and teacher the Rev. Charles
Barnett, as a small acknowledgment of his valuable assistance in the St.
Michael’s Night School, London, N."

"How nice!" said Doris.  "Thank you for showing that to me.  I will go
to your mother’s. I am sure she must be a good woman."

"She is indeed, lady.  A better woman never lived, though I say it."

"Drive me there, please," said Doris.

The man shut the door of the cab and returned to his seat.

An hour afterwards poor tired Doris found herself comfortably lodged in
a small but respectable house near King’s Cross, and before retiring to
rest she thanked God for His providential care of her during the
difficulties and dangers of the night.

Downstairs Mrs. Austin was giving her son a cup of cocoa and asking
questions about the young lady he had brought to her.

"We don’t know anything about her, Sam," she said cautiously.  "There is
of course no doubt about her being in trouble, and looking as good as an
angel, too, but one can never tell.  I’d rather she’d have had some
luggage. Don’t you think if she had come up from the country to stay
with her friend, now, she’d have had some luggage?"

"Well, yes, so she would in an ord’nary way--but we don’t know all the
circumstances. And it was a first-class big house in a fashionable
square, and she went up to the door as boldly as if she expected a
welcome----"

"Which she didn’t get, and they wouldn’t have anything to do with her
there.  That looks bad.  For the rest you have only her own tale to go
by."

"Mother, are you going to turn her out?" asked Sam, with reproach in his
voice.

"No, Sam, I can’t do that.  But I shall keep my eyes open."

"You’ll be good to her, mother, I know."

"Yes, of course."  Mrs. Austin smiled, and her son knew that she would
keep her word.

He went away then with his cab, and Mrs. Austin closed her house for the
night and went upstairs to bed, pausing on the landing by her new
lodger’s door.  Did the girl want anything, she wondered, and after a
low knock she opened the door softly.

Doris was kneeling by her bed-side, and with a little nod of
satisfaction Mrs. Austin withdrew.

Doris’s sleep, when at last she sought her couch, was long, so that when
she awoke it was afternoon and she found her landlady standing by her
bedside, with a little tray, on which was tea and toast.

"You are very good to me, Mrs. Austin," she said, gratefully, as she
partook of the refreshing tea.

"I’m very pleased to have such a nice lodger, miss," said the widow,
completely won over and forgetting all her misgivings, as her stout,
good-humoured countenance expanded in a broad smile.  "There are some
who like gentlemen lodgers best, but I don’t.  ’Give me a nice young
lady,’ says I, ’and you may take all your gentlemen!’"

Doris smiled a little dolefully.  "But I haven’t very much money----"
she began.

"Don’t you worrit yourself about that, miss!  The sovereign you gave me
when you came in will see you through at least two weeks here, so far as
lodging is concerned--of course the food will come to rather more--but
it may be that you will find work, if it is work you are wanting, miss,
though you do seem too much of a lady for that sort of thing."

"I shall have to work," said Doris, "because I have very little money,
and no one to give me any more."

"Dear me, that’s bad.  Might I make so bold, miss, as to ask if you have
been running away from home--from your parents, miss?"

Running away from her parents?  How different the case really was!  It
was her parents who had run away from her!  But she could not tell Mrs.
Austin this.  She therefore only shook her head, saying gently, "I lost
my parents before leaving home.  The--the reason I have no luggage is
this, I--I was in great trouble when I came away, and so I forgot to
pack any."

"Then can’t you send for your luggage, miss?" asked the woman.

"No, no.  There are reasons why the people I left, at least one of them,
must not know where I am.  So I can’t send.  Besides, I left in debt,
and as I cannot pay the money, I want the people to have my clothes and
jewellery."

Mrs. Austin’s round eyes opened wider. It was queer, and her first
feelings of compassion, which had been aroused by her lodger’s pitiable
situation, and by the fact that she had seen her on her knees, became
mingled with doubts and suspicions.  This young lady left the last place
she stayed at in debt; it would behove her present landlady to be
careful lest she, too, should be taken in.  Miss Anderson was very young
and innocent-looking, but it was wonderful how sharp those baby-faced
girls could be!

"I shall have to buy a few things," said Doris, "and that will cost
money.  But I must look out for work immediately.  The question is, what
can I do?"

"I should think you can do a great many things, miss," said Mrs. Austin.
"A young lady like you will almost have been taught everything."

Doris shook her head.  "I know a smattering of many things," she said,
"but I doubt if I could earn money by any one of them."

"Well, miss, time will show.  I wouldn’t worrit myself about it this
evening, if I were you--I would just lie still and go to sleep. You’re
worn out, that’s what you are."

Doris took this good advice so far as to lie down again after she had
her tea, with her face to the wall.  But for some time she did not go to
sleep, for her heart ached too much; yet she did not weep, though there
was a pain at the back of her eyes which hurt more than tears, and did
not give her the relief that they would have given.  She felt keenly her
changed circumstances.  Two days ago she had a good home, kind parents,
an ardent lover, and many friends and acquaintances; now she had lost
all.  She was homeless, her parents had forsaken her, she and her lover
had parted for ever.  She was without friends and without acquaintances,
for they, too, were left behind.  "I am alone, quite alone," she
thought; and then remembered that the best Friend of all, her Heavenly
Father, was still with her.  That idea saved her from despair, and gave
birth to the resolve that she would not allow herself to sink beneath
her troubles, but would keep a brave heart and endeavour to live
worthily.  Her life would be different from of old; yes, but it need not
be worse--rather, it should be better. Longfellow’s familiar words rose
to her mind:

    Not enjoyment and not sorrow
      Is our destined end or way;
    But to act that each to-morrow
      Finds us further than to-day.

And she grasped the idea, even then, in that hour of bitter humiliation
and despair, that the brave soul is not made by circumstances, and the
environment which they bring, but, strengthened by Him who first trod
the narrow way, it makes stepping-stones of what would otherwise deter
and hinder it, pressing on to the prize of our high calling, the "Well
done, good and faithful servant!" of our Master.

So Doris said to herself, "I will live to some purpose, and first of all
I will set before myself one aim above all others.  If I possibly can
earn money enough, in some way or other, I will repay Bernard the money
of which my father robbed him--yes, that shall be my ambition.  To pay
the debt--the debt my father owes him."

Twenty-five thousand pounds!  An immense sum truly!  But immense are the
courage and the hopefulness of youth, inexperienced, ignorant but
magnificent with the rainbow hues of undaunted imagination.

When at last Doris fell asleep the last words she murmured to herself
were these:

    To pay the debt.

And her last thought was that she would be honourable and true to the
teaching of that Voice which is not far from any one of us, if only we
have hearing ears and an understanding heart.



                             *CHAPTER VII.*

                           *FRIENDS IN NEED.*


    Like threads of silver seen through crystal beads
      Let Love through good deeds show.
        SIR EDWIN ARNOLD.


This is a very hard world for those who, untrained for any special
vocation, find themselves through stress of circumstances driven into
the labour market, to oppose with unskilful hands and untrained brain
the skilful and highly trained labour of professional workers.

Pretty golden-haired Doris, with her slender array of accomplishments
and small amount of book learning, found herself at a great disadvantage
as compared with girls who had received a sound Board School, or High
School, education.  As a teacher she could find no employment, having no
certificates, and testimonials, or references to give.  After answering
many advertisements, which entailed much expenditure in bus and train
fares, though she walked whenever she could, thereby saving her pennies
at the cost of shoe leather, she was obliged to come to the conclusion
that not by teaching would her money be earned.  The same ill success
attended her search for a situation as lady’s companion.  Her want of
references alone debarred her from any chance of success in that
direction.

One day, when passing down a well-known street in north London, she
perceived a notice in a dress and milliner’s shop window stating that
young girls were much needed as junior assistants.  She therefore went
in to make inquiries, and found that if she liked to go there and sew
from morning to night she would receive in payment a couple of meals a
day and eighteenpence a week.  It would be impossible for her to be
lodged also, the manageress said, as they had as many hands living in as
they had beds for.  Plenty of girls were to be had for that trifling
wage, as they went there to get an insight into the business, hoping to
pass on to better work and higher wages in due course.

As it was impossible for Doris to pay for a bedroom out of such a wage
she was compelled to decline the work; and as the weeks passed by and
nothing better turned up she at last found herself in a pawn shop,
trying to raise a little money on her watch and chain, and undergoing a
truly humiliating experience.

The day came, only too soon, when Doris was obliged to confess to her
landlady that she could no longer pay for her week’s lodging in advance.
By that time, however, Mrs. Austin had conceived a real attachment to
her young lady lodger.  When, therefore, Doris stated her sad case, with
tears in her eyes, the good woman’s heart was touched.

"Now don’t you take on about that, miss, don’t!" she cried.  "I shall
not ask you for any more money till I am obliged, miss.  I know you will
pay me when you can."

"You may be quite sure I shall do that," said Doris.  "I am only too
distressed at the idea of your having to wait for the money."

Mrs. Austin went out of the room, to return, however, in a few minutes
with what she thought might be a "helpful suggestion."

"If you can paint, miss," she said, "perhaps they may be willing to sell
your pictures at some of the picture shops."

Doris’s face brightened.  Her little water-colour and oil paintings had
been very much admired at home.  But she sighed the next moment, as she
said gently, "I have no paints here, or brushes, or canvas, or
anything!"

"I have thought of that," said Mrs. Austin cheerfully.  "Just you come
upstairs with me."

She led the way up the narrow stairs to the back bedroom where she
slept, and pointed to a chest of drawers with no little pride. "My Sam
made that," she said, "when he was a joiner and cabinet maker, before he
took to cab driving, which I wish sometimes he had not done.  For it’s a
life of temptation.  The fares so often give drinks to
cabmen--’specially on cold nights.  Sam says it’s almost impossible
sometimes to keep from taking too much; and his wife has cried more than
once because he has come home ’with three sheets in the wind,’ as they
call it.  And he’s reckoned a sober man, for he’s that naturally, only
he lives in the way of temptation.  But now, look here, miss!"

Opening a drawer Mrs. Austin displayed all sorts of painting materials
heaped up within it. Water-colour paints, drawing blocks, palettes,
oil-tubes, canvases, pencils, and chalks were all mixed up together.

"These belonged to my dear son Silas," said Mrs. Austin, wiping her eyes
with a corner of her apron.  "He was never strong like Sam, he was
always a delicate lad.  He couldn’t do hard work, with his poor thin
hands and weakly legs.  But he was a rare lad for a bit of colour.
’Mother, I’ll be an artist,’ he oft said to me.  And I had him taught.
He used to attend classes, and go to a School of Art--I was at a deal of
expense--and now, now he’s gone!"  She broke down, sobbing bitterly,
while Doris put her arms round her neck and kissed her poor red face,
which was all she could do to comfort her.  "He’s gone," continued the
widow pathetically, "to be an artist up above, if so be it’s true that
God permits people to carry on their work on high."

    "On the earth the broken arcs, in the
    Heaven a perfect round,"

quoted Doris softly.

"Ay, miss, I think so," said the poor woman, whom sorrow had taught
much.  "My Silas, he said to me when he lay dying, ’Mother, God is the
Master Artist, He began me, just as I begin my pictures, and He never
makes mistakes, or wastes His materials; He’ll turn me into something
good over there, as it isn’t to be down here.’"

"He had beautiful faith," said Doris, "and I am sure it will be as he
said."

"Oh, my dear young lady," cried the other, with great feeling, "I thank
God that He sent you here!  I do feel so comforted to have you here, and
I do hope you will do me the favour to accept these painting
things--every one of them, please.  Then you can paint pictures and sell
them, as my poor dear boy wanted to do."

Doris, however, was reluctant to accept so much, and only did so at last
on the understanding that if she were so fortunate as to sell her
pictures Mrs. Austin should have a percentage of the pay, for the use of
the materials.  That settled, it became necessary to arrange where the
work should be done; for both Doris’s bedroom and the little front
parlour, where she sat and had her meals, were too dark for the purpose.

Mrs. Austin was equal to the occasion. "Why shouldn’t you have the top
attic, where my boy used to paint?" she said.  "There’s a sky-light, you
know; and my Silas always said the light fell beautiful in his study, or
studio, as he used to call it.  Do come upstairs and see what it is
like?"

Doris did so, and found a large attic lighted by a huge sky-light.
Boxes and lumber littered the floor, an old square table was against the
wall, and a rather decrepit easel stood under the sky-light; a few
plaster casts, and big discoloured chalk drawings, were scattered about,
or stuck on the walls with gum-paper, or sealing wax.  The atmosphere of
the attic was close and fusty, it having evidently been shut up for a
long time.

"Why, this is the very place for me to paint in!" exclaimed Doris.
"Will the skylight open?  Oh, thanks!" as the landlady, opening it, let
in a pleasant draught of fresh air.  "That is charming!"

"I will clean and tidy up the place for you, miss, and bring a chair or
two in, and scrub the table clean, and then you can begin as soon as you
like."

Mrs. Austin was as good as her word, and when Doris returned to the
attic in the afternoon quite a transformation had taken place, and, if
not an ideal studio, it was certainly a light and extremely picturesque
one.  An old but clean rug had been found for the centre of the floor,
an old-fashioned Windsor armchair and a three-legged stool were placed
near the table, on which was spread a large old crimson cloth, while a
little cheap art muslin of the colour of old gold was draped here and
there as curtains to hide the unsightly lumber.  The attic smelt rather
strongly of soft soap and soda, but that, the landlady remarked
succinctly, was "a good fault," and certainly through the open sky-light
came remarkably good air for London.

Doris could not do anything that first day, as by the time she had put a
few touches to the room and arranged her things it was too dark to
paint.  But there was gas laid on, so she sat at the table that evening,
with pencil and paper before her, making little sketches from memory of
places she had seen, which she intended to utilise for her paintings by
daylight.  And as she did so, for the first time since the dreadful
night on which she had heard of her father’s crime, something like
happiness returned to her.

Great is the power of work to tide us over waves of trouble--waves
strong enough, if we sit brooding over them, with idle hands clasped on
our knees, to sink our little crafts in the sea of life, so that they
will never reach the quieter waters where they can sail serenely. "Work
hard at something, work hard," said the Philosopher of Labour, over and
over again.  "Idleness alone is worst: idleness alone is without hope."
Work, he went on to say, cleared away the ill humours of the mind,
making it ready to receive all sweet and gracious influences.  And in
Doris’s case it was so for a while that evening; and day by day
afterwards as she sat busily working in her attic, the cloud of
shame--laid upon her innocent shoulders by her guilty father--lifted and
disappeared; for she felt instinctively, as she worked, that she, at all
events, had no part nor lot in that matter, but was doing her
best--feebly enough, yet nevertheless her best--to destroy one of the
consequences of his sin, which was certainly the right thing to do.

And as she worked Hope came, touching with rainbow hues the dreary
outlines of her dismal thoughts, letting a little light in here and
shutting a little dark out there, until the future began to look less
drearily forlorn, and even became gradually endowed with pleasant
happenings.  She would sell her pictures, at first for low prices which
would tempt purchasers; they would be liked, orders would pour in, she
would raise her prices, earning more and more money.  Living on quietly
where she was, with good, kind Mrs. Austin, she would save what was not
actually needed for her simple wants; and thus would begin that secret
hoard which, she hoped, would one day grow to such dimensions that she
could pay part of the debt her father owed Bernard Cameron.

Then she grew happier every day, and as Mrs. Austin never failed to
applaud loudly every little picture that was made she thought that
others, too, would see some beauty in them.  She knew, of course, that
the good landlady was only an uncultivated, ignorant woman, and
therefore one who could not be a judge of art, yet Doris fondly imagined
that, having had a son who aspired to be an artist, Mrs. Austin must
know more of such things than ordinary women of her class.

She was disillusioned only too soon.  There came a day upon which,
having half a dozen little pictures finished, she ventured out bravely
for the purpose of offering them for sale.  Sam Austin, who took a great
interest in the project, had, at his mother’s solicitation, written down
for her the names and addresses of three or four picture-dealers, and,
not content with doing that, he was most anxious to drive her to their
shops in his cab, in order that she might make a good impression.

"It won’t do, mother," he said, "to let them dealers imagine that she
can hardly scrape together a living by her work.  They would not think
it very valuable in that case.  Folks usually take us for what we appear
to be in this world; and if we want to get on we must not let outsiders
peep behind the scenes."

Doris would have preferred to go alone, in order that she might make her
little venture unobserved even by the cabman’s friendly eyes; but, not
liking to grieve him and his mother, she accepted the offer of his cab,
and was accordingly driven over to what she hoped would be the scenes of
her triumph and success, but which proved instead to be those of bitter
humiliation and disappointment.

Cheerful and brave she was when she stepped out of her cab and entered
the first picture-dealer’s shop, with her brown paper parcel in her
hand, to return saddened, disheartened, and chagrined ten minutes later,
with the same parcel rather less tidily wrapped up.  The cabman, who
hastily opened the cab-door for her, guessing the truth, regarded her
very seriously, whereupon she endeavoured to smile; but the attempt was
a failure, and only her pale face quivered as she bowed assent to his
proposition that he should drive her on to the next dealer’s.  Here, as
before, she was received with effusive politeness--for, coming up, as
she did, in a cab, the driver of which hurried down from his seat to
open the door for her, touching his cap most deferentially as he did so,
the shopkeeper expected that at least her parcel contained some valuable
picture which they were to frame for her.  But when it turned out that
she was only offering them what one or two men rudely termed "amateur
daubs" for sale, their manner changed with extraordinary rapidity.  It
appeared that they did not want any pictures to sell, either in oils or
water-colours.  They had more of that sort of "stuff" than they could do
with.  Young ladies supplied them with any amount for a nominal payment,
and did the paintings better, too, than those which were being offered.
"Even if we bought yours," said one dealer, "and I tell you they are not
good enough for us, we should only offer you a price which would
scarcely pay for your materials."

It was plain to poor Doris at length that there was no market at all for
her wares, and Sam waxed furious as he read the truth in her pitiful
face.  As he drove her homeward he was divided in his mind as to two
lines of conduct.  Should he go back and give these dealers a bit of his
mind, or should he try to speak words of comfort to the poor young lady
as he left her at his mother’s door?  Finally he decided to do the
latter, and therefore as he opened the carriage door for her to alight
he ventured:

"I ought to have told you, miss, that it’s terrible hard for any one
without a connection to get a footing in the business world. Dealers
always know people who can do work for them if they require it, and
outsiders have but little chance."  This was a long speech for Sam to
make to a lady, and he only got through it by looking into his hat
steadily all the time he was speaking.

"Yes," said Doris, "I suppose so.  I am very much obliged to you, Mr.
Austin," she added gratefully.  "I am sure," she continued, her pale
face lighting up with a smile, "if these picture-dealers were more like
you they would be much improved."

"If I was a picture-dealer," said Sam to himself, as he drove off with
his empty cab, thinking over this compliment, "I’d buy the whole
bloomin’ lot of pictures at a price that would ruin me rather than bring
tears to the eyes of that blessed little angel.  It’s horsewhipping, or
else shooting, them dealers want, and I’d give it them if I was the
Government, I would, as sure as my name is Sam Austin."



                            *CHAPTER VIII.*

                         *NEW WORK FOR DORIS.*


    Have hope, though clouds environ now,
      And gladness hides her face in scorn:
    Put thou the sadness from thy brow,
      No night but hath its morn.
        SCHILLER.


That was a dark time with Doris.  Long afterwards she looked back upon
it as the hour of her deepest humiliation, when the tide of her life was
at its lowest ebb, and Giant Despair held out claw-like hands to seize
her for his own.

She was unsuccessful: the pictures she had thought so pretty were of no
commercial value, her only hope of making a living for herself, not to
mention her magnificent project of repaying Bernard Cameron some of the
money of which her father had robbed him, was completely destroyed.  She
had no gift by means of which she could

    Breast the blows of circumstance
    And grapple with her evil star,
    And make by force her merit known.

And she was friendless, except for the Austins, and alone in London;
moreover, she was absolutely penniless, nay, worse than that, she was in
debt, not having paid for her food and lodging for at least three weeks.

Going upstairs as quickly as possible, in order that she might escape
Mrs. Austin’s questions and even her sympathy, which just then she could
not bear, Doris entered her little room, and, locking the door, flung
herself on her knees by her bedside.

She had no words with which to beseech the intervention of the
All-Powerful; but words were not needed, her very attitude was a prayer,
her want of words a confession of the extremity of her need.  It was
impossible for her to do anything more for herself.  She knelt there and
waited for assistance.

Now it happened that Mrs. Austin, on an errand to her grocer’s, meeting
her son Sam, as he was driving away with his empty cab, learnt the truth
about Doris’s failure from him, greatly to her disappointment.

"Oh, poor dear young lady!" she cried, "what will she do now?  Whatever
will she do now?  Painting was the only thing she could do?"

"Well, she’ll have to do something else," said Sam, "since those
picture-dealers won’t ’ave her work."

"But what else can she do?" ejaculated Mrs. Austin in consternation.

Sam did not know; but he was obliged to drive on, having spent more time
than he could afford on Miss Anderson’s business that morning.  Mrs.
Austin returned home, and, by way of comforting Doris, set the kettle
on, and began to prepare a little meal for her.  As she was thus busily
engaged the door-latch was raised, and a youth entered dressed as a
shop-boy and bearing a family resemblance to the Austins.

"Good afternoon, aunt," he said, looking round the room with sharp eyes
that noted everything.

"Good afternoon.  I suppose you are in want of a bite or a sup?" she
remarked sagaciously.

"Well, I do feel a bit of a sinking here," and he made a rapid gesture
indicative of hunger.

"Sit you down then; I’m just making a little dinner ready, and a cup of
tea for my lady-lodger, and you shall have some too, Sandy, if you’ll
wait."

"All right, I’ll wait," and so saying he sat down and watched his aunt
as she boiled a couple of eggs and made tea in a little brown teapot
which had seen many days.

As she worked Mrs. Austin talked, and, because her mind was full of
Doris she spoke most of her, not exactly revealing her artistic efforts
and subsequent failure to effect a sale of her pictures, but still
graphically portraying her need of remunerative work.

Sandy listened with scanty attention.  He was much more interested in
the egg and large cup of tea which his aunt placed before him, and it
seemed as if he were the last person in the world to do Doris any good.
Indeed, Mrs. Austin suddenly perceived that her words were absolutely
wasted, and therefore pulled herself up short, with the exclamation, "I
declare, I might as well talk to this lampshade as to you!"  She glanced
as she spoke at the pretty crimson shade over the gas-light.  It was
made of crinkled paper, tied together with a narrow ribbon.

"You never have an idea in your head, Sandy," she added.

Sandy grinned.  "Who made that lampshade?" he asked, as he cut the top
off his egg.

"What shade?  Oh? the gas-shade!  Miss Anderson, my lodger, you know,
made that for me one evening, with a bit of crinkled paper that only
cost 2-½*d*.  Very handy she is with her fingers."

Sandy made no further remark until he had finished eating and drinking
everything that was placed before him.  "There," he said, at last, "I’ve
done!  Now then for a look at this shade," rising to look at the pretty
lamp-shade, tied with a knot of crimson ribbon, which Doris had made in
a few minutes with her clever fingers, as a small thank-offering for her
landlady.

"Well, what do you think?  Isn’t it pretty?" asked Mrs. Austin.

"Pretty?  Yes, well, it’s pretty.  I reckon if your lady-lodger made
some of these for our shop they’d sell."

"Would they now?"  There was eagerness in the question.  Could this
possibly prove to be a chance of work for poor Miss Anderson?

"Yes.  We sell lots of flimsy silk lampshades that cost heaps of money.
And we’re often asked for something cheaper.  Our manager might be
inclined to buy some like this."

"Would he indeed?  Oh, Sandy, Sandy!"  In her eagerness the good woman
caught hold of his arm.  "Poor dear Miss Anderson does not know where to
turn for a penny.  Could you get her this work to do, for good pay, do
you think?"

Sandy grinned again.  "You said I never have an idea in my head," he
began teasingly.

"I did.  Yes, I did, but I won’t say so again.  I won’t if you’ll get my
dear young lady some work that will keep the wolf from her door."

"The wolf?  What wolf?"  Sandy looked round with an assumed air of
alarm.

"The wolf of hunger."

"I shouldn’t have thought you would have allowed him to come near a
lodger of yours."

"Get out with you!" Mrs. Austin pushed him towards the door.  "Run and
see if there is a chance for Miss Anderson."

"A chance?  Oh, I see what you mean. Just ask her first if she would be
willing to do the work at a fair price."

"Willing?  She’d jump at it.  But I tell you what, Sandy, we must not
have her disappointed again.  I won’t say anything to her about it until
we know whether she can have the work and on what terms."

"But the manager will want to see a specimen," protested Sandy.  "He’s a
big man. You can’t rush before him with nothing.  He’d order me off at
once for fooling round in that way."

"Specimen?  Oh, well, if you want one, take this," said Mrs. Austin,
carefully taking down the pretty shade Doris had made, blowing the dust
from it, and wrapping it lightly up in a huge newspaper.  "Now you must
hold it in this way not to crush it," she said, "and make as good terms
as you can for my young lady; tell your manager she is a real lady, who
won’t do things for nothing."

"All right!"  Sandy darted off with the shade, and Mrs. Austin went
upstairs with her tea-tray.

Doris opened the door slowly.  Her eyes were red with weeping, and her
hair was dishevelled and dress untidy.  "Oh, Mrs. Austin," she said,
"I’ve been so unfortunate!  No one will have my pictures.  They are not
good enough to sell----"

"Nay, nay.  That’s not it.  But there’s no market for such pretty
things.  I know all about it, my dear young lady.  I met Sam and he told
me.  He is so sorry, he has a feeling heart, has Sam.  But there, there,
don’t you take on so!  Don’t cry, dearie!"  She was crying herself, with
sympathy.

Doris had burst into tears, and sat down weeping as if her heart would
break.

"Come! come! we mustn’t give way.  It’s always the darkest hour before
the dawn," said the good woman soothingly.

"If only I hadn’t wasted all this time, and used your painting
materials!  And now what shall I do?  What shall I do?" cried Doris.

Mrs. Austin’s resolve not to tell her about the lamp-shade making until
Sandy returned with good news vanished in the stress of this necessity,
and she hastily related to Doris that her nephew had thought of some
paying work which she might be able to do.

The girl was startled at the idea of such work.  It was very different
from what she had been attempting; but her downfall was too real for her
to be able to indulge in her former hopes, and her need of money was too
great for her to be fastidious, she therefore brightened up a little,
and began to talk about the new project.  At all events this might
provide her with sufficient money for food and lodgings until she could
procure something better.

The two went on discussing the matter whilst Doris drank her tea and ate
her egg and bread and butter; and then Mrs. Austin took the tray down,
and waited impatiently for the return of her nephew.

At last he came in, bringing the manager’s compliments to Miss Anderson,
and he begged her to call upon him the next day.

Doris, therefore, went to the ironmonger’s shop in the morning, was duly
shown into the manager’s room, and, after remaining there, some little
time talking over the matter with him, the result was that she was
engaged to work at lamp-shade making for the firm, in a little room
behind the shop, for eight hours a day, at a salary commencing at
sixteen shillings a week.

This arrangement Doris thought a more desirable one than another which
would necessitate her providing her own materials, making the shades in
her attic, and receiving so much a dozen for them.  She stipulated,
however, that if the shades sold well her salary should be increased in
proportion.

Weeks and months of pretty, if monotonous work followed for Doris.  Her
candle- and lamp-shades were a decided success, and sold quickly at low
prices.  One window of the shop was given up for a display of them, and
they made a "feature," or a "speciality," which attracted customers.
The head of the firm, Mr. Boothby, sent for Doris one day, praised her
handiwork, and raised her salary to a pound a week.

Doris was very thankful for the additional money, as it enabled her
gradually to pay her kind landlady all she owed, and still have fifteen
shillings a week for her board and lodging. More than this the good
woman would not take, and as for Sam, he stoutly refused to be paid
anything for the use of his cab on the picture business.  One favour
only he begged, and that was that Miss Anderson would give him one of
the little pictures he had endeavoured to assist her to sell.

Doris chose one of the best, and wrote his name on the back of it, much
to his delight.

She became contented, if not happy, as time went on, knowing that she
could earn her living by work which was not too hard for her strength;
but her old dream of partially repaying Bernard Cameron was no nearer
fulfilment, for what could she do with only a few shillings a week for
dress and personal expenditure?  Sometimes, as her fingers worked
busily, her thoughts were turning over new schemes for earning money,
which might in the future develop into something greater and more
lucrative than what she had in hand just then; and on a Saturday
afternoon or Sunday, when walking or sitting in Regent’s Park, or more
occasionally in Hyde Park, or even at Richmond or Kew Gardens, her
thoughts would fly to those who loved her, and she would long to see
again her mother and father, and look once more on the beloved face of
Bernard Cameron.

Did they ever think of her? she wondered. Would she ever meet them
again?  They could have no possible clue to her whereabouts. She, buried
in a little back room at the ironmonger’s shop for eight hours a day,
had small chance of being seen by any one except workpeople and shop
assistants.  And even if she were out-of-doors more, walking about in
those North London streets, or in the parks, or mingling with the
"madding crowd" within the City, what likelihood was there that she
would run across any of the three who, in spite of the sad separation
from her, yet occupied the largest share of her heart of hearts?  Where
were they now?  Probably her parents were hiding away somewhere abroad,
perhaps in America or Australia, banished for ever from England by her
father’s sin and fear of the penalty of the laws which he had broken.
It was wretched to think of them in their self-imposed, compulsory
exile.  Her mother’s words, "Farewell, my child: my heart would break at
parting from you, were it not that what has happened has broken it
already!" recurred to her, to fill her eyes with tears, and make her
heart ache painfully.

Scarcely less painful was it to think of Bernard, and of his tender
love, because that was followed by his shrinking back from her when she
last saw him, and by his mother’s upbraiding and harsh cry, "If you
marry, you will take your husband a dowry of shame."  And again, "Do you
mean to say that there is anything between you, the daughter of a
criminal who shall yet be brought to justice if there be any power in
the arm of the law, and my son, my stainless, innocent child?" and then
her excited denunciation:

"You bad girl!  Not content with your father having ruined my boy by
stealing all his money, you are mean enough and wicked enough to
deliberately determine to cut away his one remaining chance of rising in
the world!  You would ruin him ... you intend to cling to him as a
limpet clings to a rock ... he won’t be able to raise you, poor lad, but
you will drag him down into the mire, which will close over his head!"

Well, she had given him up; goaded by those words, following his obvious
shrinking from her, she had left him a message which, if he loved her
still, would sting him to the quick, and, in any case, had sufficed to
sever them for ever.

It was done now.  She must not brood; that would do no good, it would
only unfit her for her daily work.  Perhaps in time the feelings which
racked her heart when she thought of these things would grow blunt, the
hand of Time would still the pain, and her Heavenly Father would send
angels down to whisper to her words of peace and consolation.



                             *CHAPTER IX.*

                    *ALICE SINCLAIR’S POT-BOILERS.*


    Yet gold is not all that doth golden seeme.
      SPENSER.


"Good-morning!  Some one has told me that you have a garret to let in
this house."  The speaker, a merry girl a little over twenty, stood in
Mrs. Austin’s doorway, smiling up at her, one hot day in summer.

"A garret, miss.  Who for?" asked Mrs. Austin, smiling back at her
visitor.

"Well, for me," answered the girl, quite gaily.

"For you, miss?" exclaimed Mrs. Austin, in surprise.  "Why, you don’t
look like one who would sleep in a garret!"

"Well, no.  I don’t think I should like to sleep in a garret, unless it
were a very pretty one.  But I want to rent one, if I can find one with
a good skylight.  I want it for artistic work."

"Oh, indeed, miss!  Are you an artist?"

There was respect, and even awe, in Mrs. Austin’s tone.  She had not
imagined that such a merry-looking lady could be one of the elect.

"Well, yes, in a way I am; and I want to do something--paint some
pictures, you know--in a quiet, respectable garret, where I shall not be
interrupted.  Is it true that you have one to let?"

"Yes, miss.  I have one to let.  I had an artist son once who used to
use it.  He’s gone"--Mrs. Austin wiped her eyes with the corner of her
apron--"and since then," she continued, "I let my young lady lodger have
the use of it for her painting.  Not that she uses it now,--poor
dear!--still, it’s supposed to be hers."

"If she does not use it, would she object to my having it?"

"I don’t know, miss.  I’ll just run over to Boothby & Barton’s shop, in
the next street, and ask her.  It is there she works."

"Tell her I shall be immensely obliged if she will give up the garret to
me--that is, if it suits me--as I particularly want to have a garret
with a good skylight, and I should like you to be my landlady."  The
young lady smiled again in Mrs. Austin’s face.

"Well, miss, you are flattering!"  Mrs. Austin caught up an old bonnet
and proceeded to put it on.  She looked doubtfully at her visitor as she
did so.  Would it be safe to ask her to sit down in the house until she
returned?  She thought so, and yet, "One never knows who strangers are,"
she said to herself.  She, therefore, closed the door, locked it, and
put the key in her pocket, saying, "Perhaps you’ll step along with me,
miss, then you’ll know sooner if you can have it."

"Very well.  And now," the girl continued, as they walked down the
street, "I must tell you my name.  I am Miss Sinclair."

"Oh, indeed!  And I am Mrs. Austin."

"How much a week shall I have to pay you for your attic, if I take it?"

"Well, miss, there is not very much furniture in it."

"All the better.  I shall require a good deal of room for my own
things."

"Shall you require much attendance?"

"Oh, no, very little!  But people will come to see me sometimes, and
they will bring things and take them away--there will be a little wear
and tear of your stair carpets."

"I see, miss.  Would six shillings a week be too much for you to pay?"

"No, I can pay that."  The girl’s face brightened; she had feared the
rent would be heavier.  "And I can give you a month’s pay in advance."

Mrs. Austin looked pleased.  When they reached Messrs. Boothby &
Barton’s she went in alone to see Doris, and speedily returned, saying
Miss Anderson had readily consented to the arrangement.  She would
remove her few things out of the garret that evening, and then it would
be quite ready for Miss Sinclair.

"That is very kind of her.  She must be very pleasant," said Miss
Sinclair.  "I have been wondering," she continued, "what work a lady who
paints can find to do in a shop like this?"

Mrs. Austin told her, for Doris made no secret of her employment, and
the stranger was greatly interested, and could easily understand the
difficulty she had experienced in trying to sell her paintings.  "The
fact is, too many people paint," Miss Sinclair said. "There are nearly
as many amateur artists as there are people to look at their
productions. Your lodger is quite right in taking a more practical line.
I’m doing that sort of thing myself."

"Indeed, miss!  What may you be doing?"

Miss Sinclair did not answer, but went upstairs to look at Mrs. Austin’s
garret when they got to the house, and, expressing herself as very well
satisfied, engaged it at once, saying she would begin to use it on the
morrow.

Accordingly, the following day, just after Doris had gone to her work,
Miss Sinclair arrived early, together with a couple of boys bearing
great packages, canvas frames, and millboards.  The boys went to and fro
a great many times, bringing pots of paint, sheets of gelatine, etc.

Mrs. Austin’s eyes opened wide with astonishment at some of the things
which were carried up her stairs that day, but she did not interfere.
Her new lodger made the boys assist her to prepare the garret for her
purposes and arrange her work.  Then she sent them away, and remained
alone in the attic for two or three hours.  When at last she left it she
locked the door, saying to Mrs. Austin, as she passed her on the stairs,
"You may have another key for the garret, but please do not allow any
one to enter it, or even look in.  I know I can trust you."  She put her
hand in the widow’s as she spoke.

Mrs. Austin rose to the occasion.  "No one shall enter or look in,
miss," she said. "You have paid for the garret for a month, and it is
yours."

When Doris returned home in the evening, however, Mrs. Austin confided
to her that she thought Miss Sinclair must be a funny sort of artist, if
indeed she was one at all.

Doris felt a little curious, too, about the girl who painted with such
odd materials.  But as she came after Doris went to her work in the
mornings, and had usually gone before Doris returned in the evenings,
several weeks passed before their first meeting.  As time went on Mrs.
Austin told Doris tales of beautiful oil-paintings being carried out of
the garret and downstairs by men who came for them.

"I only just catch a glimpse of them sometimes," she said, "and they
fairly stagger me, they are so gorgeous.  Mountains and lakes, cattle
and running streams, pretty girls and laughing children, animals of all
sorts and I don’t know what besides!  Miss Sinclair must be a popular
artist."

Doris felt a little sceptical.  A young girl like Miss Sinclair to do
such great things all alone, and so quickly, too!  It seemed very
strange.

"I wonder if they are real paintings?" she said.

"You might almost think she is a magician, or a fairy godmother, or
something or other," said Mrs. Austin.  "Oh, yes, they are saleable
goods, for she gets lots of money for them--I know she does.  She told
me she was getting on so well that she could give me half a crown a week
more for the garret, and would be glad to do that, for she liked it so
much."

"I am very glad to hear it," said Doris kindly.  "You deserve every
penny, dear Mrs. Austin."

"Eh! dear, there’s no one like you, Miss Anderson.  I am well off to
have two such lodgers--one that pays so much, and the other that upholds
me with good words."

Another evening she said to Doris, "Do you know, miss, I heard a dealer
saying to Miss Sinclair to-day, ’Well, I’ll buy as many dozens of that
picture as you can do for me."’

"Dozens of that picture!"  Doris opened her eyes widely.  _Dozens_?
What was this artist who painted dozens of paintings all alike?

"I’m afraid, miss," continued Mrs. Austin, reading her thoughts, "that
although the paintings do seem really beautiful to me when I get a
glimpse of them from the garret door, or pass them as they are being
carried out of the house, they are not what may be called genuine works
of art.  Still, they’re very pretty: and they bring in lots of
money!--and what more do you want?"

What indeed?  Dealers would not buy the painstaking efforts of amateur
artists, and yet they flocked to a garret to purchase dozens of
pictures, which, to put it mildly, could not be called genuine works of
art.  The public must buy these things, or the dealers would not want
them.

"What a strange girl Miss Sinclair must be!" thought Doris, "to work
away at that sort of thing all alone.  And she must be clever, too.  I
wonder how she does it, and why she does it?"

Doris was soon to know.  Her work grew slack at the ironmonger’s shop.
A rival firm in the same street had started selling tissue paper
lamp-shades, which were prettier than those Doris made, and cheaper
also.  Messrs. Boothby & Barton tried to do it as cheaply but failed,
although they reduced Doris’s wages and bought commoner tissue paper for
less money.  Doris tried to improve her shades, or at least copy those
in the rival shop, but could do neither well, and, disheartened and
dissatisfied, her work grew irksome to her.

It was then extremely hot weather, and Doris, drooping in her little
close workroom, grew pale and thin.  She needed change of air and scene,
rest and freedom from anxiety as to ways and means, and she could get
none of these things.  A presentiment that she would lose her employment
weighed heavily upon her mind: and one night she returned home in such
low spirits that Mrs. Austin discovered the whole state of affairs.

The good landlady endeavoured to comfort Doris as best she could,
declaring that if she lost her work something better would turn up.

"And in any case, my dear," she said in her motherly way, "you must put
your trust in the Lord and He will provide."  And when at last she left
Doris it was with the words, "Don’t lose heart.  You have at least one
friend in the world who, although only a poor woman, will share her last
crust with you."

The next morning, when Miss Sinclair was working hard in her garret,
with her door locked as usual, Mrs. Austin stood outside, knocking for
admittance.

"If you please, miss, might I speak with you?" she asked through the
keyhole.

The worker within uttered an impatient exclamation, but opened the door,
saying, with a little sigh, "Well, come in.  I thought it would come to
this sooner or later."

[Illustration: "SHE UTTERED AN EXCLAMATION OF SURPRISE."]

"I’m very sorry to disturb you, miss," began Mrs. Austin.  Then she
uttered an exclamation of surprise, as she looked round on the oil
paintings propped up on the table, against the walls, on the old easel,
and indeed everywhere about the room.  Three or four were duplicates of
the same picture, and the colours were very vivid and brilliant. Most of
them were landscapes; but there were one or two ladies in ball-dresses,
and a couple of gaily dressed lovers.

"What do you think of them?" asked Alice Sinclair, who stood by the
easel, a slight, tired girl in a huge, paint-smeared apron that
completely covered her dress, which fell open at the throat, revealing a
pretty white neck.

"Well, I’m sure!" ejaculated the landlady. "I never saw such pictures!
Have you done them, miss?"

"Yes, I have painted them--that is, I mean, I have coloured them.  Do
you like them, Mrs. Austin?"

The landlady thought of her son Silas, and the pretty sketches Doris had
taken such pains over, and her answer came slowly, "They’d just suit
some people.  Now, my son Sam, who was never satisfied with his
brother’s paintings, would go wild over these."

"Is Mr. Sam an artist?"

"No, he’s a cab-driver."

Alice began to laugh rather hysterically, and, turning playfully to Mrs.
Austin, she pushed her gently into the Windsor armchair. "Sit there,"
she said, "and listen to me.  I like you because you speak the truth!
I’m a bit of a sham, you know, and so are my pictures, and you have
found me out."

"I’m sure I beg pardon, miss."

"No, it is I who must beg your pardon for using your garret for such a
purpose."

"The garret’s no worse for it, miss.  And there’ll be lots and lots of
people who will be that pleased with your pictures!"

"Yes, there are more Sams in the world than Silases!" said Alice, with a
little sigh. "And I give people what they want for their money."

"Yes, of course, miss.  When my boys were little ’uns they used to spend
their pennies over humbugs.  The money soon went, and so did the
humbugs.  But they were quite satisfied, having had their humbugs."

"Just so--and my pictures are like the humbugs, only they don’t vanish,
they stay. I’m a bit of a humbug myself," continued Alice ruefully.  "I
must say this, however," she added, "what I do I do from a good
motive----"

"And the motive’s everything," interposed the widow.

"Mine is to make money--and I succeed in making heaps."

"Oh, but, miss, surely to get money isn’t a very high motive, if I may
say so."

"But I did not tell you what I want money for.  It is in order that I
may be able to support and maintain one of the greatest of God’s
artists, whilst he works at his heaven-sent tasks.  He would have been
starved to death by now, or would have had to abandon his work, if it
had not been for this!"  She waved her hand towards the pictures.  "I
hate the work.  I loathe it," she went on, with a little stamp of her
foot, "and never more so than now--for, to tell you the truth, I am
feeling ill and overworked--yet I am obliged to go on, as my artist has
only half finished his picture.  _I must go on_."

"But not to kill yourself," interrupted Mrs. Austin, whose opinion of
her lodger had gone through various stages since she entered the garret.
At first she disapproved of Miss Sinclair’s work, then greatly admired
the noble, self-sacrificing spirit of the worker, and now the latter’s
ill looks appealed to her motherly heart.

"Oh, it does not matter about me," said Alice, with a little tired
smile; "but I must not waste any more time in talking.  A man will be
here for these pictures in a couple of hours, and I haven’t quite
finished them off. Why did you come?  I mean, what did you come for?"

"Bless me!  I’m forgetting.  I came to ask you if you could help poor
dear Miss Anderson, who is in trouble.  Her wages have been reduced, and
she has reason to think she will lose her employment."

"I should think she is about tired of it," said Alice.

"She will have no means of livelihood if she loses her work," continued
the landlady.  "She is very poor, and gets very anxious about the
future.  She looks so thin and pale.  I made so bold, miss, as to think
that perhaps you would allow her to assist you, or even that you would
suggest to her that she could do so in time."

Alice smiled, and, taking the good woman’s hands in both hers, cried:

"You dear old soul!  Here am I, ill through overwork, and earning lots
of money, and you ask me to help a girl who is ill from want of work and
want of money!  Of course I must help her. That belongs to the fitness
of things.  You must go now.  I will stay a little longer than usual
to-day, and when Miss Anderson comes in ask her, please, to step up to
my garret."

"Oh, thank you, miss.  Thank you very much."

"But remember," said Alice finally, "that I don’t expect Miss Anderson
will like the idea of joining me in my work.  She will think that I am a
sham and that my pictures are sham pictures, and will have nothing to do
with me, but will leave me to make my pot-boilers all alone."

"She won’t do that!  Not if you tell her what you’ve told me," continued
Mrs. Austin.

"Perhaps you had better tell her about that--I don’t think I could tell
the tale a second time," said Alice, with a little wan smile.  "Tell her
everything, dear Mrs. Austin, and then if she cares to come to me----"

"She will--she will," and so saying the good woman hurried downstairs.

That evening, as Alice knelt on her garret floor, sand-papering the
edges of her pictures, in order that the paper on the boards might not
be detected, there was a little knock at the garret door, and in answer
to her "Come in" Doris entered.

The two girls looked at each other: one from her lowly position, flushed
with exertion, the other standing just inside the doorway, with
outstretched hand and a smile on her beautiful face.

"I have come," said Doris.  "Will you let me help you?"

Alice rose from her knees, and took the outstretched hand in hers.  "Do
you know everything?  Has Mrs. Austin told you everything?" she asked.

"Yes.  I honour you.  And the work that is good enough for you is good
enough for me. Besides I--I have been dismissed from my employment.  My
lamp-shade work has failed, at last----"  Doris broke down a little,
remembering her despair, but clung to the proffered hands.

"Poor dear!"  Alice kissed her, and from that moment they were friends.



                              *CHAPTER X.*

                    *DORIS AND ALICE WORK TOGETHER.*


    He that is thy friend indeed,
    He will help thee at thy need.
      _Old Proverb_.


A very beautiful thing is true friendship. History and mythology give us
many notable examples--for instance, David and Jonathan, Damon and
Pythias, Orestes and Pylades, and so on.  Man was not meant to live
alone.  All cannot marry, but no one need be without a friend.  Our Lord
Himself loved one disciple more than all the others, and made him a
friend.  "Friendship is love without wings," says a German proverb, and
certainly it is often more stable and more enduring.

The friendship between Doris Anderson and Alice Sinclair began warmly,
and gave promise of growing apace.  They were both young and
comparatively friendless, they had both seen much trouble, and both were
compelled to work hard and continuously.  In some respects alike, their
characters were in others dissimilar: in fact, they were complementary
to each other. Doris was gentle and good-tempered, affectionate and
reserved, painstaking and conscientious: in fact, truly religious.
Alice, on the other hand, was lively, almost boisterous, sometimes
passionate, yet loving withal, and frank, clever and enterprising, but
not very scrupulous, and though religious extremely reserved about it.

"I must tell you exactly how I came to make imitation oil-paintings,"
said Alice candidly, as she sat on the three-legged stool in her garret
that first evening, with Doris in the Windsor chair beside her.  "I was
forced into it by necessity.  I am an orphan, you must know, and I live
with my dear elder brother Norman. He is an artist--a real gifted,
talented artist: he can paint such glorious pictures!  But they don’t
sell yet.  The fact is, the British public is so foolish!"  She tossed
her curly head as she spoke.  "It--it prefers these," waving her hand
towards the artificial oil paintings.  "And meantime," she continued,
"meantime, Norman and I have come to the end of our resources. He
doesn’t know.  He is such a dear old muddle-head about business matters
that he thinks the ten pounds he gave me last Christmas is still
unfinished!"

She laughed--it was characteristic of her, Doris found, to laugh when
others would cry. "And I had been so puzzled," Alice continued, "as to
how I should be able to find the means of subsistence for us both.  For
I had long known Norman hadn’t another five-pound-note that he could put
his hands upon.  I looked in his purse often, when he was asleep, and in
the secret drawer of his writing-table, which he uses as a cash-box, and
which he fondly imagines no one can open except himself. Don’t look so
shocked!  Motive is everything, and I don’t pry about from curiosity,
but simply to keep the dear old fellow alive and myself incidentally.
Oh, where was I?" she paused for a moment in order to recover breath,
for she talked with great rapidity.  "Oh, I know, I was saying we had
come to the end of our resources.  I had sold my watch and my hair--oh,
yes, I didn’t mind that.  It is much less trouble now it is short,
though I have to put it up in curlers at night, which makes it rather
spiky to sleep upon.  However, I am always so tired that I can sleep on
anything.  And, to cut a long story short, I sold everything I could lay
my hands upon that Norman would not be likely to miss.  Then I saw in a
magazine, in the Answers to Correspondents, that very striking imitation
oil paintings could be made in a certain way, which would sell well
amongst ignorant, uncultured people, and, knowing what numbers of such
folk there are, I determined to try to make them."  She paused for
breath.

Doris said nothing.  Her blue eyes were fixed upon the other’s face and
she was reading it, and reading also between the lines of her story as
she listened to her talk.

"I practised the work at home first," said Alice, "until I could do it
properly, and had secured a few customers.  But I was nearly found out,
for that dear old stupid brother of mine must needs take it into his
head that a very old engraving he wanted was in the attic--it wasn’t,
Doris!  Pity me!  I had turned it into one of my oil-paintings, and it
had been sold for five shillings!  Norman went to search in the attic,
and was amazed to find lots of my things, pot-paint, and so on, about
the place, which made him almost suspicious for a time.  But, happily,
his painting absorbed him again, and he forgot about the queer things in
the attic.  However, I thought it would be better to avoid such a risk
in the future, and so went, one morning, to search for a garret which I
could rent, and in which I should be able to work by day.  When I had
fixed upon this one, and it was settled that I should have it, I had to
make some excuse to Norman for my long absences from home--don’t ask me
what I said; I mean to tell him the whole truth one day, and then,
perhaps, he’ll despise me!  I cannot help that.  It doesn’t matter about
me."  She tossed her head, as if dismissing the idea at once.  "What
does matter," she continued very earnestly, "is, that I am maintaining
my dear old Norman, while he is painting his beautiful picture.  He will
live, and his picture will be painted--and only I shall be in disgrace.
I don’t care!" but tears were in her eyes.

"Disgrace!"  Doris leaned forward and caught hold of the small hands,
hard and discoloured with work and paint.  "Disgrace! I should think he
will honour you, for your love and cleverness and self-sacrifice.  He
will say you have made him.  He will thank God for such a sister."

But the other shook her head.  "You don’t know Norman," she said.  "He
would not mind dying, and he could give up finishing his picture sooner
than endure the thought that I had ’gulled’ that poor, stupid, credulous
British Public--at least the uneducated section of it.  He has a great
reverence for truth and sincerity, and he hates and abhors a lie and a
sham."

"Why do you do it, then?"

"I am forced," returned Alice plaintively. "We _must_ live.  And I want
him to finish his picture, yes, and others.  I hope he will have more
than one in the Academy next year. I want him to be great--a great
artist, recognised by all the world."

"How you must love him!" exclaimed Doris. "And what faith you have in
his gift for painting!"

"I have no one except him," said Alice, simply.  "He is father, mother,
and brother to me.  And he has a great gift.  I believe he will win
fame, and be one of the celebrities of the age--if I can keep him alive
meanwhile with my pot-boilers.  But now about yourself, will you help
me?"

"Certainly.  Only too gladly.  I also have a most excellent reason for
earning money."

"What is it?  Have you any one depending upon you?  A parent perhaps?
Or a brother or sister?"

"No, I have no one like that.  I stand alone!"  Doris sighed deeply.
When Alice was talking of her brother she had said to herself, "If I had
only a relation to work for like that how happy I should be!"

"Poor Doris!--you will allow me to call you Doris, won’t you?--you shall
never stand alone any more.  I will be your friend."

"Will you?  But perhaps you wouldn’t, if you knew all.  I am under a
cloud, and I cannot--cannot tell you everything."

Alice looked quickly and searchingly at her, as the unhappy words fell
slowly, tremulously from her lips; and there was that in Doris’s
expression which reassured the artist’s sister.

"Tell me nothing if you prefer," she said, "but come and work with me
every day here. You shall be well paid, and you will have my
friendship----"

"Which will be worth more than the pay!" cried Doris delightedly.  "Oh,
how glad I am!  How very glad I am!  I thank you a thousand times!"  In
the intensity of her gratitude she raised the other’s hand to her lips.

Deeply touched, Alice threw her arms round her neck and kissed her.
"Now we are friends," she said, "and chums!  We shall get through lots
of work together."

When they were a little calmer Doris explained the process, as she
called it, by which her "pot-boilers" were made.  She bought prints,
both plain and coloured, and mounted them on stretched canvas frames, or
on thick mill-boards, being very careful to exclude all air bubbles from
between the board and the paper.  Then she carefully rubbed the edges
with sandpaper, in order to conceal the edge of paper; and afterwards
the surface was covered with a solution of prepared gelatine, upon which
the picture was easily coloured with paint, and made to look as much as
possible like a genuine oil-painting.  The coloured prints were less
trouble, because they had simply to be painted as they really were
underneath the gelatine.  The plain prints, on the other hand, required
taste and judgment in the selection of colour and its arrangement.

Doris was able to do this last extremely well, as she knew how to paint
much better than Alice, who had never attempted anything of the sort
before she embarked on her present undertaking.  For Alice had only
watched her brother painting, and his method was widely different from
hers.  The dealers who bought her pictures paid £2 a dozen for them, and
took them away to frame and sell for at least fifteen shillings or £1
each.  That the sale of them was good was evidenced by the dealers’
quick return to the garret with further orders.

As for the business arrangement between the girls, Alice began by giving
Doris a weekly salary for assisting her; but as they prospered more and
more, the arrangement was altered, and Doris received a third of all the
profits they made--more she would not take, for, as she said, she
brought no capital into the business, nor connection, as did Alice.

Weeks and months passed away, whilst the two who worked together in Mrs.
Austin’s garret became sincerely and devotedly attached to each other.
Alice often talked freely to Doris of her beloved artist brother, and
told how when one beautiful picture was finished, he began another, in
the hope that he would have two or three ready for the Royal Academy the
next year.  But Doris never told her secret, for her dread lest Alice
should turn from her if she knew of her father’s crime was always
sufficient to close her mouth about the past; and neither could she tell
of the great aim of her life which was to make at least some little
reparation to Bernard Cameron, as to do so would necessitate the sad
disclosure of how he had been robbed.  She was therefore very reticent,
which sometimes chafed and irritated Alice, who was, as we have seen, so
very frank.

But the quarrels of lovers are the renewal of love.  And after every
little coolness the two became more devoted to each other than ever.



                             *CHAPTER XI.*

                        *AN UNEXPECTED MEETING.*


    Have hope, though clouds environ now,
      And gladness hides her face in scorn;
    Put thou the shadow from thy brow,
      No night but hath its morn.
        SCHILLER.


It was a dull Sunday in November, cold, too, and damp and comfortless.
Grey was the prevailing colour out-of-doors; the clouds were grey, so,
too, were the leafless trees and bushes in Kew Gardens,--a dirty,
brownish grey. And grey appeared the pale-faced Londoners, who sought in
the nation’s gardens for recreation and beauty.

In the Palm House certainly there was vivid, beautiful green in the fine
trees and tropical plants collected there.  It was very warm, too, and
over the faces of those who entered tinges of colour spread and stayed,
whilst smiles broke out, like sunshine illuminating all around. But it
was too enervating to remain there long, and Bernard Cameron, who had
wandered alone through the place, not excepting the high galleries,
hurried out of the house at last, and breathed more freely when once
more outside in the damp greyness of the gardens.

"It is a heated, unnatural, artificial life in there," he said to
himself, "and does not appeal to me as does the beauty of the Temperate
House, with its healthy green in trees and plants, and, at this time of
the year, its masses of brightly coloured chrysanthemums."

He walked off quickly in the direction of the Temperate House, looking
closely at all those he met or passed upon the way.  "I never see
Doris," he said to himself.  "I never, never see her!  She is not among
the workers in London, so far as I can find out--though certainly the
field is so vast that I have scarcely touched it in my search for
her--neither is she in any pleasure resort. Sometimes I think she must
have left London, and that she may have returned to Yorkshire. But I,
having obtained a situation at a school at Richmond, must remain here
for the present. Oh, Doris!  Doris!  Why did you leave me? Could you not
have trusted my love for you? Why, oh, why did you send me that cruel
message?  No doubt mother had irritated you, yet I had given you nothing
but love!"  The greyness of the day seemed concentrated in his
despairing face as he said this.  He looked ten years older than he did
on that bright, glad evening--his last happy day--when he proposed to
Doris upon the hill at Askern Spa. His clothes were a little worn and
untidy.  He had grown thin, and there were sharp lines indicative of
care and anxiety upon his face. His dark brown hair was longer, too,
than he used to wear it, and he had all the appearance of one who had
come down in the world after having had an unusually sharp tussle with
fortune.

He had been wandering about for hours that Sunday, having a day’s leave
of absence from the school, and he felt tired and disheartened, for
wherever he went he looked for Doris, and nowhere could he find her.  He
was, therefore, glad when, upon entering the Temperate House, he was
able to find a vacant seat, where he could rest undisturbed.  It was
most people’s luncheon time, and there were not many in the House just
then--the other seats were occupied, certainly, but they were a little
distance off.  Bernard felt the comparative seclusion very pleasant; he
closed his eyes in order to rest them, although, indeed, the green
around was very refreshing to look upon, and, once again, he fell into a
reverie--a sad one now, for he was thinking of his mother, who was so
hard and bitter about Doris and her parents.  Terrible had been the
scene when, in spite of Mrs. Cameron’s earnest request that he should do
so, Bernard refused to prosecute John Anderson.

"Then you will be as bad as he!" cried the incensed woman.  "You will be
compounding a felony," she went on wildly.  "You will be breaking the
law of the land."

"Nay, nay, mother.  Come," he answered, "look at the matter reasonably.
My prosecuting Mr. Anderson will not restore the money to me."

"But it will cause him to be punished," she exclaimed.  "That is what we
want--we want him to be made to suffer."

"_I_ do not want him to surfer."

"You’re so foolish, Bernard, so very foolish!" screamed Mrs. Cameron,
scarcely knowing what she said.  "It’s that daughter of his you are
thinking about.  I know it is.  You are perfectly infatuated with her."

"Will you please keep her out of this discussion?" asked Bernard.

But his mother was unreasonable, and would drag Doris in, time after
time, telling him that she was a chip of the same block as John
Anderson, saying, "Like father, like daughter," and declaring that she
would never consent to his marrying Doris if there were not another
woman in the kingdom.

Bernard was as patient as he could possibly be, but at length, finding
it impossible to endure any more such talk, he caught up his hat and
went out, with his mother’s parting words ringing in his ears.

"Unless you prosecute that rogue, John Anderson, and give me your
promise that you will never marry his daughter, my house shall be your
home no longer: you shall not sleep another night under my roof!"

Hard words! stinging words!  They seemed to ring in Bernard’s ears
again, as, sitting there on a seat in the central walk of the Temperate
House in Kew Gardens under the shade of a fine Norfolk Island pine, he
thought about them sadly.  No wonder was it that when they were uttered
they drove him immediately--and he thought for ever--from his mother’s
house.  Since then he had come to London and obtained an ill-paid
assistant mastership in a suburban school, and now he spent all his time
searching for Doris, yet in vain.  "I have lost her," he said to
himself, "I have lost her in this huge metropolis.  Yet I forbore to
prosecute her father for her sake: and for her sake I am an outcast from
home, a mere usher in a school, earning my daily bread in the outskirts
of this city!"

A great longing to see the girl he loved once more filled his whole
heart; he longed to see her inexpressibly.

And just then she came.  Talk about telepathy, about magnetism, about
the hypnotism of will as people may, can anyone explain how it is that
immediately before a longed-for person, or a longed-for letter arrives,
that person or that letter is prominently present in the yearning mind?
The same thing is seen intensified in answers to prayers.  The one who
prays longs unutterably for the boon he asks.  It is given; and he
thanks God and knows that he has received an answer to prayer.  And it
may also be that He Who alone knows the heart of man, is continually
answering the unspoken prayers of those others who long unutterably for
those things which yet they do not ask in words.

So Doris came, walking straight down the central path in the Temperate
House, talking to Alice Sinclair, or rather listening, whilst Alice
prattled to her about the trees and flowers.

"Look!  See, there is a poor tired Londoner asleep," said the merry
voice.  "He has been somebody’s darling once," she added in a lower
tone, which Bernard could just hear.

"Hush!  He will hear you.  Why--oh!----"  Doris opened her eyes wide, a
look of apprehension came into them, and she reeled as if she would have
fallen.

"Doris!  Doris!"  With a glad cry Bernard sprang to his feet, holding
out his hands. "Doris!"

The girl recovered her presence of mind first.  She touched Bernard’s
hands for a moment, and then, releasing them, observed to Alice, with
forced calmness, "This gentleman is an old acquaintance of mine from
Yorkshire."

"An acquaintance!  Oh, Doris!"  Bernard’s voice expressed his chagrin,
nay, more, his consternation.  He had found Doris at last. But she was
changed: she was no longer his Doris.  He had slipped out of her life,
and she had adapted herself to the altered circumstances. Glancing at
her quickly, sharply, he perceived that she looked well, and even happy.
The unwonted exercise and the fresh air of Kew had done her good and
brought a pretty colour into her cheeks.  She was with her dear friend
Alice, and the delightfulness of mutual sympathy and love had caused her
eyes to sparkle and her step to regain its buoyancy.  Besides, the
meeting with her lover, calmly though she appeared to take it, had
brought back a tide of young life in her veins and imparted to her a
sweet womanliness.  Altogether she looked quite unlike the drooping,
heartbroken Doris whom Bernard had last seen, and whom he had been
picturing to himself as unchanged.

"Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Miss Sinclair," said Doris,
disregarding his protest.  "Mr. Cameron, Miss Sinclair," she said,
adding, "Mr. Cameron comes from Yorkshire."

Alice bowed and held out her hand, in her usual good-natured way.

"We thought you were a poor, tired Londoner," she remarked with a smile,
"and lo! you come from the North."

"I live in Richmond now," Bernard remarked quietly.  "I have a--position
in a school there."

"Indeed?"  Alice was regarding him critically.  He was a gentleman,
handsome, too, and he looked good.  But he was also rather shabby: there
was no doubt about that; and she did not think Doris looked particularly
pleased to see him.  There was an expression of apprehension in her eyes
which Alice had never seen there before.

"Do you live here?" Bernard asked Doris.

"No, no.  We have only come over for the day."

"Where are you living?"

Doris made no reply.  She stopped the answer Alice was about to make by
a beseeching look.

"We have not any time to spare for visitors," she said, rather lamely.

"Will you allow me to walk with you a little way?" he asked.  "Or
perhaps," he hesitated, looking at Alice uneasily--"perhaps you will sit
here with me a little while?  There is--is--room for three on this
seat."

Alice good-naturedly came to his assistance. "Doris," she said, in her
brisk, businesslike way, "sit down and have a chat with your friend
while I go over there to the chrysanthemum house to look at the flowers.
I do so love chrysanthemums."

"And so do I," said Doris quickly.  "I will come too."

"Doris!"  Bernard’s exclamation was pitiful.

Alice felt for him, but concluding Doris did not wish to be left, she
said briskly, "We will all go there.  Come on."

Accordingly they all went to look at the chrysanthemums, amongst which
they talked mere commonplaces for a little while.

Bernard was miserably disappointed.  Doris was uncomfortable and
frightened--the shadow of her father’s sin seemed to rest over her,
filling her with shame.  She did not know whether Bernard was
prosecuting her father or not, and feared that he might say something
which would betray the wretched secret to Alice.  Even if he regretted
the way he shrank from her when hearing of her father’s misappropriation
of his money, or if he wished, as seemed evident, to renew their former
relations, she could not and would not ruin his life, as his mother had
said she would ruin it by marrying him.  Poor he was, and shabby.  Not a
detail of this escaped her--his worn clothes and baggy trousers touched
her deeply; but at least he bore an unblemished and honourable name.
Was she to smirch it?  Was she to bring to him, as his mother had said,
a dowry of shame?  No, no.  His mother’s words were still ringing in her
ears.

Stung beyond endurance by the remembrance, Doris raised her head and
confronted Bernard proudly.

"Mr. Cameron," she said, "you must see--I mean, do you think that it is
quite right to--accompany us--when----"

"When I am not wanted," he suggested, bitterly.

"I did not say that exactly.  But----"

"You meant it."  Bernard’s eyes flashed. He, too, was stung now.  "I
will say ’Good-bye,’" he said, raising his hat.

The girls bowed, and, turning away, walked quietly out of the great
house, leaving Bernard to return to his seat a crushed and miserable
man.

He thought that it was all over between him and Doris.  His mother had
spoken the truth in saying the girl had declared she would never marry
him.  He need not have grieved his mother by refusing to prosecute her
father: he need not have lost his home for that. Doris no longer loved
him; she no longer loved him at all.  He had lost his money, and he had
lost Doris.  That was the worst blow that had ever befallen him; nothing
mattered now, nothing at all: he was in despair.  It was far worse to
have met Doris and found her altogether estranged from him than not to
have met her at all.

"She wasn’t like Doris," he said to himself, miserably.  "She wasn’t
like my Doris at all. It might have been another girl; it might have
been another girl altogether."  The hot tears came into his eyes, and he
buried his face in his hands that others might not see them.

"Oh, don’t, don’t be so unhappy!" said a voice in his ear, suddenly.
"Didn’t you notice that her manner was forced--unnatural?"

"Oh!"  Bernard rose, and stood looking wonderingly into Alice Sinclair’s
face.  It was full of kindness, and seemed to him, then, one of the
sweetest faces he had ever seen.

"I have returned," she said in a low, confidential tone, "ostensibly to
find a glove I dropped somewhere, but really in order to tell you our
address.  For I think--that is, I imagine, you might call to see her one
of these days."

"Oh, can I?  Do you think it is possible?"

"Certainly.  This is a free country.  Call by all means.  Doris was
awfully sad a few minutes after we left you.  I am sure she was
repenting her harshness to you.  She was crying, actually crying.  And
you looked so miserable when we left you, so I thought I might try to
help you both."

"You are good!" cried Bernard, taking one of her hands in his, and
pressing it warmly.

The next minute he was alone, with an envelope in his hand, upon which
was written, "Miss Sinclair, c/o. Mrs. Austin, 3, Haverstock Road,
King’s Cross, London, N."

"How good she is!" Bernard thought. "And what a difference there is
now!--I am no longer in despair."  He looked round. What a change had
come over everything! The huge conservatory in which he stood was a vast
palace of beauty: birds--robins mostly--were hopping about and singing a
few notes here and there.  The visitors looked very happy, and through
the glass he could see gardens that were dreams of loveliness.  It was
not a dull, grey world now: oh, no, but a very pleasant place, full of
boundless possibilities!



                             *CHAPTER XII.*

                          *AN ARTIST’S WRATH.*


    A man may buy gold too dear.
      _Proverb_.


"What does this mean, Alice?  Is it here you work?  What are you doing?"

"Oh, Norman!  You here?  Oh, dear!"  Alice looked up in dismay from her
work on the floor of the garret to the tall figure standing in the
doorway, with head bent to prevent its being scalped by the low top.
"You shouldn’t have come, dear," she faltered.

"Shouldn’t have come!  I think it is time I did come!  Great Scott!
What are you murdering here?"  He had reached the middle of the room
with two strides, and was stooping over a brilliantly limned
"oil-painting" Alice had just finished, looking at it with eyes blazing
with wrath.  "Did you do this?" he demanded. "Did you do this atrocious
thing?"

"Yes--yes, Norman, I did," faltered his sister.

"Then I’m ashamed of you!  Here, let me put it on the fire-back."
Lifting the picture, he strode towards the fireplace with it.

"Don’t, Norman!  Don’t!  You must not! It--it is _sold_!"

"Sold!" cried the artist.  "What do you mean?  Can any one be so debased
as to have bought a thing like that?" he demanded.

Alice began to laugh a little wildly.  "Oh, Norman, how innocent you
are!" she cried. "Don’t you know that some one has said that the
population of this island consists of men, women, and children, mostly
fools?  There are a great many more who admire and buy ’works of art’
like mine than there are to appreciate such paintings as yours!"

"You little goose!" he exclaimed, impatiently.  "Are you content to
cater for simpletons, aye, and in the worst way possible, by pandering
to their foolish, insensate tastes?"

Alice was silent a moment, and then she said, rather lamely, "It pays me
to do so."

Her brother would not deign to notice that. He began to walk up and down
the room, with long strides and a frown on his face.  He was above the
average height of men and broad in proportion, and his irregular
features were redeemed from plainness by the beauty of his expression
and his smile, which was by no means frequent.

Doris was painting at her easel on one side of the room, but the visitor
did not appear to see her; his mind was absorbed with the distasteful
idea of his sister demeaning herself to cater for the uneducated masses.

"It isn’t as if you were trying to raise them," he burst out again.
"You are not teaching them what beauty is--you are pandering to their
faults!  Leading them astray.  Making them believe good is bad and bad
is good!  For, don’t you know"--he stopped short by his sister’s side,
and laid a heavy hand on her shoulder--"don’t you know that every time
you make them admire a false thing--a thing that ought not to be
admired--you rob them of the power to appreciate what is truly great and
beautiful?  It is a crime--a crime you are committing in the sight of
God and man!"  He gave her another frown, and began again to walk up and
down quite savagely.

Alice looked wistfully towards Doris, but the latter was painting
steadily on, with heightened colour and hands that trembled, in spite of
the effort she was making to control herself.

Norman then began to examine the pictures standing about in the room in
varying stages of completion.

"Ha!  I see!" he said, scoffingly.  "The way you get your drawings is to
buy prints, and stick them on mill-boards.  Yes, and then you smear them
over with gelatine and colour them with this wretched paint.  How is it
you are not found out?" he continued, looking sharply at her, and then
turning to examine the edges of one of the pictures.  "Ha!  I see!
Sandpaper!  So you rub the edges smooth with that!  You little cheat!
You defraud your purchasers!  I really--you must give up this work at
once.  Do you hear? You must give it up forthwith--_immediately_!"

"I cannot, Norman!"

"Why not?"

"It pays so well.  Sometimes we get eight or nine pounds a week by it."

"Pays well!  Eight or nine pounds a week!"  There was intense scorn in
the artist’s tones.  "So, for money--mere money--you will sell your
soul!"

"Nonsense!  We must live.  I pay for food--your food and mine--and our
clothes, yes, and rent, gas, coal, and the servant’s wages, with this
money."

He stared at her.  "I gave you money for those things," he said.  "I’m
sure I gave you ten pounds not so very long since."

"Last Christmas!  Nearly twelve months ago!  You are so impracticable,
Norman. That ten pounds was used in a few days, to pay bills that were
owing."

"You never asked me for more."

"Could you have given it me if I had?"

A dusky red stole over the artist’s face.  He became conscious of the
presence of a stranger. "This lady must pardon us," he said to his
sister, with a glance at Doris, "for speaking of our private affairs
before her."

"Oh, she does not mind, I’m sure," said Alice.  "May I introduce my
brother to you, Doris?"

Doris bowed coldly.  She went on with her painting, begging them not to
mind her being there.  "It is most important that the work should be
finished to-night," she said, "and I must work the harder because Alice
is being hindered."

"I fear I am the cause of that," rejoined the artist, quite meekly.
"But I have had some difficulty in finding the place where my sister
works, and now that I am here I must say what I think."

Doris made no rejoinder, and, having cast an admiring glance at her
winsome face and pretty figure, he turned to Alice again, saying, "No
consideration of mere money should prevent your instantly ceasing this
disgraceful work."

Alice began to pout.  "It’s all very fine talking like that, Norman,"
she said, "but how do you propose to keep us if--if I abandon this?"
She looked from him to her work.

"How did we live before?  I suppose we can exist in the same way."

"We cannot!  I have nothing more to sell, or--pawn."

"If only my paintings would sell!"  He began to walk up and down again.
He was thinking now, with huge disgust, that he had been living for many
months upon the proceeds of sham oil-paintings.  It was a bitter
thought. "Better to have died," he muttered, "than to have lived so!"
Aloud he said, "But I must insist upon your giving up this work.  It is
wicked, positively wicked work!  You must not do it."

"I cannot give it up.  I must do it."

"You must not!  You shall not!  I really----  Upon my word, if you do
such things you shall not live with me!"  He was in great anger now, the
veins upon his temples stood out like cords; he could scarcely refrain
from rending into pieces the hateful "frauds" upon which he was looking.

A cry of pain escaped from his sister’s lips. She was pale as death.
Her brother had never been angry with her before.  Their love for each
other had been ideal.

Then Doris spoke, turning from her easel and looking up at the artist
with flashing eyes.

"There are vipers," she said, "which sting the hands that feed them.
Alice, dear," she added, with a complete change of tone and manner,
"come to me."  She held out her arms, and Alice flew into them, clinging
to her and crying as if her heart would break. "Go!" said Doris to the
artist, pointing to the door.  "Go, and live alone with your works of
art.  You cannot recognise or appreciate the self-denial and love which
is in the heart of one of the noblest sisters in the world!"

[Illustration: "’GO!  YOU CANNOT APPRECIATE SELF-DENIAL AND LOVE.’"]

Norman Sinclair went out of the room as meekly as a lamb, all his wrath
leaving him as he did so.  Indeed, to tell the truth, he felt very small
and despicable, as he mentally looked at himself with Doris Anderson’s
eyes, and saw a man, who had been fed for many months by the hard, if
mistaken, toil of his young sister, threatening her with the loss of her
home in his house if she would not abandon her only source of income.



                            *CHAPTER XIII.*

                          *CONSCIENCE MONEY.*


No one should act so as to take advantage of the ignorance of his
neighbours.--CICERO.


After Norman Sinclair went away Doris comforted Alice as well as she
could, and then both girls set to work to finish the pictures which a
dealer would send for that evening. Alice, however, performed her part
half-heartedly. Through her ears were still ringing her brother’s fierce
denunciation of her employment.  It was a crime; she was a cheat,
defrauding the ignorant, making them believe bad was good and good was
bad; for money she was selling her soul.  Oh, it was terrible to
remember!  Her tears fell down and smeared the brilliant greens and
yellows, blues and reds, upon her mill-boards.

Doris, seeing what was going on, felt extremely uncomfortable.  She
imagined that Alice was fretting because her brother had practically
turned her out of his house, and her wrath against him increased.  But
for some time she could not stop working in order to give utterance to
her feelings; the men would come soon for the pictures which must be
ready for them, and they had to be finished off, or the way they were
made would be detected. So the work went on until evening came, and with
it the men from the dealers, who packed up the sham oil-paintings and
carried them off.

Mrs. Austin had been upstairs more than once, to see if her young
ladies, as she called them, were ready for tea--which, in those days
they usually took together in the sitting-room before Alice went
home--and the landlady’s importunity caused them both to leave the
garret at length and descend to the sitting-room.

"Now, darling, you shall have some tea," said Doris, affectionately.
"Sit there in the armchair.  I will bring you a cup."

She did so, and then, pouring out one for herself, sat down on the stiff
horse-hair sofa, and began to make plans for the future.

"You and I, Alice," she said, "shall always live together."

"Yes," said Alice, slowly, and with a little hesitation, which the other
did not appear to notice.

"Your brother has, by his own act and deed"--that sounded legal and
therefore businesslike, so Doris repeated it--"by his own act and deed,
forfeited his claim to you. Instead of honouring you, as I honour you,
darling"--she caught up Alice’s hand and kissed it--"for your bravery
and cleverness and industry, he has actually dared to blame you in most
unwarrantable, most uncalled-for language, and in the presence of a
third person--which makes his conduct far more heinous----"

"Isn’t that a little strong?" interposed Alice.  "Doris, I love you for
your love, but you must remember he is my brother.  He has a right to
say what he likes to me, for I am his sister, and--and I cannot bear
even you to blame him."

"I beg to apologise!" said Doris, instantly. "It isn’t right of me to
speak against him to you.  And, now I think of it, I was wrong in
ordering him out of our--your--garret----"

"Well, yes, dear, a little----"

"I was wrong," said Doris, "and perhaps one day I will apologise.  But
however wrong I was, that does not make him right.  He has behaved
abominably."

"Now, there you are again!  You must not blame him to me, dear."

"I beg your pardon!"  Then Doris was silent a minute or two.  It was
hard to be pulled up at every point.  Still, Alice was right, therefore
her sense of justice caused her to refrain from taking offence.  "But,
Alice," she said, at length, "the fact remains, that he will not consent
for you to remain in his house if you carry on your work here."

"He is an autocrat!" Alice burst out.  "A martinet!  A tyrant!  I must
carry on my work. I must.  I have nothing else to sell.  I have nothing
else to do.  Either I must continue what I am doing, or we must starve,
or go into the workhouse.  We cannot live on air."  She paused,
breathless.  It was like her fervent, inconsequent way of reasoning to
speak so strongly against her brother, whom she had just been chiding
Doris for blaming. However, we are all apt to say things about our
relations which we would not tolerate from other people.  It is like
blaming ourselves, or hearing others blame us.  A man may call himself
most foolish, yet if any one else were to say so it would be
unpardonable.

Doris was silent, and in that she showed wisdom.  Left to herself, Alice
would say all that Doris had been about to utter, and would act upon it
as the latter wished her to do.

"I cannot return to his house," said Alice, with a little sob.  "He has
indeed turned me out; for I cannot give up my means of livelihood.  Who
will give me an income if I throw away the one I have?  No one.  No one.
The world is a world of adamant to those who have no coin."

"It is indeed!" said Doris, tears filling her eyes as she thought of her
own struggles.

"But where shall I live?" continued Alice. "Will you let me live with
you, Doris?"

"Yes, darling, of course I will!  I love you, darling, as you know; and
we will live together, and be like sisters--only--only perhaps----"

"Perhaps what?"

"Perhaps you wouldn’t let me if you knew what a cloud of disgrace hangs
over me----"

Doris broke down weeping.  Was that cruel disgrace always to balk her
every time she saw a prospect of happiness?

"Disgrace!  How you talk!  It is I who am in disgrace."  Alice flung her
arms round her friend, and their tears mingled as they wept together.

Mrs. Austin, coming in to see if they wanted any more tea, was quite
affected by the sight and beat a hasty retreat into the kitchen.  "It
all comes of that horrid Mr. Sinclair forcing his way up to their
garret," she said to herself, mentally determining to admit no more
visitors to her young ladies without first acquainting them with their
names.

When they were calmer the two girls discussed the feasibility of their
living together, as well as working together, with the result that they
agreed to try the plan.  Accordingly, when night came, they withdrew to
Doris’s room, and lay down side by side in Doris’s bed, which happened
to be a rather large one.

Tired out, Doris slept so heavily that she did not hear her more wakeful
companion’s sighs and sobs, nor did she see her slip out of bed in the
early morning, dress hurriedly, and then go downstairs.

When at last Doris awoke, Mrs. Austin was standing by her side, looking
very grave and with a letter in her hand.

"What is the matter?" asked Doris, sleepily. "Have I overslept?  Oh!"
She looked round for Alice.  "Where is Miss Sinclair?" she asked.

"Gone!" cried Mrs. Austin, tragically.

"Gone?  When?  Where?" cried Doris, in alarm.

"I don’t know, miss.  She went before I came down.  When I came down
this morning I could see that some one had gone out at the front door,
for only the French latch was down.  And there was this letter for you
on the sitting-room table, and Miss Sinclair’s boots had been taken from
the kitchen, so I felt sure she must have gone."

"You should have awoke me at once."

"I came upstairs to do so, miss, but you were in such a beautiful sleep,
I really hadn’t the heart to disturb you.  But now it is getting late,
and I have brought your hot water."

Doris opened the note when Mrs. Austin had left the room.  It was short
and to the point.


"DORIS DARLING,--

"You are _sweet_ to want me to live with you, and I should love it.  But
I have been thinking how kind Norman used to be when I had the
toothache, and that he gave me such a nice copy of Tennyson on my last
birthday,--and--the fact is, no one can make his coffee as he likes it
in the morning but me--so I must go and look after him.  Poor old
Norman! He has no one else to look after his little comforts.  And he
will starve, _absolutely starve_ if left to himself.  I shall always
remember, darling, how you wanted me to live with you.

"Yours lovingly,
       "ALICE.

"P.S.--I make you a present of the business. Perhaps when we are
starving, you will fling us a crust.  Norman can’t object to my
receiving charity, although he will not allow me to do the only work I
am fit for.

"A.S."


Doris sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes. What a child Alice was, after
all!  And how impracticable and unbusinesslike!  The head of the firm,
she had given up her position in favour of her junior partner without
demanding any compensation!  "However, she knew she could trust me,"
said Doris to herself.  "I shall make her take half, or at least a
third, of the proceeds.  But it will be hard on me to have to do all the
work alone, and I shall miss my dear partner.  I hope she will come to
see me sometimes."

After breakfast Doris went to the garret, and all day she worked hard,
scarcely leaving off to eat or rest for a few minutes.  A dealer came
with a large order, and, after expressing his surprise at finding her
alone, advised her to engage a boy or two to do the rough work and to
assist her generally.  In the evening she was almost too weary to eat
her supper, and when Mrs. Austin was lamenting the fact, she told her
what the dealer had suggested.

"Well, now, how that does fit in, to be sure!" said the landlady.  "It
was only this afternoon that my nephew Sandy came here, to tell me that
he and another nice lad, his friend, had lost their situations through
Messrs. Boothby & Barton’s bankruptcy.  They would be rare and glad to
work for you till such time as they could get another place."

"I think I should be very glad to have them," said Doris, after a little
consideration. "Your nephew did me a kindness about the lamp-shades, and
I shall be pleased to offer him work now that he is out of a place."

So the next day the two boys came up to the garret, and set to work
manfully to assist the young lady.  They could soon do most of the work
really better than she could herself, and she found it a great relief to
confine her energies to the mere colouring.  It was, however, not nearly
so pleasant for her working with the two lads as it had been with her
dear friend Alice, whom she missed at every turn.

On the Wednesday morning she received a little note from Alice, saying
that at present she was forbidden to go to Mrs. Austin’s, but hoped
later on to be able to do so.  "My brother is angry yet about the
’oil-paintings,’" wrote Alice, "but he is very glad to have me back;
and, by the way, Doris, he would give worlds, if he had them, to make
you sit for a picture of Rosalind in her character of Ganymede in _As
You Like It_.  Don’t you think you could give him that gratification,
dear?  But I know these are early days to speak of such a kindness as
that.  And you would never have the time, even if you could forgive
poor, blundering old Norman."

Then she referred to the letter Doris had sent her, in which the former
stated that half the money earned would still be set aside for Alice.
"It is lovely of you to say that about the money, dear," wrote Alice;
"but Norman declares I am not to touch what he is pleased to call
ill-gotten gains.  Lest I should do so, he declares he will not eat
anything I buy, and in consequence he is living upon oatmeal porridge
and lentil soup!  Oh, and the oatmeal is nearly finished!  I have been
thinking that if you would kindly send a five-pound-note now and then,
anonymously, to him--mind, to him, not to me--and just put inside the
envelope that it is ’Conscience Money’--that would be quite true, you
know; for if you had not a conscience you would keep what I have thrust
into your hands--he might use it, thinking it was the repayment of some
old debt.  For he has lent lots of money, in the old days, to people who
have never let him have it back again.  I hope you can see your way, as
the dealers say, to do this.  We must live, you know.  It is so
miserable to starve, and it’s worse for the housekeeper, as the fault
seems to be hers."

"I don’t like complying with her request," thought Doris.  "Her brother
is an honest man, a most awkwardly honest man, and it is a shame to
deceive him.  Yet the money is Alice’s.  It is a point of conscience
with me, as she says, to give it her.  But I wish it could be done in
some other way.  It seems such a shame to make him eat food which his
very soul would revolt from, if he knew everything."

She thought over the matter as she was working, and the more she thought
about it the less she liked it.  But when a dealer came in that
afternoon, and paid her ten pounds that was owing to the firm, in two
five-pound notes, she immediately posted one of them to Norman Sinclair,
Esq., at his address in Hampstead, writing inside the envelope the words
"Conscience Money."

That done, she felt more comfortable about Alice, for at least she would
not starve when that money arrived.  Doris still missed Alice, however,
exceedingly; and though turning to her painting with fresh energy, alas!
she felt for it more distaste than ever.  For Doris could not forget--it
was impossible for her to forget--that an honest man had called her work
wicked, and declared that it was a crime in the sight of God and man.
If that were true, and it was a crime, then she was a criminal just as
her father was!  Hereditary?  Yes, the criminality must be hereditary.
In her thoughts she had been hard upon her father. Was she any better
herself?



                             *CHAPTER XIV.*

                    *BERNARD CAMERON VISITS DORIS.*


    Patience and abnegation of self and devotion to others,
    This was the lesson a life of trial and sorrow had taught her.
      LONGFELLOW.


It was on Saturday afternoon that Bernard Cameron called.  Doris had
been through a particularly trying morning.  It began with a letter from
Alice, evidently written at her brother’s instigation, advising her to
give up the business of making sham oil-paintings and thus defrauding
the public.  "Better to be poor and honest and honourable," wrote Alice,
virtuously.  Doris read between the lines that her brother wished her to
say these words, and that annoyed her extremely.

"What business is it of his?" she said to herself, resenting his
interference.

When she went upstairs to the garret, to begin work for the day, she
accidentally overheard Sandy saying to his fellow-worker, "Ain’t folks
simple to buy these for genuine oil-paintings?  I know a chap who gave
three pounds for a pair of them at a shop.  And, says he, them’s real
oil-paintings.  As proud as a peacock he was!"

"He shouldn’t have been so green," said the other youth.

"The Government is down on folks who sell margarine for butter; it can’t
be done now-a-days, but there don’t seem to be no penalty for this sort
of thing!"  He tapped one of the pictures meaningly.

Doris entered, and the conversation ceased; but all the morning her
assistants’ words and Alice’s letter rankled in her mind.  No doubt the
business was not by any means a high-class one, but no one would buy her
genuine paintings, she therefore told herself she was driven to make
what she could sell: and now she had quite a nice little sum already in
hand, to form the nucleus of what she would require to pay the debt to
Bernard Cameron.

However, it was rather too much for her, when, as she was snatching a
hasty lunch in the little sitting-room, she overheard Sam Austin saying
to his mother in the kitchen, "Mother, I used to think them pictures
Miss Anderson made so fast were really beautiful, and my wife went and
bought one at a shop, but when the Vicar was in our house the other day,
and she was showing it to him, he says, ’My good woman, that’s no more a
work of art than that stocking you are knitting, and it isn’t half so
useful!  Don’t you waste your money over such stuff!’ says he.  I felt
so ashamed-like, mother, that our young lady’s work should be so spoken
of.  And the Vicar is a gentleman who knows what’s what."

"Hush, Sam!  Miss Anderson is in the room, and she might hear.  I am
sure she thinks they are all right and worth the money, or she would not
do them."

When the good landlady entered the room, a few minutes afterwards, she
was dismayed to find the door ajar, and not closed, as she had imagined.
This caused her to turn very red.  But Doris did not refer to what she
had overheard, for in truth she did not know what to say.  Later she
might refund Mrs. Sam her money, and have that off her conscience; but
what about all the other people who had purchased her pictures?  She
felt sick at heart, and quite unable to do her work as usual.  However,
it had to be done, and she went upstairs slowly and heavily.  "What
shall I do?" she thought.  "I cannot earn my living unless I do it in
this way, which is not honest--I see that now; at first I thought it
was, but I know Alice’s brother is quite right.  I’m a cheat and a
fraud, a humbug and a thief; for I take money out of people’s pockets,
and make them no adequate return for it, although I make them think I
do."

And then Bernard called.  He was dressed in his worn clothes, and looked
tired and harassed, but "every inch a gentleman," as Mrs. Austin said
when she gave his name to Doris, asking if she would come downstairs to
see him.

At first Doris thought she ought to send word that she was engaged.  But
she could not do it.  She was so miserable and so hopeless; and the very
thought of Bernard’s presence there in the house caused hope and joy to
spring up in her heart, and was like new life to her.  She, therefore,
took off her painting-apron, washed her hands, and went down to the
sitting-room.

"Doris"--Bernard spoke very quietly, holding out his hand exactly as any
other visitor might have done--"Doris, I have called to see you.  It is
very kind of you to come down. I--I will not detain you long."

"It is kind of you to call," said Doris, rather lamely, noticing all at
once how thin and worn he looked, "and I haven’t much time to spare, but
I could not--could not refuse."  Her voice trembled and broke; tears
filled her eyes.  It was hard, very hard to have to speak thus to one
she still loved dearly.

"Oh, Doris," he cried, hope springing up in his heart by leaps and
bounds at the sight of her downcast face, "Doris, darling, I cannot bear
to see you looking so sad, and to know that you are alone here except
for your friend----"

"She has left me!" interrupted Doris, crying now.  "I am quite alone."

"Left you!  You are alone!  Oh, my darling!"  He put his arms round her
slim waist.  "You are not alone!  You need never be alone again, for _I_
am here.  Nay, don’t send me away, dearest," he pleaded; "hear me, I
beg.  I love you, Doris.  I love you with all my heart.  The loss of my
money--ah! forgive my mentioning it--it is as nothing to the grief of
losing you.  Ah, you don’t know what I have suffered!  Without you this
world is to me a howling wilderness."  He drew her to him.  "Darling,"
he continued, low in her ear, "_never_ send me away again."

The girl was powerfully tempted to surrender her determination and
submit her weaker will to his stronger one.  Her inclination, her heart
was on his side; but what she thought was duty, and her sense of right,
held her frail bark to its moorings.  She therefore drew herself away,
and with a little gesture waved him back, and then, to make her position
more secure, she feigned anger.

"Don’t!  Don’t!" she exclaimed sharply. "You go too fast, Mr. Cameron,
much too fast!  What we might have been to each other in happier times,
events have rendered impossible now.  You know they have----"

"No, no, not impossible!" he cried.

"I say impossible," insisted Doris.  "My father appropriated your
fortune.  He stole from you your birthright."

"What of that?  I forget it.  I have forgotten it."

"You think so now.  In your magnanimity you choose to think so; but
supposing I were to trust to that, and we were to marry, do you think
you could live with me day by day, in poverty, remember--for we should
be very poor--without remembering that my father--mine--stole from you
all the money your father left you?"

"I shouldn’t think of it, or, if I did, I would say to myself that you
have, by giving me your hand"--he took hers in his as he spoke--"and
promising to be my wife," he added, "righted the wrong, paid the debt,
made me rich indeed with what is worth far more than money, yes,
infinitely more."  Raising her hand to his lips, he kissed it.

"Don’t!"  She drew her hand away. "And there is another side to the
question," she continued.  "Could I be happy seeing you poor, and
knowing what was the cause of it?  Don’t you think that daily, hourly, I
should realise with pain that my father’s crime was blighting your
life?"

"Nonsense!  Mine would be a poor life indeed, if the loss of money--mere
money--could blight it!"

"It has a very stupefying effect on one to have no money," said Doris,
with a little sigh, thinking of her past experience.  "Don’t you know
the song--

    Dollars and dimes!  Dollars and dimes!
    To be without cash is the worst of crimes!

It gets one into disgrace, anyway," she added.

"Poor child!  I am afraid you have been hard up since----"

"Well," she interrupted, "it takes the courage out of one to have no
money.  You know that verse--

    Whereunto is money good?
      Who has it not wants hardihood;
    Who has it has much trouble and care,
      Who does not have it has despair."


"_I_ shall have despair if I have not you!" he declared, moodily.

"No, you will not.  You will find some one else to love--some one who
has heaps and heaps of money.  Then you will marry--will marry her."
Doris’s voice shook a little, but she waved him back when he would have
drawn her to him again.  "You will marry a girl with lots of money," she
continued, more firmly now.  "That is what your mother wants you to do.
It is your one chance, she says, of retrieving your fortune."

"Did she say that to you, Doris?"  His voice was hoarse, he looked very
pale.

"She did."

"And that caused you to send me that dreadful message?" he asked.

"What message?"

"That you would never, _never_ marry me."

"Yes."

"Ah!  I understand it now."  He passed his hand wearily across his
brow--"I understand.  But I can’t help it, and she is my mother!"  Again
he was silent, struggling to control himself.  "Do you know," he said,
"she turned me out of my home?"

"She did?  Why?"

"Because I would not prosecute your father."

"Ah!  You have not attempted to prosecute him?"

"Doris!  Did you think that I _could_?"

"Forgive me," she said.  "But after your shrinking from me, as you did,
when you heard what my father had done----"

"Shrinking from you!  Shrinking!  Surely you did not think that I could
ever have done that?"

"But you did, Bernard.  You did.  It was that which broke my heart."

"My darling, you must be mistaken!"

"Indeed I am not.  You shrank away from me.  And then, your mother came
and said those dreadful things--so I gave you up entirely, and I said
that I would never marry you."

"But now that you know that I never intentionally shrank from you--and
indeed I think that it must have been your fancy, darling--surely you
will unsay those cruel words?"

Doris looked at him, at the love in his eyes, and his earnest face as he
pleaded thus, and she softened considerably.

"I’ll just tell you how it is, Bernard," she said, and now her tone was
kinder, and there was a light in her blue eyes corresponding with the
glow in his.  "I’ll just tell you how it is, Bernard, exactly.  I feel
that, because my father robbed you, I have had a share in the crime, and
so I am going to work hard, in order to make you some little
reparation--though of course I can never repay you all the money.  Do
you understand?" and she looked up earnestly into his face.

"To make some little reparation?  To repay money?  What do you mean?"

"Twenty-five thousand pounds is so large a sum!" she said.  "I can only
repay a small part of it.  But I’m doing my best; I’m putting by four or
five pounds a week, and I have already saved forty pounds.  You can have
that forty pounds now if you like.  It’s yours."

"Forty pounds!  My dear Doris, what are you talking about?"

"I’m going to earn as much money as I possibly can for you, Bernard,"
said the girl firmly, "in order to repay you at least some of the money
my father took from you."

"You earn money for me?  Your little hands"--he looked down admiringly
on them--"your little hands earn money for me?"

"Of course I must.  It is my bounden duty. And I’m getting on splendidly
as regards money: only they say, do you know, Bernard," and her tones
were troubled, "they say that I ought not to earn it in the way I do.
However," she broke off, and began again, "I mean to earn you a lot of
money, that you may have part at least of that which is your very own."

"The idea!" he exclaimed; "the very idea of your earning money with
these hands, these little hands," he repeated, "for me!  Why, if only
you would give me your hand in marriage, I should be more than repaid
for all and everything?"  He spoke eagerly.

"Bernard, I shall not marry you until I have done all that I possibly
can to pay the debt."

In vain the young man protested, pleaded, and expostulated.  Doris was
firm: the utmost that she would concede was that he might visit her
occasionally and see how she was getting on.

When that matter was quite settled she gave him some tea, and then
explained to him about her work, which he was astonished to find so
remunerative.  He did not think it wrong of her to make those poor
imitation oil-paintings. He said that people could not expect to obtain
real oil-paintings for such small sums.

"You do not call them oil-paintings," he said, "you call them pictures;
and if people think them oil-paintings that is their fault: it is
because they are ignorant that they make the mistake.  You are not
answerable for that. The case of margarine and butter is different. It
was because margarine used to be called butter that it was made illegal
to sell it as such.  Margarine is still sold, but it is called
margarine."

"How very sensible you are, Bernard!" said Doris.  "I wish----"

"What do you wish?" he asked earnestly, for he longed to serve her.

"I wish you would convince the artist, my friend Alice’s brother, that
he is wrong in thinking it so wicked to make those pictures and sell
them."

"Does it matter what he thinks?" asked Bernard, full of a new alarm.
"Is the man anything to you, Doris?"

"Anything to me?  No, I have only seen him once."

"Yet you would like to stand high in his opinion?"

"Well, yes.  There is something grand--heroic, about him.  He would die
for the truth. The man is made of the sort of stuff of which the old
martyrs used to be made."  Doris spoke with great enthusiasm.

Bernard’s alarm increased by leaps and bounds.  "Oh, Doris, darling,
don’t have anything to do with him!" he exclaimed passionately.

"Why not?"  She looked startled.  The flush which had risen to her face
as she spoke so earnestly of Sinclair deepened into a very warm colour.

"Because I do not wish you to know him."

"Why not?" she repeated.

"My instinct tells me that he has impressed you strongly and that you
think a great deal of him, and if you get to care for him, this hero
whom you admire so much, you won’t care for your poor Bernard any more!"
He ended in doleful tones.

"You foolish boy!" Doris cried, with complete change of voice.  "You
know very well that although our engagement has been broken off and I
have vowed that I will never, never marry you--that is, unless some of
the debt is paid--I shall never love anybody in all the world as I love
you," she ended with a little sob, and buried her face in her hands,
lest he should see the tears which filled her eyes.

It was impossible for him to refrain from kissing her then; but she only
suffered him to touch her hands, and then, starting up, waved him aside.

"No, no!  You must not," she exclaimed. "I shall not go back on my word.
I shall stick to my purpose.  You may come to see me sometimes if you
like, but I shall promise nothing."

He looked despairingly at her as she stood there, tall, erect, a very
queen of beauty, with brilliantly coloured cheeks, shining blue eyes,
and golden hair like an aureole above her small beautifully shaped head.

"Oh, my dear, you cannot earn money for me!" he cried; "I would never
touch it. _Do_ dismiss the idea from your mind!  What I want is _you_,
to be my own darling wife. We might be ever so happy--even if we are
poor."

"I don’t want you to be poor, Bernard," she rejoined.  "If you are it
will be my father who has made you so, and I could not endure to see it.
Now, don’t let us waste time in arguing about that again.  I shall
continue my work here: for you have made it plain to me that it is all
right.  You may come to see me occasionally, as I said----"

"What do you think if I were to throw up my tutorship--it is badly
paid--and come daily to assist you with your work?  It would be awfully
jolly working together, and I could see that your lads did their share,
instead of wasting their time in chattering about what they do not
understand."

But Doris would not hear of that arrangement being made.  The work might
do for her, but she revolted mentally from the idea of her Bernard
pursuing a calling which the artist had declared to be so utterly and
radically wrong: and it was like her inconsequent, girlish way of
reasoning not to see that what was right for one was right for the
other, and _vice versa_.

However, when Bernard went away, she felt ever so much happier than she
did when he arrived.  He loved her and she loved him: that was the chief
thing; all else was of secondary consideration.  He approved of, and saw
no harm in her occupation--could he by any possibility see any harm in
anything that she did?--and that was healing balm to her hurt,
despondent feelings.

"He is very nice and sensible, is Bernard," she said to herself, last
thing that night, as she laid her head on her pillow; "he is very
different from poor Alice’s despotic brother.  Now, I like a man I can
convince even against his will--and Bernard does love me in spite of
everything."  She fell asleep thinking about him, and dreamt that they
were again in the Temperate House, looking at the chrysanthemums, and
she was not trying to send him away as she did before, but, on the
contrary, her hand rested within his arm, which held it tightly.



                             *CHAPTER XV.*

                      *ANOTHER VISITOR FOR DORIS.*


    Shun evil, follow good, hold sway
    Over thyself.  This is the way.
      SIR EDWIN ARNOLD.


After Bernard’s visit and his approval of her work, Doris went on with
it doggedly, disregarding all doubts that arose, and justifying her
doings to herself by thinking of Bernard’s opinion of the rightfulness
of her occupation--exactly as men and women have sheltered themselves
behind the views of others ever since the day when Adam screened himself
behind his wife’s, and she behind the serpent’s.

The business prospered, so that the girl’s little store of money
increased, and she began to anticipate a not very distant time when
there would be one hundred pounds saved wherewith to make her first
payment to Bernard.  She determined to begin by paying him one hundred
pounds at once, and wondered if the time would ever come when she would
have so much as one thousand pounds to hand over to him. The girl had a
very brave spirit, but it was often daunted by the herculean task she
had set herself.

One day, when she was very busy with her assistants in the garret, Mrs.
Austin knocked at the door and asked her to be so good as to come
outside to speak to her.

"That gentleman’s come again," she said. "He who frightened away Miss
Sinclair.  It’s you he’s after now, I’m thinking.  But oh, Miss
Anderson, don’t see him!  He’s got an awful look on his face, as if we
kept a gambling-place at least!  Don’t see him!  For, oh, my dear, you
must live!  What is to become of you if you give up such a good business
as you have got?  Remember what a hard world this is for those who have
no money, and how difficult you found it to get dealers even to look at
those genuine little paintings you took so much trouble over!"

"Mr. Sinclair might have saved himself the trouble, if he has come to
try to persuade me to give up the business," said Doris, rather hotly.
"I wonder what business it is of his, by the bye!  No, I will not see
him."

"Ah, forgive me, I followed your landlady upstairs!  I beg a thousand
pardons for the intrusion."  The artist stood behind Mrs. Austin,
towering above her.  He spoke very humbly, but there was an air of
determination, if not of censure, about him which displeased Doris.

"I am engaged," she said, shortly.  "I was just sending you word that I
could not see you."

"But I bring you a message from my sister," he observed, after a
moment’s pause.  "Surely you will receive it?"

He looked at her as he spoke, and again Doris felt the dominating power
of his strong will.  She was vexed with herself for yielding, and yet
could scarcely avoid it.  Slowly and with reluctance the words fell from
her lips, "I cannot hear it here," as she looked significantly at her
assistants, who, busy though they appeared to be, were listening to what
was being said; "we will go downstairs."

In the room below they stood and looked at each other--he tall,
broad-shouldered, vigorous; she slim and slight, but beautiful as a
dream.  The girl did not ask him to be seated, nor did she look at the
chair he offered her with a gesture which was almost compelling.

For a moment or two there was silence. Then Doris spoke.

"You have come between your sister and me," she said.  "You have drawn
her away and prevented my visiting her, and yet you have"--she
paused--"condescended," she hazarded, "to bring me a message from her!"

"I have.  Alice wants you to give up this--this business----"

"If that is all," interrupted Doris, hotly, "you might have saved
yourself the trouble of coming here."

"Don’t say that!  Listen to me.  No doubt you are angry because I come
here, as I came before to express my disapproval of the whole affair.  I
feel it my duty to do so.  It is a prostitution of Art--a robbery in her
name----"

"Stay!" interrupted Doris, passionately. "I know what you think it, and
I know also what I think of your speaking to me like this! You may
lecture your sister and do what you please with her, but is it any
business of yours--I mean, what right have you to come here to find
fault with _my_ work?  As I was saying to Mrs. Austin when you----"

"Intruded," he suggested, bitterly.

"Yes, intruded," she went on, with severity, "upstairs, it is no
business of yours."

"I think it is," he said, more gently. "You are Alice’s friend, and I do
not wish my sister to associate intimately with one who----"

"If I am not fit for your sister’s society----" began Doris, furiously.

"Don’t you think it is a pity for us to quarrel in this way?" Mr.
Sinclair said, in a calm manner.  "Please sit down, and let us talk
calmly and reasonably."  He again waved his hand towards the chair which
he had placed for her.

Doris sat down rather helplessly.  How he dominated her!  She felt as if
she were a little child, who did not know what to say in the presence of
a grown-up person.

"My sister is extremely attached to you," said the artist, his rich
voice full of feeling and his grey eyes shining as they looked straight
into Doris’s, as if they would read her soul. "She thinks that no one in
the world is like her friend.  Nothing that one can say--I mean that one
can do--that is, that can be done--has any power to shake her loyalty to
you----"

"Ah!  You have been trying to estrange her from me----"

"I will not deny your charge," said the other, "for there is some truth
in it.  I do not wish my sister to see much of one who, for money--mere
money--is content to do that which is wrong.  The love of money is the
root of all evil."

"And you think," exclaimed Doris, "you think _I_ love money?  You think
that for money I am content to do wrong?"

"What else can I think?"

"You are exceedingly uncharitable," cried the girl, bitterly, "to beg
the question in this way!  Let me say that, in the first place, I do not
love money.  That I want to earn as much of it as possible is true; but
I do not want the money for myself.  It is to help to pay a debt, a debt
of honour so large that it is not possible for me to pay it all; but if
I can in time pay a few hundreds of pounds, I shall be very glad."

"A debt of honour!  A few hundreds!  My child, you cannot earn all that
by such trashy work as this that you are doing!"  In spite of himself,
Norman regarded her with great admiration.

"The word cannot is not in my dictionary," said Doris, rather
grandiloquently.  "It must be done!"

"Impossible!" he ejaculated.

"And as for the work being wrong," continued Doris, "I do not know that
it is wrong."

"Not know that it is wrong!" exclaimed the other.  "When every one of
your oil-paintings is a sin against truth.  You know it; surely this
must appeal to your honour!"

"I do not _call_ them oil-paintings," said Doris, proceeding to repeat
rapidly Bernard Cameron’s arguments, and ending with the words, uttered
very meaningly, "What is truth?  We can but obey it as it appears to us.
You judge of my pictures from such a different standpoint.  They are
untrue to all your canons of high art.  But I know nothing comparatively
of art: I only try to make pictures which will please people, and be
worth the trifling sums of money they give for them. Such people could
not see any beauty in great works of art; but they say, ’That’s pretty!
That’s very pretty!’ when they see mine."

The artist was silent.  It was true.  What beauty could Jack Hodge and
his cousins Dick, Tom, and Harry, see in the Old Masters, or in the new
ones either?  Yet they were the people who paid their shillings, and
even pounds for such pictures as this young girl provided for them.

"Believe me," continued Doris, "there is room in the world for workers
of all sort.  The birds cannot all be nightingales; the flowers are not
all roses; and the human beings who entertain mankind are not all the
best and highest of their kind.  But there is a place for the homely
sparrow, the little daisy, and the poor picture-maker to fill; and it is
not--not generous of those more gifted to come and find fault with
them!"

Her voice trembled and shook as she concluded; and, feeling that she was
about to break down, she bowed slightly to her visitor and left the
room.

Mr. Sinclair sprang up as if to stop her, yet did not do so.  He opened
his mouth to speak, yet no word fell from his lips, and so he allowed
her to pass out.

"What a wonderful girl!" he muttered aloud, when she was gone, closing
the door softly behind her.  "I admire her exceedingly! And I have hurt
her feelings!  She has gone away to cry!  What a stupid blunderer I am!
How brutal of me to wound her so!  I’m sure I’m very sorry.  I’ll write
her a message."  He looked round for pen, ink, and paper, and, having
found some, wrote one line only:

"Forgive me, I cannot forgive myself. Norman Sinclair."

Having folded the paper, he addressed it to Miss Anderson, and laid it
conspicuously upon the table, and then very quietly left the house.



                             *CHAPTER XVI.*

                       *THE GREAT RENUNCIATION.*


    And things can never go badly wrong
    If the heart be true and the love be strong;
    For the mist, if it comes, and the weeping rain
    Will be changed by the love into sunshine again.
      G. MACDONALD.


Doris was quite touched when, on coming down to tea, she found Mr.
Sinclair’s communication upon the table.  He could scarcely have written
anything which appealed to her more.  If he had given in to her
arguments, and had said she was right and he was wrong, her feelings
about him would have been contemptuous: and if, on the other hand, he
had persisted in condemning her work she would have considered him
unreasonable.  As it was, however, she could not feel either contempt or
anger for the man who simply asked for her forgiveness; and she thought
better of him for showing in that way that he was sorry for the pain his
arguments, and indeed his whole visit had caused her.

She sat and thought about him a long time. How different he was from
Bernard!  Not so loving and lovable, not nearly so loving and lovable,
and yet there was a grandeur about him, and an air of distinction which
Bernard did not possess.  "I wish I could see his paintings!" she said
to herself.  "Alice used to rave about them.  But I did not take much
notice.  I thought her simply infatuated with her brother; she thought
no one was his equal.  Perhaps if I had a brother I might have felt like
that about him."  And so, on and on went her thoughts, always about
Norman Sinclair, except when they flew for a moment or two to Bernard,
though always reverting quickly again to the artist. Mr. Sinclair was
the greater man of the two, there was no doubt about that, and her first
feeling of annoyance at its being so had changed into esteem for him;
yet she loved Bernard all the more because he did not stand on a
pedestal, he was on her own level--or it might be even a little
lower--which gave her such a delicious sense of motherhood towards him.
The latter feeling no doubt made her so determined that he should have
his own again, even if she had to wear herself out in winning it for
him. Bernard should not suffer loss, if by any exertion on her part it
could be averted.

"I do hope, miss," said Mrs. Austin, coming in at last, unbidden, to
clear away the tea-things, "I do hope that gentleman hasn’t gone and
worried you with his tall talk!  It is all very fine to tell other folks
to give up their businesses, but would he give up his own, I wonder?
And will he ensure your having a good income if you throw away the one
you are earning?"

Doris rose.

"Mrs. Austin," she said, laying one hand on the good woman’s shoulder,
and smiling kindly into her anxious face, "I am afraid I cannot discuss
Mr. Sinclair even with you. He is good and honourable, but I--I do not
see things quite as he does; and you may trust me not to be such a child
as to lightly throw away my good business."

With that Mrs. Austin had to be content. But she distrusted the
stranger’s influence over the young lady, and never willingly admitted
him into her little house when he called--as he did call--time after
time to see Miss Anderson.

"I would rather see the other gentleman, Mr. Cameron," said the landlady
to herself many a time.  But Bernard was not well, he had taken a severe
cold, and the mists rising continually in the Thames Valley caused him
to have chest troubles.  He could therefore only write to Doris, now and
then, expressing hope that he would soon be better in health and able to
call upon her again, and regretting deeply the delay.

Left alone, Doris quite looked forward to the artist’s visits.  He never
stayed long, and the short time he was with her was such a pleasant
break in the monotony of the girl’s daily life.  She was too
unsophisticated to scruple to receive him in her little sitting-room,
and he was altogether too great a Bohemian to hesitate to go there
alone.  To his mind Doris stood on an entirely different plane from
other girls.  The concern with which he had seen her making her poor
pictures had become merged in admiration for her bravery in attempting
to earn a few hundreds of pounds with which to pay part of a debt of
honour. How could it have been contracted, he wondered, by one so
guileless?  _She_ could not have lost the money by gambling.  It was
impossible that such an innocent girl could know anything about
gambling.  And yet in what other way could she have become indebted to
such an extent?  He was soon to know, for as his influence over her
increased, she became possessed with a restless longing to stand well in
his opinion, and it seemed to her untruthful to conceal from him the
cloud of disgrace which hung over her family, although she had thought
it right to keep the matter from Alice.

She therefore told him, one day when he lingered with her a little
longer than usual, and the early twilight favoured confidences,
softening as it did the austere lines in the artist’s face and revealing
only the good expression of his countenance.

He listened in amazement and distress, having had no idea of the tragedy
in her young life.

Simply and as briefly as possible she related the story of her father’s
appropriation of his young ward’s money, and his subsequent flight, with
her mother, in the dead of night.  She was a little tired and dispirited
that day, and her voice broke now and again as she recounted the
wretched happenings of that woeful time, and then not allowing herself
to break down, or shed a tear, went on bravely to relate about the
letter her mother left for her, with its scanty information and command
to her to proceed to London, there to live with their good friend Miss
Earnshaw.

But when Doris proceeded to relate how Mrs. Cameron came into her room
in order to upbraid her in her misfortunes, being overcome by the
recollection, she completely broke down and wept.

Norman Sinclair was deeply moved.  The tears were in his own eyes as he
waited in silence, without venturing to touch, or speak to her, lest any
move on his part should check her confidence.

Presently she continued, "You must know I was just becoming engaged to
Bernard Cameron when all these things happened----"

"Engaged?" interrupted the other, in dismay.

"Yes.  Bernard and I had loved each other long.  But she--his mother,
you know--made me vow that I would not marry him--to bring disgrace upon
him."

"Disgrace?"

"Yes," Doris said.  "The only thing my father had left him, Mrs. Cameron
told me, was his honourable name, which would be sullied if I married
him, and also, she said, the only hope for his being able to retrieve
his position was for him to marry some one who had money. I therefore
declared that I would never, never marry him, and I ran away at once
that I might not see him again."

"Ran away?  Alone?"

"Yes," and then Doris told about her travelling to London and upon
arriving at Earl’s Court Square in the night finding her friend Miss
Earnshaw dead, so that there was another person in possession of the
house, who was unkind and inhospitable.

"My child, what did you do?"  The words escaped involuntarily from
Norman’s lips.

Doris told him of the compassionate cabman, who most fortunately being a
good and honest man, took her to his mother, who proved to be a good
Samaritan to her in her poverty and need.  Then she spoke rather shyly
of her abortive attempts to paint pictures which would sell, and the
work she found at last of lamp-shade making, which supported her for a
time, until, upon its failing her, she joined Alice Sinclair’s more
remunerative business.

"You spoilt our partnership," she said in conclusion, "but I am getting
on all right now, and have saved nearly one hundred pounds for Bernard.
In time I hope to let him have much more."

"You consider yourself so greatly in his debt?" queried the artist, in
amazement.

"Certainly.  My father robbed him of much money.  I must try to pay some
back."

"But the man cannot legally claim a farthing from you.  A girl--under
age, too--cannot be made to pay a debt."

"You don’t understand.  It is a debt of honour.  Ah!" she smiled sadly,
"you thought I acted dishonourably about the pictures, so you cannot
understand my being honourable about anything else."

"You could not be dishonourable," exclaimed Norman, quite hotly, "or
anything else except most honourable.  About the pictures you hold a
mistaken view, that is all.  For the rest, your taking upon yourself
this debt is _noble_. I only know one other girl who would have
attempted it."  He smiled grimly.

"Alice?"

"Yes."

"Ah, she would have done it.  How I wish you would let her come to me!
I have not many friends," Doris’s lips trembled.  There were times when
she yearned for Alice’s bright young face and loving words.

"You have not lost her love--she is always wanting to come to you.  But
I really----" he hesitated, seeking a word.

"You think I am not good enough to associate with Alice--that I should
contaminate her if she came here----"

"Not good enough?  Contaminate her?" Sinclair cried excitedly.  "Oh, if
you knew what I think of you, how I esteem and admire you!"

"Hush! hush! please," said Doris.  "You are speaking excitedly--you do
not consider what you say.  The fact remains that you think my work
altogether wrong.  ’A crime,’ you have called it, ’in the sight of God
and man.’  And you have forbidden your sister to come here.  That shows
you have not changed your opinion."

"I have forbidden my sister to come here lest she should have a relapse
into her former views, and insist upon joining you again at the
business."

"You would not allow her?"

"Most certainly I should not allow her."

His tone was emphatic.

"Then you still think it wrong of me to do it, in spite of what I have
said?"

"I think you are mistaken.  I am sure you would not knowingly do wrong."

After he had gone, for he went soon afterwards, not being able to trust
himself to stay there any longer, Doris sat a long time thinking over
what had passed.  His evident admiration and indeed love for
herself--which she had discouraged, because if she belonged to any one
it was to Bernard--only heightened the effect of the uncompromising way
in which he regarded her employment.  It was, then, in the eyes of an
honest man a fraud which even the exigency of her need of money
wherewith to pay Bernard his own again could by no means exonerate.

"It certainly is wrong to do evil that good may come," she said to
herself.  "And oh! my heart tells me that I have known in its depths for
a long time, in spite of what Bernard said, and in spite of my
sheltering behind his opinion, that mine is very questionable work,
leading, as I fear it often does, to poor and ignorant people giving
their money for what is of no real value.  If the shops would sell my
pictures for a few shillings it would not be so bad; but though the
dealers only give me a few shillings for each, they sell many of them
for as much as a pound or thirty shillings each.  I should not like any
one I loved to pay such a price for them--and it isn’t fair to cheat
other people’s loved ones. Every one is the loved one of the Lover of
mankind," was the next thought, "and He said, ’Inasmuch as ye have done
it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto
Me.’"

The solemnity of the thought was great. "Unto Him!" she murmured.  "Do I
treat Him like that?  Can I possibly do it to Him?"  She thought over
the essential points of her religion; over what He had done for her, and
then asked herself how could she make Him such a return?

The fire sank low in the grate.  Sounds of the little house being locked
up for the night, and the footsteps of Mrs. Austin going upstairs to bed
fell unheeded on her ears, as she sat there still absorbed in these
reflections.

The business was wrong; she must get out of it, must give it up.  But,
could she? Would she have strength of mind and will sufficient for the
task?  It would be a hard thing to do.  "If thy right hand offend thee,
cut it off and cast it from thee."  Yes, she would do it.  For
conscience’ sake, she would strip herself of this really lucrative
business which was so wrong, and would commence in some other way to
toil for the money which was required to pay some of the debt to
Bernard.  With a capital of a hundred pounds she might start some
business, she thought, which would enable her to earn money rapidly.

Having made up her mind for what she called "The great renunciation,"
she lost no time in setting about it.

And first of all, before going to bed, she ascertained from her books
what sum of money was due to Alice--for all this time she had regularly
forwarded to her ex-partner’s brother one third of all profits made in
the business--then placing the amount in notes, in a sealed envelope, in
the inside of which she wrote "Conscience Money," she went out and
slipped it into the nearest pillar-box.  "I cannot bother to register it
this time," she said to herself, "it will get there all right."  Then,
quickly re-entering the house, she locked and bolted the door, and went
upstairs to her bed-room.  But not to sleep.  For hours she lay awake,
pondering over ways and means.  Should she hand over to Bernard the
hundred pounds there would be altogether, after she had sold the last
remaining pictures, and the paint, mill-boards, etc., she had in the
garret?  Or should she trade with the hundred pounds in some way, with
the view to making it bring forth a hundredfold?  But in what way could
that be done?  And, supposing she were to lose it?  Bernard might never
have even that hundred pounds restored to him.

She fell asleep at last, her thoughts running to the tune of the hundred
pounds, and awoke about seven o’clock, still with the problem unsolved.
But the post brought her a letter from Bernard, saying that he was ill
and in trouble.  He had lost his situation through ill health, and was
alone, helplessly ill, in his lodgings at Richmond.

That morning Doris left her assistants to pack up her stock-in-trade,
while she went to Richmond to see Bernard, whom she found in a small,
dingy house in Jocelyn Road.  He was not in bed, but lying on a couch,
looking ill and unhappy.  His unhappiness, however, quickly disappeared
when he perceived her.

"You here!" he exclaimed.  "Oh, Doris, does my sight deceive me?  Are
you really standing before me?"

"Yes.  It is I," replied Doris, and then, laying her cool hand upon his
burning brow, she added, "Why, how hot you are!  What is the matter?"

"The doctor calls it influenza, but I think they call everything
influenza in these days. I know I have been ill a horribly long time,
and I can’t get better.  I have written to my mother, Doris.  I have
been obliged to write to her.  Perhaps if I could go home a
little--quite away from this wretched place--my native air might restore
me.  But mother has not replied.  I think she will have nothing more to
do with me.  The old idea of the prodigal son’s being welcomed back with
best robes and rings and fatted calf is exploded. Parents are not like
that in these days!"  He spoke bitterly.

"But you have not been a prodigal son," said Doris.  "Perhaps if you had
been, your mother would have proved more merciful.  It is the fact that
you have acted more nobly than she about not proceeding against my
father which stings and humiliates her.  Don’t you know, dear, that the
higher we raise our standard the more it seems to reflect upon those who
allow theirs to drag in the mire? Your mother cannot forgive you for
being better than she."

There was silence for a few moments in the little room.  Bernard could
have said several things, but he did not wish to speak against his
mother.  Presently, however, he remarked,

"I don’t feel as if I could get well here. These are such nasty, fusty
rooms--so depressing--such a want of air and light--so different from
dear old Yorkshire and the breezes to be had on Askern Hill.  Do you
remember Askern Hill, Doris?"

Did she remember?  The colour returned into her pale cheeks, and the
light into her eyes, as she remembered the last happy occasion upon
which she and Bernard trod that hill.

"Oh, Bernard, you ought to go back there!" she said.  "My poor boy, you
would get well and strong if you were there again."

"You also," he rejoined, with a look of yearning love.  "Oh, Doris, if
we could return together!"

"If wishes were horses beggars would ride," she said, lightly.  "Look
here!" she spread a little heap of bank-notes before his astonished
eyes.  "Count them.  There are ninety pounds," she said, for she had
brought with her the money she had saved.

"Ninety pounds!" exclaimed he.

"Yes.  Ninety pounds.  It is yours.  I repay that much of our debt to
you to-day."

"Ninety pounds!  You repay!  Debt!" cried he, in bewilderment and
indignation.  "What nonsense!  I cannot take your money."

"You must!  I insist upon it!  I have earned it for you.  See.  It is
all yours," and, gathering up the money, she tried to put it into his
hand.

But he would not take it.  He was no cad that he should take money from
a girl.  And he seized the opportunity to show her practically that it
was quite impossible for him to accept any payment at all from her.

The little contest made him so ill and feverish that Doris had to call
in his doctor, who, after giving him a draught, insisted upon his going
home to Yorkshire forthwith, while he was still able to travel.

Doris went to the telegraph office, to wire to his mother to say that he
was returning home ill, and afterwards while she was packing up for him
the reply telegram arrived.  It was short, but to the point:

"Shall be glad to see you.  Come immediately."


In the afternoon, Doris and Bernard went to King’s Cross in a cab, and
there the girl saw him off in an express for Doncaster.

He urged her to accompany him, but this she declined to do.

"Well, of course, if you won’t marry me at once, dear," he said, "it
would be a pity for you to leave your good, paying business."

Doris had not told him that she was relinquishing the work, and he
departed in the belief that she still retained her remunerative
employment.

But the girl returned slowly to Mrs. Austin’s, to sell the tools of her
trade, which she no longer required, and thus complete the renunciation
of her business.

And if the thought of that strong man, the champion of truth and honour,
Norman Sinclair, was a help and support to her in this difficult crisis
of her life, who can wonder at it?

Bernard was ill and far away, and the artist had powerfully influenced
her.



                            *CHAPTER XVII.*

                             *IN POVERTY.*


    Give me neither poverty nor riches.
      _The Prayer of Agar_.


Doris realised ten pounds by the sale of her stock-in-trade, the
materials and the pictures which had not been paid for previously, and
then, having altogether one hundred pounds in hand, she imagined herself
fairly well off, and with means sufficient to maintain herself in
comfort until she could find some other employment.

And now she bought newspapers and frequented public reading-rooms, in
order to search through the columns of advertisements in papers and
ladies’ journals for some post which she could hope to obtain.  Her idea
of paying back even a small portion of her father’s debt to Bernard
being now exploded, she hoped to obtain a comfortable home and small
salary as lady’s companion, or governess, or secretary; and many were
the applications for such places that she made personally, or by letter,
but always in vain.  Having no better reference to give than poor Mrs.
Austin, and having had no experience of the work, she was so unfortunate
as to meet with refusals everywhere.  She was too pretty for some
mistresses to tolerate the idea of having her in their homes, and she
was too reticent about her parents and home to suit others.

It would have been better for her had she written to some of her old
friends in Yorkshire asking if they would allow her to refer people to
them, but a mistaken idea that the knowledge of her father’s crime might
prevent their vouching for his daughter’s rectitude prevented her.
Since she left Askern she had written only once or twice to Susan Gaunt,
and then had given no address but the vague one "London," which caused
poor Susan to wring her hands in dismay, and complain that Miss Doris
couldn’t want to hear from her.  Perhaps Mrs. Cameron’s insistence on
the shame which attached to her as being her father’s daughter unduly
influenced the girl’s mind, for she felt an intense shrinking from
renewing her former relations with her old friends.

So it came about that, as weeks and months passed by, Doris found that
her money was rapidly diminishing, while her prospects did not brighten.
Bernard only wrote once after the first brief note saying that he had
arrived at home and received a kind welcome from his mother, and no more
letters coming Doris understood that Mrs. Cameron would not permit the
correspondence, and therefore she ceased writing.

Mrs. Austin, who had deeply lamented the termination of the
picture-business and had even suggested its resuscitation, was loud in
expressions of grief and concern.

"To think," she said,--"to think that you, who could earn ever so many
pounds a week, cannot now earn as many shillings!  It all comes of that
Mr. Sinclair’s coming here unsettling you!  But there, I won’t say any
more about him, Miss Anderson dear, since you don’t like me to do so."

"Thank you," said Doris, gently.  "But now for business," she added,
with an attempt at cheerfulness.  "I cannot pay you for this nice
bedroom much longer"--they were in her bedroom, and she looked round at
its cosy little appointments as she spoke--"you must try to let it to
some one else."

"What?  And part with you?  Not if I know it!" cried Mrs. Austin,
throwing up both her hands to emphasise her words.

"You need not part with me," said Doris, putting her arms round the good
woman’s neck, and speaking with real affection.  "Dear Mrs. Austin, I
should be homeless indeed if I left your roof!  What I want is this: Let
me have the garret--only the garret; make me up a nice little bed there,
and let me have my food--anything that you happen to be having--for a
moderate charge."

The widow began to protest vehemently, but Doris cut short her
vociferations by declaring that if her proposal was not agreed to she
would have to seek a lodging elsewhere, for she could not use the
bedroom when it was quite impossible to pay for it.

Accordingly, that very day, a notice that a bedroom and sitting-room
were to let was put up in the front window, and when at length they were
let Doris carried up all her belongings to the garret, which Mrs. Austin
made as comfortable as she possibly could.

Then Doris continued her weary search for work, even applying at shops
for a post as cashier or shop-assistant.  But her lack of knowledge of
book-keeping precluded her from the one--even if she could have given
better references than the poor Austins’--and her want of experience and
of testimonials caused her failure as an applicant for the other. Every
evening she returned to her garret worn out with the futile attempt to
obtain employment, and every evening Mrs. Austin brought her up a nice
little hot supper, in spite of her protestations and declaration that
she was not at all hungry.  That was true enough, alas! for she lost her
appetite and grew thin and worn during those days; and there were times
when she doubted her wisdom in having given up the sham oil-painting
business.  "One must live," she said to herself, "and I had nothing
else.  But at least--at least I have cast into God’s treasury all that I
have.  Will He bless me for it, I wonder?  It does not seem like it at
present; but I suppose I must have faith, only I feel too weary to have
faith in these days."

Such thoughts often came at nights, and she wept as she lay on her poor
garret bed, so that sleep forsook her, and she arose in the morning
unrefreshed and weary still.

The artist called several times when she was out, and not being liked by
Mrs. Austin, he found the good woman taciturn and uncommunicative, so
that he did not hear anything about Doris’s business having been given
up, and was in total ignorance upon that point. But Alice had heard the
news from Doris: for the latter was obliged to mention it in giving a
reason for the money remittances having ceased.  To tell the truth,
Alice was dismayed, and very sorry that Doris, too, felt it to be her
duty to abandon the work.  Though Alice, under her brother’s compulsion,
had once requested Doris to give it up, she had not really wished her to
do so, for Alice was essentially practical, having, moreover, the
responsibility of keeping her artist brother alive until he won his
spurs as a Royal Academician. Sometimes Alice thought of acquainting her
brother with the fact that Doris, too, had given up the work he
abhorred, but as they had nearly quarrelled about Doris more than
once--owing to Norman’s forbidding Alice to visit her--each was very
reticent about the girl. Alice did not know of the artist’s visiting
Doris; and he did not know that she and Doris corresponded regularly.

"Oh, you poor, dear darling!" wrote Alice to Doris, "what an awfully
inconvenient thing it is to have a conscience!  And an appetite for
food, with a conscience which prevents one from having the means to
satisfy it, is a piling on of the agony!  With Norman on his high horse,
so that he will not allow me to do this and that, and you with a
conscience which prevents your sending me any more money, truly I am in
a fix.  But I won’t be beaten. I must find grist for the mill somewhere
and somehow, if I have to sing in the street, or be a flower-girl.  My
dear old Norman shan’t starve to death while I have any wits left at
all.  As for you, if you were not too proud, there are artists who would
pay much for the privilege of painting your lovely face.  I know Norman
would be charmed to have it for his picture of ’Ganymede.’  Indeed, he
is painting her astonishingly like you, although an ordinary model is
sitting for it.  Your face is your fortune, darling, when all is said
and done. And you’ll marry a duke, no doubt, in the end, while I shall
be only an insignificant nobody, perhaps mentioned in the ’Life of
Norman Sinclair, R.A.’ as having fed the lion when he was oblivious of
such mundane things as pounds, shillings and pence.  Good night.  When I
have thought of what I will do, I’ll send you word.  Then maybe you will
join me in doing it: and we won’t let anybody come between us ever
again.

"Thine,
       "ALICE."


Another day, when Doris was despairing of ever getting anything to do,
she received a second letter from her friend, which was short and to the
point.


"Eureka!  I have found it," wrote Alice, "now at last our woes will be
all over.  Our work will be honourable of its sort, and it will pay a
little--enough to feed the lion and our humble selves, although we shall
not be able to save money.  Oh, dear no.  But we must be thankful for
small mercies in these days. Meet me to-morrow at twelve o’clock at the
Park Square entrance to the Broad Walk in Regent’s Park; then we will
have a walk and talk about it.

"Thine,
       "ALICE."



                            *CHAPTER XVIII.*

                      *NEW EMPLOYMENT FOR DORIS.*


    No soul can be quite separate,
    However set aside by fate,
    However cold or dull or shy
    Or shrinking from the public eye.
    The world is common to the race,
    And nowhere is a hiding-place:
    Behind, before, with rhythmic beat,
    Is heard the tread of marching feet.
      *      *      *      *      *
    And as we meet and touch each day,
    The many travellers on our way,
    Let every such brief contact be
    A glorious, helpful ministry:
    The contact of the soil and seed,
    Each giving to the other’s need,
    Each helping on the other’s best,
    And blessing, each, as well as blest.
        SUSAN COOLIDGE.


"Oh, my dear Doris, isn’t it lovely to be out here in the fresh air and
sunshine, with you, too, at last?  At last!"  Alice’s feet almost danced
over the ground, as with a smiling face she drew her friend along the
Broad Walk in Regent’s Park.  "Oh, I have so much to tell you!  We have
been parted ages--_ages_!" she cried.

"Ages indeed!" sighed Doris.  "It does seem such a long, _long_ time:
and yet I suppose it is barely four months since you left me."

"Months?  Four months did you say?  It seems like _years_!  Why, it was
the depth of winter then, and now it is spring, though the trees are
bare yet," and Alice glanced up at the fine chestnut trees on both sides
of the walk.

"I am afraid I cannot walk so fast as this if I am to talk as well,"
panted Doris, as she was being hurried along.

"Why, what is the matter with you?  You dear thing, what is the matter?
You are pale. You are ill?"  Alice was looking at her now with great
concern.

"Not at all.  I’m all right, only I cannot walk so quickly.  You walk
very fast."

"How worn your clothes are!" cried Alice, scrutinising her closely.
"And how thin you are!  Doris, I believe you are _starving_."

"Nothing of the sort."  A bright colour had come into Doris’s face now,
making it look more beautiful than ever, although it was so thin.

"Have you had a good breakfast?" questioned practical Alice.

"Yes.  Mrs. Austin saw to that.  She is very good to me."

"Oh, Doris!"  Alice read between the lines. Her friend had been
suffering want; indeed, was suffering it now.

"I am all right," declared Doris again. "Come, tell me, dear, what is
the work you have found for me to do?"

"Well, it is honest work, at all events, and although it isn’t at all
romantic, it is interesting enough.  I tried to get into several other
things first, but found them all so difficult without a special
training, and time is the commodity in which we are deficient: for what
we want is immediate money--cash _down_" and Alice gave a little stamp
with her foot to emphasise "down."

"It is, indeed," cried Doris.  "Go on quickly, please.  Tell me what you
have found for us to do?"  It was a matter of vital importance to her,
for she had reached her last coin that day, and her only hope was in
Alice’s promised work.

"It is account collecting.  You know, calling at people’s houses for the
money they are owing."

"Oh!"  Doris’s "Oh!" was rather dubious. Such work seemed indeed most
unattractive.

"It was my grocer who gave me the idea," Alice went on briskly.  "I was
apologising for not paying him at once, and he said that he wished every
one was as honest.  Upon which I remarked that I was looking out for
work, and should have more cash in hand when I obtained it.  He seemed
quite sorry for me. ’It is only temporary, of course, this want of
yours,’ he said, oh, so kindly; and then I was such a goose, I couldn’t
help the tears coming into my eyes, upon which he jumped up, went into
an inner room, and presently returned to invite me in.  Then he asked if
I would like to collect his outstanding debts, the debts people owed
him, you know, and he offered me from 5 per cent. to 10 per cent. on all
the money I got in for him.  ’Young ladies do such work,’ said he, ’and
if you are successful, Miss Sinclair, I will recommend my friends to
employ you also.  I know one or two lady-collectors,’ he added, ’who
make from £50 to £100 a year by this sort of thing.’  Beggars cannot be
choosers; therefore I accepted the work, and began at once."

"How clever of you!"

"It was a bit rough on me at first, you know.  People very rarely indeed
pay their debts pleasantly.  Most people who greeted me with smiles when
I went to their houses, looked considerably less amiable when they found
out that I wanted some of their money; and then going about in all
weathers--for the money has often to be collected weekly--is not nice.
Nevertheless, I am getting on.  I earned a pound a week at first, and
now it is usually nearer two pounds a week than one.  And, best of all,"
Alice gave a little laugh, "dear old Norman hasn’t found out about it
yet; and--and," she could scarcely speak for laughing, although there
was a little choke in her voice, "he swallows the fruits of my toil
beautifully!"

"Alice," exclaimed Doris, with immense admiration, "what a brave girl
you are!  A sister in a thousand!"

"And now I have more work than I can do," went on Alice earnestly, "and
I thought you would assist me, dear.  If I could hand over some of the
surplus work to you, why, it would prevent my overworking, and it might
help you."

"It certainly would!" exclaimed Doris. "But before taking up the work I
ought to have good references to give you and your employers, and
who----"

"_I_ should be responsible, of course," interrupted Alice.  "You will
simply act as my assistant.  I will give you your work to do, and you
will have a percentage of all the money you collect.  It will be all
right.  You will simply act for me."

Doris could not do otherwise than gratefully accept this kind offer.
Indeed, there was nothing for her between it and starvation, unless she
would be a helpless burden upon poor Mrs. Austin.  Alice explained to
Doris fully about the work, arranged where they should meet daily, and
went thoroughly into every detail connected with the new employment.
Moreover, she thoughtfully advanced ten shillings, that Doris might be
able to buy herself a new hat, veil, and a pair of gloves, also a
note-book and pencil.

When that matter was settled, the girls sat down under one of the
chestnut trees, enjoying to the full the sights and sounds of spring
about them, the fresh green of the grass, the blue sky, and the sunshine
resting over all and everything--not to mention the singing and
twittering of the birds, the barking of dogs, the rolling of the
carriages, and the bright appearance of the ladies walking or driving
by.

Presently Alice ventured to ask after Bernard Cameron.  Upon which
Doris, with her heart lightened from carking care and warmed by her
friend’s affection, for the first time took her entirely into her
confidence, by relating how matters stood between her and the young man,
together with a full statement of the manner in which his money had been
lost. She could trust Alice completely, and, moreover, felt that, as the
latter was about to be responsible for her honesty in dealing with other
people’s money, no detail of the cloud of disgrace resting over the
Andersons should be concealed.

"But it does not make the slightest difference about you, darling,"
cried Alice, looking tenderly into Doris’s downcast face.  "It is very
sweet of you to tell me all about it.  And I think, dear, that you take
rather too serious a view of your father’s fault----"

"Say, _sin_," corrected Doris, gravely.  "Let us call things by their
right names----"

"Well, _sin_," conceded Alice.  "But in my opinion it was not so bad as
you think.  When he speculated with Bernard Cameron’s money, of course
he thought it quite safe to do so, and anticipated a big profit, which
no doubt he intended to hand over to Bernard.  If things had ’panned
out,’ as the Americans say, successfully, no one would have blamed him.
Indeed, people would have thought he acted very cleverly and with rare
discrimination. It seems to me that it was the mere accident of
non-success, instead of success, which made his conduct reprehensible
and not praiseworthy."

Doris took no little comfort from this view of the matter, and wished
she had confided in Alice before.

"How very sensible you are, Alice, dear!" she cried.  "Oh, I am
fortunate in having such a friend!"

"And I am fortunate in having you for a friend, darling!" returned the
other, adding, in her most matter-of-fact tone, "When an outsider brings
eyes that haven’t been saddened by grief to look at a trouble, of course
the vision is clearer.  And I must say, also, that I like Bernard for
not accepting that money from you."

"Oh, but I did want him to take it," said Doris.  "Though, really," she
added, "I don’t know what I should have done without it.  He does not
know that I have given up my lucrative business," she said in
conclusion.  "He thought it all right."

"Have you heard from him lately?" asked Alice.

"Not very lately.  He wrote to tell me of his safe arrival in Yorkshire,
and that his mother was very kind in nursing him.  And then he wrote
again, to tell me he had been very ill, and mentioned that his mother
worried him considerably by endeavouring to induce him to do things
which were utterly distasteful to him.  ’But this is a free country,’ he
wrote, ’and I shall do as I please.’  Since then," Doris continued, "I
have heard nothing; indeed, I have not written much lately."

The two girls sat there talking for some time, and then went to get some
lunch at Alice’s expense.

On the day following, Doris commenced work as Alice’s assistant
account-collector. But, being thoroughly run down and out of health, she
found her duties extremely arduous and fatiguing.  She was not adapted
for the work, and it was to her most irksome and unpleasant to have to
ask people for money. She would rather have given it to them. When they
were disagreeable--and, as Alice had said, it was rarely indeed that
people could be pleasant when they were asked for money by an
account-collector--Doris had the most absurd inclination to apologise
and hurry away. In fact, she did that more than once, and had to be
severely scolded by Alice for neglecting her duties.  It was in vain,
however, that Alice lectured and coached her; Doris was much too
tender-hearted to make a good collector.  When people began to make
excuses for not paying their debts it was only with difficulty she could
refrain from assisting them to do so; her sympathy was always on their
side, consequently she did not earn much of a percentage.

Alice paid her liberally, as liberally indeed as she could afford to do,
for she had her "Lion" to keep, and her means were limited; but Doris
earned barely enough money to pay her rent for the garret and for the
food with which Mrs. Austin supplied her, and, in consequence, her
clothes grew shabbier and her health became worse every day.  She did
not hear from Bernard, and was often despondent and hopeless about the
future.  How could she possibly pay him back any money out of the
trifling sums she was earning?  And he would not take it if she could.
He would rather remain poor, and there could never be any marriage
between her and Bernard Cameron.



                             *CHAPTER XIX.*

                        *A POWERFUL TEMPTATION.*


    When shall this wonderful web be done!
      In a thousand years, perhaps, or one--
    Or to-morrow: who knoweth?  Not you or I,
      But the wheels turn on and the shuttles fly.

    Ah, sad-eyed weaver, the years are slow,
      But each one is nearer the end, we know:
    And some day the last thread shall be woven in,
      God grant it be love, instead of sin!

    Then are we spinners of wool for this life-web--say?
      Do we furnish the weaver a web each day?
    It were better then, O kind friend, to spin
      A beautiful thread--not a thread of sin.
        _Anon_.


"Is Miss Anderson in?"

"Well, yes, sir, she is, but----"

"Be so good as to announce me!"

"I don’t know about that, sir.  Miss Anderson is not very well; and I
think--I think it might be better for her not to see visitors."

"Visitors?  I am not visitors.  Be so good as to show me in."

Mrs. Austin reluctantly led the way to her sitting-room--a small one at
the back of the house--where Doris was reclining on an old-fashioned
sofa.  She started up on perceiving Mr. Sinclair, and would have risen,
but he put her gently back again.

"Don’t let me disturb you, I beg," he entreated.  "I shall have to go
away if you don’t lie still.  And I want to see you very much," he
pleaded.  "It is so long since I had that pleasure."

As of old, his strong will dominated hers, and she fell back against the
soft pillows Mrs. Austin had placed for her head, and looked at him in
silence.  Her blue eyes seemed bigger than ever, and her complexion was
more clear and waxen; but her cheeks were too thin for beauty, and her
mouth drooped pathetically.

"My dear child, what have you been doing with yourself?"  Norman’s tone
was more fatherly than loverlike now: he took Doris’s hands in his and
held them gently.

Overcome with emotion, and unable to command herself, she burst into
tears.  What had she been doing?  Much, much that he little suspected.
She had visited a pawn-broker’s shop more than once, for the purpose of
raising money on articles of dress.  That was because her earnings were
not sufficient for her maintenance; and then she disliked her work
exceedingly.  There were all sorts of annoyances connected with it.
More than one irate householder, on learning that her visit was for
money owing, had treated her with rudeness and disrespect, shutting the
door in her face.  She had also been affronted with coarse jests and
familiarities, which terrified and wounded her more than unkind words.
Sleepless nights and unsuccessful, ill-feel days combined to rob her of
health and strength, while uneasiness about Bernard’s lengthened silence
and anxiety about ways and means harassed her mind continually.

They were alone in the little room, Mrs. Austin having returned
upstairs.  Norman Sinclair’s heart ached for the poor girl’s distress,
although he by no means knew what occasioned it.  He soothed and
comforted her as best he could, and then, bit by bit, as she became
calmer, drew from her the history of those last months since he had seen
her.

Doris could not keep anything back.  Now, as ever, the strong will of
the man compelled her to reveal her very soul, with all its doings,
yearnings, and despair, even in regard to Bernard Cameron.

When all was told there was silence in the little room, save for the
ticking of the eight-day clock and the purring of the cat upon the
hearth.  Doris had said everything there was to say: she could add
nothing, but only waited for the artist to speak.  She looked at him to
see why he did not begin.

His head was averted, as if he were trying to conceal the emotion which
caused his strong features to work convulsively.  Then he turned towards
her, and the love revealed in his eyes and in his whole expressive
countenance blinded and dazzled her.

Suddenly, with a swift movement, he took her hands, saying in tones full
of deep feeling, "You must come to me.  You are totally unfitted to
contend with this wicked world. Will you not be my wife?" he pleaded.

"I am to be Bernard’s," she faltered, releasing her hands with gentle
dignity.

Sinclair frowned a little.  He did not think that Bernard Cameron loved
her; from what Alice had told him he was inclined to think the young man
was treating her rather badly.

"Are you quite sure that he loves you?" asked Norman Sinclair drily.

Doubts born of Bernard’s long silence recurred to the girl’s mind.  If
he loved her, surely he would have written, in spite of his mother’s
prohibition.

"I have given him time," persisted Norman, "but he has apparently
deserted you, whilst I am----  Oh, Doris, you little know how much I
love you!  Will you not be my wife?"

"Oh, hush!  Hush, please!" said Doris.  "I am _so sorry_!  You have been
such a dear, good friend--I have thought so much of your advice--you
know it was that mainly which caused me to give up my business, and
sink--sink into poverty."

"It was very brave of you to do it."

"I have thought so much of your advice," she repeated, "and have looked
up to you so much.  Do not spoil it all."

His face fell.  Where was his power over her.  She seemed to be receding
from him.

"Doris," he urged, "will you marry me?"

"I cannot," she replied, very earnestly. "Indeed I cannot!"

"You cannot?"  There was a great disappointment in his tone.

"I cannot," she repeated.

For a minute or two after she said that, the artist sat motionless and
silent.  Then he began to speak rapidly and with deep feeling.

In a few well-chosen words he described graphically the loneliness and
hardship of his orphan boyhood, when Alice was a baby and therefore
unable to give him even sympathy; and then he spoke of the dawning of
ambition within him and of his boyhood’s dreams that one day he would
become an artist worthy of the name, and went on to relate the story of
his striving to acquire the necessary skill and culture, and to mount
one by one the golden stairs.  Tremendous difficulties had to be
overcome, indomitable, unfaltering resolution and untiring industry had
to be displayed by him: perseverance under many adverse circumstances
became almost his second nature, until at last, gradually, success came
nearer.  Then he spoke of his hard work more recently, and of the
pictures he had painted that last year, two of which had now been
accepted and hung in the Royal Academy.  Only quite incidentally did he
mention that he and Alice would have actually wanted bread sometimes if
it had not been for mysterious bank-notes arriving anonymously, labelled
"Conscience Money," which made him think they came from one or another
to whom he had formerly lent cash which could ill be spared.  In
conclusion he said quietly, "However, thank God, all that is ended, for,
through the death of a rather distant relation, I have quite
unexpectedly inherited a fortune of one hundred thousand pounds.  As
soon as I was absolutely certain that there was no mistake about the
matter, I said to myself, ’I will go to Doris.  If she will share my
life and help me to do some good with the money, ah, then I shall be
happy.’  So, Doris dear, I came."

The girl was silent.  She was deeply touched. He came to her as soon as
the cloud of poverty had lifted and he was able to offer her a home and
plenty.

"You came to me," she faltered at length, without daring to lift her
eyes to his, lest he should see the tears which filled them--"you came
to me--a beggar girl--a pauper----"

"No," he said, "a brave, hard-working, honourable girl!  Doris, you have
suffered, are suffering now; but by marrying me you will be lifted at
once out of all difficulties. Think, dear, how easy and pleasant your
life would be, and how useful, too, for you would help me to do much
good with our riches."

But Doris shook her head.  She could not accept his offer.

Sinclair went away presently, disappointed for the time being, but
determined to try again. The next day he sent his sister to visit Doris,
and Alice brought her useful presents of chickens, jelly, cream, and
cakes.

"It’s so delightful to be rich," she said. "You’ve no idea how pleasant
it is to be able to buy everything we want!  Wouldn’t you like to be
rich, too, Doris?" she asked.

"Yes," said Doris.  "Yes, I should.  I hate poverty.  It is so
belittling--so sordid to have to think so much of ways and means!  I
should like to forget what things cost, and accept everything as
unconsciously as we accept the air we breathe."

"And yet you won’t be rich," said Alice, with meaning.

Doris coloured a little.  "How can I?" she asked, "when there is
Bernard?"

"Perhaps he would like to be rich, too?" suggested Alice.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, _do_ you think it would be best for him to marry you, and plunge
both himself and you into poverty?" asked Alice.

"You talk as his mother did," sighed Doris.

"After all, there was commonsense in her view of the matter," persisted
Alice.  "What is the use of two young people marrying, and living in
poverty ever after, when they may both be rich and happy if they will?"

"Riches and happiness do not always go together."

"I don’t think poverty and happiness do," said Alice, curtly.

Doris felt a little shaken.  Would it really be better for Bernard and
she to be true to each other, when their marriage would only mean
poverty and anxiety?

Norman came again that afternoon when Alice had gone.

"Doris," he said, when they were conversing in Mrs. Austin’s back
parlour, "perhaps, as Cameron has been so long in writing, he may have
ceased to care for you."

"Perhaps so indeed!" rejoined Doris, with a sigh.

"Couldn’t you ascertain whether it is so?" suggested the other.

"Yes--if he will answer me; but--I don’t know how it is--I receive no
answer to my letters," faltered the girl.

"Is there no one else to whom you can write in Yorkshire--I mean, so
that you can get to know his feeling about you?"

"There’s only Susan Gaunt, our old servant, I might write to her; but I
scarcely think that she can do anything, though she has known him since
he was a boy, and he is always nice to her, and talks to her quite
freely."

"Well, ask her about him.  And write to him, too, once more, asking him
straight out if he has changed towards you."

"I think I will," said Doris.  "It can do no harm."

She accordingly wrote that evening both to Susan and to Bernard.

The old servant answered immediately.  Her letter was as follows:


"MY PRECIOUS MISS DORIS,

"At last you send me your address, and I hasten to write these few lines
to ask if you are well, as this doesn’t leave me so at present.

"My heart is very bad, dearie, and the doctor says I may die quite
suddenly any time. Well, I’ve always liked that verse--

    Sudden as thought is the death I would die--
    I would suddenly lay these shackles by,
      Nor feel a single pang at parting,
      Or see the tear of sorrow starting,
      Nor feel the hands of love that hold me,
      Nor hear the trembling words that bless me;
        So would I die,
      Not slain, but caught up, as it were,
      To meet my Captain in the air.
        So would I die
      All joy without a pang to cloud it;
      All bliss without a pain to spoil it,
      Even so, I long to go:
      These parting hours how sad and slow!

But I would like to see you once more, my precious young lady, before I
go.  I have cried about you often and often, and I always pray for you
day and night--I did so specially that first night when you went
away--that God would guard and protect you.  And He did, didn’t He, or
you would not now be writing to old Susan so peacefully?

"You ask about Mr. Bernard Cameron. Don’t think any more of him, lovey.
I have heard on the best authority that he is going to marry a rich
young lady at Doncaster.  It is his mother’s doing, no doubt; she always
hankered after riches, and while he has been ill she has had him to talk
to morning, noon, and night--and this is the result.  So don’t think any
more of him, dear Miss Doris, but look out for a good, honourable
gentleman, and don’t marry at all unless you find him.

"Please excuse bad writing--I know my spelling is all right, for I
always was a good speller--and accept my love and duty.

"Your faithful servant,
       "SUSAN GAUNT."


There was no letter from Bernard; no letter, though Doris waited for it
many days.

It seemed clear, therefore, that he must be going to marry the young
lady at Doncaster, of whom Susan wrote; and that being so, and poverty
and starvation weighing heavily in the balance against prospective
wealth and every comfort that money can give, Doris yielded at length to
Sinclair’s persistent urging, and consented to become his wife.



                             *CHAPTER XX.*

                         *THE WELCOME LEGACY.*


    All things come round to him who will but wait.
      _Tales of a Wayside Inn_.


"Late for breakfast again, Bernard!  It’s idle you are!  Bone idle,
that’s what it is!"  Mrs. Cameron’s tones were angry, and when angry
they were very shrill.

Bernard, who had entered the room languidly, did not hasten to reply,
but stood leaning wearily against the mantelpiece.  His face was pale,
his eyes heavy and a little bloodshot; he looked unhappy and as if he
had passed a sleepless night, which, indeed, was the case; but he had
not spirit enough to plead that as an excuse for his lateness.  Instead,
he glanced at the clock, murmuring that it was scarcely half-past eight.

"And late enough, too!" cried Mrs. Cameron, who was pouring out the
coffee as she spoke.  "I told you breakfast would be at eight.  You are
quite well now, and must get out of the lazy, lackadaisical habits of an
invalid."

"Yes, yes!  All right."  Bernard took his place at the table opposite
his mother, looking askance at the large plate of porridge set there for
him to eat.

"Your porridge will be half cold by this time," continued the scolding
voice.

"It is."  Bernard just tasted it, and pushed the plate away.  "I cannot
eat porridge yet," he said.

"You must try.  Porridge made as Jane makes it, of good Scotch oatmeal,
is just what you want to put some life in you."

Bernard did not think so.  He drank his coffee disconsolately.

His mother looked as if she would have liked to make him eat the
porridge, as she had done often in that very room when he was a little
pale-faced lad, with a small appetite and a strong will of his own.  As
it was, however, she pushed a loaf of brown bread towards him, saying
that he could have some bread and butter, though it was poor stuff
compared with porridge.

"Are there no fresh eggs?" asked her son.

Mrs. Cameron reluctantly conceded that there were such things in the
house, and Bernard rang for them.

After that, the breakfast proceeded in silence for a time, and then
Bernard remarked that he hoped to get another situation as tutor, near
London, very soon.  "I have written to one or two agents," he said.  "I
want to get a private tutorship, if I can.  It will be less disagreeable
than being an under-master in a school."

"Why do you want to be near London?" asked his mother, frowning.

Bernard did not answer.  She knew very well that he wanted to be near
Doris Anderson, and he did not wish to discuss Doris with her. During
his illness, it had been one of his heaviest afflictions that he could
not escape from the sound of his mother’s voice, as she railed against
Doris and her parents.

"Has the newspaper come?" he asked presently.

"Yes."  Mrs. Cameron pointed to the local daily newspaper lying on the
sideboard; and, as her son rose to get it, she remarked: "I cannot think
why the postman has not come."

"Oh, he has.  I took the letters from him at the door, as I was passing
it----"

"You did?"  Mrs. Cameron looked annoyed. "How often have I requested you
to allow Jane to bring the letters into the room in a decent manner!"
she snapped.

"They were only for me.  Surely a man is entitled to his own letters!"

"Whom were they from?" was the next sharp question, as his mother looked
keenly at him over her glasses.

"I really don’t know.  I simply glanced at them to see----"  He stopped
short, not caring to say that, as there was not a letter from Doris, he
had not deemed the others worthy of immediate consideration.  Thrusting
his hand into his pocket, he produced a couple of unopened letters.

"We will see what this one is," he remarked with an attempt at
cheerfulness, taking up a table knife and cutting open an envelope.

"Ha!" he exclaimed as he read.  "Oh, mother!  Oh, how good of Mr.
Hamilton! How good of him!  What a boon!--what a great boon for us!"

"What is it?  What do you mean?" exclaimed his mother, in great
excitement.

"Read it," he said, handing her the letter, and leaning back quite faint
and dizzy with surprise and gladness not unmingled with sorrow.

[Illustration: "’READ IT,’ HE SAID, HANDING HER THE LETTER."]

Adjusting her glasses, his mother read the letter, which was from a
well-known firm of lawyers in Birmingham.


"DEAR SIR,

"We have to inform you that by the will of our late client, the Rev.
John Hamilton, you are bequeathed a legacy of five thousand pounds free
of legacy duty, as some compensation for the loss of your fortune, for
which our client always felt a little responsible, as, had he been a
more businesslike man, he might have prevented the defalcations of your
other trustee, Mr. Anderson, or at least he would not have left your
money so entirely in his hands.

"If you would kindly write and tell us how you would like to receive
your legacy--whether we should pay it into your bank, or directly to
yourself, you would oblige,

"Yours faithfully,
       "MARK AND WATSON,
              "Solicitors."


"Well," cried Mrs. Cameron, "I never was more surprised in my life, nor
more pleased!" she added.  "And it was right, too, of Mr. Hamilton!  I
told him about his being to blame, you know, for not looking after his
co-trustee--and I told him my mind about it; and he went away in anger.
But, you see, he has been thinking about my words, and he recognised the
justice of them----"

"Oh, mother, I wish you hadn’t blamed him!" exclaimed Bernard.

"Wish I hadn’t blamed him?  How silly you are, Bernard!  Why, it’s to
that you are indebted for all this good fortune.  If I hadn’t stood up
for you and put his duty before him, you wouldn’t have had anything."

"Did you suggest he should leave me money?" asked Bernard, aghast.

"I did that!  I said it was his bounden duty to give you a thousand or
two."

"Mother!  How could you?"

"Well, I could.  It was for you I did it. What right had he to leave all
your money in that Anderson’s hand?  What right had he to sign
papers--as he confessed he did--at Anderson’s request without reading
them?  I told him he ought to have been ashamed of himself, and, in
fact, that he ought to give you half of all that he possessed--we all
knew he had a lot of money somewhere."

"Will it be wronging his relations if I take this legacy?" asked
Bernard.

"If you take it?  Why, Bernard, how silly you are!  You’ll deserve to
starve if you don’t take what the man has left you," cried his mother,
angrily.

"I won’t take it--if any one else ought to have it," said Bernard.

"Simpleton!" muttered his mother.  Then she added, "He hadn’t a single
relation nearer than a second cousin, who is a rich brewer, so you may
make your mind quite easy about that."

Bernard felt much relieved.  In that case he would not have any scruples
in accepting the legacy which his late trustee had left him, and how
welcome the money would be!

"My boy," cried his mother, with more kindliness, as she realised what a
blessing the money would be to them, "you can return to Oxford, obtain
your degree, and afterwards have a school of your own!"

Bernard smiled, as he mentally said good-bye to hard toil as an usher,
or assistant-master in another man’s school.  He would have one of his
own one day; but first there was something else of great importance for
him to do.

Later in the day, after he had written to the lawyers thanking them for
their communication, and asking them to be so kind as to pay the five
thousand pounds to his account in the London and County Bank, and after
he and his mother had discussed Mr. Hamilton’s somewhat sudden decease
during an attack of pneumonia, he damped all her joy by declaring that
the first step he should take would be to go to London to Doris
Anderson, and the second would be to marry her forthwith.

"I think she will consent," he said, "as her only reason for refusing me
before was that the debt was not paid.  Now I have only to go to her and
say, ’Doris, part of the debt is paid. I have come to marry you,’ and
then she will consent--oh, yes, I know she will consent!" and his face
was bright with joy and thankfulness.

It was in vain that his mother vociferated and protested against his
marrying Doris, he would not listen to her any longer.

"It is of no use your talking about the matter, mother," he said; "I am
going to marry Doris, and no amount of talking will prevent me."

His mother was miserable; now less than ever did she desire Doris to be
her son’s wife.

As she lay tossing about on her sleepless bed that night she almost
wished Bernard had not received his very substantial legacy, as he was
going to use some of it for such a purpose.

In the early morning she dressed hurriedly, purposing to speak to her
son on the subject before he started for Doncaster to catch the early
express for London.

Early as she was, however, Bernard had been earlier, for he had already
left the house when she came downstairs.

Mrs. Cameron hired a dogcart and ordered a man to drive her as fast as
possible to Doncaster Station.

But it happened that the dogcart collided with a waggon on the way.  No
one was hurt, but there was some confusion and considerable delay, and
when at length Mrs. Cameron was able to walk into the station at
Doncaster, it was to catch sight of the express fast disappearing in the
distance.

"I have lost my son!" said the unhappy woman to herself.  "He will never
speak to me again when he finds out about the letters I have suppressed.
He will hate me--yes, he will hate me for doing it."  The thought
followed that she would deserve her fate, for if ever a parent provoked
her son to wrath she had done so.



                             *CHAPTER XXI.*

                         *BERNARD SEEKS DORIS.*


    The course of true love never did run smooth.
      SHAKESPEARE.


"Is Miss Anderson in?"

"No, sir.  She doesn’t live here now, sir," answered Mrs. Austin, in
melancholy tones.

"Not live here!  Then where is she?" cried Bernard somewhat faintly, for
in his surprise and consternation at not finding Doris there a return of
the faintness that had before troubled him seemed imminent.

The good woman caught hold of him by the arm.

"Excuse me, Mr. Cameron, sir," she exclaimed.  "You are ill.  Come
inside, sir. Come inside the house."

Bernard shook her hand off, declaring he was all right; but he walked
unsteadily into the little sitting-room, where he had expected to find
Doris.

"Sit down, sir; I’ll get you a glass of water or a cup of tea in a
moment----"

"Nonsense!  I mean, I’m much obliged to you.  But all I wish to know is
this, where is Miss Anderson?  Where--is--Miss--Anderson?

"Oh, I’ll tell you, sir, in a moment," answered Mrs. Austin, bustling
about and getting him some water.  "Take a drink, sir," and she held the
glass to his lips.

He drank slowly.  The room, which had been turning round and sinking
into the ground, became once more stationary, whilst the clouds of
darkness disappeared, and it was light again.

"There, you’ll do now," said Mrs. Austin. "Miss Anderson told me that
you had been ill."

"Never mind me.  Where is she?" Bernard asked the question impatiently.
Would the woman never answer him?

"There have been changes, sir, since you were here," said Mrs. Austin,
rather nervously, standing before him, twisting her apron round her
fingers, with her eyes fixed upon it.  "It all came of the artist
gentleman.  I wish to goodness he had never set his foot inside of my
door!"

"Do you mean Miss Sinclair’s brother?" interrupted Bernard, taking alarm
at Norman Sinclair’s influencing Doris’s movements.  He remembered
warning her against him in this very room, and telling her that if she
grew to care for him she would not love her Bernard any more.

"Yes, Mr. Sinclair.  I begged her not to listen to him.  But she did.
And he came again and again, until he had persuaded her to stop making
those pictures and give up her business, which was paying her so
grandly."

"Give up her business!  Did you say he persuaded her to give up her
business?  Did she do that?"

"Yes, sir, yes.  Didn’t she tell you?  For, now I come to think of it,
she had done that before you were ill, when she went to see you at
Richmond."

"Had she taken such a step then?  She never told me so.  She never said
a word about it to me."

"Didn’t she, sir?  Then perhaps she thought you were too ill to be
bothered.  She told me when she returned from Richmond that she had seen
you off by train for the north, hoping that your native air and your
mother’s nursing would restore you.  Not that it has done much for you,
sir, as far as I can see----"

"Never mind that.  Tell me what Miss Anderson did next?" Bernard asked
anxiously.

"She told me that she sold what she had left of the pictures she had
finished, and all the materials she had bought in for others; and then,
having given up the business, she began seeking employment again,
answering advertisements, applying at shops, and all that sort of weary
work.  It made my heart ache to see her come in at nights tired out,
pale, and worn--a lady like that, who ought only to have been fatigued
with cycling, or tennis, or amusing herself as other young ladies do!
’Perhaps I shall have more success to-morrow,’ she would say to me, with
her patient smile. But months went by, and it was always the same,
until, at length, she came towards the end of her savings, and then she
began to economise and pinch herself of comforts, and--necessaries."

"You don’t say so!" cried Bernard in consternation.

"I’m afraid you are ill, sir," exclaimed Mrs. Austin, seeing him turn
very pale.

"No, I’m all right.  Go on," he said though his old faintness was
troubling him.

"Well, sir, the day came when Miss Anderson said to me very plainly that
she had no money left, or next to none, so she begged me to allow her to
give up her rooms and just have the garret to sleep in until she found
work that she could do."

"Why didn’t she write to me?" cried Bernard.

"She hadn’t much time for writing, sir, when she was all day seeking
work; and at nights she was too tired, too down-hearted.  And I think,
sir, she kept looking for a letter, which didn’t come, from you."

"From me?  Why, I wrote to her almost every week when I was well enough,
until, latterly, having no answer, I became discouraged.  But hurry on
with your story. Where is she now?"

"She had a letter from Miss Sinclair which made her very glad; and then
Miss Sinclair found her some work, about which she was very hopeful at
first; but it was difficult to do, I am sure, for she used to come home
quite fagged out, and it must have paid badly, for she had very little
money.  ’I’m such a poor hand at it, Mrs. Austin!’ she used to say. And
sometimes she used to add, ’My heart isn’t hard enough for it.’  Poor
dear!  If it was a hard heart the work wanted, Miss Anderson was quite
the wrong lady for it.  I’ve seen ladies who would ’skin a flint,’ as
the saying is, but----"

"Never mind that!" interrupted Bernard with more impatience than
courtesy.  "Tell me where Miss Anderson is?"

Mrs. Austin began again, for she would tell things in her own way.  "She
fell into a poor state of health, and got a hacking cough, which
wouldn’t be cured, though I made her linseed tea, and honey and lemon,
and----"

"Where is she?  Speak!  Tell me, is she alive?"  For now Bernard’s fear
caused him to leap to the conclusion that Doris must have died.

"Oh, dear, sir, she’s alive, of course!  Though she was in a bad state
at that time, and had a regular churchyard cough."

"Go on.  You frighten me."

"I’m sorry, sir.  Where was I?  Oh, there came a day when she couldn’t
go out.  I made her lie on the sofa in my back parlour, and it just
happened that Mr. Sinclair called: he had been many times when she was
out, but that day he called when she was in.  He had a very long talk
with Miss Anderson.  And she was very much excited after he had gone.
She cried a good bit, and then, next day, his sister came to see her,
and afterwards he called again, and then Miss Anderson sat down and
wrote a letter to you, sir, and another one to an old servant in
Yorkshire, and she cried while she was writing them.  I think those were
very important letters, sir, for she was very anxious that they should
be safely posted.  I had to put on my bonnet and take them to the post
myself, for she would trust no one else.  And then she waited so
anxiously for the answers, but only the old servant wrote.  Oh, sir, why
didn’t you write?"

"I received no letter from her.  I have had none from her since the
first week after my return to Yorkshire."

"And I’m sure she wrote to you, sir, several times."

Bernard uttered an exclamation.  It was clear to him that his mother
must have seized his letters and kept them from him.

"There was something in the old servant’s letter," continued Mrs.
Austin, "which struck my dear young lady all of a heap and made her go
about like a stricken lamb, with her poor young face so white and drawn.
She did not cry then, sir.  I only wished she would, for there was a
heart-broken look in her poor face.  Then Miss Sinclair came, full of
affectionate concern, and she did her best to comfort Miss Anderson; but
in vain.

"’It’s no use,’ she said to me, ’I cannot make Doris cheer up.  I shall
send my brother.’

"And then, the next thing was Mr. Sinclair came, and after he had gone,
Miss Anderson said to me, quiet-like, ’I’m not going to be poor any
longer, Mrs. Austin!’  And then she went on to say, ’It will be better
for you, dear Mrs. Austin; I’ve only been a burden on you lately, and
now you will be well paid for all you have done for me---not that money
will ever repay you, my good, kind friend!’ and, throwing her arms round
my neck, she kissed me more than once.  ’I should have died if it hadn’t
been for you,’ she said.  ’And now I am going to live and be Mr.
Sinclair’s wife. He is rich now, and I have promised to marry him.’"

"To marry him!" Bernard exclaimed, starting up so violently that he
overturned a small table.  "Did she say to marry him?"

"Yes, sir," Mrs. Austin answered, with great sympathy; "I’m sorry to say
she did."

"But she is _my_ promised wife!" cried Bernard, picking up the table and
beginning to pace up and down the room, in his agitation.

"Indeed, sir!"  Mrs. Austin’s round eyes opened widely in astonishment.
She had always understood that Mr. Cameron loved Doris, and indeed she
wondered who could help loving her!  But it was altogether another thing
to hear that Doris had promised to marry Mr. Cameron.

"Where is she?  I must speak to her--must hear from her own lips how it
was that she could do such a thing.  Where is she?" cried Bernard.

"Wait a minute, please, sir," said Mrs. Austin.  "I must tell you that
after the engagement was settled Miss Sinclair came the next day and
took Miss Anderson away. Miss Sinclair gave me her address,--Steele’s
Road, Hampstead, and said that I was to forward all Miss Anderson’s
letters there.  Miss Sinclair also gave me a five-pound-note, and Miss
Anderson promised to come and see me, and settle up everything before
she got married. She begged me to pack up all her things, and take care
of them for her; but she said, too, that she would never be able to come
and live here again.  ’No,’ I said, ’you are going to be a grand lady,
and you’ll forget all about poor Mrs. Austin!’  But she said, ’No, no,
indeed!’ and she cried, and kissed me.  ’I’m not very happy,’ she said,
and could say no more for weeping, especially as Miss Sinclair came up
to urge her to make haste, for the cab was waiting.

"Not very happy?  I should think not indeed!  Oh, Doris!"  The last
words were said very low, as Bernard turned his head away for a few
moments.

"She looked miserable, sir.  I’m thinking it was only for a home and
support that she was thinking of marriage."

"But she wouldn’t sell herself for that!" exclaimed Bernard.

"And then it was such a grievous thing, sir, that you didn’t write to
her.  Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.  And very sick at heart my
poor dear young lady was, many and many a time, while she was looking
for the post bringing her a letter, in the days before she got engaged
to Mr. Sinclair."

"But I did write!  I wrote many more letters than I received from her.
I never heard from her after the first week."

"Then there has been foul play, sir, somewhere!  Letters have been
stopped, and have got into the wrong hands before to-day."

Bernard knew well who must have been the culprit.  His mother had
wronged and sinned against him in a way which would be hard to forgive.
She had done all she possibly could to destroy his happiness in this
world.  But he told himself that he must not waste time in thinking of
that just now; he would hasten to Doris and have a talk with her.

"Do you say she is at Hampstead?" he inquired, hastily.

"She went there with Miss Sinclair, but they are not there now, sir.
They have gone to the seaside somewhere, for the benefit of Miss
Anderson’s health."

"Gone!" cried Bernard.  "To the seaside! What seaside?  Where?"

"I don’t know, sir.  They’ll tell you at--Steele’s Road, Hampstead."

"I’ll go there at once.  You’ve been a good friend to Miss Anderson.
Allow me," and he pressed a sovereign into the landlady’s hand, and
hurried out of the house.

In the shortest possible time he was at Hampstead, inquiring at Steele’s
Road for Miss Anderson’s address.  Mr. Sinclair happened to be
out--which Bernard thought was just as well for him; but the servant
being under the impression that his master was somewhere about the
house, Bernard was shown up into the studio.  There, as he waited, he
perceived more than one painting in which Doris’s fair sweet face was
beautifully delineated.  The sight of it there, however, only maddened
her unhappy lover.  What right had the fellow to make Doris’s loveliness
so common?  What right had he to possess the presentment of it there?
By the power of his strong will and helped by his riches he had
prevailed upon the lonely girl to promise him her hand in marriage.  In
the absence of her own true lover he had stolen her from him.  But a
Nemesis had come, was coming indeed; and when Doris saw her Bernard and
spoke with him, face to face, she would throw over the usurper, and
matters would be readjusted as happily, nay, more happily, than if this
engagement had not occurred.

    "’For things can never go wholly wrong
    If the heart be true and the love be strong’"--

quoted Bernard to himself, "and there shall be no mere engagement, but a
marriage shall take place forthwith.  For, thank God!  I am rich enough
now," he said to himself, "to be able to marry my Doris.  Yes, all will
come right when I see her again."

A maidservant entered, bringing in an address on a slip of paper.  "Mr.
Sinclair is out," she said, "but this is where we have to send all
letters that come, either for Miss Sinclair or Miss Anderson."

"Thank you," said Bernard, taking up the scrap of paper, and reading,
"The Queen’s Hotel, Hastings," upon it.

"I will go there immediately," he said to himself, as he left the house.
"I will take the very first express train to Hastings."  He hailed a
cab.  "Drive me to Charing Cross," he ordered, "and drive your fastest."



                             *CHAPTER XXII*

                         *TOO LATE!  TOO LATE!*


There is no disguise which can long conceal love when it does, or feign
it when it does not exist.--LA ROCHEFOUCAULD.


"How strange it is to be rich!" cried Alice Sinclair, as she sat with
Doris in a shelter by the sea at Hastings.  "It _is_ delightful!"

Doris smiled, but her smile only seemed to enhance the sadness in the
expression of her beautiful face, and she shivered slightly as she drew
a fur-lined cloak more closely round her. "This is different from
account-collecting," she said, looking at the fashionably dressed people
sauntering by, and then allowing her eyes to rest upon the beauty of the
sunlit waves before them.

"Yes, or making imitation oil-paintings either!" exclaimed Alice.  "Who
would have thought to see us, now, that we were two poor girls toiling
in a London garret not long ago?"

"To feed a ’Lion’ and pay a monstrous debt," said Doris, plaintively.

"And now our task is done," continued Alice, with cheerfulness.  "The
Lion is fed, and is roaring loudly in the Royal Academy: moreover, he
has food enough for a lifetime. And as for you, your struggle with the
hard cold world is ended, dear," and as she spoke she laid her hand on
Doris’s thin arm.  "Are you not glad?" she asked a little wistfully, for
the sadness of her friend was a great trouble to her.

"I try to be," answered Doris.

"Try to be?" Alice raised her eyebrows.

"Yes.  I have to try, you know, for I don’t feel able to rejoice about
anything in these days."  The tears came to Doris’s eyes as she spoke,
and her lips trembled.

"Poor dear!  That is because you are out of health----"

"Sometimes I wish it was out of life," interrupted Doris wearily.  For
it was a dark hour with her, and, in her trouble in losing Bernard’s
love and having promised to marry a man for whom she had no affection,
she had for the time being lost her usual happy faith in the golden
thread of her Heavenly Father’s love.

"Oh, Doris!" Alice was shocked.  Things were even worse than she had
feared.

"I cannot help it," returned Doris.  "I am sad, and there is no denying
it.  Whichever way I look I see nothing but sadness--sadness in the
past, in the present--and, God help me, in the future."  Her tones were
miserable.

"In the future with Norman?  Oh, Doris, you cannot _love_ him!"  Alice’s
tones were full of distress.

"At least, I am not deceiving him.  He knows what my feelings are."

"Do you think he does--quite?" asked Alice, softly.

"Yes, quite.  And he is content: he says the love will come in
time--that he will win it."

"I don’t think he will," said Alice--they were talking in low tones
which others could not hear, as they had the shelter to
themselves--"love cannot be compelled.  I don’t know much about it
myself," she added candidly; "no man has ever wanted to marry me, and I
have never cared for any one so much as I care for Norman, but I have
read about love in books, and I know it cannot be forced.  You do not
love Norman."

"Alice," protested Doris, "you ought not to say that!"

"Listen, dear," said Alice, "in your innermost heart you know that I am
right.  I am only calling a spade a spade, and it isn’t the least use to
make a pretence of calling it anything else.  You do not love Norman.
Now, dear, hear me out, _you do not love him at all_. I was watching you
this morning when you received that letter from him, and you looked
infinitely bored.  When he is over here you escape from his presence
whenever you can, especially if I am not with you.  You say that he is
not being deceived, but does he realise what a wretched man he will be
if he marries you when you are feeling like that?  He is full of love
and tenderness towards you, and you have not even the old liking for him
and interest in his talk and doings which you had at first.  You can, in
fact, barely tolerate him now.  Think, then, what it will be to have to
live with him for years and years, until you are old and die----"

"Hush, dear!  Perhaps I shall die soon."  There was a peculiar sound in
the poor girl’s voice, and Alice, looking at her with searching eyes,
could see that her heart was breaking, and that she would indeed die
soon if she were not released from what was slowly killing her.

"The marriage must not take place," said Alice, firmly.  "If not for
your own sake, you must stop it for Norman’s.  If _your_ heart is
breaking now, _his_ will break after marriage, when he finds that he has
only bought an empty shell without its kernel, a lovely woman without a
heart which can return his love, a wife without the wifely qualities he
craves. Poor old Norman!  He deserves a better fate," and there was
indignation in her tones.

"Yes," said Doris, "it is true.  He deserves a better fate."

They were silent for a few minutes after she had said that.  The girls
sat watching the sunlit sea dotted here and there with boats of various
descriptions.  They listened to the gentle lapping of the waves, the
shouts and laughter of the children paddling on the beach, and the
scraps of conversation from the passers-by.  But mentally they were
seeing very different scenes, and they were hearing, too, other more
interesting words.  Doris was thinking of Bernard, of the gradual growth
of their love for each other, and his proposal upon the hill at Askern
in Yorkshire, and, later on, his more mature declaration of love, in
Mrs. Austin’s house in North London.  Alice, on the other hand, was
thinking of her brother Norman, and of the pained expression of his face
when Doris too manifestly avoided a _tête-à-tête_ with him.  If it were
so now, what would it be when they were married?  What prospect of
happiness could there be for either of them?

"Look!  See who is coming towards us!" exclaimed Doris, suddenly.  Her
face had lighted up with a smile of singular beauty, and she was leaning
forward the better to discern the features of a tall young man hurrying
towards them through the promenaders on the front.

"Why, it is Mr. Cameron!" cried Alice, in great surprise.  "What can he
want here?"

It was soon evident what he wanted, for he came straight up to Doris,
exclaiming, "Ah, you are here!  How are you?"  His eyes sought hers,
eagerly and with great wistfulness. "And how are you, Miss Sinclair," he
added, holding out his hand to Alice; but his eyes went back to Doris.
"They told me at ’The Queen’s,’" he went on hurriedly, "that I should
find you here, so I came straight along, looking in at every shelter."

"We are very glad to see you," said Alice, rather gravely.  Was it for
the best, she wondered, for her brother and Doris, that the latter’s
first lover should return to claim her? She knew instinctively that it
was for that purpose this very resolute young man had come.  Perhaps,
indeed, this would be the solution of the very unsatisfactory state of
things she had been grieving over.

Doris said nothing.  She dared not bid Bernard welcome, but she could
not feign displeasure at his persistency in following her there: it was
impossible for her to simulate unconcern and coldness.  She was glad to
see him, and to know, by his very presence and the way in which he came
to her, that she still possessed his love: a great weight was lifted
from her heart, and a glow as of returning happiness crept through her
frame, bringing the pretty colour into her cheeks, reddening her pale
lips, and brightening the eyes which had shed so many tears.

Alice, glancing at her, understood that Doris’s happiness, perchance
even her life itself, might depend upon her interview with Bernard at
this fateful time.  "He has her heart," thought Alice, "he may as well
have her altogether: for Doris without a heart would make poor Norman as
miserable as she would be herself."  Therefore Alice said briskly:

"I am glad you have come up, Mr. Cameron, for I want to do some
shopping, and you can sit here with Miss Anderson whilst I am away.  I
did not like leaving her alone, but now I can go.  You will be all right
with Mr. Cameron, Doris, and I will return presently," and before they
could make any coherent reply, she had set off, walking briskly away
from the sea-front.

Bernard gave one grateful look after her, then he quickly turned to
Doris.  "I may sit down," he said, "may I not?  For I have much to say."

Doris bowed.  She could not speak, for hope and happiness had come to
her, which she was vainly endeavouring to resist.  Bernard was there,
she had him all to herself; might she not for one half-hour give herself
up to the happy present before she was made miserable for life?

"Have you anything to say to me first?" asked Bernard, gently.  She
looked so frail that he determined to be very gentle with her, and he
said to himself that he could not really believe that she was engaged to
Norman Sinclair, unless she said it with her own lips.

Doris could not speak.  She endeavoured to do so, but in vain.  It did
not seem to her to be right to say what she wanted to tell him, and yet
she could not utter the words that duty demanded.  Therefore she
remained silent.

"I have given her a chance to speak of her engagement to Sinclair, and
she has not availed herself of it; therefore I will not believe she is
engaged to him," said Bernard to himself; and then one of his hands
stole under Doris’s fur cloak and clasped hers warmly, as he cried in
low yet earnest tones, "My darling, I have brought good news.  I have
had a legacy left me in part payment of my lost money."

Doris uttered a cry of joy.  "My father!" she exclaimed.  "You have
heard from him! He has sent you money!  Oh, thank God! Where is father?
Tell me quickly!  And did he mention mother?"  She spoke rapidly, in
intense eagerness.

Bernard was grieved to disappoint her; still, the truth had to be told,
so he said quickly, "The money was not from your father.  Mr. Hamilton,
his co-trustee, has died and left me five thousand pounds in his will,
he said, as some compensation for my lost money.  Immediately I knew it
I came to claim you, my dearest!"  He drew the shrinking girl a little
nearer.  "I always said," he continued--"I always said that you and no
other woman in the world should be my wife."

"I cannot!  Oh, I cannot!"  The words were only just audible, but
reached Bernard’s ears at length.

"Cannot!"  He looked at her with pained surprise.  Being very sanguine
and also very young, he had already, in the last few minutes, almost
forgotten the unwelcome news of her having become engaged to Norman
Sinclair, which he had heard in London, and which had hurried him to
Hastings.  "Cannot!" he repeated.  "But you must, and you shall! I have
been too poor and too ill to claim you for some time.  Now, however,
that that money has come to me, I have immediately hastened here, in
order to claim the fulfilment of your promise made to me upon the hill
at Askern Spa.  Don’t trifle with me, Doris," he added, with a little
choke in his manly voice.  "I have been through so very much that I
cannot bear it."

"I have, too," she faltered.  "God knows what I have been through."

"But that is ended," he said, quickly. "Thank God, that is all ended,
and I have come now to _claim your promise_?

"I cannot marry you--I cannot," she repeated.

"Why cannot you?" he demanded.

"Oh, Bernard, do not try to question me. Dear Bernard," she looked up at
him beseechingly, "be so very good as not to ask me that question.  Take
my answer, dear, and go away."

"Go away!  Doris, do you know what you are saying?  I come to you in
order to claim you for my own, and you tell me to go away."

"Forgive me, dear," she said, weeping now and turning away her face so
that he might not see her tears.  "Forgive me, dear, and go."

"I shall not.  I cannot--I will not unless you say that you have ceased
to love me."

"I cannot say that, Bernard, for I love you," Doris answered, "and I
know that I shall never love any other man as I love you."  Then she
tried to rise, as she ended miserably, "Nevertheless, _I cannot marry
you_."

"Sit still."  He placed her on the seat again.  "You say that you love
me, and yet persist in saying you cannot marry me.  I must know how that
is.  You must tell me, dear.  I have a right to know."

Slowly the words dropped from Doris’s lips, "I cannot marry you, because
I am engaged to Norman Sinclair."

"Engaged to Norman Sinclair?" Bernard repeated indignantly.  "Then it is
true, that tale they told me in London.  You--my promised wife--have
engaged yourself to marry that man!"

"Yes, it--is--true," again the words dropped falteringly from the poor
girl’s lips.  "But I could not help it, Bernard," she added, quickly. "I
could not help it--I was obliged.  You see, you did not write.  There
was nothing before me except starvation; and then Norman came to me with
his offer, and I was tempted. Oh, Bernard!" she exclaimed, "why did you
not write?  I waited and waited for a letter so anxiously, especially
after I had told you about Mr. Sinclair’s offer.  Oh, you might have
written just one line!"  She looked at him with reproach in her blue
eyes.

"My dear girl, I did not receive that letter, or any at all from you
after the first week of my return to Moss, although I wrote repeatedly.
Some one has suppressed our letters, Doris!"

"Cruel!  Cruel!" cried the girl, instantly suspecting who it was.  "But
how was it that, not hearing, you did not come to me in order to
ascertain the reason?  It is such a long, long time since you returned
to Yorkshire, almost a year--and it seems more."

"I have been so ill," replied Bernard sadly, "and when I recovered from
my first illness, I caught chills and had bad relapses.  I was not out
of the doctor’s hands during nine months, and my mother nursed me so
devotedly. How could I suspect that at the same time she was grievously
injuring you and me?"

"And then there was another thing," complained poor Doris.  "I wrote to
Susan, our old servant, you know, and asked her about you; whereupon she
replied that I was to think no more about you, as she had heard on good
authority that you were going to marry a young lady at Doncaster."

"Oh, but you couldn’t believe that, Doris? Surely you had more faith in
my love!" exclaimed Bernard, reproachfully.

"What else could I believe when you never wrote and she said that?"

"Doris, I should not have believed it of you!" exclaimed Bernard,
stopping short, with a little frown, as he remembered that she had
become engaged to Norman Sinclair.

Doris looked up miserably.  "Circumstances were too much for me," she
said, "and, forgive me--I thought that they had been too much for you."

"Did you think I was so weak?" cried Bernard--"so weak," he repeated,
"as not to be true to the only girl I have ever loved?"

"How was it," asked Doris, gently--"how was it that Susan could hear on
good authority that you were going to marry a Doncaster lady?"

"Well, if you must know," said Bernard, "my mother set her heart on the
match, and she was always having the girl over and trying to leave us
together, and taking her with us everywhere, and she must have spread it
about that we were engaged; so I daresay she told Susan the same thing."

"Which would account for Susan’s saying that she had the news on good
authority," interposed Doris.  "But tell me, was the girl rich?  And did
you like her?" and she looked searchingly at Bernard.

"Yes, she was very well off," he admitted, "and she was nice enough; but
of course I did not love her, for I love you."

"It’s very, _very_ sad," said Doris, the tears rising to her eyes as she
spoke.  "But, dear Bernard, there is nothing to be done.  It is too
late!  Too late!"

"Oh, but it is not.  You are not married yet. You will have to break
with Sinclair."

"I cannot.  He is a good and honourable man, and he loves me.  I cannot
break my promise and make him miserable."

"But your engagement was made upon false premises: you thought I was
faithless, and I was not.  Everything must be explained to Sinclair, and
as a man of honour he will feel bound to release you."

Doris shook her head.  "I cannot make him miserable," she said.

It was in vain Bernard argued and pleaded, he could get no concession at
all from the poor distracted girl, who simply repeated in different
words her one cry, "I cannot, dear, I cannot be your wife."

The young man became angry, at length, at her unreasonableness, as he
called it, declaring that she could not love him as much as he loved
her, or she would not see such great difficulties in the way of their
union; and when, upon his adding that he would see Mr. Sinclair and
thrash the matter out with him, she said that she could not consent to
that, he got quite out of patience with her, and, saying goodbye rather
coldly, went away towards the railway station, with the intention of
taking the next train for London.



                            *CHAPTER XXIII.*

                    *ALICE SINCLAIR’S INTERVENTION.*


    It never could be kind, dear, to give a needless pain:
    It never could be honest, dear, to sin for greed again,
    And there could not be a world, dear, while God is true above,
    When right and wrong are governed by any law but love.
      _Anon_.


Bernard Cameron was hurrying along towards the station when he met Alice
Sinclair.

The girl looked immensely surprised to see him there, and immediately
exclaimed:

"What?  You here, Mr. Cameron?  Why, I left you in charge of Miss
Anderson until I returned.  I was on my way back, now," she added.

"I am off by the next train to town," said Bernard, in very injured
tones.  "I was a fool," he added, bitterly, "to come down here at all."

Alice read the lines of distress and disappointment written upon his
face, and was very patient with him.

"There isn’t a train to London for at least an hour," she said, "and you
must not think of going until you have had some tea.  Let us return to
Doris, and then we will go into the Creamery and have some tea."

"I must beg you to excuse me," said Bernard, stiffly.  "I have taken
leave of Miss Anderson, and must now bid you good-bye."  He held out his
hand as he spoke.

Alice perceived that he had been hard hit. "You must not leave me like
this," she said, gently.  "Mr. Cameron, I thought you and I were
friends."

"So we are.  You have always been good to me, but----"  He stopped
short, and his eyes wandered in the direction of the station.

"It is no use thinking of starting to London yet.  As I said, there is
no train for fully an hour.  Tell me," she regarded him very
sympathisingly, "what is the matter?  Have you and Doris quarrelled?"

Bernard looked at her kind sympathising face and his resolution wavered.
"Quarrelled is not the word," he said; adding, with an effort, "I should
like to tell you all about it, Miss Sinclair, if I might."

"I wish you would," said Alice, earnestly--it was one cause of her
influence with others that she was always in earnest.  "Come and let us
walk up and down in Cambridge Gardens, where it is quiet.  Then we can
have a long talk."

They turned into the less frequented street, and walked slowly along,
whilst in low, rapid tones Bernard told Alice all his trouble, and
especially the grievous fact that his and Doris’s letters had been
suppressed and kept from them for many months, finally ending by
complaining bitterly of Doris’s ultimatum.

"Doris must not marry your brother, Miss Sinclair."  Bernard’s tone was
as decided and masterful as the artist’s as he concluded with these
words: "She must marry me.  We loved each other long before your brother
ever saw her, and we love each other still--and shall until death."

It seemed to Alice, walking by Bernard’s side and listening to his low,
earnest voice, that no power on earth would be able to separate him from
the girl he loved, and certainly Norman would not endeavour to do so.
Norman was a man of honour, and when he learnt how the two lovers had
been kept apart and separated by the wickedness of Mrs. Cameron, and
after everything was explained to him he would release Doris from her
engagement, no matter at what cost to himself.

Alice tried to say something of this sort to Bernard, but he scarcely
listened.

He was glad of her for a confidante, but did not want to hear her views
or listen to her advice, because in his own mind he had already solved
the problem.  And first, his thoughts, as was natural, returned to
Doris, from whom he had parted in anger.

"All this time," he said, hastily, as if only then realising it, "Doris,
whom I left in anger, must be in distress.  She must be suffering
intensely, for you know she is so very sensitive.  I must therefore
return to her at once, and must encourage her to hope that all will yet
be well.  If she will not throw Sinclair over----"

"Allow me to remark that you are speaking of _my brother_," interposed
Alice.

"I beg your pardon," said Bernard, in remorseful tones, as he looked at
the kind girl, whose colour had risen.  "It was an awful shame for me to
speak like that, but----"  He broke off, and began again, "I thought we
were agreed that she would have to give him up."

"That is not the way to put it," said Alice. "My brother, who is really
the soul of honour, will have to release Doris from her promise. He must
do it--and will, when he knows everything."

"Yes, of course.  As I was saying, if Doris will not--I beg your pardon,
as she cannot in honour release herself, I shall go to Sinclair and tell
him that it will be most dishonourable of him if he does not release her
from her engagement----"

"That won’t do!" exclaimed Alice; "that won’t do at all.  If you go to
Norman in that spirit you will soon be outside his door again.  My
brother is a bit of a lion, you know, in more senses than one.  He might
listen to any one speaking very courteously, but if a bear comes in and
tries to get his bone, oh! there _will_ be a pandemonium!"

"Well, he must be told----"

"I will tell him," said Alice.  "I will go to London to-morrow, and will
see him and explain everything to him.  It will not be a very pleasant
task--it will pain me very much to make my brother unhappy, but I will
do it for dear Doris and for you."

"It is very, _very_ good of you," said Bernard, gratefully, "to say that
you will go and explain everything to your brother.  Perhaps you will be
able to do it in a nicer way than I could."

Alice smiled.  She certainly thought that was possible.  "Norman is very
good," she said.  "I am sure he will release Doris, but it will be a
dreadful sorrow to him, for he loves her very much."

"I am sure of that.  Though he shouldn’t have come poaching in my
preserves!"

The last words were uttered so low that he did not intend Alice to hear
them.  But the girl heard, and instantly retorted:

"You forget that was the fault of the person who kept back Doris’s
letters and yours, causing her to think that you no longer loved her; so
that naturally both she and Norman concluded that she was free to marry
whom she pleased."

"Yes, of course.  You are right.  I beg your pardon for forgetting
that," said Bernard, penitently.

"Now we will return to Doris together, and after we have explained to
her how matters stand, we will go and have some tea at the Creamery in
Robertson Street.  Afterwards----"

Alice paused, looking wistfully at him.

"I will keep out of her way until you return from London," Bernard said,
understanding that he ought not to proceed further until Norman had
freed Doris from her engagement to him.



                            *CHAPTER XXIV.*

                      *NORMAN SINCLAIR’S LETTER.*


    Not only those above us on the height,
      With love and praise and reverence I greet:
    Not only those who walk in paths of light
        With glad, untiring feet:
    These, too, I reverence toiling up the slope,
      And resting not upon their rugged way,
    Who plant their feet on faith and cling to hope,
        And climb as best they may.

    And even these I praise, who, being weak,
        Were led by folly into deep disgrace:
    Now striving on a pathway rough and bleak,
          To gain a higher place.
      *      *      *      *      *
    Oh! struggling souls, be brave and full of cheer,
        Nor let your holy purpose swerve, or break!
    The way grows smoother and the light more clear
          At every step you take.
    Lo! in the upward path God’s boundless love
        Supports you evermore upon your way:
    You cannot fail to reach the heights above
        Who climb as best you may!
            EUDORA S. BUMSTEAD.


Doris sat alone in the shelter, after Bernard had left her, in a state
of unhappiness so great that she could not even weep.

"All is over between us," she sighed, "and Bernard has gone away in
anger.  How wretched it is!  Nothing could be more wretched!  Nothing!
I am the most unfortunate girl in all the world!"  And she sat with her
pale face turned towards the sunlit waves, watching them and yet in
reality seeing nothing except her own utter misery.  What had become of
all her prayers, she wondered--the prayers which she had poured out to
her Heavenly Father from a sorrow-laden heart?

He had saved her from starvation, and placed her in a position of great
temporal prosperity; yes, but what about her previous many, many prayers
for Bernard, for their mutual reconciliation and union when a part at
least of the debt was paid, and for the happy and useful married life
which they had once planned together on the hill at Askern, and for
which she had so often longed and prayed?

"I have done my best," thought Doris, "and have tried to serve God all
the while. The thought of Him was ever in my heart, and I gave up my
prosperous little business--all that I had--in obedience to His Voice,
speaking to me through Norman’s words and my own conceptions of what I
ought to do. I cast my all into His treasury: and all the time--every
day--I prayed for Bernard--and for our future together--until--until I
was led by circumstances to believe that he did not love me.  And since
then--since then everything has gone wrong, and I seem to have lost hope
and faith in God and man."

She was in despair.  It was the darkest hour of all her sorrowful young
life, and she could see no gleam of light in any direction.

How long she sat thus she never knew, but it seemed an immense time
before she heard the cheerful voice of Alice behind her saying brightly,
"Doris!  Doris darling, we have brought you good news!"

"There is no good news for me," answered Doris, without turning her
head, and the two who loved her were aghast at the hopelessness of her
tones.

"Doris!" exclaimed Bernard, "I have returned, in order to bring you the
glad news that there is hope for us, and help, for Miss Sinclair is
going to be our good angel and is going to save the situation."

"How?  What?  I don’t understand," said Doris, turning to look at them
in relief and surprise.  "Do explain, please," she added, tremulously,
feeling quite unable to bear any more suspense.

Sitting down beside her, they hastened to tell everything, and then to
combat her conscientious objections to Alice’s proposed arbitration, as
it seemed to her, at first, that it was scarcely right for Alice to
persuade her brother to release his _fiancée_.

"I shall not persuade him," replied Alice, "I shall simply tell him the
facts of the case, and leave him to act as it seems right to him.  But I
will tell you this, Doris," she added, "I know dear old Norman will at
once release you from your engagement."

Then Alice carried them off to the Creamery, and, after they had
partaken of a charming little tea, she invited Bernard to meet her at
the Warrior Square Station at five o’clock on the following day, when
she expected to be back from London, in order that she might tell him
first what her brother decided.  When that matter was settled to every
one’s satisfaction, Bernard took leave of the girls and went away, to
pass the time as best he could until Norman Sinclair’s ultimatum was
received.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The following evening, as Doris sat in one of the large balconies of the
Queen’s Hotel, enjoying the fine air, the pleasing sea view, and most of
all the delightful hope that all might yet be well, Alice, who had been
to London, and Bernard, who had met her at the station, came to her
there.

"All is well," said Alice, "as I knew it would be.  Doris," she took the
girl’s thin hand in hers, and placed it gently within Bernard’s, "Norman
has sent you your freedom.  You can marry Bernard now as soon as you
like, and Norman hopes you will be very happy. He has sent you a letter,
dear," she said in conclusion, putting one into Doris’s hand.

Doris swayed in her chair.  She could not even see the letter for the
tears which filled her eyes.

Alice, too, began to cry, and Bernard had to clear his voice two or
three times before he could speak.

"I am afraid I was a little rough on your brother, Miss Sinclair," he
said at length. "He is indeed a man of honour.  I am sure I beg to
withdraw all that I have said against him, and to apologise for my hot
words.  I hope that you will tell him how grateful we are when you see
him."

"I’m afraid I shall not see him for a very long time," answered Alice;
"he is going abroad alone."  She looked deeply pained. "He wishes me to
stay with Doris and see after her getting married."  She said the last
words more cheerfully, for, being a woman, the idea of a wedding was
pleasant.

"There won’t be much to see about in my wedding," said Doris, with a
smile, "for I shall have to do without a trousseau and without a good
many things, because I am not taking Bernard any money.  You will have a
poor bride, Bernard."

"I shall not!  You will be the very best bride that ever a man could
have!" he cried, rapturously.

Then Alice went away, and left them together. Later on in the evening,
when Doris was alone, she opened Norman’s letter, which was as follows:


"DEAR DORIS,

"I give you back your promise to marry me.  I am sorry for the mistakes
which have been made and the suffering through which you have passed,
and trust that your future life with Mr. Cameron may be all joy and
gladness.

"You will, I am sure, do me the justice to believe that had I known he
was true to you I should not have tried to induce you to become engaged
to me, however much I loved and esteemed you.

"Yours very faithfully,
       "NORMAN SINCLAIR."


Doris shed tears over the letter, for she knew that, reticent though the
writer was about his own feelings, she must have made him exceedingly
unhappy.

And when Doris thanked God that night before she slept that He had heard
her prayers, and that He had mercifully given her her heart’s desire,
she prayed, also, for Norman Sinclair that he might be comforted and
blessed exceedingly.



                             *CHAPTER XXV.*

                           *A HAPPY WEDDING.*


    Never to part till angels call us home.
          _Song_, "_Golden Love_."


    The span of life’s not long enough,
      Nor deep enough the sea,
    Nor broad enough this weary world
      To part my love from me.
        _Anon_.


    So they were wed, and merrily rang the bells,
      Merrily rang the bells when they were wed.
            LONGFELLOW.


"After all, Doris," said Alice, the next morning, "you will have a
trousseau, and a very pretty one, too.  For I am going to buy it for
you.  Yes, indeed, it is to be my wedding present."

"I don’t know how to thank you," said Doris.

"Then don’t try.  Pay me the compliment of accepting what I have much
pleasure in giving."

Doris rose, and, throwing her arms round her friend’s neck, gave her a
hug.

"How soon do you intend to be married?" asked Alice, presently.

"In three weeks.  There is no reason for delay."

"Of course not.  The sooner the better. Where shall you be married?"
asked Alice, a shadow falling across her face at the thought that she
could scarcely take her friend home to be married from Norman’s house.

"Oh, here, in this dear place, where my happiness has come to me!" said
Doris.

"Here?  At Hastings?  From this hotel?"

"Yes, why not?  I am sure the Vicar of All Saints, whose church I have
attended, will marry us."

"Oh, I don’t doubt that!  Yes, of course you shall be married here."

"There’s only one thing," said Doris.  "The Austins are not here.  And I
must have dear Mrs. Austin, and her good son Sam, at my wedding."

"Send for them all," interposed Bernard, entering the room and
overhearing her last remark.  He had been for a bathe, and was looking
well and happy.  There is no greater restorative for body and mind than
happiness.

"Send for them?" said Doris.  "Oh, but I don’t think they will come if
we send for them.  I think I shall have to go and see Mrs. Austin, and
arrange with her about their coming down."

"You’re not strong enough to take all that trouble," said Bernard.  "It
will take you all your time until our wedding-day"--he spoke with joy
and pride--"to recover sufficiently for it and for our little tour
afterwards."

"We’ll not go far," said Doris.  "Why should we go far," she laughed
happily, "when we have found each other?"

"Why indeed?  Supposing we go to the Isle of Wight, will that do?"

"Yes, charmingly.  I have never been there.  But, Bernard, I must go to
see dear old Mrs. Austin and invite her to the wedding."

"Cannot you write to her?"

"No, a letter will not do.  Think how good she was to me when I was
penniless and a stranger in London!  Can I ever forget how she received
me into her house, and trusted me to repay her as I could?  And then she
gave me her late son’s painting materials, and tried to make me believe
I should succeed as an artist,--and, afterwards, when that had failed,
she comforted and encouraged me, and got her nephew to find me work,
and, later, interested Alice in employing me; and then afterwards, when
I gave up the business and became poor again, she stood by me, trusting
and caring for me more lovingly than ever. Bernard, if there is one
friend in all the world whom we ought to value and esteem next to the
Sinclairs it is Mrs. Austin, and, next to her is Sam Austin, the
cabman."

"What did he do?" asked Bernard, though indeed he partly knew.

"He saved me from despair that first night, when, on coming to London by
the night train, I found my godmother, Miss Earnshaw, had died, and that
I was alone in the great metropolis, with only a few shillings in my
pocket, and no claim upon any one in all the vast city.  He took me to
his mother, and persuaded her to receive me into her house; and then,
afterwards, when I had made my first little water-colour sketches, he
drove me round to the dealers in his cab, and would take no payment
then, nor afterwards, until I was earning a lot of money, and then
compelled him to do so."

"He shall come to our wedding, too," said Bernard.  "They shall both be
our honoured guests."

"Oh, thank you!  Thank you!"

"And I’ll tell you what we will do, darling. We will give them a
wedding-present, yes, we will!"

"Oh, thank you!"

"Nay, you must not thank me, dear!  It is you who will invite the
wedding guests, that is always the prerogative of the bride. I will pay
their expenses, if you will allow me."

"Thank you, I will," said Doris, gladly.

"Shall we go up to town to invite her?" said Bernard, tentatively.

"I should like to do so," said Doris.

"But----"

"Wouldn’t it be too tiring for you?" said Alice.  "Otherwise," she
added, "I should like to go up to shop with you in Bond Street."

"And I," said Bernard, "should like to go over to Richmond on business.
The fact is, I have heard that the school in which I used to work is for
sale, and I rather think of buying it.  When I was a poor assistant
there I used to think what a future it might have if it were more
efficiently managed. How would you like to live on Richmond Hill,
Doris?"

"Near the Terrace, with the loveliest view of the Thames to be seen
anywhere!  Oh, Bernard, how charming that would be!"

"Well, I’ll go and look after the school, if you like; and if you come,
too, we can see the Austins while we are in town and invite them to our
wedding."

In about a week Doris was strong enough for this arrangement to be
carried out.  She and Bernard, accompanied by Alice as far as Victoria,
where they separated, went to London for the day, and after going to
Richmond, where negotiations were commenced for the purchase of
Bernard’s former school and the head master’s house, they went on to
King’s Cross in order to see Mrs. Austin.

The good woman was delighted to see them together, apparently on such
intimate terms.

"Miss Doris!" she cried.  "And Mr. Cameron! And both looking so happy!
So very happy," she repeated.  "Don’t tell me anything, I know it all.
There’ll be a wedding.  I saw it in the fire last night.  Come in.  Come
in."

They followed her into her little room, which seemed to Doris to be
smaller and dingier than ever after the great rooms to which she was
accustomed.

"Oh, Mrs. Austin, I am so happy!" she cried.

"It’s Mr. Right this time, and no mistake!" exclaimed the good woman.
"Between you and me, miss," she added aside, "I didn’t want you to marry
that other gentleman.  Miss Sinclair was a dear, sweet lady, but the
brother was so upsetting!"

"He has been very, very kind to me," said Doris, "and to Mr. Cameron,
too.  He has been a very good friend to us."

"Has he, miss?  Well, I’m glad to hear it, but----" she broke off, and
began again, "Give me Mr. Cameron, for a fine, pleasant-speaking,
right-living gentleman!" she declared.

Doris laughed, and her eyes rested on Bernard with loving pride.  "Do
you know, Mrs. Austin," she said, "I was engaged to him before I came to
London at all--only unfortunately our engagement had been cruelly broken
off."

"Indeed, miss!  Ah, I could see you were in deep sorrow when you came to
me.  If you had seen her then, Mr. Cameron," and she turned to Bernard,
"you would have been sorry.  She was that white, and there was such a
stricken look upon her poor, dear face. And yet, for all she was in such
trouble, she did me good; so that I thanked God for sending her here."

"She does me good, too," said Bernard. "That’s why I love her."

"Ah, he’s one of the right sort!" exclaimed Mrs. Austin to Doris.

"Yes, _I_ think so," said Doris, laughing merrily.

Mrs. Austin looked wonderingly at her.

"I never heard you laugh like that before, Miss Anderson," she
exclaimed.

Presently the widow’s two visitors sat at tea in the little parlour.

"And how are you getting on, Mrs. Austin?" asked Doris, presently.  "You
say so little about yourself."

"Well, miss, this is such a joyful occasion I don’t like to spoil
it----"

"Oh, then, I’m afraid you are not doing well?" said Doris,
sympathisingly.

Tears came into the widow’s eyes; but she dashed them off with a corner
of her apron, and tried to smile, as she answered, "I have a lodger in
my front rooms, and a young shop-girl rents my attic; but--but----" and
she broke down, weeping bitterly.

Doris and Bernard tried to comfort her, and at length ascertained, with
some difficulty, that the cause of her distress was that her landlord
had given her notice to leave the house.

"And I’ve lived in it all my life," she said. "I was born in it and
brought up here: my dear mother lived with me here till she died, and
when my husband made me an offer of marriage I said, ’Yes, if you’ll
come and live in my dear home.’  And he did, and was so good to my
mother--as good as good could be--always taking off his boots before he
went upstairs on the stair carpets, and always lighting the kitchen-fire
and making me a cup of tea before he went to his work, till he fell ill
of his last illness.  He died in the front sitting-room.  I had the bed
brought down there for him.  And there was my Silas, he was born in my
front bedroom; and he used to paint his lovely pictures, as you know,
miss, in the attic; and he lay down and died, as sweet and calmly as a
child, in the back bedroom, ’Going Home,’ he said, ’to the Great Artist,
Who will put in the finishing touches to the work that He has made.’  I
couldn’t bear to leave this house, with all its memories!  It will kill
me--I know it will!  And my Sam feels almost as bad.  ’I shall never
drive down this road, mother,’ he says, ’when the old home isn’t
yours.’"  Mrs. Austin stopped at last for want of breath.

"But why does the landlord want to turn you out?" asked Bernard.  "You
must be such good tenants."

"Mrs. Austin is," said Doris.  "She pays her rent regularly."

"Yes, miss.  I’ve always paid it to the day, though I have been rather
hard put to sometimes, when my lodgers haven’t paid up.  It’s not for
want of the rent that the landlord gives notice.  It’s because he’s
selling a lot of his houses to a man who wants them for his own
workpeople, and therefore must have them emptied."  The widow’s tears
flowed again.

"Don’t cry, Mrs. Austin dear!" said Doris, rising and putting her arms
round the good woman’s neck, while she kissed her kind old face.

"You shall not be turned out," said Bernard; "I will see your landlord,
and buy the house, if I can.  Then you shall not be turned out."

"But, sir, it will cost you a lot!"

"It will be an investment, and I shall have a good tenant.  You know,
Doris," he added, turning to her, "I must not put all the money into the
school."

Having asked the landlord’s name and address, Bernard left Doris resting
in Mrs. Austin’s sitting-room, and departed to transact the business,
which he was able to do satisfactorily, as the landlord happened to be
in a hurry to sell.

"I have bought the house for three hundred and fifty pounds," Bernard
announced, on his return to Doris.  "You tell Mrs. Austin, dear," he
added.

So it was Doris who had the pleasure of telling the good woman that Mr.
Cameron had bought her house, and so she would be able to remain in it
as long as she lived.

"Thank God!  Thank God!  That is all I want.  And you shall have your
rent regularly, sir," said the widow.

"You shall never be asked for it," said Bernard.  "When you have the
money to spare you can pay it, and when you have not any to hand over,
nothing shall be said."

"You are too good, sir," began Mrs. Austin. But Doris interrupted:

"He is only treating you as you treated me," she said.  "When I could
not pay you, dear Mrs. Austin, you always let it pass over, and forgave
me the debt."

"But you have paid everything now, miss."  (Through the Sinclairs’
kindness Doris had been able to do this.)

"I can never repay you for all your exceeding kindness," cried the girl;
adding, "And I am delighted that we can enable you to remain in your
comfortable home."

Mrs. Austin was overjoyed.  She shed tears again, not for sorrow now,
but for joy. "How little I knew when I took you in, Miss Anderson," she
said, "that I should be entertaining an angel unawares!"

Then Doris asked Mrs. Austin if she would come to Hastings with her son,
in order to be present at the wedding, and this the widow joyfully
consented to do, saying:

"I would go further than that, miss, to see you married, and so would my
Sam.  We’ll come to your wedding, if we have to walk every inch of the
way."

"That’s right," said Bernard; "that’s the right spirit!  But you will
have to allow me to pay your fare, for you might not arrive in time if
you walk the sixty miles or so to Hastings, and I shall be only too
pleased to pay your fare."

Doris wanted to see Sam, but he was away with his cab, and therefore she
could only leave a message for him.

She was exceedingly happy as she returned to Hastings with Bernard in a
luxurious corridor-train--so happy, indeed, that she felt at peace with
all the world, and therefore ventured to suggest:

"Couldn’t we have your mother to our wedding, too, Bernard?"

The young man’s face darkened, and his voice shook as he answered, "No,
I think not. I--I _could_ not."

"We shall have to forgive her, dear," pleaded Doris.

"Yes--in time.  You must give me time, dear."  Bernard was silent for
several minutes after that, and then he said abruptly, "We will go to
see her after we are married."

"Yes, dear," acquiesced Doris; "I should like that."

The day came quickly which was to make them man and wife.

Theirs was a pretty wedding, although the wedding guests were only two,
and they were not of the same rank in life as the handsome bridegroom
and the beautiful bride, supported by her friends, and bridesmaid,
dressed like herself in costly silk and lace.  Doris was in white, and
Alice in creamy yellow, whilst Bernard, of course, was in immaculate
attire, his good-looking young face lit up with love and joy and
thankfulness to God.

"Bless them!  God bless them!" exclaimed good Mrs. Austin as the young
couple left the vestry, where Doris had signed her maiden name for the
last time.

"Amen," said Sam, "and may they live long happy years!"

Sam had only one regret about the wedding, and that was that he could
not bring his cab down to be used on the occasion.  "I should like to
have driven them to church in it," he confided to his mother.  "It would
have been a sort of finish to the two rides I gave Miss Anderson in it.
First when I drove her to Earl’s Court Square, and then home to you when
she was in such distress, and afterwards when I drove her round to see
those skin-flinty old picture-dealers about selling her pictures."

But now the bride and bridegroom had to be met, congratulated, and
wished all sorts of happiness.

"Thank you!  Thank you!" said Doris, shaking hands with Sam, and lifting
up her glad young face to kiss his mother, while Bernard shook hands
warmly with them both, thanking them for himself and his bride.

Later in the day Alice drove with Bernard and Doris to the station to
see them off in the train for Portsmouth, as they were going to the Isle
of Wight for their honeymoon.

Doris clung to her a little at the last.  "I don’t know how to thank
you, Alice," she said; "you have been like a dear sister to me."

[Illustration: "DORIS CLUNG TO HER AT THE LAST.  ’YOU HAVE BEEN LIKE A
DEAR SISTER TO ME.’"]

"I don’t want thanking," protested Alice.

"But you will feel so lonely, dear, when we have gone."

"Never mind me," said Alice; "you know to-morrow I shall start for
Switzerland, in order to join my brother there, and then there will be
no more loneliness for me."

"You will Give him our kindest remembrances, Miss Sinclair," said
Bernard, earnestly.

"If I can I will--that is, if he speaks of you."

The train began to move off, and there was no time to talk any more.

"Good-bye--good-bye, dear," cried the travellers, and then--Alice
Sinclair was left alone upon the platform.



                            *CHAPTER XXVI.*

                          *TWO MONTHS LATER.*


    Time and the hour run through the longest day.
      SHAKESPEARE.


Mrs. Cameron was a miserable woman.  Poor, unhappy, and remorseful, she
sat alone in her solitary house--even her one maidservant had left
her--thinking dismally of her sad past, mournful present, and hopeless
future.  On her lap was her son’s letter of two months before, the only
one he had sent her since he left home to go in search of Doris, and she
thought that it would probably be the last one she would ever receive
from him.

"I know all that you have done," he wrote, "to destroy my happiness and
that of my beloved Doris, and the means by which you sought to separate
us for ever in this world, and I write to inform you that your schemes
and machinations have failed; for we are engaged to be married, and,
there being no longer any obstacle to prevent it, the marriage will take
place on the 20th of this month.

"That, I think, is all I need say now, or at any time, to one who has
done her utmost to alienate me for life from the one I loved.

"I remain, Mother,
       "Your much-wronged Son,
              "BERNARD CAMERON."


"A nice letter for a mother to receive!" grumbled the widow.  "Yet I
know that I deserve it," she added mentally.  "I’ve been too hard--too
hard on him, and too hard on other people.  If I hadn’t been so
quarrelsome with my husband, he would not have left most of his money to
Bernard, and that wretch John Anderson would not have had the chance of
stealing it all.  And if I hadn’t been so hard on Bernard and on Doris
Anderson, I should have retained my boy’s love, which would have been
better than nothing."  She sniffed and passed the back of her bony hand
across her tearless eyes.  "Yes, it would have been better than nothing,
and I might have come in for a bit of his money now he is richer; but,
as it is, I’ve got nothing, neither money, nor love, nor anything at
all!"

She looked dismally at the dusk stealing across the room with its
threadbare carpet and faded chairs and curtains.  There was no servant
to come in and light the gas and close the blinds.  She was all alone,
and so hopeless that she did not care whether the gas was lighted or
not.  "What matter if it is dark, so long as I have nothing to do but
think!" she said to herself, dismally.  "They’ll have had their
honeymoon now, and perhaps will be getting settled in their new home.  I
wonder where it is?  To think that I shouldn’t know where my son is
going to live!  I never thought Bernard would turn against me; and
yet--and yet I deserve it, for mine was a crooked policy, directed
against all his wishes and ignoring his rights.  I told myself I was
doing it for him, for his best interests; but really I was doing it more
for myself, that he might become rich and be in a position to give his
mother a good home; and out of spite, too, against those Andersons, and
a determination that Doris should not have him."  She paused, listening.

Some street singers were wailing forth the hymn, "O God, our help in
ages past!" before the house; but the woman, who had found no help in
God, because she had never sought it, was only angered by the sound.
Rising and going to the window, she made emphatic signs to the man and
woman--the latter with a child in her arms and another clinging to her
skirts--to pass on; but they either could not see her in the deepening
dusk or would not be persuaded to go away, for they continued singing
even more loudly than before.

"Well, I shall not give them anything!" declared Mrs. Cameron,
relinquishing the attempt to stop them and returning to her chair by the
fireless hearth.  "What right have they to come disturbing folks in this
way?"

Again she sank into gloomy, miserable reflections, while the darkness
increased about her.

The door-bell rang; but she paid no attention to it, thinking that it
was only the singers wanting alms.  "They may want!" she said to herself
grimly.  "Other folks want what they can’t get, too!"

Once more the bell rang, and yet a third time, and even a fourth; but
still Mrs. Cameron remained firm in her determination not to speak to
the intruders.

"I’m a hard woman," she said to herself; "aye, and I’ll be hard.  I’m
too old to change now, and nobody cares, nobody cares what I’m like or
what I do.  If any one cared ever such a little bit, I might be
different; but nobody cares, least of all God; He’s shut me out of His
good books long ago.  I shall never get to His Heaven, never!  Even if
He let me into His Heaven, I shouldn’t be happy psalm-singing, and
praising Him, and living in His presence.  Not I!  I don’t care at all
for Him, and that’s truth.  And if, as some say, in heaven the angels
are always ministering to others and doing deeds of kindness, that work
wouldn’t suit me.  Not it!"  She laughed shrilly, as if in derision of
the idea; and the darkness deepened around her.  "I don’t care an atom
for other people.  Not I!" she went on, and again her weird, unholy
laugh rang through the room.

Its echoes reached a young man and woman who stood at the door,
hesitating before ringing the bell again, and caused them both to
shiver.

"Nobody cares for me, and I care for nobody!" soliloquised Mrs. Cameron.
"If any one cared ever so little, it would be different.  Oh, dear!
What’s that?"

An exceedingly loud rapping at the street door made her start up,
exclaiming angrily, "Those tramps again!"

She bounced out of the room and across the little hall to the door,
opening it somewhat gingerly, and crying out the while in her sharpest
tones, "I’ve nothing for you!  Get away! Go!"  Then she attempted to
shut the door, but a strong hand held, it so firmly that she could not
close it, whilst a voice spoke, which she was unable to hear for her own
clamour.

"If you don’t be off I’ll prosecute you!" she cried, menacingly.

"Mother!  It is I, Bernard!  Let me in."

The words reached her ears at last, penetrating even to her starved and
icy heart.

"Bernard!"  She fell back a pace, and the door flew open, revealing her
son and a lady by his side.  The street light fell upon the two, and
also upon the pale, astonished face of the unhappy woman they had come
to see.

"Bernard!"

"Mother!"  He put his arms round her neck, in his old boyish way,
forgetting everything except that she was his mother, who was looking
miserable, whilst he had come to her in his joy, with his dear young
wife by his side.

"If any one cared ever so little, it would be different," she had said
to herself.  Well, here was Bernard, and he cared for her, in spite of
everything, and--_it was different_.

"My son!  My son!  Forgive me," she said, clinging to him, her tears
falling on his manly face and neck, as he kissed her tenderly.

"All right, mother!  The past is past," he whispered.  "I want you to
welcome Doris," he added low in her ear.  "She is my wife now."

Mrs. Cameron turned to Doris, holding out her hand, but the young wife
raised her face, and she had to kiss her, too.

Then they went in, closing the street door after them; and Bernard,
striking a light, lit up every gas-burner he could find about the place;
so that the darkness was gone, and it was light, very light.



                            *CHAPTER XXVII.*

                             *RESTITUTION.*


    Does any one know what’s in your heart and mine,
        The sorrow and song,
    The demon of sin and the angel divine,
        The right and the wrong:
    The dread of the darkness, the love of the day,
        The ebb and the flow
    Of hope and of doubt for ever and aye,
        Does any one know?
          NIXON WATERMAN.


    He wins at last who puts his trust
    In loving words and actions just.
      *      *      *      *      *
    On every action blazon bright,
    "For toil, and truth, and love, we fight."
            T. S. COLLIER.


An hour later, after they had partaken of a substantial tea-supper, the
principal constituents of which Bernard fetched from the village shops,
with boyish glee, renewing his acquaintance with the shop-keepers quite
merrily, Mrs. Cameron and her son and daughter-in-law sat round the fire
Doris had lighted, talking about the future.

Bernard had placed the school at Richmond (of which he had now completed
the purchase) in good hands, and he and Doris were going to live in
rooms at Oxford until he had obtained his degree, when they would at
once proceed to their new home in Richmond.

"We want you to come and live with us, mother," said Bernard; "or if you
would prefer not to live with us, at least to occupy rooms near us, so
that we may often look in upon you, to prevent your feeling lonely."

"Do you wish that, too, Doris?" asked her mother-in-law, quite timidly.

"Yes, indeed I do," said Doris, heartily.  In her great happiness it was
impossible for her to cherish any resentment against Bernard’s mother.

Mrs. Cameron looked red and confused. Their love made a difference, yes,
a very great difference in her feelings.  But she shook her head,
saying, "You will be better without me. Far better.  I will remain here.
You can come and see me sometimes, and you must remain here a few days
now.  I’m afraid we are rather desolate here in the house, but I’ll have
a charwoman in to-morrow, and we’ll try to make the place comfortable."

"The house ails nothing," said Bernard, "for it is home."

"Yes," remarked Doris, brightly, "and you know, ’East or West, home is
best.’"

Mrs. Cameron thought remorsefully that she had made only a poor home for
Bernard in the last year or two, since he lost his money.

But he appeared to forget all about that, as he merrily assisted her and
Doris to arrange a room for their accommodation that night--in point of
fact he had engaged a bedroom at the comfortable hydro at Askern, but he
did not venture to mention that to his mother under their altered and
happier relations.

The next morning, as they were sitting at breakfast, the postman dropped
a letter into the letter-box, and Bernard, upon going to the door to
fetch it, discovered that it was addressed to himself.

Bringing the letter into the room he looked at the envelope curiously,
and perceived that it bore the impression, "London, City & Midland
Banking Company, Ltd," whilst the postmark was Doncaster.

"Why, what’s this?" he said, and then, opening it wonderingly, found
that it was an official intimation from the Doncaster branch of the
London, City & Midland Bank, saying that the sum of twenty-five thousand
pounds had been placed there to his credit.

The young man put his hand to his brow in great bewilderment.  What did
it mean? Mechanically he handed the document to his mother, saying,
"Look at this.  What does it mean?"

Mrs. Cameron fumbled about for her spectacles, found them, could not see
through them, shook her head, and, handing the document to Doris,
remarked, "You read it, Doris.  What does it mean?"

Doris read aloud the printed and written words, which stated that the
bank had received twenty-five thousand pounds, and placed the money to
the credit of Bernard Cameron.

"Twenty-five thousand pounds!" cried Mrs. Cameron, excitedly.  "Why,
some one has restored your fortune to you, Bernard!"

Bernard was amazed and glad.

"Who can have paid the money in?" questioned Doris.

"You will have to go to Doncaster to the bank, to see the manager, and
ascertain who it is," said Mrs. Cameron.

"Yes," Bernard agreed, still looking very mystified.

"It may be some mistake of the bank’s," suggested Mrs. Cameron.  "It is
dated all right for yesterday."

They were still wondering and conjecturing about the matter, when the
sound of a carriage driving up to the door, followed by a loud peal of
the door-bell, startled them.

Bernard went to the door, and, upon opening it, perceived, to his
intense astonishment, his wife’s father.

"Is Mr. Cameron in?" began the visitor, and then, recognising Bernard,
he cried, "Bernard!  My dear fellow, I _am glad_ you are at home."

"Mr. Anderson!" exclaimed Bernard.  "Mr. Anderson _here_!"

"Father!  Father!" cried Doris, overhearing Bernard’s greeting, and
running into her father’s arms.  "My dear father!"  Forgotten were all
his shortcomings, his desertion of herself and appropriation of
Bernard’s money, forgotten was everything except love in that glad
moment of reunion.  "Where is mother?" asked Doris, kissing him again
and again.

"In the cab, there."  He waved his hand towards the vehicle, out of
which Mrs. Anderson was leaning forward, in the endeavour to obtain a
glimpse of her child.

Doris ran to the cab, and disappeared within it, as there only could she
have her beloved mother entirely to herself for a few moments.

Mr. Anderson signed to the cabman to wait for a little while, and then
went into the house with Bernard, asking, "Are you alone? Or is your
mother within?"

"She is here.  This is her house still," answered Bernard, leading the
way into the dining-room, where Mrs. Cameron stood, very erect, and
looking extremely grave.

Mr. Anderson bowed without making the attempt to shake hands, indeed she
had placed hers behind her with a very significant gesture.

"I have to thank you, Mrs. Cameron," said the barrister, "and your son,
for your exceeding clemency in not prosecuting me for my terrible
defalcations more than a year ago, and I must explain how it was that I
lost your son’s money, and how it is that I have been able yesterday to
place the whole amount in the Doncaster branch of the London, City &
Midland Banking Co. for him.  Have you had an intimation of this money
being placed in the bank to your credit, Bernard?" he asked the young
man.

"Yes.  This morning.  I could not understand who placed it there.  I am
glad it was you.  Oh, Mr. Anderson, I am _very glad_!"  Bernard seized
the elder man’s hand, and shook it with warmth.  "I feel inclined to
throw up my cap and shout ’Hurrah!’" he continued, boyishly, "for I am
so delighted for your sake and for Doris’s!"

"Well, it’s a good thing you’ve done it," said Mrs. Cameron.  "I must
say I’m surprised--I never thought you would.  What are you nudging me
for, Bernard?" she asked, rather crossly.  "You know very well that I
always say what is in my mind.  And I must tell you, Mr. Anderson," she
continued, "that it’s not me you have to thank for not being prosecuted.
I was determined to set the whole machinery of the law to work--I was so
mad with you--but Bernard would not have it.  He would not raise a
finger against you--no, not though I turned him out of my house for his
stupidity, as I thought it then, though it seems to have answered well,"
she admitted.

"Bernard," said Mr. Anderson, looking gratefully at him, "my dear boy,
how can I thank you enough?  What you must have borne for me!"

"I’m afraid I thought most of Doris," said Bernard, honestly.  "It would
never have done for me to have brought disgrace and trouble upon her
family."

"I sinned," said Mr. Anderson, regarding Bernard’s stern mother very
mournfully, "I sinned greatly in using money which was not my own for
speculations which were risky, as most speculations are.  And when all
was lost, and I possessed nothing with which to meet my liabilities, as
you know, instead of courageously confessing and submitting to the
penalty I had incurred, I absconded.  Later on, together with my wife,
who would not leave me, I took refuge with an old servant of ours, who
had married a shepherd in Wales, and there, in a remote place up amongst
the mountains, we hid ourselves for a long and weary time.  Often I
thought of coming down and surrendering to justice, but as often my wife
persuaded me to remain in concealment. Eventually, however, I became so
convinced that the only right thing to do was to give myself up to the
police that, leaving my retreat, I returned, accompanied by my wife, to
Yorkshire.

"Then," continued he, "a strange thing happened.  Upon reaching York I
first went to a lawyer with whom I had formerly transacted business,
whereupon he informed me that there had never been a warrant taken out
for my arrest, thanks to you, my dear Bernard," and again the elder man
gave the younger a grateful glance.  "Moreover," the barrister
continued, "the lawyer told me that Howden, the man who in the first
place led me into those disastrous speculations, had just died, and in
his last hours, remembering remorsefully his bad advice to me about
speculating, which led to my ruin and desiring to make reparation as far
as possible, he bequeathed to me by will the large sum of thirty
thousand pounds. You can judge of my extreme delight.

"As soon as the will had been proved and I was in possession of the
money I returned to Doncaster, paid all my debts in full, and placed
twenty-five thousand pounds in the bank for you, Bernard.  After which I
came here in the hope of finding you at home. I cannot tell you," Mr.
Anderson added, with deep feeling, "I cannot tell you all that I have
suffered on account of my sin, nor can I say how great is my relief and
satisfaction in being able to restore to you your fortune."

The tears were in his eyes as he said this, and they perceived that his
hair had become as white as snow during the last thirteen months, and
also that care and trouble had drawn deep lines upon his face.  They
could not, therefore, doubt the truth of what he was saying, and so Mrs.
Cameron as well as Bernard hastened to express their entire forgiveness
of his sin and sympathy with him in his sufferings.  And if the mother
did it less gracefully than her son, Mr. Anderson could not cavil at
that, for he knew that it was much more difficult for her, with her hard
nature, to speak so kindly than for Bernard.

And when she added, penitently, "I, too, must ask your forgiveness, Mr.
Anderson, for the harsh and bitter thoughts I have cherished about you
and the hard words I have said," he was only too glad to shake hands
with her and say she was not to trouble about that any more.

Upon this touching scene entered Doris and her mother--the two who
having not sinned in the matter of the pecuniary defalcations, had yet
suffered so grievously by reason of them.  Whereupon, kind and loving
words were exchanged, and the new relationship of the young people was
discussed and approved of by her parents, who both said that they could
not have wished for a better husband for their daughter.



                           *CHAPTER XXVIII.*

                             *CONCLUSION.*


    Poets are all who love, who feel great truths
    And tell them, and the truth of truths is love.
      BAILEY.


In Switzerland, where Alice had joined Norman as soon as Doris’s
marriage had taken place, Alice heard of the surprising restoration of
the lost money with the greatest satisfaction.

Doris wrote a full account of the return of her father and the wonderful
restitution he was able to make of all the money that he had taken from
Bernard and that which he owed the tradespeople.

"Do you know, dear Alice," she wrote in conclusion, "I often and often
prayed that he might be able to do this, but it seemed as if my prayers
were all in vain, both about this and other matters, and then I grew
despondent and doubted--oh, I doubted dreadfully!  What patience God
must have with us when we have so little faith!  And how impatient and
short-sighted we are!  Why, I might have been sure that just as He
clothes the lilies and feeds the birds of the air, so He would give me
all things that were needful and that were according to His will.  And
it must have been His will that my father should be enabled to do right
in the end.  Well, I’m going to believe in future that He really meant
His words when He said, ’Ask, and ye shall receive.’

"And there’s another thing, dear Alice," the writer continued joyfully,
"Bernard and I want to make one or two thank-offerings for the great
mercies we have received.

"First for poor Mrs. Austin, who was so very good to me.  You know that
Bernard bought her house, in order to prevent her being turned out of
it, and now we are giving it to her for life, and to her son after her.
She is so delighted, and so is Sam, and it is such a pleasure to us to
do this.

"And then, with regard to the school at Richmond, you know Bernard
purchased it, and arranged for it to be managed for him until he has
finished his career at Oxford, after which he will take it in hand
personally; and now he has determined that he will always give schooling
and board to two pupils free of charge.  They need not necessarily be
orphans, but they are to be poor boys of gentle birth, who would
otherwise be worsted in the battle of life.  They are to receive exactly
the same benefits as the other boys, and I am to provide them with
clothes, and look after them as a mother might.  I need not tell you how
glad I am to do this.

"Dear old Susan is coming to live with us and be our matron, much to her
satisfaction. She is so glad that Bernard and I are married. You know we
could not have her at the wedding, as Mrs. Cameron was not there--for it
might have made the villagers at Moss talk if one had been present and
not the other, and it would certainly have hurt Mrs. Cameron’s feelings.

"Write to me, dear Alice, and let me know what you think of these
schemes, which we have planned in this lovely Isle of Wight."

Alice read the letter aloud to Norman, a little later, when, having left
Switzerland, they were going up the Rhine in a river-steamer, one lovely
day in autumn.  She was glad of her friend’s happiness, and rejoiced in
it so much that she could not keep the letter to herself.

"Cameron seems a decent sort of fellow," said the artist, "after all."

"Oh, yes, he is.  Wasn’t it nice of him to buy Mrs. Austin’s little
house in order that she might not be turned out of it, and then to give
it to her when he became richer?"

"Yes," said Norman, "I must say that Mrs. Austin deserves it for her
goodness to Doris; though she never favoured me, but always endeavoured
to make me feel that I was an intruder."

"But she was very good to me," said Alice, softly.

"Yes," said her brother, "and for that, too, she shall be forgiven
everything by the poor artist, whom you fed when he was a surly,
inconsiderate old bear."

"I’m very proud of my Lion!" exclaimed Alice, lovingly.  "See," she
added, "I have brought out with us some London papers which arrived just
as we were leaving our hotel.  I want you to see what is said of your
Academy pictures, especially of ’Ganymede.’  The likeness of the girl,"
she added, "is so marvellously like Doris, that I expect her husband
will be wanting to buy it."

"Don’t!" said Norman, walking a little way apart, in order that she
might not see his face.

Presently he returned to her without a shadow on his fine expressive
countenance.

"I hope you are observing the beauty of all this Rhine scenery," he
said, with a smile. "It ought to appeal to the poetry in your nature."

"Poetry!  Poetry in my nature!" exclaimed Alice.  "Why, Norman, I always
thought that you considered me so _very_ prosaic and matter-of-fact."

"On the contrary," said her brother.  "It is _I_ who have been so often
matter-of-fact; _you_ have always been steeped in love, so much so, in
fact, that you have idealised and nursed illusions for the sake of your
beloved ones. Don’t you know--

    Poets are all who love, who feel great truths
    And tell them, and the truth of truths is love.

Yes," continued Norman, humbly, "you are before me, Alice, in the great
race, because through your life--as through Doris’s--the golden thread
of Love leads you and dominates your actions.  Not the mere lover’s love
for one, but a noble enthusiasm and love for all who are near and dear
to you."



                                THE END.



                _Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld.,
                         London and Aylesbury_





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