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Title: My Queen: A Weekly Journal for Young Women. Issue 5, October 27, 1900 - Marion Marlowe Entrapped; or, The Victim of Professional Jealousy
Author: Sheldon, Lurana Waterhouse
Language: English
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MY QUEEN

A WEEKLY JOURNAL FOR YOUNG WOMEN

 No. 5.      PRICE, FIVE CENTS.

MARION MARLOWE ENTRAPPED

OR

THE VICTIM OF PROFESSIONAL JEALOUSY


BY GRACE SHIRLEY

PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY STREET & SMITH, 238 William Street, New York City.

_Copyright, 1900, by Street & Smith. All rights reserved. Entered at New
York Post-Office as Second-Class Matter._



MY QUEEN

A WEEKLY JOURNAL FOR YOUNG WOMEN

_Issued Weekly. By Subscription $2.50 per year. Entered as Second Class
Matter at the N. Y. Post Office, by STREET & SMITH, 238 William St., N. Y._

_Entered According to Act of Congress in the year 1900, in the Office of
the Librarian of Congress, Washington, D. C._

 No. 5.      NEW YORK, October 27, 1900.       Price Five Cents.

Marion Marlowe Entrapped;

OR,

THE VICTIM OF PROFESSIONAL JEALOUSY.

By GRACE SHIRLEY.


CHAPTER I.

“ILA DE PARLOA.”

Howard Everett, musical critic for the New York _Star_, was just
entering the office of his friend, Manager Graham, when he stopped
and almost stared at the young lady who was emerging. She was by far
the most beautiful girl that Everett had ever seen, and that was
saying much, for the critic had traveled extensively. She was not over
seventeen, a trifle above medium height, with a brilliant complexion,
luxuriant chestnut hair and large gray eyes, that flashed like diamonds
as she glanced at him carelessly.

Everett gave a long, low whistle to relieve his feelings, then threw
open the door and rushed into the office.

“Who the mischief is she?” he blurted out, instantly.

Clayton Graham, manager of the Temple Opera Company, turned around
from his desk and smiled good-naturedly.

“So she’s bewitched you, too, has she?” he asked, jovially. “Well,
she’s the first woman I ever saw that could rattle the cold-blooded,
cynical Howard Everett!”

“But, good Heavens, man, she’s a wonder! I never saw such a face. It is
a combination of strength, poetry, beauty; and, most wonderful of all,
goodness! Why, that girl is not only worldly, but she is heavenly, too!
Quick, hurry, old man, and tell me what you know about her.”

“That won’t take me long,” said Graham, as he passed his friend a
cigar. “Sit down, Everett, and have a smoke. Perhaps it will calm your
nerves a little.”

“Pshaw! I’m not as much rattled as I look,” said the critic, laughing,
“but for once in my life I am devoured by curiosity, as the novelists
say—I want to know where you discovered that American Beauty.”

“Well, you want to know too much,” was Graham’s answer; “but, seeing
it is you, I suppose I’ll have to forgive you. But here’s her story,
as much as I know of it—and that, as I said, is mighty little. She
came here from the country about six months ago. Was poor as poverty,
and had not a friend in the city. Well, one night Vandergrift—you know
him, the manager of the Fern Garden—heard her singing on the street in
behalf of one of those preacher fellows. Her voice was wonderful, and,
of course, he stopped to listen. It was just before his opening and
he needed a singer, inasmuch as my present prima donna, ‘Carlotta,’
was engaged to sing at the opening of the Olio, the rival garden just
across the street from his place. Well, to make a long story short,
he made terms with this girl at once—offered her a big price for one
night, thinking that the offer would dazzle her so that she would feel
too grateful and all that sort of thing to listen to any future offers.
Well, he billed her that night as ‘Ila de Parloa,’ and her song was
great; she was the hit of the evening. The very next morning, what do
you think she did? Took her money and bolted, and Vandergrift lost
track of her entirely.”

“What, didn’t she go over to the Olio or to some other concert hall?”

“Nit! She just disappeared, leaving no address behind, after politely
informing Vandergrift that his place wasn’t respectable.”

“But didn’t she know that before she sang there?” asked the critic, in
amazement.

“It seems not,” was the answer. “She was as green as grass. She thought
she was to sing in some Sunday-school concert or something of that
sort, I fancy.”

Clayton Graham chuckled over what he thought was a good joke, but his
face looked somewhat serious, in spite of his laughter.

“I made her sit in front and see my show before I talked to her,” he
added, shrewdly, “and the little Puritan told me, gravely, that she
quite approved of it, and was willing to sing for me a week on trial.”

“But where in the world has she been hiding since that night at the
Fern Garden? If her voice is so wonderful, I should certainly know if
she had been singing.”

“Oh, she tells me that at just that time she decided to be a nurse—went
up to Charity Hospital, on Blackwell’s Island, for a time, but the
sights up there upset her so she had to give it up and look for
something different.”

“Good Heavens! The idea of that face being hidden in a hospital ward!”
cried Everett in horror. “Why, if her voice is half as beautiful as her
face, I’ll give her a column and make Carlotta green with envy.”

“She’s that already,” said Graham, laughing. “You just ought to see
her! Why, that woman would kill her, I believe, if she dared.”

“Strange how jealous these professionals are,” said Everett, soberly,
“and particularly after they get a bit old and their voices are not
quite up to the standard.”

“Well, Carlotta is unusually jealous,” said Graham, with a little
chuckle. “I suppose it is because she is suspicious of me. Thinks I may
get stuck on the new face, you understand, old fellow.”

“Carlotta should know the world by this time, if any woman ever knew
it,” said Everett, scowling. “Does she imagine you are going to dance
attendance upon her forever?”

“If she does, she’ll be mistaken,” said Graham, decidedly, “and as for
my new singer, Ila de Parloa, she had better not meddle with her. The
girl is as pure and unsophisticated as she is beautiful, and, bad as I
am, I admire virtue in a woman.”

“The most of us can,” said Everett, slowly; “but, by the way, what is
the beautiful Ila’s right name? ’Pon honor, Clayte, I’ll never tell it.”

“Her name is Marion Marlowe,” was the manager’s answer, “but, of
course, for business purposes, we shall stick to ‘Ila.’”


CHAPTER II.

A JEALOUS WOMAN.

The audience had dispersed and the auditorium of the great Broadway
Theatre was enveloped in darkness, but Carlotta, the prima donna
of the company, was still pacing back and forth in her disordered
dressing-room.

She was a handsome woman, of the ripe, sensual type. Her eyes were wide
and far apart, like a panther’s; her nose aquiline, and her lips red
and voluptuous. As she walked excitedly back and forth she threw her
gaudy garments aside, leaving only a trailing skirt of rich white silk
and a bodice of lace falling low on her shoulders.

“What do you mean by it, anyway? Am I to be eclipsed entirely? Is
Carlotta to be put in the background and sneered at by the people,
while that little country girl is standing in the calcium?”

She turned as she spoke and faced a heavily-built man, who sat on a
trunk in one corner, gazing calmly at her frenzy.

“Answer me, Clayte Graham!” she almost screamed. “What do you mean by
showing so much preference to that country snip?”

The man shrugged his shoulders before he answered. He was growing weary
of his prima donna’s anger.

“I believe I am the manager of this company, Miss Thompson,” he said,
calmly, “and so long as I hold that position I shall try to fill it,
and one part of my duty is to select my singers.”

“And why have you selected her, I should like to know?” cried the
woman. “She is as green as grass and her voice has never had an hour
of training.”

“City people like grass,” was his tantalizing answer, “and as for
training—her voice don’t need it.”

“Oh, of course you’ll stick up for her! I expected it!” was the furious
answer. “But I’ll not put up with it! Do you hear me, Clayte Graham?”

Again the man shrugged his shoulders and smiled at her calmly.

“What will you do about it, Miss Temper?” he asked, very coolly. “You
certainly will not be so foolish as to break your contract?”

“Oh, I know what you mean,” cried the woman, more wildly. “I can’t sign
another for two years without your permission. No manager would dare
engage me. Oh, yes, I understand you.”

“Well, you’ll understand me better before I am done with you,” said the
manager, emphatically, “for I’ll make Marion Marlowe a famous singer
yet—so famous that people will forget that they ever listened to a
croaker like Carlotta.”

“That’s it!” shrieked the woman, who had now grown livid. “That’s
right, Clayte Graham. Heap your sneers and slurs upon me! I have made
money for you for years in more ways than one—but now that my voice is
failing you throw me over.”

“You have brought it on yourself, Carlotta, with your fiendish
jealousy,” said the man, more gently.

In an instant the woman was on her knees before him, the tears
streaming over her painted face and her voice quivering with emotion.

“Oh, Clayte, Clayte, don’t you know it is because I love you! Don’t you
know that there is nobody else in this world for me but you, and yet
you reproach and abuse me for being jealous!”

“Pshaw!” said the man, indifferently, as he moved away from her. “You
are in love with yourself far more than with me, Carlotta. You’d
scratch the eyes out of my head this minute if you dared to.”

The woman sprang to her feet and confronted him like a tigress.

“And you refuse to listen to my entreaties?” she asked, breathlessly.
“Am I to understand that in future you will do nothing to please me?”

“I shall do nothing that interferes with my success in business,” said
the man, very sternly. “I would be a fool indeed to let myself be
influenced by a woman.”

The singer’s breath was coming in gasps now, and she clenched her hands
together until they were bloodless and rigid.

“Why do you like this girl so much, Clayte?” she asked, tensely. “Is
she so much handsomer than I, or does she sing so much better?”

“The public think she is handsomer,” said the man, evasively, “and you
have read what the critics say about her voice.”

“But you, Clayte, what do you think?” was the woman’s eager answer;
“what is there about her that makes you prefer her?”

Clayton Graham turned and looked the woman squarely in the eye.

“Her greatest charm is her modesty,” he said, slowly and clearly, “and
she is attractive to me because she is a virtuous woman.”

If he had struck her with a lash the words could not have cut more
deeply. The woman shrank away from him, her breath coming shorter and
faster.

“That is like you, Clayte—to ruin a woman and then insult her!” she
hissed between her teeth. “But beware, Clayton Graham. You had better
not go too far! Carlotta has blood in her veins, real blood, that will
avenge an insult. You may yet live to feel the power of a wronged and
scorned woman.”

For answer the manager promptly turned his back upon her. The next
moment she was alone amid the mocking emblems of mirth. The last
vestige of self-control vanished as she fell upon the floor in a
perfect frenzy of passion.

“Wait! Wait!” she muttered over and over, between her set teeth. “Just
wait until Carlotta has gained her self-control, then look out, Clayte
Graham and Marion Marlowe, for, innocent though you are, I shall not
spare you! I shall have my revenge! Aye, and it shall be a grand one!
Leave a scorned woman alone for plotting vengeance! I shall play my
cards most cleverly, but each play shall tell. They shall find me no
weakling in the game of love and jealousy!”

She staggered to her feet and began dressing rapidly. It was time that
she was out of the dark, empty building. Suddenly a light tap sounded
on the dressing-room door.

The woman opened it and confronted a beautiful young girl. It was
“Signorita Ila de Parloa,” according to the programme, but in private
life, no other than Marion Marlowe.


CHAPTER III.

CAUGHT IN A TRAP.

“Pardon me, mademoiselle, but are you ill?” asked the beautiful girl,
kindly. “I thought I heard you weeping, and I could not resist speaking
to you.”

She looked so sweet and innocent, standing there in the dismal place,
that for a moment a flush of shame dyed the black-hearted woman’s
features; then a thought of Clayton Graham and the wrong he had done
her flashed over her brain, and instantly the flame of jealousy leaped
again within her.

“I must fool her,” she thought in that one brief moment. “I must play
my cards well, if I am to wreak my vengeance on this girl.”

Almost like magic, a charming smile took the place of her frown, for
Carlotta was an actress as well as a singer.

“I am ill, but only from grief,” she murmured, brokenly. “A dear friend
has died, and I have only just now heard of it.”

She turned her face a little and put her handkerchief before it. She
wanted to be sure that she had perfectly controlled her features.

“Oh, I am so sorry,” said Marion, sympathetically, as she took a step
forward and held out both of her white hands.

“It is dreadful to lose a friend. I am truly sorry for you, Carlotta.”

By this time the wicked woman had formed her plans, and, as she turned
and accepted the young girl’s hand, she said to her, pleadingly:

“Dear Miss Marlowe, you are so good and sweet to me that I am almost
tempted to ask you a favor.”

“What is it?” asked the girl, with impulsive eagerness. “Oh, I shall be
so delighted if I can comfort you.”

“Come home with me to-night, dear,” begged the woman, brokenly. “I
shall grieve myself to death if I have to stay alone to-night. Do come;
there is nothing to hinder you, is there?”

Marion Marlowe looked astonished at this request from a stranger, but
she was not accustomed to stand upon ceremony when the opportunity was
offered her to do a kindness.

“Only my twin sister,” was her thoughtful answer. “Dollie will expect
me, of course, and will be waiting up. You see she is married, and I am
living with her at present. I would feel dreadfully to give her a night
of anxiety.”

She spoke so honestly that once more the woman felt a twinge of shame,
but she steeled herself promptly against all feelings of sympathy.

“You can send her a message,” she said. “I’ll write it and tell her how
kind you are to me. So, now, that is settled, and you are coming. I’ll
be ready in a minute and my carriage is waiting.”

Marion helped her to adjust her wraps and then followed her to the
carriage, the old door-keeper at the stage door staring after them
curiously.

“That is queer,” he muttered, with a shake of his head. “There is
mischief in the wind; I’m as sure of it as I’m living.”

But poor, innocent Marion did not dream of mischief; she was only happy
to think that she was befriending this woman. Almost the first night
of her appearance with the company she had felt that Carlotta disliked
her, and her gentle heart had been pained by the thought. She could see
no reason why Carlotta should be jealous of her.

“She is far more experienced and clever than I,” she said to herself,
for she was too thoroughly modest to ever overrate her own talents.

Now the woman was smiling at her and chatting pleasantly, and the noble
girl’s heart was rejoicing in the belief that she had been mistaken in
the prima donna’s sentiments and that Carlotta was really a friend to
her.

“Is your sister as pretty as you are?” asked Carlotta, after they were
seated in the carriage. She was gazing steadily at Marion with an
expression of admiration.

“Of course you know you are pretty,” she added, quickly. “All pretty
women do, so you need not look so horrified.”

“I think Dollie is much prettier than I,” was the low, soft answer.
“She has golden hair and eyes like the violets; then her form is so
plump, and so pretty and graceful.”

“Wasn’t there something about the two of you in the papers not
long ago?” was the singer’s next question. “Wasn’t she abducted or
something, and didn’t you rescue her?”

“A man who boarded with us in the country abducted her, yes,” said
Marion, slowly, “and I followed and saved her; he was Professor
Dabroski, the Hypnotist.”

“Heavens! What an experience!” said the woman, feigning great sympathy.
“Did he—did he wrong her, Ila? But you need not answer; I see it pains
you.”

“I do not know,” said the girl, very sadly, “and poor Dollie will never
know, because she has no recollection of her experiences.”

“Well, a man would not meet with much success in your direction,” said
the woman, laughing loudly. “I fancy you’d hold your own and make
things lively for the one who tried it.”

“I should certainly resent such an attempt,” said the brave girl,
sternly, “but I guess I am not so weak as a great many women.”

“Oh, no, you are a little paragon of virtue,” thought the woman,
bitterly. “You are a wonderful creature, and men love you because you
are virtuous.”

Aloud she responded, suavely: “Well, I’m glad you are strong, my dear.
You will need all your strength to resist the men in our profession.”

The carriage stopped before a telegraph office as the woman spoke, and
Carlotta leaned over and called to the coachman:

“Bring me a blank and a pencil!” Then she turned to Marion and said,
smilingly: “You must let me send the message to your sister, dear.”

Marion told her Dollie’s address, without a moment’s suspicion, but
she could not help wondering why it took Carlotta so long to write the
message.

“I’ll just write a line of condolence to my friend whose sister is dead
while I’m about it,” said the woman, as she scribbled another message
and handed the two, with the pad and pencil, to the driver.

“I just told Dollie that you are staying with me to-night,” she said,
calmly, “but to expect you about noon to-morrow; is that right? I
can’t possibly think of letting you leave me before eleven.”

“All right,” said Marion, smiling. “I hope she won’t be worried. It’s
the first time that I have been away from her since I came from the
hospital.”

“Well, you’ll be separated more in future,” thought the woman again,
and, as the outlines of a fiendish plan developed slowly before her
vision, her mouth curved in a sneer, which was promptly changed into a
smile for Marion’s benefit.

“Here we are at home!” she cried, as the carriage stopped again. “My
flat is not beautiful, but it is very cozy, and you shall have a room
to yourself, so you will be perfectly comfortable.”

“But I shall not feel that I am much company for you if I do not remain
in the room with you,” said Marion, smiling.

“Oh, I’ll feel all right just to know that you are with me. If I can’t
sleep I’ll wake you up and make you talk to me.”

“All right,” said Marion, “I’ll agree to that; but, dear me, what a
pretty home!” she cried, as she stood gazing into the apartment.

“Here’s a negligé for you,” said Carlotta, gayly, as she took a flimsy
wrapper from the wardrobe and tossed it to Marion.

“It’s a trifle too negligé,” said Marion, laughing, as she tried to
pull the dainty lace up over her white throat and shoulders.

The woman was busy making herself comfortable also, and as she moved
about she talked so gayly and laughed so often that Marion began to
wonder if she had forgotten her friend’s death completely.

“She must be a queer woman,” she thought to herself. “She doesn’t need
me at all. I wonder why she asked me to come.”

The more she thought it over the more it perplexed her.

“Now we’ll have a bite of supper and go to bed,” said Carlotta, with
another laugh. “You’ll have a glass of wine, won’t you, dear, and a
cigarette, to help digest your welsh rarebit?”

Her guest’s great eyes darkened as she stared at her for the space of a
second.

“Oh, no, thanks,” she said, finally. “I neither drink nor smoke. You
know, I am a country girl,” she added, laughing.

“Oh, well, if you won’t, you won’t,” was the woman’s answer, and just
at that moment the outer door opened unceremoniously.

Marion looked up in astonishment. There were two well-dressed men,
both glittering with diamonds, standing in the doorway, gazing at her
admiringly.


CHAPTER IV.

MARION DEFENDS HERSELF FROM INSULT.

“Now, Mr. Clayton Graham, I’ll spoil your white dove for you a trifle,
I fancy,” muttered Carlotta under her breath, as she half closed her
eyes and looked scornfully at Marion.

Aloud she merely said: “Some friends of mine, Ila. Don’t disturb
yourself, dear; you will find them very agreeable.”

It was fully a minute before Marion could control her anger
sufficiently to rise and confront her hostess with any degree of
calmness, and even when she did, her cheeks glowed like carnations, and
her wide, gray eyes had grown black as midnight.

She had come to this woman’s home on an errand of sympathy, and now,
at midnight, as she was sitting in almost bed-room attire, she was
suddenly forced to receive the company of two men whom it was plainly
to be seen were both under the influence of liquor.

“Mademoiselle, this is outrageous!” were her first indignant words.
“How could you allow them to come in here now. Have you no shame, no
atom of decency about you?”

The base woman almost screamed with laughter, as the young girl spoke.
She was fairly gloating over her discomfiture, and the two men joined
heartily in her merriment.

“Don’t be frightened, birdie!” said one of the men familiarly, as they
both stepped inside and closed the door behind them. “We won’t hurt
such a pretty creature as you are. No, indeed, we’ve only dropped in to
admire your beauty.”

“Yes, and to help eat Carlotta’s welsh rarebit,” said the other, going
straight to the woman and kissing her. “So glad you invited us, old
girl, make as big a one as you can, for we are both hungry and thirsty.”

“I’m hungry for a bite of those red lips,” said the other fellow,
lurching over and putting his hand on Marion’s bare shoulder.

In an instant the young girl sprang back and put the width of the room
between them.

“If you dare to touch me I will kill you,” she cried sharply, at the
same time snatching a small ivory handled revolver from Carlotta’s
dressing table.

“I believe you would,” said the man, staring at her admiringly. “By
gad! but you are a beauty! How I would like to tame you!”

“What does ail you, Ila?” said Carlotta, walking toward Marion and
speaking very coldly. “Put up that thing, dear, and come and sit down.
These gentlemen are my friends—they will not harm you.”

“If you expected them here you had no right to invite me,” said the
magnificent girl, hotly. “You have inveigled me here for some evil
purpose, Carlotta!”

She did not move from her position nor lay down her weapon, and there
was a flash in her eyes that warned the woman to be careful.

“I invited them here to meet you,” Carlotta said, very suavely. “They
have admired your beauty and wanted to make your acquaintance, and I
must say you are treating them in a very extraordinary manner.”

Marion looked at her coldly and held her head a trifle higher.

“I’m in the habit of choosing whom I shall meet,” she said, quietly,
“and I do not care to extend my circle of acquaintances to this class
of society.”

“Beware!” cried the now angry woman with a vicious hiss. “I said they
were my friends. You had better not insult them!”

As the two women stood glaring at each other the men watched them
curiously. Such an extraordinary spectacle had sobered them a little.

Marion, young, slight, girlish in her trailing white robe; the other
voluptuous, sensual, even coarse, in her negligé of flaming scarlet. It
was a spectacle of virtue confronted by vice—of innocence menaced by
wanton evil.

When Marion spoke again her voice vibrated strangely and she was
fingering the little revolver nervously.

“I hope and believe your friends are more honorable than you are,
mademoiselle!” she said, distinctly, “for I doubt if either of them
would dare insult a respectable girl, while you have deliberately laid
a trap for me—for Heaven alone knows what diabolical motive.”

For just a moment Carlotta looked ashamed, but she promptly recovered,
and her frame fairly quivered with anger.

“Put that weapon down and dress yourself,” she said, with a sneer
crossing her face. “Your dress is in the bed-room. I shall be glad to
have you leave me.”

Marion turned toward the bed-room door, still grasping the pistol.

When she reached the doorway she turned and faced them, throwing her
head back with a motion of superb defiance.

“If either of you dare to cross this threshold, look out!” she said
briefly, but with unmistakable decision.

As she was hurrying into her street dress she heard the three
whispering together. The next second there was a scream from the woman
and a perfect volley of curses.

Clayton Graham had suddenly opened the door of the apartment and stood
glaring at the trio. With a cry for help Marion bounded out and ran to
him.

“Oh, Mr. Graham! Save me!” she cried, half hysterically. “See, I have
had to defend myself from those fiends with this pistol. Oh, what am I
to think of this wicked woman?”

Clayton Graham looked bewildered for a moment, then a light dawned on
his mind—he understood Carlotta’s motive. He had goaded this woman to
fury when he spoke to her of Marion’s virtue; now she was doing her
best to ruin the young girl’s fair name, and she would have succeeded
admirably with one less noble and courageous than Marion.

“So this is your revenge,” he muttered, facing the woman. “You are
trying to blacken her good name, you infamous creature!”

The woman answered nothing, she had been caught red-handed. No one knew
her better than Clayton Graham—there was no use trying to deceive him
in the matter.

“She was weeping in the dressing-room and I spoke to her,” went on
Marion, quickly. “She said she was grieving over the loss of a friend
and asked me to come home with her, so she would not be so lonely.”

“So she was afraid of being lonely—poor Carlotta,” said the manager
with a sneer. “Well, it’s lucky for you, child, that I saw you getting
into her carriage. I knew she was up to something, and I called the
turn pretty correctly.”

“So that is why I am honored with your presence,” said Carlotta,
sarcastically. “You came here to rescue your new sweetheart Ila from
the natural vengeance of your old sweetheart Carlotta.”

Clayton Graham looked at her scornfully, but did not deign to reply.
Then his glance swept the full length and breadth of her now thoroughly
sobered companions.

“I knew you were blackguards and loafers before,” he said, coolly, “but
I wouldn’t have believed that drunk or sober you wouldn’t respect an
innocent girl. Carlotta must have you in good training, you infamous
puppies!”

He offered his arm to Marion and led her out of the apartment.

“Thank goodness I was in time,” he said as they reached the curb,
“still, I guess you would have looked out for yourself all right. I
wouldn’t want you to come for me armed with even a toy revolver.”

He chuckled good-naturedly as he put Marion into a cab.

“Don’t fail to be on hand to-morrow night,” he said, earnestly. “Your
song is the hit of the evening, and the public can’t spare you. Don’t
mind about Carlotta. I’ll watch her in future. She’s a tigress all
right, but I know her nature.”

Marion thanked him and was soon alighting at her own door. It was
nearly two o’clock, and the block where she lived was almost in
darkness; as she ran up the steps she felt a trifle nervous.

While she was searching for her latchkey she heard a step behind her.
She turned around quickly and confronted a stranger, a small, swarthy
man, his face badly scarred and hideous.

“What do you want?” asked Marion with a frightened gasp.

“You,” muttered the fellow instantly, as he laid a long yellow hand on
the fair girl’s shoulder.

Marion gave a shriek that awoke the echoes.

In an instant the man turned and fled down the street; he was out of
sight before any one responded.


CHAPTER V.

A CHINESE GIRL STEALER.

When Ralph Moore, Marion’s brother-in-law, opened the door he was
astonished to find her trembling with terror.

“Why, sister, I thought you were not coming home to-night,” he began,
but the girl stopped him with a quick explanation.

“Carlotta trapped me,” she said, hotly, “but I escaped from her safely!
Now, who do you suppose that fellow was, the dreadful creature that
just grabbed my arm right here on the steps. My shriek must have
frightened you awfully, brother.”

Ralph Moore looked up and down the street, but there was no one in
sight, so in another minute they went up to his apartment.

Dollie Marlowe, or Dollie Moore, as she was now, had been married only
three weeks, but her little flat already had a homelike look, and both
she and her husband were radiantly happy.

As Marion had said, Dollie’s face was the prettier of the two, but it
was a babyish prettiness that meant weakness and uncertainty, while
Marion’s was the glorious beauty of decision.

As Marion told them of her evening’s experience Dollie’s rosy cheeks
paled, while Ralph Moore ran his fingers through his black curls in
excitement.

“What a bad, wicked woman,” cried the little bride, indignantly. “To
think of her subjecting you to such an insult. Why, she is a disgrace
to her sex, isn’t she, darling?”

“She is indeed,” was her husband’s fond answer as he stopped in his
excited pacing to and fro, to kiss his wife’s soft, dimpled shoulder.

“It is a shame that our dear sister should have to come in contact
with such a creature, and to think that Marion was trying to do her a
kindness.”

Marion had removed her hat and unbound her beautiful hair, and now sat
sipping a cup of chocolate that Dollie had hurriedly made for her.

“What puzzles me most is that man,” she said, thoughtfully. “Oh, what a
terrible face he had—it was hideously scarred and disfigured.”

“He was probably drunk,” was her brother-in-law’s answer. “And no doubt
he mistook you for some one else. I’ll tell the officer on the beat to
keep a look-out for him in future.”

“Well, it is very evident that there was no officer on the beat
to-night,” said Marion, laughing, “for I screamed as loudly as I
possibly could, and I only succeeded in awakening the echoes.”

“Oh, the cop was probably in the corner saloon,” said Ralph Moore,
disgustedly; “still, it’s lucky you screamed and scared the fellow. No
one knows what he might have done if you hadn’t, sister.”

“Oh, I have some news for you,” said Dollie, suddenly. “I got a letter
from our old friend, Bert Jackson, to-day. He is coming home to be
ready to sail for Europe with his foster-father next week, and in the
fall he is going to college.”

“That is good news,” said Marion, with a happy smile. “I wondered why
we hadn’t heard from Bert since your wedding, but I suppose he has been
having such a good time with his new parents in Canada that he did not
have time to write to his old friends.”

“He is a lucky boy,” said Dollie, thoughtfully. “Why, just think, only
a few months ago he was a waif in a county poor farm! Oh, how lucky it
was that he ran away. It is not every poor orphan that has such good
fortune.”

“And I am so glad that I helped him to escape,” said her sister,
laughing. “I gave him five dollars the night he ran away—it was all I
had, for I was only a country girl then, and you know, sister, that our
father did not give us much money.”

“Poor old dad,” said Dollie, with the tears springing to her eyes. “He
has been a different man since you paid off the mortgage on the farm,
Marion. Mother says he is so gentle that we would hardly know him.”

This illusion to one of Marion’s many noble deeds made the fair girl
very happy. It had been the greatest pleasure of her life to be able to
pay off that mortgage on the homestead.

“It is a pity that it took him so long to learn that ‘gentleness is
best,’” she said, sadly. “Poor old father would have been far happier
if he had learned it earlier. We would have all been happier in our
life in the country.”

They sat and talked a little while longer, then retired for a few
hours’ rest before daylight.

When Marion awoke in the morning she found that Ralph had already
bought the morning papers, and, as usual, she glanced them over before
eating her breakfast.

“Oh, how kind the critics are to me,” she said as she read the notice
of her singing in the _Star_. “And how dreadfully they speak of
Carlotta, saying that her voice has lost its freshness, and all that
sort of thing, I can hardly blame the woman for disliking me.”

“Well, she has let her professional jealousy go too far,” said Ralph,
hotly. “When she tries such tricks as she did last night it is high
time she was halted.”

“I guess Mr. Graham will read her a lecture to-day,” said Marion,
slowly, “It remains to be seen what effect it has upon her.”

“Here is a dreadful thing,” said Dollie, who was glancing over a part
of the paper. “A young girl has just been rescued from an opium den. It
seems she was stolen by Chinamen and kept a prisoner in one of their
houses.”

“Oh, that sort of thing happens every day,” said her husband, quickly.
“There’s a tremendous traffic in ‘white slaves,’ as they call them.
Those yellow devils have a mania for white girls in this country.”

“I think it is horrible,” said Marion, shuddering. “It is almost
incredible that such horrors can exist in a Christian country.”

“Nevertheless they do,” said Ralph, a little absently. He was busy at
that moment reading the rest of the article. Suddenly he almost sprang
from his chair at the breakfast table, and a look of horror overspread
his countenance.

“Quick, Marion! Describe that fellow that you saw last night on the
steps. Was he small and black, and was his face all scars, and was
there anything about him that looked like a Chinaman?”

Marion thought a little before she answered.

“He certainly was small and had a yellowish skin, and his face was all
scars, and his eyes black and beady. Come to think of it, he did look
like a Chinaman, Ralph, but for goodness sake do tell us what is the
matter!” she said, earnestly.

“That fellow is wanted by the police,” was Ralph Moore’s prompt
answer. “He is a sort of an agent for rich Celestials in the city, he
goes around trying to steal young girls, and they say that in several
instances he has been successful.”

Both Dollie and Marion stared at him in astonishment for a minute, then
Marion’s gray eyes flashed ominously, and her lips curved in a smile.

“Well, I pity him if he ever tries to steal me,” she said, decidedly,
“for I have no special liking for ‘chow-chop-suey.’”


CHAPTER VI.

A GLIMPSE BEHIND THE SCENES.

At half-past seven that evening Marion Marlowe was at the theatre. She
was a trifle apprehensive of what was coming. As she tripped around
to the stage door every person on the street turned to look at her,
for New York was almost mad at the moment with admiration for “Ila de
Parloa.” It was not altogether the girl’s magnificent voice that had
charmed them, but her beautiful face and natural, unaffected manner on
the stage had been a great treat after a long siege of conceited actors
and airy prima donnas.

During her engagement so far she had sang only simple ballads, which
were sandwiched in between the regular scenes in a manner known only to
comic operas and vaudeville.

But the quaint, modest dress of the charming singer, and, best of all,
her freedom from conceit, had won the respect of even the critics,
which is a thing not easily done by any singer.

Marion felt strange in the atmosphere of the monstrous theatre, yet
she was fast becoming accustomed to its shallow mockeries, and deep
down in her soul there had always been a desire for fame, which now,
for the first time in her short life, was within some possibility of
gratification.

“If it was not for Carlotta’s jealousy,” she whispered to herself, as
she climbed the narrow stairs behind the scenes—“but what can I do if
she chooses to injure me?”

“Howdy, signorita!” called a voice as she reached the top of the
stairs. “You are early, as usual, and yet you don’t ‘make up’ much,
either. If it wasn’t for my everlasting complexion, I wouldn’t be
here, you bet. I’d have spent another hour in bed wouldn’t you, Miss
Kingsley?”

The speaker was a chorus girl, whose name Marion did not know. She was
standing in the doorway of a big dressing-room, which she shared with
a dozen others.

“Do you think so much ‘make-up’ is necessary?” asked Marion,
pleasantly. “Somehow, I am always afraid of getting my nose too white
and my ears too red. I do wish there wasn’t such a thing as having to
use it!”

“Oh, we’d all look like ghosts if we didn’t,” said the girl. “Those
footlights make you ghastly if your face isn’t painted.”

“It makes some people look like frights, anyway,” called another voice,
shrilly. “It is just too funny to see some folks prink when they can’t
be anything but scrawny and ugly, no matter how much they paint and
whitewash!”

The girl in the doorway glanced over her shoulder scornfully.

“You wear ‘symmetricals’ yourself, Miss Impudence,” she said,
tauntingly. “I may be scrawny around the shoulders, but my legs are all
right, and legs are all that is wanted in the chorus nowadays.”

“I thought it was voices that were desired,” said Marion, dryly; “but,
then, I am new; I don’t know much about requirements.”

“I notice you are mighty careful not to wear your dress short at either
end,” called another voice. “What is the matter with your shape,
Signorita Ila?”

Marion Marlowe flushed a little, but did not reply, so the girl in the
doorway promptly answered for her.

“Oh, she’s too modest and shy, don’t you understand! But just wait a
week, girls—then you may have to look to your laurels. Can’t make me
believe that the little ‘greeny’ isn’t all right! She’s fresh from the
country, and ought to be as plump as a partridge.”

“You are the only girl in the chorus that ain’t jealous, Jennie,”
called a coarse masculine voice, as Jack Green, the “property man,”
came by at that minute.

Jennie was just stepping into her slippers when she caught sight of
Jack. In an instant one of them went spinning in his direction.

Jack caught it deftly and held it in his hand.

“Out on first,” he said, with a grin. “Now, when you want it back
you’ll have to kiss me.”

“Oh, I don’t mind doing that a little bit,” cried the girl,
unhesitatingly, and in a second she had both arms over the property
man’s shoulders.

“You’re a daisy, Jack, and I’m awfully mashed on you,” she said,
candidly; “but you haven’t got enough wealth, so, you see, I must stick
to the Johnnies.”

“Oh, I don’t want you,” was the fellow’s equally honest answer. “I’m
stuck on the new beauty, the charming Ila. I wonder if she would give
me a kiss if I asked her.”

Marion was standing right in front of him as he made the remark, and in
an instant all of the chorus girls came out to see how she took it.

“No use to play the prude,” thought Marion, with a shudder. “These
people see no harm in kissing, so I must try and get out of it nicely.”

“No, Mr. Green,” she said, with a half smile, “I would not dream of
kissing you before all these young ladies! Why, they would scratch my
eyes out, and I am sure I would deserve it.”

“That’s not so bad for a ‘greeny,’” said Jennie. She had got her
slipper back now, and was adjusting it carefully.

“Make less noise up there, girls!” called out the stage manager from
the stairs.

The girls scampered back into their dressing-room, leaving Marion and
the property man together.

“Won’t you kiss me, sweetie?” said Jack Green, in an undertone, as he
came closer to her. “I wasn’t joking a little bit, Ila. I’m just dying
to kiss you.”

Marion looked up at the burly fellow and tried to read his face. She
had disliked him from the first, but had always tried not to show it.

“I don’t think you mean to insult me, Mr. Green,” she said, after a
second. “You professionals do not look upon kisses as a very serious
matter, but, you see, I am a country girl, and I have been taught
differently. I am saving my lips for the man whom I shall marry.”

Jack Green gave a whistle of genuine surprise, for he saw by the girl’s
face that she was sincere and honest.

“Well, you are a novelty,” he said, after a minute. “Been on the stage
nearly a week and don’t believe in kissing.”

“That is one reason why I shall never be an actress,” said Marion,
sadly. “It does seem awful to me to be kissing and hugging so
indiscriminately.”

“You’d like it if you tried it,” said Green, with a wicked leer. “Your
lips were made to kiss; they are just like cherries—it’s mighty mean of
you, I think, to be so stingy with them.”

“I shall kiss the man that I love,” said Marion, softly, as she
attempted to quietly pass the fellow and go to her dressing-room.

“Well, I’m a chump if I let you go that way,” said the big brute,
suddenly. “You’re bound to kiss somebody if you stay in this business,
and, by the powers, I’m going to be the first one!”

His face had reddened with passion as he spoke, and as Marion glanced
at him quickly she found his eyes almost devouring her.

“Let me pass! It is late!” she commanded, sternly.

“Not until I have tasted of those red lips, Ila,” said the fellow. The
next second he had caught her in his arms and was pressing her roughly
to his bosom.


CHAPTER VII.

MARION MAKES ANOTHER ENEMY

For a second Marion Marlowe was almost paralyzed with fright, but as
she felt the fellow’s mustache touching her cheek she raised her right
hand and gave him a blow with all the force of her strong young muscles.

“Take that for your impudence, you cur!” she whispered, tensely.

Jack Green released her and fell back a step, and just at that moment
Carlotta came out of her dressing-room.

“Hello!” she said, abruptly, as she caught sight of Marion. “You here
again to-night, you little simpleton!”

Marion Marlowe was now trembling with indignation already, but at the
woman’s words she became suddenly calm.

“Certainly I am here, Carlotta!” she said, quietly, “where else should
I be but keeping my engagements?”

“She means that she is engaged to me,” spoke up Jack Green, sneeringly.
“I was just sealing our betrothal with a kiss or two,” he added.

“How dare you!” cried Marion, turning on him furiously.

Carlotta sneered as she came a little nearer.

“I thought your goodness was all put on,” she said, coldly. “So you
prefer a ‘property man’ to a gentleman, do you?”

The beautiful young girl turned on her heel with a disdainful glance.
She had had quite enough of this sort of thing for one evening.

As she walked deliberately to her dressing-room, both Carlotta and
Green stared after her, and in spite of their anger they could not
conceal their admiration.

“By gad! But she’s a corker!” was the property man’s exclamation.

“She thinks because the public likes her that she owns the show,”
muttered Carlotta, “but I’ll fix her yet, the little country hussy!”

“Well, Graham is dead gone on her all right,” said the man quickly,
eying the woman sharply as he spoke to see how she took it.

“Clayte Graham is a knave and a fool,” she hissed fiercely. “I’ll teach
him to play fast and loose with a woman like Carlotta.”

“You ought to have a pretty taut string on him by this time,” said the
fellow, shrewdly, “and you ain’t the woman to be cut out by a snip of a
girl like that.”

“I should say not, Green,” said the woman slowly; then she seemed to
think of something, for she turned and looked at him earnestly.

Jack Green was too shrewd not to know what he was doing. He had an end
to gain or he would not have been neglecting his own duties at that
minute. This woman, Carlotta, had never noticed him before. She had
always held her head very high where the property man was concerned,
and her constant disdain had nettled him sorely.

Like many another man, he desired what was beyond him; but now his
opportunity had come to accomplish his ends; he had only to help her
wreak her vengeance on another.

“Green,” whispered the woman, suddenly, as she took a step nearer,
“Help me to sully that girl’s character so that Clayte Graham will
believe it and I will reward you handsomely. Say, will you do it?”

A dull gleam of light flashed from the property man’s eyes as he half
closed his eyelids and peered at her through them.

Carlotta’s face flushed through her paint and she drew back quickly.
She read his meaning.

“Think!” urged the man, “your position is at stake! If Graham falls in
love with that girl he will drop you in a minute, and, mark my words,
it will be a long day, Carlotta, before you get another rich lover.”

“Well, how can you help me?” asked the woman, shrewdly.

“Dead easy,” was the prompt answer. “I’ll fix that all right. I’ll
compromise her myself if I can’t find any one else to do it; but my
reward, Carlotta?”

“You shall have your reward,” said the woman in a chilling whisper,
“when that girl’s character is ruined.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The first “call” was given as Carlotta hurried back to her room, and
Jack Green turned hastily to attend to business.

A second later there was a slight noise behind a stack of old scenery
and after another second a girl slipped out from the mass, and shaking
her skirts clear ran softly to her dressing-room.

“So that is the kind of a fellow you are, Jack Green,” she murmured to
herself, at the same time wringing her small hands in perfect agony.

Marion Marlowe was ready to “go on” when this girl reached the
dressing-room. It was a little box of a place, but they occupied it
together.

“Oh, Miss Lindsay, what is the matter?” said Marion, quickly. “You look
terribly pale. Has anything happened? Are you ill? Is there anything I
can do for you?”

To all of these questions Miss Lindsay only shook her head. She was a
frail, delicate girl, whom the others had nicknamed “The Feather.”

Marion saw at once that the girl did not wish her sympathy, so she said
nothing more, but went over by the door to wait where she could hear
the call to the wings.

Miss Lindsay hurried into her stage costume as quickly as possible, but
she took very little pains with it.

“What is the use of trying to look pretty?” she said finally. “No one
cares how I look, so I’m not going to bother.”

“Oh, I am sure somebody cares,” said Marion, quickly, “and really,
Miss Lindsay, you should put on more rouge. You are awfully pale. I am
afraid the calcium will make you look ghastly.”

“I don’t care if it does,” said the girl indifferently, but she did
smear a little of the red stuff across her cheeks and eyelids.

There was another call and the chorus came rushing from the stairs—in
less than a moment the overture would be ended.

Marion did not have to go on for some little time, but she followed
slowly down the stairs, in order to stand in the wings, as she always
enjoyed listening to the chorus.

Just as she reached the stairs she observed one of the chorus girls
waiting for her. As she peered through the dim light she saw that it
was Miss Lindsay.

“Perhaps she is going to confide in me, after all,” Marion thought.
“Poor thing, she is in some trouble—any one can see it.”

“What is it?” she asked, as she reached the girl and put one hand
tenderly on her shoulder.

There was a curious look in the girl’s eyes as she answered. She put
her face up close to Marion’s so that no one would hear her.

“If anything should happen to me to-night, Signorita, I want you to
tell Jack that I was watching behind the pile of old scenery. I saw
him with you and with her, Carlotta,” she whispered, “so if anything
happens he will understand it.”

“But what can happen?” asked Marion, sharply.

The girl darted down the stairs without stopping to answer.

“Oh, she is planning something desperate!” murmured Marion, “and great
Heaven! she can accomplish it, too, if she wishes, for every one of the
chorus carries a sword in this act! Oh, I must go this minute and warn
Mr. Graham!”


CHAPTER VIII.

THE CONQUEST OF A CRITIC.

As Marion made her way across the scene-room she was almost trembling
with alarm, for her keen intuition had told her that she was right in
her surmise and that there must be no delay if she wished to prevent a
tragedy. She peered here and there, looking for Mr. Graham, and then
it suddenly occurred to her that he would be in the front of the house
rather than behind the scenes during a performance, and that she must
look for Mr. Brown, the stage manager, instead.

She had just caught sight of him in the distance, talking to the
“calcium man,” when the awful thing happened.

It seemed to Marion that she had been listening for it all the time,
yet she stood perfectly still for a moment, her nerves tense with agony.

The chorus was going through a sword drill at the time, and everything
was moving rhythmically, when there came a sharp scream.

Marion heard an order given, the curtain was rung down, and then Mr.
Brown’s voice came to her as if from some great distance. He was
talking calmly to the audience, telling them what had happened. There
was a dim murmur of applause from the front of the house, then Marion
heard no more, for she had suddenly come to her senses just as two of
the “supers” came “behind,” carrying one of the chorus girls between
them.

“Quick!” cried Marion, as she instantly knelt by the wounded girl’s
side. “Give me a piece of ribbon or a big handkerchief, someone. She
will bleed to death if we don’t prevent it. Now, a stick of some kind!”
she added, as some one handed her a piece of ribbon. As deftly as
possible Marion wound the ribbon around the girl’s bleeding arm, and
then, thrusting a stick through it, she began twisting it gently.

The stage manager had already sent for a physician, but before he
arrived Marion had stopped the flow of blood.

“Well done, my brave girl,” said the doctor, smiling at her. “You have
saved this girl’s life. It is a pity there are not more women like you.”

“Oh, but I have had experience as a nurse,” said Marion, quickly. “I
was in Charity Hospital for awhile this winter.”

“That accounts for it, then,” said the doctor, as he applied a ligature.

Marion helped him deftly, all the time listening for her cue.
Fortunately there was a good deal for the other performers to do before
she was needed.

For in less than five minutes the curtain had gone up again, showing
the sword drill exactly where the momentary tragedy had left it.

“One of the chorus girls has pricked herself with her sword,” the
audience was told. No one, except a few of her companions, dreamed that
the injury was serious.

When Marion’s turn came at last, Miss Lindsay’s arm was all bandaged
and she had just opened her eyes with a return of consciousness.

As Marion rose from her place beside her on the dusty floor of the
scene-room she caught a glance from Jack Green’s eyes as he stood a
little way from them.

The fair girl shuddered as she saw his look; it was so full of an ugly,
brooding hatred.

“He hates her and she loves him,” was her whispered comment. The next
moment she was out on the stage, and everything else was forgotten.

“Ila de Parloa’s” appearance was always the signal for great applause,
but to-night the audience fairly outdid themselves. It seemed as though
they were determined to give her an unusual welcome. Once, as she
sang, Marion glanced suddenly into the wings. Carlotta stood there
watching her, with a face that was almost ashen.

When the song was ended there was tremendous applause. Marion had never
sung better, and her audience appreciated the effort.

She was encored until she was obliged to go back, and this time, just
as she stepped on the stage, she caught sight of Mr. Graham in the rear
of a box, talking to a gentleman.

A curtain call followed, which Marion took gracefully and modestly. It
was the crowning whisp of fuel to Carlotta’s already flaming fire of
jealousy.

“I tell you, she shall not sing in this company another week,” she
said, with choking voice, as Clayton Graham passed her.

Graham had gone behind the scenes to congratulate Marion, as well as
to present his friend, Howard Everett, who had for a week past been
begging for an introduction.

“How are you going to prevent it?” asked Graham, carelessly, as both he
and Everett, who was a newspaper critic, paused for a moment.

“I’ll find a way!” was Carlotta’s answer as, with a disdainful glance
at Everett, she flounced out upon the stage.

“She hates you almost as badly as she does me,” said Graham, chuckling.
“She’d knock our heads together this minute if she dared.”

“It isn’t always a critic’s lot to be loved,” said Everett, shrugging
his shoulders, “but, then, I am not ambitious to be loved by a creature
like Carlotta.”

“You prefer a dainty maid like Ila, I suppose,” said Graham, laughing.

“‘Signorita de Parloa’ is glorious!” was the critic’s answer, and
strangely enough, his words were honest—he felt them as he spoke them.

Marion was greatly pleased to make the acquaintance of the critic, for
he had been the kindest of them all in his daily reviews. As she stood
chatting with him pleasantly, Miss Lindsay came up to her. She looked
pale and scared, and her arm was carried painfully.

“I thank you for what you did,” she said, in a tremulous voice, “but
it would have been better if you hadn’t done it, Ila. I cut myself on
purpose—is it possible that you did not guess it?”

“Hush!” said Marion, sternly. “Don’t say that, Miss Lindsay. I am glad
I was able to help you, dear, but you look sick and weak. Can I do
anything more for you?”

“No, thank you,” said the girl, and then she blushed furiously and
added:

“Jack is going home with me. He is sorry, he says. Please don’t tell
any one what happened this evening, will you?”

“I certainly will not,” said Marion, kissing her.

She would have liked to warn the girl about Green, but another look at
the wan, white face quickly silenced the desire.

“She loves him, and it would kill her if she knew,” she thought. “Oh,
why is it that some men are so treacherous to those who love them!”

She turned back to Mr. Everett with a saddened heart. The sorrow in
this young girl’s face had destroyed Marion’s happiness for the evening.

“You are very sympathetic, signorita,” said the critic, as he watched
her.

“Too much so for my own good,” was the fair girl’s answer. “It was
because of my intense sympathy that I was obliged to resign my position
as a nurse. I do hope that it will not also ruin my career as a singer.”

“Nothing must ruin that,” was Howard Everett’s quick answer. “You will
be great some day, both great and famous. There is a wide difference in
those words, although many do not seem to know it. A woman with a face
and voice like yours should have the world at her feet, and you can,
signorita; you have only to think so.”

He spoke softly and tenderly, yet with a masterful tone, and Marion
felt the thrill of his words through every fibre of her being.

As she glanced up suddenly, their eyes met for a moment; then Marion,
with an unaccountable blush, held out her white hand and bade him
“good-evening.”


CHAPTER IX.

THE HIDEOUS CHINAMAN APPEARS AGAIN.

When Marion reached her dressing-room after leaving Howard Everett she
found a note awaiting her.

She was about to throw it aside, thinking that it was one of the
nightly “mash notes” which she had been receiving all the week, when a
sharper glance revealed that the handwriting was familiar.

She tore it open hastily and a smile of pleasure lighted her features
as she read. It was from Alma Allyn, one of her dearest friends. Miss
Allyn told her briefly that she was in the theatre and would be at the
stage door to go home with her right after the performance.

Miss Allyn was a newspaper reporter and a very clever woman. She had
known both the Marlowe girls ever since they came to the city, and it
was in her flat that Dollie Marlowe was married.

Since Dollie’s marriage she had been living alone, but she visited the
bride as often as possible.

Marion hurried on her street dress so as not to keep her waiting, and
very soon after eleven o’clock the girls took a cab and were driven up
town together.

“I have a lot of news for you, Marion,” was Miss Allyn’s greeting, “and
now that we have a few minutes together we must make up for lost time
and tell each other everything.”

“I haven’t much to tell,” was Marion’s quick answer; “only Carlotta
hates me and is trying to make trouble for me, and I can’t help feeling
that she is going to be successful.”

“She’s a bad woman, from all accounts,” said Miss Allyn, shortly;
“for, besides being divorced from her husband, she is Clayton Graham’s
mistress—and not a very faithful one, either, according to rumor.”

“How perfectly awful,” said Marion, gasping, “and to think that I went
home with her one night in the hope of making a friend of her.”

Miss Allyn looked at her with an inquiring glance, and Marion made
haste to tell her all about it.

“You were lucky to get out so easily,” she said, when the story was
finished. “I wouldn’t trust that woman the length of my nose. Why I
believe she’d knife a person if she got very angry.”

“Well, now tell me your news,” said Marion, quickly. “I want to get
that unpleasant taste out of my mind as soon as possible.”

“My news will make your heart go pit-a-pat, Marion,” said Miss Allyn,
laughing, “for I saw your devoted admirer, Dr. Reginald Brookes,
to-day, and he fairly loaded me down with tender messages for you.”

“Why didn’t he bring them himself?” asked Marion, slyly.

“Couldn’t,” said Miss Allyn. “He’s up to his ears in business. You know
he only came down from the Prison Hospital yesterday, and to-day he was
around looking up an office.”

“I suppose he’ll be up to-morrow, then?” said Marion, dreamily. “I
shall be glad to see him, for he will bring all the news from the
Island.”

“It is like getting a message from Hades, isn’t it, Marion?” asked
Miss Allyn, shivering. “Some way I always had a horror of Blackwell’s
Island!”

“Well, vice is quite concentrated up there,” said her companion,
smiling, “but there is an advantage in that which we don’t have here in
the city.”

“No, that’s so,” said Miss Allyn, promptly; “it is badly scattered
here. You dodge it on one corner only to bump into it on another. Oh,
the crooks and the criminals are not all on the Island by any means!
But don’t you wish to hear any of the doctor’s messages, Marion?
There’s one that I’m sure will be very pleasant.”

“What is it?” asked Marion, striving hard not to show her eagerness.

“I have a great notion not to tell you, Miss Indifference,” said Miss
Allyn. “But here it is: Dr. Brookes is taking music lessons. He thinks
he will study for the operatic stage, and has an amazing taste all of a
sudden for comic opera.”

Marion burst out laughing as Miss Allyn finished.

“You are surely joking, Alma,” she exclaimed, her cheeks glowing. “What
do you mean by telling such stories?”

“It’s the Gospel truth,” said Miss Allyn, chuckling. “A few months ago
he was desperately interested in the sick people on Blackwell’s Island:
now he is possessed with an insane desire to go into comic opera.
Why, Marion, I’ll bet a quarter that if you started a dressmaking
establishment, Dr. Reginald Brookes would learn to do fine sewing.”

The flush on Marion’s cheek had deepened steadily and her eyes sparkled
with mischief at Miss Allyn’s suggestion, but she could hardly believe
that the doctor was quite so badly smitten as her friend’s remarks
would indicate, and she was greatly surprised at his new ambition.

“Why, he never told me that he sang,” she said, after a minute;
“although, of course, I knew he was a great admirer of music.”

“He is passionately fond of singing,” said Miss Allyn, smiling, “and
unless I’m much mistaken, he is also passionately fond of a certain
singer.”

She pinched Marion’s arm very gently as she spoke, but the beautiful
girl had no answer ready.

“Here we are at Dollie’s,” said Miss Allyn, poking her head out of
the carriage window; “now you must run in and let them know you are
safe, and then you must come over and stay all night at my bachelor’s
quarters.”

Her friend sprang out of the carriage and ran up the steps. In a few
minutes she returned, bringing a small handbag with her.

“Oh, Marion, I’ve seen a sight!” was Miss Allyn’s greeting. “A
creepy-looking ‘chink’ just passed the carriage. His face was all
scars, and he was simply hideous.”

“Are you sure it was a Chinaman?” asked Marion, quickly; “a small,
swarthy fellow, with long, yellow, clawlike fingers?”

“He was small and swarthy all right,” was the answer, “but his hands
were out of sight. I couldn’t see his fingers.”

“That is very strange,” said Marion, half to herself, as she seated
herself beside Miss Allyn. “That is the second time I’ve known of that
fellow being around here, and I’d like to know what he is striving to
accomplish.”

“He looked like a ghoul,” was Miss Allyn’s extraordinary answer.
“I have seen pictures of such creatures; they are always haunting
graveyards.”

“I wonder if he can be that wicked Chinaman who steals young girls,”
said her companion, thoughtfully, and then she told of the article
Dollie’s husband had seen in the paper.

Miss Allyn had been in the newspaper business too long not to know that
even stranger things than this occurred in a big city, so she listened
without a word and at the end she seemed to be thinking deeply.

“We must be on the lookout in the future,” she said, “and above all we
must warn Dollie to be very particular. She must never step out after
dark unless Ralph is with her.”

“I don’t think she does” was Marion’s answer; then a sudden idea seemed
to come to both of them.

“Perhaps he is looking for you,” Miss Allyn said, slowly.

“Well, I hope not,” said Marion, with a shiver, “but I’d much rather it
would be me than my darling sister.”


CHAPTER X.

CLAYTON GRAHAM’S MURDER

When Marion awoke the next morning she saw Alma Allyn standing by her
bed-side, her eyes fairly bulging with horror.

“Quick, Marion, look!” she cried, holding out the morning paper.
“Clayton Graham is dead. He has been murdered in his own apartments.”

The young girl sat bolt upright in bed and snatched the paper hastily.
She could hardly speak for a moment after she finished reading.

“It was Carlotta, no doubt,” said Miss Allyn, slowly, “for they say she
is missing and has been since midnight.”

“It is dreadful,” cried Marion, springing out of bed. “Oh, it doesn’t
seem possible that she could have done it.”

“Well, they know it was a woman,” said her friend, as she glanced over
the paper again, “and who so likely as Carlotta?”

“I knew they had been quarreling frequently of late—every one in the
company knew it,” was the thoughtful answer, “but still I can’t think
that she would actually murder him, for, in spite of her bad temper, I
believe she loved him.”

“It was probably done in a second; she had, no doubt, lost her
self-control completely when she shot him,” said Miss Allyn.

Marion dressed herself hastily and ate her breakfast; then, as soon as
she could, she started for the theatre.

There was quite a group of girls at the stage door when she reached
there and, of course, they had all come on the same errand.

“The notice on the call board says that the treasurer will take charge
at once,” said one of the girls just as Marion came up. “He is Graham’s
brother and I believe he has money in the enterprise.”

“Well, there’ll be no performance to-night, anyway,” said another
girl turning away, “but the new manager has called a rehearsal for
to-morrow.”

Marion waited to see for what time the rehearsal was called and then
started back uptown to tell Dollie what had happened.

A block from the theatre a carriage was driven closely to the curb and
a handsome young man, tall and aristocratic in appearance, leaned out
of the window and greeted her eagerly.

“Oh, Mr. Ray!” cried Marion, as she recognized her old friend and
champion. “I am so delighted to see you again!”

In an instant Mr. Ray was out on the pavement beside her.

“Do let me drive you wherever you are going,” he said, quickly.

“To Dollie’s, then,” laughed Marion, as she entered the carriage.

Her lovely face was radiant as Mr. Ray smiled down into her eyes, for
in a second Marion’s beauty seemed enhanced a hundred fold.

Her cheeks flushed and paled at the unexpected pleasure and little
dimples appeared that were not often seen and which made her face for
the minute almost as childishly sweet as her twin sister’s.

“And I am delighted to see you also,” murmured Mr. Ray, softly. “Both
my sister and I have been striving to meet you, but you have no idea
how busy we are, Marion.”

He uttered her name as though it was sacred to him, and the fair girl’s
eyelids drooped shyly as she heard him.

“You see we have sold our house and are storing the most of our
things,” he continued, rather sadly, “for there are only two of us now,
and we intend to travel. I am in wretched health, and I know it is
better.”

He spoke a little doubtfully, as if arguing with himself, but Marion
understood and hastened to turn the subject.

“I am sure that you must be busy with all that to do,” she added,
quickly, “but have you heard that my manager is dead, Mr. Ray? I am to
have a vacation perforce—I do not know for how long until I see our new
manager to-morrow.”

“I read of the horrible occurrence,” was the answer. “I am glad all
women are not like that dreadful Carlotta.”

Once more he gazed down into Marion’s eyes with his tender smile, and
the fair girl’s heart throbbed with a sweet emotion.

She knew only too well what he was longing to say, and she knew also
why it was that the words could not be uttered.

Archie Ray had loved her almost from the hour they met, and then, poor
fellow, he supposed he had a right to love her—but later, before the
sweet question had been asked, he discovered that the woman whom he had
married when a boy at college, and who he thought had been dead for
two years, was still alive, and, more, that she was now a thoroughly
dissolute character.

The knowledge had shocked him beyond expression, but he had borne it
like a man and Marion had helped him. Only a short time after the
discovery the wretched creature died. She had drifted to Blackwell’s
Island as a “drunk and disorderly,” her face disfigured by vitriol
which had been thrown upon her by another low woman.

It was Marion Marlowe’s lot to round out the fearful tragedy, for at
the very last moment, when poor Mary Ray’s body was _en route_ for
Potter’s Field, it was she who rescued her remains and gave them back
to her husband and to a Christian burial.

Since that time Marion and Mr. Ray had met but once. That was at
Dollie’s wedding at the little flat in Harlem.

And now he was thinking of going away, yet she knew that he loved her
more deeply than ever—she could read it in his eyes and in his voice
when he spoke to her.

But the beautiful girl was not so sure of her own sentiments as she was
of his, for the question of love had always been put aside by her—there
was too much else to be considered in the fearful struggle for
existence. Until Dollie was safely settled she did not dare to think of
herself, but now with these tender eyes looking almost into her soul,
Marion was forced to, in a measure, analyze her feelings for him.

“You will come and see us, will you not?” she asked earnestly, as she
raised her lovely eyes to his face. “Dear Dollie is so happy in her
little home. Do promise me that you will come and see us.”

There was something in her voice that thrilled his very soul and in an
instant every barrier seemed to melt from between them.

A sudden pallor appeared upon his handsome face at her request, then a
flush rose swiftly to his very brow as he answered:

“I will come, Marion, on one condition,” he murmured, eagerly. “Oh,
Marion, darling! Don’t you know that I love you? May I not come to you
as your lover, dearest?”

He had taken her hands in his as he spoke and his dark eyes were
looking into hers as though he would read her heart’s every secret.

But after the first flush of excitement the loyal girl’s lips became
firm and she raised her eyes to his face with a tender, anxious
expression.

“Oh, Mr. Ray! I am so sorry! But it cannot be! I am too young, too
inexperienced! I do not know my own heart! Do, please, please forget
that you have asked me that question!”

Archie Ray’s face paled to the lips, but he smiled at her bravely.

“As you will, Marion,” he said, almost sadly. “Forgive me if I have
pained you, but, oh, my darling, do not decide too quickly! Give me a
month, a year, and I will wait patiently.”

Marion bowed her head. She could not answer. This avowal of love had
almost overwhelmed her.


CHAPTER XI.

MARION IS LURED INTO A TRAP.

When Marion reached home she was delighted to find Bert Jackson there.
He had come from Canada the day before and expected to sail for Europe
in two days, but his first thought seemed to be for the welfare of
Dollie and Marion. He was a fine-looking lad in his stylish clothes,
and when Marion first caught sight of him she hardly knew him.

“You don’t look much like the bare-footed boy in blue jeans that you
were last summer, Bert,” she said, laughingly, as she finally pulled
her hands away from the grasp he had given them.

“No, I’m a dude now,” said Bert, very gayly. “All I lack is an
eye-glass, a walking-stick and a lisp. Oh, I know what they look like!
There’s lots of ’em loafing around in my class in society.” The girls
both screamed at Bert’s allusion to society, although the boy had only
made the remark jestingly.

“Well, why shouldn’t you be in society?” asked Marion, after a pause.
“You have plenty of money, and that seems to be nearly all that is
needed.”

“Oh, you ought to have a pedigree like a trotter to be real, dead
swell,” said Bert, quickly, “and I’m only an orphan brought up on a
poor farm!”

“This society business just makes me sick! I’ve been in it a month, and
I’m ready to graduate any minute.”

“They are not all bad, thank Heaven!” said Marion, soberly. “I suppose
the percentage of goodness is about the same in all classes. But tell
me, Bert, what are your plans for the future? You know, Dollie and I
are your sisters, and we shall always be interested.”

“Look here, Marion!” said Bert, jumping up and facing her. “I don’t
object to calling Dollie any old thing you like, but you can’t play the
sister racket on me, for I’m fully determined to marry you some day!”

“Oh, Bert! How ridiculous you are!” said the fair girl, laughing.

“Promise me that you will not say ‘yes’ to anybody for a year. Do
promise, Marion. It will make me perfectly happy.”

Marion looked at him sharply to see if he was in earnest. Just at that
minute Dollie came to the rescue.

“Why, Bert, how foolish of you!” she exclaimed, with great wisdom. “If
sister cares for you she does not need to promise, and if she doesn’t,
why, of course, you don’t want her to promise.”

“I guess that’s right,” said the lad, growing thoughtful. “They say
love is like lightning—it goes where ’tis sent—so, if that’s the case,
there’s no use in my trying to control it.”

There was a ring at the bell, and Marion was glad of the interruption.
For the first time in his life Bert was growing too serious.

“Oh, Dollie!” she cried, as she tore open a note that had come to her
by a messenger boy, “Miss Lindsay is very ill, and wishes me to come
to her at seven o’clock, if I possibly can. I must go, of course, but
Mr. Ray is coming to call. Still, perhaps, I can return early; it’s not
a very great distance.”

“Try to,” said Dollie, “for, of course, Adele will be with him. Oh, I
am so glad they are coming! I have not seen them since my wedding.”

Bert went away soon, and the two girls busied themselves in tidying up
the flat, and at about a quarter of seven Marion started to visit Miss
Lindsay. Little did she dream when she said good-bye to Dollie that
another trap had been laid for her unsuspecting feet and that she was
going deliberately to her own destruction.

She smiled happily at her sister as she tripped down the steps, and her
sweet face was so radiant with joy and health that nearly every one she
passed turned at once and looked after her.

“What an awful neighborhood,” she thought, as she reached Miss
Lindsay’s block at last. It was farther from Dollie’s than she had
anticipated.

When she saw the number she was seeking on the door of a dilapidated
tenement-house, she breathed a sigh of sympathy for little Miss Lindsay.

“I did not dream she was so poor,” she murmured, and then, lifting her
skirts carefully, she picked her way through a swarm of dirty-faced
children and boldly mounted the rickety steps of the dingy tenement.

Up, up she went, and still no signs of Miss Lindsay. She inquired on
each landing, but not half of the women whom she asked understood her,
for they were mostly ignorant foreigners who did not know a word of
English.

At last, at the very top of the house, she saw a half-open door, and
almost as she touched it she came face to face with Miss Lindsay.

“Oh, signorita!” cried the girl, in a half-whisper, as she saw her.
Then, without another word, she burst into violent weeping.

“Don’t cry, dear,” said Marion, as she put her arms around the girl. “I
understand: you are ill, and poor, and unhappy, but I will help you
gladly. I am so glad you sent for me, dear.”

Instead of answering, the poor chorus girl began weeping more bitterly
than ever. Her frail form was racked with sobs that were heart-rending.
The more earnestly Marion endeavored to comfort her the more hysterical
she became, until at last the brave girl was fairly bewildered.

“How can I help you, dear, if you do not tell me your trouble?” she
asked, in desperation, at the same time laying her hand softly on Miss
Lindsay’s shoulder.

In a second the girl dropped on her knees before her. As she lifted her
streaming eyes to Marion’s face she seemed suddenly to have grown a
dozen years older.

“Oh, signorita, forgive me!” she cried, in agony. “Forgive me for
wronging you. I did not mean it! Oh, I am a guilty, vile woman to do as
I have done, but I love him. Oh, I love him, and I could not help it!”

For just one second Marion Marlowe was dazed, then, like a flash, it
came to her comprehension what the weeping girl meant. She had once
more been led into some wicked trap. Either her life or her virtue was
in immediate danger.

“What is it? Quick! You must tell me!” she cried, seizing the girl by
both shoulders. “I forgive you freely for your part in the matter, only
tell me what it is, that I may protect myself. A moment more and it may
be too late. Hurry, I implore you!”

There was a heavy step on the stair and Marion had heard it. The girl
heard it also, and it seemed to paralyze her senses.

“Too late! Too late!” she whispered, wildly. Then, with a bound, she
sprang to her dilapidated bureau and opened it.

“Here, take this!” she whispered, thrusting a revolver into Marion’s
hand. “And, oh, forgive me for letting them make a tool of me, Miss
Marlowe! I would save you now if I could! Oh, what a guilty creature I
am!”

She sank down, cowering at her visitor’s feet, just as Marion dropped
the weapon carefully into her pocket.

There was another footstep heard in the hall and some one touched the
door.

Marion turned and faced the emergency calmly, but with flashing eyes,
and at that moment Miss Lindsay raised her head and whispered, hoarsely:

“Be careful! It is loaded! For God’s sake don’t shoot him!”

Marion did not move her eyes from the door, neither did she heed the
last words.

“It would not be much use to me if it were not loaded,” she said, very
coolly. Then, as a beautiful statue, she stood, silently, calmly,
and—waited!


CHAPTER XII.

MARION IS MADE A PRISONER.

As the low door was thrown rudely and violently open the brave girl
instantly recognized the intruder. It was Jack Green, the property
man from the theatre, inadequately disguised with a wig and a false
mustache.

Behind him came another man whom Marion did not know. As soon as they
had entered they closed the door behind them.

“Well, Mr. Green, you have laid your plans well,” said Marion, as
she fingered the revolver in her pocket. “You have lured me here on
an errand of mercy. Now, what, may I ask, is the next act on the
programme?”

“So she told you, did she?” sneered the man, with a glance at Miss
Lindsay. “The little cry baby turned traitor, did she, and yet only
last night she swore that she loved me.”

“Oh, I do! I do, Jack!” sobbed the poor, weak girl, hysterically, “but
I could not do it, Jack; it was too awfully wicked! I had to tell her
even though you killed me.”

“Well, I’ll deal with you later,” said the fellow, brutally. “A man’s
wife is his property and he can do what he likes with her.”

“Is it possible that she is your wife?” cried Marion, in horror: “you
wretch! you monster! To have a wife and abuse her!”

“Shut up your pretty mouth, if you please,” said Jack Green, sullenly:
“and if you’ll come with us quietly, why well and good; if you won’t,
why then, we’ll——”

You’ll what? asked Marion, calmly, as she clenched the pistol tighter.

There was a sudden movement of the burly fellow, then a quick, cat-like
spring from his companion.

Marion felt a heavy hand upon her left arm and shoulder.

In a second she wheeled around, her revolver in her hand.

“Stand back!” she said, sternly. “Don’t lay a hand on me, cowards! I’ll
shoot you like dogs if you dare touch me or this woman!”

Both men fell back for the space of a second, then together they sprang
at her and seized her arms.

Marion snapped the trigger of the pistol in the leader’s face. There
was no report; the weapon was broken.

In less than a minute the beautiful, struggling girl was bound and
gagged. The last that she remembered was hearing Miss Lindsay cry for
mercy.

When she opened her eyes again she was in a closed carriage. There
was a handkerchief across her mouth and her wrists were tied together
loosely.

Opposite her in the carriage sat Jack Green’s companion. His dark,
burning eyes gleamed at her from under a slouch hat and never left her
face for a moment.

The air in the carriage was almost stifling, and without thinking of
the consequences Marion half rose from her seat and with her manacled
hands made a feeble effort to lower the window.

“The window is locked and so are the doors,” said a muffled voice. “You
are a prisoner, Miss Marlowe, so you may as well submit gracefully.”

Marion glanced at the speaker as she sank back upon her seat. The voice
was almost familiar. She tried to think where she had heard it.

After that not a word was spoken until the carriage stopped. They had
been riding for a long time and Marion was almost exhausted.

Some one opened the carriage door from the outside and let in a shaft
of light from the side lamps.

The young girl caught one glimpse of a hideous face, and then drew back
with a gasp of horror.

It was the Chinaman with the fearfully scarred face who stood by the
step. In the glare of the lamp she had recognized him instantly.

“Get out!”

The words were spoken in the same muffled voice by the occupant of
the carriage, and as Marion rose to her feet her companion deftly
blindfolded her.

She could smell a sickening odor as the hideous Chinaman took her in
his arms. It made her ill and faint almost in a second.

The poor girl realized that she was being carried into some sort of
a house and almost instinctively she guessed that it was a laundry.
Passing through a room that smelled strongly of suds, she could feel
that she was being carried down some steps and through a long, narrow
passage-way. At last a key clicked in a lock and a door was opened and
then closed behind her. She had evidently arrived at the end of her
journey.

In an instant the bands were entirely removed, and as she opened her
eyes and looked about she almost cried aloud in astonishment.

It was as if she had been suddenly transported to another sphere—there
was absolutely nothing familiar in a single detail of her surroundings.

She was in a large, low room, hung with Oriental tapestries and covered
with thick, rich rugs. There were multi-colored lanterns hanging
from various points of the ceiling, and low couches, small tables
and magnificently inlaid stools were scattered profusely about the
apartment.

The hideous Chinaman had disappeared completely, but her companion in
the carriage was still seated at her side; he seemed to be watching her
amazement with a great deal of satisfaction.

As Marion gazed about she soon became sensible of a delicate,
all-pervading odor—it greeted her nostrils at every turn and was slowly
exerting its influences upon her senses as a powerful soporific.

“Where am I? What is this place?” she demanded of her companion.
“How dare you bring me here! Have you no regard for the laws of your
country?”

There was a soft, low chuckle from the man at her side. Marion held
her breath for a second as she heard it. “Let me out of this place at
once!” she said, furiously, “I demand that you set me at liberty, sir!
What have I done to you that you should treat me so shamefully?”

“Shall I tell you?” hissed a low voice that she now recognized fully.
“Shall I tell you what you have done, Signorita Ila de Parloa?”

“What, you, Carlotta?” cried Marion, aghast. “You, a woman, have
stooped to this hideous crime? Yes, tell me at once, if you can, what I
have done to deserve it!”

She was facing her companion with absolute fearlessness now, and, as
the woman threw off her slouch hat together with a wig and false beard,
the two stood glaring fiercely at each other in the strange apartment.

“I’ll tell you what you did, you little country innocent!” cried
Carlotta, furiously. “You robbed me of my laurels as prima donna of our
company, then you robbed me of the man whose very shadow I adored, and
yes, you goaded me on to such jealous rage that I killed my lover! I
killed Clayton Graham because you came between us, Marion Marlowe!”

“Oh, no, never!” cried Marion, who was aghast with horror. “You killed
him in a fit of ungovernable temper. It was not because of me—I am
innocent, Carlotta.”

“I do not choose to think so,” said the woman, scornfully. “I vowed to
have revenge and I have won it—to my sorrow!”

The groan of agony that followed these words almost melted Marion’s
heart to pity. The woman was vile, she was all that was loathsome and
bad, yet God alone knew the depths of her suffering.

In another instant she was shaking with sobs; yet her great dark eyes
only burned with the agony of hate: there was no tears of relief for
the wretched Carlotta.

“Why have you brought me here?” demanded Marion again, as soon as she
could control herself sufficiently to ask the question.

The answer sent a thrill of horror through every fiber of her body, it
was so utterly diabolical, so cold, cruel and fiendish.

Carlotta raised her head and fixed her burning eyes upon Marion’s face.

“This is an opium den, the best and the worst in the city,” she said,
hoarsely. “Men and women come here to live and die. It is better, they
think, than dying in prison. I have come here to smoke the drug and
dream. I want to sleep and dream—to dream and sleep. Perhaps I shall
find rest for the agony of my soul; perhaps I shall only find torture
to the very end; but in either case I want you here to keep me company.”


CHAPTER XIII.

THE DIABOLICAL BARGAIN.

As Carlotta ceased speaking she tapped a curiously shaped bell. In an
instant a Chinese servant entered noiselessly.

“I want to smoke, John,” said the woman, with a wave of her hand.
Marion’s eyes followed the motion and saw she had pointed toward an
“opium layout” on one of the small tables.

The grave girl watched what followed with wide-staring eyes. She had
not fully realized yet that she was really a prisoner.

Carlotta, as one who was perfectly familiar with the place, stepped
behind a heavy curtain. When she emerged again she had completely
discarded her disguise and was dressed in a long, loose Oriental
garment.

Without a word to Marion she passed slowly across the room. There was
another heavy portiere before her—she disappeared behind it.

In a moment the Chinaman followed, carrying the little table. His
movements were so noiseless and cat-like that they were almost uncanny.

Marion walked deliberately toward the curtain and looked behind it,
then darted back with an exclamation of horror.

What she saw was another room adjoining the one she was in, but this
apartment was fitted with curious berth-like beds, and in three of
these she saw women sleeping.

A glance was enough to show her the full horror of the place, for
upon one face was stamped the most hideous expression that could be
conceived—as if the dreamer was being tormented by unspeakable visions.

Two Chinamen in their native garments, but with queues curled tightly
around their heads, were sitting by the sleepers, preparing the opium,
and as they rolled the little “pills” in their long yellow fingers,
Marion clasped her hands before her eyes—it was too horrible to witness.

“Oh, I am lost, I am lost!” she whispered to herself. “If ever I am
forced to touch that stuff I shall die of horror! Oh, this is awful!
awful!”

She sprang back into the large room which she now concluded was a sort
of parlor, and just at that instant she became aware that some one was
watching her.

She turned to find the beady eyes of an Oriental fixed steadily upon
her. He was better dressed than the others, and his fingers were
covered with jewels.

“Oh, sir!” cried Marion, desperately, “for the love of Heaven, save me!
Help me to escape from this place and I will reward you handsomely!”

Much to her delight the fellow understood her, but he shook his head
and crept softly nearer, as he answered:

“Chi-Lung-Hing no savee, he keepee, treat allee light. Chinamen muchee
love Amelican bleauty,” he murmured, glibly.

Marion shuddered as she caught the full meaning of his words. His eyes
were fixed upon her with an expression of gloating that filled her soul
with horror.

“But I will not stay! He shall not keep me!” she cried, in desperation.
“I will set the house on fire and perish in the flames before you shall
keep me prisoner.”

She spoke so firmly and her eyes gleamed with such fury that the
Celestial actually looked frightened. He edged a little nearer.

“What, no love Chinaman money, Missee? No workee—no
slavee—Chi-Lung-Hing mally Amelican bleauty—Dlive her plenty pletty
dresses—makee her happy!”

“Never!” cried Marion, who was now thoroughly alarmed. She bounded away
from him and began examining the premises.

There was nothing but the four walls and they seemed almost impervious
to sound. She began to think that the magnificent room was located in
a cellar.

The Celestial watched her with glittering, stealthy eyes as she peered
behind each curtain and then in a fit of desperation shook the one door
of the apartment.

“I am a prisoner!” she cried, at last. “Oh, Dollie, little sister, will
I ever come back to you?”

She sank down on a divan to think a little, then once more she rushed
over to the curtain to look for Carlotta.

As she peered behind the heavy drapery she saw that something unusual
was evidently happening. The three Chinamen inside were whispering
excitedly to each other. Carlotta was lying in one of the bunks, her
face strangely blue and distorted, and as Marion stared at her from the
entrance, she felt the bejeweled Chinaman slip past her. Something was
wrong with Carlotta, she did not know what—she moved forward a step and
her foot struck something lying on the carpet.

Marion bent down and picked it up—it was an ordinary key. In an instant
she had flown back across the room to the door and had opened it softly.

The next moment she found herself in a heavily draped hall-way. It was
so thickly strewn with rugs and mats that no sound from the outer world
could possibly penetrate to it.

The young girl darted ahead, peering behind the heavy curtains in hopes
of finding an exit, but after a few terrible moments, during each of
which she expected that her Chinese jailer would notice her flight
and follow her, she suddenly heard muffled voices behind one of the
draperies and tried to calm herself enough to listen.

“You promised the woman five hundred dollars,” said Jack Green’s voice
on the other side of the thick curtain, “and you promised me three
hundred if I would help her. Now the girl is here—we have kept our part
of the bargain. If she escapes you now, it is not our fault, is it?”

“She will not escape,” answered a soft, Oriental voice, in the clearest
English. “Your American girls like my Chinese harem. She will stay
from preference after she becomes acquainted.”

“Or after you have made her your wife, you mean,” said Jack Green, with
a laugh. “Well, I’m telling you right now—this girl is a beauty.”

“I must see her before I pay,” said the voice again. “Wait here; I will
go in; if I like her, you shall have your money.”

“I agree to that,” was Jack Green’s quick answer, “but don’t expect a
tame bird, Chi-Lung, for Marion Marlowe is a wild one!”

“I will find a way to tame her,” said the oily voice. There was silence
after that, and Marion clenched her hands in fury.

“Listen!”

Jack Green spoke suddenly and in evident alarm.

There was a commotion of some kind above her head. Marion listened
intently as she crouched in the semi-darkness.

“Some trouble in the laundry,” said the musical voice. “A great scheme,
that laundry in the front of this building.”

“Nevertheless that noise sounds serious,” said Green, again.

There was the sound of chairs moving as if they had both risen.

Marion listened again. The noise above her head was growing louder.
Not only were there sounds of trampling feet, but a great confusion of
voices, all talking together.

Suddenly Marion heard a crash and a fearful shriek, then a score of
slip-shod feet seemed scampering to shelter.

For an instant the young girl stood almost petrified with fear; then
she turned and fled through the narrow hall-way, hardly knowing or
caring in which direction.


CHAPTER XIV.

THE END OF THE TRAGEDY.

A sharp turn in the hallway caused Marion to shriek with terror. Two
hideous Chinamen had sprung at her, and as they caught her in their
arms, one of the beady-eyed wretches forced a saturated cloth over her
nostrils.

Marion felt her breath coming in quick, short gasps. She struggled
feebly, but her brain seemed reeling.

In a flash she was carried along the hall, down a flight of steep
steps, and then, after the click of a key in a lock, she was taken
into a room that was as dark as a dungeon. A confused jargon of voices
came faintly to her ears and she could feel that the place was fairly
swarming with the yellow devils.

The entire roomful of beings seemed to fall back as she was carried
along, and at last she was placed on a sort of divan in the very
darkest and most heavily-draped corner of what seemed to her to be a
subterranean apartment. The cloth on her nostrils was pungent with
narcotics, but she managed by a great effort of the will to somewhat
resist its influence.

Suddenly the light of a swinging lamp flashed from somewhere above
her head, and one glance about her made Marion’s heart grow sick with
horror.

A score or more of those gaunt-cheeked fellows were surrounding her,
and as the first ray of the lamp fell upon her face, they all pressed
forward and peered at her sharply.

In the onslaught which his companions made on him the fellow who was
holding the cloth to Marion’s face dropped it from his fingers, and
with the first clear breath Marion dashed to her feet and confronted
them.

“Stand back! Don’t you dare to touch me!” she cried, springing up on
the divan, which stood directly under the hanging lamp.

In a second a dozen pairs of long, skinny hands were reached out for
her, and as Marion felt them clutching her arms and body, she gave a
shriek that awoke the echoes.

The next instant she reached up quickly and, with one blow of her white
hand, shivered the glass of the lamp; then, with the flame blowing
wildly in the draughts of the room, she broke it from its fastenings
and began swinging it like a censer.

“Stand back!” she shouted again. “Don’t you dare to come nearer! I will
burn your house down about your heads if you lay a finger upon me!”

As she spoke she waved the lamp closer to the draperies, and the
Chinamen fell back and began chattering excitedly.

For just a second she held them at bay, while the glare from the lamp
illumined her glorious features. Then, from directly over her head,
there came a sharp, shrill whistle. As the Chinamen heard it they
seemed to lose their wits entirely, and in an instant their beautiful
prisoner was forgotten.

With shrieks and yells of rage they scrambled over each other, and then
slunk like rats into the darkest corners.

Once more the young girl’s voice rang out like a bugle blast, and then,
to her unbounded delight, it was answered from somewhere.

Cry after cry issued rapidly from her lips. They were coming to save
her. She could hear footsteps and voices.

As the door was burst in a gust of wind extinguished her lamp, and
Marion sank down upon the divan in utter helplessness.

“Miss Marlowe! Is it possible! Thank Heaven, I am in time!”

It was Howard Everett who spoke, and with a cry of joy Marion answered
him.

A score of burly policemen seemed to fill the place, and Everett drew
her closely to his side as they darted about after the Celestials.

“They are raiding the place,” he whispered in her ear. “How fortunate
that the attempt was so opportune! For once in my life my good angel
must have guided me! Come, let us get out of this,” he added, leading
Marion to the door and half lifting her up the steps to the narrow
hallway.

“But Carlotta! Have they found her?” asked Marion, in a whisper.

“The woman is dead! I did not mean she should escape me,” was her
companion’s answer. “It seems she had heart disease, and the opium
killed her. Well, at last my friend Graham’s death has been avenged,
but your presence here, Miss Marlowe! I cannot understand it!”

Marion held out her hand to him as she was being hurried along.

“You followed her here because you think she was his murderer?” she
whispered, softly.

“I had no doubt of it,” was Everett’s reply. “Detectives have been
watching the woman ever since. They tracked her here, and then I asked
the captain to raid the place.”

They were passing through the pseudo laundry now, but there was not a
Chinaman in sight. The room was absolutely deserted.

“And you heard my voice?” asked the young girl, as Mr. Everett
supported her tenderly.

“Yes, but did not recognize it, of course,” said Mr. Everett quickly.
“I thought it was the voice of one of their white slaves. But do hurry,
Miss Marlowe, and tell me how you came here.”

With a tremendous stamping of feet the policemen came into the laundry.

“Nine chinks, one white man and four women, one dead,” said the
captain, in reply to a question from Everett.

The critic whispered a few words in his ear relating to Marion, and,
with a sharp glance at her face, the captain nodded.

“We’ve taken them all out through a side door to this establishment
that we found, and three of my men have taken them away in the patrol
wagon. Come, boys, let’s get out of this dope hole as soon as possible!
Whew! The aroma is something awful! I’ll be asleep in another minute!”

“I thought I should faint when I first encountered it,” said Marion to
Everett. “Oh, how thankful I am to you, Mr. Everett!”

There was a carriage at the curb, and the critic helped her into it.

“What a narrow escape I have had!” cried the girl, as Everett got
in beside her. “An hour longer in that place and I should have been
dead—like Carlotta!”

Then she hastened to tell her friend the whole story of her adventure.

The papers were full of it the next day, and, thanks to Howard Everett,
every detail was given accurately.

Beautiful Marion’s escape from the lair of the Celestials formed the
talk of the town for days. She was perhaps the first white girl to
leave that place untainted.

Both she and Mr. Everett appeared before the authorities the next day,
and it was not long before Chi-Lung-Hing, his subjects, and Jack Green
were all safely in prison.

The three white girls were restored to their homes and parents, and the
numerous expensive opium “layouts” were confiscated and destroyed by
the police.

The wicked Carlotta left money enough to afford her a decent burial,
but there was not a mourner at her dreary funeral.

The Temple Opera Company was obliged to disband; but now that Miss
Lindsay was freed from her brutal husband, she was able to take a
position in another organization and live very comfortably on her
modest salary.

At Miss Allyn’s urgent request, Marion went to live with her until she
could secure another position, and besides Dr. Brookes and Mr. Ray,
Howard Everett, the critic, was soon a frequent caller at the little
flat.

But Marion was as loyal to her associates as ever, and she was so pure,
so true and so noble in character that no thought of jealousy ever
annoyed for a long time any of her friends who loved her.


THE END.


The next number will contain “Marion Marlowe’s Peril; or, A Mystery
Unveiled.”



Questions and Answers

BY

GRACE SHIRLEY


Note.—This department will be made a special feature of this
publication. It will be conducted by Miss Shirley, whose remarkable
ability to answer all questions, no matter how delicate the import,
will be much appreciated, we feel sure, by all our readers, who need
not hesitate to write her on any subject. Miss Shirley will have their
interests at heart and never refuse her assistance or sympathy.

      Street & Smith.

 “Will you please advise me in the following matter? I am engaged to a
 young man who is only making twenty dollars a week, and who is obliged
 to support his old father and mother. If I marry him I must live with
 the old folks, and do all the work. Do you think by doing this I could
 ever be happy?

      “Mamie.”

We think the chances are that you would be very miserable indeed. You
had better wait until the young man is able to employ some one to
take care of his parents, and then you can have your own little nest
together. It is not well, as a rule, for a young married couple to
begin life in the same house with their relatives.

 “I have been reading the ‘Marion Marlowe’ stories with great interest,
 but I am inclined to think that Marion is something of a coquette,
 and that she does not seem to know her own mind where her lovers are
 concerned. The stories are very interesting and exciting, and I enjoy
 them immensely, but I felt sorry for ‘Archie Ray’ and ‘Dr. Brookes.’
 I feel like scolding Marion because she does not love them. I wish I
 had her chance to marry either one of them. If they are really true
 characters I wish you would send me their addresses.

      “M. B.”

We are glad to hear that you are reading the “My Queen” series, but we
are afraid you have not studied Marion’s character very thoroughly. She
has been absolutely honest with the two young men you mention, and no
one would resent the term of “coquette” more quickly than they would.
Unfortunately, we do not know their addresses at present, so we cannot
favor you, but no doubt, both gentlemen would feel honored at your
candid appreciation.

 “I have been married two years, and have a baby six months old. My
 husband says I give all my time to the baby and none to him. The baby
 is delicate, and no one can soothe him except his mother. If I must
 neglect either one, which should be neglected?

      “Florence McK.”

This is the same old story that we have heard many times. Many married
men use it as an excuse for spending their time elsewhere, and God pity
the wives of such inhuman monsters! You have brought an innocent child
into this world of sin and woe. It is your duty to devote yourself to
it just so long as it needs or claims your devotion. The claims of wife
are nothing when compared with the duty of motherhood. The man or woman
who would neglect his or her own child for even one hour is guilty of
the greatest sin that can be committed. You cannot expect your child to
grow up loving or respecting you unless you have proven yourself worthy
of these sentiments. Try and make your husband understand your position
and his in this important matter.

 “I have been brought up to think that it was a sin to drink liquor,
 and now I am deeply in love with a young man who often drinks a glass
 of wine; who, to the best of my knowledge, has never been tipsy. Would
 I be doing right to marry this man? I do not know how I can give him
 up, and yet I hate to go against my principle.

      “Edna.”

Your anxiety is very natural, but we hardly think you would be doing
wrong to marry a man who takes a glass of wine occasionally. History
is filled with the names of great men who were not total abstainers.
If liquor disagrees with a man, or he is prone to yield to its
insidious fascination, that is another matter, but the mere fact of a
man taking an occasional drink is not a sign that he is destined to
fill a drunkard’s grave. Total abstinence is commendable, and in the
case of men weak in will power it is almost a necessity, but many a
man who is a moderate drinker will prove a better husband than the
total abstainer, whose other virtues are not as fully developed as his
abstinence.

Study the character of the man whom you think perhaps to marry. If
he is honorable, brave and true, you can safely trust your life’s
happiness in his hands, despite his occasional glass of wine.

 “I am so sick at heart that I can hardly write this letter, but I must
 know your opinion, my dear Miss Shirley. I have been deeply in love
 for over a year, and now I am forced to believe that the object of my
 affections has forsaken me for another. Oh, what can I do to win him
 back! I shall certainly die if I have to live another week without him!

      “Imogen S.”

There is anguish in every word of this letter, and we are very sorry
indeed for you, Imogen. There is no grief so poignant as that which a
young girl feels when she awakes to the fact which you seem to have
discovered. But bear in mind, my dear, that there are scores of lovely
and lovable men on earth, and perhaps your cloud will yet have a silver
lining. Some day you will meet a man whose love will be all your own,
and you will be able to see that this first disappointment was all for
the best. We would not advise you to try and get him back. If he does
not come back of himself his love is not worth having.

 “Will you please tell me if you think fifteen is too young to love?
 I am just that age, and I have just met a young man who is very
 attractive, and I know he is in love with me and wants me to marry
 him. People tell me that at my age I don’t know my own mind. I should
 hate to marry him thinking that I love him and then find myself
 mistaken.

      “Lotta.”

A letter like this is a positive treat! A girl of fifteen who can
reason so wisely will not be apt to make many errors. A great deal
of the misery in the world has been created through thoughtless and
hasty marriages. Women marry men at eighteen whom they despise at
twenty-five, or choose husbands at twenty-five whom they have ceased to
love or respect at thirty. Human nature is ever changeable, and it is
one of the most difficult tasks in the world to discover two intellects
that will be perfect mates for life. One may go ahead or lag behind,
and because of this the result of marriages is uncertain. We would
certainly advise you to wait until you are older. No girl of fifteen
is sufficiently well developed mentally or physically to marry, and,
furthermore, your education cannot be completed at your age.

 “I have been married a year, and, oh, how I regret it! Just think,
 Miss Shirley, I was an only daughter. I earned ten dollars a week as
 cloak model down town, and having no board to pay, could use it all
 in pin money. Now ten dollars a week has to do for a whole family,
 my husband, myself and a six weeks’ old baby. I would give the world
 if I had never been married, and I write this letter as a warning to
 others. I do hope you will print it in your correspondence columns.

      “Mrs. G.”

We receive so many letters like this one that if we printed them all
we are afraid we should discourage matrimony. You should have “looked
before you leaped,” but that is a thing that young people in love
rarely do. It seems strange that love, or whatever the sentiment is
that draws some young people together, should so blind their eyes to
the future. We are very sorry that you have made such a blunder, but
now that you have done it you should make the best of it. For the sake
of your child you must “put your shoulder to the wheel” and try to
conquer every obstacle that threatens your domestic happiness. Above
all, try not to take too many into your confidence in this wise; people
will only laugh at you for marrying in haste. It is better to hide your
grief and bear the penalty of your own error with silent dignity.

 “I have read your Correspondence Department for several weeks with
 great interest, and wish to add one more to the list of questions.
 What I want to know is this: Is a woman of thirty too old to marry
 a man of twenty-one, and what will be the natural outcome of such a
 union?

      “Gertrude B.”

As a rule, we should answer “yes” to the above question, but there
are exceptional cases which demand a different answer. Some men of
twenty-one are very mature both mentally and physically, and many women
of thirty are as sprightly as kittens. Mentality should always decide
this question. If a woman of thirty has every taste in common with a
man much younger and feels confident that she possesses sufficient
spirit and magnetism to charm him through the years that are before
them, she is running very little risk in marrying him. It is true that
most women age faster than most men, but the exception is not so rare
as it used to be, however. Physical exercise and a more intelligent
mode of living are keeping our women young nowadays, while the men are
inclined to age a little prematurely.

 “I am very much in love with a man of fifty who is a widower with four
 children, the oldest being only fifteen. Would you advise me to marry
 him? He has no money of his own—is working on a small salary.

      “Abbie S.”

No, we do not advise you to marry him. The position of step-mother to
four children is not an enviable one. No doubt, he wants you to be a
mother to his children, a wife to him, cook, housekeeper, needle-woman
and perhaps laundress. We advise you to look farther before you marry.

 “I have read every number of ‘Marion Marlowe,’ and I can hardly wait
 for the weeks to come around. I know a young man who is exactly like
 ‘Bert Jackson,’ and I mean to catch him for a husband, if possible. Do
 you blame me?

      “Nora.”

I do not indeed, and I wish you success! Young men like “Bert Jackson”
are very rare. We advise you to do all that you can, modestly and
properly, of course, to make Bert’s counterpart fall in love with you.
We are sure it will be a happy marriage.

 “I am about to be married, my dear Miss Shirley, and I am sure it
 will surprise you to learn that I am very unhappy. All my life I
 have heard and read of the ‘perfect bliss’ which a young girl feels
 on the eve of her marriage, yet I am to be married in a week, and I
 spend half of my time in crying. I think that I love my future husband
 very dearly, yet I can’t bear to give up my girlhood and be a married
 woman, and then I am beset by the responsibilities and uncertainties
 of the future. Am I different from other girls, or is this a natural
 feeling? I cannot talk to my mother on this subject. She is a very
 peculiar woman and only laughs at my anxieties.

      “C. F. B.”

Your condition of mind seems to us to be very natural. The girl who
can stand upon the threshold of matrimony and feel differently must be
sadly lacking in the elements of common sense and caution. But there
is no necessity for leaving your “girlhood behind.” Take it right
along with you into your married life, only add to it day by day the
grace and wisdom of a woman. I have seen many married women who played
with dolls in their leisure hours, and I think their husbands really
enjoyed witnessing their innocent pleasure. Women, or most of them,
“settle down” too thoroughly as soon as they are married. They forget
that it was their “girlishness” that first charmed their lovers, and
that this same “girlishness” can be made to charm and hold a husband.
Never grow old in your husband’s eyes if you can help it. As for the
responsibilities and uncertainties, they will not all come in a minute.
When they do come, you will be surprised to find how easily you can
manage them.

 “I have been told over and over that all marriages are failures, and
 as I look about me I am tempted to believe it, yet if this is true,
 what is the use of living? Must we go on slaving and toiling without a
 ray of happiness in this life. If marriage is a failure, then love is
 a failure. Is there anything left worth living or striving for?

      “C. V. S.”

This letter is the result of some old busy-body’s croaking. There are
plenty of happy marriages where love reigns supreme, and there will
be plenty more if truth is to be relied upon. The people who say that
marriage is a failure are usually the ones who have made it a failure
by their own foolishness or wickedness. The ideal married life is
heaven on earth, and it is possible to all who will strive to attain
it. Choose wisely, carefully and with moderation, then remember that
the germ of love must be constantly nourished, and that the greatest
care is needed to make it bloom fragrantly. Those who expect much are
apt to give little. The perfect harmony of the family depends upon
mutual effort and a constant endeavor to please one another.

This world would be a sad place indeed were it not for love. The power
of affinity holds the universe together.

 “Will you please advise me in the following matter: I have received an
 invitation to dine with a man I have never met. He is a friend of one
 of my girl friends, and I think she is in love with him. She showed
 him my picture and now he has written me this letter of invitation.
 I believe he is rich, and I would like to meet him. Would it be
 honorable to my friend to accept his invitation?

      “A. F.

First of all, we do not think it would be “honorable” to yourself to
dine with a man whom you have never seen or to whom you have never been
introduced, and we cannot understand your considering his invitation
for a minute. The proper thing for you to do is to pay no attention to
the letter. It was decidedly rude and uncomplimentary to you to write
it in the first place.

 “The social season is just beginning in our town, and there is a
 party, or ball, or something of the sort almost every evening. I enjoy
 going out more than anything else, but my parents object to my doing
 so, and scold me continually. I am sixteen years old, and it does seem
 to me that I ought to be allowed to have some fun. Don’t you think
 they are awfully mean not to allow me pleasure of this sort?

      “Annie S.”

Your parents are a great deal wiser than you are, Annie, and we advise
you not to go contrary to their wishes. You are much too young to be
thinking of social pastimes. Stay at home for a year or two more at
least, and spend your time with your books improving your mind and
fitting yourself to be a useful, helpful woman. When you do begin to go
out again make your pleasures incidental to your life, and do not allow
them to absorb your whole time and thought.

 “I have read every number of ‘My Queen’ and have enjoyed them
 immensely. I think Marion the sweetest girl that ever lived, and I am
 sure that her creator, Miss Shirley, is awfully wise. Will she be kind
 enough to spare time to give me a little advice? I am nineteen years
 old and have been in society for two years, but, somehow, I don’t get
 along in company a bit. Other girls laugh and talk, but I can never
 find anything to say, and the men all vote me a bore, I am sure. Can
 you tell me of some magic method by which I can attain the social
 graces.

      “Jean R. R.”

Thank you for your kind words in regard to “My Queen” and the author’s
wisdom. Experience is the only teacher, Jean, and a hard one at that.
Do not be disheartened if you do not attract the men who like the
chattering, giggling girls—probably you will attract the quietest
and most substantial, and make firmer friends of them than the other
girls could possibly make of the other men. In a general way, you can
probably overcome your diffidence and backwardness in conversation by
endeavoring to discover in what subject a man is interested and then
talking of that. If he finds that you are interested yourself in his
fads he will take interest enough in you to interest himself in yours,
and then the wheels of conversation will run smoothly enough.

 “One of the best fellows in the world has asked me to become his wife.
 I esteem him highly—I might almost say that I love him if I had not
 decided long ago to leave the word ‘love’ out of my dictionary. I
 feel that I would be happy indeed if I were his wife, but there is a
 chapter in my life that I dread to tell him, and still I think too
 much of him to marry him without being perfectly candid. Won’t you
 tell me what to do? I am heart-broken over the situation.

      “Marie W. S.”

It is much better to be frank before marriage than to make two people
unhappy after. If this young man really loves you he will forgive much,
endure much, condone much, and his affection will still survive in
spite of all. If his regard stands the test you will have a husband and
lover of whom you may be proud. If it does not you may feel assured
that he would have probably made your married life miserable, and that
you have saved both him and yourself considerable unhappiness. The man
that will listen to your revelation and continue to love you, has in
that one act proven his value. The man who does not, likewise proves
that his affection is a matter of circumstance, and not the unfailing,
all-enduring type that is really of worth. There is an old proverb,
“Tell the truth and fear naught,” that exactly fits your case.

 “I am in love with one of the most charming girls in the United
 States, but I am not quite sure that she loves me. I have read lots
 of your good advice to young women, so I hope you will be willing to
 give me some. I want this girl for my wife, but, frankly, I am afraid
 to ask her. I have more of her society than any one else as it is, and
 if she doesn’t accept me I am afraid I’ll lose it all. Now, won’t you
 please advise me what to do.

      “Edward H.”

You seem to be a very diffident young man, Edward. If you really love
this girl, why don’t you tell her so, and see what she says? “Faint
heart never won fair lady.” If she doesn’t love you she will only say
“no,” and then you can look for another who will perhaps appreciate
your timid nature.

    “He either fears his fate too much—
      Or his deserts are small
    Who dreads to put it to the touch
      And win or lose it all.”

Those lines were written by one of our best students of human nature.

Grace Shirley would advise you to study them carefully, and if you
cannot summon up enough courage to test your standing in this young
woman’s affection we would advise you to retire to a monastery.

 “I enjoy going about with the boys more than I do anything else, and
 as I am a great favorite with them I get lots of invitations. I live
 with an aunt who makes my life miserable scolding about my keeping
 late hours. I think she is really jealous because I get attention and
 she doesn’t, but I would like to know some way to avoid the continual
 quarrels I have with her on the subject. I am nearly eighteen years
 old, and I think I ought to be allowed to have my own way, don’t you?

      “Mildred D.”

Your aunt may not take the wisest way to show you that you are acting
foolishly, but her intentions are certainly good. A girl of your
years should not spend her time “going about with the boys.” You would
be doing much better if you would spend your leisure hours fitting
yourself to become the wife of some good man who may some day desire
your entire society. The attentions of “the boys” may seem very
enjoyable now, but a few years later you will no doubt look upon the
time spent in this way with regret. Do not be too anxious to have
your own way, but remember that other people’s views may be much more
sensible than your own.



Tobacco Cure

  How a Mother Banished Cigarettes and
  Tobacco With a Harmless Remedy.
  Costs Nothing to Try.

[Illustration]

The remedy is odorless and tasteless can be mixed with coffee or food
and when taken into the system a man cannot use tobacco in any form.
The remedy contains nothing that could possibly do injury. It is
simply an antidote for the poisons of tobacco and takes nicotine out
of the system. It will cure even the confirmed cigarette fiend and is
a Godsend to mothers who have growing boys addicted to the smoking of
cigarettes. Anyone can have a free trial package by addressing Rogers
Drug & Chemical Co., 1138 Fifth and Race Sts., Cincinnati, O., and
easily drive foul tobacco smoke and dirty spittoons from the home.



Was Devoid of Hair

WHAT A FREE TRIAL PACKAGE OF A REMEDY DID FOR HER.

[Illustration: MISS EMMA EMOND.]

Miss Emond lives in Salem, Mass., at 276 Washington St. and naturally
feels very much elated to recover from total baldness. The remedy that
caused Miss Emond’s hair to grow also cures itching and dandruff, sure
signs of approaching baldness and keeps the scalp healthy and vigorous.
It also restores gray hair to natural color and produces thick and
lustrous eyebrows and eyelashes. By sending your name and address to
the Altenheim Medical Dispensary, 1551 Butterfield Bldg., Cincinnati,
Ohio, enclosing a 2c. stamp to cover postage and they will mail you
prepaid a free trial of their remarkable remedy.



MY QUEEN

A Weekly Journal

  FOR ...
  Young
  Women

CONTAINING THE FAMOUS

Marion Marlowe Stories


Marion Marlowe is a beautiful and ambitious farmer’s daughter, who
goes to the great metropolis in search of fame and fortune. One of the
most interesting series of stories ever written; each one complete in
itself, and detailing an interesting episode in her life.

  Published Weekly.      Edited by Grace Shirley.


CATALOGUE

  _1—From Farm to Fortune; or, Only a Farmer’s Daughter._
  _2—Marion Marlowe’s Courage; or, A Brave Girl’s Struggle for Life and
          Honor._
  _3—Marion Marlowe’s True Heart; or, How a Daughter Forgave._
  _4—Marion Marlowe’s Noble Work; or, The Tragedy at the Hospital._
  _5—Marion Marlowe Entrapped; or, The Victim of Professional Jealousy._
  _6—Marion Marlowe’s Peril; or, A Mystery Unveiled._
  _7—Marion Marlowe’s Money; or, Brave Work in the Slums._
  _8—Marion Marlowe’s Cleverness; or, Exposing a Bold Fraud._
  _9—Marion Marlowe’s Skill; or, A Week as a Private Detective._
  _10—Marion Marlowe’s Triumph; or, In Spite of Her Enemies._
  _11—Marion Marlowe’s Disappearance; or, Almost a Crime._
  _12—Marion Marlowe in Society; or, A Race for a Title._

Thirty-two pages, and beautiful cover in colors. =Price, five cents per
copy.= For sale by all newsdealers.

  STREET & SMITH, Publishers,

  238 William Street,      New York City.



Transcriber’s Notes


Minor punctuation and printer errors repaired.

Italic text is denoted by _underscores_ and bold text by =equal signs=.





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