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Title: Helen Ford
Author: Horatio Alger Jr.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Helen Ford" ***

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                              HELEN FORD.


                         BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.,

 AUTHOR OF “RAGGED DICK,” “TATTERED TOM,” “LUCK AND PLUCK,” ETC., ETC.


                        THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO.,
                    PHILADELPHIA, CHICAGO, TORONTO.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



      Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by
                             A. K. LORING,
    In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the District of
                             Massachusetts.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              HELEN FORD.



                               CHAPTER I.
                         IN SEARCH OF LODGINGS.


Not many minutes walk from Broadway, situated on one of the cross
streets intersecting the great thoroughfare, is a large building not
especially inviting in its aspect, used as a lodging and boarding-house.
It is very far from fashionable, since, with hardly an exception, those
who avail themselves of its accommodations belong to the great class who
are compelled to earn their bread before they eat it. Mechanics,
working-men, clerks on small salaries, seamstresses, and specimens of
decayed gentility, all find a place beneath its roof, forming a somewhat
miscellaneous assemblage. It must not be supposed, however, that perfect
equality exists even here. It is often remarked, that social
distinctions are more jealously maintained in the lower ranks than in
the higher. Here, for instance, Alphonso Eustace, a dashing young clerk,
who occupies the first floor front, looks down with _hauteur_ upon the
industrious mechanic, who rooms in the second story back. Mademoiselle
Fanchette, the fashionable _modiste_, occupying the second story front,
considers it beneath her dignity to hold much intercourse with Martha
Grey, the pale seamstress, whose small room at the head of the third
landing affords a delightful prospect of the back yard. Even the
occupants of the fourth story look down, which indeed their elevated
position enables them to do, upon the basement lodgers across the way.

Mother Morton is the presiding genius of the establishment. She is a
stout, bustling woman, of considerable business capacity; one of those
restless characters to whom nothing is so irksome as want of occupation,
and who are never more in their element than when they have a world of
business on their hands, with little time to do it in.

Mrs. Morton is a widow, having with characteristic despatch, hustled her
husband out of the world in less than four years from her wedding-day.
Shortly afterwards, being obliged to seek a subsistence in some way,
good luck suggested the expediency of opening a boarding-house. Here at
length she found scope for her superabundant energies, and in the course
of seventeen years had succeeded in amassing several thousand dollars,
in the investment of which she had sought advice from no one, but acted
according to the dictates of her own judgment. These investments, it
must be acknowledged, proved to have been wisely made, affording a
complete refutation, in one case at least, of the assertion often made,
that women have no business capacity.

Why Mrs. Morton should have had the title of mother, so generally
conferred upon her, is not quite clear. She had never been blessed with
children. It might have been her ample proportions, for Nature had
moulded her when in a generous mood; but at all events for many years,
she had been best known by the name of Mother Morton.

Our landlady required promptness on the part of her lodgers in the
payment of their bills. She had no mercy on those whom she suspected of
fraudulent intentions. In such cases she had but one remedy, and that a
most efficacious one,—immediate ejectment. When, however, no such design
was suspected, and failure to make the regular payment proceeded from
sickness or misfortune, she had been known to manifest great kindness
and consideration. When, for example—Martha Grey, the young seamstress,
was stricken down by a fever, induced by over-work, Mother Morton
attended her faithfully during her illness, and, so far from making an
extra charge, even remitted her rent for the time she had been ill.

With these preliminary words, our story begins.

The dinner hour had passed. The last lingerer at the table had left the
scene of devastation, which he had contributed to make, and the
landlady, who superintended the clearing away, had just sent away the
last dish, when her attention was arrested by a faint ring of the
door-bell. Hastily adjusting her dress before the glass, she proceeded
to answer the summons in person.

Opening the door, she saw standing before her a young girl of perhaps
fourteen, and a man, who, though but little over forty, looked nearly
ten years older. The little girl is mentioned first, for in spite of her
youth, and the filial relation which she bore to her companion, she was
the spokesman, and appeared to feel that the responsibility in the
present instance fell upon her. There was a curious air of protection in
her manner towards her father, as if the relationship between them were
reversed, and he were the child.

“You have lodgings to let?” she said, in a tone of inquiry.

“We’re pretty full, now,” said Mother Morton, looking with some
curiosity at the eager face of the young questioner. “All our best rooms
are taken.”

“That makes no difference,” said the young girl; “about the best rooms,
I mean. We are not able to pay much.”

She cast a glance at her father, who wore an abstracted look as if he
were thinking of some matter quite foreign to the matter in hand.
Catching her glance and thinking that an appeal was made to him, he
said, hurriedly, “Yes, my child, you are quite right.”

“I wonder whether he’s in his right mind,” thought the practical Mrs.
Morton. “The little girl seems to be worth two of him.”

“I have one room in the fourth story,” she said aloud, “which is now
vacant. It is rather small; but, if it will suit you, you shall have it
cheaper on that account.”

“I should like to see it,” said the child. “Come, father,” taking him by
the hand, and leading him as if she were the elder; “we’re going up
stairs to look at a room which, perhaps, we may like well enough to
hire.”

At the head of the fourth landing the landlady threw open a door,
revealing a small room, some twelve feet square, scantily provided with
furniture. Its dreariness was, in some measure, relieved by a good
supply of light,—there being two windows.

The young girl was evidently accustomed to look on the bright side of
things; for, instead of spying out the defects and inconveniences of the
apartment, her face brightened, and she said, cheerfully, “Just what we
want, isn’t it, papa? See how bright and pleasant it is.”

Thus applied to, her father answered, “Yes, certainly;” and relapsed
into his former abstraction.

“I think,” said the young girl, addressing the landlady, “that we will
engage the room; that is,” she added, with hesitation, “if the rent
isn’t too high.”

Mother Morton had been interested in the child’s behalf by the mingling
of frank simplicity and worldly wisdom, which she exhibited, and perhaps
not least by the quiet air of protection which she assumed towards her
father, for whom it was evident she entertained the deepest and most
devoted affection. An impulse, which she did not pause to question, led
her to name a rent much less than she had been accustomed to receive for
the room.

“One dollar and seventy-five cents a week,” repeated the child. “Yes,
that is reasonable. I think we had better engage the room; don’t you,
papa?”

“Eh?”

“I think we had better engage this room at one dollar and seventy-five
cents a week.”

“Oh, certainly,—that is, by all means, if you think best, my child. You
know I leave all such matters to you. I have so many other things to
think of,” he added, dreamily, raising his hand to his forehead.

“Yes,” said the child, softly; “I know you have, dear papa.”

“We’ll take the room,” she said to Mother Morton, whose curiosity
momentarily increased, “at the price you named, and will commence now,
if you have no objection.”

“Oh, no; but your baggage. You will need to bring that.”

“We have not much to bring. We shall get it to-morrow.”

“You will board yourselves?” asked the landlady.

“Yes, I shall cook. I am quite used to it,” was the grave reply.

“At any rate you won’t feel like it to-night. I will send you up some
supper.”

“Thank you,” said the child, her face lighting up gratefully; “I am sure
you are very kind,” and she held out her hand in instinctive
acknowledgment.

If Mother Morton had before been prepossessed in her favor, this act, so
frank and child-like, completed the conquest of her heart.

“I am very glad,” said she, quite enveloping in her own broad palm the
little hand which the child extended; “I am very glad, my dear child,
that you are going to live here. I think I shall like you.”

“How kind you are!” said the child, earnestly. “Everybody is kind to
father and me;” and she turned towards her parent, who was gazing
abstractedly from the window.

“Your father does not say much,” said Mrs. Morton, unable to repress her
curiosity.

“He has a great deal on his mind,” said the child, lowering her voice,
and looking cautiously to see whether he heard her; but the report of a
pistol would scarcely have disturbed him, so profound seemed his
meditations.

“Oh!” said the landlady, somewhat surprised; “business, is it?”

“No,” said the child; “not exactly business.”

Observing that the landlady looked thoroughly mystified, she added,
quietly, “Papa has a great genius for inventing. He is going to make a
discovery that will give him money and fame. He is thinking about it all
the time, and that is the reason he doesn’t say much. I wish he wouldn’t
think quite so much, for I am afraid it will hurt him.”

Mother Morton looked at the father with a sudden accession of respect.

“Perhaps there is something in him, after all,” she thought. “There must
be, or this little girl, who has a great deal more sense than many that
are older, wouldn’t believe in him so firmly. I suppose he’s a genius.
I’ve heard of such, but I never saw one before. I must think well of him
for the child’s sake.”

“I hope your father’ll succeed,” she said aloud, “for your sake, my
child. I am going down stairs now. Is there anything you would like to
have sent up?”

“Nothing, thank you.”

“One thing more. Your names, please?”

“My father’s name is Robert Ford. My name is Helen.”

“Good afternoon, Helen. I hope you will like your room.”

“Thank you; I am quite sure I shall.”

The landlady descended the stairs, wondering a little at the sudden
liking she began to feel for her young lodger.



                              CHAPTER II.
                              THE DREAMER.


The light of a June morning lent a warm and cheerful look to the broad
streets, and under its influence even the dingy lanes and alleys looked
a little less gloomy than usual. The spell which had lain upon the city
during the night season was broken. Here and there might be seen a
vegetable cart or a milk wagon rumbling through the streets, of late so
silent and deserted. Sleepy clerks unlocked the shops and warehouses,
and swept them in readiness for the business of the day. Hackmen betook
themselves to the steamboat landings in the hope of obtaining a fare
before breakfast. Creeping out from beneath old wagons and stray corners
where they had been able to procure shelter and lodging, came the
newsboys, those useful adjuncts to our modern civilization. Little time
wasted they on the duties of the toilet, but shook themselves wide
awake, and with the keen instinct of trade, hurried to the newspaper
offices to secure their pile of merchandise.

Morning found no sluggards at Mrs. Morton’s boarding-house. With the
first flush of dawn she was astir, ordering about her servants, and
superintending the preparations for breakfast. This must be ready at an
early hour, since her boarders were, for the most part, engaged in some
daily avocation which required their early attention.

With the early sun Helen rose. Her father was still sleeping. From the
nail on which it hung she took down her bonnet, and, with a tin pail
depending from her arm, she left the room with softened tread, lest she
might awaken her father. Betaking herself to a baker’s near by, she
bought a couple of loaves of bread, and stopping a milkman, had her pail
filled with milk. A half-pound of butter purchased at a grocery
completed her simple marketing, and she hastened home.

When she entered the boarding-house, her cheeks were flushed with
exercise, her eyes sparkled with a pleasant light, and her rare beauty,
despite her plain attire, appeared to unusual advantage. She returned
just in time to meet the boarders descending to breakfast. Her childish
beauty did not fail to attract attention. Conscious of being observed,
Helen blushed a deeper crimson, which added to the charm of her beauty.

“Hey! What have we here?” exclaimed Alphonso Eustace, the dashing young
clerk, fixing a glance of undisguised admiration upon her embarrassed
face. “A very Peri, by Jove! Deign to inform me, fair maid, by what name
thou art known.”

So saying, he purposely placed himself directly in her path.

“Will you let me pass, sir?” said Helen, uneasily. “My father is waiting
for me.”

“Your father! Then you live here. I am glad of that. We shall be well
acquainted before long, I hope. Won’t you tell me your name?”

“My name is Helen Ford,” said the child, rather reluctantly, for the
clerk did not impress her favorably.

“And mine is Alphonso Eustace. Let us shake hands to our better
acquaintance.”

“I have both hands full,” returned Helen, who did not much relish the
freedom of her new acquaintance.

“Then I will await another opportunity. But you don’t seem gracious, my
dear. You must be very tired, carrying that heavy pail. Allow me to
carry it for you.”

“I am not at all tired, and I would much rather carry it myself.”

Helen managed to slip by, much to her relief, and somewhat to the
discomfiture of the young clerk, who could not conceal from himself that
his overtures had met with a decided rebuff.

“Never mind,” thought he; “we shall be better acquainted by and by.”

“By the way, Mrs. Morton,” he inquired, “tell me something about the
little fairy I met on the stairs. I tried to scrape acquaintance with
her, but she gave me very short answers.”

“I suppose it was Helen Ford,” returned the landlady. “She is a little
fairy, as you say. Is your coffee right, M’lle Fanchette?”

“Quite right,” replied that lady, sipping it. “What room do the little
girl and her father occupy?”

“The fourth story back.”

“Ah, indeed!” said M’lle Fanchette, elevating her eyebrows. It was easy
to see that lodging in the fourth story back was sufficient in her eyes
to stamp Helen as one whose acquaintance it was quite beneath her
dignity to cultivate.

“She has a very sweet, attractive face,” said Martha Grey.

“Beautiful! angelic!” exclaimed Mr. Eustace, with enthusiasm.

“I don’t see anything very beautiful or angelic about her,” remarked
M’lle Fanchette, who would much prefer to have had her dashing
neighbor’s admiration bestowed upon herself.

“You should have seen the beautiful flush upon her cheeks.”

“So I did.”

“And did you not admire it?”

“I happened to look into the kitchen yesterday,” returned M’lle
Fanchette, passing her plate for some toast, “and I saw Bridget who had
been over the hot stove all day, with just such a pair of red cheeks.
Did I admire her?”

There was a momentary silence. All who had seen Helen, felt the
injustice of the comparison.

“There is no accounting for tastes,” interrupted the landlady, somewhat
indignantly. “If you had seen the tenderness with which she waits upon
her father, who, poor man, seems quite incapable of taking care of
himself, you would find that she has a heart as beautiful as her face.
Her beauty is not her only attraction.”

“What does her father do?”

“That is more than I can tell. Helen says that he is an inventor, and
that he has made some discovery which is going to make them rich.”

“After all,” thought M’lle Fanchette, “it may be well to notice her. But
they are poor now?” she said aloud.

“Yes. They seem to have little baggage, and dress quite plainly. They
cannot have much property.”

Meanwhile, Helen, quite unconscious that she had been a subject of
discussion among the boarders, drew out the table into the middle of the
room, and spread over it a neat white cloth. She then placed upon it two
bowls of different sizes into which she poured the milk. Several slices
were cut from one of the loaves and laid on a plate. Near by stood the
butter. These simple preparations being concluded, she called upon her
father to partake.

“You are a good girl, Helen,” said he, rousing for the moment from his
fit of abstraction. “You are a good girl, and I don’t know how I should
get along without you.”

“And I am sure I could not get along without you, papa,” was her reply,
accompanied with a glance of affection.

“Have you not always cared for me, Helen, and given up the society of
those of your own age in order to minister to my comfort? But it shall
not always be so. Some day I shall be rich——”

“When you have completed your invention, papa.”

“Yes, when that is completed,” said her father, earnestly. “Then we
shall be rich and honored, and my Helen shall be dressed in silks, and
ride in a carriage of her own.”

“You are quite sure you shall succeed, papa?”

“I am sure of it,” he answered, in a tone of quiet conviction. “I only
fear that some one will be beforehand with me, and snatch away the honor
for which I am toiling. To me it seems passing strange that mankind
should have been content for so many years to grope about upon the earth
and never striven to rise into the nobler element of the air, while the
sea, which presents difficulties as great, is traversed in every part.
For me,” he continued, assuming a loftier mien, and pacing the small
room proudly,—“for me it remains to open a new highway to the world.
What compared with this will be the proudest triumphs of modern science?
How like a snail shall we regard the locomotive, which now seems a
miracle of swiftness! Borne aloft by the appliances which I shall
furnish, man will emulate the proud flight of the eagle. He will skim
over land and sea, and in his airy flight look down upon the monuments
of human skill and industry flitting before him, like the shifting
scenes of a panorama.”

“It will be a glorious destiny,” said the child, “and how proud I shall
feel of you who have done all this!”

“While we are speaking, time passes,” said the father. “I should be at
work even now. I must bring hither my implements without delay. Every
moment wasted before I attain my object, is not my loss, only, but the
world’s.”

“Wait till I have cleared away the table, papa, and I will go with you.”

This was speedily done, and the two descended the stairs, and went forth
into the busy streets hand in hand. Helen diligently cared for the
safety of her father, who, plunged into his usual abstraction, would
more than once have been run over by some passing vehicle but for her
guardianship.



                              CHAPTER III.
                          A HALF RECOGNITION.


The character of Robert Ford may be divined without much difficulty from
the glimpses which have already been given. He was an amiable man, but
strikingly deficient in those practical traits which usually mark our
countrymen and command success even under the most unpromising
circumstances. He was not a man to succeed in business, nor suited for
the rough jostling with the world which business men must expect. He
ought rather to have been a quiet scholar, and dreamed away long days in
his library,—“the world forgetting, by the world forgot.” Such would
have been his choice if his circumstances had been easy. Under the
pressure of necessity he had turned aside from the ordinary paths of
money-making to devote himself to a chimerical plan by which he hoped to
attain wealth and distinction.

No man of a well balanced mind would have labored with such sanguine
expectations of success on a project so uncertain as the invention of a
flying machine. But Mr. Ford had not a well balanced mind. He was much
given to theorizing, and, like many amiable but obstinate persons, it
was as difficult to dislodge from his mind a purpose which had once
gained entrance there as to convert him by some miraculous
transformation into a sharp man of the world. Had he lived in the middle
ages it is very probable that his tastes and the habits of his mind
would have led him to devote himself to alchemy, or some other recondite
science, which would have consumed his time and money without any
adequate return.

We will now suppose three months to have elapsed since the events
recorded in our first chapter; three months in which the flowers of June
had been exchanged for the fruits of September, and the mellow beauty of
autumn had succeeded the glory of early summer.

During this time Helen has become an established favorite with all the
inmates except M’lle Fanchette, who yet, finding the tide of general
opinion against her, is content with privately stigmatizing the child as
an “upstart,” and a “forward hussy,” though in truth it would be
difficult to imagine anything more modest or retiring than her conduct.
She and her father still occupy the little room in the fourth story
back. Nothing has come of Mr. Ford’s invention yet, though he has filled
the room with strange, out-of-the-way appliances, wheels, and bits of
machinery, on which he labors day after day in the construction of his
proposed flying machine. His repeated failures have little effect in
damping his spirits. He has the true spirit of a discoverer, and is as
sanguine as ever of ultimate success. He has learned the difficult
lesson of patience.

“With such an end in view,” he sometimes exclaims with enthusiasm, half
to himself, half to Helen, “what matter a few months or years! Rome was
not built in a day, nor is it to be expected that a discovery which is
to affect the whole world in its consequences, should be the result of a
few hours’ or days’ labor.”

Helen, whose veneration for her father is unbounded, listens with the
fullest confidence, to his repeated assurances. It pains her to find
that others are more skeptical. Even Mother Morton who, though some find
her rough, is invariably kind to Helen, looks upon the father as a
visionary, since she has discovered the nature of his labors. She one
day intimated this to Helen. It was some time before the latter could
understand that a doubt was entertained as to her father’s success, and
when the conviction came slowly, it brought such an expression of pain
to her face, that the landlady resolved never in future to venture upon
an allusion which should grieve the child, whom she could not but love
the better for her filial trust and confidence.

Meanwhile the rent of the apartment which they occupy, and the cost of
living, simple as is their fare, have sensibly diminished their scanty
supply of money. This Helen, who is the steward and treasurer, cannot
help seeing, and she succeeds in obtaining work from the slop-shops. Her
father does not at first discover this. One day, however, he said
abruptly, as if the idea had for the first time occurred to him, “Helen,
you always seem to be sewing, lately.”

The child cast down her eyes in some embarrassment.

“You cannot be sewing so much for yourself,” continued her father. “Why,
what is this?” taking a boy’s vest from her reluctant fingers. “Surely,
this is not yours.”

“No, papa,” answered Helen, laughing; “you don’t think I have turned
Bloomer, do you?”

“Then what does it mean?” questioned her father, in real perplexity.

“Only this, papa, that being quite tired of sitting idle, and having
done all my own sewing, I thought I might as well fill up the time, and
earn some money at the same time by working for other people. Is that
satisfactory?” she concluded, playfully.

“Surely this was not necessary,” said Mr. Ford, with pain. “Are we then
so poor?”

“Do not be troubled, papa,” said Helen, cheerfully. “We could get along
very well without it; but I wanted something to do, and it gives me some
pocket-money for myself. You must know that I am getting extravagant.”

“Is that all?” said her father, in a tone of relief, the shadow passing
from his face. “I am glad of it. I could not bear to think of my little
Helen being compelled to work. Some day,” passing his hands fondly over
her luxuriant curls; “some day she shall have plenty of money.”

This thought incited him to fresh activity, and with new zeal he turned
to the odd jumble of machinery in the corner.

The evening meal was studiously simple and frugal, though Helen could
not resist the temptation of now and then purchasing some little
delicacy for her father. He was so abstracted that he gave little heed
to what was set before him, and never noticed that Helen always
abstained from tasting any luxury thus procured, confining herself
strictly to the usual frugal fare.

After tea it was the custom for father and daughter to walk out,
sometimes in one direction sometimes in another. Often they would walk
up Broadway, and Helen, at least, found amusement in watching the
shifting scenes which present themselves to the beholder in that crowded
thoroughfare. Life in all its varieties, from pampered wealth to squalid
poverty, too often the fruit of a mis-spent life jostled each other upon
the sidewalk, or in the street. The splendid equipage dashes past the
humble handcart; the dashing buggy jostles against the loaded dray.
Broadway is no exclusive thoroughfare. In the shadow of the magnificent
hotel leans the foreign beggar, just landed on our shores, and there is
no one to bid him “move on.” The shop windows, too, are a free “World’s
Fair Exhibition,” constantly changing, never exhausted. Helen and her
father had just returned from a leisurely walk, taken at the close of a
day of labor and confinement, and paused to rest for a moment on the
west side of the Park.

While they were standing there, a handsome carriage drove past. Within
were two gentlemen. One was already well advanced in years, as his gray
hairs and wrinkled face made apparent. He wore an expression of
indefinable sorrow and weariness, as if life had long ago ceased to have
charms for him. His companion might be somewhat under forty. He was tall
and spare, with a dark, forbidding face, which repelled rather than
attracted the beholder.

As the carriage neared the Park, the elder of the two looked out to rest
his gaze, wearied with the sight of brick and stone, upon the verdure of
this inclosure. This, be it remembered, was twenty years since, before
the Park had so completely lost its fresh country look. He chanced to
see Mr. Ford and Helen. He started suddenly in visible agitation.

“Look, Lewis!” he exclaimed, clutching the arm of his companion, and
pointing to Mr. Ford.

The younger man started almost imperceptibly, and his face paled, but he
almost instantly recovered himself.

“Yes,” he said, carelessly; “the Park is looking well.”

“Not that, not that,” said the old man, hurriedly. “That man with the
little girl. He is,—he must be Robert, my long-lost son. Stop the
carriage. I must get out.”

“My dear uncle,” expostulated the younger man, who had been addressed as
Lewis, “you are laboring under a strange hallucination. This man does
not in the least resemble my cousin. Besides, you remember that we have
undoubted proof of his death in Chicago two years since.”

“You may be right,” said the old man, as he sank back into his seat with
a sigh, “but the resemblance was wonderful.”

“But, uncle, let me suggest that more than fifteen years have passed
away since my cousin left home, and even if he were living, he must have
changed so much that we could not expect to recognize him.”

“Perhaps you are right, Lewis; and yet, when I looked at that man, I was
startled by a look that brought before me my dead wife,—my precious
Helen. I fear I have dealt harshly with her boy.”

He relapsed into a silence which his companion did not care to disturb.
He watched guardedly the expression of the old man, and a close observer
might have detected a shade of anxiety, as if there were something
connected with his uncle’s present mood which alarmed him. After a short
scrutiny he himself fell into thought, and as we are privileged to read
what is concealed from all else, we will give the substance of his
reflections.

“Here is a new danger to be guarded against, just at the most critical
time, too. Shall I never attain the object of my wishes? Shall I never
be paid for the years in which I have danced attendance upon my uncle? I
_must_ succeed by whatever means. He cannot last much longer.”

The evident weakness of his uncle seemed to justify his prediction. He
looked like one whose feet are drawing very near the brink of that
mysterious river which it is appointed to all of us at some time to
cross.



                              CHAPTER IV.
                          A GLANCE BACKWARDS.


It was growing late. Night had drawn its sombre veil over the great
city, and the streets, a little while before filled with busy
passers-by, now echoed but seldom to the steps of an occasional
wayfarer. The shops were closed, the long day assigned to trade being
over. To plodding feet and busy brains, to frames weary with exhausting
labor, to minds harassed by anxious cares, night came in friendly guise,
bringing the rest and temporary oblivion of sleep.

From a small building in a by-street, or rather lane, which nevertheless
was not far removed from the main thoroughfare, there gleamed a solitary
candle, emitting a fitful glare, which served, so far as it went, to
give a very unfavorable idea of the immediate vicinity. Within, a young
man, painfully thin, was seated at a low table, engrossing a legal
document. The face was not an agreeable one. The prevailing expression
was one of discontent and weak repining. He was one who could complain
of circumstances without having the energy to control them; born to be a
subordinate of loftier and more daring intellects.

He wrote with rapidity and, at the same time, with scrupulous elegance.
He was evidently a professional copyist.

After bending over his writing for a time, during which he was rapidly
approaching the completion of his task, he at length threw aside the
pen, exclaiming, with an air of relief, “At last it is finished! Thank
Heaven! that is,” he added, after a slight pause, “if there be such a
place, which I am sometimes inclined to doubt. Finished; but what after
all is a single day’s work? To-night I may sleep in peace, but to-morrow
the work must begin once more. It is like a tread-mill, continually
going round, but making no real progress. I wish,” he resumed, after a
slight pause, “there were some way of becoming suddenly rich, without
this wear and tear of hand and brain. I don’t know that I am so much
surprised at the stories of those who, in utter disgust of labor, have
sold themselves to the arch fiend. Why should I have been born with such
a keen enjoyment of luxuries, and without the means of obtaining them?
Why should I be doomed——”

When discontent had thus opened the way for its favorable reception,
temptation came.

There was a knock at the door.

Thinking it might be some strolling vagabond who, in his intoxication,
was wandering he knew not whither, he did not at first respond, but
waited till it should be repeated.

It was repeated, this time with a considerable degree of force.

The young man approached the door, but feeling apprehensive that it
might prove to be some unwelcome visitor, he paused before drawing the
bolt, and called out, in a voice marked by a tremulous quaver, for he
possessed but little physical courage, “Who are you that come here at
such an unseasonable hour? Unless I know your name, I shall not let you
in.”

“Don’t be alarmed, Jacob,” was the reply. “It is only I, Lewis Rand.
Open at once, for I come on business which must be quickly despatched.”

The explanation was evidently satisfactory, for the scrivener in eager
haste opened the door, and admitted his visitor. It was the younger of
the two men upon whom the chance meeting with Helen and her father
seemed to have produced an impression so powerful. Jacob, though well
acquainted with him, was evidently surprised at his presence at an hour
so unseasonable, for he exclaimed, in a tone of mingled surprise and
deference, “You here, Mr. Rand, and at this time of night! It must be
something important which has called you at an hour when most men are
quietly sleeping in their beds.”

“Yet you are up, Jacob, and at work, as I conjecture,” said the visitor,
pointing to the table on which the completed sheets were still lying.

“True,” said the copyist, for this recalled to him the grounds of his
discontent; “but I must work while others sleep, or accept a worse
alternative. Sometimes I am tempted to give up the struggle. You have
never known what a hard taskmaster poverty is.”

“Perhaps not,” returned the other; “but I can testify that the
apprehension of poverty is not less formidable. However, I can perhaps
lend you a helping hand, since the business on which I come, if
successfully carried out, of which with your co-operation I have strong
hopes, will prove so important to me that I shall be able to put a
better face upon your affairs.”

“Ah!” said the young man, with suddenly awakening interest; “what may it
be? I will gladly give you all the aid in my power.”

“Jacob,” said his visitor, fixing his eyes steadily upon the scrivener,
“you know there is an old maxim, ‘Nothing venture, nothing have.’ In
other words, he who aims to be successful in his undertakings, must not
scruple to employ the means best suited to advance his interests, even
though they may involve the _possibility_ of disaster to himself. Do you
comprehend my meaning?”

“Not entirely. At least, I need to be informed of the connection between
what has just been said and the service you require at my hands.”

“You shall presently know. But first promise me solemnly that what I may
say, and any proposition which I may make to you to-night, shall forever
remain a secret between us two.”

The scrivener made the required promise, though his wonder was not a
little excited by the extraordinary language and significant tone of his
companion.

“I promise,” he said. “You may proceed. I am ready.”

“You are quite alone, I suppose,” said Lewis, inquiringly. “There is no
fear of eavesdroppers?”

“Not the least,” replied Jacob, muttering to himself in an undertone,
“Margaret must be fast asleep, I think. You need be under no
apprehensions,” he said, aloud. “We shall not be disturbed.”

At this moment a small clock over the mantel struck two.

“Two o’clock!” exclaimed Lewis. “I had not supposed it so late. However,
it is perhaps better, since we are the safer from interruption. You are
somewhat acquainted,” he continued, “with the position in which I stand
to my uncle. For years I have been his constant companion, the slave of
his whims and caprices, depriving myself of more agreeable and congenial
society, in order to maintain my hold upon his affections, and secure
the inheritance of his large property. No son would have done as much as
I have. And now, when half my life is gone, and the realization of my
hopes is apparently near at hand, an incident has occurred, which
threatens to disarrange all my plans, and defraud me of all but a tithe
of that which I have so long looked upon as my sure inheritance.”

“Surely, your uncle has no nearer relatives than yourself!” exclaimed
Jack, in surprise.

“That is what the world thinks, but they are deceived. My uncle has a
son, and that son has a daughter. You see, therefore, that there is no
lack of heirs. But you need an explanation.

“My father died when I was not quite five years of age. He was what is
called a gay man, and spent freely what property he possessed, in
extravagant living, and, lest that might not prove sufficient, he lost
large sums at the gaming table. He died in an affair of honor which grew
out of a dispute with one of his gambling acquaintances, leaving, as my
inheritance, a few debts and nothing more. But for my uncle I should
have been thrown upon the cold charities of the world. Fortunately for
me, my uncle had none of his brother’s vices, and had preserved his
property intact, so that when need came, he was able to stretch forth a
helping hand to his nephew.

“I can remember the day when I became an inmate of my uncle’s household.
I did not mourn much for my father, who seldom took any notice of me.
Child as I was, I understood that his death, in consigning me to my
uncle’s care, had left me better off than before.

“I was nearly five, as I have said. My uncle had a son,—but one,—who was
two years my senior. So my cousin Robert and I grew up together.
Although we were treated in every respect alike, having the same tutors,
the same wardrobe, and even sharing the same room, I cannot remember a
time when I did not hate him. There was nothing in his manner or his
treatment of me that should lead to this, I acknowledge. He always
treated me as a brother, and I suffered not a word or a gesture, not
even a look, to indicate that I did not regard him in the same light.
You will perhaps wonder at my aversion. It is easily explained. Although
our treatment was the same, I soon learned that our prospects were very
different. I soon became aware that he, as heir of his father’s wealth,
already considerable and rapidly increasing, was considered, by many, a
far more important personage than myself. Notwithstanding my uncle’s
indulgence to me, I well knew that his pride, and a certain desire,
inherited from his English ancestors, that his estate should be handed
down entire from generation to generation, would receive anything beyond
a moderate annuity. I could not brook my cousin’s superior prospects,
and determined to injure him with my uncle, if an opportunity offered.

“The opportunity came. My cousin fell in love with a beautiful girl,
who, but for her poverty, would have attracted me also. This, however,
proved an insuperable obstacle. I waited until the attachment had
ripened into the most ardent affection, and then I made it known to my
uncle with all the embellishments which I thought best calculated to
arouse his irritation. The object of my cousin’s attachment I described
as an awkward country-girl, without cultivation or refinement. It was a
heavy blow to my uncle’s pride, for he had nourished high hopes for his
son, and aspired to an alliance with a family as old and distinguished
as his own. In the exasperation of the moment he summoned Robert to him,
and peremptorily insisted on his at once giving up his attachment,
stigmatizing the object of it in such terms as I had employed in
describing her. My cousin’s spirit was naturally roused by such manifest
injustice, and he refused to accede to his father’s wishes. The
discussion was a stormy one, and terminated as I hoped and believed it
would. My cousin went forth from the house, disowned and disinherited,
and I remained, filling his place as heir.”

Jacob surveyed the speaker with a glance of admiration. He paid homage
to a rascality which surpassed his own. He admired his craftiness and
address, while his want of principle did not repel him.

“What became of your cousin?” inquired the scrivener, after a pause.

“He married and went out West. He possessed a small property inherited
from his mother, and this enabled him to live in a humble way. I have
heard little of him since, except that he had but one child, a daughter,
who must now be not far from fourteen years old. This I learned from a
letter of her father’s which I intercepted.”

“Has your uncle ever shown any symptoms of relenting?” asked Jacob.

“Two years ago he was very sick and it was thought he might die. During
that sickness he referred so often to his son that I began to tremble
for my prospective inheritance. I accordingly procured a notice of his
death to be inserted in a Chicago paper, which I took care to show my
uncle. The authenticity of this he never dreamed of doubting, and I felt
that my chances were as good as ever. But within the last week a fact
has come to my knowledge which fills me with alarm.”

The copyist looked up inquiringly.

“It is this,” resumed Lewis. “Not only is my cousin living, but he is in
this city. Furthermore my uncle has seen him, and but for my solemn
assurance that he was mistaken, and my recalling to his recollection
that Robert’s death was well attested, he would have taken immediate
measures for finding him out. If found, he would be at once reinstated
in his birthright, and I should be reduced to the position of a humble
dependent upon my uncle’s bounty.”

“But you have escaped the danger, and all is well again.”

“By no means. Notwithstanding my representation, my uncle clings
obstinately to the belief that either he or some child of his may be
living, and only yesterday caused a new will to be drawn up, leaving the
bulk of his estate to his son or his son’s issue; and, failing these, to
me. You will readily see how I stand affected by this. Of course in the
event of my cousin’s death a search will be immediately instituted for
my cousin and his daughter, and being in the city they will probably be
found.”

“Your prospects are certainly not of the most encouraging character,”
said Jacob, after a pause. “But, if I may venture to inquire, what
assurance have you that such is the tenor of your uncle’s will?”

“This,” replied Rand, taking from a side-pocket a piece of parchment
tied with a blue ribbon, and leisurely unrolling it. Jacob watched his
movements with curiosity.

“This,” said he, bending a searching glance upon the scrivener, as if to
test his fidelity; “this is my uncle’s will.”

The copyist could not repress a start of astonishment.

“The will!” he exclaimed. “How did you obtain possession of it?”

Lewis smiled.

“It was for my interest,” he said briefly, “to learn the contents of
this document, and I therefore made it my business to find it. You see
that I have been successful. Read it.”

The copyist drew the lamp nearer, and read it slowly and deliberately.

“Yes,” said he, at length, looking up thoughtfully; “the contents are as
you have described. May I ask what it is your intention to do about it,
and what is the service I am to render you?”

“Can you not guess?” demanded his visitor, fixing his eyes meaningly
upon him.

“No,” returned the scrivener, a little uneasily; “I cannot.”

“You are skilful with the pen, exceedingly skilful,” resumed Lewis,
meaningly. “Indeed, there has been a time when this accomplishment came
near standing you in good stead, though it might also have turned to
your harm.”

Jacob winced.

“Ah!” pursued the visitor, “I see you have not forgotten a little
occurrence in the past, when, but for my intervention, you might
have been convicted of—shall I say it?—forgery. You need not thank
me. I never do anything without a motive. I don’t believe in
disinterestedness. The idea struck me even at that time that I might
at some time have need of you.”

“I am ready,” said Jacob, submissively.

“That is well. What I want you to do is this. You must draw me up
another will as nearly like this as possible, except that the whole
estate shall be devised to me unconditionally. Well, man, what means
that look of alarm?”

“It will be very dangerous to both of us,” faltered the copyist.

“It will be a forgery, I admit,” said Lewis, calmly; “but what is there
in that word, _forgery_, which should so discompose _you_? Did it ever
occur to you that the old charge might be renewed against you, when no
intervention of mine will avail to save you?”

The copyist perceived the threat implied in those words, and hastened to
propitiate his visitor, of whom he seemed to stand in wholesome fear.

“Nay,” said he, submissively, “you know best the danger to both of us.”

“And I tell you, Jacob, there is none at all. You are so cunning with
the pen that you may easily defy detection, and for the rest, I will
take the hazard.”

“And what will be the recompense?” inquired the scrivener.

“Two hundred dollars as soon as the task is completed,” was the prompt
reply. “One thousand more when the success of the plan is assured.”

Jacob’s eyes sparkled. To him the bribe was a fortune.

“I consent,” he said; “give me the will. I must study it for a time to
become familiar with the handwriting.”

He drew the lamp nearer and began to pore earnestly over the manuscript,
occasionally scrawling with the pen which he held in his hand an
imitation of some of the characters. It was a study for an artist,—those
two men,—each determined upon a wrong deed for the sake of personal
advantage. Lewis, with his cool, self-possessed manner, and the copyist,
with his ignoble features and nervous eagerness, divided between the
desire of gain and the fear of detection.

All this time a woman’s eye might have been seen peering through a
slightly open door, and regarding with a careful glance all that was
passing. The two men were so intent upon the work before them that she
escaped their notice.

“Oho,” said she to herself, “there shall be a third in the secret which
you fancy confined to yourselves. Who knows but it may turn out to my
advantage, some day? I will stay and see the whole.”

She drew back silently, and took her position just behind the door,
where nothing that was said could escape her.

Meanwhile Jacob, having satisfied himself that he could imitate the
handwriting of the will, commenced the task of copying. Half an hour
elapsed during which both parties preserved strict silence. At the end
of that time the copyist, with a satisfied air, handed Lewis the
manuscript he had completed. The latter compared the two with a critical
eye. Everything, including the names of the witnesses, was wonderfully
like. It was extremely difficult from the external appearance, to
distinguish the original from the copy.

“You have done your work faithfully and well,” said Lewis, with evident
satisfaction, “and deserve great credit. You are wonderfully skilful
with the pen.”

The copyist rubbed his hands complacently.

“With this I think we need not fear detection. Here are the two hundred
dollars which I promised you. The remainder is contingent on my getting
the estate. I shall be faithful, in that event, to my part of the
compact.”

Jacob bowed.

“It must be very late,” said Lewis, drawing out his watch. “I am sorry
to have kept you up so late; but no doubt you feel paid. I must hasten
back.”

He buttoned his coat, and went out into the street. A smile lighted up
his dark features as he speculated upon the probable success of his
plans. He felt not even a momentary compunction as he thought of the
means he had employed or the object he had in view.

Meanwhile those whom he was conspiring to defraud were sleeping
tranquilly.



                               CHAPTER V.
                            THE PETTIFOGGER.


The legal profession numbers among its disciples a large class of
honorable and high-minded men; and it also includes some needy
adventurers well versed in the arts of pettifogging and chicanery, and
willing, for a consideration, to throw over the most discreditable
proceedings the mantle of the law, thus perverting, to the injury of the
public, that which was intended for its principal safeguard.

Of this latter class was Richard Sharp, Banister, whose name might have
been read on the door of an exceedingly dirty little office not far from
Wall Street. Being under the necessity of introducing my reader to some
acquaintances and localities not altogether desirable I must trouble him
to enter Mr. Sharp’s office.

In the centre of the office stands a table covered with green baize.
Scattered over it are diverse bundles tied with red tape, evidently
intended to give the unsophisticated visitor the impression that Mr.
Sharp’s business is in a most flourishing condition. Nevertheless, since
the novelist is permitted to see farther into the shams which he
describes than is accorded to others less privileged, it may be remarked
that these identical bundles have lain upon the table with no other
alteration than an occasional change of arrangement, ever since the
office was opened.

The enterprising proprietor of the bundles aforesaid is smoking a cigar,
while reading the Morning Herald, and occasionally glancing out of the
window near by. His features would hardly justify the description of
“beauty in repose,” being deeply pitted with smallpox, which is not
usually thought to improve the appearance. His nose is large and
spreading at the base. His hair is deeply, darkly, beautifully red,
bristling like a cat’s fur when accidentally rubbed the wrong way. Add
to these a long, scraggy neck, and the reader has a tolerable idea of
Mr. Sharp as he sat in his office on the first day of October, 18—.

How long he would have sat thus, if uninterrupted, is uncertain. His
meditations were broken in upon by a quick, imperative knock at the
door. The effect upon Mr. Sharp was electrical. He sprang from his seat,
tossed his cigar away, wheeled his chair round to the table, and drawing
a blank legal form towards him, knit his brows and began to write as if
life and death depended upon his haste. Meanwhile the visitor became
impatient and rapped again, this time more imperatively.

“Come in,” called Mr. Sharp, in a deep bass voice, not raising his eyes
from the paper on which his pen was now scratching furiously. “Take a
seat; shall be at leisure in a moment,—full of business, you know,—can’t
get a moment’s rest.”

When at length he found time to look up, he met the gaze of our recent
acquaintance, Lewis Rand. The latter, who had penetration enough to see
through the lawyer’s artifice, smiled a little derisively.

“It must be a satisfaction to you,” he said, rather dryly, “to find your
services in such request.”

“Why, yes, ahem! yes,” said the lawyer, passing his fingers through his
bristling locks. “It is a satisfaction as you say, though I confess,” he
continued, with a dashing effrontery quite refreshing to contemplate,
“that sometimes when my labors are protracted far into the night, I feel
that business has its pains as well as pleasures, and cannot help
wishing that——”

“That you had a partner to relieve you of a portion of your toils, you
doubtless mean to say,” interrupted Lewis, with a quizzical smile; for
he was quite aware that Mr. Sharp meant no such thing. “In that case I
know the very man for you; a young man just entered at the bar, very
promising, and bidding fair to distinguish himself in his profession. I
should be happy to serve both you and him. When shall I introduce him?”

“Why,” said Sharp, in some embarrassment, for he knew to his cost that
his business was quite too limited to support himself, much less a
partner. “Why, you see, although my business is, as I said, very
driving, I do not at present think of taking a partner. The fact is, I
never enjoy myself more than when I am hard at work. It is an
idiosyncrasy of mine, if I may so express myself.”

And Mr. Sharp looked up, thinking he had made a very clever evasion.

“When I do conclude to take a partner, which the increase of my business
may at some time render absolutely necessary,” he added, graciously
inclining his head, “I will certainly think of your friend. Your
recommendation will be a sufficient guarantee of his ability.”

“I feel deeply indebted to you for the confidence you express in my
judgment,” said Lewis, bowing, “particularly as I am a perfect stranger
to you. Such instances are rarely met with in a world like ours.”

Mr. Sharp was not quite sure whether his visitor was not secretly
bantering him. He thought it best, however, to construe his meaning
literally.

“I am not usually hasty in bestowing my confidence, Mr.—your name
escaped me.”

“I think I have not mentioned it.”

“O ho, ahem! perhaps not,” continued Mr. Sharp, finding his little
artifice to obtain his visitor’s name ineffectual, “but as I was about
to say, I seldom give my confidence without good reason. I am—I may
say—somewhat skilled in physiognomy, and a cursory examination of the
features is sufficient, in ordinary cases, to enable me to form an
opinion of a person.”

Mr. Sharp was fertile in expedients, and had an abundant share of
self-possession.

“Perhaps we had better proceed to business,” said Lewis, abruptly.

“Oh, by all means, sir, by all means?” returned Mr. Sharp, assuming a
brisk tone at the prospect of a client. “As I before remarked, I never
feel more completely in my element than when immersed in business. It is
an——”

“If you will give me your attention for a few minutes,” pursued Lewis,
unceremoniously interrupting him, “I will endeavor to explain the nature
of the service I require.”

Mr. Sharp bent forward, and assumed an attitude of the most earnest
attention. He nodded slightly, and screwed up his eyes, as if to
intimate that he was about to concentrate all his mental energies upon
the matter in hand.

“You must know,” said Lewis, slowly, “that there are two persons living
in this city whose presence, in what way it is needless to specify,
conflict very seriously with my interests. It is my wish to bring some
motive to bear upon them which shall lead to their departure from the
city.”

“I understand,” nodded Mr. Sharp, with an air of profound wisdom. “Go
on, my good sir.”

“One difficulty, however, meets me at the outset,” continued Lewis; “I
do not know in what part of the city the two persons——”

“Aforesaid,” prompted Mr. Sharp, nodding sagaciously.

“Live,” concluded Lewis, not heeding the interpolation; “nor have I any
definite clew by which to find them.”

“Can you describe these persons to me so that I may be able to identify
them?”

“That is not easy, since one of them I have never seen but once, and the
other but once in fifteen years.”

Mr. Sharp looked a little puzzled.

“I can, however, tell you this much. One is a man of about forty, who
appears somewhat older. The other, his daughter, is a girl of fourteen,
or thereabouts. The former is a little absent in manner, or was formerly
so; the little girl, I should judge, is attractive in her personal
appearance.”

“When did you last meet them?” inquired the lawyer.

“One evening last week.”

“And where?”

“They were then leaning against the railing on the west side of the
Park.”

“Can you tell at what hour?”

“About six.”

“Then it is quite possible that they may be found at the same place some
evening, at or near this hour. Very probably they are in the habit of
taking a walk at that time and in that direction. We are all creatures
of habit, and are apt to stick to the ruts we have made. Have you no
other clew by which I may be guided? It is quite likely that there are
others to whom the description you have given will apply. When you saw
them, in what manner were they dressed?”

“I had but a brief glimpse, and do not feel altogether sure. The father
is as tall as yourself. I can tell you the girl’s name also; it is
Helen.”

“And her father’s?”

“I could tell you his real name, but as I have every reason to believe
that he has dropped it and assumed another, it will, perhaps, be
unnecessary. His Christian name is Robert.”

“The first step, then,” said Mr. Sharp, reflectively, “is, of course, to
find these persons. This will be a matter of some difficulty, and may
require considerable time. I do not doubt, however, that I shall
ultimately be able to accomplish it. May I inquire whether they are in
good circumstances pecuniarily?”

“Probably not. I presume their means are quite limited.”

“So much the better.”

“For what reason?” inquired Lewis, in some curiosity.

“Simply this. You tell me you are desirous of removing them from the
city; if they are poor it will be much easier to offer an inducement
likely to weigh with them, than if they were in prosperous
circumstances.”

“There is something in that, I admit, but if Robert is as proud as he
used to be in days gone by, such an attempt would avail but little.
However, there is no occasion to consider what further steps are to be
taken, till we have actually found them. That must be our first care.”

“In that I shall endeavor to serve you. How and where shall I
communicate with you?”

“I shall call upon you frequently. There may, however, be occasions when
it will be needful to communicate with me without delay. In such an
event, a note directed to L. Thornton, Box 1228, will reach me.”

Mr. Sharp noted this address on a slip of paper, and bowed his client
out.

There will of course be no difficulty in divining why Lewis considered
it detrimental to his interests that Helen and her father should remain
in the city. He was in constant alarm lest some accident should bring
together the father and son, who had for so long a time been separated
from each other. He was playing for a large stake, and was not
fastidious as to the means employed, provided they insured his success.
His visit to the copyist, and the bold forgery perpetrated with his
assistance, afforded sufficient evidence of this. He was disposed,
however, to use very prudent precaution. Why he was induced to call in
the co-operation of a needy, and well nigh briefless lawyer like Mr.
Sharp, may be gathered from the soliloquy in which he indulged on
leaving the office of the worthy attorney.

“There’s a great deal of humbug about that fellow,” he said to himself,
“but he is quick-witted and unscrupulous—two qualities which adapt him
to my service. Again, he is poor, and not overburdened with business, so
that he will be the more likely to attach himself to my interests.
Things seem to be in a fair train. It is fortunate that my cousin does
not know of his father’s removal to this city; he doubtless imagines him
a hundred miles away. It is indispensable that I should not show myself
in this business, but leave everything to Sharp. When the property is
mine, I can bid my cousin defiance.”

The wily nephew hastened to the bedside of his uncle, where, with
feigned solicitude, he inquired after his health. It is well for our
happiness that we cannot always read the hearts of those about us. How
hollow and empty would then seem some of the courtesies of life!



                              CHAPTER VI.
                            SO FAR, SO GOOD.


Lewis Rand had displayed his usual sagacity in selecting Mr. Sharp as
his agent in the affair which now occupied so large a share of his
attention. The worthy attorney was not particularly scrupulous, and the
thought that he was lending his aid to defraud, did not have the least
effect in disturbing Mr. Sharp’s tranquillity. Indeed, he considered it
a stroke of remarkably good luck that he should have secured so
promising a client, through whom his rather limited income was likely to
receive so important an accession. To do him justice he intended to
devote his best exertions to the case now in his hands, and insure the
success of his client if it could in any manner be compassed.

For several evenings subsequent to the interview described in the last
chapter, Mr. Sharp found it convenient to walk for an hour or more
towards the close of the afternoon. Singularly enough he never varied
his promenade, always selecting the neighborhood of the Park. It was his
custom to walk slowly up and down, attentively scanning the different
groups that passed under his eye. But among the thousands who passed
him, he could for some time discover none that resembled the description
furnished by his client.

It chanced that Helen and her father had suspended their walks for a few
days, in consequence of a slight indisposition on the part of the
latter. This, however, Mr. Sharp could not be expected to know. His
hopes of ultimate success diminished, and although he continued his
daily walks, he began to be apprehensive that they would result in
nothing. But one evening as he was glancing restlessly about him, his
eye fell upon a plainly-dressed man, above the middle height, but
stooping, walking hand in hand with a young girl. Their ages seemed to
correspond with those given by Lewis Rand.

The thought flashed upon Mr. Sharp that these might be the two persons
of whom he was in search. Judging that they might let fall something in
their conversation which would decide the matter, he followed closely
behind them. But unluckily for the lawyer’s purpose, Mr. Ford was in one
of his not uncommon fits of abstraction, and maintained an unbroken
silence.

Mr. Sharp pondered, and set his wits to work to devise some method by
which he could gain the information he desired. At length it occurred to
him that the little girl’s name was Helen, and this might help to
identify her.

After a while Helen and her father slackened their pace. Mr. Sharp took
up a position behind them. Assuming an air of unconcern, he pronounced,
in a low tone, the word “Helen,” at the same time slipping dexterously
behind an old gentleman of somewhat aldermanic proportions who had just
come up.

On hearing her name pronounced, Helen turned quickly around as Mr. Sharp
had anticipated. Her eyes rested on the grave features of the
respectable old gentleman before alluded to. He was not even looking at
her. Evidently it could not be he. She did not observe the somewhat
flashily attired gentleman behind, whose red locks contrasted so vividly
with the grayish white hat somewhat jauntily perched on the side of his
head. Supposing, therefore, that her ears must have deceived her, she
turned away. Her sudden movement, however, had not been unobserved by
the watchful eyes of the lawyer.

“That must be she,” he said to himself. “She would scarcely have turned
round so quickly on hearing any other name than her own. That’s the
first link in the chain, Sharp. You’ve got a little to build upon now.
Now we’ll see how well you will succeed in following it up.”

Mr. Sharp was in the habit of apostrophizing himself in such familiar
terms as “old fellow,” and would indulge in commendations, or otherwise,
of his conduct, as if of a second person.

When Helen and her father left the spot, they were followed at a little
distance by the lawyer, whose object of course, was to ascertain where
they lived. His curiosity was gratified. Helen entered Mother Morton’s
boarding-house, quite unconscious that she had been followed. A rapid
glance satisfied Mr. Sharp of the name and number which were at once
transferred to his note-book.

“So far, so good,” thought he, with inward satisfaction. “I must inform
my client forthwith, and then we can decide upon further steps.”

So elated was Mr. Sharp by the discovery that he had made, that he
stepped into a saloon on Broadway, and indulged in potations so very
generous, that he narrowly escaped arrest by a policeman on the way
home.

Helen, meanwhile, was becoming daily more and more troubled in mind. Her
father was so wrapped up in his model that he could think of nothing
else. To her, accordingly, had been committed the common purse, and upon
her had devolved the duty of providing for their daily wants, as well as
discharging the rent which was due once in four weeks. She therefore
knew more of their pecuniary condition than her father. She had been
repeatedly alarmed at the rapid diminution of the funds placed in her
hands, and this, notwithstanding she exercised the strictest economy in
all their expenses. For some time, as we have seen, she had eked out
their scanty means by working for the slop-shops. Now, however, there
was a lull in the clothing business, and this resource was temporarily
cut off. How heavily upon the young and inexperienced falls the burden
of pecuniary trouble! Helen saw with a feeling of dismay that a few
weeks would find their means exhausted. What would become of them then,
she did not dare to think. If only her father’s invention could be
completed before that time, she thought, in her simplicity, that all
would be well. Of the long years before even a successful invention can
be made profitable, she knew nothing. She trusted implicitly to her
father’s confident assurances, and never doubted that some time they
would become rich through his discovery. This consideration, however,
did not afford her present relief. Although her father labored
assiduously, it did not appear to her unpractised eye that he was any
nearer the end than he had been six months before. Confident as she was
of his final success, the question how they should live in the mean time
assumed grave importance, and occasioned her not a little perplexity.

If Helen could have shared her doubts and anxieties with some one who
might have sympathized with her, she would have felt less troubled. But
there seemed to be no one to whom she could speak freely. She was only
too anxious to keep it from her father, who, she felt instinctively,
could give her little or no assistance. She thought of speaking to Mrs.
Morton, but the fear lest, if she should acknowledge her poverty, the
latter might be unwilling to allow them to retain their room any longer,
restrained her.

We have before mentioned the humble seamstress, Martha Grey, who
occupied the room beneath that of Mr. Ford. Though plain in appearance,
and of quiet demeanor, Helen had been attracted by the expression of
goodness which lighted up her face. Sometimes, when her father seemed
wholly immersed in his labors, she would steal down stairs and spend a
quiet hour in Martha’s company.

On one of these occasions Martha had a visitor. Although introduced as a
cousin, one could scarcely imagine a greater contrast than existed
between her and Martha. Her dress was more showy than tasteful, and
evidently occupied a large share of her attention. She was employed in a
millinery establishment where she earned good wages,—twice as much as
Martha,—but saved nothing, expending everything upon personal adornment.
She lacked entirely the refinement and quiet dignity of her cousin. In
spite of her humble circumstances, Martha would have been recognized by
any one possessing discernment as a lady. Her cousin, in spite of her
dress, was never in any danger of being mistaken for one. Her manner
towards Martha, however, was a patronizing one, and she evidently
considered herself as occupying a much higher position than the
seamstress.

“I am astonished, Martha,” said she, glancing contemptuously at the
plain room, and plainer furniture, “that you should be willing to live
in such a hole. I believe if I was cooped up here I should die of
loneliness in less than a week.”

“I find it very comfortable,” said Martha, composedly.

“Yes, I suppose it will do. It will keep out the rain and wind, and is
better than nothing, of course. But I want something better than that.”

“I am very well contented,” said Martha, “and even if I were not, I
could afford no better.”

“Do you stay here all the time? Don’t you ever go to concerts or the
theatre?”

“No.”

“What a humdrum life you must lead! It’s Wednesday afternoon. Suppose we
go to the theatre. There’s going to be a splendid play.”

Martha hesitated.

There is so little to excite or interest in the monotonous life of a
hard-working seamstress, that she really longed to throw aside the
needle, and accept her cousin’s invitation.

“I should like to go,” she said at length, “but I am afraid I ought not
to spend either the time or the money.”

“Then I’ll make you a fair offer. If you’ll spare the time, I’ll spare
the money. I’ll buy the tickets. Won’t you go, too?” she continued,
turning to Helen. “I’ll pay for you.”

Helen looked at Martha who nodded kindly, and said, “Did you ever go to
the theatre, Helen!”

“No, Martha.”

“Then you had better come. You can come back with me.”

“Thank you,” said Helen. “I will see if father needs me.”

She hastened up stairs, but found that her father, absorbed in his
engrossing employment, had not even been aware of her absence.

“Do you think you can spare me for two or three hours, papa?” she asked.
“I have been invited to go out.”

She had to repeat the question before her father comprehended.

“Go, by all means, my dear child,” he answered. “I am afraid you confine
yourself too much on my account.”

Helen was soon ready. She went out with Martha Grey and her cousin, and
a few minutes found them standing before a large building with a
spacious entrance.

“This is the theatre,” said Martha, addressing herself to Helen.

Helen little thought of the consequences that were to follow this—her
first entrance within the walls of a theatre.



                              CHAPTER VII.
                             A NEW TALENT.


Seated in the theatre, Helen looked about her in bewilderment. She had
never been within the walls of a theatre. In the street the sun shone
brightly. Here the sun was rigorously excluded, and gas took its place.
It seemed to the unsophisticated child like a sudden leap from noon to
night. She could hear the rumbling of vehicles in the streets, but it
appeared to her, somehow, as if they were far away, and that she had
come into a different world. She wondered what there was behind that
broad green curtain in front, and why the lights should be arranged so
oddly at the foot of it.

“Lor’, child, that’s the stage,” was the lucid explanation of Martha’s
cousin, to whom she applied for information. “Haven’t you ever been to
the theatre before?”

“No, never,” said Helen.

The cousin looked at her with some curiosity, as if there must be
something out of the common way about a person who had never been to the
theatre, and expressed her decided conviction that Helen’s education had
been shockingly neglected.

“Why,” said she, “before I was half as high as you, I had been to the
theatre ever so many times.”

She spoke with so much complacency that Helen imagined she must be a
very superior person, and possessed great knowledge of the world.

While these and other thoughts were passing through her mind, the bell
rang twice, and then the curtain rose.

Helen nearly uttered an exclamation of surprise, so unprepared was she
for the spectacle which was presented to her dazzled gaze. The play was
a fairy extravaganza, which depended for its success chiefly upon
scenery and stage effect. In the first scene was represented the palace
of the Queen of the fairies, crowning the summit of a hill, rising in
the centre of a beautiful island. Above floated fleecy clouds, from a
break in which streamed the sunshine, lending its glory to the scene.

In the foreground stood a circle of children about Helen’s age or
younger, who figured as sylphs. With united voices they sang a song in
honor of the Queen of the fairies, who directly afterwards was seen
floating through the air above the stage, arrayed in such style as
seemed befitting her illustrious rank.

So complete was the illusion to Helen, that she gazed with suspended
breath and a feeling, half of awe, as if the scene she looked upon was
really one of enchantment.

“Is she really a fairy?” she asked of Martha’s cousin.

“No, child, of course not. It’s Henrietta Blake. I’ve seen her in the
street many a time. Once I was introduced to her.”

“What a beautiful creature she must be!” said Helen, admiringly.

“Beautiful!” repeated the cousin, with some disdain. “For my part, I
don’t think she’s anything to boast of in that line. Just notice what a
poor complexion she has. You’d see it if it wasn’t for the paint. You
wouldn’t have thought her very fairy-like if you had seen her in at
Taylor’s the other evening, eating oysters.”

Helen could scarcely believe her ears. It seemed to be almost like
sacrilege to associate such a gross idea with the etherial being that
floated before her in all the majestic beauty of a fairy queen. It took
from the scene before her something of the charm with which her fancy
had invested it. Still it was with a feeling of intense enjoyment that
she followed the play to its conclusion, watching scene after scene pass
before her, and the music was truly enchanting.

At length the play was finished, and the curtain dropped. This, however,
did not conclude the performance. After a short pause the curtain rose
once more, and a young girl came forward and sang the well-known little
Scotch song, “Comin’ thro’ the Rye.” It was sung correctly and in good
taste, but with no remarkable display of power. Still it was
vociferously encored, and, on its repetition, was applauded warmly.

There was an afterpiece, but, as it was already late in the afternoon,
Martha and her cousin decided not to remain.

“Well, how did you like it?” asked the cousin, patronizingly.

“Oh, it was beautiful!” exclaimed Helen, enthusiastically. “I am so much
obliged to you for taking me.”

“They have better plays sometimes,” returned the cousin, with an air of
superior knowledge of the world. “I didn’t think much of the acting
to-day, for my part. I’ll take you again some time when they’ve got
something else.”

Even after she was fairly in the street, Helen found it difficult to
throw off the illusion of the stage. She could still see in imagination
the gorgeous spectacle, the splendid fairy palace, the graceful sylphs,
and the queen in her regal magnificence. She was so entirely under the
dominion of fancy that to her the outer world seemed unreal, and that
which she had seen, the real. She walked on, heeding little, till she
was suddenly roused from her reverie in a very forcible manner, by
coming in collision with some person. It proved to be a very fat old
lady, who was walking, or rather waddling, slowly along the sidewalk,
with her head thrown back. At the unexpected collision, she screamed,
and gasped for breath, eyeing Helen, meanwhile, with no very amiable
expression of countenance.

“You’ve just about beaten the breath out of my body, you young trollop.
Where was you brought up, I’d like to know, not to have any better
manners?”

“I hope you’ll excuse me,” said Helen, humbly, somewhat ashamed of her
preoccupation. “I didn’t mean to run against you.”

“Don’t tell me,” said the irritated old lady. “You did it a purpose. I
know you did.”

“She might as well say you ran into her on purpose,” retorted Martha’s
cousin.

“I didn’t speak to you, ma’am,” said the exasperated old lady. “It’s my
belief that you’re all in league together, and I’ve a great mind to have
you given in charge of the police.”

“Indeed!” said the cousin, ironically.

“Come away,” said Martha, in a low voice. “Don’t let us have a scene
here.”

As quickly as possible they escaped from the irate old lady. She stood
panting for breath, and glaring at them over the rims of her glasses,
which had been accidentally misplaced. This encounter, ludicrous as it
was, served to bring Helen back from the ideal world to the real, and
without any further adventures she reached home.

It was already time to prepare their frugal meal. She found her father
as busily occupied as ever. She was glad of this, for it showed that her
presence had not been missed.

The next day Martha Grey was at work harder than ever. She felt that she
must make up by extra exertion for the unwonted relaxation of the day
before.

“What are you thinking of, Martha?” asked Helen, playfully, as she stole
in unperceived, and placed her hands over the eyes of the seamstress.
“Come, tell me before I take my hands away.”

“I was thinking,” said Martha, “that I should like to hear once more the
song that was sung at the theatre yesterday.”

“You enjoyed it, then?”

“Very much.”

“Shall I sing it to you?” asked Helen, quietly.

“You, Helen?” asked Martha, lifting up her eyes in astonishment. “Can
you sing? I never heard you.”

“I do not sing very often,” said Helen, sadly. “My mother taught me, and
whenever I sing it brings up thoughts of her.”

“I should like very much to hear you sing, Helen,” said Martha; “but do
not do it if it will make you sad.”

“Never mind, Martha. I will sing, if it will give you pleasure.”

Helen commenced the song, and sang it to the end in a voice of
remarkable richness and power. She was gifted with a voice of
extraordinary flexibility and compass, whose natural power had evidently
been improved by cultivation. Martha, who, though no singer herself, was
very fond of listening to music, and could judge when it had merit,
listened with unaffected astonishment and delight. She felt that she had
never heard a voice of equal sweetness and power.

“You have a beautiful voice,” she said, when Helen had finished the
song. “You sang it much better than it was sung at the theatre
yesterday. Some day you may become a great singer.”

“Do you really think so?” asked Helen, her eyes sparkling with delight.
“I am very glad.”

Martha looked up in some surprise, not understanding why it was that
Helen felt so much pleased. But a new thought had come to the child.

“Is there anything else you would like to hear?” she asked.

“I should like to hear ‘Home, Sweet Home.’”

It was a song which Helen had often sung, and to which she could do full
justice. It was not difficult to account for the feeling which led
Martha Grey to make choice of this song. She was one of a large family,
who had never known sorrow or separation till the death of her parents,
following each other in quick succession, turned them all adrift upon
the world.

As the song proceeded, Martha called up in fancy the humble farm-house
among the New Hampshire hills, with its comfortable barn and well-tilled
acres around it. She recalled the broad, low kitchen, with its large
fireplace and blazing back-log, around which the family was wont to
gather in the cheerful winter evenings. She recalled her little sister
Ruth, who was about the age of Helen when their home was broken up, but
whom she had not seen since, Ruth having been placed in the family of an
uncle. She recalled her happy school-days, her school companions, and,
above all, her father and mother, who had never been otherwise than kind
to her, and then looked about the small and desolate room which she now
called home. She could not help contrasting her present lonely position
with what it had been when she was at home in the midst of her family,
and as the last strain died away upon Helen’s lips, she burst into
tears.

Helen looked up in surprise at this unwonted display of emotion on the
part of one, usually so quiet and composed as Martha Grey.

“Don’t mind me, Helen,” said Martha, through her tears. “It came over
me, and I couldn’t help it. Some time, perhaps, I will tell you why it
is that that song always makes me shed tears.”



                             CHAPTER VIII.
                       SUNDAY AND TRINITY CHURCH.


It was Sunday morning. To thousands of frames, wearied by exhausting
labors, it brought the benediction of rest. To thousands of throbbing
brains it brought grateful relaxation. The great business thoroughfares
wear a Sunday look. The shops are closed, and no longer hold out,
through showily-arranged windows, invitations to enter. The bells in a
hundred steeples ring out in many voices the summons to worship.

Helen tapped gently at Martha’s door.

“Where do you attend church?” she inquired.

“I was just going to call for you, Helen,” said the seamstress, “to ask
if you and your father wouldn’t like to attend Trinity Church with me.”

Helen hesitated a little.

“That is the great church at the lower end of Broadway, isn’t it?” she
inquired.

“Yes.”

“I thought it might be a fashionable church. Father and I have been to
one or two of the great churches, where the sexton didn’t seem to care
about giving us seats, but finally put us away back where we found it
difficult to hear the service.”

“I have had the same experience more than once,” said Martha; “but we
shall have no such trouble at Trinity. Though one of the finest churches
in the city, it is free to all, and the poor are as welcome as the
rich.”

“Then I shall be glad to go, and so will papa. Wait a moment, and I will
tell him.”

They were soon in the street, mingling with the well-dressed crowds,
wending their way to their respective houses of worship.

“Sunday was always pleasant to me,” said Martha, “even as a child. I
remember the plain old meeting-house, where we all sat in square,
high-backed pews, listening to the good old minister who is gone now to
his rest and his reward. There have been great changes since then,” and
she sighed sadly.

A short walk brought them to the church portals. They were early, and
obtained excellent seats. The organist was already playing. Helen’s face
lit with pleasure, for she had never before heard so fine an instrument
or so skilful a player. Exquisitely fitted by nature for receiving
musical impressions, she felt her soul uplifted by the grandeur of the
music, and her heart penetrated by its sweetness. Now there was a
thunderous clang, as if the organist were seeking to evoke from the
instrument a fitting tribute to the majesty and power of the Creator. It
seemed as if hosts of angels were clashing their cymbals, and singing
God’s high praise. Now a delicate rill of silver-voiced melody trickled
forth, clear and sweet, interpreting the unfathomable love wherewith God
loves his children, even the lowliest.

Helen listened as one entranced, and when the last strain died away, and
the organ was still, she turned towards Martha, and whispered, for she
could not keep silence, “It lifts me up. It almost seems as if I were in
heaven.”

Unconsciously Helen expressed the same feeling which Milton has embodied
in fitting lines,—

                “But let my due feet never fail
                To walk the studious cloisters pale,
                And love the high embowered roof
                With antique pillars massy proof,
                And storied windows richly dight
                Casting a dim religious light;
                There let the pealing organ blow
                To the full-voiced choir below
                In service high and anthem clear,
                As may with sweetness through mine ear
                Dissolve me into ecstasies
                And bring all heaven before mine eyes.”

It is a mistake to suppose that the plainest and cheapest churches are
good enough for the poor. Europe is far more democratic in matters of
religion than America. In the great continental cathedrals I have more
than once felt inexpressibly touched to behold at my side some child of
poverty and misfortune bending a reverent gaze upon some imaged saint. I
have pictured to myself his probable home in some filthy court or dingy
alley, with the light of heaven shut out, dark, forbidding and noisome,
and rejoiced to think that it was his privilege to pass from such a
scene into the splendors that fitly adorn the house of God. It is
something to shed a ray of sunlight upon the life of a poor man—to
gratify his taste, mortified by the gloomy surroundings of his daily
life, to nourish the little flower of sentiment struggling out of the
rubbish that has well-nigh choked out his æsthetic nature, and help him
to feel that life has a beautiful side, from which he is not utterly
shut out.

So Helen and the poor seamstress, confined through the week in poor and
unattractive chambers, felt a quiet satisfaction in the grand
architectural proportions and solemn beauty of the great church in which
they felt themselves welcome guests. They derived new strength for the
plain and humble duties of every day in the thought that one day in
seven they could escape into a loftier atmosphere, and feel God’s
presence nearer.

Occasionally, as the service proceeded, Helen stole a glance at her
father, who sat beside her. His face wore a look of calm enjoyment and
intelligent appreciation.

As he sat with his clasped hands resting on his knees, and his eyes
fixed upon the preacher, the vanished years returned, and beside him
there sat once more the fair young bride, whose pure and saintly image
lived a hallowed remembrance in the heart of father and daughter alike.

When the service closed, he did not change his position, till Helen,
touching him gently, said, “It is time to go, papa.”

“We will come again next Sunday, Helen,” he said.

“Yes, papa.”

They walked back slowly and thoughtfully to their humble homes, speaking
little, but each more happy and peaceful for the hour passed in the
great church whose lofty spire seemed ever pointing upwards to that God
in whose service it was reared.



                              CHAPTER IX.
                         THE LAWYER’S PROGRESS.


The day after his meeting with Helen and her father, the worthy
attorney, Mr. Sharp, took his way leisurely to the boarding-house of
Mrs. Morton. Although the object of his visit was clearly defined to his
own mind, he scarcely knew in what manner he might best attain it. But
Mr. Sharp was not a man to be abashed or daunted by small difficulties.
Trusting, therefore, to what chance and the inspiration of the moment
might suggest, he mounted the steps and rang the bell.

“Mrs. Morton, I presume,” he remarked, with great affability, as that
lady opened the door in person.

“You are quite right, sir.”

“I believe,” he remarked with suavity, “that I am correct in the
supposition that you take boarders.”

“I wonder what he’s aiming at,” thought Mother Morton, glancing with
something of suspicion at the white hat set jauntily on one side of his
head. “I hope he won’t apply for board. I am always suspicious of those
who are so smooth-tongued.”

“Yes, sir,” she said aloud, “I do take boarders, but I am full now.”

“Indeed!” said Mr. Sharp, with a benignant smile, “I am delighted to
hear of your prosperity. I was not, however, thinking of making an
application for board in my own behalf, though I should undoubtedly
esteem it a high privilege to be an inmate of a boarding-house which I
am confident is so admirably conducted. Will you have the goodness to
tell me whether you have a boarder or lodger named Dupont?”

It is scarcely necessary to explain that this inquiry was employed by
Mr. Sharp as a plausible method of accounting for his calling, and to
pave the way for something else. He had no particular choice in the
name, but thought Dupont would be as uncommon as any.

“Yes,” was the unexpected reply of Mrs. Morton, “we have a lodger of
that name. I believe he is in. Will you step in and see him, sir?”

Unprepared for this answer, Mr. Sharp was for the moment undecided how
to act. Being sufficiently quick-witted, however, he soon devised a way
to extricate himself from his embarrassment.

“Poor man!” said he with a gentle sigh; “he’s much to be pitied.”

“Pitied!” echoed the landlady, opening wide her eyes in astonishment.
“Why?”

“To a sensitive mind,” continued Mr. Sharp, in a tone of mild pathos,
“bodily deformity must be a great drawback to one’s comfort and
happiness.”

“Deformity!” repeated the landlady in increased surprise.

“Yes, Mr. Dupont is a humpback, is he not?”

“A humpback!” returned Mrs. Morton, in a tone of some asperity. “You are
quite mistaken, sir; I have no humpback among my boarders.”

“Then it cannot be the man I mean,” said the lawyer, rejoiced to have
got out of the scrape so cleverly. “I beg ten thousand pardons for
having put you to so much trouble.”

“No trouble, sir,” was the civil reply.

Mrs. Morton held the door, wondering why the visitor still remained, now
that his errand was accomplished. The lawyer’s purpose, however, still
remained to be effected. He was even now cudgelling his brains to devise
a method of reaching it.

“A moment more,” he said, with suavity. “I think, as I passed last
evening, that I saw a little girl enter with an elderly gentleman.”

“Helen Ford?”

“Oh, yes. She boards with you, does she not?”

“Helen and her father have a room up stairs. They board themselves. I
only lodge them.”

“Pardon my curiosity, but I have an object in view. What is her father’s
occupation?”

“He is busy about some invention, and has been ever since he came here.
A flying machine, I believe.”

“Ah, yes,” said the lawyer, to whom this was all new. “It is as I
supposed. Can I see them? I picked up a small purse,” he added, by way
of explanation, “just after they passed me in the street, and I thought
it not unlikely that the young lady might have dropped it.”

“Certainly,” said the landlady, somewhat more favorably disposed to Mr.
Sharp, in consequence of this evidence of his integrity. “Their room is
on the fourth floor, at the head of the stairs. Perhaps I had better go
up and show you.”

“Oh, by no means, madam, by no means,” said the lawyer, politely. “I
know the value of your time, and would on no account subject you to so
much unnecessary trouble. I shall easily find it from your directions.”

Helen was looking out of the window, and her father was busied as usual,
when a low tap was heard at the door.

Supposing it was Martha, who, in fact, with the exception of the
landlady, was her only visitor, she cried, “Come in,” and then creeping
softly to the door, jumped out playfully upon the one who entered. Her
dismay may readily be conceived when, instead of the quiet seamstress,
she found that she had narrowly escaped jumping into the arms of a tall
man with a white hat.

“I am very sorry,—I did not know,—I thought it was Martha,” she
faltered, in great confusion, her cheeks dyed with blushes.

“Don’t apologize, I beg of you,” said the stranger, courteously. “It is
I, on the contrary, who should apologize for intruding upon you, and,”
he added, glancing to the corner of the room, “upon your respected
parent. I am not mistaken,” he added, inquiringly, “in supposing him to
be your father?”

“No, sir,” said Helen, who, without understanding why, felt a little ill
at ease from the elaborate politeness of her visitor.

“But I have not yet disclosed the motive of my visit. I chanced to be
walking behind you and your father yesterday in the afternoon. You
walked out at that time?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I thought I could not be mistaken. There are some countenances, my dear
young lady, that we are not likely to forget.”

Helen, unused as she was to flattery, did not understand that this was
meant for a compliment. Therefore it quite failed of its effect. Perhaps
this was quite as well, since, if understood, it would have confused
rather than pleased her. She was too deficient in vanity to have felt
flattered by a compliment from a stranger. Yet no one was more desirous
of winning the approval of those whose friendship she valued. Helen was,
in short, a truthful, unsophisticated child, perfectly transparent and
straightforward, and imagined that others were equally so. So she only
waited patiently for Mr. Sharp to announce the object of his call.

“Afterwards I discovered this purse on the sidewalk,” continued the
lawyer, displaying his own purse. “As you and your father had just
passed, I conjectured that one or the other of you must have dropped it.
I have, accordingly, called this morning to ascertain if I am correct in
my supposition, and if so, to return the purse.”

“No,” said Helen, shaking her head. “It cannot be ours.”

“Then I must seek farther for the owner. I beg you will pardon me for
this intrusion.”

Helen said, rather awkwardly, that it was of no consequence.

“May I inquire,” said Mr. Sharp, as if the idea suddenly struck him,
“whether your father is not an inventor? I think I was told so by the
very respectable lady down stairs.”

“Yes,” said Helen, more at her ease. “Papa has been busy a great while
about his invention. It requires a great deal of time and patience.”

“Indeed! Would it be taking too great a liberty to inquire the nature of
the proposed invention?”

“It is a flying machine,” said Helen. “Some people laugh at it,” she
added, a little hurriedly. “It seems strange to them because they have
never thought much about it.”

“Let them laugh,” said Mr. Sharp, with warmth. “Let them laugh, my dear
young lady,” he repeated in a tone of profound sympathy. “It is the way
of the world. There has never been any great discovery or invention,
from the earliest ages to the present time, that has not encountered
ridicule. Wait till success crowns your father’s exertions, and then you
will see how all will be changed.”

“So papa thinks,” said Helen, quite grateful to the lawyer for his words
of encouragement; “and it is that which makes him labor so patiently.”

“Undoubtedly. Would it be too great a liberty to ask permission to
examine your father’s invention. It is a subject in which I feel a very
deep interest. Indeed, I may say that I am something of an inventor
myself.”

Poor confiding Helen! How could she imagine that these words of sympathy
covered an unblushing falsehood?

“Papa will be very glad to show it to you,” she said. Then to her
father: “Papa, this gentleman would like to examine your model.”

“Certainly,” said Mr. Ford, courteously.

This was a subject on which, despite his taciturnity, he could talk
fluently. Mr. Sharp listened with an appearance of profound attention,
occasionally asking a question, and remarking modestly that he had once
entered upon a similar train of investigation, but that the imperative
claims of business had brought it to an abrupt termination.

“I have not by any means,” he concluded, “lost my interest in scientific
matters; and it would afford me great pleasure if you will permit me
occasionally to look in upon you and note your progress. I dare not hope
that I could offer any suggestions likely to be of service to one so far
my superior in scientific attainments, but should it be in my power to
aid you in any way, you can count on me with confidence.”

Mr. Ford felt flattered, as was but natural, by this evidence of
interest in his pursuits, and cordially invited Mr. Sharp to call
whenever he found it convenient.

“Well, Sharp,” said that gentleman, apostrophizing himself, as he made
his way down stairs, “you’ve done well, old fellow, though at one time I
trembled for you. You’ve flattered your way into the good graces of that
chimerical old fool, and now you are in a fair way to accomplish
something more, if needful.”

The next day found him closeted with Lewis Rand, from whom he received
instructions as to his future course.



                               CHAPTER X.
                             NEW PROJECTS.


Helen had been long and anxiously considering in what manner she could
employ herself so as to earn a sufficient amount to defray the expenses
of living. Every day the little stock of money remaining in her purse
became less. They lived very frugally, but there was the rent, and two
persons cannot live on air. So the little hoard diminished, and five
dollars were now all that remained to Helen. Five dollars! it might keep
them ten days, but certainly would not last longer, economize as they
might. From her father Helen could hope for no present assistance. He
was always at work, but his labor, however well it might be compensated
in the future, brought in no money now. And for money there would soon
be pressing occasion. Helen grew very uneasy at the thought that they
might be turned penniless into the street. Hitherto they had never been
without money. The five dollars that remained was the last instalment of
a small property left her father by his mother.

One morning Helen sat at the table, leaning her head upon her hand,
plunged in anxious thought. At first she could think of no possible
resource. But when everything looks dark, and all paths seem closed to
us, suddenly from out the thick darkness there sometimes streams a ray
of hope to cheer and sustain the sinking heart.

So it was in the present case.

In her humility, Helen had never dreamed that she possessed
extraordinary musical powers, and it was only through the warm
commendation of Martha Grey that this fact became known to her. Why
should she not employ these in her father’s service? At the theatre a
singer, but little older than herself, and as Martha declared inferior
in talent, had won the popular applause. Why should not she gain
employment in a similar capacity? Full of these thoughts, she entered
Martha’s room.

The seamstress sat at the open window. The cool breeze that found its
way in, lent a faint flush to her pale cheeks. In the cage over her head
a canary bird sang—Martha’s solitary extravagance. As she sat alone from
morning till night engaged in her monotonous task, the bird supplied the
place of human company, and beguiled a portion of the weary time.

Helen came in and seated herself on a cricket at Martha’s feet.

Martha’s face brightened, for she had already learned to love the child.

“I am glad to see you, Helen,” she said. “How is your father, to-day?”

“Papa is much as usual.”

“Hard at work as ever, I suppose.”

“Yes; he allows himself no time to rest. I really think he ought. But,
Martha, I am going to ask your advice about something very important to
me,” said the child, gravely.

“Thank you for your confidence, Helen. Whatever is of importance to you
will be of interest to me.”

“You remember telling me the other day that you liked my singing, and
that I might some day become a great singer. You know I told you at the
time how glad I was to hear you say so.”

“Yes, Helen; I remember it.”

“I did not tell you then why I felt glad; but I will now.”

Helen paused a moment, and then in a frank tone, which showed how little
she was affected by the conventional shame some feel in disclosing their
poverty, continued: “My father and I are very poor. We have been so for
some time, but I got a little money by sewing, and that helped along.
Now, you know, business is dull, and I can get no more work to do. The
little money we have left will not last a fortnight, though I am _very_
economical. So you see, Martha, it is quite necessary that I should find
some way of earning more money at once.”

“Does your father know how near you are to destitution?” inquired the
seamstress.

“No,” was the child’s reply; “and I hope he will not find out. I cannot
bear to trouble him with that, when he has so much to think of. It can’t
be very long before he finishes his model, and then we shall have plenty
of money. If I can only earn enough to keep us along till that time I
shall be very glad.”

“Poor child!” thought Martha, compassionately; “it will be long enough
before your father’s invention fills your purse.”

She was about to offer to procure Helen some work from the establishment
where she was employed, but when she looked at the bright face of the
young girl, and thought to what hours and days of weariness it would
consign her, how it would steal one by one the roses from her cheeks,
and the freshness from her heart, leaving her with little to enjoy in
the present and less to hope for in the future, she had not the heart to
offer her the destiny which she had been compelled to accept for
herself; nor could she bear to dim the child’s trustful confidence in
her father’s success by the expression of a single doubt.

She remained silent.

Finding that Martha said nothing, Helen continued: “When I came to see
you the other day, Martha, I had been trying to think of some way in
which I could help poor papa, but I could think of nothing. Then when I
sang to you and you liked it, I thought it possible that others might
like it, too. Do you think,” she asked, lifting her eyes with a look of
earnest expectation; “do you think they would hire me to sing at the
theatre?”

Martha started in surprise. As yet no thought of the child’s purpose had
entered her mind. To one so unobtrusive and retiring by natural
temperament, the thought of going forth at the head of an army would
have seemed scarcely more formidable that that of standing before a
public audience. Yet this was what Helen, so diffident always, actually
proposed to do.

“Can you really be in earnest, Helen?” she asked; gazing in amazement at
the child who cherished such bold aspirations.

She did not understand the power of the motive which influenced Helen;
how she made everything subordinate to the promptings of filial
affection, which was stronger than any other feeling of her nature. That
gave her courage to think of what she would otherwise have shrunk from
with nervous timidity. For her father she felt that she could dare all.
It was a strange position, that of a young girl at her age, called upon
to assume the oversight and care of providing for her father’s comfort
and necessities. Stranger still was it, that with all the knowledge of
her father’s dependence upon herself and his utter ignorance of the
world and its ways, she should yet have retained so thorough a respect
and reverence for him.

“Can you be in earnest?”

It was Helen’s turn to be surprised at the question.

“Why not?” she asked. “It is my duty to help poor papa, and if I can do
so in this way, why should I not?”

“That is true, Helen, but think of standing before so many hundreds, or
perhaps thousands of people, with every eye fixed upon you. How could
you bear that?”

“I should not think of it at all, Martha. When I am singing I can see
nothing and hear nothing. I seem to be mounting up—up into the air, and
floating among the clouds. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy singing.”

As Helen spoke her eyes sparkled, and her face flushed with enthusiasm.
The exhibition of deep natural feeling is always impressive. Martha felt
it to be so, and could not help admiring and loving the child more than
ever. Helen had almost persuaded her.

“But,” she continued with returning caution, “you may not always feel
so. There would be times when you would not feel like singing, but sing
only because you were obliged to. Then when you encountered the glances
of so many eyes, would not your heart sink and your courage fail you?”

“Then, Martha,” said Helen, with simplicity, “I should think of poor
papa, and how by my exertions I was able to make him comfortable, and
how by and by, when he had succeeded, I should not be obliged to do
anything more. Then I should think how much he had done for me, and how
hard he is laboring even now. There would be a great satisfaction in
that. I ought not to hesitate when I have an opportunity to do something
for him, ought I, Martha?”

“You are a dear, good child,” said the seamstress, affectionately; “and
I will not say a single word more against your plan. But you must not be
too hopeful. You may meet with disappointment about getting a
situation.”

“You mean that perhaps I shall not sing well enough, Martha,” said
Helen. “But I shall do my best when I think how much my father’s comfort
depends upon my success; and that will be sure to help me.”

“No, Helen; that was not what I meant. I never for a moment doubted that
you would sing well enough. Why, you sing like an angel.”

“Did you ever hear an angel sing?” asked Helen, a little mischievously.

“In my dreams,” said Martha, smiling. “But that was not the difficulty I
thought of. Would your father be willing to have you go on the stage?”

“He would not be willing at first, so I think I shall not tell him till
I find out whether they are willing to employ me. Papa is so thoughtful
of me that he would think I was attempting too much, or suspect it was
poverty that led me to it. It will be better not to tell him at first.”

“Then there is another thing to be considered. Perhaps there will be as
many singers employed as are required. It is not always easy to obtain
an engagement, even where one is deserving. If you only had some
influential friends——”

“I have you,” said Helen, archly.

Martha smiled faintly.

“I am afraid if that is all you have to rely upon that it will be
leaning on a broken reed. However, we will hope for the best, and not
despond till we have reason to do so.”

So the two conversed till Helen heard a neighboring clock striking five.

“Five o’clock!” she exclaimed. “I did not know it was so late. I must go
up and prepare supper.”

She tripped lightly up stairs with a new hope in her heart. Unconscious
of the cares which had fallen so early upon his daughter, Mr. Ford was
laboring at his machinery. Helen came and stood by his side.

“Well, papa, what progress?” she asked, cheerfully.

“Very good, my child,” said the dreamer. “I have just succeeded in
obviating a difficulty which has perplexed me for some time.”

“How very glad I am, papa. That ought to give you a good appetite for
your supper. I shall have it ready in a few minutes.”



                              CHAPTER XI.
                            THE ENGAGEMENT.


The next day Helen resolved to put her plan into execution. As soon as
her morning duties were completed, and her father seated at his
never-ending task, she dressed herself in the best manner her limited
wardrobe would admit. Though inexperienced in the ways of the world, she
felt instinctively the importance of making a favorable first
impression. When she was quite ready, she left the room softly, and was
soon mingling with the busy crowds that thronged Broadway. At first she
walked rapidly, but, as she drew nearer her destination, and could see
the imposing front of the theatre, her heart beat quick and her step
became slower.

When she actually reached the entrance, a feeling of diffidence seized
her, which she found it almost impossible to overcome. She felt that she
could not enter, at least just then, and walked slowly by. After a while
she walked back, but was withheld from entering again by a feeling
scarcely less strong. Again she walked past, and again returned. This
time she had schooled herself to the effort, and approaching, with
hesitation, the office where tickets were sold for the evening’s
entertainment, inquired, in a low voice, for the manager.

“Who did you wish to see?” inquired the clerk, with some surprise
visible in his manner.

The request was repeated.

“The manager? Can’t say whether he’s in or not. You must go to the back
entrance and turn to the left. Then knock at the first door.”

Helen looked bewildered.

“Have you been here before?”

“No, sir.”

“Stop a minute, and I will show you, then. I shall close the office
directly.”

Helen was very glad of the delay, as it gave her time to assume an
outward semblance of calmness.

Mr. Bowers, the manager, was seated in a small room connecting with the
stage. He was a man of comfortable proportions, and bore the appearance
of one whom the world had used not unkindly. Though, in general,
good-tempered, he was, on this particular morning, “out of sorts.” A new
play was to be brought out in the evening. The actors had been allowed
very little time to “get up” their parts, and, as a natural consequence,
the rehearsal of the morning had been, thus far, a series of blunders.
In addition to this, the “star” had failed to make his appearance, and
the prospect for a successful evening did not look very bright.

Under these circumstances it was not altogether surprising that Mr.
Bowers should feel disappointed and irritated.

It was at this inauspicious moment that Helen was ushered into his
presence. The manager looked up with visible vexation, serving to add to
the embarrassment under which Helen was already laboring.

“Well?” he demanded, in a quick, impatient tone.

Helen felt that it would be a relief if the floor would open and swallow
her up, or if she could escape in some other way. The interview, which
had seemed comparatively easy in the quiet of her own room, had now
become very formidable. She began to wonder at her own presumption in
supposing herself capable of pleasing the public with her simple songs,
and to feel that Martha’s partiality must have led astray her better
judgment.

While these thoughts were passing through her mind, she sat silent,
quite unable to frame a sentence. The manager regarded her with
surprise, unable to account for her silence.

“What is your business with me?” he inquired, in a tone which indicated
that his time was of great consequence, and the sooner he was left to
himself the better he should be suited.

Helen understood the tone quite as readily as the words, and, imperative
as it was, it assisted in recalling her to herself. She came to the
point at once.

“Do you wish to engage any one to sing for you?”

She had said all that was necessary, and then she stopped,
half-frightened at her own temerity.

It was the manager’s turn to look surprised. He had not taken the
trouble to wonder what the child’s business was. He had only asked as a
necessary form, preparatory to dismissing her. He looked more
particularly at her now, noticing her childish form and air, and asked,
abruptly,—

“Are you inquiring for yourself?”

“Yes, sir.”

She looked up earnestly in his face. Her bonnet had partly fallen back,
revealing the rare loveliness of which she was unconscious. She waited
breathlessly for the answer.

“Our company is full,” said Mr. Bowers, coldly. He turned again to his
desk, and resumed his writing. His manner said, so plainly, “You may
go,” that Helen prepared to obey the unspoken but implied direction. Her
heart sank within her at this first disappointment. Thoughts of the
coming destitution, which she had hoped to ward off by this means,
crowded upon her, and she could scarcely keep back the rebellious tears,
which, had she been alone would have had free course.

As she passed slowly out, a messenger hurriedly entered the office.

“Well, what now?” asked the manager, somewhat testily. “Any more
blunders? It seems as if everything conspired against us. Has —— made
his appearance?”

“No, sir.”

“And won’t, I’ll be bound. These fellows claim the lion’s share of the
profits, and trouble themselves little about the convenience of their
employers.”

“Miss De Forrest is indisposed, sir, and will be unable to sing this
evening.”

“Indisposed! Unable to appear!” repeated the manager, angrily. “And why
the d—l must she take this particular evening to be sick? I don’t
believe a word of it. Go to her, and tell her we can’t spare her.”

“It is reported,” said the messenger, deprecatingly, for Mr. Bowers was
in one of those moods when it was difficult to make him listen to
reason; “it is reported that she has a fever, and will not be able to
appear for some time.”

“A fever! And what business has she to have a fever?” growled the
manager. “Well,” said he, after a brief pause, “is there nobody to take
her place?”

“I know of no one.”

Mr. Bowers mused a moment. “It won’t do,” he thought, “to omit the songs
altogether, especially to-night, when we are likely to have so many
other shortcomings. I have it, Jeffries,” he exclaimed. “Did you notice
the child who left the office as you entered?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you think you should know her again?”

“I think so.”

“Then follow her immediately, and bring her back with you. Say I wish to
see her.”

When Helen left the theatre, she walked very slowly, as if to gain time
to become reconciled to her late disappointment. What a revulsion of
feeling had a single half-hour wrought in her! Her high hopes had been
dashed to the earth, and nothing was left but a sense of humiliation and
rebuked presumption. Had she but been invited to sing, by way of testing
her powers, that would have been something; but to have been refused so
coldly and peremptorily, might well depress her.

Walking slowly, she had not proceeded far when she heard some one
calling after her, “You are to come back. Mr. Bowers wishes to see you.”

Not supposing that she was intended, she did not turn till some one
touched her arm, and looking back she recognized the young man who had
entered the manager’s office as she left it.

“Did you just leave the theatre?” he inquired.

“Yes,” said Helen, with sudden hope.

“Mr. Bowers would like to see you again, then.”

Helen experienced another revulsion of feeling. The clouds seemed
breaking. The recall was evidently favorable to her prospects of an
engagement.

Five minutes found her once more in the manager’s presence.

“What is your name?” he asked, abruptly.

“Helen Ford.”

“Humph! that will do. Have you parents living?”

“Only a father.”

“And did he send you here?”

“No, sir,” said Helen.

“Does he know that you have come?”

Helen shook her head somewhat uneasily. New difficulties seemed to be
springing up in her path.

“After all,” thought the manager, “if she’s really worth engaging, her
father’s consent is not essential. He will not object to her earning
something by her voice. At any rate I’ll try her, and see if she has any
talent.”

“What can you sing?” he asked, after a pause, in which Helen watched his
face eagerly.

“What would you like to hear, sir?”

“Jeffries, what songs are announced for this evening?”

“‘The Widow Machree’ and ‘Comin’ thro’ the Rye,’ sir.”

“Can you sing these, Miss Ford?”

“I will try, sir.”

“Mind,” premised the manager, cautiously, “I don’t promise to engage
you, even if your singing is satisfactory. As I said before, our company
is already full, but there may be a vacancy some time; and if so, I
shall want to know where to look for some one to fill it.”

Mr. Bowers threw himself back in his arm-chair, and, with a magisterial
wave of the hand, signalled Helen to begin.

She paused a moment, as if to collect herself, resolutely putting aside
the feeling of embarrassment which was stealing over her. She felt that
she had too much at stake to hazard all by giving way to nervous
weakness. It was not long that she suffered from timidity. She commenced
singing in a low voice, but gradually confidence came to her, and it
acquired strength. Her voice was wonderfully sweet and flexible. Mr.
Bowers started slightly when she commenced, and at once became
attentive. More than this, he was charmed. The whole room became vocal
with melody. Even on the stage, where the actors were listlessly
rehearsing their parts for the evening, Helen’s voice was heard, and
they quietly gathered about the entrance, and listened in mute surprise,
wondering what musical prodigy had so seasonably turned up to supply the
place of Miss De Forrest.

The song ceased, and Helen stood in silence, awaiting the manager’s
verdict.

Mr. Bowers had been delighted with an exhibition of talent so far
surpassing his most sanguine expectations. But managers are not
enthusiastic, and he was far too polite to express all he felt. That
would have been quite unprofessional.

“You have done very well, Miss Ford,” he said, graciously. “You have not
overrated your talents, as is the case with some who aspire to sing in
public. Of whom have you taken lessons?”

“My mother taught me to sing.”

“Indeed! And was your mother a professional singer?”

“Oh, no, sir.”

“She has evidently taught you well. Your voice, too, is very fair,—very
fair, indeed.”

“Do I sing well enough to appear in public, sir?” asked Helen, eagerly.

“Yes, or you may in time. Of course, you require training.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“When you were here, a few minutes since, I thought I had no place for
you. I have been informed since that Miss De Forrest, my regular singer,
is unexpectedly taken ill, and may not recover for some time. I will
engage you for a week in her place if we can agree upon terms.”

“I am very much obliged to you, sir,” said Helen, with difficulty
concealing her joy.

“I will pay you six dollars for the first week,” continued the manager.
“Should you do well, and I have occasion to employ you longer, I may
increase your compensation. But, of course, being a beginner, you cannot
expect a large salary.”

Large! Six dollars seemed to Helen a small fortune. It would enable them
to live better than she had dared to do since they became inmates of
Mrs. Morton’s boarding-house.

“You will be expected to make your first appearance this evening, in the
songs which you have already sung. You will present yourself at
rehearsal to-morrow morning at ten o’clock. We will dispense with it
to-day.”

“At what hour shall I come this evening?” asked Helen.

“The doors will open at seven. You may present yourself an hour earlier.
It will be necessary for you to dress and become familiar with the stage
before the performance commences.”

Helen hurried home, not as before with a heavy heart, but with a feeling
of deep and thankful joy. It seemed as if she could not get over the
ground fast enough. She was anxious to report her success to good Martha
Grey, who, she felt sure, would sympathize with her. She bounded along,
regardless of the stares and astonished looks of those with whom she
came in collision, and never paused until she entered, breathless with
haste, the room of her friend.

“What is the matter, Helen?” asked Martha, looking up from her work.
“You seem quite wild with excitement.”

“I have succeeded, Martha. Only think of that. I am to sing to-night at
the theatre. I am engaged for a week, and am to receive six dollars.”

“I am sincerely glad, my dear child,” said Martha, affectionately. “Wait
till you have recovered your breath, and then you shall tell me all
about it.”

As Martha listened to her glowing recital, she caught some of her
enthusiasm, and never doubted that she must and would pass triumphantly
through the trying ordeal of a first introduction to the public.



                              CHAPTER XII.
                             HELEN’S DEBUT.


There was one difficulty attending the carrying out of her plan which
occasioned Helen some embarrassment. She was to present herself at the
theatre at six, and would, undoubtedly, be detained there until late in
the evening. How she could absent herself so long without incurring her
father’s suspicions, was a problem which she found it difficult to
solve. Under any other circumstances she would have hesitated about
taking a step so important with her father’s consent previously
obtained, but now she was impelled, by her very affection for her
father, to conceal what she proposed doing until she had taken the first
step.

At length Martha proposed that she should openly ask permission to
attend the theatre in her company. Mr. Ford, of course, would never
dream her real object. Perhaps this was the best plan that could have
been devised. Her father only answered, “Certainly, my dear; I hope you
will enjoy yourself.”

“But will you not be lonely, papa?”

“I shall be too busy for that, Helen,” he said, glancing at his
unfinished model.

Relieved on this point, Helen made the necessary preparations and left
the house in company with Martha, who had promised to bear her company
as far as the theatre. She did not propose to be present, knowing that
under the peculiar circumstances attending a first appearance, and the
trying ordeal through which Helen was to pass, the presence of a friend
might prove rather an additional embarrassment than a help.

At the stage entrance they parted.

“Keep up good courage, Helen,” said Martha, pressing her hand
affectionately; “keep up good courage, and all will be well.”

Helen stood for a moment watching her receding form, and then as the
strokes of a neighboring clock warned her to be punctual, knocked at the
door. It was opened by Jeffries, the messenger of the morning.

“Miss Ford,” said he, respectfully, “I am directed to lead you at once
to the dressing-room.”

Helen was ushered through a dark passage and up a narrow winding
staircase to the room referred to. It was crowded with a heterogeneous
collection of articles of dress, of every conceivable variety of shade,
cut, and material. Here lay the rich robes of royalty in juxtaposition
with the coarse attire of a milk-maid. Both had been in requisition the
night before.

Helen looked about her with a feeling of bewilderment, when an elderly
lady, with a pleasant expression, advanced towards her.

“I am glad to see you, Miss Ford,” she said. “So you are going to join
us. I think you have never appeared before.”

“I have never been in a theatre but once before.”

“Bless me, where have you lived all your life?” exclaimed her companion,
in unaffected amazement. Her own familiarity with the theatre made her
look upon Helen as singularly unsophisticated.

“Papa and I have always lived very quietly,” said Helen, smiling, “and
he never goes himself.”

“Before I select a dress for you,” said Mrs. Girdle, for such she
informed Helen was her name, “I will show you the stage. You will want
to know where to make your entrance and exit.”

Taking Helen’s hand, she led her forward until she stood on the stage—a
place of mystery, which to the uninitiated who only see it from a
distance in the glare of gas-light, seems like a land of enchantment,
peopled by kings and nobles, fair ladies and gallant gentlemen. Now it
was dreary and comfortless. A very faint light threw its sickly beams
over coarsely-painted scenes and tawdry ornaments.

Was this the stage which had seemed so bright and beautiful to Helen
only a few evenings before? It was, indeed, the same. She recognized the
green curtain, the use of which had puzzled her, and the long rows of
empty seats which stared her in the face when she proceeded to the
front. The house itself had undergone as dreary a metamorphosis. Then it
was alive with bright and eager faces. Now it was dark and cheerless.

But Helen had little time to spend in looking about her. She was
summoned to the side of Mrs. Girdle, who in a business-like manner
explained to her what it was necessary for her to know. Helen listened
with attention, and promised to remember.

“It is very important that you should bear in mind all I have been
telling you,” said Mrs. Girdle. “I can tell you that from my own
experience. When I first appeared on the stage as a young girl, I paid
less attention than I ought to this point. It was very easy finding my
way off the stage in the daytime when there was nothing to distract my
attention, but in the evening it was a different affair. I remember
doing very well till it was time to withdraw. Then in my excitement I
quite forgot all that I ought to have remembered. I turned about in
confusion, and seemed to see every eye fixed upon me. I was seized with
a nervous terror. The audience I thought were laughing at me. In my
desperation I darted forward, little heeding where, and fell through a
trap-door which had carelessly been left open. Fortunately I was not
injured seriously, only receiving a salutary fright, which taught me to
be more careful in future.”

“Do you appear to-night?” asked Helen, with interest.

“I do not play as much as formerly, scarcely at all in fact,” answered
Mrs. Girdle, somewhat sadly. “New favorites have sprung up, and my
services are no longer required, except in emergencies.”

They had reached the dressing-room, and Mrs. Girdle bestirred herself to
find an appropriate dress for Helen. A plain white muslin was selected,
looped at the sleeves with blue ribbons. Some little alterations were
made in the arrangement of her hair, and Mrs. Girdle seemed satisfied.

“No need of artificial color here,” said she, with a glance at Helen’s
flushed cheeks. “Nature has taken care of that. You are really very
pretty, Miss Ford.”

“Thank you,” said Helen; “but it sounds strange to have you call me Miss
Ford. Nobody calls me so.”

“What is your name, then?”

“Helen.”

“I am glad it is a pretty one. It suits you better. Does no one tell you
that you are pretty?”

“Sometimes.”

“And does it not make you feel vain?”

“Why should it?” inquired Helen, seeming surprised.

Mrs. Girdle looked at her with some curiosity. It was long since she had
met with one so natural and transparent, and she hardly knew how to
understand her. The world she had lived in did not abound in such
characters.

“Now, my dear,” she said, after a pause, “since you are quite ready, and
there is still a little time left, you had better run back to the stage
and just hum over your songs to yourself. In that way you will be
getting accustomed to the place.”

Seven o’clock came, and with it the opening of the doors. Then the
audience began to assemble at first in small groups afterwards in larger
parties, till by and by every available seat was taken. Among them came
M’lle Fanchette, the aristocratic _modiste_, Helen’s fellow-lodger. She
wore a superb bonnet of white satin, above which fluttered a feather of
stately and imposing elevation, making her a very magnificent personage
in her own opinion. She was in unusually good spirits, having secured
the escort and attendance of the young clerk, whose youth she regarded
as a compliment to her own juvenility, to which she still clung
tenaciously. She had in her hand a large opera-glass, which she used
with a freedom which made her more conspicuous than her companion
desired.

The theatre was crowded—chiefly in consequence of the new play and the
new actor. Soon the orchestra commenced playing, and a few minutes later
the curtain rose.

The play, in some measure, disappointed the expectations of the
audience. The star was but poorly supported by the stock company, who
had been compelled to get up their parts at short notice. It was,
perhaps, the consciousness of this poor support that made the leading
actor’s personation less striking and effective than usual. The audience
remained cold, and seldom indulged in applause. It seemed desirable,
therefore, that the remaining parts of the performance should go off
well.

Helen had watched the progress of the play from one of the wings. Her
unpractised eyes could not detect deficiencies, and she became so
absorbed as to forget for the time being that she herself was soon to
take part. As the curtain fell, the manager walked hastily forward to
the place where she stood.

“Miss Ford,” he said, “you will be called immediately. We shall expect
you to do your best. Above all, don’t allow yourself to be frightened.
Think as little as possible of the audience, and you will do well
enough.”

Until this moment Helen had not thought of the possibility of failure.
Now the conviction dawned upon her in all its force, that she was about
to sing before two thousand people—she who had always lived in such
perfect quiet and tranquillity. Her heart began to flutter like an
imprisoned bird, and her color went and came. For a moment she felt that
she would gladly be back in her humble room by her father’s side. At
this trying moment she felt a gentle touch upon her arm. Turning
quickly, her eyes rested on the kind face of Mrs. Girdle.

“Oh, Mrs. Girdle,” she whispered, in a tremulous tone. “I am so
frightened. I don’t dare to go on.”

“Keep up your courage, Helen,” said her friend, gently pressing her
hand. “I can understand your feelings, for I have passed through a
similar ordeal. It _is_ a trial, but one through which you will pass
triumphantly. You have only to fancy that you are singing in your own
room at home. Make a resolute effort, and you will succeed.”

“I will try,” said Helen, more composed.

“Miss Ford!”

It was the call-boy’s voice, and she hurried to the place from which she
was to make her entrance upon the stage. Another moment and she stood
before the audience. There was something so sweet and simple in her
loveliness, that a general murmur of approbation was heard, and then
there was a round of applause. This came near unnerving Helen. She
caught a glimpse of the sea of faces that were turned towards her, and
her head began to whirl. But Mrs. Girdle’s reassuring words came back to
her. Above all, the thought of her father, in whose behalf she had taken
this step, inspired her with a determination to succeed. The blush of
momentary embarrassment which suffused her face did her no harm. It
enlisted the warm sympathy of the audience, who again exhibited their
good-will by a fresh outbreak of applause.

There was one present, however, who gazed at Helen as if petrified with
astonishment.

“Look!” ejaculated M’lle Fanchette, convulsively clutching the arm of
her companion. “If there isn’t Helen Ford on the stage. I can scarcely
believe my eyes.”

“I believe you are right,” returned the young gentleman addressed. “I
had no idea she was connected with the theatre.”

“It can’t be possible she’s going to sing!” ejaculated M’lle Fanchette.
“Well, if ever——”

Just then the music struck up.

In a voice slightly tremulous, but gaining in strength as she proceeded,
Helen commenced. There was no fear of failure now. She had forgotten the
audience. She sang with all the freedom and joyousness of a bird, as if
her whole heart was in the song. There was an indefinable charm about
her manner, so thoroughly natural in its simplicity. She was evidently
winning golden opinions.

As the last note died away, a storm of applause greeted her from all
parts of the house. This recalled Helen to herself. No longer occupied
by the song, she gazed around her half bewildered, with the air of a
startled fawn. At this moment a magnificent bouquet, thrown from one of
the boxes, alighted at her feet. Too little accustomed to the stage to
understand that it was meant for her, she was about to withdraw without
taking it, when a hoarse whisper was heard from one of the wings, “Pick
it up.”

Mechanically she obeyed the direction, and bowing hastily, her cheeks
burning with confusion, she retreated from the stage.

The manager met her.

“You have done very well, Miss Ford,” he said, encouragingly. “They are
calling you back. You must go on the stage once more. And mind you don’t
undo the favorable impression you have already produced.”

Go back again! Helen’s heart fluttered nervously, but there was no
appeal. She drew a long breath, and went back.

Her re-appearance was greeted with enthusiasm. Then followed a profound
silence—a hush of expectation. The clear voice of Helen once more broke
the stillness, as she re-commenced her song. Helen’s eyes were directed
towards the audience, but she saw them not. She was carried back in
memory to the time when she sang this song at her mother’s knee, and
unconsciously a gentle pathos and tone of repressed feeling blended with
her notes that touched the audience, and hushed them to earnest
attention.

There was a hard-featured Scotchman who sat in one of the front seats in
the parquet, who, listening intently, furtively wiped a tear from his
eye.

“She’s a sweet lassie,” he said, in a low tone, to his neighbor.
“There’s a look about her that minds me of one I shall never see again.”

And the worthy Scotchman, whose heart was tender, though his manner was
rough and his features hard, thought sadly of a flower that once bloomed
in his home, but had faded early,—transplanted to the gardens of
Paradise.

“Well!” remarked M’lle Fanchette, fanning herself violently, “to think
of the forwardness of that child. If she had any modesty, she wouldn’t
brazen it out before the public with so much boldness.”

“She seems modest enough,” replied Alphonso Eustace, to whom this remark
was addressed, “and she certainly sings magnificently. Her voice is
superb.”

“I saw nothing very remarkable about her singing,” returned the lady,
fanning herself with increased violence. “I suppose there are other
people that have voices as well as she. I used to sing myself, but
nothing on earth would have tempted me to make such a public exhibition
of myself.”

Her companion thought it extremely doubtful whether M’lle Fanchette
would ever be tempted to break her resolution, but thought it most
prudent to remain silent.

Meanwhile, Helen was greeted in a very different manner behind the
scenes. Mrs. Girdle came forward, and congratulated her with a beaming
smile upon her success.

“You have done beautifully, my dear child. Were you frightened when you
first went on?”

“A little; but I remembered your words, and I succeeded in forgetting
the audience. I am so glad you think I did well.”

“You couldn’t have done better.”

Of course, Helen was pleased and happy,—happy in the thought that she
had pleased those who were interested for her. The thought that she had
personally achieved a triumph never presented itself to her. For, in
spite of her splendid endowments, she was singularly free from vanity,
or even from the consciousness which would have led to such a feeling.
Her chief thought was, that she should now be enabled to contribute to
her father’s comforts by her pay at the theatre, and that thus he would
be able to keep on with his labors, and perfect his invention.

Late at night she reached her humble lodging. Her father was already
sleeping. Quickly undressing herself, she crept softly into bed, and in
five minutes the weary child was sleeping also.



                             CHAPTER XIII.
                          ABSENT ON BUSINESS.


The afternoon was already well advanced when Richard Sharp rose
leisurely from the arm-chair in which he had been lounging. He threw
aside the stump of a cigar which he had been smoking, and walking to the
window, looked out.

“I wonder if it is going to rain,” he thought. “I must raise an umbrella
somewhere.”

After passing his fingers through his bristling locks, which had the
effect of giving each particular hair an upward tendency,—a favorite
habit of Mr. Sharp, who regards it perhaps as the sign of an aspiring
intellect,—our attorney put on his white hat and, opening the door of
his office, stepped out upon the landing. Before locking the door he
carefully affixed a card bearing upon it, in bold characters, “Absent on
Business.” Mr. Sharp never dispenses with this little formality, even
when he is only going round the corner to order an oyster-stew, or to a
neighboring hotel to while away an hour at billiards. Entertaining broad
and philosophic views of life, he regards any action, however trivial,
in the light of business; and with this idea feels abundantly justified
in leaving behind him this standing notice. And who shall say he is not
right?

It chanced on this particular occasion, however, that Mr. Sharp’s
business was really of a professional character.

On the stairs our lawyer met a stout, puffy little counsellor, whose
business yielded him probably an income of from eight to ten thousand
dollars a year. Mr. Sharp bowed with a mixture of condescension and
affability. Passing a door on a lower floor, he noticed an umbrella
standing outside. Was it in a fit of absence of mind that Mr. Sharp
appropriated it, and with innocent unconsciousness raised it above his
head when he got into the street? If so, his temporary abstraction
served him in good stead since the rain was already beginning to fall.

Reaching the street he was accosted by a newsboy who was anxious to
place in his hands a sheet containing a record of all the latest news
that had transpired in both hemispheres—and all for the insignificant
sum of five cents! Mr. Sharp took the paper. He then began to fumble
about in his pocket for the required change.

“Bless me!” he exclaimed, after two or three dives which brought forth
nothing, “I believe on my soul that I haven’t got any change. Such a
ridiculously small sum, too!”

He looked pensively at the boy, who gazed at him in return in patient
expectation.

After a moment’s pause the lawyer explained, suddenly, “Perhaps you can
change a fifty?”

“Half a dollar!” said the boy, briskly, “Oh, yes!” and he forthwith
pulled out a handful of small silver pieces mingled with pennies.

“My young friend,” remarked Mr. Sharp, graciously, “I meant a
fifty-dollar bill.”

The newsboy whistled. “Perhaps you take me for a bank,” he remarked. “I
can’t change no fifties. I can change a one or a two may be.”

“My boy,” said the attorney, with a gentle intonation. “I never carry
small bills about with me. If you will call on me to-morrow, I will take
another paper.”

The little newsboy looked in bewilderment after the retreating form of
Mr. Sharp. There was something wrong unquestionably. He had parted with
his paper, and had not obtained an equivalent. But how could he summon
up confidence to dun a man of such magnificent conceptions that a bill
representing his entire capital would be too small for him to carry
about.

“I’d a good deal rather trade with people that ain’t so darned rich,”
thought the newsboy, ruefully.

Then it occurred to him that his customer had asked him to call the next
day, and he had not been told where to call. Mr. Sharp was still near,
and he determined to run after him and inquire.

In a minute or two the lawyer was made sensible of a slight tugging at
his coat-tail. Looking around, his eye rested on the little newsboy.

“Well, my friend,” said he, blandly, “in what way can I serve you?”

“You asked me to leave you a paper to-morrow, but I don’t know where you
live.”

“O yes, certainly,” said Mr. Sharp, “how could I be so neglectful? You
will find me at any time in my office, third story, round the corner.
Anybody will tell you where. And now, as I am called away upon important
business, I shall be compelled to request you to release your hold upon
my coat-tail.”

So saying he smiled benignantly, and walked away.

“‘Third story, round the corner;’” slowly repeated the boy. “‘Anybody
will tell me!’ What corner, I’d like to know? And how in thunder am I to
know what third story it is, and who I am to ask for when I find it?”

The young merchant shook his head dubiously as these formidable queries
suggested themselves to him, and came to the conclusion that he was no
better off than before he inquired.

Meanwhile Mr. Sharp pursued his way, smiling complacently as he thought
of the admirable manner in which he had obtained possession of the
newspaper without rendering an equivalent.

“You’re a shrewd fellow, Sharp,” said he to himself. “There are not many
who would have managed it so cleverly.”

Mr. Sharp kept on his way with quiet dignity, dispensing affable smiles
to such acquaintances as he met. Sometimes his smiles were returned with
cold nods, by such as were familiar with his unscrupulous character; but
our lawyer was on such good terms with himself, that these little
rebuffs appeared to have no effect upon him. At length he paused before
Mrs. Morton’s boarding-house. Opening the outer door, he ascended three
flights of stairs until he reached Mr. Ford’s apartment. He knocked, but
although sounds were heard from within there was no response. Rightly
judging that Mr. Ford was so preoccupied that he had not heard or
noticed the knock, he knocked again, this time louder. As this too was
disregarded, he opened the door softly and went in.

It was the afternoon preceding Helen’s _début_ at the theatre, and this
accounted for her absence. Mr. Sharp was secretly glad to find it so,
judging that Helen’s presence might possibly interfere with his object
in calling.

“Mr. Ford,” he said, bowing benignantly, as that gentleman chanced to
look up, “I beg you will pardon my entering so unceremoniously. I have
availed myself of the polite invitation you so kindly extended some days
since, to look in upon you and observe your progress. I knocked twice,
but understanding that you were too absorbed to hear it, I took the
liberty of opening the door without leave.”

Mr. Ford politely expressed his pleasure at seeing him, though it
required an effort on his part to recall the name of his visitor, or the
circumstances under which they had first met. “In spite of my numerous
engagements,” resumed Mr. Sharp, “I could not forego the pleasure of
looking in upon you at your labors. I have many times blessed the chance
which procured me the acquaintance of yourself and your amiable
daughter. I look upon you, my dear sir, as engaged in a work of infinite
importance to society, and to the welfare of the human race. And in
after years, when posterity shall have done ample justice to your
merits, when your name has been elevated to its appropriate place beside
those of Watt and Franklin—and—Christopher Columbus, it will be my
proudest boast that I recognized your claims to the world’s gratitude in
advance of others.”

To Mr. Ford, who was thoroughly convinced of the practicability of his
invention, and its great importance to the world, this language did not
seem extravagant. Never doubting his visitor’s sincerity, he could not
but feel grateful for the meed of encouragement to which he was a
stranger. At the request of Mr. Sharp he began to explain some of the
chief features in his invention, the lawyer listening with the greatest
apparent interest.

“It is admirable!” he exclaimed, with enthusiasm. “Take my word for it,
it must and will succeed. But pardon me for suggesting that with better
materials your model would be likely to prove more satisfactory. An
inventor should be able to command large means in order to perfect his
plans.”

“Of that I am aware,” said Mr. Ford, with hesitation. “But, as you have
no doubt inferred, from the style in which Helen and I live, my means
are very limited.”

“No more,” said Mr. Sharp, warmly, “I anticipate all that you would say.
Yet, if you will pardon me the question, why do you not apply to your
friends for a loan?”

Mr. Ford shook his head, smiling faintly. “It would be of no use,” he
said.

“Sir,” said the worthy attorney, grasping the hand of the inventor with
an effusion of emotion, “you do your friends injustice. To convince you
of it, I, the unworthiest of those whose proud privilege it is to bear
that title, offer to loan you two hundred dollars. It is not much——”

“But, my dear sir——”

“No, sir, you shall not object. I am determined to connect my name in
some way with this important discovery. To satisfy your scruples, I will
consent to your signing this note for the amount. You may affix your
signature while I am counting the money.”

“But I may never be able to pay you.”

“That risk is mine. I ask no security. I claim no interest. It is enough
that in this way I am able to link my name with modest merit, and aid in
bringing forward a discovery which will prove of incalculable benefit to
mankind.”

Poor Mr. Ford! He was tempted beyond his power of resistance. This
timely aid would enable him to carry out plans which he thought likely
to expedite his final triumph. Yes, he would accept what was so
generally proffered. A little while and he would be able to repay the
loan with interest. So at least he was sanguine enough to think.

“I cannot thank you sufficiently,” he said, warmly, “for this mark of
generous and disinterested friendship towards a comparative stranger.
The delicacy with which you tender this loan removes all the objections
I might otherwise have to receiving it. Again I thank you.”

He signed the note and handed it to Mr. Sharp, who took from his
pocket-book the sum mentioned and laid it on the table. The lawyer put
the note into his pocket, saying, as he did so, “This strip of paper is
to me of inestimable value in so far as it connects me with one whose
name, I am sure, will be handed down to fame as one of the greatest of
modern inventors. But, sir, my mission is accomplished, I will not
further trespass upon your valuable time. I trust you will not scruple
to use freely the money I have advanced for the furtherance of your
great purpose. I shall claim the privilege of sometimes looking in upon
you and witnessing your progress.”

“You will always be most welcome,” said Mr. Ford, cordially.

“Rather a clever operation that!” thought Mr. Sharp, as he threaded his
way down stairs. “It was a capital idea, making out the note for three
hundred dollars and only paying him two. I knew he would never detect
it. After all, the extra hundred will do more good in my hands than in
Ford’s, who would only waste it on his crazy invention. My client will
never be the wiser. By the way, he must have some deep scheme on foot,
or he would never throw away such a sum on a crack-brained enthusiast. I
think, old fellow, you’ve earned a good oyster-supper, with a glass or
so to make it go down. Talking has made me as dry as a herring.”

And the benevolent Mr. Sharp, who was so anxious to connect his name
with an important discovery in science, gravely entered a neighboring
saloon and called for something to drink. Human nature is not at all
times heroic.



                              CHAPTER XIV.
                   HELEN MAKES KNOWN HER ENGAGEMENT.


It was again morning. Helen sat at the window, which was thrown wide
open to admit the pleasant breeze that rustled in and out like a
restless sprite, laden, not with rich odors and sweet perfumes from
green fields, but resonant with the noises of the crowded city streets.

There was an expression of doubt and perplexity in Helen’s face. She was
considering whether it would be possible to make known to her father her
engagement at the theatre, without, at the same time, revealing the
motive which had led her to seek it. She was assured that her father
would feel deeply pained if he knew the real state of the case, and she
dreaded that he might object to her keeping her engagement. While she
was hesitating, her father suddenly turned from his work and met her
glance.

“A penny for your thoughts, Helen,” he said, with unwonted playfulness.

“My thoughts!” and she blushed consciously. “I am afraid, papa, they are
not worth so much.”

“How cool and refreshing is the air!” mused Mr. Ford, as he stood for a
moment at the window. “Mark how beautifully the clouds are tinged with
the faintest flush of red. Well have the old poets spoken of morning as
‘rosy-fingered.’ Would you like to go out for a walk, Helen?”

Helen looked up at the clock. It lacked yet two hours of the time for
rehearsal. There would be plenty of time for a walk, which, with her
father, was never a long one.

“Perhaps I shall be able to say something about my engagement, on the
way,” she thought.

She silently got her bonnet, and, placing her hand in that of her
father, descended the stairs into the street. Here all was life and
activity. In the early morning of a pleasant day the streets of a great
city present a pleasant and cheerful aspect. Everything is full of stir
and bustle. Even the jaded dray-horse pricks up his ears, and shows some
signs of life. Boys and girls expend their superabundant activity in
bounding along the sidewalk, and even the man of business seems
lightened of a portion of his cares. There is a subtile electricity in
the air, which unconsciously affects the spirits of all, and lights up
many faces with vague hopefulness.

Helen yielded herself up to the influences of the morning, and a quiet
sense of happiness stole over her. She thought how beautiful in itself
is the gift of life, and how glad we ought to be for the bright
sunshine, and the clear, refreshing air, and the beautiful earth. The
conflicts of life were lost sight of. She forgot, in the exhilaration of
her spirits, that the days were sometimes dark, and the clouds leaden.
Her father seemed affected in a similar way. A faint flush crept to his
wan cheek, and his step became more elastic.

“How the difficulties and embarrassments of our daily lives fade away in
this glorious sunshine!” he said, musingly. “Sometimes I have had fears
that my discovery would never prove available; but to-day success seems
almost within my grasp. It would be a sin to doubt, when all Nature
whispers auguries of hope.”

“You must succeed, papa,” said Helen, cheerfully.

“So I feel now. I catch the inspiration of this cooling breeze. It
breathes new life into me. It gives me fresh courage to work, for the
end draws near.”

Mr. Ford relapsed into silence, and Helen walked quietly by his side,
occupied with her own thoughts. All at once she became sensible that she
had attracted the attention of a little knot of boys, who were
conversing together in a low tone, pointing first to her, and then to a
large placard posted conspicuously on the wall beside her.

“That’s she!” she heard pronounced in an audible voice. “I saw her last
night.”

Following the direction of their fingers, she started in surprise on
reading, in large capitals, her own name. It was the bill of the
evening’s entertainment in the theatre at which she was engaged. The
surprise was so unexpected, that she uttered a half-exclamation, which,
however, was sufficient to draw her father’s attention to the bill.

                      THE TALENTED YOUNG VOCALIST,

                           _MISS HELEN FORD_,

    WILL MAKE HER SECOND APPEARANCE THIS EVENING IN A POPULAR SONG.

“It is very strange,” said Mr. Ford, stopping short as he read this
announcement; “some one having the same name with you, Helen?”

“No, papa,” said she, in a low voice.

“No?” repeated her father, in surprise. “Then you don’t see the name.”

“Will you promise not to be angry with me, papa, if I tell you all.”

“Angry! Am I often angry with you, Helen?”

“No, no! I did not mean that. But perhaps you will think I have done
wrong.”

“I am still in the dark, Helen.”

“Then,” said the young girl, hurriedly, and with flushed face, “that is
_my_ name. I am the Helen Ford whose name is on the bill.”

“You, Helen!” exclaimed her father, in undisguised amazement.

“Yes, papa. I have been wanting to tell you all this morning; but I
hardly knew how.”

“I don’t understand. Have you ever sung there?”

“Last night, for the first time.”

Helen proceeded to give her father a circumstantial account of her
interview with the manager, her repulse at first, and her subsequent
engagement. She added that she had hesitated to tell him, lest he should
object to her accepting it. She next spoke of her first appearance upon
the stage,—how at first she was terrified at sight of the crowded
audience, but had succeeded in overcoming her timidity, and lost all
consciousness of her trying position in the enjoyment of singing.

“You have forgotten one thing, Helen,” said her father, gravely. “You
have not told me what first gave you the idea of singing in public.”

“It was Martha,” said Helen, in some embarrassment, foreseeing what was
coming. “One day I sang in her room, and she was so well pleased, that
she told me I might one day become a public singer.”

“And that was all, Helen?”

“What else should there be, papa?” she answered, evasively.

“Indeed, I do not know. I thought it might be because you supposed we
were poor, and wished to earn some money. But you see, Helen, there is
no need of that;” and he drew out his pocket-book, and displayed to the
child’s astonished gaze the roll of bills which Mr. Sharp had insisted
on loaning him the day previous.

“Indeed, papa, I had no idea you were so rich.”

“A kind friend lent me this money yesterday.”

“Who was it, papa?”

“You remember a man who came to see us a fortnight since,—a tall man
with a white hat?”

“Yes, papa.”

“He lent me the money.”

“Did you ask him, papa?”

“No; it was his own generous offer.”

“But suppose he should want you to pay it by and by, and you did not
have the money?” suggested Helen, uneasily.

“There is no fear on that score. He desires to assist me with my
invention, and suggested, very properly, that with improved materials my
progress would become more rapid. Once let me succeed, and I shall be
able to repay the loan, if it were twice as large. He will never think
of asking me for it before. He is a very generous-hearted man, Helen,
and he only called it a loan because he knew that I should be unwilling
to accept a gift.”

Helen could not gainsay her father’s words. She could not conceive of
any evil purpose on the part of Mr. Sharp; yet, somehow, an
unaccountable sense of anxiety and apprehension of coming evil, in
connection with this loan, would force itself upon her mind.

“Perhaps,” said Mr. Ford, with a sudden thought, “you may need something
that I can buy you,—some article of dress, or perhaps you may require an
additional sum for the purchase of our daily necessaries. I am so much
occupied in other ways that I do not always think of these things.”

“No, papa,” said Helen, hurriedly. “I do not need anything.”

Then, yielding to an uncontrollable impulse, she exclaimed, “Dear papa,
do not use any of this money. Pray, return it to this man, and tell him
you do not need it.”

“But it will be very useful to me, Helen. Besides, it would be a very
uncivil way of meeting such a generous offer. You are a foolish child.
What has put this fancy into your head?”

“I don’t know,” said Helen, slowly; “but I feel as if this money may do
us some harm.”

“What possible harm can come of it?” asked Mr. Ford, surprised at the
child’s earnestness.

“I do not like to think that you are in anybody’s power, papa.”

“We are all in the power of God, my child.”

“I did not mean that, papa.”

“And He is abundantly able to shield us from evil. Is it not so, Helen?”

Helen was silenced, but not wholly convinced. This was the more
remarkable, since nothing was more foreign to her nature than to cherish
distrust of any living thing. Even now, her feeling was rather an
instinctive foreboding than any clearly-defined suspicion. The presence
of Mr. Sharp, polite and affable as he appeared, had not impressed her
pleasantly,—why, she could not tell. Oftentimes children are truer in
their instinctive perception of character than their elders. It is
fortunate that, in the absence of that knowledge which experience alone
can give, they should be provided with this safeguard against the evil
designs of those who might injure them.

Nine o’clock pealed from the lofty steeple of Trinity. Helen heard the
strokes as one by one they rang out upon the air, and she was warned of
the near approach of the hour for rehearsal.

“It is nearly time for rehearsal,” she said, looking up in her father’s
face. “Shall I go?”

“Do you really wish to go, Helen?”

“I really wish it, papa.”

“Then I will not interfere to prevent you. I have so much confidence in
you, my child, that I am willing to trust you where others might suffer
harm.”

The father and child parted. One returned to his humble lodging in the
fourth story back; the other wended her way to the theatre.



                              CHAPTER XV.
                          THE OPPOSITE LODGER.


During the day Helen, in ascending the stairs, encountered M’lle
Fanchette.

“So you have become quite a public character, Miss Ford,” said the
_modiste_, superciliously.

Helen looked up, but did not speak.

“I heard you sing at the theatre, last evening.”

“Yes, madam.”

“Nothing would have induced me to come forward so publicly at your age.
However, I suppose you don’t mind it.”

“No,” said Helen, with rising color; “I don’t mind it, since it enables
me to earn money for my father.”

“Isn’t your father well? It isn’t usual for children to be called upon
to support their parents.”

“Good morning, M’lle Fanchette,” said Helen, abruptly. The implied
censure upon her father kindled her resentment as no insult to herself
would have done.

M’lle Fanchette looked after her with a sneer. “So my lady is putting on
airs, is she? I don’t believe her father’s invention will ever come to
anything. Perhaps I had better take no further notice of her.”

Just as Helen reached the door of her father’s room, she saw the
occupant of the opposite apartment standing at his door. He was a young
man of middle height, with a face whose boyish bloom had hardly given
place to the more mature expression of manhood.

“Good morning, Miss Ford,” he said, pleasantly.

“Good morning, Mr. Coleman.”

“I was just about to ask a favor of you and your father.”

Helen thought he might be intending to ask a loan of some little
article, for it had come to her knowledge that he was boarding himself.

“I am sure we shall be happy to grant it,” she said, cheerfully.

“I suppose you know that I am an artist, or trying to be,” said the
young man. “I have just finished a picture for exhibition at the
Academy. No one has seen it yet, and I, perhaps, am not a fair judge of
its merits. I should be very glad if you and Mr. Ford would take a look
at it, and favor me with your opinion of it.”

“I shall be delighted to see it, and so will papa, I know,” returned
Helen. “I will speak to him immediately.”

“Papa,” she said, entering the room, “Mr. Coleman is kind enough to
invite us to look at a picture he has painted.”

“I beg your pardon, my dear,” said Mr. Ford, looking up abstractedly.
“Did you speak?”

Helen repeated the invitation.

“I shall be most happy,” said Mr. Ford, courteously. “Let us go at
once.”

The opposite room was fitted up as an artist’s studio,—plainly enough,
for young Coleman was, as yet, only a struggling aspirant, without a
name and without orders.

On an easel was the picture of which he had spoken. The subject was, “A
country farm-house at sunrise.” Broad and low, suggestive less of beauty
than of substantial comfort, it stood prominently out. The farmer in his
shirt-sleeves was leaning carelessly against the fence, watching a group
of cattle who were just emerging from the barn, followed by the farmer’s
son, a stout boy of fourteen. There was a cart in the yard near the
house, a plough, and a variety of accessories carefully selected to
imitate nature as scrupulously as possible. The whole painting was
exceedingly natural.

“It is beautiful,” said Helen, with childish enthusiasm.

“Thank you,” said the young man, smiling.

“It looks very familiar to me,” said Mr. Ford. “It seems to me as if I
had seen the very farm-house you have represented.”

“Thank you. I may dare to hope, then, that I have been reasonably true
to nature.”

“In that respect I think you have succeeded wonderfully. You must have
been born in the country, Mr. Coleman.”

“Yes, sir; I am a farmer’s son.”

“What made you think of becoming an artist?” asked Helen.

“I believe it was a severe punishment I received at school.”

Helen looked surprised.

“I see you don’t understand how that should have had such an influence
in determining my career. Let me explain. I used from time to time to
draw upon the slate pictures of my school-mates, which were regarded by
the originals as very successful. One winter the Prudential Committee
selected as teacher a young man of very singular appearance. His nose
was immensely large, and of odd shape. One day, after finishing my sums
in arithmetic, the fancy seized me to draw a picture of the teacher. I
became interested in the portrait, so that when my class was called up I
did not hear the summons, but kept on with my sketch. Seeing how I was
employed, Mr. Hargrave stepped up behind me on tiptoe, and to his
inexpressible anger beheld the counterfeit presentment of himself, in
which full justice was done to his leading deformity. He was probably
sensible of his lack of beauty, and correspondingly sensitive. At all
events, he was so far from appreciating my efforts, that he seized me by
the collar, swung me out into the middle of the school-room, and gave me
a cruel punishment, from which I did not for some time recover. I did
not go back to school, my father being too indignant with the teacher
for his unreasonable severity. He was desirous of seeing the sketch
which had excited so strong a resentment. I accordingly reproduced it
with a pencil as carefully as I could, and my father took the trouble to
have it framed, and hung up in the sitting-room, where it attracted
considerable attention and many encomiums. I believe it was this
incident which led me to think seriously of becoming an artist by
profession. Twelve months since my father gave me what little money he
could spare, and I came to New York to establish myself.”

“And what encouragement have you received, Mr. Coleman?” asked Mr. Ford,
with kindly interest.

“Of pecuniary encouragement, none,” was the reply. “That, however, it is
too early to expect. I have been a part of the time in the studio of an
established artist,—till two months since in fact,—obtaining what
knowledge I absolutely required. Then I transferred my studio to this
room. You see before you the result of my two months’ labor.”

“You have made an excellent beginning. I feel safe in predicting your
success.”

“Thank you, sir. You asked me what encouragement I had received. Your
kind anticipation is among the most valuable.”

“I do not, of course, profess to be a competent judge,” said Mr. Ford;
“but I think an inexperienced eye will see much to commend in your
painting. It’s truth to nature is very striking. It is a pity you could
not study abroad.”

“It is my ardent wish,” said the young man, “but quite beyond my power
to compass. I have now been a year in the city, learning much, as I
hope, but earning nothing. This has nearly brought me to the end of my
scanty resources. I shall not be able to continue thus much longer. I
confess to have built some hopes upon the picture I have just painted.
If I could secure a purchaser at a fair price, it would enable me to
protract my residence, which otherwise must soon be brought to an end.”

“There is one bond of fellowship between us, then,” said Mr. Ford,
smiling; “that of poverty. I, too, am working on in present need, hoping
some day to achieve success, and with it money. But in one respect I
have the advantage of you. My little daughter, here,” placing his hand
affectionately on Helen’s head, “cheers me with her presence and
sympathy, and is of more substantial help besides. I don’t know what I
should do without her.”

“O father!” said Helen.

“It is all true, my child. Even now, she has obtained an engagement to
sing at the theatre, chiefly, as I think, though she will not admit it,
because she thinks the money will be of use to me.”

“Indeed!” said the young artist. “I observed in this morning’s paper a
very flattering account of the _début_ of a young singer bearing your
daughter’s name, but I had no idea it was she. Wait a moment, here it
is.”

The young man pointed out the paragraph to Mr. Ford, who read it with
proud gratification. It was pleasant to him to find that the daughter
who was so dear to him should be appreciated by the public.

“Helen, I shall become proud of you,” he said.

“And I shall return the compliment, papa,—you know when. Papa, I want to
whisper to you a moment.”

“Certainly, my dear; that is, if Mr. Coleman will excuse the
impoliteness.”

“Don’t mention it, sir. I hope you will consider me so far a friend, as
to treat me unceremoniously.”

“Mr. Coleman,” said Mr. Ford, after his whispered conference with Helen,
“my daughter desires me to invite you to dine with us. I trust you will
feel inclined to accept the invitation.”

“With the greatest pleasure,” said the young man, his face brightening
up.

“I need hardly tell you that we do not fare very sumptuously.”

The young man laughed. “And I need hardly assure you, sir, that I am
quite unused to sumptuous fare. Frankly, but for your invitation, my
dinner would have consisted of some dry bread and a couple of sausages.”

“You can reserve those till to-morrow, then. I really don’t know what
Helen will give us. She allows no dictation in the commissary
department.”

“Now, papa,” remonstrated Helen, “what will Mr. Coleman think of me? You
are making me out to be a dreadful tyrant.”

“I thought it best to put him on his guard. Since you are kind enough to
accept our invitation, Mr. Coleman, Helen will knock at your door when
dinner is ready. Good morning.”

“Good morning, sir. I shall be quite ready for the summons.”

The artist went back to his work, but the image of Helen’s childish
beauty occasionally rose up before him, and he could not help wishing
that Heaven had given him such a sister.



                              CHAPTER XVI.
                           THE MUFFLED FACE.


Apparently brighter days had dawned upon Helen and her father. With Mr.
Sharp’s loan and Helen’s weekly salary they were no longer obliged to
practice the pinching economy which, until now, had been a necessity.
Helen could now venture to add an occasional luxury to their daily fare
without being compelled to consider anxiously how many dollars yet
remained in the common purse. The landlady’s call for the rent was now
cheerfully received. Helen always had the amount carefully laid aside.
No one rejoiced more sincerely in their new prosperity than the worthy
landlady, who though forced to look after her own interests, had a large
heart, full of kindly sympathy for those who were doing their best in
the struggle of life.

“I only wish all my lodgers were equally prompt, my dear,” she said, one
day. “It’s really disagreeable to call on some of them; they look as if
you were the last person they wanted to see, and pay down their rent
just for all the world as if it was something you had no right to, but
were trying to exact from them. Now you always look cheerful, and pay me
as if it was a pleasure for you to do it.”

“And so it is,” said Helen, blithely. “But it wasn’t so always. I think,
Mother Morton, that the pleasure of paying away money depends upon
whether you are sure of any more after that is gone.”

“I don’t know but you are right,” said the landlady. “But I know it
isn’t so with some. There’s Mrs. Ferguson used to occupy my first floor
front, living on her income, of which she didn’t spend half. I suppose
she never had less than two or three hundred dollars on hand in her
trunk lying idle, but she’d put me off as long as she could about
paying, for no earthly reason except because she hated to part with her
money. I stood it as long as I could, till one day I told her plainly
that I knew she had the money, and she must pay it or go. She took a
miff and went off, and I didn’t mourn much for her. But, bless my soul!
here I am running on, when I ought to be down stairs giving orders about
the dinner.”

Mr. Ford invested a portion of his borrowed capital in a variety of
articles which he conceived would assist him in his invention. Although
to outward appearance success was quite as distant as ever, it was
perhaps a happy circumstance for Mr. Ford that he constantly believed
himself on the eve of attaining his purpose. Indeed, he labored so
enthusiastically that his health began to suffer. The watchful eyes of
Helen detected this, and she felt that it was essential that her father
should have a greater variety and amount of exercise. She determined,
therefore, to propose some pleasant excursion, which would have the
effect of diverting his thoughts for a time from the subject which so
completely engrossed them.

Accordingly, one Saturday morning, having no duties at the theatre
during the day, she said to her father, as he was about to settle
himself to his usual employment, “Papa, I have a favor to ask.”

“Well, my child?”

“I don’t want you to work to-day.”

“Why,” said Mr. Ford, half absently; “it isn’t Sunday, is it?”

“No,” said Helen, laughing; “but it is Saturday, and I think we ought to
take a holiday.”

“To be sure,” said Mr. Ford, thinking that Helen needed one. “I ought to
have spoken of it before. And what shall we do, Helen? what would you
like to do?”

“I’ll tell you, papa, of a grand plan; I thought of it yesterday, as I
was looking at the advertisements in the paper. Suppose we go to Staten
Island in the steamboat.”

“I believe I should enjoy it,” said Mr. Ford, brightening up. “It will
do both of us good; when shall we go?”

“Let me see, it is eight o’clock; I think we can get ready to take the
nine o’clock boat.”

Having once determined upon the plan, Mr. Ford showed an almost childish
eagerness to put it into execution; he fidgeted about nervously while
Helen was sweeping the floor and setting the room to rights, and
inquired half a dozen times, “Most ready, Helen?”

Helen hailed with no little satisfaction this sign of interest on the
part of her father, and resolved that if she could accomplish it these
excursions should henceforth be more frequent.

By nine o’clock they were on board the boat. A large number of
passengers had already gathered on the deck. The unusual beauty of the
morning had induced many to snatch from the harassing toils of business
a few hours of communion with the fresh scenes of nature. Both decks
were soon crowded with passengers. Helen, to whom this was a new
experience, enjoyed the scene not a little. She felt her spirits rising,
and it seemed to her difficult to imagine a more beautiful spectacle
than the boat with its white awnings and complement of well-dressed
passengers. They had scarcely found comfortable seats on the promenade
deck before the signal was given, and the boat cast loose from the
wharf. There is nothing more nearly approaching the act of flying than
the swift-gliding movement of a steamboat as it cleaves its way easily
and gracefully through the smooth water.

Mr. Ford looked thoughtfully back upon the spires and roofs of the city
momentarily receding.

“How everything has changed,” he said slowly, “since I last crossed in a
row-boat more than twenty years ago! And all this change has been
effected by the tireless energy of man. Does it not seem strange that
the outward aspect of inanimate nature should be so completely altered?”

Half an hour landed them at the island. Helen took her father’s hand and
assumed the office of guide. They gazed with interest at the gay crowds
as they availed themselves of the means of amusement which the place
afforded. Helen even left her father long enough to take her turn in
swinging, and, flushed with the exercise, returned to him. They next
sauntered to a wooden inclosure, where wooden horses, each bearing a
rider, were revolving under the impulse of machinery. The riders
consisted partly of boys, and partly of others who were compelled to
labor hard on other days, but had been tempted, by the cheapness of the
trip, to a day’s recreation.

Leaving Helen and her father to amuse themselves in their quiet way, we
turn our attention to others.

Among those who were rambling hither and thither as caprice dictated,
was a young man whose pale face and attenuated figure indicated some
sedentary pursuit. His face, though intellectual, was not pleasing.
There was something in the lines about the mouth which argued moral
weakness.

Is this description sufficient to bring back to the reader’s
recollection Jacob Wynne, the copyist, whose services had been called
into requisition by Lewis Rand?

He was better dressed than when last introduced to the reader. The money
furnished by Rand in return for his services had supplied the means for
this outward improvement. On his arm leaned a young girl, or rather a
young woman, for she appeared about twenty-five years of age. He was
conversing with her in a low tone, but upon what subject could not be
distinguished. She listened, apparently not displeased. They walked
slowly, now in one direction, now in another. If they had not been so
occupied with one another, they might have observed that they were
followed at a little distance by a woman who kept her burning gaze fixed
upon them steadily, apparently determined not to lose sight of them a
single moment.

This woman seemed out of place in the festive scene into which she had
introduced herself. She presented a strong contrast to the gay,
well-dressed groups through which she passed without seeming to heed
their presence.

She was dressed in a faded calico dress, over which, notwithstanding the
heat, a ragged shawl was carelessly thrown. On her head was a
sun-bonnet, so large that it nearly concealed her features from view.
One or two who had the curiosity to look at the face, so carefully
concealed, started in alarm at the hard, fierce expression which they
detected there. Her face was very pale, save that at the centre of each
cheek there glowed a vivid red spot. It was evident that the heart of
this woman was the seat of conflicting passions. She continued to follow
Jacob Wynne, with what object it was not evident. It seemed that she did
not wish to make her presence known to him, at least in his present
company, since, on his casually turning his glances in her direction,
she drew her bonnet more closely about her features, so as to elude the
closest scrutiny, and with apparent carelessness turned away. When she
saw that his attention was again occupied by his companion she resumed
her espionage.

At length they separated for a few minutes. Jacob’s companion expressed
a wish for a glass of water. Leaving her seated on the grass, he
hastened away to comply with her request. The woman who had followed
them so closely, as soon as she saw this, moved rapidly towards the
companion he had left, and dropped into her lap a few words written in
pencil upon a slip of paper. The latter, picking it up in surprise, read
as follows: “Beware of the man who has just left you, or you will repent
it when too late. He is not to be trusted.”

She looked up, but could see no one likely to have given it to her. At a
little distance her eyes fell upon a shabbily-dressed woman who was
walking rapidly away, but it never crossed her mind that _she_ had
anything to do with the warning just given. If she had watched longer
she would have seen the meeting of this woman with Jacob Wynne, for it
was of him she had gone in pursuit. The latter was returning with a
glass of water when she threw herself in his path. With a glance of
surprise he was about to pass by, when she planted herself again in his
way.



                             CHAPTER XVII.
                         AN AWKWARD INTERVIEW.


Jacob Wynne looked in surprise at the person who so persistently barred
his progress, and exclaimed, impatiently, “What means all this foolery?
Stand aside, my good woman, and let me pass.”

She did not move.

The scrivener never, for a moment, suspected who she might be. It never
occurred to him that she had a special object in accosting him. He could
not see her face, for it was still concealed by the bonnet and thick
veil she wore.

“There is something for you,” he said, throwing down a small silver
coin; for he judged that she might be a beggar. “Now stand aside, will
you, for I am in haste.”

“So you bestow your alms upon me, as upon a beggar, Jacob Wynne,” said
the woman, with a hard, bitter laugh. As she spoke, she drew aside her
veil with an impatient movement, and allowed him a full view of her
features.

“Margaret!” he exclaimed, recoiling so hastily as to spill the contents
of the glass.

“Yes,—Margaret!” she repeated, in the same hard tone as before. “I dare
say you did not expect to see me here.”

“What fiend sent you here?” he exclaimed, angrily.

“Is it so remarkable,” she said, “that I should wish to be near you?”

“Margaret,” said Jacob, with difficulty restraining his anger
sufficiently to assume a tone of persuasion, “consider how much
attention you will attract, dressed in this uncouth style. Go home;
there’s a good woman.”

He looked uneasily in the direction where he had left his companion,
fearing that she might become a witness of this interview.

“Good woman!” she laughed, wildly. “Oh, yes, you do well to call me
that. You are doing your best to make me so.” Then changing her tone,
“So you are ashamed of my dress. I will not disgrace you any longer, if
you will give me money to buy others.”

“Well, well! we’ll talk about that when we get home. Only walk quietly
down to the boat now. You see we are attracting attention.”

“And you will come with me?” she said, with a searching look.

“I? no, not at present. I have an engagement,” said Jacob, in some
embarrassment.

“Yes, I understand,” said Margaret, bitterly. “It is with her,” and she
pointed to the tree under which his late companion was yet seated.

Jacob started.

“You may well start,” said Margaret, whose observant eye did not fail to
detect his momentary confusion.

“What do you mean?” he demanded, half defiantly.

“Jacob Wynne,” she continued, sternly, fixing her penetrating eye full
upon him, “tell me who is this woman, and what she is to you. Tell me,
for I have a right to know.”

She folded her arms and looked like an accusing spirit, as she made this
demand. The consciousness of guilt made his physical inferiority the
more conspicuous, as he met her gaze uneasily, as if meditating an
escape.

“This is no place for the discussion of such matters,” he said, in a
tone which strove to be conciliatory. “It is all right, of course. Go
home quietly, and when I return, I will answer your questions.”

He was mistaken if he thought thus to escape. Margaret was in a state of
high nervous excitement, and the fear of being overheard by the groups
who surrounded them was wholly lost sight of in the intensity of her
purpose.

“Jacob,” she said, steadily, “this is not a matter to be deferred. My
suspicions have been long excited, and now I want an explanation. I
cannot live as I have lived. Sometimes I have feared,” placing her hand
upon her brow, “that my head was becoming unsettled.”

“Your coming here to-day is no slight proof of it,” he said, hardly. “I
think you are right.”

She threw off this insinuation, cruel as it was, with hardly a thought
of what it meant. She had but one object now, and that she must
accomplish.

“Enough of this, Jacob,” she said, briefly. “You have not answered my
question. This woman,—what is she to you?”

“Suppose I do not choose to tell you,” he answered, doggedly.

“I demand an answer,” said Margaret, resolutely. “I have a right to
know.”

The weakest natures are often the most cruel, delighting in the power
which circumstances sometimes bestow upon them of torturing those who
are infinitely their superiors. There was a cruel malignity in the
scrivener’s eyes as he repeated, slowly, “You have a right to know!
Deign to inform me of what nature is this right.”

“Good heavens!” she exclaimed, startled out of herself by his
effrontery. “Have you the face to ask?”

“I have,” he said, his countenance expressing the satisfaction he felt
in the blow he meditated.

Margaret looked at him a moment, uncertain of his meaning. Then she took
a step forward and placed her hand on his arm, while she looked up in
his face with an expression which had changed suddenly from defiance to
entreaty.

“Jacob,” she said, in a softened tone, “have you forgotten the morning
when we both stood before the altar, and pledged to each other eternal
constancy? It is ten years since, years not unmarked by sorrow and
privation, but we have been the happier for being together, have we not?
You remember our little Margaret, Jacob,—how she lighted up our humble
home with her sweet, winning ways, till God saw fit to take her to
himself? If she had lived, I don’t think you would have found it in your
heart to neglect me so. Can we not be to each other what we have been,
Jacob? I may have been in fault sometimes, with my hasty temper, but I
have never swerved from my love for you.”

“You are at liberty to do so as soon as you like,” he said, coldly.

“Good heavens!” she exclaimed; “and this to your wedded wife!”

“That is a slight mistake of yours,” he returned, with a sneer, resting
his calculating eyes upon her face, as if to mark the effect of his
words.

Her hand released its hold upon his arm, and she staggered back as if
about to fall.

“My God! what do you mean? What can you mean? Tell me quickly, if you
would not have me go mad before your eyes.”

“That might be the best way of ending the matter,” said he, with
deliberate cruelty. “Nevertheless I will not refuse to gratify your
reasonable curiosity. I declare to you solemnly that you are not my
wedded wife.”

“You would deceive me,” she said, with sudden anger.

“Not in this matter, though I acknowledge having deceived you once. The
priest who performed the ceremony was so only for that occasion.”

Margaret passed her hand across her eyes as if she were trying to rouse
herself from some stupefying dream.

“Surely you are jesting, Jacob,” she said, at length. “You are only
saying this to try me. Is it not so? I will only ask you this once. Are
you in earnest?”

“I declare to you, Margaret, that you are not my wedded wife.”

“Then,” she said in a sudden burst of fury, to which she was urged by
the sharpness of her despair. “Then I have only one thing to live for
now.”

She turned away.

“What do you mean?” asked Jacob, almost involuntarily, her manner
producing a vague uneasiness.

“Revenge!”

She drew her tattered shawl closely about her, and, though the heat was
intense, actually shivered in her fierce emotion. Jacob looked after her
as she walked rapidly away, turning neither to the right nor to the
left, and a half feeling of compunction came over him. It was only for a
moment, however, for he shook it off, muttering impatiently,—

“Pshaw! what’s the use of fretting! It must have come sooner or later. I
suppose it was only natural to expect a scene. Well, I’m glad it’s over,
at any rate. Now I shall have one impediment out of my path.”

Jacob’s nature was cold and cowardly, and, as may be inferred,
essentially selfish. Destitute of all the finer feelings, it was quite
impossible to understand the pain which he had inflicted on a nature so
sensitive and high-strung as that of Margaret. Nor, had he been able to
understand, would the instinct of humanity have bidden him to refrain.

He retraced his steps to obtain another glass of water, for the one in
his hand had been spilled in the surprise of his first meeting with
Margaret.

“Did you get tired of waiting, Ellen?” he asked, as on his return he
presented the glass to his companion.

The suspicions excited in her mind by the mysterious warning had been
strengthened by his protracted absence.

“You were long absent,” she said, coldly.

“Yes,” he replied, somewhat confused. “I was unexpectedly detained.”

“Perhaps you can explain this,” she continued, handing him the paper she
had received.

He turned pale with anger and vexation, and incautiously muttered, “This
is some of Margaret’s work. Curse her!”

“Who is Margaret?” asked his companion, suspiciously.

“She,” said Jacob, hesitating, in embarrassment. “Oh, she is an
acquaintance of mine whose mind has lost its balance. You may have seen
her on the ground here. She was muffled up in a shawl and cape-bonnet.
She is always making trouble in some unexpected way.”

That this was a fabrication, Jacob’s confused manner clearly evinced.

“I wish to go home,” was the only response. Jacob offered his arm.

It was rejected. They walked on, not exchanging a word.

When they parted in New York, Jacob gave full vent to his indignation,
and hastened home to pour out his fury on Margaret, who had so seriously
interfered with his plan of allying himself with one for whom he cared
little, except that she would have brought him a small property which he
coveted. He hurried up stairs, and dashed into the room occupied by
Margaret and himself. He looked about him eagerly, but saw no one.

Margaret had disappeared.



                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                           MARGARET’S FLIGHT.


When Margaret left Staten Island after her stormy interview with Jacob
Wynne, it was with a fevered brain, and a heart torn with the fiercest
emotions. This man, whom despite his unworthiness, she had loved with
all the intensity of her woman’s nature, had spurned her affection, had
ruthlessly thrown it back upon her, and with a cold refinement of
cruelty had acknowledged without reserve the gross deception he had
practised upon her.

There are some of sensitive natures that would shrink and die under such
treatment. Margaret was differently constituted. The blow was terrible,
but she did not give way under it. It hardened her whole nature, and
excited in her a burning thirst for vengeance. Strong in hate as in
love, there sprang up in her soul a determined purpose, that, as Jacob
Wynne had ruthlessly laid waste the garden of her life, she would never
rest till she had made his as desolate as her own.

During the half-hour spent from wharf to wharf, she paced the deck of
the steamer with hasty strides, her shawl clasped tightly over her
throbbing bosom, and her face concealed as before by the capacious
sun-bonnet. She heeded not that she was the object of curious attention
on the part of her fellow-passengers. She never noticed how sedulously
the children avoided coming in her way—what glances, half of wonder,
half of awe, they cast upon the tall, stately, ill-dressed woman who
strode by them with such an impatient step. She had far other thoughts
to occupy her. She could not force herself to sit down. With her mind in
such a whirl, motion was absolutely necessary. Her hands were fiercely
clenched till the nails penetrated the skin, and caused the blood to
flow, but she neither saw the blood nor felt the injury.

At length they reached the slip. She disembarked with the other
passengers, and with the same quick, hasty, impatient strides hurried
through the streets, choosing instinctively the most obscure and
unfrequented, until she reached the lodgings occupied by Jacob and
herself.

Here she sat down for a few minutes, and looked about her.

The room was more ambitiously furnished than when first the reader was
introduced to it. Jacob’s connection with Lewis Rand had given him a
push upward, and enabled him to live more comfortably than before. But
in this prosperity Margaret had not been permitted to participate. She
had asked even humbly for money to provide herself with more comfortable
and befitting clothing, but Jacob, with cold selfishness, had refused
all her applications. He had grown tired of her, and, as we have seen,
had already formed a plan by which he hoped, through marriage, to get
possession of a small property which would place his new prosperity on a
more permanent footing. His treatment of Margaret, therefore, was only
part of a deliberate plan to rid himself of her, and thus remove the
only obstacle to the success of his suit. He had not indeed intended to
reveal his plans to her until marriage had secured the property he
coveted. We have seen how Margaret’s jealous espionage forced a
premature disclosure of his object, and even defeated it altogether.

Margaret looked about the room, which she had so long regarded as home.
Then her eye rested on herself disfigured by the faded and unsightly
garments which Jacob’s parsimony compelled her to wear, and she
smiled,—a smile of such bitter mockery, such deep and woful
despair,—that she almost shuddered to see it reflected in the mirror
opposite.

“There is no time to waste,” she muttered, slowly. “This can be my home
no longer. I must do what I have to do and be gone.”

She opened a small drawer in the bureau, and drew out a half sheet of
paper. It seemed to have been used for trying the pen, the same names
together with particular letters, being several times repeated on it.
Among the names that of Rand occurred most frequently.

Margaret smiled—this time a smile of triumph.

“Jacob Wynne! Jacob Wynne!” she repeated to herself, “what would you say
if you knew that I hold in my hand the evidence of your crime,—forgery!
forgery!”

Her eyes sparkled with vindictive joy.

“You would not sleep so quietly in your bed to-night, Jacob Wynne, if
you knew that I hold it in my power to hurl you into prison a convicted
forger! Why should I not do it? Tell me that, Jacob Wynne. Why, indeed;
shall I have compassion upon you who have had no pity for me? Never!
never!”

“When you are in prison,” she continued, in a tone of yet deeper
vindictiveness, “I will come and visit you, and taunt you with the
knowledge that it is to me you owe your disgrace. Think you that _she_
will smile upon you then; that she will be ready to stand before the
altar as I did?—Heaven help me!—and plight her faith to a convicted
forger?”

Margaret’s whole nature seemed changed. Her love seemed to have given
place to a deadly resentment.

She collected a few articles, and packed them in a small bundle.

Then she took one more glance—a farewell look at what, till now, had
been her home, and then pressed her hand upon her heart, while an
expression of pain distorted her features. But this was only for a
moment. By a powerful effort of self-control she checked her emotions,
and silently went out from the room.

Mile after mile walked Margaret through the crowded city streets,
turning neither to the right hand nor to the left. All gazed curiously
at her, all turned out for her. Now and then some one, more independent
than his neighbors, seemed inclined to oppose her progress, and compel
her to yield the way; but she moved steadily onwards, and he was obliged
to waive his independence, and make way for the singular woman whose
stately walk seemed so inconsistent with her miserable attire.

On, on, till the houses became farther and farther apart; on, till the
whirl of the great city is lost in the distance, and fields stretch out
on either side of the highway.

Still she moves on, never faltering, never showing signs of fatigue.

The skies grew suddenly dark. The rumbling of distant thunder was heard.
Vivid flashes of lightning played before her eyes, and dazzled her with
their blinding glare; still she moved steadily onward. A tree, shivered
by the lightning, fell across her path; she climbed over the trunk which
had been rent in twain, and continued her journey without exhibiting a
trace of surprise or alarm. There was a conflict raging in her own soul
fiercer than the conflict of the elements without; what was the
lightning that dazzled her sight to that which had seared her heart? And
why should she shrink from the shattered tree, whose own life had been
made a yet more fearful wreck?

And now the rain began to fall, not in a gentle shower, but in a fierce,
drenching deluge. It soaked through and through her miserable clothing,
and fell upon her hot skin. She did not seem to heed even that, but
still walked on—on with the same quick, steady pace, as before.

By the wayside was a small cottage, a very small one. There was but one
story, and two rooms were all it contained. It stood a few feet back
from the road. There was a small yard in front, and behind a small
garden, devoted to the cultivation of vegetables.

When Margaret came in sight of this cottage she paused,—paused a moment
irresolutely,—and then slowly entered through the open gate into the
path which led up to the front door.

She did not knock, but passing the door, stole to the window and looked
cautiously in.

The room revealed to her gaze was very plainly furnished. The floor was
clean, but had no carpet. A table and a few chairs, a clock, a stove,
and a rocking-chair, were all that the room contained.

In the rocking-chair sat an old lady, quietly engaged in knitting. Her
back was towards the window, and Margaret could therefore see nothing of
her features. At her feet reposed a gigantic cat, with her eyes half
closed, purring contentedly.

It was a picture of humble comfort and domestic happiness. The placid
look of the old lady seemed to indicate that she had no anxieties to
disturb her tranquillity. The cat, too, seemed to feel that dozing was
the great work of her existence, as, coiled up on the hearth, she
watched, with winking eyes, the rapid movements of the old lady’s
fingers.

Such was the general aspect of the room upon which the burning eyes of
Margaret now rested. She stood for brief space peering in with an air of
irresolution.

At length she opened the outer door. A moment more, and the door of the
inner room yielded to her touch, and she stood upon the threshold.

The old lady looked up from her knitting, and uttered a half exclamation
of terror as her eyes rested on the tall, forlorn woman standing before
her, with her clothes hanging in wet folds about her person, and her
hair falling in wild disorder about her face, from which she had now
removed her bonnet. The cat, too, who had been roused from her nap, and
who was as much unused to such company as her mistress, stood with her
back arched in terror, gazing in dismay at the stranger.

“Who are you?” asked the old lady, tremulously. “What do you want with
me?”

Margaret looked at her earnestly, and said, in a low voice:

“You do not know me?”

“No, I don’t know you,” said the old lady, shaking her head.

“Is it thus a mother forgets her own child?” asked Margaret, looking
fixedly at her.

The old lady trembled, she looked with an earnest glance of inquiry at
the wild, haggard face of her visitor, and then bursting into tears took
a step forward, and opening her arms exclaimed,—

“Margaret, my daughter!”

The hard heart melted for a moment, tears gushed from eyes dry before,
and the two were folded in a close embrace.

Then the old lady drew back a step, and gazed long and earnestly at her
daughter.

“You find me changed, mother,” said Margaret, abruptly.

“It is years since we met,” was the sad reply. “I might have expected to
find you changed.”

“But not _such_ a change,” replied Margaret. “It is not years alone that
have wrought the change in me. But you don’t—you cannot see the greater
change,” she continued with rapidity, “that has taken place in my heart.
It is a woful change, mother.”

Her mother marked, with alarm, the excitement of her manner, her quick
breathing, and the flush upon her cheeks.

“Your clothes are wet, Margaret,” she said, anxiously. “This terrible
storm has drenched you. You must change them instantly, or you will get
your death of cold.”

“Ah, that reminds me,” said Margaret, waywardly, “you haven’t admired my
clothes yet. They are very rich and becoming, are they not? This shawl,”
and she lifted up the tattered rag and spread it out, while the rain
dropped from it upon the floor, “have you ever seen a more beautiful
one? And this dress,”—she held it up in her fingers,—“how much it
resembles the soft silk I wore at my wedding—yes, my _wedding_,” she
repeated, with startling emphasis.

“You are not well, Margaret,” said her mother, alarmed at her strange
conduct. “You have caught cold in this storm, and you will be sick if
you are not careful.”

“Sick! That matters little.”

“You might die,” urged the old lady, in a tone of mild reproach.

“Yes,” said Margaret, reflectively, “I might die, and that would prevent
my revenge. I must live for that; yes, I must live for that.”

“What do you mean, Margaret?”

“Never mind, mother,” said Margaret, evasively, “never mind. I will tell
you some time. Now I will place myself in your hands, mother, and try to
get well.”

“Now you are yourself again,” said the old lady, relieved by her calmer
tone. “You must take off those wet clothes directly, and put on some of
mine. You had better go to bed at once.”

Margaret yielded implicitly to her mother’s directions. Nevertheless,
she was very sick for many weeks. Often she was delirious, and her
mother more than once shuddered at the wild words which escaped her.



                              CHAPTER XIX,
                            HERBERT COLEMAN.


In course of time Helen’s engagement subjected her to a new
embarrassment. It was of course late in the evening before she was
released from the theatre, leaving her a distance to traverse of more
than a mile. At first Martha Grey called for her, but it soon became
evident that this was too much for the strength of the poor seamstress.
She did not complain, but Helen, with the quick eye of friendship, saw
her lassitude and the air of weariness which she strove in vain to
conceal, and would not allow her to continue her friendly service.

“But, my dear child,” said Martha, “how will you manage? You ought not
to go alone. It would not be proper.”

“I will try it,” said Helen, though her timid nature shrank from the
trial. “If necessary, I must get a lodging nearer the theatre.”

“And leave us? I should miss you sadly.”

“Oh, I should expect you to come too,” said Helen. “We would hire rooms
close together. But perhaps it will not be necessary.”

So Helen undertook to return from the theatre alone. She might indeed
have had her father’s escort by asking for it, but she feared it would
prove an interruption to his labors, and perhaps deprive him of the rest
which he required. But an incident happened on the second evening which
convinced her that it was not safe for her to walk home unattended.

Singing at a popular theatre, Helen’s face naturally became familiar to
those who frequented it. There were some among them who were struck by
her beauty, and desired to see her off the stage. It happened that a
young man was standing near the door of the theatre one evening when
Helen emerged from it. He quietly followed her until she reached an
unfrequented side street through which she was obliged to pass, and then
pressed to her side.

“Good evening, Miss Ford,” he said, accommodating his pace to hers.

Helen looked up startled, and met an unfamiliar face. She remained
silent through terror.

“Good evening,” repeated her unwelcome companion. “I hardly think you
heard me the first time.”

“I don’t know you, sir.”

“Allow me to remedy that. My name is Albert Grover, at your service.”

“I beg you will leave me, sir,” said Helen, her heart beating rapidly.

“I would rather not, indeed. You are alone, and require an escort.”

“I would rather not trouble you, sir; I shall do very well alone.”

“It is no trouble whatever—on the contrary, quite a pleasure. Will you
accept my arm?”

“No, sir, I would much rather not.”

“Upon my word, you are not treating me well. When I announce myself as
one of the warmest admirers of your charming voice, I am sure you will
not be cruel enough to repulse me. Let me insist, then, upon your
accepting my arm for the remainder of your walk.”

Helen was quite terrified by the young man’s persistency. Too young to
fear any peril except the annoyance of the present moment, she felt an
apprehension which she could not define.

“Pray, leave me, sir,” she said, in accents of entreaty.

“I am sure you don’t mean that,” returned her persecutor, endeavoring to
place her arm in his.

Helen screamed faintly. Her call was instantly answered.

“Leave this young lady alone,” said a manly voice, the owner of which
seized Mr. Albert Grover with a vigorous grasp.

“Who are you?” demanded the young man endeavoring, but without success,
to free himself from his unexpected assailant.

“What you do not appear to be,” was the prompt reply, “a gentleman. Are
you not ashamed to annoy a defenceless girl?”

“I only meant to see her home,” was the sulky reply.

“You can spare yourself the trouble. I will undertake that duty.”

“O Mr. Coleman, how glad I am you came up!” said Helen, clinging to her
new protector, in whom the reader has already recognized the opposite
lodger.

“So am I. But, Miss Ford, do you know how imprudent it is for you to be
out at this hour alone?”

“I suppose it is,” said Helen; “but I don’t know what else to do. Martha
Grey used to come for me, but I found it was too much for her. Papa
would come, but he works so hard that I don’t think he ought to come.
And there is no one else.”

“I see how it is,” said the young man. “I shall come for you myself.”

“You, Mr. Coleman! Oh, no, I could not think of troubling you.”

“Indeed, it will be no trouble.”

“If it were for only one evening. But every evening, it would be too
much.”

“On the contrary, it will be pleasant for me. I am in my room nearly all
day, hard at work. In the evening I cannot work, for painting requires
sunlight. So I shall only be taking the exercise I need, and coming for
you will give me an object which will insure my taking the exercise I
require. You see, therefore, that it is a selfish arrangement on my
part.”

“I see that you are very kind,” said Helen, gratefully. “I wish there
were any way in which I could repay you.”

“I have a young sister at home, about your age. If she were situated as
you are, I should want somebody to be kind to her. Let me look upon you
as my sister.”

“I shall be very glad to have you,” said Helen, her confidence
completely won.

“Then, of course, I shall not call you Miss Ford any longer.”

“Why not?”

“Because that would be too formal between brother and sister. I must
call you Helen.”

“Yes, if you like,” said the child, more and more pleased. “It is very
pleasant to have a brother.”

“Then you will call me Herbert?”

“Is that your name?”

“Yes. Will you call me so?”

“Perhaps so, by and by. I must get used to it, you know.”

“I think that will soon come, for we shall be a good deal together now.”

Helen felt quite relieved by this new arrangement. The next evening Mr.
Coleman presented himself promptly at the theatre, thereby disappointing
Albert Grover, who was in waiting to repeat his annoyance of the
previous evening.

“You may as well give it up,” said Helen’s escort, with a significant
glance at the young man. “Henceforth, this young lady will have an
escort able and willing to chastise all who are disposed to offer her
annoyance.”

Helen clung to his arm with a feeling of unspeakable relief.

“Don’t tremble, Helen,” said he, kindly. “You are safe with me.”

“You are very kind to me,” said Helen.

“That is my duty. You have promised to be my little sister, you know.”

“Have you begun a new picture yet?”

“Not yet. I thought I could see where I might make some alterations for
the better in the picture you have seen. I shall try to get it admitted
to the Academy by and by, unless I succeed first in obtaining a
purchaser.”

“It is so beautiful, I should think it would be easy to find a
purchaser.”

“If all looked at it with your partial eyes, Helen. But I have no
reputation, and an established name goes a great ways.”

“But you will become famous some day.”

“I hope so, but it will be many years first. I must work for bread and
butter before I work for fame.”

“Can’t you work for both at the same time?”

“I hope so. But sometimes an artist, under the spur of necessity, is
compelled to deny his highest aspirations, and work for present profit.
From that temptation I am relieved at present,” the young man added,
laughing, “since my pencil is not yet in demand.”

They had now reached the door of the lodging-house, and stumbled up the
dark staircase to their rooms.

“Good night, Mr. Coleman,” said Helen.

“So it is still Mr. Coleman?”

“Good night, Herbert,” said Helen, timidly.

“Good night, little sister. Good night, and pleasant dreams.”



                              CHAPTER XX.
                          THE CANDLE FLICKERS.


Leaving Margaret to recover slowly at the little cottage under her
mother’s care, and Helen and her father to the tranquil existence which,
though humble, contents them, we pass to a nearer view of Lewis Rand and
his uncle, whose last days are imbittered by the artful machinations of
his nephew.

We stand before a palace-like structure, fronting on Fifth Avenue, whose
imposing exterior scarcely gives an adequate idea of the interior
magnificence. But few homes, even in that aristocratic quarter, are more
sumptuously furnished. Yet it would be difficult to say how far all this
splendor contributes to the happiness of its owner. Happiness is quite
independent of wealth, and what wealth can procure. Of what avail is it,
that curtains of the richest damask keep out the too intrusive sunlight,
or that carpets of the finest texture cover the floors, since the
shutters are always closed, and the magnificent parlors rarely echo the
steps of a visitor? Of what avail is the gallery of really exquisite
paintings, selected at an immense cost from European collections? Hidden
from the curious eye, lest perchance some harm might come to them, never
looked upon by the possessor, they might as well be buried under ground,
so far as concerns the actual enjoyment derived from them.

Mr. Rand has never recovered from the loss of his son. Great as was the
shock he experienced from that son’s plebeian choice, for such he
considered it, he would have made advances towards a reconciliation long
before, but for the vigilance and adroit manœuvring of his nephew Lewis.
The latter well knew that this would be fatal to his hopes of succeeding
as heir presumptive to his uncle’s immense wealth. Accordingly, as soon
as his uncle’s first passionate anger began to show signs of abatement,
he was persuaded by Lewis to undertake a European tour. This occupied
several years, during which they resided, for different lengths of time,
in the principal European capitals. It was at this time that most of the
articles of taste and luxury which now adorned the city mansion were
first collected.

But there is nothing that can supply to the heart the place of a lost
affection. Mr. Rand returned to America restless and unhappy for the
lack of that which his own act had driven from him. Had his son been at
hand, he would have offered to receive him back, but it was not till
some time afterwards that he heard of his being in Chicago. Whether
Lewis suspected any disposition to relent is not certain, but, as we
have already seen, he thought it politic to give his uncle the
impression that his cousin was dead. Of this he did not find it
difficult then to convince him, and so, for a time, he breathed easier.
But the recent glimpse of Robert had aroused in the father a hope which
Lewis found it exceedingly difficult to stifle. To this hope may be
attributed the change in the phraseology of the will, which the nephew
had taken such criminal pains to neutralize. He was in perpetual
apprehension that his cousin might, by some means, learn the fact of his
father’s residence in the city, and, in consequence, make an attempt to
obtain an interview. This must be avoided at all hazards. The quiet
manner in which they lived rendered the chance of discovery a small one,
and the present alarming illness of his uncle, which Lewis regarded as a
fortunate circumstance, made that chance still smaller.

On a bed in one of the most elegantly furnished chambers in his princely
dwelling, reposed Mr. Rand,—let me rather say reclined, for his quick,
restless movements indicated anything but repose. His white hair clung
disordered about his temples, his features were thin and careworn, and
his whole aspect was that of a man whose life is ending in anxiety and
disappointment.

Lewis sat by the bedside, coldly scrutinizing the wasted features, as if
calculating how long life can retain its hold.

“Will he never die—_never_?” thus ran his thoughts. “It is strange with
what tenacity he clings to life; but as long as he remains here,
prostrated by sickness, I am tolerably safe. Still, it isn’t a bad plan,
which I have in train through Sharp. Although the chances are a hundred
to one in my favor, the bare _possibility_ of miscarriage is sufficient
to justify every precaution.”

“O that he might die _at once_!” he mentally resumed, looking
impatiently at the wasted face. “Then alone will my doubts and anxieties
be at an end. Then I shall care little how often I may meet my cousin
Robert. He will have no further power to injure or thwart me. He cannot
last long now. It is three days since he has been rational. He must die,
and then——”

Lewis rose and paced the room with quick strides, while he indulged in
dreams of the uses to which he would apply the rich inheritance, for
which he had been plotting and scheming for so many years.

He was interrupted by a feeble voice from the bed.

Lewis turned quickly towards the bed, and the face of the cunning
dissembler at once assumed the expression of profound sorrow and
sympathy.

“My dear uncle,” he said, “I am rejoiced to find that you are once more
yourself. How do you feel?”

“Weak, Lewis, very weak,” returned the sick man, speaking with
difficulty. “I feel that my life is nearing its close.”

“Don’t say that, uncle,” said Lewis, with well dissembled emotion; “I
cannot bear to part with you. Live for me, if not for yourself. If you
should die, what is there left to me? Through so many years I have
renounced all other ties, and devoted myself to you. You must not leave
me now.”

The artful dissembler applied his handkerchief to his eyes, possibly to
hide the gleam of joyful anticipation which he could with difficulty
conceal.

“Yes, Lewis,” said Mr. Rand, affected by his nephew’s apparent emotion;
“you have indeed been devoted to me. You will find, after my death, that
I have not been ungrateful. Your affection leads you to wish my life
prolonged, but when the tongue falters, and the pulse grows weak, and
the throbbing heart is almost still, man should not presumptuously
strive to call back the gift which God is about to take away.”

“My dear uncle, I am convinced that you are unnecessarily alarmed. You
will yet live many years.”

“Hope it not, Lewis,” said the sick man, who was far from suspecting how
unnecessary this admonition was; “hope it not. I know my time is short.
At such a time, Lewis, our past actions assume a very different aspect
from that in which we have been wont to regard them. Now when it is too
late, I can see how by my foolish pride, I have wrecked my own
happiness, and perhaps—God forgive me—that of him I loved best in life,
my son Robert.”

Lewis was uneasy at the turn the conversation was taking, and made an
effort to divert it.

“I think, sir,” he said, “that you are blaming yourself without adequate
cause. Much as I loved my cousin, I am forced to acknowledge that he
justly forfeited his claims to your favor and affection.”

“Forfeited my affection! And shall we, weak, erring mortals, in our
presumption dare to affix such a penalty to what may after all be only
an offence against our own unworthy pride? I feel that I was wrong. I
should not have condemned Robert’s choice without having seen his wife,
and if she was really worthy, I should have given my consent.”

“But, consider her birth.”

“When you come to lie on your death-bed as I do now,” said the sick man,
solemnly, “such considerations will dwindle into their proper
insignificance. Why should I claim superiority over any being whom the
same kind Father has made? When death is near us, our vision becomes
clearer. The scales of prejudice are rent away, and we see things as
they are.”

Lewis was silent. He was seeking some way of diverting the conversation
into a less dangerous channel.

“While I have been lying here,” resumed Mr. Rand, “I have been haunted
by a conviction that Robert is still living, or that he may have left
issue.”

“My dear uncle,” interrupted Lewis; in alarm, “let me entreat you not to
disturb yourself by such thoughts; call to mind how direct were the
proofs of his death.”

“I know all that you would urge, Lewis, but there have been cases where
the death of a person of similar name has led to a misapprehension. It
may have been so in this case.”

“It is scarcely possible.”

“Perhaps you are right. My conviction is based rather upon my feelings
than upon my reason.”

“Better think no more of it, uncle, it will only distress you.”

“Have I not done so? For eighteen years I have been striving to drive
away the thoughts of my injustice. But it will not do. I _must_ think of
it, and thinking finds relief in speaking.”

“But, even admitting that you have wronged my cousin Robert, which, in
justice to yourself I am not willing to allow, consider that your will,
by its provisions, makes ample reparation for that wrong.”

“Poor, at best, Lewis. Will it make reparation for the estrangement
which for eighteen years has kept apart father and son? That cannot be.
And yet I would fain see even this poor atonement made.”

“You may rely upon my being guided by your wishes, uncle.”

“I doubt it not. Yet it would be a satisfaction if I, who have done the
wrong, could have the privilege of repairing it during my life. Oh, that
I might have the joy and blessing of seeing my son once more if he yet
lives—that I might ask his forgiveness for the wrong I have done him!”

Lewis was seriously troubled at his uncle’s pertinacity, and still more
by the inquiry which followed.

“Don’t you think, Lewis, it would be well to advertise in the daily
papers, for Robert Rand or his descendants, if he should have any?”

“It would be useless,” said Lewis, shaking his head. “It would only be
throwing the money away.”

“And what is money to me? Nothing, nothing, compared with the thought I
have done something, however little, towards expiating my injustice. I
wish, Lewis, you would draw up an advertisement, and see it inserted.”

However distasteful this proposal was to Lewis, it would not do to
object. He therefore, with an appearance of alacrity, procured writing
materials, and prepared such an advertisement as his uncle desired. He
read it to the sick man who signified his approval, and requested Lewis
to procure its insertion in the principal daily papers forthwith. This
Lewis undertook to do.

_But the advertisement never appeared!_

Lewis dared not permit this, knowing that his cousin was actually in the
city, and that it would be likely to meet his eye.

Had his uncle been in the habit of reading the daily papers, it could
not safely have been suppressed. But he was too sick for that, and there
was no prospect of his becoming better. He had of course no suspicion of
Lewis’s double dealing, but trusted implicitly to him. Day after day he
inquired anxiously if there was any answer to the advertisement. As
often Lewis replied in the negative, and Mr. Rand would sink back upon
his pillow with a sigh of disappointment.

Once Lewis ventured to suggest that it would be well to discontinue the
advertisement.

“No, no,” said his uncle, “let it be continued while I live. And after
that I depend upon you to leave no effort unmade to discover some trace
of my lost son.”

“You know me too well, to doubt that I will follow your instructions to
the letter.”

“Yes, Lewis,” said his uncle. “You have been very kind to me. You
deserve all my confidence, and you possess it.”

So Lewis continued to keep watch by his uncle’s bedside, a daily witness
of his restlessness and unhappiness, and knowing full well that in an
hour’s space, he could bring peace and comfort to the dying man by
restoring his son to him; even at the eleventh hour, he refused to speak
the word that could have wrought the blessed change.

God grant that there be not many hearts as hard!



                              CHAPTER XXI.
                            A CONSULTATION.


Mr. Sharp was seated in his office. A complacent smile played over his
features. Perhaps he was thinking of the adroit manner in which he had
secured one hundred dollars of the sum intrusted to him for Robert Ford.
The bottle and glass, on the table before him, testified that his
present occupation could hardly be considered of a professional
character.

While Mr. Sharp was holding up the glass before him, and admiring the
rich warm tint of its contents, Lewis Rand quietly opened the door of
the office and walked in. Had Mr. Sharp been consulted, he would prefer
to have been forewarned of the visit.

“Business driving as ever,” remarked Lewis, in his dry sarcastic way,
taking in at a quick glance the scene before him.

“Well, yes,” said Mr. Sharp, in some embarrassment, putting down his
glass, its contents untasted.

It may be remarked, that whenever Mr. Sharp was perplexed, it was his
habit to run his hands vigorously through his blushing locks, till they
stood upon his head erect, and bristled like so many porcupine quills.
By the time this was well over his faculties returned, and “Richard was
himself again.” To this he had recourse on the present occasion,
immediately after which he resumed his usual air of easy assurance.

“I am, as you see,” he remarked affably, “taking my little symposium, in
humble imitation of the ancient Greeks and Romans,—‘Champagne,’ as
somebody has said, ‘is admirably calculated to clear cobwebs from the
brain.’”

“In that case,” dryly returned his client, who could not resist the
temptation of a hit at his coadjutor, “I advise you by all means to try
it.”

“Truly,” replied Mr. Sharp, who was dimly conscious of the covert
sarcasm, but deemed it politic not to notice it directly, “there is no
profession that racks the brain like mine, sir. The mightiest intellects
of ancient as well as of modern times——”

Mr. Sharp here assumed a standing posture, and was about to pronounce a
eulogy upon the different great men who had, during the last twenty
centuries, graced the profession which he adorned.

But the lawyer was saved the trouble of proceeding, by the expression of
a wish on the part of Lewis to attend to business.

“Certainly, by all means,” said Mr. Sharp, briskly resuming his seat,
and drawing before him a sheet of blank paper. “Business before
pleasure, or rather, with me, business is pleasure.”

“I have, as you know,” Lewis commenced, “lent the sum of three hundred
dollars to Robert Ford, through your agency.”

“And very liberal it was in you, I am sure,” said Mr. Sharp, with
benignant approval.

“By no means. I never professed to be a philanthropist, and I freely
acknowledge that in this act I was influenced by any but benevolent
motives. It was done solely with a view to promote my own interests.”

Here he paused; and Mr. Sharp, while waiting for a further explanation,
rubbed his hands and nodded genially, as if to indicate how thoroughly
he indorsed the views of his principal.

“I need not remind you,” continued Lewis, not heeding this little
manifestation, “of how great importance it is to me that Robert Ford,
who is the only obstacle between me and his father’s fortune, should be
kept entirely out of the way of any possibility of meeting his father.
Such an encounter fortunately is not very probable, since neither is
aware of the other’s presence in the city. When, however I consider how
trifling a chance, such for instance as a glance at a Directory, might
lead to that knowledge, I feel more and more how essential it is to my
interests that some decisive step should be taken. I may say in
confirmation of this, that my uncle, whose health is in a very critical
state, has conceived a fancy, Heaven knows how, that my cousin is still
alive, notwithstanding the evidence of his death in Chicago, which I
placed in his hands.”

“That is awkward.”

“Yes, it is very awkward, especially as he has insisted on my drawing up
an advertisement for this precious cousin of mine, and having it
inserted in the daily papers.”

“And you have done so?”

“Not I. It would be suicidal. I drew up the advertisement, however, as
he requested, and he supposes that it has been inserted.”

Mr. Sharp surveyed Lewis with a glance of approval. It was a tribute to
superior rascality.

“Now I will explain to you,” pursued Lewis, “why I have lent money to
Robert Ford. My uncle is dangerously ill; he cannot live many weeks at
farthest. It is absolutely essential that some attempt should be made to
place my cousin where he cannot do me any harm. If the laws permitted
it, I would gladly have him imprisoned for debt. That is, unluckily, out
of the question. I have it in my power, however, to annoy him in such a
way as perhaps to drive him from the city.”

“What do you propose to do?”

“Seize the furniture in execution, either with or without legal
sanction. Robert is far from being a man of the world, and there is no
risk in going to lengths with him, which would be dangerous with
others.”

“I have it,” said Sharp, eagerly.

“Well.”

“Your cousin is quite devoted to a heap of old machinery, out of which
he expects to make a flying machine or something of the kind. To seize
upon that would be the most serious blow you could inflict upon him.”

“I believe you are right. Robert was always a visionary. If that should
prove insufficient to drive him away, I will authorize you to offer him
some pecuniary inducements in a guarded manner—some remunerative
employment which will call him elsewhere, and which he will be the more
tempted to undertake if his present occupation is gone. Only let him be
kept out of the way until——”

“You are called upon to lament the death of your venerable relation,”
suggested Sharp.

“Then,” pursued Lewis, “he may go where he pleases, so far as I am
concerned.”

“My dear sir, you should have been a lawyer. You would have been an
ornament to the profession,” said Mr. Sharp, with complimentary
emphasis.

“Rather an equivocal compliment, I am afraid,” returned Lewis, dryly.
“But in order to carry out this plan of ours, beyond a doubt, we must
ascertain that my cousin will be unable to pay the money when called
upon.”

“I think I may pledge you,” said the lawyer, “that you need entertain no
apprehensions on that score. From what I have seen I conjecture that at
the time of your loan he had but little money on hand, and I know that
he has expended a considerable sum since.”

“It is best to be certain, however.”

“Undoubtedly. I will myself call down there this afternoon, if you think
best, and ascertain this point without exciting his suspicions.”

“Do so; and should you find the prospect favorable, take measures to
have the demand presented to-morrow. If not discharged, you know how to
proceed.”

“You may rely upon my following your directions to the letter,” returned
the attorney, as sweeping his fingers once more through his blushing
locks, he bowed his client gracefully out.



                             CHAPTER XXII.
                           PREPARING THE WAY.


Promptness was one of the valuable characteristics of Mr. Sharp. But no
general remark is without its exceptions.

On the present occasion our legal friend decided to call at once on Mr.
Ford, in pursuance of the commission which he received from Lewis Rand.
It involved a species of double dealing for which Mr. Sharp felt that he
had peculiar qualifications.

Taking down from the nail his invariable white hat, he adjusted it
somewhat jauntily upon his head, and walked forth with a benevolent
smile irradiating his countenance, as if he were meditating some scheme
by which he expected to add largely to the sum-total of human happiness.
There are others than he who go out with a smile upon the lips, but an
evil purpose in their hearts.

The lawyer took his way to Mrs. Morton’s lodging-house. He went up
stairs, and entered Mr. Ford’s room without ceremony, knowing that Helen
would be absent at that hour, and that the habitual abstraction of her
father would probably prevent his knock being heard.

“Ah, good afternoon, Mr. Ford,” he said, with affability, cordially
grasping the inventor’s hand. “Still at your work, I see. I could not
resist the impulse to call and inquire after your progress. It seems
such a welcome relief to come from the close, dusty court-room to this
little retreat of yours. And how are you getting on, my dear friend?”

“I am advancing as rapidly as I anticipated,” said Mr. Ford, pausing in
the midst of an intricate calculation. “I feel that I have every reason
to be encouraged.”

“I am delighted to hear it,” exclaimed the lawyer, with friendly
enthusiasm. “Then you really think that before many years we shall be
able to skim from country to country on the wings of the wind, so to
speak.”

“I have not a doubt of it,” answered the inventor, in a tone of quiet
confidence. “We already know how great a degree of speed has been
attained by our steamers and locomotives, in the face of far greater
obstacles than are to be encountered in the case of aërial navigation.
The great impediment to the speed of the locomotive is, as you are
doubtless aware, the friction that necessarily results from its constant
contact with the earth.”

Mr. Sharp nodded assent.

“While the speed of the ocean-steamer is in like manner very materially
lessened by the resistance of the water.”

Mr. Sharp had often been struck by this very thought. Indeed, he had
expended considerable time and thought in the leisure stolen from his
professional cares in attempting to devise means for remedying to some
extent these causes of loss. For, as he had before assured Mr. Ford,
though a lawyer by profession, his tastes lay in quite a different
direction.

“Now in traversing the air,” continued Mr. Ford, “we have the advantage
of not being obliged to contend either with the friction generated by
constant contact with the earth, or with the resistance of a foreign
element like water. All that needs to be overcome is the resistance of
the air, which is no greater than in the other cases, while the other
obstacles are removed.”

“Very true,” said Mr. Sharp, with an air of profound conviction.

“All that is needed to establish aërial navigation on a firm basis is to
find some means of steadying and regulating the motion, which no doubt
would be incredibly rapid. It is intended that the machine shall partake
of the nature of a balloon, as buoyancy will of course be requisite.”

“My dear sir,” said Mr. Sharp, warmly grasping the hand of the inventor,
“nothing could be more clear and lucid than your explanation. The same
course of reasoning, if you will permit me to say so, has more than once
suggested itself to me, but, if I may be allowed the expression, it is
an idiosyncrasy of mine to possess more theoretical than practical
ability. Therefore even if my many engagements would suffer it, I doubt
whether I should become a successful inventor. You, my dear sir, who so
happily combine both, are admirably adapted to that high vocation.”

“I ought to succeed,” said Mr. Ford, with a little sigh, “if the labor
and thought of many years employed in one direction can achieve
success.”

“I hope,” said the visitor, as if the question had just occurred to him,
“that you have made free use of the money it was my privilege to offer
you recently.”

Mr. Ford replied gratefully, that he had expended about one half of it.
He hoped to be able to repay it some day.

“Of course,” argued the lawyer to himself, “he could not pay it now.
That is what I wanted to know.”

“I ought perhaps to mention,” he said, carelessly, “that having a large
claim unexpectedly presented for payment yesterday, I raised money upon
your note, _expressly stipulating_ that you should not be called upon
for it, as I should be able to redeem it in a day or two.”

“You are very kind,” said Mr. Ford. “Perhaps I had better return you the
money yet remaining in my hands.”

“By no means, my dear sir,” exclaimed Mr. Sharp, almost indignantly;
“shall I recall the humble offering which I have laid upon the altar of
science? Nay, I am resolved that my name shall be humbly connected with
yours, when the world has learned to recognize your genius, and numbers
you among its benefactors.”

How was it possible to suspect a friendship so disinterested?



                             CHAPTER XXIII.
                            THE BLOW FALLS.


The next morning found Mr. Sharp closeted with a brother practitioner
equally unprincipled with himself. There was this difference between
them, however, that while Mr. Sharp concealed his real character beneath
a specious show of affability and suavity, his companion, whom, by way
of distinction, we will call Blunt, was rough in his manners, and had
not art enough to compass the consummate duplicity of the other. Indeed,
so accustomed was Mr. Sharp to its use, that he did not lay it aside
even where he knew it to be useless.

“My dear friend Blunt,” he exclaimed, with charming cordiality, “I am
delighted to see you looking so well.”

“Humph?” was the somewhat dubious rejoinder.

“I should have called upon you instead of sending for you to my office,
but I have really been so harassed by business that I could not get a
single spare moment.”

“And you presumed that I was not overburdened in that way, eh?”

“My dear Blunt,” said Sharp, with wounded feeling, “how can you imagine
such a thing?”

“I only judged from what you said. You hadn’t time to call upon me, but
judged that I had plenty of time to spend in calling upon you.”

“My dear Blunt,” said Sharp, impressively, “if the extent of a man’s
business were always commensurate with his merits——”

“We should neither of us stand a very good chance.”

“That was not exactly what I intended to say,” said Sharp, blowing his
nose, “your modesty, my dear Blunt——”

“Modesty! I am sure you’re joking now, Sharp, and although my time is
not particularly valuable, I don’t care to stand here discussing
personal qualities; so if you had any object in sending for me, out with
it.”

“You are somewhat abrupt in your speech, my dear friend; an evidence of
your sincerity, for which no one has a greater respect than myself.”

“I have heard,” muttered Blunt, “that people are apt to set a high value
on qualities which they lack.”

“However,” pursued Sharp, evading a reply to his last remark, “I have a
little professional business to offer you, if your engagement will
permit.”

“No fear on that score,” said Blunt, dryly; “but this business—why don’t
you do it yourself? You needn’t tell me it’s on account of a pressure of
the other engagements, for I know better.”

“That is not the reason, as with your usual penetration you have
discovered, my dear Blunt. Do not for a moment think I would attempt to
deceive you. With others it might do; but with you I know there would be
no chance of succeeding.”

Mr. Sharp nodded with pleasant affability to his visitor, and resumed:
“The fact is, it is a matter in which I do not wish to appear. One of my
clients (Mr. Sharp brought out these words with an emphasis calculated
to convey the idea that it was one of a very large number), for a reason
which I need not mention, employed me some weeks since to lend a sum of
money to a certain individual. This was only to establish a power over
him which, some time, it might be convenient to use. That time has come;
it is his desire that the note should be presented with a demand for
immediate payment; in default of which a particular article in
possession of the borrower should be seized in execution. This, as you
may readily imagine, would have a tendency to harrow up my feelings,
and——”

“Therefore you intrust the business to me, who have no feelings to be
harrowed up.”

“My dear Blunt, I desire you to undertake this, because of your superior
strength of mind. I am well aware of my own deficiency in that respect.”

“Well, well, have it as you will. I won’t trouble you to assign reasons
for throwing business into my hands. I sha’n’t let any scruples stand
between me and my own interest. Where’s the note!”

“One thing more,” said Sharp, slowly unclasping the wallet which
contained the note. “This man—Robert Ford—thinks I lent him the money on
my own responsibility, and naturally regards me as a firm friend. I
called on him yesterday, and hinted that I had been forced to raise
money to meet a pressing engagement, and had given up this note as
collateral, on condition that it should not be presented. Very probably
he may mention this. I don’t wish him to suspect that there is any
understanding between us, as it will destroy what little influence I may
have over him. You will be kind enough, therefore, to say nothing to
undeceive him on that point, and if you could make it convenient to
abuse me a little, just to show that there is no collusion between us, I
should regard it as a particular favor.”

“Abuse you! I will do it with the greatest pleasure in the world.”

“I knew it, my dear Blunt; it was what I expected of your friendship.
But I must give you his direction. Have you all necessary instructions?”

“You have not told me what I am to seize on execution?”

“Very true, an important omission. You must know that this Ford, an
estimable man, by the way, has taken a fancy to invent a flying machine,
and to that end has collected an odd jumble of machinery. This is what I
wish you to seize. Here is the address.”

“And where am I to bring it?”

“You may as well bring it here.”

“How unfortunate that you cannot complete the invention,” said Blunt,
dryly. “If it is just as convenient I shouldn’t mind receiving the pay
in advance; not,” he continued, with a pointed imitation of his
companion’s manner,—“not that I doubt in the least your high-souled
integrity, my dear Sharp, but simply because, just at present,
singularly enough, I happen to be out of cash.”

“I shall be most happy to discharge your claim forthwith,” said Sharp,
rather ostentatiously displaying a roll of bills, and placing a five in
the hands of his agent.

Blunt examined the bill with some minuteness, a sudden suspicion having
entered his mind as to its genuineness. Satisfied on this point, he
slipped it into his vest pocket, saying, “All right, you shall hear from
me in the course of the day.”

An hour afterwards a loud authoritative knock aroused Robert Ford, who,
it is needless to say, was employed after his usual fashion.

“Come in!”

The invitation was quickly accepted by a shock-headed man, stout and
burly, who without ceremony drew out a note, and said, abruptly, “You
are Robert Ford, I presume?”

“That is my name, sir,” said the inventor, in some surprise.

“Very well. Here is a note with your signature, payable on demand. I
presume it will be perfectly convenient for you to pay it now.”

Mr. Ford took the note with an absent air, and said, glancing at the man
before him, “Excuse me, but I do not recollect having seen you before.”

“Very probably,” said Blunt, with _sang froid_. “We never had the
pleasure of meeting before.”

“Then,” said the inventor, “how comes it that you have a demand against
me?”

“If you will take the trouble to examine the note, you will find that it
comes through a third person, Richard Sharp. You probably remember him.”

“Yes, I know him.”

Mr. Ford glanced at the paper in his hand.

“I think there must be some mistake,” he said. “The sum should be two
hundred dollars, not three.”

“There is no mistake,” said Blunt, positively. “It is just as he gave it
to me.”

“Mr. Sharp mentioned yesterday,” said Mr. Ford, with a sudden effort at
recollection, “that he had parted with this note to some one, but on
condition that it should not be presented. You had better see him about
it.”

“I have nothing further to do with him,” replied Blunt, “I believe he
did mention something of the kind; but of course he cannot expect me to
keep this note when I want the money.”

“Then, sir,” said Mr. Ford, “if, as you admit, Mr. Sharp made this
condition, it is incumbent on you, as a man of honor, to keep it. I am
sure it is very far from Mr. Sharp’s intention to trouble me for the
payment of a sum which he loaned without the expectation of immediate
repayment. I should wrong his disinterested generosity by harboring such
a suspicion.”

“His disinterested generosity!” repeated Blunt, with a loud laugh.

“Sir,” said the inventor, with calm dignity, “I must request you to
forbear insinuating by word or manner anything derogatory to a man who
has proved himself my benefactor, and, solely impelled by his interest
in science, has offered me the aid of his purse, without even an
application on my part.”

“Very well,” said Blunt, “although it’s rather amusing to me to hear
Sharp spoken of as interested in science, I won’t quarrel with your
opinion of him, especially as his character isn’t in question just now.
The main point is, can you pay this note?”

“I cannot.”

“Then I shall be under the disagreeable necessity of calling two of my
friends in waiting.”

Two Irishmen, who appeared to have been waiting outside, entered at
Blunt’s call.

“Take that machinery,” said Blunt, in a tone of command, “and carry it
down stairs.”

“Stay!” said Mr. Ford, in alarm; “what do you intend to do?”

“I am only acting in self-defence,” said Blunt, doggedly. “You cannot
pay your money. If I can’t get my pay in one way, I must in another;
therefore, I take this machinery of yours in execution.”

The thought of this calamity nearly overcame Mr. Ford. He did not pause
to consider whether the seizure was legal or illegal, but, in an
agitated voice, urged, “Take everything else, but spare me this. It is
to me of inestimable value,—greater than you can possibly imagine.”

“That’s the very reason I take it,” said Blunt. “All the rest of your
trumpery,” glancing contemptuously at the plain furniture, “wouldn’t be
worth carrying away.”

“At least,” implored the inventor, “wait till to-morrow, till I can see
Mr. Sharp.”

“And where would you be?” sneered Blunt. “Don’t think to catch me with
such chaff; I’m too old a bird. I will take it while it is here.”

“But,” urged Mr. Ford, “it can be of little value to you. You cannot
sell it for one quarter of the debt.”

“Perhaps not. But that isn’t what I take it for.”

“What then?”

“As a pledge for its final payment. I care nothing for the trumpery,
while you, I know, do. When you come forward and pay the note, you shall
have it back again.”

“Do you promise that?” asked the inventor, more cheerfully.

“I will agree to wait a reasonable time.”

Little ceremony was used in the removal of the complicated machinery.
Within ten minutes, all that had so fully occupied the thoughts of Mr.
Ford, and furnished the pleasure and the occupation of his quiet life,
was swept away, and he was left alone. That the labor was to no purpose,
and the hopes which he cherished vain, imported little. To him, at
least, they were realities, and upon them he had built a dazzling
superstructure, which now suddenly crumbled into pieces at his feet.

Lewis Rand’s triumph was thus far complete.



                             CHAPTER XXIV.
                         HELEN’S GOOD FORTUNE.


Mr. Bowers, the manager, sat at his desk in the little office adjoining
the stage, running his eye over a manuscript play presented for
examination by an ambitious young man in spectacles.

“Bah!” said the manager, tossing aside the play after a very brief
examination, “what can the man be thinking of? Two murders in the first
act, and a suicide in the first scene of the second! Such an
accumulation of horrors will never do. Here, Jeffries.”

The messenger made his appearance, and stood awaiting orders.

“Here,” said Mr. Bowers, tossing the play towards him, “just do this
thing up, and when the author calls this afternoon, tell him from me
that it is a very brilliant production, and so on, but, like Addison’s
Cato, for example, not adapted for dramatic representation. That will
sugar the pill.”

“Is it the tall young man, with a thin face?”

“Yes; his name is Ichabod Smith; but he writes under the _nom de plume_
of Lionel Percy.”

“Yes, sir; I have seen his name in the story papers. He has just written
one called ‘The Goblin Lover; or, The Haunted Tower.’”

“Any further orders, sir?” inquired Jeffries, deferentially.

“Has Miss Ford come?”

“No, sir; I think not.”

“Notice when she does, and request her to call at the office a moment.”

“Yes, sir.”

“It is no more than fair that I should increase her salary,”
soliloquized Mr. Bowers. “She has really proved quite a card, and richly
deserves double what I have hitherto paid. Besides,” he mused, for the
manager was by no means neglectful of his own interests, “I should not
be surprised if another establishment should try to entice her away by a
larger offer. I must bind her till the end of the season.”

At this moment Helen was announced by Jeffries.

She entered, not without a little feeling of embarrassment. She had not
often been brought into communication with Mr. Bowers, since her
engagement, and now the only reason that occurred to her to account for
this unexpected summons was, that she might in some way have given
dissatisfaction, although the applause which greeted her nightly seemed
hardly consistent with this idea.

Her apprehensions were at once dispelled by the unusually gracious
manner in which she was received.

“I am glad to see you, Miss Ford,” said Mr. Bowers, affably; motioning
her to a seat. “I have sent for you to say that your services are in the
highest degree acceptable to me and to the public. The marks of approval
which you receive nightly must be very gratifying to you as they are to
me.”

Quite overpowered by this extraordinary condescension on the part of the
manager, whom she had been accustomed to regard with a feeling of
distant awe and respect, Helen answered that she was very glad that he
was satisfied with her.

“To prove how highly I value your services,” continued Mr. Bowers, “I
have decided to double your weekly salary, provided you will sign an
engagement to remain with us till the end of the season.”

Helen, who had feared on being summoned to the manager’s presence, that
it was to be told that her services were dispensed with, hardly knew how
to express her gratitude for what was so far beyond her expectations.

“It is very generous in you, sir,” she said, “to increase my salary
without my asking for it.”

“I always make it a point,” was the reply, “to recompense merit to the
extent of my means.”

“And now,” he added, pushing towards her a contract already drawn up,
“if you will sign this obligation to sing for me the remainder of the
season on these terms, I shall have no further cause to trespass on your
time.”

Helen wrote her name hastily, and withdrew from the manager’s presence,
it being already time for rehearsal.

“A very pretty little girl, and not at all aware of her own value,”
mused Mr. Bowers. “I am lucky to have secured her.”

Eager to communicate her increase of salary to her father and good
Martha Grey, who had always shown so warm an interest in her welfare,
Helen hastened home immediately after rehearsal.

Flushed with exercise, and with a bright smile playing over her face,
she danced into Martha Grey’s little room.

“O Martha!” she ejaculated, sinking into a chair, “I am all out of
breath running, I was so anxious to tell you of my good fortune. You are
the very first that I wanted to tell it to.”

“What is it, Helen?” inquired Martha, looking up from her never-ceasing
work with an expression of interest.

“What do you think it is? Guess now,” said Helen, smiling.

“I never was good at guessing, Helen. I think the shortest way will be
to tell me at once.”

“I have had my salary raised to twelve dollars a week; just think of
that, Martha: and all without my asking. I shall be able to buy ever so
many nice things for papa, now, that I couldn’t afford before; and I
mean to make you a present, besides, Martha; you’ve been so very kind to
me.”

“Thank you for the kind thought, my dear child. I will take the will for
the deed. But you mustn’t think yourself too rich. If you have any money
to spare you had better be laying it up against a time of need. Remember
the theatre will be closed for a time in the summer, and your salary
will stop. You will want to lay up money to carry you through that
time.”

“At any rate, Martha, if you won’t let me spend any money for you, I
shall insist on coming in now and then and helping you with your work,
so that you can gain time to walk out with me. I am afraid you work too
hard. You are looking pale.”

“It is long since I had much color,” said Martha. “You have enough for
us both.”

“Then you must go out and get some. But I mustn’t stop a minute longer;
I must go up and tell papa;” and she bounded up stairs with a light
heart, little suspecting what had taken place during her absence.

What was her surprise to find her father listlessly looking out of the
window into the little court below, and otherwise quite unoccupied.

“What is the matter, papa?” inquired Helen, in apprehension; “and
where,” for the first time noticing the absence of the work which
usually engaged her father,—“where is your machine?”

“It is gone, my child,” said Mr. Ford, despondently.

“Gone! what do you mean, papa? You have not got discouraged, and sent it
away?”

“Discouraged! No, Helen; on the contrary, I never felt nearer success
than I did a few hours since. But all is changed now.”

“What _has_ become of it, papa?” questioned Helen, in increasing alarm.

“It has been seized for debt, Helen.”

“For debt?”

“Yes; for the note which I gave Mr. Sharp. I had not the money to pay
it, so they carried off my machine for security.”

“Is it possible he has been so cruel and unfeeling?” exclaimed Helen,
indignantly.

“Do not blame him, my child. I am convinced that it is far from his
intention to trouble or distress us. But he parted with the note a day
or two since, as he himself told me, on the express condition that it
should not be presented for payment, and this stipulation has been
disregarded.”

“And how large was this note, papa?”

“For three hundred dollars.”

“_Three_ hundred! I thought it was only two hundred that were lent you.”

“That was my own impression,” said Mr. Ford, with an air of perplexity.
“But you know,” he continued, with a melancholy smile, “that I have no
head for business. I have been so occupied in other ways. It is quite
possible that I have made a mistake.”

“I am afraid,” said Helen, gravely, “that Mr. Sharp is not so much your
friend as you imagine.”

“Not my friend, Helen? He offered to lend me this money voluntarily,
without any expectation of immediate return. I am certain that when he
hears of this affair, he will hasten to make it right.”

“Perhaps I do him wrong,” said Helen, thoughtfully, “and indeed I do not
know what good it would do him to annoy us. But, papa, there is one
thing I haven’t told you,—a piece of great good news. I have had my
salary doubled at the theatre. I shall earn twelve dollars a week. Think
of that, papa.”

“But are you not working too hard, Helen?”

“I, working hard! It is only a pleasure for me to sing. I am very lucky
in being paid for what I would rather do than not. It is different with
poor Martha. She doesn’t earn more than four dollars a week, and has to
sit at her sewing from morning till night. I wish I could do something
to help her. She looks so tired and pale all the time.”

“God has favored you, my child, in bestowing upon you so choice a gift.
I hope you do not fail to thank him for this goodness.”

“Never, papa. I thank him every night.”

“How much money have you left, papa?” she inquired, after a pause.

“I don’t know exactly how much. I had better give it to you to help pay
our daily expenses.”

“There are one hundred and twenty dollars,” said Helen, counting it.
“Then we shall need one hundred and eighty to make up the balance of the
sum mentioned in the note.”

“Surely, I cannot have expended that sum,” said Mr. Ford, with a
perplexed look. “If I could see Mr. Sharp?”

“I will go and see him, papa.”

“Perhaps it will be best.”

In five minutes Helen was on her way to the lawyer’s office.



                              CHAPTER XXV.
                      MR. SHARP CHANGES HIS BASE.


When Lewis Rand made choice of Richard Sharp, a briefless barrister, as
his agent, in preference to a lawyer of greater reputation, he was
influenced by what he considered satisfactory reasons. In the first
place, Mr. Sharp’s easy morality and lack of principle were no
unimportant qualifications for the business in which he was to be
employed; that he had good qualities of a particular kind Lewis knew;
and he judged that his lack of other clients would insure his devotion
to his interests.

Thus far, Mr. Sharp’s management of the business intrusted to him had
quite equalled Lewis Rand’s expectations. He acknowledged that it could
not have been better done. Feeling that the lawyer’s fidelity was
insured by his own interest, he was far from anticipating any risk to
his plans from this quarter.

Lewis Rand reasoned as a man of the world, showing, it must be admitted,
no inconsiderable insight into human character and motives. But there
was one thing which he neglected to take into the account. The lawyer
might, in the course of his investigations, discover counter interests,
which he might think it better worth his while to further than his
client’s.

This was actually the case.

Lewis Rand had so far taken Mr. Sharp into his confidence, that the
lawyer found little difficulty in surmising how affairs stood. Of the
forged will he was ignorant. It appeared that the only thing which stood
in the way of a reconciliation between Robert Ford and his father, was
the careful manner in which they had hitherto been kept apart by Lewis.
As the latter had confessed, his uncle had been so far desirous of a
meeting and reconciliation, that he had ordered an advertisement to be
inserted in the leading papers, notwithstanding the probability that his
son was no longer living.

“Now,” thought Mr. Sharp, “what would be the probable consequence, if
some person—I, myself, for example—should bring together the
long-separated father and son. Naturally that person would have the
satisfaction of knowing that he had made two fellow-beings happy,”—here
Mr. Sharp looked fairly radiant with benevolence,—“and also,”—here came
in a consideration,—“and also he would stand a chance of being very
handsomely rewarded.”

Mr. Sharp lit a fresh cigar, after which he resumed the current of his
reflections.

“Suppose I should be that person. I should, of course, lose my present
client; but, on the other hand, I might get another, who would prove ten
times as profitable to me. In fact, he could not very well help
rewarding me handsomely, knowing that I had been the means of gaining
him a fortune. Besides, this Ford is a mere infant in matters of
business. Of course he would need somebody to manage his money concerns
for him, or he would be fleeced on every hand. It would only be an act
of common humanity to come to his assistance. Egad!” exclaimed the
lawyer, warming with the thoughts of what might be done should the
scheme succeed; “the thing’s worth trying, and I’ll be——, I mean I’ll
try it.”

Having arrived at this praiseworthy decision, Mr. Sharp tossed the
remains of his cigar into the grate, and carefully adjusting his
invariable white hat, sallied into the street on a tour of observation.

The object of his quest was the residence of his client. A look into the
directory guided him to the residence on Fifth Avenue, which has been
already described. He observed that the shutters were closed, as
befitted a dwelling in which there was sickness. From the sidewalk he
could read the name upon the door-plate. There could be no mistake, for
this name was Rand.

“So far so good,” he thought, and having now obtained all the
information he at present needed, he wended his way back to the office,
and began to meditate what step next to take, when he caught the sound
of a timid knock at his office door.

“Come in!” said Mr. Sharp, wondering if by some very extraordinary freak
of fortune it might be a second client.

The door was opened, and Helen stole timidly in.

She looked very sad and despondent. The length of time which must elapse
before she could at best release her father’s treasured machine, and
furnish him the wonted occupation which had so long engrossed his time
and thoughts, and upon which he founded such high hopes of fame and
fortune, naturally weighed upon her mind. She had come to acquaint Mr.
Sharp with what had happened, rather because such was her father’s
desire than because she entertained any great hopes of his assistance.

“Miss Ford,” exclaimed Mr. Sharp, jumping from his seat and, with a wave
of the hand, politely tendering it to Helen, “This is a most unexpected
pleasure. I am delighted to see you, my dear young lady; pray, sit down,
if you will do such an honor to my humble apartment.”

“I couldn’t stop, sir, thank you,” said Helen. “I came to let you know,
sir, at my father’s desire, that his,—I mean the work he was engaged
upon,—has been seized for debt.”

“Bless my soul!” ejaculated Mr. Sharp, in the greatest apparent
amazement; “how did it happen?”

“What!” exclaimed the lawyer in a tone of virtuous indignation, “is it
possible that Blunt has had the unparalleled effrontery to disturb my
esteemed friend, your father, against my express stipulation? That man
little knows that he has aimed a blow at science and the world’s
progress, and endangered the successful prosecution of the greatest
discovery of modern times. And all for the sake of a little paltry
money!” ejaculated Mr. Sharp, with disdain. “And shall this be
permitted? No, it shall not be! It must not be!”

Here Mr. Sharp brought down his fist energetically upon the table.

“My dear young lady, rest assured that your father shall be righted,
even though—yes, even though it strip me of my entire property.”

It may be remarked that the lawyer’s entire property, which he was ready
to sacrifice so heroically in the service of his friend, made but a
small show on the tax-gatherer’s book.

Nevertheless Helen, who gave him credit for perfect sincerity, began to
think she had judged very harshly of Mr. Sharp, and the delightful hope
that through his means would once more be restored to her father the
employment so necessary to his happiness, filled her with the liveliest
emotions of gratitude.

“O sir,” said she, earnestly, “we will both pray for and bless you.”

“My dear Miss Ford,” said the lawyer, in his emotion brushing away an
imaginary tear, “say no more. Although you will, I know, acquit me of
having had anything to do directly in bringing about your father’s
misfortune, it was, I am painfully conscious, the result of my
entrusting the note to that villain Blunt, who has acted in a manner
unworthy of a gentleman,—in a manner which will compel me to break off
all business relations with him in future; I feel that it is my duty to
do what I can to repair the results of my indiscretion.”

Mr. Sharp rose rapidly in Helen’s estimation. The respect with which he
spoke of her father, and the warmth with which he espoused his
interests, impressed the unsuspecting child most favorably. She began to
wonder how she could ever have thought of him otherwise than as a
friend. She even felt a degree of compunction and self-reproach for
having harbored suspicions of so excellent a man.

“You can return home quite at ease, my dear Miss Ford,” resumed Mr.
Sharp. “Within two hours at most I will take care that your father’s
property shall be restored to him.”

“Will you, sir?” said Helen, her eyes lighting up with gratitude. “Oh, I
shall feel so relieved. We shall be very much indebted to you.”

“Do not thank me, my dear Miss Ford. I feel that I am, in some respects,
unsuited to my profession. A lawyer should be made of sterner stuff. I
rejoice that your father should have sent to me immediately. It is a
proof of his confidence, which I value. He will always find in me a true
friend, and I trust he will not fail to call upon me for assistance
whenever any trouble shall befall him. Your father, my dear Miss Ford,
is a man of genius; but, as you perhaps have observed, is not so well
versed in the ways of the world as those who possess not a tithe of his
inventive talent and intellectual ability.”

Helen was quite ready to acknowledge a deficiency which no one knew
better than herself.

“Mind, my dear young lady,” continued Mr. Sharp, “I do not speak of this
as in any way derogatory to your father or at all detracting from his
scientific eminence. I would not have him other than he is. No one can
be great in all things, as Cicero so eloquently observes. What if your
father is a little deficient in worldly sagacity? Was not this the case
with all who have distinguished themselves in the higher departments of
science and literature? Why, the great Sir Isaac Newton himself was
noted for his absence of mind, and some very curious stories are told of
this trait. Milton, too, knew so little how to drive a bargain, that he
actually sold his great poem for five pounds. So I consider your
father’s want of practical talent one of the most convincing proofs of
his superior mental endowments.”

Whatever may be thought of Mr. Sharp’s reasoning, it was enough for
Helen that he spoke in praise of her father, whom she revered. No praise
of herself could so effectually have won her entire confidence. With
light heart she left the lawyer’s office, and hastened home to impart to
her father the glad tidings.

“I have crossed the Rubicon,” said Mr. Sharp, thoughtfully. “I must now
arrange the details of my _coup d’etat_.”



                             CHAPTER XXVI.
                            A SHORT CHAPTER.


Mr. Sharp had now taken the first step towards betraying his client, and
was determined not to turn back. Having so far committed himself, he
felt that policy dictated expedition. Should Mr. Rand suddenly die
before he could bring about an interview between him and Mr. Ford, all
would be lost. That interview must take place with the least possible
delay.

Mr. Sharp, accordingly, set out at once for Mr. Ford’s dwelling.

A moderate walk brought him to the modest lodging of the inventor.

He paused a moment to compose his face to the proper expression of
sympathetic regret, and then entering, grasped the hand of Mr. Ford.

“I sympathize with you sincerely in your misfortune,” he remarked, in a
feeling tone, “and it is to me a poignant reflection that it has
occurred partly through my means; but I trust your kindness will absolve
me from any suspicion of complicity.”

“I do, and have,” said Mr. Ford, frankly, extending his hand. “From the
first, I could not even imagine, Mr. Sharp, that you had anything to do
with it.”

“You only do me justice,” said Mr. Sharp, wringing the offered hand with
affectionate energy; “you only do me justice, sir, and yet I have been
culpable; I have been guilty of an indiscretion; I should not have
intrusted a note which affected your interests, to so unscrupulous a man
as Blunt. Mild as is my temperament,” he continued, with a sudden burst
of ferocity, “I do not hesitate to pronounce that man an unmitigated
villain.”

He paused a moment to recover himself, and resumed in a different tone,
with a look of respectful admiration directed towards Helen.

“As soon as I heard the details of this affair from the lips of your
charming daughter, whose filial devotion is, I may observe, the most
beautiful trait of her character, I hastened here to assure you of my
sympathy and assistance. I think I may promise, that your invaluable
machinery will be restored to you before night. I can only express my
extreme regret that you have been compelled to suspend your labors, even
for the space of a few hours.”

“Thank you for your kindness,” said Mr. Ford, gratefully. “I shall
always feel that I am deeply indebted to you for your disinterested
friendship.”

“Sir,” said Mr. Sharp, visibly affected, “I would, if it were possible,
express how much I am gratified by your words; but there are feelings
which must be hidden in the heart, and to which no language can do
justice. Let me say, briefly, that such are my feelings on the present
occasion. You have been pleased to refer to the little service which it
has been in my power to render you. But, sir, you have no cause for
gratitude. It is the interest I feel in the advancement of science, to
which you have consecrated your life energies. It is my earnest desire
to help forward, in my way, the important discovery which is to hand
down your name to future generations.”

“If you will excuse me,” said Helen, putting on her bonnet, “I am going
out to get something for dinner; and if,” she added, hesitatingly, “Mr.
Sharp would do us the favor to sit down with us, papa, I am sure we
should be very glad to have him.”

“That is well thought of, Helen,” said her father, approvingly. “I shall
be very glad to have Mr. Sharp do so, if he can find sufficient
inducement.”

“Sufficient inducement!” echoed the lawyer, with the air of a man who
had received an invitation to a royal banquet; “I shall be most proud,
most happy, to accept your invitation, and that of your charming
daughter. Unworthy as I feel myself of this distinction, I will yet
accept it.”

“Unworthy! you, who have to-day shown yourself so truly my friend? It is
but a faint expression of our gratitude.”

“You are very kind to say so,” said Mr. Sharp, with an effusion of
feeling. “Yet I cannot help feeling that you judge me too favorably.
Indeed, were it not that I have a revelation of some importance to make
to you, I should scarcely venture to accept your invitation.”

“Be seated, Mr. Sharp,” said Mr. Ford, somewhat surprised at the
lawyer’s words; “I shall, of course, feel interested in anything you may
have to impart. Helen, my dear, you will not be gone long?”

“No, papa.”

She closed the door, and descended the stairs, with her market-basket on
her arm.



                             CHAPTER XXVII.
                            HELEN’S BANQUET.


When Helen had departed on her errand, Mr. Sharp commenced,—

“You will pardon me,” he said, “if, in the preliminary inquiries I may
have to make, there may be anything of a nature to harrow up your
feelings, or recall painful scenes.”

Mr. Ford looked surprised.

“May I inquire if you have a father living?”

A painful shadow flitted over the face of Mr. Ford. He answered,
presently,—

“You may be surprised when I answer, that I do not know.”

“I am _not_ surprised,” said Mr. Sharp, inclining his head gently. “This
was the answer I anticipated.”

Once more Mr. Ford regarded his visitor with a look of surprise.

“Is it possible,” he said, not without hesitation, “that you should know
anything of my unhappy history?”

“Of that you shall judge. What if I should say, for example, that the
name by which you are known is not your real one?”

“I cannot conjecture where you obtained your information, but it is
correct. My real name is not Ford.”

“And is—Rand.”

“You are right; but how——”

“A moment, if you please. I have more to tell you. You were born to
wealth, and being an only son, were sole heir to your father’s
possessions. You were not, however, without a companion,—a cousin, whom
your father generously took under his charge.”

“Lewis?”

“Yes, Lewis Rand; he shared your studies and your sports, and was, in
all respects, treated like yourself. The only difference was in your
prospects. You were to inherit a large fortune, while he——”

“My father would have provided for him.”

“No doubt, but not equally. That would not have been expected, of
course. When Lewis grew old enough to understand this, it filled him
with envy and jealousy.”

“Can this be true?” asked Robert Ford—to call him by the name to which
we are accustomed,—“can this be true? yet he was always cordial and
friendly. His manner never afforded any ground for suspecting that he
cherished such feelings.”

“He knew his own interests too well for that. Inferior as his prospects
were, they all depended upon your father’s good-will. It would,
therefore, have been in the highest degree unwise, to disclose a feeling
sure to alienate it.”

“Perhaps you are right,” said Mr. Ford, thoughtfully.

“Therefore, he only nursed this feeling in secret. Yet he none the less
watched for an opportunity to injure you. His patience was at length
rewarded. That time arrived.”

Robert Ford, as if half surmising what was to follow, rose in some
agitation, and began to pace the room.

“I trust,” said Mr. Sharp, “you will excuse me for introducing a
delicate subject. There is a time when the susceptible heart of a young
man first yields to the tender passion.”

“I understand you,” said Mr. Ford, in a low voice.

“Am I right in saying, that however nobly adorned in other respects, the
object of your attachment was not wealthy?”

Mr. Ford bowed his head.

“Unfortunately for your happiness, your father wished you to wed a
wealthy wife, and withheld his approbation from your choice. You, my
dear sir, with a magnanimity, which, I am sure, does you infinite
credit, clung to your chosen bride, portionless though she was, and, in
spite of your father’s disapprobation, married her.”

“I did,” said Robert Ford, with emotion; “and however grieved I may have
been, and still am, at my father’s continued resentment, that step I
never regretted. You have seen Helen. It may have been a parent’s
partiality, but I have always regarded her as uncommonly sweet and
attractive.”

Mr. Sharp, in a very high-flown eulogium, intimated that such was his
own estimate.

“When I tell you,” pursued Mr. Ford, “that Helen bears a very striking
resemblance to her mother, not in person only, but in sweetness and
amiability, your heart will suggest an excuse for my perhaps unfilial
conduct.”

“Sir,” said Mr. Sharp, warmly, “had you done otherwise than you did, had
you abandoned, at the bidding of a paltry self-interest, the heart that
had learned to love and trust you, I should not have felt one half the
respect for you which I now entertain. But, to resume my story. The
first difficulty between your father and yourself was hailed with
delight by your cousin. It was an occasion for which he had long been
watching. It is needless to say, that he used every means to widen the
breach, so artfully, however, as not to allow either your father or
yourself to suspect his purpose. Possibly you can recall some
circumstances which will confirm what I have said.”

“I remember,” said Robert, thoughtfully, “that my cousin professed to
sympathize with me most warmly, and counselled me, by all means, to
carry out my purpose, in opposition to my father’s will. He assured me
that my father would finally yield, when he learned that my heart was
unalterably fixed, and that opposition would prove unavailing.”

“At the same time,” said the lawyer, “he was giving similar assurances
to your father. He told him, that when you were satisfied that his
consent could not be obtained, you would yield the point, and conform to
his wishes.”

“Was my cousin indeed so wicked?” asked Robert, with more pain than
anger in his tone.

“That was not all. In order to add to your father’s indignation, he took
care to describe your betrothed in the most odious colors. He not only
charged her with poverty, but represented her as an artful and designing
country girl, uneducated and unrefined, whose only object in marrying
you was to gratify a vulgar taste for finery and ostentation. In fact,
he taxed his imagination to the utmost, in the endeavor to portray her
in a manner which he knew would render her most unacceptable to the
family pride of your father. I should add that he even denied her the
charm of personal beauty, and pictured her to your father as equally
unattractive in mind and person.”

A red spot glowed in the pale cheek of Robert Ford, who, mild as he was,
could not hear unmoved this vile slander upon one he loved. To do Mr.
Sharp justice, what he said was not exaggerated, but strictly in
accordance with truth.

“Are you sure of this?” he asked, pacing the room in a perturbed manner.

“I am. You shall know my authority soon, but not now.”

“Now, I am not surprised at my father’s continued resentment. To traduce
my Helen so cruelly!”

“You will not wonder that all this should have had the effect
intended,—that of confirming your father in his opposition. You married,
and left this part of the country.”

“Yes; I went to the West.”

“And did you hear nothing from your father afterwards?”

“Never, directly.”

“Yet you had not been married six months before he began to relent, and
feel that he might have exercised undue severity.”

“Is it, indeed, so?” asked Robert, his face lighting up.

“It is. I need scarcely say that your cousin observed, with
apprehension, your father’s returning mildness. Lest it might lead to a
complete reconciliation, he resolved to get your father out of the
country. He accordingly proposed a European tour, to which he procured
your father’s assent. Preparations were hurriedly made. They sailed for
Liverpool, and several years were spent in visiting the principal cities
of Europe.”

Robert Ford, to whom this was new, listened intently.

“At length they returned. Then, in order that you might more effectually
lose all trace of your father, he persuaded him to sell the estate upon
which he had hitherto resided, and remove——”

“Whither?” demanded Mr. Ford, eagerly.

“I will tell you presently.”

“I had written to my father. Were none of my letters received?”

“They were,—by Lewis. Of course, he took care to suppress them.
Nevertheless, your father still felt a strong desire to see you once
more, and tell you that he had forgiven you. Lewis again became alarmed,
and, as a last resort, caused your death to be inserted in a western
paper, and shown to your father. This was sufficient for that time.
Within a brief period, however, his apprehensions and your father’s
desire to see you have again become excited. Your father one day caught
a glimpse of you in the street.”

“What do you say?” exclaimed Robert Ford, in agitation. “My father saw
me? Where does he live?”

“In this city,—in New York. He recognized you in spite of the long
separation, and so did Lewis; but the latter took the greatest care to
assure your father that he was mistaken; that you had long been dead.
Nevertheless, he was not wholly convinced. Though not in the least
doubting your cousin’s good faith, he answered that there might be some
mistake; that it was possible you were still living.”

“My dear father!”

“The uncertainty, and the anxious longing to see you, to which it has
given rise, has, together with his age, made him severely ill. His life
is even in danger.”

“He is not dead!” exclaimed Robert, in an agitated tone.

“No, or I should have been informed. He directed your cousin to
advertise for you in the public papers, such was his desire to hear from
you, if still living.”

“I have not looked into a paper for months.”

“If you had, you would not have seen the advertisement. Your cousin has
been much too careful for that. Though he appeared to acquiesce in your
father’s desire, and made him believe that he had complied with his
request, he never did so.”

“And is my father still sick?”

“He is, and his greatest desire is to see you before he dies.”

Robert Ford rose hastily, and, going to the table, took his hat.

“What would you do, sir?”

“I must go and see my father. Did you not say he wished it?”

“Stay,” said Mr. Sharp; “whatever is to be done must be done cautiously,
or your cousin’s suspicions will be aroused, and your purpose
frustrated. I will arrange matters, if you will authorize me.”

“Surely; but let not the delay be too long. Perhaps my father will die
before I can see him.”

“I will take care to expedite matters.”

“I leave all in your hands; but tell me at least where you have obtained
the information you have communicated.”

“From your cousin himself.”

“Did he confess it, then?” asked Mr. Ford, surprised.

“He consulted me professionally. But, sir,” continued Mr. Sharp, in a
tone of lofty consciousness, “as soon as I became aware of the iniquity
in which he desired my assistance, I at once determined to do all that
might be in my power to defeat his nefarious designs.”

Nothing could exceed the moral dignity with which Mr. Sharp uttered
these words.

“I will not tell you,” he continued, with commendable self-denial, “how
many thousands your cousin offered, if I would assist him. But for the
hope of aiding in his discomfiture, I should have rejected his offers
with indignation. Money is no temptation to me where right is concerned.
But to the point. In the present case, I temporized. Your cousin even
now thinks I am devoted to his interests, and it is best that he should
not be undeceived.”

“Do you know where my father lives?” inquired Robert, anxiously.

“It is in Fifth Avenue. After dinner I will give you the direction so
that you cannot miss it. You must be cautious in your approach, and when
the door is opened, proceed at once to your father’s room. It is very
probable that the servant will oppose your progress, but if you yield,
Lewis will take good care that you never have another opportunity. May I
request on the score of prudence, that you will not compromise me, or
drop the slightest intimation that I have had any agency in sending you
thither?”

“My dear friend,” said Robert Ford, fervently, “you may rest assured
that I will respect your wishes, of whose wisdom I entertain not a
doubt.”

He shook hands with Mr. Sharp, cordially. The lawyer, with an appearance
of profound emotion, put his handkerchief to his eyes, and returned the
pressure.

At this moment Helen entered, followed by a waiter from a restaurant,
from which, on this day of rejoicing, she had been extravagant enough to
order a dinner.

The little table was quickly set out in the middle of the room, and
spread with a white cloth, and upon it the savory food was placed. This
was, indeed, an extraordinary occasion.

“Why, you are setting forth quite a banquet, my dear Miss Ford,” said
Mr. Sharp, rubbing his hands gently, for he was by no means insensible
to the pleasures of the palate.

At this moment Martha Grey, the seamstress, unaware of the lawyer’s
visit, knocked at the door.

“Just in time, Martha,” said Helen, gayly. “We want you to sit on this
side the table.”

“I couldn’t think of it,” said Martha, glancing at Mr. Sharp.

“I hope you will accept my daughter’s invitation,” said Mr. Ford,
courteously. “Permit me, Mr. Sharp, to introduce our excellent neighbor,
Miss Grey.”

“I am proud to make your acquaintance, Miss Grey,” said the lawyer,
bowing profoundly. “Any friend of my esteemed friends, Mr. and Miss
Ford, needs no other recommendation in my eyes. May I express the hope
that you are well?”

“Quite so, thank you, sir,” said Martha, a little overpowered by the
lawyer’s elaborate civility.

She was at length persuaded to make a fourth at Helen’s banquet.

How much it was enjoyed by all present, not one of whom was accustomed
to such good fare every day; how proudly and gracefully Helen did the
honors of the occasion; how merrily they all laughed at the bungling
attempts of Mr. Ford to carve the fowls, and how, finally, he was
compelled to call in the lawyer’s assistance; how genial and affable Mr.
Sharp was, and how he insisted on proposing the health of Martha Grey,
much to that young lady’s modest confusion; how his deference for her
father raised him every moment in Helen’s estimation,—all this I must
leave to the imagination of the reader, while I prepare in the next
chapter to invite him to a different scene.



                            CHAPTER XXVIII.
                            THE BELL RINGS.


Two persons who are nearly concerned in the revelation made by Mr. Sharp
to Robert Ford, now demand our attention.

First, Mr. Rand, who, upon a sick-bed, worn-out by anxiety and bodily
weakness, is fast drifting towards that unseen world, where all that is
dark and mysterious here will be disclosed, and we shall know even as we
are known. The second, is Lewis Rand, his unworthy nephew, whose whole
soul is absorbed by the eager desire to secure to himself his uncle’s
large fortune. Why this thirst for gold should so have possessed him, is
not so clear. It was not that his habits were extravagant, for such was
not the case. He was no voluptuary, at least not in the lowest sense of
the word. It was not for the mere love of money that he craved it. He
was elevated above the mere miser; but money was valuable to him for the
power which it conferred, and the consequence which it gave. Lewis
Rand’s ambition had taken this form. He desired to be known everywhere
as the possessor of a princely fortune. He wished others to fawn upon
him as he had fawned upon his uncle. As his dependence had compelled him
to remain in a subordinate position, he wished others to become
subordinates to him. Money he must have, somehow. So for years he had
labored to establish and strengthen his position as his uncle’s heir.
The inheritance which he craved, would make him at once a millionnaire.

As a general who has fortified a city, so as to make it, as he
considers, impregnable, and at the last discovers a weak place which
endangers the whole, exerts all his energy and all the resources which
he can command to counteract the danger, so Lewis had, as we have seen,
set in motion certain agencies, through which he hoped to avert the
peril which menaced him in his cousin’s presence.

“Have you received no letters in answer to the advertisement, Lewis?”
asked Mr. Rand, feebly.

“No, uncle, none whatever.”

Mr. Rand sighed, and fell back upon his pillow.

The crimson bed-curtains were drawn apart, revealing the thin and wasted
form of the old man. Thinner and more attenuated he grew day by day.
Each day the result of the struggle for life became less doubtful. A
strong desire for life might have given the needed stimulus to the vital
functions, and turned the scale against death, but the sick man had
ceased to desire it.

None saw this more clearly than Lewis. With his cold, searching eye he
had followed the slow advances of the destroyer. Not a word, however,
had escaped him. How he trembled when the lamp of life burned for a
time with a steadier radiance, lest, perchance, it might prove a
harbinger of ultimate recovery; and when the momentary glow had
departed, and the lamp burned so low that it seemed near its final
extinction, he breathed more freely, and a glow of triumph lighted up
his dark features,—features that might the next moment wear a look of
the deepest sympathy. For Lewis had schooled them to obey the dictates
of his will, and had not fear that they would betray him. He was a
gamester who had staked his all upon a single venture, and was
watching the chances with intense eagerness.

Morning after morning as he stole to his uncle’s bedside, it was with a
secret hope veiled under an appearance of the greatest solicitude, that
he might find the struggle ended. Each day he hoped might prove the
last,—that from his heart the burden of anxiety and the weariness of
waiting might at once and forever be lifted.

Fortunate was it for the old man’s peace, that he could not read this
wicked wish in the eyes that were bent upon him. There was little fear.
Could he conceive it possible that one whom he had long regarded with an
affection second only to that which he bore his own son, who all his
life long had never ceased to receive his bounty; could he dream that
Lewis was capable of cherishing in his heart a hope so unnatural? So far
from this, the faintest shadow of distrust had never entered his uncle’s
thoughts. In his face he read nothing but sympathy and compassion. Mr.
Lewis Rand, could you but sound the depth of wickedness in your own
heart, could you drag it forth to the light and survey it in all its
deformity, how would even your hardened nature shrink aghast and
horror-stricken? Heaven only knows with what a web of sophistry you
excuse this treachery of the heart. Could this be rent away, you could
hardly stand as calmly as you do by the bedside of that old man, belying
in your heart the filial words that fall so glibly from your tongue. Can
you who have the power to bring happiness and peace to that bedside, and
its unhappy occupant, who can bring the light of joy to those eyes soon
to close forever, and repair a great injustice, still refuse to do it?
There may come a time, whether near or remote, Heaven alone knows, when
you would give all the wealth for which you are scheming if you had only
done it.

On receiving a negative answer to his question, Mr. Rand remained for
some time silent, with his face turned to the wall.

“It would be a great relief,” he sighed, wearily, “if I could but see my
son once before I die.”

“When will he be done harping on his son?” muttered Lewis to himself.
“He seems determined to torment me with it.”

He said aloud, with a proper display of emotion, “Do not speak of dying,
uncle. You will yet recover.”

“Never, Lewis, never. There is something that tells me this sickness
will be my last. My feet will soon enter the dark valley of the shadow
of death. I have reached the age set by the Psalmist as the limit of
human life. Even your kind solicitude cannot call me back from the grave
that awaits me.”

“I should be very sorry if it did,” was the unspoken thought of Lewis,
as he replied, covering his face with his handkerchief, as if to conceal
his emotion, “you are—you must be deceived; you are looking brighter
to-day.”

“Lewis, your hopes deceive you. On the contrary, I never felt weaker
than I do to-day. I have never felt more entirely satisfied of the
hopelessness of my situation. Yet why do I say ‘hopelessness?’ I do not
fear death. Rather I welcome it as a friend. I feel no vain longing for
a continuance of that life which is gliding from my grasp. For the last
few years I have enjoyed too little happiness to make it seem very
attractive. Wealth can do little. Even your kind attentions have failed.
The consciousness of wrong done and unatoned for has followed me all
these years. One wrong act has imbittered all my earthly existence.”

“My dear uncle, I regret that you should dwell upon such painful
thoughts. Even if you were in fault, which I do not believe, you are
agitating yourself now to no purpose.”

“Let me speak now, Lewis. The thought is always with me, and I am
relieved by speaking. Never, Lewis, suffer yourself to be led hastily
into a wrong act—never, as you value your soul’s peace. The thought will
come back to you in after years, and never leave you; you may surround
yourself with all that wealth can give, even as I have done, and your
heart will still be an aching void into which no thought of joy or
happiness shall enter. When you are on your death-bed, as I am now, you
will feel how inestimable above all things else is that peace of mind
which comes from a clear conscience and an unblemished life.”

Standing thus at his uncle’s bedside, with more than one sin unexpiated
upon his soul, could Lewis listen unmoved to words which gained so deep
a significance from this utterance by a dying man? Even he felt vaguely
uncomfortable as he listened, mingled with an angry impatience which,
however, he dared not betray.

“I feel a deep conviction,” continued Mr. Rand, “that Robert is still
living. I cannot tell whence it comes, but of nothing am I more
thoroughly persuaded. I had hoped that the advertisement would prove
effectual in finding him out. You are sure that you caused its insertion
in papers of the largest circulation?”

“I have followed your directions, uncle,” said Lewis, unblushingly,
“notwithstanding my fear that it would lead to nothing.”

“You did right, Lewis. After I am gone, I wish you to continue the
advertisement. Your cousin will see it sooner or later. I am quite sure
of that. And when after a time he comes back to you, I wish you to see
that the provisions of my will are carried out. I will not claim your
promise. I know that you will do so.”

Lewis bowed, but forebore to speak.

“That is not all. You must tell him, Lewis, how I have sought for him,
and how with a sorrowful heart I deplored my own injustice, from which
he cannot have suffered more than I. You may tell him that I forgive him
if he feels that there is anything to forgive, in the hope that he will
forgive me who need it so much more. You will tell him all this, Lewis?”

“Can you doubt it, uncle?” asked Lewis, evasively.

“No, Lewis, I have perfect confidence in you. You never have deceived
me, and you will not begin now; and, Lewis, you must try to atone to
Robert, in my stead, for the wrong he has suffered. Never let your
affection for me persuade you that it was not a wrong. I would far
rather have you think harshly of me, than unjustly of your cousin.”

“I will endeavor to obey you even in that, hard though it be,” said
Lewis.

At that moment the quiet of the sick-chamber was broken in by a sharp
peal of the door-bell. It was so unusual an occurrence in that solitary
household, that it startled both.



                             CHAPTER XXIX.
                          THE UNBIDDEN GUEST.


I cannot explain why it was, that the unexpected ringing of the bell led
to the same thought in the minds of the sick man and his nephew. Sudden
fear blanched the face of Lewis; a hopeful look stole over the old man’s
face.

“Go, Lewis,” he said. “Perhaps it is Robert.”

“Heaven forbid!” muttered Lewis, as he hastened from the room.

The sound of contending voices struck upon the ear of Lewis Rand, as he
hurriedly descended the staircase to the hall. The outer door had been
opened, and the servant was endeavoring to impress upon the visitor, in
obedience to directions he had received, that there was sickness in the
house, and that he could not be admitted.

“Lead me to his chamber,” said Robert Ford, pale with excitement, “I
_must_ see him. He is my father.”

The servant looked in his agitated face, and moved aside that he might
pass.

Lewis encountered him at the foot of the stairs. They looked at each
other—those long-estranged cousins—a moment in silence. Lewis was as
pale as death. His lips were compressed and bloodless. The shadow of
failure darkened his way. Dismay and anger and strong disappointment
struggled with him for the mastery. Robert was calmer. He would not have
been human if the sight of his cousin had not awakened within him a
feeling of resentment. But this was swallowed up by a feeling yet
stronger—the desire to see his father.

“Where is my father, Lewis?” he demanded. “Tell me quickly.”

He was about to pass, when his cousin stepped before him.

“Hold!” he exclaimed, in a quick, hoarse voice. “Would you endanger your
father’s life? He is in a most critical condition. The least excitement
may kill him.”

Robert hesitated for a moment. After a separation of eighteen years he
stood within a few feet of his father, and was forbidden to enter his
presence. Nothing short of the urgent reason adduced by Lewis, would
have stopped him for a moment.

“Is my father, then, so ill?” he asked, with emotion. “Why, oh why did
you not send for me before?”

“Do you think I would not if I had known where to find you?” said Lewis,
ignorant how far Robert had been apprised of his machinations.

“I cannot tell,” said Robert, shaking his head. “There was a time,
Lewis, when I could not have deemed you capable of it.”

“And why should you now?”

“I cannot tell you at present; but I must see my father.”

“I tell you again,” said Lewis, vehemently, “that if you see him, it
will be at the peril of his life. It hangs upon a thread.”

Meanwhile Mr. Rand had listened with feverish anxiety to the voices
which he could indistinctly hear. A wild hope had sprung up in his
heart. Oh, for the power to rise from his bed and satisfy himself at
once. Alas, this could not be! At length, as the speakers raised their
voices, he thought he could distinguish the word “father.” His agitation
reached a fearful pitch. He raised his voice as high as his feeble
strength would permit, and called “Robert!”

That word reached the ears of Robert Ford. Nothing could stop him now.
He pushed Lewis aside, scarcely conscious what he did, and a moment
after found him kneeling at his father’s bedside.

“Father, forgive me!”

The old man, with an effort, stretched out his thin and wasted hand, and
placed it tremulous with weakness upon the head of his kneeling son.

“God, I thank thee,” he uttered, reverently, “for this hour. This my son
was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found. Robert, I have
forgiven you long ago. Can you forgive me?”

“Do you then ask my forgiveness, O my father?”

“Yes, Robert. My heart has long since confessed the wrong it did you.
Can you forgive me?”

“Freely, freely, my father.”

“Now can I die content,” said Mr. Rand, with a deep sigh of relief. “For
many, many years I have waited and looked forward to this hour. I could
not believe that God would suffer me to die till I had seen you.”

“Die!” repeated Robert, in a sorrowful tone.

“Yes, Robert, you have come at the eleventh hour.”

“And for months I have lived within two miles of you, and never guessed
your nearness.”

“Did you not see my advertisement?”

“Never.”

“How is this?” said Mr. Rand, puzzled. “In what papers was it inserted,
Lewis?”

Lewis stood at the door, an apprehensive listener. For obvious reasons
he did not choose to obey this call.

“It may be because I seldom look at the papers,” said Robert, not
wishing to agitate his father with the intelligence of his cousin’s
treachery.

“But others must have seen it,” persisted Mr. Rand. “Why did they not
tell you?”

“I passed by a different name,” explained Robert. “None that knew me—and
these were but few—could guess my identity with Robert Rand.”

At his father’s request Robert gave a brief account of the eighteen
years of separation. He sat with his father’s hand resting in his. As he
concluded, a convulsion passed over the old man’s features. He clasped
Robert’s hand convulsively. The son leaned forward, hoping to catch the
words that seemed struggling for utterance. He could only distinguish
“my will—reparation.”

These were the last words that passed the lips of the dying man.

He breathed his life out in the effort, and fell back—dead!

Robert had, indeed, come at the eleventh hour. Yet had he not come too
late to make his father’s death-bed happy. A peaceful smile rested upon
the worn face. His life had closed happily.

Meanwhile what had become of Lewis?

It was difficult for him at first to collect his thoughts at this most
unexpected occurrence.

At first he thought, “All is lost. My hopes are blasted!”

His second thought, when he had recovered from the momentary shock of
his cousin’s appearance, was, “It may not be as bad as I fear. The old
man cannot live long. This very excitement will probably prove too much
for him in his present weak state. During the short time he has to live,
it is not probable that anything will happen to disarrange my plans. In
the first place, he thinks that his will provides for his son. _And so
his true will does!_ But I have taken care that this shall not be
brought forward. My uncle and cousin will probably spend the time in
sentimentalizing. It will be well for me not to intrude upon this
interview, or I may be asked some awkward questions. Lewis Rand, this is
the turning-point of your fortunes. Be discreet for a short time, and
all may yet be well.”

There was one point that Lewis did not understand. How his cousin could
have learned of his father’s presence in the city. He did not suspect
Mr. Sharp’s fidelity, but thought it possible that he might, by some
blunder, have revealed to Robert that of which he should have been kept
ignorant. At all events the lawyer was the only one likely to yield him
any satisfaction upon this point. Accordingly, willing to be out of the
way for the present, he seized his hat, and hastened to the office of
his confidential agent.

Mr. Sharp was, it must be confessed, awaiting with no little anxiety and
curiosity, the result of Mr. Ford’s visit, which might so materially
effect his own interests.

There was a sharp knock at the door. He rose and opened it.

Lewis entered in great evident perturbation.

“Bless me, what’s the matter?” exclaimed Mr. Sharp, in affected
surprise.

“You may well ask me what’s the matter.”

“You don’t mean to say——”

“I do mean to say that all my plans are menaced with defeat.”

“But, how?”

“My cousin Robert is at this moment with his father.”

“Good heavens!” ejaculated the lawyer, in admirably counterfeited
consternation. “How did this come about?”

“That is more than I can pretend to say. I came to you for the sake of
obtaining information.”

“Which I am wholly unable to afford.”

Lewis threw himself upon a chair.

“To think,” he exclaimed, bitterly, “that this should happen when I am
just within reach of success. Twenty-four hours more, and it would
probably have been too late!”

“How?”

“I mean that my uncle probably has not twenty-four hours lease of life,
unless this meeting revives him. The probability is, that it will have a
contrary effect.”

“Do you consider that you have lost all?”

“Fortunately, no. I am in hopes that this interview will, after all,
prove of no advantage to my cousin.”

“Ah!” said Mr. Sharp, rubbing his hands with apparent delight, but
secret anxiety, beginning for the first time to feel that he would not
be recompensed for his treachery.

“Yes. It is not likely that my uncle will be able to make a new will,
and the present one I shall be very well contented with.”

“Confusion!” thought the lawyer. “I wish I could only see the old
gentleman, and whisper a few words in his ear.”

If Lewis had not been too much absorbed in calculating his own chance,
he might have noticed that Mr. Sharp’s wonted affability had deserted
him, and that he, too, seemed preoccupied.



                              CHAPTER XXX.
                             PALLIDA MORS.


After his interview with the lawyer, Lewis took his way home; his heart
alternately cheered with hope, or disturbed by apprehension. On the
whole, however, hope predominated. It was based on the knowledge that
neither his uncle nor his cousin were men of business, and at this
moment both would have too many other things to think of to recur to
that which he dreaded.

As he opened the outer door, he met a servant in the hall.

“How is my uncle, now, Jane?” he asked.

“I don’t know, sir; I haven’t been up stairs since you went away.”

“Is my—is the gentleman that came in a little while ago still here?” he
inquired, anxiously.

“Yes, sir, I think so; I haven’t seen him go out.”

“Have you heard any talking? I am afraid my uncle will be too much
excited by a visitor at this time.”

“I heard a faint murmur like as if they were talking awhile ago, but I
haven’t heard anything for a few minutes. May I be so bold as to ask if
the gentleman is a relation, sir?”

“Yes,” said Lewis, shortly. “You say you have heard no sound proceeding
from the room for a few minutes?”

“No, sir.”

“Perhaps he is dead,” thought Lewis, hopefully. “At any rate, I will go
up and see.”

“That will do,” he said to the servant, who was still in waiting. “I am
going up into my uncle’s room, and if I should want you I will ring.”

“I wonder who the gentleman is,” said the servant, to herself. “He said
Mr. Rand was his father. I never heard that he had a son, for my part.
If he is, I suppose he will inherit the property. I wonder how Mr. Lewis
will like that. Well, I don’t much care if he is disappointed, for I
don’t like him, and never did.”

The dictatorial manner of Lewis had not gained him friends among the
servants, and none of them could be expected to feel a very profound
sorrow for any reverses which fate might have in store for him.

Lewis Rand softly ascended the stairs, and entered his uncle’s
bed-chamber.

It needed only a glance to assure him that his wish was granted. His
heart leaped with exultation at the thought. This was the only thing
which could give him a perfect sense of security. Now, by the
substitution of the forged will, he felt that his interests were
secured. The estate was his beyond the possibility of a transfer.

Now that his cousin was no longer to be feared as a rival, he felt that
it would be both safe and politic, to treat him with a degree of
consideration. This course would be likely to mislead suspicion, if any
should be excited, when it was found, as it soon would be, that his
cousin shared no portion of his father’s princely estate.

“My uncle sleeps?” he said, inquiringly, as he entered the chamber.

“Yes,” said Robert, solemnly, lifting up a wan face from the bed-clothes
in which it was buried; “the sleep that knows no waking.”

Apparently much shocked at this intelligence, Lewis started back with an
ejaculation of sorrow.

“I ought not to feel surprised,” he said, in a low voice; “it is an
event which I have been expecting and fearing for many weeks. Yet its
actual coming finds me unprepared.”

With his mournful gaze intently fixed upon the old man’s face, Robert
paid little heed to his cousin’s words. Thoughts of the long weary years
that had intervened since he parted from his father, then in the
strength and pride of that manhood, upon which he himself was just
entering, and the changes that had since come over each, till the
present sad moment brought them together, crowded upon him with a force
which he could not resist, and he sat there, looking straight before
him, vainly endeavoring to reconcile the past with the present, till he
was tempted to think the past eighteen years but a dream, from which he
would ere long awake.

It did not take him long to recover from that delusion.

As he lifted his eyes he met his own reflection in the mirror opposite.
That was no young man’s face that met his gaze. The freshness of youth,
had given place to the grave careworn look of later years. The once dark
hair was threaded here and there with silver. The smooth brow was sown
with premature wrinkles. The cheek had lost its bloom, and was now thin
and sallow. In all this there was no deception. But even if this had not
been sufficient, he had but to look towards the bed, to realize how time
had passed. That thin, shrunken old man who lay there—was that his
father? No, there was no mistaking all this; these years of estrangement
were no vain imaginings; they were all too sad realities.

And there, but a few steps from him, sat, with a look of hypocritical
sorrow, the man who had lent his best efforts to widen the breach, of
which he had been the cause, and throw up a permanent wall of separation
between the father and the son. He had changed least of the three. There
was the same plausible smile, the same crafty look about the eyes that
seldom met your gaze. There were no wrinkles to be seen on his brow.
Neither had his heart changed. It was as full of subtlety and evil
thoughts and plans as ever.

Lewis Rand had changed least of the three, yet, of them all, he was
farthest removed from the freshness and simplicity of childhood, that
had never been his. He was one of those who seem never to have been
young.

“Cousin Robert,” said Lewis, with an air of grave courtesy, “although
our grief is so fresh that all other thoughts seem intrusive, yet there
are certain things that must be thought of. It is right and proper that
you should participate with me in paying the last offices of respect and
affection to our lamented relative. You were nearer to him than I. It is
fitting that, from you, should proceed the orders relative to the
funeral.”

“It is a right which I have no disposition to exercise. I would much
rather leave it entirely in your hands. My mind is not in a fit state to
enter upon such arrangements.”

“You have stated my own case,” said Lewis, in a voice of
well-counterfeited emotion. “The death of my dear uncle, for whom I
cherished so deep an affection, and to whom I am indebted for so many
acts of kindness, weighs most heavily upon my heart. Nothing but an
imperative sense of duty would enable me to bear up under it. But I
will, if you desire it, so far overcome my grief, as to give the
necessary directions.”

“I shall be glad to have you do so,” said Robert, briefly. There had
been a time when he would not have questioned his cousin’s sincerity,
but gratefully accepted his proffered sympathy,—when his own heart would
have been soothed by this companionship in grief. But the revelation of
his cousin’s perfidy had been too recent,—the memory of his wrongs was
too fresh. He might, in time, forgive, but he could not at once forget.
He did not look towards his cousin, but his eyes were fixed continually
upon the father from whom he had been separated for eighteen years,—from
whom the grave must soon separate him, till he too lay as still and
motionless as his father now lay, outstretched before him.

Lewis was about to leave the room, when he paused, as if struck by a
sudden thought.

“Pardon me,” he said, hesitatingly, “but this unhappy separation has
left us so much in ignorance of each other, that I am not informed
whether you have children.”

“I have one daughter.”

“And your wife?”

“Is no longer living.”

“Will you leave me your direction, that I may send a carriage?”

“It will not be necessary. We will take a carriage from here.”

“As you please. One thing more. Pardon me if I am wrong, for I know
nothing of your circumstances; you may require a sum of money to procure
proper mourning.”

“It is needless,” said Robert, briefly. “We are sufficiently provided.”

“Proud as ever!” muttered Lewis, to himself. “We’ll see how long that
continues. If I am not greatly mistaken, he will be glad enough to avail
himself of my offers before long.”

Meanwhile, Helen had reached home, and was wondering what had detained
her father so long. He had gone out with Mr. Sharp, not mentioning where
he was going.

She began to be afraid that, in one of his not unusual fits of
abstraction, he had met with some accident, perhaps been run over by
some passing vehicle, while crossing the street.

“Where can he be?” she was asking, anxiously, for the tenth time at
least, when, to her great joy, she at length heard his familiar step
upon the stairs.

She hastened to the door, exclaiming, “Why, papa, why have you been gone
so long?”

She looked into his face, and suddenly stopped short. She saw, by his
expression, that something had happened.

“What is the matter, papa?” she asked, apprehensively.

“We have met with a great misfortune, Helen,” said Mr. Ford, gravely.

“A great misfortune! Has your invention then failed?”

“It is not that, Helen. Did you ever hear me speak of your grandfather?”

“No.”

“I will tell you the reason now. There had been a long and unhappy
alienation between us,—longer, I have since found, than there need to
have been, if we could only have met and had a mutual understanding. I
married against my father’s wishes. If he had once seen your mother,
Helen, he would, I am sure, have withdrawn all his opposition. As it
was, we separated eighteen years ago, and to-day we met for the last
time.”

“But the misfortune, papa?”

“We met at his death-bed, Helen; but, thank Heaven, not too late for a
full reconciliation. An hour since, your grandfather died, with his hand
clasped in mine. The funeral takes place day after to-morrow. We must
procure fitting dresses. I do not understand such things, but you can
consult with Martha.”

Helen wished to learn more of her grandfather, of whom she now, for the
first time, heard; but she saw and respected her father’s grief, and
forebore to question him.



                             CHAPTER XXXI.
                           READING THE WILL.


Although the funeral of Mr. Rand was not largely attended,—for his
seclusion had prevented his making many acquaintances in the city,—no
expense was spared upon it. Lewis was determined that, so far as money
went, every respect should be paid to his uncle’s memory. Perhaps he
thought in this way to atone for the grievous wrong which he had done
him. To his cousin and Helen he was sedulously polite and even
deferential, so that those who could look no deeper than the surface
might well suppose him to be all that a kind and affectionate relation
ought to be.

On the day succeeding the funeral the will was appointed to be read.

“Of course you will be present, Robert,” said Lewis, “you and your
daughter. I need hardly say that I am entirely ignorant of the manner in
which my uncle had seen fit to dispose of his property. I have reason,
indeed, to think that he has made some small provision for me. But
whatever may be the purport of the will which is to be read to-morrow, I
pledge myself in advance to interpose no obstacle to its provisions.”

Perhaps he expected a similar declaration from Robert, but his cousin
kept silence.

The next morning at ten o’clock the will was read. A small company was
gathered in the library of the deceased. Lewis leaned his arm upon the
table by which he sat, with a downcast look but a throbbing heart. One
brief form more, and the object of his life would be attained.

The document was not a long one. After the usual introduction, the
testator bequeathed all his property, real and personal, without
reserve, to his dear nephew, Lewis Rand, for whom he cherished a strong
affection.

There was a slight flush upon the face of Robert Ford, or Robert Rand,
as we should now call him. It was not strange that he should display
some emotion at being thus publicly ignored, and his birthright
transferred to another. As he looked up, he thought he could detect a
momentary gleam of exultation in the face of Lewis. But it was
immediately repressed.

The lawyer, who had previously been made acquainted with the fact that
Robert was a son of the deceased, looked surprised.

“Was this expected?” he asked. “How shall we account for no mention
being made of your name,” addressing Robert, “as his son, and direct
heir? such an omission is extraordinary.”

“My father,” said Robert, calmly, “was not aware of my existence. He had
not seen me for many years, and had been led to believe me dead. It was
only accidentally”—his glance rested for a moment on his cousin, who
strove to look unconcerned—“that I was enabled to discover his residence
in this city, and make myself known to him before he died.”

He was proud enough to wish to keep concealed the long estrangement
between them, desiring to shield his father’s memory from any reproach
which this omission might be thought to cast upon it.

“My cousin is quite right,” said Lewis. “His father and myself believed,
on what we supposed to be reliable evidence, that he died some years
since in Chicago. It is a source of regret to me that our mistake was
discovered at so late a period, when in consequence of the near approach
of death, it was impossible for my uncle to make any change in the
disposition of his estate.”

The lawyer who, without having any definite grounds of suspicion,
distrusted Lewis and his smooth professions, answered, coldly, “Your
regret will no doubt be considerably lessened when you reflect that the
property which you acknowledge has come to you by mistake, is at your
absolute disposal, and that it is therefore in your power to remedy this
unintended wrong.”

The sallow face of Lewis flushed beneath the penetrating gaze of the
lawyer, who, he saw, suspected the real nature which he kept concealed
beneath a flimsy veil of deception and hypocrisy.

But he was prepared even for this emergency.

“That is true,” he said, “and although my reverence for the expressed
wishes of the deceased will not permit me to interfere materially with
the disposition which he has made, I shall take care that my cousin is
provided for. Robert, if you will do me the favor to remain after this
form is over, I shall be glad to explain what I propose to do.”

Lewis had been thinking of this contingency. He saw that it would be
absolutely necessary to make some provision for his cousin, as well to
quiet the world’s censure as more effectually to ward off suspicion from
himself.

In the western part of Pennsylvania there was a small farm, worth, with
the buildings upon it, three or four thousand dollars. This was but an
insignificant item in the list of Mr. Rand’s possessions. It was this
farm that Lewis proposed bestowing upon his cousin. It would, he
thought, be a cheap way of securing his acquiescence in the provisions
of the will, and remove him to an obscure neighborhood, where he would
have little power of doing him harm.

When all, save Helen and her father, had departed, Lewis turned to his
cousin, and after repeating, at some length, his expressions of regret
that his uncle had not been spared to make a change in the disposition
of his property, concluded by tendering him, as a free gift, the farm in
question, together with two hundred dollars in money, which he judged
would be sufficient to convey them hither, and pay any little debts
which they might have incurred.

Robert listened in surprise to this disgraceful proposition. He was not
a practical man, and in business matters he was very liable to be
deceived. But he knew sufficient of the extent of his father’s wealth to
divine, that the pittance which his cousin offered was less than the
hundredth part of the entire estate.

Knowing this, his pride rose in indignant rebellion at this insult.

“Do you think, Lewis,” he said, scornfully, “that if my father had lived
long enough to change his will according to the desire which you have
several times seen fit to express, that _this_ is the provision which he
would have made for me?”

“If you do not consider it sufficient,” said Lewis, evasively, “I will
say a thousand dollars, in addition to the farm. That will enable you to
stock it amply, and live quite independently.”

“You are generous,” said Robert, with sarcasm, for his spirit was now
fully roused; “but think not that I will become a pensioner upon your
bounty. One tenth part even of the pittance which you offer me, if it
came from my father, I would gratefully accept. But for you, who bestow
your alms upon me as if I were a beggar, instead of the son of the man
from whom all your wealth is wrongfully derived, I scorn your gift, and
reject it.”

“You are hasty, and may regret your decision. Think of your
daughter,—would you leave her penniless?”

“Let her decide that question. Helen, shall we accept what this man
offers, or shall we preserve our humble independence, as we have done
heretofore?”

“So long as I have you, papa, it is enough. God will take care of us.”

“You hear her answer, Lewis Rand. I have but one thing to say to you
before we part,—it may be for the last time upon earth. I am not
ignorant of the arts by which you have brought about and kept up the
estrangement between my father and myself; how many overtures towards
reconciliation on either side have been defeated through your
machinations; how carefully you have kept alive in my father’s heart the
belief that I was dead, though you knew it to be false. By such means
you have compassed your object. I do not envy you your reward. Far less
will I be indebted to you for a miserable pittance of that wealth which
you have wrested from me by a systematic course of treachery and deceit.
Come, Helen, let us go.”

Lewis Rand turned red and white by turns during this unexpected address,
which satisfied him that Mr. Sharp had proved faithless to his trust.
But flushed as he was with success, he could afford to disregard it all
now.

“Do as you please,” he said, coldly. “At any rate, you cannot deny that
I have made the offer. You may, some day, regret not having accepted
it.”

“Never!” said his cousin, vehemently.

“Very well; that is your affair. In reference to the grave charges which
you have seen fit to bring against my character, I have only to say,
that I defy you to prove them. Farewell! I would have been your friend.
Since you would have me for your enemy, so let it be.”

“I care as little for the one as for the other,” said Robert, proudly.

So saying, he held out his hand to Helen, and together they left the
stately dwelling, with its costly furniture and appointments, and took
their way slowly to their humble lodging, with its bare floor and hard
wooden chairs, contrasting, in its plainness, so vividly with the
dwelling they had left. There was another difference. The one was dark
and gloomy in spite of its luxury. Here the warm and cheerful sunshine
entered in at the open window, and flung its radiance all over the room.

Helen breathed a sigh of relief as she entered.

“Oh, how much pleasanter it is here,” she said, “than in that great
gloomy house!”

And she began preparing supper with unwonted lightness of heart, as if a
sudden weight had been removed from her spirit.

“I am well rid of him,” muttered Lewis, as his cousin left the room. “He
really has more spirit than I suspected. As for that Sharp, he has
served me a scurvy trick, but he has overshot his mark this time. I can
fancy his disappointment when he discovers that Robert is still a
beggar.”

Lewis laughed sardonically, and gave himself up to the intoxicating
dream of power which his wealth would give him.



                             CHAPTER XXXII.
                       MARGARET’S SECOND FLIGHT.


Margaret lay sick for many weeks in her mother’s cottage, where, it will
be remembered, she took refuge when, maddened by the discovery of
Jacob’s falsehood, she fled from him, heedless of the fury of the
elements. Physical exhaustion and mental excitement brought on a raging
fever, attended by almost constant delirium. Her mother watched by her
bedside with an affection that never tired. For a time it was doubtful
what would be the issue. Margaret’s life trembled in the balance, and it
required but little to incline it either way. Fortunately for Margaret,
however, her constitution was naturally a strong one, and its native
vigor triumphed at length over the assaults of disease, fierce though
they had been. The fever spent its force, and she became rapidly better,
though at first scarcely stronger than an infant.

The first indication of her amendment was her recognition of her mother.

The old lady was sitting in a rocking-chair beside the bed, when
Margaret lifted her head from the pillow, and said, in a tone of
curiosity,—

“Who are you?”

“Who am I?” inquired her mother. “Don’t you know me, Margaret?”

“You look some like my mother. Are you?”

“Yes, Margaret, I am your own mother, who loves you.”

“I believe you are. How long have I been sick, mother?”

“It is—let me see,” said the old lady, reflectively. “It must be six
weeks. Yes, it will be six to-morrow.”

“And for six weeks I have been confined to this room and this bed?”

“Yes, my child.”

“Do not call me child, mother. All the beauty and bloom of childhood,
all its happy hopes and trustful spirit, have gone forever. There are
some who are children all their lives. But I—it seems a great while
since I was a child.”

The simple old lady did not comprehend her daughter’s meaning. She
understood her words literally.

“Why, you are young yet, Margaret.”

“Young! don’t call me young, mother. I am older than you.”

“Older than I?” said the old lady, who fancied Margaret’s brain a little
disordered, and sought to restore it by reasoning; “but you know a child
cannot be older than its mother. You are but thirty-seven, while I am
seventy.”

“I don’t mean older in years, mother. Older in suffering, older in the
experience of life. It isn’t years that make us old, mother, but our own
passions.”

This was uttered half in soliloquy.

“I am afraid you will hurt yourself by talking, Margaret. You had better
go to sleep; or would you like some gruel?”

“No, mother.”

There was silence for a few minutes. During this time Margaret was
scanning attentively the little room and its furniture. Nothing could be
plainer, and yet more comfortable. There was a rag carpet on the floor,
and a few plain articles of furniture scattered about the room; there
was a small clock on the mantel, whose drowsy ticking could be
distinctly heard, so free was the neighborhood from noises of every
description. It was such a retreat as the old would like for its quiet,
while they would not be troubled by its monotony and lack of excitement.
But Margaret was too impetuous and excitable to feel it otherwise than
oppressive.

“How long have you lived here, mother?” she asked abruptly, after a
silence of some minutes.

“Seven years, Margaret; seven years come fall.”

“Seven years! seven years, mother! I should think you would have died of
solitude long ago. You haven’t any neighbors, have you?”

“None very near. None that I go to see. I do not care to visit. Tabby,
here, is company for me. Ain’t you, Tabby?”

The large cat, that was lying at the other end of the room, rose at this
appeal, and after stretching herself in a way to show her extraordinary
size, walked slowly across the room, and submitted herself, with an
appearance of pleasure, to the old lady’s caresses.

“See, Margaret; she answers for herself,” as the cat, in recognition of
the attention shown her, purred loudly.

“I don’t know but you are right in choosing such a friend,” said
Margaret, after a thoughtful pause. “She will treat you well as long as
you do not abuse her. That cannot be said of all human friends. Yet I
should not be able to live six months as you do, mother. My temperament
needs excitement.”

“I fear it has not always brought you good, Margaret,” said the old
lady, who could ill comprehend the turbulent spirit which her daughter
inherited from a father of mixed French and Irish blood.

One afternoon a week later, Margaret, after turning restlessly for some
minutes, asked her mother if she had not a newspaper in the house.

“I get tired looking at the cat,” she exclaimed; “I want something else
to think of.”

“I don’t know,” said the old lady, hesitatingly. “I don’t take a paper;
but perhaps I can find one that came round a bundle, if that will do.”

“Yes, mother, anything. It don’t matter what.”

After diligent search, the old lady managed to discover part of a last
week’s daily paper that had come round a package which she had recently
bought. Apologizing for the unsatisfactory result of her search, she
placed it in Margaret’s hand.

In general, there is nothing very interesting in an old daily paper; but
Margaret, who had been shut out from the world for nearly two months,
and knew nothing of what had transpired during that time, seized the
fragment with avidity, and read it entire, even to the advertisements.
Finally her glance wandered to the deaths; she started as she met the
name of Rand.

    DIED. At his residence in Fifth Avenue, GERALD RAND, Esq., 71.

“He’s dead, then, at last,” she murmured, “and Jacob Wynne has got the
thousand dollars which were promised him. Let him enjoy it while he may.
It will not be long, unless,—but I must see him before I take any
decisive step. He may have said what he did only to provoke me. Would to
heaven it were so! Yes, I must see him; I must give him one more chance,
and then, if he still scorns me,” this she said with fierce emphasis,
“let him look to himself.”

“What have you read that excites you so much, Margaret?” questioned her
mother, anxiously.

“Nothing particular.”

“You frightened me when you spoke so fiercely.”

“Did I?” said Margaret. “I was only talking to myself. It’s a way I
have. But, mother,” she continued, changing her tone suddenly, “do you
think I shall be well enough to go out to-morrow?”

“To-morrow!” repeated the old lady, lifting up both hands in extreme
astonishment; “why, you must be raving crazy to think of such a thing!
What in the world do you want to go out for?”

“Never mind now,” said her daughter, evasively. “I thought I should like
to go out. But I suppose I am weaker than I think for.”

“Why, the fever has only just left you. It would be death to think of
leaving the house.”

“We won’t say anything more about it, mother. Only I get tired of
staying in the same place so long. The time moves so slowly. What time
is it?”

“Three o’clock.”

“It has been three for the last hour,” said Margaret, with a touch of
impatience in her tone.

“I declare the clock has stopped,” said the old lady, adjusting her
spectacles; “I must have forgotten to wind it up. I declare it’s most
time to get tea.”

She filled the tea-kettle, and set it over the fire, Margaret looking on
with languid attention.

Her mother thought that Margaret had given up the idea of leaving the
house. It was only an invalid’s fancy, she thought. But Margaret had a
purpose in view, and only deferred carrying it out till her weakness had
somewhat abated. On the third day, though still far from strong, she
determined to leave the house. Knowing that her mother would never
consent, she devised a stratagem to get her out of the way.

“Is there an orange in the house?” she asked, immediately after
breakfast.

“No, Margaret.”

“I am sorry; I think I could relish one.”

“I can get one at the store.”

“But that is a good ways off. Isn’t it, mother?”

“Only quarter of a mile.”

“It is too far for you to go.”

“Too far? I go there several times a week, Margaret.”

“Then if it will not be too much trouble, I should really like to have
you go.”

“I will go immediately. Isn’t there anything else you would like?”

“Nothing, mother.”

“God forgive me for deceiving her!” thought Margaret. “But I cannot do
otherwise. He knows that.”

Scarcely was her mother out of the house than Margaret hastily rose from
the bed, and with trembling fingers arrayed herself in the garments
which had been so long laid aside. They had been carefully washed and
mended by her mother, so that they looked comparatively respectable. She
threw them on very hastily, fearing that her mother would return and
detect her. She saw half a dollar on the mantel. This also she took,
knowing that she should need money, and left the house.

When her mother returned with the orange she found, to her dismay, that
her daughter had disappeared. On the table there was a scrap of paper,
with these words traced hurriedly upon it:—

    “Forgive the artifice I have employed, dear mother. I knew you
    would not let me go, and I must. There is something of great
    importance that I must attend to without delay. When that is over,
    I may come back to you.

                                                            “MARGARET.

    “P. S. I took a half dollar from the mantel, as I may need it.”



                            CHAPTER XXXIII.
                          THE GOOD SAMARITAN.


Surprised and terrified at her daughter’s disappearance, the old lady
went to the door and, shading her eyes, looked anxiously up the road,
but with her failing eyesight she was unable to catch sight of the
fugitive.

“The child must be crazy,” she said to herself. “She’ll catch her death
of cold, going out so soon after the fever. I must go after her and
bring her back.”

Putting on her hood once more, the old lady went out, and took the road
towards the city. But she did not find her daughter. Returning with a
heavy heart and a sense of deep perplexity she sat down to her knitting,
first carefully putting away the orange, which she thought Margaret
might like to eat if, as she hoped, she should discover her weakness and
return home at night.

But Margaret did not come that night, nor yet again the next.

When she left her mother’s house she hurried forward at a greater speed
than her strength admitted, so great was her anxiety to elude pursuit.
She had not gone half a mile when she found her strength failing her.
Quite exhausted, she staggered to a flat stone by the side of the road,
and sat down.

“Mother was right,” she said to herself; “I am not strong enough for
this journey; but I must get on somehow now that I have started.”

At this moment her eye rested on the half dollar which she had taken,
and which she still held in her hand.

“Perhaps this will procure me a ride,” she thought. “What matter if I am
penniless afterwards. I only care to live long enough to be revenged.”

She looked back on the road she had travelled, hoping to see some wagon
which might serve her purpose.

A little distance off was a covered market wagon, advancing at a good
round pace. The driver was a stout, pleasant-looking man, and Margaret,
hurriedly scanning his features, judged that she might venture to accost
him.

She accordingly rose from the stone on which she had been sitting, and
made a gesture for him to stop.

Somewhat surprised, he called out: “Hold up, Dick! Now, ma’am, what can
I do for you?”

“Would you be willing to take a passenger to New York?”

“Yes, ma’am, just as lieves as not.”

“I am quite willing to pay you. Will that be enough?” asked Margaret,
offering the half dollar.

“Yes, ma’am; enough, and fifty cents too much. Your company will be pay
enough. But, hold on a minute; I’ll jump out and help you in.”

“Thank you; I have been sick, and am not so strong as usual, otherwise I
would not trouble you.”

“No trouble at all. You look as if you’d been sick,—kinder peaked, just
as my Sarah Jane looked after she’d had the fever. Ain’t it rather
imprudent for you to be out?”

“Perhaps it is; but I have something to do which cannot be delayed.”

The driver seemed disposed to be social and communicative.

“I’d orter be pretty well used to this road; I’ve come on it twice a
week for the last fifteen years.”

“Have you?” said Margaret, listlessly.

“Yes, marketing. That’s my business. I’ve got a regular run of
customers, you see, and they’ve got used to me, and know I’ll never
bring anything but what’s good. There’s Judge Harcouth now; may be you
to know the judge?”

“No.”

“His wife won’t never buy no sausages except what I bring. Well, mine
are pretty good, if I do say it. I get old Marm Brown to make ‘em, and
she’d orter know how, for she’s been in the business for forty years. Do
you like sausages?”

“I don’t know,” said Margaret, who had not heard a word that was said.

“Don’t know,” repeated the driver, staring at her in surprise.

“Excuse me; I didn’t hear what you said.”

“I asked if you liked sausages. Some folks have a prejudice agin ‘em.”

“Yes, pretty well.”

“I like to have company,” continued the driver; “like to have somebody
to talk to. Talkin’s natural to the family. My mother had a pretty long
tongue, and used to use it most all the time, so that none of the rest
of us could get in a word edgeways.”

Apparently, the mother’s gift had descended to the son, for he kept up a
constant stream of talk, which was fortunate for Margaret, for he
expected little in the way of response, and so was less likely to notice
her abstraction.

“Last week I brought my oldest boy, Hamlet, with me. Queer name, isn’t?”

“No.”

“Why, ‘taint very common,” said the driver, a little surprised at this
negative.

“That is what I mean,” said Margaret, hurriedly.

“I s’pose you wonder what made me give him such a name, but the fact is
my own name is pretty common. You may have heard of John Smith?”

“I think I have heard the name,” said Margaret, absently.

Her grave manner was thought to conceal something jocose by Mr. Smith,
who laughed heartily, ejaculating “Good, by jingo!” somewhat to
Margaret’s surprise.

“That’s why,” he resumed, “I thought I’d give my children at least one
name that wasn’t common, so I concluded to ask the schoolmaster for
some. He told me I’d find what I wanted in Shakespeare, so I bought a
copy second hand, and the very fust name I come across was Hamlet. So I
gave that name to my oldest boy. My second boy’s name is Othello—the
boys call him Old Fellow; pretty good joke, isn’t it? I didn’t know till
afterwards that it was the name of a nigger, or I shouldn’t have taken
it. However, it sounds pretty well; think so?”

“Yes.”

“Then I’ve got two girls, I call them Desdemony and Parsley, and the
baby we haven’t decided about, but I reckon we shall call him Falstaff.
Falstaff was a good-natured old fellow as fur as I’ve read about him.
But I don’t know as you’re interested about these matters.”

“Oh, yes,” said Margaret, looking straight before her in the direction
of the city, whose spires were now discernible.

“Got any children of your own, ma’am?”

“No.”

“I calculate you’re married?”

“Yes—no,” said Margaret, agitated, for the question opened her wound
afresh.

“Queer customer, I calc’late,” thought Mr. Smith. “Don’t seem to know
whether she’s married or not. May be she’s been divorced.”

“Excuse me,” said Margaret, feeling it necessary to say something. “I
believe I am not strong enough to talk much.”

“Oh well, I’ll do all the talkin’,” said the driver, good-naturedly.
“You don’t look very rugged, that’s a fact. Ever tried Dr. Bangs’s
Bitters?”

“No.”

“Well, my wife thinks a sight of ‘em; says they go right to the weak
spot. Better buy some when you get a good chance.”

So Mr. Smith ran on, satisfied with an occasional response from
Margaret, till they reached the paved streets where the noise was too
great to admit of being easily heard.

“Where do you want to get out?” shouted Mr. Smith. “I’ll pull up
whenever you say so.”

When they reached the central part of the city, Margaret gave the
signal, and Mr. Smith assisted her out.

“You had better let me pay you,” she said.

“No, no, you’re perfectly welcome. I like company. It sort of shortens
the way. Just hail me again whenever you’re going my way, and I’ll give
you a lift and welcome.”

“Thank you; you are very kind.”

Margaret mechanically took the first street that led into Broadway. She
felt more at home in a crowd, and scarcely knowing where she was going,
walked slowly along the sidewalk, jostled on this side and on that, but
apparently without heeding it.

At length her attention was attracted.

On the opposite side of the street a couple were walking slowly,
chatting in a lively way as they walked. The lady was gayly dressed, and
was evidently pleased with the attentions of her companion. He is an old
acquaintance, Jacob Wynne, the scrivener, but no more resembling his
former self than a butterfly the chrysalis from which it emerged. Lewis
Rand had paid him the thousand dollars agreed upon, and he had
patronized the tailor extensively in consequence. He was now fashionably
attired, and had the air of one on whom fortune smiles.

It was only by chance that Margaret’s attention was drawn to him.

When she recognized him, all at once her heart sank within her. In her
enfeebled state the shock was too great. She sank upon a step half
fainting.

It was the step of a fashionable store, and she was directly in the way
of those entering.

“Come, be off,” said a clerk, rudely; “we can’t have any vagabonds
here.”

Margaret’s look of weakness and helpless misery, as she tried to rise,
attracted the attention of a young girl who was passing. It was Helen
Ford, just returning from rehearsal at the theatre.

“Are you sick?” she asked, in a tone of sympathy.

“I am afraid I am,” said Margaret, faintly.

“Where is your home? Let me lead you to it.”

“My home!” repeated Margaret. “I have none.”

“No home!” said Helen, in a tone of compassion. “Then where do you
expect to sleep to-night?”

“Heaven only knows.”

“If you will come with me, I will take care of you to-night,” said
Helen. “You are too sick to be out.”

“Will you, indeed, be so kind?” said Margaret, gratefully.

“I shall be glad to help you. Now lean on my arm. Don’t be afraid; I am
strong.”

Margaret rose, and with tottering step accompanied Helen to the
boarding-house. She led her up stairs to Martha Grey’s apartment.

Quickly communicating to Martha where and under what circumstances she
had found her, she asked the seamstress if she would be willing to allow
her to remain with her. Martha readily entered into Helen’s charitable
views, and together they strove to make their unexpected visitor
comfortable.

Helen little suspected that the woman whom in her compassion she had
succored, had it in her power to restore to her father the estate of
which he had been defrauded. Sometimes even in this world the good
Samaritan receives his reward.



                             CHAPTER XXXIV.
                         JACOB SEALS HIS FATE.


“How do you feel this morning?” asked Helen, as she entered Martha’s
room.

Her question was addressed to Margaret, who, wan and pale, was seated at
a table eating some toast, which the compassionate seamstress in her
kindness had prepared for her.

“I am much better,” said Margaret, though her appearance did not bear
out the assertion.

“It will take some time yet for you to recover fully; you need rest and
freedom from care.”

“Freedom from care!” repeated Margaret, smiling bitterly. “Yes, that is
what I need, but where shall I find it?”

“With us,” answered Martha, gently.

“What!” exclaimed Margaret, fixing her eyes upon the seamstress in
surprise, “would you be burdened with me?”

“We shall not consider it a burden,” said Helen, “and I am sure we ought
to welcome an opportunity to be of service to any one of our
fellow-creatures.”

“Yet,” said Margaret, suffering her eyes to wander about the room, with
its plain and scanty furniture, “you cannot be rich—even one person
must——”

“No, we are far from rich,” said Helen, divining what she would have
said, “but neither are we very poor. I am paid quite a large salary for
singing, and—and you must not think of the expense.”

“But I am a stranger to you,” said Margaret; “why are you so kind to
me?”

“Because you are in trouble.”

“Perhaps I may make an ungrateful return. Suppose I should take the
opportunity to rob you?”

Helen laughed merrily.

“We are not afraid,” she said; “besides, I think you would be puzzled to
find anything worth taking.”

Margaret smiled faintly.

“I see you are not suspicious; I envy you that. There was a time when I
was as trustful, and as firm a believer in human goodness as you are.
But that time has passed, never to return.”

“I am afraid,” said Martha, “that your experience has not been an
agreeable one.”

“I have seen trouble,” said Margaret, briefly.

“There may be better times in store; I shall know soon.”

“Let us hope there will be,” said Martha, cheerfully.

“Amen!” said Margaret.

“I must go to rehearsal now,” said Helen. “When I return, I will call
in.”

“What is her name?” questioned Margaret, abruptly, as the door closed
upon Helen.

“Helen.”

“I mean the last name.”

“Her father goes by the name of Ford, but Helen has told me within a day
or two that his real name is Rand.”

“Rand!” repeated Margaret, starting in surprise.

“Yes.”

She remembered that this was the name which had been so many times
repeated on the paper which her husband had employed in trying his pen.

“Do you know anything of the name!” asked Martha, observing that her
companion seemed struck by it.

“I have heard of a man by the name—a rich man.”

“Probably Helen’s grandfather.”

“How comes it, then, that she is living here.”

“Some family estrangement. Her grandfather supposed until nearly the
last moment of his life that his son was dead. It was too late to alter
his will, and so Helen and her father are left penniless.”

“And who inherited the property then?” demanded Margaret, eagerly.

“A cousin of Mr. Ford’s—I mean of Mr. Rand’s.”

“And I know by what means he acquired it,” thought Margaret. “It may be
that—but I must see Jacob first.”

From this moment Margaret became restless. She felt that she could not
be at peace till the issue was decided. She determined once more to
appeal to Jacob, and ascertain beyond a doubt whether the statement
which he had made respecting their marriage was really true, or only
fabricated to vex her. This question must first be decided, and then—why
then she would be guided by circumstances.

She rose from her seat, and threw her shawl over her shoulders.

“Where are you going?” asked Martha, pausing in her work.

“I must go. I have something to do which cannot be delayed.”

“But are you able to go out?” questioned the seamstress.

“Perhaps not; but it would do me more harm to remain here, feeling that
I ought to be elsewhere, that things might go wrong without me, than the
exposure and exertion of going out.”

“You will come back here when you have accomplished what you desire?”

“I think so—I cannot tell—I will not promise,” returned Margaret, with
an air of indecision; “but at any rate, whether I come or not, I thank
you heartily for all your kindness to me, and for all that you have
offered to do for me. I am not so used to kindness that I can afford to
think little of it.”

“I am afraid it will be too much for her,” thought Martha, as Margaret
left the room with an unsteady step. “There is plainly some mysterious
sorrow which is preying upon her mind. If I could find out what it is, I
would try to comfort her.”

Margaret, on reaching the street got into an omnibus which set her down
at the corner of the street on which Jacob Wynne lived.

We will precede her.

The scrivener is seated at a small table. Before him are several small
piles of gold which he is counting out from a larger one before him. It
is the money which Lewis Rand paid him for his complicity in the
iniquitous scheme, the success of which has robbed Helen and her father
of a princely inheritance.

Jacob’s eyes sparkled as they rested on the glittering coins before him,
and in his heart, as in that of his employer on the day of his uncle’s
death, there springs up the exulting thought: “And all this is mine.”

But while he is thus engaged, there is a footfall on the stairs, the
step of one ascending slowly and with effort, but Jacob is too much
absorbed in his pleasing employment to heed or hear it.

A moment afterwards, and through the half-open door a woman’s face is
seen peering. Margaret’s face is thin and pale, the result of her recent
exhausting illness, and there is a look of weariness besides, induced by
the too great exertion of walking in her weakened state; but her eyes
are painfully bright, and her expression pale, thin, and weary as she
is, is one of stern determination.

“Seven hundred!” said Jacob, as he completed the seventh pile, and
commenced another, unconscious of the eyes that were fixed upon him.

Margaret paused a moment on the threshold. She saw before her a man who,
low and mean and ignoble as he was, had won her heart in the days of her
youthful freshness, and now in spite of the resentment which she felt at
his unworthy treatment, she could not look upon him without a
pang,—without a longing to become to him once more what she had been.

“Jacob!” she uttered in an uncertain voice.

Jacob Wynne turned round with a guilty start as though he had been
detected in some knavery, and half unconsciously drew his sleeve over
the pile of gold, as if to screen it from observation. When he saw who
it was that had so startled him, a frown gathered upon his face, and he
said, impatiently,—

“You here, Margaret?”

“You seem glad to see me after my long absence!” she said. “By your
leave I will take a seat, as I am somewhat tired.”

He looked uneasily at her, not feeling altogether certain of her purpose
in calling, and muttered, half to himself, “I wish you had waited till
next week.”

“Why should you wish that?” she asked, catching his words.

“Because I shall then be gone,” he said, coldly.

“Gone! Where?”

“Never mind! Why should you want to know?” he demanded, sulkily.

“Why, indeed?” echoed she, fixing her eyes upon his face; “what should
your motives be to me, who have only devoted ten years of my life to
your service? What should you be to me, Jacob Wynne?”

“Well,” he said. “I will no longer require such a sacrifice at your
hands. Ten years are quite enough to satisfy me. Henceforth you shall be
at perfect liberty to devote yourself to whom you will. I will promise
not to interfere.”

Margaret pressed her hand upon her heart as if to still its tumultuous
throbbing, at this cruel taunt from one whom she had so much loved, and
for whom, despite the discovery she had made of his baseness and
unworthiness, she could not altogether stifle the old affection.

“You say this because you are irritated, Jacob,” she returned. “You do
not, you cannot mean it. Tell me so. Tell me that you have been only
trying me all this time, and though it has made me very, very wretched,
although it has thrown me into a fever and rendered me as weak as you
now see me, I will forget it all, and will once more devote myself to
you with the same loving devotion as in the old times when we were
young, and—and happier than we are now, Jacob.”

In her earnestness she rose, and going towards the copyist, placed her
hand upon his arm.

“One often says in anger what he does not mean,” she continued, rapidly.
“I know that well. I have done so myself; and it is so with you, Jacob,
is it not? I knew it must be so when you spoke such cruel words to me at
the island so many weeks ago, and yet, Jacob, and yet it hurt me,” she
placed her hand upon her heart; “it hurt me here, when you said such
words even in jest. I was not strong enough to bear them, and they made
me sick. That very night I was attacked with a fever, and from that day
to this I have been stretched upon a sick-bed. Look at my face. See how
thin and pale it is. I ought not to be out to-day, and only succeeded by
an artifice in eluding the vigilance of my mother, who has been my
faithful nurse.”

“Why, then, did you come?” asked Jacob, coldly.

“Because I could not bear the intolerable weight of suspense. Those
words kept ringing in my ears, and I could not cease from anxiety until
I could see you and have them explained.”

Margaret looked imploringly in the face of the scrivener, as she
finished her appeal. She had spoken more confidently than she felt.
There was little in the sullen, cruel face before her to give her
encouragement. She felt that she had staked all her happiness upon a
single throw,—that the answer which he gave her then and there would
determine once and forever her future happiness or misery, and it might
be his.

Jacob regarded the anxious face before him with the triumph that a low
mind always feels when it has by any means gained an ascendency over a
stronger one. The nature of Margaret was superior to his, and he knew
it. It was the uneasy feeling of inferiority produced by this
circumstance, that led to a mean jealousy on his part which found its
gratification in any humiliation to which it was in his power to subject
her.

“I do not understand,” he said, deliberately, “why my words should stand
in need of explanation. I endeavored to make them sufficiently
intelligible.”

“You do not remember what you said, Jacob. I am sure that you cannot, or
you would not speak thus,” she said, earnestly.

“Perhaps your memory is better,” said the scrivener, sneeringly.
“Possibly you will do me the favor to repeat it.”

“Repeat it!”

“Yes, I said so,” triumphing as he spoke over her evident distress;
“come, I am listening.”

He drew his chair round so as to face Margaret, and fixed his eyes
cruelly upon her. Margaret was a creature of impulse. Hers was no calm,
equable temperament. Her features could express trustful, confiding
affection, or the intensity of scorn and hatred. She had come to make a
last appeal to Jacob Wynne. He did not deserve it, but it is hard for a
woman to resolve to injure a man who has been to her an object of
affection. Jacob had often treated her with harshness. This she could
bear, but the revelation of his perfidy, which she had heard from his
own lips at Staten Island, came upon her with the force of a sudden
blow, which at once prostrated her. This was an insult which she could
not forgive, if his words were indeed true. In the hope, slight as it
was, that it might prove to have been merely an outburst of Jacob’s
irritability, she had determined upon this interview that her doubts
might be set at rest. Had Jacob known the purpose which was in her
heart, and the precise character of the motive which had brought her to
him, he would have been more cautious in exasperating a woman who had
his ruin in her power. This, however, he did not know. He underrated
Margaret’s strength of mind; he regarded her as one whom he might
ill-treat with impunity, who might annoy him, to be sure, but was
incapable of doing him any serious injury; whom he could shake off at
any time, as he had resolved to do now.

When Margaret saw the triumphant smile upon his face, she felt that her
worst fears were likely to be realized. Still she resolved not to forego
her purpose. Dropping the pleading tone which she had hitherto employed,
she said, with an outward calmness which surprised Jacob, and which she
only assumed by a determined effort,—

“Be it so. Since you desire it, I will force myself to repeat those
words. You remember, Jacob, the occasion of my presenting myself before
you. Without my knowledge you had invited a young woman to accompany you
to Staten Island.”

“And did you think I was responsible to you? Would you have had me ask
your gracious permission?” asked Jacob, with a sneer.

“You can tell best,” said Margaret, steadily, “whether this excursion
was made accidentally or purposely, without my knowledge; if the latter,
it betrayed a consciousness on your part that I had a right to object.”

“But I told you——”

“Wait,” said Margaret, commandingly, “I will come to that by and by. I
learned your plan, it matters not in what manner, and followed you; I
marked your devoted attentions to your companion, and it deepened in me
the sense of wrong and neglect which I had noticed for a long time. You
believed me safe at home all this time.”

“I wish to heaven you had been,” muttered Jacob.

Unheeding the interruption, Margaret continued,—

“You will not be surprised that this should have excited some uneasiness
on my part. I followed you constantly, watching for an opportunity to
speak to you alone. At length you left your companion for a brief
period, and then I found the opportunity I had been seeking. I ventured
to expostulate with you on conduct which I considered inconsistent with
your duty as a husband. Then it was, Jacob, that in your anger, you told
me that I, who had lived with you for ten years as your wife, and had
never for a moment forfeited or doubted my full claim to the title, that
I was mistaken; that at the altar an infamous deception had been
practised upon me, and the office of the clergyman was usurped by one of
your own unprincipled associates, who had no legal right to perform the
marriage ceremony. Have I represented all this correctly?”

“You have a most accurate memory,” said Jacob. “I have no exceptions to
take to your account, except on the score of its length, and the use of
certain adjectives.”

“Then I am to understand that this _was_ no fabrication on your part,
Jacob Wynne, but the plain truth?”

“Most unquestionably.”

“You further gave me to understand,” continued Margaret, in the same
strangely calm tone, “and to-day you have repeated the intimation, that
my company is unwelcome; in short, that you are weary of my society, and
wish to be rid of me.”

“You would have made a capital judge, madam,” said Jacob; “you are
admirable at summing up. You express my meaning better than I could do
it myself. I congratulate you the possession of such a talent. It will
save me further trouble. Have you anything more to say?”

Jacob expected that Margaret would burst into a passion of tears and
reproaches, as she had done before, and he was already gloating over her
distress in anticipation. Already with cowardly malignity, he was
coining in his brain some new and clever taunts with which he might add
to her distress, and touch her to the quick. It was, therefore, with
some degree of disappointment as well as surprise, that he was able to
detect no change in her calm expression.

“Very well,” she said, “I wished this matter understood between us.”

Then, seeming to notice for the first time the gold upon the table, she
added, indicating it with her finger, “Your affairs appear to be in a
more flourishing condition than when I saw you last.”

“Eh! What?” said Jacob, changing color and looking embarrassed.

“You are richer than you were,” said Margaret, in the same tone. “It
must have been an important service which has been so liberally
rewarded.”

“What do you mean?” demanded Jacob, with the apprehension of guilt,
regarding her uneasily.

“Mean!” repeated Margaret, as if surprised at the question, “what should
I mean? I merely expressed my surprise at your having so large a sum by
you. I should judge,” she continued, carelessly, “that there might be a
thousand dollars there.”

Jacob’s agitation increased with every word that Margaret uttered.
Conscious that he had committed a crime which made him liable to severe
legal penalties, the significant words of the woman he had wronged
excited in his mind a fear that, in some manner unknown to him, she had
become cognizant of it.

So does “Conscience make cowards of us all.”

How much more so in the case of the scrivener, who was cowardly at the
best.

“I must insist upon knowing what you mean by these insinuations,” he
said, with ill-concealed anxiety.

“Insinuations, Jacob Wynne! What have I insinuated?”

“Why, then, do you speak in this manner?” said he, hesitatingly; “this
money—belongs to a friend.”

“Indeed!” said Margaret, looking at him steadily; “and I suppose you
merely offered to count it over for him.”

“Well, and if I did,” said the scrivener, plucking up a little courage;
“have you any objections to offer?”

“I! What objection could I possibly have? You know I have no longer a
right to object to anything which you may see fit to do. By the way, you
spoke of removing. When do you go?”

This cool self-possession and absence of emotion on Margaret’s part
puzzled Jacob, and alarmed him more than threats of vengeance would have
done. He found it impossible to understand her.

“I don’t know,” he said, evasively, “I can’t tell. Why do you ask?”

“Because,” she answered, with a meaning look, “I may wish to call upon
you again. There is nothing strange in my desiring occasionally to call
upon an old acquaintance; is there, Jacob?”

He muttered something which was inaudible.

“But I fear I am taking up too much of your time. You know I have no
further claim upon you. Farewell, Jacob, I shall not lose sight of you.”

“Stay,” said Jacob, who had been considerably alarmed, and who was still
apprehensive that she might know more than he desired, “have you any
money?”

“Yes,” said Margaret, “I have this.”

She displayed the half dollar, or rather what remained of it, after
discharging her fare in the omnibus.

“That is very little. Take this.”

He took a gold piece from the pile that lay on the table, and handed it
to her. “Come, let us part friends.”

“You forget, Jacob, that this gold is not yours. It belongs to a
friend.”

“Never mind,” he muttered, “I can replace it.”

“No,” said she, decidedly, “I will not take it. I have no claim upon
you.”

She rose and passed out of the room, Jacob looking after her with an air
of mingled doubt, apprehension, and perplexity.

“I wish I knew,” he said to himself, “whether she has discovered
anything. But it can’t be possible. She appears strangely enough.
Perhaps her mind is unhinged by what I have told her. But I never could
have got on with her weighing me down. We must not meet again if it can
be avoided.”

Jacob resolved to remove on the very next day to the more comfortable
room, which he considered suited to the improvement in his
circumstances.



                             CHAPTER XXXV.
                           THE DENUNCIATION.


If Margaret had been calm in her interview with Jacob Wynne, it was an
unnatural calmness. Beneath the surface there were eddies of passionate
emotion which must, sooner or later, force their way to the light.

A sudden revulsion of feeling swept over her when, relieved from the
restraint which she had put upon herself in Jacob’s presence, she found
herself standing alone on the sidewalk beneath. Her strength, which had
been only kept up thus far by excitement, now gave way utterly, and she
leaned, faint and exhausted, against the side of the building. Even that
proved an insufficient support. Her limbs tottered, and she fell upon
the pavement.

When consciousness returned, she found herself surrounded by a crowd of
persons, most of whom had been attracted by curiosity, and only one or
two of whom proved of real service.

“Are you feeling better?” inquired a motherly-looking woman, gazing
compassionately at the wan and wasted features of Margaret.

“Where am I?” asked Margaret, looking half bewildered at the questioner.

“You have fainted on the sidewalk. I am afraid you are not strong.”

“No. I have been sick. But I remember now. I should like to see a
lawyer.”

Even in her weakness and physical prostration, she had not lost sight of
what must henceforth be her object—revenge upon him whose perfidy and
utter heartlessness she had now so fully proved.

“You mean a doctor,” said the woman, a little surprised.

“No,” repeated Margaret, with a touch of impatience in her voice. “I
want a lawyer.”

At this moment, a man in a white hat and with a very bland expression
upon his features, which, however, could not boast a remarkable degree
of beauty, elbowed his way vigorously through the crowd. With a graceful
inclination, Mr. Sharp, whom the reader will already have recognized
from the description given, proclaimed that he was an humble attorney at
her service.

“If you are a lawyer, I wish to consult you, but not before so many
people,” said Margaret, glancing at the curious faces of the bystanders.

“I will procure a carriage, madam,” said Mr. Sharp, with his usual
affability, “and we will proceed at once to my office, where we shall
run no risk of being disturbed.”

This course was accordingly taken, somewhat to the disappointment of
certain good people, who were burning for a solution of the mystery
which they were convinced existed somewhere.

In a few minutes Margaret was installed in Mr. Sharp’s office, and that
gentleman, with professional zeal and a lively hope that the lady before
him might prove a more profitable client than the state of her attire
seemed to promise, waited patiently for his visitor to announce her
business.

Margaret seemed to be lost in reflection, as if her mind were not wholly
made up about some matter. Fearing that she might not broach the subject
at all, and that he might thus lose the chance of the client which fate
seemed to have thrown in his way just as he had lost Lewis Rand, Mr.
Sharp thought it best to give her a gentle hint.

“As a lawyer, madam, I shall be glad to exert myself in your behalf to
the best of my professional ability. Will you have the kindness, as soon
as your strength is sufficiently restored, to state your case?”

Margaret aroused from her stupor. “Can you tell me,” she asked,
abruptly, “what punishment the law provides for forgery?”

The lawyer was taken by surprise. He wondered if his visitor had
committed, or perchance was contemplating such a crime, and wished to
learn how great a risk it involved.

“Forgery did I understand you to say, madam?” he inquired, partly with a
view to gain time.

“Yes.”

“Imprisonment for a term of years.”

“You are sure it is not punished with death,” she asked, eagerly.

“Not in this country. There was a time when it was so punished in
England.”

“How long is the usual term of imprisonment?”

“That depends, in some measure, upon the discretion of the court, which
is regulated by attendant circumstances. Possibly,” said the lawyer,
hazarding a conjecture, as Margaret remained silent, “you have a friend,
a relation perhaps (pardon me if I am wrong), who has been
unfortunate,”—a delicate way of hinting at crime,—“and in whose behalf
you have now come to consult me?”

“A friend!” repeated Margaret, with a bitter smile.

“I thought it possible,” said Mr. Sharp, mistaking her tone for one of
assent. “Well, madam, you must not allow yourself to be too much cast
down. I can easily conceive that your anxiety is aroused in your
friend’s behalf, but if one has ingenuity there are always methods of
evading the law, and if you will confide the case to me, I hope to
succeed in clearing your friend.”

“That is just what I do not wish.”

“Pardon me,” said the lawyer, in surprise. “I do not think I understand
you.”

“You do not. In the first place, it is not a friend in whose welfare I
am interested.”

“A relation?” suggested Mr. Sharp, still in the dark.

“He is nothing to me,—nothing, do you hear?” exclaimed Margaret, with
fierce emphasis. “At least, not now. What he has been it is needless for
you to know, or me to remember. Enough, that I have reason to hate him,
that I wish to be revenged upon him, and that I ask you to lend me your
assistance.”

“Explain the case, madam, if you please. I will give you my best
attention.”

“I have sworn to be revenged upon him, and I will,” said Margaret,
hoarsely, rather to herself than to the lawyer. “There shall be no
flinching now.”

She pressed her hand upon her breast, as if to still forcibly suppress
any remonstrance that might find a place there.

“This man,” she continued, in a hurried tone, “has committed forgery. As
yet, it is undiscovered. I wish him brought to justice.”

“What has he forged?”

“A will.”

“A will!” repeated Mr. Sharp, pricking up his ears with sudden interest.
“May I ask how you became acquainted with the fact?”

“I witnessed the deed.”

“Was the party aware of your presence?”

“Far from it. He supposed the knowledge confined to himself and one
other, who instigated him to the act, and rewarded him for it. He
supposed me asleep, but I saw and heard the whole from a place of
concealment.”

“This man is, I suppose, a copyist,—a professional writer?”

“Yes.”

“And the one who employed him,—do you know his name?” asked the lawyer,
with hardly concealed eagerness.

“It is Rand.”

“Rand!” echoed Mr. Sharp, triumphantly. “I suspected so.”

“Then you knew of this?” queried Margaret, surprised in her turn.

“No, but I am not surprised to hear it. I know Lewis Rand. He has been a
client of mine.”

“You will not thwart my plans?” said Margaret, apprehensively.

“On the contrary, what you have told me gives an additional inducement
to further them, since I have purposes of my own which will be served
thereby. Have you any corroborative evidence? Your testimony,
unsupported, might not be deemed sufficient.”

“I have this,” said Margaret, displaying the fragment of paper which she
had secured on her return from Staten Island, and which, as the reader
will remember, contained the name, Rand, several times repeated in
Jacob’s handwriting, as well as detached sentences of the will itself.
The handwriting was a close imitation of the original will.

“Ah!” said the lawyer, rubbing his hands; “that is very satisfactory.
With this and your testimony, the chain of proof will be complete.
Nothing stronger could be desired.”

“Then you think we shall succeed.”

“I have no doubt of it.”

“Whatever is to be done must be done quickly,” said Margaret, with a
certain feverish haste; for, now that her mind was made up, her restless
spirit craved immediate action. “This man—the copyist—is about to remove
from his old lodgings, and, if there is any delay, he will escape.
Besides, if he is apprehended at once, he will be found in possession of
the price of his guilt.”

“That will doubtless weigh against him. If you will furnish me with his
address, I will take measures to have him immediately arrested.”

The address was given and noted down. The lawyer still held the pen
suspended over the paper. “His name,—you have not mentioned that.”

Margaret hesitated. There was a brief internal conflict between her old
love and her present desire of revenge. The latter prevailed.

“His name,” she said, in a voice which was scarcely audible, “is Jacob
Wynne.”

“Jacob Wynne! Good!”

Mr. Sharp noted down the name in a business-like way, utterly
unconscious of the struggle in the mind of his client, before she could
resolve to utter it. When, however, it was pronounced, and she felt that
the decisive step was taken, her mind, as is common in such cases,
became more tranquil, and she composed herself to wait for the event.

“Will you remain here,” asked Mr. Sharp, “while I go out and cause this
man to be arrested? I will be back shortly, and will then report
progress.”

Margaret inclined her head in the affirmative. Indeed, she had no other
place to go, and she was already so exhausted that she could not go out
into the streets, and wander hither and thither, as she must otherwise
have done.



                             CHAPTER XXXVI.
                              THE ARREST.


There had been an indefinable something in Margaret’s manner during her
interview with the copyist, which left an unpleasant impression upon his
mind. The guilt, of which he was secretly conscious, increased his
natural cowardice. He felt that, on all accounts, it would be better to
lose no time in his anticipated removal. He had intended to leave the
next day. He would go to-day.

Acting upon this resolution, he began to pack the contents of the
drawers into a trunk. He was in the midst of this occupation, when a
knock was heard at the door.

“Come in,” he said, carelessly, without at once turning to the door.

Mr. Sharp entered, and coughed slightly, with the design of attracting
the scrivener’s attention.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” said Jacob; “I am quite busy, preparing for a
removal. Could you defer your business till,—say day after to-morrow?”

Our lawyer was one who never, under any circumstances, lost his
politeness. With an affability which seemed indicative of the kindest
feelings, he said, affably, “I believe I address Mr. Wynne?”

“You are right,” said Jacob, who still labored under the impression that
the lawyer was one who required his services as copyist.

“Mr. Jacob Wynne?”

“Yes.”

“A copyist?”

“Yes, but I fear that I shall not be able to accommodate you to-day,
being, as you see, on the point of removal.”

“You mistake my errand, Mr. Wynne. I have no doubt that you are a
skilful copyist. Indeed, I have great reason to think so, and do not
doubt that, if I were in need of anything in your line, I should find it
worth while to apply to you.”

“What, then, is your business?” demanded Jacob, mystified.

“I regret to say, Mr. Wynne,” said Mr. Sharp, losing none of his
affability, “that I have an unpleasant duty to perform. I have obtained
a warrant for your arrest.”

“My arrest!” repeated the copyist, his sallow face exhibiting
unmistakable terror.

“I regret to say so.”

“On what charge?” ejaculated Jacob, too well surmising its nature.

“Forgery.”

Jacob’s lips became bloodless, and his cheeks assumed an ashen hue, for
at heart he was a very coward. In the moment of trial, none could be
more craven.

“I regret to disturb you,” said Mr. Sharp, stepping back to the door and
opening it. “Mr. Officer, you will do your duty.”

An officer, who had been stationed just outside the door, now entered,
and formally arrested Jacob Wynne.

It is scarcely possible for a human being to exhibit more abject terror
than the miserable copyist, under this unforeseen blow. All his strength
seemed to have departed from him. When commanded by the officer to rise
and accompany him, he attempted to do so; but his limbs trembled so,
that he was scarcely able to comply.

“A clear case,” thought the lawyer.

“Really, my dear friend,” said Mr. Sharp, in a tone of expostulation,
“you are suffering your feelings to run away with you. You must be more
calm and collected.”

“Is there no way of escape?” asked Jacob, in a tone of agonizing
entreaty. “Oh, spare me, gentlemen, and indeed you shall be well
rewarded. See, I have gold!” and he hurriedly unlocked a desk on the
table beside him. “Take what you will, but let me go.”

Mr. Sharp’s eyes glistened as he caught sight of the gold; but,
perceiving no way in which he could avail himself of it, he assumed a
tone of outraged integrity.

“What, sir!” he exclaimed; “can you, for an instant, suppose that we
would be guilty of interfering with the course of justice for a paltry
bribe? Thank Heaven!” he continued, fervently; “my integrity was never
called in question. Through a long and varied professional career, I
have steadily resisted all the temptations which have been brought to
bear upon me. Not though your bribe were a thousand times as large,
would I hesitate for a moment. Far better poverty and the consciousness
of unsullied integrity, than wealth and a dishonored name! I have no
doubt my worthy companion unites with me in this sentiment.”

“Of course I do,” said that functionary, gruffly.

“Then is there no chance?” asked Jacob, looking appealing from one to
the other.

“Of course, if you are innocent, you will be discharged from custody.
The law only punishes the guilty.”

This remark did not seem to yield Jacob much comfort.

“I am sorry to hurry you,” said the officer; “but I cannot wait much
longer.”

Jacob rose feebly, and descended the stairs supported by the officer.

When the wretched copyist came in sight of the Tombs, his strength again
deserted him, and he became as weak as an infant. Supported on either
side he passed through the portal, and the heavy door swung back upon
its hinges.

When he had been conducted to his cell and left alone, he flung himself
in an agony of terror and apprehension upon the pallet, clenching his
hands in impotent fury, while he muttered to himself, “Margaret has done
this! Margaret has done this!”



                            CHAPTER XXXVII.
                            A WOMAN’S HEART.


When the lawyer returned to his office, he found Margaret seated in the
same place and in the same attitude in which he had left her. She
started when he came into the room, and fixed her eyes eagerly upon him
with a look of anxious inquiry.

“Well,” said the lawyer, rubbing his hands cheerfully, “we have
succeeded. The bird is fairly caged.”

“Where have you carried him?” asked Margaret, in a low voice.

“To the Tombs!”

“How did he appear when you arrested him?” Margaret asked.

“Appear! Frightened to death. I never saw a person more thoroughly
terrified than he was. He even had the temerity to offer me money if I
would aid him to escape,” said Mr. Sharp, in a burst of virtuous
indignation.

Margaret sat for a short time in the same attitude of abstraction in
which the lawyer found her. She had succeeded, then. He who had wronged
and ill-treated her was already in a prison-cell. The revenge for which
she had longed was now hers. Yet it failed to give her that satisfaction
she had in anticipation. In the moment of her success she realized that
revenge was like a two-edged sword, wounding those who wielded it, as
well as him against whom it was directed. Yet would she recall what she
had done? No, at least not yet. Her brain was in a whirl of excitement,
a prey to conflicting thoughts. She must get into the fresh air. She
rose from the chair, and with unsteady feet walked slowly towards the
door, without a word.

The lawyer looked at her with a puzzled glance. He could not read her
history. He had expected that she would rejoice in the intelligence be
brought. Instead, she seemed bewildered.

As she lifted the latch, he said, hesitatingly, “In case I should wish
to communicate with you, where shall I call?”

“I will call here,” said Margaret, briefly, and passed out.

“A queer subject,” soliloquized Mr. Sharp, as he lighted a fragrant
Havana, and sat down to a meditative smoke. “Yet she may prove a client
not to be despised. If things work right, I shall obtain through her a
hold upon Lewis Rand which I shall be pretty apt to use. He has thrown
me off without ceremony. He may find it to his advantage to cultivate my
acquaintance. Well, well, the world turns round, and it is only fair
that I should be at the top, part of the time.”

Meanwhile Margaret was making her way through the streets, changing her
direction more than once, yet tending ever nearer and nearer to one
point. At length she stood before the City Prison! With blanched cheek
and aching heart she looked upward at the huge pile. She wondered in
what quarter of the prison they had placed Jacob, and how he bore his
confinement. What a mystery is a woman’s heart! When she had thought of
him only as prosperous and triumphant, her heart had been swayed by
vindictive passion. Now in his humiliation she felt drawn towards
him—she felt even compassion for him. For more than an hour she stood
gazing at the dismal structure. Already the sun had set, and the
darkness was coming on. It closed about her wrapping her in its dusky
mantle. It was one of those autumn days that are succeeded by a chill
evening. She shivered as the cold penetrated her wretched shawl which
scantily served as a protection, and seeing a sheltered passage-way
nearly opposite where she was standing, walked there and sat down upon
steps concealed from the sight of the few passers-by in a state of
exhaustion. Overtasked nature succumbed, and she sank into a troubled
sleep.

At an early hour in the morning she was aroused to consciousness again,
and urged by an impulse which she could not resist, crossed the street,
made her way to the office of the prison, and made known her desire to
see a prisoner.

“Who do you wish to see?”

“Jacob Wynne.”

The officer in attendance turned to a book containing a list of the
unhappy persons who had found a home within these walls.

“Yes,” he said, reading the entry; “Jacob Wynne, arrested on a charge of
forgery. He was brought here only yesterday.”

“May I see him?” Margaret asked, eagerly.

“It is hardly possible. The hour at which visitors are admitted has not
arrived. You must wait till ten o’clock.”

“I have been waiting all night,” said Margaret.

“All night. Where?”

“In the street.”

There was something in her tone that struck the officer. He regarded her
compassionately.

“You will make an exception in my favor? I am his wife.”

“I do not know,” he hesitated. “I may be exceeding my authority.” But
the sharp anxiety in Margaret’s face decided him. “I will do it once, as
a special favor.”

Margaret did not thank him in words, but her face was eloquent with
gratitude. The sharp lines of anxiety softened, and an expression of
relief succeeded.

She followed him through the long, damp corridor, until they stood
before the cell tenanted by Jacob Wynne. Margaret was admitted, a faint
light handed her, and then the door was locked as before.

The prisoner was stretched on the hard pallet, with his face buried in
it. He seemed in a dull stupor, the result of his excessive fear. He did
not even look up as the door was opened, but his frame shook with a
convulsive tremor.

Margaret advanced to the bed, and kneeling, touched his arm gently,
while she uttered his name softly.

“Jacob!”

He started, and looked wildly at his visitor. He did not seem to
comprehend that it was Margaret in real presence who knelt beside him.

“Away! away!” he exclaimed, shuddering at her touch. “Why must I be
tormented before my time?”

“Don’t you know me, Jacob? I am Margaret.”

He looked at her half in doubt, and said, sullenly, “What more do you
want with me? Is it not enough that you have sent me here? Have you come
to finish your work?”

“I have come to save you.”

“To save me? Then it was not you who caused my arrest?”

“Yes, Jacob, but I did not know what I was doing. I was hurried away by
passion. Forgive me, Jacob.”

“Your regrets will avail little now,” he said, bitterly. “You have
placed me here, and here I must stay. Oh, it is horrible,” he said,
shuddering, “to be shut up in this damp, noisome cell!”

“Listen, Jacob,” said Margaret; “your case is not so hopeless as you
imagine. It was at my instance that you were arrested. Heaven knows that
I had some cause. But I am sorry for it now. If you are convicted, it
can only be upon my testimony. Should I absent myself from your trial,
nothing could be proved against you, and you would be released.”

“Will you do this, Margaret?” asked the prisoner, hope once more
kindling in his heart. “If you will, I will forever bless you. My fate
hangs upon your decision. You don’t know how I have suffered already, in
the few hours I have stayed here. Have compassion upon me, Margaret, and
I will take you back again as my wife. In one respect I have deceived
you. Our marriage was genuine. Forgive me for trying to persuade you
otherwise.”

An expression of earnest gratitude and relief overspread Margaret’s
face. “Thank you for those words, Jacob. It cancels all the harshness
and all the wrong that I have met at your hands. Then I am really your
wedded wife?”

“Yes, Margaret,” said Jacob, humbly, for confinement had wrought a
salutary change in his deportment; “I confess that I wished to convince
you of the contrary. I even meditated, in my wickedness, marrying
another for her wealth, not because I loved her. But it is all over now,
and I am glad of it. Only release me from this imprisonment, and I
promise——”

“Promise nothing,” said Margaret; “I do not wish to take advantage of
your present situation, when perhaps you might be induced to promise
that which you would afterwards repent.”

“But, I am sincere.”

“You may be now, but will it last? I do not wish,” she resumed, with
proud composure, “to force myself upon you against your will. You have
already freed me from my chief trouble, in acknowledging that our
marriage was not the idle mockery you would have had me believe. Farther
than that, I require nothing of you. If, at the end of six months from
your release, you still desire that I should come to you, I will. Till
that time has passed, it is best that we should be to each other as
strangers.”

Margaret spoke with calmness and dignity. Even Jacob perceived this, and
he could not help feeling an unwonted admiration for the woman he had
spurned. He had never felt her value till, by her own act, a wall of
separation was built up between them.

“I have no right to complain,” said Jacob, humbly. “I do not deserve
your confidence, Margaret; but you shall find, hereafter, that I am more
trustworthy than you think.”

“Heaven grant it, Jacob! Do not think me unkind or vindictive, if I
refuse at once to burden you with myself. I should not survive a second
repulse. What I have suffered from our estrangement, God only knows. But
it shall be forgotten.”

“How long shall I be obliged to remain here?”

“I do not know. At any rate, only till I can arrange for your release. I
will lose no time about it.”

The turnkey appeared, and Margaret went forth from the cell, leaving
Jacob inexpressibly relieved by the promise she had made. He knew
Margaret well enough to feel assured that she would keep it.

Not less relieved was Margaret. The black cloud which hung over her was
dissipated. Now she could resign herself even to the alienation of
Jacob’s affection, since she was assured that, by the laws of God and
man, she was still his wedded wife. He had treated her most basely and
unworthily, that she knew full well; but this guilt and mortification,
at least, she was spared. She felt new strength in her limbs, new
cheerfulness in her heart. She bent her steps at once to Mr. Sharp’s
office. To him she made known her change of determination, and her
desire to suppress her evidence, that the prisoner might be released.

Mr. Sharp was embarrassed. This sudden whim, as he called it, threatened
to disarrange all his plans.

He paced the office, while Margaret followed him with an anxious look.

“Is it too late?” she inquired.

“I will tell you, madam, how the matter stands,” said the lawyer,
suddenly, taking a seat opposite Margaret. “By this false will, whose
forgery you can attest, a large estate has been diverted from the legal
heirs,—a father and child,—highly estimable, but very poor, and been
seized upon by an artful villain,—a cousin,—whose best efforts have been
given to the task of sowing dissension between the late Mr. Rand and the
son to whom I allude. Now the question arises, whether it is right, for
the sake of saving a guilty man, to perpetuate this great wrong, and
keep the rightful heirs out of their inheritance? Do you dare to take
upon your soul that responsibility?”

Mr. Sharp argued well. Let not the reader give him too much credit for
disinterested love of right. It should not be forgotten, that he rightly
anticipated from Mr. Ford a liberal reward for his professional
exertions.

“What would you have me do?” asked Margaret, in a troubled tone. “I do
not wish to aid injustice, _but this man is my husband_!”

“Indeed!” exclaimed the lawyer, surprised. “Yet you gave the information
that led to his arrest.”

“I knew not what I did. I was angry and vindictive. But is there nothing
that can be done to restore the estate without the sacrifice of my
husband?”

Mr. Sharp considered a moment.

“I think I can manage it,” he said; “but it will be necessary for your
husband to remain in confinement for a few days longer. Will you consent
to this?”

“Freely.”

“Then I will see Mr. Rand, and I think I can so far work upon his fears
as to extort from him at least a portion of what he has so criminally
acquired. Meanwhile, it will be best for you to keep out of the way;
only let me know where to find you in case I require your presence.”

Thus matters were arranged. Margaret returned to her mother, not as she
left her, dull and dispirited, but with a cheerfulness for which the
latter strove in vain to account.



                            CHAPTER XXXVIII.
                           GREEK MEETS GREEK.


The novelty of possession had not yet palled upon Lewis Rand. It seemed
to him still like a dream, of whose reality he could scarcely assure
himself. Day after day he wandered through the magnificently-furnished
rooms of the stately dwelling, and surveyed them with a proud rising of
the heart. In the evening, as he sat before the grate fire in the
library, for the evenings were growing cool, he would run over in his
mind the long list of his possessions, and launch forth in imagination
upon plans which he meant to carry out. If by chance the image of the
cousin whom he had defrauded presented itself, it was hastily dismissed.

One evening, as he sat idly before the fire, indulging in complacent
thoughts, a servant announced a visitor.

“Bring him in here,” said Lewis, albeit somewhat surprised at an
intrusion at that late hour. This surprise was not lessened when, in the
visitor, he recognized Mr. Sharp.

The lawyer advanced with an air of easy assurance, and as he glanced
about him observed, rubbing his hands, “Really, Mr. Rand, you are quite
charmingly situated. I am reminded of what I have read of the Mohammedan
Paradise. To make it complete, you only need a houri.”

“Yet, Paradise as it is,” said Lewis, significantly, for he had neither
forgotten nor forgiven the lawyer’s treachery, “it is not free from the
intrusion of evil spirits.”

“Indeed!” returned Mr. Sharp, with an admirable air of unconsciousness,
“you surprise me.”

“Not more than I am surprised to see you here. If it is not taking too
great a liberty, might I inquire the motive of your visit? I presume it
is not the pleasure of seeing me.”

“That’s undoubtedly one of my motives,” said the lawyer, affably; “but,
as you surmise, it is not the only one. I wish to speak with you on
important business.”

“Perhaps you have made out a bill of charge for the very valuable
services you have rendered me?”

“Thank you,” said Mr. Sharp, bowing; “I cannot express the gratification
I feel at this generous commendation on the part of one in whose behalf
I have put forth my poor efforts.”

“Sir,” said Lewis Rand, rising impatiently, “you cannot hope to deceive
me by your imperturbable assurance. You serve my interests! You put
forth efforts in my behalf! You, who turned traitor to my interests, and
sought by every means in your power to defeat my plans! This, I suppose,
is your idea of legal fidelity.”

“I fancy,” said the lawyer, boldly, “that I have been as faithful to you
as you to your uncle. If we are to indulge in recrimination, it may be
that I shall not come off second-best.”

“What do you mean, sir? You are disposed to be impertinent. Can you deny
that it was through your agency that my cousin was informed of that
which I most desired to conceal from him?”

“And thereby,” said the lawyer, composedly, “enabled a father and son to
meet before Death came in to separate them forever upon the earth.”

“This, then, is the construction which you put upon your conduct,” said
Lewis, with a sneer. “I congratulate you upon your elevated sentiments.”

“Thank you,” said Mr. Sharp, bowing modestly. “Appreciation is always
soothing to the feelings. Praise from such a source makes me proud,
indeed.”

Lewis was incensed to find the lawyer adopting the tone which he had
hitherto arrogated to himself. That a briefless attorney should dare to
indulge in sarcasm at his expense was a piece of unparalleled
presumption.

“I need not say,” he remarked with a smile of conscious power, “how much
I regret putting to inconvenience a man of such elevated and Christian
sentiments as yourself. Yet I am under the necessity of reminding you
that you have in your possession some three hundred dollars which I
intrusted to you for a particular purpose. That sum I have present
occasion for. If you are unable to pay me, I may feel called upon to
resort to measures which may be mutually disagreeable.”

“I am glad you mentioned it,” said Mr. Sharp, blandly. “By the way, you
can show proof that you did intrust me with this money?”

Lewis colored with mortification. He had no such proof, and his threat
was futile.

“You perceive,” said the lawyer, nonchalantly, “that if I were
dishonest, I might deny the trust. But such is not my intention. Will
you favor me with a slip of paper?”

Mr. Sharp made out a bill for professional services amounting to three
hundred dollars. This he receipted, and handed to Lewis.

“I believe we are now quits,” he said.

Baffled once more, Lewis turned upon the lawyer with a fury which he no
longer attempted to conceal.

“Then,” said he, “I see no further reason for continuing this
interview.”

“Pardon me,” said Mr. Sharp, “my business is not yet completed; I came
here in behalf of your cousin, my client, Robert Rand.”

“Perhaps,” said Lewis, with a sneer, “he has come to his senses, and
decided to accept the offer I made him the day after the funeral. You
may inform him that he is too late. The offer is withdrawn.”

“As to that, your message is unnecessary, since he has not the slightest
disposition to accept it.”

“Indeed! Then may I beg to know with what message you are charged?”

“He will agree to receive nothing less than half the estate.”

“He is quite moderate. You are sure that he does not demand the whole?”

“Quite so. He has no disposition to impoverish you, notwithstanding the
wrongs he has received at your hands.”

“He is considerate,” said Lewis, “very considerate! How soon does he
expect an answer to his modest proposal?”

“This very night.”

“And suppose,” said Lewis, “(of course, it is highly improbable) but
suppose I should decline complying with this very moderate demand of my
worthy cousin? What then?”

Lewis regarded Mr. Sharp with an exulting smile.

“Allow me, before answering your question, to propose one of my own.”

“Certainly, Mr. Sharp,” said Lewis, graciously, already exulting in the
other’s discomfiture; “I shall be happy to give you information upon any
point you may desire.”

He leaned back and surveyed the lawyer with an insolent smile. But his
triumph was short-lived.

“Are you acquainted with a copyist named Wynne,—Jacob Wynne?”—asked Mr.
Sharp, looking searchingly at his late client.

Lewis Rand started, and his sallow face grew red and white by turns.

“Well,” said he, with a vain effort to speak carelessly, “and if I do?”

“He is now an inmate of the Tombs,” said Mr. Sharp, significantly.

Lewis rose from his seat, and paced the room. At length he paused before
the lawyer.

“Why do you tell me this?” he demanded fiercely, “What have I to do with
a paltry scrivener? What is it to me that he is in prison? Doubtless he
has been there before, and you too, for ought I know.”

“He was arrested on a charge of forgery,” said the lawyer, slowly,
watching the effect of this announcement on his companion.

Lewis sat down, brought to bay at last, and leaned his head upon the
table. He no longer dared to evade the subject. He felt that the danger
was imminent, and must be confronted.

“How was his arrest brought about?” he inquired.

“Through the agency of a woman,—his wife, I believe,—who, in consequence
of some quarrel, wishes to revenge herself upon this Jacob. When the
forgery was committed she was a concealed spectator, and saw and heard
the whole. _She can swear to the person who employed Jacob Wynne to do
this service!_ Nor is this all. She has a piece of paper—a torn half
sheet—which was used by the copyist to try his pen on that night. It
contains a name several times repeated.”

Lewis did not inquire what name.

“Go on,” he said, hoarsely.

“This woman—this Margaret—fell in with me, and applied to me to help
her. It suited my purpose to do so, although her poverty will prevent my
receiving any recompense from her.”

“Then she is poor,” said Lewis, thoughtfully. “Where is she?”

“Pardon me,” said Mr. Sharp, reading the purpose of Lewis in his face;
“that is a question which I cannot answer.”

“Has Jacob divulged anything since he was imprisoned?”

“That was not needful. I will at once speak to the point, Mr. Rand. It
can be abundantly proved that this forgery was committed at your
instigation. Once let this be known, and you become amenable to the same
penalties which now menace your instrument. One word from me will carry
you to prison to-night. There is no chance of escape. I have obtained a
warrant, and an officer is waiting at the door. But there is an
alternative.”

Lewis summoned all the energies of his crafty and subtile mind to devise
some method of escape. But he was entangled in a labyrinth from which he
could not extricate himself.

“Give me till to-morrow,” he said.

“I regret that I cannot do so,” said the lawyer, politely.

“Name your proposition, then,” he said, sullenly.

Mr. Sharp drew from his pocket a legal instrument conveying one half of
all his estates to Robert Rand, some time known as Robert Ford. It was
drawn up with all the precision and technicality required by the law. It
only needed the signature of Lewis.

Lewis read it with dark and lowering face. “I cannot sign it,” he said,
desperately.

“Then I fear you must exchange this warm fireside for an apartment less
luxurious.”

“Fate is against me,” muttered Lewis, moved by this threat. “Since it
must be done.”

“Will you have the kindness to summon two of your servants to witness
the document?” said the lawyer.

Lewis rang the bell sharply.

“Jacqueline, call Antoine, and come in yourself.”

Lewis signed his name.

“Will that satisfy you?” he said, bitterly.

“Perfectly,” said Mr. Sharp, bowing.

“Then, Antoine, you will show this gentleman to the door.”

Mr. Sharp bowed graciously, and withdrew. A moment more, and Lewis was
left alone,—a prey to the keenest disappointment. Troubled as he was by
the loss of one half his possessions, there were two things that
troubled him even more. He had been out-generalled by one of his own
tools, whom he had looked upon with contempt, and his cousin, whom he
detested more than ever, was now as wealthy as himself.

Lewis Rand paced the library with disordered steps, till far into the
night, and, when he retired to his chamber, it was not to sleep.



                             CHAPTER XXXIX.
                        THE SLAVE OF THE NEEDLE.


Perhaps no employment is more confining and more poorly compensated than
that of sewing. The narrow choice allowed to women, who are compelled to
labor for their livelihood, leads to an unhealthy and disastrous
competition in this department of toil, and enables employers to
establish a disgracefully low scale of prices.[1] Fifteen hours out of
the twenty-four are sometimes spent in unremitting labor, the results of
which will scarcely keep soul and body together. The cook or house-maid
enjoys a degree of comfort, and commands an income (including board)
absolutely unattainable by the slave of the needle.

Footnote 1:

  The reader is referred to an interesting series of papers, entitled
  “Needle and Garden,” published in the “Atlantic Monthly” during the
  year 1865.

Hard work and an absence of nourishing food were beginning to tell on
the delicate frame of Martha Grey. An expert needle-woman, she
commanded, in good times, an abundant supply of work. But times had
changed. The shops gave out less work, while the number who desired it
seemed rather to have increased than diminished. The natural result
followed,—a reduction in the compensation, already disgracefully low.
Many could not obtain a chance to work at any price. Martha was allowed
her usual supply, but at prices twenty per cent. lower than she had
before received. The heart of the poor seamstress sank within her, as
she walked home with a bundle of work, for which she was to be paid at
the new rate. How was she to economize? It seemed before as if her wants
were reduced to the minimum, and yet she had been able to lay by
nothing. In addition to this, her health, never very firm, had shown
some indications of failure. She was troubled with occasional dizziness
and frequent nervous headaches, which rendered her enforced slavery to
the needle a torture, but one from which she could not deliver herself.

But one alternative presented itself. She must contract her necessary
expenditures, or increase her hours of work. She did not know how to
compass the one, while the other would probably lead to sickness. She
attempted a middle course. On a scantier diet she strove to work an hour
more daily. The result was what might have been anticipated. Nature
succumbed. One morning Helen, on returning from rehearsal, entered
Martha’s room unceremoniously, as was her wont. Great was her dismay on
discovering her friend lying insensible on the floor. Her work, on which
she had been engaged up to the moment of her attack, had fallen from her
hands, and lay beside her.

Helen was not unused to such cases. Though quite terrified, she had
sufficient self-possession to apply the proper restoratives.

Martha soon opened her eyes, and, recognizing Helen, smiled faintly.

“How do you feel, Martha?” inquired Helen, anxiously.

“I am afraid I am going to be sick,” said Martha.

“When did you first feel it?”

“It has been coming on for several days. I have not been free from the
headache for a week.”

“Why didn’t you tell me before?” asked Helen, reproachfully.

“Because you could have done me no good, my dear child.”

“Let me help you to the bed. Now you must lie down, and try to rest. I
suppose you have worked just as usual, too, you imprudent Martha.”

“I can’t afford to lie still, you know.”

“You can afford to lie still better than to ruin your health.”

By this time Martha was lying on the bed.

“If you will pass me my work, Helen, I think I can sew while I am lying
down.”

“No, Martha,” said Helen, shaking her head; “I shall not allow it. You
are wholly unfit for work. You must have a good long rest.”

“But, Helen——”

“I know what you would say,—that you can’t afford to lie still. Just as
if you had no friends, you unreasonable child. For a week to come, you
must not touch your needle. During that time I will bring in your meals
to you.”

“But, Helen——”

“Now don’t be perverse, Martha. Papa says I am a tyrant, and I mean to
be in this case. To make sure that you don’t touch your work, I shall
carry it away with me, and finish it myself.”

“But, Helen, you have your father to care for. I cannot consent to
become a burden upon you.”

“Are you aware, Martha, how rich I am? For some weeks past, I have spent
scarcely more than half my income. You see, therefore, that I am
abundantly able to do what little I propose. But I sha’n’t allow you to
talk any more. Try to go to sleep, and I will come in pretty soon. Mind
I find you better.”

Helen left the room with the work in her hand. Martha ceased her
opposition. She felt that the time had come when labor was no longer
possible. She must have rest. How grateful the thought that, for a week,
she should be free from the drudgery of the needle,—that her busy
fingers might be folded in idleness, without the troubled thought that
her bread depended upon her exertions. She lay back, and a sense of
delicious rest came to her. She did not try to look beyond the week of
rest. That seemed a long and blissful eternity. She was almost too weary
to think. The sharp pain became less poignant, and at last she fell
asleep. She slept for three hours, and, when she woke, it was to see the
kind face of Helen bending over her.

“How do you feel now, Martha?”

“Better, much better.”

“Have you slept well?”

“Yes, I have slept nearly all the time since you were in? How long is
that?”

“I came in at eleven. It is now nearly three.”

“Is it so long?”

“I thought you must be hungry, Martha, so I have brought in some
chicken-broth for you. I hope you will like it.”

“Some chicken-broth? O Helen, I am afraid you have made it on purpose
for me.”

“Well, and if I have?”

“I can’t bear to think I am making you so much trouble.”

“Then I will relieve you by saying that I didn’t make it expressly for
you. Papa and I had it for dinner, and papa seemed to relish it
amazingly. I don’t know when he has eaten so hearty a dinner.”

“I am glad of that. I think I shall like it, too. The smell of it quite
revives me. I will get up immediately.”

“No, you shall stay where you are. Wait a moment and I will bring back a
pillow from our room. Then I can prop you up in bed, and you shall eat
in bed as the French do. Really, Martha, you are getting to be quite a
fashionable lady.”

Martha’s sickness had been the result in part of a lack of proper food.
The chicken-broth was relished as much as Helen could desire.

“I knew you would like it, Martha. Why, you are beginning to look better
already.”

“I think I shall be able to go to work to-morrow.”

“Not to-morrow, nor this week. It will take you at least a week to
recover.”

“But, Helen——”

“That is the third time you have said ‘But, Helen.’ Do you know, you
unreasonable creature, that I allow no disobedience? I have undertaken
to cure you, and I mustn’t have you interfering.”

“But it will not take a week for me to get well.”

“Don’t tell me that. I know the meaning of those pale cheeks. I ought to
have noticed them before. In a few days, when you are strong enough, we
will all take an excursion together, that is, papa and you and I, and
perhaps Herbert—I mean Mr. Coleman—will go too. I want to see a little
color in those cheeks.”

“How kind you are, Helen!” said Martha, gratefully.

“Wouldn’t you be as kind to me, if I were sick instead of you? tell me
that, Martha?”

“Yes, I hope I should.”

“Then you see there is no reason for thanking me. I dare say I shall
take a fancy to fall sick some day when you are quite well, and call you
in to take care of me. I warn you beforehand that I shall make a
dreadfully cross patient.”

Martha smiled. There was something contagious in Helen’s light heart and
exuberance of cheerfulness. The world seemed a great deal brighter to
her than it had done a few hours before.

“Now, Martha, as it must be dreadfully tiresome lying there staring at
that white-washed wall, I will tell you what I am going to do. I was
passing a circulating library just now, when I thought I would run in
and get something to read to you. Shall you like it?”

“Very much. It is a long time since I have had a chance to read
anything.”

“It will interest me, too. If you feel like it, I will sit down, and
commence it now.”

“I wish you would.”

Helen drew a chair up to the bedside and began to read.

The book was a work of fiction, the heroine one who had to struggle with
life very much as they had done. It was the work of a superior writer,
and written with a charm of style that made it additionally attractive.

Helen read fifty pages, when the approach of evening made it necessary
for her to pause.

“I will come in to-morrow morning, and read a little while,” she said.
“Good night, Martha. I suppose I must be getting ready for the theatre.”

It was on this evening that Mr. Sharp had the memorable interview with
Lewis Rand, which resulted in restoring to Helen and her father a
magnificent fortune.



                              CHAPTER XL.
                         UNCLE ZEBINA’S OFFER.


Helen and the young artist, who roomed opposite, remained fast friends.
From the evening when, by a fortunate chance, he was enabled to defend
her from insult he established himself as her evening escort from the
theatre. These daily walks enabled each better to understand the other.
They became mutual confidants. Helen indulged in sanguine anticipations
of the success of her father’s invention,—anticipations in which the
young man’s practical sense could not permit him to join, yet he was so
careful of Helen’s feelings, that he never, by a word, sought to
undermine her perfect trust in her father’s ability to achieve success.

Herbert, too, had his dreams of fame and fortune. He was an enthusiastic
lover of his art. No future seemed so bright to him as that in which he
figured himself an artist, achieving fame by his works. Others might
become generals, judges, statesmen; he desired nothing better than to be
admitted into the confidence of Nature, and to become her interpreter.

Many were the pleasant conversations on art which he held with Helen.
She looked up to him with affectionate reverence, and believed in him
fully. The compact into which they had entered, to regard each other as
brother and sister, had been faithfully kept. Not seldom Herbert was an
invited guest at Mr. Ford’s table. Helen presided on such occasions with
proud delight, and with an assumption of matronly dignity, which lent
her new charms in the eyes of her father and the young artist, who felt
his isolation relieved by admittance to the humble home of the inventor.

But of late Helen perceived with some concern, not unmingled with
surprise, that Herbert had grown less social and communicative. A shadow
seemed to rest upon his features. She tried in gentle ways to lure him
on to talk of himself, but without success. Something was evidently
troubling him, and she was anxious to learn what it was.

She was saved the trouble of inquiring, for the young artist finally
spoke himself. It was on the evening of the same day that Margaret was
taken sick.

“My little sister,” said Herbert, “you have perhaps observed a change in
me within a few days.”

“Yes, Herbert; I have been afraid that you were sick or in trouble, and
I wanted to ask you what it was.”

“I _am_ sick, Helen, sick at heart; I believe disappointment is harder
to bear than physical pain, especially when, as in my case, it is the
disappointment of a long-cherished hope. You know how often I have
talked to you about art, and how I longed to achieve name and fame as an
artist.”

“Yes, Herbert, you surely have not changed your mind.”

“Never!” said the young man, fervently. “Never has art appeared to me so
divinely beautiful as now, when I fear I must renounce it. Never has my
longing to attain its coveted rewards been stronger. And to think I must
give it all up after the brief dream of enjoyment in which I have
indulged,—this is, indeed, hard.”

“But why,” said Helen, puzzled; “why, if you still love it as much as
ever, do you renounce it?”

“My little sister,” said the artist, sadly, “it is money that rules the
world. Before its sway we must all bow, willing or unwilling. It is the
want of money that drives me to abandon that which is the chief joy of
my life.”

“But, Herbert, can’t you sell your pictures?”

“In art it is a crime to be a young man. If I were only well known! But
I look too much like a boy. Don’t think,” he added, hastily, “that I
consider this the only impediment to my success. I have doubtless much,
very much, to learn. There is great room for improvement, and if I could
I should be content to work on for years without selling a picture,
striving only to improve myself, not achieving, but learning to achieve.
Yet I have seen paintings sold for generous sums, on account of the
artist’s name, no better than mine.”

“I am sure your ‘Country Farm-house’ is a beautiful painting,” said
Helen, enthusiastically. “There must be a great many that would like to
buy it.”

Herbert smiled bitterly.

“I tried to sell it, yesterday, to a dealer. He received me coldly, and
after inquiring what else I had painted declined to buy it on any terms.
Another offered me ten dollars, a little more than the cost of the
frame. I had the curiosity to inquire the price of another painting
which he had for sale, which I should certainly not admit to be superior
to my own, and was told that it was one hundred and fifty dollars. One
hundred and fifty dollars! if I could only realize that sum for mine, it
would enable me to work six months longer. But wishes are cheap.
Yesterday I decided to give up all my dreams of art, and go back to my
country home.”

“O Herbert, what a pity!”

“Just as I had come to this conclusion I received a letter from an uncle
of mine in my native town, which confirmed my resolution. He keeps a
country store, partly grocery, partly dry goods, and wants an assistant.
He writes that, so far as he can learn, I don’t find painting very
profitable,—but hold, I will read you the letter.”

Pausing before a shop window, Herbert took from his pocket a letter
inclosed in a coarse yellow envelope, and read it as follows:—

    “DEAR NEPHEW,—

    “I am in good health, and hope you are enjoying the same blessing.
    Your folks are pretty smart. Your father sold his yearling calf
    last week, and got a pretty good price for it. I expect you are
    not making much money by your painting. I always thought it a
    foolish piece of business letting you go into such an uncertain
    trade, and so I told brother, but he wouldn’t listen to me, though
    I expect now he is beginning to think about as I do. If it had
    been house painting now, there’d have been some sense in that.
    There’s Josiah Watson is making his two dollars and a half a day
    straight along, and I don’t believe you’re making a quarter of
    that. (’He’s right there,’ interpolated Herbert.) Now I’m going to
    make you an offer, and if you’re wise you’ll accept it. I’m
    getting old, and I find my business increasing. I need help in the
    store, and I’d rather give the situation to one that’s kin to me
    than to a stranger, especially as I can trust you, and may be I
    might get deceived in another. I’m willing to pay thirty-five
    dollars a month, and more when you’ve got a little used to things,
    so you can move round handy. I shall want you to begin work the
    first of next month. That’ll give you a fortnight to settle up
    your painting business in the city.

    “Now, nephew Herbert, I’ve made you a fair offer, and you’ll do
    well to accept it. Your father thinks as I do about it; and the
    folks, I know, will like to have you at home again. I don’t want
    to make no promises, but bimeby I may find myself obliged to take
    a partner, and of course, if you give satisfaction, as I’ve no
    doubt you will, I sha’n’t be very apt to go out of the family. I
    shall want to hear from you as soon as you have made up your mind.
    Your aunt Desire sends her love, and hopes you will come. She
    would like to have you bring her a new pair of spectacles from the
    city. Her old pair got broken the other day (your cousin Mary
    stepped on them), and she’s pestered about seeing.

                                                 “Your uncle,
                                                       “ZEBINA PRATT.”

“A brilliant offer, isn’t it?” said the young artist. “I am invited to
give up all my high aspirations,—all my dreams of artistic eminence,—and
take my place behind the counter of a country-store, to weigh out tea
and sugar for Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones, and chaffer with Mrs. Thompson
about the extra half cent on a yard of calico. And all for thirty-five
dollars a month!”

“The offer seems kindly meant,” said Helen.

“Yes, there is no doubt of that. Uncle Zebina is a worthy and
kind-hearted man. I have no doubt he thinks he is consulting my best
interests in making me such a proposal. And doubtless he is, so far as
his views of life are concerned. I should be pretty sure to be admitted
into partnership after a while, and eventually to succeed my uncle in
business. I dare say I should become a thrifty trader, be elected
selectman, assessor, town clerk, and perhaps in time be elected to a
seat in the legislature. That is not so bad, is it? And what has art to
offer me that will outweigh all these advantages? It will gratify my
æsthetic tastes; it will give me that which my soul craves; it will open
to me a world of beauty in which I can revel; but, alas! it will not
give me bread. Helen, it is bread and butter that must decide this
question. I believe I must send my uncle an affirmative answer. I must
bid farewell to art, and sell soap and sugar. What do you advise?”

There was a bitterness in the young man’s tone that pained Helen.
Accustomed to think for her father, she began to think for him. What
would be best? It was not a question to be hastily decided. Bread and
butter, humble and prosaic as it is, is not to be slighted. Yet she was
convinced that Herbert would be very unhappy if transferred to his
uncle’s store.

“I don’t know what to say, Herbert,” said Helen, at length. “I want to
think it over. When do you propose to write to your uncle?”

“I can wait till day after to-morrow.”

“Then I will think it over till then. Perhaps, between us, we can think
of something that will keep you in the city. I don’t know what I should
do without you. Next to my father, I should miss you.”

“And one of my chief regrets in leaving the city would be that I must
leave behind my little sister,” said the young artist, affectionately.

“Thank you, Herbert; goodnight!”

“Good night, Helen.”



                              CHAPTER XLI.
              MR. SHARP MAKES AN IMPORTANT COMMUNICATION.


Helen was engaged in rinsing up the breakfast dishes, thinking busily
meantime what could be done for Herbert, when a gentle tap called her to
the door. Wondering a little at so early a call, she looked up to meet
the smiling face of Mr. Sharp.

“Good morning, Mr. Sharp,” she said, politely. “Won’t you come in and
see papa?”

“Thank you, my dear Miss Ford; at the risk of interrupting your
respected father in his valuable scientific labors I will yet do so. I
am quite aware that I have called at an unseasonable hour. I should not
have ventured to do it, but that I am summoned hither by business of an
important character—business, which I may venture to hope, will make me
welcome.”

“You are welcome, sir; we are always glad to see one who has shown
himself a friend.”

“Thank you, my dear Miss Ford. Such a testimony is most grateful to my
feelings, the more so that I feel, so far as my intentions are
concerned, it is not wholly undeserved.”

“Papa, Mr. Sharp is here,” said Helen, going up to her father, and
laying her hand lightly upon his shoulder.

Rousing at the touch, Mr. Ford advanced and welcomed the lawyer
cordially.

“I was just apologizing to your charming daughter for calling so early,”
said Mr. Sharp.

“There is no occasion for that,” said Mr. Ford, courteously. “We don’t
stand on ceremony with our friends.”

“I hope you will ever include me in that number. But my call this
morning is of a business character.”

“Shall I leave the room, papa?”

“No, my dear, I can have no business in which you are not equally
interested.”

“By no means, my dear Miss Ford; I particularly desire that you should
be present. Mr. Ford, I called on your cousin Lewis last evening.”

“And I suppose he renewed his offer,” said Mr. Ford, hastily. “Tell him
from me that I shall accept no pittance at his hands. The only
proposition to which I shall listen is one that will surrender to me
half of my father’s estate.”

“He has consented to such a surrender,” said Mr. Sharp.

“My cousin has consented to yield me one half the estate!” exclaimed Mr.
Ford, overwhelmed with astonishment.

Helen drew near, and listened intently, half believing she was dreaming.

“Read this,” said the lawyer, showing the document he had extorted from
the fears of Lewis Rand.

“Can this be genuine?”

“There can be no doubt of that. Mr. Rand signed it in my presence.”

“But I cannot account for such a change in him.”

“I can,” said Mr. Sharp, smiling. “Indeed, I may say that it is entirely
owing to my persuasions that the change is due.”

“You have, indeed, been a friend,” said Mr. Ford, grasping his hand,
warmly; “but I am still at a loss——”

“To understand the secret of my influence?”

“Yes.”

“I will not conceal from you that your cousin acted very much against
his will; but I employed an argument which he found it impossible to
resist.”

“And that was——”

“A police officer, and a warrant for his arrest.”

“Have you arrested Lewis?”

“No, I only used these _in terrorem_. Threatening breaks no bones, but
sometimes serves a useful purpose, as in this case. Not to keep you in
suspense, however, a singular and unexpected chance threw in my way the
proofs of your cousin’s complicity in a forged will by which he holds
the estate. Acting as your unauthorized agent, yet feeling sure that you
would give me a warrant for my proceedings, I brought these to bear upon
him, but agreed in your name to stay further proceedings against him if
he would quietly yield to you one half of all the property left by your
late father. Was I right in making this agreement?”

“Quite so. I have no desire to subject my cousin to any legal penalties.
It is enough that he has done me tardy justice. But how shall I thank
you, Mr. Sharp, for your friendly and disinterested service?”

“My dear Mr. Ford,” said Mr. Sharp, with effusion, “I feel abundantly
repaid in having been the humble agent of restoring to you and my
charming young friend, Miss Helen, that property which rightfully
belongs to you. Yet, if you desire to acknowledge in any way the
obligation, I will suggest that you will probably require a man of
business, to undertake the charge of your large property. I believe I am
right in asserting that you will not desire so far to interrupt your
scientific pursuits, for the petty details of business, to which an
inferior capacity can equally well attend. Should you so far honor me
with your confidence, as to intrust that business to my charge, to
select me, in fact, as your lawyer and man of business, I trust I shall
do all that is possible to any one to promote your interests.”

“Mr. Sharp,” said Mr. Ford, “if you will undertake that office, I shall
regard it as a fresh kindness on your part. You are well aware that I
have little business capacity. The accession of wealth I shall not
permit materially to interfere with my scientific pursuits. Indeed, it
is partly because it will facilitate them, that I am thankful for this
change in my circumstances. Let me add, that I shall desire to
compensate your services liberally.”

“Thank you,” said Mr. Sharp, with feeling; “I feel grateful for this
mark of your confidence. I will not hesitate even to accept the
compensation to which you so delicately allude, and trust I shall be
able to show you that I am sensible of the great privilege of being
admitted to your friendship.”

“Mr. Sharp,” said Helen, thoughtfully, “can you give me any idea of the
value of the property which has come to papa?”

“I cannot, of course, give you any definite statement, my dear Miss
Ford. From investigations I have made, however, I can assure you that it
will exceed half a million dollars.”

“I am _so_ glad,” exclaimed Helen, looking quite radiant.

“Why, Helen,”, said her father, roused into surprise; “I had no idea you
were grown so fond of money!”

“It is because of the good we can do with so much, papa. Indeed, I want
to dispose of some at once.”

“Speak, Helen. It must be a large favor that I would not grant you.”

“But this is a hundred and fifty dollars, papa.”

“Half an hour since that would have seemed a large sum to me, Helen;
now, I believe I can afford it. Tell me what use you wish to make of
it.”

“You know Herbert Coleman, papa, the young artist opposite.”

“A very gentlemanly young man. Well, my dear?”

“He is in great trouble. His money is exhausted, and because he is so
young and unknown, he cannot sell his picture. He has had an offer from
his uncle to go into a country store to sell groceries, and fears he
must abandon art and accept this offer, for want of money to keep him
here in New York. He told me last evening that if he could only sell his
picture—you have seen it, papa: the ‘Country Farm-house,’ you know—for a
hundred and fifty dollars, he could remain in the city six months
longer.”

“And you want me to buy the picture, Helen?”

“Yes, papa.”

“Very well, but I have not so much ready money. I do not understand such
things. Mr. Sharp will know whether there will be any delay in coming
into possession of this property.”

“Very little, sir, since there is no opposition to fear from the
opposite party. In the course of a few days——”

“But he has got to decide to-day,” said Helen.

“If he is sure of a sale, however, he will wait for the money,”
suggested the lawyer.

“But there is one thing,” said Helen. “I don’t want Herbert to know just
at first that it is we who have bought his picture.”

“Leave that to me,” said Mr. Sharp. “I can tell him that I have a
commission from a friend to purchase for him, without mentioning names,
you know.”

“Yes, that will be just the thing,” said Helen, well satisfied. “Will
you go in now?”

“By all means, if you desire it.”

“And I want to go with you,” said Helen. “I want to see how delighted he
will look when he finds his picture is bought. Only please don’t tell
him just yet that we are rich, papa and I.”

“Be assured, my dear Miss Ford, I will respect your wishes,” said Mr.
Sharp, bowing. “Indeed, I honor you for your kind and generous desire to
assist your struggling friends.”

“I think, Mr. Sharp,” said Mr. Ford, quietly, “that I will authorize you
to pay Mr. Coleman two hundred dollars for his picture, and to order of
him another at the same price, the subject to be entirely of his own
selection. Do you approve, Helen?”

“Approve, papa? You are the dearest of all papas. You have made me very
happy.”

“My dear child,” said her father, affectionately, “I feel that I ought
to do what I can to make you happy. You have been my joy and comfort,
and latterly my support, in the days of my poverty. Henceforth, it shall
be mine to gratify you in all your reasonable desires.”

“Papa, you embolden me to ask another favor.”

“Well, Helen?”

“I will tell you by and by. Now, Mr. Sharp, let us go and see Herbert.”

“Herbert is a fortunate young man,” thought the lawyer. “He seems in
favor with both father and daughter. If Helen were a little older, who
can tell what would come of it. It will be worth my while to be polite
to the young man.”



                             CHAPTER XLII.
                           HOW YES BECAME NO.


Herbert Coleman had finished his scanty and unsatisfying breakfast, and
was seated before his easel, on which was an unfinished picture. He
gazed at it mournfully, for the conviction was deepening in his mind
that he must bid farewell to art. Chosen mistress of his affections, she
had treated him but coldly. She had admitted him to the threshold of her
domain. He was permitted to view the glories in which he must not share.
A career was opened before him, which it would have been his highest
happiness to follow,—in which he could see others making their way
successfully; but Necessity, with stern and forbidding countenance,
waved him back as with a sword.

Yes, he must bid farewell to art. At the age of twenty-one, he felt that
the happiness of his life was over. Henceforth, he must cherish in his
heart aspirations which he would never be able to realize. He must
descend from the clouds, and plod on in the prosaic way in which his
uncle, with more common tastes, had found happiness and prosperity. But
the transition from art to groceries was indeed great. Yet there seemed
no alternation. If it were possible to find employment for a part of the
day, sufficient to defray expenses reduced to the lowest amount
compatible with health, that would be preferable. But this was
uncertain, and, meanwhile, his purse was almost empty.

“I might as well accept my uncle’s offer, at once,” he said, to himself,
despondently. “Nothing is likely to turn up in twenty-four hours to
affect my decision. Come, I will write the letter now, and not mail it
till to-morrow.”

Feeling that his mind would be relieved by taking a decisive step, he
opened his desk, and, taking out a sheet of note-paper, had got as far
as “Dear Uncle,” when there was a little tap at his door. He rose, and,
opening it, discovered Helen and Mr. Sharp.

“Good morning, Helen,” he said, cheered, he knew not why, by her
expression; “I am glad to see you.”

“Herbert, you have heard me speak of Mr. Sharp, papa’s friend. He
desires to make your acquaintance.”

“I am very glad to meet you, Mr. Sharp,” said the young artist, looking
a little curiously at the perpetual white hat, whose general appearance
age had, by no means, improved.

“Thank you, Mr. Herbert,” said the lawyer, nodding pleasantly. “Excuse
my familiar use of your name, but Miss Helen has not mentioned any
other.”

“Mr. Coleman, excuse me,” said Helen, blushing a little. “How stupid I
am!”

“By no means, my dear young lady. But, Mr. Coleman, Miss Helen has told
me that you were an artist, and her commendations of one of your
pictures have excited my interest; and I have come to ask, as a favor,
that you will allow me to look at it.”

“Certainly, sir. I am afraid, however, that you will find Miss Helen’s
friendship has dulled her critical powers. This is probably the painting
to which you refer.”

In a moment of despondency, he had turned his painting of the “Country
Farm-house” to the wall. The high hopes which he had formed of its
success, and their signal failure, produced a revulsion of feeling,
which made it unpleasant for him to look at it.

“This is indeed beautiful!” exclaimed Mr. Sharp, admiringly. (In this
case he was sincere, though, had it been the merest daub, he would have
expressed equal admiration.) “Mr. Coleman, I congratulate you. There are
touches in that painting which indicate genius of a high order. I
predict that you will, ere many years, achieve a high place in the roll
of our native artists.”

Herbert smiled sadly, and glanced significantly at Helen. This praise,
coming at a time when he had resolved to cut adrift from the profession
of his love, was a source of pain rather than pleasure. He felt the more
that it would be a fatal mistake, but, nevertheless, one that seemed
inevitable.

Helen’s expression perplexed him. It was one of quiet happiness. Yet she
must know the necessity that was upon him.

“I like this painting,” continued the lawyer, “chiefly because of its
truth to nature. The highest praise I can give it is that I have seen
precisely such a farm-house. The scene is one familiar to those who know
anything of country-life. May I inquire, Mr. Coleman, whether this
painting is for sale?”

“Yes, sir,” said Herbert, brightening up a little, though he hardly
judged, from Mr. Sharp’s appearance, that he was likely to become a
patron of art. “Young artists cannot afford to keep their works on hand.
I may add, frankly, that my circumstances are such that I shall be very
glad to find a purchaser.”

“I don’t ask in my own behalf,” said Mr. Sharp. “Though I am
passionately fond of fine paintings, my means are restricted, and my
professional income will not permit me to indulge in such luxuries. But
I am authorized by one of my clients, to purchase him a painting. He
confides implicitly to my taste. May I inquire what price you set upon
this painting?”

The young artist’s face brightened up with new-born hope. Perhaps he
might be able to send a negative answer to his uncle, after all.

“Should you consider fifty dollars too large?” he said, hesitatingly,
fearing lest it might exceed Mr. Sharp’s limit.

“Fifty dollars, Mr. Coleman! You surely cannot be in earnest.”

“I am a young artist,” stammered Herbert, “and, perhaps, may have set
too high a value upon my work. You shall have it at your own price.”

“You mistake me, my young friend, if you will permit me to call you so.
I was only surprised at the lowness of your price. My friend has
authorized me to pay two hundred dollars for such a work as my taste
approves. I shall not think of offering you less for this beautiful
painting.”

“Two hundred dollars!” exclaimed Herbert, in joyful excitement. “Are you
really in earnest?”

“Most unquestionably.”

“I am very grateful to you, sir; you can’t understand how great a
service you have rendered me,” said Herbert, grasping Mr. Sharp’s hand,
and wringing it with cordial energy. “Just as you came in I was on the
point of writing a letter, accepting a proposition which would cut me
off forever from my favorite work.”

“You won’t write it, now, Herbert?” said Helen, archly.

“I shall write a different letter, Helen. Once more, Mr. Sharp, let me
thank you.”

“I do not deserve your thanks. Some day I will introduce you to the real
purchaser of the painting. Meanwhile, I have a commission for you. I am
authorized, by my friend, to order another picture at the same price.
Will you undertake it?”

“Most willingly; most gratefully.”

“The subject shall be left to your own taste and judgment.”

“I hope to deserve this generous confidence.”

“Perhaps, Herbert, you would rather go into your uncle’s store,” said
Helen, smiling happily.

“I am afraid Uncle Zebina must look elsewhere for an assistant,” said
the young artist. “I must not forget, dear Helen, that my good fortune
comes through you.”

“You have been very kind to me, Herbert. I hope I shall be able to do
more for you hereafter.”

“I regret, Mr. Coleman,” said the lawyer, “that I am unable to pay you
this morning for your painting. I hope to be able to pay you next week.”

“That will be quite satisfactory, sir.”

“Meanwhile, as one who understands the world a little better than
yourself, to suggest that, if your painting could be on exhibition a few
days,—at Goupil’s, for instance,—with the name of the artist, and the
label, ‘Sold,’ it might be of assistance to you. It will give the
impression that your works are in demand.”

“A most excellent suggestion, for which I thank you. If your friend
would be willing?”

“I undertake to engage that there will be no objection. Depend upon it,
my young friend, there is nothing succeeds so well as success.”

“You may be sure, sir, that I appreciate your friendly feeling no less
than the liberal patronage I have received through you. You have
probably determined my future.”

“That will be a source of proud satisfaction to me, Mr. Coleman,” said
the lawyer. “Let me suggest that you lose no time in making an
arrangement to exhibit your painting, as proposed. It might do no harm
to affix the price for which it was sold.”

“Thank you, sir. It is well thought of. I shall certainly adopt your
suggestion.”

“I believe I must now bid you good morning,” said the lawyer. “I have
important business on hand, and have been beguiled already into
remaining here too long. Good morning, Miss Helen. I shall take a very
early opportunity to call again upon you and your worthy father. You
will hear from me before long, Mr. Coleman, in a way that will, I trust,
prove satisfactory to you.”

Mr. Sharp bowed his way down stairs, leaving two happy hearts behind
him. He, too, was in excellent spirits. As Mr. Ford’s man of business,
he would be liberally paid, and no longer be reduced to those shifts to
which, in times past, he had been compelled to resort, for the purpose
of “getting along.”

Helen lingered a moment after the lawyer departed.

“Now to finish Uncle Zebina’s letter,” said Herbert, briskly. “It will
be a letter different from what I anticipated.”

The letter ran as follows:—

    “DEAR UNCLE ZEBINA: I thank you for your very kind offer, though I
    shall be unable to accept it. I feel that I shall be happier as an
    artist, than I could be in any other vocation. I am confident that
    you will have no difficulty in securing an assistant who will suit
    you better than I should do. Give my love to aunt Desire. Tell her
    and all my friends that I hope to see them all at Thanksgiving.

                             “Your affectionate nephew,
                                                     “HERBERT COLEMAN.

    “P. S. I have just sold a painting for two hundred dollars, and
    have an order for another at the same price.”

This letter, it may be remarked, more especially the postscript, made
quite a sensation in Herbert’s country home; and Uncle Zebina allowed
that perhaps Herbert was doing better, after all, than if he had become
a house painter.



                             CHAPTER XLIII.
                       MARTHA GREY IS SURPRISED.


Lewis Rand submitted to what was inevitable, and, as Mr. Sharp
predicted, interposed no obstacles in the way of a division of the
property. He chose to retain in his own share the house and furniture of
the late Mr. Rand, foreseeing that the house would rise annually in
value. The remainder of the property consisted partly of real estate,
but mainly of stocks and bonds. This rendered the division easy. At the
end of ten days, Mr. Sharp was in a situation to deliver to his client
the title to three houses situated in different parts of the city, and a
quarter of a million in bank and railway shares.

Until matters were concluded, Helen desired that the fact of their good
fortune should be kept strictly private. Neither Martha nor Herbert
suspected that their humble neighbors had fallen heirs to a princely
fortune.

One of the three houses referred to was situated in Twenty-second
Street. It was nearly new, and thoroughly furnished. Fortunately, it had
just been vacated by a family on the point of visiting Europe for a
series of years. By Mr. Sharp’s advice, negotiations for the purchase of
the furniture were entered into and satisfactorily completed. To this
house Helen and her father proposed to remove.

Thanks to Helen’s good care, and the rest which she so much needed,
Martha Grey had quite recovered from the attack brought on by excessive
labor. She was anxious to resume work, but Helen had succeeded in
putting her off.

“I shall certainly begin to-morrow,” said Martha, one evening. “I cannot
consent longer to remain a burden upon you.”

“But if I were rich,” said Helen, with a smile.

“That would be different.”

“Well, Martha, I may become rich some day.”

“I hope you will, my dear child.”

“But you don’t expect it. Yet stranger things have happened. Now,
Martha, I have a promise to exact of you. When I am rich, will you come
and live with me?”

Martha smiled.

“Yes, Helen, _when_ you are rich, I will come and live with you.”

“Mind you don’t forget your promise. I may remind you of it some day.”

“Poor child!” thought Martha. “She means, when her father has completed
his invention. I am afraid it will be a long time before that will bring
her a fortune.”

The next morning, Martha was sitting in her little rocking-chair, busy
at her sewing, when Helen came in with a smile.

“Put down that sewing directly, Martha,” she said. “I have another plan
for to-day.”

“But, my dear child, I must disobey you this time. It is quite time that
I was again at work.”

“You can put off your sewing for a couple of hours. Mr. Sharp has been
kind enough to invite you and papa and myself to take a ride.”

“He is very kind,” said Martha. “I don’t know why he should think of
me.”

“Perhaps he thought it would do you good. He knew you had been sick.”

“But I have nothing fit to wear.”

“Am I very richly dressed?”

“No, but——”

“No objections, Martha. Get your bonnet and shawl directly.”

It was a beautiful morning,—an Indian summer day,—the air balmy and
sweet as a day in early June. The seamstress yielded not unwillingly to
the solicitations of Helen, and was quickly dressed for the drive.

Mr. Sharp was waiting below with a carriage.

“Good morning, Miss Grey,” he said, with his usual suavity; “I am truly
glad to see that you have recovered from your illness. You are a little
pale yet, but I hope we shall succeed in bringing back the roses to your
cheek.”

“I am very much obliged to you for kindly remembering me, Mr. Sharp,”
said Martha. “It is a charming day. I assure you I shall enjoy the
drive.”

“It seems to me,” thought M’lle Fanchette, looking from her window,
“that the Fords are growing extravagant. Such airs as that child puts
on, merely because she sings in a theatre! and bless my soul, there’s
the seamstress, Martha Grey, too! She’d better be at work. There’s the
lawyer, too. It can’t be possible he is paying attentions to Helen Ford.
No, she’s too young for that. Or is it Martha Grey? If it’s she, I don’t
admire his taste, that’s all. She is most an old woman, and never had
any beauty to boast of. (Martha was three years younger than M’lle
Fanchette.) Well, well, its a queer world. That Helen may lose her
situation by and by,—I’m sure, I don’t think much of her singing,—and
then we sha’n’t have such gay doings.”

By this time the carriage had driven away, and M’lle Fanchette prepared
to go to her shop.

Our party did not at once drive to Twenty-second street, but farther up
on the island, through that portion of the city, then wholly unsettled,
which is now occupied by the Central Park. It was a charming morning.
Helen was in the best of spirits, and even Mr. Ford forgot, for the
time, his invention, and drank in the sweet influences of the day. To
Martha, confined in her room for so long, whose only prospect had been
the brick wall opposite, it seemed like a dream of Paradise. Memories of
her childhood came back to her, and her eyes involuntarily filled with
tears as she thought of that sweet, unforgotten time. Mr. Sharp was in
excellent spirits, livelier, and more affable even than usual, and kept
up the spirits of the party by his jocular remarks.

At length the carriage stopped.

The driver jumped from his seat, and threw open the door of the
carriage.

“We haven’t got home?” said Martha, a little bewildered.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” said Helen; “Mr. Sharp has invited us to
look over a house which he has just secured for some friends of his.”

“What a handsome house!” said Martha. “They must be rich people.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Sharp, with an incomprehensible smile, “I assure you
that they are quite rich.”

“They wouldn’t object to our visit?” asked Martha, timidly.

“O no, not at all. In fact they gave me permission to bring you here.”

By this time they had entered the hall, and went in first to inspect the
parlors. These were furnished in the style appropriate to such a house.
To Martha, who had never before entered a house of such pretensions, it
seemed very magnificent, and even palatial.

After they had examined the rooms on the lower floor they went up
stairs. The chambers were furnished with equal taste. Helen felt that it
would take some time to get accustomed to such a style of living after
her humble lodgings at Mother Morton’s.

“I like this room very much,” said Martha. It was a broad, spacious
chamber with a sunny aspect, very pleasant and home-like in its
appearance.

“You would be willing to give up your room at Mrs. Morton’s if you could
have this?” inquired Helen.

“If I could have as agreeable neighbors,” said Martha, with a smile.

“Very well,” said Helen, “I will take you at your word. You shall occupy
this room.”

“What do you mean, Helen?” asked Martha, in surprise.

“I mean that it only depends upon your own consent to exchange your
present room for this.”

“I don’t understand,” said Martha, bewildered.

“Then I will explain. The mistress of this house, who is a friend of Mr.
Sharp, is desirous of securing a companion, and will take you if you
will come.”

“Perhaps she may not like me.”

“I think there is no doubt on that point; do you papa?”

“No, I believe not,” said Mr. Ford.

“Then you will consent, Martha. You will be secure against want, and
will have every comfort provided you.”

“It will be great good fortune for me,” said Martha. “But I cannot bear
the thought of being separated from you, Helen.”

“You may learn to like the lady I refer to as well as me.”

“Never!” said Martha, with emphasis.

“Make no rash promises,” said Helen, “I shall be very much disappointed
if you do not.”

“If I could see this lady.”

“So you shall. You will find her in the next room.”

More mystified than ever, Martha accompanied Helen into the next room.
There was a large pier glass extending from floor to ceiling. Helen led
the seamstress up to it, and standing beside her said, “There, Martha,
there is the lady who invites you to be her companion.”

“But I see only yourself.”

“Well, and I am the one,” said Helen, smiling.

Then Helen explained to her astonished and delighted auditor the great
change that had taken place in her circumstances. No longer obliged to
toil for her daily bread, she would henceforth live in affluence.

“God has been very good to us, Martha,” she said, in conclusion. “I hope
we shall not forget, in the happiness of the present, the poverty of the
past. I hope we shall use His gift as He would have us.”

“Dear Helen, I am sure you will.”

“And you will come and live with me? I should be very lonely in this
large house without a friend to lean upon. Dear Martha, it shall not be
my fault if your future is not as sunny as your past has been dark.”

“How much happiness I shall owe you!” said Martha, with grateful tears.

“Hush, Martha,” said Helen, softly. “Do not thank me, for my happiness
will be no less.”

That evening the household at Mother Morton’s was electrified by the
announcement that Helen Ford had turned out a great heiress, and that
Martha Grey was going to live with her. On the morrow Helen and her
father transferred their home from their humble lodgings to
Twenty-second Street.

“If I had only known,” thought M’lle Fanchette, regretfully, “I might
have been in that sickly Martha Grey’s place. But who could ever have
imagined that Helen Ford would turn out a rich woman? Well, it’s too
late now!”

And M’lle Fanchette had to content herself with this philosophical
reflection.



                             CHAPTER XLIV.
                    HELEN TAKES LEAVE OF THE STAGE.


The next morning Helen, on reaching the theatre, sought the presence of
Mr. Bowers.

The manager was seated in his office, as usual. He nodded carelessly as
Helen entered, but did not invite her to be seated.

“Well, Miss Ford,” he said, after a while. “What can I do for you, this
morning?”

“I should like to have you release me from my engagement, if you please,
Mr. Bowers.”

“Release you from your engagement!” ejaculated the astonished manager.
Then, in a tone of indignation, “I suppose you have had a larger offer
elsewhere.”

“No, sir.”

“What can be your motive, then? I beg you to understand, Miss Ford, that
a contract is a contract, and must be kept. Of course your place could
be supplied, but it is annoying to make a change in the middle of the
season.”

This last remark was thrown in, lest Helen should presume upon her value
to the establishment to demand a higher salary. Indeed, the manager
suspected that this was her object, and wished to anticipate her.

“I was afraid it might inconvenience you,” said Helen, gently; “and am
willing, in requital, to refund the whole amount of wages that I have
received from you.”

Mr. Bowers stared at Helen in undisguised astonishment. She must have
had a very brilliant offer to warrant her in making such a proposal.

“Did I understand that you have had no other engagement offered you?” he
inquired, abruptly.

“No, sir. I do not wish to sing any more in public.”

“It will pay you better than anything else you can do.”

“I ought to explain that I have had a fortune left me, or rather papa
has, and under our new circumstances it would be inconvenient for me to
come to the theatre every evening.”

“Indeed, Miss Ford!” said Mr. Bowers, his tone changing. “I congratulate
you. I hope, for your sake, it is a large fortune.”

“Mr. Sharp tells me that it will be a few hundred thousand dollars,”
said Helen, simply, without the least trace of exultation in her tone.

“A few hundred thousand dollars!” exclaimed Mr. Bowers, in profound
astonishment. “Pray, take a seat, my dear Miss Ford. Hang my stupidity,
why didn’t I think to offer you one before?”

And Mr. Bowers bustled about, and offered Helen a seat with as much
deference as if she were a duchess. It was easy to see that she had
risen immeasurably in his estimation.

“Did the property come from a relation?” he asked.

“Yes, sir; from my grandfather.”

“Was his name the same with yours, Miss Ford?”

“No, sir. His name was Rand.”

“Not the late Gerald Rand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Why he was one of our most substantial citizens—lived on Fifth Avenue.
And to think I should have had his granddaughter singing in my theatre!
Well, wonders will never cease.”

“If it wouldn’t inconvenience you too much to release me,” said Helen,
returning to her petition; “I like to be with papa in the evening. He is
lonely without me.”

“By all means, Miss Ford, I would oblige you even were the inconvenience
ten times as great,” said Mr. Bowers, obsequiously.

“Thank you, sir; you are very kind. I shall be willing to sing for you
the rest of the week, so as to give you time to find some one to fill my
place.”

“Will you?” asked the manager, eagerly, seeing at once how he might turn
Helen’s accession of fortune to profitable account; “you will indeed
confer a great favor upon me by so doing. It will take me some time to
fill your place, and I cannot hope to obtain a substitute who will
become such a favorite with the public.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Helen, rising to go. “Then I will go to
rehearsal.”

“Thank you rather, my dear Miss Ford,” said the manager, rising from his
seat and opening the door for her. “I shall not forget your kindness.”

Helen could not help wondering a little at the change in the manager’s
manner, and, unversed as she was in the ways of the world, she could not
help seeing that it was the result of her change of circumstances.

Meanwhile the manager was not idle. The morning papers contained the
following paragraph, the authorship of which may at least be suspected.

    ROMANCE IN REAL LIFE. We understand that Miss Helen Ford, the
    young vocalist whose charming melodies have made her such a
    popular favorite, has just come into possession of a splendid
    fortune, inherited from her grandfather, Gerald Rand, Esq., the
    well-known capitalist, whose death was recently noticed in our
    columns. Miss Ford has kindly agreed to sing as usual through the
    present week, when she will leave the stage forever.

The effect of this paragraph may be imagined. That evening hundreds were
turned away from the theatre, which was crowded to its utmost capacity.
Never had such an audience been seen within its walls. When Helen
appeared on the stage, quite unaware of the paragraph which had produced
this effect, she was received with long-continued applause. The vast
audience seemed inspired with a sudden enthusiasm.

Helen was surprised, but did not lose her self-possession. She sang with
her usual sweetness, and was immediately encored. Again she sang, and
this time was called before the curtain. Several bouquets were thrown
her, which she picked up, and hastily withdrew.

If Helen had been older, she would have understood the meaning of this
ovation. As it was, she only wondered.

Behind the curtain she met the manager, smiling, and rubbing his hands
in evident glee.

“My dear Miss Ford,” he said, “this is indeed a triumph.”

“The house is very full,” said Helen.

“And hundreds turned away; never was such a house seen.”

“I am very glad of it,” said Helen.

“So am I; let me see, this is Tuesday evening. Friday you shall have a
benefit. One third of the receipts. It is only fair, since you have
drawn this immense audience.”

Helen would have declined the offer, but for a sudden thought. When she
first became connected with the theatre she noticed a thin fragile girl,
who danced between the plays. The exertion was evidently too great for
her, for she was often seized with a violent fit of coughing after
withdrawing from the stage. For a fortnight Helen had missed her. On
inquiry, she learned that Alice (this was her name) was sick. “Poor
girl,” added the prompter, who was her informant, “it is a great
misfortune, for she has an invalid sister who is dependent upon her for
support. I am afraid she won’t get along very well, for her salary was
small, and now it is cut off altogether.”

It occurred to Helen that she could give the proceeds of her benefit to
Alice. She accordingly thanked Mr. Bowers, and accepted his proposal.

The week was a series of triumphs. Every evening the doors of the
theatre were besieged, and every evening hundreds were turned away.

Friday evening,—the evening of her benefit,—Helen found the house
fuller, if possible, than before, the manager had taken the opportunity,
in consequence of the great demand for seats, to raise temporarily the
price of admission. As he anticipated, this did not in the least
diminish the throngs who crowded for admittance.

On Saturday morning he handed Helen a check for five hundred dollars, as
her share of the proceeds.

Helen’s eyes sparkled with joy, as she thought of the happiness which
this sum would bring to the poor ballet girl.

She lost no time in seeking her out.

It was indeed a poor place, Helen would have been afraid of venturing
into such a locality if she had not been accompanied by Herbert Coleman.

Up a rickety staircase she climbed, and was shown, by an untidy woman,
into a room wholly destitute of comforts, where on a pallet reclined
Alice and her sister, both sick.

“Is that you, Miss Ford?” asked Alice, her face lighting up. “How very
kind you are to come and see me!”

“I am very sorry to find you so sick,” said Helen.

“I don’t think I am very sick,” said Alice. “But this is but a poor
place, and I cannot get any one to take care of my sister Jennie. She
has been an invalid for years.”

“There are better times in store,” said Helen, cheerfully, “First we
must have you moved to a better room. Next you must have a nurse.”

“But,” said Alice, hesitatingly, “we are very poor. I never had anything
but my salary to depend upon, and now that is cut off.”

Helen stooped and whispered a few words in her ear.

“Five hundred dollars!” repeated Alice, in astonishment, “that is a
fortune. Who has been so generous?”

“Never mind!” said Helen, smiling. “You see, then, that you are not so
poor as you imagined. Now do you think, if I sent a carriage for you in
the course of the afternoon, you can move?”

“Yes,” said Alice, in a tone of deep thankfulness. “No one can tell how
much I detest this horrible place. I think it will make me well only to
move.”

Over the wasted face of her sister there stole an expression of deep and
thankful joy.

“I think you are an angel,” she said, looking up into Helen’s beautiful
face, radiant with sympathy.

Helen blushed.

“How pleasant it is to be able to make others happy!” she said, softly,
to Herbert.

“Do you know, Helen,” said the young artist, “I am half tempted to agree
with your patient there.”

“Brother Herbert,” said Helen, quickly, “you must not speak so. I am
only doing what you would do in my place. I don’t like to be praised for
only doing what is pleasant to me.”

Before night Alice and her sister were installed in a
comfortably-furnished room, with a nurse in attendance, who was directed
to do whatever was needful for the comfort and relief of her patients.



                              CHAPTER XLV.
                              TO CONCLUDE.


Four years slipped by.

Let us note, briefly, the changes which they brought, and then farewell!

To Helen they were years of quiet happiness, of steady improvement.
There were many deficiencies in her education to be made up. With the
aid of private instructors, the best of their kind, she strove earnestly
to acquire the knowledge for which she had long thirsted. Her father was
unwilling to send her away to school, since this must deprive him of her
society, on which he had learned to depend. Nor was Helen less unwilling
to leave the father who had called forth from her so rare and beautiful
a devotion. Year by year her mind has expanded, while her rare
loveliness has, if possible, been enhanced. Helen, at nineteen, is even
more charming than at fifteen.

There are some who have found this out, and Helen has had repeated
offers of marriage. All these she has gently but firmly refused. Not one
has succeeded in touching her heart.

Among her suitors was one whom she treated with less ceremony. A young
man, who had nearly run through a large fortune, paid assiduous court to
Helen, whom he had met in society, and in spite of her coldness made a
declaration of love.

Helen looked up from the carpet on which her eyes had been fixed, and
said, quietly, “Do you remember, Mr. Grover, where we first met?”

“At Mrs. Grosvenor’s party,” answered the young man, somewhat surprised.

“You are mistaken. That was only three months since. Our first meeting
dates back four years.”

“Thank you for remembering it. Yet I can hardly believe you correct.
Your face is not one to be forgotten. Are you quite sure?”

“Yes, I remember you perfectly.”

There was something in Helen’s manner which the young man could not
quite fathom. It made him uneasy, for Helen’s grave tone rendered it
doubtful whether the recollection was a pleasant one.

“May I ask where, and under what circumstances, we met?” he inquired.

“I was, at that time, singing at the —— Theatre,” returned Helen,
composedly. “You followed me in the street when on my return home, and
sought to force your company upon me. But for the opportune arrival of a
friend, I should have been obliged to submit to the insult.”

“Good heavens!” ejaculated Albert Grover, “are you the young singer who
made such a sensation? I cannot understand it.”

“Fortunes have changed with me,” said Helen. “Otherwise, I can well
understand that you would never have honored me with your proposal of
this morning. I think, Mr. Grover, you will hardly require any other
answer.”

She left the room with dignity, leaving her suitor crestfallen, and
entirely satisfied of the hopelessness of his suit.

Meanwhile, where was Herbert Coleman?

Shortly after Mr. Ford’s accession to fortune, he sent for the young
artist at Helen’s instigation, and questioned him delicately as to his
plans and wishes. Herbert acknowledged frankly his conviction, that a
residence in Italy, the cradle of art, would be of inestimable advantage
to him in his professional career.

“I have thought of that,” said Mr. Ford, “and as Providence has blessed
me with abundant means I have determined to enable you to gratify your
desire. I do not wish to compromise your independence, and therefore I
will not offer to give you the requisite sum. I should be glad to have
copies of some of the masterpieces of Italian art. I am willing to
invest five thousand dollars in this way. I will give you the
commission. This will enable you to spend three years abroad. Here is a
check for a thousand dollars. The balance I authorize you to draw upon
me for as you need it.”

“Sir,” said Herbert, with joyful emotion, “your generosity overwhelms
me. I cannot express to you how happy you have made me. I hope that I
shall prove deserving of such kindness.”

“You must thank Helen,” said Mr. Ford. “She suggested this to me; though
I think she will do me the justice to acknowledge that she did not find
me very difficult to persuade.”

“Dear Helen,” said the young artist, turning to the young girl whose
beaming face expressed how heartily she sympathized in his joy, “I am
not surprised to hear this. It is so like you.”

“Don’t say any more, Herbert,” said Helen, softly. “That repays me.”

Herbert’s residence in Italy has been protracted somewhat beyond the
three years originally intended. He has already sent home several
paintings, originals, as well as copies, which prove conclusively that
he has not mistaken his vocation. He has corresponded regularly with
Helen, and she is eagerly expecting his return in the next steamer. They
have tacitly dropped the old designations of brother and sister. Knowing
what we do of their feelings towards each other, we need not be
surprised if they are bound some day by a nearer tie. Mr. Ford, I am
assured, will interpose no objection, feeling that genius and nobility
of soul far outweigh the mere accident of riches.

Mr. Ford has long since given up his invention as impracticable. He has
gathered about him a rich library in which he spends the hours formerly
given to science. A year since he laid out the plan of a large work in
the department of mechanics upon which he is hard at work. It will
probably require some years to complete it.

Mr. Sharp still acts as the business agent of Mr. Ford, and through his
influence has obtained other business, so that he is now in receipt of a
very comfortable income. Justice compels me to state that in spite of
his not very creditable antecedents, he serves Mr. Ford with ability and
fidelity, and exhibits a good judgment in his management of money
matters, which perhaps could hardly have been expected. He is not
entirely rid of his “idiosyncrasies,” but these are now of a harmless
nature. He no longer runs up bills which he is unable to liquidate, and
has ceased to exercise his professional sharpness on the newsboys.

Martha Grey still finds a home with Helen, and is her tried and
confidential friend. She is no longer obliged to labor hard for a scanty
remuneration. Her “lines have fallen in pleasant places.” Privation and
discomfort have been succeeded by ease and luxury. A month since she was
surprised by a proposal of marriage from Mr. Sharp. She refused him
gently, telling him that she should never marry. I do not think she
will. She has never recovered from an early disappointment, which,
without robbing her of happiness, has made it impossible for her to love
again. Mr. Sharp has resigned himself to his rejection with commendable
philosophy. There is reason to believe that he was actuated less by a
romantic attachment, than by the thought that Martha, as the intimate
friend of Helen, would not come to him a portionless bride. He has
already so far recovered from his disappointment, that he is paying
devoted attentions to a wealthy widow, who seems disposed to smile upon
his suit, whose “idiosyncrasies” of temper are such, that success would
indeed be disastrous. I have had some qualms of conscience, in rewarding
Mr. Sharp with such a measure of worldly prosperity, feeling that he
ought rather to have been punished than recompensed; but if he should
persevere in his present suit, and eventually succeed, I feel that the
sternest advocate of “poetical justice” may well be satisfied.

Mrs. Morton still keeps her boarding-house, and still meets with a fair
share of patronage. Helen occasionally calls upon her. She has not
forgotten her kindness in the days when she stood in need of a friend.
M’lle Fanchette is still one of her lodgers. She does not grow old,
having been twenty-seven for the last fifteen years. She brings her
charms to bear upon each successive lodger whom she regards as eligible,
but no one has yet had the courage to propose. There is reason to
believe that she will remain Mademoiselle to the end of this chapter.

Margaret and Jacob Wynne! I name Margaret first, for hers is the nobler
nature. Jacob’s brief imprisonment had a most salutary influence upon
him. He no longer upbraids without reason, nor arouses her quick
jealousy by his neglect. Mr. Ford (after all we prefer the old name)
throws considerable business into his hands, and this, with what he
obtains from other quarters, gives him a comfortable support. It would
be difficult to recognize in Margaret, with her quiet look, and subdued
demeanor, the wild, wayward, desperate woman, who made her way through
the fierce storm to her mother’s dwelling.

Immediately after the division of the estate, Lewis Rand went to Europe,
where he has remained ever since. His feelings are so imbittered against
his cousin, that he has refused to answer a letter containing overtures
of reconciliation. He makes his head-quarters at Paris, where he lives
in elegant style, and receives the homage which wealth always commands.
But does he find in his riches the full satisfaction which he
anticipated? I answer, no. He finds, too late, that happiness must be
earned; it can never be bought. To those who, like Helen, consecrate
their lives to the noblest objects, and study to promote the happiness
of all around them, the blessing comes unsought. For the love that
stimulates to good deeds, is like mercy “twice blest; it blesseth him
that gives and him that takes.”

And so, reader, farewell! What remains in store for Helen Ford, whether
of joy or of sorrow, it is not mine to read. Let us hope that her life
may brighten continually till its close; that her years, whether few or
many, may be made happy by the consciousness of duty well performed;
that she may dispense liberally unto others of the good gifts with which
God has crowned her, and make her life a benefaction to humanity!

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           HORATIO ALGER, JR.


The enormous sales of the books of Horatio Alger, Jr., show the
greatness of his popularity among the boys, and prove that he is one of
their most favored writers. I am told that more than half a million
copies altogether have been sold, and that all the large circulating
libraries in the country have several complete sets, of which only two
or three volumes are ever on the shelves at one time. If this is true,
what thousands and thousands of boys have read and are reading Mr.
Alger’s books! His peculiar style of stories, often imitated but never
equaled, have taken a hold upon the young people, and, despite their
similarity, are eagerly read as soon as they appear.

Mr. Alger became famous with the publication of that undying book,
“Ragged Dick, or Street Life in New York.” It was his first book for
young people, and its success was so great that he immediately devoted
himself to that kind of writing. It was a new and fertile field for a
writer then, and Mr. Alger’s treatment of it at once caught the fancy of
the boys. “Ragged Dick” first appeared in 1868, and ever since then it
has been selling steadily, until now it is estimated that about 200,000
copies of the series have been sold.

                                   —“Pleasant Hours for Boys and Girls.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

A writer for boys should have an abundant sympathy with them. He should
be able to enter into their plans, hopes, and aspirations. He should
learn to look upon life as they do. Boys object to be written down to. A
boy’s heart opens to the man or writer who understands him.

—From “Writing Stories for Boys,” by Horatio Alger, Jr.


                          RAGGED DICK SERIES.

   6 vols.               By Horatio Alger, Jr.                 $6.00

 Ragged Dick.
 Fame and Fortune.
 Mark the Match Boy.
 Rough and Ready.
 Ben the Luggage Boy.
 Rufus and Rose.


                   TATTERED TOM SERIES—First Series.

   4 vols.               By Horatio Alger, Jr.                 $4.00

 Tattered Tom.
 Paul the Peddler.
 Phil the Fiddler.
 Slow and Sure.


                   TATTERED TOM SERIES—Second Series.

   4 vols.                                                     $4.00

 Julius.
 The Young Outlaw.
 Sara’s Chance.
 The Telegraph Boy.


                            CAMPAIGN SERIES.

   3 vols.               By Horatio Alger, Jr.                 $3.00

 Frank’s Campaign.
 Charlie Codman’s Cruise.
 Paul Prescott’s Charge.


                  LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES—First Series.

   4 vols.               By Horatio Alger, Jr.                 $4.00

 Luck and Pluck.
 Sink or Swim.
 Strong and Steady.
 Strive and Succeed.


                  LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES—Second Series.

   4 vols.                                                     $4.00

 Try and Trust.
 Bound to Rise.
 Risen from the Ranks.
 Herbert Carter’s Legacy.


                         BRAVE AND BOLD SERIES.

   4 vols.               By Horatio Alger, Jr.                 $4.00

 Brave and Bold.
 Jack’s Ward.
 Shifting for Himself.
 Wait and Hope.


                            VICTORY SERIES.

   3 vols.               By Horatio Alger, Jr.                 $3.00

 Only an Irish Boy.
 Adrift in the City.
 Victor Vane, or the Young Secretary.


                       FRANK AND FEARLESS SERIES.

   3 vols.               By Horatio Alger, Jr.                 $3.00

 Frank Hunter’s Peril.
 Frank and Fearless.
 The Young Salesman.


                         GOOD FORTUNE LIBRARY.,

   3 vols.               By Horatio Alger, Jr.                 $3.00

 Walter Sherwood’s Probation.
 A Boy’s Fortune.
 The Young Bank Messenger.


                          HOW TO RISE LIBRARY.

   3 vols.               By Horatio Alger, Jr.                 $3.00

 Jed, the Poorhouse Boy.
 Rupert’s Ambition.
 Lester’s Luck.

           COMPLETE CATALOG OF BEST BOOKS FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
                MAILED ON APPLICATION TO THE PUBLISHERS
                 THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO., PHILADELPHIA

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           J. T. TROWBRIDGE.

Neither as a writer does he stand apart from the great currents of life
and select some exceptional phase or odd combination of circumstances.
He stands on the common level and appeals to the universal heart, and
all that he suggests or achieves is on the plane and in the line of
march of the great body of humanity.

The Jack Hazard series of stories, published in the late _Our Young
Folks_, and continued in the first volume of _St. Nicholas_, under the
title of “Fast Friends,” is no doubt destined to hold a high place in
this class of literature. The delight of the boys in them (and of their
seniors, too) is well founded. They go to the right spot every time.
Trowbridge knows the heart of a boy like a book, and the heart of a man,
too, and he has laid them both open in these books in a most successful
manner. Apart from the qualities that render the series so attractive to
all young readers, they have great value on account of their
portraitures of American country life and character. The drawing is
wonderfully accurate, and as spirited as it is true. The constable,
Sellick, is an original character, and as minor figures where will, we
find anything better than Miss Wansey, and Mr. P. Pipkin, Esq. The
picture of Mr. Dink’s school, too, is capital, and where else in fiction
is there a better nick-name than that the boys gave to poor little
Stephen Treadwell, “Step Hen,” as he himself pronounced his name in an
unfortunate moment when he saw it in print for the first time in his
lesson in school.

On the whole, these books are very satisfactory, and afford the critical
reader the rare pleasure of the works that are just adequate, that
easily fulfill themselves and accomplish all they set out to
do.—_Scribner’s Monthly._



              THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO.’S POPULAR JUVENILES.


                          JACK HAZARD SERIES.

   6 vols.                By J. T. TROWBRIDGE                  $7.25

 Jack Hazard and His Fortunes.
 The Young Surveyor.
 Fast Friends.
 Doing His Best.
 A Chance for Himself.
 Lawrence’s Adventures.


                        CHARLES ASBURY STEPHENS.

This author wrote his “Camping Out Series” at the very height of his
mental and physical powers.

    “We do not wonder at the popularity of these books; there is a
    freshness and variety about them, and an enthusiasm in the
    description of sport and adventure, which even the older folk can
    hardly fail to share.”—_Worcester Spy._

    “The author of the Camping Out Series is entitled to rank
    as decidedly at the head of what may be called boys’
    literature.”—_Buffalo Courier._


                          CAMPING OUT SERIES.
                           By C. A. STEPHENS.

All books in this series are 12mo. with eight full page illustrations.
Cloth, extra, 75 cents.

CAMPING OUT. As Recorded by “Kit.”

    “This book is bright, breezy, wholesome, instructive, and stands
    above the ordinary boys’ books of the day by a whole head and
    shoulders.”—_The Christian Register_, Boston.

LEFT ON LABRADOR; OR, THE CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER YACHT “CURLEW.” As
      Recorded by “Wash.”

    “The perils of the voyagers, the narrow escapes, their strange
    expedients, and the fun and jollity when danger had passed, will
    make boys even unconscious of hunger.”—_New Bedford Mercury._

OFF TO THE GEYSERS; OR THE YOUNG YACHTERS IN ICELAND. As Recorded by
      “Wade.”

    “It is difficult, to believe that Wade and Read and Kit and Wash
    were not live boys, sailing up Hudson Straits, and reigning
    temporarily over an Esquimaux tribe.”—_The Independent_, New York.

LYNX HUNTING: From Notes by the Author of “Camping Out.”

    “Of _first quality_ as a boys’ book, and fit to take its place
    beside the best.”—_Richmond Enquirer._

FOX HUNTING. As Recorded by “Read.”

    “The most spirited and entertaining book that has as yet appeared.
    It overflows with incident, and is characterized by dash and
    brilliancy throughout.”—_Boston Gazette._

ON THE AMAZON; OR, THE CRUISE OF THE “RAMBLER.” As Recorded by “Wash.”

    “Gives vivid pictures of Brazilian adventure and
    scenery.”—_Buffalo Courier._

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                    THE RENOWNED STANDARD JUVENILES
                           BY EDWARD S. ELLIS


Edward S. Ellis is regarded as the later day Cooper. His books will
always be read for the accurate pen pictures of pioneer life they
portray.


                             LIST OF TITLES


                            DEERFOOT SERIES

 Hunters of the Ozark.
 The Last War Trail.
 Camp in the Mountains.


                            LOG CABIN SERIES

 Lost Trail.
 Footprints in the Forest.
 Camp Fire and Wigwam.


                           BOY PIONEER SERIES

 Ned in the Block-House.
 Ned on the River.
 Ned in the Woods.


                          THE NORTHWEST SERIES

 Two Boys in Wyoming.
 Cowmen and Rustlers.
 A Strange Craft and Its Wonderful Voyage.


                        BOONE AND KENTON SERIES

 Shod with Silence.
 In the Days of the Pioneers.
 Phantom of the River.


                            WAR CHIEF SERIES

 Red Eagle.
 Blazing Arrow.
 Iron Heart, War Chief of the Iroquois.


                        THE NEW DEERFOOT SERIES

 Deerfoot in the Forest.
 Deerfoot on the Prairie.
 Deerfoot in the Mountains.


                            TRUE GRIT SERIES

 Jim and Joe.
 Dorsey, the Young Inventor.
 Secret of Coffin Island.


                         GREAT AMERICAN SERIES

 Teddy and Towser; or, Early Days in California.
 Up the Forked River.


                            COLONIAL SERIES

 An American King.
 The Cromwell of Virginia.
 The Last Emperor of the Old Dominion.


                        FOREIGN ADVENTURE SERIES

 Lost in the Forbidden Land.
 River and Jungle.
 The Hunt of the White Elephant.


                      PADDLE YOUR OWN CANOE SERIES

 The Forest Messengers.
 The Mountain Star.
 Queen of the Clouds.


                             ARIZONA SERIES

 Off the Reservation; or, Caught in an Apache Raid.
 Trailing Geronimo; or, Campaigning with Crook.
 The Round-Up; or, Geronimo’s Last Raid.


                      OTHER TITLES IN PREPARATION

           PRICE $1.00 PER VOLUME Sold separately and in set

Complete Catalogue of Famous Alger Books, Celebrated Castlemon Books and
Renowned Ellis Books mailed on application.

 THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO.                               PHILADELPHIA, PA.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES


 1. Changed ‘thought’ to ‘though’ on p. 203.
 2. Changed ‘bands’ to ‘hands’ on p. 256.
 3. Changed ‘kind’ to ‘kindly’ on p. 288.
 4. Silently corrected typographical errors.
 5. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.
 6. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.





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