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´╗┐Title: Leonie, The Typewriter - A Romance of Actual Life
Author: Gilman, Wenona
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Leonie, The Typewriter - A Romance of Actual Life" ***

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



of the Digital Library@Villanova University
(http://digital.library.villanova.edu/))



  PRICE,      (COMPLETE.)       10 CENTS.

  COMPLETE IN THIS VOLUME.     PRICE 10 CENTS.

  _Leonie,
  The TypeWriter._

  A _Thrilling Romance of actual Life
  BY A CELEBRATED AUTHORESS_.

[Illustration: LYNDE PYNE WATCHED THE GRACEFUL MOVEMENTS OF LEONIE'S
FINGERS OVER THE KEY BOARD]

  New York:
  MUNRO'S PUBLISHING HOUSE
  Vandewater St.



  Leonie, the Typewriter.

  A ROMANCE OF ACTUAL LIFE

  BY A CELEBRATED AUTHOR.

_Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1892, by Norman L.
Munro, in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C._



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I.
  CHAPTER II.
  CHAPTER III.
  CHAPTER IV.
  CHAPTER V.
  CHAPTER VI.
  CHAPTER VII.
  CHAPTER VIII.
  CHAPTER IX.
  CHAPTER X.
  CHAPTER XI.
  CHAPTER XII.
  CHAPTER XIII.
  CHAPTER XIV.
  CHAPTER XV.
  CHAPTER XVI.
  CHAPTER XVII.
  CHAPTER XVIII.
  CHAPTER XIX.
  CHAPTER XX.
  CHAPTER XXI.
  CHAPTER XXII.
  CHAPTER XXIII.
  CHAPTER XXIV.
  CHAPTER XXV.
  CHAPTER XXVI.
  CHAPTER XXVII.
  CHAPTER XXVIII.
  CHAPTER XXIX.
  CHAPTER XXX.
  CHAPTER XXXI.
  CHAPTER XXXII.
  CHAPTER XXXIII.
  CHAPTER XXXIV.
  CHAPTER XXXV.
  CHAPTER XXXVI.
  CHAPTER XXXVII.



CHAPTER I.


The day was delicious! A warm, soft breeze, that seemed to suggest
sunny Italy, or the luxurious indolence of far-off Japan, tinted the
atmosphere with a golden hue.

It rested like a halo upon the head of a young man who sat beside a
desk, idly twisting a pen between his fingers. It was a beautiful head!
Too beautiful for a man, too strong for a woman.

From the large, velvety eyes, Italian in color and softness, but
Mexican in their occasional gleams of thrilling brilliancy, to the
clear complexion with the touch of crimson in the cheeks; from the
dainty, curly hair that lay in tiny rings upon the broad, white
brow, to the mouth, with its sweeping, silken mustache, the face was
absolutely without flaw or blemish. And yet no man ever laughed at
Lynde Pyne for his beauty, or would have thought of pronouncing him
effeminate.

"He is one of the best fellows in existence," they told each other at
the club; "and it is a confounded shame that he was cut out of his
uncle's will in the manner in which he was. There was never a more
honorable man than Lynde Pyne, and for all he knows by what means
Luis Kingsley came in possession of the money that is rightfully
his, he never says a word, but works away, early and late, with but
poor reward. It is a queer world that robs an honest man to give his
birthright to a scoundrel."

But Lynde Pyne was giving little thought to that as he sat dreamily
twirling his pen on that golden day in June.

His reflections were interrupted by the entrance of his office boy.

"If you please, Mr. Pyne," he said respectfully, though not servilely,
"there is a young lady here to see you."

Lynde glanced up slowly, evidently not pleased at the interruption.

"Her name?"

"She is a typewriter!"

"Oh! Show her in."

He returned to his idle dreaming, but was aroused again at the
expiration of a moment.

"I came to see about the position you advertised, sir," a cool, refined
voice said.

He arose and offered her a chair, looking at her in his own
irresistible fashion.

And what he saw he never forgot!

The face was as flawless as his own. The short, curling, red-brown
hair, that looked as though the sun had become entangled in a
shadow, the violet eyes, the graceful sweep of the perfect chin, the
exquisitely fitting gown of cheap gray tricot, all appealed to him with
irresistible force.

"What machine do you operate? and what is your record for speed?" he
asked, scarcely conscious that he had spoken at all.

"I use the Hammond mostly, and can write seventy words to the minute,
provided they are not too long."

"You can write from dictation?"

"Yes, sir. I am a stenographer and typewriter. My last position I lost
through the death of Mr. Carl Lefevre, my employer."

"Then you are Miss Cuyler?"

"I am."

"Your reputation has preceded you!" exclaimed Lynde, with one of his
most entrancing smiles. "I shall be only too glad to engage you. You
know the duties without my going into detail. There is only one thing
that I shall require that he did not, perhaps, and that is, in addition
to a typewriter, I wish you to act rather as a private secretary. You
are to open all of my mail that is not marked personal, reporting the
contents to me, that I may not be bothered with it. You think you can
do that?"

"Perhaps not just at first, but I am so familiar now with the work of
a lawyer's office that I don't think I would have much difficulty in
learning."

"That will be quite satisfactory. And the salary?"

The charming face colored crimson.

"I know so little of business," she answered, hesitatingly. "Of course
beginning with you is quite different from what it would be if you were
sure that I could do your work."

"But I am sure! I should expect to pay the same that Mr. Lefevre did,
with a suitable addition for the extra amount of work. I suppose that
would be reasonable?"

"More than I could expect."

"Can you begin to-day?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well. There is a whole raft of copying in that drawer to be done.
You will find a dressing-room on that side."

Leonie Cuyler did not wait to be told a second time. With a bow in
Lynde's direction, she withdrew, laying her hat and a soft lace scarf,
that had been wrapped about her neck, upon a table.

She glanced carelessly into the small mirror, endeavoring to smooth
down the rebellious curls that were one of her chief attractions.

For a single moment she stood gazing idly about her, a dreamy smile
upon her lips, then shaking herself together with a little impatient
jerk, she walked into the room where Lynde Pyne awaited her.

With almost tender care he showed her the position of his papers,
explained to her what would be expected of her, then sat down, watching
the graceful movements of her fingers as they flew lightly over the
key-board.

He felt dizzy, as though from drinking wine, when the evening came and
he saw that he must let her go.

He watched her from the room, then put on his own hat with a weary sigh.

"I am afraid I have not done a wise thing to bring Leonie Cuyler here,"
he muttered, "and yet what can it matter?"

There was something half bitter, wholly defiant in his mental question,
and he walked from the office with anything but a pleasant expression
upon his handsome face.

And Leonie?

After her little home had been set to rights, she sat down by the
single window the room contained, her arm resting upon the sill
dejectedly.

An old man, aristocratic in appearance, notwithstanding the poor
clothing that he wore, a man strangely white of hair and beard, bent
from age and sorrow, sat near her, playing with a string that he was
twining about his fingers.

"What is the matter with you to-night, my darling?" he asked, breaking
a long silence. "My little one is not at all like herself! Dad is not
going to lose his sunshine at this time of life, is he? I did not know
that I should miss the chatter of my little magpie so much. What is the
matter, Leonie?"

She leaned over and kissed him, but even that was not done in her usual
way.

"Nothing, dad!" she answered dreamily. "That is, there is nothing
wrong! I was only thinking. That is something unusual, I confess."

"Of what were you thinking?"

"Of a picture that I saw to-day. It was a woman's face--a woman that I
think Rembrandt or Guido would have given half their lives to paint.
I couldn't describe it to you, because any description would sound
commonplace applied to such an original. Her name is Miss Evelyn
Chandler."

When she had finished speaking she turned her eyes slowly, and allowed
them to rest upon Godfrey Cuyler's face.

She was startled at the change that flashed over it. His chin dropped,
his eyes set, his brow was covered suddenly with a moisture that
resembled death.

"Where did you see it?" he asked hoarsely, his voice scarcely more than
a whisper.

"In the private drawer of Lynde Pyne's desk."

"Lynde Pyne! In Heaven's name what do you know of him?"

"He is my employer."

"Lynde Pyne? Impossible! And you stood by his side, looking at Evelyn
Chandler's portrait?"

"No. I saw it in the drawer by accident. Her name was written beneath
it. Dad, who is Miss Evelyn Chandler, and why should I not look at her
portrait with Lynde Pyne beside me?"

"I cannot tell you that," he gasped. "I am pledged by an oath that I
can never break. Child, child, what miserable fate was it that led you
to Lynde Pyne's office?"

"Miserable fate?" she cried, rising and standing before him. "Is it a
miserable fate that gives us bread to eat? Do you forget that we could
not have lived more than a week longer from the savings of my little
salary? Summer is coming on now, and lawyers do not want typewriters,
or the positions are filled. See how often I have tried and failed. Oh,
dad----"

"Hush!" he interrupted. "If we starve, you must not remain there! There
is a reason stronger than either life or death. Leonie, you must listen
to me!"

"Dad, I have no wish not to do so. There is but one thing--I am no
longer a child, and you have no right to demand a thing of me without
explanation. If there is a reason why I should not remain in Lynde
Pyne's office, I am ready to go, though such a course seems to
indicate nothing short of starvation to me, but unless you give me the
reason, for both our sakes I must decline."

"You don't know what you are saying! I know your nature, your
overwhelming pride. Leonie, listen! If you refuse to hear me now,
some day you will hear a secret the horror of which will kill you! My
darling, what am I to say? Tell me that you will give it up?"

"I cannot!" she gasped, bowing her head upon her hands. "Oh, dad, if
you asked me for the heart out of my body it would be easier for me to
give you!"

With a cry that resembled that of a wild animal, Godfrey Cuyler seized
the girl by the shoulder.

"Answer me, quickly!" he cried, in a choking voice--"you do not love
Lynde Pyne?"

She lifted her white face and looked at him. It was enough!

The old man fell upon his knees beside her and buried his face in her
lap.

"My darling--my darling!" he moaned; "how can I ever ask you to forgive
me?"



CHAPTER II.


A gentle breeze, like the soft current wafted from a fan in the hands
of Heaven, played through the room in which Leonie lay sweetly sleeping.

Silently the door of her room opened, and with noiseless step the old
man entered. He looked cautiously around, then thrust forward a candle
that he had held outside the door until he found that she was soundly
sleeping. With cat-like tread, he advanced and stood beside her,
looking down with a countenance that was convulsed with anguish.

"Oh, my darling! what have I done?" he gasped. "If I had not been so
blind I might have spared you all this. You love Lynde Pyne! Great God!
what a hideous thing life is after all. I might have known that she
would meet them all sooner or later. It is the law of the living. But
what was I to do? My poor little one! where is the justice or the mercy
in the curse that rests upon your life? To know the truth, with your
sensitive nature, would kill you; yet how am I to keep you from finding
out? Oh, God! the peace that time had brought is ended, and the bitter
agony of her life has begun! If I could but bear it for her!"

He left her side after one more long look, and taking a key that he
had brought with him he unlocked an old desk that the room contained.
Inside the drawer that opened he pressed a spring, and took from the
inner drawer a small portrait.

He looked at the pictured face, then bowed his head upon it, and the
bitterest tears of his life fell from his eyes.

"Oh, Lena, Lena!" he sobbed. "Can you look down upon us now and see
what your sin is to cost her? I don't want to blame you, my girl, now
that you are dead, but what am I to say to her? I wonder if you can
see what terrible danger threatens her, and I wonder if you know that
it would kill her to know the sin that you committed, and that forever
ruins and blasts her life? God forgive me! You are dead now, and
perhaps in heaven, but--Lena, Lena, Lena!"

He sat for some time so, then was aroused by feeling a hand laid upon
his shoulder. He glanced up, and to his dismay, saw Leonie standing
there, her face white as death.

"Who is that woman?" she asked in a voice utterly unlike her own.

Godfrey Cuyler hesitated, his hands shaking until it was almost
impossible for him to hold the portrait. He thrust it into the drawer,
and locked it before she knew what he was about.

"It is no one that you know!" he cried, brokenly. "If you love me, you
will not ask."

She laid her hands upon his shoulders, and held him firmly.

"Dad," she said, slowly, "you are keeping something from me that you
have no right to keep. What is it? What has Miss Chandler to do with
me? And who is that woman whose picture you have, who looks so much
like the portrait in Lynde Pyne's drawer?"

The old man fell into a chair, his limbs refusing to support him.

She fell upon her knees beside him, clasping his hands with both her
own.

"Dad," she whispered hoarsely, "there is some secret that connects my
life with that of Miss Chandler and Lynde Pyne. Tell me what it is. If
you do not, I shall find out for myself, and it would be so much better
for me to hear it from you than from a stranger, if it is the dreadful
thing that your manner leads me to fear. Dad, tell me."

"I cannot," he gasped. "You must believe me when I tell you that there
is nothing! Nothing! Nothing! Oh, Leonie, Leonie, my darling, put this
nonsense out of your head. If you must know the story, that is an aunt
of Miss Chandler's whom I once loved."

He was pointing toward the drawer where the picture was concealed,
but the girl knew as well that he was lying to her as though the full
knowledge of the humiliating story had been laid bare to her.

"Dad," she exclaimed, "oh, dad, it must be worse even than I thought,
when you will descend to a lie! Think again, dad. What is this hidden
misery that the mere mention of Miss Chandler's name causes you such
bitter suffering?"

"It is not Miss Chandler. You must not think it!" he cried, his voice
indistinct from the chattering of his teeth. "I once swore an oath
that concerned her--that is all. I cannot tell you, because my word is
pledged. Little one, little one, you must believe me. You must trust
dad always--always!"

He was trembling as though with a terrible chill, and feeling as though
her heart had suddenly turned to ice, Leonie arose from her knees.

"You are exciting yourself, dad," she said gently, "and will be ill
to-morrow. Go to bed, will you not?"

"Not until you have promised me that you will not go again to Lynde
Pyne's office! I could never rest until you had promised that. Tell me
that you will not!"

"I can't do that!" she cried, her voice sounding hollow in the
stillness of the night.

"We can't starve, and there is no other prospect--none!"

"Is that the only reason?"

She turned away wearily to avoid his penetrating gaze.

"No," she answered huskily, "perhaps it is not, but even if it were, I
should still say the same. Oh, dad, what is it? There can be nothing so
bad as this torturing suspense! Surely you can trust me?"

"Leonie," he said, in a choking voice, "the secret I know concerns
Evelyn Chandler, not yourself. You must believe me, for I speak the
truth!"

"Will you pledge me your honor to that, dad?"

He had never told a deliberate lie in his life before, and the effort
cost him a greater struggle than almost any one would believe, but he
controlled his countenance, and answered slowly:

"I do!"

She allowed her hand to fall from his shoulder, where it had rested,
and sighed wearily. He had not deceived her!

"Will you promise now?" he asked, almost unable to control his
eagerness.

"No," she replied, with a dejected shake of the head. "If the secret
does not concern me, it would be a foolish thing for me to resign a
position that I so sorely need. Don't ask it, dad, for there is nothing
that you can say that would induce me to do it!"

"Leonie----"

"You are keeping me up, dad, and I need rest. Won't you say good-night?"

The voice was quiet, but the expression on the lovely face belied it.

He saw what he had done, but was powerless to alter it.

"Oh, child----" he began, but she interrupted him again.

"To-morrow, dad! I am tired now and---- Go, dear, won't you? And, dad,
don't worry your dear old head about me! If there is trouble to be
borne, we can bear it together, as we always have, but we will leave
it until it comes. You know how foolish it is to endeavor to cross a
bridge before you come to it! Dad, dear old dad! good-night and God
bless you. Whatever may come in the future, you have been the most
faithful--- There you are making a baby of me."

She placed her arms about his neck, and hid her face upon his shoulder
in a vain endeavor to conceal her tears. She kissed him again, then
gently pushed him into his own room, and closed the door.

For hours after he had gone she sat there by the window trying to solve
the mystery that surrounded her. Her brows were knit, her fingers
tightly laced, her face pale as marble.

She arose suddenly, her hands clasped above her heart, her eyes wildly
bright.

"I have it!" she cried hoarsely. "My mother lives! She has committed
some sin that dad fears to tell me, for which he will never see her
again, and this Evelyn Chandler knows! Oh, mother, is it true? Is that
why he never speaks your name? If it is true, dear, I know that you are
innocent, and perhaps I can prove it! I will try, oh, I will try!"

There was no possibility of sleep that night, and when morning broke it
found her still sitting there, forming her plans to accomplish a thing
the full knowledge of which was to cause her the bitterest sorrow she
had ever known.

And in the next room, separated only by a thin partition, Godfrey
Cuyler was planning how he could save her.



CHAPTER III.


"Ask Pyne not to keep me waiting. I am in a great hurry!"

The speaker was an elderly man of unusually fine presence, a strong
cast of countenance, and a manner that bespoke him a man born to
command, a trifle dictatorial and overbearing perhaps, but just to the
last degree, save where his overweening pride was concerned. He did not
even glance about him, but sat down in a preoccupied way that would
have told an observer how deeply he was thinking.

"Good-morning, Mr. Chandler!" Lynde exclaimed, entering the room where
he sat. "Is not this charming weather?"

"Yes; but I have not come to you to talk about the weather," answered
the elder man testily. "The fact is, a most infernally unpleasant thing
has been going on at my house for some time, and I have borne it just
as long as I can. I have come to you for your advice."

He paused and looked at Lynde, but the latter did not speak, returning
the glance in interested silence.

"For some time past," he continued, "I have been missing large sums of
money from my desk. I can't understand how it can be, unless some of
the servants have a duplicate key; but though I have set every sort of
trap, it is utterly impossible for me to catch the thief. Last night
the climax was reached! I concluded that as the thief knew so well the
place where I kept my money, that I would put it out of the house.
Well, Pyne, it seems that the scoundrel was compelled to have money,
for my wife's diamond bracelet was taken. Strangely enough there were
other jewels there of much greater value, but they were left and the
bracelet taken. Mrs. Chandler placed it in the casket with her own
hands last night after her maid had left the room, so that we cannot
think Nichette the guilty one; but who is it? I want you to advise me
what to do!"

"It is a strange thing," said Pyne, musingly; "there seems to be but
one course--put a detective to work on it."

"Oh, hang a detective! Do you suppose I want my whole house carried
off? That would be the result if I put a detective on it. They are
constitutional liars, Pyne. If one of them told me that one of the
servants was guilty, I would suspect any one in the house sooner than
the one he named. You must suggest something different from that, or I
shall have to let them rob me in silence."

"But suppose I could get a woman----"

"That makes no difference. I don't believe in professional detectives,
male or female."

"Then I am afraid that I see no way----"

"Pardon me, Mr. Pyne, but this gentleman has expressed a dislike only
for _professional_ detectives. If I can be of any assistance to you in
that way or any other, I shall be only too pleased."

The words were spoken by Leonie Cuyler, and Lynde turned and looked at
her in surprise.

"You!" he exclaimed. "What could you do?"

"I don't know; but I should like to try to find the thief for--this
gentleman. I think I could succeed."

"How should you begin?" he asked, regarding her curiously.

"It would be impossible to tell, sir, until I had seen the premises,
and knew the story in detail."

"But I can't spare you!" exclaimed Pyne, by no means well pleased.

"It will not require all my time, sir," cried Leonie, eagerly. "I could
keep up with your work quite as well, except, perhaps, the private part
of it; and I might get through in a few days."

Lynde's astonishment over the girl's request was infinitely greater
than at Chandler's story. Still, he readily saw that she had some
strong reason for making it and hesitated to deny her.

"Let her try, Pyne," exclaimed Chandler. "It can't make any difference,
and if she has not succeeded in a few days she can return, and no harm
done. Somehow she has inspired me with confidence. Surely, you will be
willing to inconvenience yourself for a day or a week for an old friend
of all these years' standing?"

The words were spoken in an aggrieved tone that always brought Pyne to
terms.

"Of course, if you make a point of it, I can say nothing further," he
answered, endeavoring to conceal his annoyance. "When will you want her
to go?"

"At once. You will come as my guest, Miss Cuyler?"

"I should prefer not, sir. Under those circumstances some explanation
would have to be made to your wife and daughter. Pardon me, sir, but
all women are more or less alike, and are liable to expose what we most
wish to conceal. If it is known that you have a detective in the house,
the thief will be on his guard and difficult to detect. Have you any
need of an extra servant?"

"Yes; one of the house-maids left to-day."

"Then, sir, if you will give me the position I will endeavor to fill it
satisfactorily until you can fill my place better."

"And you don't wish my wife or daughter to know?"

"I should prefer not."

"Are you ready, Miss----"

Chandler hesitated, and Pyne supplied the name:

"Cuyler."

"If I am to be your servant," interrupted the girl, "you must call me
Leonie!"

"Yes, to be sure, to be sure! Can you go now? We can concoct our story
as we go."

"I should prefer to follow you, sir. It might look rather suspicious if
we went there together."

"Right again! You will have tracked that thief by the end of the week.
If you do--well, Leonard Chandler never forgot a service yet."

Leonie colored. She was about to tell him that what she would do would
not be through the hope of reward, and only checked herself in time.
She bowed gravely.

Being assured that she would follow him without loss of time, Chandler
left, and Pyne turned eagerly to Leonie.

"Why were you so anxious to go there?" he asked, making no endeavor to
mask his curiosity.

"I beg that you will not ask me--at least, not yet," she answered,
controlling her trembling by a violent effort. "There are reasons that
make me desire it. If I have displeased you I am very sorry, but----"

"I beg that you will not speak like that to me, Miss Cuyler," he
replied, with an impatient wave of his hand. "If you wish it, that is
quite enough for me, but I do not think you realize what you are doing.
I know that you are gently born and bred, whatever misfortunes may have
befallen you; and you have forgotten what it is like to enter a house
as a servant, and the indignities to which you will be subjected."

"And you forget that if any such thing occurs I can leave upon the
instant."

"True!"

"Don't try to discourage me, Mr. Pyne, I entreat----"

"It is such an absurd thing," he interrupted again; "I cannot bear to
have you go there. Something tells me it will not result well. Leonie,
give it up!"

In his earnestness he did not notice that he had called her by her
Christian name; but she heard, and colored to the very roots of her
hair.

"Let me go!" she cried, in a trembling voice. "It can do no harm,
and----"

"I can say nothing further, but my heart misgives me. If it should
bring trouble to you, I----"

He turned away without completing the sentence, and with a heart that
tumultuously throbbed from a variety of emotions, Leonie went into the
next room and put on her hat.

       *       *       *       *       *

"A lady to see you, sir."

The door of Leonard Chandler's library was thrown open, and Leonie
Cuyler was ushered in.

"Ah!" exclaimed Chandler, laying aside his paper, and looking at her
curiously through his gold-rimmed eye-glasses. "You are the young woman
I engaged as house-maid, are you not?"

"Yes, sir," answered Leonie, the throbbing of her heart causing her to
speak timidly.

"I thought so. Let me see. Your name you told me is Leonie, did you
not?"

"Yes, sir."

"This is Mrs. Chandler, my wife, and my daughter."

Leonie raised her eyes to Evelyn Chandler's face. She remembered it
ever after as she saw it then--cold and proud, but more beautiful than
any face she had ever seen before. But as her eyes turned, after her
slight bow, a curious change came over the blonde countenance, and
Evelyn Chandler left the room more hastily than she usually did such
things.

Alone in the hall, she allowed an expression of anxiety full play. Her
hands rested above her heart, and her brows were drawn in a peculiar
frown.

"Leonie Cuyler!" she muttered. "What in Heaven's name is she doing
here?"



CHAPTER IV.


The first week passed almost without incident.

Leonie came and went with the freedom of a servant, nothing that
occurred escaping her knowledge. She watched Lynde Pyne's visits to
the house with a sinking of the heart that was indescribable. Not a
thing out of the ordinary run of fashionable life had happened. She had
discovered nothing either of the thief or Miss Chandler's mysterious
connection with herself, and she was beginning to think she never would.

It was the evening of one of Mrs. Chandler's most pretentious dinner
parties, at which the wealth and fashion of New York had been largely
represented, and Evelyn Chandler, in a _decollete_ gown of gray _crepe_
and La France roses, had rarely appeared to greater advantage, her
sparkling wit and brilliancy of humor making her the attraction of the
evening.

From a distance Leonie looked on, her rebellious heart throbbing with
something very like envy, a sentiment of which she was infinitely
ashamed, but seemed unable to control. Lynde Pyne, too, was there, and
a short conversation had taken place between them that had convinced
her that he loved the heiress, though he was doubtful of the success of
his suit. She had rarely if ever been more miserable than when she saw
the last guest depart.

She was dragging herself wearily to her room when a slight noise in an
adjacent hall attracted her. The subdued sound aroused her suspicions,
and slipping her slippers from her feet she advanced silently toward it.

"What are you doing here again?" she heard a voice ask in a whisper, a
voice so evidently Evelyn Chandler's that there was no room left for
doubt.

"I have come for money!" a man replied, in a half dogged, wholly
defiant sort of way.

"What, again?"

"Yes, and I must have it now!"

"But I have not a dollar in the world."

"That is not true; and if it were you could get it easily enough, as
you have done before."

"You told me, when I gave you the first thousand, that that would be
the last."

"You were not fool enough to believe it, were you?"

"Well, when is it to end?"

"When I come in possession of a million and can afford to live on my
own money."

"Have you no regard for the danger to me?"

"When you put it on a sentimental basis, my dear, you might ask if I am
not very tired of living without you. In that instance I should answer,
yes. I think old Moneybags would give you to me fast enough if he knew
as much as you and I do. Which do you prefer, my dear?"

The girl shuddered, and Leonie fancied she heard it there in the
stillness.

"How much do you want this time?" she asked, making no effort to
conceal the dull anger of her tone.

"A thousand will do."

"Impossible!"

"You always say so, but it invariably comes when you know it must! If
you can't get the money, another diamond bracelet will do."

Leonie's start almost betrayed her presence there. Evelyn Chandler,
then, the heiress and beauty, one of the rulers of New York society,
was the thief whom she had come there to apprehend. The thought was
horrible to her.

"Will this be the last?" cried Miss Chandler, in a strained voice.

"Not by any means, my dear. You must learn to save more for me out of
your dress money. I tell you what I will do. Give me this thousand and
I will be easy on you. You can give me a stated amount, so that you can
make your arrangements to have it ready at the beginning of each month,
and I will make no further demands upon you. Will that do?"

"How much will you want?"

"Well, say three hundred a month!"

"Never! If you keep this up you will make it impossible for me to do
anything. I will give you two hundred, and that is the last cent."

"We-ll," grumbled the man hesitatingly, "it is a beggarly amount,
considering all you have, but as I don't want to kill the goose that
lays the golden egg, I suppose I must yield the point. Now get me the
thousand and let me go before we are discovered."

"There is one thing I want to say to you first. Who do you suppose is
here in this house?"

"I have not an idea."

"Leonie Cuyler!"

"The devil! What is she doing here?"

"She is engaged as house-maid, but there is some mystery about it that
I cannot fathom."

"As sure as you live that old idiot, Godfrey Cuyler, sent her here for
a purpose. If you are smart, my girl, you will get rid of her without
loss of time."

"But how am I to do that?"

"I think I can manage it for you. It is an infernally dangerous thing,
and what is dangerous for you is for me. I'll think about it and write
to you to-morrow. Go and get the money now."

"You promise me that you will keep your word about the two hundred in
future?"

"Yes, I do. I don't want to be hard on you. You had better be in a
hurry. It is not safe for me to be in this house."

Knowing that it was worse than useless to argue the matter with him,
and also knowing that he was perfectly right about his own and her
insecurity, she heaved a sigh and turned away.

In the darkness her skirts touched Leonie's in passing, but she was
unconscious of it, and flitted silently down the broad stairs, guiding
her steps by passing her fingers along the wall.

Leonie followed noiselessly, scarcely daring to draw her breath.

Into the library Miss Chandler went, closing the great heavy door
behind her.

Leonie stood for a moment nonplused. She could not open the door
without Miss Chandler being aware of it, and that she did not desire.

A sudden idea seemed to strike her, and passing swiftly through the
drawing-room, she entered the conservatory and silently drew back the
portiere that separated it from the library.

By the dim light she could see Miss Chandler quite distinctly.

She had already possessed herself of a key by some means, and was
unlocking the desk in which Leonard Chandler had told Leonie he kept
his money.

The beauty of the blonde face was marred by an expression of great
anxiety, but there seemed to be not the slightest repugnance at the
disgusting act she was performing; on the contrary, there was a smile
of relief when she found that the drawer contained an even greater
amount than she required.

With unusual deliberation she counted out the money, laid it on the
desk, replaced what was left, and relocked the drawer. She picked
up the money, and was about to leave the room, when Leonie stepped
forward, allowing the portiere to fall behind her.

The hand that held the money fell upon the desk, and Miss Chandler
gazed at the girl aghast.

Leonie did not speak, but waited until Miss Chandler had fully
recovered herself.

"Why are you here at this hour?" the heiress demanded, haughtily.
"Surely you know that the servants are not allowed to be roaming over
the house in the middle of the night."

"I am not a servant, Miss Chandler," answered Leonie, with dignity,
"but a detective whom your father placed here to locate a thief! I am
sorry to say that I have found her."

"What do you mean?"

The tone was haughty enough, but the blue eyes faltered, and the cheeks
were white as death.

"I mean," answered Leonie, firmly, "that I shall have to report to
Mr. Chandler that the thief whom he has sworn to prosecute is his own
daughter."

Leonie laid her hand upon the burglar alarm that the room contained.
She had no intention of ringing it, but was simply trying to frighten
Miss Chandler into putting the money back, and making a promise that
the operation never should be repeated. Much as she loathed the act,
much as she despised the girl who could descend to so vile a thing, she
had no wish to disgrace her or the family of which she was a member.

But she was unprepared for what occurred.

With a spring like that of a tigress, Evelyn Chandler was upon her, and
had seized her hand.

"Do you know what you are doing?" she cried, hoarsely. "You would
disgrace me forever! I tell you that you shall not. Let go of that
bell, or as Heaven is my witness I will kill you, and escape before it
can be answered!"

By the flash of demoniacal light in the blue eyes, Leonie saw that the
girl meant what she said. Her hand fell from the bell-cord.

"Then put the money back," she said, as quietly as she could force
herself to speak.

"Never!" exclaimed Miss Chandler, vehemently. "Do you think my father
would believe you if you told this story to him, and I was not here?
To-morrow you may tell him what you wish."

"Then you propose to make me an accomplice to your act, so to speak, by
my remaining quiet, and saying nothing, while you rob your own father,
is that it?" cried Leonie, aghast at the girl's audacity.

"Exactly!" replied Miss Chandler, firmly, the memory of her danger
overcoming her fear.

"And I tell you," exclaimed Leonie with equal firmness, "that it shall
not be so! Put that money back, refuse in my presence to give that man
up-stairs any more, either now, or at any future time, and you are safe
from me. Refuse, and as God is my judge I will denounce you! You think
I am at your mercy. Look!"

She had prepared for some such emergency, little thinking under what
circumstances she would require it; and as she spoke she produced a
small Derringer revolver, which she did not point toward Miss Chandler,
but with it clasped in one hand she calmly laid the other upon the
bell-cord.

"Will you put that money back?" she asked, coolly.

"No!" cried Miss Chandler, half wildly. "Denounce me if you will;
disgrace me, if you wish. Do you not think I will not tell the story of
your infamous birth? Do you think that I have not seen that you are in
love with Lynde Pyne? Ha, ha! Tell this if you wish. It will disgrace
me, and then I shall not hesitate to tell the world that you are the
daughter of Lena Mauprat, who was condemned to the penitentiary for
stealing. What if I am the daughter of the same mother, and but the
adopted child of Leonard Chandler? I am legitimate, while you are not!"

Slowly the hand that held the bell-cord dropped. The one that held
the pistol relaxed its hold, and the weapon fell upon the chair that
was under it noiselessly, the dainty face became gray and drawn, and
without a cry or moan, Leonie Cuyler fell at her sister's feet.

Godfrey Cuyler's terrible suffering was explained at last.



CHAPTER V.


A pale gray light, like a stray moonbeam glimmering upon the headstone
of a grave, crept into the room and softly touched the face of the girl
that lay upon the floor in a death-like swoon.

There is an inexplicable something in magnetism that annihilates
distance and speaks louder than a human voice.

It has baffled scientists for generations, and will for generations
more, yet its presence has been more or less felt by every one, like
the influence of a haunting but half-forgotten dream.

Some such feeling disturbed the slumbers of Leonard Chandler. He tried
vainly to sleep, and at last, in sheer desperation, he arose, slipped
on his trousers, slippers, and dressing-gown, and sat down to that
consoler of man--a smoke.

It had not, however, its usual influence. His nervousness increased
with each moment, until at last he sprung to his feet, the expression
of his countenance indicating great anxiety.

"It is the same feeling that I had while I was being robbed the last
time," he muttered. "I wonder if it can mean anything? I am going down
to the library and sleep there on the couch to-night. No one will know
of my presence there, and it may be that I shall detect the thief
myself. Pshaw! It seems too absurd an idea to think of--and yet it can
do no harm. How Anna and Evelyn would laugh if they knew of this!"

He hesitated, puffing out great volumes of smoke in his perplexity,
then turned resolutely toward the door.

"They will have to laugh," he exclaimed aloud, compressing his lips
firmly. "Something tells me to go, and I must go!"

He waited no longer, but opening the door softly, he went noiselessly
down the stairs, and silently opening the door of the library, passed
in.

He advanced nearer to the desk, and, with a thrill of horror, saw the
revolver lying upon a chair. He leaned over to pick it up, and as he
did so his eyes fell upon the colorless face of the girl lying there.

He shrunk backward with a suppressed cry, then quickly kneeled beside
her and placed his hand above her heart. It was slowly trembling.

Rising hastily, he rung the bell violently.

The sound clanged through the silent house like the iteration of the
cry of murder on the stilly night. It did not cease until servants and
family had hurriedly entered the room, their faces blanched with fear.

"What is it?" cried Mrs. Chandler, her countenance white as Leonie's
own.

"Heaven knows!" answered Chandler hastily, his brow contracted
curiously. "Look there! There is some mystery about this house. I think
we are about to get at the bottom of it."

He pointed, as he spoke to the prostrate body upon the floor, then
lifted it himself to a couch.

"Some of you do what you can to restore her," he ordered shortly.

While the servants were obeying he took his keys from his pocket, and
with a hand that had grown steady under excitement, he opened the
drawer that had contained his money.

He quickly found the roll, brought home the night before to meet an
obligation the following morning at nine o'clock, and counted it.

Exactly one thousand dollars gone!

He picked up the pistol and looked at it carefully. Every chamber was
full.

With compressed lips and a countenance of dangerous resolution he laid
it down, and turned toward Leonie again. The first person to confront
him was his daughter.

"More money missing?" she asked, with a show of anxious interest, yet
capitally assumed innocence.

"A thousand!" he answered, almost shortly. "There is one consolation in
it. I shall soon know the thief! I would give a thousand, or even ten,
to know that!"

He left her and, stepping to the side of the couch, he stood with
folded arms awaiting Leonie's restoration to consciousness. He neither
spoke nor moved, but stood like a statue through the moments that
seemed like hours until the eyes opened, and with an air of great
bewilderment Leonie sat up.

With the fingers of one hand pressed upon her temple, Leonie slowly
arose from her reclining position, her eyes traveling from one place to
another vaguely. They rested at last upon the blonde beauty that had
ruled New York society with an iron hand, and with a long breath, that
was a half articulated sound, she tottered to her feet.

Evelyn Chandler's heart gave a great bound, then seemed to stand
dangerously still.

Leonard Chandler was perplexed beyond expression.

"Leonie," he said calmly, "you were in this room when it was robbed,
were you not?"

She nodded without speaking.

"Who did it?"

She hesitated, her eyes still upon his face.

"Why do you not answer?" he asked, almost roughly.

"I cannot!" she replied, so hoarsely that no one would have recognized
her voice.

Mr. Chandler was rigid as marble.

"Do you realize," he said, impressively, "that your refusal leaves a
shadow upon some member of my family?"

"That cannot be," Leonie answered with painful effort. "What need would
any member of your family have to steal?"

"It was some one out of the house, then?"

"It was some one--out of the house!"

The pause was so long before the most important word, that when it was
spoken Evelyn Chandler almost betrayed herself by a sigh of relief. She
knew that her secret was safe, yet there was nothing of gratitude in
her feeling toward Leonie. On the contrary, she detested her all the
more that she owed it to her.

Behind her relief the sound of the voice of the man who had adopted her
came to Evelyn.

"Do you know that your refusal to convict a thief under the
circumstances makes you an accessory to his crime, and punishable with
him?" he was saying, his eyes steely with anger.

The violet eyes never faltered.

"I beg that you will not do that sir, for--my--father's sake. He is old
and--has but--me. Surely you will not----"

"You shall go to jail if you persist in your refusal to answer me!"
cried Chandler, without the softening of a muscle in his face. "I will
give you until morning to decide."

"It will be useless, I cannot alter my determination. But--is there
nothing that you can say? Surely you will pray him only to let me go
free?"

She had turned to Evelyn Chandler and extended her arms. The lovely
face was quivering with anguish, the eyes glistened with a fire that
no tears could quench, the sweet mouth trembled piteously, but Miss
Chandler returned the glance with one that was half sneering, wholly
defiant.

"I never interfere in any of my father's matters," she said, coldly:
"he is quite right. If you know the thief, you should be forced to tell
who it is."

Too dumb from anguish to realize the extreme audacity of the girl who
could stand before her and so coolly make a speech like that, yet
seeing that she had nothing to hope for in that quarter, Leonie turned
away with a weary groan.

"I have nothing more to say," she exclaimed, dully. "I pray that you
will spare me for my father's sake. Oh, dad, dad! you tried to save me
from this but I would not let you. God help you and me!"

Regardless of their presence, or perhaps forgetful of it, the unhappy
girl sunk upon the floor, and covering her white face with her hands
rocked her body to and fro miserably.

Twice Leonard Chandler spoke to her, but she did not hear; then
motioning the others from the room, he, too, passed out, and turning
the key in the lock upon the outside, he left her there a prisoner.



CHAPTER VI.


The house had barely become quiet again than a noiseless step descended
the stairs, a light hand turned the key in the door of the library, and
Evelyn Chandler once more entered the presence of her sister.

"I have risked my father's displeasure to give you your liberty,"
said Miss Chandler, coldly. "If you are wise, you will leave here at
once and forever. My father is a man whose justice is not tempered
with mercy. I tell you frankly that if he can find you he will most
certainly punish you as he has threatened to do."

"You mean that you would allow him to do that?" Leonie asked, her voice
still unsteady almost to inarticulation.

"What have I to do with it?" asked Miss Chandler, with calm scorn. "I
am not one of the emotional kind to become interested in criminals."

"And is that all that you have to say to me?"

"All? What more would you have me say?"

"At least that you are sorry."

"I repeat that I am not of a sentimental nature. I will say, however,
that I am sorry you forced this story from me."

"Not for what you have done? Oh, my sister--for you are my
sister--listen to me. I don't know what that man is to you, but I beg
of you, for your own sake, not to do again the dreadful thing you have
done to-night. Think of the consequences!"

A hard, cruel, sneering laugh rippled quietly through the elder girl's
lips.

"Fancy the daughter of Lena Mauprat preaching honesty!" she exclaimed,
with heartless sarcasm. "My dear, are you anxious to know who that man
was who forced me to produce that money for him? Well, since I have
seen how perfectly I can trust you, I don't mind telling you that he
is my father, your mother's husband, an ex-convict, a gambler, and
presumably a thief. I am very anxious that his relationship to me
should not be known to my respected adopted father, who knows nothing
whatever of my parentage, save that they were poor. I am expecting to
make a brilliant marriage, thanks to my prospective millions, and I
cannot afford to spoil it with any romantic stories of convict fathers
and mothers. You are sensible enough to understand that, I am quite
sure, and will do nothing to spoil your sister's chances. Am I not
correct?"

The speech was so heartless, so utterly cold-blooded, that Leonie, even
in her half-stunned condition, shuddered.

"You have nothing to fear from me!" she answered wearily. "I don't seem
to realize just yet what has happened, but as I have been in ignorance
of your existence until to-night, I can try to forget, if you so wish!
Is there nothing kind that you can say to me, for our----"

She had meant to say, "for our mother's sake," but the words stuck in
her throat and refused to be uttered.

Miss Chandler laughed again.

"Why did not you finish your sentence?" she asked brutally. "If you
will take my advice, my dear Leonie, you will leave here at once. I
cannot answer for the result if you remain until to-morrow."

"At least you will say good-bye?"

"With all the pleasure in life!"

Weary, heart-sore, Leonie turned away. There was nothing that she could
say--nothing that she could do.

Bowed down, feeling as though a century had been added to her years
since the night before, she crept away, and out to where the pale
streaks of red in a cool gray sky showed that the morning had broken.

She was without hat or wrap, but did not seem to realize it as she
tottered on, apparently oblivious of surroundings, even of suffering!

And so she reached the house that had been her happy home! How changed
everything seemed! Slowly, wearily she ascended the stairs and entered
the room where she and "dad" had passed so many pleasant hours.

As she opened the door she saw that the room was not empty.

In a large chair near the open window Godfrey Cuyler sat, his long
white hair slightly lifted by the breeze, his head resting upon the
back of the chair, his eyes closed in sleep.

She stood above him, gazing silently down upon him, trying to think
while her brain seemed to be an impenetrable maze, yet through all the
gloom that surrounded her a single thought struggled through! How white
and wan he looked! Was she about to lose him in addition to the other
terrible trouble that had come upon her?

As the thought came to her, a low groan of indescribable misery fell
from her lips. It awakened the sleeper.

His eyes opened, and with a start he straightened himself in his chair.

"You, Leonie!" he gasped. "In Heaven's name, what has happened?"

She kneeled beside him and laid her lips upon his hand without
answering.

The act frightened him as perhaps no other would. He fell back, his
face became ashen, his lips blue. A cold moisture, like the dew of
death, stood thickly upon his brow.

"Leonie," he said, his voice sounding strangely thick and guttural,
"where have you been for the past week that you could not tell dad?"

She lifted her white, anguished face and allowed her eyes to rest upon
his.

"I have been with Leonard Chandler!" she answered dully.

Why he did not die at that moment was a mystery, but the shock seemed
to rather paralyze than excite him. His lips grew a shade bluer and
trembled, but that was the only evidence of emotion.

"And you know all?" he asked hoarsely.

"Not all, but, oh, dad, I know I am the daughter of a thief, and it is
enough, enough. Dad, dad, why did you do it?"

The misery of the young voice would have been exquisite torture to him
had he not been deprived of the capacity of feeling. His brain seemed
to act in a way, yet his emotional organs were stunned. He took her by
the shoulders and looked her earnestly in the eyes.

"My darling," he murmured, his voice scarcely audible, "do you think
I brought that shame into your life? Your mother was my daughter, my
dearest! Oh, Leonie, Leonie, I have tried so hard to keep this hideous
thing from you, for this--for this! Child, child, why did you do it?"

"It is better so, dad, much better! It has shown me what my life must
be, and my--dreams--were--different. Somehow I feel better to know that
you are not my father, that you did not bring this shame upon me! Oh,
dad, why can we not die together and end it all?"

A curious expression crept over the white, still face of the old man,
but he made no comment, only smoothed down the bright, beautiful hair
with a hand that trembled peculiarly.

"Now that you know so much, my little one, I must tell you all," he
stammered, wearily.

He tried to rise, but the effort it cost was beyond his strength.

"Look in the desk there and get me the picture you saw," he whispered,
handing her a key.

Mechanically she obeyed, and handed it to him with the case unopened.
He pressed the spring and revealed the pictured face to her.

"It was your mother," he said, almost reverently.

She took the portrait from his hand and gazed upon it. For the first
time the glazed eyes filled with tears, but they did not fall.

"It is very like--her," she said, slowly. "Oh, dad! what have I done
that God should send a curse like this upon me?"

"Hush, dear! You must not question the wisdom of God. Bear your burden
meekly, and He will help you in the end. Oh, Leonie! why would not you
let me save you?"

"I could not, dad. You must not blame me. What right had I, the
daughter of a thief----"

"You shall not say that--she was your mother! Listen to her story,
and see if you cannot find an excuse for her, even as I did. Listen,
Leonie! I will make the story as short as I can."



CHAPTER VII.


Godfrey Cuyler paused.

His face was growing more gray momentarily, his breathing seemed forced
and unnatural, there was a curious, quick throb about his heart that
was ominous, but Leonie did not observe it in her bewildered state. She
might have noticed that he was pale, but she attached no significance
to it.

When he could control himself sufficiently, he began his story.

"I don't know how to tell you what Lena was to me in her childhood,"
he said, brokenly. "Her mother died when she was a little child, and I
had only her. Ah, Leonie, I worshiped her! We were wealthy then, and
there was never a desire of hers that I left ungratified. I devoted
my life to her--watching her grow as a miser does his fortune. She
was my idol, and God punished me, as He promised to do all those who
worshiped outside of Himself. She was only eighteen--young, lovely; oh!
I can never describe her to you as she was when she met Ben Mauprat.
She could have married a prince, but she fell in love with that
scoundrel, and while I pleaded with her upon bended knee to give him
up, she eloped with him as soon as my back was turned, and the tragedy
of her life began. He was a gambler, a libertine--there was nothing
under heaven that was low and vile that he was not. To save him from
the penitentiary I spent money--thousand after thousand, until I had
reduced myself almost to beggary--and the end came! When he could get
no more money from me he robbed a bank, was detected, and sentenced to
the penitentiary for ten years."

There was a long pause for rest, then, with only an increased pallor in
the face, Godfrey Cuyler continued:

"At that time I was living in New Orleans, but that city, being too
small for Ben Mauprat, he brought his wife to New York. Evelyn was then
about three years of age, and as like her in appearance as could be.
When Ben was sent to the penitentiary my poor girl wrote to me, but the
letter never reached me. That was the cause of all the after suffering.
She thought that I had deserted her, and that made her reckless. Oh,
Lena, Lena! You should have known me better, my darling!"

For the first time emotion overcame him, and bowing his head upon his
hand, the old man sobbed aloud.

A choking sensation followed. He gasped once or twice for breath, then
in a much more feeble and broken voice, he continued:

"She was penniless, helpless, and had that child to support. Well,
Leonie, the result of it was that Mrs. Chandler, in her charity rounds,
saw the child, fell in love with it, and convinced by Lena of the
perfect respectability of the child's parentage, she adopted it. She
knew nothing of the baby's father, but believed him to be dead. How can
I tell you the rest?"

The white lips trembled. He endeavored to moisten them, but his tongue
seemed as dry and parched as the lips. Still by a mighty effort he went
on:

"Lena went to live with a family of decent surroundings, though
poor. She had a little room in the house, and took in sewing enough
to support herself; but it was a terrible existence, one day
having bread, the next day none, haunted continually by the fear of
starvation. Well, at last Satan succeeded in accomplishing her utter
destruction. So small a matter as the water-works in the house where
she lived, almost upon the charity of the people, got out of order. The
owner of the house came himself to see what repairs were necessary. He
saw Lena. I have told you that she was beautiful. Leonie, he fell in
love with her. Then the temptation of her life began. They told her how
rich and proud he was, that there was scarcely a family in the city who
could compare with his in point of birth and wealth, but that pride was
his fault. Darling, that man was Roger Pyne!"

"What!"

That name had power to arouse Leonie from a lethargy as none other had.

She sprung to her feet, but as she caught sight of Godfrey Cuyler's
face, she sunk back again with a low sob of anguish.

"He was the uncle of the man who was your employer," he continued, the
effort to speak growing more painful with each moment. "He fell in love
with her. Believing that poverty was the only disgrace that attached to
her, Roger Pyne called upon her and proposed marriage. Leonie, she was
starving. She was so bitterly alone, so helpless, there was none near
to guide her in the right path, every hope had been taken out of her
life---- Oh, what shall I say to make you see her fault in a merciful
light? God knows how hard it is to resist a temptation like that! She
knew that if he knew the story of her life he would never marry her,
and to her the protection he offered meant heaven. Leonie, Leonie, she
married him, never telling him the history of her life, or that she had
a living husband in the penitentiary!"

"My God!"

The exclamation fell like ice from the cold lips, but the expression of
Leonie's face did not alter.

"A week later he discovered all," the old man went on dully. "In his
terrible anger he cast her off without a penny; he went to Europe and
left her here to starve. For several months she lived the same way that
she had done before, barely keeping soul and body together; then you
were born! I can never tell you what it was after that. Mrs. Chandler
was also in Europe. Lena wrote to me many times, but the letters never
reached me, and at last starvation came! She saw you dying before her
very eyes, dying for want of food, and she unable to help you.

"Made desperate by her terrible extremity, she rushed out into the
street and snatched a purse from a man. It contained only twenty little
pitiful dollars, not one of which she had used; but she was arrested,
tried, as her husband had been, and--God! how can I say it?--was
convicted. I read the story in the papers. How I ever lived to reach
her is more than I can tell. There were no extenuating circumstances
printed, she was poor and friendless. There was no mention made of
her marriage to Roger Pyne, but only the cold story of her crime. Oh,
Leonie, my child---- But what is the use in attempting to tell you what
I suffered? No words could ever describe it. I reached her in time to
see her die, to hear her story, to have you confided to my care, and
that was all. She died in the Tombs prison. It took all the soul out
of my body, but I knew that I must live for your sake. I could not go
back again to my old home, where everything reminded me of her, and so
I settled here in this great city, where no man knows his neighbors'
business or cares to know. As I watched you grow, the same love that I
had given to Lena I felt for you. Then the desire that grew to mania
came that you might never know of the shadow upon your birth. Oh, how I
prayed that you might be spared that; and now--Leonie----"

There was another gasp for breath, a wild clutching at the collar, and
for the first time Leonie saw. She sprung to her feet and seized his
hand wildly.

"Dad," she gasped--"dad! in Heaven's name what is the matter?"

"Nothing," he answered, his throat closing over the word with a
peculiar choking. "You must--not be--frightened. I--am--often--so."

"Not like that. Oh, God, dad! it looks like--death!"

His face was not more ghastly than her own. She had forgotten the
terrible secret of her birth, forgotten her mother's suffering,
forgotten everything save the danger that was menacing him.

"Hush!" he whispered, the sound a feeble effort. "My little one, my
little one--you do--not--blame dad?"

"Blame you? Oh, my darling, my darling! what does life contain for me
but you? Dad, dad! look at me. Tell me that you will not leave me. Dad,
speak to me."

"The--will of--God----"

"Surely God will not take you from me when you are all I have! Let me
go for a doctor, quick."

"No; I should die alone while you were gone. I knew--the end--was near
before--you came--and I prayed--God--to send--you before--it was--too
late. He heard--my prayer--I am--grate--ful. Darling--it has come. It
is---- Good-bye forever now!"

"Oh dad, dad, dad! take me with you. I cannot remain here so bitterly
alone with this hideous disgrace, this frightful secret bearing me
down. Let me go, too."

She leaped to her feet wildly, unmistakable insanity glittering in her
eyes, and seized a knife that lay upon the table.

Godfrey Cuyler lifted his half glazed eyes and looked at her. Although
death was upon him he realized her intention. Struggling to his feet
he caught the back of his chair with one hand, and with the other he
grasped the knife.

God lent him strength for the moment; he wrenched the knife from her
and flung it from him. It fell through the open window.

She pitched headlong upon the floor insensible. He fought back death
to lean above her, but a spasm of the heart seized him. He flung
himself around and fell back into his chair. The muscles relaxed after
a moment, the eyes rolled upward, and limp, utterly lifeless, the body
of Godfrey Cuyler lay, when they found him there an hour later, with
Leonie still upon the floor at his feet.



CHAPTER VIII.


It was the girl whom Leonie had engaged to cook Godfrey Cuyler's meals
during her sojourn at Leonard Chandler's who found them there.

She gave the alarm, and several women, and men, as well, hastily
answered the summons.

Little was known of the Cuylers among the tenants of the house, as they
were people who had few associates, but a doctor was brought, and the
living separated from the dead.

He it was who examined some of their effects, and finding only the
address of Lynde Pyne, sent a messenger to his office.

He was not in so early in the morning, and it was not until nearly ten
o'clock that the note the physician had sent reached him.

He did not even remove his coat and hat, but turning to his office boy,
gave a hasty order:

"If any one calls, say that I will return by noon, if not earlier."

"But, sir, Mr. Chandler has been here already. He seemed very much
put out that you were not here, and said that he would call again at
half-past ten."

For a moment Lynde stood gnawing the ends of his mustache in
perplexity, then, with an impatient wave of the hand, he turned away.

"Say that I could not wait, but that I will call at his office at one,"
he exclaimed, leaving the room almost at once.

Once in the street, he called a cab, and giving the driver the address
the physician had provided, he ordered him to drive quickly.

It was with feelings of decided relief that he sprung from the cab as
it paused before the door of a poor but respectable lodging-house.

Five minutes later the door of Leonie's room opened to admit him. She
had recovered from her swoon, but lay almost lifeless upon the chair in
which her grandfather had died.

In as few words as possible the physician explained what had occurred,
after Lynde had introduced himself, and at the latter's request he was
left alone with Leonie.

She was not even cognizant of his presence when he drew a chair to her
side and took her hand.

She drew back when she recognized him, as though another terrible
misfortune had befallen her.

"You!" she whispered. "How came you here?"

"They told me you were in trouble and I came at once," he answered
tenderly. "My poor little girl, is there nothing that I can do for you?"

"Nothing! nothing, but to leave me alone! That is all, that is all!"

She shivered horribly and arose, pacing up and down the floor, her
great wild eyes restlessly roving from one object to another.

He watched her for a few moments, fascinated by the peculiar magnetism
of her sufferings, then arose, and laying his arm about her shoulders,
he took her hand. There was nothing impertinent in his act, only the
sincere interest of one whose heart is deeply touched.

"Leonie," he said, gently, "let me do something to help you bear your
terrible sorrow. It breaks my heart to see you like this while I sit
helplessly by. You must not grieve so. They tell me he was old. Think,
dear! He has borne his burden of life, and perhaps now is happy and at
peace with God. You could not expect to keep him with you always. Are
you not a little selfish, dear? Try to think of it as the will of God,
and----"

"Oh, I can't!" she interrupted, her teeth chattering under her fearful
suffering; "he was all on earth I had. In the whole world there is
no human being left for me. I am as much alone as though my little
craft rocked in mid-ocean with only the waves surrounding me. Oh, God!
You cannot think what that means until you have been left so. I have
nothing left me but suffering and----"

She had meant to say disgrace, but the word was drowned in a horrible
groan. She fell into a chair, and holding to the back buried her face
upon her arm. Lynde Pyne stood beside her. He laid his hand upon her
bowed head, and smoothed the soft hair caressingly.

The expression of his face was one of keenest pain.

"Leonie," he said, pausing between each word as though to control an
almost irresistible desire, "you must not speak with such despair. You
are not--alone. If a steadfast friendship--the love of a--brother--will
be a consolation to you, I offer you myself. Leonie, little girl, trust
me."

"Trust you?" she echoed; "with my whole heart. Ah! what am I saying?
Forget it! I--I am weak--too miserable to think. Mr. Pyne, if you have
any pity for me, I beg that you will go away. I cannot--come to--you
again to do the work----"

"Don't speak of that now. What do I care for the work or anything else,
when you are in trouble like this? Leonie, don't look like that! Oh,
child! if I might only bear it for you. You must not send me away,
dear! There is so much to be done, and I must do it for you. Have you
no woman friend?"

"No. Dad and I have lived all alone, caring only for each other. Oh,
dad! why did you leave me with this frightful burden to bear alone? Why
could you not take me with you? I feel as if I were going mad."

"Hush, dear! There are others to whom you are necessary. Leonie, I must
tell you, great sin though I am committing in doing so. My darling,
I love you with all the soul in my body, with all the strength of my
being. Can you not see it? Do you not know it? Leonie, what have I said
to cause you to look at me like that?"

"You love me?" she whispered, the words more a breath than an
articulation--"you love me?"

"Dearest, can you doubt it? I know that I am the greatest scoundrel
living, to tell you so. But how can I see you in such distress and not
speak, when my heart is full to overflowing? Darling, look at me."

She had buried her face in her hands, and was rocking herself to and
fro in her abandonment to a grief that was well nigh killing her. At
his command she dropped her hands exposing to him an expression of
agony that he had never seen equaled. With a suppressed cry he took
her in his arms and covered her lips with passionate kisses.

"My love, my love, you madden me!" he whispered. "What terrible shadow
is it that is darkening your life? You love me! I see it in the
expression of your sweet, sad eyes, and yet the knowledge of my love
brings you but pain. Leonie, what is it?"

"I cannot tell you," she cried hoarsely. "I entreat you to leave me!
I will tell you that there is a shadow upon my life, the knowledge of
which reached me within the last few hours, that has forever wrecked my
happiness. There is no relief that can ever come to me but death! If
I love you, it but makes the curse the greater, and the assurance of
reciprocation is anguish!"

"You love me, then? Tell me but that!"

"Love you!"

She crushed his hand beneath hers and arose, staggering as though
beneath the weight of a physical burden. He sprung to his feet and took
her by the shoulders, his beautiful face quivering with emotion.

"You are tempting me to the first dishonorable act of my life," he
cried, almost fiercely. "I love you as no man ever loved a woman
before. My whole soul seems swallowed up in my passion! I am the
betrothed husband of another woman, but you have but to speak the word
to make me false to my promise! I will give up everything for you, even
to life itself were that necessary. I care not what shadow darkens your
existence. Say but the word, promise that you will be my wife, and I
will throw aside every consideration for your sake! Leonie, speak to
me!"

His passion seemed to quiet her. Not since her entrance to the library,
where she had discovered something of that fearful secret, had she been
so calm. She did not attempt to withdraw herself from him, but gazed
into his face with a devotion he never forgot.

"I thank you for your words," she said brokenly. "Perhaps they have
saved me from suicide or a madhouse. I think I have suffered this day
as no woman ever did before, yet I would go through it all again before
I would have you false to your vow. There are reasons why, even if no
pledge existed, you could never make me your wife. I tell you this
because it may be a comfort to you in the after years. It is good-bye
now forever, for from this hour to see each other would be dishonor."

"And you can speak of it so calmly?"

"I can, because my heart is broken."

"And you think that I will give you up, knowing that you love me?
Never! I will go to Miss Chandler and tell her the truth. I will say to
her----"

"Wait!"

The interruption came from Leonie.

She had wrenched herself from his arms, and was standing gazing into
his face in an almost stupid way, her eyes expressive of paralyzing
horror. She was bending slightly forward, her lips parted, her
countenance drawn to distortion.

"You are betrothed to Evelyn Chandler?" she asked, in a strained
undertone.

"Yes."

"My God!"

She lifted her hand to her brow as though to clear her brain.

What was she to do? The situation was hideous to her, and yet she felt
herself utterly incapable of revealing the story of her own life and
her sister's. But could she in justice allow an innocent man to marry a
thief, the daughter of a convict, when she could save him?

To speak would ruin her sister, throw her upon the world as a beggar
to fall to the lowest depths of infamy, as Leonie knew she would. To
remain silent would very likely result in the ruin of the man she loved.

As she stood revolving the terrible alternative in her mind the door
opened, and a blue-coated officer entered the room.

"Are you Leonie Cuyler?" he asked, standing before the shrinking girl.

"I am," she faltered.

"Then you are my prisoner!"

He laid his hand roughly upon her shoulder and turned her toward the
door.



CHAPTER IX.


The horror of the situation struck Lynde Pyne with paralyzing force,
but his was one of those natures that recovers all the more quickly,
the more powerful the blow.

With instinctive kindness he drew the girl's arm through his own, and
by his strength steadied her tottering feet.

"Lead the way!" he said to the officer. "We will follow you."

He turned to Leonie, all his heart seeming to glow through his eyes.

"Do not fear," he whispered. "I will save you. My poor girl, my
suffering one, you must trust me, and know that your sorrows are mine.
I will bring you back here within the hour. You trust me, do you not?"

She was too much dazed to reply. All intellectuality seemed frozen in
her. She was scarcely conscious of what he had been speaking.

He hurried her onward that he might return with her all the sooner,
drawing her arm yet closer within his own protectingly.

Once upon the street, he called a carriage, and together with the
officer, they entered it.

He spoke but once to her on the way to the station-house, and then she
did not reply. He attempted no further conversation, but watched her
fearfully, noting with horror the stoniness of her countenance.

She seemed to be unconscious of her surroundings when she was placed
in the narrow cell, and when they came to her again some time later,
they found her in the exact position in which she had been left. Not a
muscle seemed to have been disturbed.

Lynde Pyne entered there with an officer. He took her by the hand, and
gently lifted her to her feet.

"Come," he said, gently, "we will return to your home again."

Some intelligence struggled to her eyes.

"I am no longer a prisoner, then?" she asked, dully.

"No!"

"Will you explain it to me?"

"There is so very little to explain! When we get home----"

"No, now! You need not be afraid to tell me the worst. If anything
could have killed me or driven me mad, I should be dead to this
suffering now. Has--that man withdrawn the charge he made against me?"

"N--o!" stammered Pyne.

"I see! You forget that my experience has been in the office of a
lawyer. How much bail was required?"

The interrogation was put to the officer, and not to Pyne.

Disregarding, or not seeing the glance of warning from the latter, he
answered with the customary indifference of his class:

"Fifteen hundred."

Leonie groaned. Something in her face sent a quick thrill of
apprehension through Pyne, but as she fell back immediately into the
old apathy, he said nothing.

Silently he led her to the waiting carriage, and they were driven again
to that house wherein death reigned. Wearily Leonie dragged herself
up the long, steep flight and into the room where she had only that
morning--but how long ago it seemed--heard the hideous story of her
mother's shame.

She started to the room in which lay the body of her beloved dead, but
a solemn-faced man met her at the door and told her gently but clearly
that she could not enter.

She made no resistance, but allowed Lynde Pyne to close the door and
place her in a chair beside the open window.

Her faculties seemed to be entirely restored, but not a tear relieved
the terrible brilliancy of her eyes.

With the death of hope and the birth of despair, had come a calm that
had the appearance of stoicism.

Lynde Pyne kneeled beside her, and taking the small cold hands in his,
chafed them tenderly.

"Leonie," he said gently, "I wish that you would trust me, dear! I wish
that you would remember that there is nothing in all this world that I
would not do for you if you would only let me. I wish that you would
try to think there is no trouble that I would not bear for you, if by
so doing, I could relieve you of sorrow. You know that I would do
that, do you not?"

She bowed her head upon his hand, but neither sigh nor moan escaped her.

"Child, you cannot bear this sorrow alone. Why will you not trust me?"

"Because I cannot. It is part of the curse that is upon me that I must
suffer in silence. There is only one thing, and if you would promise
that, there would be a load lifted from my heart--a load of shame! What
am I saying? You must not listen to me, but---- You know that I love
you, do you not?"

"Yes, I know that," he answered, with a curious intonation.

"Well, listen! There are reasons that make it impossible for me to be
your wife, but"--holding his hands in a grasp like iron and looking
into his eyes with an earnestness that was terrible--"it would kill
me--to see--another--in the place--that honor--forbids me--to accept.
Lynde! Lynde! promise me, swear to me that you will not make Evelyn
Chandler your wife!"

She had arisen and was standing over him, her hands still holding his,
her wild eyes gazing into his with a fierceness that was startling.

He arose slowly and stood before her.

"You wish me to break my word without cause!" he said, gently. "Give
me some reason for it. Let me say to Miss Chandler that I have been
mistaken, that I love another, and that that other will be my wife,
with her permission, and I consent. How could I go to her and tell her
that I must have my promise back without an excuse to offer?"

"I don't know; but if you love me, if you would save me from a
madhouse, you will find a way. Lynde, promise me!"

"Tell me, Leonie, what had Evelyn Chandler to do with this robbery?"

He spoke the words slowly and impressively. She started, and for the
moment seemed about to faint, but quickly recovered herself.

"Nothing!" she answered, in a ghastly sort of whisper.

"Don't you know that they will force it from you upon the witness
stand? Don't you know that the most minute examination will be made
into your life and antecedents and hers? Do you think you can conceal a
fact from these men where a family like that is concerned? Why, there
will not be an incident from your birth to the present day that they
will not discover----"

"Hush! You are driving me mad! I will find a way to prevent that if I
must seek death to do it. Oh, my God----"

In her frightful excitement she might have told him all she knew and
saved herself from the terrible time that followed, had not the door
opened, and the undertaker entered.

"If you wish, Miss Cuyler," he said, gently, "you may come in now."

Bowed, broken in spirit, heart-sore and weary, she followed him.

Mechanically, Lynde Pyne was about to follow her, when a messenger
entered bearing a note addressed to himself.

He tore it open and read:

  "Come to your office at once. I must see you.

                                                    "LEONARD CHANDLER."



CHAPTER X.


Reluctantly enough, Lynde Pyne left the room in which the mortal
remains of Godfrey Cuyler lay, after having assured Leonie of his
immediate return, and went to the office where Leonard Chandler awaited
him.

Upon the way, his reflections were not enviable ones. He felt quite
convinced that Leonie's agitation was not the result of her grief
occasioned by her grandfather's death. On the contrary, there was
something behind that seemed to overshadow death, and cause her almost
to forget it.

What was it? and what had Evelyn Chandler to do with it?

Those were the questions that he put to himself persistently, and to
which he found no answer.

He gnawed his mustache in helpless silence, his brows drawn in a heavy
frown, and decided upon the only course open to him, to wait for the
assistance that time renders.

That is not an easy method, particularly to an impulsive man, but it
was the only way. His humor, therefore, was not of the pleasantest when
he entered the office to which he had been so imperatively summoned.

"Good-morning, Mr. Chandler!" he exclaimed rather somberly, shaking
hands. "I am sorry that you were forced to wait for me, but----"

"Never mind that, sir," interrupted Chandler, not even the shadow of a
smile lighting the anger in his eyes. "I want an explanation from you,
sir. I understand that you furnished the bail under which that girl,
Leonie Cuyler, was released from jail. Is that true, sir?"

"It is perfectly true!"

"And you did that, knowing that I wished her to remain there until she
had sense enough not to decline to reveal the name of a thief?"

"Pardon me, Mr. Chandler. I am afraid I did not think of your wishes
upon the subject at all. Miss Cuyler's grandfather, her only living
relative, died this morning. She was as devoted to him as any own child
could be, and in common humanity, if there had been no other reason, I
could not have allowed her to remain there."

"What do you suppose I cared for her grandfather? That girl shall tell
who the thief who robbed my house was, or I will prosecute her to the
day of my death. I will spend every cent of money that I possess, but
what I will find out the truth of this affair. Do you understand that,
Mr. Pyne? Nothing in the shape of sentimentality shall deter me. That
girl went there for the purpose of convicting the thief, and she shall
do it."

The words were spoken slowly, and with an emphasis upon each that
showed Lynde Pyne very clearly that his guest meant every word he
uttered, and more.

Pyne raised his foot, placed it upon a chair, and leaned his arm upon
his knee with greatest nonchalance.

His eyes were fixed upon Chandler's calmly, almost coldly.

"Mr. Chandler," he said, impressively, "for several years I have been
your attorney. You have always followed my advice implicitly in every
instance, and there has never been a time when it has been incorrect!
Am I right?"

"Yes."

"Then there is reason why you should listen to me in this. Do not press
this case against Miss Cuyler. If you do you may regret it to the last
day of your life. Withdraw the charges you have made against her."

"But I will not. Do you suppose that I will let a matter like that
rest? Never, I tell you. Leonie Cuyler shall speak, or the whole weight
of my fortune shall be turned against her. I direct you now to press
this thing to the last extremity. Let no stone go unturned. Move heaven
and earth to----"

"Pardon me, Mr. Chandler. It is useless for me to allow you to go
further. If you persist in this heartless scheme I must resign from the
case. I cannot act where my client refuses to follow my directions."

Chandler lifted his eyes aghast.

"What!" he gasped. "You throw up all the business that I have put into
your hands because of that girl? You must be mad! Why, man, I will ruin
you!"

"If you think you can you are perfectly welcome to try, but I tell you
frankly that you have not enough money in your possession to tempt me
to lift a finger against Leonie Cuyler."

"And you dare to tell me this? You, the betrothed husband of my
daughter!"

"I dare do anything that my conscience and my duty may dictate, Mr.
Chandler, regardless of other considerations."

"Then I tell you, sir, that you shall never enter my doors again!
Remember that. If you presume to call, the servants will have
instructions to throw you out. And as for that Cuyler girl, I am all
the more determined that she shall be forced to tell all she knows, if
my entire fortune must be spent upon it. Good-morning, Mr. Pyne. I am
afraid that you will discover before you are through with it that this
morning's work is liable to cost you dear!"

He banged the door behind him, and for many minutes Lynde Pyne stood
there looking at it intently, then he turned suddenly, with a short,
mirthless laugh.

"I am afraid I have played the dickens!" he muttered. "But there seemed
to be nothing else for it. He will leave no stone unturned to force
this story from Leonie; she will emphatically refuse to answer, and
then--well, God knows what will come after the 'and then!' There is
nothing to think of now but burying that man, and getting at the bottom
of these facts that threaten such danger to Leonie."

"Mr. Davidge is here to see you, sir!" said the office-boy, at his
elbow.

"Tell him that I am out! That I have gone over to the courtroom about a
case that I have on. Tell him anything that comes into your head, but
don't let me be interrupted again to-day. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir."

The boy had scarcely closed the door behind him than Pyne leaped to his
feet.

"I must go and see about that funeral!" he exclaimed to himself. "That
poor child is there all alone, except for that ignorant mob. What a
relief it is to think that old Chandler broke that engage---- Bah! that
savored very strongly of cowardice and almost dishonor; but somehow I
can't help feeling that I am ten years younger."



CHAPTER XI.


The golden hue of a dying sun lit up the West, and shone with radiant
glory into the bare chamber where Leonie Cuyler sat, her head bowed
upon the arm of the chair in which her grandfather had died.

She did not hear the knock that sounded upon the door, nor did she hear
it open, nor see the man who entered.

He looked at her for a moment in silence, noting her extreme
gracefulness even in a position like that; he saw where the sun kissed
the bowed head as if in benediction; he understood the terrible grief
that hovered over her, and something like tears gleamed in his eyes as
he went forward and drew a chair close to her.

"Leonie," he said, taking her hand gently, "arouse yourself, dear. Do
you think you are doing right to give way to your grief in this manner?
I know that it is hard to bear; but it must come to us all sooner or
later, and he is at rest! Does that thought bring you no consolation?"

She lifted her head, a terrible shiver shaking her.

"It is the only consolation that I have!" she answered drearily. "When
I remember how full his life was of sorrow that no time could ever have
lightened, I am glad that he is at peace with God. But the burden is
hard to bear, when I am so bitterly alone, oh, God! so horribly alone!"

"Do I count for nothing, then?"

"You are good to me, Mr. Pyne, so good that you are breaking my heart
afresh every hour; but in justice to you I cannot accept the friendship
that is so sweet to me. In mercy to myself I must refuse it! I have
been in the world so long that it is no secret to me what construction
is put upon the friendship of a man like you for a creature in my
sphere and----"

"Leonie, I forbid you to speak like that. You know no more of what you
are saying than a three-months-old child. There is no man that will
have a right to question my motives when I say that I have asked you to
become my wife. I did not come here to-night to speak to you upon this
subject, nor shall I. You must listen to me--you must see the truth of
what I say, for there is no time to be lost. Have you forgotten that
to-morrow is the day set down for the hearing of your case?"

Her hand closed over the arm of the chair, her teeth were set firmly,
her face became a shade more ghastly, but her voice was quiet as she
answered:

"I had forgotten!"

"Then it is quite time that you remember, Leonie. I have, without
your request, or even consent, constituted myself your attorney, and
it is to talk with you upon this subject alone that I have come here
to-night. I want you to feel the strength of my love sufficiently to
know that you may trust me in all things. Do you think that you can do
that?"

"I know that I can trust you!"

"Then tell me who committed that robbery!"

"I cannot!"

"I expected that answer, and yet you said that you could trust me.

"Leonie, I entreat you, for your own sake, to tell me the truth about
this. If there is anything that ought to be concealed, I will help you
to the last day of my life to conceal it; but, for the love of Heaven,
don't place yourself in this hideous position without advice from some
one. Let me be the judge. Tell me the truth, and I swear to you upon my
honor that, if there is reason for the concealment I will help you to
it!"

He paused for a moment, wiping away the moisture from his brow that
earnestness had brought there.

Leonie straightened herself, and leaning forward, laid her hand upon
his.

"I know that what you are saying to me is intended for my good alone,"
she cried, in a choked voice, "and from the bottom of my heart I thank
you, but--I do not seem capable of thought to-night. I do not seem to
understand. You are so good to me that I feel that I can ask anything
of you, and therefore I beg that you will come to-morrow. Leave me this
night, my first without--dad--to myself, and to-morrow----"

She could not complete the sentence, but turned away, hiding her
quivering face upon her arm.

Pyne stood beside her, placing his arm about her.

"I have been cruel, but it was the only way to save you," he whispered.
"Tell me that you forgive me?"

"There is nothing to forgive," she answered, lifting her dull eyes
piteously. "If there should ever come a time when you feel that you
have something to forgive me for, remember that what I shall do will
always be for your good, will you not? Remember that however unworthy I
may be, that I loved you with all my heart, and---- Oh, go! I beseech
you, go! I am not myself! To-morrow----"

She did not finish the sentence, but raised herself to her full height,
looked him in the face with a long, searching, hungry passion, lifted
his hand to her hot, dry lips, and pressing a burning kiss upon it,
passed hurriedly from the room.

He looked after her for a moment irresolutely, half tempted to follow.

"What does it mean?" he asked of himself. "Her manner was most
singular. Poor little girl. She is almost mad from this grief and
harassing. I wish I could have comforted her instead of adding to
it. Well, I will see her to-morrow, and I will save her in spite of
herself."

He glanced longingly at the door through which she had vanished.

Then restraining his inclination, he picked up his hat and left the
room.

Leonie heard the closing of the door, and entered immediately.

How dreary and desolate it seemed!

Deliberately she had cut herself from him, leaving herself absolutely
alone, with not one human being that she could call her friend.

A great pity for herself surged into her heart, pity for the loneliness
of her situation, for the isolation that had been thrust upon her
through no fault of her own.

She sat down for a moment, burying her face in her hands; then she
lifted it, ghastly with fierce determination.

"This is no time for inactivity or irresolution!" she cried
passionately. "I must follow the life that Heaven has seen fit to
fasten upon me without consent of mine. I am a nameless creature,
but I can still have the courage to save my sister. Lynde Pyne has
pledged himself to pay fifteen hundred dollars to the court to-morrow
in default of my presence. Virtually I am simply forcing a loan upon
him, for it shall be repaid to the last farthing. My weakness has
fallen from me like a mantle. When that is repaid, I can allow my grief
indulgence, but until then----"

She drew pen, ink and paper to her, and began hastily to write the
following:

  "MY DEAR MR. PYNE,--Realizing all the truth of what you said to me
  last night, I have decided to take matters into my own hands. When
  you receive this, I shall be many miles from here. I understand the
  fact of your being compelled to pay the fifteen hundred dollars for
  which you stand pledged for me, but I promise that it shall be repaid
  to the last penny with interest from date. Thanking you for the
  kindly interest that you have taken in me, and trusting that you will
  forgive me for this step that is the only one left me, I am

                                                "Very truly yours,

                                                       "LEONIE CUYLER."

Not once, but many times she read the note, taking it in her hands
to destroy it; then resolutely she placed it in an envelope, sealed,
addressed and stamped it.

"It sounds ungrateful, harsh, unfeeling, but it is better so,
much better," she muttered, her lips drawn together coldly. "What
difference can my love make to him? It could only bring disgrace and
contamination. It could only fill him with loathing if he knew. He will
learn to despise me when he reads what I have written, and it is better
that he should."

She hesitated no longer, but pinning on her hat, she went to the
bureau, and taking from it an old pocketbook, counted the few dollars
that remained in it; then she picked up her letter, and with it clasped
firmly in her hand, went into the street.

An hour later she returned. She went to the glass and removed her hat.

The beautiful hair that had been one of her crowning glories was gone,
and a little boyish head that she could scarcely recognize as her own
was reflected there.

There was no satisfaction, only bitterness in the face that looked back
at her, and she turned without a murmur.

She had begun her battle with life indeed!

She took up a bundle that she had thrown upon the floor upon her
entrance, and took from it a full suit of boy's clothes.

Throwing off her own, she clothed herself in the others, and again
looked calmly into the mirror when the task was completed.

The alteration was complete, absolute.

With the same mechanical movements she opened the drawer to the old
secretary, and took from it the picture that Godfrey Cuyler had told
her was the face of Lena Mauprat, but she thrust it into the pocket of
her coat without a glance at it.

There were one or two souvenirs of "Dad" that she put into her pocket,
then turned to take a last view of the room in which she had been
comparatively happy.

A sob arose in her throat as she pictured the face of her
grandfather--that dear old face that she was never again to see until
she met him in the presence of God!

With an unvoiced prayer in her heart, she kneeled and kissed the chair
in which he had died, then slowly she arose and approached the door.

One last glance, a bursting sob, and Leonie Cuyler passed from the room
forever!



CHAPTER XII.


"Neil?"

"Yes, sir."

Andrew Pryor rushed into his library with every appearance of haste and
excitement upon his kindly face, his breathing short, his hair seeming
to have taken an upward turn.

"I want you to go down on 'Change for me. Hurry, boy! There is not
a single moment to lose. I want you to get there before the market
closes, and tell Caswell for me, to buy two thousand Western Union,
Buyer 30, and sell five thousand Northwest preferred, Seller 60. I have
just had a 'pointer' by which I shall make a pile if the market goes as
I have been informed. You have just three-quarters to make it. If you
get there---- Ah, that is right. That boy is invaluable."

The sentence was finished to himself, the break being caused by the
exit of the boy to whom he had been speaking.

The white-haired old gentleman stood for some time with a smile upon
his lips, rubbing his hands together with an expression of profound
satisfaction.

But gradually it faded.

First came a look of deep thought, then one of fear, followed by an
expression so full of consternation that to a disinterested observer
it would have been laughable.

"By Jove!" he exclaimed aloud, "I am positive that I told that boy to
buy Western Union and sell Northwest preferred! If he gives that order
as I gave it to him, it will ruin me! What in Heaven's name could ever
have made me such a colossal fool! It is impossible to do anything
now! He has been gone fully fifteen minutes, and--what in the name of
common sense am I to do? Nothing, I suppose. Five thousand Chicago and
Northwestern preferred short! Caswell will think I have gone mad! Here!
Sarah! Sarah! Tell William to bring the cart to the door, quick! There
is not a moment to lose! Don't stand staring at me in that insane way,
but hurry! There is not a confounded one of them on this place that
is worth the salt in their bread but that boy whom I never saw until
a week ago. Where the devil is my coat? I never can find it without
that boy. Lord! if Caswell has bought that---- Oh, here it is at last.
William, what in the name of Heaven are you doing here? Didn't Sarah
tell you to bring the cart to the door?"

"I thought----"

"Never mind what you thought, you infernal fool! What business had you
to think? It is too late now. I shall take the elevated."

He banged the door after him as he spoke, and hurried down the street
to the nearest elevated station, rushed up the steps, and was forced to
wait something over five minutes for the train, during which time he
looked at his watch about twenty times.

The day was decidedly cool, but in spite of that fact, the perspiration
rolled down his face like rain.

"I won't get there until the Exchange closes," he muttered; "and with
my affairs in the state they are---- Well, I can't understand what ever
made me such an infernal----"

The sentence was interrupted by the arrival of the train.

Andrew Pryor rushed in pell-mell, took his seat, and imagined that
the train had never run with such exasperating slowness as upon that
occasion.

It came to an end at last, however, and colliding with everything and
everybody where collision was possible, he rushed on.

At the very entrance of the Stock Exchange he ran directly into the boy
whom he had sent upon the errand.

"What in thunder did you tell Caswell?" cried the old man, excitedly.
"Quick!"

The expression of the boy's face was laughable, but partaking of his
excitement, he answered, breathlessly:

"I hope I have not done wrong, sir; but going down in the train I
remembered that Northwest preferred had been jumping at an astonishing
rate the last few days, and I thought you must have gotten the order
mixed."

"And you reversed it?"

"I did. Selling Western Union. Seller 60, and----"

Andrew Pryor's month opened as if to say something, but it closed
with a sudden snap, and his hand came down on the boy's shoulder with
positive affection.

"My boy," he exclaimed, with amusing emphasis, "you have saved me
more than you can imagine. The people in this town would have had me
adjudged a lunatic without a trial if you had delivered that order as
I directed you. Such brains as yours shall not go unrecognized. The
fellows have been laughing at me because of your youth and girlishness,
but they can laugh and be hanged! You are my private secretary from
this day at a salary of one hundred and twenty-five dollars per month.
You are the smartest boy of your age in New York to-day."

"I am afraid you overestimate what I have done, sir. You see, I knew
the market fluctuations and----"

"Will you let me be the judge of that? I tell you there is not another
boy in the city that would have done it. Well, it is something in your
pocket. You have made a friend, and I am glad of it. You deserve it!"

The handsome eyes of the youth were downcast. He did not reply, but
somehow Andrew Pryor seemed to understand that the silence was not the
result of ingratitude.

He preferred it, upon the whole, to a flow of words, and attributed it
to feeling upon the part of the boy.

Together they went home, and at the door inside the hall Andrew Pryor
paused again, laying his hand upon the shoulder of the young man.

"I shall expect you to dine with the family to-night," he said. "It is
the respect your new position demands!"

A brilliant, embarrassed red overspread the handsome face, which the
patron was not slow to observe.

"What is it?" he demanded. "Remember perfect frankness is always best."

The boy smiled.

"It seems such an absurd thing, sir," he answered, "and yet I must ask
you to excuse me, because I do not possess a dress suit!"

"Then you will come without one until it is purchased. A dress suit
does not make the gentleman. If you have not the money that is
required, do not hesitate to call upon me. There must be none of that
false pride about you that is so despicable in most young men. I have
taken a great liking to you, and I am determined to see you succeed in
the world. There are very few of us who would have occupied our present
positions had there not been a helping hand extended to us. Mine will
be the hand to assist you up the ladder to social prominence and
wealth. We dine at 6:30. I shall expect you."

Neil Lowell bowed respectfully, but quietly, and passing up the stairs,
went to his own room.

Andrew Pryor looked after him.

"That is the most extraordinary boy that I ever knew!" he muttered.
"Some day I must get him to tell me the story of his life. I would be
willing to stake my head that his parents were somebody!"

And in his own room, a comfortable nest, not elegant, but cozy and
homelike, Neil Lowell threw aside his hat and coat, and seating himself
in front of the fire, bowed his chin upon his breast and was lost in
reflection.

"What a strange world it is!" he muttered. "Only a little while ago,
and as a girl, as poor, unfortunate Leonie Cuyler, my heart seemed
breaking. I was friendless, and helpless, made desperate by my struggle
with life. Driven to bay, I gave myself the appearance of a boy. For a
time I feared the tracing of detectives. I lived in constant terror,
hiding by day, living in dread at night, subsisting upon the few
crumbs that came in my way, or starving, as occasion demanded, until
I could bear it no longer! I threw aside fear, and determined that
whatever the consequences might be, I would brave it out. I obtained
some light work; I went from that to my old work of typewriting, but
the girls monopolized that, and I was a--boy. However, I got enough
money together to buy a decent suit of clothes, accidentally performed
a slight service for Andrew Pryor, was taken into his employ to do
anything that came my way that was not menial, though I don't know that
I should have refused that had it come my way, and now I am his private
secretary. It is a curious world! I wonder what in Heaven's name is in
store for me? They must all discover sooner or later that I am not what
I appear, but how can I help it? It is useless to repine now! There is
no going back. It is forward or die, and I am not ready for that yet.
Thank God for one thing. It will enable me to repay the debt that I owe
to Lynde Pyne! Suppose that he knew the truth? Suppose that he knew
that but yesterday he had stood beside me, Leonie Cuyler? Suppose----
But the time for supposing anything is over. I am Neil Lowell now, and
Neil Lowell I shall remain to the end of the chapter. I even intend to
try to forget that I am not the boy that I appear. There is no reason
why I should not remain Neil Lowell. I have as much right to that name
as any other. As a boy, life promises something to me, as a girl, it
holds nothing but disgrace and shame. Let me see! If I am to appear at
that dinner-table I must be presentable. I shall have just time to go
down-town and make some necessary purchases before the dinner hour.
Ha! ha! It does seem too absurd to think of Leonie Cuyler in the bosom
of the family of Andrew Pryor as a fine young man, and his private
secretary. I suppose I shall be making love to one of the girls next."

The expression of the beautiful face was nearer to amusement than any
that had shadowed it since that death on the top floor of the tenement,
that Leonie Cuyler had called her home.

The black derby was pulled down to carefully conceal the broad brow,
and with a very boyish swing to his gait, Neil Lowell passed out of the
house again.

The few necessary purchases were made, the suit that Andrew Pryor
required at his dinner-table was ordered, and Neil Lowell returned home.

He had scarcely completed his preparations when the chimes announced
dinner.

With a heart that thrilled with embarrassment, but well concealed by
the most composed exterior, he descended to the dinner-room.

Andrew Pryor received him.

"My dear," he said to his wife, "you have known this young man as a
boy to whom I have taken a great liking, but for a service rendered me
to-day that shows his capability to fill such a position with credit to
himself, I have made him my private secretary. I wish him in future to
be received as a member of my family. Gwen, my dear, come here. Miss
Pryor, allow me to present Mr. Lowell!"

The formal introduction was made to his eldest daughter, who bowed
courteously, then followed by an introduction to the others, two in
number.

Gravely, and with the polish of a courtier, Neil Lowell responded to
the introduction, filling Andrew Pryor with more surprise than ever.

"Where in thunder did the boy get his polish?" he kept asking himself
all through dinner, but the end came without his having found a reply.

"He is a charming boy!" Alice told her sister, Gwendolyn, when they
were alone in their own room.

And Gwendolyn, contrary to her custom, did not negative the assertion.

It was altogether a triumph for Neil Lowell, and the tears that
moistened his pillow that night were girlish, but they were not tears
of sadness entirely.



CHAPTER XIII.


"Lowell!"

"Yes, sir!"

"What are you doing?"

"Answering that batch of letters that came by the morning delivery."

"Well, stop! I'm tired of it. It seems to me that you do nothing
eternally but work from morning until night!"

The sweet face was lifted, all dimpled with smiles.

"Was not that what you engaged me for?"

"Not exclusively. I don't want any fellow to make himself a slave for
me. Are you going to the Dorlans to-night?"

"No, sir."

"Why?"--testily.

"Well, I don't know any one, sir, and it did not seem to me that I
should be missed. It was very kind of Mr. Dorlan to ask me, but I did
not think that he expected me to accept. He only did it because he
thought you would like it."

"Then you acknowledge that you have not as much consideration for my
feelings as he has."

"I don't see how you make that, sir."

"He, you say, invited you because I wanted him to, and you won't go,
knowing that I am very anxious that you should!"

"I did not know that, sir!"

"Well, you know it now. Are you going?"

"Not if you will excuse me."

"I will not press you if you wish that I should not. By the way,
Lowell, won't you have a cigar?"

The silver case was lifted and held upward for the young man to select
one to his own liking. Half a dozen dimples played about his pretty
mouth as Neil Lowell suppressed an outright laugh.

"I never smoke, thank you, sir," he answered.

"What? Oh, hang it, I always forget you are only a boy. You have so few
of the frivolities of youth that I can never seem to remember that you
are not an old man. I have no prejudice against smoking, though, for
old or young, if not carried to excess. You must learn. It is a great
comfort, and----"

Andrew Pryor paused as the door of his study was thrown open without
permission, and Alice, his youngest daughter, entered.

"Papa," she cried enthusiastically, "I have just had a letter from
Edith. It has been delayed somehow upon the road, and I find by
comparing the dates that she will be here to-night. Isn't that just
perfectly lovely? She said it would be impossible for her to tell
exactly by what train she would arrive, but that we need not trouble to
meet her, as her cousin would be with her, and he could bring her to
the house at once, but that she would arrive in time for dinner! I am
so pleased!"

She threw her arms around the old gentleman's neck, and proceeded to
half suffocate him in her demonstrations of joy.

"Gwen is as happy as I am," she continued, her black eyes dancing with
delight. "I have already planned a thousand different things for her
entertainment. The dinner to-night must be just lovely. Don't you think
I had better invite a few people, impromptu, don't you know?"

"I dare say that would be very pleasant, but I am going to Dorlan's to
a stag dinner," returned Pryor sheepishly, as though knowing that his
absence from home would be regarded very much as a crime.

"Oh, papa!"

The pretty face fell, the corners of the little mouth were drawn
downward, and the tiny hand fell from his shoulder.

"Now then--now then!" cried Pryor, rising and patting her cheeks
lightly. "You need not look as though I had locked you up in the
closet. This dinner has been arranged for a week, and I could not
possibly decline. But that need not hinder your arrangements at all,
for Lowell will be here, and he can act in my place. I shall perhaps be
able to make my own excuses before I leave, and just authorize him to
do the honors. I don't think I would ask any one but Edith's cousin,
then you can make a little family dinner of the first one."

"And are you not going to the stag dinner, Mr. Lowell?" asked Miss
Pryor, lifting her sweet eyes to his face, glowing with good humor
again.

"No."

"That is just lovely of you. I should kiss you if I dared."

"I shall not resist in the least," laughed Neil.

"Well, some other time! Then we shall have the family dinner to-night.
Oh, I shall be so glad to see Edith! I do wonder what her cousin is
like? I hope he will be pleasant and companionable for you, Mr. Lowell."

"That is very kind of you, Miss Alice, but I much prefer the society of
the ladies."

"Right again, Lowell! Gad! you are the most sensible boy I ever saw!"
exclaimed Mr. Pryor admiringly.

"Then we may count upon you for dinner to-night, Mr. Lowell?"
interrupted Alice.

"I am always at your service, Miss Alice."

"That is so good of you. But there is one warning that I have to give
you. Don't fall in love with Edith. She is already engaged, but the
greatest little flirt in existence."

"I am not susceptible, Miss Alice. If I had been----"

A look completed the sentence, a look that brought the quick color to
the pretty, round cheeks, which Neil Lowell was not slow to see.

The girl kissed her father and hurried from the room. The old man
glanced from Lowell to the closed door, and back again, in much
surprise.

"Neil," he said, after a long, thoughtful pause, "that is a subject
upon which jests are not admissible."

"I understand you, sir, and I beg that you will feel no anxiety
whatever upon that point. I am too young to fear."

"No, you are not. Your face is unusually handsome, and---- Remember,
boy, I do not speak for my daughter's sake alone, but yours as well."

"I made up my mind, Mr. Pryor, some time ago, and I shall keep to my
resolution, that I shall never marry. I beg that you will feel no
concern for either me or--for her. Will you excuse me? We neither of
us have much time in which to dress for dinner."

Andrew Pryor nodded a consent, and with infinite amusement in his
heart, and amusement that was to be piteously short-lived, Neil Lowell
sought his room to dress for that dinner that was to linger long in his
memory.



CHAPTER XIV.


Neil Lowell had never looked better in his boy's attire than when he
had completed his toilet for dinner that evening, and stood before the
glass taking a last survey of himself, very much after the manner of a
girl. Then he opened the door and went down-stairs.

As he entered the drawing-room, his first impression was that it was
empty, but as he advanced into the room, he saw the form of a man
leaning over a table upon which some rare etchings were carelessly
tossed.

"It is 'Edith's cousin,' I suppose," he muttered with a smile.

The slight noise of the entrance attracted the stranger's attention,
and he lifted his head.

Neil started; an hysterical cry rose to his lips, but before the guest
had advanced he had recovered his perfect self-possession.

"You are Miss Edith's 'cousin,' I think," he said with a smile,
advancing and extending his hand. "I don't suppose that Miss Alice
intended us to meet in this fashion or she would have told me your
name. I am Neil Lowell."

The gentleman paused, looking down upon the slight figure with a
puzzled expression.

He took the extended hand in his as though half unconscious that he had
done so, then pulling himself together, he said slowly:

"I am Lynde Pyne. I have heard your name mentioned by my cousin as the
private secretary of Mr. Pryor, of whom Miss Alice has made frequent
mention in her letters. You must really excuse me, but your face is so
strangely familiar to me, that I cannot recover from the surprise of
it."

"Now that you speak of it, I remember seeing you on 'Change the other
day. The day that Lake Shore took its great boom. Do you not recall it?"

"No!" shaking his head slowly, "it was not there. I did not see you
there, but----"

The sentence was interrupted by the entrance of the girls.
Introductions followed, and were barely completed, when the butler's
announcement of dinner was made.

With a heart beating almost to suffocation, Lowell offered his arm to
Miss Edith Pyne, and conducted her to the dining-room, seating her upon
his right, while he occupied the host's position.

It placed him where every eye rested full upon him, and Alice cried
gleefully:

"Is it not extraordinary? Look! Did you ever see so great a resemblance
as that between Mr. Lowell and Edith?"

There was no need to call attention to it, for every one in the room
had observed it before, but Lowell's face was crimson.

"You compliment me too highly, Miss Alice," he stammered. "No doubt
that is where Mr. Pyne saw a resemblance in me to some one, if it is
true."

But Pyne shook his head.

"No," he said; "I must have seen you, yourself! I can't----"

The sentence was dreamily discontinued, and the girls began to chatter
upon other subjects, while Lowell and Pyne maintained an uncomfortable
silence.

"It is so delicious to be here!" Edith cried joyfully, "only it will
be for such a short time. Mamma insists that I shall spend part of the
visit with Evelyn Chandler. I ought to be pleased, I suppose, but I
can't. I should not say it before Lynde, but I don't half like her."

If his life had depended upon it, Lowell could not have prevented
himself from raising his eyes to those dark, compelling ones before
him. They were fixed curiously upon his face. A slow color surged into
the pink cheeks and the eyes of the boy were lowered.

An excitement that he could not control leaped into Lynde's eyes.

"Why should you not say that before Mr. Pyne?" questioned Miss Pryor.
"If rumor is correct his engagement with Miss Chandler is at an end."

Lowell held his breath, waiting for the answer.

Not a movement was lost upon Pyne.

"Then rumor does not speak correctly!" snapped Miss Pyne. "I wish to
Heaven it did. The engagement was broken by some kind of row between
Mr. Chandler and Lynde at the time those robberies were committed, but
Evelyn would not have it. She made her father straighten matters out,
and Lynde was hooked again, and will be landed in January. You see, the
fish is about tired out, and the fisher-woman will soon be triumphant."

Lowell felt himself growing ghastly.

A cold perspiration was growing about his mouth; but knowing that
Pyne's eyes were fixed upon him, he forced a smile to his lips, and
glanced in Pyne's direction.

"Then I presume we are to congratulate you?" he said, in the form of an
interrogation.

The trembling of the voice was not lost upon Lynde, who never removed
his eyes from the boyish face.

"Yes," he answered slowly, "you may congratulate me if you wish."

"I should murder him if he did!" ejaculated Miss Pyne. "You know that I
don't like Evelyn, and she knows it, though mamma insists upon it that
I shall be the essence of glucose in her presence. Bah! what you want
to marry her for is more than I can see. You are not in love with her,
and you know it."

"Young ladies," interrupted Mrs. Pryor, with a good-natured smile,
"don't you think this conversation had better be discontinued? It is
the first time I ever heard of discussing a gentleman's _fiancee_ so
uncomplimentarily in his presence."

"Pooh! We are all like brothers and sisters here!" exclaimed Miss Pyne.
"It is only in the family, you know. Mr. Lowell don't count. Did you
ever see Miss Evelyn Chandler, Mr. Lowell?"

For a moment Lowell hesitated, then the answer came:

"Yes."

"Do you admire her?"

"If you mean do I think she is beautiful, yes."

"But do you think she is good? Do you think she is what she appears?"

"You must excuse me, Miss Pyne. I have not your right to discuss the
lady in question."

Mrs. Pryor, not approving the conversation, arose from the table,
giving the signal to the ladies.

Lowell arose, and opened the door for them to pass through, then he
resumed his seat.

He was the host, in the absence of Mr. Pryor, and he knew that he must
remain at the table until his guest was ready to leave it.

During the time that the butler was arranging the cigars and wine upon
the table, after the departure of the ladies, he felt those glowing
eyes fixed upon his face.

The wine was poured, and the butler handed the cigars.

As they were passed to Neil, he glanced up, and saw those curious,
questioning eyes still fixed upon him. He selected a cigar with
greatest nonchalance; the lighted candles were placed for their use,
and the butler retired.

As though it were an occurrence of everyday life, Neil cut the end from
his cigar, stuck it in his mouth, and was about to apply it to the
flame, when Pyne put out his hand and laid it upon that of the boy.

"Don't do that!" he said gently.

Lowell did not need to affect the surprise that came to his eyes.

"Why?" he demanded.

"Because it will make you sick!"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that you have never smoked a cigar in your life, and that it
will nauseate you."

For a moment there was an uncomfortable silence, then Neil laughed
shortly.

"You are correct," he said, his face flushing. "I never did! Mr. Pryor
was taking me to task about it to-day, and I determined to learn. I did
not dream that I should handle it so awkwardly. Will you excuse me,
then, if I take a cigarette instead?"

"Certainly; but I don't think I feel inclined to smoke, if you will
excuse me altogether. The chatter of those girls has upset me. It has
brought back memories which I thought I had conquered. Neil Lowell,
there is a question that I should like to ask you. What is it that
you know of Miss Evelyn Chandler? And what relation are you to Leonie
Cuyler?"

The man's face was lighted with a brilliant crimson. His eyes glittered
with excitement.

He arose from his chair and stood over the boy, one hand resting upon
the table, the other upon the back of Lowell's chair.

The boy lifted his eyes to the thrilling face, and very slowly arose to
his feet.



CHAPTER XV.


For a full minute Neil Lowell and Lynde Pyne stood there facing each
other, each seeming to measure the other's strength, not physically,
but mentally.

Neil was striving to decide what course it would be safest for him to
pursue; then, seeming to have arrived at a definite conclusion, he
stepped back a pace, his eyes growing colder.

"What I know of Miss Evelyn Chandler," he said, frigidly, "is my own
concern, and there is no reason why I should make it known to you or to
any one else, unless it is my desire so to do. I have made no charges
either for or against her, and I deny your right to question me upon
that or any other subject."

Pyne threw out his hand with a deprecatory gesture.

"I did not ask my question in the spirit that you seem to ascribe to
me," he replied, without anger; "the expression of your face, when
these family affairs were spoken of, was such as to give birth to
suspicion. I do not demand that you answer me; I simply request it."

Neil turned aside, lowering his eyes.

"There is nothing that I can tell you concerning Miss Chandler."

"Then answer my second question. What are you to Leonie Cuyler?"

Slowly the boy lifted his eyes, fastening them on the face of the man
before him, determined that no weakness, however great, should make him
betray the identity that it was so necessary for him to conceal.

"I had a cousin by that name," he said, slowly. "I never saw her but
once."

He had told the truth, and he had told it with such perfect frankness,
such entire candor, that Pyne was staggered.

"Then if you have seen her once, you will excuse me for my inquiry into
your affairs, knowing how much you are like her."

"There is little in resemblances. You heard Miss Pryor speak to-night
of my resemblance to Miss Pyne, your cousin."

"That is strong, I grant you, but weak by comparison with the other
likeness. In asking your pardon I must tell you that my interest in
Miss Cuyler was so strong at one time that it has shadowed all my life.
I cannot speak further without betraying a secret that is not all
mine. But for her sake, because you were her cousin, I offer you my
friendship, if you will have it. I am not rich, but whatever I can do
for you you may be sure that I will. You promise?"

The eyes of the boy were averted to conceal the tears that would rise
in them.

"I will remember!" he answered, in a voice so choked from emotion that
vision was not necessary to know the nearness of tears.

"Will you give me your hand that I may know you have forgiven me for my
presumption?"

Without a word the little hand was extended, and as that of the man
closed over it, a quick, low cry escaped his lips.

"You cannot deceive me longer!" he cried, hoarsely. "I knew that you
were Leonie in the beginning, but I wanted to have some proof before
making my assertion. Oh, Leonie, child, child! why did you think it
necessary to conceal your identity from me? Did you not know that I
would have given my life, my soul, if needs were, to have saved you?"

Startled almost beyond self-control, Leonie listened to the words.

She knew that the ring she wore had betrayed her, but she could think
of no way in which it was possible to cover the fact that he had
discovered.

Very gently Lynde closed the door, then turning, took her hand and drew
her down upon a couch beside him.

"Leonie," he said, "could you not have trusted me?"

"I did trust you," she cried desperately, "and you are to marry Evelyn
Chandler!"

She had not meant to say that, but somehow the words had escaped her
without her will. She would have recalled them if she could, but now it
was too late. She lifted her eyes helplessly to his face.

"You trusted me by leaving me at the time that I needed you most.
You trusted me by going away and leaving me in ignorance as to your
whereabouts. You might have known that at any price I would save you,
and I have. It is not necessary that you should longer disguise your
sex from the world. The charge that Leonard Chandler made against you
has been withdrawn."

Leonie started up excitedly.

"Withdrawn!" she gasped. "How did he happen to do that?"

"Through the persuasion of his daughter."

For a moment she was silent, then she sprung up, standing before him,
her lovely face quivering with emotion.

"Then that is the secret of your renewed engagement with Evelyn
Chandler. Tell me the truth, Lynde. Is it not so?"

His eyes were downcast for a moment, then raised bravely.

"Yes," he answered. "You must not ask me anything further, because
honor forbids that I should answer you. But you are free as air."

"I am free, but you!" she cried, her voice scarcely more than an
agonized whisper--"you are worse than a prisoner! You do not love her,
and, not loving her, you will marry her for my sake. Listen to me,
Lynde. You must not do it--you must not, if I go to the gallows instead
of to the penitentiary! You have taught me a lesson in self-sacrifice.
I shall not tell you now the secret that has moved my life, that has
robbed it of every hope, of every joy, because my unsupported testimony
would count for little; but I will find a way to prove my words; and I
will save you from the woman whom you would make your wife!"

"I beg that you will not do that, Leonie. There is nothing now that
could relieve me of the sacred promise that I have taken upon myself,
and anything that you might say would but be a useless sacrifice upon
your part, and would but increase my burden. Promise me that you will
do nothing!"

"I will promise to say nothing to any one until you know all the truth,
and that you shall be the judge yourself. Will you be content with
that?"

"I will!"

"And there is a promise that I have to demand of you in return."

"I am ready to make it!"

"Then say nothing of what you have discovered to-day regarding my
sex to any one! I have reasons for wishing to preserve myself from
recognition, and there is little hope for me unless I preserve the
costume that I have assumed. If I am forced to leave here, as I should
be were it known that I am not a boy, Heaven knows into what a position
I might be thrown."

"I promise. You will not refuse to allow me to see you sometimes? You
will not refuse to grant me----"

"It is better not!" she interrupted, sorrowfully. "There is nothing
that can ever lift the barrier that lies between you and me, Mr. Pyne.
That is as irrevocable as death itself. I am not saving you from Evelyn
Chandler to secure you for myself. The reason that makes it almost a
crime that she should be your wife, extends to me, and though I have
brought you sorrow, I will never bring you disgrace. When you are here
I shall find a pretext for remaining out of your presence, for it is
much better that we should not meet! You believe that, do you not?"

"I beg that you will----"

"I am deaf to your words. You know where to find me; you know where
I shall remain, unless the object that I have in view requires that I
shall go elsewhere; but unless necessity demands it, I beg that you
will not seek me. I will come to you when I have discovered the proofs
that are necessary."

She left the room as she ceased speaking without a backward glance,
turning a deaf ear to his pleading tones, and walked unsteadily up the
stairs to her own room.



CHAPTER XVI.


"There's a lady in the blue morning-room to see you, Miss Chandler!"

Evelyn Chandler turned to her maid with anything but an amiable
expression of countenance.

"Her card?" she exclaimed with annoyance.

"She gave me none. She wished me to say that her call was purely a
matter of business, that she would not detain you longer than necessity
required, and begged that you would not decline to see her."

Something in the message aroused Miss Chandler's curiosity.

She hesitated a moment; then with a gesture of deprecation, said:

"Show her up here! I don't feel inclined to walk down-stairs."

Concealing the disgust she felt at the well-known indolence of her
mistress, the maid left the room, but returned a little later, followed
by a woman clothed in somber black.

A heavy veil was drawn across her face, a covering which she took the
precaution not to remove until the maid had retired and closed the door.

"My maid tells me your call is upon business," said Miss Chandler,
curtly. "I have but a few moments to spare, therefore, you will excuse
me if I ask you to be brief."

Without a word the veil was lifted, revealing the lovely features of
Leonie Cuyler.

Miss Chandler was on the point of crying out, but by a mighty effort
restrained the inclination.

She drew herself up coldly, a thousand lightning flashes darting from
her eyes.

"To what am I indebted for the honor of this visit?" she asked icily.

"It is to tell you that I have come," returned Leonie, quietly taking a
chair that had not been offered her. "Will you excuse me if I consume
a little of your valuable time in telling you how I risked my freedom
and my honor only a short time ago to save you from the consequences of
your own folly. Will you----"

"No, I will not!" interrupted Miss Chandler sternly. "I am quite
convinced that you have not come here without a purpose, therefore I
request that you state it as speedily as possible, and without all
this circumlocution. If you wish to impress me with the idea that I am
under an obligation to you, I may as well assure you in the beginning
that I do not recognize the fact; and even if I did, I am not one to be
influenced by such considerations."

"Very well," said Leonie, assuming something of Miss Chandler's own
manner. "If you are determined to have this war and not peace, I am
ready for you.

"There was one," she continued, "to whom I owe more than I could ever
repay were I granted a thousand years of life. No brother could have
shown me greater tenderness, greater consideration, greater mercy."

"How touching!" murmured Miss Chandler, stifling a yawn.

"I refer," Leonie went on, as though the interruption had not been
made, "to Mr. Lynde Pyne."

"I supposed as much. Lynde was always something of a Don Quixote. It
is pleasant to hear of his generosity, but really if you don't hurry I
shall have to leave you. I should not like, for your own sake, to have
my father find you here."

"I have come to tell you, Miss Chandler, that the engagement that
exists between you and Lynde Pyne must be broken!"

Miss Chandler shrugged her shapely shoulders carelessly.

"Have you come here to threaten me?" she asked coldly. "If you have
you will find that you have attacked the wrong person. I think I have
already demonstrated to you the fact that I am not in the least a
coward."

She arose as she finished her sentence, and Leonie followed her example.

"Promise me," she said, "and keep your word, that you will break
this engagement, and I swear to you, that so far as I am concerned,
the secret of your birth and the knowledge of who was the thief in
Leonard Chandler's household, shall be eternally preserved. Refuse, and
whatever it may cost me, the entire matter shall be made public in time
to save Lynde Pyne from the marriage that would not alone wreck his
life, but his soul as well."

"I make no compact with you of any kind!" said Evelyn, harshly. "If
you make this charge, without bringing ample proof to back up your
assertions, I warn you that my father, Leonard Chandler, shall use
the force of his entire fortune against you. His anger against you is
already at fever heat, and I have but to speak the word that will make
him your most deadly foe. As far as my love for Mr. Pyne is concerned,
that is none of your business. Whether I love him or not, I intend to
marry him, for reasons that do not in the least concern you. Now go, or
the servants shall have instructions to put you out!"

There was not the slightest weakness in her demeanor, and Leonie knew
it.

She had hoped to frighten her sister into measures, but she saw there
was about as much possibility of that, as there was in frightening a
desperado into giving himself into the hands of the authorities.

With little outward evidence of the disappointment she really felt,
Leonie again wrapped the veil about her head and left the room.

For some time Evelyn Chandler stood there, seeming to be thinking
deeply.

"She means every word that she has said," she muttered, below her
breath. "She was a typewriter in a lawyer's office long enough to have
absorbed some of their knowledge, and will, therefore, know exactly how
to go to work. I cannot sit still and let her succeed, as undoubtedly
she will if I do not immediately take measures of precaution; but what
shall they be? I cannot consult my adopted father. Therefore, there is
but one course left--I must consult my own father. Bah!"

The sentence was concluded with a shiver of repulsion, but it vanished
almost before it had existed.

She sat down and took her chin in her hands, a favorite position when
in deep thought.

"It is the only way!" she cried, at last. "Let me see! I have an
engagement with my dressmaker at this hour, but when that is ended, we
shall see what Ben Mauprat can suggest. A man who has been a scoundrel
all his life certainly ought to be able to thwart a single-handed girl."



CHAPTER XVII.


"Mr. Pryor, will you require my services this afternoon?"

The speaker was Neil Lowell, who stood in the presence of his employer,
hat in hand.

The old gentleman glanced up in surprise.

"No! That is the first time you have ever asked that. Are you going
out?"

"With your permission."

"Hang it, boy, a servant has some time off, and you never take any. It
would really do me good to have you go out more. You never do unless I
send you. Go, and come back when you get ready."

"Thank you!"

Lowell did not wait for further words, but left the room, and instead
of going directly to the street, as his dress would have indicated that
he intended, he went to his room again.

He locked the door and hurriedly disrobed. Ten minutes later, a
red-brown wig was drawn over his cropped head, and a suit that
indicated shabby gentility had taken its place. An old and much-worn
hat was placed upon his head, completing a most excellent disguise.

"If Mr. Pryor, or any one in the house discovers me, I shall tell him
quietly that I am engaged upon a piece of detective work, and he will
be perfectly satisfied and ask no further questions, bless his dear
old heart; but I must prevent detection if I can," muttered the boy to
himself as he left the room, and, taking the servants' stairway, went
down and very quietly let himself into the street.

He took the elevated train and rode down-town, leaving it at the
Bleecker Street Station, then walked quickly across town.

The place that he entered was one that would have made a man's heart
stand still, much less that of a person built upon his small scale, and
for a single moment he hesitated, but the hesitation was scarcely long
enough to be called one.

It was a low saloon, and one in the "ring" could easily have recognized
more than one member of the Whyo gang in that motley assemblage.

Blurred eyes were lifted questioningly, and the boy was "taken in" from
head to foot.

Disregarding all this, and affecting a boldness he was far from
feeling, he advanced to the man behind the bar and said, in a low tone:

"Say, pard, I've been told that you kin tell a feller where to find Ben
Mauprat. Ef yer kin, yer'll do a good day's work fur Ben!"

"Say, Ike!" the barkeeper called to a man across the room, "this here
kid wants to know where Ben Mauprat lives. Kin you tell him?"

"Cert! he lives on Great Jones Street--Number ----. He is sweller than
we are. Shouldn't wonder but what he'd be one of the four hundred
before the month's up."

The boy did not wait to hear the conclusion of the speech, but,
muttering some words of thanks that "Ike" did not condescend to notice,
he left the saloon.

He walked rapidly in the direction of Great Jones Street.

The number that had been indicated was not a desirable-looking
residence, but no doubt to the other men of his class, Ben Mauprat's
home was eminently respectable, if not elegant.

At least it required a pull at the bell to effect an entrance.

A slatternly woman answered the summons.

"Ben in?" questioned the boy.

"What do you want of him?"

"I want to see him. What do you suppose?"

"Well, he is asleep."

"Wake him up; my business can't wait!"

The boy's manner was an excellent imitation of the tough, and, half
afraid to refuse, the woman reluctantly pulled open the door and
allowed him to enter.

"He's in there," she said, indicating a room. "You can wake him
yourself, for his temper ain't none too good at the best of times."

She went back to her work, and noiselessly Neil Lowell entered the room
that she had pointed out to him.

There, upon an old hair-cloth lounge, lay the man whom he heard talking
to Evelyn Chandler on that memorable night.

Ben Mauprat did not move.

The same heavy snores that had greeted Neil upon his entrance
continued, perhaps a trifle louder, and feeling that he was secure from
interruption from the woman who had admitted him, Neil began a hasty
survey of the premises.

There was not much to see.

A broken chair, a table, with pieces of wood propping up one leg, an
old secretary, with one door wrenched off, a dilapidated inkstand, and
that seemed to be about all.

Lightly Neil stepped to the secretary and began looking over its
contents.

The first thing that met his eyes was a dainty note that even the grimy
hands of Ben Mauprat could not rob of its beauty.

Without the slightest hesitation he opened it. There was no beginning.
It simply read:

  "Nothing has been heard of the girl yet. We must find her at all
  hazards, and make sure that her mouth is securely closed, for upon
  that all depends. The engagement has been resumed, so that your
  interests are safe as far as Luis Kingsley is concerned. You seem
  to forget how much you owe me on that score, for the moment I am
  the wife of L. P. you can bring forward the proof that you have
  discovered, and you may be sure that you will get your part of the
  money. Trust me for that. If L. P. should hear anything of this, I
  mean so far as you are concerned, my chances with him would be dough.
  I send the money that you requested.

                                                                "E. C."

It did not require the initials to tell Neil who the writer was.

He remembered to have heard the name of Luis Kingsley before, but
it was impossible for him to remember in exactly what connection;
therefore, he pocketed the letter, and finding nothing further, he
turned to Mauprat.

He shook him roughly by the shoulder.

"Say, are you dead, or what's the matter with you?" he demanded. "Won't
you ever wake up?"

Ben raised his bleared eyes, and lifted himself upon his elbow.

"Who in thunder are you?" he inquired sleepily.

"I'm Bob Wells," answered Lowell coolly.

"Well, who's Bob Wells? I never saw you before."

"But that is no reason why you'll never want to see me again. Say, do
you want to find that girl that played detective in the house where the
Chandlers live?"

That was quite enough to arouse Ben Mauprat on the instant.

"What do you know of her?" he asked, rising and looking as straight as
his half-drunken eyes would allow into the boy's face.

"Never mind what I know. I asked if you wanted to find her."

"Yes, I do."

"How bad?"

"What do you mean?"

"Do you want to know bad enough to tell me what I want to know?"

"Tell me first what it is."

"I want to know what Luis Kingsley has done with the money that belongs
to Lynde Pyne."

"Now what in thunder do you know about that?"

"More than I am going to let you know. Say, look a-here, Ben! You don't
know me, but I do know you mighty blamed well. I'll just tell you who I
am, as a pointer. I was Lynde Pyne's office-boy, but he discharged me
fur---- Well, never mind what fur, I got the bounce, jist the same. A
feller can't starve, and I have got to do jist that or git some money.
Now I propose to help you if you will help me. Is it a go?"

"Hold, one minute! I don't know what you are talking about."

"'Tain't necessary fur you to know. All I say is that I know Luis
Kingsley has got some money that belongs to Lynde Pyne. I know you know
all about it. Do the square act on the divy about what you git out of
it, and I will tell you all I know about that Cuyler girl."

Mauprat had opened his mouth to reply, when a violent pull at the bell
interrupted him. Breathlessly he waited, and with apparently careless
indifference, Neil waited also.

At the expiration of a few seconds, the door was opened by the woman
who admitted Neil.

"There is some one to see you in the other room," she said to Mauprat.

By her manner, both her hearers knew as perfectly well who she meant
as though she had spoken the name, but before either had time to think
upon the subject at all, a heavily veiled woman pushed by her and
entered the room.

"I wanted to see you, and have not time to wait!" she began; then
paused suddenly.

Neil could feel the eyes through the veil fixed upon him piercingly.

He stood the test well, but started slightly as the long-gloved finger
was pointed at him.

"Who is that?" demanded Miss Chandler, in the stoniest voice that Neil
ever remembered to have heard.

"He is Bob Wells, a former office-boy of Lynde Pyne's," answered
Mauprat, hurriedly. "I will----"

"Your 'office boy of Lynde Pyne's,' is Leonie Cuyler!" cried the young
woman, excitedly. "You must be mad that you could not recognize her
through that disguise!"

Mauprat uttered a low growl of rage.

Without a word, but showing his teeth like a ferocious canine, he
sprung forward and caught Leonie by the throat.



CHAPTER XVIII.


It required no great exertion of physical force to bring the boy to his
knees.

The breath was almost choked from his body when Ben Mauprat released
his hold.

"You cursed little imp of Satan!" he cried, his voice hoarse from rage.
"I'll teach you to come here trying to impose upon me. What in thunder
do you mean by it? Answer me quickly, or by Heaven! I'll strangle all
the life out of your little carcass. Do you hear?"

"I will tell you!" exclaimed Miss Chandler, who had already removed the
veil that covered her face. "She has come here to play the spy. She has
threatened that unless I break the engagement with Lynde Pyne--which
she has somehow discovered to exist--that she will make known the
secret of my birth, and of my relationship to you. She is here for the
purpose of getting information from you upon that subject."

"And perhaps I should have been fool enough to have said something that
might have given it to her, if you had not come in just when you did.
So you want to break the engagement that exists between Miss Chandler
and Lynde Pyne, do you?"

Leonie did not answer.

"Don't you hear me?" he screamed.

She lifted her eyes coldly to his face.

"Yes, I heard you," she answered, bravely. "But I did not think it
necessary to reply. Your daughter has told you, and I thought it
useless to corroborate her words. But since it seems that you require
it, I may as well tell you that I do not approve of her marriage to Mr.
Pyne, and it is my determination that if such a thing is in the range
of possibility, I will prevent it!"

For a moment Ben Mauprat was stupid from astonishment.

He stood with eyes and mouth both open, gazing at the girl as if her
audacity must be the result of lunacy. Then he sprung forward again.

She was too quick for him, however, and before he could reach her, she
had put the rickety table between them.

"Wait a minute!" cried Miss Chandler, interrupting the chase that she
saw was imminent "I have not time to wait for gymnastics of that kind.
Listen to me, and let us decide what is to be done. It is dangerous to
allow lunatics their liberty, and that is what I think Leonie Cuyler
must be. No one else would attempt the _role_ that she has essayed.
I think therefore, that for the benefit of the public she should be
restrained! I suggest that you keep her in confinement until after this
wedding shall have taken place, then--presupposing of course that her
physicians pronounce her cured--she can be released. What do you think
of my plan? It seems to me to be the only safe one!"

"We should be doing a public benefit!" exclaimed Mauprat, his rage
turned to mirth. "I tell you, Evelyn, you are a chip of the old block.
It is a capital idea. I think while she remains here as my patient that
I may be able to compensate her for the trouble she took to sell me
some information."

Leonie was aghast.

"I wish you would listen to me!" she cried desperately. "I----"

"It is useless," interrupted Miss Chandler. "I am quite convinced, and
nothing she could say would alter my idea, that the safest thing--the
only safe plan, in fact--is to confine her until after the marriage.
Then the harm that she can do will be little enough, for should she
make known all the facts that are in her possession, she would hurt no
one so much as the very man whom she has risked so much to save--Lynde
Pyne. I am sure that you agree with me."

"I do, indeed."

"That is all that I came to see you for to-day. I feel quite relieved
that I know my dear sister to be so well taken care of for the present.
She has given me a great deal of concern during the last few weeks,
but now my mind will be at rest. Be sure that she does not escape,
and should you want to see me about anything, send the message to the
old address. Do not risk coming to the house. Good-bye! Do not allow
anything to happen to your precious patient."

With a mocking bow to Leonie she left the room, and Ben Mauprat turned
his entire attention to Leonie.

He pointed to the door, and thinking that she saw her opportunity,
Leonie bowed courteously and walked in the direction he indicated.

It led to the hall.

She had scarcely entered it, than, with a quick bound, she reached the
front door.

She would undoubtedly have made good her escape, but that an
unfortunate accident happened.

Some one had hold of the knob of the door from the outside, and as she
pulled it from within, and some one pushed it from without, it came
open with a sudden force that caused her to lose her footing, and she
fell headlong.

Mauprat was upon her before she could recover herself, had caught her
by the shoulder, and set her upon her feet.

His face was ghastly with rage.

"You infernal little fiend!" he panted, the oaths falling thick and
fast, "I'll give you now a taste of the punishment that will come from
that sort of thing if you try it in the future!"

He raised a heavy walking-stick and brought it down again and again
upon the frail shoulders with terrible force.

The woman and the miserable hunchback boy who had caused the accident,
stood shrinking back in the corner as far as possible, ghastly with
fear, until unable to stand it longer, the woman caught the man's arm
and held it in a grasp like iron.

"Stop!" she cried hoarsely, "You don't know what you are doing! She is
not used to that sort of thing, and you will kill her!"

Mauprat turned to the woman with a savage growl.

He released his hold upon Leonie, who fell without a groan to the floor.

"Take what your interference warrants!" he cried, bringing the stick
down with renewed force upon the body of the woman.

She took it without a moan, the boy covering his miserable face with
his hands.

Finding that he could cause no outcry of pain upon her part, Mauprat
turned sullenly to Leonie.

"She has fainted," he said, kicking the inert body with his foot.
"Carry her up-stairs and put her in Dick's room. We'll see how she
succeeds with her next attempt at escape."



CHAPTER XIX.


"Thompson, see if Mr. Lowell has returned yet."

The order was given by Mr. Pryor to the servant whom he had summoned by
ringing the bell in the drawing-room.

The young people of the family, together with their guests, Miss Pyne
and Lynde, were there, and each one glanced in some surprise at the
speaker when the order was given.

He had seemed preoccupied and worried during the entire evening, and
now as eleven o'clock came and still no signs of the missing secretary,
alarm took the place of anxiety.

There was not a question asked until the return of the servant, but an
ominous silence was preserved.

"Well?" inquired Mr. Pryor as he returned.

"He is not in his room, sir, nor has he been seen by any of the
servants."

"Has Mr. Lowell disappeared?" asked Miss Pryor, some concern expressed
in her tone.

"Yes," answered her father. "It is a most singular thing. He has never
gone out before to remain longer than an hour. He knew that I should
want him about a matter of some importance to-night and yet he has not
come in. I don't understand it."

Every eye was leveled in his direction and not toward Lynde Pyne, or
they might have observed his sudden pallor, and the expression of
absolute terror that had grown in his eyes.

"Mr. Lowell is fully competent to take care of himself," laughed Mrs.
Pryor. "You will make a perfect baby of that boy, Andrew, and destroy
in him the very characteristics that you have so much admired. Eleven
o'clock is not late in New York."

"It is for Lowell. He has no friends here; he is not accustomed to
going out; he did not mention that he should be gone for any length of
time, and furthermore, he knew that I should need him very particularly
to-night. The whole thing in a nutshell is, that it is not like Lowell,
and I am convinced that something has happened. If he is not here
within half an hour I shall be sure of it."

To the surprise of all, Lynde Pyne arose. His face was deadly white,
his lips quivering with dumb anxiety.

"You are quite right, Mr. Pryor!" he exclaimed. "Something must have
occurred out of the ordinary to keep him out so late. Have you any idea
where he was going?"

"No. Had he been gone longer I should say notify the police; but
they would take little interest in the case now, as he has been gone
so short a time, particularly as they know nothing of the regular
habits of the boy. I suppose the only thing is to wait until to-morrow
morning; then, if he has not come home, we must take every means in our
power to find him."

Lynde accepted the invitation that Mr. Pryor extended to him to remain
over night, and the following morning descended to breakfast without
ever having removed the clothing that he had worn the night before.

"You have heard nothing yet?" he inquired of Mr. Pryor, almost before
they had greeted each other.

"Not a word."

The answer confirmed his fears.

Something had happened, but what, it was impossible to determine.

He left Mr. Pryor to make what search he deemed advisable, and going
to his own home long enough to change his clothes, called upon Miss
Chandler.

He had not the remotest idea what he intended to say to her, and the
position in which he found himself placed was a decidedly unpleasant
one.

"How pale you look!" exclaimed Miss Chandler, offering him her lips to
kiss.

It was an exceedingly cold caress that fell upon them, but if she felt
it, she made no sign.

"I don't think I am quite well. I did not sleep last night."

"Has anything happened?"

"Not directly to me; but it concerns some friends of mine, who were
terribly upset; and as I was with them, naturally I shared their
anxiety."

"What was it?"

"A mysterious disappearance of a member of the family. It is really a
most extraordinary thing! The person I refer to is Miss Leonie Cuyler!"

He was looking directly at Miss Chandler as he spoke, in fact had not
removed his eyes from the handsome face since his entrance.

She started perceptibly, but recovered herself with suspicious
promptness.

"You surprise me!" she said, coolly. "I did not know that Miss Cuyler
had been found since her other mysterious disappearance. It seems that
she has a _penchant_ for disappearances. One could almost get used to
them, they occur so frequently."

"This is different from that. She had no reason for it, none earthly,
and I cannot understand it!"

"It seems to me that you are curiously interested in Miss Cuyler!"

"I am! She seems to be a young woman who is bearing the burden of the
wrong doing of some one else."

Miss Chandler's face flushed dully.

"It is a subject upon which I have given no thought," she replied,
coldly.

"Somehow I hoped that she might have come to you."

A pallor crept about the full lips that Pyne was not slow to see.

He was aware also of the sudden tightening of the hands about a
paper-cutter that she had taken up, and of the quick, questioning
glitter that came to her eyes, to fade almost at once under the
restraint that she was putting upon herself.

"To me?" she repeated, frigidly. "I fail to see why you should have
thought that. I scarcely knew Miss Cuyler."

"But you interested yourself in her once. She might have thought that
you would again."

"I had really forgotten her. What I did was not interest, but humanity.
She would never have come to me for anything."

The very manner of the utterance of the words convinced Pyne that she
had been there, and that Miss Chandler, his handsome _fiancee_, knew
more of the disappearance than she proposed to tell.

What was the secret that linked those two together, and what had Miss
Chandler done with the young woman who seemed to possess some secret
that she was determined to have concealed?

He knew that he could discover nothing further from her. He knew that
inquiry would bring forth no further information, and that the only
possible hope of ascertaining was to wait and watch.

He must secure the co-operation of a clever detective, and with the
assistance that he could lend, he hoped for the best.

His manner to Miss Chandler was affectionate, as usual, though there
was never any particular amount of demonstration.

He felt that whatever the nature of his discoveries might be, they
would not release him from his obligation, so that what he was doing
was because of his love for Leonie and the fact that humanity demanded
it.

As soon as consistency with his former habits would allow, he left the
residence of his _fiancee_, fully convinced that there was a deadly
secret, and determined that, for the sake of the innocent woman, he
would fathom it.

"You seem in some way to have changed to me of late, Lynde," she said
to him as he was leaving. "I feel that you are growing away from me. I
am afraid that I destroyed my own chances for happiness upon that day
that I forgot the modesty of my sex, and went to your office to plead
with you for what I could not allow to be wrested from me without a
struggle. I loved you, Lynde, and felt that to lose you would be worse
than death. You do not despise me for my unwomanliness, do you? You
will never forget the promise that you made to me on that day?"

"I will never forget that promise, Evelyn. You may be sure of that. You
must not think that your act that day caused you to fall in my esteem.
A woman loses none of the beauty of her sex because she loves. My
promise is yours, and there is nothing that can release me from it but
death."

She kissed him and let him go.

As the door closed upon him, she turned away with a short laugh.

"Fool!" she muttered. "He will keep his word, and under any
circumstances I am safe."



CHAPTER XX.


"Liz! Liz!"

The call had to be repeated many times before it met with an answer,
and even then it came faintly and broken by sobs.

"What do you want?"

"Has Ben gone out?"

"Yes, curse him!"

"Won't you come in awhile? It is terrible in this horrible darkness
alone. Don't cry, Liz. Come and tell me what he has done to you."

"It ain't to me. God knows I would bear it and say nothing if it was
only me; but it is Dick, poor little Dick, and I am afraid he has
killed him."

"Open the door, Liz. Let me help you in some way. I swear to you that I
will not try to escape."

The woman arose and threw it open, allowing the girl in the rags of a
boy to come from that pit of darkness into the light.

"I would not care much if you did escape!" she exclaimed dully. "He
would kill me then, and I think I would be happier if he did. Look
there."

She pointed to the child who lay upon a pile of straw on the floor, the
miserable little hunchback who had unconsciously prevented Leonie from
leaving there upon the night of her imprisonment.

"He has killed him," continued the woman, her voice filing
passionately. "Last night when the poor child came in he was sick,
so sick that he could scarcely drag his misshapen body after him.
Ben told him to do something, and Dick did not get up as quick as Ben
thought he ought, and he gave him a terrible beating. This morning the
poor boy was so sick that he could not get out of his bed. I begged Ben
to let him alone, but the more I begged the more determined he became.
Dick got up, and as he did so, staggered against the wall and fell;
then Ben, who swore it was nothing but laziness, got the cowhide, and
the poor body is black and blue from the marks upon it. Oh, if God
would but strike him dead, how much good it would do us all!"

"Why do you live with him, Liz? Why do you not run away?"

"Why?" she asked bitterly. "Where would I go? What would I do? Besides,
he would find me and he would kill me. You don't know Ben as I do. He
is not the only man in the world that cares nothing for his wife and
yet forces her to live with him, because the devil in his nature tells
him that it is a good way to torture her. I don't go because I am
afraid, like a thousand other poor women who inhabit the world. Some
day I know that I shall kill him. If he would confine his beatings to
me, I might endure it, but when he treats Dick in the way that he does,
there will come a time when the worm will turn, and I, who have been
trampled upon, will become a fiend of his own creating."

Leonie had turned away from the woman's passionate agony, and had
lifted the little form that lay upon its rude bed in her arms.

The child groaned and shrunk back as though expecting a blow, and a hot
tear fell upon his flushed cheeks as he saw the compassionate face bent
above him.

Leonie laid her cool hand upon his burning brow, and in a soothing
voice said:

"What pains you, Dick? Tell me, dear, and perhaps there may be
something that I can do for you! Don't be afraid. There is nothing to
hurt you now."

He lifted his scorching hand and laid it upon her face. His lips
trembled so that articulation was almost impossible, but he managed to
make her understand the words:

"My throat!"

For one moment she shrunk from him, but in the next he was lifted in
her arms. She sat in a chair rocking him to and fro.

"Liz," she cried, excitedly, "you must go for a doctor at once--at
once, do you hear?--or the child will die! He has scarlet-fever or
diphtheria, one of the two--I am not doctor enough to know which!"

A wild terror leaped to the woman's face, but she did not move.

"I can't!" she gasped. "Ben would kill me for leaving you here alone,
and he would kill Dick because I loved him enough to risk it. Oh, my
God, what am I to do?"

"Go for the doctor, quick!" commanded Leonie, "Ben can think that I was
locked up, for I swear to you that I will make no attempt to escape.
If he undertakes to hurt Dick when he comes home I will find a way to
prevent him if I get killed myself for it! Oh, Liz, go! Is it possible
that you can stop to think of anything when this poor child is dying?"

"Dying! dying!" repeated the unhappy woman, in an awe-stricken voice.
"Now, God hear my vow! If he dies I will kill the man that has caused
it, I swear it! He has wrecked my life, he has made me what I am, and I
will end it all in a fitting manner. Oh, Dick! Dick!"

She snatched up a scarf and wrapped it about her head, dashing down the
steps and out the door with the speed of the wind.

She did not pause even to secure the door behind her, but seemed almost
to fly along until she had reached the office of a doctor.

"Quick!" she gasped. "It is Dick, and he is dying!"

The medical man knew nothing of who Dick was, but the manner of the
woman was impressive to the last degree.

"Wait!" he cried. "What is the matter with him? I must know, in order
to take what I may need."

"God knows what!" replied Liz, her expression indicating insanity. "I
think Ben has killed him!"

The doctor waited for nothing further.

He snatched his hat, and without a word followed the woman as she
rushed along in silence to her own home.

The door was ajar. She pushed it open and led the way up the stairs.

There was Leonie, as she had left her, rocking the child to and fro in
the dilapidated chair, and singing to him a little song that she might
lull him to sleep.

The eyes of the unfortunate mother filled with tears as they fell upon
the tableau.

She touched the short crop of curling hair so lightly with her lips
that Leonie did not feel it, but it rested there like a benediction.

The doctor took the slight wrist in his hand, and counted the pulse,
then he looked at the sploched tongue.

"Why did you tell me that this child had been killed by some one?" he
demanded of the woman. "He has a terrible case of malignant diphtheria."

Brave as she was, Leonie's face became ghastly.

With awful horror, Liz crept closer to the doctor.

"Will he die?" she asked, in a hoarse whisper.

"It is impossible to say, though the chances are largely against him.
It will depend a great deal upon his nursing. You should have another
woman to assist you."

Then the nobility of Leonie's nature asserted itself.

"I will do that, doctor," she said gently.

"But you are a boy, and they are careless. He will need attention day
and night."

Leonie colored.

"I think you will find me a capable nurse and a devoted one," she
answered gently.

"Then to you I will give the instructions, for the mother seems
incapable of understanding."

Very carefully he went over everything that she was to do in detail,
telling her that perhaps upon her the life of the child depended, then
took his leave, promising to call again later in the day.

"Liz," Leonie said, when she was again alone with the mother and her
unfortunate child, "you must go at once and get what the doctor has
prescribed. You need not fear but that I will take the best care
possible of Dick."

"Malignant diphtheria!" whispered the poor woman, as she took the paper
from the girl's hand. "And Ben beat him when he was dying! God forgive
him, for I never can!"

She left the room mumbling some words to herself, words that seemed to
proceed from a breaking heart; but Leonie scarcely knew that she had
gone before she returned.

The medicine was prepared; but with all his frail strength the child
resisted, until Leonie bent her tender head and kissed him.

"Won't you take it for me, Dick?" she whispered. "It will make you
well, dear, and then there will be such fun for you and me. Don't you
want to be well for poor mamma's sake?"

He turned his head without a word and did as she bade him, his
suffering terrible to witness. Then pressing his head gently down upon
her shoulder, Leonie rocked him until he slept.

Liz watched in a silence that was pitiful. Crouched down where she
could listen to the slow tones of the soothing voice, she watched,
hoped a little, and perhaps prayed.

"Had you not better lay him down?" she whispered, when quite sure that
he slept.

Leonie shook her head.

"The bed is too hard," she answered. "Poor little thing, it will not
hurt me to hold him."

"But you may take the disease yourself."

"One must always take that risk. I am willing if I can be of service to
him now."

"God bless you!" whispered Liz. "I'll find a way to repay you for this
if I am killed for it. I can never forget that you might have escaped
and would not because of me and my poor child. You are free to go now
if you wish."

"And leave you to face Ben Mauprat with that child? No! my liberty
would be sweet to me, but I could not purchase it at such a cost to
you."

Liz lifted her eyes blinded with tears. She kneeled and kissed the hand
that supported Dick's head.

"You are an angel!" she whispered. "I had a daughter once, long years
ago that might have been like you if she had lived, but she died years
ago. That was the cause of Ben's deserting me and running away for all
those years when I was little more than a girl myself. Perhaps it would
have been better for me if he had never come back!"

A puzzled expression crossed Leonie's face.

"How long have you and Ben been married?" she asked, not forgetting in
her excitement to speak sufficiently low not to disturb the sleeping
child.

"More than thirty years ago. He deserted me and married another woman,
but she could not have been his wife, because I was that. Then she died
and he came back to me."

Leonie could scarcely control her agitation.

"You say----"

But before she could complete the sentence, the door opened and Ben
Mauprat was in the room.

With a low cry of horror, Liz sprung to her feet, and at the same time
the eyes of the child opened. He shrunk further into Leonie's arms,
seeming to entreat her protection. She clasped him closely and awaited
coming events.



CHAPTER XXI.


As though paralyzed by the audacity of the situation, Ben Mauprat stood
there regarding the three.

Not a single word was spoken, and for seemingly an interminable time
a silence that was painful rested upon them; then, with a snarl of
vengeance, he stepped forward, his hand extended as though to snatch
the boy from Leonie's arms, but quicker than thought Liz had placed
herself between them.

"Don't do it, Ben," she cried hoarsely. "I've been a good wife and a
true one to you, but you must not carry this any further than you have.
God knows I do not know how it can be, but I have loved you with the
devotion that few women have shown the husbands who have treated them
with love and tenderness, and I have had nothing but blows and curses
in return. I have never opened my mouth against it, and I never shall,
if you kill me; but you have done your last to Dick. Listen, Ben; he is
dying. Do you hear? Dying, Ben, and you are the cause of it. That girl
whom you beat, and almost killed, has more love for your own child than
you have, for she gave the liberty that she might have secured for his
sake; and as there is a God above us, I will protect her with my life!
I have been a coward just as long as I shall. As far as I am concerned
I am willing to bear anything, but for Dick's sake the end has come."

There was a dramatic intensity about the situation that was thrilling.

The woman's tone was not loud, but her arm was raised until she seemed
to tower above Ben Mauprat like a giantess above a dwarf.

Her eyes glowed with the passion that was moving her, her very bosom
seemed to swell until it threatened bursting.

The last words of her sentence were given a force that caused Leonie to
almost rise to her feet.

"Stand out of the way!" exclaimed Mauprat slowly, his eyes glowing with
rage. "I don't want to kill you."

"You may do it and welcome if you wish," exclaimed Liz, vehemently,
"but you shall not kill my child! Do you hear that, Ben? He may not
live an hour through the cruelty that you have already shown him, but
that hour shall be passed in peace. You beat him last night and again
this morning, and ten minutes ago the doctor told us that it would be
nursing and chance alone that could save his life, and that chance he
shall have! Don't go near him, Ben! Don't try it! I love him as the
only thing that holds me to life. Without him there is nothing in all
this world that makes it worth living, and as long as I can I will keep
him with me. You made him a hunchback, you have robbed him of every
hope, but you shall not take the few hours that remain to him. I beg
that you will listen to me, for if you refuse, as surely as you take a
step in his direction, I will kill you."

There was a hideous emphasis upon the last words that would have told
a man more of a believer in the vengeance of a woman, that the worm had
turned at last.

But Ben Mauprat was not a believer in that sort of thing. Once a
coward, always a coward to him.

He laughed fiendishly.

"'Pon my word, Liz, you are almost as good as a play!" he cried
brutally. "If it were not setting a bad example I would excuse you for
what you have done, on account of the amusement you have afforded me,
but I am afraid that if I did that, the next thing you would do would
be to allow this girl who has won your heart through her attention to
that brat, to escape, and so ruin all my chances for wealth. The young
one has always stood between me and your obedience! He has caused you
to oppose my will oftener than anything else. He has caused you to
get numberless beatings, and therefore the very best thing that could
happen to you as well as to me, would be to have him die. I am not
going to kill him outright, but I am going to show you that I will
stand none of your rebellion, and that I will listen to none of your
threats. I am going to lock that dangerous little rebel up, to settle
with her later, and then I am going to give the boy the beating that
his mother deserves."

"Don't do it, Ben! He has malignant diphtheria, and he would but die
under it!"

The words were spoken in an awe-struck whisper, but they only seemed to
anger the man the more.

"Malignant diphtheria, has he?" he exclaimed, harshly. "Well he may
give it to the rest of us, and the best thing that can be done is to
put him out of the way. Don't give us any more lip, Liz, but stand
aside!"

He put out his hand to compel her obedience, but she only caught it,
and held him convulsively.

"Don't, Ben!" she cried, wildly. "For the love of God have mercy! I
have never asked many things of you, and I beg this as I would not
plead for my own life! Oh, Ben, have mercy!"

"I am tired of this now! Shut up, or----"

"Ben, remember how true I have been. Remember----"

"Let me go, do you hear?"

"Ben, have pity! I swear that it is the last favor that I shall ever
ask!"

For all answer he gave her a terrible fling, that sent her spinning
across the room.

With a single stride he reached Leonie.

In another instant it is not to be doubted that he would have snatched
the already dying child from her arms, but the desperate mother again
interfered.

She did not fall, but maddened by her fear for the little, unfortunate
creature in which was centered her only love, her only happiness, she
seized a stick of wood that lay near the stove on the floor, and as Ben
would have snatched the child from its helpless protector, she brought
the cudgel down upon the back of his head with a force that, for a
woman of her build, was supernatural.

Without a word or even a moan he fell forward upon his face and lay
there like one dead.

A look of horror, somewhat tempered with relief, passed over Leonie's
face.

But Liz seemed suddenly converted into a maniac.

A shrill laugh fell from her lips, but almost before it reached the
atmosphere, it was changed to a cry.

She flung herself upon her knees before the boy and took his little,
burning hand in hers, pressing her hot lips upon it wildly.

"I have killed him!" she whispered, hoarsely. "Do you hear that, my
darling? I have killed him, and in a moment they will come to take your
mother away to hang her. But you must not fret, Dick. I knew that it
would come sooner or later, and it has come now, but you must not let
it worry you, my darling. Oh, Dick! Dick! Dick!"

The words faded into a sob that was terrible.

Leonie laid her hand upon the bowed head gently.

"Think what you are doing, Liz," she said, almost tenderly. "The child
is very ill--dying, perhaps, and you are exciting him like this. For
his sake, calm yourself, Liz, and listen to me."

"Calm!" echoed the poor woman, as though that were the only word that
she had heard. "How can I be calm when I have killed my husband and my
child is dying? Oh, girl, do you know what that means to me? Have you
any idea what it means to be all alone in the world with a weight like
that upon your conscience?"

"Hush!" cried Leonie, earnestly. "You have not killed Ben. You have
only stunned him, and if he returns to consciousness to find us still
here, I would not give much for any of our lives. Do you hear me, Liz?
Do you not see the necessity of our taking Dick away before he returns
to life?"

For the first time the woman seemed to be aroused.

She lifted herself and looked wildly about her.

"You are right!" she exclaimed hoarsely. "He may not be dead--child, it
would be better if I had killed him, for when he awakens he will kill
us all. What shall we do? Help me to think! My brain seems to be on
fire!"

"Is there no one whom you know to whom we could go for protection?"

"With him?" cried Liz, pointing to the child. "You must be mad. Do
you think any one is going to risk a disease like that for his sake
or mine? There is nothing that we can do, but you can go. There is no
reason that you should die because we must."

"Do you think I am such a coward that I would leave you here alone? I
would rather die with you. No, Liz! If one of us must remain we must
all do so, but--I have an idea, Liz. It is a hopeless situation for
you anyway, and therefore, it cannot be any worse. Every moment may be
precious to us now, and therefore, we must act quickly. We must call
upon the police for protection. We must have an officer here and have
Ben arrested when he awakens."

"But----"

"There is no time to argue it, Liz. It is a last resort."

"Then you go. I will keep the child."

"No. I must remain. If he were to awaken and find you here without me,
he would kill you without the hesitation of a second; but if he should
recover during your absence, I could invent some story that would keep
him talking until your return. Do not fear for me, Liz, but, for God's
sake, hurry!"

For only one second Liz paused; then, with not a glance in the
direction of the prostrate man, she murmured a word of blessing upon
the head of the girl who had, at the risk of her own life, befriended
her, and hastened away.

With a heart that seemed to stand still with dread, Leonie awaited.

Only once she looked at the child. The great eyes were fixed pleadingly
upon her, as though beseeching her not to forsake him.

She pressed her hand over them, to close the burning lids.

"Don't fret, Dick!" she said. "Nothing shall harm you, my poor little
one, until I have been killed first."

The sound of her own voice, in the terrible stillness that had fallen
upon them, was uncanny. She shivered with fright.

She turned from the unfortunate child, and cast a look of dread upon
the man beside her, and, to her horror, found the hideous, glaring eyes
fixed upon her.

She could not prevent a little shriek of terror. She watched him as
though fascinated, while very slowly he arose to his feet, never once
removing his terrible, glassy eyes from her face.

It seemed ages until he had gained his feet, and after he had, he still
stood glaring at her, slowly rolling up his sleeves in a manner that
seemed to paralyze her with horror.



CHAPTER XXII.


Like a bird that is magnetized into inactivity by the movements of a
snake, Leonie sat and watched Ben Mauprat.

Slowly, and showing his teeth in a hideous manner that was peculiar to
him, Ben continued to approach, until within a few feet of her he made
a sudden spring.

How it was that she escaped him she could never have told, but she
became conscious that she had leaped by him, and was standing a few
feet away holding the child who was a heavy burden in spite of his
being a physical wreck.

But she forgot it. She did not even remember in her fright that she had
him in her arms, but stood there clasping him closely to her, panting
with terror.

The man turned toward her again, but before he had advanced many
inches, she seemed to realize the necessity for immediate action,
knowing but too well that his next attempt would not be attended with
failure.

Hastily she laid Dick in an old ragged chair and placed herself before
it. With cold defiance she lifted her handsome head.

"Now, Ben Mauprat," she cried, her voice ringing out with clear
determination, "I am only a weak girl, but I am determined that you
shall not touch that boy, and if you do, it shall be over my dead body.
You may not know it, but I was never one to threaten uselessly. There
is nothing in life that makes it valuable to me, therefore there is
no reason why I should not keep my word. But for your own sake listen
to me a moment. I have sent Liz out of the room. It will be utterly
useless for you to attempt to find her, but if you harm me, she will
hand you over to the police within ten minutes. You will not have a
possible chance of escape. She is determined that she will save the
life of her child, and she knows that upon mine his depends. Now, Ben,
listen to reason! You say that you have a purpose to accomplish. You
destroy your chance of doing it, and send yourself to the gallows."

She paused, her strength almost deserting her. She was trembling in
every limb, but there was little evidence of weakness about her.
She seemed like a marble statue imbued with life and unchangeable
resolution.

"I shall not send myself to the gallows!" he exclaimed, his eyes
blood-shot, either from the blow on the head, or his rage, Leonie
could not quite determine which. "I am going to give that boy the
beating that I have promised him. I am going to give you one for your
interference in my affairs, and then after that I shall settle with
Liz, and before I am through with her she will wish she had never been
born. Do you understand that, young woman?"

"I understand that you are a very foolish man who are risking your own
neck to gratify a miserable spirit of revenge. Ben, there was a time
when you were my mother's husband. Because of that connection with one
who would have been dear to me had I been old enough to know her, and
who was the one sacred thought of all my young life, I plead with you
to spare yourself the shame of dying upon the scaffold!"

"You are talking like an idiot. I am a fool that I have listened to
you at all, but I am through now. Stand from before that boy! I shall
settle with him first and you may come after."

"I will not."

"What, defiance?"

"Anything that you choose to call it, but I say determination. You
shall not touch him!"

"Once more, stand aside!"

"And again. I will not!"

"Then take the consequences!"

He strode toward her, his brutal face purple with passion, his heavy
fist clinched as though to enforce obedience, but instead of thinking
of the words that she had been speaking to him, Leonie had been making
a plan of action.

She was too busy thinking how she was to save herself and the boy,
whose life seemed to depend upon her, to wonder at the continued
absence of Liz.

As she saw Ben coming to her, she sprung aside for the moment, and
almost before he realized that she had moved, she was back in her place
before Dick again, a broken pitcher filled with water, clasped firmly
by the handle in her hand.

As the man approached her, she pitched the contents into his eyes.

With a growl of rage, Ben turned aside, but only for an instant.

With the water still dripping from his face and falling over his
clothes, he made a desperate spring upon Leonie!

She lifted the pitcher, and was about to bring it down with all her
force upon his head, when the door suddenly opened and Liz entered!

The woman took in the situation at a glance.

A low cry issued from her lips, and a single word. It was:

"Quick!"

A man in the blue uniform and brass buttons of a police officer sprung
into the room.

With his fist poised in the air, Ben turned.

He understood what had happened, and Leonie's meaning.

He fell back with an awful oath.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded, savagely. "This house is mine,
and I command you to get out of it!"

"I am going to do so at once," answered the officer, serenely, "and you
are going with me!"

"I think you will miss your reckoning in that!" answered Ben, bracing
himself in a manner that the officer understood at once to mean fight.

The policeman lifted his club threateningly.

"I don't want to have to use any force with you, my man," he said
calmly, but with every evidence of meaning precisely what he said; "but
if I must do so, you will find that I know how to use a club with good
effect. This woman has sworn out a warrant for your arrest. I have
never been sent out yet for a man that I did not take him back with me,
dead or alive, and I do not propose to make you an exception to the
rule. My record shall remain unbroken. Now, are you ready to go with me
quietly, or must I use force?"

"You can use whatever you please," replied Ben, looking over the man's
shoulder at Liz; "but before you do it, I have a little debt to settle."

He paused for a moment as though considering, then spoke to Liz:

"So I owe this to you, do I?"

"It was to save Dick's life, Ben," answered the poor woman, hopelessly.

"Oh, was it? Well, I hope, as you have taken so much trouble to save
it, you may enjoy it. You have played the devil with me, and I have
never allowed any one to do that yet without giving them what they
deserved. I am sorry that I have not time to at least allow you one
prayer, but it is impossible on this occasion."

Almost before he had ceased speaking, he had drawn a revolver from his
pocket, and pointing it at the woman's head, pulled the trigger.

Accustomed as he was to such scenes, the officer had not contemplated
such an act upon the part of the man, but Leonie seemed to understand
perfectly what was coming.

Perhaps it was the suggestion of fear, since cowardice often makes one
more wary than the coolest bravery.

As the pistol was leveled, she threw out the pitcher that she held and
struck the man's arm, sending it in an acute angle.

The bullet passed, perhaps, not two inches above Liz's head, but, as
the smoke cleared away, Ben saw her standing there unharmed.

What he might have done to Leonie under the circumstances can better be
imagined than described, but before he had an opportunity to allow his
fiendishness swing, he was caught by the officer.

With a foul oath Ben turned upon him.

One blow from the revolver across the man's head cut the flesh until
the blood streamed across his eyes, and the next instant an escape
might have been effected that would have cost them all their lives, but
that Leonie seized the piece of wood that had served Liz so well, and
planted another blow upon the back of Mauprat's head.

It did not stun him, but brought him to his knees, giving the officer
time to recover himself.

Before Ben had staggered to his feet, the "bracelets" were slipped over
his wrists, and he found himself powerless.

Even then his efforts at escape did not cease. He made a leap in the
direction of the fire-escape, but before he could reach it, the burly
hand of the officer had him in a vise-like grip.

"If you try that again," he exclaimed hoarsely, wiping the blood from
his eyes with the back of one hand, "I'll settle you with this club! Do
you understand me? I never beat a man if I can help it, but when he
forces me into it, he never wants another from the same source. Now
come on!"

He gave Ben a jerk which nearly upset him, but if he expected quiet
yielding he was mistaken.

Ben turned, even pinioned as he was, to show fight, but a single blow
from the club was all that he required.

The officer jerked him to the window, and throwing it up, put his head
out and blew his whistle shrilly.

With one hand grasping his club firmly and the other Ben's collar, he
waited.

It did not require many minutes until the call for help was answered
and the other officer who had been summoned came up-stairs.

"I did not want to risk an escape," the first man said by way of
explanation. "He is one of the toughest customers that I have come
across in many a day."

With one on either side they were leading him away, when Ben turned to
Liz.

"You have escaped me this time," he said savagely, "but I will have my
revenge, if I am forced to break through prison walls to get it. And as
for you"--turning to Leonie----

"Shut up!" commanded the officer. Then to the two women: "You need not
be afraid. He'll get a good long spell for this, and when he gets out
he won't be so fond of this sort of thing. You need not let it worry
you in the least degree. Now come on, and mind you step quickly."

The handling that he received was not of the gentlest, and as the
officer closed the door behind him Liz crept up and touched Leonie
gently.

"What are we to do?" she gasped.

"You must not fear," answered Leonie bravely. "There are many things
that we both can do, now that there is no longer any danger from him.
But the first thing is to attend to Dick, poor little Dick. You must
forget Ben, Liz, and remember only that Dick needs you."

"And you?"

"You may be quite sure that I shall never desert you while you want me.
I have no mother, Liz, no one on this earth any more than you have, and
after I have accomplished my mission we will go away and live together,
if you wish, getting what happiness we can out of the life that we
shall make for ourselves."

"God bless you, my noble friend. I think you have already saved me from
a madhouse."



CHAPTER XXIII.


A nebulous gleam of light from an almost exhausted candle fell upon
Leonie and Liz as they sat silently in the room where Dick lay in a
disturbed slumber.

He had been placed upon the almost comfortable bed that Ben Mauprat had
used as his exclusive resting-place, and appeared more comfortable than
they could have hoped.

An old-fashioned clock upon the mantelpiece tolled the hour of two,
and, with a shiver of horror and dread that she could not control, Liz
drew nearer to Leonie.

"You go to bed," she whispered in a tone that would not disturb the
child. "You must be almost dead!"

"I am not in the least sleepy," answered Leonie. "You go. You will need
all your strength to-morrow."

Liz shook her head.

"I couldn't sleep. I don't feel as if I ever could again!" she
answered, drearily.

"Then let us both sit up. I think he is better, don't you?"

The question was asked with a nod of the head to indicate Dick, and Liz
glanced in his direction eagerly.

"God knows I hope so," she said, with some degree of color warming her
pale cheeks. "I should go mad if he died!"

"You must not say that, Liz. You must not rebel against the will of the
Lord. Why should you wish to keep him here for your sake, when your
own reason must tell you that it would be for his happiness to be in
Heaven?"

"You don't know what it is! You don't know how alone I should be, and
how I love him!" cried the woman, passionately.

"Do I not?" answered Leonie, sadly. "There was one to me as near almost
as he to you. I loved him with all the strength of my nature, and I
lost him. You may be sure that you have a sympathy for me which only a
similar experience can bring."

"Tell me of it."

"I cannot. The wound is too new. Liz, you told me that you were married
to Ben Mauprat thirty years ago, did you not?"

"Yes."

"And that he deserted you and married another woman. Was there ever any
divorce that enabled him to do that legally?"

"No. He married her knowing that she never could be his wife so long
as I lived. He was not then what he is now. You would never believe
that he was the same man, nor me the same woman, for that matter. We
had a daughter that Ben was mad about. He seemed to love her as he
never loved anything before or since, and she died. He blamed me with
her death, when my own heart was breaking. He said that it was my
neglect that had killed her. We had a terrible quarrel, he beat me and
left me. I did not hear anything more of him for years, then one day
I heard that he was married. I searched for the truth and found it.
He was married to a young woman whose name was Lena. I saw her, and I
heard him call her name. They had a child, a little girl, but Ben never
seemed to care for her as he had done for our little one. I went to Ben
and tried to persuade him to come back to me, but he only laughed at
me. I did not tell the poor young thing that he called his wife the lie
with which he had deceived her. What would have been the good? It was
too late then to save her the disgrace that would have been upon her,
and she was a beautiful, delicate girl. Soon after that Ben committed a
crime and was put in the penitentiary. Before he was released she died.
I knew that the child had been adopted by some wealthy people, but I
never saw Lena again after that night. The girl who told us who you
were was the child. She is his own daughter."

"Are you sure of that?" asked Leonie, endeavoring to control her
agitation.

"Of course I am! He has told me so often."

"But is there no other proof than just his words?"

"I have seen letters from her, making the acknowledgment virtually."

"Have you them?"

"No, but I think I could find some of them easily enough!"

"Liz, that girl is a thief!"

"I know it! Her own father made a thief of her!"

"If it had not been in her naturally, he could never have done it! She
would have died first! Do you think any one could ever have made a
thief of me?"

"That was why Ben broke Dick's back; because the poor child refused to
steal!"

"But Evelyn Chandler did not refuse, because I saw her do it! Liz, the
only man who has ever stood my friend, the man to whom I owe a debt
that never can be paid, is engaged to marry Evelyn Chandler, and I have
sworn to save him. There is but one way to do it, and that is to prove
her parentage, and the crime that she has committed! God knows if I
could give my life and save Lynde Pyne, I had rather do it, but that
would do no good! It would but insure the sacrifice."

"Lynde Pyne! Lynde Pyne, did you say?" asked Liz, in a whisper, leaning
excitedly toward Leonie.

"Yes! What do you know of him?"

"Is not he the man who expected to be his uncle's heir, but his uncle
left all his money to Luis Kingsley instead?"

"I don't know, but I think now that you mention it that I have heard
something of that kind!"

"Yes, that is who it is! Ben knows where the will is that was made
after the one that gave Luis Kingsley the money. It gives everything to
Lynde Pyne! I have heard Ben and his daughter speak of it frequently.
They had it planned that she was to marry Lynde Pyne, and then the
will was to be produced. It makes him one of the wealthiest men in the
state."

"I see it all now."

"All what?"

"Very many things that I could not understand before. Have you any idea
where that will is?"

"No. But it must be somewhere in Ben's things, because the producing of
it depended upon him exclusively. His daughter wanted it, but Ben would
not let her have it. I am not sure, though, whether it is here or in
Luis Kingsley's office."

"What did Ben have to do with him?"

"He made a pretense of working there, but he was not in the office more
than half an hour during the week, and then only when he wanted to be.
Luis Kingsley knew that Ben had him in his power, and he did not dare
oppose Ben. Ben played the respectable because of his position down
there."

"Liz, listen to me. You have said that you owed me a debt of gratitude
for what I did for Dick to-night. For myself, Heaven knows I would
never ask anything of you, but would be glad enough if there were
anything that I could do to make life more endurable to you. But, Liz,
there is another! One who is as dear to me as life itself, and for his
sake I ask that you help me to prove this. Help me to gain possession
of that will, to prove the unworthiness of Evelyn Chandler, and I will
stand by you and bless you until life leaves me! Promise me that you
will do this, Liz."

"I promise with all my heart. I would do it, even if I knew that I
should never see you again, for the kindness that you have already
shown my poor boy, and for which God will surely bless you. I don't
know exactly how we are to find the will, but I do know about the proof
concerning Ben's daughter, and I can get that for you before morning if
you want it."

They were interrupted by the sound of a groan, and rising, Leonie
glided noiselessly to the bed. The boy was awake, and in his eyes could
be plainly seen the presence of death.

Leonie raised him in her arms. Her heart ached for the grief that she
knew the unfortunate mother must endure, and in the sympathy that was
aroused she forgot her own matters for the time.

"What is it, Dick?" she asked tenderly. "Is there anything that you
want?"

The suffering child tried to speak, but the painful effort ended in a
moan.

The glassy eyes wandered to Liz's face and remained there as though in
dumb pleading.

The woman came forward and knelt beside him.

"Are you suffering, my boy?" she asked, endeavoring to strangle the
sobs that arose in her throat.

He made a gesture of annoyance.

With all his frail strength he was striving to say something, but the
words died upon his lips before a sound was articulated.

He beat the air with his small hands madly, as though unable to bear it.

"Is it water that you want, dear?" asked Leonie. "If so, nod your head!"

He shook it as vigorously as his weakening strength would allow.

"Is it anything that you want?"

He indicated the negative. Another violent effort was followed by the
word:

"Will!"

"You mean that you know where the will is?"

He nodded in the affirmative.

"Well, never mind it now, dear. That will do when you are well and
strong. Now you must take the medicine that the doctor has left,
and----"

"No!" he gasped. "No use. Good-bye--mother. It is all--over now, and he
can't--beat me--again. The will--is--in----"

He caught his throat with his hands and seemed trying to tear the words
from it, but a fit of strangling ensued that was horrible.

"Go for the doctor, Liz. Quick!" cried Leonie, ghastly with fear.

Dick put out his hand.

Once again he endeavored to speak, but it was followed by one gulp that
turned him purple in the face.

Liz uttered a groan of anguish.

He lifted his eyes once pleadingly; then settled himself back after a
long sigh in Leonie's arms.

For many moments she held him closely; then with an expression of
terror, placed her ear near his heart.

She lifted him tenderly and laid him back upon the bed.

"What is it?" cried Liz, hoarsely. "Not--dead!"

Leonie laid her arms around the woman's neck.

"Remember that he is with God," she said gently. "In wishing to resist
the will of Heaven you wish to place him back here again where----"

There was no need for the sentence to be completed, for it would have
been uttered to deaf ears.

Liz had fainted.

Unconsciousness was the kindest thing that Heaven could have sent, for
it relieved her for the time of the terrible grief of knowing that she
had lost the only being who held her to life.

Utterly helpless and alone, Leonie left the room, and running
down-stairs, endeavored vainly to find help, then went back feeling
that she could not leave the living and the dead together under
circumstances so ghastly as those.

She hurried back to the room where she had left them.

It was a piteous scene that greeted her.

Upon the floor Liz sat with the body of the boy clasped to her breast,
rocking him to and fro while she sung to him the lullaby with which she
had soothed him to sleep in infancy.

"Hush!" she whispered, lifting her finger warningly as Leonie entered
the room. "The baby is asleep. He has not been well, and you must not
wake him."

Acting upon an impulse, Leonie sprung to her side and took the child
from her.

"What are you thinking of?" she gasped.

But before she could lay the child upon the bed, she felt ten long
fingers close over her throat from the back.

She endeavored to cry out, but they clung all the more closely, closing
tighter and tighter until she was as helpless as the child upon the bed.

Then for the first time she seemed to understand.

She was in the hands of a maniac.



CHAPTER XXIV.


As the terrible thought came to Leonie, with all its frightful import,
she endeavored to conceive some plan by which she could save herself,
knowing that upon the quickness of her action alone depended her chance
of life.

And life never appears so intensely sweet as when we are looking the
loss of it squarely in the face.

Yet what was she to do?

She knew that she had as well undertake to move the fingers of a hand
cast in iron as those upon her throat.

It required not an instant of time for those thoughts to flash briefly
through her head, but the time seemed ages to her strained nerves.

Still, under all the excitement and horrors of the night, her mind had
never seemed so clear, so perfectly capable of coping with positions
that appeared hopeless.

Endeavoring to restrain her breathing, so that she could endure the
choking as long as possible, she threw a quick glance about her. Within
reach was the pistol that the officer had torn from Ben's hand, and
had, in his subsequent haste, evidently forgotten.

She shuddered as she caught sight of it, but at that moment the fingers
resumed a closer hold.

She gave herself a fierce wrench, and endeavored to turn herself in the
terrible grasp, but she was like a piece of metal held by a trip-hammer.

Under the strain of hideous necessity, she put out her hand and grasped
the revolver.

In it she saw the only hope of life, but what a frightful hope it was!
Still there was not an instant to lose.

It seems to require a hundred words in cold type to describe the action
of a second, for certainly it was not much longer than that before the
little weapon of death was clasped firmly in Leonie's hands.

Unaccustomed as she was to the handling of such instruments, and
further affected by the terror of the moment, her finger came first in
contact with the trigger.

It was self-acting, and before she realized that it was really in her
possession, there was a frightful explosion, and the next moment she
felt the hands drop from her throat.

The concussion put the light out, and she was in absolute darkness,
with death and lunacy!

It was not an enviable position, most particularly as she had no idea
of the extent of the damage done by the pistol.

Her excitement was almost unbearable.

She turned in Liz's direction.

Even in the darkness she could not fail to see the phosphorescent glare
from the wild eyes of the woman that glittered like those of a cat.

With a quick dodge, Leonie passed her, sprawling over a chair in the
darkness, but with the dexterity of mania Liz followed her.

A chase ensued that for dramatic horror could not be excelled, and
yet, perhaps, the interest was felt most by the participator who was
conscious of the terrible danger in which she was placed.

She still had the revolver clasped in her hand, being pretty sure that
at least three chambers were still full, but that was to be used only
as a last resort.

Then, to her surprise, Liz paused. She could see her quite distinctly
by the glare in her eyes.

"Liz," she said, gently, "don't you know who I am? Why do you want to
hurt me, dear? I am Leonie! Leonie, whom Dick loved, and who loves both
you and him! Don't you know that, Liz?"

The woman laughed hoarsely.

"You can't deceive me!" she answered in a tone that was horrible. "You
are Ben, and you have come to beat my poor boy when he is dying! But
you shall not do it! Do you hear that? I have been a good wife to you,
but it is ended now! You shall not beat my child again, and in order to
keep you from it, I am going to kill you!"

"Listen to my voice, Liz, and let that convince you that I am not Ben.
Indeed you are wrong, dear. Don't you know how we were talking just
now about the will that was made, and you said that Ben knew where it
was? Don't you remember how poor little Dick tried to tell us something
about it? I am Leonie, Liz; can't you understand that, dear?"

She shook her head.

"You are trying to deceive me, but you can't do it."

"Then if I promise you that I will not touch Dick!"

"You can't fool me; I knew you were Ben, but you thought I would not
recognize you in the darkness. I am going to kill you, then I am going
to take my boy and go away where no one will ever know. Oh, I have
thought of it often, often! I have all my plans made, and when they
find you they will never suspect that I had anything to do with it. I
have always known that it would come to this sooner or later, and I
have thought many times of how I would do it--just with this long, thin
knife that I have got in my hand. It will go to your heart so easily
that I don't think that any one will ever see the wound that it will
make. I don't want to hurt you any more than I can, for I used to love
you, Ben; but I am going to free Dick. Do you hear, Ben? I hope you are
ready to die, for as there is a God your time has come!"

There in the darkness, with only those glittering eyes visible, and the
faintest outline of her surroundings, even with a revolver clasped in
her hand, the position was one of almost incalculable danger to Leonie,
who knew as little about a revolver as a child.

Her teeth chattered with terror.

She saw the woman creeping toward her again, and a wild desire to
escape if the most desperate chances were required, took possession of
her. Her heart seemed almost to stop its beating.

She turned and fled, careless of direction, and the next instant
tripped over something, tumbling to the floor with a crash!

The pistol flew from her hand.

Feeling that every moment was precious, she groped about for it, but it
was not to be found. Then she felt the brush of a woman's skirt over
her.

Liz bent downward.

Leonie believed that her hour had come, but with a last struggle for
precious life, she caught the woman's feet at the ankles and upset her.
The respite was only momentary.

She readily understood that an attempt to cope with insanity was but
another form of madness, and leaping to her feet, she approached the
window.

Her resolve was desperate. She would trust to a jump in preference to a
lunatic.

Then at the last moment, Heaven seemed to come to her rescue.

As she threw up the sash, she caught sight of a rope that was attached
to the sill, for some purpose of Ben's own. Hastily securing the end in
a knot around her waist, she sprung upon the sill and let herself down.

She did not pause to consider the danger. It was alluring beside that
which she had but just escaped.

Down, down she went through the gloom of the night into the street, but
before she reached the pavement, she felt a heavy hand laid upon her.

Rough as the grasp was, it felt like the hand of Heaven to her.

"You young rascal!" a voice exclaimed. "What are you doing leaving a
house in that fashion in the dead of night?"

Leonie grasped the hand and shook it. There were tears in her voice and
in her eyes, tears that were the result of hysteria.

"I have been fighting with a maniac," she exclaimed, hastily. "For
God's sake look!"

She had glanced up at the window through which she had escaped, and as
she did so the street lamp showed her the figure of a woman standing in
it.

"Don't jump, Liz! Don't, for the love of Heaven!" she shrieked, wildly.
"You will kill yourself! There is no rope to save you, and there would
not be a chance! Oh, Liz, for God's sake go back!"

But the voice only seemed alluring to the woman upon the sill.

She jumped from it back into the room, and as Leonie thought she had
listened to her warning, she saw her appear there again with something
clasped in her arms.

Before the girl could open her mouth through the horror upon her, there
was a wild scream of laughter, and the next moment Liz had leaped into
the air, with the burden still held closely to her.

Breathless, ghastly with hideous fear, Leonie grasped the hand of the
man who stood in silence beside her.

People in the neighborhood who had heard the wild cry that the
stillness of the night made all the more shrill and fierce, put their
heads out of the window to see the cause, and in a moment the street
was crowded with men, boys and even women, some drawing on their coats
and others not even taking that precaution against the dampness of the
night.

Then some one with more presence of mind than the rest summoned an
ambulance.

The police arrived, then the ambulance, and with tenderness and care
the woman and child were placed within.

"Is she dead?" whispered Leonie to the ambulance surgeon.

"No," he answered, kindly. "She is not dead, but it might be kinder to
her if she were. The child is dead. Is she your mother, my boy?"

It was the first time that Leonie had thought of her clothes, and her
face colored slightly as she answered:

"No, sir, not my mother, but my friend! Her husband was arrested
to-night and taken to jail for trying to kill her child. He died of----"

But the surgeon had no time for details. It was necessary to get the
woman to the hospital as soon as possible, and giving the address to
Leonie, he gave the order to the driver.

The man who had first arrived upon the scene turned to Leonie.

"If you will come home with me," he said, "I will see that you have a
place to sleep to-night."

"You are very kind, sir," she answered, "but I think I cannot go."

"You do not mean that you will remain in that house alone?"

But Leonie remembered the letters that she must secure that night if
ever, and replied bravely:

"I shall not be afraid. There can be no danger now. Good-night, sir,
and thank you."

She turned and left him, after taking his address, and once more
entered the house where her experiences had been so alarming.

To a person of the strongest nerves the prospect was not a pleasant
one, but at least there was nothing to harm her now.

With that consolation she entered the hall and closed the door behind
her.



CHAPTER XXV.


It was with no gentle touch that the officers led Ben Mauprat to the
station.

They had almost reached it when, as they were turning a sudden corner,
they were met by a man--evidently a gentleman, from his dress and
appearance.

An expression of gladness lighted Ben's features.

"You, Mr. Kingsley!" he exclaimed. "May I have a word with you?"

The gentleman, handsome in appearance as Apollo, paused.

"What's the matter, Mauprat?" he asked.

Then turning to the policemen:

"Not a drunk and disorderly, is it?"

"Worse than that, sir," answered the man who had performed the arrest.
"He tried to kill his wife and child. Shot at her in my presence."

"Why, how was that, Ben? You see, the man is in my employ, and I am
naturally interested in him."

"Will you come to the station house with us, sir, if there is anything
you wish to ask?" said one of them. "He has proven himself a dangerous
customer, as you can see by that cut over my eye, and I want to get him
locked up before I am forced to crack his skull."

Luis Kingsley made a gesture of acquiescence, and silently followed the
lead of the officers.

While the entry was being made, Mauprat spoke aside to Kingsley.

"You had better bail me!" he said; "but failing in that, there is a
message that I want you to take now--to-night, sure! There must be no
mistake about that, for upon it more than you think depends. You must
go to Miss Evelyn Chandler, and tell her what has happened to me. You
must tell her that Liz and Leonie Cuyler are at my house alone, and
that--I am afraid something will happen to them."

"Where is it that you live?"

"She knows," replied Ben, curtly, "and she will understand what I mean.
Do you think that you can get me out to-night?"

"The chances are that I cannot, particularly as you resisted arrest."

"Well, don't let it be later than to-morrow. Be sure that you deliver
the message at once, for upon it depends more than I can tell you. You
promise?"

"I do. Give me the address."

It was given and jotted down in the Russia leather note-book that Luis
Kingsley carried, while Ben Mauprat was locked up.

Mr. Kingsley made no very strenuous efforts to get bail accepted, but
left the station-house after ascertaining the exact charges upon which
Ben had been arrested. He lighted a cigar and walked leisurely down the
street.

"Now, who is Miss Evelyn Chandler, and what in thunder did he want
me to deliver that absurd message to her for?" he asked of himself,
mentally. "Hanged if I know whether I ought to do it or not. If I only
knew where he lives, I don't think I should bother about notifying Miss
Chandler at all, but as I don't, and the chances very decidedly against
me finding out, I had better keep my promise. If Miss Chandler goes
there, I might follow her and thereby put myself in possession of the
papers with which that man has so often threatened me. Let me see. Why,
this is the address of Leonard Chandler, one of the wealthiest men in
the city. It can't be that this is his daughter to whom Ben Mauprat has
sent a message. It seems to me that there is the promise of something
sensational here. At all events it is worth following up. I most
decidedly shall keep my promise to Ben and call upon the young lady."

There was no longer any hesitation on the part of the young man, but
hailing a passing hansom, he leaped in, gave the address, and went
rolling over the cobble-stones as rapidly as the bony horse could carry
him.

He glanced up at the massive brown-stone front, before which he was
deposited, with considerable surprise.

"What in the name of all that is wonderful could Ben Mauprat have to do
with a young woman living in a house like this?" he asked of himself.

Then a smile flitted over his features.

"She is one of the servants," he told himself. "The name is one of
those curious accidents with which one often meets. I wonder what the
people will think of me for presenting myself at their front door to
inquire for a servant? Well, if the worst comes I can excuse myself on
the plea of philanthropy. Ha! ha! that is something after the order of
the devil quoting Scripture!"

He ran up the stoop and rang the bell loudly.

"Is Miss Evelyn Chandler in?" he asked of the servant.

"Yes, sir. Will you walk in?"

He was ushered into the drawing-room, where the servant stood waiting
for his card.

Kingsley put the idea out of his head that Miss Chandler was a servant,
and handed his card to the man.

"Will you say to Miss Chandler that I am a messenger from another, and
that I should appreciate an immediate interview as a favor?" he said.
"Assure her that I will not detain her five minutes."

The servant bowed and left him. Kingsley looked about him.

"There is a mystery in this," he said to himself, "that I must solve.
What could that old drunken tramp have to do with people like these?
Evidently I must keep my wits about me."

His soliloquy was interrupted by the entrance of Miss Chandler.
Kingsley caught his breath hard at the vision of beauty she presented.

She was clad in a gown of dead black, above which her bare shoulders
gleamed like marble.

She came toward him swiftly, and he had scarcely recovered himself,
when she stood beside him.

"To what am I indebted for the honor of this visit, Mr. Kingsley?" she
asked, referring to the card in her hand for the name.

"I---- The fact is, I am placed in a most awkward position, Miss
Chandler!" he exclaimed, flushing furiously. "I was made the unwilling
messenger of a man who has gotten himself into trouble. He gave me a
message to deliver to Miss Evelyn Chandler, but you could not by any
possible chance be the lady, though this is the address he gave."

"Perhaps you are not mistaken after all. There are a number of
unfortunate people in whom I am interested. If you would kindly give
me the name of the man I might be able to tell you whether the person
meant was myself!"

"His name is Ben Mauprat, a thoroughly worthless fellow, but one in
whom I have been interested myself. He----"

"I think the message is intended for me, sir!" interrupted Evelyn,
with perfect composure. "You say that Mauprat has gotten himself into
trouble?"

"Yes; a trouble that is more serious than he thinks, perhaps. He is
charged with attempted murder!"

"Indeed!"

For all the coolness of her utterance a frightful pallor overspread the
face of the beautiful girl, that seemed to threaten unconsciousness.

Kingsley took a step toward her as though to offer assistance, but she
recovered herself and smiled.

"Those things are so dreadful for a lady to contemplate," he said,
deprecatingly. "I am sorry to have shocked you, Miss Chandler."

"I beg that you will give it no consideration whatever. Do you know who
it was that he attempted to kill?"

"His wife, I think."

"I suppose so. Those men always do try to injure the ones who are most
necessary to them. And what message was it that he sent me?"

"He requested me to say that Liz and Leonie Cuyler were at his house
alone, and that he was afraid that something would happen to them."

Again the lovely face grew ghastly, but that never-failing control was
exerted successfully, and Miss Chandler laughed outright.

"I suppose he wants me to go there to see that nothing shall befall
them, and that, too, after he has tried to take the life of poor Liz.
Is that not like one of those men? It was so kind of you, Mr. Kingsley,
to take all this trouble. I am very much obliged to you. It must really
be dreadful for those two poor women to be in that house alone under
the fearful circumstances."

"It is nothing for me, I assure you. On the contrary, I shall be but
too happy if you will make any further use of me that you desire. I see
that you are dressed for a reception. If it would be of any service to
you, it would give me pleasure to go there in your place and remain
during the night if they should require my presence."

"I don't know how to thank you, but I think I shall go myself for a
moment and perhaps bring them home. There is really nothing further
that you can do, but be assured that what you have done is most
thoroughly appreciated. Good-night."

He was so evidently dismissed, that there was not the slightest excuse
for his remaining longer, and reluctantly he was compelled to take his
leave.

Something in her manner, as she left him, seemed to attract him, for
the door had scarcely closed upon him, than he paused with a curious
expression upon his face.

"How cleverly she avoided giving me that address!" he muttered. "Why
should she have turned so pale over the fact that Ben Mauprat was in
trouble? and how is it that a young lady in her sphere would allow a
man of Ben's stamp to call upon her so freely? As sure as fate there is
something wrong! I should like nothing better than to get that young
woman in my power, for I have not seen so pretty, so magnificent a
creature in many days.

"At least, it can do no harm to watch, and, my pretty Evelyn, you do
not leave that house this evening without my knowing every foot of
ground you touch."

With which commendable resolution, Luis Kingsley stationed himself upon
the opposite side of the street in the shadow, and took up his vigils.

As Miss Chandler left the drawing-room she encountered her adoptive
father.

"Are you really ready for once on time?" he asked. "I am glad of that,
as I have a special reason for wishing to be early."

"You surely would not think of going yet? Why, there will be no one
there at all."

"That is precisely the reason that I wish to go at once. Now, you know
perfectly well that there is nothing that puts me so thoroughly out of
humor as contradiction, so for Heaven's sake! leave it off for once and
come immediately! You will find that they are expecting us early, and
besides that, some one always has to be the first!"

Seeing that Leonard Chandler was in no mood to stand opposition, Miss
Chandler uttered a sigh and ran lightly up the stairs.

"What shall I do?" she asked of herself, when she was securely in her
own room. "Ben surely meant by his message that I was not to leave
those two alone there; but even should I go, what could I do against
them both?

"Plainly there is but one course, and that is to go to the reception,
slip out when I return, and go to that house.

"I don't know what Ben meant, but he certainly did not send me that
message for fun. I cannot see what he expected me to do! That is what
puzzles me! What in Heaven's name has ever made him such a fool? He
has risked everything, and perhaps lost me the stakes for which I have
ventured so much. Curse him! I knew he would do this sooner or later,
but there was no chance to act without him.

"And now, to please that old fool down-stairs I have got to go to that
reception and smile and chatter while my thoughts are occupied with the
hideous danger that threatens me.

"If I could but see Ben for five minutes and know how things stand! But
that is not even to be thought of! I am afraid of---- Heavens! I dare
not think what!"



CHAPTER XXVI.


It was not a pleasant contemplation, that of facing the dreary,
desolate house where her experiences of that evening had been so
frightful, and it was with a shiver of horror that Leonie turned from
the door which she had closed upon herself.

She stood for a moment irresolutely, her womanly cowardice fighting
with her strong desire to gain possession of the papers that she
believed the house to contain, feeling that if she left it until the
morrow that the opportunity might be forever lost; yet it was a hard
fight.

She was but a girl, weak of courage when she had time in which to think
of fear, and the occurrences of the evening were not calculated to
eradicate nervousness, yet with a determination that was singularly
strong, she put fear from her and walked up the stairs.

All about her was in utter darkness, save for a ray of light that
seemed to creep disconsolately through the window by which she had made
her escape.

She looked at it with a shudder, remembering the terrible tragedy that
had followed her exit through it, but not daring to give herself time
for reflection, she began a search for matches.

She knew where the candle had stood at the time the pistol put it out,
and groping her way through the gloom she succeeded in finding it.

There were a few matches upon the waiter of the holder. The pale gleam
cast a fitful glow over the room that was uncanny. By it the objects
appeared ghostly, and she drew back with a low cry of fright as her
foot struck the straw of which Dick's bed had been composed.

She smiled at her own timidity when she saw what it really was, but her
courage was of that watery character that threatened to desert her at
each moment.

She did not dare to even trust herself to the inactivity of waiting for
the break of day, but set about looking for the papers of which Liz had
spoken, and which she knew must exist somewhere. But where was she to
begin to look? She glanced about her helplessly.

"I feel quite sure they are not in the secretary down-stairs!" she
muttered. "There was not a drawer in it locked, and surely Ben would
not leave things like that about carelessly. However, there was that
letter that I read, and which I still have. No, they were not there, or
I should have discovered at least some trace of them. Let me see!"

Carefully she gazed about her, then realizing that she could hope for
nothing without making a beginning, she began a thorough investigation
of the premises, hampered by the scarcity of the light.

Behind boxes, in closets, between the pictures and back of an old
chromo that adorned the wall, under everything that promised a place of
concealment, she looked, but all to no purpose.

She was about to give it up in despair, when, as a last resort, she
tore the clothing from the bed upon which Dick had died.

Between the mattress and the cords that were drawn across the bed in
lieu of either springs or slats, she saw an old tin box!

With a cry of joy, she seized it.

The box was locked, but after a delay that was most exasperating in her
excited state, Leonie succeeded in breaking the lock with a hammer.

As the lid opened, she grasped the papers within, and seating herself
at a table, began looking over them eagerly.

There were extracts from old, yellow newspapers, photographs that
seemed to be the relics of ages, and letters by the score.

From the contents of the box, one would have thought the man possessed
of a mania for preserving such things, a thought in which Leonie would
have concurred before she had completed her self-imposed task.

There were letters from confederates, letters from friends, letters
from his mother, a few from Liz, and underneath, as though those were
the things that he wanted to preserve most, she found another box of
paper.

She opened it eagerly.

Passing over the smaller papers, she opened a letter, addressed in the
stylish penmanship which she knew belonged to Miss Chandler.

Breathlessly she read:

  "SIR,--I have just read your letter delivered by special messenger.
  The surprise to me has been so painful that I scarcely know what I
  ought to say; but if you will meet me to-night at the address that
  I shall append, I will have thought the matter over. I understand
  but too clearly your reason for coming forward to claim the child
  whom you deserted in her infancy, because you know that now I am the
  adopted daughter of a wealthy man who knows nothing of the disgrace
  that the penitentiary attached to my parents, and you think that
  I shall be only too willing to purchase your silence at any cost.
  Perhaps you are right. We shall see. At all events, meet me as I have
  indicated, and if you have any regard for your own child whatever, be
  careful that this letter does not fall into the hands of any one.

                                               "Yours regretfully,

                                                                "E. C."

With a thrill of satisfaction Leonie laid the letter aside, apart from
the others that had been rejected, and took up another.

A single paragraph from it read:

  "You have made me a thief. Were you not a fiend your conscience would
  burn you to death for so foul a thing, but instead you are going to
  force me into the cell of a convict, the same, perhaps, that held
  both you and my mother. I am half inclined to believe that Leonard
  Chandler already suspects me. Should he find his suspicions to be
  true, there is nothing upon this earth that could save me. Your
  revenue would cease. I know that it would be useless to plead with
  your sympathy for me, but for your own sake let your demands at least
  be within reason."

Then again:

  "Your suggestion about Lynde Pyne is a stroke of genius. With several
  millions at his command he will be worthy of the hand of your
  illustrious daughter. Keep hold of the will and trust the rest to me."

Scarcely able to control her excitement, Leonie read the letters
through.

"Surely that will be enough!" she exclaimed, her expression almost
fierce. "I will take copies of these, I will show them to her, assuring
her that the originals are in my possession, then surely she will not
still refuse to abandon her plan of marrying Lynde Pyne. I can then
place the will where the rightful heir can be restored and--go away."

The last words were scarcely more than a sob, but she resolutely closed
her throat upon it, and turned to her work.

She began to look over them promiscuously.

First came several that amounted to nothing as far as she was
concerned, then followed some smaller ones. The yellow one that she had
in her hand was read twice.

It was the marriage certificate between Elizabeth Johnson and Benjamin
Mauprat, dated thirty-two years before.

There was another one of the marriage of Eleanor Cuyler and Benjamin
Mauprat dated between seven and eight years later, but across the face
of it was written in Ben's own ungainly scrawl the words in red ink:

  "An experiment in bigamy. For the edification of my daughter Evelyn.
  To be presented after my death, or immediately before."

There was a copy of the certificate of the birth of Evelyn Mauprat, and
also another copy that was perhaps of more interest than all to Leonie.

It was the one of her own birth--"Leonie Pyne, daughter of Roger and
Eleanor Pyne!"

How her heart beat as she read the words, knowing that she was a
legitimate child!

After a long look she put it aside, and turned her attention entirely
to looking for the will.

She found it at last at the bottom of the box, wrapped in a piece of
tissue paper, and opening it began to read:

  "Know ye all men by these presents, that----"

Then unable, through feminine curiosity, to wait further, she looked at
the signature. It was clear enough, and duly witnessed: "Roger Pyne."

She could scarcely control her excitement as she read it.

Roger Pyne!

And Roger Pyne was her father!

She sat for some time with the will in her hand, unable to see the
letters because of her trembling; then by a tremendous effort she
controlled herself, and read it through to the end.

It stated clearly and concisely that all other wills made by him were
revoked, and that he had discovered the reports brought to him by his
nephew, Luis Kingsley, about Lynde Pyne to be utterly and entirely
false, and that in consideration of the evil character which it showed
the said Luis Kingsley to possess, he desired that it should be known
that he made Lynde Pyne heir to all his estates, real and personal,
cutting Luis Kingsley off with the proverbial dollar.

Then after it had been read and re-read, the will dropped into the
girl's lap, and her eyes gazed dreamily from the window.

It was her father who had made that will, her father who had died
believing that the woman he had made his wife was a bigamist.

Her father who had died in ignorance even of her birth.

She knew enough of law to know that all she would be required to
do would be to produce that marriage certificate that was in her
possession, together with the record of her birth, to break that will,
having all those millions come to her; but the thought brought her no
pleasure.

Even if she had desired to take from Lynde Pyne what his uncle had
given him, she would be forced to make public her mother's disgrace
in order to do that, and not all the money in the universe could have
tempted her to even consider it.

Her duty was clear enough.

She must face Evelyn Chandler with the proofs in her possession; she
must know beyond a doubt that the engagement between her and Lynde Pyne
was broken, she must restore the will to the one most interested and
then----

Her work would be accomplished, and for the sake of her mother's memory
she must go away where the secret could be preserved.

It was not a pleasant prospect; and now that she felt her mission was
about at an end, the desolation and loneliness of her position struck
her with greater force than it ever had since that morning when she
knew that her single friend had left her forever.

There, in her hands, were all the proofs that she needed; and as the
thought came that there was no longer a necessity for bravery, a long,
deep sob seemed to come straight from her heart. She bowed her head and
sobbed.

But in the midst of her yielding to grief, a sudden sound attracted
her, there in that silent house, where it seemed that even the noise of
a mouse would sound deafening.

She straightened herself suddenly, and clasping her hands above her
heart, listened.

There could be no mistake about it!

It was a footstep, clear and distinct, coming stealthily up the
uncarpeted stairs.

For a moment her heart seemed to stand still; then, springing up, she
dashed to the door.

Quivering with fright, she undertook to fasten it and bar it against
entrance; but before she could succeed, a veiled figure, spectral under
the light of the pale candle, stood before her, preventing the action.



CHAPTER XXVII.


For some moments it seemed to Leonie as though the figure that stood
before her could be nothing human.

The very blood seemed to freeze in her veins. A pallor that had the
appearance of death crept over her face, and a trembling seized her
that seemed to shake her in every limb.

But it was only for a moment.

The veiled woman stepped forward and uncovered her face.

"You!" gasped Leonie. "How came you here at this hour, and what do you
want?"

"I came by way of the street-door, and I want to see Liz!" answered
Evelyn Chandler, coolly. "Where is she?"

"She was taken to the hospital more than an hour ago."

"And you were here alone?"

"I was until you came!"

With nervous irritation Miss Chandler threw her eye over the apartment.

It rested upon the chair whereon Leonie had left the box with the
papers scattered about, some having fallen upon the floor, others lay
on the side of the bed where Dick had died.

With a low cry, Miss Chandler sprung toward them.

"And in the absence of the members of the family, you have been
plundering the papers!" she exclaimed, her alarm causing a hoarseness
that made her voice sound uncanny.

Before she could reach the chair, Leonie had recovered her powers of
action and thought. She flung herself between Miss Chandler and the
chair, barring her progress.

"Yes," she cried excitedly, "if you choose to put it so, I have been
plundering in the absence of the family! Do you know what I have
discovered? That you are even a viler woman than I gave you credit for
being. That you have lied to me, and that you have rendered further
concealment on my part a sacrifice that I decline to make.

"You knew that the words you said to me the night that I discovered
you to be a thief, robbing the man who had been a father to you, were
utterly false from beginning to end, and yet you tried to break my
heart without a revulsion of conscience.

"Now listen to me, Evelyn Chandler, for it is I who dictate terms this
time, and you who must abide by them or take the consequences. I have
every proof in my possession that makes me mistress of the situation. I
want the engagement between you and Lynde Pyne broken without delay. I
want him restored to his rights as the heir of Roger Pyne, and I want
you to make good the last cent of the money that you took from Leonard
Chandler to buy the silence of your own father!"

A smile that was cruel in its irony played over the face of Miss
Chandler as she calmly listened to the girl's words.

"Are you mad?" she asked coldly, "or do you think I am an idiot? It
seems that you have thrust yourself into the secrets that were never
intended for you to know, but since you have done so, it is useless for
me to deny that Lynde Pyne is the rightful heir and----"

"No, he is not! That is only part of your scheme to deceive me, but
I tell you that I know the story in its entirety. I, Leonie Pyne, am
the rightful heir to that fortune which I have no intention of ever
claiming. I have my mother's marriage certificate."

"But she was a wife already, and----"

"You are either deceived yourself, or else purposely endeavoring to
mislead me. Lena Cuyler's marriage to Ben Mauprat was not legal, as
he had a living wife from whom he was not divorced at the time of
his mock marriage to my mother. That marriage annulled, perfectly
legalizes her subsequent union with Roger Pyne and establishes my
birth as legitimate. Therefore I am the rightful heir. Your birth, you
see, is the one upon which the unfortunate cloud rests that makes you
even possess no right to the name your convict father wears. Now the
question is, are you ready to resign Lynde Pyne without publicity being
given to these matters, or must Leonard Chandler and the world come
in possession of a knowledge that I desire to conceal for my mother's
sake? I wish to impress upon you before you answer, that there is no
romantic feeling of wishing to spare a sister in my offer to repress
the truth or a portion of it; it is only my dead mother. Now, what have
you to say?"

For some moments a cold, dull gray had overspread Miss Chandler's face.
A wild horror had come into her eyes, but gradually she had controlled
it.

To be the daughter of a convict was bad enough surely, but to be his
nameless child was a disgrace of which she had really never dreamed.

Still, revulsion at the contemplation of disgrace had never distressed
her much, and she recovered from the feeling quickly.

She determined not to lose the position of wealth and luxurious ease
that she then held without a desperate struggle, and she was perfectly
aware that to lose Lynde Pyne meant more to her than one would readily
suppose.

With all her heart she longed to strangle Leonie, but controlling her
venom, she said, almost humbly:

"I don't think you can realize how you have surprised me. I cannot
think yet that what you have said can be true. Prove it to me and I
will do what you say. Let me go over those papers with you. Let me see
the truth for myself."

Leonie laughed.

There in the stillness of the night it rung out with a little metallic
sound that was chilling. She shivered as it ceased.

"I am afraid I could not trust you so far!" she exclaimed, coldly.
"A woman who would dare so much as you have already done will bear
watching. You will excuse me and take my word for it. I know!"

"Why should I do that? Why should I take your word any more than you
should mine?"

"Because I have never deceived you in anything. Because I have been
perfectly frank and open always. It is utterly useless, Evelyn. You can
obtain absolutely nothing from me in that way. I have been deceived too
often to allow you to do it again. These papers are in my possession
now, and there is no power that could tempt me to part with them. I
will not ask you to make your decision to-night, but I shall take the
liberty of calling upon you at your own house to-morrow when you can
give me your answer. And now I shall be grateful if you will let me
alone."

Miss Chandler drew herself up coldly, her arms folded upon her breast.

"You have had your opportunity to speak uninterruptedly, now do me the
favor to listen to me," she said, slowly. "I may tell you that I do
not in the least doubt the truth of what you have said, but I shall go
further. The very fact of not doubting makes me all the more determined
that nothing shall prevent me from securing those papers, not even
murder! Do you hear me? You know that I did not pause at theft, and I
tell you that I shall take the risk for what it promises. There is not
a human soul that knows I came here to-night. What proof, therefore,
would there be against me? If you will give up those papers willingly,
I will divide with you the fortune that I shall receive through being
the wife of Lynde Pyne. If you refuse I will have them, cost what they
may!"

There was not the slightest doubt in Leonie's mind that Miss Chandler
meant what she said.

She threw a quick glance about her to see where the pistol she had
dropped was, and also to locate the knife which she knew Liz had.

She saw the revolver immediately. It lay directly behind Miss Chandler
upon the floor.

In order to get it she would be forced to leave the papers she was
guarding unprotected, and possibly not even then could she reach it.

The knife she saw, with a shiver of terror, was upon a table not a foot
from Miss Chandler's hand, and, as though attracted by the direction of
Leonie's eye Miss Chandler turned hers in that direction.

She smiled, seeming to comprehend the thought that had flashed through
Leonie's brain, put out her hand calmly and grasped it by the handle.

Then she looked at her sister with cold determination.

Seeing that immediate action was imperative, Leonie seized the papers
that she had put aside and thrust them into the bosom of the shirt she
wore.

Fortunately, in imitating the dress of the poorer classes, she had put
on a shirt without a linen bosom, but one that opened down the front.

She buttoned it quickly, then faced her companion resolutely.

"If this is to be a fight for possession," she said, coolly, "it might
be fair for me to point out to you my superior advantages. It is true
that you have that knife in your hand, but you have nothing like the
strength that I have, and my dress will be of the greatest possible
benefit to me. I warn you that it will be only with my life that I will
resign the papers that are more to me than all the world. Do you still
intend to contend for their possession?"

"Your question is not worthy of an answer. You know that in your bosom
you hold more than life to me--you hold happiness and honor. For the
last time I ask you to give them up! I do not intend to purchase them,
but I mean to take them by force if you still refuse. What is your
answer? Make it for the last time, and quickly!"

The two women, both desperate, faced each other with a resolve that
meant life or death.

There was not the slightest evidence of weakness or fear in either, but
a cold determination that was horrible.

There was the undoubted resemblance of sisterhood between them as they
stood apparently revolving their plans of action.

Leonie knew full well that there was not the slightest chance for her.

That the moment she made an effort to pass that motionless, rigid form
that blocked her passage to the doorway, the long, sharp knife that Liz
had bought to protect her child would be plunged to the hilt in her
body.

She had no wish to die that way, and still less to place the papers
that she held in Miss Chandler's hands.

It was not a pleasant contemplation. She listened for an instant.

There was not a sound in the street.

She knew that she could not hope for assistance from that quarter.

The rope by which she had made her escape before was out the window,
and to trust to it without having it tied about her body was a most
forlorn hope.

There was but one possible way, and that she seized upon with a
suddenness that threw Miss Chandler entirely off her guard.

She turned and blew out the candle.

Miss Chandler knew nothing of the situation of the articles of
furniture in the room, and the darkness was intense.

Before her sister's eyes had time to become accustomed to the absence
of light, Leonie circled about her and reached the door.

She knew that if she could but succeed in making the street, that her
safety would be assured, and having so much the start of her pursuer,
she did not doubt her ability to do so.

With a savage cry Miss Chandler started after, but Leonie's advantage
was too great to be denied.

Miss Chandler was about to give up in despair, when a sharp, agonized
cry from the dark hall almost froze her blood.

She hurried down the steps and groped about in the gloom until her hand
came in contact with something, she scarcely knew what.

She shrunk back with a start of terror.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


With all her frail strength, Leonie was struggling in the grasp of a
person who held her with the strength of a giant.

The excitement of the entire day had been too much for her and
unconsciousness was threatened, but by a mighty effort she overcame
it, knowing too well that upon the perfect retention of her faculties,
everything depended.

"Let me go!" she cried struggling to free herself. "Let me go!"

"Tell me first where you were going in such hot haste at this hour in
the morning and why?" demanded the stranger. "I claim that you are a
thief."

"Then have me arrested," exclaimed Leonie, "but do not detain me here!"

"You seem too willing. I must understand the cause of all this before
I do anything. Now act like a sensible boy and tell me where you were
going and why?"

Leonie only continued to struggle.

Holding her with one hand in a grasp like iron the stranger took a
match-safe from his pocket, and holding it between his teeth while he
selected one, he struck it and lighted the gas in the hall.

Miss Chandler uttered a low cry and fell back. She had recognized Luis
Kingsley.

His eyes met hers in a look of affected surprise.

"You, Miss Chandler!" he exclaimed. "This is indeed an unexpected
encounter. Was this little vagrant trying to rob you?"

Miss Chandler was utterly at a loss what reply to make. She had almost
as soon have had that will in the possession of Leonie Cuyler as of
Luis Kingsley, and a chill of horror seemed to seal her lips.

A silence that was painful settled upon them.

Leonie could not exactly comprehend the situation, but she could see
that Miss Chandler was not anxious to have the man know the secret that
she was endeavoring to conceal, and Evelyn was striving to determine
how much he had heard of the conversation that had taken place
up-stairs.

Leonie had determined that she would tell him the truth, as he appeared
a gentleman; and seeming to read something of her determination, Evelyn
Chandler forced herself to speak.

"How came you here at this hour, Mr. Kingsley?" she asked coldly.

Leonie started perceptibly. The name told her all that Evelyn wished
her to know.

"I might put the same question to you with effect, Miss Chandler," he
returned.

"I came by the desire of Ben Mauprat, as you know. A man whose wife I
have befriended more than once. My presence here is therefore not to be
questioned; but yours seems singularly like unwarranted interference."

"Your words are curious, coming to one who entered to protect what he
believed to be a woman in distress. May I inquire who this boy is? And
why there seemed to be a quarrel--if not a fight--going on between
you? My dear Miss Chandler, a young lady in society may have the right
to go from one reception to another between three and four o'clock in
the morning, but they are not so charitably inclined that they make
disinterested visits at this hour. I confess that my curiosity is
aroused. Where is the wife of Ben Mauprat? Who is this boy? Why are you
here? And why was he endeavoring to escape you? I readily acknowledge
that I may not have the right to ask you these questions, but situated
as we are, I not only do ask them, but I demand that you answer."

"And if I refuse----"

"Then I shall take the trouble to discover for myself."

"Very well, then. I shall answer them. In the first place, the wife
of Ben Mauprat is ill and has been taken to the hospital. The boy is
Ben Mauprat's son. I was here at the request of Ben Mauprat to know if
there were not something that I could do for the family in whom I have
long been deeply interested. He was endeavoring to escape me because I
wished to turn him over to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Children to be taken care of. Even if Ben should be released from
the position in which he is now placed, he is not a proper guardian
for that boy, but the boy did not wish to do as I said. Now, is that
satisfactory?"

"And you were demanding obedience to your will at the point of a knife.
Was that it, Miss Chandler?" asked Kingsley, coolly ignoring her
question.

She glanced down.

In her hand she still held the knife that she had taken from the table,
and which, in her excitement, she had forgotten.

Her face became crimson. She could find no answer, and with a short
laugh Kingsley turned to Leonie.

"What have you to say?" he demanded.

"Nothing!" she answered. "I deny your right to detain me here, and I
command you to release me!"

"Spoken like a true son of Ben Mauprat!" exclaimed Kingsley,
ironically. "It may not come amiss for me to remind you, Miss Chandler,
nor you, Master Mauprat, that I have never been taken for a fool, and
even if I had, there is no reason to believe that I am one. I have
never gone prowling round in the dead of night without an object;
therefore, following my usual example, I did not come here without one.
I know that there is a mystery afloat. I have scented it, and I am
determined to fathom it. I do not believe that you two are interested
in it alone. I intend to search this house, after I have first made an
examination of this boy to see what he has concealed upon his person
with which he wished to escape, and which you were determined to
prevent at the risk of murder."

He looked from Leonie to Evelyn, and from Evelyn back to Leonie, but
neither spoke.

Both were endeavoring to think of some plan of action, and one seemed
to be as uninventive as the other.

Had there been a desire upon Miss Chandler's part to act in unison with
her sister, they might readily have thwarted Luis Kingsley, but there
was little more desire in her heart to have Leonie in possession of the
papers than Kingsley.

One promised as little to her as the other.

She lifted her head, and looked defiantly at the man.

"You have expressed your determination," she said, coldly, "now listen
to mine. I propose that you shall leave this house, and I intend
that you shall do it without accomplishing the design that you have
intended. The question is, will you do it peaceably or not?"

Kingsley looked at her in absolute amazement.

She saw that it was a desperate case, and desperate cases required
heroic handling, but he was unprepared for the amount of spirit that
she displayed in a woman.

There was something like admiration in the glance that he bent upon her.

"Whether I do or not you deserve credit for your bravery!" he answered,
slowly. "I do admire it! Upon my soul I do! Let me tell you something,
Miss Chandler! Whatever you may say to the contrary, I am fully
convinced that you did not come here this night for motives of charity
alone, and I am further convinced that the reason that you gave for
your unpleasantness with this boy was--pardon me--not the truth. But
for all that, there is something about you that appeals to me strongly.
I don't want to be your enemy! I don't want to do anything that will
in any way injure you, but there are reasons why I am just as much
interested in the contents of this house as you can be; therefore if
you will take me into your confidence and trust me, there is no reason
why we should not work together and benefit each other. A woman of your
standing and wealth does not interest herself in a man like Ben Mauprat
for nothing. Come, now! Is this to be a sort of partnership between us,
or are you determined that I shall find out all for myself, to your
detriment, perhaps?"

Leonie breathlessly awaited the answer. She felt that upon it depended
her chance of escape with the papers, and so of saving Lynde Pyne.

It came at last!

Miss Chandler looked at him without flinching, and replied:

"There is no reason why I should make any bargain with you, sir. I
command you to leave the house! In the event of your refusing to do so,
I have in my possession a revolver which I shall not hesitate to use.
I have not wished to threaten, but you have forced it upon me. Do not
think that I shall fear, for this is that boy's home, and he has the
right to protect it from entrance of burglars who break in in the dead
of the night. He will be the single witness in the case, and I think I
shall have nothing to fear from him. Now once more, will you go?"

"Now less than ever! You have firmly convinced me that there is
something, even more than I thought, at the bottom of all this, and I
am determined to discover it. Now, my dainty one!"

With a suddenness that lost Leonie her footing, he dropped his hold of
her, and sprung toward Miss Chandler, catching her about the waist and
pinioning her arms. With the ease of an athlete he turned her around,
and wrenching the knife from her hand, threw it upon the floor.

Leonie had secured it within the twinkling of an eye, and with it she
sprung toward the door.

But Kingsley had not left the rear unguarded in any such manner as
that. She fell back with a little gasp of terror.

It was locked!

As soon as she could recover from her disappointment she turned and
looked at Evelyn and Kingsley.

He had pushed her backward upon the stairs, and holding her with one
hand and his knee succeeded in finding the revolver of which she had
spoken.

Without the quiver of a muscle he calmly pocketed it, and released her
from her uncomfortable position.

"I am sorry that you forced me to treat you so roughly," he said
mildly. "There is nothing more annoying than to be compelled to use
one's strength against a woman. There is so little of manhood in it,
and yet one cannot always help it. Now, Master Mauprat, that you have
seen there is no possibility of escape, are you ready to stand and
deliver?"

There was something almost genial in his manner of saying it, and but
for her knowledge that he was an utter scoundrel, Leonie could almost
have liked him.

Yet she did not think much of that at the moment. Her mind was centered
upon how she was to get away with those papers, a thing that began to
appear to the last degree hopeless.

Then suddenly an idea struck her.

She realized how impossible it was for her to cope with him physically,
for she would be less than a feather in his hand, and she saw that if
she was to save Lynde Pyne she must give up the idea of sparing Evelyn
Chandler.

She saw her way if she could but prevent Luis Kingsley from seeing the
certificate of her mother's marriage with his uncle.

With a deprecating gesture she turned the handle of the knife toward
him, as the vanquished do in battle when acknowledging themselves
defeated.

He smiled as he took it, not endeavoring to conceal his surprise.

"You have not offered to compromise with me, Mr. Kingsley," she said
coolly, "but I am open to a consideration of that kind if you see fit
to make it. No, further than that, I will make the offer, if you are
prepared to listen."



CHAPTER XXIX.


Before Kingsley had an opportunity to reply, Miss Chandler had sprung
by him and had caught Leonie's hand in an iron grasp.

"You must be mad!" she whispered hoarsely. "Think what you are doing!
You lose every possible hope! There is no doubt but what we can escape
if you will only help me. For God's sake keep your wits about you and
do the thing you contemplate only when you are overpowered and forced
to yield."

But Leonie had no idea of considering any such advice.

She perfectly realized there was not the shadow of a hope for them, and
she wanted to preserve that marriage certificate.

She understood that it was but the copy of a record, and that she could
prove her words without it; but it was the greatest saving of valuable
time to keep what she had.

Besides, she had not looked at the name of the clergyman nor the
witnesses, and they might be very hard to find.

Kingsley made no move whatever to intercept Miss Chandler.

He knew his power, and he allowed her, without interference, to talk to
her companion as much as she chose, though every word that she uttered
could be distinctly heard by him.

With a slow smile, though she was far from feeling in any degree
mirthful, Leonie turned in his direction.

"Are you prepared to answer my question?" she asked calmly.

"I am," he replied. "You shall have ample time to say anything that you
wish. Will you proceed at once?"

"By doing that you will lose everything," gasped Miss Chandler.

The smile on Leonie's face only deepened.

"You must remember that there is honor among thieves, Mr. Luis
Kingsley," she began, "and the promise that you shall make me before
you hear my secret must be kept to the letter. Do you agree?"

"I agree to abide by whatever promise I make. You may be sure of that.
But the question is, whether I shall make the promise or not."

"I think you will. It can make no possible difference to you who I am,
nor how I came by my information, but I have come into possession of a
secret of yours which I am willing to sell for my liberty. I will tell
you in the first place that the reason why I do not wish you to search
me is that I am not the boy that you suppose, but a woman."

"This is growing interesting. Go on!"

"Well, sir, several years ago you had an uncle of great wealth."

"Leonie, for God's sake----"

Miss Chandler had interrupted, but Leonie talked on as though unaware
of it.

"He was fond of a cousin of yours, but not of you. The cousin's name
was Lynde Pyne. He had been brought up to look upon himself as your
uncle's heir, a fact of which you were unable to see the justice. You
were determined that such should not be the case. You, therefore, went
systematically to work to alienate the affection of your uncle from his
favorite nephew, pouring into his ears a tale of the treachery of Lynde
Pyne that finally had the desired effect--that of causing your uncle to
make a new will, leaving to you the bulk of his fortune."

"It seems to me that for a young woman whom I never saw before in my
life, you are wonderfully well acquainted with my affairs."

"Poor girls need money as well as other people, and some of us have
learned from men that the easiest way to obtain it, is often to
discover the private affairs of men of millions like yourself, and
trade upon the knowledge that we have gained."

"And how do you propose to handle this?"

"That is just what I am going to tell you."

She turned for a moment and looked at her sister. She was standing with
her back leaning against the door, her face deadly white, her eyes
glaring like those of an animal.

It was a desperate case with her, but there seemed absolutely nothing
that she could do to avert the terrible danger that threatened her.

A weakness came over Leonie, the weakness that is engendered by human
sympathy for a person in distress, but then a consideration of all that
Miss Chandler had done against her wiped it out, and she turned her
eyes in the direction of Kingsley with a little shudder of horror.

She resolutely forced herself not to glance again toward the shrinking
woman.

"Go on, please," exclaimed Kingsley, a trifle nervously.

"You asked me, I think, how I proposed to handle this," returned
Leonie. "Well, I have not quite reached that point yet. You know
sometimes a trade falls through, and the larger the transaction the
greater the danger attending it. Now, Mr. Kingsley, fortunately for
your cousin, but most unfortunately for you, the stories told by you
about Lynde Pyne to your uncle were discovered by him to be false while
there was yet time remaining to him to make a new will. That will was
made!"

"You are sure?"

"I have read it myself. You are cut out without a dollar, while the
entire fortune is given to Mr. Pyne without reservation. What I propose
is to deliver that will over to you, if you will release me from this
place without trying to in any way molest me, or attempting to search
me."

"You have the will?"

"I decline to answer that question, but I know where it is, and I will
put you in possession of it when I have your assurance that you will
do as I have demanded. So far as the other papers are concerned, they
relate to the birth of a person, which cannot concern you, but in which
I am interested as I was in the securing of that will. You understand
me, I think, without further explanation."

She intended him to believe that she wanted to extract money from Miss
Chandler, and he fell into the trap easily enough.

"I am willing," she continued, "to give up the papers that concern
you if you will allow me to retain the others that are in my keeping
without interference."

He smiled curiously.

"I accept the terms," he said, slowly. "I think Miss Chandler's
presence here places her as much in my power as I care to have her, and
I am not at all desirous of securing her money, therefore I agree to
your terms."

Evelyn Chandler started forward, her ashen face more pallid than ever.

"You will eternally regret it if you do!" she gasped, hoarsely. "Do you
know what the papers are that she wishes to conceal? Do you know who
she is?"

"The key to this door!" cried Leonie, excitedly. "Throw it to me and
the will is yours!"

"Listen to me, now!" gasped Miss Chandler. "I swear----"

"Here is the will!" interrupted Leonie. "The key--quick! There is a
man in front of the house. If you hesitate I shall break the glass and
pitch it through if you kill me!"

"Hear me!" panted Miss Chandler, catching Kingsley by the lapel of the
coat and holding him frantically.

It but impeded his progress as he would have sprung toward Leonie; and
seeing that she would not hesitate a moment to accomplish the purpose
that she had assured him she would, he took the key from his pocket and
flung it toward her.

Knowing that he would catch her if she made any attempt to escape with
the will, she threw it down, unlocked the door, and sped away down the
street like the wind.

The man of whom she had spoken as being across the street was a myth,
but it had seemed to put an idea into her head that strangely enough
had not occurred to her before.

Not even pausing to take breath, she ran along under the gray of the
awakening morning, her mouth parched and dry, her tongue seeming to
cleave to the roof of her mouth.

About three blocks away she found a policeman. Excitedly she caught his
arm.

"Quick!" she gasped. "A moment's delay, and you will be too late! He
may have escaped now! There are millions of money depending upon it.
Quick!"

Something of her excitement seemed to communicate itself to the tired
man. He set into a run with her, and with an evidence of surprise,
stopped before the residence of Ben Mauprat, where the door was already
open, and in which he could see the shadowy figures of a man and woman.

With the officer, Leonie sprung up the steps.

"Arrest that man!" she gasped, pointing dramatically toward Luis
Kingsley. "He has a will in his possession that has been suppressed for
years!"

"Arrest that woman, who is masquerading in the clothes of a man!"
exclaimed Kingsley angrily, seeing that he had fallen into a trap.

Miss Chandler had sunk back helplessly. The officer glanced hastily
from one to the other.

"I think I had better take you all in!" he said. "That seems to be the
safe plan. Come, now, and no foolishness!"



CHAPTER XXX.


Placing the three before him, and compelling them to lock arms, the
officer was about to take up the line of march, when something in the
back pocket of the man's trousers attracted him, the coat being lifted
a trifle over it.

He thrust his hand forward and pulled the pistol from it that Kingsley
had taken from Miss Chandler.

It was the single hope that the man had retained of release, and a low
oath fell from his lips as he realized that it was gone.

"I owe this to you!" he exclaimed to Leonie. "You shall see how well
I know how to liquidate my debts. Is this the honor that you claimed
should be among thieves? I kept my word and you betrayed me; you shall
pay for it with interest."

"Stop your threats and go along quietly, or I'll quiet you," cried
the officer, lifting his club threateningly. "You are a nice party
altogether, you are."

The sergeant's eyes were opened to their widest as the gentleman of
elegant appearance, and the lady in the costume of a reception, entered
his precinct.

"What are this lady and gentleman arrested for?" he inquired sternly of
the officer.

"Absolutely without reason!" exclaimed Kingsley, attempting bravado.
"We were out on a little mission of charity in connection with a family
that has had a terrible affliction befall them to-night, when the
officer arrested us. It is an outrage!"

"What have you to say, officer?"

"Only this, sir: I was on my beat when this boy came running up to me
out of breath and demanded that I go with him to arrest these parties.
I went to see what was wrong, and I found these people under suspicious
circumstances. The boy claimed that the man had a will concealed upon
him that had been hidden for years, and the man claimed that the boy
was a girl in disguise. The house that they were visiting to perform
a charity was the one belonging to Ben Mauprat, who was arrested
to-night, and whose wife jumped out the window later with her child in
her arms, so that there was nobody in the house for them to have gone
there to see."

The sergeant looked dubious, then after a moment of hesitation, he
decided to "hold them for examination!"

It was with perhaps the greatest amount of relief that she had ever
felt in her life that Leonie saw the two conducted to their respective
cells, though she knew that she must follow.

As she was leaving the room, she lifted her eyes pleadingly to those of
the sergeant and exclaimed:

"There is no chance of his escaping with that will, is there? It would
place in his possession a large sum of money that rightfully belongs to
another."

"That will, if one exists, will be deposited with me inside of fifteen
minutes!" he answered.

It had been a night that was to be long remembered by Leonie.

She was thoroughly exhausted in mind and body, and feeling mentally
at rest at last in her cramped apartment, she stretched herself out
wearily upon the hard bench that was the only bed offered, and was soon
sound asleep.

There was a vague wonderment as to what had happened to Liz, and what
she was to do when all the facts that surrounded her had been made
public; but she was too tired for anything under heaven to disturb her,
and after a moment of wakeful dreaming she was in the land of Nod!

       *       *       *       *       *

"You have heard nothing yet from Neil Lowell?"

The question was addressed by Lynde Pyne to Andrew Pryor as the two
men shook hands on the morning after the event just narrated had taken
place.

"I was about to put the same question to you," returned the elder
man. "I am losing hope. I wonder what could have happened to the boy?
I have given his description to every police station in the city; I
have private detectives at work, I have done everything that lies in
my power, but all to no purpose! The matter is shrouded in as great a
mystery as it was at the beginning. I am about coming to the conclusion
that he has been foully dealt with!"

Pyne started.

"How is that possible?" he asked, half unconscious of having spoken.

"How is it possible!" cried Mr. Pryor with annoyance. "How are half the
horrible things that you read of daily in the papers possible? I don't
know, but one never can tell what may happen, nor what has happened. I
have had the most flaming advertisements in the papers, asking him if
he were safe to at least let me know. Lowell was a great reader of the
papers, and if he had seen it he would surely have answered in some
way. He has never seen it, and he has not because--he is dead!"

Pyne's hand came down upon a glass, knocking it to the floor with an
awful crash.

His face was ghastly.

"Have you any reason for thinking that?" he demanded so hoarsely that
Pryor's attention was attracted from his concern about Leonie to his
friend.

"No, no!" he answered. "Why, what is it, Pyne? You were not acquainted
with Lowell, were you? I did not know that you had ever met him more
than once."

"You are quite right! It is only the horror with which those things
naturally affect me. I can never regard such things, even in
imagination, without feeling faint."

"In your profession I should think you would have overcome such things
entirely!"

"One would think so, but it does not seem to have been the case with
me. I do not believe that I shall ever recover from it. My cousin was
to go to Miss Chandler's to begin her visit there to-day, was she not?"

"I think so; but not until this afternoon. Do you want to see her?"

"If you please. Will you kindly send for her to come here?"

Andrew Pryor was about to put his hand upon the bell to ring, when the
door was suddenly thrown open, and Miss Pyne, with Miss Pryor, entered.

The former held a newspaper in her hand, and both seemed excited to the
last degree. They paused, however, upon seeing Lynde.

"What is it?" he demanded, as neither of them even greeted him. "There
was something that you wished to say, and you have hesitated because I
am here. Can you not tell me, Edith, unless your news is a secret? The
papers do not usually contain secrets that the world may not share,
and from your manner I should say that it is something that you have
learned from them."

"You are quite right, Lynde," she answered, laying her hand
affectionately upon his shoulder. "I did learn my news from the papers,
but it is something that will hurt you most seriously. So much so that
I am afraid to tell you. But of course there can be no truth in it. You
must take consolation in that, dear."

He had grown ghastly again. He endeavored to speak, but the horror that
was upon him seemed to paralyze utterance.

He took the paper from her, and in silence she pointed to the article
that had caused her such consternation.

The headlines were sensational, describing as they did the arrest of
Miss Evelyn Chandler, the daughter of one of the wealthiest citizens of
the metropolis, in company with Luis Kingsley, of Wall Street fame, in
a disreputable place.

Edith Pyne had read no further than that; but calling the attention of
Miss Pryor to it, they had hurried with it to Mr. Pryor's study.

The paper dropped from Lynde's hand and fluttered to the floor.

He seemed to understand that some dreadful thing had happened, that
there could be no mistake, and though Leonie's name was not mentioned
in those first lines, he seemed to know intuitively that they related
to her.

He sat down in a chair very suddenly, and Edith kneeled beside him.

"You must not take those horrible words as literally true," she
exclaimed, gently. "You know so well how many mistakes these papers
make. Do not look like that, Lynde! You frighten me!"

"Do not distress yourself about me, dear," he said, gently. "There is
nothing wrong. Read the article to me, please. I do not seem able to
see quite distinctly."

Still kneeling there beside him, she read it to the end. About the
arrest in the deserted house of Ben Mauprat, about the sensational
demand of the boy for the arrest of the man with the will, of the
counter-charge of disguised sex made by the man, of the march to the
station-house, of the costumes of the party, of how the "boy" had given
his name as Leonie Cuyler Pyne----

Suddenly Miss Pyne's face was lifted, ghastly as Lynde's own.

"What does that mean?" she demanded, huskily.

"Never mind. Read on!" he commanded, hoarsely.

Then the papers found were described and copied, the will acting as a
kind of supplement.

There was not a word spoken in that room for the space of five minutes
when the reading had ceased.

Mr. Pryor was the first to break the stillness that had grown uncanny.

"Let me be the first to congratulate you, Lynde," he said, his kind old
voice shaken with emotion. "You have gained your fortune at last, and
if it has cost you a wife, the loss is the greater gain of the two."

"It is not true!" cried Lynde, hoarsely. "There is not a word of it
that can be true. There was never any such will made. My uncle died,
believing me guilty of the acts of which my cousin accused me, and
Roger Pyne was never married in his life. Do you think that he could
have had a wife and I not know it! Why, it would have been----"

He broke off suddenly, remembering the comments that had been made upon
the resemblance between Edith and Leonie upon that night that they had
sat side by side at the table.

It seemed to offer a certain proof of the truth of the story that
startled him.

He arose hastily and picked up his hat.

"Where are you going?" Edith asked, timidly, something in his
expression frightening her.

"To the station-house where these people are said to be. I must know
the truth."

Then, after the hesitation of a moment, he turned to Mr. Pryor,
remarking:

"Do not distress yourself further about Neil Lowell until I see you
again. If the article contained in that paper is true I can take you to
him within the hour."

"What do you mean?"

"I cannot tell you now. There is a mysterious something that makes me
horribly afraid that I shall find it all too true, but until my return
I can say nothing!"

"Why cannot I accompany you? You surely know that you can trust me!"

"With all my heart! Come, if you will."

Lynde bent his head and kissed his cousin. With an impulse that she
could scarcely understand she reached up and placed her arms about his
neck.

"Something tells me that you will not find it false, dear," she said,
gently, "and, notwithstanding the sorrow that it will bring upon that
unfortunate woman, I cannot regret it. But if it should prove true, I
feel convinced that that woman will try to hold you to the promise that
you have made her by pleading the cause of her love. Promise me that
you will not listen to her, Lynde!"

He kissed her again and sighed.

"You must not ask me to promise until I know what I am doing, for I
have never broken one in my life, dear."

He loosened her arms from his neck, thinking, with something like a
choking sensation, of the one that he had already given and wondering
if anything would happen to release him from it before it was eternally
too late.

Resolutely he put the thought from his mind and turned again to Andrew
Pryor.

"Are you ready?" he asked, the anxiety in his voice increasing.

"Yes. You may be sure that it is all true, Lynde, and that you are the
heir to your uncle's fortune at last."

"You seem to have forgotten, all of you, that if this story is true,
that will can make small difference to me, as my uncle left a daughter
of whose existence he died in ignorance. The money will be even
less mine than it was before. Do not think that I grudge it to the
unfortunate girl, for that is the only part of the story that offers me
any pleasure at all."

The consternation of the group was even greater than before, but not
waiting for comment, Lynde placed his hand upon Mr. Pryor's arm and
hurried him from the room.

"There is one hope!" exclaimed Edith to Miss Pryor when the men had
gone. "If Miss Chandler knows that there is no chance for Lynde to get
the money she will not hold him to that miserable engagement, perhaps,
for I feel convinced from his manner that if she should he would still
marry her!"



CHAPTER XXXI.


By courtesy of the captain, Miss Evelyn Chandler was allowed to receive
a guest who had called upon her, in his private office.

She had expected to see Lynde Pyne, and had prepared her manner of
receiving him; but as the door opened she staggered back before the
pale, haggard face that confronted her.

"You!" she exclaimed, as the door was closed, and she found herself
alone with the man who had been a father to her, and whom she had so
grossly deceived. "I--I--did not expect you quite so soon! Did you
receive my note?"

All the usual bluster seemed gone from the man's manner.

One would scarcely have recognized Leonard Chandler in the subdued,
pale man that stood before Evelyn; but there was something about him
that frightened her more than that had ever done. She trembled as his
eyes held hers, and catching by the back of a chair, let herself down
in it as though to release her hold meant a fall.

"I have received nothing!" he answered gravely. "What information I
have had came to me from the newspapers, confirmed by the fact that you
were not in your room this morning, nor had you been all night! I have
come for a denial of the shameful story that has been published from
you, and for irrefutable proof of that denial!"

He spoke calmly, but the most disinterested could have seen how he was
suffering.

His pride had been cut to the quick; besides which, he loved the girl
who had been one of his household since her childhood, and who had
taken the place of the daughter that he had so much craved, but that
had not been given him.

Evelyn fancied she saw some hope in his sorrow.

She clasped her hands pleadingly before her.

"I know that appearances are terribly against me!" she cried
desperately. "I have no proof that I can bring forward in my own
defense, but I am innocent. It is a hideous plot that they have
concocted to deprive me of my honor, and to rob you of your money. If
you will only help me, I am quite sure that we can find a way to prove
how false it is."

He heaved a sigh that contained a note of relief.

"If I am to help you, and of course you know that if you are innocent
I will do that to the expenditure of the last dollar that I possess
in the world, you must answer my questions clearly and truthfully,"
he said, passing his hand across his brow wearily. "I shall not try
to conceal from you how this has hurt me. It has stung my pride and
pierced my heart. My wife is in bed under the shock of it all, for she
has loved you as well as though you had been in reality her child. We
must begin at the beginning and take matters as they came. Why were you
in that house last night?"

"The woman, Liz, to whom I had been kind, sent for me!"

"And you went in the night without ordering the carriage? You went to
that part of the city alone? Listen to me, Evelyn! You know how anxious
I am to do for you anything that lies in my power, but I will not
assist you in a lie, and that is one! You must tell the truth, if you
expect anything from me in return."

"Then listen to me, and I _will_ tell you the truth whatever the cost
to myself. You know that I am not your child. I knew that fact. One
day a man came to me--such a terrible man that no words could ever
describe him to you. He told me that he was my father. He told me the
most odious secret of my birth, and in my terror I allowed him to see
that I knew little of my own antecedents, and that he could work upon
my fears. It continued until I wrote him that first letter that you saw
copied in the papers.

"Then I discovered that what he had said was a lie from the beginning.
He had known my mother and knew the story of my adoption, determining
to work upon that to extract money from me. I found it out in time,
and forced him to admit that it was true. Then he forged the other
letters that you saw printed. Last night I received a letter from his
wife telling me that he had been arrested, and that she had found those
letters. She offered to place them in my hands if I would go there for
them, assuring me that she would not deliver them to a messenger for
fear of their never reaching me. I went; you know the rest."

For a long time Leonard Chandler was silent.

The story had been dramatically told, and it seemed to him that it
might be the truth.

With all the heart he had he hoped it was, and there was something like
eagerness in his voice as he put his next question.

"Where is the letter that the woman sent you?"

She colored.

"I--I destroyed it," she stammered.

"Destroyed it! Why? Wait a minute! The papers stated that the woman
jumped from the window a few hours after the arrest of her husband,
crazed by the death of her child. In a state of mind like that, how was
it possible that the poor woman could have thought of writing to you?
Besides, knowing that Mauprat was arrested for attempted murder, why
should she have written you so late at night? And why would not the
morning have done for your visit?"

"I--I did not--know how long he would be confined, nor did she."

"Evelyn, are you telling me the truth? It does not seem so. It will
be useless for you to lie to me, for that woman's insanity was but a
temporary aberration of the mind; and while she can never recover from
the injuries of her fall, she is perfectly able to answer any questions
that may be put to her."

The girl was silent from inability to speak.

She had not read the part of the paper that told of Liz Mauprat's
condition, and her single chance lay in the fact of her death!

But she was not dead.

The fates seemed conspiring against her.

She lifted her head, but not an idea could penetrate the mental
darkness about her.

For the first time her composure failed her.

Her tongue seemed cleaving to her mouth, her lips were dry and parched.

She had hoped, but the hope was dying.

"Evelyn," Mr. Chandler said slowly, "granting what you have said to be
the truth, how do you reconcile the fact of your mother's name having
been Mauprat to the story you have told? We adopted you, my wife and I,
and we never saw your mother again, but the papers of adoption gave her
name as Eleanor Mauprat, and the certificate of your birth, and of her
false marriage to your father, tells the rest. Can you explain those
truths away? I don't want to be hard with you. I want to give you every
chance that lies in my power, but I will not protect a woman who would
rob her best friend, who would condemn her sister, as the monster they
make you appear has done; who would stop at no wrong however great,
to save herself from a humiliation that at worst could have been but
the sting of an hour. If this thing is true, and that man were really
your father, was the fault yours? Were you not so much the more to be
sympathized with, that your birth rested under such a cloud? If you had
but trusted to me, do you not know that I would have protected you?"

Very slowly she arose from her chair and stood before him.

Her color had returned until a spot of crimson burned in either cheek.

The timidity of her manner had vanished.

She was the same girl that had defied Leonie Cuyler in the library at
the time she was discovered to be a thief!

"Do I not know that you would have protected me?" she asked coldly.
"No, I do not! You came here and have offered to assist me, because
you did not wish your name brought in the scandal that you felt was
about to be connected with me, and now you wish to pose as a saintly
and martyred man who rescued the daughter of a convict but to have
the serpent sting you. You think that I should fall down and bless
you for what you have done for me? Let me tell you how I appreciate
it. From my earliest remembrance my only feeling for you was one of
fear. I would have applied to any stranger for assistance sooner than
to you. You let me know in a thousand ways that upon my conduct alone
depended my chance of remaining in the position in which you had placed
me. You had shown me the luxury of money, you had me educated to the
belief that life was not worth the living without it. You gave me no
means by which I could earn my own support and I knew that expulsion
from your door meant starvation or service in some one's kitchen. It
was theft to close the mouth of my father or death to me! I chose the
easier. You ask if what I have told you is the truth? Well, then, no!
I am the daughter of an ex-convict. Worse than that, my mother died
in the Tombs, convicted of theft! I did steal your money, and Leonie
Cuyler saw me do it. While there I told her the story of her birth and
of mine to force her to keep my secret. That was a great mistake on my
part. I should have found another way. Now what are you going to do? If
you pose as a martyr I shall tell my story to the world of the tyrant
that you are in your family, where even your own wife sits in fear and
trembling. You have but one virtue to commend you, and that is half a
vice--honesty, and even that you carry no further than the negative
will cover. You are not dishonest so far as money goes. You would have
protected me? Where was that poor woman, your brother's wife, whom you
let starve with her little child, because she had married your brother
against your august will? Do you want that story published to the
world? I was only waiting for matters to come to a head before forcing
you to my way of thinking in these things.

"Now listen to me. If you refuse to do what you can for me in this, I
shall tell these things of which I have spoken to the world; I shall
give them the true history of the unfortunate cashier who robbed the
bank in Rochester, driven to it through your cruelty; I shall tell them
the story of Lillieth Dalworth, your niece, whom you drove to suicide.
I do not ask anything of you after my release from here, but I demand
that. You have the money to buy it, if you will. I have no crime to
answer for that is not bailable. You understand what I mean. Do that,
and you will never hear of me again!"

She paused, looking at him defiantly.

He had remained very quiet during her long harangue, and when she had
finished, he bowed courteously.

"I will do what I can for you," he said, coldly.

A scornful smile curled her mouth.

She felt that she might have mastered him long, if she had only had the
courage, and she took the chair that she had vacated with a smile that
was complacent, while she made no attempt to veil its sneer.

"Is there anything else that you would like to say?" he asked, quietly.
"Is there no message that you would like to send to the woman who was a
mother to you, and against whom there is no charge that you can bring?"

"I will take care of that!" said Miss Chandler, airily.

Mr. Chandler took up his hat.

"Then I may bid you good-morning!" he said, his manner unchanged. "You
shall hear from me later."

She bowed as he left the room.

He paused at the captain's desk outside.

"You told me as I came in," he said slowly, calmly, "that there was no
charge against Miss Chandler by which she could be held, and that she
would be dismissed when she was brought before the justice, did you
not?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well. I wish to make a charge against her now--grand larceny!"

The captain started back in amazement.

"But sir----" he began.

"There is nothing more," returned Mr. Chandler, coolly. "When you
have made out the complaint, I am ready to sign it, and I should feel
grateful if you will do it as speedily as possible!"



CHAPTER XXXII.


While Miss Chandler sat there complacently waiting for some one to
conduct her back to the cell where she had passed the early morning
hours, or tell her that the carriage was waiting to take her to her
home, an officer in uniform entered, bearing a card. He gave it to her
with a ceremony that under other circumstances might have been amusing.

She took it with a loftiness of bearing extremely out of keeping with
her unfortunate position, and in the same manner that she might have
spoken the words to Leonard Chandler's servant, she said:

"Admit him!"

A moment later Lynde Pyne was shown in.

He came forward with extended hands and kissed her as was his wont.

"I don't know how to express my sympathy for you in a trial like this,"
he said gently. "It must be horrible!"

"A ghastly sort of mistake," she replied, with a little shuddering
laugh intended to be pretty. "I must apologize to you for the absurdity
of my dress. Fancy receiving one in the morning in a gown like this."

Pyne gazed at her in absolute amazement. Had she taken leave of her
senses that she could deliberately jest under circumstances like those?

"It is nothing!" he stammered. "If you were only out of this your gown
would be the last thing that I should think of. How did it happen?"

"I will tell you when we are at home. This room is comfortable enough
for ordinary purposes, but I don't like it."

"When--you are--at home?"

"Yes. My father has gone to arrange for my immediate return."

"You mean--Mr. Chandler?"

"Whom else should I mean? Mr. Chandler, to be sure."

"But--there must be some mistake."

"There is a mistake, of course. That goes without saying, when I am an
inmate of a prison."

"But--I--mean about Mr. Chandler. The charge against you was made by
him ten minutes ago, and signed with his name."

Evelyn Chandler arose slowly from her chair. Every particle of the
color had slowly left her cheeks, leaving her ghastly in pallor. She
gazed at Pyne as though convinced of his insanity.

"You must be mad," she exclaimed, slowly, the words falling from her
lips like lead. "He was here only a few minutes ago, and left me with a
promise that he would return at once. You cannot be correct."

"I met him leaving the house, and----"

Before he could finish his sentence she flew to the door and tore it
open. The captain met her there.

"Is it true that Leonard Chandler has entered a charge against me?"
she demand, her voice sounding like nothing human in its terrible
hoarseness.

"Quite true!" returned the captain, with perfect politeness.

"What charge?"

"Grand larceny."

The woman fell back against the casing of the doorway.

She made a curious picture standing there with that expression of
hideous agony upon her pallid features, her throat and shoulders bare,
her nude arms thrown upward.

There was not a man in the room who did not admire her in spite of the
serious charges made against her. Lynde Pyne came to her assistance,
and tenderly drew her back into the room, while he closed the door. She
raised herself in his arms after a moment of inactivity, like a fiend.

"Let me go there!" she cried, madly. "Let me tell them what he is! He
has betrayed me, and publicly in the courtroom I will tell the world
what he is. I will pay him for this if it takes my life."

"Calm yourself, dear!" exclaimed Lynde, gently. "There is nothing that
you can do against him. Come! You will be summoned to the courtroom
in a few minutes for preliminary examination. If you will allow me, I
will, of course, act for you; but you must tell me all the evidence
there is against you. You must keep nothing from me, for therein lies
your only chance. Will you do it, Evelyn?"

She shrunk from him for a moment as though in terror of even the
sympathy she read in his eyes; then she sprung forward like a cat
and caught him by the arm, lifting her glistening eyes with intense
excitement.

"I have your promise that you will marry me!" she cried. "This does not
release you. Tell me that is does not?"

His face quivered with the agony that it cost him to speak, but he
replied bravely:

"The misfortune of the opposite party never releases one from a
promise. I am ready to keep my word when the conditions of our contract
shall have expired."

"Then you will do it at once--at once! A will has been found that gives
everything your uncle possessed to you. The fortune that millions could
not cover is yours, and Leonie is cleared of any complicity in the
crime of which she was, in a way, accused. Are you ready to keep your
word now?"

"The proofs are not yet in my hands, and even if they were, the fortune
to which you refer is not mine. You forget that in the papers which
will be brought before the court there will be one showing that my
uncle left an heir who can lay a claim before which the strongest will
could not stand."

"You mean----"

"I mean the claim of Leonie Cuyler Pyne!"

"And you decline this fortune?"

"Emphatically I do!"

Her eyes glittered like those of a tigress.

"Then you intend to leave me to the fate that that cursed fiend,
Leonard Chandler, has prepared for me?" she cried hoarsely. "You intend
to allow me to be sent to the penitentiary, thinking that will cancel
your promise to me, and leave you free to marry the heiress. That is
it, is it?"

"You know that it is not!" exclaimed Lynde almost roughly. "I have no
more idea of marrying Miss Pyne than I have of marrying Juno. Don't
talk so foolishly. I am ready to do anything within the range of human
capability to help you."

"But you can do nothing without money--absolutely nothing. You must
take that money or you must see me sent to prison."

"Once for all--I will not do it. Now let that settle it forever. Are
there any points that you can give me to assist in your defense? I do
not ask you whether you are guilty or not. At least, I shall give the
benefit of the doubt----"

"No!" she cried shrilly. "You shall not do even that. The proofs are so
strong against me, that if my innocence is proven it must be bought.
Witnesses must be purchased. There is no other way. I am guilty! I am
guilty of all that and more, but if you don't wish the woman whom you
have sworn by a solemn oath to make your wife, an ex-convict when that
ceremony is performed, you must accept that money and save me. Leonie
knows the truth, Ben Mauprat knows it, that woman, Liz, knows, and the
letters that Ben had not the sense to destroy, are against me. How can
you prove all those things liars without money?"

"And is there not a single circumstance in your favor?"

"Not one. I have grown honest at last in that I can acknowledge it.
Lynde, Lynde, listen to me! I have borne it bravely, but I am not
brave. I am the greatest coward under God's heaven. Oh, listen to me
and save me! I cannot go there to that prison, and yet there is not
a point for my defense. He brought me up in luxury and idleness. I
knew nothing but wealth and plenty, so that when that horrible man
came, what was I to do? He told me that my father was a forger and my
mother a thief. He threatened to make those odious facts known unless I
furnished him with the money that he demanded. I knew Leonard Chandler
so well that I was convinced that to have him hear the story would be
but to have him turn eternally against me. He would not give me the
money that was required to buy my father's silence, and my father would
not remain quiet without. What was I to do? There was but one course
left. I learned the lesson that my parents taught. I was the offspring
of thieves, why should I be different from them? Now, Lynde, you know
the truth. I have tried my best to appear stony, but I am afraid. What
am I to do? Oh, my dear, if you leave me to my fate, I am lost indeed!
Lynde, promise that you will not! Swear to me that you will save me!
Swear it, Lynde, by----"

"Hush, dear!" he whispered, laying his hand across her mouth as she
kneeled there in front of him with her wild eyes raised appealingly.
"There is no need of an oath. You may be sure that I shall do for you
everything that lies in my power. I will turn heaven and earth to save
you!"

"And if you fail," she continued, her teeth chattering horribly, "what
then? When I am released from that place, when my life is shadowed by
the most awful curse that could befall a mortal, you swear that you
will take me away? That you will not forget the promise that you made
long ago?"

If she saw the anguish of his face, it was of small moment to her.

"A promise given is for all time, and under all conditions and
circumstances to me!" he answered, huskily. "Let us end this scene,
Evelyn. I came here to find out what I was to do to assist you, but it
seems that I must work in the dark. I may as well tell you frankly that
if this is all you have to say, there is little hope. Is----"

Before the sentence could be completed, the officer entered to announce
to them that the hour had arrived for her appearance before the judge.

With what calmness he could assume, Lynde lifted her to her feet.



CHAPTER XXXIII.


The little dingy courtroom had never witnessed such a crowd before as
the one that packed it from the justice's desk to the door, and even
out into the hall and down the dirty steps.

Women, men and even little children, had come to see Miss Evelyn
Chandler, of whom they had read in social circles, and many of them
seen, under arrest!

Her reception-dress was covered by the long cloak that had concealed
her gown when she started upon that memorable visit to the rooms of Ben
Mauprat upon that fatal night.

A pair of long, black gloves covered her hands, and a black hat with
nodding plumes shaded her lovely face.

She leaned upon the arm of Lynde Pyne as she entered, pale, but
composed, while he was ghastly. Immediately behind her was Luis
Kingsley, haggard and gray of countenance, while Leonie, followed by a
policeman, brought up the rear.

She still wore her masculine garments, but with an air of timidity and
modesty, now that the world knew her sex.

She had scarcely made her appearance than Andrew Pryor leaped forward,
seizing her effusively by the hand.

"You, Neil!" he cried, almost breaking into tears in his delight. "This
is the greatest happiness of my life! How came you here? Who has been
getting you into trouble? I knew that something had happened to you
when you did not come back; but thank the Lord I've found you at last!
How did you happen to be here? Tell me all about it, my boy, and I will
see that you are released at once!"

Leonie's face was crimson.

She could not keep from smiling, while tears dimmed her vision.

"I am afraid that you will find I have deceived you, Mr. Pryor, and
then I shall lose the friendship that I have valued as one of my best
possessions, and I have few."

"You have deceived me?" he exclaimed. "Nonsense! How have you deceived
me? I tell you, it is not possible! What is it that they accuse you of?
My friend Lynde Pyne is here. He is a lawyer and he shall defend you.
Why, he has tried as hard to find you as I have, and seemed even more
interested. Don't be afraid! He will get you out of here soon enough!"

With utmost good nature he patted Leonie upon the shoulder, and allowed
her to take the seat the officer indicated, turning his attention to
that individual.

"What is that boy accused of?" he asked. "He is as innocent as I am!
Never did a wrong thing in his life!"

"That is no boy!" answered the policeman with a short laugh; "that is a
girl."

Mr. Pryor staggered back as though the officer had threatened to arrest
him.

"A girl!" he gasped. "Have you all gone mad? Why, that boy is Neil
Lowell, and he worked for me as my private secretary. He is the best
fellow in existence, and never did a wrong act in his life!"

"She is a girl, for all that!" returned the officer, serenely.

Andrew Pryor sat down very suddenly. He seemed to be utterly overcome
by the intelligence he had received.

His eyes were riveted upon Leonie as though they could never be removed.

Then by degrees he began to put certain circumstances together.

He remembered the refusal to attend the stag supper, and a smile
came to his face; that was followed by many other minor things that
all seemed important now, then his hand came down upon his knee with
peculiar force.

"And Pyne knew it all the time!" he exclaimed, below his breath, with
a firmness that left no room for contradiction. "I see it all now as
clearly as can be. Of course he knew! Well, this beats a novel!"

His reflections were cut short by the opening of court!

There is so great a sameness about such trials that there is little to
tell of the occurrences of the next hour or more.

Leonie was discharged for want of evidence against her, but Evelyn
Chandler and Luis Kingsley were both held to wait the action of the
Grand Jury, the one to answer to the charge of grand larceny, the other
of felonious concealment of a will.

There was great excitement evidenced when Leonard Chandler took the
stand against his adopted daughter, but the questions that were put
to him were few, and answered in a tone that was not audible to those
twenty feet removed from him.

Then there was a murmur of voices when Lynde Pyne asked for bail for
his client, which was strenuously opposed by Leonard Chandler on the
ground that she had demanded it of him, expressing a determination to
leave the state before the trial.

Thereupon the bail was fixed at a figure that Pyne could not cover,
since the will had not yet been admitted to probate, and the money was
not his until it had.

Miss Chandler and Kingsley were therefore placed in the hands of
officers of the court to be conducted back to prison.

"Take courage!" Lynde whispered to her at parting. "What can be done
for you I will do, you may be sure of that. I will procure the bail and
you will be released within a few hours at most."

She had scarcely left his presence than he turned to look for Leonie.

Andrew Pryor was holding her firmly by the hands while she half smiled
into his face.

"You little rascal--I mean witch!" he exclaimed. "Why did you not tell
me of this long ago? Did you feel that you could not trust me? It is
the most extraordinary thing I ever heard of! Where did you get the
information that enabled you to do a man's work?"

"You forget that I was a typewriter for a number of years, and that I
learned a man's business through copying it for him," she answered,
deeply affected by his kindness.

"You are coming right home with me. You shall still be my private
secretary if you are a girl."

"You are so good, sir!"

"Oh, hang it all, I forgot about the fortune you will have now, and
that you will not have need of me any longer. I am half sorry for the
good fortune that robs me of you."

"I am as poor as I was before, Mr. Pryor, and if you will allow me to
return to you, you will save me many hours of distress over what my
future is to be. I am forced to earn my living now as formerly."

"But, my dear, how is that?"

"Changing my male attire for that of a girl will not alter my
circumstances, unfortunately."

"I don't understand it, but come home, and we will talk it over there.
Mrs. Pryor has been just as anxious about you as I have, and will be as
glad to see you. So will the girls, though hanged if I don't believe
they will be disappointed at the change in your sex, for they were
all more than half in love with you. Besides that, you have a cousin
there----"

"And another here, that you will not give an opportunity of speaking
to her," interrupted Pyne. "You must not be so selfish, Mr. Pryor. You
believe me that I am glad to find in you a cousin, do you not, Leonie?
I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart."

She placed her hand in his proffered one without lifting her eyes.

"It is so good of you!" she returned gently. "I realize how hard it
must be for you when you remember that my mother's disgrace is the
first that has ever stained your noble family. Perhaps some day you
will let me tell you the story, and then you may find a little sympathy
for the woman who was driven to the act of which she was guilty to save
her child from starving."

"And my uncle allowed that torture to rest upon his wife? I wonder that
you can look upon one of us, knowing that it was one of our blood that
caused you such suffering!"

"It was not his fault."

"This is not the time to speak of things like those!" Mr. Pryor cut in.
"I am going to take her home with me now, Pyne. You will know where to
find her when you want to see her, and you also know that you will be
always welcome."

They shook hands again and separated.

Andrew Pryor led Leonie, still in her ragged costume, down to his
carriage, placed her inside with old-school courtesy, and gave the
order for "home."

"I can hardly realize it," he exclaimed, when he had closed the door,
"that you are really a girl! What a surprise it will be to Mrs. Pryor
and the girls. And you put on that costume as a sort of private
detective?"

"Oh, no! I put it on because after I discovered Miss Chandler to be
dishonest I was arrested as an accomplice, and in order not to be
forced to tell my story, I ran away. I did it for safety! What I have
discovered about my birth, came to me as the result of accident!"

"A remarkably timely accident! If I can curb my curiosity until we get
home, I must hear all about where you went when you left my house, and
how you happened to be detained. I shall keep you talking for a week."

"There is just one thing that I must do first of all if you will let
me," returned Leonie, almost reverently, "and that is to pay a visit
to Liz. Poor woman! But for her, I might still have been there in that
room surrounded by rats and beaten almost to death by that demon,
Mauprat. I have felt within the last few hours as though the life of
that helpless child of hers had been the price of my freedom and of
Lynde's restoration to his fortune."

"Lynde's restoration?"

"Yes, certainly. And it seems to me that I owe her a debt that never
can be repaid for that, not to speak of her great kindness to me. But
for her I think I should have gone mad."

"Yes, of course you shall pay the visit. That is all right, but what is
this about Lynde's fortune? Surely you know that if you prove yourself
the daughter of Roger Pyne the money is yours."

"The money is not mine, sir. My father never even knew of my existence,
and I have no more right to the money than you have. Surely a man has
the privilege of leaving money that is his where he wishes. But I tell
you this, that right or wrong, I would put my hand in the fire and burn
it off before I touch a cent of it. It was never intended for me, and I
will have nothing to do with it. Please say nothing more about it, but
let this settle it forever!"



CHAPTER XXXIV.


Notwithstanding the extreme cordiality of her reception by Andrew
Pryor, Leonie felt, naturally, some misgivings regarding the welcome
she would receive from the feminine portion of the household.

She was, however, prepared for anything, and it was with a most
thankful heart that she heard the exclamations of delight that were
unanimous when she was seen at the door of the drawing-room in company
with Mr. Pryor.

Doffing the ragged cap that covered her head, she smilingly received
the welcome of Mrs. Pryor, followed by that of the young ladies, and
grasped the hand of Miss Pyne with suspicious warmth as it was extended
last.

"I don't know what we should do with you for giving us the fright that
you have!" cried Mrs. Pryor, warmly. "I honestly think that Mr. Pryor
has not slept a night since you left us so unceremoniously."

Leonie colored vividly, and even Mr. Pryor looked a trifle sheepish.

"Before you make any more such remarks as that, my dear," he exclaimed,
laughingly, "you had better let me tell you the romance that clings to
my private secretary! He is not a man at all, but a young woman who
happens to be the first cousin of our little friend here, Miss Edith
Pyne!"

If he intended to create a sensation, as of course he did, his object
was achieved to its fullest extent.

There was not a word spoken in the room for many moments, Mrs. Pryor
being the first to break the silence.

"But I don't understand it at all!" she cried. "Is not this Neil
Lowell?"

Leonie stepped forward, her brow colored crimson.

"I don't think that I should have had the courage to face you after my
deception, dear Mrs. Pryor," she said, timidly, "but for the cordiality
of your husband. If you will allow me, when I have more time than
now, I will explain to you the reason for my assuming male attire and
passing myself off upon your kindness in a false light. I hope you will
forgive me."

"There is nothing to forgive, absolutely nothing! And you are really
the cousin of Edith Pyne?"

"You read that remarkable story in the papers this morning, did you
not?" cut in Mr. Pryor. "Well, this is the child of that marriage. You
may be sure the papers will contain many sensational points to-morrow
that they failed to get to-day, and New York will be more surprised
than it has been for many days."

"I don't know what your name is, Neil Lowell," exclaimed Edith, with a
merry laugh, "but I am very much pleased that you are my cousin, and
before you take off your boy's clothes, I should like to kiss you!"

There was general merriment, of course, but Mrs. Pryor's next question
put an end to it.

"And Miss Chandler," she said, "what had she to do with it?"

There was silence for a moment, then Andrew Pryor answered:

"This young lady is in haste to pay a call. While she goes to change
her dress I will tell you all that! Gwen, or the one of you that is
nearest your size, will furnish you with clothes, my dear, until your
wardrobe can be changed. Run away now, and be back as quickly as you
can."

Understanding the kindness of the intention, Leonie gave him a glance
of gratitude, and followed the girls from the room.

Laughing, chatting, asking a hundred questions in as many seconds, they
went on their way as though they had been friends for life, and it
was with a heart filled with the sincerest of gratitude, that Leonie
realized that she had found friends at last, friends who would never
fail her in her bitter struggle with loneliness and isolation.

They soon found a gown that would fit, and not long afterward she
announced to them that she must make her call at the hospital.

The carriage was ordered to the door, and she was driven away with as
much ceremony and respect as though she were a member of the family,
where she was in reality but a dependent.

But as she rode onward her thoughts fled from her own good fortune
to that unhappy woman who had done so much to aid her in securing
that which was more to her than her life, and a great sadness took
possession of her.

How good God was to her, giving her name and friends when she had lost
all hope, yet how far He seemed from that poor creature lying there
knowing that she must die, and that the child whom she had so much
loved had preceded her.

The beautiful eyes filled with tears as the carriage stopped.

She explained to the person in charge of the building who she was, and
was admitted to the ward in which poor Liz lay upon one of the little,
white-draped cots.

Very quietly Leonie approached her, and, kneeling beside the bed,
kissed her upon the forehead.

"Don't you know me, Liz?" she asked gently.

The woman smiled feebly, making an effort to extend her hand.

"I did not until you spoke!" she answered weakly; "but nothing could
ever cause me to forget that voice. You are Leonie; but how changed you
are."

"Borrowed plumes make changes in us all! They have told you of the
terrible things that happened last night, have they not, dear?"

"Yes; they came to take my statement--_ante-mortem_, I think they call
it!"

"Oh, Liz! I hope it may not be true! Do not you know, dear, how we had
planned to go away and live together? If you will only get well, Liz,
we can do that now."

The smile upon the poor tired face deepened.

"That was before Dick died," she replied, with as much cheerfulness as
a rapidly dying woman can express.

"But you would need me all the more now!"

"No. I shall never trouble any one again. God has been very good to me,
after all, Leonie. He knew that I could never live without Dick, and he
placed a means in my power without making me responsible for it. They
tell me that I sprung out that window, but I have no remembrance of it,
and I know that He will not hold me guilty. My boy is waiting for me,
Leonie, just across the river, and when I close my eyes I can see him
as distinctly as I can you, only that he is robbed of his deformity
and his rags. It does not seem like little Dick, and yet I know that
it is he. The Lord has sent him to help his mother safely over. I have
not lived a guiltless life, Leonie, but for Dick's sake the Lord will
forgive."

"And you are not afraid, Liz?" whispered Leonie, the awe of her tone
making it extremely low.

"Afraid of my God?" returned the woman wonderingly. "Afraid of Heaven
when I have known such torture here upon earth? Oh, no! I have been
praying to God to have mercy upon Ben and send him repentance. That is
my one torture now that I am dying. I have not forgotten you, dear,
and I never shall; but here, just at the last, when I remember all the
wickedness of his life, I do not see how God ever could forgive him!"

"And yet you can!"

"Upon that I found my hope. Oh, Leonie, it seems so sweet to know that
it is all over and done with at last. All the old heartaches, the
terror, the fear lest Ben should kill my poor, helpless baby. No one
but God could ever know what a hideous nightmare it was, but it will be
over now in a few hours at most. I hope you may be happy, my dear girl,
and that we may meet in that heaven that is promised to us all."

"I almost wish that I could go with you," whispered Leonie, choking
back her sobs. "There is so little of happiness here, and so much
promised there. I know that I am ungrateful to Heaven for all the kind
friends that have been sent me, but my mother is up there, Liz, and
sometimes the desire is so strong upon me to see her and Dad, to be
with them again, that I can scarcely control it."

"I had forgotten them. I shall see them before you will, dear."

"Yes, and if you can deliver them a message for me, tell them that I
ought to be happy, that I am ungrateful, but that the whole craving of
my heart is to be with them and with God. Tell them that I have and
shall do only what I believe they would advise and wish me to do. Oh,
Liz, I wish that I might go with you!"

There was something curiously touching in that scene, so simple and yet
so explicit in its faith. There was not the smallest doubt in the heart
of either.

The dying woman reached up her arms and clasped them about the girlish
neck.

"Not yet, dear," she whispered. "Life should hold many things that
are precious to one so beautiful and so good as you. Heaven has not
forgotten you. Only trust it all to God. But when the good days come,
do not forget Him in your enjoyment. Remember that the hour that I am
awaiting almost impatiently now must come to you at last."

Leonie was weeping softly. Her very heart seemed breaking.

She had never seemed so utterly alone since that night upon which her
grandfather had left her to battle with life alone.

The friends she had left seemed to count as nothing in that hour.

She could scarcely control an hysterical sobbing, but for Liz's sake
she knew she must.

She lay there with her head upon the dying woman's pillow, the feeble
hands straying softly over the short hair from which the hat had fallen.

Suddenly the motion ceased.

There were a few whispered words that Leonie did not catch, then a hand
was placed gently upon her shoulder.

She lifted her head and saw beside her an attendant--a sweet-faced,
low-voiced woman.

"It is all over!" she whispered reverently.

With a horrified expression, Leonie gazed at the face upon the pillow.

A peaceful smile hovered upon it. The lips were open, and a dimple
rested in the left cheek as it had been in girlhood.

"Liz!" Leonie whispered, "Liz!"

But there was no answer.

She slipped from beneath the hand that the attendant had laid upon her
arm, and fell to the floor, her bright, beautiful head falling across
Liz's bosom.

Most tenderly she was lifted and carried from the room.



CHAPTER XXXV.


"Lynde is down-stairs, asking for you, Leonie. I don't think you are
well enough to see him, but Mr. Pryor insisted that I should ask you.
What shall I say to him, dear?"

Edith Pyne bent and kissed her cousin affectionately, as she asked
the question, and Leonie's eyes filled with tears. Kindness had never
seemed to affect her so much as since the death of poor Liz, and
she had never received more of it. They all seemed to vie with each
other in their attempts to do most to make her comfortable, and in
consequence kept her in a state bordering on hysteria.

"I will go down to see him, of course," she returned, with a little
quiet smile. "You are all too good to me. You will make a perfect baby
of me if this continues."

She arose, and assisted by Edith, made her way down-stairs; but at the
door of the library the support was withdrawn, and she was left to
enter alone.

She did not notice the fact, as she thought she should find all the
family gathered there, if she thought of it at all; but she seemed to
understand when she saw that the room contained Lynde Pyne alone.

A dainty crimson overspread her face, but controlling her timidity, she
entered and quietly placed her hand in the one extended.

Lynde drew her down beside him upon a sofa before either of them spoke.

"I expected to see you more exhausted, after the trying scenes through
which you have passed," he said gently. "I am pleased to see you
looking so well."

"Edith and the rest have been trying to persuade me that I was in a fit
state for rapid decline, or nervous prostration," she answered, with
an attempt at lightness. "It is quite a relief to hear you say to the
contrary."

"Not at all. I never saw you look better."

"I am sorry that I cannot say the same for you. You seem harrassed,
haggard. Tell me, will you not, how things are going? I have been so
anxious to know; but no one knew, or if they did, refused to tell me."

"It has distressed me! I never knew how few friends I had until now. I
cannot procure the amount of bail required for--Evelyn, and surely you
know what the result of that will be. She is in the Tombs in a state of
mind bordering upon insanity. I know that I should not tell you this,
and yet, you may be able to help me. The men whom I have accounted my
friends refuse to go on the bond for me, saying that she would but
escape, and I should be left with an amount to pay that would ruin me,
as, of course, I have offered to make the amount good in the event of
an accident. Even Mr. Pryor swears at me when I insist upon it that he
must do as I say. But if you would speak to him the effect might be
different."

"It is so good of you to take this interest in her. If there is
anything that I can do, you may be sure that I will with all my heart.
Oh, Lynde, I tried so hard to spare her. I entreated her to see the
condition in which she was placing herself, but she would not. Why,
upon the night that we were all arrested, I told her of the papers
that were in my possession--papers that I had no wish should ever come
before the public. I did not even ask her to resign her position as the
daughter of Leonard Chandler, but I could not see her become your wife
knowing that she was a---- I cannot say the word. The thought of it is
hideous to me!"

"But it has not released me from my promise, Leonie."

"What! You would not marry her now?"

"I must."

"You are mad!"

"I sometimes think I am going mad! She holds the most solemn pledge
from me that man could give to woman, and I have not the power to break
it. But let us leave this subject! It is not a safe one for you and me
to speak upon. You will do what you can with Mr. Pryor?"

"I will."

"There was another thing that I wished to speak to you about. I have
engaged one of my friends, a lawyer of considerable prominence, to
examine the original records and prove that your mother's marriage to
Ben Mauprat was not legal, in order that your claim to the fortune your
father left may not admit of question. It may be rather painful for
you, but be assured that all will be done to spare your feelings that
can be. You will trust me for that, will you not?"

"I don't think I quite understand you. You say that you have engaged a
lawyer for me?"

"Yes."

"To prove my claim to the fortune your uncle left?"

"To the fortune your father left."

"No one can lay a claim to that in my name without my sanction, can
they?"

"Of course not."

"And I have authorized no one to do it. I have already said that I have
no right to that money, and no intention of having it! It is yours, and
yours it shall remain."

He looked at her a moment in stupefied silence, then placed his hand
very gently on hers.

"And you think that I am so little a man that I would receive what is
yours by every right under Heaven? You think that I would rob a girl to
enrich myself?"

She lifted her sweet eyes pleadingly.

"It is not that!" she cried earnestly. "It was never meant for me, and
I should always feel that I was using that to which I had no right,
that I was living upon charity so to speak! It would eternally hang
like a stone about my neck, dragging me to a premature death. You must
not ask me to do it, Lynde, for indeed I cannot!"

"But consider, dear; even were I to do the contemptible thing you wish,
your heirs could one day come forward and demand their rights of me,
and there is not a law under the sun that would not give it to them.
You see I should but become a trustee, after all, responsible in the
years to come for that of which, very likely, I should not take the
best of care. There is nothing for it, Leonie, but for you to accept
that which is yours by every right, and of which you have been robbed
so long."

Her lovely face had grown almost sullen.

A slow, determined light was burning in her eyes, her hand loosened
itself from his, and she arose slowly to her feet.

"If that is all that you have come to say, let me settle it with you as
I have with Mr. Pryor, who has ceased to bother me upon the subject.
I will not touch one cent of that money. I did not sell my sister to
a prison for the sake of gaining a few paltry dollars, and I will not
have it appear even to myself that I did. If there were no other reason
than that, it would still be enough."

Lynde arose and stood before her.

His face was deadly pale and quivering with the suppression he was
putting upon himself, but he was very quiet, for all that.

"It seems too absurd," he said slowly, "for us to be standing here
fighting like two children over who shall and who shall not have the
money. Your argument is unreasonable. You might as well say that I am
selling my cousin to a prison in that I contemplate prosecuting him
for the concealment of his knowledge in this affair. There is just one
thing that I wish to say to you, and that is that I shall never touch a
dollar of the money which no more belongs to me than it does to Evelyn
Chandler. If you wish Luis Kingsley to have possession of it, a man who
until a few days ago, was a stranger to you, why, I have nothing to
say."

She looked at him for some time incredulously, then:

"You don't really mean that!" she exclaimed. "You would never do
anything so mad!"

"It contains less of madness than the absurdity you contemplate. I
swear to you that I do mean it. I will never touch it!"

She hesitated a moment, her eyes filling with tears, then went a step
toward him, laying her hand upon his arm timidly.

"At least we can come to a compromise, Cousin Lynde," she said, with
strong emphasis upon the relationship. "The money was left to you;
you say it is mine by right of my unfortunate birth, which never was
intended. Very well! I will agree to accept one-half if you will take
the other. Surely you can see the justice in that! I tell you frankly,
that if you refuse, Luis Kingsley may have the money!"

He saw that she meant it.

If he only could have said to her what was in his heart! If he only had
had the privilege to propose to her the compromise that was hovering
upon his lips, he would have felt himself the happiest of men, but
honor closed his lips.

He had not answered her, when Andrew Pryor entered.

"Well!" he exclaimed, "what understanding have you two arrived at?"

"None!" returned Leonie, turning to him, desperately. "Oh, sir, I
wish you would make him see that I am right and he is wrong! I wish
you would make him understand how impossible it is for me to do as he
thinks I should! You see it as I do, do you not? At least he should
take half!"

"That seems to me fair enough, Lynde, unless you could name a different
compromise!"

He laughed as the remark was made, but would have recalled it if he
could, when he saw the expression of both countenances.

"You must give me time to think of it!" cried Pyne, speaking hastily,
to cover his confusion. "That is a proposition that I never thought of
before. I will call about it to-morrow; and in the meantime, Leonie,
see what you can do about the other matter that I spoke to you of, will
you not?"

She was about to reply, when the door opened to admit a servant,
followed by a messenger.

"For Mr. Pyne!" the servant announced, handing the brownish envelope to
Lynde.

"Have I your permission?" asked Pyne, glancing from Leonie to Mr.
Pryor, as he held the message in his hand.

Receiving their permission, he tore the end off and read hastily. A
frown contracted his brow; then, with the ghastliness of death covering
his face, he read it aloud:

  "DEAR PYNE,--A message just came for you from the Tombs to the
  effect that a terrible thing has happened there, and your presence
  is desired at once. From all accounts you need not distress yourself
  further about bail for your fair client. I send this to Mr. Pryor's
  in the hope that it may find you.

                                                  "Yours in haste,

                                                             "DOWNING."

Neither of the distressed listeners spoke until he had reached the door
to answer the imperative call. Then, with a bound, Leonie was beside
him.

"If anything has happened you will let me know, will you not?" she
asked, her voice not more than a whisper. "You know what I mean. I
should like to see her before----"

"Let us hope that it is nothing of that kind!" returned Lynde, his
throat seeming to close over the words. "Surely God will give her time
for repentance!"



CHAPTER XXXVI.


The drive from the residence of Andrew Pryor to the Tombs was a long
one, and almost an hour had elapsed from the time of his leaving there
until Lynde Pyne arrived at the big, gloomy prison.

He went at once to the official there, and told of the summons that had
been sent him.

Then it was that he heard the story of what had happened.

Miss Chandler had stuck a knife through her throat!

Where she had procured it, no one was able to say, but certain it was
that the deed had been done, and that she had been removed to the
prison hospital.

With set face and anxious heart, Lynde made his way to that quarter
that he had visited more than once in his practice, a visit that had
always been attended with horror, but now a thousand times more than
ever.

He was shown to the cot whereon the once famous beauty rested, her
drawn face now whiter than the drapery of her cot.

The eyes were closed, the sheet pulled up so that none of the
disfiguring bandages about the shapely throat could be seen.

"Is she sleeping?" he asked of the physician who stood beside him.

"One can never tell. She lies like that all the time, and will answer
no questions that are put to her."

"Will she--live?"

"Oh, yes! There is no reason why she should not! At first I was very
positive it would be a fatal case, but we succeeded in stanching the
blood sooner than I hoped for. She has lost a great deal however, and
could not have stood much more. We have to watch her all the time,
however, for fear she will attempt it again, and another opening of the
artery would certainly prove fatal."

"Have I your permission to speak to her if she will answer me?"

"Certainly, only you must be careful that she does not exert herself
in the very least. Keep her in exactly the position that she now is,
and if the slightest thing should happen, I will be within call. If she
should take it into her head to talk to you, do not allow her to utter
more than a few words at a time and those very softly; you understand?"

"I think so."

"I shall be only out of earshot."

He walked away as he finished speaking, and Lynde took the chair beside
Evelyn's bed. Her eyes opened almost at once.

"He said that I should not die," she said slowly, and with great
difficulty of articulation, "but he lied! I will die. When a woman is
determined upon a thing like that, there are not men enough in the
world to prevent it."

"You must not say that, dear," exclaimed Lynde, gently. "He only wants
to save your life for your own good. I think I have succeeded in
securing bail for you, and you must get well now in order that we can
determine what is best to do for you."

"From whom did you get it?" she stammered, faintly.

"From--your sister, whose deepest sympathy you have."

"Leonie?"

The word was a gasp, the expression of the countenance set with horror.

"Yes," he answered.

"Never!" she cried, as vehemently as the circumstances would allow.
"Do you think I would owe my liberty to her? Not if I died like a dog,
as I shall! You have all forsaken me and lied to me. You who pretended
that you would protect me above every one upon earth. Do you think I
did not know that you were not trying to get bail for me? You thought
that you could deceive me until you succeeded in having me sentenced
to the penitentiary, and then you would do as you liked. You would
leave me and marry her. Well, I decided that I would not go there. I
knew that there was but one way to save myself from it, and I took that
means. That old fool told you just now that I should get well. I tell
you that I shall not, and you and my dear sister"--with a disfiguring
sneer--"may look upon yourselves as my murderers! Why did she not come
here with you? I want to tell her before I die the price that she has
paid for her husband."

"Evelyn, for God's sake think what you are saying! You know that Leonie
is not guilty of your horrible charge!"

"She is guilty of that and more. But for her I should have been at home
and happy now, but she thought that I was the fortunate one, and she
thrust herself upon me, determining that she would rob me of everything
that made life a joy. She has succeeded. Go and bring her here! I want
her to see the result of it all! I want to see her glory in her own
work here before my eyes before I die! I want her to see what a thing
she has made of her sister, and I want her to know that my blood rests
upon her head."

"If you do not cease this, I shall call the physician and leave you!"
Lynde exclaimed almost angrily.

"Will you bring her here?"

"No! I most emphatically will not!"

"Then I shall ask the doctor."

"It would be useless, for I should decline to allow her to come!"

He was unprepared for what followed his speech.

Before he could catch her, or in any way stay the mad act, she had
leaped from her cot upon the opposite side from him, and had torn the
bandages from her throat, then catching her finger in the stitches that
held the long wound together, she ripped them open.

Only insanity could have given her the courage to have accomplished an
act so deliberate in its atrocity.

Pyne uttered a gasp of horror and sat still as though paralyzed. The
doctor, from the other side of the room, saw the act.

Like a flash he sprung up and rushed desperately after her; but she
eluded him, a laugh like the fiendish yell of an infuriated animal
sounding upon the stillness of the room. It seemed to arouse Lynde.

He leaped to his feet, and together they succeeded in catching her and
forcing her down upon the cot, where she was bound; but it required
their united strength to do it, and then only when the floor and
bed-clothing were saturated with blood.

"She is a raving maniac!" the doctor ejaculated, pausing to wipe the
perspiration from his brow.

Bound as she was, the hideous laughter continued to fall from her
rapidly paling lips.

"Quick!" he exclaimed to Lynde. "Go for assistance. Tell some one to
bring my surgical instruments. There is not a moment to lose!"

But the moment had already passed.

The horrible laughter grew fainter and fainter, and at last ceased
altogether.

The struggling grew weaker, and she lay very quietly when they leaned
over her again.

She had fainted, but it was a swoon from which she never recovered.

They sat there beside her, doing what mortal men could do to restore
her, but to no purpose.

The end came without a return to consciousness something like half an
hour later.

"It is much better that it should have been so," the physician said
consolingly. "She very likely would never have recovered her mental
faculties, and even had she, the horror of an awakening would have
been worse than death. She was too frail of constitution ever to have
endured the tortures of prison life."

"But to die like that without a prayer for mercy!" murmured Lynde,
shudderingly.

"It would never have been different. If you grieve, my dear boy, you
are very foolish. The kindest act God ever performed for her was in
allowing her to die."

"Can it be kept from the papers?" asked Lynde, after a long pause.

"I am afraid not. Her last words you alone heard, consequently they
rest with you, but the manner of her death must of course be reported,
and the papers will naturally want the conclusion of so startling a
story. I suspected that it would be something like this, for I believed
the act to be that of a lunatic in the beginning. My belief is that
she has been insane for years, though that, and the manner of her
obtaining the knife with which the deed was done, must forever remain a
mystery."

"It is more charitable to believe it so."

"God help her, it is her one chance in eternity. I hope that it may
have been so."

Deep in his heart Lynde uttered a solemn "Amen!"

If he could not profoundly regret an occurrence that had rid his life
of a contemplation that was more hideous than death, he was not to
blame, for he had tried to do his duty nobly, though only he himself
could have told what a frightful prospect it contained.

Very gently he told the story to Leonie, concealing in his own heart
that which he knew would cause her the greatest sorrow.

He told her that her sister had died violently insane, because he
believed there would be a germ of comfort in the knowledge.

She was deeply affected, not because there had ever been, or could ever
have been any affection between them, but because there were no words
of forgiveness, and because she blamed herself to a great extent for
the untimely end and the grewsome circumstances that led to it.

"There is one thing more," she said sadly, when the subject had been
talked over for some time. "Mr. and Mrs. Chandler should be told. In
spite of all, I feel that the death will strike them very closely home,
and either you or I must tell them, Lynde. Don't you think so?"

"Perhaps you are right. They knew of my relations with her, and Mr.
Chandler is not kindly disposed toward me. It might be better for you,
though I will not ask it if you had rather not."

"I will go. It should be done now, don't you think?"

"Yes. If left until to-morrow, the papers will do it for us. God bless
you, Leonie."

She hurried from the room quickly, that he might not see the tears that
had gathered in her eyes.

She was not altogether unhappy.

She knew so well how much that death meant to her, but she tried to put
that thought from her.

It was her sister who was dead--her sister whom, if she had not loved
her, was yet her mother's child.

Then, for the first time, the horrible remembrance came to her.

In the place where the mother had died, the daughter who had despised
her memory followed.

She sat down half paralyzed under the fearful thought that, after all,
it was the "retribution" of which the old Mosaic law has spoken.



CHAPTER XXXVII.


Leonie had returned from her visit to the Chandlers.

Her eyes showed traces of weeping, and her countenance contained the
radiant glow of a saint that has received the gift of righteousness
through suffering.

Mr. and Mrs. Pryor, and the Misses Pryor, together with Lynde and Edith
Pyne, were in the library awaiting her, and as she entered she was
warmly greeted, and a comfortable chair placed for her.

"You look tired and worn, dear!" exclaimed Mrs. Pryor, with motherly
kindness. "I think it would be much better for you to go up-stairs and
take a much-needed rest, than allow yourself to be tormented by these
careless young people."

"I had rather remain, if you will allow me," returned Leonie, meekly.
"I don't think I could rest, and I should not like to be alone. This is
ever so much better, where I can feel what kind friends and true the
Lord has sent me in my loneliness."

"And Leonard Chandler!" cut in Mr. Pryor, unable to curb his curiosity.
"What did he say?"

"I cannot tell you how deeply he feels it all!" exclaimed Leonie,
sadly. "I think, had he been her father, his grief could not have
been greater. He feels that to a great extent he is blamable for what
has occurred. Mrs. Chandler is almost in hysteria. She was under the
care of the physician when I left. Evelyn's conduct is all the more
remarkable to me, when I think of the loving tenderness that must have
been hers in the home of her adoption. My heart has ached until it has
seemed almost breaking. Mr. Chandler has asked my permission to have
the body removed at once to his house, and buried from there."

"And you gave it?"

"Certainly; what right had I compared with theirs, even had I chosen
to press my claim? They were so kind to me! Why, it seemed almost as
though they were accepting me in her stead. When I was leaving Mrs.
Chandler clasped her arms about my neck, and with tears streaming over
her face said: 'You must fill her place, dear. Remember that I shall
have no daughter now. My heart and home will both be empty. You must
fill the vacancy that her death has left!' I don't know what I have
done that so many friends should be given me, just at the time when I
fancied myself most alone!"

"It is very nice of the Chandlers, indeed!" cried Mr. Pryor, dryly.
"I don't doubt in the least but that it would be charming for them to
have you take their daughter's place, but there are others who have a
'pryor' claim, eh, Lucretia?"

He smiled over his little joke, and Mrs. Pryor nodded her head
approvingly.

"Do you realize, girls," she said, sweetly, "that it is less than an
hour until dinner? Remember your father's horror of a cold dinner, and
take yourselves away to dress at once!"

There was a general movement in obedience to the command, but as Leonie
was about to follow them, she felt a hand placed very gently upon her
arm.

"Won't you wait a minute, please?" Lynde asked, half timidly. "I shall
detain you only a few seconds."

She tried to prevent the crimson from rushing over her face as she felt
it doing, but the effort was without avail.

The others passed from the room as though they had not observed the
aside.

"There were a few questions that I wanted to ask you about
the--funeral," Lynde stammered, when they were alone and the door had
been closed. "I thought, perhaps, you might not care to have it talked
of before the others. Will Mr. and Mrs. Chandler attend to everything,
or do you do it?"

"They wished it all to be just as though none of this horrible recent
past had taken place. They believe with me that she has been insane for
years."

"That is all, then. And, Leonie, something must be done about that will
very soon. When can you give me an hour to speak of that?"

"Oh, Lynde, why do you torture me with that old question? You know that
I will never have anything to do with it. But there is one thing that
I wish you would do. Where is the necessity for prosecuting that poor
man, Luis Kingsley? Surely losing all his fortune is punishment enough
for what he has done."

He looked at her curiously a moment, and said:

"But I must do it if that will is admitted to probate. There is just
one way that he can be saved, and that is for you to make your claim to
the money, and prove it valid. Otherwise he must suffer."

He knew that she was not sufficiently a lawyer to know whether he
was telling the truth or not, and he also knew that, under the
circumstances, the point he had made was a strong one.

She gazed at him a moment; then her lips began to tremble, and her eyes
filled with tears.

She turned away from him hastily, but not before he had seen, and the
sight was too much for him.

A man can never endure to see a woman in tears, and most particularly
not a woman whom he loves.

One quick step forward, an extension of the arms, and she was taken to
his breast.

"I know that I am a criminal to tell you of my love while that poor
girl lies dead in that dreadful place!" he exclaimed, contritely. "But
what am I to do? The temptation has overpowered me. After all, she
never loved me, and she knew that I did not love her, therefore the
circumstances cannot be the same. Leonie, darling, I do not ask if you
will be my wife, because I know you will! You have never endeavored to
conceal from me that you love me, and through all the wretched past
that has been my single consolation. Tell me that I have not been
wrong, sweetheart!"

She was weeping softly, but they were tears of relief.

"Why did you wish to distress me about the will when you knew that it
would be compromised in that way?" she asked, a little smile rippling
through the tears. "Oh, Lynde, it has been such weary, hopeless
waiting. I cannot realize that there are really no barriers between us
now. There was a time when I would rather have died than have you know
the shame that rested upon my mother's name, but after all the fault
was not hers, and it would seem to me now that concealment meant shame
upon her memory. Tell me that you do not despise me for it, dear?"

He laughed a little, holding her all the closer.

"Do I look as though I despised you for anything, or could despise you
for anything under God's heaven?" he asked tenderly. "My darling, you
have come to me through grief and suffering, but you are mine at last,
thank Heaven, and all the more precious because of the waiting and the
misery."

She lifted her face and allowed him to kiss her after the weary
restraint of months.

In that kiss, they seemed to live again through the weary, hideous time
that had intervened since their meeting, and it was with a thankfulness
to God that neither of them could have expressed that they realized it
was over and done with forever.

"If Dad could only know how happy I am in spite of all the sorrow I
have known!" muttered Leonie. "Dear old Dad, if he could only have
lived to see his little girl as she is now! But surely up there with
God he knows it all, and the joy with my mother is as great as mine!"

She gazed up at her young, handsome lover fondly.

"I hope we will not be punished for our happiness, Lynde," she said
slowly. "It seems dreadful when one thinks of----"

She hesitated, and he closed her lips with a caress.

"There can be no wrong in the love that God has given, my dearest!"
he whispered. "Why should we try to conceal what our whole hearts are
crying aloud?"

She made no attempt to answer him, but allowed him to comfort her, now
that the long wait was ended.

She had made no move to leave when Mr. Pryor entered.

"Have you two effected your compromise yet?" he questioned dryly.

Leonie colored guiltily.

"We have, sir!" returned Lynde, with manly quiet and dignity. "Under
the circumstances that exist, we wish the matter to remain our secret
for the present, or rather that of the family. Perhaps we have been
premature, but----"

"Nonsense. You would have been foolish not to have taken advantage of
the opportunity that God made for you especially. I congratulate you
both with all my heart. I have never had anything make me happier, and
I am sure all the rest of the family will join me."

       *       *       *       *       *

There is little remaining to be told.

Luis Kingsley was not prosecuted for the felonious concealment of a
will. He was released from prison, and shortly after disappeared from
the country. No one knew where he went, and presumably no one cared
enough to inquire. He was as utterly dead to Lynde and Leonie as though
the grave were between them.

Ben Mauprat was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary for assault
with intent to kill, with a charge of complicity in a robbery hanging
over his head upon his release. But the chances are that he will never
be prosecuted upon that charge.

Leonie entered her claim to the estate simply to prove the legality of
her mother's marriage, and won the case, against the man who was to
become her husband shortly afterward.

It occasioned considerable merriment among Lynde's friends, but there
were none of them who did not envy him the "romance of the thing," as
they termed it.

They are very happy, Lynde and Leonie. They are regular visitors at the
home of Mr. and Mrs. Chandler, where Leonie is petted and made much
of, while the home of the Pryors will be hers until after her nuptials
shall have been celebrated.

And so the story ends as does all life, with the reward of virtue and
the punishment of vice.

"Every man's life is a fairy-tale written by God's fingers."


[THE END.]



Transcriber's Notes:


Italics are represented using _underscores_.

Added table of contents.

The address transcribed from the front cover may be incomplete
(probably missing a street number) because damage to the original copy
has rendered it nearly indecipherable.

This story was serialized in _The New York Family Story Paper_
beginning on March 1, 1890. It was later reissued as a stand-alone
booklet. This transcription is based almost entirely on the later
booklet publication, but the original serial has been referred to in a
few places to confirm words lost due to damage to the booklet copy.

The original serial publication of the story was attributed to Wenona
Gilman.

Page 4, removed unnecessary quote after "Godfrey Cuyler seized the girl
by the shoulder." Corrected typo "tighly" in "fingers tightly laced."
Corrected typo "Godfred" in last sentence of chapter II. Added missing
quote after "I have come to you for your advice." Changed ? to ! after
"hang a detective!"

Page 6, removed duplicate "and" before "stepping to the side."

Page 9, corrected typo "brillancy" in "terrible brilliancy." Corrected
typo "adressed" in "addressed to himself."

Page 10, corrected "Payne" to "Pyne" in "Good-morning, Mr. Pyne."

Page 11, corrected typo "an" for "and" in "and again looked calmly."
Corrected typo "accidently" in "accidentally performed." Corrected typo
"Chicage" to "Chicago."

Page 12, added missing quote after "It is 'Edith's cousin,' I suppose."
Corrected "gate" to "gait."

Page 13, changed ! to ? in "What is it that you know of Miss Evelyn
Chandler?"

Page 14, corrected "Evelyn to Chandler" to "to Evelyn Chandler."

Page 15, corrected typo "yo" for "you" in "What do you mean?" Corrected
typo "Mauprat" in "Mauprat turned sullenly." Added hyphen to "Carry her
up-stairs" for consistency. Corrected typo "iminent" to "imminent."

Page 16, corrected single to double quote after "Go for the doctor,
quick!"

Page 17, retained unusual spelling "sploched" from original.

Page 18, corrected "braclets" to "bracelets."

Page 20, corrected "he" to "her" in "in silence beside her." Corrected
! to ? in "Is she dead?"

Page 21, removed extra period before question mark in "think that you
can get me out to-night?" Corrected "hansome" to "hansom." Corrected
typo "palor" in "pallor overspread." Removed unnecessary quote after
"and go to that house."

Page 23, corrected "hed" to "had" in "had left the box with the papers."

Page 24, added missing quote after "Now, is that satisfactory?"

Page 25, corrected typo "interrrupted" in "Miss Chandler had
interrupted." Corrected single to double quote after "You are sure?"
Corrected typo "thives" in "should be among thieves." Corrected typo
"seargeant" in "those of the sergeant."

Page 26, corrected "see" to "she" in "she had so grossly deceived."
Removed unnecessary quote after "as Leonie Cuyler Pyne----"

Page 28, removed hyphen from "court-room" ("dingy courtroom") for
consistency.

Page 30, corrected "supression" to "suppression." Added missing quote
before "You know what I mean." Changed "was" to "were" before "a few
whispered words." Changed "Liz'" to "Liz's" in "Liz's sake" and "Liz's
bosom."

Page 31, corrected comma to period after "certainly prove fatal."

Page 32, added missing quote before ""It seems dreadful when one
thinks."





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